Brierley Hill: The Old Days

People contributed newspaper cuttings, internet research, lists of former industrial businesses, old family and work photos, and images of types of industrial machinery. They told us stories of a bygone age, of a prosperous beautiful town which lives on in their memories. 

These all contributed to our understanding of the past and Brierley Hillness.

Images and memories

Below are a selection of scanned photos and extracts from audio recordings which give a sense of Brierley Hill before the late 1970s.

View from Chapel Street Estate when Round Oak Steel Works still dominated the landscape. Contributed by John Timmins

“All the big firms they all had a social club. I mean Round Oak social club we used to go dancing there as a teenager, I used to have dances every Friday night… and then Marsh’s one, that’s still standing… and they all had their football teams, and the cricket teams and they used to have outings and children’s parties… I can remember going to children’s parties at the brickyard where dad worked. So it was very much involved, there was all this involvement… There was this sort of sense of pride…and competition.”

 Jeanette Grazier, Stourbridge (from audio recording)

Listen to a clip of Jeanette sharing these memories.

 

 Image of Round Oak Farm, Merry Hill. Contributed by Pete Glews (associated memory below)

“It was a farm of grassed-over pit banks… Ken Thomas (the farmer) used to keep Devon Red cattle… so in those fields on a nice sunny evening you could have the light reflecting off these Devon Red cattle… it was lovely. When they moved out… saw Cis once, that’s his wife, and, you know… apparently the story was she never came back to Merry Hill when they left… she never saw it. “Hello Cis, how you doing?” “Oh, alright”, she says “Not come back have yer? “No”, she says “they’ve put some shops there haven’t they?”

Dave Galley, Brierley Hill (from audio recording)

Listen to a clip of Dave telling this story.

 

“And at one time of day when it was Brierley Hill the park was lovely… along the front by the war cenotaph there was always lovely gardens. They were Brierley Hill gardeners who used to be based down in Wordsley… but their main thing was the front of Brierley Hill. There were benches and flower gardens and grassing. It hasn’t been looked after for years”.

 Dennis Andrews, Brierley Hill (from audio recording)

 
 Newspaper cuttings about historic events in Brierley Hill, contributed by David Newton

“Fire brickworks they mainly were, mainly centred on Brettal Lane and The Delph [...] My gran worked there as a brick moulder until she was in her 60s. And lots of my family worked in that particular one. Over the road from that it was known as George Kings, down The Delph there was at least two that I can think of and also every brickyard had its own clay pit or clay mine, if you like, so they’d mine the clay locally and then use it in the brickyards.”

 Jeanette Grazier, Stourbridge (from audio recording)

Jeanette tells us more about the brickworks.


 

Picture taken by member of Dudley MIND

“The solider on the top (Stanley Harley), he worked at Round Oak Steel Works, but it was the ‘Earl’s’ in those days… it was never called Round Oak Steel Works, it was the ‘Earl’s’… and he’d been through the first world war and he was in one of the Guards… and they had him as the model for that.”

 Dennis Andrews, Brierley Hill (from audio recording)

 

Jeanette tells us about the High Street shops and vibrancy of town.

 

“When the Earl of Dudley arrives to open it (The Danilo, built 1937) there’s crowds outside, but they are all looking the other way, waiting for George Formby to come up from Quarry Bank…”

Dave Galley, Brierley Hill (from audio recording)

 

“(George Formby) put his head through the curtains and said “turned out nice again” and the whole of Brierley Hill erupted.”

Ned Williams, local historian and author (from audio recording)

Ned recounts this important event in the history of Brierley Hill.

More memories…

Round Oak Steel Works Reminiscence

 

Have you got memories of the town you’d like to share?

Please reply below and add these to the site.

