I thought it would be fun to share this tongue-in-cheek article I wrote for inclusion in a piece of student coursework; it touches on pre-1920s football in Wyrley/Landywood, Cheslyn Hay, Bridgtown, Essington, Bloxwich, Cannock and Hednesford. It is, please remember, just a bit of fun.

I have just had yet another conversation with a ‘football fan’ where 50s Dudley legend, Duncan Edwards, who played for Manchester United and died as a result of the Munich air-crash, was dismissed – actually not him, but football of the period – under a rather lazy observation of ‘that old kind of football was tosh’ [tosh being a replacement word offered by myself].

This exchange prompted me to watch again Harry Enfield’s sketch poking fun at ‘old football’ through the fictitious pipe-smoking Charles ‘Charlie’ Charles and his Arsenal team of the 1930s – and yes it is funny – as well as that from Frank Skinner and David Baddiel’s Fantasy Football League from the mid-1990s in which the pair ridiculed ‘old football’ (anything filmed in black and white) to a jingle that ran: ‘old foot-ball, old football is tosh, but not as tosh as Andy Cole.’ While it is up to you to judge Andy Cole, I do want to question, even though I appreciate in this case it was made for comedic effect, the first part: as I don’t think old football was rubbish, it was simply different – which is the very point that makes Enfield’s sketch work in the first place.

What annoys me is that while the ‘fan’ is entitled to an opinion, we all are, they were, in truth, not offering a reasoned argument as to why it was tosh, (say, from having watched Edwards play): it is assumed that Edwards could not possibly be as good as Kevin De Bruyne and so this translates into… ‘tosh.’ If you know something of the past it is perfectly reasonable to question it, it is equally reasonable to criticise it, but sadly there are all too many that exclusively view it through the lens of today instead of trying to understand it or attempting to place it in its own time.

What is it that qualifies me to speak on this subject? Well, on the football side of things I am a season ticket holder for Aston Villa – which, over the last decade, means I have a deep understanding of watching rubbish! I jest, sort of. I did play open-age football from the age of 15 to 44, competing at my peak in the top divisions of the Sunday and Saturday leagues in Birmingham (Coronation League and Birmingham Works League, for example) and even getting the offer of a trial for Moor Green (who merged with Solihull Borough and rose up the football pyramid as Solihull Moors), however, as this was pre-1992, it would no doubt be viewed by our ‘fan’ as firmly in the tosh level.

So no, it isn’t football – it is history: while I am not a football historian, I never-the-less still feel a little qualified to offer an argument as I am an archivist by profession and, as such, did once look after the historic records of Walsall FC, while the ball that was used in January 1933, when Walsall beat Arsenal in the FA Cup (considered as big an upset as Hereford knocking out Newcastle in 1972, but perhaps not Altrincham defeating Birmingham City in 1986), was housed in the Walsall Leather Museum. Having looked after such heritage, I would like to ask: if old footy stuff is rubbish, why on earth do people still care about it and why do we pay for its maintenance? The answer is that we are not making a judgement on the quality of the game, but to reflect on, with wooden studs and boots that look like the Doc Martens worn by 80s punks, just how different it was then.

Over the next few lines, I want to make some brief observations, in a fun way, on these differences and, as I am also a local historian, I will use some local football teams and players from around the South Staffordshire area (from around 1900 to 1920) as examples; my opening points, however, are more general.

The game has always had some kind of corruption: from backhanders to players covering lost wages in 1880 to playing, as I did in the 1980s, under someone else’s name as I wasn’t registered – but now, I think we can all agree, the higher-level game is obsessed with money and the governing bodies like FIFA are seen as more corrupt (Sepp Blatter, Qatar… hmm).

The game had its roots in the middle-class amateur (Old Etonians being held up as a classic example), however, this was to change: the professionalism bought about by the inception of the Football League in 1888 started to attract blue-collar talent to the game precisely because the then modest wages allowed players devote more time to the game instead of doing a 9-hour shift down the pit, six days a week, before they could kick a ball. Rugby League did the same in 1895. In short, while it was available to all, it became a game played by the working-class and for the working-class spectator; while now it is dominated by middle-class spectators, elite ownership of clubs and the players, even at modest clubs, being multi-millionaires.

