Black Country Muse

Subtitle

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > Memorabilia From the past. > Black Country Odd Spots.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Hasbury, Joseph Smart. Himley, George Wilmot.


Did you know, that our ancesters, were just as keen as to trace their ancesters as we are. For two inhabitants of the region, 1869 must have been a very happy year. From out of the blue, Hasbury Farmer, and Halesowen Butcher, Joseph Smart, received the news that he was related to very famous ancesters, Royalty no less. The regal personage no less, was Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent, the 6th son of Edward I, otherwise known as Longshanks, because he was tall for the time, ( 6ft 2ins ) and The Hammer of the Scots. At the same time, the Himley Turn-pike Keeper, George Wilmot, who resided at Coopers Bank, Dudley, received similar news. Whether this disclosure, had any effect on their lives, is a matter of some speculation, so maybe their modern day relatives can throw some light on it. Edward I was a canny operator in his time, known for being untrustworthy, he seems to have passed on this passion for plotting to Edmund, who was found guilty of Treason, and beheaded in March, 1330. He was just 28 years old, married, and had 5 children. Anyone else want to own up as being related to Royalty?

--

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

January 29, 2012 at 2:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Stourbridge, William Thompson.


Continuing along the same lines, this time in Stourbridge, and more nearer the present day, William Thompson, in 1904, received some very welcome news. He had recently been the unwilling inmate of Stourbridge Workhouse, and at 75, was facing a very uncertain future. He was contacted by a London Solicitor, and requested to appear at Somerset House, to present documents in support of a claim for a share in a £50,000 estate. The estate in question had belonged to his Grandmother, and consisted of the proceeds of the sale of her house and land, some 62 years before. William's Father, had failed to declare an interest in the matter, after his mothers death, and the whole lot was sold, there being no valid will, and held in Chancery, until claimed. The Solicitors had tracked down two of his cousins as well, although as the law stood, whoever had the strongest evidence, inherited the lot. How all this lot worked out, I have no idea, again, perhaps the relatives of William Thompson could throw a little light on the subject. They say every cloud has a silver lining, it seems this cloud may also have had a Bolt from the Blue.

--

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

January 29, 2012 at 2:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The Earl of Dudley. Witley Court.


The old Earl of Dudley, as most Black Country folk know, was a very wealthy man, and not without some influence in the Country. He was quoted by some, as the richest and most powerful man in England. This rather high status offered no protection at all against from petty theft. On December the 19th,1874, the family left their posh London home, and were driven to Paddington Station, to board a train bound for Witley Court, their Country seat in Worcestershire. Christmas promised to be a very lively event this year, but not as dramatic as it turned out. Her Ladyship, alighting from her carriage, left her personal maid to look after her many boxes, and together with his Lordship went off to be greeted by the Station Master. One of the boxes left casually on the ground, contained some of her Ladyships finest trinkets, to wit, £15,000 worth of Rings, Necklaces, and a Tiara. Would you believe it, when they were all on the train, this box, had disappeared, the maid saying she only took her eye off it for a few seconds. A reward of £1,000 was immediately offered for it's recovery, but surprisingly, there were no takers, and this little affair would rumble on for the next two years.


Now you would again have thought, that with some light fingered cockney layabout hanging around, chancing his arm, others would learn a lesson. Despite the known dangers of travelling with rather expensive luggage, stuff kept being nicked by the coachload. By a strange and rather amusing coincidence, on 23rd January 1875, less than a month after the Countess of Dudley suffered the loss, The Duke of Edinbugh, travelling to the same Witley Court, for a spot of seasonal shooting, had some of his luggage nicked as well. You could say he should have taken a bit more care, as it disappeared from the same Station, and the same Platform, as the previous cheeky theft. Queen Victoria's son was definately not amused by this little set back, and The Great Weston Railway Company came in for a great deal of unwanted publicity. The finest minds of Scotland Yard were put on the case, and dispite arresting, and then releasing, half the crooks in London, failed to solve anything. In fact it was a complaining passenger who solved this one, searching for his missing umbrella in the Lost property room, he spotted the Dukes monogrammed Luggage in a dark corner. It was waiting to be collected, but when it was, the police were also there. Mystery solved, the stolen items never left the Station on the day they were stolen, they were simply deposited in the office, and collected when the coast was clear. But not it seems the Countess of Dudley's bit of bling. Almost 2 years later, a man, formally an employee of the old Earl. admitted to the theft. having conspired with a maid to steal it before if ever arrived at the Station. Needless to say, it was never found, it had long gone, passed through the hands of many fence's before being broken up and re-used. Ever the optimist the Earl of Dudley, what better way to spend the insurance money, than to buy a new Racehorse, at least his wife couldn't easily lose something that big.

