Sunday, 30 December 2012

Black Country Living Museum 2013 Events

Events 2013
Spring Season

Saturday 16 – Sunday 24 February
February Half Term
This February half term enjoy fun family activities and hands on heritage. The Museum will be open daily during this week 10.00am – 4.00pm. See for further details.

Sunday 10 March
Mother's Day
Treat your Mum to a special day out with a visit to the Museum. As a Mother’s Day special, tickets are HALF PRICE for Mums when accompanied by a paying child (any age). Join in crafting activities for all ages and have a go at making your mum a unique home made gift. Enjoy an extra special treat with a mother’s day lunch in the Workers Institute Café.

Saturday 28 March – Sunday 14 April
Easter Activities
Celebrate spring at the Museum with ‘Hands on Heritage’ and fun family activities.

For more information on activities visit

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Sunday 31 March
Easter Sunday
Visitors are invited to join the Friends of the Museum and enjoy an Easter Sunday service in the historic Darby Hand Chapel. The service will begin at 2.30pm. For this activity, there is a limited amount of seating and places will need to be pre-booked**

Monday 6 May
May Day

May Day celebrations get off to a flying start as Maypole dancing weaves its magic. Professional dancers demonstrate the age-old tradition accompanied by live music. Visitors can join in the fun and have a go at being a maypole dancer.

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Sunday 12 May (date tbc)
Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Service

Visitors are invited to join the Friends of the Museum and enjoy 'A Pleasant Sunday Afternoon' service in the Museum's historic Darby Hand Chapel. The Methodist Chapel was built as Providence Church in 1837 at Darby Hand in Netherton, Dudley.
The afternoon commemorates a special service originated by John Blackham of West Bromwich who in the 19th century was a leading light in the religious life of the town. The Friends of the Museum recreate this important aspect of Black Country life when they re-enact the 'Pleasant Sunday Afternoon'.
The service will begin at 2.30pm.
For this activity, there is a limited amount of seating and places will need to be pre-booked**

Saturday 18 May
Night at the Museum

Join the Black Country Living Museum in its annual celebration ‘Night at the Museum’ when along with hundreds of European museums, galleries, libraries and heritage sites, it will open its doors after hours for this special evening event at half the usual admission price.
As dusk falls, the Museum will be illuminated by gas and candlelight offering an atmospheric setting for a family night out. Visitors can enjoy musical entertainers; street performers, choirs singing, brass bands and much more! Tuck in to tasty traditional food and drink and enjoy an evening full of traditional family entertainment.
*This is a pre-purchase only event. Book HALF PRICE tickets for Night at the Museum online at or call 0121 520 8054

Saturday 25 May- Sunday 31 May
June half term
Enjoy fun family activities and hands on heritage.

See for further details.

June ( Date tbc)
The Lord Chamberlains Men
Building on the success of last year’s performance, the Black Country Living Museum welcomes the return of The Lord Chamberlains Men to perform Shakespeare’s
Enjoy out door theatre at its best!
See for further details

Sunday 16 June
Father's Day

Treat your Dad to a special day out with a visit to the Museum. As a Father’s Day special, tickets are HALF PRICE for all Dads when accompanied by a paying child (any age). Travel back in time on a vintage tram, see the vintage cars and bikes on display, kit your dad out with a new flat cap or outfit at Morralls’, the 1930s Gentlemen’s Outfitters. Make a fuss of Dad and buy him a pint of real Black Country ale in the Bottle & Glass Inn and a traditionally cooked fish and chip dinner at Hobbs’ and Sons fish and chip shop. For an extra special treat, you could enjoy a father’s day lunch in the Workers Institute Café.

Saturday 20 July - Sunday 21 July
1940’s Weekend
Spend the weekend living life as it was in the 1940’s

Including evening of 1940s entertainment, the Museum's village will be full of 40s spirit, street performers and musical entertainment. Visitors can join in and dress up or simply experience what it was like to live and party in the 40s.

*This is a pre-purchase ticket only event, for more details visit or call 0121 520 8054

Sunday 28 July
Festival of Black Country Vehicles
This annual gathering of cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles sees over one hundred Black Country made vehicles driving around the Museum.
The Black Country was a major centre for vehicle manufacturing with cycles, motorcycles, cars, lorries and buses all built in the region. Visitors can see first hand well-known historical names such as AJS, Bean, Star, Sunbeam and Jensen. This names just a few of the automotive marques that put Black Country manufacturing on the map.

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Saturday 27 July – Sunday 1 September
Summer Holiday Activities

Enjoy fun family activities and hands on heritage.

See for further details.

