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Alaska.
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Saint John The Baptist, Halesowen. Dating from the 12th Century, and possibly the oldest Church in the Blackcountry.


It would be very remiss of anyone, not to include the beliefs of the population, in even the briefest history of the region. It has had an enormous influence, on the way in which both the economy, and social conditions, developed. The old established Church, not for thr first time, found itself with conflicting views, on the standards of the population as a whole. Many Clergy railed against the drunken and depraved state of their flock, unsavable lost souls, as one put it, but did very little to relieve the cause's. There were other Religions of course, but these tended to be aimed at the elite of society, rather than the masses. A breath of fresh air blew through the Black Country in 1770, when John Wesley came to preach a new way. Methodism had arrived. From humble beginnings, the message spread, and Chapels started to spring up, attracting people from all walks of life. Dispite this success, not everyone was happy, and a dispute led to a breakaway group, " The Primitive Methodists ", who established themselvs in some of the most deprived area's. One of these was in Cradley Heath, and soon, evangelical preachers were spreading the message. Religion in the area was thus split, between the established Church, who tended to concentrate on the upper classes, and Methodists, who confined their work to a lower level. The photograph below, depicts one of the many gatherings organised by the Primitive Methodists, this one was held for all the local Sunday School children in 1908.



Just down the road, in Halesowen, there were " The Particular Baptists ", a group who had themselves broken away from " The Anabaptists ", and set up their own Chapel. It must have been established before 1808, as the whole family of one of my ancesters, were baptised there. To obtain this service though, you would have needed to be one of the select few, and it was not a widely supported way of life. By the 1820s, the Primitive movement in Cradley Heath had grown, and the place they were using to meet and conduct services, was far from ideal. The old nailers shop, in Tibbets Gardens, near five ways, was abandoned in favour of a small cottage, and in 1841, they built their first Church, in Graingers Lane. The nucleus of all this activity was the Darlaston Circuit, the leading light of whom was James Bonser.  In 1821, on a tour, which included Cradley Heath, he managed to convert several members of two local families. The Billinghams, and the Tibbetts. A roll of names was produced in 1827, and of the 36 names on it, 16 were from these two families, 9 Tibbetts, and 7 Billinghams. They remained, and possible still do, staunch supporters of the movement. The two Methodist groups, Primitive and Wesleyan exsisted side by side, for over a hundred years, until in 1932, burying the hatchet so to speak, they amalgamated. The contribution they have made, in education, social responsibilty, self help, and working conditions has been immense. We are almost at the stage, where there are now, more Chapels and Churches, than there are Public House's. That would surely have pleased some of the old " Firey Ranters " of the past, looking to raise the wayward morals of their flocks. We may all not follow the faith, we may all not believe, but you have to admire some of the founders of the early movement, Like William Tibbetts 1783-1855, and his wife Mary Maria, who devoted many years to the Church. For those searching this subject for a long dead relative, a copy of the names will be found in the  " Images from the Forum "  album,  in the gallery.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 28, 2011 at 11:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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John Wesley, mobbed in 1743, on a visit to Wednesbury.




