Many Black Country folk will be familiar with
the sight of Joe Davies and the sound of his fairground organ Lady
Wulfrun at functions in the area. And most of us wonder how he
manages to be in so many places supporting so many causes
Joe grew up in Shropshire and hoped to follow
a career in the haulage business but the Second World War came along
and he found himself driving tank transporters rather than civilian
While serving in the Royal army Service Corps
he took advantage of a scheme that allowed servicemen to apply for a
post-war job in a local police force.
Wolverhampton's Chief Constable was keen to
recruit servicemen and the servicemen themselves knew that joining
the police would enable them to be released from the army fairly
promptly, as soon as the war was over.
Joe came out of the army in 1946 and
immediately became Pc39 in the Wolverhampton Borough Police.
In the cells beneath Red Lion Street Police
Station, Joe was issued with his uniform by Ike Howell, who was
This was followed by 13 weeks training at the
Ryton on Dunsmore Police College and then he immediately returned to
Wolverhampton to start working nights, based at Red Lion Street.
At first he was shown the ropes by a senior
constable, but was then turned loose on the beat all on his own. New
recruits started on a suburban beat and as they showed promise they
were moved towards town centre beats where they were expected to be
able to look after themselves.
Joe describes post-war Wolverhampton as
"pretty rough", and the night shift had to deal with a great deal of
drunkenness and fighting.
A policeman on the beat could only summon
assistance by blowing his whistle or telephoning from a "police
Joe's work on the streets lasted two years
before he was sent away for training in the traffic department. Joe
dealt with a new innovation - the introduction of police cars fitted
Joe was in the traffic department for six
years, but in 1954 he passed his sergeant's exam and was rewarded
with a return to the town centre's streets.
Joe's career saw further promotion and success
but something must draw him back to the streets because, in
retirement, that is where he is to be found with his fairground
Joe's 1946 Wolverhampton police uniform was
the first item that he "preserved" - starting on a trail that has
led to the preservation of much larger items.
He later purchased a Lister engine complete
with corn-grinding mill and water pump. The three items were
displayed on a trailer that Joe took to the annual Bromyard Gala.
Invitations then followed to other
preservationists' events. Joe was hooked, and eventually bought an
ex-showman's living wagon of 1929 vintage.
One thing leads to another and a showman's van
needs something to tow it. This time Joe bought a Scammell tractor
unit, and soon the van and Scammell tractor became a familiar sight
on Black Country roads making their way to hundreds of local events.
Then a showman has to have something to show.
His wife Margaret solved this problem by presenting Joe with a
McCarthy keyless street organ mounted on a traditional three-wheel
carriage. It was a 65th birthday present that guaranteed Joe a busy
Five years later Joe acquired a bigger
fairground organ, built into a trailer. Once again built by
McCarthy, this organ was christened Lady Wulfrun. Joe and Lady
Wulfrun have been seen all over the Black Country, all over Britain,
and have made several European tours!
Both organs were used to provide Princess
Diana, Princess of Wales, with a welcome to Wolverhampton when she
came to open Bilston Street Police Station in July 1992.
The late Princess shook hands with Joe,
dressed in his Pc39 uniform, and enquired about the history of Lady
Nothing stands still, even in the world of
preservation, and the larger organ needed a larger tractor unit, so
the old Scammell has now been replaced with an 1972 ERF vehicle.
Now in his 80s, Joe still enjoys his part in
the world of preserving showland heritage, and the music of his
fairground organ and street organ has brought pleasure to thousands
of people, and has helped raise thousands of pounds for charity.
Meanwhile many of us would like to think that
Joe has become one of Wolverhampton's best known ambassadors.
Express and Star Newspaper for this report