Saturday 17 August
HALF PRICE Family Night*

Make the most of the long summer evenings and enjoy a Saturday night of traditional family entertainment when the Museum opens its doors after hours for half the usual admission price.
The Museum is brought to life with musical entertainment and street performers and much more. Enjoy a pint of real ale and sing along with the pianist in the Bottle and Glass Inn or tuck into the tasty fish and chips – cooked 1930s style.
*This is a pre-purchase ticket only event. All Museum tickets half price. Pre-purchase tickets online at or call 0121 520 8054

Saturday 7 September
The Locksmith’s House, Willenhall
Free Open Day*

As part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme, the Locksmith’s House will throw open its doors giving visitors the opportunity to explore the house and workshops for free. Demonstrations will bring the house and workshops to life and provides a chance to see the only surviving lock-maker’s house and workshop in Willenhall, which was once the UK’s, lock-making capital. Explore the home of the Hodson family of lock makers, who first lived here over a century ago and soak up the atmosphere of the gas lit rooms. Hear the clatter of belt driven machinery in the workshop and find out more about the trade that made Willenhall famous. There will also be a chance to chat to the Locksmith's House archivist about work behind the scenes. Drop in any time between 10am and 4pm to explore this unique home and workplace.
*Please note this event is not at Black Country Living Museum, and takes place at The Locksmith’s House, Willenhall.

Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 September
Historic Boaters Gathering

The canal at the Museum village plays host to a gathering of traditional working narrow boats. Cargoes will be transported around the Museum's canal and volunteers will demonstrate the way people used to live on the boats. Enjoy traditional musical entertainment and crafting activities.

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Saturday 19 October
Breaking Chains – commemorating the women chainmakers’ strike of 1910
The Museum recalls the fight of the Cradley Heath women chainmakers, who went on strike for several weeks in 1910 and were successful in winning the first ever minimum wage.
The day will feature a procession of flags, street entertainment, music, crafting activities and theatre from local performers along with stirring speeches. This annual event will ensure the legacy of the Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers lives on.
Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Thursday 31 October
Halloween Evening
Halloween at the Museum*

This Halloween, visit the Museum’s eerie gas-lit village where little devils and mini ghosts and ghouls can trick or treat in SAFETY along the Museum’s cobbled streets, collecting sweets as they go. Come along in fancy dress and join the musical parade through the Museum's village and you could win a prize for best dressed adult or child.
*This is a pre purchase only event. Book your tickets online or call 0121 520 8054

Winter Season

Tuesday 5 November
Traditional Bonfire Night*

A family-orientated Bonfire Night celebrates November 5th with roaring bonfires and traditional entertainment with the added safety of no fireworks. Visitors can enjoy traditional hot roast chestnuts, toffee apples, fire juggling, musical entertainers, join in and sing along with the pianist in the Bottle & Glass Inn and enjoy the fairground in full swing. The Museum's canal-side village will be lit up with atmospheric candle and gas-lights and visitors can enjoy chatting to characters from yesteryear, the night will be kicked off with a Guy Fawkes doll and theatrical lighting of the fire.
Please note, The evening has the added safety of no fireworks.
*This is a pre purchase only event. Book your tickets online or call 0121 520 8054

Monday 11 November
Remembrance Service
Springfield Brewery War Memorial

The Springfield Brewery war memorial honours former employees who both served and lost their lives in both world wars. It will be at the centre of a Remembrance Service to be held at 10.30 am at the Black Country Living Museum.

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Saturday 23, Sunday 24 November, Saturday 30 November & Sunday 2 Dec, Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 , Saturday 14 & Sunday 15, Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 December , Monday, 23 December, Tuesday, 2 December
Santa Hunt *

The highly popular Santa Hunts are a big hit with children and parents alike. As children embark upon a fun-filled search for Santa costumed guides and magical Christmas clues point the way to Santa's workshop culminating in a surprise gift.
*This is a pre purchase only event. Pre-purchase your tickets by calling the bookings office on 0121 520 8054

Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December
The Locksmith’s House, Willenhall
Christmas at home with the Edwardians

Experience an Edwardian style Christmas when the Locksmith's House opens its doors for this rare event. Christmas at home with the Edwardians is an evening of traditional Christmas activities and entertainment including carol singing and story telling by the open fire place, mince pies, mulled wine and hot roast chestnuts.
*Please note this is a pre-purchase ticket only event and takes place at The Locksmith’s House, Willenhall not at Black Country Living Museum. To pre-purchase tickets call the bookings office on 0121 520 8054.

Thursday 19 – Monday 23 December
Traditional Christmas Evenings*

The Museum takes on a festive flavour as cottages are illuminated by gas and candlelight, giving off a distinctly magical glow.
Enjoy traditional Christmas entertainment including; carol singing, Black Country comedic panto, street entertainers, brass bands, sing along with the pianist in the Bottle & Glass Inn, hot roast chestnuts and mulled wine. Don’t forget to say hello to Santa by the fireside.
*This is a pre purchase only event. Book your tickets online or call 0121 520 8054

Sunday 22 December
Carols by Candlelight **
Visitors are invited to join the Friends of the Museum as they bring the 1837 Darby Hand Chapel to life for a traditional candlelit carol service, conjuring up all the atmosphere of Christmas' past. Starting at 2.30pm the service takes place in the Museum's historic Darby Hand Chapel and includes 5 lessons and 10 carols within the service. For this event, there is a limited amount of seating and places will need to be pre-booked**

**Tickets for all chapel events are available in advance by contacting Alan Carter on 01902 670402 (Limited availability).