--

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

January 29, 2012 at 3:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Wolverhampton, Towyn, Doctor Amitage.


Doctors, as we know, are hardworking professional people, who, like us, deserve a good holiday. In 1908, Doctor Armitage, having been rushed off his feet in Wolverhampton, decided to take a break in his new car, and headed of to Towyn, in mid wales. At about the same time, the Reverand Packard, who hailed from Bury St Edmunds, also took a break, and on his first Sunday evening in Towyn, was just stepping out from the local Church. Who should happen along at that moment, but Dr Armitage, driving, as he called it, "Slowly " past the same Church. Car and Vicar duly collided, the Vicar having both his legs broken, and his right ear torn off. The Car and the Doctor were apparently unhurt. Heaven knows what other damage would have been done, should the Doctor have admitted to driving " Fast ". It was no good asking the Reverend Gentleman's opinion, he died of his shocking injuries at the scene.

--

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

January 31, 2012 at 4:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Wednesbury, Francis Webb, and the Dunmow Flitch.


Did you know. that back in 1893, a Wednesbury couple. Francis and Thursa Webb, shared the prize at the Dunmow Flitch. Now if you don't know what all this was about, you can always google it. Basically, you have to prove, before a Judge and Jury, that you and your other half, have not quarrelled, or wished you had married someone else, for a period of 12 months and 1 day. The prize is a side of bacon. Mr Webb was a railway clerk, and they had been married for just 5 years. The competition has been running for over 600 years, but it fell out of favour, and was revived in 1890. It's still going on, and currently they are asking for entrants. You can download an application form online, if you think you can " honestly ", pass the test. For all I know, the Webbs cheated, and I suspect, a great many others would have to do the same.

--

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

February 1, 2012 at 4:38 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Wednesbury, Thomas Roberts and the Charge of the Light Brigade.


Staying in Wednesbury, and a sad little tale of a man who quite frankley, deserved better. On the 25th October,1854, a man called Thomas Roberts, a native of Shrewsbury, and lately living in the town of Wednesbury, mounted his horse, and rode off with the rest of his troop. As it happens, he was a Private, in the 11th Hussars, otherwise known as " Prince Alberts Own ", and he was about to take part in the greatest Cavalry charge of all time.The Charge of the Light Brigade. He didn't get as far as the Russian Guns, his horse, shot from under him, fell, never to rise again, and suffering from some severe wounds, and still under shell and rifle fire, he made his way back to the British lines. He never really recovered from his injuries, and back in Wednesbury, he found it hard to make a living. Such is the way we treat our wounded hero's. He was, poor soul, in and out of the Wolverhampton Union Workhouse, on the Bilston Road, as he struggled just to survive. Sadly, barely able to earn enough for food and lodgings, he died. in abject poverty, 28 years from the date of his wartime exploits, in November 1882. He was 65 years old. He did though, manage to avoid a paupers grave, as someone on the Town Council knew his Military history. He was buried, and I don't as yet know where, at Public expense, and with a suitable headstone. Sadly, there were to be many more, from two World Wars, who had a similar experience. Never learn anything, do we ?

--

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

February 2, 2012 at 3:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Wordsley, 1896.


Now everybody knows, that throwing Petroleum Spirit on a fire is a silly thing to do. Way back in 1896 though, the product was fairly new, and some folks were not aware of it's tendency to explode into a fireball. One woman, a Laundress from Wordsley, was one of these people, and in order to speed up the heat from her stove, poured on a pint of the subtance. There was a tremendous roar, and both she, and her young daughter who was helping her, were engulfed in the resulting fireball. The woman died a few hours later, from what were described as horrific injuries, and her daughter died 2 days later. The fate of a neighbour, rushing to the rescue and who was also badly burned, was in the balance for several days, but thankfully, he recovered. Now you wouldn't do such a daft thing today would you, Petrol being the price it is.

--

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

February 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Black Pudding, Bury Yorkshire. Pork Scratchings.