John Wesley must have been an extrodinary speaker, for prior to going to Cradley Heath, he preached at Cradley. Now lots of folks get confused with the two locations, especially today, as both places, being so close, seemed to have somehow merged. They havn't, mainly because the present population are so proud of their roots, And quite right too, Cradley, Worcestershire, is a very ancient settlement. Wesley got a better reception than he expected, and the seeds of what followed, were well and truly sown. The large crowd, which gathered to hear him at " The Dungeon Head ", a beer house in Cradley's High Street, didn't have much money between them, but what they did have, was faith. Before long, these early methodists had a small chapel, in Butchers Lane. The nearest methodist circuit was Birmingham, and to this they aligned themselves. They were reported to be so poor at one stage, that they could only afford a preacher, every 3 months. But they persisted. In 1786, they were compelled to sell the chapel, to a Mr Best, who promptly dismantled it, using the bricks to build the Parish Church. The Wesleyens, still short of funds, moved their meeting to a private house, not a stones throw from the new " second hand " Church. Another religious group, " The Presbyterians ", fortuitously decided to build themselves a new Chapel, at Nertherend, and agreed to sell the old one, at Cradley Forge, to the Wesleyans. A great piece of goodluck, of which they made the most of. The pace of religion now picked up, so, we come upon one James Bowater, and his family, who had moved from Quarry Bank, and had became a devout follower of the Cradley Forge society, but now found the new Chapel too far away. They simple opened up their house for prayer meetings, for those in the same boat. Within a short space of time, it was too small, so an old Nail Wharehouse, in Butchers Lane was purchased, and converted into two levels. One part for the children of the Sunday School , the other for the adult services. Joining the Dudley Circuit, they aquired the use of the Rev. Joseph Sutcliffe, who turned out to be a prized asset. So successful was the Sunday School, that more space was needed, and once again the generousity of another religious group, was forthcoming. This was to become something of a feature of Black Country religion, the sharing of facilities, for the good of all. The Baptists it was this time, who gave them accomodation in their Chapel, in 1825. Plans were already in place though, for a larger Chapel, and work started, late in 1825, at Lyde Green. Apart from a few donations, when the new Chapel opened in 1826, and named " Ebenezer Chapel ", the cost had been borne entirely by the congregation. Quite a feat in 1826, and repeated in 1839 when a house for the Minister was also built, a donation from the Wesleyan Methodist Connextion fund being the only help they received. As I said before, education was foremost with the Methodists, no matter which branch it was, and it led on to more schooling, a vast and long overdue improvement in society and living conditions. Just like in Cradley Heath, there have been families, strongly assocciated with, and supporting all this effort. William Brazier, who served as a Teacher and Secretary for 45 years, his relatives, George Snr, George Jnr, John, Samuel, Adam, and Enoch, all deserve a mention, as do Joseph Bloomer, George Taylor, Henry Clift, and John Worton. Lets not forget the wifes as well, for behind every one of these stalwarts of the Methodist movement, there were some strong and supportive women. Once again, there's a picture in the gallery album.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 29, 2011 at 10:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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1770, wasn't of course, the first time John Wesley had visited the region. He was there in 1743 as well, although he wasn't so well received. Appearing and preaching in Wednesbury, his views went down like a lead brick. It's not so surprising then, that most of his preaching was done from the back of a horse, with an eye no doubt on a swift exit. A visit to nearby Darlaston fared not much better, stiring up the locals, to such an extent, that in October 1743, the event called  The Wednesbury Riots began. Wesley was twice taken before the local Magistrates, the mob complaining about these new ideas, but each time was set free. It was rumoured, that at one stage his life was in great danger, but was saved by the actions of a local Collier, George Clifton. Remarkably, Darlaston became the centre of the Black Countries Methodist movement, and from there, rapidily spread amongst the population. By 1770, the movement had reached most of the Townships that made up the region, a strong group having become well established in West Bromwich. It was a native of the Town, Francis Asbury, whom Wesley chose, in 1771, to carry the message to America, which he did in spectacular fashsion. He was already well known as a travelling preacher throughout the region, and dedicatedly volunteered to spend the rest of his life at the task. During the next 45 years, he became something of a legend in his adopted new homeland, covering, on horse back mainly, almost 275,000 miles. Despite never becoming an Amercan citizen, he was pursueded to take on the role of the first Methodist Bishop, a post which greatly upset John Wesley. In honour of his work, in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge, unvailed a statue of Asbury, seated on a horse, in the Capital, Washington DC. Not bad for a " tough as old boots "  Black Country lad. Another member of the same circuit, and also from West Bromwich, didn't fare so well though, in the Missionary stakes. William Ault, baptised in the Church of All Saints, in 1786, was born in the top end of Spon Lane. His parents were already devout Methodists, so there was no doubt in which direction he would be heading as he grew up. By the age of 7, thanks to his Father Jabez Ault, he had read the Bible 6 times, cover to cover. Like his father, he became a shoe maker, joined the Chapel, and when he was just turned 23, chosen to become an itinerant preacher. ( In the footsteps of Wesley and Asbury ) William, was a leading light, in setting up the first Wesleyan Sunday School, 1803, in West Bromwich, and became one of it's first teachers. In 1813, Doctor Coke, a Missionary of many years experience, was given the task of putting together an Asiatic Mission, and William Ault was