An unbearable loss: The Plastic Hippo has left us

It’s my sad duty to report to readers and the wider Walsall online community that one of it’s finest, most respected writers has passed away – The Plastic Hippo was taken from us on Friday 13th July 2018 at his home in Chuckery, Walsall, following a protracted battle with cancer.

Gone, but never to be forgotten. The Plastic Hippo.

The Plastic Hippo blog ran from 2009 until late last year, when Hippo felt he could no longer continue. It was a blog that stood solely on the immense strength of the writing of it’s curator; unashamedly left wing, excoriating, erudite, beautiful.

For a brief precis of the scope of that great writer, see the following three posts. His full blog can be seen here.

This was a blog that quickly gained notoriety and fans, as well as a sizeable opposition. 

Hippo shared his opinions on local and national politics, the preposterous strutting and bickering of local politicians – of all shades – and shared his continual bemusement with social media, education, local journalism and the modern PR culture.

Hippo was a personal friend whom I only met after starting to blog. He was older than me, larger than me, and wore his seniority like a cloak. He was warm, witty, loving and larger than life. He was a man that got me through some personally incredibly hard times with his wise counsel and was a true, true friend.

Yet we never really knew each other’s names, or where each other lived.

We met in 2010 I think, at the home of another lost Walsall hero, Mark Blackstock whose death last year devastated Hippo. Mark was the creator of the YamYam Walsall news site – still just hanging on here but fading without a steward – and a real live media man. Mark had found my blog in 2009, and egged me on. Hippo had started commenting on mine and other blogs, had written some early pieces for the YamYam and soon started to blog himself.

Mark understood both our requirements for anonymity and was keen to introduce us. I was sceptical, and nervous. I’d already taken a huge step in meeting Mark. I liked him. I’d come to trust him.

I first met Hippo one sunny summer afternoon in a Victorian backyard garden in Chuckery, armed with samosas, burfi and other snacks.

I didn’t know what to expect. Hippo was a formidable online force who considered and chewed over ever word, the better to meter their impact. What I actually met astounded me.

I was greeted with a tentative handshake, then a strong, utterly sincere hug. Every time we parted after that we hugged. A real, solid, protective hug. He was a large man, well spoken with a voice that varied between gentle coaxing and full on Brian Blessed. He laughed and smiled easily. He looked like he’d lived.

Hippo was charming, charismatic and as eloquent as you’d expect. But also cantankerous and capable of excoriating rants that took your breath away.

In that back garden, in that moment, I knew I’d met someone who’d influence my life. And now, the influence is absent.

But the echo lingers.

We met many times. We never spoke about our own lives much – I talked about my work, he talked about his. He loved my bike cams and 365daysofbiking and the riding adventures. Mark would occasionally invite us over. The drunken nights, the gossip, the laughter, the debate. I can still hear it but it’s gone forever now.

But dear god, it’s too late now.

We met in pubs, at events – Hippo was the kind of guy you’d bump into completely unintentionally in the supermarket or at some council event. We spent sunny days watching Aziz at Walsall Arboretum, people watching as we did one afternoon at the Wharf, Walsall. Hippo smoked with almost indecent pleasure so beer gardens were a favourite. We passed many chilly hours sat in the garden of the Victoria, the St Matthews Hall or wherever.

Hippo understood the solitude and loneliness of the thing we did.

A half cut Hippo was a wonderful thing. Hippo and Mark together were the best double act ever. Your sides ached. Tears were in your eyes. You went home feeling exhausted.

But underneath this, there was a caring man, deeply troubled by the path he saw the world taking. He wrote with huge pride and affection about his family, friends and the things he loved.

Hippo was always the writer. Mark was the wise media owl. I was the Enfant Terrible bumbling like a talentless but frenetic pinball from one thing to another, constantly blinking in the light. I had, and still have, no idea what I’m doing. These friends guided me, helped me, advised me in times of crisis, but never stifled or controlled me. True friends.

Hippo was legal adviser to both me and Mark. He helped us with the inevitable issues. His wisdom kept both of us online. I’ll never forget that.

However, one day Hippo informed me of his illness, and contact became understandably less. He carried on blogging. I saw him in apparent remission in autumn 2016, he was thin but had good colour, but he was tired. His fight had clearly been prolonged and debilitating. We hugged again. A fine afternoon, I was positive. He was positive. We talked about going walking in the Peak District, about the first pint in a country pub. About sunny days with the warmth on our faces.

I never saw Hippo again. I always thought I would.

Falling ill again, Hippo gradually withdrew, which I understood, but found difficult.

Following the awful and unexpected death of Mark Blackstock in 2017, Hippo disappeared completely from online life. I couldn’t contact him – I had no phone number, no address. I was bereft.

I heard nothing more until Hippo’s wife contacted me this week to tell me the news (thankfully, this wonderful lady found my blog and my email through it). She told me that Hippo fought cancer with dignity, he withdrew, but succumbed on his terms with the pride and love we knew him for. I understood his withdrawal.

But right now I’m hollow. It’s selfish, but I feel like the last remnants of something that was once vital. Like the stones, piles of rocks, marks of some lost building people occasionally visit on some back-country B road when it’s too early to visit the pub.

Something once happened here. It was probably OK. But all there is now are traces and shadows.

The online scene of 2009 until now in Walsall was alive, spirited, organic. We sometimes dared to think we might change things, but in reality we were just a footnote. We thought we angered those in power, but I now realise we were just a minor irritation, a nagging ache soon dealt with. But we spoke, and some people read it. There was regard, admiration, bickering and great argument in the community. Searing grudges, in jokes and lots of clandestine meetings and beer. But it was a real, happenstance thing, and for a while, I had a sense of belonging within it.

I and Hippo co-operated on posts, and on the angles we took on things; whether it was calling out the council leader’s ridiculous bluster or the strutting peacocks of parliamentary politics. We put stuff out there that wasn’t official media. People read it. For a while, that seemed like a revolution.

It wasn’t, but it was damned good fun.

People see my online personality – like they saw his, I guess – and they construct a person behind it. People seem to think I’m brash, gobby, loud and annoying. In reality, I’m quiet, gentle, but hyper and the annoying bit is painfully true. But I’m not confident. I’m riven with self doubt and insecurity.

I have huge crises of confidence, nerves and long black periods. Hippo seemed to share that. He helped me with it. At 3am on some godforsaken Wednesday morning Hippo would be up, easing my struggle with a post. He was that kind of man.

I continue this thing I do, but it’ll never be the same. I feel like a holding space. I guess this is ageing.

So rest in peace, Mr. Hippo. We hardly knew each other, but we were such great friends. Some point in the distance when we meet again, we’ll hug, look each other up and down, he’ll light a fag, and we’ll walk the Roaches, or The Weavers and finish in some country pub, obscenely, happily drunk, and laughing like none of it ever happened.

Two things before I wind this up.

I thought of Hippo the other day. He was always baffled by my support of a local Tory Councillor to be a prospective MP for Aldridge Brownhills. (I’ve misquoted this in the last couple of days, sorry.)

‘I’m only doing it to cause trouble. And I quite like them. Nice. Sort of. For a Tory.’

‘Nice Tories are always disappointing. You think they’re sound, and then they shit on your doorstep and make you look foolish. Because they’re Tories. It’s what they do. They can’t help it.’

Walsall watchers know well why he’d be laughing his bollocks off right now.

Secondly, my abiding memory of Hippo and Mark is of meeting them just after a new year in the well days for a drink in the Manor Arms, Rushall. Drink was taken all afternoon, and into the evening. It was fair to say they were arseholed. They’d borrowed Hippo a bike to get home. He was not – shall we say – a natural cyclist.

I remember them shooting down towards Rushall lights, me having to stop in hysterics as both of them, grown adults, shrieked and yelled into the night at Hippo’s lack of skill. Thankfully, they both survived the adventure.

I’m sorry Hippo, I always thought we’d hug again.

My sincerest, most heartfelt condolences to Hippo’s wife, kids and anyone who knew him. He was a rare and fine man. And now he’s gone.

This is the hardest post I’ve ever had to write and this must be the fifth attempt. Please bear with me.

We will meet again, in a sunnier clime, and he’ll bid me good morning. (Apologies to Anna Barbould).

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The 1977 Silver Jubilee – up and down the town!

The Silver Jubilee in 1977, outside Road Runner in Walsall Wood. Image kindly shared by Maxine Hayward.

A theme that keeps popping up here at the moment is the 1977 Royal Jubilee, and the street parties and celebrations connected with it – Well, here today I have two great pics from opposite ends of our area of those days, and I’d love any further information.

The above wonderful photo was posted last week in Janey Hatfield’s wonderful Walsall Wood Group on Facebook by local lady Maxine Hayward, who has Kindly given me permission to share it here.

Maxine said:

The evening of the Silver Jubilee 1977. Photo taken outside Road Runner.

Left Kath Wilkinson as a chimney sweep and Graham Wilkinson as Wonder Woman (or some other female super hero?) , Ray Hatton as a French Maid, Terry Hayward as a cleaning lady… Val Hatton as Wee Willy Winkle Max Wall… and Elaine Hayward as a waiter Charlie Chaplin… not sure who the other two are.

Maxine added later:

Graham Wilkinson was the owner of Gordon’s Removals, also on the Lichfield Road. Great bloke… I once saw him rip the door off a mini after a collision happened on the Lichfield road.

The girl in the mini had glass in her cheek and the engine of the car on her legs. He came out of his yard, ripped the door off the mini and lifted the engine off her legs… such strength. I was only a little kid and was mesmerised!

Thanks so much to Maxine for that remarkable memory-jogging photo – and suggestions welcome; either comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Meanwhile, here’s a Silver Jubilee image I’ve had for bloody ages, but never had a post suitable for it, until now. From very old friend of the blog Steve Cottle:

A fantastic group picture of kids in fancy dress – and a horse! Image Kindly supplied by Steve Cottle.

This great image is in the playground of the old Central Boys School or Annexe in Brownhills, and was apparently of Jubilee celebrations in 1977 like Maxine’s picture. Note the horse in the background!

