Growing up in Brownhills part 2

Around the time I started at the Junior School, my grandmother passed away, and we moved house to live with my grandfather, further along Coppice Side at No 77. Compared with No 55 the new house was like a mansion. Our new abode was a four bedroom coal board house with a large garden, which included a pigsty.Downstairs accomodation, consisted of a large walk in pantry, a living room, kitchen and washroom. With only a cold water supply, and the old universal black leaded grate to fulfill our cooking and kettle boiling in the kitchen, the washroom boasted a coal-fired cast iron boiler, where copious supplies of hot water could be provided for bath nights, again using the zinc bath tub. Toilet facilities were provided by the brick-built toilet across the yard, no improvements there then. Attached to the house was a 2 stall stable which we used for coal storage and tool shed. The large garden, which already had an apple tree, damson trees, gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes, was cultivated for vegetables, and we decided to use the pigsty and rear a pig. Down to the market to buy a piglet, which we fed with kitchen scraps and boiled potatoes, until fully grown.

Upon maturity ” sticker” Russell the local pig killer would call and the animal would meet its maker. After gutting and scraping, the carcase would be hung by the back legs from a hook in the washroom ceiling, with a bowl under its nose to collect any drips of blood.

After a few days of hanging Mr Russell would return to complete his work. The carcase would be cut up into sections, salted for preserving and wrapped in muslin. No deep freezers in those days. I remember a side of  bacon hanging on the wall, and rashers sliced off when required. A treat at this time was to have the pigs bladder, which was inflated and used as a football.

Our first television was purchased in the early 1950’s. A large Ariel was erected outside, and the TV which was a Murphy had a 9” or 12” screen, sat upon the chest of drawers. Transmission was by BBC only with 1 channel covering afternoons and evenings, finishing at 9-00 pm with the epilogue.

Entertainment in the Brownhills area was limited to the Regent Cinema in the High Street, the boy scouts, or one of the local youth clubs.

The youth club, held in the Methodist Chapel by the Rising Sun, was just a short walk across the common from Coppice Side.

In 1952 my education moved to the Central boys School on Brownhills bridge, alongside the Railway line.


After three years at the Central, I successfully took the entrance exam to Wednesbury Technical College for a two-year course. Situated in Holyhead Road Wednesbury, the College was accessible using the No 37 or No 38  bus’s operated by Walsall Corporation Transport  from Bradford Place. Getting into Walsall was by means of the No 11 bus from Pelsall Road. Walsall Corporation operated a fleet of Guy Arab,s at that time.

The College had a strict uniform, badged blazer, tie and the dreaded cap, which was kept folded in the pocket until the last-minute. most lessons were carried out in Holyhead road, but for practical metalwork we travelled to the workshop in Darlaston. Physical education lessons and school dinners meant a walk to the main College in Walsall Road. Bus times on the 37/38 routes were every 10 minutes, but the No 11 to Brownhills was every half hour. Most days I just missed the No 11 by a small margin, and had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. A bag of baked spuds from Ant’s mobile stall, outside the Imperial picture palace,  made the wait more bearable. Winter periods in that era meant thick foggy nights and sometimes the dreaded smog. On a few occasions, due to the thick fog, a long walk back to Brownhills had to be made, as Walsall Corporation stopped the bus service on safety grounds.

After two years at College, it was time to seek employment. A visit to the Youth Employment Office in Brownhills High Street, by the CO-OP store secured an interview at BIP Engineering at Streetly, for an engineering apprenticeship. After a successful interview I started at the Aldridge Road factory in August 1957. The large factory site, which also incorporated Streetly Manufacturing was serviced by Dunn & Hale coaches from the Brownhills & Burntwood areas, and Walsall Corporation from the Walsall area, bringing in workers by the hundreds.  A nominal fare payment was deducted from the participants wages to help cover the cost. After 12 months in the training school, I signed my indentures as an apprentice draughtsman on an initial wage of  £3-4-7d for a 44 hour week, and started a day release ONC course at Walsall College. Works transport changed as Harper Brothers bought out Dunn & Hale and took on all their contracts.

In 1960 the houses in Coppice Side were compulsory purchased for industrial development, and our family moved to 171 Pelsall Road, opposite the Jolly Collier Public House. This 4 bedroom Council house had a downstairs bathroom, and hot water on tap. The hot water was by means of a back boiler mounted behind the fireplace in the kitchen, which by capillary action heated the water in the  galvanised tank situated in the kitchen at a higher level to the fireplace. Although the toilet was still outside, a verandah enabled us to make calls of nature trips, in the dry and warm.

