Castle Bromwich Community Website

Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project

The present bells at Castle Bromwich were re-cast in 1952 from earlier bells, and still contain the metal from the bells that were hung in 1717 when the church was re-modelled. These bells have been calling the people of Castle Bromwich to worship for nearly 300 years and although they have a beautiful tone, they are in desperate need of refurbishment.
In 1952, there was a maintenance project undertaken to rectify some of the problems that became apparent with some of the bell castings and fittings. Gillett & Johnston Bell Founders carried out the project and to keep the contract price low this was done by using a mixture of old and new parts of the bell frame and other pieces of the bell mechanics. Some parts of the frame and fittings were just modified to make them ‘work’ and are now in danger of failing and need to be replaced. Unfortunately, the “make do and mend” workmanship carried out 61 years ago has now resulted in the need for major work to be carried out. Investigations are being carried out to assess the amount of work required and to scope the possibility of adding two extra bells, making a more attractive ring of eight bells.

We are proud of our history of bell ringing in Castle Bromwich and would like the refurbishment to be our legacy to the church, as it would be a great pity for the voice of St Mary & St Margaret’s to fall silent. We look forward to celebrating 2017 as the 300th anniversary of the bells being rung in their present form in Castle Bromwich and hope that we will be able to celebrate this with our newly refurbished bells!

The bellringers have set up a charitable trust and the Earl of Bradford had agreed to be our patron. He is lord of the manor of Castle Bromwich and patron of St Mary & St Margaret's Church. For more information and the means to donate generously online go to the Castle Bromwich Bell Ringers' website -

Edwin Tufnell Hayne 1895 - 1919

In recent years I have spent many an hour researching my family history. In undertaking the research I have visited many graveyards and often wondered about the stories behind the head stones. My son and his friends have recently spent some time helping to restore the now closed graveyard at St Mary & St Margaret's Church in Castle Bromwich and I have been assisting them. In the centre of the garveyard are a group of graves commemorating the lives of pilots killed during the first world war. Among them is the grave of Edwin Tufnell Hayne whose death occurred not during the period of the war, but some months afterwards.

Edwin Hayne was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on 28th May 1895. The son of Tufnell and Emily Hayne, Edwin attended the King Edward VII school in Johannesburg before joining the Roayl Navy Air Service in 1916. He was posted to 3 Naval Squadron France  (later 203 Squadron) in 1917 where he flew Sopwith Camels. He became their top scorer recording 15 victories. He is remembered on the list of Sopwith Aces, a record of those Sopwith pilots with 5 or more aerial kills during their careers. His first victory was in August 1917 when he shot down an Albatross D.V. south of Middelkerke and his final one is listed as occuring on 16th June 1918.

During his career, Edwin Hayne was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)

In recognition of his services with a wing of the R.N.A.S. at Dunkirk between March and September 1917. He had numerous engagements with enemy aircraft and on the 16th August 1917, attacked an enemy aerodrome and placed a whole flight of machines out of action by machine-gun fire. During a flight of over two hours, during which time he attacked transport and railways, he never exceeded a height of 1,000 foot.

Supplement to the London Gazette 30th November 1917

He was also later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

During the recent enemy offensive, this Officer carried out 48 special missions. Flying at extremely low altitudes he has inflicted heavy casualties on masssed troops and transport. In addition, he has accounted for 10 enemy machines, destroying 3 and driving down 7 out of control; in these encounters he has never hesitated to engage the enemy, however superior in numbers. On one occasion he observed 10 hostile aeroplanes harassing 3 Dolphines; he attacked 3 of the enemy, driving one down in flames.

Supplement to the London Gazette 21 September 1918

Having survived the war, Captain Hayne continued flying and was to meet an accidental death whilst flying a Bristol F2 from Castle Bromwich aerodrome on the 28th April 1919 which stalled and crashed whilst landing. Major Maurice Nasruth Perrin also died later in hospital.

To quote from his gravestone, "Let those who come after, see to it that his name be not forgotten."

A Merlin Over the Midlands

Submitted by David Warmington

As a child, growing up in Castle Bromwich on the outskirts of Birmingham in the 1960s, walks with our dog and playing out with mates sometimes included a climb to the top of what was believed to be the remains of a motte and bailey castle, known locally - and typically unpretentiously - as "Pimple Hill". The view from there took in an elevated stretch of the new M6, a meandering River Tame, and beyond that the tower blocks of Castle Vale housing estate, together with the low mass of a giant factory producing car bodyshells.

