Archive for October, 2014

A Seaman's Suit (Walsall Local History Centre)

A Seaman’s Suit: A poem by Baron Powell to aid the Mayor of Walsall’s appeal for the Merchant Navy Comforts Service
(Walsall Local History Centre)

Here is a snippet of a story. A few days ago the Walsall Local History Centre was approached by the Mayor’s Office in relation to an item gifted to the Mayor from a citizen of the town. The Mayor was curious to find out a little more about, so I had a look. Having done so, I thought it would make an interesting enough little bonus article for the blog and for the Walsall Local History Centre’s Facebook page. https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/walsall-1943-the-mayor-a-baron-and-the-merchant-navy/

Whitehall Infant Department, 1926 photographed by W Bullock. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Whitehall Infant Department, 1926
photographed by W Bullock.
(Walsall Local History Centre)

This article follows on from that looking at the background and opening of the school in 1899. In this article I want to take a look the early years of the school, specifically the period between 1899 and 1923. This was the tenure of the first headmistress, Sarah Jane Woodward (nee Parker). The period covers the opening of the main school, the transfer from School Boards to the Local Education Authority in 1902, the building and opening of the new Infant Department in 1903 and of course, the harrowing time of the First World War. What will become clear is that Sarah faced a multitude of day-to-day problems regarding staffing, the children, the building, sickness and overcrowding. These problems and experiences will be seen through the eyes of Sarah herself, who detailed the daily life in the school log book. It will become evident in just how schools and education has changed. https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/whitehall-infant-school-1890s-1923/whitehall-infant-school-1899-1923-part-2-the-sarah-jane-parker-story/

Obverse sides of Billy Meredith's medal set. 2014.

Obverse sides of Billy Meredith’s medal set. 2014.

This article is a little different for me as its inspiration was not taken from a name on a memorial, but a cache of medals from a surviving soldier of the First World War. Dave, a regular at the Harrison’s club in Great Wyrley, mentioned that he had his grandfather’s medals and asked if I would like to see them. I did and he duly obliged. He presented me with a set of four medals that belonged to a William Henry Meredith, but even a basic inspection showed immediately that there was something that wasn’t quite right. Dave knew nothing of the medals and was at a loss when I pointed-out the inconsistencies, so, with his permission I set-off to unravel the Meredith story and the medal mystery… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/billy-fred-and-the-importance-of-being-ernest-william-merediths-wwi-medals/

Whitehall School, upon opening in August 1899. Note the fields opposite, from where the drawing was made as they were once home to Walsall FC (Walsall Local History Centre)

Whitehall School, upon opening in August 1899. Note the fields opposite, from where the drawing was made as they were once home to Walsall FC
(Walsall Local History Centre)

In this two-part article I want to take a look at the Whitehall Infant School, which is sandwiched between the West Bromwich Rd and Weston Street in south Walsall. I am not going to cover the whole history, just around the first 25 years. This first part will cover the period up to the opening of the school in August 1899; it will look at the historic background, the reason why the site was chosen, the design of the school and the opening ceremony. The second part looks at the period from 1899 to 1923, which is the tenure of the first headmistress, Sarah Jane Woodward (nee Parker). Set against the context of her life, this covers the school’s experiences, including the harrowing time of the First World War, through her eyes – as she detailed them in the school log book. It will become evident in just how much the school, education and society have changed. https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/whitehall-infant-school-part-1-founding-1899/