Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wyrleyblog: Catchin’ Up

Posted: December 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

Hiya Everyone,

I just wanted to explain a little about why Wyrleyblog has been so quiet recently, and where it is going from here. In August 2018, with massive changes facing Walsall Local History Centre, and in the wake of being a little on the ill side, I decided to move on and, as I never expected to get back into archives, perhaps look for a new avenue in life. The first thing to say is that this was a big decision, the right one at the time, but I do miss my the fantastic colleagues I had at the Local History Centre and in the Museum Service. I wish them well.

I decided to undertake another Master’s degree – this one being an MRes: a Master of Research (History) – which would help put my mind back in order and help me get back into an academic style of writing in order, perhaps, to tackle a PhD later and open up some lecturing possibilites. Therefore, I devoted my time to the degree and have actually put a couple of the assignments I did (not the most exciting, to be fair) on the Blog: one on approaches to Local History and one one the Greek origins of war trophies (both relevant to my dissertation). The dissertation, some 25k words, will be serialised on the Blog once I formally get the mark for it – it was on the display of war ordnance from the Crimean War and Great War in Walsall.

I was hoping to write the odd article while I was doing the degree, but I actually got back into archives – when the Cadbury Library (Birmingham University Archives) offered me a chance to work on the Toc H collection – a worldwide Christian charity movement that had its origins in the Great War. I cannot say how grateful I was for the opportunity. In July 2019, I was lucky enough to be appointed as the Senior Archivist at Dudley Archives and, as such, Wyrleyblog will now incorporate stories from the Dudley area as well.

So, having finished my MRes, it would have been nice to turn my attentions back to the Blog, however, I can’t. The Great Wyrley Local History Group, along with other supportive local organisations, put forward a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce a book on the Great War fallen from Great Wyrley (and a permanent memorial within the gardens that reflected their correct names). In part, this is a rearrangement of the Blog stories, however, more needs to be researched and put into the book to give a wider understanding of both the war and the nature of community than just turning the Blog into a narrative. I am currently working on this and the book will be available on the Blog and digitally from the GWLHS once produced.

There is also another issue, one that is more irritating than a worry. My little illness has left a problem that needs fixing and I will have to have this done soon. Despite all this, I do have some ideas of the articles that I do want to pull together as soon as I can.

The first is the story of Dudley’s ‘Murder Mine’, and the discovery of the remains of a lady that had been undisturbed for decades. The aim is to treat her with the respect she deserves, while investigating what happened and how oral history can get corrupted or sensationalised.

The second is the story of an actress and singer, Nellie Nestle, who trod the boards locally between 1910 and 1920 as I have been sent an autograph album from Sue in Australia. The frustration of this story is whether I can find her real name – as ‘Nestle’ seems to be assumed.

The third was prompted by my dissertation, and looks at James Wood – a Bloxwich (or Blockswidge, as spelled by his discharge scribe) soldier, in the Devons, who went on to fight in the Crimea and the Indian conflict. This is about his life, the little we can tell, but also how his reflections on war, written in 1856, would not look out of place in 1918, or the folk-revival of the 1960s!

The fourth was to continue with the growth of Great Wyrley article, which I halted when my circumstances changed in August 2018.

Anyway, there we go. Which ever story comes first, it will be due to the availability of information – I hope you find it all interesting, or that it helps to get you off to sleep if nothing else!

All the best

Paul (Wyrleyblog)


Mr Bloxwich, Stuart Williams

Posted: October 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

I suppose as a historian I should be used to things passing, but somehow I cannot really get used to it. Bloxwegian, local historian, author, photographer, sci-fi nut, one-time Viking and long-time colleague at Walsall Local History Centre Stuart Williams – or to me simply Stewy – has passed away. Stewy encouraged and then helped me set-up Wyrleyblog and it hurts to see him go but somehow, if there is justice, I get the feeling his spirit is about to be presented with the Freedom of the Borough of Bloxwich by Gene Roddenberry – to the pride of his parents as they look on.

My thoughts are with his brother, Andy.

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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