Organised football, rather than teams that just played friendlies or in local cup competitions, became progressively more popular through the creation of the league system – although it still relatively small by modern comparison. By 1910 a few small leagues operated for South Staffordshire teams, each with a handful of teams (a single division). They had a pecking-order with these leagues, as today, so a team like Hednesford Wesleyans played in the Hednesford Church and Chapel League; Hednesford United in the Walsall District League and the biggest of the clubs, Hednesford Town, in the Birmingham Combination.

While the Birmingham Combination League had the broadest catchment area, covering from Hednesford down to Bromsgrove, Halesowen, Nuneaton and Atherstone, the more junior ones were more parochial for very good reasons – the chief reason possibly being transportation, and not just for the team but for the supporters – as the availability of motor transport was limited; when Cheslyn Hay United left the Walsall and District League to play in the newly formed Cannock Chase League in 1912, there was only a railway service in the village as buses did not arrive until 1915. Charlie Moore, Cheslyn Hay’s greatest football achiever, would likely travel with the local fans on the train when playing for Cannock Town in 1912.

I mentioned spectators, and this may seem a little grandiose for what effectively seem to be Sunday League teams – only they were not. Bear in mind two things: first, there was no television or radio coverage of games – so unless watched live, the only experience of the sport would come through cinema newsreels – the very ones lampooned by Enfield, Skinner and Baddiel; second, while these teams are simply playing on a pitch marked on a field, with little if any facilities, the newspaper reports often talk of hundreds watching. This is born out in a 1910 newspaper report on a woman that was fatally hurt at Great Wyrley and Churchbridge Station after she fell as the platform as it was over-run by spectators returning from a Cannock match. While experience teaches to expect a little newspaper exaggeration, when Bridgtown United played local rivals Cheslyn Hay United in the Cannock League there were several hundred watching and when Cannock Town played Birmingham Trams in the Birmingham Combination, just after the first war, an attendance of 1000 was recorded.

To put this into perspective, the average attendance for Hednesford Town, the premier local non-league team currently in the Southern League Central Division, who once graced the Conference League (now the National League), over last season (and even before Covid) was around 500. Aston Villa’s highest attendance is over 76,000, achieved in 1946, although in 1888, over 26,000 attended at their old Wellington Road ground – a ground they left in 1897 for Villa Park as it was too small, had an uneven pitch and little in the way of spectator facilities – which doesn’t sound like the football was that bad to me.

Make no bones about it, these games could be rough; indeed, Villa’s loss in the game at Wellington Road led to a pitch invasion; perhaps some things don’t change. South Staffordshire was comprised of mining towns that worked rough and played rough, where, in 1910, a case involving an assault on a Cheslyn Hay player ended up in court. When Cheslyn Hay United lost 2-0 to Bridgtown in the inaugural season of the Cannock Chase League, tempers flared, fists flew, and three players were sent from the pitch, while the fans took discussing the match in the local hostelries with, perhaps, the same obvious result.

Perhaps the most bizarre incident occurred in 1909, when Cheslyn Hay United were playing the mighty Little Bloxwich Wanderers in the semi-final of the Penkridge Charity Cup: little charity was shown by the Little Bloxwich goalkeeper, who decided for no apparent reason to punch the United forward; it is not recorded as to whether the forward fell to the floor, rolled while clutching his right knee despite being hit in the face, raised his arm aloft to summon the trainer with the magic sponge or if the United captain brandished an imaginary card. The ‘keeper was sent off for the offence, but what was bizarre is that he refused to go and so, and I can’t imagine this happening in any game of a similar level today, the match resumed with a penalty that the offending keeper faced – justice was done, as while the penalty was missed United eased to the final 6-1 (interestingly, we would call these goals, whereas newspaper reports of the day often refer to them as points) and on to eventually lift the cup itself.

When I grew-up many of us lads used to congregate at the end of the road to play football using the school gates as a goal. With the diminishing number of playing fields, as many are sold off for building land, or just through rank laziness, street footy has returned in the shopping precinct near me. In 1901, the absence of such facilities in Cheslyn Hay saw several local lads have a kick-around in the village High Street – so no difference then? Well, yes: back then the kids were summoned to appear before the magistrates and were fined 6 shillings each. The quality of the football took second stage to simply playing it.

