If you didn’t know it, you can meet a Poet at Brownhills Library this Wednesday!

The Parkview Centre is a central landmark in Brownhills – Picture by John M and posted on Geograph under a Creative Commons License.

This Wednesday, 24th May 2017 it’ll be a rather special day at Brownhills Library in the Parkview Centre as Brownhills adopts its own poet for a day!

Centre visitors can meet top poet Sarah James, and maybe have their own poem compiled for them – they can also chat and find out what it’s like to be an award-winning writer.

Walsall Council said:

Brownhills readers invited to ‘fish’ for poems

Readers and poetry lovers could have a poem penned just for them as Brownhills Library ‘Adopts a Poet’ for the day.

Visitors to Brownhills Library will get the chance to ask prize-winning poet Sarah James for their own personal poem when she spends a day in residence there on Wednesday 24 May.

Sarah James has many fans – and she’s in Brownhills this Wednesday. Image from The Poetry Shed.

This project is part of an exciting Arts Council England funded scheme organised by Nine Arches Press and West Midlands Readers’ Network to take poets and live poetry into libraries.

As part of this innovative project, Sarah will also be at hand to answer questions about her writing life, her Nine Arches Press’ collection ‘plenty-fish’ and to take requests for poems from people waiting at the GP surgery adjacent to the library in the Park View Centre.

Throughout the day, Sarah will also be tweeting about her poetry adventures there, including highlights and snippets from some of these new poems.

The day’s events at Brownhills Library will culminate in a reading from Sarah and fellow prize-winning Nine Arches Press poet David Clarke. This free reading from ‘plenty-fish’ and David’s collection ‘Arc’ will take place from 4.00pm to 5.00pm, including the chance for book signing and for people to quiz Sarah and David with their reading, writing and poetry questions.

Sarah said:

“I’m really excited to explore the library at Brownhills, to meet the staff and readers there and find out about their lives, poetry loves and favourite reads.”

‘I’m also looking forward to being challenged to turn the experiences they share with me into poems for them to take away and enjoy.’

Nine Arches Press said:

‘We are delighted to be bringing poets to libraries across the West Midlands region – funding from Arts Council England and our partnership with the West Midlands Readers Network, has meant we’ve been able to plan some fantastic and imaginative residencies with our poets in vibrant libraries at the heart of several local communities.’

Brownhills Library is open from 9am-6pm, Tuesday – Friday and 9am-4pm Saturday. The library is based at Park View Centre, Chester Road North, Brownhills, WS8 7JB. Tel: 01922 650730

The event is free, and open to all, so why not pop along to the Park View Centre and meet a great and popular poet?

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

The Portman Collection – part ten: The appliance of science

Image 33: Working hard on something academic, at desks so many of us will remember. Anyone recognise the pupils working hard? Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.

In the tenth and sadly penultimate serialised article of what will turn out to be a series of eleven, here’s the next batch of photos from Walsall Wood Secondary School in the 1950s  as introduced in this blog post here – sadly, these images don’t have notes, so contributions are most welcome, as ever.

This set (again, I’ve gone slightly out of order – you’ll see why in the last group next week) features mainly academic stuff and science lessons – but I’m sure some folk will be recognised and the images are so universal they’ll bring memories flooding back for all readers.

Thanks to Tony Portman who generously granted access to a remarkable collection, and to David Evans for scanning them so diligently. People like you gentlemen are keeping local history alive. Thank you.

Please, any comments, contributions or observations welcome. Either comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Image 34: This is one of my favourite photos of the set. Does anyone know who this elegant lady is and where the science lab was? Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.

Image 28: No goggles or lab coats back then, but good practice for cooking up some … home made concoctions later. Anyone remember the… pyrotechnic fun to be had with a weedkiller recipe? Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.

Image 39: So the hall, which featured the gym classes and footy team (note the hoops hanging at the back and the vaulting horse, supporting actor in the previous set) was also for dining. Oh my, the jugs, Arcoroc glasses and cruet. Anyone recognise the pupils and dinner staff featured, please? Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.

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The Metz office?

1:10,000 Ordnance Survey plan of upper Brownhills High Street and Ogley Hay from 1884. Some remarkable lost places. Image from NLS archive. Click for a larger version.

An intriguing enquiry reaches me from local historian and blog dynamo the young David Evans, who’s after a rather specific bit of history relating to a lost courtyard of dwellings in Brownhills High Street Called ‘The Metz’.

