Our Century

Were they just tougher?

Fred TreadwellHow did folk cope in those days before antibiotics? Maybe people were born tougher.

It was 1925 when Fred Treadwell, picture right, a furnace bricklayer and navvie from West Bromwich, lost his thumb when the drive belt flew off a machine.

"He walked to the first-aid station," recalls his daughter, Frances Davies of Wall Heath. "Even though it was very traumatic, he didn't even realise what had happened.

"He was taken to Manor Hospital in Walsall where septicemia set in. The doctors wanted to amputate his whole arm but he wouldn't let them. The septicemia stopped at his arm pit. His body cured itself."

Later, young Fred received 150 compensation, a small fortune in those days.

"He was so proud," says his daughter. "The money meant he could pay off his mother's rent arrears of 5 - and buy her a new hat."

Fred Treadwell lived a hale and hearty life. He died in 1996, aged 91.

Scheme to house miners: In order to cope with the increasing number of miners working in the Cannock Chase coalfields, a project was put forward in January to build 1,100 houses for them to live in near their work.

The three local authorities at Cannock and Brownwhills concerned with the plan said they had sufficient applications from people in their areas to fill this number of houses.

It was revealed that there were at least 2,500 miners employed in the Chase district who had to travel to their work from nearby towns.

In the case of the Littleton Collieries at Huntington, some of the workmen had to to travel about 20 miles from the Stourbridge and Kingswinford districts.

One colliery had launched schemes in the past year for the building of l54 houses for their workmen of which 100 were reported to have to have already been completed.

Molineux Street Terrace collapses
A famous moment in Wolves' history came when the Molineux Street terrace covering was uprooted by a January gale. It was the second time the covering had been lifted. It had been moved from the Waterloo Road side a few months earlier following the building of the club's new main stand.

Hair today, gone tomorrow . . . West Midlands fashion conscious women were being given the hair-raising warning by their hairdressers in February that smoking while having their hair done was very unwise.

The warning came followed the news that five women in Paris had been burned to death while smoking and having their hair dressed at the same time. As a result, ether in the preparation of shampoo and hair wash was banned.

Charleston fever! Dance-crazy West Midlanders embraced with gusto the challenge of the step that scandalised America and was now rocking Britain - The Charleston.

From Birmingham to Brewood the dancers were stepping out to the jazz and ragtime beat the new dance represented.

Young women loved it because they could be themselves and kick out the image of stiflingly-respectable womanhood.

And the men loved it because they could see the girls legs in daringly short skirts.

It was the age of the flapper - wild young things who wanted to party.

Tea? They should cocoa . . . The great tea versus cocoa row in the Midlands reached national proportions in February when the Ministry of Health was called in to decide whether sick tramps up and down the country should be served cocoa or tea on the wards.

The tramps in Stafforshire complained that they had been deprived of a drink of tea on the casualty wards and had to sip cocoa instead.

As a result of the vagrants complaints a woman who had the cause of the casuals at heart, took up the cudgel on their behalf. She became an inmate in the tramps wards to test out the wayfarers theory that drinking tea does not leave tramps so thirsty as cocoa does. Afterward she appealed to the Poor-Law Authorities to take action in the tea tussle.

The Staffordshire Joint Vagrants Committee decided to bring in the Ministry of Health on the issue. They wanted the sanctioning of the addition of tea to the supper and breakfast diet of the casuals.

The Ministry of Health agreed to the proposals. At a subsequent meeting the Secretary of the Joint Staffordshire Committee reported the Ministry's decision.

The secretary then asked all the joint vagrancy comittees in the country to give the casuals the boon of their favourite treat.

Leonard Jackson
The house in Upper Villiers Street holds many fond memories for me...