I will turn now to what is perhaps the starkest contrast between the ages: transfers and recruitment. There are two general ways to get to play for an established Premier League club, that is being picked up at a young age and nurtured in an academy, or through a gradual advancement in level through minor non-league and so on until signed, through an agent, by a major club as long as you still have age on your side. I will look at two local cases, Edward ‘Teddy’ Peers and Charlie Moore, that involve transfers to higher clubs from Hednesford Town and where the two men would raise a puzzled eyebrow if either the word academy or agent was used.

Peers was from a town in Flintshire, Wales. Having started with his local team in Connah’s Quay, in 1911 he signed for the then second division league team of Wolverhampton Wanderers. He played for them (with spells at other clubs during the suspension of the league during the Great War) until August 1921. At this point, he was released on a free transfer and seemed to play for Hednesford Town briefly while trying to secure a move to a higher status club. His arrival at the Pitmen saw a large attendance for a pre-season practice match, likely to view their ‘notable capture’ as he was called. Peers was pro-active in his attempt to restart his league career and was not the only player to place adverts in newspapers, like the Birmingham Sports Argus, advertising that he was a goalkeeper and ‘open for engagement’ on a free transfer after leaving Wolves. What is incredible is that he was placing the advert at the time he was playing for his country (Peers ended up playing a dozen times in goal for Wales) and, the different world Peers played in, required him to give his address, then 357 Bilston Road, for replies. His advert was successful, as in December 1921 he returned to the second division with Port Vale and was again playing in front of 10,000 supporters.

The world Charlie Moore occupied would be familiar to many of his contemporaries, but would be classed as unusual today. Charlie Moore was born in 1894, in Cheslyn Hay; he was the son of a coal miner and when left school, likely at the age of 12, he worked as an edge-tool grinder in one of the local factories. By 1911, when he was 17 years old, he had already lost his mother and two of his siblings to the perils of the age. He must have started playing locally from around 1910, and may have played for the neighbouring Bridgtown United, but it was clear that he was sufficiently talented to move into the Birmingham Combination League with Cannock Town.

Moore, with his friend and Cannock Town forward Joe Wesley, volunteered for army fairly swiftly after the outbreak of the war and they called up in January 1915, and so were unavailable from that point on, with Cannock’s form slumping as a result. Wesley would later write to his father (May 1916) with a story that he and Moore were in a trench when a shell burst and a shrapnel fragment just missed Moore, but killed the officer next to him. The sights he must have seen. Football would become, after the war, even more popular – with many teams coming from the newly formed Discharged Soldiers and Sailors Clubs (Ex-servicemen’s Clubs). Moore himself returned to play a in a charity game where the ex-service players defeated the whippersnappers from the Cheslyn Hay Institute.

Whatever his physical or emotional state he returned to playing, however, the Birmingham Combination did not resume until the 1919/20 season and whatever happened, whether Moore had agreed to return to Cannock or alternatively to sign for Hednesford Town in the pre-season, he somehow ended up playing for Manchester United in May 1919 against Liverpool and impressing enough to attain a permanent contract. With this, Moore had achieved his own small town boy made big American dream: can you imagine today, a 25 year-old, whose last league game had been over 4 years before, for a team in the Birmingham Combination League, being signed by, and playing in Manchester United’s first team? Moore remained with the club for 10 years.

As a final thought, Moore came back to Cheslyn Hay in 1920 to play for the local cricket team in the closed-season in ‘order to maintain his fitness’. I remember Aston Villa goalkeeper Jim Cumbes, playing for Worcestershire back in the mid-1970s, but it would not happen today. Also, when Cannock Town were facing a tough period in 1929, Moore was at the AGM and promised to help by trying to arrange a friendly with a Manchester United team – as Cannock Town were his stepping stone to first class football. I think he left United that year and it may never have come off, but a noble gesture none the less.

Having highlighted some of the differences, let us finish on one thing that has not changed: that is football it is a game for all, finding ways of bringing different people together. We have all heard of the Christmas Day football game in the first war (where Blackadder claimed he was never off-side), well individual friendlies and, indeed, whole tournaments were played by soldiers out of the front-line – usually regiment based, so encompassing mixed-rank teams, but also games between differing ranks (officers, NCOs and privates for example) in an age and in an army where social status was very important.

At home, many leagues were suspended during the Great War, as teams lost players to military service and some felt it was morally wrong to play while engaged in the conflict, however, it would be wrong to suppose this shut football down as the self-same reason that caused a hiatus in the organized leagues actually created new leagues and new teams: Landywood United were formed during the war from munition workers and competed in the Birmingham Munitions League – a league that was acceptable as the players were contributing to the war effort. For those that did not, it was still used as a form of local entertainment, but consciences were assuaged as games became charity events to raise money for war charities, like the local Prisoner of War fund.