 

32 Responses to Brierley Hill: The Old Days

  1. Alan says:

    Hi, Has anyone noticed the old clock in High St Brierley Hill with the name Jones Bros on it, Jones Brothers was a electrical shop dealing with Television, Radio repairs and general electrics, in the early 60s I used to buy germanium crystals there (the modern equiv of the cats whisker so to speak) to build crystal sets, cost threepence(threpence) I used to build them in an Englands Glory matchbox and sell em to anyone that wanted them for 5 shillings each telling them that they needed a ear phone or ear piece to listen to it and that a telephone ear piece was perfect, little did I know that most telephones in and around Brierley Hill was now short of an ear piece,I was about 12 years old, just a bit of information of the town.

  2. keileigh says:

    Hi thanks for the reply :) I really would like 2 know why its called the nasty house as its kinda strange that no one actually knows xxx

  3. KIM THOMAS says:

    HELLO ALAN MY MOTHERS MAIDEN NAME WAS MILLWARD JUST WONDERING IF THEY COULD BE THE SAME MILLWARDS ANNA IS TALKING ABOUT KIM

    • Anna says:

      Hello Kim,
      How much do you know about your Millward family? They were big families and many of the men were bricklayers/builders.
      My direct ancestors on the Millward side are:
      Hannah Millward (1845-1931 My Gt Grandmother)
      Her parents: Thomas Millward (1817-1891)
      Mary Ann Corbett (1819-1891)
      Thomas Millward’s parents: Thomas Homer Millward (1770-1857)
      Sarah Bache (1774-1845)
      Thomas Homer Millward’s parents: Joseph Millward (1708-1785)
      Esther Homer (1735-1815)
      There are many branches descending from these people. If you know any of your direct ancestor’s names on the Millward side, I could check to see if they coincide with any in my tree. I think there is a good chance if your Millwards were from Brierley Hill and Kingswinford area.
      Anna

  4. Pingback: Chapel Street Estate | Up The Oss Road

  5. Alan says:

    Hi, Regarding the information you would like about the Nasty House in Brockmoor, I lived up the Drunken Row in Brockmoor for 30 years and I remember two old ladies who also lived up the Drunken Row going to the Nasty House to play crib this was in the early fifties, not to sure as to why it was called that but can prob find out, something seems to come back to me as I think it was not allways a pub, just down the road on the corner of Norwood road was a shop that my dad used to buy parrafin from to put in oil lamps to stop the outside toilet from freezing up in the winter, i do know a fair bit about Brockmoor, a lot is forgot, but the more I think about it it does come back. Hope this bit helps.
    Regards,
    Alan.

  6. Yvonne says:

    I have just stumbled over this blog whilst searching my dads family tree and I was wondering if there is anyone out there from the pensnett area with some local knowledge. My Father’s parents lived in London, but for some reason my late grandmother gave birth to him at 60, high street, pensnett, kingswinford in 1928. My late father never spoke of his childhood, so I have never been able to uncover the truth about his past. I was wondering if the above address was a private residence or a nursing home for mothers to give birth in secret. Thankyou in anticipation for any help!
    Yvonne

  7. k. Bayliss says:

    Please can someone explain to me why the Hearty Goodfellows in High St , Brockmoor was called the Nasty House ? Ive asked numerous people from that area , but no one seems to know , yet everyone called it by that name, many thanks

  8. keileigh says:

    hello :) im looking into the history of brockmoor an am really intrigued to find out why the pub in brockmoor was referred to as the nasty house?? i look forward to your replys

    keileigh

  9. Dawn Beese - School Business Manager says:

    Does anyone have any information on the old St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, which was destroyed in a fire? I’m currently updating the school website and would like to include a history of the school. Any memories or pictures that people may have of the school would be most welcome.

  10. Pat Cobern says:

    Does anybody remember Mary Ewing Allan, Headmistress of Mill Street Primary School, Brierley Hill 1924-1928. I am doing some research on her life. From this appointment she went on as Headmistress at Red Hall School in Lower Gornal until 1936. She was born in Thornliebank, Renfrewshire in 1875 She arrived, from Scotland,at the Cheslyn Hay School in 1904. Mrs Allan was described as a “Legendary Headmistress” in an article by the Black Country Society. If you have any information about her I would be very grateful. She was a remarkable lady, her first concern was for her pupils.

