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/

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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).

The Hall on a later copy of the 1845 Tithe Map (Walsall Local History Centre)


I thought I would turn-out a few shorter articles that have their origins in the interesting questions that have been submitted to the Blog Facebook page recently. This one concerns a grave slab in Bloxwich All Saint’s Church to the ‘memory of HARRY PARKES Of Birch Hill Hall’, who was killed on 3 Aug 1833. It seemed to me that the focus of the question was the accidental death of Harry Parkes – and yes, I could help with that – but I also picked out Birch Hill Hall (Birchills Hall) and so I thought I would do a few quick paragraphs on that too…https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/a-grave-tale-harry-parkes-and-birchills-hall/

The site of the workhouse on Sandford Street, as shown on Snape’s map of 1781. (Lichfield Record Office)


Part I dealt with the background to the poor-law both nationally and in Lichfield, as well as a little about James Wickins himself. This part will look at what Wickins actually proposed in 1775, and how that fitted into existing or influenced future practice within Lichfield… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/1775-james-wickins-and-the-lichfield-poor-part-ii/

Site of the Sandford St Workhouse, Lichfield.

I was rooting around in the loft the other day when I came across an old assignment that I wrote on the old poor-law in Lichfield, which took as its source a pamphlet written in 1775, which outlined the vision of a Mr. James Wickins on how the task could be more efficiently and economically undertaken within the city…https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/1775-james-wickens-and-the-lichfield-poor-part-i/

The Cross Keys, Hednesford, where Freddie attended the John Wesley lodge of the RAOB not long after the picture was taken. (HeathHaysHistory)

The title to this story is a little bit different and I am sure the mind is boggling as to just how a man, a war, a harp and a monkey could all fit together. Well, the first link is easy: the search for the man, Frederick George Wray, started with a bit of a mystery that arose from the war memorial in Hednesford. What happened then was that the mystery was partly solved through a moment of serendipity, however, the answer that moment of serendipity provided only served to take the story on – and to try to answer a question posed by a harp and a monkey! Confused? I will explain… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cannock/a-man-a-war-a-harp-and-a-monkey-the-frederick-wray-story/