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Smethwick family snapshots are a reminder of a lost rural Black Country

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 13, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • Eric Price and Nip at the family home, Smethwick, in 1940

  • Young Eric Price outside 57 Valley Road, Smethwick, 1927

  • Eric Price sits on his father Joe's knee at Unketts Farm, Smethwick

  • Road workers in 1920s Black Country. Joe Price, on the left with horse, was foreman

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THIS collection of family photographs has been brought to us by Garry Price and they show his father and grandfather. They offer us a glimpse of times past in the Black Country, when many families made the transition from a rural to an urban home.

Our picture at the bottom of the page was taken some time in the 1920s and it shows a group of men working on a road but we don't know where. These men were digging the road, while just a few years earlier some of them may have been digging trenches in the First World War.

The man holding the horse's bridle is the foreman, Garry's grandfather Joe Price. He lived at Unkett's Farm in Smethwick – a reminder of when agriculture nestled cheek by jowl with heavy industry in the old Black Country.

Well into the 20th century there was much farmland dotted about the coalfields and factories of our region. A good example is the old borough of Oldbury, which was roughly divided into two, one half industrial and the other rural.

The dividing line, naturally, followed the Black Country coalfield and the Great Western Railway, from Snow Hill to Stourbridge Junction, roughly followed the same line. To the north were the industrialised areas of Oldbury and Langley and to the south was the largely rural Warley.

Much of the farmland of our region disappeared under housing developments between the world wars but many of the old names have survived in the names of the streets that replaced the. For example Unketts Farm lives on in Unketts Road and Farm Road, both off Thimblemill Road in Smethwick.

Garry has supplied us with a picture taken at Unketts Farm which shows the Price family and Garry's father Eric can be seen as a young child sitting on his father Joe's knee, circled with a blue ball-point pen.

Our next picture shows Eric, a little older, outside 57 Valley Road, Smethwick, where the family moved to in around 1927.

The last picture shows Eric again, this time as a young man in uniform. It was taken in 1940 and it shows Eric with this pet dog, Nip, at the rear of the family home in Valley Road.

Have you interesting family photos to share with readers? Contact dshaw@blackcountry bugle.co.uk

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