Finally, the ladies also started to form teams and an English Ladies Football Association had been set-up by 1922. While there were not enough teams to form a local league in South Staffordshire in 1921, the villages of Essington and Cheslyn Hay found eleven stout hearts each and battled it out in front of around 5,000 people at a neutral venue in Cannock.

So, to finish, I have offered a little evidence to that ask we stop thinking of old football as rubbish (or other terms!); that does not mean you cannot smile at a Duncan Edwards football shirt as it had buttons down the front, quite the opposite, but please, just make that smile one of understanding and, hopefully, respect for a different age rather than a disparaging one.

An oil painting by GW Woolley, 1919. My favourite illustration from 8 years of Wyrleyblog.

Just a quick hello to say that my Wyrleyblog WordPress account was created was created 8 years ago, today. I am currently engaged on the writing of the HLF/GWLHS book, delayed by Covid, on Great Wyrley during the Great War – but have a few interesting future articles in mind. All the best, Paul.

Click on images to enlarge. The inscription: Tom B Maloy was interesting both for spelling and the use of a middle initial.  https://www.euroantiquewatches.com/.

Every so often a friend that deals in antiques asks me to do a basic biography on someone whose name is engraved on a watch, medal or other item he has. If I can find them, I provide some basic detail that can be found in the more easily obtainable sources: such as the census, church and general register office indexes, burial registers and newspapers, for example. While this is done to add colour to the item’s past, I mainly do it as I find it interesting; indeed, I have already put on the blog stories about a watch and fob I own, as well as tracing a few old book dedications. Anyway, recently I was asked about tracing a boxing medal: a medal that was awarded to a Tom B Maloy by the B.A.B.C. for defeating a J Mann of Bolton, in two rounds, during a bout held on 9 October 1895. The obverse and reverse of the medal is shown above and below.

The boxing medal, front, awarded to Tom B Maloy in 1895. https://www.euroantiquewatches.com/.

Now, I am no expert on boxing but I know of a researcher that specialises in the sport and neither Maloy nor Mann appeared on his on-line lists of past boxers: this is likely due to the sport being in its professional infancy in 1895 (partly to do with the adoption of the ‘Queensberry rules’ and the struggle for the sport to be seen as legitimate and different to bare-knuckle prize-fighting, but also that many fighters were amateurs, as was the organisation of the sport, and there were few formally established titles).

Further, from what I understand the first official heavyweight world champion, Gentleman Jim Corbett (who defeated John L Sullivan, the then accepted world champion), was only declared in 1892 and prior to this so called ‘champions’ were often just localised, undefeated fighters. Also, the sport was not adopted by the Olympics until 1904 and even then it was not included in 1912 as the host country, Sweden, banned the sport. Maloy’s medal, to be fair, and contrary to the title of this article, simply declares he won ‘1st prize’, and does not break into the realms of him being champion of the Club, Bolton, Lancashire or all England. 

Maloy would prove an interesting challenge and, while I have to say I cannot completely prove the case, due to the fact that Thomas was not listed in any source as a professional boxer, I can honestly say that I was personally satisfied that I had tracked him down to, let us say, beyond a reasonable doubt. What I discovered led to this blog post – not just because the brief story may be of some slight interest to some people within the boxing or Bolton communities (and I would love them to add anything to this story, just politely), but it transpired that Tom B Maloy spent some of his school days in Hednesford – which is an area Wyrleyblog covers.  

The first thing to do was to pull any clues from the item itself: here being that we are looking at a boxing award presented by the B.A.B.C – which is likely a boxing club – and the town of Bolton is mentioned (hence likely making it a Bolton boxing club). A date is supplied, which can be used for obtaining a newspaper report on the bout, and two names are given, however, care would be needed as while J Mann was stated to be from Bolton, no reference was given to Maloy’s place of residence/origin (and therefore it did not automatically mean that Maloy was from the town).

Another issue to be wary of was spelling. Experience shows you that a surname like Maloy can often go through a plethora of different spellings and, indeed, this story sees several variations of Maloy in use both before 1895 and, interestingly, after it. Saying that, these fears over wild variations in spelling need to be balanced off with one potential positive – that if the engravers bothered to include a middle initial then it was not only important to Maloy but it also gave more credence that the spelling of Maloy on the medal was correct as he would spell it himself at that time. As it happened, this is what turned out to be the case as his name on the 1911 census for Bolton would be Thomas Barker Maloy.