I already knew that the factory, then owned by Pressed Steel Fisher and later by Jaguar Cars, and now referred to by locals simply as The Jag, had once produced something infinitely more exciting. And with my schoolboy's imagination, the Airfix kits I'd painstakingly assembled came to life when I pictured the real thing being wheeled from the factory, across the Chester Road and out onto Castle Bromwich airfield where those flats now stood. The brand new Spitfires would be parked in front of giant hangars - the Flight Sheds were still there until the 80s - and then test flown for the first time before delivery to operational RAF units. Standing on top of Pimple Hill, I would silently curse the fact that I'd been born 20 years too late.

Moving away from the Midlands to study art and design in the South West, I subsequently pursued a career in graphic design that led me eventually back to the Midlands. I had never lost my interest in aeroplanes, and when I saw the factory again, the view was barely altered. However, with the wisdom that comes with maturity I'd developed a new respect for the generation that lived through the 1940s. I'd also learned the story behind the Vickers Supermarine Spitfire legend, about the difficult mix of technology, politics, finance and personalities that led to the fighter almost being late for its place in history.

The Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory was one of the largest and best equipped facilities of its kind when erected at a cost of over £4,000,000 between 1938 and 1940. The giant shadow factory was part of Britain's belated efforts to prepare for an air war, and would enable mass production of the fighters initially designed and built on the South coast by Supermarine  a subsidiary of the Vickers organisation. Difficulties in developing the complex new fighter had even led to a situation where other aircraft were being considered for production at the huge Midlands plant. It was believed that the Government contract could take advantage of the manufacturing experience proffered by Morris Motors, the works initially being under the control of the autocratic industrialist Lord Nuffield. However, producing advanced fighter aircraft under the pressure of an impending Blitzkrieg proved more difficult than manufacturing cars, and frustrated Government ministers only managed to replace Nuffield staff with Vickers management as late as May 1940.

The desperate evacuation of Dunkirk was already complete, and what became known as the Battle of Britain about to begin - and not one Spitfire had left the factory at Castle Bromwich. Vickers test pilot Alex Henshaw had been asked to fly the first off the production line, and when it was finally ready in June, he recalled in his book "Sigh For a Merlin" that this was an opportunity to raise diminished moral at the factory at same time as showing the performance and ability of the Spitfire. In the brand new aircraft, he executed one of the most precise and breathtaking aerobatic performances in front of the assembled workers.

The story of Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory offers fascinating insight into an episode of economic and social history. This one, massive yet unassuming collection of buildings brings together a fascinating blend of national heritage, local interest, and personal reminiscences. My Dad had recalled how he would watch from the perimeter fence as new Spitfires were flight tested from the Castle Bromwich  airfield, in the months before he interrupted his studies at Moseley Road School of Art in Birmingham to join the army in 1941. And he was sure it was Henshaw at the controls because "he shot up in a vertical climb off the ground like a bat out of hell". After surviving the fight across Europe to the end of the war, Dad would take evening walks from Erdington with Mom, past the airfield to Castle Bromwich village, before buying their first home there. Millions of "ordinary" people lived through and were touched by the shadow of wartime, from students that became soldiers like Dad, to 17 year old girls working in factories. We pass people from their generation in the street every day.

Though relatively well paid and protected by trade unions, workers at Castle Bromwich toiled under the immense pressure of wartime production demands and many would have experienced the loss of a family member in the armed services. The factory was an obvious strategic bombing target, and workers could arrive at stations amid scenes of sickening destruction and loss of life at the end of a night shift. Forty percent of workers were female, and Megan Rees' personal story published in 2005 within the BBC People's War website is a remarkable snapshot of life as a worker at the Spitfire factory. Birmingham's newspapers have carried many articles with contributions from readers recalling personal memories of the Spitfire factory. Preserving these personal stories creates a vital link with members of that generation, enabling others to share and reflect upon their experiences.  


