… but you can’t take planning out of the boy.

Well, that is what was said around the time I decided to leave the employ of Walsall Council.

However, as I once remarked to a former colleague, once you are on the outside planning becomes largely invisible.  Today, though, I noticed something that triggered a rye smile. Continue reading “… but you can’t take planning out of the boy.”

Plane spotting: D-Day deception

lancaster silhouette front

Some time ago I suggested to BrownhillsBob that some images from an aircraft recognition manual from 1944 might be of interest. I am only just getting round to it.

I inherited the manual, which I think belonged to my late uncle Walter Dennis, who, after his shift at Kynoch, Perry Barr, Birmingham, was charged with spotting aircraft movements. There was a network of such people across the country: the Royal Observer Corps. They reported their observations to operations rooms by field telephone, which helped with decisions about defence against air raids, for example directing anti-aircraft artillery and fighter aircraft. Continue reading “Plane spotting: D-Day deception”

X marks the spot

Prime Minister from Liverpool to May

I have featured this coin before. These pictures were the first I took with a new lens that acts as a short range telephoto (90 mm) and macro, or close-up. But what was going on when it was minted two centuries ago?

As mentioned in my blog about the year without a summer, 1816, the country was suffering. Wages were in decline, harvests failing, the price of grain rising and with it the cost of daily bread. There remained a surplus of labour following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. Continue reading “X marks the spot”

Publicans & Beer Sellers

Revised to inlclude download link.

This is a bit of hard core local history research, but it might be the sort of project that appeals to other family historians with heritage to do with pubs and beer houses.

prince of wales 2 (640x531)
Prince of Wales, Watling Street, Brownhills.

For several years I have been building a dataset of public houses, inns and beerhouses, with particular focus on their proprietors, managers and keepers.  I have focused on the areas inhabited by those ancestors who lived near to my home, that is mainly Brownhills and Chasetown.  I have been in many of them at one time or another, those that were still open in my adult life.  Some were run at one time by Andrew’s Kindred – the “Pub Dennises“, some were, doubtless, frequented by others, and some grew up there.

You are welcome to download, share and add more information.

Continue reading “Publicans & Beer Sellers”

Chasing steeples

wall spire from wall lane
Wall from Wall Lane 2016

I first became aware of horse racing fifty years ago, when the Grand National steeplechase was beamed into our living room in grainy black and white (405 lines, the pixel had yet to be invented) from Aintree, Liverpool.  I gather grandfather Ted Brown liked a small bet.  Maybe that is something I have inherited.

The horse I selected, in blissful ignorance of such factors as weight, jockey, trainer, form and going, was Red Alligator, which to a small boy seemed the most appealing name.  As it turned out, most of those who attempted any kind of analytical approach to betting lost their money as 100-1 outsider Foinavon benefited from a melee at the (then unnamed) plain 23rd fence.

Continue reading “Chasing steeples”

N is for …

Based on: Reaney, P H, (ed. Wilson, R M), 1997, Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames, 3rd ed., OUP, Oxford, unless otherwise stated.

st james the great longdon (480x360)
St James the Great, Longdon, Staffordshire.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  John Nevell, father of Mary Nevell, born about 1698, Longdon, Staffordshire.
Continue reading “N is for …”

M is for …

This set of names is almost a microcosm of Andrew’s Kindred, with three direct lines, including, perhaps, the most ancient, and all but one born in my native Staffordshire or an adjacent county.

Based on: Reaney, P H, (ed. Wilson, R M), 1997, Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames, 3rd ed., OUP, Oxford, unless otherwise stated.


Continue reading “M is for …”