Did you know, that despite all you may have been told, Black Pudding does not originate from the Black Country.  It was first made in Bury, Lancashire, by a man called Cateswell, in 1810. The shop was demolished in 1968, and a plaque, announcing this fact, disappeared. It resurfaced in 2002, at a Yorkshire auction, and was donated to Bury Art Museum. Recently, it was refurbished, paid for by the Bury Black Pudding Company, who are still in business in the area. For this generous gesture, they get to display the plaque in their premises for the next 3 years. So now you know.


The very same is also true, of the fabled " Pork Scratching ", the dish of Faggots and Peas, that mainstay of bon-fire night, Groaty Pudding, and almost everything touted as " original Black Country fare ".  Groats incidently, when milled is called oatmeal, and the basis for many other products, including the famous cakes made in The Potteries. It was also a staple used in both Prisons and Workhouse's, where it had the rather unattractive name of "Gruel".

--

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

February 18, 2012 at 11:59 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Willenhall. Bentley Hall and Colonel Lane, 1651.


Did you know, that in September,1651, Bentley, near Willenhall, had a rather regal visitor. No less a person than Charles II, although he was in somewhat of a hurry, following the anihilation of his Army at Worcester. Put up for the night by Colonel Lane and his sister, Jane Lane, at Bentley Hall, he was smuggled away the next morning diguised as a horse groom.( I wonder if they rubbed him all over with the stuff that makes Rhubard grow ) Following his escape, it became known who had helped with the deed, and both the Lanes had to flee for their lives. They came back to the Hall at the restoration, and recieved a pension of £11,000 a year. ( I am led to believe that would be near a million pounds today ) The Lanes left the old Hall for good in 1748. moving to the more pleasing location of Kings Bromley, as the area round the old pile began to resemble a scene from hell. Mines, Ironworks, and Quarrying. Although all this activity bought wealth and jobs to the area, it did the Hall no favours, it being undermined with workings. In 1929 it mostly collapsed, the site being marked by a peculier pile of stones, mostly from the strangely named Quarry of Pouk, or Powk if you prefer. Infilled with a large amount of domestic and soil waste, it's still the biggest hole for some miles around, although it looks a lot prettier than it did 100 years ago.

--

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

April 3, 2012 at 3:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

West Bromwich, Willie Holt, Billiards.


Some time before the advent of " Steam Radio "(1922, and with the grand title of  2LO ) and the pleasures of " Listen with Mother, Toytown, Workers Playtime, Archie Andrews, and a whole lot of others, including my mothers favourite, " Mrs Dales Diary ", folkes had to find other pastimes. William ( Willie ) Holt, was a West Bromwich, born old time player of the game of Billiards. It was very popular around the country, mainly I suspect, for the rather more seedy side of the game, Gambling. Saint Michaels Street, West Bromwich, at the end of Moor Lane, and now forming part of the Towns race track, was an ideal place to open a venue, it being just off the old High Street. It opened for business on Wednesday 13th August,1913, and was, it appears, an instant hit. In the first 3 days up to the 16th, there were no less than 30,000 visitors to Willies new establishment. Now if your grandfather, ever mentioned his days of a mis-spent youth, this maybe the place he spent them. I believe the place is still standing.

--

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

April 26, 2012 at 10:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Rowley, Great Yarmouth. George Smith and Punch and Judy.


Did you know, that it's been 350 years since the first " Punch and Judy " show was seen in this country. It came in from Italy, and has been a popular form of entertainment ever since. The names have changed a bit though, for in the 17th century, it was Punch and Joan. How the story has been depicted, has also changed a bit as well, the modern versions tend to leave out the hanging scene. For those to young to have seen it, the main character, Punch, murders his own child by throwing it through a window, and then generally assaults every other character in the little play. I can remember, sitting on the beach at Great Yarmouth, in 1949, a penny clutched tightly in my hand, to put in the cap that was passed round, and laughing my head off at Punch's antics. The climax was the hanging, where Punch, pretending not to understand the proceedure, gets the hangman to place his head in the noose, and then pulls the lever. What sticks in the mind, was the way the hangman was dressed, in a long white smock. Now that was the mode of dress, favoured by George Smith, the Rowley Hangman, way back in the mid 19th century. He was the only Executioner ever to dress like this, it's a strange old world isn't it ?