  11. Mathew Parkes says:

    Hello,
    i have recently moved into the building next door to the Barcleys bank and over the Mary Stevens Charity shop. By a photograph i have seen i have discovered it used to be @H.W Johnson (or Johnsons?). im fascinated by local history but cannot find much information on the building. does anyone have any recollection of this building or any information to pass on. I would be very grateful to hear back.

    Thank you,
    Mat.

  12. Mandy Pickett says:

    Hi, Alan. Thanks for your help. Perhaps my Dad worked at the Planet and then Pearsons. I remember it being called Price Pearson Refractories – we used to have big pieces of cardboard with this name on it in our verandah to wipe our feet on! So, I might be working on the brickworks site after all.
    My brother’s name is Michael Pickett and he went to Stourbridge Grammer School after his 11 plus but I don’t know his junior/infant school – he’s 67 now.
    As a family, we lived in Wollaston so probably not the boy you remember if he was from Brockmoor.

    Thanks for your help.

    Regards, Mandy.

  13. Mandy Pickett says:

    Hello, Alan. Just came across your site when googling Planet Brickworks where my Dad worked in the 50s/60s. He used to take me with him at the weekend when he had to turn the pump on and off to keep the pit from flooding (I suppose). /I remember seeing women working there moving the bricks around and seeing the tramp who used to sleep in the kiln overnight. I was born in 1955 so can’t remember too much.

    My Dad’s name is Josiah Pickett and he was born in 1918 at 62, Back Lane, Brockmoor and died in 1993.

    I now work on the Delph Industrial Estate and wondered whether I am close to the area where I used to go with my Dad to work.

    • Alan Hinton says:

      Hi Mandy,
      Nice to hear from you, in response to your post, the Planet Brickworks was located on the right hand side of the road going towards Kingswinford from Pensnett, not far from Lenches Bridge, it was not in the Delph so quite a way from where you work.
      The main brickworks local to the Delph was EJ &J Pearson, the entrance to the works was just round the corner in Turners Lane by the canal bridge in Delph Road, so I wonder if you have the right name of brickworks, again you mention a tramp, this was probably Harold Thompson, he was at E Js.
      With regard to your dad, there was a lot of people called Pickett in the area at the time,do you have an older brother? I went to school with someone called Pickett from Brockmoor, Back Lane Brockmoor if I recall was a small road running off Station Road, between the small Post Office and a electrical shop called Shakespears,by the Brockmoor House pub, it had small terraced houses towards the bottom on the RHS then opened up to some garages and came out half way up bank street.
      Hope that this helps,please contact me if I can help further.
      Regards,
      Alan.

  14. Anna says:

    Hello Alan,
    Very interesting to hear about the railyard opposite Foster Street; my 2nd Gt Uncle, Walter Edward Newton (who lived with his parents in Foster Street) became an engine driver. He started off by working as an engine driver for the iron works. He then worked at Stourbridge, first as a locomotive fireman and then later as an engine driver. In 1888 Walter was one of eighteen men to start up the ASLEF union branch at Stourbridge Shed. (I was going to enclose a photo of Stourbridge Shed but I don’t know how to download it to this website!)
    I am sure Walter’s interest in trains must have started when he was a young lad, watching them at the end of his street. Also with Foster Street being sandwiched between the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton railway line and the Kingswinford branch line, he would have been surrounded by them.
    Anna

    • Alan Hinton says:

      Hi Anna,
      Let me tell you a bit about myself, as you may be wondering how I know so much of the area.
      I came from Brockmoor, but due to work commitments at the time (parents) I spent my time in the Delph with my grandparents growing up, it was a great time, all my friends and close mates come from the Delph, my relations owned the Rock Tavern at the bottom of Hill St, Hansons pub,I went to school at Mill St infant and juniors, opposite the pub was Potter St and on the corner was a sweet shop owned by my dads gran, anyroadup, say no more.
      I would think that at the time the railway was British Rail till it was all changed by the Beeching bit of the 50s and 60s, but the yard I do believe is still there, just above was the Royal Brierley Crystal Works , glass works in North St.
      You say a relative was involved in the glass trade, my dads uncle Eric Ostin was the man that who did all of the glass for the Queen Coronation 1951/2 , and pictures of him were on the walls of Stuart Crystal showroom in Stourbridge for years, perhaps they were work mates.
      I would love to see the pic you have, if you send mail to me, alan112@tinyworld.co.uk and attatch them to it I will get it.