The main, low-rise bulk of the Spitfire factory at Castle Bromwich is partially hidden today by modern retail parks, and recent extensions include the reception and showroom of the present occupiers. It is hard to believe that the plant now "quietly" turning out Jaguars once employed 14400 people and built what is one of the great icons of British history. I wonder if the chairman of the Indian conglomerate Tata really appreciates what they bought when they acquired Jaguar Cars! Just along the road from the gleaming leaping cat on a plinth that marks Jaguar's main entrance, a striking and stark grey steel sculpture represents several climbing Spitfires, mounted slightly incongruously in the centre of a traffic island. This is a most visual reminder of the historical significance of the adjacent site - after all, the building, if it's not listed and so protected, could easily disappear at some time in the future.

For many people today, the unmistakable gruff roar of a Rolls Royce Merlin engined Spitfire and that neat, graceful shape " almost too attractive to be a fighting machine " still stir the emotions. When finally I had the time to start my first ever oil painting for pleasure, after years in art and design, I decided to create an image that would celebrate the story of the Castle Bromwich contribution to the Spitfire legend. I was determined that it wouldn't just be another Spitfire picture. Hopefully, the detail will fascinate the Brummies that remember the Castle Bromwich area in the 40s. It may also interest those that know the location today, but had no real concept of its significance nearly 70 years ago.

In depicting an aircraft, I had to satisfy the accuracy demanded by classic aviation experts. The lack of squadron codes identify it as a brand new machine undergoing flight testing and prior to delivery to the RAF. It could be one of the ten in June- the first Mark II Spitfires to be built at the factory as production finally started climbing. Workers would eventually turn out 300 aircraft per month and achieve the highest output of any aircraft factory in Europe during the wartime. However, it's worth noting that losses could also be high: the ill-fated British raid on Dieppe in 1942 resulted in 90 Spitfires being destroyed or badly damaged  in one day. The RAF's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight preserves the oldest airworthy Spitfire in the World, believed to be the fourteenth aircraft built at Castle Bromwich, entering RAF service in August 1940. This could be it!

No story about Castle Bromwich or the Spitfire is complete without acknowledgement to Alex Henshaw. This remarkable aviator, celebrated for his record-breaking, still unequalled solo flight from England to Capetown before the war, he became one of the best exponents of the Spitfire after being employed as test pilot by Vickers. During his work at Castle Bromwich, he flew more Spitfires than any other pilot, and his exacting standards and endless stamina set standards that inspired others. In later years, during a film about the Spitfire and wartime production, he paid emotional tribute to the ordinary people that strove to maintain the supply of fighting aircraft under difficult conditions, saying that "this was their finest hour."

On completion, the last job was to give the painting an appropriate title. "A Merlin Over The Midlands" seemed to evoke the sound and set the scene for the subject well enough. But I never imagined that I was about to meet, by pure chance, a delightful 88 year old gentleman, now living quietly in residential development near my home in Staffordshire, who had once flown Spitfires. I was able to show him the finished painting, and share his reminiscences of a career in the RAF, from training and instructing in Rhodesia, to action with Spitfires in Italy and peacetime with Meteors, Sabres and a host of other aircraft, meticulously recorded in a batch of yellowing pilot's flight log books. He graciously commented that my depiction of the Spitfire looked right  though the afternoon spent with him was reward enough.

I have recently made available limited edition prints from "A Merlin Over The Midlands". Readers may contact me direct on 01827 383093 for further information, or write to me, David Warmington at "Bramble Lodge", The Shrubbery, Elford, Staffordshire B79 9BX. Of course, I would be delighted to hear from anyone with connections to Castle Bromwich and the factory.

North Arden Local History Society - March Report



(Castle Bromwich and Water Orton)

On Thursday 12th March members of the North Arden Local History Society met at Arden Hall and settled down to the latest instalment of Colin Green’s “Local Views”. Colin is one of the original founder members of the Society (1974) but, as he explained, his interest in the local history of Castle Bromwich goes back to the early 1960’s when he worked with his father as a jobbing builder going to do various jobs in many of the older properties of the village, many of which have long since disappeared.