Steve said:

Brownhills Annexe! With Andrew Hill, Scott Clifton, Linda Tye, Paul Tranter, Andy Barnard, Helen Tranter Pinches,Ruth Mason, Andrew Mason, Helen Mason and Helen Mason.

So much in that picture to comment on – please do via the usual means – thanks to Steve and sorry it took literally years to get this on the blog!

Meanwhile, I can heartily recommend the Walsall Wood Facebook group, which is run by old friend of the blog Janey Hatfield and is centred around (but by no means limited to) memories of the village, and features a lot of folks you’ll know from here on the blog.

It’s a busy, well moderated group with lots of members and lots of interesting images posted including the set above.

You can check out ‘We are The Wood…’ by clicking here you’ll need to join up but once in, it’s great…

Please do pop along and check the group out – it’s a fine place and if you’re a resident of The Wood, or just remember it fondly, it’s a great place to check out and shoot the breeze.

 

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Classic Motor Show at Walsall Arboretum on right now!

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The car’s the star at the Arboretum this Sunday! Image from Classic Motorshows UK.

Here’s another one I missed but is happening right now too – there’s a Classic Car Show on at Walsall Arboretum this afternoon Sunday 15th July 2018.

It runs from 10am until 4pm, and adult entry is £6, and £3 for kids between 4-16. There will be a whole range of classic and vintage cars, plus lots of stalls, an auto jumble and entertainment too.

The event is run by Classic Motorshows UK and you can find out more at their website here.

The organisers have this to say about their Walsall event:

Classic Motor Show: Walsall Arboretum Extension, Broadway, Walsall, WS1 2QA

Set in the popular surroundings of Walsall Arboretum and now in its 28th year, the Walsall Classic Motor Show is a fantastic day out.

A great display of pre and post war classic plus some great commercial vehicles of yesteryear.

With up to 500 vehicles plus autojumble, trade stands and a packed interactive arena to keep you entertained all day.

Don’t forget to get the family around the arena at 12.30 for the famous decibel duel which even the big kid in you will enjoy.

Admission Fees:

Adults: £6
Children (4-16 years): £3

If you pop along and take some pics, why not share them here? BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – cheers!

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, cycling, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little Hay miniature railway garden party on now!

Get up there quickly!

Very late notice I know but the good folk of Sutton Coldfield Model Engineering Socially have asked me to to tell you that their Garden Party at Little Hay Miniature Railway – known as Balleny Green – is open right now (Sunday 15th July 2018() and you CAN buy tickets on the gate.

It’s open until 4 – there are refreshments, stalls, fun and all manner of good fun for the adult entry price of £6.50, with kids in at £4.50.

I adore Balleny Green and it’s absolutely gorgeous. And on a day like this? Perfect. Get over there.

Balleny Green is a narrow gauge, passenger-carrying miniature model railway located at Little Hay, east of Shenstone and north of Sutton Coldfield, just down the lane from the Holly Bush pub.

You can see exact directions on the SCMS website here.

The railway runs it it’s own grounds which are beautiful, and is skilfully and safely operated by dedicated and clever engineers. It’s genuinely breathtaking, and what’s more, absolutely free (although you’d a total tightarse not to make a donation for such a wonderful thing – collecting box right by the clubhouse!)

Balleny Green is something I heartily recommend – it won’t take all day, but it’ll easily burn a couple of hours and leave you feeling thoroughly charmed. It’s open from 11am until 3pm, and would make a great thing to call into on the way to or from New Hall Mill, which is also open Bank Holiday Monday.

You can find out more at the Sutton Coldfield Model Engineering Society’s site here. I posted the following on my 365daysofbiking journal after my last visit. It’s a terrific thing.

May 1st – Today, I did something I’d been meaning to do for years – I paid a visit to Balleny Green, a little-known narrow gauge railway layout run by Sutton Coldfield Model Engineering Society at Little Hay, between Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield.

I’ve known this place was here for years, but never caught it open. This time, I made a concerted effort to find out when it was a ‘steam up day’ and popped in.

This was just so English. No entry fee. No charges to ride. Just a bunch of people sharing their love of a fascinating, beautifully engineered hobby in the middle of rolling countryside in gorgeous grounds.

There is a long layout consisting of several tracks – including a miniature one – but on the larger one, which interestingly is dual gauge – passengers sit in or on carriages and are conveyed by small locomotives – today one steam, one electric – through tunnels, over junctions, level crossings, past ponds, signals, signal boxes. It’s gorgeous.

The whole thing is clearly a labour of love.

There were no other attractions, and none were needed: tea and biscuits, and a tin for donations to cover running costs.

All right here on the doorstep, and few know about it. A wonderful thing.

Find out more about Balleny Green at their website here. I’d like to thank the members for a beautiful, life-affirming thing.

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Ooh, Betty!

I know nothing about Betty, and even less of the Yates family. A great photo from Clarice Mayo and Geof Harrington’s book ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’.

So, back to some history – this is one I’ve been wanting to explore for ages, and never come up with a conclusive answer, but flicking through an old book, a caption popped on a lightbulb in my head.

Betty’s Lane in Norton Canes runs between Red Lion Road and Walsall Road, broadly parallel to Allbutts Road, which before the motorway came though, also joined the Walsall Road.

The roads crossed an area of heath and former mining land called Commonside – now partially host to the service area on the M6 Toll, but otherwise, mostly still scrub and farmland.

Commonside is broadly the area of no man’s land between Brownhills West, Little Wyrley and Norton Canes. Imagery from Apple Maps. Click for a larger version.

What interests me is Bettys Lane – who was Betty? I’ve never found a definitive answer.

Now whilst flicking through ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo and Geof Harrington, I noticed a photo, featured above of the Yates family who ‘Lived at the top of Allbutts Lane, on the way to Betty’s Well’.

Whoa. What and where was Betty’s Well?

There is still a farm at the truncated end of Allbutts Road, which existed on the 1902 map overlay below, which had a well. Was the Yates Farm Bettys? Was there a Betty Yates, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

If you have a view, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

1902 1:1250 sale map from the NLS archive – Commonside overlaid on modern Google Earth imagery. No clue to Betty here. Click for a larger version.

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Such work, much busy, very apologise!

Me at work yesterday

Hi folks – a quick apology for the blog readers and faithful – as I appreciate the work and effort the community and readership put in on the blog.

I’ve been very busy in the last couple of months with some big and very positive changes at work, a couple of very large projects on and a really, really stressful time meaning very long hours – so the chance to ride a bike at the weekend rather than be sat at the computer has been fully exploited.

This has been a great summer after a dreadful spring, and on two wheels is where I find my peace.

I realise that of late the blog has suffered a little, but I’m doing my best to keep on top of stuff and will return to more history and in-depth articles as soon as I’m able. I have lots in the bag to come so hang in there, and my apologies.

The changes I speak of should eventually result in having more time for this stuff, so it’s all good.

I’m not getting any younger, and I need more hours in the day.

Thanks for your patience, and if you think I’ve forgotten something please do drop me a reminder on social media or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Again, my apologies.

 

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Summer fair in Walsall Wood this Saturday afternoon

The summer events continue…

There’s a lovely summer fair in Walsall Wood on the afternoon of Saturday 14th July in the grounds of St john’s Church, Walsall Wood High Street.

The fair is being organised by, and in aid of the 2nd Walsall WoodGuides and Seniors, so get up there and have a great time.

It runs from 1:30pm to 3:30pm and there will be all the favourites there – tombola, bottle stall, cakes, bric a brac etc.

Looks like great fun!

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Meet your local coppers this Saturday in Aldridge and Streetly!

Aldridge Libray. Image from Libraries Task Force on Flickr.

I received notice of this great event from Walsall Police via the excellent WMNow service this morning, advertising a pop-up meet the police event this Saturday, 14th July 2018 at Aldridge Library from 10:00am until 11:00am where you can meet your local policing team and get help, crime prevention and public safety advice.

This is the police team responsible for Walsall Wood so could be a good chance for the Wood Massive to chat to their local rozzers.

The team will also be at Streetly Library later the same day from 11am until 12 noon, and thereon at Aldridge Fayre on Anchor Meadow.

What not pop along and say Ello, ello, ello?.

I must say, it’s good to see the local police making efforts again to reach out to the public. Long overdue.

Also, if you haven’t signed up for WMNow, please do – it’s free and you can select to receive alerts on all kinds of local issues. It’s a fine thing.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A5 Live is coming soon – and they need your help!

A great local music event.

Long term readers will remember the annual music and fun festival that’s taken place on the smallholding just off the A5 at Newtown, Brownhills – formerly called Cockfest (because it took place on a chicken farm), last year becoming A5 Live.

This year the music, entertainment and fun returns, and takes place from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th August 2018, and tickets are now on sale.

The chosen charity this time around the A5 Live will be supporting is CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably, a great charity that works to prevent male suicide – you can find out more about them here.

To that end, the organisers are looking for prize donations for competitions being staged at the festival, and in return your business will be promoted as a sponsor.

If you can help with this, please don’t hesitate to mail Martin and co  at A5-Live@outlook.co.uk – every year this event raises a large amount for charity and this year’s support for CALM is welcome.

When I have details of bands playing and other attractions, I’ll post them here.

Preparations for the local music and fun spectacular are well underway

You can get tickets from the A5 Live website here or by emailing A5-Live@outlook.co.uk. You can check out the festival Facebook page here, too.

I wish everyone the best for this and it’s always good to see local music events.

Can’t grumble at those prices!

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Fancy a fete and dog show this Saturday?

I love a good summer fete!

There’s a great looking summer fete and dog show coming up this weekend, on Saturday 14th July nearby in the picturesque village of Hammerwich, just over the A5.

It’s at Hammerwich Hall Residential Home and features astalls, refreshments, bar, entertainment, classic cars and all the user summertime fete favourites.

It runs from 2pm to 5pm and the organisers said:

Everyone is welcome to join us for a fun afternoon. There will be a variety of stalls including face painting, homemade pickles and jams, homemade chocolates and refreshments will be available. Of course, we have the dog show too.

