Some history on Old Hill in the county of Staffordshire


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"Samuel Willets, alias "Lawyer," a well-known attendant at the Petty Sessions, was charged with being drunk in the highway. Police-Constable Sylvester said that on the 29th ult. he found defendant in Halesowen Street, Old Hill, drunk, and causing a great disturbance. Defendant [addressing Mr. Hingley] : I wasn't drunk. They 'ont fill me no drink in Old Hill; and them as I lives with, they 'a none in the house. I've joined the pledge. Mr. Hingley : "You have been here before eighteen times." Defendant : Well, I'm sure I've never had a spot of drink. They allus shown me in the lock-up if I has any drink." Inspector Price said he believed defendant had signed the pledge. Mr. Hingley asked defendant if he would keep it, and on his replying that he would, he fined him 1s. and costs only; payment not to be enforced for a month. Thomas Bryan was also charged with being drunk at Old Hill, on the 3rd inst. Police-Constable Sylvester proved the offence, and a fine of 5s. and costs was inflicted."
County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire : December 9th 1876 Page 3

"The adjourned inquest on the body Samuel Bowater [67], watchman, in the employ of the New British Iron and Coal Company, who was murdered at their Black Wagon Colliery, Old Hill, on the 7th or 8th instant, was held at the Beech Tree Inn, Gorsty Hill, Blackheath, yesterday, before Mr. Edwin Hooper district coroner. Mr. Homfray, Brierley Hill, appeared to watch the enquiry behalf of the company; Superintendent Woollaston [of Brierley Hill], Superintendent Kemp [Halesowen], and Inspector Price [of Old Hill] watched the enquiry on behalf of the police. The Coroner said the inquest was adjourned from the 10th instant to that day in order that further evidence might be obtained. Since then the jury had had an opportunity of seeing the premises where the unfortunate man was found. The only evidence personally taken was that of James Walters, son-in-law of the deceased, who identified the body. The following evidence was then adduced : Ann Walters, wife of Thomas Walters, and daughter of the deceased, said she did not know the age of deceased, who lived with her in the Tump Road. She last saw her father alive on the 7th inst., her father leaving home about half-past five o'clock that afternoon to go to work at the Black Wagon Colliery, where he was the watchman. She did not have any conversation with the deceased before he left. When he left he took his supper and his dog, which was usual, with him. She did not know whether he had any money with him, but he used to carry it in a bag. He had a watch upon him; and she should know it again if she saw it. She wound it for him about a quarter-past four that afternoon, but the deceased always carried the key with him, attached to a short chain. There were some silver coins also attached to the chain. He had had the watch for some years, having bought it at Rowley. The watchmaker where he bought it cleaned it a little before Christmas. The deceased was on good terms with everyone when he left home that afternoon. The next morning her brother went to the door, and said her father was "welly killed." She got up, but deceased was not brought home until about seven o'clock that morning. He was brought by many people. Her father had been watchman there for some years, and about a fortnight ago he said someone had threatened him - her father saying someone had threatened to "put his time in." She did not know what they meant, unless they meant to kill him. He did not say who had threatened him. The bag produced was the one that belonged to her father, and was the one in which he usually carried his money. The keys and knives produced also belonged to the deceased. George Welling, doggy at the colliery, said the deceased was employed at the colliery as a night watchman. He last saw him alive on the 5th instant. The duty of the deceased was to watch the coal, and to go backwards and forwards to the pit. It would be contrary to the rules to have anyone with him in the hovel at night, and when engaged, he was cautioned about that. He was a sober man; and, as far as witness knew, was on good terms with everyone. He heard the deceased say a few mornings previous to his death that some men wished to go and sleep in the hovel, but he would not let them; they were parties he did not know. When he drove them out they said they were a good mind to kill the old bastard. Witness told him not to have them, and deceased said, "I will not; I drove them off." He asked deceased if knew them, but he said he did not. He had mentioned more than twice that men wished to sleep there. The first he heard of the murder was when the engine-man, George Harris, went and called him. Witness did not live more than 400 or 500 yards from the colliery. The engine-man asked for something to drink for the deceased, as he was hurt very bad, but did not know how. Witness sent some whisky, and then ordered the man to send the horse and cart to get him home. He got up and went there, when he saw deceased taken to the big hovel on a door by some of the men. At that time the deceased was alive, but insensible. Witness then deceased's son to fetch a doctor. There was blood on deceased's face, and blood was flowing from his temple. Deceased was then taken home in the cart, but he could not say whether life was extinct when he left the colliery or not. It was about a quarter-past six when he was taken from the hovel. Deceased was a very quiet, harmless old man, he never heard anyone use strong words against him. By the jury : "There is engineman there as well." George Harris, fireman at the Black Wagon Colliery, said Moses Round was the engineer. On the 7th inst. he was called about half-past four o'clock in the morning. He was called by the engineer. He did not live