Historical studies

The Agenoria of the Kingswinford Railway

This page contains information on various historical studies I have carried out over the past few years, on Black Country and wider Midlands history. It will be appreciated that this is not my main discipline and I am very much an interested amateur in this field. I have three particular areas of interest.

This page also contains links to blog posts and presentations in this area, and links to a small number of published articles.

Historical Studies blog posts

Kingswinford, Pensnett and the Black Country

Lichfield and surroundings

  • Lichfield’s First Station Master. A post that follows on from my posts on Lichfield Trent Valley Railway Station of September 28th and November 28th 2020, that looks at the career of Lichfield’s first Station Master, William Durrad. (January 15th 2021)
  • The St. Michael Chalice of 1684. A very brief blog post with a photograph of a 1684 communion chalice from St Michael’s Lichfield, sold in the 1850s to pay for something more modern. (December 30th 2020)
  • A historical curiosity – Fog Cottages. A brief post looking at the origins of the name of two rows of cottages at Lichfield Trent Valley and Rugeley Trent Valley stations. (November 3rd 2020)
  • Lichfield Trent Valley 1847-1871. A look at one the earliest railway stations in the Lichfield area. (September 28th 2020)
  • A study of the ancient prebends of Lichfield Cathedral. A post that uses information from the Staffordshire tithe maps in an attempt to recreate the early geography of the Lichfield area. (August 12th 2020)
  • The Staffordshire Tithe Maps. An introduction to future posts that will look at what the recently uploaded Staffordshire Tithe Maps can tell us about the Lichfield area. (August 12th 2020)
  • St Michael’s, Lichfield in the 19thcentury – an examination of the baptismal, marriage and burial registers for the church across the century. (June 17th 2020)
  • St Michael’s church, Lichfield – Landscape, Topography and Archaeology St Michael’s church in Lichfield is an ancient church site. This post brings together archaeological and historical material that enables the development of the site to be better appreciated. (April 12th 2020)
  • “That way madness lies” – the search for solar alignments in Lichfield The city of Lichfield lies on a rough midwinter solar alignment with the Bronze Age site at Catholme. This post investigates this further to see if this alignment is intentional or merely accidental. (April 12th 2020)

General

  • The legacy of slavery on the railways. A contribution to an ongoing debate concerning the use of slave-compensation money as railway capital in the early days of the network. (July 8th 2020)
  • Climate and plague – some thoughts on the effect of climate and plague on the development of the English kingdoms in late antiquity. (June 30th 2020)
  • More on the Tribal Hidage – a brief consideration of some issues associated with this enigmatic document. (June 30th 2020)
  • The Seisdon anomaly – a brief post addressing the issue of why Seisdon hundred, on a tributary of the Severn rather than the Trent, was incorporated into early Mercia. (June 30th 2020)
  • A policeman’s life – Samuel Hicklin (1858-1924) I first came across Constable Samuel Hicklin when I was putting together a picture of life in the Black Country Village of Pensnett in 1881 for Chapter 9 of Kingswinford Manor and Parish (KMAP). His name cropped up regularly in the newspapers of the period, mainly in the context of bringing those accused of being drunk and disorderly to court, but also occasionally for more substantial misdemeanors. At that time, I did a quick check on the rest of his career through various web sites, and it was clear that after he left Pensnett, he rose through the police force to a high level in the Staffordshire Constabulary. I remarked in KMAP that his story remained to be told. These three linked blog posts are an attempt to do just that. I hope readers find it an interesting story. In some ways it tells a very mundane story of police life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which is nonetheless punctuated by major incidents and cases that would be worthy of a crime novelist. A video presentation based on these posts is included below. (May 28th 2020)
    • Part 1 – A (very) young constableThis post follows Hicklin from his childhood in Marston-on-Dove through his first postings as a Constable in the Staffordshire constabulary in Tividale and Pensnett in the 1870s and 1880s, which mainly involved dealing with drunks and other minor crime. During this period he was seriously assaulted at a pub in Bromley.
    • Part 2 – Climbing the ladder  – from Sergeant to Superintendent. Hicklin moved up the career ladder as a sergeant at Bidulph in 1885, Inspector at Burton on Trent and Tipton, and as Superintendent back at Burton by 1896. He dealt with a wide range of crimes – from the minor to the major, including severable notable murder cases. 
    • Part 3 – Chief Superintendent HicklinHe reached the highest rank that was open to him by becoming a Chief Superintendent and head of one of the three districts in the Staffordshire Constabulary in 1907. He was based first at Burslem, where he had to deal with the policing of miner’s strikes, and then later at Leek. He died in 1924, still in service.
  • The oldest world record – Robert Percival’s 1881 cricket ball throw This post describes what is possibly the oldest world record in sport, from both a historical and a technical perspective. (May 18th 2020)
  • Some thoughts on Family Tree studies The joys and frustrations of family history. (March 29th 2020)

Historical Studies papers and articles

Some material from Kingswinford Manor and Parish have been published elsewhere. These are not available on the web, so pre-publication copies are included at the links below.

Historical Studies presentations

This presentation looks at the oldest world sporting record – that for throwing the cricket ball that dates back to 1882. Although it was originally written for a group of academic aerodynamicists and contains a little technical material, it should also be of interest to historians of sport, and to those who are simply interested in cricket. A written version is given in the blog post The oldest world record – Robert Percival’s 1881 cricket ball throw

This presentation tells the story of events in the Black Country village of Pensnett in the 1860s and 1870s that caused a considerable scandal in the locality and led to a nationally reported like trial. It should be of interest both to Black County historians and more widely to those who like a good story. It is based on Chapter 8 of “Kingwsinford Manor and Parish,

The presentation in this video describes two maps that were made of the parish of the Kingswinford, at the western edge of the Black Country, in 1822 and 1840 by the firm W Fowler and Co.. These very detailed maps, and their equally detailed Books of Reference, give a great deal of information concerning the nature and development of the parish and its people in the first half of the nineteenth century. It should be of interest to historians of the Black Country and to those investigating family history in the area. The presentation is based on Chapters 4 and 5 of “Kingswinford Manor and Parish”.

A policeman’s life – Samuel Hicklin (1858-1924). This presentation is based on the three blog posts listed above that describe the remarkable life of Sam Hicklin, the son of a farm labourer who was to progress to the highest ranks of the Staffordshire Constabulary .