Losing my Fred – F.W. Hackwood

I’m presuming this was written shortly after his death? So about 1926

Losing my Fred.

Frederick William Hackwood
Born : April 18th 1851, Wednesbury
Died : December 4th 1926, Balham

All about the life of a great WEDNESBURY HISTORIAN

Early in life he showed a taste for literary pursuits, and adopted the scholastic profession.
When only 17 years of age he gained a special prize, offered by Lord Harrowby, through the South Staffordshire Association for Promoting Adult Education, for an essay on “The Evidences of Christianity.”
He went to Saltley Training College for Teachers in the early seventies, and at the conclusion of his studies returned to Wednesbury as headmaster of St. Bartholomew’s Parish Church Schools, a position which he held for some years.
He then took up an appointment under the Birmingham Education Authority, first at Dudley Road Board School and afterwards at the Benson Road Council Schools, holding the latter for some 30 years, until his retirement about ten years ago.

He was a keen educationist, and in Birmigham his gifts had a wide scope for expression.He was very happy in his scholastic career and proud of his many old scholars, who visited him and wrote to him almost to his closing days. Many of them made a distinguished mark in the world, which they say was due to his teaching and example.


Although his professional duties were carried on in Birmingham, for many years he worked with zeal for his native town, and was one of those actively associated with the endeavour to get a Charter of Incorporation for the town, and the natural desire of the inhabitants for the highest form of municipal life appealed to him very much.
In the official shorthand note of enquiry held by the Hon. H. P. Pelham, it was stated by the late Mr. Joseph Smith, clerk to the local Board who presented the case to the Commissioner, “it is a movement with which the names of Mr. Charles Southern and Mr. Frederick William Hackwood will always be honourably associated.”

As a result of this movement an influential requisition was presented to the chairman of the Local Board to convene a town’s meeting, and at that gathering it was unanimously resolved that a petition for the incorporation of Wednesbury should be presented to the Privy Council, the late Alderman Wilson Lloyd moving the resolution and the late Alderman Isaac Griffiths seconding it.
It will give some idea of the financial position of the town in those days – this was in 1885 – if it is mentioned that the outstanding loans only amounted to £28,000.
The petition was successful, and Wednesbury became a municipal borough.

Mr. Hackwood put up as an Independent Radical at the first Municipal Election in 1886, but was defeated, being returned unopposed however in the following year, and he remained a member of the Council for about six years.

In those days he lived in Bridge Street, but in consequence of a subterranean fire which broke out in the Mounts, he left the house and went to live at Handsworth, where he resided for some years prior to going to London.
During the time he was on the Council he was chairman of the Free Library Committee, after the late Alderman Williams has relinquished that position.


Following on the incorporation of the town Mr. Hackwood was mainly, if not solely, instrumental in urging the application for a separate Commission of the Peace for the Borough, and although at first unsuccessful the application was ultimately granted, he being among the first 16 magistrates to be appointed in 1893, three of whom only now survive – Alderman Sir A. E. Pritchard, Mr. Charles Southern, and Alderman C. W. D. Joynson. To Mr. Hackwood must be given the credit of carrying this scheme through.
Mr. Hackwood during his association with the public life of the town, supported with alacrity, along with others, the question of providing a park for Wednesbury, although it is only fair to state that the scheme was conceived by the “Midland Advertiser” and as set forth in three of four articles at that time, was eventually adopted by the town.


In 1884 he set to work and formed the Wednesbury Institute, performing the secretarial duties for many years and was responsible for securing the services of a number of eminent men as presidents and lecturers, thus making the organisation a highly successful one, and bringing lustre to the town.
Later on he was responsible for the establishment of a Horticultural Society in the town, but through various reasons only one show was held, this being in August, 1888.

He was also one of the originators, over 40 years ago, of the Wednesbury Shakespearean Amateur Dramatics Club. The members used to meet at each other’s house once a month to read and discuss one of Shakespeare’s plays.
On two occasions they gave public performances on behalf of charity, and among those now alive who were connected with the club are Mr. S. J. Gittos, Mr. E. M. Scott and Mr. B. C. Knowles.

