Something Fishy

It started in Horseley Fields

Fred Thomas was the youngest son of William and Francis Thomas who had started their wholesale fish merchants business in Horseley fields in the latter part of the 1800s.

Around 1950 Fred at Home.

Fred, the youngest son of William and Frances Thomas  is pictured in the lounge of his bungalow in Ounsdale Road, Wombourne around 1950. Fred  and his wife formerly Ann Breeze, had six children, and he was a Fish Merchant throughout his life.

A STRANGE TALE told to me by a dear friend Leah Wright, niece of Fred Thomas.

Leah Wright – Portrait taken at ‘Jeromes’ photographers in Dudley Street.
The Graisley Brook Inn stood on the corner of Ablow Street in 1915.

Between the wars Fred Thomas, and his wife Anne lived at the old Pub in Ablow Street; of the Penn Road  Pictured here on the middle right opposite Mander Street.

And at the time of my story Fred Thomas spent  his working hours  between his well established wholesale fish  business supplying hospitals etc and also his fish stalls in Wolverhamptons Retail Market. while his wife  was juggling her time spent looking after home and family and helping Fred with the business.

To ease the pressure while  they where both at the market stalls, they hired a nanny to look after the children, later they both agreed it would be a good idea also, to look for  someone to assist Anne with  the house work.

The Fish Stalls took centre stage in the 1920’s.

On his way to Birmingham  one day to buy fish for the business  Fred  got into conversation with a fellow who said he; might be able to find Fred such help.

A few days later  a strange looking women arrived at Freds house in Ablow Street with a letter of introduction, apparently  from the gent Fred had met on the train.

A passage in the letter spoke well of the lady and highly recommended her for the vacancy. She looked a strong able bodied person and noticing her hands, Fred could see she was no stranger  to hard work.

Although, at the time he recalled, he felt she looked a little strange.  First there was the queer object  she wore on her head which resembled a bath cap, and then her over polite manner, with her ‘yes master’ to his every request.

A short time after her arrival Fred noticed a series of occurrences he couldn’t understand. The weekly food bill started to increase and left over food seemed to disappear from the larder, and sometimes  during the night strange noises were heard.

Then the bombshell hit them.  Returning from the market late one Saturday evening Fred and Anne found the door to their bedroom unlocked and the safe, which was kept there, forced  open,  the contents gone, and the recently hired domestic; nowhere to be found.

The police where called and as the story unfolded it was discovered that  the  so called domestic help was responsible for the crime.

She had let an accomplice into the house through the old pubs cellar flaps, lodging and feeding him down in the cellar whilst he weighed up the situation, which explained the  noises and disappearing food.

After a search was made of her room a pair of shoes where found, a pair which Fred remembered she wore. On inspecting the shoes; both the police and Fred came to the conclusion that the female Home help had in fact been a man in disguise.

Fred and Annie pose with their family on a special occasion in the mid 1950’s.

Fred and Ann Thomas, in the garden of their Bungalow in Ounsdale Road, Wombourne, show off their attractive daughter’s  and grandchildren, to Fred’s sister Leah and Husband Harold, on holiday from America.

The striking dark haired lady in the centre is Joan Thomas, she married  Dougie Darley from the well known local family of butchers. Doug is standing next to Annie, in the back row second from the left, whilst peeping over daughter leah’s shoulder, to their left, is her father,  Fred.

Leah was also married to a local butcher Fred Kay, and his other daughter, Mary;  I’m told, married George Clark, of the furniture removal company of the same name.

As I remember, Fred’s two son’s Fred and Alf, missing from the photograph; with sisters Joan and Janet were also selling fish from adjacent stalls in the market at that time.

Facebook Comments


  1. so proud to see me aunt leah on this as these are my dads family he was thrilled to see this me dads name is john wright son of fred wright and doris

  2. Oh love this thank you. 3 generations of my dads family Edwards hunt, later jones grew up on Ablow street.
    my great nan Clara Edwards born 1880 my nan 1920 (Harriet hunt and later my dad. loved the story about the home help.

  3. Glad you enjoyed the post Jackie – Yes I see your family address 58 Ablow Street head of the household John James Hunt in the earl 1920’s . We also have a face book group Lost Wolverhampton check it out if you have time. Best Wishes Billy.

  4. Hi Bill nice of you to get in touch. I certainly would like to see photos of the old Market I live in Bridgnorth. But I travel to a friends print shop in Wolverhampton most days. How can we meet up The one problem is I don’t have transport. My email address is [email protected]. Best Wishes. Billy H

  5. Fred Thomas is my Great-Granddad. His middle daughter Mary Rachel Thomas is my Grandmother (Nanny) and is 98 years of age living in Seattle, WA. She is the last living child of Fred and Anne Thomas.
    Mary Thomas (pictured in the far right floral dress) and Husband Dennis H Brown (Back row with hat and tie) and their two Children Geoffrey and Mary Pam featured in the front, far right of the photo. Geoffrey is my Father.
    Thank you for the article.
    Rachel Leakey Brown Phillips.
    Seattle WA

    1. Lovely to hear from you Rachel Please keep in touch We should have more to talk about on the fascinating history of the Thomas Family.
      I have also a Facebook group Lost Wolverhampton should you wish to check it out!

    2. Hi Rachel Thank You for getting in touch – Please join our Facebook Group Lost Wolverhampton I am sure we could share such a lot of stories with members of the well-known market traders The Thomas’s and the Wrights. Friends of my family the Howes.

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