Later Years

John Harris died in February 1925 from the after effects of a massive stroke, which he had suffered 7 years earlier. The last years of his life were spent at home in bed. He died at the age of 69. He had been a very religious man, and even preached in the house, which is probably from where his daughter Fanny obtained her beliefs that led to her joining the Salvation Army.

Harry Lunn's brother George was very musically and mechanically minded. His mechanical enthusiasm started at an early age playing with Meccano. He made musical instruments including a violin, which he played extremely well, especially considering that he was self-taught. He also got interested in electricity and early radios. The Whitehouse family were given an old film projector and George Lunn modified it by fitting a battery powered lamp. The projector, which worked reasonably well was used in the cellar.

Sarah Flavell and her sister Mary during an evening at the New Junction.

May Flavell bought a wind-up gramophone, and played her favourite record "The Laughing Policeman" again and again. She started going out with Enoch Firm whose late brother Fred had been married to Laura Davies.

Her father Henry didn't like the girls staying out late, and so Daisy used to help May by keeping a lookout for her, and quietly opening the door so that she could sneak-in without being heard.

If the children were naughty and sent to bed hungry, she would sneak food into the bedroom for them, and tell stories.

Jack had no money for clothes and so used to borrow some of Henry's when he wasn't looking. This went on for sometime until Henry found out, after which they had a big row.

The location of the mooring at Moxley that was used by Henry.

Henry enjoyed gardening, and had one of the allotments in Forge Road which provided the family with all of their fruit and vegetables.

He also enjoyed a pint or two of beer and would often borrow two shillings and sixpence (half a crown) from Daisy to pay for it.

An impression of the old stables in Moxley Road.

The overnight shelter by the canal at Moxley.

Henry's business was going strong. He transported all kinds of goods on the canal including coal, stone, and even acid carbides from Wednesbury Chemical Works. He often travelled through the Dudley canal tunnel using poles to push the boat along. For just a few pence someone would collect the horse at the tunnel entrance and take it to the other end ready to rejoin the boat.

He was often away for days at a time on long journeys and so used to cook his meals on a shovel, over the fire in the boat. He moored the boat at Moxley, and kept the horse in the local stables. The horses were well looked after as the man who ran the stables even slept with them.

Opposite the moorings was a shelter where canal boatmen could spent the night. It had stone walls, and contained wooden benches on which they sat and slept, a small fireplace, and a well, just in front of the window. The remains of the building can still be seen today, although it is partly buried by the large bank of earth that carries the Black Country Route through Moxley.

The boating business had its ups and downs, and so Henry sometimes had to find temporary work elsewhere. In the mid 1920's he worked for a time at a quarry in Bradley Lane, breaking stone. The quarry became known as “The Cracker” because of the blasts from the explosions which removed the rock. He also worked at Wards, helping to dig clay for their terracotta pots.

May eventually married Enoch Firm and they went to live in Bilston Street with Enoch's uncle but soon moved to 11 Factory Street, almost directly behind the old yard.

Their next door neighbour was May's Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Sam, who had three children, Tom, George, and Elizabeth (who died at the age of 2).

Henry (3rd from the left) digging clay at Wards. The crane was called "The Devil".

In 1927 Daisy left school, and shortly afterwards started work at the Ward's house in Moxley Road, looking after both the house and their two children. The Ward family owned the clay pot works on the site of the old Baggott's Bridge Brick Works alongside the canal.

Workers at Ward's clay pit in the 1930s. Henry is in the centre of the front row, holding a bottle on his knee. Courtesy of John & Christine Ashmore.

During the 1920s the character of the area changed considerably. George Rose Park appeared in the middle of the decade on derelict mining land. Where Wiley Avenue is today there was just a bare earth track with trees in the hollow, and a rope walk to the south of where Berry Avenue now stands. The area contained spoil heaps and hollows from the old coal mines.

This all disappeared when Darlaston began its municipal housing scheme which was designed to finally improve the dreadful housing conditions that many people had to suffer. The first houses were built in Partridge Avenue and Park Road. Slowly the whole area to the south and west of Park Road was covered with new housing, which removed much of the over crowding in the district.

Partridge Avenue today.

The rebuilding program resulted in many of the inhabitants of Park Road being re-housed.

In the early 1930s the Whitehouses moved to Berry Avenue, and were soon followed by the Flavells.

The Perrins family moved to Heathfield Lane West, as did the Lunns.

The new houses would have seemed like a palace when compared to the poor conditions in the old Victorian dwellings.

The old yard and the surrounding houses survived until the mid 1960's when they were demolished and replaced with the houses that are still there today. The area has changed beyond recognition and it’s now hard to imagine just what it was like only 80 years or so ago.

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