QLHS Newsletter

Letters and Emails to the Editor 2007

Dear Mr Taylor,

Four Dwellings Junior School Reunion
50 years on

I wonder if you would be able to help us with a particular piece of Quinton local history from just 50 years ago?

We are hoping to arrange a reunion of the pupils in Mr Shovelton's class who left Four Dwellings Junior School in 1957. The reunion is likely to be in November.

If you were able to publish this in the next edition of the Quinton Oracle, maybe the word might spread. If anyone knows any 60/61-year-olds who were at Four Dwellings Juniors, would they please pass the message on and ask them to contact one of us.

Yours sincerely,

Liz Gilmore (nee Day) – Tel: 01856 721254
Viv Jones (nee Hardiman) – Tel: 01386 48788
Richard Elliot – Tel: 01386 552564

Dear Mr Taylor

Thank you for the latest issue of The Quinton Oracle — as ever a most interesting read. In particular I was pleased to see the letter from Angela Burton who is my cousin. She went to Manchester University and has stayed there ever since. For the first few years of her life she lived in Worlds End Lane not far from you. If my memory serves me right when my grandfather first came to Birmingham in the late 1930’s before he bought a house in Birdlip Grove I think they rented in Wor4 End Avenue.

Just to complete the circle my parents were very much involved with College Road Methodist Church father being a trustee for many years and my mother was in the Girls Brigade where she met Betty Rose and Anne Chaplain who have both known me all my life.

With all good wishes

Yours sincerely,

Ian Yorke

My interest in Quinton is due to the fact that my ancestors once lived at Bleak House and Bleak House Farm, which once stood on what is now Bleakhouse Road. My g.g.g.g. grandfather John Hodgetts farmed at Bleak House from around 1850 until his death in 1869. By 1871 his daughter Matilda Hodgetts had married my g.g.g grandfather, Charles Marshall Powell, and the Powell family now lived at Bleak House. In fact, they stayed there until at least the early 1900s. According to the vestry meeting minutes I found in Birmingham Archives yesterday, Charles Marshall Powell was very involved with Christchurch, Quinton, acting as a churchwarden for over 20 years. His daughters, Ada, Jessie and Florence Powell are also mentioned in the vestry meeting minutes, and are thanked for having washed the surplices for the choir and clergy over the years.

I am absolutely fascinated by the history of Bleak House and Bleak House farm. I managed to find some old plans in the Birmingham Archives describing the Bleak House Estate, which suggest that the property dates back to the mid 1700s. However, I am yet to turn up a photo of the house or farm and this is fast becoming a major ambition of mine! From looking at old maps of the area it would appear that the building was demolished between 1838-1957. I wonder if any of your readers may have any memories relating to Bleak House or the farm?

I also attach a photo which I thought may be of interest to you. This photo is taken from the Powell family album, where it appears alongside photos of people identified as C M Powell and his family. This photo has not been identified.


However, while reading your book ‘Images of Quinton’ the picture of Aaron Millward and family (page 107) jumped out at me, as I noticed a striking resemblance between Mr Millward and the gentleman in my photo. When viewing the vestry meeting minutes yesterday I noticed that the names ‘Charles M Powell’ and ‘Aaron Millward’ frequently appear together as churchwardens. This makes me wonder if this is a link and maybe the two gentlemen were close friends. What do you think, does this look like Aaron Millward?

Thanks again for all your hard work.

Kind regards, Sophie Hall

Ed’s comment-I have emailed Sophie and confirmed that the photo appears to be Aaron Millward. I am also trying to find some information about Bleakhouse Farm-can anyone help, especially a photo would be nice.

Dear Mr Taylor

Thank you for the latest issue of The Quinton Oracle — as ever a most interesting read. In particular I was pleased to see the letter from Angela Burton who is my cousin. She went to Manchester University and has stayed there ever since. For the first few years of her life she lived in Worlds End Lane not far from you. If my memory serves me right when my grandfather first came to Birmingham in the late 1930’s before he bought a house in Birdlip Grove I think they rented in Wor4 End Avenue.

Just to complete the circle my parents were very much involved with College Road Methodist Church father being a trustee for many years and my mother was in the Girls Brigade where she met Betty Rose and Anne Chaplain who have both known me all my life.

With all good wishes

Yours sincerely, Ian Yorke

Stop Press!!! - Attention of Bernard Taylor

We saw your society mentioned in the web watch section of the Halesowen News and wondered if there would be any interest among your members in our film ' a story of Cradley Heath'. In our new DVD 'a story of Cradley Heath' young and old speak of the past, present and what they foresee for the future of their town.  The warmth of character of these people is one of the film's most outstanding features.