Looks like just the thing for a bit on fun on a Summer Saturday afternoon!

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Walsall wood BMX track, the best days!

Phil Atkinson generously supplied the above, wonderful gallery with the simple statement ‘Walsall wood BMX track, the best days.’

Many people who were kids in the 1980s will remember the Walsall Wood BMX track behind the old Oak Park tennis courts, which still exists today but is gradually being smoothed by time and weather.

The above wonderful photo set of local kids at the track was posted last weekend in Janey Hatfield’s wonderful Walsall Wood Group on Facebook by local lad Phil Atkinson, and he very kindly agreed to me sharing them here, too.

Lower centre, you can still see the outline of the BMX track which fell into disuse as the BMX craze faded to a hardcore of fans. Imagery from Apple Maps.

I know they feature top Walsall Wood Mon™ Simon Burgess, but I’d be interested in other lads involved, and of course any memories you may have of these days: Not just here, but of riding on less… official tracks like the Fox Covey, Linley Woods, Coppy Woods or Birch Coppice.

I loved my Raleigh Burner but my skills were very much lacking!

I can heartily recommend the Walsall Wood Facebook group, which is run by old friend of the blog Janey Hatfield and is centred around (but by no means limited to) memories of the village, and features a lot of folks you’ll know from here on the blog.

It’s a busy, well moderated group with lots of members and lots of interesting images posted including the set above.

You can check out ‘We are The Wood…’ by clicking here you’ll need to join up but once in, it’s great…

Please do pop along and check the group out – it’s a fine place and if you’re a resident of The Wood, or just remember it fondly, it’s a great place to check out and shoot the breeze.

A Raleigh Burner, in many ways a dreadful bike, but the memories. If I still had that now it’s be worth a fortune… Image from the Raleigh archive.

 

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Local work-van and vehicle crime issues escalate: Be on your guard, folks

Beware if you own a van in the Brownhills and Walsall Wood area. Imagery from Google Maps.

A warning to people with work vans and appeal to folk in Brownhills for information – there is certainly a real rash of vehicle break ins ongoing, with incidents reported across the area throughout the last week.

Work vans seem the main target, but cars, motorbikes and also a catering van have been targeted, with break-ins Shire Oak last night (Monay 9th – Tuesday 10th July 2018) in St. Marks Road and Chester Road.

Also take care with cars – make sure they’re locked and don’t leave valuables in them as word is local criminals appear to be targeting those, too.

These scumbags are targeting people trying to earn a living. It’s heartbreaking and my sympathies to the victims for the loss.

The people doing this are more than likely doing it to raise cash from the proceeds of selling what they steal. They can only do that if there’s a market for what they’re flogging.

Please, please, please don’t buy hooky gear. Look at any Facebook selling group and you’ll find people selling tools about which they clearly have no idea of purpose or value.

If you know of anyone hawking around stuff for sale that seems to be dubious, please grub them into the police – the stuff they’re flogging is probably nicked.

Anyone with information is urged to contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, It makes me mad!, Local Blogs, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A great local charity concert coming soon to The Lamp, Brownhills!

A great selection of local talent

There’s a splendid charity fundraiser concert being staged on Friday, 20th July 2018 at the Lamp Arts Theatre at Brownhills Activity Centre, just on the Miner Island in the centre of Brownhills – featuring The Backstreet Theatre Company, returning favourites 3QA and our very own Followspot Productions Company.

This wonderful evening’s entertainment is just £7 a ticket and will be raising money for people living with brain injuries, and with so much talent on the bill is sure to be a wonderful night.

The organisers said:

Raising money to fund activities for adults living with brain injuries

Only £7 a ticket all to a great cause!
Live music from:

  • Backstreet theatre company
  • Followspot productions
  • 3QA

A great nights entertainment!!

Get your tickets booked online here or call us on 01543 452119

3QA brought the house down with their recent concert at The Lamp so you’re guaranteed a great night.

If you haven’t yet visited The Lamp for a show, you really are missing out; it’s a wonderfully modern and intimate community theatre with a wonderful atmosphere operated by a lovely community of dedicated folk, located in the old Annex or Brownhills Central Boys School right there on the Miner Island in Brownhills. You can find out more here.

There are several ways that you can purchase tickets for The Lamp Arts events. For all events, tickets can be ordered by Post. Telephone or Email. For some events, tickets can be ordered and paid for online.

All details can be found at this link here.

Please ring the crew on 01543 452 119 if you have any queries or need any help or email: info@thelamparts.co.uk.

There’s loads going on at the Activity Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills!

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Armed robbery at McColls store in Shannon Drive, Brownhills West

Shannon Dribve, Brownhills West. Imagery from Google Maps.

On Sunday evening 8th July 2018, there was an armed robbery at McColls Store, Shannon Drive, Brownhills West in which thankfully, nobody was hurt.

Caroline Schubert from West Midlands Police issued the following statement in response to my requester information:

‘Police were called to an armed robbery at McColls Store, Shannon Drive, Brownhills that took place at around 9.45pm on Sunday 8 July.

Two men with large knives entered the store and stole cash from a till.

A bag of cash was later recovered in Kennet Close.

Nobody was injured. No arrests have been made and police enquiries are on-going.

Anyone with information is asked to Call West Midlands Police on 101 giving log number 3173 of 8 July.’

I’d like to thank Caroline for her help in this matter – it really is appreciated.

his is an awful incident and whilst I’m glad nobody was physically injured, I realise the mental scars take longer to heal. My sympathies to the staff and members of the public who were caught up in such an awful event.

Please,  if you have any further information relating to this, or any other incident, or if you witnessed something  please contact Walsall Police by dialling 101 (999 in an emergency, obviously) and quoting crime number 3173 – you can also call Crimestoppers in confidence if you’d rater on 0800 555111

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Swanning around…

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This is the pair at JCB in Rochester, whom I spotted in 2015. The thing I love most about these enigmatic birds is their Adam Ant-style white bill stripe.

I’ve had a mail in from reader Natalie Edge-Edwards, who like our very own swan lady Irene Hodges, is very interested in her local birdlife in Rochester and monitors the black swans on the lake by JCB there.

We’ve had visits by black swans at Chasewater a few times over the years, and they’re always wonderful to see, and I’ve also recorded the swans at JCB as you can see from the photo above.

Black swans are infrequent visitors to Chasewater, and the only birds I know to locally dwell at Hanch Hall near Armitage and on the lake in front of the JCB works at Rochester in Staffordshire.

Natalie is interested in information about the Rochester black swans, and any help would be appreciated – and yes, we’d love to see your photos and videos – I’m sure Irene would love them too! Yes please Natalie, if it’s not too much trouble…

Natalie wrote:

Hi Bob,

My name is Natalie Edge-Edwards and I visit JCB lake in Rocester every afternoon to see and feed the various waterfowl and birds, but my absolute favourite of all – the black swans! Originally there was 2 black swans, but last spring another black swan was at the lake – I’m not sure if this newer swan is the product of the 2 older swans, they certainly don’t like her going near them! I understand the 2 original black swans have been there for about 13ish years, maybe a little longer. The female one has a yellow ’01 JCB14′ tag on her left foot and a red plastic tag on her right foot, and the male one doesn’t have a JCB ID tag with a number on like she does, he simply has a red plastic tag on his left foot and a plain metal one on his right foot.

Now this newer one is a lot smaller than the 2 older swans, and she has a yellow ’02 JCB15′ tag on her left foot and a yellow plastic tag on her right foot. Last September ish another young swan joined the lake, who seemed to be everywhere that the younger swan was. We think he was a boy and he simply had a yellow plastic tag on each foot. The last time I saw him was the 14th March (I know the exact date because I have taken thousands of photos and videos of the swans and other waterfowl since I started visiting the lake in February 2017). We think that he had maybe joined the lake in the hope of mating with the younger female swan, but she was not interested at all so maybe he has gone on to pastures new to find a mate!

I am happy to send you some photos and videos I have, the swans greet me every day!

Regards,
Natalie

Thanks again Natalie, we’d be interestied in anything you might want to share!

Irene and her husband spend a whole lot of time (and very probably cash, too) feeding the swans and waterfowl at Chasewater, keeping an eye on them in general and monitoring their wellbeing.

It’s worth reading up on Black Swans – they’re native to the Antipodes but there were less than 50 feral birds in the UK in 2004.

Thanks to Natalie, and of course the Swan Lady herself, for doing such wonderful and selfless work out of the kindness of her heart. Cheers, Irene!

photo

The last known black swan visit, taken at 11:02am, Wednesday 17th September 2014. Image very kindly sent in for the Swan Lady by Dawn Hodges-Adcock.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Chasewater, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lichfield Waterworks Trust – 2018 AGM this Monday followed by an evening with the Time Healers

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Sandfields Pumping Station – a great historic building with immense history and social significance – not just to Lichfield, but to the Black Country. Lichfield Discovered and local historian Dave Moore have saved this valuable asset for the community.

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to let me know that this Monday evening (9th July 2018) there will be the Annual General Meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

The meeting is at the Bowling Green pub, Lichfield from 7:30pm and is of course open to anyone interested, and some positions within the group are open to application.

Dave wrote:

The Trustees of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust hereby give notice of an Annual General Meeting to be held 7.30 pm 9 July 2018, Meeting Room, Bowling Green Pub, Lichfield.

The following resolutions will be made:

Please Note: You may only vote at the AGM if you are a member

After the formal proceedings there will be an opportunity to ask questions of the Trustees and then to enjoy an evening at the Victorian Pharmacy.

The Time Healers

Following our Annual General Meeting Jo and Did, will be joining us after our AGM and bringing history to life with their interactive talk on a typical Victorian pharmacy and diseases that were common in that period.

From dentistry to poisons, we’ll also take a look into the pharmacy’s back room where the medicines were made. During the second half of the talk there will be an opportunity to handle some of the items and ask questions.

This is an evening’s entertainment not to be missed where we bring the past to life and give you the opportunity to get right in close to how things were done in the past.