Regular Activities

The Museum has a programme of regular activities run by specialist teams of volunteers. These activities include the showcasing of our vintage car and motorbike collection, running of gas and steam engines and living history weekends. For more information and dates of our regular activities please visit

Newcomen in Steam

See the only full sized working replica of Newcomen’s steam engine of 1712 in steam and chat to the staff and volunteers who run the engine. Easter weekend, Sat- Mon, 30-31 March, 1 April, Saturday and Sunday 20-21 April, May Day Holiday: Saturday - Monday, 4-6 May, Spring Bank Holiday: Sat-Mon, 25-27 May, June: Sat-Sun, 15-16 June, July: Saturday & Sunday, 6-7 July, Saturday and Sunday, 13-14 July, Saturday and Sunday, 3-4 August, Summer Bank Holiday: Saturday to Monday, 24-26 August, Sat-Sun, 21-22 September, October: Sat-Sun, 12-13 October Saturday and Sunday, 26-27 October

President in steam
See steam narrowboat President in steam, chat to the Friends of President and learn about the President's history.
27 & 28 July, and every weekend through August.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Tracing the BMVA

I have previously posted this photograph on the blog. It is a wonderful old photo of naval veterans taken somewhere in Birmingham, probably in the early 20th century.

One of the old salts in the photograph is my late Uncle Harry's great grandfather, Henry Townley, though I don't recall which one.

Henry was born in Treadworth, Gloucestershire in the late 1830s. We know he was very tall as Harry once said they couldn't get his coffin down the stairs of the Vesper Bell pub in Ledsam Street which was run by his son-in-law Albert Lee from around 1900, so they lowered him in his coffin out of an upstairs window.

The man on the far right back row could therefore be a contender although another gentleman two places to his right (our left) looks facially like Uncle Harry.

On many of their caps are the initials BMV. In the past I have searched lists of 19th century naval vessels but not been able to find anything relating to BMV. Given Henry's approximate date of birth I have generally speculated that he might have seen some action as a young man in the Crimean War of the 1850s.

By pure chance I came across this photograph today on a blog called The Iron Room (Birmingham Archives and Heritage Blog).

The photo was posted by Michael Hunkin, Archivist (Warwickshire Photographic Survey) and shows, to quote Michael Hunkin:

"  Dated 1894, it is likely the photograph relates to the formation of the Birmingham Military Veteran’s Association that year. It was set up to aid local survivors of the Crimean Wars and Indian Mutiny and can be seen a predecessor to the larger veteran’s organisations set up after the First World War that were eventually amalgamated to form the Royal British Legion in May 1921.

The three men at the front were veterans of the Crimean War and survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the near-suicidal cavalry charge by 600 men against Russian artillery that left 118 dead and 127 wounded. Although the tactical reasoning behind the action has been hotly questioned, the heroism of the men who went into the ‘Valley of Death’ became the stuff of legend, inspiring a famous poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson and the epic film of 1968.

The book ‘Balaclava Heroes’ (2008) by Christopher Poole pieced together the lives of several Midlands survivors of this conflict. Perhaps these unidentified men include John Parkinson, who later joined the Birmingham police, and John Howes, a Digbeth-based boot repairer who in 1890 claimed £15 from the Light Brigade Relief Fund. Both men were in fact co-founders of the BMVA.

The mixed fortunes of military servicemen adjusting to civilian life after witnessing the horror of armed conflict have been documented throughout the nation’s history, be they wounded survivors of the English Civil War, shellshock victims of the trenches, or veterans of present day conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  "

Christopher Poole added further information identifying the three veterans at the front of the parade:

Front Row…L to R…John Howes (4th Light Dragoons)… John Parkinson (11th Hussars), carrying the Union Jack, Edwin Hughes (13th Light Dragoons). Christopher J Poole, author, Balaclava Heroes (2008)

Visit the Iron Room Blog

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Payne Family in the 20th Century

The information in the preceding post tells us about the coach company set up by Frederick and Mary Payne which it seems started in Aston as Payne's Coaches, but was later divided into two seperate companies run by Patrick Payne (Payne's Coaches in Perry Barr) and his brother Frederick Payne (Ashted Coaches in Kitts Green).

The 1901 Cesnsus above shows the family of Frederick and Mary J Payne (nee. Finn) living at 27 Pritchett Street in Birmingham.
Frederick Payne - aged 30, grover / glass cutter, born in Coventry
Mary J - aged 30, grocer, shop keeper on own account, born Birmingham
Florence aged 2
Lizzie aged 8 months
Also in the house is James Finn, a widower, father of Mary J, former brick layer's labourer born in Ireland

The 1911 Census above shows the family of Frederick and Mary (nee. Finn) living at 83 Hatchett Street in Birmingham:

Frederick Payne - 40 years old, glass cutter, married 22 years
Mary Jane Payne - 39 years old, had 14 children, 9 had died and 5 alive

Elizabeth, aged 10
Patrick, aged 8
Frederick, aged 5
Janey, aged 3
Jeneviene, 1.5

Also living with the Payne family is James Finn whom we know was Mary Jane's father. A 73 widower born in Galway and retired brick layer's labourer.