Colin’s talk was very well illustrated by his own collection of slides all taken with his Rollieflex Camera he purchased new in the 1960’s, and which he has continued to use regularly ever since although in this digital age film for it is very hard to come by, and as he told us, it is also beginning to show its age! The slides which were all 6cm x 6cm (2¼” square) were of excellent quality and were pure little gems of nostalgia in both monochrome and colour. He spoke for over an hour and half using well over 150 slides; all we can attempt is to cover some of the highlights in this report. Every picture he showed was augmented by his detailed knowledge and personal recollections of over 40 years pursing his historical interests.

Initially we were taken round what used to be known as the Castle Hills area that few of us today remember since the greater part of it was removed in 1969/70 to construct the ‘Chelmsley Wood Collector Road’ (now the A452). It began at Castle Bromwich (or Mill) Hill and the Church Yard and ran between Chester Road and the River Tame until it reached the Water Orton Road and included fields worked from Beechcroft and Parkfields farms: much of it is now the Parkfields estate but what little of it remains is designated as ‘Public Open Space’. It used to be a very popular area for dog walking and Sunday afternoon strolls; it included the now isolated remains of Castle Bromwich Castle (Pimple Hill) the Norman Castle that was the source of the place name, complete with a bailey surrounding the motte mound on three sides commanding the crossing point of the Chester Road and the river. Colin showed us several slides of this Grade I listed monument both before and during the 1969 excavations that he assisted on.

Most Castle Bromwich readers will be aware of the uniqueness of our Parish Church and how it is one of only 8 churches of outstanding historic and architectural merit in the Birmingham Diocese. Colin showed us several pictures but the most unusual one was of the 15th Century timbers in the roof being checked for signs of insect infection at some time in the 60’s. The earliest recorded mention of a chapel is in 1175 and we now understand that there is a possibility that some of the sandstone blocks forming the footings of the present chancel may be of this 12th Century date.

Castle Bromwich (or Bradford) Hall dates from the 1590’s and has gone through several changes over the years, originally it only had a ground and first floor until the Bridgeman’s added a second upper floor to give it its present appearance. As with the Church we looked at several earlier views of the exterior of the hall beginning with a one taken from a painting where the artist had stood in what is now a car park on the western side and showing a summerhouse in the gardens of which only the footings remain.

Beechcroft - older than the Hall

We then embarked on a tour of the old nucleus of Castle Bromwich Village virtually as it was in the 1930’s, 40’s 50’s and 60’s. We began on Chester Road opposite the Church and Hall on the corner of Rectory Lane where we saw a picture of Number 1, - Eldon House this was used as a site office and finds store by the Archaeologists when they investigated the Motte and Bailey site, it was demolished and its site is now a part of the Rectory Gardens development. If you are fortunate enough to have a copy of Colin’s Book ‘Castle Bromwich in Times Past’ (part one published in 1984 – green cover) many of the photographs in this are the same that he had transferred to slides for this talk. The cross roads at Hall Road Chester Road and (the now closed) Birmingham Road were once a focal point for this end of the Village and marked by ‘Lady Ida’s Tree’, that she is said to have planted in the late 19th Century to commemorate one of Queen Victoria’s jubilees. We saw the old Estate Office where Bradford tenants paid their rent, next to this was the only building in Castle Bromwich to be hit by a German bomb in the 40’s, there were several old cottages at this junction since replaced by 1970’s bungalows, a display area for Halls Gardens and a Midland Red bus stop for the 161 to Coleshill. Next came a pair of Georgian Houses (Numbers 15 and 17 - Delamere and Wayside) where Colin and his father worked decorating the interiors and also in the cellars in the 60’s; originally this was one building known as the ‘Bridgeman Arms Inn’ where Red Coat Officers stayed on their way to oppose Bonnie Prince Charlie at Derby in 1745/6. Incidentally if you look carefully you can still see the scars of the 1940’s bomb damage on the gable wall of No’ 15. Progressing along Chester Road Colin showed the original Hawksford House and Campden House that have left their names in the present day blocks of flats/maisonettes, further along (after Kyter Lane) is Langwood Court but we saw its predecessor a large house called ‘The Gables’ that was covered with mock Tudor black and white timber framing, this Colin told us came off in a sheets when it was demolished!

