Category Archives: Crime

New public talk investigates history of Walsall’s coroner

Paul Ford of Walsall Local History Centre.
Paul Ford of Walsall Local History Centre.

What is the history of the Walsall coroner? For that matter, what does a coroner actually do?

Walsall residents can now find out at the town’s Local History Centre in Essex Street, courtesy of a new talk by Archivist Paul Ford.

Using some of the coroner’s old case files from the early 1900s, Paul plans to reveal how these fascinating and rarely-seen documents which are preserved at the centre can be a source of both family and local history.

Paul Ford said: “How did Walsall Police try to identify the mysterious lady discovered floating in the canal at the Pleck in 1915 – the main clue being two tram tickets from Bristol that are still in the case papers? And how did Ryecroft and Walsall rally round a mother after a military aircraft crashed into her garden in Brewer St, killing her family? All this and more can be found in the coroner’s files.”

The talk takes place on Monday 7 November, 7.30pm – 9pm and is repeated on Friday 18 November 2.30pm – 4pm. Admission costs just £1.50.  Advance booking is essential, telephone 01922 721305.

Walsall Local History Centre is the Archives & Local Studies service for the Walsall borough.

For more information call in, telephone 01922 721305 or check out the centre’s website: http://www.walsall.gov.uk/localhistorycentre

Walsall Local History Centre is in Essex Street, Walsall WS2 7AS.

Beware fly-tipping conmen in Bloxwich and Brownhills

Fly-tipping in London (Wikipedia).
Fly-tipping in London (Wikipedia).

Residents are being urged to beware of conmen who have been door knocking and offering to professionally dispose of residents’ rubbish and then illegally dumping it.

The latest incidents of men knocking on doors and offering to dump people’s waste legally for a fee has occurred in both the Bloxwich and Brownhills areas. Continue reading Beware fly-tipping conmen in Bloxwich and Brownhills

Warning on vehicle security

West Midlands Police logoBusinesses and residents in the Bloxwich area are being advised by West Midlands Police to check their vehicle security after a small increase in thefts from vehicles on and around Bloxwich High Street, with insecure vehicles being targeted.

Kevin Pitt, Community Partnerships Officer at Walsall Police Station, said “Shops and businesses, please ensure that vehicles are properly locked, and no property left on show, even if left for just a short period.  Residents, if you are shopping in the area please be vigilant for suspicious activity and if you see a vehicle (especially delivery vehicles) left insecure help us by reminding the driver that their vehicle is at risk.”

Leamore death mystery man named

Police and fire services at the scene of the tragic incident in Leamore (Pix: Stuart Williams)

POLICE in Walsall have today named a man whose body was found at a fire in Bloxwich Road, Leamore.

Gary Ford of Bloxwich, 32, was discovered when police and fire-fighters were called to the blaze on open ground (formerly The Butler’s Arms) at the rear of Somerfield’s Supermarket/Texaco Pertrol Station at around 6pm during the early evening of Wednesday 4 May.

Mr Ford had suffered serious burns, but a post mortem to determine the precise cause of death has proved inconclusive. Further forensic tests are now to be carried out.

At this stage, detectives are continuing to treat his death as unexplained and are making a fresh appeal for witnesses and information to throw light on the circumstances surrounding Mr Ford’s death.

The scene of the crime: site of the now-demolished Butlers Arms Detective Inspector Bob Bradford, from Force CID, said: “It is not yet clear exactly how Mr Ford died or whether there is any criminality involved either in his death or the cause of the fire.

“However, it is a matter of fact that he was badly burned and that we are still trying to gain a clearer picture of both his personal background and what happened.

“It is important to the inquiry for anyone with information to come forward. The scene of the fire is just off Bloxwich Road, which is a busy route and would have had a fair number of motorists using it at around 6pm on Wednesday.

“We are also keen to trace three youths or young men who were walking along the pavement adjacent to the scene at around 6pm to 6:15pm. They may well have seen something significant and we would stress that they could be vital witnesses.

Anyone with information should contact Force CID at Bloxwich by ringing 0345 113 5000 or calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Our first report may be found here.

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Leamore death mystery

Police and fire services at yesterday’s tragic incident in Leamore (Pic: Stuart Williams)

SEE ALSO UPDATE BELOW

For the second time in recent months, the centre of Leamore has been cordoned off due to a fire.  Sadly, on this occasion, the incident appears to have also involved a mysterious death.

Yesterday evening, at around 6pm Walsall police and fire services were called to the site of the former Butlers Arms, on the corner of Harden Road and Bloxwich Road, Leamore, which is at the rear of Somerfields Market and petrol station.