In 1912 Frederick Payne is registered on the Birmingham Electoral Register still living at 83 Hatchett Street.

In 1930 and 1935 we find Patrick and Elizabeth Payne registered at 95 Lower Tower Street and Frederick and Olive Payne at 98 Lower Tower Street.

Payne's Coaches

As far back as I remember, Dad's sister Kath (Robinson) would tell us stories from family history going back to her Birmingham childhood in the 1920s and even beyond that in terms of oral history passed on through previous generations. It was Kath who inspired my own interest in family history. One of the people she would recall with warmth was a lady named Mary Jane Payne, nee. Finn who was her own grandmother's first cousin. Kath spoke of Mary Payne owning a coach travel company which went under two names: Paynes Coaches and Danny Boy Coaches.

Another photo from Mr Payne's 1997 article about Payne's Coaches. On the side of one of these we can make out the name Danny Boy Coaches - an indication of Mary Payne, nee. Finn's Irish connections.

Ian recently told me:

"This photo was taken on the land where the Alexander stadium now stands in Perry Barr park - must be mid 1950's. The coaches were green and cream, an indication of the family's Irish tradition."

The third and final section of Mr Payne's article, showing another photo of one of the coaches and an advertising poster for Payne's Comfort Luxury Coaches.

Ian told me:

"The luxury coach to the left was a Commer Avenger with a Plaxton frame, reg plate KOC527. One of grandads newer coaches. His brother also had coaches as well under the name if Ashted Coaches, I think their garage was in Lea Marston. The
address on this of 95 Lower Tower Street was grandad's home address".

Ian's grandfather was Patrick Payne and his brother who ran Ashted Coaches was Frederick Payne. Patrick married Elzabeth Tongue and Frederick married Olivia Agnes McHale.

There is evidence that Patrick and Frederick were siblings in the following family of Mary Jane Finn (aka Mary Ann Finn) from Birmingham of Irish parents and Frederick Payne from Coventry:

Hannah  1888/92 - 1901
Rose born 1892
Florence born 1899
Elizabeth born 1901
Patrick ( 1902 - 1972 )
Frederick ( 1906 - 1968 )
Jane ( 1907/8 - 1922 )
Jenevive born 1909
Michael ( 1911/2 - 1968 )


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Records from the Electoral Register for Birmingham

The Clayton family appear on the electoral register for 1920 living at 20 Garbett Street, Ladywood . Registered to vote are William Henry Clayton (g-granddad), his wife Mary and a son Harold.
Just along the same court at 1 back of 17 Garbett Street is Frederick Clayton and his wife Emily Anne and another brother, George Samuel.


Also in the 1920 electoral register is Terence Millington at 1 back of 32 Garbett Street. So both of my father's grandfathers were living on Garbett Street in 1920.

Twenty years later we find Terence with his second wife Jane and two sons George and John (aka Jack) living at 75 Bishopsgate Street in Lee Bank.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The family of Patrick Cushion

Patrick Cushion was my great grandmother's brother (my maternal grandfather's mother) , he was born in Maryborough (now Portlaoise) in Queen's County, Ireland (now called County Laoise).

My great grandmother was Catherine Cushion born in 1874. Catherine had four sisters, Annie, Julia, Mary and Elizabeth. She had two brothers, Patrick and William (b.25 May 1869).

Two of Catherine's sisters married Cork men, Julia married Joseph Woodward and Mary married John Glavin.

It appears that Catherine's brother Patrick Cushion (born at Maryborough on 15th June 1867) married a woman named Catherine in about 1898 and they moved to Preston in Lancashire shortly after their marriage. Catherine was also born in Maryborough, Ireland.

According to the 1911 Census, Patrick and Catherine Cushion were living at 2 Lady Place, Preston and they had 2 children, William aged 10 and Mary aged 8, both born in Preston. Patrick's personal occupation was a labourer (Joiner's) and his employer was the Corporation Dockyard. 
Maryborough RC Church

A street view in Maryborough

The docks at Preston in the early 1890s

A general view of Preston with chimneys of the industrial town in the distance

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Records for Finn sisters in the 1911 census

I believe that this is the family of Margaret Reeves, nee. Finn who was one of my great grandmother's sisters. I have always been told that Thomas and Margaret Reeves ran a second hand shop in Ladywood. They are listed in Birmingham trade directories in the 1920s with a shop in Icknield Street.  

In this record Margaret is listed as a shop keeper and then also described as a huckster which was a name for someone who bought and sold second hand goods, usually small items that could be sold door-to-door.

Thomas Reeves was 33 years old, married for 12 years, a brass caster worker, born in Birmingham.

