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A History of Ash Tree Road

Today, Ash Tree Road is a very different place to what it used to be, not only because of modifications to houses as they have changed over the centuries.

Ash Tree Road was once known by another name and within the street there were a number of thriving shops and businesses.  Ash Tree Road can be traced back to the late 1890's when it was known as New Street.

New Street was built upon land which once belonged to Richard Fryer (Pelsall Coal and Iron Company)

The land at the end of the road was known as Gorsewoods which is thought to have been the site of some of the earliest mining speculation in Pelsall.

Ash Tree Buildings and Ashcroft House marked the entrance to Ash Tree Road where two Ash trees once stood.

Ash Tree Road was originally a cul de sac.

In the early 1900's New Street was re named Ash Tree Road when the High Street became the new shopping area.

Although many of the original houses still exist in Ash Tree Road, many of the old houses were demolished years ago including a number of miners cottages which once stood where the car park is today, behind Geo. Turner & Sons. 

The houses were removed to make way for an ornamental garden which would have marked the end of the road.

During this time and certainly up until 1890, there were two gas lamps in Ash Tree Road, one in the middle of the road near to the gully leading to Chapel Street and the other at the top near the High Street.

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Photograph above courtesy of Mr Cowley

Mr and Mrs Cowley of 81 Ash Tree Road with their son

John George Cowley 

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Baptism Certificate above, courtesy of Mr Cowley

Back in the day, like many of the older streets in Pelsall, community spirit between the residents was very strong, even up until the 1970's where neighbours worked hard to build carnival floats for the years festivities.

Partaking in such traditions was something that folk from Ash Tree Road had always done.  

When I interviewed Mr Cowley (son of John George Cowley) about the history of Ash Tree Road, he was keen to share with me a photograph of himself standing to the right of the blackboard as a child on one of the Ash Tree Road carnival floats, as seen below.

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Photograph above courtesy of Mr Cowley

It is difficult to imagine what Ash Tree Road must have been like particularly now that the shops of Ash Tree Road no longer exist.

When I interviewed Mr Cowley back in 2004 he had wonderful recall about what Ash Tree Road used to be like and was able to remember all of the shops which once traded in Ash Tree Road and the flour mill which some readers may remember.  

Starting at the rear of Geo Tuner & Sons, there used to be Lunt's Printers, the building of which (Ash Tree House) still exists.

On the same side of the road and a little further up, there used to be a corn mill.  

Number 26 was Mrs Mason's, this was a general shop and coal yard.  Mrs Blakemore (who was known as Mrs but was a Miss) had a shop front at Number 47.

Number 48 was a general shop run by Mrs Dorset.  This shop was situated opposite to the gully leading to Chapel Street.

Dickie Hancox, the builder lived at Number 67.

John George Cowley, Mr Cowley's father, ran the cycle shop.

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Photograph above, courtesy of Mr Cowley

John George Cowley seen in the back garden of his home, 81 Ash Tree Road, Pelsall

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Ephemera above and below courtesy of Mr Cowley

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Photograph above courtesy of Mr Cowley

Pelsall Cycling Club is seen above, Jack is third from the left.  Jack Cowley was a very well known and highly respected cyclist who in his time completed a Lands End to John O'Groats tour.

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Tandem photographs above and below courtesy of Mr Cowley

Jack owned a tandem bicycle which became a familiar sight in and around the village.  His future wife and friends were always keen to use the tandem bicycle.  In later years, his wife also became a keen and competitive cyclist with the full support of her husband.

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Jack and his wife can be seen in the photograph below

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Mr Saunders was a coal merchant based at Number 88.  A few years after Mr Saunders finished, Jose Dunn was based there as a turf accountant and Mrs Elsie Fowkes and her daughter Mrs Audrey Cowley worked there.

In all there were 8 shops/businesses in Ash Tree Road at this time.

Street parties were also held in Ash Tree Road to mark special occasions, such as Coronations, Jubilee Carnivals and of course V E Day.  Again a good chance for the community of Ash Tree Road to get together and create some memorable times.

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     Street Party Photographs courtesy of Mr Cowley

          Mr Reynolds of 86, Mr Rowley of 83, Margaret Lloyd of 84 and            Mrs Reynolds

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Left from front: Violet Lever, Joyce Cooper, ?, Mrs Till (standing)

Right from front: Madge Cooper, Mr Cowley, Len Cooper, Jean Rose

Adults right from front: Mrs Miller, Mrs Morris, Mrs Blakemore, Margaret Lloyd, Mrs Kelly

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Left from front: Jean Lotwick, Jean Hancox, Cath Morris

Right from front: ?, Mary Cooper, Joyce Cooper

Adults right from front: Mrs Cooper, Mrs Broadhurst, Mrs Brown,           Mrs Blakemore, Miss Kelly

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Left from front: Mrs Morris, Mr Les Smith, Mrs Fellows (in the hat)

Right from front: Mrs Miller, Mrs Lever (with glasses), Mrs Cowley (next lady with glasses)

Mr Cowley was unable to name the men to the right, although he did believe that the man to the right from the front was a lorry driver for Mr Tonks of Walsall

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Carnival Float Photographs courtesy of Mr Cowley

Carnival floats prepared by and representing residents of Ash Tree Road continued into the 1970's.  The photographs above and below show The Cowboys and Indian Carnival Float from Ash Tree Road in the 1970's.

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The second float prepared at this time was Neptune and the Mermaids as seen below.

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If you recognise yourself in any of the photographs in this article and would like to share your memories, please drop me a line, myself and other readers would be delighted to hear from you.

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