I was born in Bloxwich Maternity Home in 1961. I attended Redhouse Junior School, and Aldridge Grammar School, (later Aldridge Comprehensive School).  My degree in English was awarded to me, despite many distractions, by the University of London (Royal Holloway College).

I have worked in the international, temperature controlled haulage industry for too long.

My noisy, opinionated, much travelled, old, Yorkshire husband and I have been happily wed for nearly a quarter of a century.

I feel deeply connected to Staffordshire, its soil, its people and its history.  Tipton, Walsall, Aldridge, Shenstone, and Stonnall are particularly important to me because my ancestors have roamed and toiled there for as many generations as I can determine.  Orgreave and its environs fascinate because they were my daily environment throughout the first 24 years of our married life. We are now part of a surprisingly numerous Staffordshire diaspora living in North West Wales. It’s beautiful, but I miss home.

27 Responses to About

  1. This is a wonderful blog. So interesting forwarded to me by your cousin ( who is a good friend & was my neighbour in the Peak District)

  2. Tom Mason says:


    I write for The Chronicle series I found your blog piece on the Little Wyrley Very interesting and I would love to do a memory lane piece based of teh information on your blog and maybe use some of the picutres that you have acquired. I was wonderingwhether that would be a possibility.


    Tom Mason

    Reporter for the Chronicle

  3. P.L. Timm says:

    Hi – I came upon your blog (very well written by the way) when I “googled” Orgreave Hall – in working on some family history re my great-grandfather F.C. Bird a copy of the 1891 England Census record popped up – Orgreave Hall was listed as the family’s “name of house” – his father Edward J. Bird (54 at the time) is listed as “brewer” and my great-grandfather (then 22) was listed as “managing maltster” – any further bits of information would be greatly appreciated – I’m wondering if each large estate in that era would have had its own brewery? Thanks kindly, P.L. Timm

    • Dear P.L. Timmons,

      Yes, many big houses still had their own breweries in the 19th century. In previous centuries, before reliably wholesome water, and before tea or coffee were ever thought of, domestic “small” beer had been the everyday drink, and domestic breweries were ubiquitous. I was talking about this with my husband only this week – how the estates in his youthful Yorkshire stamping ground each had their own brewery (and smith, and woodman et cetera) – particularly that a special beer was brewed in honour of Lord Halifax’s return from India.

      I think I have come across a Mr Bird as a butler to the Harrison’s at both Aldershawe and Orgreave….could he, too, be related? Where did the family originate from? I have a “Bird” amongst my Aldridge ancestors, too!

      Thank you for reading my blog, and I do hope you return to it again.

      Kind regards

      • Now know that the Bird family were a successful brewing family with an interesting story, and that they were some of the many tenants of Orgreave from the late 18th to the mid 20 th centuries

  4. P.L. Timm says:

    Thank you for your reply. I really know very little about my great-grandfather’s history as a young man in England other than that his family had something to do with hops so the brewery part fits, and that he was a jockey when young. The 1891 Census lists under Orgreave Hall: Edward J. Bird (54, Walton on Naye – Essex) and Emma (49, London – Lambeth) (parents), Edward A. (27, son, Derbyshire-Newton-Solway), Harry P. (24, son, Derby-Newton-Solway), Frank C. (22, son, Barton-Under-Needwood), Edward Grinling (37, son-in-law, Yorks Doncaster), Charlotte S. (26, daughter, Derbyshire-Newton-Solway), and grandchildren (Grinling) Marjorie (4), Edward J. (2), and Phillip (5 mos.), there are also 13 other people listed as various servants (housekeeper, asst. maids, footman, groom, page boy, nurse) – there must have been other residents in different homes at Orgreave that were part of a larger estate for all that staff? So back to my great-grandfather Frances Charlton Bird . . . he married Kathleen Mary Palmer and they then lived in Geeston House, Rutland before leaving England for Canada in 1910 and settling in Penticton, British Columbia – they had a dairy farm there. Bird is quite a common English name but you never know – maybe we do have a connection from eons ago! Best wishes

  5. I spent my formative years in Lichfield & left as soon as possible only to return occasionally to visit relatives and in-laws, the last time being in 2012 after an unusually extended absence of eight years. Being of a similar vintage as you (if a tad older) your posts about Lichfield have a strong resonance, perhaps because you write from a recent historical aspect that I can readily relate to, having no intervening memory between growing up in the area and intermittent visits over the past almost 40 or so years.