Margaret Reeves his wife was also 33 years old (which fits with her being 14 in the 1891 census) and had given birth to 6 children, 1 of whom had died. She was a shopkeeper a huckster and housekeeper. Also born in Birmingham.

Their children included:

Thomas aged 10, at school.
Margaret aged 6, at school.
Annie aged 4, at school.
William aged 2, at school.
Norman aged 4 months. 

All children born in Birmingham.

The Reeves family had two lodgers:

Albert Phillips, aged 21, single, a silver polisher born in London.
Henry Hickman aged 39, single, a plasterers labourer born in Birmingham.

In the same census of 1911 is this record for an address at no.3 back of 53 Buckingham Street showing the family of Annie Green, nee. Finn (or Hannah as she is named here) with her husband William and their 5 daughters. What is also interesting about this record is that it also includes another of the Finn sisters, Julia Finn, who later married Percy Judd though at this point she is unmarried.

The family comprises:

William Green aged 42, a hosue painter,born in Worcestershire.
Hannah Green aged 36, married for 12 years with five children (all survived), born in Birmingham

Hannah E. Green aged 10
Ellen M Green aged 7
Margaret E Green aged 6
Mary G Green aged 3
Catherine M Green aged 1

All of the children born in Birmingham

Finally, Julia Finn, sister-in-law to William Green, single, working as a General Canvassar.
Born in Bimringham.

Some Clayton records for 19th century Willenhall

Willenhall St. Anne’s: Baptisms 1861-1931


CLAYTON Albert John son of William & Harriet 24 Mar 1889 New Railway Street Iron moulder W.Latimer Ward

CLAYTON Florence dau.of John & Sarah Ann 2 Sep 1906 27 St.Anns Road Currycomb maker W.Latimer Ward born 12th August

CLAYTON Gertrude dau.of William & Harriet 14 Sep 1884 New Railway Street Iron moulder W.Latimer Ward born 29/6/1883

CLAYTON Lilian dau.of William & Harriet 31 Jul 1890 New Railway Street Iron caster W.Latimer Ward born 15th July

CLAYTON Mary Helen dau.of William & Harriet 23 Feb 1893 New Railway Street Iron caster W.Latimer Ward born 16th January


Willenhall St. Anne’s: Marriages 1861-1935


CLAYTON Alice Elizabeth 27 s 16 Sep 1916 …… St.Anns Road John Clayton (dec) Iron moulder CRUMP William B

CLAYTON Emma 23 s 30 Jul 1916 …… 27 St.Anns Road John Clayton (dec) Brass caster HADLEY Arthur B

CLAYTON Maud Lingard 26 s 23 Dec 1923 …… St.Anns Road John Clayton (dec) Brass caster BAYLISS John Henry B


Willenhall St. Anne’s: Marriages 1861-1935


CLAYTON William George 23 b 27 Sep 1903 Moulder New Railway Street William Clayton Foreman moulder WOLVERSON Emily Florence B


Willenhall St. Stephen’s: Baptisms 1848-1909


CLAYTON Reuben son of Jacob & Betsy 12 Feb 1888 Willenhall Padlock maker

CLAYTON Violet dau.of Jacob & Betsy 31 Aug 1891 Royal Exchange, W'ton St. Padlock maker

CLAYTON Emma dau.of John & Emma 22 Jan 1893 35 Wolverhampton Street Caster

CLAYTON Maud Lingard dau.of John & Emma 19 May 1896 35 Wolverhampton Street Caster Born 2nd May

CLAYTON George son of John & Sarah Ann 19 Apr 1904 Upper Lichfield Street Brass finisher

CLAYTON Joseph son of Elizabeth 29 Aug 1905 55 New Street, Portobello …… Born 3rd August

CLEATON Elizabeth Florence dau.of Samuel & Anne 8 Jul 1866 Portobello Cas

Willenhall St. Stephen’s: Marriages 1854-1934


CLAYTON Elizabeth 21 s 30 Jun 1907 …… 107 Newhall Street Jacob Clayton Locksmith BLANTON Joseph Thomas B

CLAYTON Sarah Jane 20 s 22 Aug 1892 …… Somerford Place John Clayton Caster GEE James Henry B

CLAYTON Samuel 47 w 22 Jul 1888 Labourer Portobello John Clayton Caster MCNALLY Catherine B

CLAYTON Joseph 24 b 27 Oct 1929 Sheet metal worker 11 Brickiln Street …… …… EDWARDS Ellen B


Wolverhampton & District Churches: Marriages 1834-1903

WORTHINGTON Hannah full s 2 Feb 1841 …… St.Georges district William Clayton Shoemaker CLAYTON Thomas B St.Geo.