The original Bridgeman Arms Inn

Beechcroft Road only dates from the mid 1970’s when the Parkfields estate was built; this takes its name from the large white house now on the corner that was the farmhouse for the last of two farms that brought an end to the rural life of the village (again in the 70’s). Beechcroft Farm – also know as Webb’s or Rawlings Farm, according to date, had a barn running along Chester Road whose lower sandstone courses were said to been brought from Castle Bromwich Mill, this barn was well known for letter ‘V’ marked out in the roof tiles after bomb damage was repaired, it is understood that the Webbs lost several Cattle to enemy action! Colin and I were told by Farmer Webb’s grandson that experts had examined the farm house and from timbers in the roof deduced that it is actually older than the hall, possibly belonging to the 15th Century. Much could have been said about our village with the Castle Inn, the Green and the Coach and Horses that had to be passed over to talk about other little known aspects of the villages. From Beechcroft we continued down Chester Road past the site of the Village School built in the 1870’s (now maisonettes), looking very much vandalised and waiting demolition after pupils and staff were relocated in the present school in Southfield Avenue. We then paused to look at what were once known a ‘Leake’s or Croft’s Cottages’ set round the corner almost opposite Clayton Drive, when it was a rural community the village pound (for straying farm animals) was next to these.

The old village school before demolition

Our photo tour continued and Colin’s route left the Chester Road to go off to the right past the Bradford Arms towards Stonebridge (the old Toll Road of the 19th Century). The road to Water Orton begins at Whateley Green and Colin related how he came to acquire the arm off the Warwickshire County Council sign post that pointed the way to Water Orton and Coleshill. Our tour then took a diversion at the Farthings (a 1970’s building) to talk about and see Green Lane as it used to be; originally this once ‘green-road’ began near the Church and went in a virtually straight line across the ‘Castle Hills’ area, along its present course to eventually join the Lichfield Road (the A446) at the Beggars Well just outside Coleshill. It is said this was once the stage coach route to Coleshill and there are several folk legends attached to it. Green Lane Farm was burned down (eventually) in a controlled training exercise in the mid 70’s by the Warwickshire Fire Service. Colin had a photograph of this event but the story attached to the farm concerned the highway men Dick Turpin and Tom King who were reputed to have had a secret hideout in one of the barns where evidence was found that may substantiate this tale! This farm was located where Austin Croft joins Lanchester Way to day.

Colin was born in the last house but one on the right hand side of Water Orton Road just before you reach Park Hall School he showed us a view taken from the front bedroom window of a harvest in the fields of Parkfields Farm directly opposite this house – roughly where Parkfield Drive now begins; a tree in his picture is still there to this day on the corner of Faircroft Road (see photo on page 20 in CB Times Past Part 2). This farm was the once owned by the late Aubrey Tomlinson and was the other last working Castle Bromwich farm (1975). We then enjoyed looking at several pictures of this farm including its barns that included the Bromwich Barn a large cathedral like structure that was often mistaken for a Tithe Barn – there are still several similar barns to be found out in countryside that archaeologists are now becoming interested in. On older maps you will see ‘Park Hall Moat’ indicated in a field opposite the farmhouse of Mr Tomlinson (the original home of the Arden’s where Shakespeare’s ancestors were born – another story!) from here we saw photo’s of a medieval ‘Holloway’ – a route that lead to a later Park Hall built in the valley of the Tame. (The origin of the School name).

Moving swiftly on, as they say, we came to Water Orton (or as it once was, ‘Overton’) a village virtually, but never officially, twined with Castle Bromwich but with very much in common. Both are now thought to have been included in the Domesday Survey of 1086 under the same lord of the Manor (of Dudley) and a part of the Parish of Aston (Aston Manor) until 1894. Both had Chapels of Ease attached to Aston Parish Church dating from the12th Century: (St Mary and St Margaret’s in Castle Bromwich and St Peter and St Pauls at Water Orton) that only became Parish Churches in 1894. Colin’s pictures of Water Orton began at the site of the medieval chapel whose grave-yard still remains in Old Church Road together with a ruinous medieval cross that was probably erected before the Chapel was built; Old Church Road is now the centre of a Conservation Zone that includes fine examples of timber framed houses in the ‘Chestnut’s and ‘Wakefield House’, Orton Lodge is an 18th Century building all of which Colin is very familiar with both internally and externally having worked on them and had stories to relate of their owners. Perhaps the most notable character in Old Church Road was the late Gilbert Rhodes who kept an off-licence store with a shotgun under the counter and a tall flag pole from which he flew appropriate flags on numerous suitable occasions, including one of a stork every time a child was born in the village. The Present day St Peter and St Paul’s Parish Church was built in the 1870’s and the medieval chapel (above) was demolished when then new church was up and running being, by then, in a very dangerous state.