  15. Anna says:

    Thank you once again Alan for your memories. My Garndmother’s family had a Grocer’s shop at 9/10 Foster Street. The street used to be a dead end, but it’s now called Norwood Road and is extended. Do you know when it ceased to be Foster Street? (Foster street/Norwood Rd is off Moor Street). Just in case, I wonder if you recall any of these surnames: Simpson, Newton, Revill or Kelley?
    Anna

    • Alan Hinton says:

      Hi Anna,
      I do know Foster St, and Norwood Rd, I can remember the chapel on the corner of Foster St and Moor Lane, my mother used to take me with her to jumble sales there, and a lady who used to be involved with the chapel was called Mrs Footman, she was the sister of a lady called Mrs Prince who had a fruit come grocery shop in High St Brockmoor, she had a daughter called Pat, Mrs Footman also had a shop in High St Brockmoor selling wool and things like that
      Foster St was opposite the Rail yard entrance, the old rail trucks were loaded during the night and shunted around to be collected by the steam loco’s early in the morning, the clattering and banging all through the night could be heard from quite a distance, I do not remember any shops though, only the chapel,I think the road was driven through in the 50s,I can remember the newer houses being built, all council owed.
      The names you mention do not ring any bells, sorry.
      Regards Alan.

      The names do not ring any bells

  16. Anna says:

    Thank you Alan, this is brilliant stuff. First hand experience of an area is priceless. I can picture what it was like. (I know relatives of mine made the chains for the anchor for the Queen Mary.)
    My Gt Grandfather, Thomas Simpson, as well as living in the Delph somewhere as a child, also lived at, The Lye, Back Lane, Delph Rd, 24 New Street, 10 Bell Street and 95 Moor Street. I expect there were even more places than this, but these are ones that showed up on census returns or certificates. What was usually the reason for moving house so often? I assume people rented rather than bought. How would you describe these areas/streets I’ve mentioned? He worked as a glass blower and iron worker for most of his life.
    Thank you Alan for your memories and being happy to share.
    Anna

    • Alan Hinton says:

      Hi Anna,
      You are welcome to my memories of Brierley Hill and the surrounding area, needs to be passed on before it all gets lost, have to say do not remember Back Lane but my Gran lived at 201 Delph Road next door to the gas works, they moved there from 54 Hill Street, my grandad was the engineer for EJ&J Pearson in the Delph for many years, we had a relation living in New Street, Aunt Sarah she had a shop there a milinary type shop if I remember, a proper type of lady, she was old then, Bell Street, not many houses in it, the Marsh and Baxter slaughter house was in Bell Street and can remember watching the pigs being taken from Seagers Lane into Bell St for slaughter, the New Inn public house was on the corner, still there I believe but closed, have a picture of it with my grandad and Uncle George in the crowd just before a Sunday morning trip to Clent, no women included in those days, around 1928 /1930, Moor Street was at the other end of Bell Street and run into Moor Lane which went to Hawbush then to Wordsley, the library was in Moor St which became a training center for glass blowing and is still there, opposite was a WRVS center but has long gone, if you look at recent pictures you can see the new houses running into the old, running virtually parralell is Fenton Street whick took you to the train station and Brockmoor, perhaps the reason your grandad moved a lot was that somtimes houses came with the job if he had an important position.
      A point to mention, between Delph Lane and Turk Street at the top was a mine owned by a chap called Tinker Round, he used to fetch clay up, perhaps coal as well till he hit a fault line and had to give up, it seems the more I chat about this the more I remember.
      Alan.

