Before we man the lifeboats…

Christmas Tree Bicycle 03

Christmas on a bike is a bit more magical in Copenhagen. Picture by the wonderful, genre-defining Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagen Cycle Chic. Click on the image to visit his Flickr photo stream.

Before the water level rises to such an extent that the residents of Brownhills and Walsall Wood are all encamped on Shire Oak Hill waiting for the waters to recede, I’d like to wish all readers, contributors and friends of this odd little blog a very merry Christmas and a very happy, peaceful and prosperous new year.

This, it is almost impossible for me to believe, is the fourth Christmas greeting post I’ve written, and upon writing each of them, I’ve always expected it to be the last one. I can’t see that there’s much left to our local history to explore or write about. However, every time I feel like that, something new tumbles out of the ether and it’s all go again.  I have no idea where it all comes from, and even less where it’s all going. As long as there’s stuff to write about, I’ll keep doing it as long as folk like you keep reading.

For those who like keeping track, the traffic to the Brownhills Blog has continued it’s trend of doubling every year. It’s currently doing between 7,000-10,000 hits a week, a figure that again, I feel is utterly unjustified. I can, however, see a trend to level out now, and think it’s probably now at the maximum it can achieve.

This is the 1,380th post, and there are about 5,000-odd original comments. None of this would have been possible, or indeed, worked at all if readers like you hadn’t got involved and so tirelessly donated time, historical ephemera, comment and support. This year, with my job becoming far more demanding, I just couldn’t have done this without the contributions of David Evans, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, Andy Dennis, Gareth Thomas, Ian Pell, The Stymaster, Richard  ‘Wee ginger sausage’ Burnell, David Oakley, Ann Cross, Lisa Downes and Trevor in Australia. There has also been a huge cast of others who’ve stepped up and commented, written articles or answered queries, so please don’t be offended if I haven’t mentioned you in person.

The man [Howmuch?] deserves an extra special slap on the back for constantly listening to me being boring, making wild assertions and doing lots of running around. Without his tireless work, many articles here wouldn’t get to see the light of day. He really is a great pal and partner in crime.

Another thing that this year filled me with pride was seeing David Evans selflessly organise the talk by Gerald Reece, which raised so much for MacMillan and proved to be such a great night’s entertainment. To see blog readers and the folk of Brownhills come together for such a thing was inspiring, humbling and wonderful. David and Gerald both selflessly donated huge amounts of time and energy to that event which I’ll never be able to thank either of them enough for.

Gerald Reece, too, has accepted my challenges to his work and knowledge with extremely fine grace and humility. If I can ever write anything in a way that’s even 10% as thorough and engaging as he does, I’ll be a very happy man.

The Walsall Local History Centre are vital to what I do, as are other local bloggers and the online community. The YamYam, and it’s creator, Mark Blackstock have continued to promote me and the Walsall online community extensively (not forgetting Paul Daniel, whose top flight geekery keeps it running), and the support of great local writers like Linda Mason, Aiden MacHaffie, Stuart Williams, The Plastic Hippo, Jayne Howarth, Kate GoodallSusan Marie Ward, Kate ‘Lichfield Lore’ Gomez and others has been crucial.

There’s a revolution happening – Walsall and South Staffordshire has one of the most vibrant, diverse online communities I know. Explore it. Join the conversation.


It’s a wet, rather than white Christmas. Oh well, never mind…

I know that many folk find what I do and write annoying, or irritating. I make no apologies that I’m very opinionated and have very definite ideas about the things I write about. I do like to think, though, that whilst readers may not agree with my views, the history stuff I do is worth something. When I talk about history here, I know I’m scarcely right. What’s important is the conversation, and the recording of it. Time and time again we’ve got together round an enquiry, assertion or question, chewed the fat and hammered the truth out. These things continue to shake out, be they small lost squares of housing, the history of local industrial dynasties, or odd and forgotten towers on railway embankments.

What is most important to me is establishing and recording our collective history through conversation, memory and existing media like mapping. Recording that conversation in it’s entirety, unedited, is vital to this. I actively invite readers to prove me wrong, argue the toss or challenge accepted wisdom. It’s by having this conversation here that stuff moves forward. We are now in an age where local history belongs to all of us, not just a few self-appointed experts. It is our duty to challenge what they say, what we ourselves know and record stuff accurately for the coming generations. Let’s continue to kick over the statues together.

So on this wet Christmas Eve morning, when it seems like it’ll never stop raining, I wish all readers, contributors and above all, friends, a happy Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous and wonderful new year.

Thanks to you all.