--

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

May 9, 2012 at 11:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Bilston, 1880. Gas Explosion.


Did you know, that way back in Bilston, in 1880, some incredible idiot tried to find a Gas Leak with a match. In July, some inhabitants reported the unmistakable smell of Town gas. ( If you can remember when it was all made from coal, you will know. ) After a while, along came the Companies workmen, who proceeded to dig up a section of the road. ( not tarmaced as today, just hardpacked soil and horsemuck.) Unable to assertain the exact spot on the gas main, one bright spark struck a match, believing it would merely ignite the escaping mixture. It certainly did that all right. There was an almighty bang, and over 70 yards of the road was torn assunder, and more by luck than anything else, no one was injured. The workgang now knew exactly where the gas was coming from, for the explosion had shattered the pipe. Taking up their tools, they began work on clearing away the mess, and prepared to relay a new section of gas main. For the second time that day, there was another earth shattering blast, as a spark from a pick ignited the gas again, because some other idiot had forgotten to turn off the gas supply. As a crowd had formed from the first explosion, and people, curious to have a quick look were arriving, this time there were some injuries. Stones and rubble flew through the air like bulletts, it was a miracle no one was killed. Only when a Policeman arrived with the horse drawn ambulance, did someone bother to turn off the gas. Now I've heard many a tale about some Blackcountry folk being a bit on the thick side, and on that day, I would have believed every word.

--

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

November 12, 2012 at 2:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The Curse on the Wednesbury Tram.


Now heres a bit of news, did you know that the old Tram Route, between Dudley and Wednesbury carried a curse. Some say it was put on, after an old Gypsy was thrown off for not having 3d for the fare in 1916. In 1917, the 75 had just arrived at its Dudley terminus, and the driver, Richard Davies, was absolutely bursting for a........ cup of tea. Nipping off the front, he hurried away, cross legged. The conductress, for it was after all wartime, and showing her enthusiasum for the job, swung round the contraption on the top, for the return trip. Now Magaret Jefferson may not have been the brightest spark on the wires that day, for she failed to notice Davies had not returned, and released the brake. Down the Tipton Road went the Tram, gathering speed, as our busy lady began to gather the fares. Oblivious at this stage, to the cab up front being bereft of its driver, there was not the slightest concern among the one remaining crew member, or the passengers. It must have dawned on them though, at the bottom of the hill, with the Tram bounding along like an express train, that this was not going to end with a gentle thud. And so it was, for when the 8 ton monster reached the bend at Castle Street, Tipton, it fell over like a drunken man  with one leg. In all, twety five passengers were injured, with one, Mrs Annie Payne, so badly, she died later in the nearby Guest Hospital. Now what about that curse I hear you cry, well, exactly a year before, in exactly the same spot, and with exactly the same tram-car, there had been an identical accident, even down to the death of a passenger. Now thats what I call weird.

--

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

February 21, 2013 at 3:34 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Did you know, that on this day in 1797, parts of the future Black Country, experienced a rather severe happening. Around mid-day, the sky over the ancient Parish of Sedgley, began to become very overcast, quickly turning to a inky blackness, as massive clouds gathered and produced  a humdinger of a thunderstorm. Windows and doors rattled, as the population sought shelter wherever they could. Steven and Martha Cox, ( some records say Samuel ) were already safely indoors, or so they thought, with their month old son John Cox, in his cot near the fireplace. They were mightly alarmed though, to hear a terrible noise in the chimney, and Martha, with a mothers instinct, grabbed the young child and retreated to the other side of the cottage. A brilliantly illuminated ball of blue fire erupted from the fireplace, scorching the pillow where the childs head had rested a few seconds before, and dislodged a pile of bricks which also fell onto the cot and the floor surrounding it. This apperition then appeared to disappear through the wall, finishing up, two adjoining cottages away, It rolled into the kitchen, distroying part of the fittings, and finally hit a nail in the door when it promptly vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving a strong sulphorous smell behind. There were other reports of this strange happening, some of the first, to describe what today would be called " Ball Lightening ". I bet, if you could have asked Steven and Martha, they would have, in the time honoured way of the folk of Sedgley, called it a few other choice names as well.