    I discovered your blog through your gentle piece on Albert Sperrin, a personality I had long forgotten and whose work should certainly not be. Lichfield should rejoice in such literary eccentricity especially as a light counterpoint to heavy weights such as Samuel Johnson and Anna Seward. Having read your various pieces I now feel a little more emboldened to re-visit my somewhat jaundiced memories of Lichfield, written from some distance temporally and geographically i.e.- http://www.wordsfromswaziland.com.

    Thank you for your enlivened and enlightening writings . . .

  6. Helen Frost says:


    I came across you by googling “gamekeeper” and “staffordshire” and was interested to find mention of the Harrison family and their keeper. My grandfather Harry Poole worked for the Harrisons as gamekeeper at Chartley following the death of Sir Geoffrey Congreve, when the Harrisons took over the shooting rights on that estate. Harry lived on the estate from 1928 to 1955.
    If you are interested in my research on the Harrison family, do get in touch.

  7. Chris Hill says:

    Your English Degree was worth it. Great Blog.

  8. Jo Talbot says:

    Hi. My name is Carl James and I have recently taken over as the activities organizer at Beechfields Nursing Home in Lichfield. Many of our residents have lived much of their lives in Lichfield and the surrounding area. I would like to organise for somebody with an appreciation and historical knowledge of the area to come to our home and do a talk or presentation about some of the local history. I was hoping that you may have some ideas or connections that would helpful to me in this regard. I can be contacted via email at carljms03@gmail.com, via our administrator/secretary Joanne Talbot (whose account I am currently logged in under!), or via telephone at Beechfields (Monday – Friday 9 am – 4 pm)
    I would truly appreciate any advice or help you can give.
    Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • That sounds interesting, and worthwhile, Carl, but not something that I would be able to assist with personally, or at least not just at the moment. I will certainly pass on your request to some of my Local History acquaintances who might be able to help.

  9. Nigel Homer says:

    Great blog – one of the most informative yet still personal. I too am Aldridge 60’s-70’s bred. Then Lichfield. Well done!

    • Thank you, Nigel. I remember you…..and I remember your father, the Reverend, particularly his talking to us in assembly at Redhouse about his experiences in Burma. I was called Susan Horton then.

      • Nigel Homer says:

        A different one. May have been at the Methodist chapel. My father was very connected to St Mary’s but wasn’t the Reverend (I think it was Rev Delight). As kids, we’d play in the expansive vicarage grounds (shown in your slideshow) – I remember hiding in the huge rhododendron bushes.

  10. Sara Bayliss says:

    Hi. I was very interested today to read your wonderful blog with lots of interesting family history. My partner, Paul Horton, is the great grandson of Arthur Enoch and Annie Alice Horton. I have always been interested in family history having researched my own for many years. When Paul and I met back in 2008 he jokingly challenged me to find out more about his which he thought ‘impossible’. Needless to say I decided to take on the challenge and have been trying to find out more about his fascinating ancestors ever since. I would love to talk to you about it as you obviously know so much. Paul’s grandpa was called James Horton. Is he the cousin Jim you talk about Arthur Enoch’s funeral? We have recently visited Arthur Enoch’s son Arthur’s grave in Bayeux. He died fighting in Normandy in 1944. With very good wishes. Sara

    • Hello Sara, and, it seems, Cousin Paul! Thank you so much for reading the blog. Jim was my father’s cousin, and so Paul and I are second cousins once removed, via my dad’s Aunt Alice, but also cousins over again, slightly more distantly, on Paul’s great grandfather Arthur’s side. Hortons just loved marrying each other in the early 20th century! Who was Paul’s grandmother, Jimmy’s wife??? I look forward to exploring our connections further…good wishes to you, too.