  17. Anna says:

    Thank you Alan for describing the cottages. It gives me a better insight into what life was like for the Corbetts and the Millwards, whom both lived in Turk Street at different times. How close was the mining to Turk Street? I assume fairly close for part of it to collapse. I read an article of someone describing the blackcountry in 1850 and it sounded so grim, but obviously there were green areas still around and it sounds as if Turk street was greener than most.
    Yes I have read both books that have been published on John Corbett and visited the chateau in 1984. Fascinating life. His wife, was also called Anna and lived in Somerset around 1900, coincidently in the area I now live. My father lived with his grandmother in Moor Street when he was a toddler and visited his grandmother frequently throughout his childhood. Dad and John Corbett both being baptised at St Micahel’s church in Brierley Hill. I haven’t visited Brierley hill since the late 1980′s. (I have lived most of my life in Somerset.) I have a 1901 map of Brierley Hill and have managed to work out where Turk Street was in relation to today’s maps and I could see that the path running through the Withycombe estate is following the same line as Turk Street.
    Was the Delph Mission church still there when you lived in the area?
    Anna

    • Alan Hinton says:

      Hi Anna,
      I cannot remember a mission or chapel there but at my age then we would not have taken much notice of it as there were chapels all over, probably due to the visit of John Wesley to the area years before, mining in the area is hard to describe as there were small mines all over and very close to Turk Street, the small ones were called Gin Pits which were walk in mines after the coal, but also there was fireclay mines, bringing fireclay up to make the bricks to line the many furnaces in the area as they could withstand the intense heat of the furnace to make the iron and steel of which the area was well known for, chain making,and ships anchors etc, did you know that close by in Netherton was a foundry called Hingleys and they made the anchors for the Titanic, sorry side tracking, the area was pretty grim in those days with the smoke and the glow of the furnaces, it is said that the devil once stood on Brierley Hill bonk and said that he would never complain about hell again, typical Black Country humour I think, this is how the Black Country name came to be, also Cradley Heath was known as the workshop of the nation.
      As a lad coming from school, I can still vividly remember seeing the clay being brought up in like a large cylinder with water poring out of it, and of cause the clay and pit banks(spoil heaps) where we also used to play, letting fireworks off on them and being told off by the workmen as the banks were rather unstable and you could be buried alive if it slipped, these would have been the banks where your Gran would have picked the coal all around Turk Street.
      Over the back from Turk Street towards Withymoor I can remember smoke coming up from under ground through cracks, this was due to the coal and ash being on fire, went on for years and a lot of the old shafts being capped, at first by timber but then by steel as the mines become worked out, then in the seventies come the open cast mining, this was mainly to clear the old shafts and galleries, let the ground settle and they built Withymoor village and housing estate, gone, all gone, save for the odd tree that was left, some still follow the line of Turk Street but it hard to see.
      This is a long one, hope you have not been to bored,there is still a lot to say about the Delph.
      Alan.

  18. Anna says:

    How kind of you Alan. Bless you. It’s lovely to hear of your memories. You explain it so vividly, I can imagine how it was. What was the housing like in Turk Street? Were they terraced houses and 2 up 2 down, or larger? My Millwards were bricklayers and someone said they would have been well off but according to a black country website, in 1850 they would have been earning 24 shillings a week. This equates to about £90 a week now, so not a great fortune.
    My 3rd Gt Grandmother worked on the pit banks. I assume she would have collected coal from the surface? My closest Millward, was my Gt Grandmother, Hannah Millward married Thomas Simpson. Hannah was the niece of John Corbett, the Salt King.
    Kind Regards
    Anna

    • Alan Hinton says:

      Hi Anna,
      Nice to hear from you again, Turk Street as I remember was mainly cottage type houses some were close together others not so, a few people had horses because I suppose the fields close by was were they could keep them, at the top, Amblecote Road end, there was a bit of a turn in the road and it went into a narrow track before it came out onto Amblecote road opposite Deeley Street, I do believe that at one time the road collapsed into a pit shaft, but I do not remember that.
      John Corbett used to at one time have a canal barge business and used to take loads to and from Bromsgrove and this got him into the salt trade, he also built Chateau Impney and a few roads were named after him, but again well well before my time.
      Do or did you come from that area or was it just your ancestors, I now live in Devon and have been here for over 30 years but still miss the Black Country a lot, I do come back from time to time and have a wonder about the area around the nine locks and The Goss and it is still brill ma wench.
      Bye for now,
      Alan.

