Gerald Phillips,

Chapel Street, Pelsall

     Mr Gerald Phillips and his niece                            Gerald's wife, Mrs Phillips

When Gerald Phillips was mentioned on Your Page back in October 2002, Mrs Parsons contacted me almost immediately, Mr Gerald Phillips was her uncle.

The following is how Mrs Parsons remembered her uncle.

Mr Gerald Phillips was born in 1888.

When he was about eight years old he had an accident which was to change the course of his whole life.

Whilst playing with a group of friends, a bottle was smashed and glass went in Gerald's eyes.  The worst affected eye could not be saved and had to be removed.

By the age of 14, his other eye had deteriorated such that he had become completely blind.

At the age of 15 Gerald left Pelsall to study at the College for Blind in Exeter.  There he learned many skills.  He learned how to basket weave, to carve wood and to tune piano's, which in particular was to make a huge impact on his life.  Back in the day, when the name Gerald Phillips was mentioned, the usual reply would be, 'Oh yes! The piano tuner.'

Once he had completed his studies at the College, Gerald returned to Pelsall.

Despite his disability, Gerald was keen to use his education and quickly put to practise his expertise in piano tuning.

Mrs Parsons recalled how her father used to take Gerald to tune piano's - he was very much in demand in his time.

Gerald did not always depend on friends and relatives to take him out of or around Pelsall to tune pianos, Gerald also used to catch the bus.

Mr Phillips was a very resourceful man particularly when it came down to work.

Mrs Parsons remembered how when she was a child, he and she would go to jumble sales purposely looking for felt hats, not to wear of course, but to make use of.

Once purchased, Mr Phillips could begin to increase stocks in his repair kit. 

He had two different sized punches which he used to stamp out washers from old felt hats.  Mrs Parsons recalled helping him by collecting up the washers and threading them on string.  These felt washers were to be used for piano hammers.

Mr Phillips was an outstanding craftsman in his trade.  He could fully disassemble then put back together the entirety of a piano's workings forthwith, which, I was told was and extremely complicated task for a person with sight.

Mr and Mrs Phillips lived in the house with the large gateway as seen above.

Apart from his work, in which he took great pride, Mr Phillips enjoyed a variety of pastimes.   As a child and before he became blind, Mr Phillips had always enjoyed wood carving.  In his spare time he continued this hobby and excelled in it.  His exceptional talent was even reported on in the local press.

He carved a whole host of different articles, however, the most often quoted was that of a wooden chain, which I was told was unbelievable.

One curious carving which Mrs Parsons was keen to show me is seen below.

Mr Phillips was also particularly fond of the radio.  He liked listening to the local news and enjoyed listening to football and cricket results.

Gerald also grew roses in his garden and greatly enjoyed their scent and loved to hear them being described to him.  When going out he always insisted on a button hole, which again, his niece would help him with, by choosing the best of the crop.

To ensure its longevity as a button hole, Mr Philips had a very special button hole pin in which he put a drop of water for the rose.

Mr Phillips lived a very happy and fulfilled life and was often referred to as a gentleman by those who knew him and was greatly respected by those who did not.

Above, one of Gerald's many ornamental wooden carvings, courtesy of Mrs Parsons