This is a free event, everyone is welcome so please join The Time Healers in the Victorian Pharmacy with Lichfield Waterworks Trust

Do pop over to Dave Moore’s blog and check out the history of Sandfields Pumping Station, an almost forgotten gem – the group also has a Facebook page.

Dave is, of course, one of the leading lights of Lichfield Discovered, along with Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez from Lichfield Lore.

It’s great to see people like Dave encourage a better attitude to our historic buildings, rather than that which we seem to have here in Walsall, where we regard heritage architecture as merely ‘fuel’.

Please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

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New Hall Mill July 2018 open day today!

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New Hall Mill is a splendid place, restored and run by wonderfully dedicated volunteers.

Theres a lovely thing to visit locally today (Sunday 8th July 2018), that’s close by, free and absolutely fascinating…

New Hall Mill is open again right now and I can heartily recommend the place – it’s fascinating and I had a great time there on 2015 Spring Bank Holiday Monday – not enough people know about this wonderful building.

There’s also an appeal ongoing for people who may be interested to join the friends of New Hall Mill and help in all sorts of ways – the team need all kinds of expertise from guides to engineering types who may have time to spare. See the message at the door to the post.

The open day is free to enter too (although donations are welcomed).

The Friends of Newhall Mill said:

Bob

The Friends of New Hall Mill will be opening the water mill to the public on Sunday 8th July. Come along and see flour being produced from wheat in the traditional way, have a go on a hand operated quern as still used in parts of the world today. Visit the gift shop, be entertained with Live music, see the many side stalls in the grounds and experience lovely walks alongside the streams and through the meadows.

There is an exhibition room and small tearoom selling cakes and beverages along with a garden shop where produce may be purchased from the Millers Garden. Don’t forget to visit Auntie Wainwrights to find that bargain before someone beats you to it. 

We have a bumper collection of events in the grounds and meadows for our mid season opening

Be entertained by Sutton Coldfield Community Choir from 12-1.

At 11.15, there will be a new guided walk entitled ‘The Mill from The Air’, Jan will be utilising Google Earth to discover more about The Mill and its environs.

In the meadows and grounds; we have displays and demonstrations by:

  • West Midlands Wood Turners
  • The Beekeeper
  • Turner collection of Steam Models
  • Erdington Historical Society
  • Gardenalia Display
  • Bournville Bread Basket
  • Fuses Plugs & Sockets
  • Electrical Horrors
  • Vintage Bike Display
  • International Plastic Modellers Society
  • Face Painting
  • Life in the 1940’s & 1950’s Display
  • Cobblers Display
  • Smoking Memorabilia
  • Birmingham & The Black Country Wildlife Trust
  • Milk Bottles & Churns Display
  • Model Fairground
  • Sutton Coldfield Creative Stitchers
  • Sutton Coldfield Lace Makers
  • Gas Engine
  • Pinkertons Classic Cycles
  • Stockland Green History Group
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I totally geeked out over this wonderful place.

Entry to the site and Parking is free, donations are always welcome in order that we raise funds to maintain the buildings for all to see in the future.

Please note that we open at 10:00 and close at 16:00 with last entry onto site being at 15:45.

Only disability assistance dogs, in harness are allowed on site.

Access to the mill is off Wylde Green Road, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1QU some 200 metres from National Cycle Route 534.

Having seen what we do, could you be able to assist? In order to continue holding these events, we need additional membership to help out on Open Days and Work Days. It is not all about Flour production – We have ageing machinery to maintain, Tea room staff are always welcome, there are openings in all areas. Have a chat with a volunteer on Open day.

Hoping to see you there

Alan Dawson – A friend of New Hall Mill.

More details can be found on their website – www.newhallmill.org.uk or their Facebook page here.

This is certainly a project worth visiting and supporting – please do pop along if you can.  You can check out a gallery of my photos taken there last year below. I had a great time.

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Chuckery Festival on this Sunday: A great free live music event in Walsall Arboretum!

Free music and fun on a summer Sunday afternoon – what’s not to love?

Also on today, Sunday 8th July 2018 at Walsall Arboretum Bandstand will be a great live family show – the Chuckery Music Festival 2018 Bandstand Music Event – featuring great local bands and musicians to suit all tastes with food, drink and kids rides also available.

The fun starts at 12 noon and runs right through the afternoon – and the best bit? It’s absolutely free to attend.

There are some great bands on, including one of my favourite local bands – The Martian Social Club – whose heritage lies in the late, great Ron’s Neighbours. Ask your dad.

Hello Chuckfest followers

On Sunday 8th July at Walsall arboretum bandstand Chuckery Festival presents:

12.00 Open Arms. Based between Pelsall and JJM studios in Poole St, Chuckery, one of the most highly regarded up and coming young bands, widely praised in the music business playing original songs and covers.

1.00 Bay Ten Studios presents: DJ Casey Orange with live rap, soul, RnB, trap, hip-hop from Nate GB, Kiani, Janel Antonesha and Tony Bontana. Do not come late and miss this, our first venture into a new musical styleee!

2.00 The West Coast Eagles brought to you by Rotech Labs. Need we say more? All your favourite Eagles songs played exactly as you’ve heard them. Listen to Terry Hill’s guitar sing out and I dare you not to be thrilled.

3.00 Martian Social Club. Yes those Chuckery based surrealists are back by popular demand, with costumes, strange lyrics and some ambient grooves.

4.00 Climax Blues Band. Brought to you by Sutton Park Motor Group this 6 piece outfit of blues rockers from the 1970s are still going strong. This evolved line up features local boy and Bluecoat School alumnus Chris Bebee Aldridge on tenor and alto sax.

While all of this is going on, there will be food available from Caribbean vegan specialists Brownins, a meat and chicken barbecue, cakes, a barrista coffee set up, a bar, ice cream, the reach up tower for children (free to use) and other stuff we are working on.

A number of people have made generous personal donations to the festival to help fund this year and to ensure its continuation. if you haven’t done so, please consider a small donation via our paypal account below …

https://www.paypal.com/donate/…

By the way in other news, we had some tentative enquiries about pitches for selling artefacts. If you’re still interested, send a message NOW.

IF YOU HAVE READ THIS, PLEASE SHARE IT !

If you attend please feel free to share pictures and other media!

The Martian Social Club are just about the most musical fun you can have fully dressed in public. Image from their Facebook page.

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Willenhall Transport Show – on this Sunday!

Looks like a great event!

In a weekend choc-full of transport events (Cars in the Park at Lichfield, the Aldridge Transport Museum Annual Running Day) there’s a further event this Sunday 8th July 2018 with Willenhall Transport Show taking place at Willenhall Memorial Park (WV13 2PE).

There will be all kinds of vehicles, downhill go cart challenge, tyre flip challenge, live music, cannon run supercars, food, drink (bar), fire brigade display, stalls and much more!

8am-10am for show cars and stalls, free admission.

10am-4pm public £3, family ticket £10.

Bring a picnic, explore our park and have a great day!

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Don’t forget – 2018 Pelsall Carnival this afternoon!

Everyone loves a good carnival. Wonder if there’s boxing this year?

Just a quick headsup that over in the principality this afternoon, Saturday 7th July 2018 is Pelsall Carnival – just head for the common and the noise.

There will be entertainment, food, a fairground, stalls, car boot sale and all manner of fun for all the family.

If you’re not from Pelsall, passports not required but try to act naturally and take a pitchfork.

Any photos from the event welcome!

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Please keep an eye out for a lost identity bracelet

B&M on Northgate is a popular store – have you found a ladies’ identity bracelet here, please? Image from Apple Maps.

Old friend of the blog Jenny Parry has been in touch yesterday (Friday, 6th July 2018) to ask if I would share the following somewhat sad appeal – she has lost a treasured identity bracelet either in.or around B&M on Northgate, or somewhere around Brownhills.

Jenny said:

Hi all

I wonder if you could ask if anyone has found a ladies identity bracelet?

It was lost either at B&M at Walsall Wood (Northgate) or somewhere around Brownhills a week ago (that’s last Friday, 29th June 2018).

The bracelet has the name Jenny on the front with an inscription on the back from my husband Bill.

Have tried every other way to find it this is my last hope.

Jenny Parry

Please keep an eye out, and if you find it, please either contact Jenny Parry directly via Facebook here, comment on this post or mail me: Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers all.

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World class football – from the pride of Brownhills!

Millfield Girls Football Team: Playing the world, the ride of Brownhills! Image from Kim Burgess.

With all the football related brouhaha in the last couple of weeks, one very local and special footballing endeavour may have been overlooked by the residents of Brownhills, which I can’t let pass unmentioned.

This week, the girls of Millfield School football team have been playing in San Sebastian, Spain, in the Donasti Cup – representing Britain.

Old pal of the blog Kim Burgess said:

Big shout out to the girls from Millfield School flying out to San Sebastian in Spain today to represent the UK in the Donasti Cup.

The Millfield Girls Football Team will been playing teams from around the world during the coming week… we are so proud of them all!

And, later in the week:

Played their hearts out today but lost 4 -3 – we are all so proud of them. They are just one small dedicated school football team taking on teams from around the world that have the pick of their country’s best talent… our girls are amazing.

These young ladies have given their absolute all against the top ladies football academies from around the world.

One small school team taking on the world with fire and passion and the belief that anything is possible!

I’d just like to express both my and readers sincere admiration and thanks to this wonderful group of young ladies and those who helped them get so far. They are all a credit not just to Brownhills, but to the UK and I think we can all be very proud indeed.

Best of luck in the coming years, I’m sure we’ve much more to hear from your footballing exploits yet!

Well done. You make us all very proud. Take a bow.

A fine bunch of youngsters. thank you ladies! Image Kindly supplied by Kim Burgess.

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Aston Manor Transport Museum in Aldridge – 2018 annual Running Day this Sunday!

Such a great asset to the area.

I see from the events list that Aston Manor Road Transport Museum in Aldridge have their annual Open and Running Day this Sunday, 8th July 2018 – It starts at 10:00am and should be just the thing for vintage transport fans, bus enthusiasts, petrol heads and big and little kids of all kinds.