I’ll let David elaborate:

Hi Bob

I wonder if your kind readers can help, please

Specifically, when  was the Metz, a courtyard of dwellings off Brownhills High Street, demolished?

Also the same question for Ogley Square and Heath End’s poor dwellings?

Chats with local people over a few years have brought contradictory views, suggesting that reliable details have been lost with the passing or time.

kind regards

David

I must confess, I’ve never heard of The Metz. Was it St. James Place, as shown on the map snippet at the top of this post? That would be about opposite where Silver Court is today.

Not sure about Heath End, but we’ve covered Ogley Square and the notorious Hill Sisters from news reports of the time here before in 2013 – see the feature below, Ogley Square would be gone by 1937, to be replaced by the now also lost Wheatsheaf pub.

That map though – some interesting places I never noticed. Seven House Row up on Lichfield Road? Vernon Lodge? Tory Row?

Can you help David please? Thanks to the lad for a great enquiry. Comment here or mail me with what you know: Brownhillsbob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

untitled-413-2

Ogley Square, as featured in a previous Lichfield Mercury article.

BROWNHILLS PLAN TO WIPE OUT HOUSES.

BIGGEST SLUM CLEARANCE SCHEME IN THE DITRICT.

HOTLY OPPOSED BY THE OWNERS.

‘UNFIT TO LIVE IN’ SAYS URBAN COUNCIL.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH ENQUIRY

FOR THE PURPOSES OF HEARING THE OPPOSITION ON BEHALF OF THE PROPERTY OWNERS TO THE SUGGESTED SLUM CLEARANCE SCHEME AT OGLEY SQUARE, BROWNHILLS, A MINISTRY OF HEALTH INQUIRY WAS RE-OPENED AT THE COUNCIL OFFICES AT BROWNHILLS, ON TUESDAY MORNING. THE INSPECTOR CONDUCTING THE INQUIRY WAS MR. R.M. LOVE F.R.I.S.A., AND MR. NORMAN WAINE PRESENTED THE CASE FOR THE LOCAL COUNCIL. MR. W. FIELD INSTRUCTED BY MESSERS CRUMP AND JESSON, OF WALSALL) APPEARED FOR THE OWNERS.

Mr. Waine said, in accordance with the provisions of the Housing Act, 1930, and in response to directions urged by the ministry, his Council had duly submitted to the Minister the five-year plan for the Brownhills urban district. The clearance of the areas known as Ogley Square was provided for in the plan, and his Council considered that the time had arrived when the provisions of the Act should be put into operation with regard to that area.

HIS COUNCIL HAD RECEIVED FROM THEIR HELATH DEPARTMENT CERTAIN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIONS, A COPY OF WHICH HAD BEEN DULY FORWARDED TO THE DEPARTMENT. AFTER HAVING CAREFULLY CONSIDERED THOSE REPRESENTATIONS HIS COUNCIL WERE SATISFIED THAT  – AS REGARDS THAT AREA – THE DWELLING HOUSES WERE UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION BY REASON OF DISREPAIR AND SANITARY DEFECTS. ALSO THAT THE HOUSE WERE DANGEROUS AND INJURIOUS TO THE HEALTH OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE AREA BY REASON OF THEIR BAD ARRANGEMENT. FURTHER THAT THE OTHER BUILDINGS IN THE AREAS WERE FOR A LIKE REASON SO DANGEROUS AND INJURIOUS TO THE HEALTH OF THE INHABITANTS.

His council were unanimously of opinion that the most satisfactory method of dealing with the conditions in the area was in the demolition of all the buildings in the area.

The following statutory procedure has been complied with:-

(1)   The Council had caused the are to be defined on a map.

(2)   The Council had satisfied themselves that they could provide such accommodation (in advance of displacement) as would be necessary, and further to that the Council’s resources were sufficient for the carrying into effect of their resolution.

(3)   The Council had passed a Resolution declaring the area to be a clearance area.

(4)   The Council had transmitted to the Minister a copy of all resolutions passed by them with regard to this matter, together with a statement of the number of persons of the working classes occupying the buildings comprised in the area.

(5)   Notice of the making of the order and of the place where the order and map might be inspected was duly published in the prescribed form and manner.

(6)   Notice of owners, lessors and occupiers were duly served in accordance with Clause 2 (b) of the first Schedule to the Act.