far from the colliery. When the engineer called he said, "Will you get up, for the watchman has got badly hurt somehow?" When witness came out the engineer said, "We had better take some fire with us." He gave witness the lamp he had and went and fetched some fire, and both them went to the hovel together. When they got to the hovel, which without a door, he saw the back of the deceased's head. Deceased was lying on his left side, his back thus being to the doorway. There was a bad cut in the back of deceased's head, and there was quantity of blood under his head. It appeared as though the blood had come from him an hour or more. Witness lit the fire, and got a flannel to put on him to keep him warm. Deceased was alive, but was senseless. He did not speak to deceased. He sent Round to fetch the horse fettler, and when they came back there was consultation as to what should be done, and eventually he went to call Mr. Welling. There was a poker there that he had not seen there before, and the engineer had used it to stir the fire in the hovel. He had worked there some years, and so had the engineer. All were on good terms with the deceased. By the Jury : I noticed the deceased was breathing when I went into the hovel, but I did not speak to him. The dog was by the engine with the engineer. It was very savage at strangers. I do not think he would bite, but he would bark and make great noise. The dog would bark at me, but would leave off if I spoke. By the Coroner : "No one would be there, besides the watchman and the engineer" Thomas Parkes, collier, was at the colliery the night of the 7th inst. He worked the colliery to "brake down," and was in deceased's hovel that night about twenty minutes past six. Deceased was there, and asked witness to make a fire, which he did. About a quarter of an hour afterwards he left. Deceased used to carry his watch with him, and did not hang it up the hovel. He did not fetch any tobacco for deceased that night, but he did a few nights before. Whilst in the hovel deceased pulled his tobacco box out of his pocket and pulled a shilling out and asked if it was a shilling, when witness told him it was. After that deceased put the shilling in a bag which he had in outside pocket. He did not hear any other money in the bag, and deceased did not say anything about any money. Had not told the police he heard money. He did not see the watch, but did the chain. [Here the witness burst out crying]. By tbe Jury : The dog knew me well and would not bark at me. I have been there at night and it did not bark. Welling recalled : I did not hear any person ask deceased how it happened, because he was unconscious. By the Jury : I did not speak to him nor shake him to see if there was much life in him. Samuel Bowater, residing in Powke Lane, son of the deceased, said he worked as a collier under the British Coal and Iron Company. He was going to work on the 8th inst. His attention was called to the murder by Mr. Welling, who asked him into the hut to his father. He did so, and saw deceased on the bench. After that he went for the doctor. He did not speak to his father at all, but his impression was that he had been killed. He did not go to the police to give information, but the police came to him. By the Jury : My father did not open his eyes when I saw him. I did not ask him who did it, as I was in such a way I did not know anything. Inspector Price, stationed at Old Hill, said he received information of the murder soon after eight o'clock on the morning of the 8th instant. He went to the Black Wagon Colliery, and there saw Mr. Welling, the manager. He went to the hovel, and there found a poker, dresser, shovel, and walking-stick, which he produced. The dresser and shovel were under the bench, covered with blood. Mr. Thomas Standish, surgeon, Cradley Heath, said that on the 11th inst. he made post-mortem examination of the body of deceased. The external appearances were those of a strong, well-nourished man. There were no external marks of violence, except upon the head, where there were six lacerated wounds. On removing the scalp, he found a number of fractures, corresponding with the outside wounds. Either of the fractures was sufficient to have caused death. By the Coroner : I have seen the instruments produced by the police, and either of them would have caused the injuries. I could not say how long a man might live after receiving those injuries. I have carefully looked at the articles produced, and my impression is that the injuries were given with the poker. Burgess, surveyor, produced plans of the Black Wagon Colliery, showing the two hovels, which he explained to the jury. At this stage of the proceedings, the Coroner said the police, as they were aware, had only had one week in the matter and had no very important evidence to offer. His own impression was that the ends of justice would be better answered by having a further adjournment. It was within the province of the jury to return a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown, because that there had been a murder there could be no doubt. He certainly thought it would be better to have a further adjournment, and he hoped when they met again there would be some further evidence. Before that, however, he must read the depositions and get them signed. The depositions were then read over, after which Police Sergeant Cooper was called, and stated that he searched the clothes of the deceased on the 8th inst. He found in the pockets a bag containing two half-crowns, two shillings, and in the waistcoat pocket two penny pieces. In the trousers there were two knives and a bunch of keys. Pipes and whitening were found in the jacket. The waistcoat and jacket were saturated with blood. He produced the clothes deceased wore at the time. The enquiry was then further adjourned."
"The Brutal Murder at Old Hill"
Birmingham Daily Post : January 16th 1878 Page 6