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Aston Manor Road Transport Museum events are always popular – and it’s only up the road in Aldridge. What’s not to love? Image from the AMRTM Facebook page.

There will be stalls and displays, free bus rides, vintage cars and all the usual goodies for all the family to enjoy.

Entry is a pocket pleasing £5 for adults, £2 for kids and just £13 for a family ticket.

There’s free bus service operating all day between various destinations and the museum in Shenstone Drive – see the timetable below.

While you’re there, you can check out all the great stuff in the collection, and talk to the volunteers, who’re doing a fine job.

This is sure to be a great event – please do pop along. The collection needs the support of the public to survive, and it really is a wonderful thing.

Why not check out the museum website or their Facebook group?

With services to the Chasewater Railway and Barr Beacon, there should be plenty of other exploring opportunities!

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Hall Mill July 2018 open day this Sunday!

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New Hall Mill is a splendid place, restored and run by wonderfully dedicated volunteers.

Theres a lovely thing to visit locally this Sunday (8th July 2018), that’s close by, free and absolutely fascinating…

New Hall Mill is open again on Sunday = I can heartily recommend the place – it’s fascinating and I had a great time there on 2015 Spring Bank Holiday Monday – not enough people know about this wonderful building.

There’s also an appeal ongoing for people who may be interested to join the friends of New Hall Mill and help in all sorts of ways – the team need all kinds of expertise from guides to engineering types who may have time to spare. See the message at the door to the post.

The open day is free to enter too (although donations are welcomed).

The Friends of Newhall Mill said:

Bob

The Friends of New Hall Mill will be opening the water mill to the public on Sunday 8th July. Come along and see flour being produced from wheat in the traditional way, have a go on a hand operated quern as still used in parts of the world today. Visit the gift shop, be entertained with Live music, see the many side stalls in the grounds and experience lovely walks alongside the streams and through the meadows.

There is an exhibition room and small tearoom selling cakes and beverages along with a garden shop where produce may be purchased from the Millers Garden. Don’t forget to visit Auntie Wainwrights to find that bargain before someone beats you to it. 

We have a bumper collection of events in the grounds and meadows for our mid season opening

Be entertained by Sutton Coldfield Community Choir from 12-1.

At 11.15, there will be a new guided walk entitled ‘The Mill from The Air’, Jan will be utilising Google Earth to discover more about The Mill and its environs.

In the meadows and grounds; we have displays and demonstrations by:

  • West Midlands Wood Turners
  • The Beekeeper
  • Turner collection of Steam Models
  • Erdington Historical Society
  • Gardenalia Display
  • Bournville Bread Basket
  • Fuses Plugs & Sockets
  • Electrical Horrors
  • Vintage Bike Display
  • International Plastic Modellers Society
  • Face Painting
  • Life in the 1940’s & 1950’s Display
  • Cobblers Display
  • Smoking Memorabilia
  • Birmingham & The Black Country Wildlife Trust
  • Milk Bottles & Churns Display
  • Model Fairground
  • Sutton Coldfield Creative Stitchers
  • Sutton Coldfield Lace Makers
  • Gas Engine
  • Pinkertons Classic Cycles
  • Stockland Green History Group
P1040417

I totally geeked out over this wonderful place.

Entry to the site and Parking is free, donations are always welcome in order that we raise funds to maintain the buildings for all to see in the future.

Please note that we open at 10:00 and close at 16:00 with last entry onto site being at 15:45.

Only disability assistance dogs, in harness are allowed on site.

Access to the mill is off Wylde Green Road, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1QU some 200 metres from National Cycle Route 534.

Having seen what we do, could you be able to assist? In order to continue holding these events, we need additional membership to help out on Open Days and Work Days. It is not all about Flour production – We have ageing machinery to maintain, Tea room staff are always welcome, there are openings in all areas. Have a chat with a volunteer on Open day.

Hoping to see you there

Alan Dawson – A friend of New Hall Mill.

More details can be found on their website – www.newhallmill.org.uk or their Facebook page here.

This is certainly a project worth visiting and supporting – please do pop along if you can.  You can check out a gallery of my photos taken there last year below. I had a great time.

Posted in cycling, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lichfield Rotary Cars in the Park 2018 – On this weekend!

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I love a good car show! Image from Cars In The Park Facebook page.

There’s a really good classic and vintage car show on this coming weekend (thats Saturday and Sunday, 7th and 8th July 2018) in Beacon Park, Lichfield – the annual Rotary Cars in the Park event.

For those missing the late, lamented Chasewater Transport Show, Cars in the Park is is a great alternative with loads of classic vehicles and stuff to do and see – and best of all, it’s free!

It runs from 10am-4pm both days. If you pop down, why not send in some photos?

You can check out the Facebook event page here and the website here.

The organisers have this to say on their web page:

Our annual extravaganza, celebrating its 21st year in 2018!

Over 2000 vehicles, 20,000 visitors and more than £30,000 raised for good causes. Our online booking system will be live from the 12th January for car clubs, stallholders and campers. We have also arranged for over 250 additional parking spaces on Western Bypass.

Timings for the weekend:
Saturday 12 noon opening to public
0800-1100 Exhibiting cars arrive
1215 Falconry/birds of prey display
1300 Car Club displays
1330 Fire and Rescue RTA display
1415 JCB display
1445 Falconry/birds of prey display
1530 Car Club displays
1600 Close

Sunday 1100 opening to public
0700-1100 Exhibiting cars arrive
1215 Falconry/birds of prey display
1300 Barbara & All That Jazz
1330 Fire and Rescue RTA display
1400 Car Club displays
1430 Falconry/birds of prey display
1515 JCB display
1600 Close

Please note, for safety reasons drones and barbecues are not permitted

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Image from Cars in the Park.

Posted in Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ladies? Fancy a game of bowls this Wednesday afternoon?

The local Townswomen’s guild do a wonderful range of stuff. Check them out!

Vicky Ellen from Brownhills Townswomen’s Guild has been in touch to tell me that there’s the yearly Townswomen’s Guild Federation Bowls Competition this Wednesday afternoon, 4th July 2018, starting at 1:30pm at Pelsall Community Centre.

Vicky said:

Our yearly Federation’s Bowls Competition is this Wednesday!

This year we have seven teams competing from Townswomen’s Guilds in our federation.

Spectators are more than welcome, you don’t have to be a TG member, it’s just 50p entry.

Come and have a drink, a slice of cake and join in our friendly group of ladies of all ages.

That’s Pelsall Community Centre, Station Road, Pelsall, WS3 4BQ

The Guild do some fantastic work and have an active and friendly membership with diverse interests who welcome new members. Check out their page on Facebook here.

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1750, Tithes and all that

Click on any image to see a larger version.

Here’s a quick one for David Evans – he’s been discussing the 1750 Walsall Wood Tithe Map on Facebook, and has sent be better images to feature here in a gallery to make them easier to study.

Of course I’m happy to do this. David asked:

Hi Bob

A request has come to me via the wonderful Up Da Wood Facebook group, for clear images of the 1750 Walsall Wood Tithe plan/map which I am pleased to be able to send to you, with the request that, if possible, they may be published on your blog at some date.

I understand that the plan shows roughly where plots liable to tithes, and their owners, were located.

My thanks to Bill Mayo in making it possible to share this.

kind regards
David Evans

Thanks to David for the images, and there’s plenty here for local historians to get their teeth into – so fill your boots. My thanks to David and of course Bill Mayo who made this possible.

See anything interesting? Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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A moorish summer ride

It’s been a terrific summer so far this year and I’ve really been working on getting my cycling mojo back – and I had a great ride last Friday (29th June 2018) with a 121 miler from Macclesfield, up over the roaches, onto Morridge, around Longnor, The High Peak Trail, Carsington and East Staffordshire.

Kicking off from Macclesfield at 7:40am it was a full day ride with lots of stops and exploring, coming home at dusk.

A 2x speeded up journey from the edge of the Macclesfield Forest down to Bottom of the Oven, then on to Wildboardclough. Music is Japancakes ‘Soft ‘n’ EZ’. This would have been at about 8am. Rush hour in the Moorlands…

The day was incredibly hot, but there was a keen easterly that made conditions very challenging at times when high up on the moors, which as ever, were stunning. Sad to note today that the moors around the former Mermaid pub are alight in a grass fire – that’s right where the chap is swimming in the pool.

Riding was so good that the return was over Whitemoor Haye, Whittington Heath, Weeford and Shenstone – when you’ve been on a long ride, that return and long downhill into Brownhills isheavenly.

The climbing between Longnor and Hurdlow was a good bit more challenging than I expected, but a good tea and cake stop at Longnor prepared me well.

It was very clear really, and the new cameras got a lot of exercise. Still can’t decide between them.

For more of this sort of thing, my 365daysofbiking journal is still running

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A group effort at Streetly Works?

A fantastic 1940s group photo of ladies at Streetly Works. Image Kindly supplied by Patricia Cotton. Click for a larger version.

You’ll all know I’m in constant search of material on local factories – either photos of people at work, day trips, group photos, adverts, pamphlets – whatever; whilst theres some stuff emerging now, considering how much time we all spend at work there’s actually surprisingly little in the local historical record.

That’s why I was glad to see this photo recently from old friend of the blog Patricia Cotton – it’s one from a place I know very little about but employed lots of local people, British Industrial Plastics (BIP), Streetly Works.

I think at this time, the STreetly Works was particularly engaged in the war effort, which is I guess why the photo is of a group of ladies – does anyone know what they did there in the war please (Obviously their peacetime business was thermosetting plastics, machinery and tooling)?

Now long since gone, many people worked there, and like the BRD and other big factories, works buses used to collect people in the morning from Brownhills and other nearby areas to get to their shifts.

Patricia said of the photo:

Many locals used to work at Streetly Works. Myself included in the mid sixties.

This photo is before my time there, but my aunt is on there and she dates it at around 1944 /1946.