(7)   With a view to the clearance of the area his Council by resolution duly made an order for securing the demolition of the buildings comprised in the area.

The Order required that the buildings should be vacated within a period of six months from the date upon which the Order becomes operative.

Continuing, Mr. Waine said that the area was more than eighty years ago an iron foundry, and now it comprised of thirty dwelling-houses built on .56 of an acre of land, thus giving a density of sixty houses to the area. In comparison the density of per acre for the whole of the Brownhills urban district was .67. The population of the area was 166 persons giving an average of 5.55 persons to each house, as against 4.53 for the whole district. The houses were badly arranged in that there was very bad congestion.

In the centre of the common yard there were twelve w.c.’s and eleven communal wash-houses. Those structures were in a dilapidated condition and took up a considerable portion of the yard.

The drainage of the common yard was very bad indeed, and light to the living rooms and bedrooms of certain of the houses was badly obstructed by the gable ends of others. In wet weather the common yard was nothing less than a quagmire. Without exception the houses were damp, the dampness being due to the absence of damp-proof courses, defective and porous brickwork or cement, rendering defective roof and chimney flashings and defective leaking roofs. In the majority of the casus the houses were over-run with crickets, blackbeetles and cockroaches and the house were below the general standard of working class houses in the district. There was a general lack of air space.

The foregoing particulars, said Mr. Waine, were prepared for the original inquiry, and since that date the position had not improved by any means, it had degenerated very considerably, and the house were a good deal worse than they were then.

There had been a suggestion made that the front block of houses in Ogley Road and either of the side blocks should be allowed to stand. His council Health Officers would not agree with that point of view. If they were allowed to stand it would certainly reduce the congestion to some extent but not nearly sufficiently.

HOUSING DENSITY

The Council would not consider 26 homes for the acre.

The inspector: You are aiming at a density of 12 to 14.

MR. WAINE: WE APPRECIATE  TWELVE IS IDEAL FOR WHICH WE WORK FOR NEW PROPERTY. TWENTY SIX IS AGAINST MY COUNCIL’S OPINION, EVEN FOR OLD PROPERTY. APART FROM CONGESTION THE SANITARY INSPECTOR HAS ESTIMATED THAT FOR THE HOUSES SUGGESTED TO MAKE THEM HABITABLE THE COST WOULD BE SOMETHING TREMENDOUS AND IN THE REGION OF £1000.

Mr. Hunt. Do you know this property is still in trust to the Hill family?- Yes.

Do you know it was allocated to the misses Hill in November, 1933 – I can not recall it.

Do you know it was allocated to them? – I knew those three ladies were the trustees.

 The first time any complaint was suggested against the property was in November, 1933. – I could not say that.

Was that the first time it was made up? – It was the first time it came before the council for this purpose.

Will you accept it was the first time the Misses Hill had any knowledge? – Yes.

And at that time they had possessed it only since September, 1933? – If you tell me that I will accept it.

There had been no official complaint before that? – No

On April 12th 1934, your Council made an order that the property should be demolished, subject to the consent of the Ministry? – Yes.

In April, 1934, you were negotiating with them for the purchase of that property? – Yes

On May 1st, 1934, you entered into a contract to purchase the property, including the premises we are investigating today? – Yes

And subject to the sanctions of the Ministry of Health and the approval of the District Valuer you agreed to buy it? – We did.

Did you agree to pay £2,100? – Yes.

Had you been asked for £2,500? – Yes

When you offered that on behalf of your  Council you thought it was a proper price? – Yes

You thought that the property was worth that figure? – We thought the property, including a large amount of land, was worth that figure.

VALUE OF THE PROPERTY 

The council have not inflated ideas and have to be careful don’t they? – Yes, they have to be.

When you offered that you must have put some value on the property? – A very small amount.

Do you content the land in that part of Brownhills is worth £400 an acre.

The Inspector: I do not think this is relevant. The price is bound up with the District Valuer.

Mr Hunt (to Mr. Waine): Are you suggesting that land in that part of Brownhills is worth £400 an acre? – No. We considered the break-up value.

I suggest it was much more than break up value. – The Council build by direct labour, and they would be able to use materials to advantage which ordinary builders would not be able to use.

You are certainly allowing something for the houses when you offered £2,000 – We were allowing something, but I could not say considerable

Would it be as much £1,000 for the houses? – I could not tell you.

The houses had some value? – Yes.

