Murder or manslaughter on Church Street?

July 29, 2014 § Leave a comment


This is really part two of the previous post, Three Drinking Dens of Church Hill. Having previously shared with you the brief outcome of an inquest into the death of John Springthorpe in August 1858, I found the case to be intriguing and decided further research was required. The original charge of murder had been changed to manslaughter which, on the surface seems fair…..but is it? You decide.

I had my doubts as to how the authorities viewed a case of this description in 1858 but upon reading the extremely detailed newspaper reports I changed my mind. It would seem the police and the Coroner made a great effort to find out exactly what happened on that Tuesday morning in Church Street and I for one find the outcome to be anything but fair. This has nothing to do with the professionalism of the authorities in Walsall, the problem for me is the proceedings that occurred at Stafford Assizes a couple of months later.

Church Street today, just the cobble stones remain.

Church Street today, difficult to think this was once teeming with people instead of trees. In the middle of the picture the light area is approximately where the fight took place.

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Three drinking dens of Church Hill

July 14, 2014 § Leave a comment


Barley Mow

The Barley Mow c.1895 in a watercolour titled “Shove off nipper”. The original is in J. D. Wetherspoons St. Matthew’s Hall pub.

Another illustration from the pubs of old Walsall, this one features the Barley Mow that stood opposite St. Matthew’s Church. Salvation was near at hand but temptation was all around! You will see from the accompanying O.S. map the public houses that were around the St. Matthews area. This area around Church Hill has always been of interest to me ever since childhood, living at the bottom end of Sandwell Street this was our usual route into Walsall town centre. When accompanied by my mother or grandmother in my early years they used to tell me stories about Gorton’s Yard and Temple Street and the hardships endured by the poor families that lived there. I think it was well-known that some of the poorest people in Walsall lived around this area until it’s demolition in the 1930s. « Read the rest of this entry »

Hope Cottage……..some cottage!

July 11, 2014 § Leave a comment


Walsall Life

The previous post about Eyland & Sons Limited concerned the family business but this post looks at their residence in Highgate Road.

Hope Cottage or Hopelands, the residence of the Eyland family. Hope Cottage or Hopelands, the residence of the Eyland family.

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The wheels of progress

July 8, 2014 § Leave a comment


During the Middle Ages travel from place to place had not really been necessary as most villages and towns produced the majority of things that they needed themselves. As the population grew in Tudor times and towns began to specialise in particular trades so the need for better roads arose. Although improvements did occur in the area, Walsall’s roads remained in a poor state. After the Turnpike Act of 1747 was passed by parliament turnpike companies built several new roads around the town. For the privilege of continuing on your way travellers either paid up or remained where they were!

Local charges were:-

  • Coaches and four wheelers                12d (5p)
  • Chaises and two wheelers                 6d (2.5p)
  • A horse                                                  1d (o.5p)
  • A drove of oxen                                   10d (7.5p) per score
  • A drove of pigs, cows and sheep       5d (2p) per score

Inevitably some people were exempt from paying the toll; these included Members of Parliament travelling to and from London (now there’s a surprise!), serving soldiers, funerals, voters on election day and road menders…..charging the latter would be rubbing salt in the wounds!

At the bottom of the map shown below can be seen “Dog Kennel” referred to in the Bull’s Head details later in this post. The lack of detail is due to the fact that the map this section is taken from was drawn up to show the boundaries of Walsall Borough only. Anything outside the perimeter, i.e. Hammerwich Brook and Mr Darwall’s bridge, was in the Foreign.

A section of an 1814 map showing the new road, Bridge Street .

A section of an 1814 map showing New Road (Bridge Street) highlighted in red, the watercourses that ran through the town are shown in blue.

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Attkins & Son, Grocers of Park Street

July 4, 2014 § Leave a comment


The grocers of Attkins & Son is on left side of this photograph taken around 1906.

The grocers of Attkins & Son of 5 Park Street is on left side of this photograph taken around 1906. Other business names visible are John Cleland’s a boot and shoe maker, Flower & Sons Ltd., Boots The Chemist and the building to the left of the tram is Ralph Richman’s drapery store. One thing that always intrigued me as a lad was the window that protruded onto Park Street from the New Inn by the ‘Home Brewed Ales’ sign, it was a good 10 or 12 feet in front of the building line! In the distance the Grand Theatre before it lost its tower and in the far distance, Her Majesty’s Theatre. I also like the lad on the far right sitting on some kind of little trolley.

One of the secrets of success in business is location and George Attkins certainly got that correct when he chose Park Street as the base for his grocery business which he started around 1875. George was not a native of Walsall, he was born in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire in 1825. Sixteen years later he was listed in the 1841 census as a grocer’s apprentice in his hometown. It would appear he tried his hand at drapery for a short time but realised his destiny lay in the grocery business as the 1871 census lists him having his own grocery business at 39 High Street, Potterspury, just up the road from Stony Stratford. « Read the rest of this entry »

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