A recruitment cartoon in the Advertiser, Sep 1914. (Cannock Library)

Mr Phillips and Don the Dog raising money for the Tommies, 1914. (Cannock Library)


This is the story of John Henry Degg from High Town, Hednesford. John Henry epitomises the opening day casualty of the Battle of the Somme – one of 19,240 dead – but I wanted to show that he was a person and not just a statistic. I have also used his family experience in order to give some local (Great Wyrley and Cheslyn to Cannock and Hednesford) and general military and political background not only to the battle, but the entire war… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/the-cannock-area-in-world-war-one-the-deggs-of-hednesford/

Bath St Cemetery, early 1900s, now devoid of most of its headstones and funerary art. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Bath St Cemetery, early 1900s, now devoid of most of its headstones and funerary art. (Walsall Local History Centre)

This article started off as the story of Albert Edward King RE, a soldier from Chalford in Gloucestershire, and it still is, but the disappointment over the slightly unkempt nature of the graveyard he, and all the others, lay in mean’t that I wanted to extend the article to encompass through local examples, Great Wyrley, Cheslyn Hay, Walsall, Birmingham, as well as Chalford in Gloucestershire, the role of graveyards and funerary art (including headstones, statues and war memorials) in local communities. It is not meant to be exhaustive, but a brief look at the history and responsibilities that go with them… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/articles-other/graveyards-headstones-and-now-lie-i-like-a-king/

King's grave in the rather unkempt churchyard at Chalford.

King’s grave in the rather unkempt churchyard at Chalford. 2016.

Station Street, Walsall, in the 1980s, where Bob Holmes worked around 1951-1952. Walsall Local History Centre.

Station Street, Walsall. Bob Holmes worked here around 1951-1952. Walsall Local History Centre.

Recently I discovered connections between Doctor Who, Cheslyn Hay and Walsall, so, as a bit of fun, I thought I would write an article on these connections, Bob Holmes and Tony Read, that I hoped would appeal to general local interest or TV nostalgia. Bob was a prolific writer for the series for near 20 years, becoming the series Script Editor as Tom Baker took over the role in 1974. Holmes spent a few years in Walsall as a journalist before moving on and eventually into television. Tony succeeded Holmes for a year as Script Editor in 1977. He was born in Cheslyn Hay in 1935 and would later move to Walsall, being educated at Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall. https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cheslyn-hay/anthony-read-and-bob-holmes-from-cheslyn-hay-to-gallifrey-via-walsall/

The Swan Inn, Walsall Road, Gt Wyrley. 2016.

The Swan Inn, Walsall Road, Gt Wyrley. 2016.


As I started to piece together a development theory for the Swan Inn in Wyrley it became obvious that somewhat larger elements of local and family history were involved: chief of these were the fact we were dealing an extended family – named Greensill – that operated two pubs, at least in 1834, which were both called The Swan. One Swan, that in Great Wyrley, survives; the other, a stone-throw into Leacroft, is now defunct. I knew that if I traced what I could of the Leacroft Swan this article would be significantly extended, I therefore decided to split the original article into two with this part dealing with the name and origins of the two pubs, as well as the lifespan of the Leacroft Swan… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/the-pubs-of-great-wyrley/the-pubs-of-great-wyrley-and-leacroft-one-swan-inn-and-one-swan-out/

As I have been a little under the weather, and so I am just getting back into writing a new article, I thought I would post this item as a bit of a bridge until that is ready. It shows an aspect of the work we do at the Local History Centre that is seldom seen: as it is a short video that Cath (our Local Studies Librarian) and I (Archivist) did as part of a project with the Common Ground Federation (which enable young people to deliver inspiring action that bridges communities through common ground and tackles issues that lie at the heart of society) on how local history (and especially the Walsall Zeppelin raids) can be used to connect the generations through shared experience and a shared sense of place.

Also, it is for those that live in Wyrley (and the wider area) that are interested in who it is that actually writes Wyrleyblog – yes, I actually appear in it – so if you see me around please say hi and let me know what you think of the stories or if you have any ideas for one!

Jack (Stuart Williams)

Jack (Stuart Williams)


This post was supposed to be a celebration, as Wyrleyblog is 2 years-old today. I was going to go on about hits and things, but I awoke to some sad news that really put pay to all that – it just didn’t seem so important anymore. Local historian and photographer Jack Haddock, whom I have known as a near resident of the Walsall Local History Centre for 10 years, has passed away. My colleagues at the Centre have posted a tribute to him on the Centre’s Blog and FB page and I would like to attach that to this post. An exhibition of his work is in the planning stages. We are all upset at the Centre and will remember him fondly… http://webwalsall.com/local-history-centre/?p=691

Walsall Congregational Church, bombed in 1916. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Walsall Congregational Church, bombed in 1916. (Walsall Local History Centre)


I intend to write-up a full account of the 1916 Zeppelin raid from a Walsall perspective, as I am a little tired of the myths that seem to linger about it. A few years back I was interviewed by the BBC for Radio WM and BBC Midlands Today (which went out nationally) regarding the Zeppelin raid in Walsall: the TV interview doesn’t seem to be on-line anymore, but the radio broadcast is… http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01sjx52

An oil painting by GW Woolley,1919. Looks like a Christmas card scene - i use this for my avatar on Wyrleyblog Facebook (Walsall Local History Centre)

An oil painting by GW Woolley,1919. Looks like a Christmas card scene – I use this for my avatar on Wyrleyblog Facebook (Walsall Local History Centre)

Follow the Watson story, from London, through Warwickshire to Pelsall, then onto Cannock, Chadsmoor and to the fields of France. Teaching, bizarre marriages, World War One, Religion and a gruesome death all play their part – but was it our Emily that I had found, could I prove it? … https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/articles-other/emilys-autograph-album-a-local-tale-pt-2/

W Green's exquisite pencil drawing of a cat, Hednesford, 1903. (Walsall Local History Centre)

W Green’s exquisite pencil drawing of a cat, Hednesford, 1903. (Walsall Local History Centre)


Every so often something special turns up at the Walsall Archives; while I know it wont be the Domesday Book or Magna Carta, it will be something that is special to me. Such an item, in this case an ordinary looking Victorian/Edwardian autograph album, arrived from Sheffield Archives several years ago. What was clear, whoever the Emily was that owned it, it covered 25 years of her life at least – starting in December 1900. The book contained mementos of friends and family from the Hednesford, Cannock, Great Wyley, Bridgtown, Heath Hayes, Brownhills, Walsall, Willenhall and Pelsall areas amongst others… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/articles-other/emilys-autograph-album-a-local-tale-pt-1/

William Ames' entry for the Gt Wyrley Roll of Honour, 1917. (Staffordshire Record Office)

William Ames’ entry for the Gt Wyrley Roll of Honour, 1917. (Staffordshire Record Office)


I suppose we can only assume that William was already in the Territorials when war broke out, and the 2nd North Midland Field Group was mustered immediately. By mid-August the unit had made its way to the military camp at Limbury, near Luton. It is possible William joined the unit late, but we know he is there by mid-September as he is included in the roll call list later published in the Lichfield Mercury… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/william-henry-ames-first-and-last/