The main movie is in six parts (selectable) and lasts for 90 minutes covering chain making and the changes to living and working in the area; food and drink; religion, marriage and ghost stories; health care, education, policing and housing; shopping in the future; and a special feature on Cradley Heath Speedway. Also included are 10 extra short movies (totalling 30 minutes) which touch briefly on the subjects of changes to air quality, a bird story, local characters, Christmas, cooking, fashion, hobbies and entertainment, The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, transport and finally the old week-end pastime of ‘Walking the Ways’.

 The work of local artists, (including A Ewart Chapman), graphic designers, poets, photographers and musicians takes pride of place in both the accompanying 8 page booklet and dual-layer DVD, which is a quality product in manufacture, content and presentation. We can supply direct at £12.99 per copy, plus £1.50 p&p.  (VHS tapes also available on request at £10.99.)

Many thanks for your time.

Best regards

Harry Bloomer

01384 635969

Anyone interested just give Harry a call! 
Also as a further note for your attention- A DVD is being advertised as “The History of Quinton on DVD”- both the society and myself have nothing to do with the production of the DVD. I must also warn you that it should be entitled “Blood’s 1857 Map of Birmingham Villages”. The DVD lasts for 65 minutes of which Quinton is 4 minutes 45 seconds. I hope this has assisted you in your decision to purchase a copy.

Dear Bernard,

Last weekend my parent's and I went to Quinton as this is where my Father's Grandmother, Edith was born and brought up.  She was born 1875 and was one of the Rose's from the High Street, living at No.3.  She died in 1917 giving birth to my Grandfather at Stafford Hospital, but we now know, from records in Christ Church that she is buried in the Graveyard next door.  We were, however, unable to find the grave, as they were Methodist so are in the overgrown part of the graveyard!

Whilst speaking to several people, including a lady who was working in Christ Church, we were given your name, and I have just been onto your site and seen the photographs, including the picture of the children at Quinton School, which quite possibly includes some Roses, of which there were loads (Edith was one of at least 12!).

We met Betty Rose at the Methodist Church, so we now know that there were two Rose families - we are descendents of the other branch.  I would be very grateful of any information/help you can give me and would like to, if there are any in your society, get in contact with other Rose descendants.  Because Edith died in childbirth we know little about her and it would seem that my Great Grandfather’s 2nd/3rd wife has practically wiped her out.  We do have a very nice picture of her with her husband, Alfred Rowley.  Edith's parents were James and Selina.

Many thanks and regards,


Dear Sir,

I am hesitant about writing to you but after thinking for about a year I've decided that it’s worth a try.

Whilst looking for my birth certificate I came on the fact that if I had lived in Quinton 150 years ago I would have been in Shropshire, which I thought odd. I discovered that Shropshire was governed in the first instance (a thousand years ago) by the laws of the March, presumably to keep uncivilised Welshmen under control.  Then I found that as late as the fourteenth century the area from Halesowen to Oldbury was in the charge of a Prince of Wales. Why? Were Welshmen there? Perhaps they were welsh speakers associated with the drove road from Kinver, if so they were still bringing cattle through as late as the 1840's when the railway finished the trade.

It was then I remembered that I used to live on valley farm road that is I lived on Glyn Farm road. Not far away was Welsh House farm and Welches brook.

Next I studied the map and found the hamlet of Ross immediately to the north of Blackheath. Rhos is welsh for heath. A little further away on Stourbridge golf course I found Tyddyn Lwyd (Grey Houses). Then I found that amongst the conflicting suggestions for the meaning of Hales was the possibility that it came from the Saxon 'wealas' meaning strangers from which we may have got the name of Wales. The parish of 'Owens’s strangers' (Hales Owen) included Quinton.

Having thought a little more it seemed unlikely that a contingent of Welshmen had been so influential as to give rise to several place names. Then I found Kesslerweb, which told me that the area was, for a little while around the 7th and 8th centuries’ part of the British kingdom of Pengwern, which presumably means that the locals spoke ancient British, now confined to Wales.

The whole idea seemed fanciful so I checked again on the map. Why two settlements for Warley, Wigorn and Salop? To a welsh speaker Penncricket Lane would sound very much like Heronhead Lane which its shape resembles. To whom would Oldbury be the old borough and what was it called before the Saxons named it? There are two other Oldburys, one across the Severn near Bewdley and the other close to Atherstone where Boadicea made a grave mistake against the Romans at the battle of Mancetter.

