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My Wednesbury grandfather died renovating great hall

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 16, 2014

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REFERRING to the article in The Bugle (February 27 edition), and the old photographs of four pubs in Wednesbury, it immediately evoked so many memories relating to three of them.

The White Horse Hotel at the junction of Holyhead Road and the A4196 was where my paternal grandmother met my paternal grandfather. She was in service there as a young girl, and he was a stonemason of note from a small village called Youlgreave in the Peak District, near Buxton and Bakewell. Then my grandmother moved to be housekeeper to the headmaster at Rowley Village School near Chatsworth House.

To supplement her wages, my grandmother took a job as barmaid in The Peacock, a beautiful Derbyshire stone-built building on the main Bakewell road, which divides Rowley Village.

Although he was many years older, a widower with children, they married around 1900 and settled in the house my grandfather had built in Youlgrave, Fountain Cottage.

Sadly, in 1907, my grandfather died as a result of a tragic accident. He was renovating Haddon Hall, a medieval building, for the Duke of Rutland.

My grandfather was called in by one of his men, to check on work on a window at the end of the great hall, which necessitated climbing up on to a wooden scaffolding platform outside. Allegedly, he stepped back to get a better look, lost his footing and fell backwards, hit his head on the stone Dorothy Vernon steps and died some days later. He was 61 years old.

Consequently, my grandmother at the age of 28 was left with three young children aged 7, 4 and my father aged just 2. She returned with her children to Wednesbury and moved in with her mother, who had a coalyard and house at the side of The Gladstone pub in Portway Road.

The space where the house and coalyard were can clearly be seen on the right of the photo of The Gladstone published in The Bugle.

Moving further along Portway Road, on the same side of the road, is The Nelson. In 1962/64, the licensees were Mr and Mrs Beard, the parents of Geoff Beards, who was a guitarist with The Kingsford Four at this time. He lived there with his wife Sheila and their baby son.

I would go there with a group of friends. After the era of the music groups declined, Geoff re-invented himself as Lee Wilson, a very popular comedian. He sadly died about two years ago. He was a very genuine, well respected nice guy.

Portway Road itself has changed beyond all recognition today.

Thanks for the memories. All good wishes to The Bugle, keep up the good work.

Pauline Poole,

9 Harrowby Place, Willenhall.

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