If you can identify anyone in this photo, or have memories of The Streetly Works, or any other local factory, please do get in touch – and thanks to Patricia for a great contribution. Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

 

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The Big Bike Revival – at Walsall Arboretum this Sunday!

Well, this gets my seal of approval…

Also tomorrow (Sunday 1st July 2018) there’s a cycling event at Walsall Arboretum from 11am until 3pm, where you can get your steed checked out for free, child learn to ride taster sessions, watt bike challenge and other fun bike-related stuff.

If you’re thinking about cycling more, or getting the family on two wheels, this could be a great event for you!

Walsall Arboretum said:

Few things in life are better than a cycle ride, whether it’s to visit friends, a daily commute or a trip into the countryside.

Join Walsall Arboretum’s `Big Bike Revival` Sunday 1st July 2018
Free activities for all the family – Dust off your bike and bring it to the Arboretum for a Free safety check. Get back on 2 wheels and roll through this glorious Summer!

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Brownhills Motor Sales at Streets Corner – what do you know?

Brownhills Motor Sales, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. Part of the Ralph Ferrie empire as featured in the Lichfield Mercury in July, 1957.

Old pal of the blog Alvin Cox contacted me yesterday asking if I had any images of the motor sales workshop/garage that existed at Streets Corner, Walsall Wood, before the Co-op was built: Latterly it was Saturn Motor Sales.

He asked:

Hi Bob

Can you remember a garage/workshop that used to be situated at Streets Corner where the new Co-op is now, where it also used to be Saturn motors?

If so do you have any photos of said garage?  i

If not can you put the word out to your thousands of readers; photos required . many thanks

Alvin Cox.

The only photo I can immediately think of is from the Lichfield Mercury advert from 1957 which came from an anonymous donor in 2012 (and seems to have been photographed from microfiche).

Brownhills Motor Sales was, of course, part of the sizeable Ferrie empire. Note there were multiple branches.

Thanks to Alvin for a great , thought provoking enquiry!

It’s be great to get better images, or folks’ memories. – if you have anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail for com. Cheers!

The picture above came from this advert – clearly pushing a growing, can-do style of business. From what I can tell, Ralph was always up for doing a deal. From the Lichfield Mercury, July 1957.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Features, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Events for Armed Forces Weekend – get your car washed, and flypasts and fun at the National Memorial Arboretum

I also note that up until 4pm today (Saturday 30th June 2018) you can get your wheels washed at the Crown in Aldridge (yeah, that’s the Elms for us oldsters) in aid of Armed Forces Day – so what’s not to love?

I notice the Crown is engaging well with the local community at the moment which can’t be a bad thing – check out their Facebook page here for all they’ve got going on.

On the matter of Armed Forces Day/Weekend, loads of stuff on at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas too today (if you’re quick) and tomorrow (Sunday 1st July 2018) – why not check it out?

You can find out more at their Facebook page here.

The National Memorial Arboretum announced:

Thousands of people have descended on the Arboretum today for the site’s flagship event to celebrate Armed Forces Day Weekend. Soak up the sunshine and enjoy a host of FREE fun activities and entertainment.

We’re open until 5pm today (Saturday 30 June) and from 9am until 5pm tomorrow (Sunday 1 July). #ArmedForcesDay2018 #SaluteOurForces

Don’t miss the Lancaster* Flypast today (Sat), Spitfire* Flypast (Sun), Parachute drop* (Sun), Live music, Costumed Interpreters, Children’s craft, Food and Gift Fair, WW1 Assault Course, Climbing Wall, Zip Line, Inflatable Airbag, Archery, Forklift Basketball and much more!

Image from the National Memorial Arboretum Facebook page.

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2018 Burntwood Wakes on right now!

A great tradition continues!

Sorry, running very behind today but there’s a great family fun event right now up in Burntwood (Saturday 30th June 2018) with the annual Burtnwood Chase Wakes festival kicking off at Burntwood Leisure Centre from 12-4pm.

There will be food, fun activities for all ages, competitions, live bands… so why not get up there?

If you attend, why not send in some pictures?

Family Fun Day – Free Entry

Get set for an amazing afternoon of fun and entertainment at the Burntwood Wakes Festival Family Fun Day.

Official Opening Performed by Mr Michael Fabricant MP.

Activities and attractions on offer include: * FREE Under 10’s funfair rides * FREE Mini Zoo * FREE Chase Play Bus * FREE Face Painting * FREE Punch and Judy * FREE Wonder Wheelers * FREE Games Arena * FREE 18x18ft Large Bouncy Castle * FREE 70ft Ultimate Challenge Assault Course * FREE Wipeout Sweeper * FREE 20ft Mega Slide * FREE Over 10’s Scream Funfair Ride * FREE Army Reserves * FREE Static Bird of Prey Display * FREE Family Roller Coaster

FREE Arena attractions include: * B.F.A.B. Street Dance * Attitude Juniorz and Seniorz Dance Group * Illusion Juniorz and Seniorz Dance Group * Uttoxeter Heart of Oak Morris Men * Flyball Dog Agility * PQA Lichfield *Balliamo Ladies

* Community Safety Information Stalls * Catering Stalls * Charity Stalls * Craft Stalls

FREE taster sessions at Burntwood Leisure Centre

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no public parking at the  Leisure Centre (with the  exception of blue badge holders who must display their blue badges)  – shuttle buses available

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A5 Live in 2018!

A great local music festival returns.

Long term readers will remember the annual music and fun festival that’s taken place on the smallholding just off the A5 at Newtown, Brownhills – formerly called Cockfest (because it took place on a chicken farm), last year becoming A5 Live.

This year the music, entertainment and fun returns, and takes place from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th August 2018, and tickets are now on sale.

When I have details of bands playing and other attractions, I’ll post them here.

Preparations for the local music and fun spectacular are well underway

You can get tickets from the A5 Live website here or by emailing A5Live@outlook.co.uk. You can check out the festival Facebook page here, too.

I wish everyone the best for this and it’s always good to see local music events.

Can’t grumble at those prices!

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Everyone back to school! A great reunion coming this Saturday!

What a great idea!

Oh my (school) days, there’s a terrific thing going on at Brownhills Community Centre, what my generation called the Annex but was originally the Central Boys School – there’s going to be a celebration, reunion and open day for those who remember the days of that particular school yard.

It’s taking place this Saturday 30th June 2018 from 11am until 3pm at the former school, now Brownhills Community Centre, and there will be memory-jogging tours of the building you knew so well, archive photo displays, real school meals (including concrete and custard!) a film show of old Brownhills and loads of people to chat to and reminisce about the days of Mr. Massey and co.

A wonderful image from 1962 and the days of the Boy’s School sent in by Malcolm Jamison.

There are some great pics of this old days in this post here

The day itself is free, but if you want to partake of lunch, it’s £5 for mains and pud, and you can book in advance at the link in the text below.

Brownhills Community Centre wrote:

ALL BACK TO BROWNHILLS CENTRAL SCHOOL
Open Day Saturday 30th June 11am – 3pm

You may know it as the Boys’ School, Central School, the Annexe or the Activity Centre. The building has been all these things, and has now been extensively refurbished in its new role as Brownhills Community Centre and The Lamp.

You may not know that it has a fully-equipped Ladies’ Gym, a cinema/theatre/concert venue with bar, a nursery, a motorcycle training centre, a computer suite, rooms for hire for parties and training and a wide variety of activities to suit every interest. Its facilities are for everyone, local or further afield.

The building is 125 years old this year, and to celebrate we are hosting a Back to School open day on 30th June. The whole Centre will be open for you to look around, a chance to reminisce or to explore the new facilities.

We have a big archive of photographs which will be on display. Perhaps you’ll be in some of them! We will also be serving (edible) school dinners.

Free parking via Pelsall Road entrance. WS8 7JE.

The open day is free, no need to book. School dinners need to be booked in advance. £5 gets you 2 choices of main meal and pudding, including concrete and custard! Tickets from (no booking fee): https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-lamp-arts-centre

If you haven’t yet visited th Community Centre, you really are missing out; it’s a busy and welcoming hive of activity with a great atmosphere operated by a lovely community of dedicated folk, located in the old Annex or Brownhills Central Boys School right there on the Miner Island in Brownhills. You can find out more here.

Please ring the crew on 01543 452 119 if you have any queries or need any help or email: info@thelamparts.co.uk.

There’s loads going on at the Activity Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills!

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Community fun day – this Saturday!

I love a good summer fair…

There’s a great Community Fun Day taking place this Saturday 30th June 2018 at St. James Church, Brownhills, from 11am.

There will be all the usual summer treats and fun – including cakes and refreshments, barbecue, tombola, raffle and all manner of entertainment for all the family.

It looks like being a great day, so why not get up there?

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Thousands of pounds worth of damage caused in vandalism incident at Brownhills School – did you see anything?

The staff car park is along the fence adjacent to the Black Path and Common: Someone must have seen something. Imagery from Apple maps.

This is an urgent appeal for help from the headmistress of Brownhills School, Helen Keenan, who got in touch via Twitter today to tell me that there had been an nasty incidence of severe vandalism to cars parked at the school yesterday evening (Monday 25th June 2018) during a parents evening.

She said:

Really mindless and horrible criminal damage caused to cars in our car park between 5-7.30 pm last night.

Tarmac rocks thrown from behind fence on black path. Did you see anything?

Reward for information. Damage is £1,000’s. Let’s catch them ASAP.

This is just awful – at that time there must have been lots of people out and about walking dogs and taking the air – if you saw something, please do contact the school or police.

You can contact Brownhills School by calling 01543 452886 or emailing them here on postbox@brownhills.walsall.sch.uk

You can also contact Walsall Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you want me to pass on information in confidence, please feel free to contact me BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – discretion assured.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Environment, Events, It makes me mad!, Local Blogs, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A belated, but heartfelt happy birthday to Aer Reg!

Aer Reg contemplating the unveiling of the refurbished George Fullelove Memorial Shelter at The Parade, Brownhills. Image Kindly supplied by David Evans.