The first port of call would be a write-up in the local newspapers covering the bout on 9 October 1895. Strangely, perhaps reflecting the status of boxing or the boxing club within the town – in that it was not considered newsworthy – or possibly simply due to spatial reasons within the newspaper around the date in question, the bout was not covered by the Bolton Evening News on or around that date. And so we move on to the two names on the medal. 

J Mann, despite him being described as from Bolton, cannot be traced with any certainty as to give me confidence; a Tom Maloy, however, appears in two newspaper reports that also give a clear indication that he was also from the town. The first is from the Manchester based publication the Sporting Chronicle, printed from 1871-1983, and is actually a series of advertisements from 10 December 1897 onward stating that Maloy was from Bolton and will be fighting a George Razell (the name is difficult to read) at the Stalybridge Gym Club (Manchester way) in a bantam-weight (both weighing 7st 10lb) contest over 10 rounds for a silver cup. A report in the same newspaper on 18 December said that while Maloy acquitted himself well, he took ‘a lot of punishment in the sixth round… and was furthermore attacked with cramp’ and so his ‘seconds gave in for him.’ This may have ended his aspirations of being a serious boxer. 

The second report was from the Bolton Evening News dated 9 December 1912, where a Tom Maloy acted as a second to Owen Moran of Bolton (who won the bout on points). This gave confidence that Maloy was from Bolton, at least between 1895 and 1912, and it suggested that it was likely that he had finished competing by 1912, but remained involved within the sport. Again, as it happened, the Thomas B Maloy followed here would have been 40-years old in 1912.  

Sporting Chronicle, 10 December 1897, stating Tom Maloy was from Bolton. Findmypast.

Turning to the B.A.B.C. inscribed on the medal – having demonstrated that Maloy was from Bolton (at least living there from 1895 onward) then this, with little doubt, refers to the Bolton Amateur Boxing Club. The club had been open since at least 1893 (as per adverts in the Bolton Evening News) under the care of the elaborately titled ‘Professor Nat Eccles’, who was an ‘ex-Midland Counties champion’. It was located at the Rigby Assembly Rooms on Lower Bridgman Street, Bolton.

Maloy’s personal story starts in 1866. Thomas ‘Molloy’, a coal miner on the 1861 census, although here he is named as Maloy, born of Irish parents in 1839, and from Broseley in Shropshire, married a Phoebe Barker, a one time domestic servant (on the 1861 census), born in 1843, and also from Broseley. It is from Phoebe’s maiden name that Thomas Barker Maloy got his middle name – a method which was quite common for the period (today we would double-barrel the name). The couple started a family immediately, with Mary being born in Broseley. 

1871 census for the Maloy family (seemingly Moloy in this census, but note Phoebe is spelt Feby) in Derbyshire. Ancestry.co.uk.

As succeeding census would show, Thomas Maloy became an itinerant coal miner for some twenty years or so. He, Phoebe and Mary would turn up in Low Common, in the northern Derbyshire village of Killamarsh, on the 1871 census. The couple have, by this time, a second daughter with Ann being born around the opening months of 1870 in Staveley (a one time mining town) – a few miles to the south of Killamarsh. The family name in 1871 appears to have been spelt as Moloy by the census enumerator, who also spelled Phoebe as Feby! 

Thomas Barker Maloy’s baptism entry at Staveley Church on 21 March 1872. Ancestry.

Thomas Barker Maloy was, as shown by his entry on the 1939 Register, born on 28 February 1872 in Staveley. He was baptised in the in the local church at Staveley the following month. Assuming the children were born at home, then the family seemed to have moved frequently in a localised area, with Thomas senior likely moving from pit to pit: they appear in Staveley in 1870, Killamarsh in 1871 (census), Staveley in 1872 and then Eckington from around 1874 to 1876, where children Elizabeth and James were born, before moving further south to Blackwell (near Alfreton) where Jane would be born around 1879.  

The 1881 census for the reservoir area around Littleworth, Hednesford. Ancestry.