chosen to work in Ceylon. Although the Methodists rarely picked married man for this job, William was so well thought of, that he was allowed to get married, prior to leaving, and taking his new bride with him. Unknown to the happy couple, she, during the nursing of her very ill sister, had contacted the disease from which she later died, Tuberculosis. Her symtoms showed up before the passage began, but Doctors advised, that the sea air and sunshine would be benificial, so, on 31st December 1813, off they went. It was to be a terrible trip. Winter gales.one after the other, damaged and destroyed some of the little convoy, Mrs Ault never left her tiny cabin, and on 9th February, 1814, she died, and was buried at sea. As they were approaching the Seychelles, the Missionary leader, Doctor Coke, also died, and was in turn, buried at sea. After calling in at Bombay, it took a further 6 weeks to reach Galle, Ceylon. Poor Williams trial were not yet over, the place assigned to him, a small outpost called Batticaloa, was still over 200 miles away, and the journey was fraught with danger. The native sailing barge took 8 days to complete the trip, with a lazy and careless crew, William almost his life twice. As it was, he lost all his possesions. Batticaloa was a grim place, riddled with all kinds of desease and sickness, but William set too, and learned some of the local Tamil language. In less than 8 months, living in a leaky, mud built house, without proper food and drink, and the constant biting of insects, his health was shattered. Taking to his bed, with just his Scriptures for company, he died on 1st April, 1815, just about 14 months after his wife. He was the first of the Asiatic Mission to die on Asian soil, and there is today, a small monument to the Rev. William Ault, in Batticaloa. An acomplished musician, he wrote about 50 tunes for the Methodist Hymnal, one of which was " Spon Lane ", which is still sung today, and a fitting epitaph, to a brave West Bromwich Wesleyan soul.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 30, 2011 at 11:07 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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The Darlaston Methodist Circuit, was the largest in the Black Country, most Wesleyan Chapels, being affiliated to it. Of great benefit to the smaller groups, who could not afford a permanent Minister, were the many preachers who travelled around this circuit. They could do nothing of course, to prevent the disagreement, and split, which arose over Bible interpretation. Small groups, adopting the name Primitive Methodists, reflecting a shift of worship to older interpretations, began to appear. They were certainly present in Cradley, Cradley Heath, Halesowen, and Rowley Regis, before 1816, but not in any sizable numbers until 1820. Despite it's strong Wesleyan roots, Darlaston also suffered a split, when in 1821, Samson Turner, from Wolverhampton began to preach in the Town. Some records suggest, that in 1824, a Chapel was built in Willenhall Street, but by 1834, it was too small. Bell Street, was the site chosen for a new Chapel, which was completed in 1836. It was, as it turned out, an unfortunate place to build. The Chapel was expanded in the early 1900s as once again, more room was needed. Rather novel at the time, was the new fangled Electric lighting, and this was added as well. The chosen site now displayed, what, in Darlaston, was becoming a bit of a nightmare. The Coal seams, some of which were close to the surface, had a nasty habit of spontaneously combusting, and this happened in 1908. Unfortunately, the fire was  directly below the Chapel, which caused cracks and subsidence. The Chapel was doomed. Undaunted, The Primitive Methodists planned, and built, a third Chapel. this time in Slater Street, where it still stands today. Some members still like to call themselves Primitive Methodists, but in reality, this group rejoined the Wesleyan Movement back in 1932. Yes, they may all thank John Wesley for his efforts, but at one time, they very nearly lynched him.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 31, 2011 at 3:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Wednesbury of course, owes a great deal, to another Religious group, and one family in perticular. The Quakers, and the Lloyds. The Lloyds originally came from Dolobran, in Montgomeryshire, and settled in Birmingham, Samson Lloyd, and his son, Samson Lloyd II, were the founders of the Bank that still carries their name. Samson II married Sarah Parkes, in 1727, her father, Richard Parkes, being the owner of Hobs Hole Colliery, in Wednesbury. They had 17 children, one of whom was Samuel Lloyd, whose son Samuel Lloyd Jnr, born in 1795, left an indelible mark on Wednesbury. Commonly known as "Quaker Lloyd", his first major step, was to improve and expand the old Park Ironworks, and he was well known for wearing clothes of the " Society of Friends ". He and his wife, set up home at The Hollies, Hall Green, in 1823. He was the Towns best employer, treating his workman kindly, and was much admired by them. Quaker Lloyd died in 1862, and the entire works were sold to The Patent Shaft Axletree Company, in 1867. His son, Samuel III, moved to Birmingham and produced a new Bible. Another son, Francis Henry Lloyd, founded a new company, F.H. Lloyd, at James Bridge. Later on, another son, Wilson Lloyd, became a J.P, then an Alderman, and lastly, in 1885 and 1882, an M.P. In 1888, he was elected Wednesbury's second Mayor. His brother, William Henry Lloyd, was also a J.P, and in turn, served as Wednesbury's fourth Mayor, with his Sister, Anna Lloyd, as Mayoress. To complete the tale, at the foundation of the Towns Science School, William presented a fine stained glass window. It all came to an end in 1908, when the family moved to Hatch Court, Taunton, Somerset. An impressive legacy of achivement, for such a small religious group, Wednesbury should be proud.