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    Cradley Links

    Hello. I am Nigel Brown, born in Cradley within a few hundred yards of the birthplaces of my mother, her parents, their parents, and most of theirs too.

    Nigel Brown as a boy

    I am the result of a Londoner coming to the Black Country after being de-mobbed at Cosford Aerodrome, near Wolverhampton, at the end of the Second World War. My father met my mother on a blind date under the clock at Snow Hill Station in Birmingham in January 1946 and the rest, as they say, is history. They married in September 1946 and I came along in 1950.

    I went to Colley Lane Primary School in 1955 and later to Halesowen Grammar School (1961-1968), a 1½ d. (old pennies) bus ride away. I was surrounded by my extended Cradley family, and had a summer seaside holiday most years at Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, where my other grandparents had moved to from London in the 1930s. My Cradley family was centred on the Rayboulds, who seemed to be in every street in Cradley. My mother's mother was one of 10 children and my mother's father was one of 11 children, so although I was an only child I had countless second cousins.

    I left Cradley at the age of 18, in 1968, returning to live in Dudley 11 years later, and now live in Wolverhampton, where I am in exile from the Black Country. My ties to and interest in Cradley were never lost, and are now stronger than ever. I have family and friends in Cradley, am a member of the Cradley Then & Now group and The Black Country Society.

    I started researching my family tree when my youngest daughter Ele went off to university, leaving me with some time on my hands - at last!"

    Amongst the thousands of discoveries I have made are the facts that three other children in my class at Colley Lane schools are related to me, as are a number of childhood friends. I have no doubt that more will be added as my family tree becomes more like a "Cradley tree" all the time. One of my great grandmothers was Mary Ann Attwood, and I have traced her family back to her great, great grandparents, William Attwood and Elizabeth, who were in Cradley from at least about 1730. Mary Ann was named after her father's sister, who was widowed at the age of 43 with ten children, and she took them to New Zealand in the mid-1880s. I have made contact with some of her descendants.

    The discovery of a whole tribe of "cousins" on the other side of the world is surely as exciting for us as someone "over there" tracing their roots back in "Old England". I should add that the greatest family historian for me is my mum, Winnie Brown formerly Pearce, now in her 81st year. Her memory of her childhood in Cradley, and seemingly of everything that her mother told her, is remarkable.

    The idea for developing this web site is an old one, and in a fit of activity I registered a domain name. I know that amongst my family and friends I have a reputation for not getting around to doing things and, inevitably, the design and content of the site stayed in my head for most of the next 12 months.

    Finally, I was prompted to start when when I found someone else about to do exactly the same thing. I contacted him to say "Me too!", and straightaway we decided to collaborate on this project.

    So here it is. We look forward to your comments and contributions.

    Nigel Brown May 2001

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