Colin also explained that this village remained totally rural and agricultural until the coming of the Railway in the 1830’s which divided the village into two with the older part between the railway and the river (still with its medieval bridge built on the orders of Bishop John Vesey of Sutton Coldfield) and the new part being a creation of the Victorian age providing houses for railway workers especially after the construction of the junction that meant trains could get to Tamworth via Kingsbury as well as Whitacre and Nuneaton via Coleshill. The railway provided a “Victorian Rapid Rail Transport System” into an expanding Birmingham and many prominent business men seized the opportunity of a house in the country and a commute to ‘Brum’ for work giving birth to the commuter age! Travelling through Water Orton on the way to Coleshill down New Road (new in the 19th Century!), or past the ‘Digby’ to Vicarage Lane you can still see several fine Victorian houses that were built by the entrepreneurs of a 100 or more years ago. Colin’s photographs also showed several that have been lost to modern developments on a before and after basis.

Colin is always careful to include pictures of people going about their daily tasks over the last 150 years and we looked at many family groups, carnivals and village shows, ladies groups (W.I’s) School Classes and organised outings both in Castle Bromwich and Water Orton. Because of his family connections with the Mansell’s and Wyatt’s he was able to show us Squire Mercer and his family with relations including Howard Jaques a Victorian Solicitor and photographer who used to live at the Woodland’s in Vicarage Lane where he had a working miniature steam locomotive in his (large) garden. This locomotive is still alive and well and in regular use – but not in Water Orton. When he wound up his talk he was only half way through his slide collection; consequently we are now awaiting follow-up/continuation talk at a future date. It is well nigh impossible to give full justice to Colin’s talk in a report of this nature: keep your eyes open for local publicity to see if and when he is giving it at another venue in future – it will be well worth your time to go along.

Thank you, most sincerely, Colin for an excellent picture show and your fond memories and experiences over the last $%*# years or so!

If any reader would like to learn more about the background and history behind Colin’s talk and this report please see our book(s) such as ‘Tales From the Village Green’ and ‘Castle Bromwich in Times Past Part Two’: contact us through the Gazette Editor.

We are always pleased to welcome guests and visitors at our meetings, the next of which will be on 9th April when the topic will be ‘200 Years and Nine Generations’ presented by Jerry Dutton – this will be followed by the Society Annual General Meeting. The following meeting will be about Solihull (Old) Village on 14th May by Mrs Edna Handley. Meetings are held in the Spencer Lounge Bar at Arden Hall, Water Orton Road at 7.45pm.


Castle Bromwich Milk Deliveries

 Castle Bromwich milk deliveries

Has the milk round in Castle Bromwich been replaced by the supermarket run? Undoubtedly, doorstep deliveries are falling, but are milkmen becoming an endangered species? More importantly, does it matter if they are?

I have to confess that my family does not have a doorstep delivery of milk. I know that milk delivery companies now supply a wide range of goods such as eggs, bread and vegetables, but ordering a structured amount of milk on set days does not suit our haphazard life style or eating habits. Nor, does having to have someone at home at a set time to pay for our deliveries. We do use internet shopping and home deliveries by the major supermarkets, but the service offered by the milk round just does not suit our needs.

I do however, sometimes feel a little guilty that we don't support this service. My husband's Grandfather was the village milkman, or "Master Milkman" as his Aunt often used to remind me. He owned and ran his own business Castle Bromwich dairies. Originally, operating from Cole Ford Farm at Buckland End and later stabling his horse during the winter in the stable at his then home (The Lindens, New Street, now 10 New Street,) and letting it roam free on a farm in Shard End, (where the shops now are opposite the Harlequin Surgery), in summer. He would rise early each morning to prepare the cart, horse and milk and spend the day delivering regardless of the weather or how he felt. So, from an emotional viewpoint I feel that I'm not supporting a traditional family occupation. But, perhaps more importantly, I realise that the door to door milk service offers a lifeline to the elderly and that the milkman is an important figure in their lives.