CLAYTON Thomas full b 2 Feb 1841 Labourer St.Georges district Joseph Worthington Labourer WORTHINGTON Hannah B St.Geo.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mckiernan family in the 1911 and 1901 Census

1911 Census

64 Hanley Street, Birmingham

Thomas Mc Kiernan aged 43, warehouse man, born in Dublin 
Annie Mc Kiernan aged 43, born Birmingham, married 18 years, 9 children born, 8 living, 1 died
Thomas William Mc Kiernan, aged 17, tool maker for screw manufacturer
John Henry Mc Kiernan, aged 16, messenger for provision merchant
Edward Mc Kiernan, aged 14, messenger for gold smith
Bernard Mc Kiernan, aged 12
Catherine Mc Kiernan aged 10
Julia Mc Kiernan aged 8
Ann Mc Kiernan aged 4
Ellen Mc Kiernan aged 1

All children born in Birmingham.

The marriage of Thomas McKiernan and Annie Finn took place at St Chads RC Cathedral in Birmingham on 3rd April 1893.

Annie Finn was the daughter of Patrick and Catherine Finn. Patrick was the brother of my great great great grandfather Martin. Annie was born in Birmingham in 1868. Thomas and Annie McKiernan went to live in Cleveland, Ohio along with 3 of her sisters and their partners.

One of their children was the lady who became the nun in Cleveland.

The marriage certificate reads:

3rd April 1892, Thomas McKiernan aged 25 marries Annie Finn, aged 24.
Both single, address given for both is 5 Court, Lancaster Street.
Thomas McKiernan's occupation (looks like) wire worker.
Annie's father is Patrick Finn a labourer and Thomas's father is Thomas McKiernan, a painter.

1901 Census

10 Court 3 Legge Street

Thomas Mckiernan aged 33, warehouse man, born in Ireland, estimated birth year 1868
Annie Mckiernan aged 33, wife born in Birmingham about 1868
Thomas aged 7
John aged 6
Edward aged 4
Bernard aged 2
Kate aged 1

Monday, 22 October 2012


Tuesday 20th November 2012
Keith Geary will speak about

The Warwickshire Religious Census, 1851

Once, and once only in our history, the Government took a census of places of religious worship across the country, seeking information on the size of congregations, the number of services held and, in the case of non-conformist chapels, when they were set up. Keith Geary, who is transcribing the whole of the Warwickshire section of this census for publication by the Dugdale Society, has come up with some surprising facts about church attendance and church practices at the time.
The meeting will begin at 8 p.m., preceded by coffee at 7.30 pm. at the Quaker Meeting House, High Street, Warwick, CV34 4AX and is open to all, though there is a charge of £2.00 for guests - refundable on the night if they join the Society.

Details of this and other Society events are available from Neville Usher, 6, The Fold, Payton Street, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 6NJ  Telephone 01789 205 043,

E mail, or on the Society’s website:


Friday, 19 October 2012

Mr John McDonnell and his election victory

The Blind Advocate - May 1899


We have every reason to feel proud of the result which has been achieved by our esteemed colleague, Mr John McDonnell, in the recent Poor Law Guardians elections of Dublin. The members of the Dublin branch are to be congratulated for the intense zeal and enthusiasm which they infused into the campaign. We desire especially to make honourable mention of the name of Mr Alfred Meledy, who particularly distinguished himself in the canvassing.

We shall watch the administrative career of Mr McDonnell with a lively interest. We believe that his ability will soon win for him the respect of all those who are concerned in the amelioration of the labouring classes. Again we congratulate him, and wish him every success in the new duties to which he has been called. The figures registered at the election will be found in another column.

A Bumper to Dublin

A health to bonny Dublin! Fill your glasses to the brim,
And pledge her Queen of Happy Hope, whose light shall fleer grow dim;
By energetic canvassing and working heart and soul,
She proudly placed her man above all others at the poll.


Then drink to bonny Dublin, lads and shout Hip, Hip, Hurrah
And let us each resolve to move where she has led the way
She won the first bright laurel wreath of which the League can boast;
Then drink to bonny Dublin - bonny Dublin is the toast.

A health to bonny Dublin lads! her vistory is ours,
Inspiring us to organise our yet unmarshall'd powers.
If we with zeal unlagging ever keep the goal in view,
And work as hard as Dublin worked, like her we'll tirumph too.

A health to bonny Dublin! Her achievement will, I'm sure,
New interest in the League arouse and forces new secure;
The flowing tide is with us, and our hearts beat high with hope;
'Tis only alse philosophy with which we have to cope.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Harry, Emily & Edward Robinson

Thank you to Ronnie Watson, one of my Uncle Harry's nephews on the side of his sister Emily and her husband Victor, for sending me a copy of this wonderful photograph of Harry (left) with his sister Emily (Ronnie's mother) and older brother Edward Robinson.

The photograph probably taken in the mid to late 1920s.

The Workhouse Bell

A 1907 map of the North Dublin Union Workhouse. Note the road running right to left at the bottom of the map is North Brunswick Street where our grandfather James Lawlor was born in 1913 and grew up as a child. Its a five minute walk from Bolton Street where the McDonnells and Whelans lived.

The Blind Advocate April 1899 featured this poem written by Thomas Guilfoyle - a blind poet reduced to the North Dublin Workhouse.