--

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

April 23, 2013 at 4:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

It's concidered a delicacy around the Black Country is a nice piece of Black Pudding. Or as some would prefer, Pigs Pudding, or even Blood Pudding in places. There are some, who stick to the age old tradition, that it originally came from here, and all the other similar products are just fakes. Way up in the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, not only would they disagree, but they have just aquired European Protection for what they produce. From now on, Stornaway Black Puddings, ( made in exactly the same way ) are a protected species. They only get that name though, if they are made in Town or Parish of Stornaway. All this has been accomplished, by a small group of Butchers, who were presumable fed up with the sale somewhere, of  inferior puddings. So why don't folk in this region do the same, we could have the Bilston Black Pudding,  the Dudley Black Pudding, the up market Wolverhampton Black Pudding, ( No, be fair, it is after all a City now ) the titilating Tipton Black Pudding, or the rather much posher, Hales Owen Black Pudding. ( free bag of scratchings with every order ) Just joking folks, no need to get your bristles up. Perhaps some enterprising Butchers might like to kick the idea around a bit and see what they can come up with, there's a bit of money to be made in there somewhere.


Now you must have all heard the supposed fact, that the Toilet was invented by one Thomas Crapper. That question came up today, via a search by someone who couldn't find confirmation of the answer. Well no, of course it wasn't, but he did invent something that has made all our lives that much easier to bear, The Ballcock. So next time you push or pull to flush, remember, that you owe Thomas Crapper a big debt, by insuring that when you leave the little room, you havn't left behind a little message as well. Or as Billy Connelly says, " A wee jobbie ".

--

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

May 9, 2013 at 2:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

There's an old saying that goes " no sense, no feelings ", and in this case, it may very well be true. On the 8th June,1955, Harold Millard, aged 57, a resident of Coseley, Staffordshire, was admitted to Hospital suffering with a broken leg. As with these things, it took a while, what with x-rays, bone setting, and plastering up to his knee. During all this, he was told on several occasions, to come back every day to have the plaster cast checked. He went back on the next day, dispite obviously being in a bit of pain, but on the 10th, he decided he was not well enough. His sister Lydia, with whom he lived, understood his problem was simply the pain, and popped out to do some shopping, and buy a few extra Aspirins. She returned about half an hour later to find Harold, Hacksaw in hand, furiously sawing away at the lower half of the plaster cast. It took Lydia several minutes to realise he had actually sawn clean through his leg, just above the ankle. So intent was Harold, in removing the cast, that he had failed to notice any extra pain, and was oblivious to what he had done. It was reported in a Newspaper, some days later, and ended with the comment, that after some emergency surgery, Harold was in a stable condition and showing signs of improvement. An early case of D.I.Y going drastically wrong, after failing to stick to the instruction manual.

--

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

May 30, 2013 at 3:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

It's a fact, that many strange things have found their way into the regions Folklore. In times long ago, it was the custom to show your approval, or disdain and anger, by making a loud noise, banging pots and pans. This rather quaint practise was alive and well near Stourbridge, as late as 1881.


There is no mention of any names in this report, except that it occurred at the Funeral of a married woman, in Amblecote Church, in April, 1881. She was it seems, the wife of an Artisan, a term widely used at the time, to denote a skilled man, rather than your everyday common labourer. Given the area, he was liable to have been well known in the Glass Trade. She appears to have died in circumstances, that although they may not have warranted a criminal charge, deserved at least some censure. The route to the Church, was lined with locals, banging on trays, kettles, buckets, in fact anything that would make a noise. Several hundred more were said to have formed the crowd that followed the Coffin in the hearse, making even more noise. Anticipating the mood of the mob, there was a heavy Police presence, and to prevent any trouble, the Church gates were locked after the Hearse and family mourners passed through. They needn't have bothered, for the mob easily broke down the gates and made a rush for the graveside, many trying to make good the threat, to fling the newly widowed husband into the grave as well. The Police managed to hold back the crowd, but as soon as the Vicar had finished the service, the man was hurriedly pushed into the now empty hearse, and driven off at a smart gallop. Feelings in the little village were still running high, and a guard had to placed around the mans house to prevent him being lynched. He was reported to have left the area some days later, never to return, which I suppose, didn't bother the locals one iota. Has anyone got any idea who the couple were, or does anyone have access to the Churches Burial records, from April 20th to the 27th, 1881. I would be most grateful for your help.

--

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

June 15, 2014 at 4:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.