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 6, 2011 at 3:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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The Travelling Preachers were always popular, taking the Gospel to wherever it was needed. ( Whether they wanted it or not ) A whole variety of aids were used to attract a crowd, mobile pump organs, musical instruments, large bells, in fact anything that made a noise. Starting out in life as a miner, and a hard drinking one at that, George Aldridge was often seen in the pubs of Rowley Village. It was a custom at the time, around 1900, for Church members to go round these dens of iniquity, and give out pamphlets decrying the demon drink. George read one of these, was impressed, and went to the Wesleyan Chapel, in Hawes Lane. He soon became a lay preacher, then, really getting the bug. an Evangelist. Supported by the West Midlands Federation of Free Churches, he then went on the road for the next 10 years. His cheerful disposition, and  the fact that he could play a Concertina, made him very welcome around the Hop-fields of Worcestershire. To help him along with his religious weekly meetings, he aquired a Magic Lantern, and a collection of slides. His mode of transport consisted of a sturdy Horse, a Gypsy-style Caravan decorated with his message, and proclaiming he was a Converted Collier. It's was a hard life on the road, and George's health began to fail, so sadly, in 1916, he had to give it all up. Undaunted, he next set up a shop in Rowley Village, helped by some of his admirers, amongst them George Cadbury. He carried on with some church work, and, to his delight, in 1921, was appointed Sub Postmaster of Rowley Village. This Post he held for the next 25 years. He remained a staunch supporter of the Free Church movement up until he died, aged 86, in 1962. Fondly remembered in Rowley is George Aldridge, and the surrounding area, especially by the old Hop-pickers.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Not every Preacher on the Methodist circuit was as good as he said he was. There are many across the region who were downright rogues, the Rev Jonathon Bell, was one such individual, devoid of morals it seems. Blackheath in 1890s, was still a sort of frontier town. Less than 20 years before, it had been just a collection of ramshackle houses, at the bottom of Rowley Hill. One part of it however, at the top of Long Lane, had been a thriving little community since the 1790s. This became known as New England, and originally was part of the Parish of Hill, Halesowen. It had it's own shops, public house, chapel, and the main source of income was Nailing. It may have been a bit rough and ready, but it had developed some strict moral codes, and most of it's inhabitants were law abiding, honest, and decent folk. ( I may be a bit biased here, as a great many of my relatives were born there.) Enter the Rev Bell, a family man from Burnley, in Lancashire, who was at the time living in Station Road, Blackheath, with his Wife and 6 children. He had been appointed some years before, as the circuit Minister, his main aim in life being to drive out the demon drink, with a dedicated Temperance campaign. His standing within the Primitive Methodist Chapel goers was high, although not every was in favour of his preachings. To achieve his aims, he had gathered a small group around him, who supported the many temperance meetings he held, with Hymn singing. Among the group was a young woman Emma Hall, just turned 22, with a nice voice, and possibly an even nicer figure. Being an only child, her parents had paid out to have her trained as a Dressmaker, no nasty Iron bashing for young Emma. So it came to pass, when The Rev Bells 7th child was due, that he asked her to " live in " for a few days, to help with the nursing. This was in the summer of 1894, and by the winter of the same year, young Emma had to break the bad news to the randy Rev, that she was up the duff. Oh dearie me, you can just picture the look of sheer horror on the Reverend's face when she told him. His comfortable little life was about to be shattered by a scandel, his job and reputation would be laid to ruin, and in all likeyhood, Emma's father would drive a series of red hot nails into his groin. Quick thinking got him off the hook for a while, he begged Emma to keep silent, and promptly skipped off to America, after saying he needed treatment for his throat, ( wrong body part I would have thought ) to plan the next part of his operation. After several weeks, he returned to the busom of his family and flock, and, taking Emma aside, explained that he had arranged a little operation for her in Detroit. Emma probably didn't even know where this was, but she went along with his plan. Telling her parents she was off to Leeds to visit friends, Emma, with a Steamer ticket, and money for expenses, set off from Liverpool in January 1895. telling her family she was travelling as a companion to a wealthy woman. It did not go according to plan,  for a start Emma's parents recieved no letters for many weeks, as their daughter had promised to write, and were on the verge of going to the police, when news from across the big pond arrived. It had been reported in a Detroit newspaper, that a young woman had died, after undergoing an illegal operation, in February. She been there only 10 days, and nobody knew who she was, or where she came from at the time. Unfortunatly for the randy reverend, before Emma sadly passed away in a Detroit Hospital she told someone her story. This caused both the Doctor who performed the botched job, and the Woman who had arranged it all, to be swiftly arrested. Even more unfortunatly for him, the police had found all the letters that had passed as well, including all the addresses. When the news arrived in Blackheath in April, all hell broke loose. It burst like a bomb over the district, and a mob, intent on stringing up the pervert preacher, descended on his house in Station Road. They set up a makeshift gallows on the archway of the Railway tunnel, and it was with some difficulty, that the police at last gained order. As he had not commited any offence in this country, there was nothing to be done about here, and all hopes of at least getting a bit of restitution in America were dashed. The Detroit police could not prove he was implicated, a witness refused to make a statement, and an extradition warrant failed. The Rev Jonathan Bell, seized the oportunity, and, hurriedly packing, made great haste leaving the area. Where he went is a mystery, no one ever heard anything further of him. He had vanished, so it seems, off the face of the earth. Perhaps he was helped by some devine intervention. I can't help thinking, that unlike some circumstances today, the police response was just a bit too fast.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 10, 2011 at 4:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Unicorn
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Even in this day and age you cannot always trust the clergy were sex is concerned.

