Archive for the 'Local History' Category

Golden Opportunity

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

I wasn’t at work last week, but the weather put paid to most of the outdoor tasks, as while it wasn’t universally wet, things were too changeable to commit to much. When a friend mentioned that she wanted to sell some gold, but wanted company (was I a bodyguard? maybe), it seemed like a pleasant diversion: The Jewellery Quarter has nice architecture, and decent pubs (more of the pubs later). I wanted to suggest CatsforGold
, but didn’t feel I’d get taken seriously.

We’d arranged to meet by the Chamberlain Clock, but I had something magnificent, but sad to look in on first, on my walk past Snow Hill:

The Gothic

What was The Gothic pub in Great Hampton Row, Birmingham

The Gothic was built around 1869-1870. It closed in 1991, and seems to have been rotting since: two of the nice gables have gone (see the c1950 photo here and another here), nasty modern shopfittings have been added, and the roof looks very dodgy in places. Thus is despite it being Grade II listed since 1982, though I suppose we should be grateful the arson contractors haven’t moved south from Walsall.

Anyway, onwards. We met up, and commenced the tour of the gold dealers: let this be a warning: prices varied by at least 10%, and this was not insignificant given the value in this case. After a tour of 5 or 6, we settled on one place, sold the gold, and got the bulk of the cash paid in to Barclays, handily back by the clock, and just in view of the lovely Warstone Lane Cemetery lodge:

Warstone Lane Cemetery Lodge, taken by Wikipedia user Oosoom. Click to visit the image's page.

Warstone Lane Cemetery Lodge, taken by Wikipedia user Oosoom. Click to visit the image’s page.

Now the nice bit: as a reward for standing about looking large, lunch, with some of the proceeds. A walk round the corner back onto Great Hampton St, passing the Rose Villa Tavern and the Jewellers Arms and on to The Lord Clifden
which turned out nicer than expected.

Pelsall, Common

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

I’ve bought a slide scanner, and I thought some readers might like to see this photo of Pelsall Common in the early 70s, taken by my late father. It’s me, my mom, and (I think) a next-door neighnour who was friends with my sister stood around my Dad’s Wolseley 16/60 on Pelsall Common- the railway bridge at Fordbrook Lane/Vicarage Road is in the background.

Me and family on Pelsall Common, circa 1973. Click to embiggen.

Me and family on Pelsall Common, circa 1973. Click to embiggen.

It makes an interesting contrast with this Google Streetview image form around the same place in 2012:

A similar view in 2012

A similar view in 2012

I can’t work out if the fancy wall and gates are there, but obscured- will have to look.

The End of the Trolleybus

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Staying with the bus theme, I bought a copy of Classic Bus magazine to read at the airport, and it had this rather lovely short article and picture about the last days of Walsall trolleybuses that might interest some people. It’s a big file though, as a full-colour A3 scan.

Walsall Trolleybus near J10 (PDF, 20MB)

Walsall Trolleybus near the site of M6 J10. From Classic Bus magazine.

Mutiny on the Buses

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

As the lad himself has detailed, we went to Wythall Transport Museum. It’s a bigger concern than Aston Manor, and well worth a look: Andrew enjoyed himself taking the piss out of my new-found bus obsession, but then getting diverted by the really odd types with notebooks. I got to listen to some Gardner diesels close up, and we got a nice ride out to Henley-in-Arden.

Pictures in the Gallery.

The bad news is that Aston Manor again seem to be about to become homeless: sadly, this is only announced on their Feckbook pages, not on the proper website. Anyone know of a potential new home, again?

Prace Bets Now!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

A short reference to silly post-pub gameshow Banzai.

I’m now wondering after yesterday’s events (blogged in detail by Brownhills Bob) which historic building in Walsall will be next.

We’ve had the Jabez Cliff building, the church at Melish Rd, another old leatherworks near the art gallery, several pubs, and of course Shannon’s Mill. Prior to that, Great Barr Hall.

So then. What’s next for the unleaded and Swan Vestas treatment, so handy for ridding yourself of an expensive to refurb building?