The Workhouse Bell
How long and dreary seems the night, 'tis long to wait for Day,
And yet my dreams are full of light, now heart is far away
For thoughts of home and all at once dear come o'er me like a spell
But I awake, alas! to hear the cheerless workhouse bell.
This fortune with a heavy hand , my fondest hopes did blast,
And yet my strength and self command, I bore up to the last
But now in silence I endure that grief no tongue can tell,
I feel the sorrows of the poor, I hear the workhouse bell.
I think of Christmas past and gone, I face the merry chime,
I led the dance - I led the song in happy olden time.
But now the sound that wrings my heart is like a funeral knell,
That tells of those whom death doth part, the dreary work house bell.
No murmur will they hear from me, however hard my fate,
And yet I long for liberty, I crave for freedom sweet.
And should I leave these scenes of woe, in peace once more to dwell,
In fancy still, where-er I go, I'll hear the workhouse bell.

Editorial notes:

The Workhouse Bell.

The author Mr Thomas Guilfoyle is a blind man and at present an inmate of the North Dublin union. We are told that when Mr Guilfoyle was quite a young man he composed many songs and poems suitable for recitation. Through the kindness of a lady sympathizer we have been supplied with the manuscript copy of the poem in the present issue, for which we are extremely obliged. It is a sad sequel to the careers of so many of our capable men and women that in the decline of their years, the time when they need so much care and devotion should be obliged to seek shelter in such places. Oh ye who are endowed with health and strength, set yourselves vigorously to work and obliterate the circumstances which so cramp our social life and render such horrible conditions possible.

The Blind Advocate - June 1899

Some time ago a short poem appeared in the columns of the Blind Advocate entitled "The Workhouse Bell", and written by a Mr Thomas Guilfoyle, who is still an inmate of the North Dublin Union. Accompanied by Mr McDonnell we visited poor old Guilfoyle. From reports we had heard, we fully anticipated that his mental capacity was sadly impaired. We were destined to an agreeable surprise, however, for the intellect of old Thomas is as clear as day. Guilfoyle accorded us an indescribably touching reception, and we soon assured ourselves that even within the gloomy walls of the Union the light and progress of our movement is watched and appreciated by at least one staunch admirer.

Mr Guilfoyle recitded for us selections from his poetical compositions. One set of his verses struck us as a peculiarly graphic description of the vicissitudes of like through which the poet himself has passed. reflections of the Night is certainly a magnificent peice of workmanship and we are pleased to announce that we have we have recieved permission to publish it. As we quitted the side of our friend we could not but feel touched with respect and admiration for Mr McDonnell, as he warmly grasped the hand of the poet and remarked "Never mind old chap, you shall no longer want a friend. I will often come and see you, and do what little I can to make your life and that of your fellows a little brighter and happier".

That if all administrators of the Poor be actuated by such generous impulses, salvation would be well-nigh accomplished.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

McDonnell wins the 1899 Poor Law election for North Dublin

The Blind Advocate April 1899

The Dublin Poor-Law elections will take place this April. We understand that the members of the local branch are making strenuous efforts to secure a seat for Mr John McDonnell. It is said that they are perfectly satisfied with the reception which is being accorded to those who are working in the interest of their candidate. One correspondent believes that Mr McDonnell will head the poll. Again we wish him every success, believing as we do that he is one of the most energetic and capable men in the movement".

The Blind Advocate May 1899

Dublin Poor Law Elections.

The following were the successful candidates in the recent Poor Law Elections.

Poor Law Guardians election for Dublin:

John McDonnell 475,
Timothy Charles Harrington MP 403,
Charles Augustus James 376,
Matthew Farrell 357 ,
Daniel Sullivan 291.

The Dublin election has been a great triumph for us. Mr McDonnell's success should give an impetus to every branch throughout the country.


A letter concerning the work of my g-g-grandfather in 1899

January 1899 - A letter to the Editor of The Blind Advocate citing our g-g-grandfather John McDonnell (grandfather of Nan Lawlor):

Mr J. McDonnell, a basket manufacturer of Dublin, also a member of the local body, is doing good work through the Dublin press in the raising of questions appertaining to the employment of the blind. The present is a very opportune moment for the mooting of such questions, as the Irish Local Government Board Elections are at hand. We believe that much good will result from his efforts and take this opportunity of urging the blind of Belfast and Cork to follow the example of their brethren n Dublin. Let us have a few men who still dare to sacrifice something for their principles; men such as Miller, McDonnell, Churchill, Marks, Rooke and many others whom we could mention ; let us have but a few more of these men and the victory will soon be achieved. But, while we are prepared to lick the dust at the feet of our oppressors, while we are curiously slavish enough to worship those who are living luxuriously upon our afflictions, so long shall we be obliged to live unnatural, stunted and altogether undeveloped lives, without an opportunity even to justify our existence by doing useful work for the society to which we belong".

The Blind Advocate March 1899
Dublin Poor Law Elections

The following address has been issued by Mr John McDonnell to the Poor Law electors of the North City Ward. North City Basket Factory, 78 Chancery Street.