A decade ago 2.5 billion litres were delivered annually in the UK by a door to door service. By 2004 this had dropped to 63.7 million litres. Less than 13% of milk consumed in the UK is now delivered in this manner. Should we be concerned about this or is it just a sign of changing times and a need to dispose of what's no longer appropriate?

Any occupation has to move with the times. Anything that doesn't change, eventually withers and dies. Milk delivery companies are definitely trying to reinvent themselves. Some are even experimenting with delivering books and non-food related items. The milkman has seen many changes in his job over the years. Before milk bottles, milkmen filled customers' jugs. When milk bottles were first introduced they were sealed with a porcelain stopper on a wire and later the horse and cart was replaced by the electric float. But, whatever changes happened in the past, the milkman was always an important part of family daily life. If you look at any of the old 1960s and 1970s sit-coms the milkman always played his role and was regularly shown with the characters in their homes. For the first time, the younger generations are often unaware of the milkman, seeing their parents bringing home milk from the supermarket and rarely hearing the clatter of milk bottles being delivered or seeing the milk float delivering door to door.

None of us knows what the future holds, but, whatever happens, I will always retain fond memories of milk deliveries. They were part of my childhood. I will always remember the milk float deliveries, the bottles lined up on the doorstep, often with a hole through the silver top where the birds had pecked. I will always remember being given the responsibility of paying the milkman on a Saturday morning and I will always have the photos of Eric's ancestors to show how important milk deliveries and the milkmen.



All dates are Second Thursday of the Months


June 11th  Entertainment in the 18th Century Dr Chris Upton



Meetings are held in the Spencer Lounge Bar at Arden Hall, Water Orton Road

Castle Bromwich  7-30/7-45 pm for 8.00pm start

Women of Castle Bromwich

Here are some more layouts of the women of Castle Bromwich. Photos are used with permission of the Science Museum and Jerry Dutton of the North Arden History Society.

Castle Bromwich C of E School 1921

Isn't modern technology wonderful? My husband's Aunt gave me an old photographed of Class 2 Castle Bromwich Church of England School 1921. It was, to say the least, badly damaged and she thought it might be better to just bin it. Well, there was no way that such a valuable resource was going to be binned. I have restored old photographs myself, but, to be perfectly honest, I haven't got the patience needed to sit and constantly copy and paste small areas from one part of the photo to another. However, I had done a favour for an internet acquaintance, and they had promised me that if ever I needed a photo restored they would do it for me, free of charge.

Normally, I would ignore all such offers, but I must be getting braver because I emailed the photo off to them and a few days later received back both the original and a beautifully restored version.

In the unlikely event that anyone is able to name any of the children in the photo, please let me know

Castle Bromwich Parish Records

For those people researching Castle Bromwich families I came across this useful site with details of the Parish Registers.

Castle Bromwich in Times Past

Book Review by Barbara Wilkins

Castle Bromwich in Times Past Part 2
By Jerry Dutton & Colin W Green

Having waited with great anticipation for the publication of Part 2 of Castle Bromwich in Times Past I am delighted to say I have not been disappointed. For anyone interested in the history of the area in which we live this is another must have addition to the bookshelf. It provides a further fascinating insight into the history and development of the Castle Bromwich as we know it today, taking us on a journey through early historical records, the Bagnall Riots, schooling, church and daily life. We learn how the name Castle Bromwich was finally arrived at. There is still broom to be found around the village, some of which is on ‘The Green’. I know as I helped to tidy and trim it back during last summer another, another bit of history to be protected and preserved.

The maps and drawings depict the area as it was possibly as far back as 1066. The photographs are superb, many of which show buildings and areas which are easily recognisable and found today.

The Hitchcock Map on page 47 shows some of the area as it was in 1802, with the names of the roads as they were then and what they are called today. I find I have for many years worked in a doctor’s surgery in what was once called Maggotty Lane! Oh dear, a slight Freudian connection there!

For those of you lucky enough to obtain and read a copy of this limited publication, you may find yourselves sometime in the future when driving or taking a walk through our ‘village’, spotting some of the buildings pictured or recognising a particular spot and perhaps wondering what secrets they still hold – if only they could talk what other tales would they have to tell?

