Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Birmingham University, and pastures new

Hello Everyone,

Just a little post to say that things have changed a lot for me since my last blog story around August, which is why I haven’t written anything for a while.

I have struggled with my health for a while and, with lots of changes afoot with Walsall’s archive service, it was the right time to part. I wish my brilliant former colleagues all the best. I managed to enrol on a research Master’s degree course up at Keele University – an MRes (History) – and am finding modern University life so different to 20 years ago. I have also started work at Birmingham University Archives, on a short-term project working on a charity collection. I will also be helping on the Great Wyrley Local History Society’s project to get the WWI fallen soldier’s (and hopefully some stories of those that lived) stories into print and, something important to me, to get a new marker placed in the gardens with the correct names displayed.

So, lots on. Saying that, I am hoping to get something small out soon.

All the best

Paul (Wyrleyblog)



Wyrleyblog on Twitter

Posted: August 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

Me studying water in a pompous way.

Hi Everyone (well the few who read this). Just wanted to say that I continue to struggle a bit with health and other issues, hence writing is still slow. I have though returned to Twitter! I will try to post anything there for local interest, to raise a smile, or to bore the backside off you. Cheers!


Wyrleyblog: Milestones

Posted: April 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

Wyrleyblog is 4-years old today

Well who would have believed it? Wyrleyblog launched its first story four years ago today and has, in that time, received just over 100,000 views. I didn’t really think about how long it may go on for, but I didn’t expect that many hits for what is really a small geographical area and no more than a collection of local history stories.

Whatever the story, writing the Blog has helped me through a pretty rough period of ill-health. I hope the stories I have pursued have been interesting, informative and sometimes, eye-opening. I am aware that some of the stories will appeal to some and not to others, but that is the nature of the beast, and many have come about as a result of the centenary of World War One.

Thanks is due to my family a few people that support Wyrleyblog through Facebook shares, likes, retweets on Twitter etc. I am very grateful for the support and I thought, after 4-years, I would start to re-post some of those first stories for a bit of re-airing and would ask if anyone who reads this and is a member of a Facebook group that may find it of interest, to share the story – it all helps as I lose track of what I shared and where.

So, back on 2 April 2014, I launched the inaugural article, which was the first part of a three-part history of the Walsall Imperial. Built in 1868 as the Agricultural Hall, it has been a corn exchange, public venue, concert hall, theatre, cinema, bingo hall and finally a Wetherspoon’s pub…

The Imperial, 1899

The Imperial, 1899

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…

As I have been a little under the weather, and so I am just getting back into writing a new article, I thought I would post this item as a bit of a bridge until that is ready. It shows an aspect of the work we do at the Local History Centre that is seldom seen: as it is a short video that Cath (our Local Studies Librarian) and I (Archivist) did as part of a project with the Common Ground Federation (which enable young people to deliver inspiring action that bridges communities through common ground and tackles issues that lie at the heart of society) on how local history (and especially the Walsall Zeppelin raids) can be used to connect the generations through shared experience and a shared sense of place.

Also, it is for those that live in Wyrley (and the wider area) that are interested in who it is that actually writes Wyrleyblog – yes, I actually appear in it – so if you see me around please say hi and let me know what you think of the stories or if you have any ideas for one!

Jack (Stuart Williams)

Jack (Stuart Williams)

This post was supposed to be a celebration, as Wyrleyblog is 2 years-old today. I was going to go on about hits and things, but I awoke to some sad news that really put pay to all that – it just didn’t seem so important anymore. Local historian and photographer Jack Haddock, whom I have known as a near resident of the Walsall Local History Centre for 10 years, has passed away. My colleagues at the Centre have posted a tribute to him on the Centre’s Blog and FB page and I would like to attach that to this post. An exhibition of his work is in the planning stages. We are all upset at the Centre and will remember him fondly…

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…

Just thought I would post this on Wyrleyblog as well. I know John and have a copy of the book – which obviously covers areas that this blog covers. Definitely worth a look for the horse-racing fans.

Walsall Life

It has been ten years since I self-published the first edition of A Complete Record of Walsall Races & The Hednesford Training Grounds and almost from day one I regretted the fact that I never registered it with the British Library…….in other words, it didn’t have an ISBN. At the time it seemed like a good idea as it added to the cost of producing the book. In the ten years that have passed I have produced many books for local history societies and individual authors and quite a high percentage of them have been registered with the British Library, it one was of these authors that allowed me to register this revised edition.Walsall Races new cover

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Harry Withnall's medal card, showing he reached France on 5 March 1915 (National Archives)

Harry Withnall’s medal card, showing he reached France on 5 March 1915
(National Archives)

The story of Harry Withnall would leave me a little sadder than usual: not only because he turned out to be an only child, but also that both Great Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay’s memorials have his name incorrect. Wyrley’s error is a spelling one, with ‘Whithnell’ seemingly as incongruous as having John Wilkes Booth carved next to Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. Cheslyn Hay’s memorial had the correct spelling for Withnall, but the wrong christian name attached – they had him on the memorial as William Withnall. Harry as a name is problematical in that it is a name itself or a nickname for Harold or Henry for example, but surely it could not stretch to William could it?… click on the link to read more…

Churchbridge, 1838

Churchbridge, 1838 (thanks to Lichfield Record Office)

In an effort to reach more than three people, the otherwise miserable author of the Wyrleyblog has embraced Facebook!/pages/Wyrleyblog/1436397223278262 and Twitter