18. Wolverhampton became a town of terror as the "Peel Street
Monster"roamed the Brickkiln Street area attacking children and attempting
to bite the throat of one pursuer.
attacks the monster was eventually tracked down by 17-year-old resident,
George Goodhead, who slew the "miniature monster" with a brick on
waste ground in Brickkiln Street after someone drew his attention
to a strange animal lurking nearby. "I went and saw a queer animal
, far too big for a rat, leaping towards a child about five-year-old,"
"I shouted and
the thing turned on me. It crouched, its eyes bulging, then it leaped
like lightning." George added that he had picked up a brick and
hit the male animal as hard as he could with it as it neared his
The animal lay
twitching in a pool of water and locals gathered round and kicked
it until it was dead. But the death of the monster raised another
mystery. What was it ?
taxidermists and vets were called in to identify the animal without
success. Someone suggested it could be an ant-eater.
confessed to being baffled and it was suggested that the creature
could become a serious rival to the Loch Ness Monster.
But the mystery
did not rest there. Within 24 hours of the slaying a second monster
- a female - was found dead in the Brickkiln-Croft area and was
this time identified as a coatimundi, a tree-climbing animal of
the racoon type from South America.
And fresh fears
arose in Wolverhampton as rumours spread that there may be a colony
of the creaturs hiding in partly closed cellars.
people gathered in Salop Street to watch council workers trying
to ascertain if a colony of the creatures were hiding there.
The crowds were
so great they hampered the efforts of the official rat-catcher.
In the search, weapons brought in to confront any coatimundis found
included poison gas, traps, sulphur terriers and ferrets.
It was uncertain
whether the ferrets were to be used following a suggestion that
they might form part of the coatimundi diet.
later that they believed there were no more coatimundis in the area
- but the origin of those found remained a mystery.
TV - it will
never catch on!
In 1934. Robert Lampitt took an old electric motor, a sheet of plywood
and his mum's flat iron to assemble what was probably the first
hand-built TV in the Black Country. In the mid-nineties Mr Lampitt,
by then a pensioner, couldn't help chuckling about how different
the world was in those pioneering days.
In an interview
with Express & Star writer, Peter Rhodes, he recalled a human face,
looking alarmingly like the Turin Shroud, appearing fuzzily in the
lens of his home-made TV at his Wolverhampton home. Television had
arrived in the Black Country. But the then young inventor didn't
recall being aware of witnessing the future. "I remember people
saying it would never catch on and was a waste of money - but they
said the same about cars," he said. Mr Lampitt's 1934 TV model was
eventually handed over to the Science Museum in London.
scene at the lock tragedy with
inset pictures of, from left, Martha Tonks, George Pritchard &
A Black Country tragedy:
The Black Country was shocked by news of a double-tragedy in which
a man and a woman died in a canal while returning home from a New
Year's Eve party. Martha Tonks, aged 20, fell into the canal at
Wednesfield lock in thick fog. Her companion, George Pritchard,
aged 19, heroically dived to the rescue - but both drowned.
A witness, Gertrude
Robinson, described what happened. "Suddenly I saw Martha take a
step and disappear into the fog. I couldn't see anything, but I
heard Martha cry out," she went on. Miss Robinson said George announced
he was going in after her, tore off his coat and plunged into the
water. All the time Martha was crying out. She said that the fog
hampered police bids to find the couple a short while after the
incident. "When they did find Martha and George Pritchard, it was
too late," added Miss Robinson.
coati . . .
so much a coati as a coat hunt going on in the advertisement above
from Willsons of Dudley Street Wolverhampton in 1934 - although
there looks to be fur aplenty available.
Below is the
usual message to the DIY brigade - fix your place up before the
weather turns bad. "It's wise to paint with White Lead Paint" said
the ad . . . although experts might disagree these days.