Memories of Madeley — Brenda Brown (formerly Cain)

Brenda’s Dad, William Cain, Manager of Madeley Wood Colliery 1948-52, in a photo from the early 1950s. It shows a diesel loco being lowered down one of the Kemberton shafts at Madeley Wood Colliery.

Click the photo to enlarge it.

Mr Cain appears third from right, wearing a Trilby hat.

Brenda wrote from Carlsbad, California, and told us about her memories of Madeley:

Thank you for your response re. my father, William Cain. I think my fondest memory of Madeley is that I was regularly sent to the little baker’s shop near the cross-roads to buy a loaf of freshly-baked bread.

However, while walking home with the tissue paper wrapped loosely around the loaf, I would start to pick at it. By the time I got home, often the only thing left was the shell of the loaf, because I had eaten the inside. My mother would then have to send me back to the shop to buy another loaf, and my reward would be some of their pink sherbert, which I loved.

It is interesting: one of the photographs I printed out off your website showed a photo of a group of workers at Kemberton pit. They were Jack Guy, Jack Harris, R. Cartwright, ?, T. Martin, W. OSWELL, and C. Childs. While we lived at Tweedale Lodge, we had a handyman named “Oswell”. He used to drive my father’s car, do the gardening, and take my mother shopping. I wonder if this is the same man? I believe he lived in Dawley, but he was obviously retired when we lived in Madeley. I know he had been a miner (hadn’t everyone?), but it is possible he is the same person.

I used to ride horses at the school run by Dr. Mitchell’s daughter. One day, we were out in the country not far from the riding school, when my horse bolted, I was thrown just short of a duck pond, and cut my head really badly. Dr. Mitchell was out to our house to stitch the wound immediately (and I still have the scar).

I also remember going to the little school in Madeley, and sweet rationing was still in effect. I remember going to a kid’s birthday party on that street just along from the school, and we had to take our own cup, spoon, and fork. Days were hard then. The lady who used to help my Mum in the house lived in that row of small houses by the school – her name was Mrs. Jones (pretty insignificant, eh?).

After my Dad hurt his back in a rock fall, he had to retire from Madeley Wood and we moved to Burntwood in Staffordshire. He worked at the National Coal Board Offices in Allport Street, Cannock, until he retired several years later. I also worked at those offices. It was my first job in 1957 and I stayed there until I married in 1963 and went to live in Brazil for two years.

I was over in England last September with my husband, and my cousins from Hednesford took us to the Spread Eagle at Gailey Corner for a meal. I believe that is on the way to Shifnal and then Madeley Wood came after. I still have family in the Staffordshire area, which is where we stay when we visit England about every five years.

My Dad’s sister was Helen Cain, and she was a singer who used to go round entertaining the service men at the barracks after the war. When we stopped in Alveley five years ago to ask a man who was gardening how we could find the bridge my Dad had designed at Alveley, the man knew my Dad, used to sing with my Aunt, and said to me, “You must be Brenda”!! Isn’t that amazing? We left that area in 1946, and this was 1995!

I would be extremely pleased to receive any photos or stories about my Dad. He passed away in 1975, incidentally. I still have the barometer which was presented to him by the Rescue Team at Highley Colliery in 1947. It takes pride of place on the wall in my hallway. However, it is pushed to cope with the high temperatures we get here every day!

Thanks again.
Brenda Brown