I'm guessing that the open hilltops strictly managed by the French monks of Halesowen abbey were inhabited by a remnant of welsh (British) speaking people who acted as a way station for the cattle drovers coming from Wales who found people of their own kind and pasture enough to give the cattle a needed rest before continuing to the south via the Welsh Road through Kenilworth, Southam and Towcester.   As I said this is guesswork.

I'd be very interested to know whether there have been welsh speaking people living in the vicinity, or possibly someone who remember a grandparent who was born locally and spoke it at home.  Unfortunately I have had to live in exile in Yorkshire since 1950 and so have no one to ask.


William J Ashbery

Ed’s Comment-Can anyone throw light on the above or answer any of William’s questions? Please get in touch with me and I will pass your thoughts on


Dear Bernard,

 I have been looking at Quinton History Society's website for some time, as I was brought up and went to school in Quinton, then moved to Harborne. My grandparents lived in Birdlip Grove, and we had a long association with Methodism in the area, particularly at College Road. My grandfather Robert Ramsay was Circuit Steward at one time. My parents met and married at College Road, and my sister and I were christened there.

This email has been prompted by reading Betty Rose's article about the Girls' Brigade at Quinton, in which there was mention of my late aunt Jean Ramsay, along with many other familiar names from my childhood, including that of Betty herself! My mother was Jean's older sister Margaret, who was also in the GB at one time. I would be interested in contacting Betty - perhaps you could help? Jean and Trevor Yorke's son Ian was in the Boys' Brigade there for some time, too.

I started at Woodhouse Road School in April 1957, but unfortunately my name is not on the list in the Archive section, although many of my classmates are there - the list must date from the beginning of that year!

Thanks in anticipation,

Angela Burton (neé Rogers)


Ed’s comment-I have passed Betty’s details on to Angela. Are there any other members who would like their details forwarded also?


The photo collection is great.  I am putting together the family History of the Farmer family in Central Queensland who originated from Quinton/Halesowen and occupied Howley Grange Farm for many years in the 1800's.  Reading other parts of the Quinton pages the farm was pulled down some time ago for development in the area.

Does the collection happen to include a photo of the Howley Grange farm?

Tony Shield

Ed’s comment-Following a reply to Tony and having forwarded a copy of H R Wilson’s painting of Howley Grange Farm I received the following.


There are no photos of the family at the time of occupancy.  The photo below is one of the sons, Joseph, in later life.  He became the founder/owner of "Farmer and Co" in Sydney, a department store that had a worldwide reputation and was eventually bought by Myers and the name changed after +100 years.  I am at work so the above quality is all I have but if you require a better/larger photo for your records I can send in the next couple of days.  Please advise. 

Joseph Farmer

Joseph Farmer 1814-1890

I also have a photo of the son of Joseph's brother who was seriously involved in the management of Farmer and Co for his uncle and eventually became "Sheriff of London" 1890/1 and "High Sheriff of Berks" 1895.


Dear Mr Taylor,

I was interested, stumbling on to your website, to find someone mentioning my Uncle’s name Fred Hobson and a member of his dance band, Les Airey. I would be interested in finding more information as I never did meet my uncle and did not know of his existence until my aunt, his sister, died. I then met his wife May and later finding out that I have a cousin Maureen who will not meet me as she suffers from M.S. or one of the other dreadful illnesses and would not like me to meet her in her condition. So that is as far as I can get although I do have a few photos of my uncle and his band. My aunt May said that we look alike and would not leave me whenever we met up. I am a musical director, conductor and composer. But unlike my uncle, who could not read music, he like myself knows how to get results.

Please help if you can.

Thank you

John Hobson

Dear Bernard


I came across your site whilst looking for information for a school project.  Really interesting!  My grandparents lived at 40 Conway Avenue (Phil and Edna Bateson), they were the first occupants of the house.  Attached is a picture of the VE party in Conway Ave.

VE Day

Conway Avenue – VE Day Party

It was in a rather poor state (and small size) when I found it in some family photos; I've cleaned it slightly. If it's of any use please feel free to add it to the photo section.  I think the girl in the right hand near side of the photograph may be my mother; otherwise I can't name any other persons in the photo.  My father lived in Ridgeacre Lane (born 1938) and some good memories of troops on the old bus station site prior to D-day.


Ian Challinor & Juliet Wilson

Ed’s comment- Can any members name anyone in the photo? Please get in touch.