In 1881, the couple appear in the census for the Hednesford area (near Cannock). The family lived around what was then the Hednesford Reservoir and now, since 1954, the Hednesford Raceway. The area they lived in – Littleworth – is around a mile from the town centre and the Trafalgar Inn still stands. There were several collieries locally in which Thomas senior could gain employment.

The second edition 25″OS map for the reservoir area. The exact location for the house the Maloy’s lived in is not given. National Library of Scotland.

Thomas Barker Maloy was described on the census as a scholar, so he and his siblings attended a local school – which was a requirement of the law by then. It is not clear which school the children attended. Further, the 1881 census shows the family had three lodgers – all of which were from Broseley in Shropshire: the most important was Thomas’ brother John, whose name was interestingly spelt as Maloy while the main family was spelt as Malley.

Ariel view of the old reservoir area today. National Library of Scotland.

We know that the family stayed within the Hednesford area for a few years at least, as the last of the couple’s children were born there: Emily Sabina arrives in late 1881, and she would later sadly pass away at the age of 15-years in 1897, while May Clara would then arrive in 1883. Saying that, it is worth noting at this point that the 1911 census would show that Thomas and Phoebe did have ten children during their marriage, of which six were still alive that year. Clearly a family that were no strangers to sadness. 

The 1891 census shows the family in Skegby, Nottinghamshire. Ancestry.

In 1891 the family (now spelt Molloy), having moved again, are in the Skegby area in Nottinghamshire; although this is not too far from their old stomping ground in north Derbyshire. Thomas is still a coal miner, as is now both Thomas Barker Maloy (aged 19) and his younger brother James (aged 14). Thomas Barker’s uncle John – interestingly spelt as Maloy again – is still lodging with them. Living in Stanton Hill, as the census shows, suggests that the Maloy men were working at the Sutton Colliery.

The Sutton Colliery, Stanton Hill – likely where the Maloys were working in 1891. Unknown.

At some stage between 1891 and 1895 (as Maloy’s medal was dated to 1895) Thomas, Phoebe and the family moved to Bolton. It now has to be said that the only Thomas Maloy’s in Bolton at this time are Thomas senior (too old to box) and Thomas Barker Maloy (making him 23-years of age when he beat Mann). We know that Tommy Maloy was beaten by Razell in 1897 – but other than that we have no further bouts attributed to him, although there must have been more. 

The fairly newly weds in the pre-kid days of 1901, Bride St, Bolton. Ancestry.

Thomas Barker Maloy settled down when he married Florence Roughsedge in the early months of 1900. Florence, as the 1939 Register shows, was born in August 1876. By 1901 Thomas senior was, at 61, employed as a watchman in a cotton mill, while Thomas Barker Maloy (which is how they are spelt, albeit now from different households, on the census that year) is a yarn twister also at a – and possibly the same – cotton mill. Thomas Barker and Florence Maloy, also a cotton worker, are living in Bride Street in Bolton. I believe that just prior to the census being taken, Thomas Barker Maloy’s brother James died at the age of 24-years.

The Barker Maloys, further up Bride Street (number 35) in 1911 Bolton. Ancestry.

Over the next decade the family, still living in Bride Street, would have four children (two of which were born around the Chesterfield area, likely as there were friends or family to support Florence after the birth (remember, it is the area where the Maloy family had lived on and off from the 1870s): Thomas Roughsedge Maloy (preserving the tradition of the first born male taking the mother’s maiden name) was born in May 1902 in Bolton, James Arthur Maloy was born in 1903 in the Chesterfield area, Henry (Harry) was born in 1906 in the Chesterfield area, and Arnold was born in 1910 in Bolton. 

Born in 1910, Arnold Maloy’s baptism entry in Bolton in 1911. Findmypast.

Thomas senior and Phoebe both passed away with a short period of each other – around November 1918 (online burial indexes via deceasedonline.com show Phoebe (this time, spelt Maley) was buried in mid-November, while the General Register indexes show Thomas died in the October to December of that year).

Florence passes in 1941. deceasedonline.com.

Later, certainly by the 1930s when all four of their lads got married, the Thomas Barker Maloy family seemed to have taken to styling their surname as Mayloy. Thomas Barker would see Florence, his wife, pass away in February 1941. He married again the following year – to an Annie Battersby, from Bolton.  Thomas Barker Maloy passed away at the age of 87, and was buried on 29 January 1960; his second wife, Annie, followed him to the grave six months later (she being buried on 11 July 1960).   