This entry was posted in Bad Science, Brownhills stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, It makes me mad!, Just plain daft, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, Local politics, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Before we man the lifeboats…

  1. ianrobo says:

    happy xmas to you and yours Bob as well …

    look forward to continuing this fine read into 2013

  2. Here Here! And God Bless Ya and for all your hard work you do on your Blog. Brownhills just wouldnt be the same! 🙂 Happy Christmas, Best wishes and may 2013 be as debatable, rivoting and surprisng as the the last 12 months!

  3. Dave Edwards says:

    Seasons greeting to everyone involved from a new reader and Walsall Wood old lad who,s finding many nostalgic memories from his childhood and family history. THANKS

    • Trevor Australia says:

      Hi David are you Eddy from BB?

      • Dave Edwards says:

        Hi Trevor, thats me. How the devil are you & how long in Oz

        • Trevor Brown says:

          Hi Eddy its so good to hear from you, I have been serching for you for for years, I have found lots of my old mates through Brownhills Bobs Blogg, Oakparkrunner found David Evans for me and David Evans has helped me find Dicky Greenwood who phoned me yesterday to wish us a Merry Christmas, Alan Portman, David Collins, and many others, New years eve David Evans mentioned Brian and Bonita Clayton and then you poped in for a chat, What a Christmas I have had finding my lost mates, I will give you my email so that we can catch up, thanks to you all you are all making a old mate happy. Sorry for butting into your Blog Bob but this is great news for me, Thanks again,Hovis

  4. Andy Dennis says:

    Season’s greetings from me, too!
    A fine blog indeed, and one to be immensely proud of. True, it would not be the success that it is without the many contributors, but without you, Bob, it would be nothing at all.
    Since discovering this blog I’ve learned such a lot and keep my eyes peeled more than I used to.
    Keep up the good work!
    On the subject of floods, here’s a link to a ditty that my Dad used to recite, though his Mancunian was nothing to write home about:
    Here’s to the next twelve months!

  5. morturn says:

    A very merry Christmas fr0m me too.
    Being a bit new round here I have a bit of catching up to do. As for “there’s much left to our local history to explore or write about”, I don’t think so, history propagates, and will always turn up something of interest.

  6. david oakley says:

    Seasons Greetings from North Yorkshire from an old Walsall Woodite, Bob, and a sincere thank you for all your efforts. Your comment “Establishing and recording our collective history through
    conversation,memory and existing media,” completely sums it up for me. So many thanks are due for the publication of the precious old snaps contributed by bloggers, and to David Evans for the ones containing family members. Every success for 2013 !!

  7. Barry Carpenter says:

    Merry Christmas Bob, keep up the brilliant work. I must log in 10,000 times a week to see what your next post.

  8. Clive says:

    Merry Chistmas to Bob and every one out there. Look forward to another year of reading your blog.

  9. Pingback: PigBlog » Blog Archive » Merry Christmas

  10. Roy stanway says:

    Merry Christmas Bob Thank you for all your post in 2012 looking forward to 2013 .Roy stanway from OZ

  11. Your blog is a credit to you and to your contributors. T’is an excellent piece of work and long may it continue. You’re a good man Bob so keep it up, you’ve a reputation for excellence to keep up! Merry Christmas to you and the Bob-ettes.

  12. Happy Christmas Bob and thanks again for all of the support and for answering so many of my random questions on bricks, wells, cowslips and many more things besides. As you wisely say, local history belongs to all of us and it’s great to see so many people joining in, sharing and enjoying. Here’s to 2013 🙂

  13. Merry Christmas, Bob, and all the gang! X

  14. 7rin says:

    Yay! New pootah means I can do comment stuff at last.

    I know that many folk find what I do and write annoying, or irritating. I make no apologies that I’m very opinionated and have very definite ideas about the things I write about.

    Thinkin’ I might nick ^that. 😉

    Thank you for continuing to be a focal point for such fascinating stuff.

  15. Peter says:

    Bob, one comment. Just keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll do what we do, it works that way on so many levels. If it aint broke don’t fix it.
    Merry Christmas to all.

  16. Dave Fellows says:

    Keep it up Bob! I’ve always thought there was a lot more to the history of Brownhills etc, than has ever been published, and you’re proving my point. Happy Christmas from a warm and sunny land. (Christmas, warm and sunny, not natural I tell ya!)

  17. Trevor Australia says:

    Thanks Bob, David, Pedro and all you Brownhills bloggers, this is what I get up each day for, Merry Christmas all, love your photographic skills Bob, you can turn a rainy day into magic I think we would agree, Cheers from Trevor Brisbane Downunder.

  18. Pedro says:

    Thanks to Bob for the time and effort. The above comments indicate the pleasure given to a lot of people from far and wide!

    All the best to everyone, Pedro.

  19. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    the comments say everything, don’t they! This ‘ere blog of yours…something very, very special !
    Happy New Year .
    kind regards

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.