Black Country Muse

Subtitle

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > Tale's from the region. > Walsall.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall, Pigs, Saddles, Leather.




Anyone asked what they know about Walsall, will always say, "Saddles and Leather Working".  It also has other claims to fame, well it did have, back in the dim mists of time. Shown, on some of the early 19th Century maps, just off the High Street, is the Pig Market. Concidered in the 1820s, to be the largest of it's kind, anywhere in the country, it seems to have disappeared from the collective memory. Some of you will remember, that a lot Black Country families kept one or two Pigs, in ramshackle styes, in the back yards of the of terraced houses, that lined most streets. During the last War, they were kept fed, on the meagre scraps that were left over, from some equally meagre Wartime rations. A hundred years before, the Pigs were kept not just for food, but for profit as well. Pig breeding was almost on a professional level, and trading was extensive. A typical Market day, would see hundreds of them sold on, either for breeding, or food, at the many slaughter houses that sprang up. Almost every street had a good " pig sticker ", who could be relied upon, to not only dispatch the animal, but to carve it all as well. The resulting Ham, Bacon, and sides, would then be salted or smoked, hung up in kitchens and outhouses, ready for future consumption. Brawne was a perticular favourite. It all died out after the War, and that rather strong pong, that wafted through the still air, went with it. Ah well, such is progress.


--

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

June 23, 2011 at 11:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall, Ironworks, Limestone, Pleck, Bentley, Hatherton Furnaces, Mining Accidents, Pelsall.




There are some people, who would not put the whole of Walsall, in the Black Country at all. I do not subscribe to this idea, as I generally follow sound advice, and base my own asumptions on the extent of the Staffordshire Coal Field, and the extraction of Iron and Lime Stone. Both of which are to found in, and around Walsall. The area was discribed in the 1850s, as being full of smoke and fire, with black and grimy dwellings, and noise which never seemed to cease. Now if thats not an industrial landscape. I don't know what is. Apart from the Iron and Gas works, and the Rolling mills and workshops of Pleck, there's not much sign of any other major activity to the South of the Town. At Bentley, there were Quarries and Brick Works, but the main industrial part seems to be around the top of the old Green Lane area. The Staffordshire Iron Works sat at the side of the Essington Canal Branch, a bit further north, two large Tube Works, and beyond that, The Hatherton Furnaces, and the Spelter Works. The coal to power all this, came from both Wednesbury, and again to the north, from the mines at Pelsall, and Pelsall Wood. There were at least 4 pits in this area, The Moat, owned by J.D.Fellows, The Fishley, recorded in 1866, The Highbridge, owned by Enoch Crapper, ( I didn't make that name up ) and the oldest mine, Pelsall Hall, which was sunk in the 1840s by Davis/Bloomer and Sons. It was sold to Hill Brothers about 1857, and then to Morgan and Starkey in 1864. They in turn sold out in 1873, to the Pelsall Coal and Iron Company, not because the mine was unprofitable, but because of a disaster that occured in 1872. This was Walsall's worst accident in mining, 22 Men and boys were drowned. I can only speculate, that either they broke through into some old mine workings, or got a bit to close to the Canal. I can't find any records at the moment, so doe's anyone have knowledge of, or access to a Newspaper or Coroners report. I would be most grateful, as most of the dead came from Walsall, and there's not a record that I can find there either. Apart from just three, I have the names of 19 of the 22 victims, which I have listed below.


George Ball, 38, Charles Cash,21, Michael Cash, 48, George Castle, 56, Charles Cape, ?, Frank Dilices.?, Thomas Hackwood, John Hayward,38, Joseph Hollis,26, Thomas Hollis,28, John Hubbard,17, Richard Hyde,28 Stephen Lawton,12, John Qualter,43, John Roberts,15, Thomas Starkey Snr, 27, Thomas Starkey, 18, Edward Williams,12, and three others not named.


The Son and Grandson of the owner, were in the list amongst the dead. No wonder the mine was sold off. As I said, any information of the incident would be most appreciated, my email address in on the home page.

--

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

August 4, 2011 at 4:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall, Coal Miners, Ironworkers, Saddlers, Census Records.




Looking through some old records, I came across some interesting facts for the town, at the start of the 20th century. It concerns the many other occupations that were available in Walsall. The count, tellingly, includes the working age of just 10, which although not illegal, was a moral issue at the time. Not just the male population were listed, but what the females were employed at as well.