What value do you put on the houses? – I am afraid there was no definite intrinsic value placed on them.

What value do you place on the land then?

Mr. Waine: Must I answer that?

The Inspector: No, I do not think you are called upon to do so.

Mr. Hunt: I am asking him how he arrived at that figure.

The Inspector: Mr. Waine has explained that it was the opinion of the Council as a whole. Is that not the position?

Mr. Waine: Quite so sir. Unless you direct me I do not wish to reply to that query, because the question of land in Brownhills at the moment is a great point. I do not want to commit my Council or myself.

Mr. Hunt: Will you write it down and avoid publicity?

The Inspector: This inquiry is the reopening of an inquiry held in June last. I think all discussions as to prices of land are irrelevant.

Mr Hunt: It is relevant. When the Council offered that figure they were allowing something for the property. In their mind the were not hopeless house that ought to be pulled down.

The Inspector: I do not think there is much connection there. Whatever merits of demerits there were are eliminated and we start afresh. The object of the inquiry is to determine whether the house are fit or unfit.

Mr. Hunt: I agree. Because they made a very substantial offer it must be that some of the houses were worth something.

The Inspector: There were special reasons, I understand, why that figure was offered.

Mr. Hunt (to Mr. Waine): It was not until October 18th you let us know the offer was off? – That is so.

A COUNTER OFFER

You made a counter offer. Do I take it is still open? – I could not say unless I have my Council’s direction.

It is a misfortune for the Misses Hill – My Council appreciate it is a hardship.

Presumably these are the worst houses in Brownhills? —- They are very bad, but are the only property to come before the Council as being suitable for inclusion in a slum clearance area.

Mr. Hunt then asked Mr. Peacock (the Sanitary inspector) if it were better for the houses to have their own yards, even if they were very small, instead of a number of houses all using one big yard.

Mr. Peacock said he thought it better for them to have one large yard, and he also admitted that arrangements could be made for paths to be made which would prevent the inhabitants of the houses having to walk on the yard, which in wet weather was a quagmire.

Mr. Hunt suggested that if the back row of houses were pulled down then it would allow plenty of air space for the other houses, and as regards congestion, Mr. Peacock said that he would agree to twenty-six houses to the acre, although he thought it rather a large ratio.

On re-consideration Mr. Peacock said that he thought twenty six houses per acre was much too high and withdrew his first statement.

With regards to the question of the dampness of the houses, Mr. Peacock agreed to Mr. Hunts suggestion that the damp could easily be remedied, and he also agreed that the vermin may have been the result of the inhabitants, although the age of the house would make a difference.

Dr. R. C. Bradford, in reply to Mr. Hunt said he could not complain if the houses in Mill Road were left standing, provided that two other blocks were pulled down, and provided they were required and made more habitable.

Mr. Hunt Before there were only earth closets?—- Yes.

That was a decided improvement? —- Yes

Was it a decided and lasting improvement? —- I would not say lasting

They spent £300 twenty years ago and it was waste of money as compared with the improved conditions now? —- Yes. I am very sorry.

Is it only in a few cases where houses in Brownhills, have damp courses? —- Yes, especially with old property.

There must be a good many houses which are damp? —- Yes.

And they are not being demolished? —- No.

ERASE OGLEY SQUARE 

If the defects are remedied within a reasonable time you will be satisfied? —- If the congestion is relieved, and all the defects are remedied you might as well say if you erase Ogley Square and build a new one I will be satisfied.

You know what I mean. Some of the trouble has been lack of repairs during the last twelve months? – Yes

Since November, 1933, it is only reasonable that they have not any extensive repairs if the houses are to be demolished? – Yes, I agree. If I was a property owner and knew houses were to be demolished, I should do as little as possible.

Mr. Waine, If two wings were left standing in good repair that would be satisfactory, – If in a perfect state of repair.

Do you think that is reasonable to be done except at great expense? —- Certainly not.

Frank Fox Harrison, the agent for the property said during the last fourteen years £1,779 had been spent on repairs on that property, and that was an average of £4 per house per annum. At the request of the Council they had erected inside privies, and the Sanitary Inspector said it would be a decided and lasting improvement. In his (witness’s) view it was quite reasonable for the three sides of that property still to remain. Houses 7 to 16 probably ought to go. There was garden land which was not included in the acreage, and if it was it would work out very favourably with any part in Brownhills. He did not agree in general that it was a congested area, and he know a great many worse areas. They had had continual trouble through children playing football and other games in the yard.