      • Sara Bayliss says:

        Thanks for that. My contact email address is bayprec@aol.com. I live in Ashbourne which isn’t far from Uttoxeter and your blog about Crakemarsh Hall really interested me. I used to pass it often during the seventies and early eighties and it always intrigued me. How sad it was demolished but then again, there were so many lovely houses knocked down around here – Osmaston in the 60s, Snelston in the 50s, Ilam, Doveridge, Norbury….
        Paul’s grandmother, who married Jimmy, was Florence Turner. I have been trying to decipher Paul’s Horton line for ages now. John Horton, who you have on the left of your diagram, was the (illegitimate?)son of Mary Horton and a John James. Mary then went on to marry another man (a Shingler I think) and her daughter Annie Alice married Arthur Enoch so I agree with you, Hortons married Hortons. There is another instance in the same line, but the details escape me now as all my information is at home and I am typing this at work. I was very relieved to read about the Hathaways, as I had no real corroboration apart from my detective work on the census returns. The Lees name solves a puzzle for me too. What I would love to know more about is the Uttoxeter Horton line as I am close enough to go and research the parish records and learn some more!
        One interesting thing – my father is a big classic car fan and 20 years ago formed a car club. One of our first members was Edwin Tipper of Lupin Farm! So I know him well. The club runs a tombola stall there every August when Edwin holds a big charity event for St Giles Hospice.
        And on a final note – Paul loved your blog about archery, He is a talented archer and was Staffordshire County Champion a few years back in Compound. He is a member of the Walsall Archery Club and still shoots as often as he can.
        I notice you live in North Wales – I know the Lleyn very well having holidayed there every summer since 1965 as a child of three!
        So looking forward to hearing from you and also reading more of your blogs. Well done!
        Kind regards from us both.

  11. Sheryle says:

    Hi my mother in law is very ill at present but often mentioned keepers cottage she was Hilda hancox and lived on the farm there I think. Could you or anyone reading this share anymore information I’d really appreciate this. Thank you

  12. Richard says:

    Hi Staffordshire Bred.
    I have just stumbled across your blog and found it super interesting.
    It’s crazy just how peoples paths cross albeit over years apart. I too used to go to school at Aldridge Comp (after it was the Grammer School), which was just known to us as Tynings Lane. I used it live in Bosty Lane, Aldridge, so not a very long walk to School and where I read you spent some time. Midway through my Eductaion, we moved to Shenstone and then I went to King Edwards in Lichfield catching the train each day and actually having a bit of a commute. I loved Shenstone had a great childhood but continued to spend a lot of time in Aldridge playing golf at Druids Heath.
    I was very interested to read about Owlett Hall and Owlett Lodge which have become a bit of a pet project of mine and was wondering if you would correspond further with me in respect of these? My email is richiluke@hotmail.com and I would dearly love to hear further from you.
    Ive been doing some research and not been able to find much past 1917 when the Court Estate was cut up and sold off (I think). Anyway, I very much forward to hearing further from you. Best wishes Richard

      • Richard says:

        For Owlett Farm and Owlett Lodge I can trace the ownership to the Coopers (which now made sense to me why there is a Richard Cooper Rd in Shenstone but I digress) and from the National Archives I believe this was sold in 1917 to for the princely sum of £5,000 to “Mr LaCuter” although we can’t be sure due to the handwriting. I was wondering if this was correct and if it subsequently changed hands?

  13. Not something I can answer, I am afraid, but Sir Richard Cooper, the agricultural pioneer who once owned the Shenstone Estate is unrelated to the Coopers of Drakelow and then Lynn, who are related to me by marriage, and who farmed the Owletts from the 1930s to the 1960s.

    • Richard says:

      Ah that’s a shame, I’m trying to find the owners of the Lodge, to see if they would be interested in me restoring it back to its original state, it’s so dilapidated now it seems such a shame (but not as bad a keepers Cottage now that is a real shame!)

      Keep up the good work on the stories, ive got a few to go yet but its great reading – thank you

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