He was also chairman of the Subscription Library, of which he was the chief originator, and which still exists.
In 1886 he interested himself in the question of re-afforestation, and the beautifying of the Black Country by the compulsory cultivation of colliary waste lands, and Mr. Bradlaugh, the member for Northampton, consented to the embodiment of the proposals in his Land Cultivation Bill, but the Bill was withdrawn and the whole matter fell through.
A Liberal in politics Mr. Hackwood took a keen part in Parliamentary elections, assisting the Hon. Phillip Stanhope when he was returned for Wednesbury.


In his younger days Mr.Hackwood took a great interest in sport, particularly football, and it was largely due to his efforts that Association Football was introduced into the Midlands some 53 years ago.
When at Saltley College he was connected with such pioneers of the game and famous players as T. C. Slaney, of Stoke ; T. M. T. Bryan, Wednesbury ; W, Dodsworth and John Adams, of Walsall Town (the later of whom eventually became headmaster of the Dudley Road Board School after Mr. Hackwood), and J.W. Knight, of the Wednesbury Old Athletic.

He was the founder and first secretary of the Wednesbury Strollers, and it might be of interest to record the list of those who first played, They were : Sam Tranter (goal), E. M. Scott, B. C. Knowles, A, Harvey, Eli Davies, Dan Tonks, Joe Sutton, Job Edwards, G. R. Knowles, A. Tonks, J. Duce, and Tom Bryan.
This was about the year 1874, and, of course, later on Mr. Hackwood played himself.

He continued his association with the game until 1882, but as he considered that the entering of the professional element had caused it to lose its prestige he severed his connection with it, and gave up his position with the Wednesbury Strollers.

Mr. Hackwood was a Freemason, and for many years occupied the position of secretary of the St. Bartholomew’s Lodge, Wednesbury.

In 1874 he married the daughter of the late Mr. James Simkin, and they had one son and one daughter, and much sympathy will be manifested with the family in the loss they have sustained.


As an author Mr. Hackwood was widely known, while as an historian and antiquarian he was looked upon as an authority.
He was a member of the William Salt Archaeological Society, and an elected fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He was a frequent contributor to periodicals, and in the early days of the “Wednesbury Advertiser” was one of its most effective correspondents.
For many years he also contributed weekly articles to the “Midland Advertiser and Wednesbury Boro’ News,” over the pen names of “Old Woden” and “Muz”.
He also wrote articles for “Ryder’s Annual” for 40 years, until it ceased publication in 1918.

That he was a prolific writer the following list of his books, which are in the Wednesbury Library, will show:

Religious Wednesbury,
Good Old Times,
Kindness to Animals,
Staffordshire Stories,
Good Cheer,
Staffordshire Sketches,
Wednesbury – Ancient and Modern,
Olden Wednesbury,
Wednesbury Papers,
Wednesbury Workshops,
Chronicles of Cannock Chase,
Handsworth – Old and New,
History of Darlaston,
Inns, Ales and Drinking Customs of Old England,
Records of Smethwick,
Staffordshire Curiosities and Antiques,
Oldbury and Round About,
Staffordshire Customs,
Staffordshire Gleanings,
Bygone Staffordshire,
Old English Sports,
Staffordshire Worthies,
William Hone and his Times,
Chatty Object Lessons,
Christ Love, History of Tipton,
History of West Bromwich,
Natural History – Reference Notes,
Notes on Moral Subjects,
Notes of Lessons on Church Service,
Object Lessons,
Readings in Elementary Science,
Sedgley Researches,
Story of the Black Country,
Westwood of the Wash,
Odd Chapters in the History of Wednesbury,
The Bridal Book.
In addition he was the author of the “Life of Lord Kitchener.”

As early as 1883 Nelson and Sons, of Edinburgh, published his “Notes on Lessons of Moral Subjects.”
It is a text book of ethical teaching, written on purely non-sectarian lines.
It was used in the Birmingham and other Board Schools for a long period, and was adopted by the Education Department of Victoria and other Colonies ; while it also had a favourable reputation in the United States.
It is still one of the best abused school books in the world.
Yet, when it was brought before the Royal Commission on Education the late Cardinal Manning said, “You have handed in this book, which I am very glad to see, because it is the best example of introducing moral teaching into the Board Schools that I have met with.”