Ladies and Gentleman, There will be five representative put before you for election. I am selected by the National League of the Blind for Dublin, to represent them on the Board of the North Dublin Union. I beg to place myself before you as a candidate to plead the cause of those poor men. For the last 40 years the overtaxed ratepayers had to bear the expense of the training and educating of the blind of Dublin. I see by the yearly returns of 1897 that this has cost the ratepayers over £600 in the North Dublin Union. The National League of the Blind, now in existence over the Three Kingdoms, is agitating for State aid for the blind, as all other European Governments take the blind under their special care. It is on the Poor Law Board that the interest of those poor men and the ratepayers can be best served. We believe if there is proper representation made to Parliament they will legislate upon it this Session. We have the approval of his Grace the Most Rev. Dr Walsh, and of many other eminent men in the city, that the expense of the training of the deaf and dumb and blind should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. That is now costing the ratepayers of Dublin up to £2,000 a year. As I have been a resident over a quarter of a century in this Ward, most of the inhabitants know me personally. I promise to further their interest in every ease that comes before me. I am, ladies and gentlemen, your obedient servant, JOHN MCDONNELL

Errors, like straw, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls must dive below.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

My dad's memories of St Peter's RC School, Ladywood

St Peter's RC Church, Ladywood
Here are some more of my father's childhood memories which he posted on the Old Ladywood website (see website link below or in side panel):
I have read of a number of Ladywood schools, which have received a mention on the website, so may I add my 'pennorth' regarding St Peters RC, Broad Street, the school at which I received my full time education.

My dad Geoffrey in 1950
Aged 13
By any criteria it was a modest unpretentious little establishment, instructing boys and girls from the age of five to fifteen. There were about a dozen classes accommodating over four hundred children. Infant classes were conducted on the ground floor. The second floor consisted of one long room, which served as a hall for morning assembly and prayers. This room was dissected by a number of sliding partitions which when drawn across, would divide into separate classrooms for junior and senior pupils. During the nineteen forties heating in the building was very sparse, each class was equipped with a cast-iron stove, stoked up with coke. The caretaker Mr. Draper, a dependable man, would regularly tend to this task. In the fifties all stoves were replaced with hot water radiators, which were much cleaner and efficient. Playtime breaks were taken on the small size playground; older members of my family have told me that this land had formally been a graveyard. Nevertheless, every year the annual sports day took place on that minute patch of ground. On those occasions the teachers would provide a variety of homemade cakes, and sweet lemonade, which were much enjoyed.

Head Mistress, Miss S Clements, ran the school in an exemplary manner; discipline was firm but fair. Miss V McIntyre, Head of the infant school, ably supported Miss Clements, and she also taught music to the older children. The regime was not over strict, but I cannot remember any serious disruption in the classrooms, or any exclusion of pupils taking place. No indiscretions ever took place behind the bike shed; there was simply no room for a bike shed.
The altar inside St Peter's
Sporting activity was encouraged. The school boasted an excellent swimming team, a moderate soccer team, and despite the efforts of sports master Mr O’Connor, a pathetic cricket eleven. The girls supported an enthusiastic netball team, presided over by Mrs Lester. During sewing lessons, she also oversaw the design and making of sports attire for the lasses.

The school severely lacked vocational aids, after it became state aided in the early fifties, woodwork lessons were laid on at St Thomas’s school, on Granville Street, and a science class was arranged at nearby Nelson Street school.

The dedication of the masters deserves to be mentioned. Whatever the weather, come rain or snow, they would accompany the lads every week, on the long trek from the school, to the swimming baths in Monument Road.

Those stalwart individuals were: - Messrs. O’Connor, Paddon, Griffin, and Mr Munton. In these millennium years, when sports training in schools is so scarce and competition often discouraged, it does seem strange that in those times a weekly bus was made available by B’ham City Transport, to take the boys for half day sporting activities, at the Metchley Lane playing fields.

St Peters was not noted for its academic achievements, but this was long before such measures as SATS, and OFSTED were introduced. I do remember some of the brighter pupils gaining admission to Aston Commercial School.

A procession at St Peter's RC school in 1952. My dad Geoff is one of the older boys
at the back furthest right helping to carry a statue of the Virgin Mary

In later years I happened to meet one of my old masters, he was almost apologetic regarding teaching levels at the school. Apologies unnecessary Mr ------, in spite of limited funding available and inadequate resource, you instilled the standards and values that matter.

 And so at the age of fifteen years, unsure, unqualified, and without aspirations, we were discharged into the world of industry and commerce. Of course, the Careers Officer interviewed each child with a view to placement, prior to leaving. I recall the most popular job, sought after by my pals, was lorry driver’s mate. I shall always be grateful to the memory of Miss S Clements, who guided me in the direction of an indentured apprenticeship, with a local engineering company. The Head wrote on my leaving certificate “An extremely intelligent boy, who has done well as school Captain”. In retrospect, I feel that with the class of 52, myself included, the teachers had a very lean year.