Will it be The Bell in Willenhall?

The Walsall Workhouse Guardians Building?

Or a mystery item from our diminishing list of historic buildings? (In all honesty, I’m running out of ideas as targets are acquired) Still given the state of our town, something is bound to become vacant and unloved, then burnt and demolished soon.

As The Plastic Hippo pointed out, there’s a remarkable amount of fires involving buildings from either the Statuary List (PDF, 262k) or the local list (PDF 180k). At least the Avion escaped.

On The Buses, again

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

This time, I wasn’t driving.

We went to Aston Manor Transport Museum‘s open day in it’s new Aldridge home. The new building is bigger and better for purpose, if not as impressive as the old tram shed in Witton. We had a great time: a look about, a ride in some lovely old vehicles, and a chance (thanks to the lovely people) to see if I can fit properly behind the wheel of a D9 after the PD2 disappointment (I didn’t, properly).

I think I’m becoming a bus pervert: the sound of a Gardner 6LX or Leyland 0600 and a Self-Changing Gears Pneumocyclic gearbox is becoming strangely attractive. Both the Gardner and the Leyland engine are slow-revving, noisy beasts with enough torque to pull anything.

Pics- click to embiggen.

Daimler CVG5

Daimler CVG5 in West Bromwich Livery

Daimler COG5

Daimler COG5 in Coventry Livery.

Guy Arab LUF

Beautiful, Gardner-engined (with crash box) Guy Arab LUF. We had a ride to Walsall & back in this.

Guy Arab IV

Guy Arab IV

One great thing this year: plenty of bus journeys (all included for the admission price- we went to Hardwick and back, Walsall and back, and Chasewater and back on a mix of old machinery), and the fact they met up with steam trains at Chasewater for the train perverts. Great value and fun.

Work on the Avion- continued

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Work is progressing on the Avion. The section that appeared to be getting demolished actually seems to be mostly retained, there’s a new roof in progress (rather than what looked like asbestos sheets), and some impressive windows at the rear, presumably where the original screen was, so a similar treatment to The Imperial, where it works quite well. It surely can’t be long until the building will be watertight again.

Rear of the Avion

Rear of the Avion cinema, 26-June-2012. New roof under construction, and new glass. Click for bigger version.

A can of Hammerite, please…

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Well, it seems other people that like the public artwork around Walsall Wood (or at least some of it) agree with at least one part of my post on the matter of it’s asthetic value: It could do with a coat of paint:

Letter in the Walsall Advertiser, August 2011. Click for a larger version.

For what it’s worth, I reckon that the rusting is deliberate. Not so sure about the asssorted bolts, poor fabrication and anti-climb paint. I’ll still tip my hat in the direction of Brian.

I hate it….

Monday, August 15th, 2011

…when I’m right. Just under a year ago I predicted

a mysterious fire followed by demolition.

for the Jabez Cliff works, a rather nice, but unlisted building in a conservation zone in Walsall. I speculated that the decision to demolish was already made, and that the building would go, following this statement from Adrian Andrew, quoted in my post at the time:

If it is a new building it would have to be an iconic building. It is a fantastic opportunity for someone to come in and do something special in Walsall.

Mere speculation on my part, you understand- unless I have developed telepathy. The mysterious fire was hardly needed this time (though one might wonder if the cost of the civic arson consultants is less direct cost than normal demolition), as this building wasn’t even listed, not that that makes the slightest difference in this town. Fuck it, it’s only our heritage and history, and we can soon throw up another identikit building on the site. Regeneration in action.

For me, this article from Tuesday’s Express and Star says it all:

E+S Article

From the Express and Star, Tuesday 16 August 2011 Click for a larger version

I don’t think this will change the proposal for the health centre as that needed demolition anyway.

In other words, local listing or not, conservation area or not, it was always going to be demolished. This just saves any awkward questions.

For further comment on this, please see both BrownhillsBob and The Plastic Hippo.

New Local History Blog

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Anyone interested in local history around Walsall should check out Stuart Williams’ excellent new blog The Borough Blog.