It would be an improvement to have footpaths in the yard, and if he had been asked buy the Council he would have advised his clients to have them. The approximate net income was £200 per year. He did not agree that those houses were below the general standard of houses in the district, and as far as could be seen from the exterior he know of many similar houses in the district.

A large majority of the property was quite capable of being saved.

Mr Waine: When were they painted last? – I could not say,

Have they been painted during the last twenty years? – Yes. I think it was about 1925.

What do you attribute the defects to?- In some cases the tenants damage them.

How much do you think it would cost to put the two blocks into condition? – I should think about £300.

Mr. Hunt Submitted if the Order was confirmed it would be a real injury to the Misses Hill, who had only been responsible for the property since September, 1933. There were five ladies entitled to the income from the property, and they were entirely dependant on unearned income. They could imagine that their injury and serious effect on anyone who was dependant on unearned income such a depreciation would make.

The owners had done what they thought was reasonable with the property. They had held their hands since November, 1933, realising it might, but hoped it would not go. Those houses have been and could be again perfectly proper places for habitation.

ogley 2

The original article from the February 8th, 1935 copy of the Lichfield Mercury. Click for a larger version.

Posted in Bad Science, Brownhills stuff, Environment, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, It makes me mad!, Just plain daft, Local History, Local media, Local politics, News, planning, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Claridges – a great local company, but do you remember Percy?

Come to think of it’ I’ve seen susrprisingly few post-war pictures of Walsall Wood High Street. All we seem to have are images like this – beautiful indeed – from John Sale and Bill Mayo’s book ‘Memories of old Walsall Wood’

I’ve had a couple of appeals reach me in the last couple of days, one from Pat at Clartidges, and one from Emma Kempson from Pioneer Magazines in Aldridge who are writing an article celebrating 60 years of the local electrical retailer’s trading.

Claridges is a longstanding and well-respected local company with stores in Brownhills and Walsall Wood, and it’s rare indeed to see an independent electrical sales shop that survives and thrives.

The wonderful local photographer Peter Booth took this image in the 1980s of the Brownhills store.

The only image I have is this one of the Brownhills store, taken by Peter Booth in the 1980s from this set. I shall seek his permission to share it for publication.

Emma wrote:

Hi Bob,

I regularly find information from your blog and have come across it again today, hence my reason for e-mailing.

I am from the Pioneer magazines and I am currently putting together an article for Claridge Electricals. It is their 60th year of trading and so we are writing a little about the history of the business, alongside what services they offer nowadays. Upon a Google search your blogs come up quite often with reference to the late Percy Claridge. I was wondering if you had any information on him or the business, or more importantly, any photographs of either of the shops/the Claridges that we could publish? I have spoken to Percy’s ex wife (now Mrs Reade) and she was most helpful but she was unable to locate any photographs.

If you could help out that would be gratefully appreciated, and we can of course thank you in the article. Not to worry if you don’t have anything but it’s always worth asking!

Many thanks,
Emma Kempson

If you’ve got any memories or photos, please do get in touch. In the mean time, Claridges was the first place I ever saw a digital camera (although not truly digital – technically a video still camera) – the Canon Ion that took bizarre 2 inch floppy discs.

 It was another five years before digital photography took hold.

Any contributions? You’re most welcome. Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

Claridges has always been the go-to place for local electrical goodies: This advert from the Brownhills Gazette, June 1991.

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Travellers encamp at Holland Park

Image sent by reader Susan.

I’ve received a few emails, tweets and Facebook posts pointing out that travellers encamped at Holland Park, Brownhills last Friday, 19th May 2017.

Walsall Council have posted legal notices as required by due process. This is one of the areas where the authority act quickly, and suspect the encampment will be moved on within pretty short shrift.

Obviously, I’m as saddened as anyone else to see the park treated in this manner. Let’s hope for a speedy resolution, as there has been in such cases previously.

Thanks to everyone who’s let me know. This post is intended for information only.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Interesting photos, It makes me mad!, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Theme for a meme…

In the past couple of days, reader and local chap Christopher Evans posted the following, wonderful image he’d taken of Morris, the Brownhills Miner at sunset on Facebook here – I think you’ll agree it’s rather wonderful, so thanks to him for that!

I’ve posted it here because I really think this is a great local image and deserves wider publicity!

