I’ve always been an avid consumer of local news and information, and one of the reasons I started the Brownhills Blog (apart from my obvious propensity to nosiness and mischief) was the fact that there was not a decent existing online or real-world source of news and information for our area.
It was not always thus, however; in the Late 80s and 90s there was an excellent local freesheet paper or magazine (the A4 format fell between the two) called the Brownhills Gazette, itself taking the name from a long-gone Victorian publication for the town.
The Gazette was prepared and printed in Brownhills by a company called Baker Bond, who had a print shop in Providence House, just opposite Silver Court on the corner of New Road. The Gazzette was written and edited by top local bloke, activist and friend of the blog Brian Stringer, who made a thoroughly excellent job of it.
The Gazette ceased publication in the 1990s, after Baker Bond were bought out (at least, that’s my belief; I may have the details wrong – hopefully Brian himself might help here). I believe there were sister titles for other local areas.
This was a campaigning publication; although formal and gentle – perhaps even genteel, and quite traditional – Brian energised readers and got things done. Silver Court was resurfaced due to a campaign in the Gazette. People liked it, and read it. The people in power listened to it, and certainly couldn’t ignore it.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; without Brian’s work at The Brownhills Gazette, BrownhillsBob would not exist. This small-circulation, hyperlocal (how I hate that term) publication was my inspiration and guiding light. Nothing I have ever done can compare to that professional, high-quality paper; but I aspire to it.
Copies of the Gazette in the wild are hard to come by, and I’m grateful to local history stalwart David Evans, who last week, found a copy from November 1994; hard to imagine it’s actually 20 years old. I feel bloody ancient.
I have no idea where the Boy Evans found this precious thing, but I’m eternally grateful for him taking the effort, as I always am.
David has lovingly scanned and emailed me the whole thing, and I include it below. You can either download the whole thing as a PDF, or browse the page by page gallery.
Note the adverts for long-gone businesses, the inclusion of local history, letters and campaigns. If any of it looks vaguely familiar, I’m glad.
Brian Stringer and his work at The Brownhills Gazette were my template. Thanks, Brian.
If you have any other copies, or memories, please do comment or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.