My name is Paul Ford and I am the writer of Wyrleyblog – for the few that may have heard of it or, indeed, read some of it! Gary, Chairman of the Society, has asked me to write a few lines about the Blog and myself, so I thought I would bore you with a few details about my professional life (so you know I am sort of qualified to write it), life in Wyrley, background to the founding of the Blog and, just in case anyone is actually interested in what is in it, errr – what is in it!

I am the Senior Archivist – in truth, the only Archivist – at the Walsall Local History Centre. I have been an Archivist at Walsall for some 11 years and before that I spent a fantastic year at Birmingham Archives, where I had qualified as a professional in 2005. I had worked before that for five years as a full-time Archive Assistant at the Staffordshire Record Office and back in 1999 as a part-time one at Lichfield Record Office.


I had, before that, worked at BT; I had left after 14 years of service, which was in early 1999, in order to try and do something I actually wanted to do. Over the next few years I achieved: A levels in History, Ancient History, Archaeology (theory), City & Guilds Archaeology (practical), a Certificate of Higher Education in Post-Medieval Archaeology, a Diploma in Classical Studies, an Arts Degree (History & Archaeology) and a Master’s Degree in Local History – finally topped with Archive Degree in 2005.

I was born in Lichfield, but moved to Brum when I was 4 years-old. I came to Great Wyrley in 1992 with my then fiancée, Donna. We married in 1994 and now have two children, Ellie and Lizzie (nicknamed the Blogettes). After a number of years of being miserable, I started to venture to the local pubs and even played footy for a number of local teams: Davy Lamp, Robin Hood (both now closed, but not my fault) and the Wyrley Working Men’s Club. Slowly – mainly as I never spoke – I got to know a number of local people and joined the Great Wyrley Local History Society.

Over the years I have been honoured to be asked by the Society for my professional advice, to give talks – I remember the joint one with Bridgtown and Cheslyn Hay’s societies with much affection – and I contributed to the book that the Society launched a few years back. It was with my involvement in writing that book that seeds of Wyrleyblog were sown, although it took some time to come to fruition.

As I became a little frustrated at work due to being pulled away from dealing with the historic records, I started to eye enviously the local history blogs on the internet. I felt I could do something similar, where I could choose what I wanted to write about and in doing so could be, albeit in my own time, a way of purposely using historic documents. Blogs also has a massive advantage over writing ‘in print’, as they can be updated! Busy, time passed and I put it aside until I started to become intrigued by a local question regarding our First World War dead.
Spurred on after a little investigation, I approached Stuart Williams at the History Centre. Stuart, writer of his own Bloxwich blog, had the technical knowledge and helped set-up the site, linking it with a Facebook page and Twitter account.

The site was to be called Wyrleyblog, but it seemed silly to confine its contents just to Great Wyrley as I was interested in Cheslyn Hay, Bridgtown, Norton Canes, Cannock and so on. Further, as I had access to Walsall Borough’s archive it seemed daft not to use it, especially when I had to write articles for work too. So, I set my boundaries mainly as the Cannock area, through Wyrley and Chezzy, to the Walsall Borough, although there is the odd story that falls outside this – a set of six articles on the Roman sites at Penkridge (Pennocrucium) that had originally been my dissertation submitted to Warwick for my degree comes to mind.

On 2 April 2014 the Blog was launched with the first of a three-part story on the history of the Walsall Imperial. A story on how I traced a general book dedication followed. By the end of the first month I had started what would be the first real project for the Blog, the WWI fallen from Wyrley. I had become intrigued as to why Harrison’s Club had a Patrick Downey on their memorial and the memorial gates had a P Downing – I felt not only did I prove that that Downing was an error, I also discovered Downey had been awarded a military medal (melted down has he had no listed next of kin in army records). Harrison’s Club changed their memorial to give it him back.

Harrison's tablet to the fallen members of the Club. 2015.

Harrison’s tablet to the fallen members of the Club. 2015.

Downey wasn’t the only error: having researched all the soldiers – all of which are on the Blog – I presented the Parish Council with a list of alterations – we shall see what happens.

There are plenty of other stories on the Blog: from murders, Russian cannon and the WWI tank in Walsall, Roman sites in Penkridge, Wyrley in the Domesday Book and pubs in Churchbridge to the mystery of a Victorian Pelsall girl’s autograph album. Currently the Blog has had over 63,000 views since its launch. The Blog’s Facebook page has additional material, as does the Twitter account. Feel free to follow or like and suggest research topics.

You can follow the blog directly or it is also available to ‘like’ on Facebook, where you can make comments and add to the timeline: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyrleyblog/1436397223278262?ref=hl

It is also on Twitter.

All the best…

  1. Clive says:

    Great Blog mate. look forward to reading more.

  2. LJB says:

    Hello. Finding the blog really interesting. Thanks! Any way to contact you?

  3. sandra says:

    hi, can i just say, im loving this blog, i might have to pay a visit to the centre,

    • wyrleyblog says:

      Thank you for your comments – if you know anyone that would also find the blog/FB page interesting please let them know. It isn’t vanity (well, actually it is a bit!) but the more that read the stories, the more I will continue to do it (as it is all done in my own time).

  4. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for directing me to your site following our conversation this morning. It looks really good and has some interesting stories. It is certainly an inspiration for what my Local History Group could do/achieve in terms of a blog following the publication of our book – Through Sweat and Tears – the Caribbean Presence in Walsall.

    Many thanks


  5. Dear Paul,

    Congratulations on a superb web site, very interesting indeed.

    I noticed that you have a family history section, so I thought I would send details of my own family history research in case you or anyone else is interested.

    My branch of the Crutchley family lived in Great Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay throughout the 19th century, and latterly in Bloxwich and Walsall.

    I have attached the address to my website, all are welcome to visit.

    Best regards,

    Gary S. Crutchley

  6. Dr Susan J Diamond says:

    I am trying to follow up a reference to Robert Wood of Uttoxeter which I thought was in March 2015 but can’t seem to locate it fully.
    Thanks for this lovely work!

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