The one-time boxer lost his last fight in January 1960. deceasedonline.com

As I said at the start, the boxing medal cannot be proven as to belonging to this Tom B Maloy, however, it almost certainly is as there appear to be no other candidates. It seems to me that Thomas Maloy senior, perhaps due to a lack of education, allowed any number of informal spellings of the family surname. It seems likely that Thomas Barker did decide on the Maloy spelling, although for some reason he, Florence and the children later adopted the spelling of Mayloy.  

I hope this quick post was of interest.


The somewhat unromantic five-panel picture postcard with scenes from Landywood. WH Smith & Son

Obtaining a postcard that was for sale on Ebay was important for me as one of the pictures on the front depicted the original Great Wyrley and Landywood roll of honour before it was replaced by the memorial gates – and up to this point I had only known of, but had never seen, this short-lived structure. I know next to nothing on postcard history and I became intrigued by the postcard as a whole; therefore, what I wanted to do in this picture-heavy article was two-fold: first, to place the postcard into context as an item and within Landywood Post Office history; second, to do current photographs of the panels on the card and, as the postcard was never sent through the post, to try to pin down when the images were taken… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/return-to-sender-landywood-postcards-and-post-offices/ 




This is the final part of the story about the murder of Benjamin Robins, farmer and resident of Dunsley Hall, as a part of a highway robbery undertaken by William Howe in 1812. It covers the events after his capture in 1813 and is seen through the eyes of Howe and the ‘people’ of Stourbridge. It will examine the hearings undertaken by the Stourbridge magistrates, then Howe’s trial, execution, gibbeting and the rumours over the ultimate fate of Howe’s corpse. As with other parts of this article some wider context does need to be provided at times and there will be comparisons with Walter Kidson, who was tried, executed and also ended on the gibbet for a Stourbridge murder in 1773… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/stourbridge-justice-and-retribution-1813/  


The current Duke William, it was in the former building where Howe spent the night. P Ford.

This is the second part of the story about the murder of the well-to-do farmer Benjamin Robins, from Dunsley, which took place on the snowy evening of Friday 18 December 1812 as Robins returned from Stourbridge market. The perpetrator was a married, out-of-work carpenter and self-acknowledged thief named William Howe. The first part  examined the backgrounds of both Robins and Howe, as well as the events that lead-up to the callous shooting of Robins in cold blood; this part will examine Howe’s flight and eventual capture in London… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/stourbridge-william-howe-fugitive-from-the-law-1812-1813/



Ordnance Survey 1″ – 1 mile map 1834. It shows the Dunsley Road (now Gibbet Lane and South Road) from the Hall, curving to Little Dunsley Bank (later Gibbet Wood) to High Park, Gig Mill, Heath Gate to the Kidderminter Road junction (the route taken by Howe when arriving at Stourbridge). Ordnance Survey.

This story centres on the 1812 murder of Benjamin Robins of Dunsley (which is located to the north of Kinver and west of Stourbridge) and is arranged in two parts: this first part will examine the backgrounds of both the victim and the perpetrator, one William Howe, and the events leading up to what was a callous killing; whereas part two will examine Howe’s flight, capture, trial, execution and the ultimate fate of his corpse – which was public exhibition. The story is interesting enough in itself, but while the murder passed from memory it would in fact be the fate of his corpse that would enshrine the event within the local landscape: for the trees that sheltered the iron-clad body became Gibbet Wood and the road that passed his corpse became Gibbet Lane… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/staffordshire-murder-1812-style/

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Highfields House. Mr Sanders.

Some years back I wrote an article on Highfield House, a demolished house that once stood in the middle of Bloxwich. Recently, a Mr Sanders, descended from a family that resided at the house, contacted me and offered this picture of the house. I cannot say from where it was taken or when, but thank you… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/mills-docs-and-drapers-a-brief-history-of-highfields-house-bloxwich/

Without being any kind of expert, I have used place-names to examine past landscapes for many years and perhaps, because of this, I was recently asked about the origins of the Halesowen street-name of ‘Cornbow’. My subsequent investigation ended-up encompassing the name of ‘Rumbow’, another a street within the town, and then on to Halesowen itself – and the results will be presented here… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/halesowen-born-in-the-sound-of-bow-bells/

The second part of a research story to be found in an old pocket watch and fob, this part looking at social conditions, family, work and Great War service for two families linked by the ICI company… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/articles-other/the-gift-of-time-part-two/