June 11, 2011 at 11:29 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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I've said before, there's something in the makeup of the natives of the Black Country that seems to rebel when it cames to religion. There are non-conformist Chapels all over the place. As early as the 1670s, parish records suggest, that about a third of the population failed to attend Church. This was at the time when you could be fined for not going as well. It didn't help that some Vicars were merely the Lord of the Manors hirelings, only there to do his bidding, not take up causes on behalf of the serfs. Then there were the Vicars, who like George Barrs, the famous Rowley " mouth almighty ", who upset much of the local population, which his constant preaching on the evils of drink and fornication. I'm not sure which of the two subjects upset the locals the most, but not many Pubs shut down. John Wesley, when he arrived, caused quite a few to think seriously about their faith, and soon, small groups began to form. On the top of Rowley Hill meanwhile, things had started much earlier. George Colborne, had a house licensed for worship in July 1672, followed 2 months later by John Turton. It was not always clear, just which non-conformist religion was being observed, nor the exact location. One was registered at 'Tylers Green', which didn't exsist, and another at 'Bildocks Green',  which was possible was in Cradley Heath, given that James Sidaway was associated with the area. The main religious factions however,seem to be Methodists and Baptists, which both have different spin offs, in the form of Primitive, and Calvanistic followings. Some more extreme than others. The Parkes is an old one in Rowley, so it would come as no suprise to learn that one of them Joseph Parkes, succeeded in licensing a room in his house in 1821. This small group was for " Protestant Dissenters ", and it was possibly intended as a dig at the Rowley Vicar. The Wesleyan Methodists, after using many places, finally completed a Chapel, near to where Club Buildings stood, now Stanford Drive, in 1862. Daniel Matthews, a Baptist of the rather Strict kind, founded a small Chapel in Rowley Village, which eventually became too small. In 1875, the rather handsome Chapel in Mincing Lane, Bell End, replaced it. It should be explained that strict, actually does mean strict, there were no fancy trimmings inside, no heating, and certainly no Organ. The music was provided, as they interpreted from the bible, by proper musicians, Violins, Piano, and a little brass band. They did though, give way at times to progress, daringly riding bikes, and using some of the new fangled gadgets. This did not go down well with some of the older members, who thought that a return to basic's should be made. In 1895, a group of worshippers, under the leadership of one Joseph Ruston, finally split from the Chapel when an Organ was installed, This was a step too far, and they went on to build another place of worship in Hawes Lane. This they called The Ebenezer Chapel. Needless to say, it did not have an Organ, nor did it have Lights or Heating. It did however survive, but thats another story.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