Railways. 1,195 employed, Coal Miners, 2,487 employed. Iron and Steel Making, 1,535 employed, Engineering Workers, 2,332 employed, Brass and Bronze workers, 174 employed, Lock and Key Makers, 327 employed, White Smiths and Electro Platers, 352 employed, House Building, 2,154 employed, Leather Goods, 865 employed, Saddlery and Harness Makers, 4,435 employed, Broom and Brush Making, 190 employed, and the town had 459 Tailors as well.


What about the women then, well they did not have quite so many trades to choose from, but they seem to have been busy all the same.


Domestic Servants, 1,965 employed, Brass and Bronze Making, 32 employed, Lock and Key Making, 48 employed, Leather Goods, 374 employed, Saddlery and Harness Makers, 3,194 employed, Brush and Broom Making, 359 employed, Tailoresses, 1,154 employed, and, out doing the males, 583 Milliners and Dressmakers were hard at work in the town.


The Town had a population at the time of around 85,000 people, which puts the workforce at around 34%. Given that a large proportion would be children and mothers, and not every trade was listed, I'd say that was almost 100% employment. If only we could say that today.

--

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

September 9, 2011 at 3:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall, Saint Matthews Church.


Going through the town recently, we decided to take a quick look in the market. One building always catches the eye, the parish Church of Saint Matthews. It's been on that hill, for well over 700 years, looking down on all the industry that has, sadly, come and gone. No one knows for sure, just when the church was built, best estimate is between the 14th and 15th centuries. Most of what can be seen today, is a rebuild of 1821, but the Tower, Spire,( added in 1775 ), and the Chancel are original.



No Saxon or Norman works to see, and the parish records only start in 1570. Hidden in the old choir stalls though, are some of the finest surviving medieval carvings in Staffordshire. They are on what are called " Misericords ", tip up seats used by the older members of the clergy. They are reputed to pre-date the desolution of the monastries in 1536, which would indeed put the building of the Church to at least 1500AD, or before. The market itself, dates from at least a charter of 1120AD, which means that people were selling goods on the site even before that. The Carvings are well worth a look, and are Walsall's little hidden treasure's. Sadly, we didn't find many bargains in the market, which, given the economic climate, wasn't really a disappointment.

--

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

September 25, 2011 at 11:30 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall, Anarchists, Bullows Foundry, Explosives, Stafford Gaol.


Now I was just wondering, what the citizens of Walsall  know about  the subject of Anarchist's. From past history, the townsfolk have always displayed a stubborn attitude to change, and a similar stance was taken to oppression. I bet though, that not many realise that the town was the focus of a so called Anachist Plot, to cause explosions and general unrest. There have always been those opposed to Governments and rules, no more so than in the latter part of the 19th Century. From the 1880s, across Europe and a large part of the World, assasinations, robberies, and explosions, were the order of the day. This made many Governments a bit on the nervous side, and certain tactics were employed to combat this " foreign menace ". In 1892, it was the turn of Walsall, to be cast into the spotlight. It starts with a Norwich man, Frederick Charles Slaughter, who some years before had dropped the last part of his name, to become just plain Fred Charles. He was a follower of the Anachist Movement, and had spoken for many years on the subject. In 1891, short of work in his native Norfolk, he made the long trip to Sheffield, seeking a job. Out of luck there, he took a friends advice and arrived in Walsall, where he got work in an Iron Foundry. ( More than likely, Bullows Foundry ) There were of course, others in the town who thought in a like manner, and soon, he had joined the Socialist Club, the Secretary of which was Joseph Thomas Deakin. The Police, who kept a watchful eye on all Anachist activity, soon began to suspect something was afoot. Following the arrest in London of a suspect, the Walsall Police were asked to detain certain individuals. Frederick Charles, Joseph Deakin, and William Ditchfield, another local ironworker, were promptly apprehended. Several more arrests followed, including Victor Cailes, a Frenchman, Jean Battola, and Italian, and another local man, John Wesley. They were all charged with Possesing Explosives with intent, despite there being non found, and sent off to Stafford Gaol, to await a trial.



