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/

The opening of the Gt Wyrley Memorial Garden on Saturday 8 April 1922. Note the avenue of lime trees - one for each of the 25 fallen soldiers - there are plaques on the gates, they are just difficult to see. Thanks to the GWLHS.

The opening of the Gt Wyrley Memorial Garden on Saturday 8 April 1922. Note the avenue of lime trees – one for each of the 25 fallen soldiers – there are plaques on the gates, they are just difficult to see. Thanks to the GWLHS.


I have, for over eighteen months, charted the lives, through short biographies, of the fallen village soldiers of the First World War named on the memorial garden gate plaques. As I investigated the names on the gate plaques it became evident that many were erroneous in one way or another: the usual memorial curse of mis-spellings here being compounded by extra initials and first or surnames that were completely wrong. Indeed, out of 25 names, my investigations revealed that 11 contained some kind of error. With this discovery, the purpose of the blog biographies began to change: as well as tell a story they would also act as the proof needed to formally identify the soldier so that I could go to the Great Wyrley Parish Council – who were very keen for me to do so – with a full list of the changes needed. The Council would then debate and settle on some kind of solution regarding alteration. This blog post is that proof and will be presented to the Council in February 2016… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/great-wyrleys-world-war-one-roll-of-honour-the-errors-on-the-gates/

A food economy exhibition at the Temperance Hall during WWI (Walsall Local History Centre)

A food economy exhibition at the Temperance Hall during WWI (Walsall Local History Centre)


This is the tale of the unfortunately named John Thomas, who was charged in December 1917 with food hoarding by the Walsall Food Control Committee. Thomas’ house had been raided by the Walsall Police on 14 December and the Council decided to prosecute a few days later. Found guilty, Thomas was given leave to appeal and appeal he did. What seemed to be a tuppeny-ha’penny food hoarder from the back of beyond was to be defended at the Quarter Sessions by Sir Edward Marshall Hall, arguably the greatest barrister in the country at that time…
https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/edward-marshall-hall-and-the-case-of-the-walsall-food-hoarder-1918/

A photograph taken sometime after September 1925 and before 1935, as the two guns are located near the tank. (Walsall Local History Centre)

A photograph taken sometime after September 1925 and before 1935, as the two guns are located near the tank. (Walsall Local History Centre)


The story of the First World War trophies is, to me, one of love and hate: originally, I believe, they were seen as morale boosting and acceptable, however, after the conflict I believe they became an embarrassment as the same gamut of opinion arose that saw the removal of the Russian guns in the 1870s. The trophies began to dwindle, but it would be World War Two that would see the ultimate demise of the remaining trophies in Walsall and Bloxwich as it did in many other places in the country… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/park-guns-and-the-reedswood-tank-walsalls-war-trophies-part-2/