July 1, 2011 at 4:38 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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No study or article on the subject, would be even remotely finished, without a brief history of one of the Black Countries campaigning Vicars. The Rev George Barrs, was born in the tiny hamlet of Caldedcote, just north of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in 1771. His baptism date is given as 1st September, 1771. His father, Robert Barrs, was a local landowner and farmer, whose own family had originated from the small hamlet of Bulkington, also in the county of Warwickshire, just south of Nuneaton. It was usual in these times, for younger male children, who had no chance of a large inheritence, to be sent off either to learn Law, or into the ranks of the Clergy. George, if he had any choice in the matter, choose the Church. Where he was educated remains a mystery at the moment, but the family home, was close to both the Holyhead to London Road (A5), and the Coventry Canal. This canal had a connection with the Grand Union, at Rugby.  Why George Barrs, at the age of 29, choose the Parish of Rowley, as a place to settle is anyones guess, perhaps he fancied a bit of a challange. He certainly  found one. Not only was the church, Saint Giles, a bit run down, the inhabitants were, so he said, a drunken idle mob. Thankfully, he kept a journal, and made many notes in the parish registers. One of his first tasks, was to have the parish surveyed for taxes an tithes due to the church. This did not go down well, and was to be the start of the Vicars long, and at times,arduous battle with the locals. His long desperate fight for a new Church, would last almost 40 years, and before it was finally completed, he died. During his time as Vicar, he was a keen observer of his parishoners, and recorded some of his observations. In March,1800, he wrote of the death of Joseph Windsor, whom he noted, " lived like an infidel ". Joseph was at the time, the governor of the Workhouse, on the Pensnett Road, at Tipperty Green. He recorded the sad death of the young nailer, Alice Rolison in 1802, which I have covered elsewhere. Another man David Parsons, went stark raving mad, was taken to Bilston, died, and was bought back for burial. Mary Foxall was burnt to death by accident, Henry Edmunds, not yet 11, was killed down a mine in Brierley Hill in 1803. The young lads clothes became caught in a coal skip on the way up, and he failed to hang on long enough. Drink though, was the cause of a lot of his wrath, and when the wife of Daniel Johnson from Portway, boasted of outliving her son William, and then died within 12 hours, he must have inwardly smiled a little. He recorded other drunken deaths as well, John Homer, ( 1807 ) Joseph Hackett, who spent very little on food, but a fortune on ale. There were others of course, some " fell " into the canal, and some " fell" down shafts, some fell asleep outside in the fields in winter, and the preachings against drunken and idle behaviour became ever more forthright. His main subject though, was the state of the church. It had been repaired in many places, the local stone, Rowley Rag, was an unsuitable material, and bricks had been used in places, especially to support the Tower, The interior floor was simply trampled earth, and during rain, it resembled a sea of mud. George Barrs, not a man to give in easily, rolled up his sleeves, and got on with the battle for the Church, and of course, a few souls along the way, would come in nicely as well. The Rev Barrs had many detractors. Some were unhappy at his evangelical preaching, some, his bitter opposition to the so called sports of Cock Fighting, and others to his outspoken views on the subject of Bull Baiting. ( A regular venue for this, was a farm at the foot of Slack Hillock. ) John Beet, a wealthy local man, never entered the church because of Barrs views until 1822, when he became, surprisingly, a Church Warden. He then began to support the movement to rebuild the church. Rev Barrs, left behind a sketch of the Church Tower, the only part of the building he seemed to like. It would seem to be medieval, although much repaired with a different kind of stone. ( Images Album, Gallery.) Not until 1836, did the intrepid Vicar make much headway, when it was agreed to sell off the glebe lands at Blackheath. Many arguments ensued, but by 1838, plans had been drawn up, although they required alterations before work began in 1839. Out and about around the parish, in bad weather, took a toll on George Barrs health, he was 67 at this time. In October of 1840, he took to his bed, never to arise again, his 40 years of ministering to the flock of Rowley, came to an end. He never got to see the rebuilt Church, and it was left to his successer, The Rev William Crump, to oversee the consecration of the building, in 1841. It was to last just 72 years, beeing burnt down in 1913. He would be pleased to see that another Church now stands in it's place, the faith he had in his Black Country flock has been fully vindicated.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