The body of a man, as yet unidentified, was found on fenced-off land which has been waiting for redevelopment since the Butlers Arms was demolished several years ago.  A fire appears to have been set close to or against the wall of Somerfield’s, which backs onto the land. The death is being treated as unexplained at this stage.

Back in March a fire was deliberately set at the closed Black Horse pub just on the opposite corner.  That act of arson did not result in death or injury and its perpetrators have never been brought to justice.

The latest incident, for the time being, also remains a mystery. There is no suggestion of a link between the two fires.  The Coroner has been informed and the scene remains cordoned off for forensic investigations.

A post mortem is due to take place today to establish the cause of death.

Police and fire services on the scene this morning  

Det Insp Tom Chisholm from Force CID said: “Detectives are continuing to work with the fire service to establish the cause of the fire, as well as the cause of death.

“Forensic scene investigators have been working at the scene to gather evidence and we have detectives conducting further enquiries in the area today.

“If anyone has any information I would ask that they get in touch with police.”

Anybody who witnessed the incident is asked to contact Force CID at Bloxwich on 0345 113 5000 or call Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555 111.”

The site was due to reopen at 9.30am today.

UPDATED 6 May 2011

Police in Walsall are continuing their investigation into the above case. The man, who has still to be identified, had suffered serious burns but a post mortem to determine the precise cause of death has proved inconclusive. Further forensic tests are now to be carried out.

At this stage, detectives are continuing to treat the death as unexplained and are making a fresh appeal for witnesses and information to throw light on the circumstances surrounding the man’s death.

Det Insp Bob Bradford from Force CID said: “It is not yet clear exactly how this man died or whether there is any criminality involved either in his death or the cause of the fire.

“However, it is a matter of fact that he was badly burned and that we are still trying to identify him and trace his family so that we can gain a clearer picture of both his personal background and what happened.

“It is important to the inquiry for anyone with information to come forward. The scene of the fire is just off Bloxwich Road, which is a busy route and would have had a fair number of motorists using it at around 6pm on Wednesday.

“We are also keen to trace three youths or young men who were walking along the pavement adjacent to the scene at around 6pm to 6:15pm. They may well have seen something significant and we would stress that they could be vital witnesses.

“I would appeal to them, and indeed anyone with information, to contact Force CID at Bloxwich by ringing 0345 113 5000 or calling Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555 111.”back to top

Blaze ravages historic Leamore pub

Black Horse burning: emergency services surround the scene of the blaze (Pic courtesy Craig Smith)

Emergency services were called to an historic pub in Leamore, near Bloxwich, on Wednesday evening when a blaze was reported. From around 6pm for about two hours, the centre of Leamore was sealed off by police cars, and buses to Walsall were being diverted down Harden Road, causing tailbacks and confusion.

According to first local reports, a large fire had taken hold on the first floor of The Black Horse, on the corner of Bloxwich Road and Harden Road, and a man was believed to be inside the building at the time.

It is now possible (17/3/2011) however to confirm that in fact there was no person or animal involved in the fire, and that the person initially suspected of being a victim is in fact in prison.  The blaze, we now know, was certainly the result of intruders breaking into the upstairs bedroom of the building and deliberately setting fire to the residential area of the pub at around 6pm.

The incident was attended by at least two arson investigation and fire vans, together with three fire engines and three Walsall police cars who cordoned off the danger area, diverting traffic. Most of the damage to the building is inside, and the roof appears from external observation to be intact.  Burnt furniture is visible on a flat roofed extension at the rear. Entrances have now been sealed with padlocks.

The Black Horse, a classic Edwardian pub that has seen better days since being built around 1900, has been closed since mid-2010, a victim of the economic downturn which has shut so many pubs in Bloxwich and Walsall over the past few years.  The building is of historical interest but probably due to alterations is only on the Local List, which does not offer the more substantial protections afforded Statutory Listed Buildings.

The once-popular watering hole is the second closed historic pub to suffer a fiery fate in recent months; The Bull’s Head in Park Road, Bloxwich, the second pub of that name on the site and dating back to the late 1920s, was destroyed by fire in suspicious circumstances, having been broken into over the Bonfire Night weekend last November.

Only one pub now remains open in Leamore – the 1960s-built Railway Inn.

Our thanks to Josh Williams of Bloxwich for background information and Craig Smith for the photo above. Also to West Midlands Fire Service and Walsall Express & Star for updated information.

Photos taken the day after the fire may be viewed on Flickr here.

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