The Workingmen’s Insitute, for which Thomas was President in 1901. 2017.


I was asked about a man named Thomas Garratt that lived in Great Wyrley prior to 1958, as the remains of an old bench seat dedicated to him and his wife had been found that had, apparently, once stood outside the Senior Citizen’s Centre on Broadmeadow Lane. Who were they and what was the fellowship that dedicated the bench? … https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/?page_id=5819&preview=true

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My fantastic family at Pompeii, just prior to my diagnosis.


This isn’t something that will be shared or likely even read and, at the end of the day, I didn’t really want to write it – it is just something I have to dohttps://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/about/brothers-in-arms-personal-musings-for-world-cancer-day/

Springhill House: built in Georgian style, it is orientated to face the old gardens, not the road. 2017.


This is the second part of a three part article on the archaeological and historical landscape of Springhill (Essington Wood) with a special focus on Springhill House and its Covert, a piece of woodland to the rear of this house that once hosted the Birches Sun Club, a former naturist (nudist, in parlance of old) site… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/?page_id=3544&preview=true

The 1834 OS Map, showing the canals and mineral railway from the coal pits near the Mitre Inn. The Enclosure took place after these were constructed. (Walsall Local History Centre)

This is the first of three articles that is on the landscape of Springhill in Essington Wood, the special focus on Springhill House and the Birches Sun Club, a former naturist (nudist, in parlance of old) site located in Springhill Covert, a piece of woodland to the rear of Springhill House (now Springhill Farm), off Broad Lane, in Essington… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/essington-laid-bare-springhill-and-the-birches-sun-club-part-1/

The terminus of the Wyrley Branch Canal at the Nook, adjacent was the old mineral railway – perhaps where James reloaded before heading off along the canal. 2017.


This story has a personal edge. It has grown out of a paragraph that was within an earlier article I wrote on the lost pubs of Great Wyrley and is the story is about a fatal shooting that took place within the Great Wyrley, Cheslyn Hay and Essington areas in 1870… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/the-wyrley-cannock-colliery-incident-gun-crime-1870/

The junction of Stafford Road/Cemetery Road, Cannock, and the White Lion pub, close to Lycett’s bayonet charge of March 1916! 2017.


This, the third part, looks at three bizarre, alcohol-fuelled incidents that date to February and March 1916 and involve Cannock, Hednesford, Rugeley and Heath Hays. They involve theft, as well as threatening behaviour and the physical assault of policemen… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/february-march-1916-the-dark-side-of-the-cannock-chase-camps-part-3/

The Newtown Bridge (Bloxwich) over the Stafford Rd has long since gone, the line of the canal, where William was found, can still be made out though towards Fishley. 2017.


This part covers the stories of Private Davill (Walsall) and Private Greenwood (Leeds), whose differing experiences open the dark side of the Cannock Chase camps in January 1916…
https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/october-1915-january-1916-the-dark-side-of-the-cannock-chase-camps-part-2/

Thomas William James’ newly erected CWGC headstone (D Royle)


We have some brilliant news. Thomas William James, a fallen WWI soldier from Great Wyrley and Brownhills, has received his Commonwealth War Grave headstone after over 100 years. Thanks to Barrie’s efforts he has now been recognised. I can’t say I am not a little proud that Wyrleyblog contributed to it. Read his story, and that of how he finally got recognition… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/the-harrisons-club-great-wyrley-war-memorial-history/from-brownhills-to-brandwood-thomas-william-james-and-the-pity-of-war/

Yeomanry occupying observation post (Walsall Local History Centre)


This article returns the Blog to the Cannock area and to the First World War period, but what turned out to be a straight-forward question actually, in my view, has opened the door on an interesting piece of general social history and has also offered a solution to a personal mystery on the Cannock war memorial… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/tracing-a-cannock-tommy-the-thomas-bradley-williams-story/

Whispers From The Past is available from the Walsall Local History Centre – £8

Unable to promote or advertise it at the time, some months back I put into book form a collection of cases I had written-up from the records of the Walsall Coroner: Lost Leamore – Death at the Black Horse; Suffering in Silence – Harriet’s Story; A State of Mind – The Butts Murder; Run! – The Ryecroft Plane Crash; Finding N – The Pleck Canal Mystery and, perhaps the strangest of all, the Curious Death of Maud Minnie Mills.

The cases, which date between 1911-1917, are of course under-pinned by tragedy, but they have so much more to tell us about what life was like at the time: they not only show us the warming reaction of the community of Ryecroft to a grief-stricken family and help us understand the problems of the Walsall Police in an age of basic communications and forensic techniques, but also act as a warning by revisiting a world with no National Health Service, little understanding of mental health and no recourse to help through institutions like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Reflections at Woodward’s Bridge: scene of the death of Harriet and a few yards from the discovery of ‘N’

The book costs £8. It is available from the Walsall Local History Centre, or through myself (contact me via the Blog’s Facebook/Twitter accounts).