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/

The Russian Guns, plinth, clock, fountain and the George Hotel c1870. (Walsall Local History Centre)

The Russian Guns, plinth, clock, fountain and the George Hotel c1870. (Walsall Local History Centre)


This article seeks to link into the first of the Walsall Local History Centre exhibitions by telling the stories of the fate of the two sets of war trophies that were acquired by the old Borough of Walsall (in essence, Walsall and Bloxwich). The first war trophies, which forms part 1 of the article and takes in a piece written by Meikle, were the Crimean cannon that were once located on the Bridge in Walsall; the second set of trophies, which forms part 2, were gifted to the people of Walsall after the Great War some 60 years later. 60 years may have elapsed between the two conflicts, but as I investigated the stories behind the trophies it seemed to me that their fates were very similar… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/russian-cannon-the-story-of-walsalls-war-trophies-part-1/

Hezekiah Henry 'Harry' Jones, aged 18/19. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Hezekiah Henry ‘Harry’ Jones, aged 18/19. (Walsall Local History Centre)


Hezekiah’s medal card indicates that he wasn’t in France before 1916 as he wasn’t awarded a ‘1915 Star’, but we do know that he did reach the war zone sometime that year as he was invalided back to England suffering from influenza, a potential killer in those days… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/coming-home-hezekiah-henry-jones/

Charles Mears outside his butcher's shop in Wyrley, 1931. (GWLHS)

Charles Mears outside his butcher’s shop in Wyrley, 1931. (GWLHS)

As it turned out neither Percy or the other Mears lads on the ‘serving’ plaques had much in the way of surviving war records, so in order to make an article I decided to try and fit them all into their family context and understand their relationship – assuming there was one. Further, I also wondered if there was a connection between any of them and the butcher’s business in Great Wyrley and it turned out that not only was there a wider family connection to the Great War, but there was to butchery as well… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/percy-mears-the-butchers-and-the-butchered/

Ernest Robinson in uniform. (Cheslyn Hay LHS)

Ernest Robinson in uniform. (Cheslyn Hay LHS)

Thanks to Cheslyn Hay Local History Society, I can now put a face to Ernest Robinson and his father, Stephen, bizarrely killed by a kick from a horse. This updated story may be of interest to those that wonder why Robinson, another victim of the Somme, can appear on two memorials (Cheslyn correctly, Wyrley incorrectly)… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/private-ernest-robinson-heres-to-you-mr-robinson/

The baby-face William Gretton, likely 17 when the photo was taken. (Walsall Local History Centre)

The baby-face William Gretton, likely 17 when the photo was taken. (Walsall Local History Centre)


13 October 1915 should be a date locally – to borrow a phrase – that will live in infamy. So now, a century on, I feel it is time to tell the brief story of three of our local lads all of whom joined the 2nd North Midland Field Company (Royal Engineers) and would go on to die on the same day and at the same place. Two of these men, Walter Bickley and John Lockett, are commemorated on the Cheslyn Hay war memorial, while the third, William Gretton, appears on the Great Wyrley memorial gates… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/cheslyn-hay/cheslyn-hays-fallen-wwi/sappers-gretton-bickley-and-lockett-cheslyn-and-wyrleys-darkest-day/

Margaret Marshall outside the front of the Black Horse - with Alfred and Clara? Alfred became a brewer and I bet he supplied the beer advertised. (WLHC)

Margaret Marshall outside the front of the Black Horse – with Alfred and Clara? Alfred became a brewer and I bet he supplied the beer advertised. (WLHC)

This article has aimed, through two pubs, to introduce Walsallians and Bloxwegians alike to a little history of a once important cross-roads and centre of an agricultural and mining estate. Nobody bats an eyelid there anymore; and while these buildings have mostly gone, like the miners and the farm workers, the area in many ways is not so different. This article is dedicated to the one constant in our story – the people of Leamore… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/tales-of-lost-leamore/lost-leamore-i-a-horse-of-a-different-colour/

Pottery found by St Joseph. See caption.

Pottery found by St Joseph. See caption.


The settlement of Pennocrucium lies astride Watling St. It occupies what would really be the prime location in the area for a civil development; it is on high ground and would not only have initially had a Roman garrison to financially exploit, but plenty of passing trade as it was at the junction of several major roads. Its origins are far from clear: the surrounding military ditches give the impression that it may have grown from a fort itself, but limited dating evidence suggests to me that it started out as a vicus (that is a civil settlement attracted by a military installation, for example) around the Watling St fort in the latter 1st century AD… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge-pt6/