A stunning, beautiful image of Brownhills by Christopher Evans. A joy to share – thanks!

Christopher’s image has set me thinking: How about developing some positive, funny memes for Brownhills?

Long time twitter pal and wit Liz Shaw posted this some years ago, which I always adored:

image

Well, it’s sound, ay it?

And on the sunset front, I took this a couple of years ago, and made a meme from it myself:

I was well lucky with this one…

Too right.

So here’s a challenge – lets see your best local images – funny, beautiful or whatever – made into a meme. Keep it positive, but funny is best.

Mail me your works of art – Look forward to what you come up with – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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Life’s rich tapestry – on show at Brownhills Library until Friday!

 

The Parkview Centre is a central landmark in Brownhills – Picture by John M and posted on Geograph under a Creative Commons License.

My apologies for only just spotting this, but there’s a great display of a wonderful community artwork currently ongoing at Brownhills Library in the Parkview Centre, running until next Friday, 26th May 2017.

The display is of the remarkable Walsall Silver Thread Tapestries, and Area Librarian Naomi Jones wrote to tell me:

Brownhills Library will be displaying Walsall Silver Thread Tapestries from 9th May – 26th May , in the library at the Park View Centre.

Celebrating 25 years of bringing community arts to the Borough, The Walsall Silver Thread Tapestries project has produced 11 tapestries illustrated by artist Hunt Emerson and hand stitched by an army of needlework volunteers from the local community.

Each Tapestry features a different area of the borough, capturing Walsall’s living history and diverse geographical communities. Silver Thread’ highlights Walsall’s prominent people, places and events.

Naomi Jones
Area Librarian – Aldridge/Brownhills Area

You can find out more at the project’s Facebook page here.

My apologies to Naomi and anyone else who’s send me mail that’s apparently disappeared: Google re-enabled their spam filter and I’ve just found a treasure trove of useful mail dating back 18 months. Most of it isn’t spam, which has been getting through as normal… Let joy be unconfined.

Here’s a great explanation of the Silver Thread project from Walsall’s ‘Creative Walsall’ Team.

A remarkable community artwork. Image supplied by Creative Walsall.

Launch of Walsall Silver Thread Tapestries

Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team is celebrating 25 years of bringing community arts to Walsall. To mark this occasion the team is launching the Silver Thread Tapestries –11 unique tapestries representing the six towns and other areas in Walsall Borough, created by an army of local volunteers.

To help decide what to feature on the tapestries, workshops were held around the borough in early 2016 and attended by local community groups, history groups, and individuals with an interest in local culture and history.

Each area of the borough had its own story to tell, whether it be the Pelsall poppies, meeting under the clock in Willenhall market place or the excitement when Cilla came for the first Blind Date wedding. The tapestries also tell the story of famous faces from Walsall, including Ellie Simmonds, Noddy Holder, Goldie, Meera Syal and Rob Halford.

Once the content was decided, midlands artist Hunt Emerson, famous for being an artist on the Beano comic, created the designs for the 11 tapestries.

The call was then put out to local people, whether experienced in tapestry work or not, to come forward to take part in the project. Around 100 experienced volunteers worked hard on the project for around ten months, with a further 100 playing a smaller part. Each of the 11 tapestries are the result of around 2,000 hours of work – an incredible commitment from the volunteers.

The Brownhills Tapestry – well worth a look up close! Image supplied by Creative Walsall.

Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure and Culture said:

“The tapestries take your breath away – they’re absolutely stunning. The volunteers have really done Walsall proud.’

‘Apart from creating this wonderful legacy for Walsall, what’s lovely is the friendships made during the sewing, which will continue going forwards.’

The project received Arts Council England Lottery Funding to deliver a unique year long community arts project for Walsall Borough.

Creating the tapestries provided the common thread to produce a commemorative book. The book features 25 of the Creative Development Team’s hundreds of participatory arts projects including the Brownhills Miner, involving thousands of local people from the 25 year history of the team’s work projects.

The book tells the story of engaging creative processes and the impact participatory arts have made in Walsall’s communities across an area so diverse in history, heritage and geography.

The Silver Thread Tapestries and the book project demonstrate how the Creative Development Team is a thread linking people, places and policies and instigating positive change in communities. The team wished to celebrate and bring to life that thread and show people how we have sewn it.

The link was made with the leather industry by including leather work on the tapestries.

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