The town was in an uproar at the news, and most of the members of the Socialist Club were thrown under suspicion as well. The premises, at 18, Goodall Street, were searched, when the celler was found to contain nothing more sinister than a pile of clay and straw. Such was the fear though, amongst the various authorities, that inspite of the only evidence being a sketch of a Bomb, and a clay cast of the item, the trial went ahead anyway. Amid accusations of a fit up,( which it most surely was ) it came to light, that Frederick Charles may well have been a Police spy, and he was the instigator of the whole plot. Deakin, Ditchfield and Wesley appear to have been drawn into the plot, on the grounds that any bombs made, would be used only in Russia. A letter had in fact been recieved by Bullows Foundry, asking about some castings, but describing them as " Electrical casings ". The Judge chosen for the trial at Stafford, on 24th March, was Sir Henry ( Hang'em ) Hawkin, a man not noted for any compulsion to mercy. The jury found four of the 6 Guilty, giving John Wesley and William Ditchfield the benefit of the doubt and set them free. Joseph Deakin was recommended for mercy, the jury believing that he had been duped into the act. Sir Henry ignored the rider, and sentenced him to 5 years penal servitude. Charles, Cailes and Bottola all got 10 years, although Charles only served seven and a half. They went down in history as the Walsall Martyr's, and the Authorities, far from breathing a sigh of relief, were put on a even higher state of alert. Sir Henry Hawkin had to have Police protection, as did several other figures in this travesty of justice. One poor man in nearby Handsworth, also paid a price. He was the inventor of a small explosive shell, designed to be popped down rabbit holes in Australia, and thus eliminate the pest. He was also charged with being in possesion of explosives, despite having a registered Patent for the device. He was released after 48 hours, no doubt his being of Swiss nationality helped.

--

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

January 23, 2012 at 3:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall, Divorce, Knives, Razors.


Unlike today, Divorce, was not much favoured by the population of the Black Country. Nor it seems, from elsewhere either. The macho male of the time, seemed to look upon it, as a mark of shame, or a failure to keep control of his " possession ", but was reluctant to let it all go. This was evident in an intriguing little letter in a " Flyer " distributed around Walsall at the start of the 19th century.


Edward Hollinshead, and his wife Susannah, had what most people would have said, was a fairly decent standard of life. In his home Town, Newport, Shropshire, he was a well known dealer in Buckles, Knives, Razors, Scissors, and other small Iron goods, all of which came from Birmingham, or Walsall and the Blackcountry. The couple had 3 small children, and he thought himself to be well settled. How wrong he was, became evident, when he befriended a man from Cheshire, one Charles Haswell, a maker of Leather Breeches. Haswell, was 40 years old, about 5 foot 6 inches, had Sandy thinning hair, several front teeth missing, was a bit on the plump side, and had very thin and boney legs, and was usually shabbily dressed. Business in the Town was quite good, and, running low on supplies, and unable to leave the shop, he sent his wife off to Walsall, to collect more stock. Acting the like the perfect gentleman, Haswell gallently offered to accompany her on her journey. A week went by, and they had still not returned, when Hollinshead recieved a letter from a Walsall merchant, asking for payment of goods supplied to his wife, in his name, totalling over £3. Hollinshead began to suspect that all was not well, and when a second letter arrived, with another request for money, he set off for Walsall. Unable to locate the errant couple, he had a flyer printed declaring that his wife had absconded, and he would not be responsible for any debts she ran up.The leaflet discribed Charles Haswell as already stated, and his wife as, 27 years old, wearing a double breasted riding dress, with yellow buttons, blue ribbons, and a very good quality black silk hat. She had, he said, a rather brown but fresh complexion, and was " a Jolly good looker ". He went on to explain, that should she care to return to him and the 3 children, within 14 days, and promise to behave herself in future, he would overlook, and take no further notice of what had already passed. The actions we would say, of a man desperate to get back the woman he loved. She must have been desperate as well, having read the discription of  Charles Haswell, she almost certainly had to be that, or alternatively, stark staring barking mad.

--

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

May 14, 2012 at 4:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404


For those with an interest in the History of Walsall, I have posted a couple of old Maps of both the area, including parts of Wednesbury, and the Town. The area map dates from 1775, and the other one, from 1669, which shows the Town centre lay-out, with an index to the buildings. It's takes a bit of time to get used to the writing, but well worth a look.

--

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

June 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Michael Leedham
Member
Posts: 14

Dennis a wonderful piece of writing on Walsall

--


June 15, 2013 at 9:11 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

And to be bang up to date, I see someone is suggesting, that Noddy Holder, famous member of the pop group Slade, and not a bad actor either, should be honoured with a suitabled Statue. Why not, it's about time Walsall had a few more works of art.

--

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

October 16, 2013 at 6:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.