July 7, 2011 at 11:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Amongst all the joyful hymn singing, that reverberated around the Black Country, well certainly in the more pious area's. I was just wondering, if this one I came across, would have been included. It smacks of the old Victorian attitudes towards death and destruction, was written for the Colliers, who toiled long and hard, and remind's them of the price they may be paying. The words were found on a document, relating to The Old Park Colliery, Dudley, in the mid 1850s.


Come all ye Christian Colliers,

Who labour under ground;

Who know that Jesus died to save,

And who have mercy found.


From toil and danger you shall rise,

To that celestial plain,

There join the ransomed in the skies,

And never part again.


You are exposed to accidents,

Also to sudden death;

The coals may fall and crush you down,

The damp may choke your breath.


In health you may go forth to work,

And in an hour be slain;

But though you may be hurried hence,

Your soul it's rest will gain.


A glorious change awaits you there;

And you will have a crown,

And for a seat upon the earth,

A seat upon the throne.


To harps of gold you'll sing the praise,

Of him for sinners slain;

And death and parting done away,

And freed from toil and pain.


Then Colliers all with one accord,

To endless bliss press on;

Till Jesus from his lofty throne,

Proclaims aloud " Well done ".


As I said, all the marks of a Victorian era penny dreadful, which must have cheered many an old miner up, as he trudged to work. At least someone out in the big wide world was thinking about him, which was more than the mine owners did.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 1, 2011 at 10:05 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Now to a son of Brierley Hill, one whose oratory thrilled a great many, not just in his native town, but in Canada as well. In writing a Biography  of Arthur Thomas Guttery, the author, J.G. Bowran, also detailed the life of his subjects father, Thomas Guttery.  He was born in, or around, Locks Lane, Brierley Hill, in 1837. His father was a carpenter, but young Thomas started life as a chainmaker. Like most of the good folk of the district, the family were keen non-conformist church goers. Primitve Methodism being the favoured religious group. Thomas took a great interest in the Church, and he was soon noticed for his eloquence. By the age of twenty, he was on the road spreading the message and preaching as far away as Oswestry. The next year he was offered a ministry at Tunstall, concidered by many to be the starting point of Primitive Methodism. He was paid the princely sum of £9. 10s a quarter. Next port of call, was Dawley, in Shropshire, where he began to perfect his talking skills. Then he went on to preach at Birmingham, Leominster, and Shrewsbury. He was a quietly spoken young man, yet he already possesed the power to captivate an audience. In 1868, he moved to Wolverhampton, and for the next 3 years, his preaching was discribed as magnificent. Living in a small house, and with a salary of just £76 a year, couldn't have been easy, and it was a great surprise to some, that when he was offered, by a different church group, £400 a year, he turned it down. In 1871, answering a call for help, he took up his roots, and went to Canada. He would be sorely missed by those he left behind, but his fame as an orator and lecturer was spreading. On his return, he went to preach in London, where his fame grew even greater, and he met many famous people. In 1890, he impressed the tough miners of Sunderland, with his impassioned speeches, and his natural ability in the Pulpit. He attracted huge crowds whenever he was due to speak. The effort of all the work he had put in though, began to have an adverse effect on his health. He was several times advised to rest, but ignored it, Finally, in 1895, he did agree to rest and went to Ilkley, but far too late to do much good. He was taken seriously ill, and died on 14th June, 1895, aged 58. His son Arthur, who had been born in 1862, although not in Brierley Hill, followed in his fathers footsteps, and became, in his own right, a primitive methodist minister. Like his father, he was also a great orator, and again, just like him, he died at a young age, 59. Thomas Guttery, who some say, saw the light at the Round Oak Chapel, in 1849, was an inspiration to all who met him.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 25, 2011 at 4:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Just a short journey down the road from Brierley Hill, lies the place which in the early 1800s, was just a rural scrubland, Cradley Heath. By 1830 though, it had expanded, but there was one thing missing, Religion. In 1833, a group of Baptists had begun a series of meeting, and about 1835, they started work on a permanent meeting place, Cradley Heath Baptist Church. This was the first Church to appear in the area, and it also became the first in another field as well. In 1837, it aquired the services of a new Minister, The Rev. George Cosens. Now, unless someone has any other information, The Rev. Cosens was the first Afro-Caribbean Minister in the Black Country. It's also believed that he was the only such Minister in the whole Country at the time. He had been born in Jamaica in about 1804, and after a bust up with his family over his religious choice, he upped sticks and sailed for England. He turned out to a very popular Baptist Minister, filling the Church and bringing in many converts. There was not enough room in the Church for all his followers, when he married Betsey Dancer in March 1841. She had been born in Brierley Hill, on 13th January, 1813, and they met through his many preaching appointments. After the wedding, they moved to more suitable accomodation in Brettle Lane, Ambelcote. In the late 1840s, he was tempted to take on another Ministry, ( more money I suspect ) out in the rural ideal of Worcestershire. This time it was Bewdley, and he and his wife settled down for a few years in the riverside towns High Street. Once again, the popular Minister, moved on, this time, encouraged by a member of his congegation, to start a School. The place chosen, was the little market town of Kington, Herefordshire. As well as day scholars, he also took in boarders, in the house come School called Bath Cottage. To date, the union had produced no children, and for whatever reason, never did. It's not been recorded when he moved again, but by the 1870s, they were back living in Cradley Heath, at number 30, King Street, and he was back as the towns Baptist Minister. He was a campaigner for better conditions, and Betsy would always put herself out to help the needy. The stay this time was longer, and he was still an active minister when death overtook him in late 1881. I havn't as yet found where he is buried, but it may well be Saint Lukes Church.  A far cry from his birth place in Jamaica, but near to the people who admired and honoured his memory. Betsey went on for another 14 years, finally dying in a house provided by the Church, in Quarry Bank, in 1895. So a first then for Cradley Heath, which is quite appropiate at the moment, it being Black History Month.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