Again while the book evoked the strong disapproval of Dr. Moorhouse, Bishop of Manchester, it was universally recommended by the Peace Congress at Rome in 1891.

He was indeed well-known in the literary world, his fame extending far beyond the confines of Wednesbury.
Mr. W. Henry Barnes, formerly of Wednesbury, who together with the late Mr. Thos. Jones, Mr. Kendrick and Dr. H. C. Crew, was an intimate friend of Mr. Hackwood , writes to Dr. Crew saying that although Mr. Hackwood wrote on nearly all subjects he never stocked an encyclopaedia ; his great characteristic was that of a tireless hunter after facts and extracts.

In “Ryder’s Annual” of 1915 appears an excellent appreciation of the work of Mr. Hackwood, written by Mr. George T. Lawley, the well-known literateur of Wolverhampton.


The following appeciation of Mr. Hackwood is from the pen of Dr. Crew : –
“For close on 40 years it was my privilege to enjoy an intimate friendship with the late Mr. F.W. Hackwood, and words are inadequate to express the sense of loss occasioned by his decease.
His was an inspiring personality – genial, well-informed, erudite indeed in his own special line, and always ready to interest himself in other people’s pursuits.
He, Barnes, Kendrick, Jones, and occasionally McFarlane, were in the habit of visiting places of archaeological interest within half-a-day’s journey, and it was a wonderful experience to go with them, as I did on several occasions.
His quick wit, his sense of humour, and above all, his profound knowledge of many out-of-the-way subjects, made him a delightful companion.
For many years he and the late Town Clerk spent every Sunday evening at my house, and I look upon those times as among the happiest of a fairly happy life.
He loved Wednesbury and everything connected with it, with an intensity I have never seen equalled, and it was a sad day for him and for those who knew him and loved him so well when the subterranean fire in Bridge Street forced him to leave his native town.
It was my privilege now and then to collaborate with him in some of his work, and I have always been conscious that with so fine a counsellor, so mentally energetic, a master, one was possessed of a prize in the battle of life.
He had a wonderful way with children in the way of advice and example and I knew of many instances where a lasting benefit has been conferred in this way.
His services to the town I will say nothing about ; they have already been recorded.
Wednesbury’s most distinguished son, whose name will be remembered as long as there is a Wednesbury.”


At the Wednesbury Police Court on Tuesday Alderman C. W. D. Joynson referred to the death of Mr. Hackwood, and said he supposed the Wednesbury citizens of to-day would scarcely appreciate all he had done for the borough and the County of Staffordshire.
He remembered him 40 years ago on the incorporation of the borough, and was one of the first members of the Council, sitting for some years and doing much useful work.
It was also his privilege to have Mr. Hackwood’s assistance when he stood for the Council, and it was due in a large measure to his advocacy and help that he was successful.
He was also the moving spirit in the formation of the Borough Bench and he thought of his active association with the court and the work he did there.
He was reminded of the 16 justices first appointed and only three now remained – Sir Albert Pritchard, Mr. Charles Southern and himself.

Such announcements as these served to remind them of the passing of time. Mr. Hackwood touched Wednesbury at every point and politically and socially no doubt he played an important part.

His personality was not confined to Wednesbury alone, for they knew, him as the Black Country historian and antiquary, and he would live in his books for many years to come.
As a mark of respect for one of Wednesbury’s worthiest sons, and as a mark of sympathy with the widow, son and daughter, he asked those in Court to stand in silence.

At a meeting of the Wednesbury magistrates on Friday the Mayor (Councillor Wesson) made sympathetic reference to the death of their colleague, Mr. F. W. Hackwood.
He spoke of his public work in Wednesbury, and of his great interest in the town, which never relaxed.
It was due to his initiative that the town had a Borough Bench, and he was indeed a true son of Wednesbury.
The Clerk (Mr. E. Foster Knowles) was instructed to send a letter of sympathy and condolence with the widow.


The funeral took place on Wednesday at Streatham Cemetery and among those present were Mr. Harold Hackwood (son), Dr. J. Fereday Hackwood (grandson), Mr. H. J. Fereday, Mr. F.C. Marwood and Mr. A. Marsh Jones, the latter representing the Staffordshire Society.
Among the floral tributes was one sent by the Wednesbury Borough Bench, “In honoured memory, from his brother justices.”


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