After dark in Walsall c.1920

February 10, 2017 § 6 Comments


fred-mother-sister

Frederick with his sister Elsie and mother Kate c.1910

Frederick Blanchard was Headmaster of Blue Coat Senior School for many years and also a prolific photographer, a member of Walsall Photographic Society. His daughter Freda, also a teacher but at Blue Coat Infants and Junior Schools was also a member of the Society some years later. During his lifetime he took thousands of photographs with a plate camera in the early days and later film camera.

Around 1920 Frederick took six photographs on glass negatives showing various buildings in Walsall town centre very late at night. The images have an eerie look about them and it makes one wonder who…. or what lurks in the shadows?

Plate cameras were bulky things to lug around and taking photographs with them, even in good light was tricky so to do this in darkness was the ultimate challenge. Frederick didn’t make a bad job of it as you will see, only one photograph suffered from some camera movement. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Walsall hurricane of 1895

January 23, 2017 § Leave a comment


With all the talk of global warming and adverse weather it seems meteorology has only been “invented” in the last 40 years, bit like sex was invented in the 1960s! But in 1895 the weather hit Walsall hard in the form of a hurricane.

The report from which the information has been taken was first published in the Walsall Advertiser on Saturday 30th March 1895.general-1934-copyThe General Hospital in 1935 badly damaged in the hurricane 40 years earlier. Although the hospital had been extended by this time the wards with the long windows on the left was where the chimney came through the roof. The chimney stood behind the thin building with the pointed roof adjoining the new extension.

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“What did you do in the war Dad?”

January 19, 2017 § 4 Comments


Thousands of youngsters growing up in the late 1940s and early 50s regularly asked the question, “what did you do in the war dad?”, I know I did, on a regular basis too, but answers were few and far between in those days!

My dad, Wanford Griffiths, yes, that’s right Wanford, a name dad hated, in consequence of that he told everyone his name was Wal’, short for Walter or so they thought. At his funeral in 1988 several members of the congregation thought they were at the wrong funeral when the vicar began talking about Wanford as they all knew him as Wal’. He was born at 52 Lord Street, Palfrey in June 1918, the youngest of four children of Frank Hubert and Elizabeth Griffiths. When he joined up in 1939 it was his intention to join the Navy…….so where did he finish up for the next six years……..the RAF!RAF waller 3

The battered RAF wallet that dad carried throughout WW2 and contains the pictures of the two women in his life, one just a dream and the other a reality! On the right is my mom, Hilda Millicent (nee Moseley) and the other was his favourite Hollywood film star, Deanna Durbin. « Read the rest of this entry »

JOB TOON – Brush maker, jockey, horse trainer and publican!

April 8, 2016 § 2 Comments


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 Toon

Thought to be a young Job Toon, an image taken from the German book,  Album des Deutschen Rennsport published in 1900. Courtesy of Tim Cox.

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Walsall Races book re-published in 2015

July 1, 2015 § 11 Comments


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.Walsall Races new cover

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Town End Bank and the Wisemore

May 1, 2015 § 1 Comment


This day and age the words Town End Bank and the Wisemore mean very little to the people of the town but in the past they were both famous, some would say infamous, areas of Walsall

Her Majesty's area 1928

An aerial view of the Wisemore and Town End taken in 1928. Her Majesty’s Theatre can be seen towards the bottom left of the picture, also in the far right lower corner is the Grand Theatre. The Wisemore Schools are half way up the picture on the right. (Taken from Britain From Above, http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/)

The perceptions of Walsall past are looked at by many people through rose-tinted glasses to say the very least. Words such as beautiful and spotless are regularly used to describe scenes of old Walsall shown in postcard pictures posted on social media sites; the pictures may be both of those things but the town certainly wasn’t. « Read the rest of this entry »

Walsall Lives 2013

March 13, 2015 § 2 Comments


In 2013 the final Walsall Lives calendar was produced, as the majority of the content included in the eight editions was my own it was inevitable the day would come when the supply would be exhausted.

It was in July 2012 that another of the towns famous landmarks was hit by the phantom flame flinger of old Walsall town when the premises once occupied by J. R. Boak in Bridgeman Street was destroyed by fire. A picture of their premises occupies the left side of the front cover along with a great view taken in the late 1940s from the Savoy Cinema down Park Street towards The Bridge.Cover « Read the rest of this entry »