Jerry and Colin have produced yet another fascinating and delightful book which has kept me well occupied during the recent long dark winter evenings. I hope there is still much more to come!

When the Spanish Lady Visited Castle Bromwich

Like most places in England during 1918, Castle Bromwich was visited by the Spanish Lady, as the flu pandemic was known. For my husband’s family it was to have tragic consequences to which the local grave yard bears testimony. I know anecdotally that his Great-Grandmother and Great-Aunt both definitely died as a result within a day of each other during the Autumn wave of the virus, and there’s a very high possibility that it also claimed the life of his Great-Grandfather whose death is officially recorded as Bronchitis in March 1918.

Now as Britain prepares for the possibility of another flu pandemic, sparked in all possibility by a sudden mutation in the Avian flu virus H5N1, evidence from this last global tragedy might well prove crucial in providing answers that will prevent a similar disaster. I’d like to say that this is why I dragged Eric along to a local history talk on the effect of the 1918 pandemic in Warwick last year, so I’d have answers to ensure our safety and good health should a new pandemic occur. But that wouldn’t be true, it was because I’m just sad like that and I wanted to understand what it would have been like for my husband’s family living through that period.

Nationwide the pandemic caused 240,000 deaths, in Warwickshire alone 2,400 people died as a result. Worldwide it is estimated that between 40 and 100 million people died.

Official advice was given out via the newspapers which suggested that everyone should:

  • Breathe through the nose
  • Wash inside the nose morning and night drawing the liquid through the back of the nose and spitting it out through the mouth
  • Sneeze night and morning
  • Gargle with a weak solution of potash and common salt
  • Avoid indiscriminate expectoration as dirtiness favours infection
  • School closures were left to local authorities
  • Keep in bed till the infection is gone
  • Keep children away from patients
  • Boil handkerchiefs
  • Disinfect all areas

Doctors and pathologists of the period had seen flu before, but they knew they were dealing with something unique in 1918. On initial infection, the symptoms were much the same as any other flu, but a proportion of people who succumbed to the virus didn't improve as expected on the fifth or sixth day, and in fact they got worse. Doctors noted an unusual feature of the disease that spelt grave danger. Those patients who developed a lavender-grey hue over their face and ears, or heliotrope cyanosis as it is called, were facing imminent death. Pathology reports from 1918 describe very distinctive changes in lung tissue that were the likely cause of death in many victims and probably contributed to the heliotrope cyanosis. Healthy lung tissue is like a sponge filled with air, but in flu victims the lungs were filled with fluid containing red blood cells and immune cells – causing death by asphyxiation.

One newspaper report suggested that one doctor tried to treat this lack of oxygen circulating around the body by inserting tubes into a man’s chest to enable him to pump in oxygen from a cylinder. The report states that he left a nurse supervising the procedure who unfortunately fell asleep. When she awoke, the report claimed that the man had swollen up like a balloon, but with no lasting ill effects, the treatment apparently worked and he survived.

Another unique feature of the 1918 flu pandemic was the age profile that it attacked. The first wave of flu, at the start of 1918, was largely only fatal in the very young and the elderly. In the middle of 1918 there was a sudden change and the virus began killing healthy adults between the ages of 25-40. And then by 1919 the virus had reverted back to its old ways, targeting the very young and the elderly. This strange pattern of virulence is one of the mysteries of the great flu pandemic of the First World War.

Unlike today, when reports of bird flu infections are broadcast round the world in minutes, in 1918 there was no early warning system, no vaccine and no way of telling who might be next.

No one knows precisely where, when or how the 1918 pandemic began. The first recorded case came on March 8 1918 at Camp Fuston, in Kansas. However, British army medical reports suggest the virus could have been circulating in hospital camps in northern France as early as the winter of 1917, infecting soldiers weakened by three years of fighting and exposure to mustard gas. The first wave coincided with the arrival in Britain of American soldiers and spread outwards from the ports following the transport lines, particularly those of the railway. But it was the second wave, between September and December 1918, and the third wave, between February and April 1919, which were to prove devastating.

The flu pandemic left barely a family untouched. It is reported that it drove many a woman to suicide following the death of their husbands. Why it occurred and why it ended is still something of a mystery, although there are many theories. “The disease simply had its way. It came like a thief in the night and stole treasure.”

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