Yesterday (Monday 25th June 2018), this post was supposed to be automatically published at 6am. Sadly, I forgot to tick a box and didn’t notice, so it never saw the light of day.

I’m rectifying that now: Happy (belated) birthday to the Grandfather of the Brownhills Blog, Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove, now resident in Norton but a Brownhills lad through and through.

Reg is a wonderful local historian, poet and community elder, and his comments on the blog have their own cult following and we all love every one. But more than that Reg has donated over the years a huge amount of meterial, from films like this one of the 1934 Brownhills Carnival that opened up the remarkable history of Edgar Pritchard, to photos of old times, to local ephemera, great tales of his youth and of course, his brilliant poetry.

Happy Birthday for yesterday old lad, you’re a star and the blog would not be what it is today without you.

Apologies for the delay, Reg. We all of us here look up to you, and I can’t think of a better Grandfather the blog could have – but you’re not just that, you’re a most excellent friend to us all, too.

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Blooming hard work for canal volunteers – can you help?

Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust volunteers preparing the Garden of Reflection. Image from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

Tom Reid from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust has been in touch to let us know aboutGarden of Reflection they’re creating near the canal under restoration near Lichfield, and how they’re helping with Britain in Bloom.

If you’re unaware of the local canal restoration that’s steadily progressing this excellent blog post by Christine Howles explains more about it. The trust run regular work parties and all are very much welcome, whether you’ve a specialist skill or not!

At the moment, the volunteers are not only beavering away on the route of the lost line between Barracks Lane, Ogley Hay and The Boat restaurant, on the Lichfield Road at Summerhill, but also at several sites, including this one between Wall and Lichfield, Borrowcop on the A51 at Lichfield, and other places along the route of the lost line.

To find out more, please pop along to the Lichfield and Hateherton Canal Restoration Trust website here.

Tom Reid wrote:

The Mayor of Lichfield Councillor Janice Greaves with Peter Buck and Christine Bull at the launch of the Garden of Reflection project at Gallows Wharf. Image from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

BLOOMING HARD WORK FOR CANAL VOLUNTEERS

Lichfield’s canal trust has launched a project to recreate the city’s historic Gallows Wharf, incorporating planting areas in a Garden of Reflection.

The garden will become part of Blooming Lichfield’s entry for Britain in Bloom, the nationwide community gardening competition led by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Gallows Wharf, near the junction of London Road and Tamworth Road, is on the route of the Lichfield Canal, which is being restored by Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust.

It is close to the site of the city’s gallows, originally erected in 1532, where on June 1, 1810, the last three men to be hanged in Lichfield met their fate, for forging and uttering forged banknotes.

It was also at Gallows Wharf that stained glass windows rescued from a dissolved abbey in Herkenrode, Belgium, were unloaded from canal boats on their way to Lichfield Cathedral in 1803.

The Mayor of Lichfield, Councillor Janice Greaves, launched the Garden of Reflection project on Thursday May 10 by unveiling a bench set in a small planted area and planting an oak tree.

Coun Greaves said: ‘I hope many people will stop along here, will sit here and reflect.’

The Trust’s engineering director Peter Buck explained that on the opposite side of the canal a garden representing the original wharf with two crane bases and a large container will be planted up and made ready for the Britain in Bloom competition judging in July.

‘Gallows Wharf is a historic part of the canal, and the city. It was here when the canal was built in 1797,’ he said.

‘We have an enormous amount of work to do. We have yet to build the wharf, we have yet to build the flower beds and we have yet to plant them, so there’s a lot of work to do between now and the 26thof July.

‘Today is the project launch of the Lichfield in Bloom work that we are doing at Gallows Wharf.

Members of the Foresters Scouts Group working on the narrow boat on Tamworth Road. Image from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust.

‘We’d like to thank Councillor Colin Greatorex of Staffordshire County Council who provided a grant that kickstarted this work off.

‘Literally eight weeks ago there was nothing here, no flower beds, no trellis, none of the work on the wharf. This has all been carried out by our volunteers.’

Another part of the Trust’s contribution to Blooming Lichfield is taking shape a little way down Tamworth Road where a representation of a 70ft narrow boat is being built by students from Queens Croft School and the Foresters Scout Group with help from the Trust’s chairperson Christine Bull.

Flowers will be planted along the length the boat, which is being made using wooden pallets and willow cuttings and a cabin built by Trust volunteer Tony Cadwallader.

To find out more about these opportunities for volunteering please click here.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, cycling, Environment, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Morris came to be…

Last week I highlighted what turned out to be a very popular drone film by Danny Whittle that featured a section of The Brownhills Miner – whom many of us know as the Tin Man, Morris or Jigger – and it occurred to me that since he’s been in place for over a decade now, many Browhills residents aren’t old enough or have lived here long enough to know how he came to be.

There’s a really good video that I’ve featured above on his construction from the artist who created him, John McKenna. It’s been about a while but I’ve never got around to posting it here at all, so I thought I’d correct that.

Whilst I’ve expressed strong opinions about the way we came to have the sculpture, like the vast majority of the town, I do love him to bits. Image from my 365days journal.

John always seems to have called his sculpture The Brownhills Colossus, which is interesting considering the enduring debate over his name. There’s an excellent page on his website devoted to the miner, which you can read here, and a quote from it says:

The Brownhills Colossus

A 40 feet high approx 12m high stainless steel fabricated figure. Certainly an example of one of the largest figurative sculptures in the United Kingdom.

The sculpture was designed by John McKenna drawing upon extensive consultation with the local community of Brownhills.

This colossal sculpture was made entirely by John McKenna and his assistants at his studio in Turnberry, Scotland. John does not believe in sub contracting out artwork made in his name. Work sold as his ~ is his.

Whatever your view on the nomenclature or how he came to be, the Brownhills Miner is certainly a landmark and one we’re mostly all very proud of.

Whilst mooching about, I also found this drone footage of The Tin Man Island from last year, posted bon YouTube by Simon Regan:

The original Danny Whittle film of course is below, and has drawn much positive comment.

What do you think about our Brownhills Colossus? Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

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Local cafe burgled overnight – did you see anything?

Images posted by Colliers Cafe on Facebook

In the early hours of this morning (Sunday 24th June 2018) at 2:50am, Colliers Cafe on West Coppice Road, Brownhills was broken into – the proprietors have posted the above images on facebook.

Coppice Side Cafe was apparently also targeted.

This is a shameful attack on people working hard to make a living, and not the first time in recent months this business has been targeted.

I had thought the crime wave of the last twelve months was starting to recede a little now but it seems not. Be vigilant, folks.

The people doing this are doing it to make a quick buck, and can only do that if they have a market for what they steal. If you’re offered anything cheaply, think hard about where it might have come from, and by all means grub the people flogging it into the rozzers – the stuff is probably nicked. Next time, it could be your stuff they take.

Anyone with information on this incident (or any other) is urged to contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or you can speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you want to contact me by email – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – I’m happy to pass any info on in total confidence.

You can of course contact Colliers Cafe via their Facebook page here – and by all means think about them next time you fancy a butty. They’re a great business who have my full support.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local media, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Golden years

A forty year old lineup: Where are these Wood footballers now? Click for a larger version. Images and scans in this post courtesy of David Evans.

Here’s one I’m very surprised that the young David Evans hasn’t murdered me for neglecting – I’ve this for ages  (since last Christmas, in fact) but not found time to assemble it and prep it for the blog, but now seems like as good a time as any – and it’s a cracking bit of Walsall Wood history.

I have pleasure in sharing the Walsall Wood Football Club Golden Jubilee Brochure, from the 1977-1978 season – and in-between then and now as League Champions. the club went through some very tough times so it’s remarkable they survived.

I believe the history of the club actually goes a lot further back than 1928, but is largely lost in the mists of time: However in 1978 it was acknowledged to be 50 years old and the brochure is a thing of wonder, with lots of details and photos of team lineups, the youth team and more.

You can click on any page in the gallery below, or download a searchable PDF version by clicking here.

I have no idea where David found this gem but it’s really wonderful – and sure to bring back lots of memories. My thanks to David for being so very patient and for sharing a really great thing, as ever. Our shared history would be much the poorer were it not for David. And of course his patience with my tardiness…

If you’ve got anything to say, please feel free – comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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The boat that they rowed – how about some Shire Oak and Walsall Wood Youth Club memories?

Sue Mason said ‘This is another photo from Walsall wood youth club Aprox 1972ish. The youth club as I remember was given this boat and the plan was that the members would work on it and get it sea worthy… I don’t remember that ever happening! But a great photo again from the Walsall Observer… Can anyone remember all the names I’m having a good think 🤔 I’m happy for people to share.’

Here are a couple of wonderful photos from Walsall Wood Youth Club in the late 60s and early 70s that local lady Sue Mason recently posted to old pal Janey Hatfield’s brilliant, growing Walsall Wood group on Facebook, where Sue also posted a request for ex-Shire Oak pupils who might like to attend regular meet-ups in the village.

Sue said:

Is it possible to post on here our Saga Louts/Shire Oak oldies meet ups that we have every few months?

We are all ex pupils of Shire Oak circa 1968 ish around the ages of 50-65

We meet up at the Royal Exchange Walsall wood and our next one is Friday evening July 20th 2018.

We have quite a few regulars would be lovely to see some newbies 👍

Hope that’s ok xxx

Sue has allowed me to share her brilliant images here too, for which I’m very grateful – do you recognise anyone or have any memories of these times? Please do comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Of course if you want to jog your memory about that lost youth club, David Evans posted a fantastic photo-tour of the building a couple of years ago which you can see here.

I also like to again give a headsup for Janey Hatfield’s Walsall Wood Facebook group that’s centred around (but by no means limited to) memories of Walsall Wood.

It’s a busy, well moderated group with lots of members and lots of interesting images posted including these here. There’s always great discussion going on there, in a warm, funny and relaxed atmosphere.

You can check out ‘We are The Wood…’ by clicking here you’ll need to join up but once in, it’s great..

Please do pop along and check the group out – it’s a fine place and if you’re a resident of The Wood, or just remember it fondly, it’s a great place to check out and shoot the breeze.