Hi Bernard,

My name is Sharon Harrison and I live in Sydney, Australia. I have just stumbled across your website QHLS and was quite amazed to see that you live in 15 Worlds End Avenue. This was my address as a child! I lived there from birth to aged about 8 years with my mother and father Frank and Doreen Middleton and my older sister Lynda and my mothers’ parents James and Gertrude Boardman. They moved into number 15 when it was first build in 1937. Doreen was aged 5 years when they moved in and went to Woodhouse Road Infants school. I found her name in the archive list. She was married to my dad Frank Middleton and we as a family eventually moved to Australia in 1970. Nan and granddad (James and Gertrude) sold up at number 15 and followed us in about 1973.

James Boardman was a very talented carpenter/cabinet maker and worked hard to make improvements to the house. He took away the rail on the stairway and built an entranceway at the front door. He also built a large workshop for himself and did intend, but never got to finish an extension to the kitchen area. He was always building beautiful things and made many small boats, made exactly to scale. Once he made my sister and I a beautiful dolls house that was amazing!

I told Mum (now aged 75) about your site and she is very interested. She has many memories of her life in Quinton and remembers all the names of the people who lived in the Avenue at that time. Although she doesn't have many photos (cameras not being that common) she does have a few, mainly just in the Avenue. She said she will look through and would it be of any interest to you if she writes some of her memories for your quarterly newspaper? They also are interested in purchasing your newsletter and books.

Bye for now,


Sharon Harrison

Ed’s comment-I never cease to be amazed by the power and intrigue created by the Internet. Iris and I were always intrigued by the strange design of the porch and the quality of the joinery workmanship around the house. Well now we know why.

Dear Mr. Taylor,

I am not quite sure where to start or what to say, so I guess I'll just lay it out and see what sprouts forth.  My name is Mark Williams and I live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  I am 52 years of age.  My mother Lynn Williams (nee Wicken) was the oldest of two children born to Mr. Ron Wicken and Mabel Wicken (nee Geens).

This is about my Grandmother's diary.  Mabel Geens.

My mother, in an attempt to uncluttered her life at 75, passed on to me a box of memorabilia she had stored away for many years.  A few weeks ago I decided to go through it and came across an assortment of family pictures, news clippings, birth and death notices as well as a few diaries.

One particular diary stood out for me because it chronicles a trip my grandmother, Mabel Geens took in 1929 from her home in Galt, Ontario Canada to visit her relatives and old homestead in Birmingham, England where she was born (January 3rd, 1909).  It gave me a glimpse into my grandmother as a twenty-year old young women.  The diary covers the dates of her trip from November 21st, 1929 to January 29th, 1930.  This period also coincided with Christmas 1929, New Years 1929 and her twenty-first birthday.

I am wondering if there are any relatives still in the area?  If there are any of the buildings remaining she mentions in the diary?  A starting place, to piece together what it must of been like for a twenty-year old young lady in 1929.  I am building a life profile using the information provided in the diary with Internet resources, stories, recollections and history to create a DVD presentation to give to my family as a multimedia remembrance of Mabel Geens life at that time.

It might be easier to provide you with references of the diary (I am transcribing it to word processor)...or a list of some of the specific buildings, persons and events mentioned...Of course, I am assuming that you or colleagues of yours might aid me in my discovery.  I certainly understand if you are busy or do not have the time.

The kind of things I am trying to piece together for example; where is the "Majestic" where she saw "Volga, Volga" and "After the Verdict" in 1929.  What is the "Damask Rose" she said she went to see one evening?  Where is the Quinton Church she attended?  Who are Jack Payne and his orchestra?  and more... some I can find on the Internet, but much is vague and some facts just don't make sense historically.

I am actually still trying to find out where she actually lived/stayed.  Quinton, Birmingham or Smethwick?  This was her entry as she arrived off the "Duchess of York" from Montreal.

Friday, November 29th, 1929

Called at Belfast first thing this morning. I was still asleep however. Packed up and made all preparations for departure. Got into Liverpool at 5 o’clock. Dirty and misty – but the sight of land sure is good to me. Had no trouble at all with the customs – collected all our baggage and taxied to Lime Street Station where we caught a train at twenty after five. The trains are so funny – like toy trains. We changed at Wolverhampton and only had to wait ten minutes for the Smethwick train. We arrived there about 9 o’clock and went straight to Auntie Kate’s. Her husband is very nice and she has three lovely children. We only stayed to have a cup of tea and then she took us part of the way to Aunty Emma’s where we are to stay. However, she put us on the wrong bus and of course we got dumped off and had to walk back and get the right bus! We finally arrived at “Highcroft” where Auntie Emma and Doris certainly made us welcome. Uncle Jim arrived home shortly afterwards. He is lots of fun. We slept in a feather bed tonight.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.  Thank you.

Mark Williams

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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