Harold Chilton, of Churchbridge, Bridgtown and Shirebrook

This article will form a part of the forthcoming GWLHS/HLF book on Gt Wyrley in WWI… It is impossible to track everyone that lived in Great Wyrley and then left, going on to fall in the conflict; it did, however, feel right that I should find someone to act as representative for all of those that fall into this category, in order to show they are included in this community book at least in spirit. The story of the Chilton family, and it was Harold Chilton, once of Churchbridge, that was initially the focus, stands as that representative not only for Great Wyrley but also for our neighbours in Bridgtown… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/the-chilton-family-at-war-1914-1945/

Wyrleyblog: Catchin’ Up

Posted: December 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

Hiya Everyone,

I just wanted to explain a little about why Wyrleyblog has been so quiet recently, and where it is going from here. In August 2018, with massive changes facing Walsall Local History Centre, and in the wake of being a little on the ill side, I decided to move on and, as I never expected to get back into archives, perhaps look for a new avenue in life. The first thing to say is that this was a big decision, the right one at the time, but I do miss my the fantastic colleagues I had at the Local History Centre and in the Museum Service. I wish them well.

I decided to undertake another Master’s degree – this one being an MRes: a Master of Research (History) – which would help put my mind back in order and help me get back into an academic style of writing in order, perhaps, to tackle a PhD later and open up some lecturing possibilites. Therefore, I devoted my time to the degree and have actually put a couple of the assignments I did (not the most exciting, to be fair) on the Blog: one on approaches to Local History and one one the Greek origins of war trophies (both relevant to my dissertation). The dissertation, some 25k words, will be serialised on the Blog once I formally get the mark for it – it was on the display of war ordnance from the Crimean War and Great War in Walsall.

I was hoping to write the odd article while I was doing the degree, but I actually got back into archives – when the Cadbury Library (Birmingham University Archives) offered me a chance to work on the Toc H collection – a worldwide Christian charity movement that had its origins in the Great War. I cannot say how grateful I was for the opportunity. In July 2019, I was lucky enough to be appointed as the Senior Archivist at Dudley Archives and, as such, Wyrleyblog will now incorporate stories from the Dudley area as well.

So, having finished my MRes, it would have been nice to turn my attentions back to the Blog, however, I can’t. The Great Wyrley Local History Group, along with other supportive local organisations, put forward a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce a book on the Great War fallen from Great Wyrley (and a permanent memorial within the gardens that reflected their correct names). In part, this is a rearrangement of the Blog stories, however, more needs to be researched and put into the book to give a wider understanding of both the war and the nature of community than just turning the Blog into a narrative. I am currently working on this and the book will be available on the Blog and digitally from the GWLHS once produced.

There is also another issue, one that is more irritating than a worry. My little illness has left a problem that needs fixing and I will have to have this done soon. Despite all this, I do have some ideas of the articles that I do want to pull together as soon as I can.

The first is the story of Dudley’s ‘Murder Mine’, and the discovery of the remains of a lady that had been undisturbed for decades. The aim is to treat her with the respect she deserves, while investigating what happened and how oral history can get corrupted or sensationalised.

The second is the story of an actress and singer, Nellie Nestle, who trod the boards locally between 1910 and 1920 as I have been sent an autograph album from Sue in Australia. The frustration of this story is whether I can find her real name – as ‘Nestle’ seems to be assumed.

The third was prompted by my dissertation, and looks at James Wood – a Bloxwich (or Blockswidge, as spelled by his discharge scribe) soldier, in the Devons, who went on to fight in the Crimea and the Indian conflict. This is about his life, the little we can tell, but also how his reflections on war, written in 1856, would not look out of place in 1918, or the folk-revival of the 1960s!

The fourth was to continue with the growth of Great Wyrley article, which I halted when my circumstances changed in August 2018.

Anyway, there we go. Which ever story comes first, it will be due to the availability of information – I hope you find it all interesting, or that it helps to get you off to sleep if nothing else!