October 19, 2011 at 2:53 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Now not everyone who called themselves " Reverend ", was actually a Vicar, or a Minister. The Rev. Richard Nightingale though, was indeed a Minister, of the Zion Baptist Church in Tipton. How he ever came to be mixed up with two self styled Bible bashers is something of a mystery. Following the awful Railway Accident at Brierley Hill, in 1858, one of them, the " Rev " James Bailey, managed to get himself the position of Foreman of the Jury, at the subsequent Inquest, held at the Bell Hotel, Brierley Hill. He was in fact, a lay preacher, a Iron Worker by trade, and a door to door salesman for his Baptist Chapel. While serving in his Jury role, he also took on the job of looking after the spirtual needs of his " flock," a great many of whom, had been injured in the rail crash. Assisted by the " Rev " Charles Perry, another bible reader, and a Doctor Walker, he took the chance to demonstrate his total commitment to the Christian way, by helping to negotiate compensation for their fellow beings. He negotiated a little deal, with the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton Railway Company as well, which entitled him to a little commission, every time he managed to reduce the amount paid out. So every time he or Perry visited a victim, allegedly to discuss spitual matters, the good Doctor, suitably equipped with black bag and a large roll of Banknotes, was always " passing nearby ". Non of this came to light, until comments were made by some of the victims to the Press. Some members of the jury, worried, that already the Bible Bashing Bailey was making comments about how well the OWW was treating the poor victims, and fearing that he was influencing the decision, complained to the Coroner, T.M Phillips, Esq. The more questions that were asked, the more the involvement of the Rev Bailey became clear. Rev Nightingale, appalled at the implications withdrew his help, so did Perry, fearing public retribution. Bailey however, refused point blank to resign from his role, until it came out that he had talked one injured victim into accepting £80, and another £50, when the going rate was £100. The Coroner then " invited " him to step down, otherwise he would be forced to pass on the Inquest to higher authorities. Still protesting his innocence, the so called " Man of God ", left with a great deal of bad grace. I wonder just how much, ( and I don't blame the OWW, as this kind of thing still goes on ) he stood to make from gaining a favourable verdict, on behalf of the Company. A clear case I should think, of " Greed before God ".

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 4, 2012 at 12:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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