"On Wednesday night a woman, named Emma Weston, twenty-seven, wife of Thomas Weston, pawnbroker and grocer, of 42, Wagon Street, Old Hill, committed suicide by cutting her throat. About half-past eight o'clock the husband of the deceased left her in the house to go his club. She was then in her usual state of health, and there was nothing remarkable in her manner. She has, however, been ill at intervals during the last fourteen weeks. The husband returned home about half-past eleven, but could not find his wife. A neighbour was called in, and the house was searched. Deceased was then found lying in pool of blood under a cot in her bedroom, with her throat cut in a most frightful manner. Dr. Kerr was at once called in, but the unfortunate woman died about one o'clock on Thursday morning. The fatal wound was inflicted with a large shop knife. Deceased has been in desponding state for some time."
"Shocking Suicide At Old Hill"
Country Express : May 1st 1880 Page 5

"On Wednesday, at Old Hill Police Court, G. Smith, a police constable stationed at Old Hill, was summoned for assaulting William Forrest, a miner, of Wagon Street, Old Hill, on the 11th inst. A cross-summons was issued against Forrest for assaulting the officer on the same date. Mr. T. B. Eastley [from the office of Mr. Philip Baker] represented Forrest, and Mr. J. W. Clulow appeared on behalf of Smith. Mr, Eastley said that on Sunday, the 10th inst., some gambling took place in Garratt's Lane. The police officer was under the impression that Forrest was one of the men who took part in the gambling, and in consequence accosted him on the following day with a request for his name and address. Complainant asked Smith what he required it for, when the latter dealt him a couple of violent blows under the chin and also on the mouth. The constable shouted to Forrest to "cock his fists up," and further assaulted him. Evidence in support of this statement was given by Forrest and two others. Mr. Clulow, for the defence, contended that the evidence given by Forrest and his witnesses was altogether untrue. The officer was very unpopular in that particular district in consequence of the many raids made upon Sunday gamblers. On the date named Smith recognised Forrest as one of the men he saw gambling on the previous day, but, as soon as he asked him for his name, Forrest struck the officer several violent blows. He behaved almost like a madman, and dealt the constable as many as two dozen blows. Smith, who was slightly dazed by the brutal treatment meted out to him, was also bleeding badly from wounds upon the eye, ear, and chin, and his chest was badly bruised. Smith and a young man named George Drinkwater bore out this statement. The Bench dismissed the charge against the constable, but fined Forrest £5. and costs, amounting in all to £7. 5s. For gambling on the 10th inst. Forrest was also fined 10s., including costs."
"Alleged Assault By A Constable"
Birmingham Weekly Post & Herald : August 23rd 1902 Page 21

"At Old Hill Police-Court, Wednesday, a youth named Joseph Heath, living at Halesowen Road, Old Hill, was charged with assaulting Miss Cissie Smith, actress, belonging the "Robinson Crusoe" Pantomime Company, which performed at Cradley Heath Theatre Royal last week. Mr. G. Williams, who prosecuted, explained that it was a serious assault, and prosecutrix, being a stranger to the district, was unable to identify the defendant. The case was adjourned in order that several witnesses might be summoned."
"General News";
Worcestershire Chronicle : January 10th 1903 Page 1

"At Old Hill Police Court, today, Edwin Barnsley [35], miner, of Wagon Street, Old Hill, was charged with cruelty to his two children by neglecting them. Mr. W. Waldron, who prosecuted on behalf of the N.S.P.C.C., explained that the case had been under the supervision of the society since 1903. On the 31st May Inspector Grinter found the wife and children in a house at Wagon Street, which contained no furniture with the exception of a single chair. The wife had apparently done her best for the children, who were well nourished but in rags. The woman was in a penniless condition, and there was no food in the house. Prisoner was lazy and addicted to drink, and in two months had given his wife 16s. Evidence was given in support of this statement by Inspectors Grinter and Gibbs and prisoner's wife, and prisoner was committed to gaol for three months with hard labour."
"Cruelty To Children At Old Hill";
Birmingham Mail : July 11th 1906 Page 5

