Holidays at Great Bridge —Early 1920s (Volume 12,2) by C. J. B. Dodd

Updated: Jun 11

In these days of airport chaos what could be better than a staycation in the Black Country? This was certainly the case in the 1920s when the destination of choice for the children of one family was Great Bridge!

This article was selected from the extensive Blackcountryman magazine archive which is free to all members

Great Bridge (from The Annals of Tipton)

Although not exactly the Costa Brava, my holidays at Great Bridge in the early 20s gave me as much pleasure as any seaside holiday, then or now.

We lived at Stafford, but my mother was a 'Smith' (an appropriate name for the daughter of a chainmaker!). She was born at New Street, Great Bridge, Grandfather, whom I never knew, was Bayley Taylor Smith, and there was always an air of mystery regarding his surname-sounding Christian names. I understand from cousins that the Bayley had distant origins with illegitimate connections, with no less a person than William Pitt The Younger! I have never been quite sure whether this family skeleton should be let out of the cupboard, but I suspect that if we all delve into our roots, some slip ups will be revealed.

To return to holidays, it was general custom in my childhood days that for economic reasons, children of large families should spend their summer holidays with relatives having children of the same age. I have happy recollections of playing on the slag heaps, walking along the canal banks and swimming in the marl holes (very dangerous and strictly forbidden); it was sheer enjoyment on days when the sun always seemed to shine.

There was rain of course and as the memories return, adult reasonings explain some of the curious circumstances which, as a child, I accepted at their face value. Uncle Tom (Smith) imagined and behaved as if he was a cut above his contemporaries. He was a rent collector, not an envious job in any age, and I suppose he was feared and often despised by many when the vast majority of people were tenants.