All the best

Paul (Wyrleyblog)


Mr Bloxwich, Stuart Williams

Posted: October 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

I suppose as a historian I should be used to things passing, but somehow I cannot really get used to it. Bloxwegian, local historian, author, photographer, sci-fi nut, one-time Viking and long-time colleague at Walsall Local History Centre Stuart Williams – or to me simply Stewy – has passed away. Stewy encouraged and then helped me set-up Wyrleyblog and it hurts to see him go but somehow, if there is justice, I get the feeling his spirit is about to be presented with the Freedom of the Borough of Bloxwich by Gene Roddenberry – to the pride of his parents as they look on.

My thoughts are with his brother, Andy.

An article on the Greek concept of the war trophy and how different it is to what could be considered war trophies today  https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/about/all-greek-to-me-hellenism-war-and-the-war-trophy/

Me studying water in a pompous way.

An examination into why I write about local history and how I go about it, something for those interested in this side of things… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/?page_id=6158&preview=true

Birmingham University, and pastures new

Hello Everyone,

Just a little post to say that things have changed a lot for me since my last blog story around August, which is why I haven’t written anything for a while.

I have struggled with my health for a while and, with lots of changes afoot with Walsall’s archive service, it was the right time to part. I wish my brilliant former colleagues all the best. I managed to enrol on a research Master’s degree course up at Keele University – an MRes (History) – and am finding modern University life so different to 20 years ago. I have also started work at Birmingham University Archives, on a short-term project working on a charity collection. I will also be helping on the Great Wyrley Local History Society’s project to get the WWI fallen soldier’s (and hopefully some stories of those that lived) stories into print and, something important to me, to get a new marker placed in the gardens with the correct names displayed.

So, lots on. Saying that, I am hoping to get something small out soon.

All the best

Paul (Wyrleyblog)


Wyrleyblog on Twitter

Posted: August 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

Me studying water in a pompous way.

Hi Everyone (well the few who read this). Just wanted to say that I continue to struggle a bit with health and other issues, hence writing is still slow. I have though returned to Twitter! I will try to post anything there for local interest, to raise a smile, or to bore the backside off you. Cheers!


Landywood Farm, 2018.

It is impossible to know if the Walsall Road led to settlement in Wyrley or just connected it to the existing road network – this is because of the lack of physical evidence and the road joined the more ancient and larger settlements of Bloxwich and Cannock. The Walsall Road (A34), I would suggest, was already a well trampled out ‘hollow way’ by the time of the population expansions of the early medieval period – indeed, as the name Wyrley is Old English in origin, the road was possibly in existence by the Saxon period in some form… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/1066-1840-the-growth-of-great-wyrley-and-the-walsall-road/

The old Watling St, now isolated as a no through road at what was once a cross roads with Leacroft Lane and Washbrook Lane (now completely gone). 2018.

The purpose of this series of articles is to examine, if only in brief, the relationship between the settlement of Great Wyrley (alternatively, the settlement of people within Great Wyrley) and some of the roads that have defined it or, indeed, may have created it. The first part is on the M6 Toll road and Watling Street… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/the-road-to-great-wyrley-watling-street-and-the-m6-toll/

Wyrleyblog: Milestones

Posted: April 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

Wyrleyblog is 4-years old today

Well who would have believed it? Wyrleyblog launched its first story four years ago today and has, in that time, received just over 100,000 views. I didn’t really think about how long it may go on for, but I didn’t expect that many hits for what is really a small geographical area and no more than a collection of local history stories.

Whatever the story, writing the Blog has helped me through a pretty rough period of ill-health. I hope the stories I have pursued have been interesting, informative and sometimes, eye-opening. I am aware that some of the stories will appeal to some and not to others, but that is the nature of the beast, and many have come about as a result of the centenary of World War One.

Thanks is due to my family a few people that support Wyrleyblog through Facebook shares, likes, retweets on Twitter etc. I am very grateful for the support and I thought, after 4-years, I would start to re-post some of those first stories for a bit of re-airing and would ask if anyone who reads this and is a member of a Facebook group that may find it of interest, to share the story – it all helps as I lose track of what I shared and where.

So, back on 2 April 2014, I launched the inaugural article, which was the first part of a three-part history of the Walsall Imperial. Built in 1868 as the Agricultural Hall, it has been a corn exchange, public venue, concert hall, theatre, cinema, bingo hall and finally a Wetherspoon’s pub…https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/the-walsall-imperial-1/

The Imperial, 1899

The Imperial, 1899