"Mr. Thomas Morris, of Wagon Street, Old Hill, has far exceeded his three score years and ten before departing from the cares and trials of this world. On Sunday morning Mr. Morris died at the exceedingly advanced age of 100 years. It is said that the deceased celebrated his hundredth birthday on March 1st last, although some of his relatives hold the opinion that he was 102 years of age. The former story is probably the correct one, especially in view of the fact that 100 is the age specified on the deceased's coffin. Death took place at the residence of the deceased's youngest son, Mr. Henry Morris. Born at Gadd's Green, Rowley. the deceased lived there for many years with his parents, but the greater part of his life was spent at Darby End, Netherton. He stayed at the latter place up to thirteen years ago, when he went to live at Old Hill. He was a widower, and had been married twice, his second partner, Sophia Turner, having died about thirteen years ago. He was the father of twenty-one children - four by his first wife and seventeen by the second - and there are at present forty-nine grandchildren and over fifty great-grandchildren living. Although a man of temperate habits he liked an occasional drink and alcoholic beverages, and up to as late as Saturday afternoon last he smoked his pipe systematically. Indeed his pipe had for a long time been his closest companion. He seldom spoke to anyone in the house, being very reserved in manner, even towards members of his own household. At the last general election he was conveyed to the polling booth to record his vote, and had been in receipt of an old-age pension. He started work in the nailshop at the age of ten years, and apart, from a short time during which he worked as a miner, he followed his work as a wrought-iron nail-maker until he was 81 years of age. This fact alone is conclusive proof of the strength of Morris's constitution, and when it is said that up to a few days before his death he was able to go about the house with the energy of a man thirty years younger, it will be seen that he belonged to an altogether exceptional type. He was employed for a great number of years at the works of Messrs. Tinsley and Co., Reddal Hill. He suffered from an attack of influenza six months ago, and although he afterwards went about the house actively, he never really recovered. On Friday night he went to bed, where he remained until his death at 12.40 a.m. on Sunday morning. Up to recently he had occasionally gone out into the village, and it is interesting to note that he was shaved free of charge by a local barber, who, in accordance with a promise, carried out this custom as long as the deceased lived. Of late the deceased had spent a good deal of time besides the fire, he having persistently complained of the weather being cold, despite the fact that he ate heartily. He was able to tell many interesting stories of olden times, and for a man of his years had vivid recollections of the hardships created by the strike in the nail trade which occurred in his younger days."
"Lived A Hundred Years"
Dudley Chronicle : July 16th 1910 Page 5

"Pte. White. of Halesowen, is reported as having been killed in action, and Pte. W. Hay, of Wagon Street, Old Hill, is reported to have died from wounds received in battle. He leaves a widow and family. Pte. G. Price, Waterfall Lane, Old Hill, one of the Coldstream Guards, who was wounded at the Battle of the Aisne, states that he was struck by a shrapnel bullet. The bullet struck him in the shoulder, and coming out at the top passed through his mouth, knocking eight of his teeth out. In placing an order for 1,000 packets of tobacco for gifts for the soldiers. Mr. Felix Fellows jokingly suggested to the tobacco firms that as Iron Crosses seemed to be so plentiful, they might enclose one in each packet. In reply, the firm equally humorously stated "We think you will agree that very shortly Iron Crosses will be of as little value as the German Emperor."
"Rowley Regis"
Dudley Chronicle : November 14th 1914 Page 5

"Sergeant George Grove, whose home is at Wagon Street, Old Hill, has been killed whilst upholding the glory of the grand old flag in France. He went on active service as a Private in the 7th Worcesters, and so impressed were his superior officers with his devotion and attention to duty, that he was rapidly promoted. A striking tribute was paid by his commanding officer, Lieut. Colonel Tompkinson, in a letter to the N.C.O.'s mother. He writes: "Your son was killed last time we were in the trenches .... He was one of the finest fellows I have known, and behaved with greet gallantry on the night before his death and on the night of his death. I have sent in his name as recommended for gallantry in the field.' Mrs. Grove has also received letters of condolence from Lieut. T. E. Dixon, one signed by fifteen comrades, Captain H. W. Adshead, Pte. G. Wallace, and another officer. As will be judged from the letters, Sergeant Grove was exceedingly popular with officers and men, and his loss came as a great shock to his comrades in arms. Much sympathy is felt with the fallen hero's bereaved family, who are well known and much respected locally."
"Old Hill Hero Falls"
Dudley Chronicle : June 24th 1916 Page 7

"Pleading guilty at Old Hill on Wednesday to damaging two of the dials of the clock at Old Hill Parish Church, by shooting at them with a catapult, Arthur Horton and George Basterfield, youths living in Wagon Street, Old Hill, were each fined £2 with 1s. special costs and directed to pay between them the £10 damage caused. The Vicar, the Rev. A. L. Chapman, said that 16 sections of the clock face had been broken. The boys had already paid him £5 towards the damage."
"Youths Fined"
Midland Counties Tribune : May 19th 1933 Page 5

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