April 8, 2016 § Leave a comment
Although Job Toon, the central character in this story was not originally from Walsall he did live in the town in his early life and also ended his days there. In the years in between he became a jockey, head lad, assistant trainer, trainer/stud manager and finally, the licensee of the New Inn, John Street, Walsall. How many other Walsall publicans can say they came second in the Irish Derby as a jockey and then won the same race a few years later as a trainer?
Job was born in 1851 in Atherstone, Warwickshire to Job and Elizabeth Toon, the sixth of their seven children. In the census of 1851 Job was just 5 months old and the family were living in Woolpack Yard, Atherstone where Job senior made his living as a wood turner. By 1861 the Toon family had moved from Atherstone to 4 Birchill Street Court in Walsall where Job senior was now earning his living as a hame maker in the leather trade. The young Job, now 10 years old had given up on school and was employed as a brush maker at one of the several brush manufacturers in the town.
When exactly the next chapter in young Job’s life began is uncertain but it appears he followed his thirteen year old brother, James, who by 1861 was listed in the census as a groom at Thomas Cliff’s stable in Hednesford. Another apprentice in Cliff’s stable at this time was another thirteen year old, the Champion Jockey of 1866, Manchester born Samuel Kenyon, also aged thirteen in 1861. « Read the rest of this entry »
July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
It has been ten years since I self-published the first edition of A Complete Record of Walsall Races & The Hednesford Training Grounds and almost from day one I regretted the fact that I never registered it with the British Library…….in other words, it didn’t have an ISBN. At the time it seemed like a good idea as it added to the cost of producing the book. In the ten years that have passed I have produced many books for local history societies and individual authors and quite a high percentage of them have been registered with the British Library, it one was of these authors that allowed me to register this revised edition.
October 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
The cover for 2004 features a lady connected to the Eyland family dressed in mourning clothes around 1900. To her right is a great picture of Walsall market in the days when it had quality as well as quantity and snaked its way up the hill from Digbeth to the very top of High Street. As Sir John Betjeman said in 1959, “Walsall is a borough which is obviously proud of itself and I thought that if the local council could turn the old High Street into something worthy of the charming and modest buildings, Georgian and Victorian, above the shop-fronts, it could be made into one of the most attractive streets in England. This is the age of local councils. Their increased powers mean that they can make or mar the treasure they have inherited from the past. Local pride can save a place…..short sighted cash considerations can ruin it.“
Sadly no one in authority was listening!
The Bridge on a busy day in the 1920s fills the bottom left corner along with a section of an apprentice indenture for John Fenn, son of the landlord of The Priory in Park Street. Although not the first car to grace the streets of Walsall it was the first registered car to take to the streets. The picture shows Charles Gameson, grandson of Thomas Gameson, with his chauffeur in his 1902/03 Wolseley bearing the number plate DH1, still seen around Walsall on the Mayor’s official car. « Read the rest of this entry »