In 1962 I met my future wife,and our first outing was to the Regent Cinema in Brownhills High Street, on the last day of opening. The film we watched was, The Man who Shot Liberty Valance.

17 Responses to “Growing up in Brownhills part 2”

  1. Nick Says:

    Thanks again Bob..I just have a question… I seem to remember the name ‘Coppice Woods’ as a kid…but I cant remember where it was or anything about it..just the name and that I think we played there.
    Is that name or area connected with Coppice road…?

  2. BrownhillsBob Says:

    That’s not Bob ;o) I’m Bob, he’s Godfrey…

    Coppice Woods to me are in Green Lane, between Shelfield and Walsall Wood, the area near them where the Black Cock pub is was called ‘Bullens Heath’ by the older generation. Locals know the wood as Goblins Wood.



  3. m.whitbrook Says:

    godfrey remember me ,i went to the same schools .that is a great photo of the class at the central.

  4. oakparkrunner Says:

    Hello Michael how are you?. Yes I remember you from the Central school and Wednesbury Tech. godfrey

  5. m.whitbrook Says:

    how are you godfrey,do you remember the wonderful time we had when i came to your house down the coppice side.and sometimes i had to walk home to hussey rd ,back in the dark sometimes ,down engine lane .i too left the brownhills central and joined you at wednesbury tech.i bet you cant remember when we sat a maths exam and because i looked at your paper i got 100% .sorry about that !!you should have had that priest was the maths teacher and barnett was the head master.he used to bring an old gramaphone into the classroom and played my fav. classical music.didn,t like the travelling though.

  6. Paul Stokes Says:

    I was born at number 55 Copice side on the 20th of April 1957

  7. brian stringer Says:

    Hi Godfrey, I seem to remember you at Holy Trinity Clayhanger. Then you seemed to disappear. Nice to know your still about. I believe you have something to do with Chasewater light railway. Is that right? Have to call in one day. I know Dave Bathurst.

  8. john williams Says:

    Another old Brownhills Central lad, that went to Wednesbury junior Tech, name is John Williams, played footie for the Cetral, with another lad named Micheal Gerry. My proudest moment was having a trial at West Bromwich Albion with Micheal, he was better than me and think he had a second trial. I think M Whitbrook used to play for Central as well. Still an Albion season ticket holder.

  9. Keith Harvey Says:

    Godfrey, Hope you are well ,we must take a walk down memory lane together again to old to run now best regards Keith

  10. jakethefake Says:

    About what year is the picture of Central School from it looks like one of my dads family on the front row… Thacker the name was

  11. oakparkrunner Says:

    I think from memory that this was my third year at central school. If so it would be 1955, regards Godfrey (oakparkrunner)

  12. M.WHITBROOK Says:

    in the photo BACK ROW from l/ side .. me, ? b.dennis.a.simpson.m .daniels.m newman,tom??..? ? 2nd row.. ? a.winters ,,haynes ..jefferies..? ? ? ? front row ? m. painter.g tonks, t .howdle ? g .hucker ? m.brooks .?.. can any one put a name to the ones iv missed

  13. Mike Homer Says:

    Hi we used to play in coppice wood’s,all the while as kid’s,me as above,Bert & Henry Harvey, Brian Pratt Henry Tappington ,and a host of other’s.
    We went to streets corner secondary modern school 1955 to 1959.
    I lived in Stewart rd & also coronation rd.
    ATB Mike.

  14. Clive wright Says:

    Re M Whitbrookes request for help in filling in missing names, I can offer following:
    M Whitbrook, R Dixon, R Denning, G Simpson, M Daniels, M Newman, T Sperring, C Wright ( me), P Walsh.

    A Brown, A Winters, J Haines, B Glenn, H Jeffries, ?, J Hibbard, A Shaw, ?,

    J Carless, M Painter, G Tonks, T Howdle, ?, G Hooker, M Piper, A Thacker, M Brooks, J Hayes.

    Still one or two I could not remember, but I bet H Jeffries would know them.

    Incidentally I went to Wednesbury Tech at age 13.

    Regards to all.


  15. Peter Carlino Says:

    Hi, the Brownhills, is that in Lichfield? I went to Lichfield central school in 1958 to 1962, looking for info and photo, s thanks peter carlino

  16. Angela Hallbrook Says:

    Just found this blog, I was born in Coppiceside byMarklews farm, they were the happiest days of my life, used to love watching the trains at the bottom of my garden. My maiden name was Angela Astbury.

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