Sue Mason said ‘This is a photo of Walsall wood youth club Aprox 1969 – our theme was ‘Hillbillies’ but most of us just wore our Ben Sherman checked shirts and Levis (had to look cool 😎) It was for Brownhills Carnival … I can name quite a few …but please feel free to share I’m ok with it!’

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Fancy some feelgood live music? Catch 3QA at The Lamp, Brownhills this Saturday!

3QA are bringing the feel good music to The Lamp in Brownhills this Saturday – click link for more info.

There’s a splendid concert being staged this Saturday evening 23rd June 2018 at the Lamp Arts Theatre at Brownhills Activity Centre, just on the Miner Island in the centre of Brownhills – from 7:30pm, feel good vocal four piece 3QA will be celebrating their first year together with some great music and entertainment.

Janet Davies said:

We are delighted to announce that 3QA (Three Quarters Allen) will be playing The Lamp Arts Centre in Brownhills this Saturday 23rd June2018!

The 23rd June is a very special date for us, as it marks a year since the first gig we ever played as a group!

We intend to celebrate this anniversary in style, so come down to the Lamp Arts Centre for some true feel-good music!

3QA rehearsing hard (!) for their big show here at The Lamp tomorrow (Saturday 23rd, 7.30pm). Lovely venue, free parking, bar.

Tickets only a fiver – going fast at Lunchtime of Friday – just a few remaining!

Get your tickets booked online here or call us on 01543 452119

If you haven’t yet visited The Lamp for a show, you really are missing out; it’s a wonderfully modern and intimate community theatre with a wonderful atmosphere operated by a lovely community of dedicated folk, located in the old Annex or Brownhills Central Boys School right there on the Miner Island in Brownhills. You can find out more here.

There are several ways that you can purchase tickets for The Lamp Arts events. For all events, tickets can be ordered by Post. Telephone or Email. For some events, tickets can be ordered and paid for online.

All details can be found at this link here.

Please ring the crew on 01543 452 119 if you have any queries or need any help or email: info@thelamparts.co.uk.

There’s loads going on at the Activity Centre on the Miner Island in Brownhills!

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Morris Miner and Brownhills – as you’ve never seen them before!

Morris from aa very unusual angle. Image from a drone video recorded by Danny Whittle.

A remarkable drone video has been posted on YouTube by Danny Whittle, who lives in Sidmouth, but I believe is a local lad at heart, and his 17 minute video shows the town from a whole bunch of new angles

As you know, I love drone photography and have previously featured such photography by local lad Steve Martin and also a flight video of the new housing development at Silver Court Gardens in Brownhills.

Thanks to Danny for a wonderful chance to see our area from a new angle, I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future!

If you spot anything, please feel free to comment here or drop me a line – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!

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Chatting with Brownhills – a great new book of Brownhills memories is still available!

Chatting with Brownhills is launched – image supplied by Janet Grinnell.

A month or so ago I pointed out that there was an excellent new book out of Brownhills memories gathered orally by folks undertaking a project based at Knaves Court extra care facility, near Anchor Bridge in Brownhills.

I got my copy a few weeks ago and it is truly wonderful, and highly recommend it. I’m glad to see work being done with the elderly hereabouts to capture their memories while we can. Such things are the lifeblood of local history and it’s great to see them preserved.

The book is just £4.99 which is very pocket-pleasing indeed, and if you have one of those Kindle things it’s only £1.99 in electronic form, so what’s not to love? To buy your copy, click here.

Janet Grinnell wrote:

Hi Bob

I wonder if you’d be able to help us spread the word about our new Brownhills book, ‘Chatting with Brownhills’?  I know that local history and the community are two of your by-words and this should hopefully be of interest to you and your readers.

Over the last few months we’ve chatted to, and recorded the memories of, people from across the Brownhills area.  Local churches, clubs, support groups have all taken part with us, as well as individuals (some well known to your readers, others who’ve never before been involved in anything like this). The idea was to recognise the immense value of individual memories when looking at local history, and see them as something to preserve and cherish.

The book hasn’t been set out as a history text book – from the word go it was never intended to be. Instead its focus is on the community that makes up Brownhills rather than its changing bricks and mortar. It’s been written as a conversation between all the wonderful people who agreed to take part, with the local history snippets as a brilliant bonus. Hopefully, for those who’ve never before thought about the history of their local area, this will inspire them to find out more.

I’m Janet, activities co-ordinator at Knaves Court, and I’ve edited the book on behalf of the residents there. Quite a few of them follow you regularly and it would be wonderful if you could help us get the word out and share our enthusiasm.

(The book is now available on Amazon.)

Thanks a lot for your time and help.

Janet Grinnell
Activities Coordinator

Direct Dial 0370 192 4204
Knaves Court, High Street, Brownhills, Walsall, WS8 6DJ
Website: www.housingandcare21.co.uk
Follow us: Facebook / Twitter (@HousingCare21) / Linkdin

Thanks to Janet for letting me know and apologies for the time delay in publishing the plug.

If you get a copy, I’d love to hear what you think: Comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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Do please be deer aware!

This is really important with the deer currently preparing to nurture their young.

Whist out and about on Sunday 17th June 2018, I came upon deer at Chasewater and at Cannock Chase who were either heavily pregnant or who had young fawns – cute as they are, this is a time to give the new mums and babies plenty of respectful, quiet space if we can.

As the days move on to high summer, the females will be straying from their normal herd groupings and places to find quiet cover to give birth, and then they’ll be quite protective of their young.

A very long-range photo (hence the poor quality) showing heavily pregnant fallow deer on the Chase on Sunday. They were skittish, and clearly easily spooked.

I know we all love these beautiful, majestic creatures and seeing them on the commons and green spaces hereabouts is always a treat – but at the moment, the ladies will be truculent and intolerant of dogs and nuisance.

If you’re in a place where there are likely to be deer, make sure your dog is on a lead, and keep your distance. This is true at any time especially at Chasewater where morons with out of control animals every year are responsible for scared deer and disturbed nesting birds – please don’t be like them; control your hounds please.

If you’re lucky you’ll see fawns as they become mobile and believe me, they have cute in bucketloads – but if you find one alone, heed the warning above; leave well alone and don’t touch because momma will be back!

These bathing beauties were spotted taking a dip in the canal near Chasewater back at this time in 2017 by good pal and top fellow blogger Linda Mason.

This is, however a great time of year to spot deer if you’re responsible, and who knows you may spot them bathing like Linda did above and Angela Morris recorded in 2016 when she created the following footage. My thanks to Angela for sharing it.

I think almost everyone hereabouts love the deer, and they are wonderful to watch. Please do, but do so responsible – and feel free to share any footage you create!

Thanks, all.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Cannock Chase, Chasewater, Clayhanger stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Lane closed for emergency sewer repairs – It’s a tough jobbie but someone’s gotta do it

Tankers are currently hoovering sludge out of the sewers in Green Lane just outside the waterworks entrance.

Just a quick note for those if might affect: The section of Green Lane Walsall Wood between the end of the houses by the Black Cock pub and the water works entrance is currently completely closed to through traffic, and has been since yesterday (Monday 18th June2018) due to emergency sewer repairs.

A sewage feeder or main appears to be blocked or collapsed, and the road is closed to permit suction tankers pumping raw sewage out of the line  and discharging in manually. These is a continual operation carried out by several tankers in relay.

The road is therefore closed to allow the operation to continue, and also to facilitate getting plant on site to effect a repair.

The job is the responsibility of Severn Trent Water, who handle our sewage (yuck!) but Walsall Council issued the following statement:

Please be aware that Green Lane Is Walsall Wood Is currently closed between the junctions of Mob Lane and Oakwood Close whilst a contractor working on behalf of Severn Trent Water undertakes emergency sewer repairs.

Signed diversion routes are in operation for affected traffic using Green Lane, Mill Road, A461 Lichfield Road, A461 Walsall Road and Hall Lane and vice versa.

Access to adjacent properties will be maintained wherever it is safe and possible to do and adjacent businesses will be open and trading as usual throughout the duration of work.

This is a live incident and unexpected, so it’s unclear how long the closure will stay in place; but be warned – at the moment there is absolutely no through road from Walsall Wood to Shelfield along Green Lane and vice versa.

This will obviously cause ongoing traffic disturbance, particularly for the school run. Please be patient; all adjoing roads and businesses are open and the signed diversion is via the A461 Lichfield Road.

Whilst I can understand the irritation this situation will cause, please remember these are dedicated folk working to fix a problem with our sewerage. Without them we’d probably be knee deep in sewage right now. Please be respectful to those doing the job.

Comments or observations? Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Don’t be a tanker. Thanks.

These machines need room to operate, and for workers to move around, so Green Lane is closed to all through traffic.

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Above and beyond at Chasewater again – and a closer look at the dam house

It’s always nice to see local drone photography and I’m very pleased and honoured to share this set fro former Brownhills lad Steve Martin, whose incredible and high quality work I’ve featured here before.

Steve has this time taken a closer look at Chasewater and the derelict dam house that is of so much interest to so many people. This set compliments his previous one of Chasewater in May. it’s interesting to see the increasing greenery of summer between the two sets.

Steve uses a professional-level DJI drone, and is very skilled in using it to obtain stunning images and video – his last gallery, of Chasewater and Brownhills Common went down reallyy well. A few months ago, I featured film and images Steve kindly shared from a daytime flight where he recreated a wonderful 1960s image of Brownhills as it is today, and later, his stunning night flight over Brownhills.

You can regularly see other examples of Steve’s work on his usual haunt, the popular and fascinating Old photos from Hednesford, Chadsmoor and Cannock group on Facebook,

Steve grew up in Brownhills where his family had the chip shop that used to be on the Lichfield Road, Brownhills for a while, and Steve has great memories of the Lichfield Road area, of which I’m still looking for old images if you know to any, please do get in touch.

Thanks to Steve for yet another beautiful gallery, and Steve is happy to talk about his work if you’re interested. You can hook up with him on Facebook here.

Comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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