South Street Church Now The Brierley Hill Project

A Memory of Brierley Hill

Hi, does anyone have any memories, details or photos of the church as it used to be, also the graveyard and surrounding areas? Would be most grateful for any info. Thank you

Comments & feedback

Mon Aug 11th 2014, at 9:50 am

commented:

My Uncle Shadey (Shadrack) Westwood and my cousin Goff(Godfrey) Westwood, both worked in the glassworks of Stevens and Williams in North Street, Brierley Hill when they left school at 14. Both worked there all of their lives. Uncle Shade only had time off to help with winning the War to end all Wars WW1. When he came out he married my Aunty Vi Randle . He'd cry out in his sleep, 'oh the poor buggers, they're only kids'. This was regarding the German 'soldiers' who probably weren't a lot older than themselves, but were sent into battle. Uncle Shade had shrapnel in him that stayed with him all of his life. He would take cold tea to work at 6am until 2pm and in the early days the knocker up would wake him for work. The knocker up, had a long pole and he'd tap on the window. His cheeks were quite 'baggy' and sunken from blowing glass. On youtube you can see a film called 'the Crystal Makers' ]showing him and Goff amongst others at Stevens and Williams working in the glass cone. Uncle Shade pre marriage lived in the 'foad' call Virgins End, next to the Baptist Church in South Street and they were a big family. When he married my Aunty Vi they lived with her parents in South Street, just a few houses down on the opposite side. It was a nine roomed house so there was plenty of room. He'd written to her when he was in the trenches as he didn't know anyone else and romance blossomed. There was a drive next to their house which led up to a big house know as 'Mullets' and on the other side of the drive were small houses and in the one on the end lived a family called Mallen. It was slightly raised with a wall you could lean on from the house yard and watch people walk by or throw a handful of soil on the chaps as they walked by chomping on their chips. My mother was a tomboy.
My mother lived in South Street and was born 1904. Their house was opposite the Baptist church graveyard. The house is gone but the Church is still there. Most of Mom's family are buried there and my father. Mom's dad was the barber and had his shop in the front room of the house. Mom and her sister used to have to wait up for the pub's to turn out in order to lather the men who came in for a shave. Years later Aunty Vi had a barber shop of her own at Round Oak.
They had a brother Cyril and all three went to Mill Street School. . Miss Parnell was a mistress there and a bit of a tarter. She would go bright red when her dander was up. Her graveyard is in St.Michael's churchyard. Mom wasn't much good at arithmetic but good at reading and writing. But she excelled in sewing and embroidery. The headmistress would have her sit in her office and knit her silk stockings. She also embroidered a flower on an Australian soldiers collar. He was the boyfriend of one of the teachers.
Mom was a bit of a tomboy and would follow her brother everywhere and the canal was a favourite place. They used to play kick the can outside their house where everyone used to hide and one would be on and have to catch someone running out and kicking the can before he was seen. They used to roam the fields on the far side of the Delph (housing estates now) without fear. On the opposite corner of South Street on the Delph side was the gasworks and the Managers house.
Mom's maternal grandfather had owned a Pottery at Silver End and it had been there through 3 family generations.
She could remember the Asian Flu coming when her mom, who was asthmatic was very ill with it. Mom was instructed by the Doctor to fetch some best steak and stew it with a small amount of water and give it her mother to drink. Mom said she had the Flu too and could feel the effects of it when she went to fetch the steak.
She left school at 14 and went to work at the tailoring works in Flood Street, Dudley. Oakley's shop a few houses below them supplied many of their needs.
She would go to Dudley on the tram which went so slowly you could walk as fast. But it had it's uses in Winter. From the top of the tram they could snowball the chaps as they went past. She remembered the end of WW1 when she was in Dudley and a soldier picked her up and twirled her around. She could also remember the paper boys having bare feet. They were hard times and if the rates weren't paid the furniture would be on the street. Mom and her siblings would often go to school with an empty stomach and her dad would bring a bun for them if he'd had a customer in to shave.
Their toilet was at the top of the yard and she said she'd never been afraid because of having to go in the dark. No electricity then. Nor did they have gusunders. She remembered the knocker upper and the lamp lighters and the cats following the milk man around, and the night soil men. They used to get rid of fish cheap on Brierley Hill market on a Saturday night and that was feast night.
Her paternal grandparents lived at Harts Hill in Harts Hill Cottage which overlooked Fens Pool before they built the housing estate. He was a teacher of music and church organist amongst other things. All a bit different from today.

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