  19. Alan Hinton says:

    Hi Anna,
    Nice to hear from you, I did know a few Millwards in the area but your dates are a bit before my time but no doubt they are relations in some way.
    In Turk St there used to be a small machine workshop, (never did know what they did there) but just behind the gates to this place was an old motor bike in the undergrowth, I scrounged this, but sadly it had no engine, but what a time we had belting down Turk St on this and pushing it all the way back to do it again, the surface of the road was mainly bricks and cobbles at the time, we got filthy dirty but it was great and worth the telling off and no tea, I was about 8 years old at the time, it ended up in the canal because my mate fell of it going up and down the pit banks on it and we could not get it out, probably still there.
    Will look into the Millwards for you if you wish and will let you know.
    Regards,
    Alan.

  20. Alan Hinton says:

    What an interesting site , I was born and raised in Brierley Hill in and around the Delph, does anyone remember the methodist chapel in Hill St and Potter St with all the fighting on a Saturday night well before the flats were built? the Murder Bridge top side of Withymore before the open cast mining took place, EJ&J Pearsons my grandad worked there, Wilf Hinton, I used to play up Turners Lane and Turk St, fishing in the 1st pound of the 9 locks and under the bridge, talking to my mate Harold Thompson the tramp, anyroadup, so many memories, people have suggested I should write about my time there while I can still remember them, never know I just might.

    • SCarter says:

      Hi Alan

      Wonderful to hear your memories about growing up in Brierley Hill. I definitely think you should write them down!! Keep in touch and feel free to share more on this site. Suzanne

    • Dave Wilsdorf says:

      Hi Alan,
      I used to live next door to the Methodist Chapel in Hill Street and the fighting at most was outside the Spread Eagle and occasionally outside the Rock Tavern. I used to play on the canal-side at the bottom of Bradley’s field and around the old air raid shelters that supposed to be bricked up. I used to go scrumping in Turners Lane, and I know not many people can remember Turk Street. I should say that your memories are as good as mine.
      All the Best

      • Alan Hinton says:

        Hi Dave,
        I don’t know if you remember me but we used to go to school together at Mill St infants and junior school, we used to play on an old derelict lorry the other side of a wall where an old house used to be, but had been demolished by then,sorry but cannot remember the name of the road, but it was just below what is now called the Promenade.
        I do remember where you used to live, you used to go down the side of the chapel to a yard and I think that there was a well in the middle of it.
        There was Turners Lane then Delph Lane, Turk St was a little further up Delph Rd and it had a bit of a s’ bend at the top and came out on Amblecote Rd right opposite Deeley St.
        Do you remember the old woman that used to chase us off for scrumping, waving a stick, god help us if she had ever caught us.
        Also do you remember that I once asked you if you could get some real German chocolate because I knew your dad was from Germany or that way, many many happy memories, my Gran lived at 54 Hill St then moved to Delph Rd right next door to the gas works.
        Please stay in touch as I will, there probably is not many of us left.
        Regards,
        Alan .

    • Anna says:

      Hello Alan, I have MILLWARD ancestors who lived in Turk Street, Delph as Bricklayers from 1837-1891, so I was fascinatd to hear you knew of this street and played in it. The 1901 map of the area shows a Mission Church on Turk Street, which John Corbett provided the money for. It would be brilliant to hear of more anecdotes of the area. Anna

  21. Pingback: Brierley Hillness memories… | Brierley Hill Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s