Make it Strictly West End with Brownhills finest – who are also returning home!

Martin Morris from the Shire Oak group on Facebook has drawn my attention to the fact that Brownhills Musical Theatre Company have their latest show ‘Strictly West End’ on this week at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock.

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Fabulous at Fifty – local theatre going strong!

It’s good to see local theatre doing so well these days, with not one but great local companies staging shows in the coming weeks – last week I pointed out Brownhills Musical Theatre Company’s latest 9-5 was coming up, and today it’s the turn of Aldridge Musical Comedy Society who have a rather special anniversary this year and are putting on a show to celebrate it.

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The 9 to 5 is anything but dull with Brownhills finest!

Old pals of the blog and top performers Brownhills Musical Theatre Company contacted me in the last few days to ask if I’d plug their latest show – the Dolly Parton hit 9 to 5 – which looks set to be a real gem.

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Get mysterious and spooky with Brownhills finest!

Old pal of the blog and top local musical whizz Jamie Norgrove contacted me from Brownhills Musical Theatre Company last to ask if I’d plug their latest show – The Addams Family – which looks to be a real gem.
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The long march: 50 years of jazz band history

Readers who’ve been hanging around this ramshackle, leaky village pump for a while will no doubt remember how we’ve touched here on the history of local marching bands, particularly the Burntwood Blue Birds Jazz Band.

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Cliff and the Bluebirds – not Dover, but Birmingham!

Last week here I featured a film clip made be photo restorer and friend of the blog Lisa Ashby, celebrating Brownhills and the Black Country – Well, Lisa’s been at it again, and made a lovely clip about The Burntwood Bluebirds, the award-winning marching band from Burntwood.

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Beter late than never – Rock out with Brownhills finest!

Old pal of the blog and top local musical whizz Jamie Norgrove contacted me from Brownhills Musical Theatre Company some weeks ago to ask if I’d plug their latest show – and I must confess, it totally slipped my mind.

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Open day and night

Last week I featured here an interesting postcard I’d spotted for sale on eBay, featuring a cafe on the Watling Street I’d not heard of before – The Jubilee, which turned out to be what is now an Indian restaurant, but was previously the Happy Eater, and the adjacent garage of Paul Depper MGs.

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Burntwood Blue Birds reunion this evening

As usual, I’m a bit late to the party with this but this is a very important announcement for anyone who was a member of, or is interested in the marching bands so popular in our area that were huge from the 1930s onwards, but particularly in the 60s-90s.

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Celebrating a Jubilee?

I spotted an interesting postcard on everyone’s favourite tat bazaar last week, advertising the ‘Jubilee Cafe and social Club’, Watling Street, near Cannock – it advertises ‘tennis, a garage, terrace gardens and a club room’ – it all looks very grand.
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Marching through the memories

Long-term readers will remember well friend of the blog Wendy Jones, who donated so much material to the blog – both in the form of photos of the area before the mM6 Toll came through, and her main interest, the history of local marching bands, particularly the Burntwood Blue Birds Jazz Band.

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Get your motor running

An interesting clipping comes to me in passing via Facebook, and I’d really like to know more about it – it’s certainly something of a local legend, and I’d like to investigate it as respectfully as possible.10828041_10203838307217507_6096910079125034822_o

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More great local theatre this week!

Recently I note lots of people complaining on the internet and in local papers that Walsall has no theatre, and somebody really should do something about it – what’s annoying about this is Walsall has 3 theatres (even more if you count the small venues in schools) and even more theatre companies, performing some top notch shows, seemingly unknown to many.
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Treat yourself to a bit of Broadway

Old pal of the blog and top local musical whizz Jamie Norgrove contacted me from Brownhills Musical Theatre Company a few days ago to ask if I’d give their latest production – Brownhills Goes to Broadway – a plug.
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Retail unit required in Brownhills – can you help?

Hi folks – you all know I like to support local businesses here on the blog – there’s not much I can add to this one, but the enquiry came in last week – can anyone help John Davies find a place with a nice flexible lease for his project?
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On Broadway – and I don’t mean east Walsall

Old pal of the blog and top local musical whizz Jamie Norgrove contacted me from Brownhills Musical Theatre Company a few days ago to ask if I’d give their latest production – Brownhills Goes to Broadway – a plug.
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Mill Road violent assault: two men appear in court

Readers may well be aware from social media and local gossip that a man was seriously attacked in a house in Mill Road, Brownhills in the early hours of last Saturday morning (26th July 2014).

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A fit of Peake?

I had this one in a couple of days ago from Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, who continues his dogged research into local mining history, and the relationship between those above ground and those whose labours they depended upon beneath them.
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Strike up the band!

This is a huge post, but it’s just so wonderful I couldn’t butcher it – Wendy Jones has been working hard and supplying me with loads of material relating to her time in the Burntwood Blue Birds Marching Jazz Band.
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The march of time

I think it’s fair to say that in writing and curating this blog, fate occasionally turns up some remarkable material – whatever else this thing I labour over has done, it has actually seemed to have connected people to their history, and on rare occasions it has put back in touch people who were once familiar, but became separated by time or distance.
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Book search – can you help?

I’m looking for a book – everyone knows that local history books get rare once they sell out of their initial runs – very often, titles appear fleetingly, and disappear into the ether without ever really being seen again.

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Two halves to Aldridge, please…

Following on from the interest in Tony Martin’s picture of the early seventies Harpers bus at Aldridge, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler found the following timetable from 1965 in the newspaper archive.

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Marching on

I’ve had a blistering article mailed in from reader and friend of the Brownhills Blog, Stuart Cowley. Stuart, you’ll recall, has written and supplied some great material on the subject of Chasewater, and his pictures and recollections of the cafe there have been very popular.

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Along for the ride

Just before Christmas, I got hold of a new bike cam. It’s a GoPro HD Hero black edition, which has some pretty nifty features, including less distortion from the lens and better performance in low light. I’ve been using it ever since I got it, but the weather and dull commutes haven’t been conducive to decent ride videos.

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Castle class

I’ve had a lovely email from Tony Turner. Tony, you’ll remember, was born in a cottage at what was known as The Fort in Newtown, Brownhills. Recent historical debates here have focussed on where The Fort was, and whether it’s a conflation with a street known as The Fault, which later became Castle Street. Tony…

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Carte Blanche

Following recent posts in which I made available the William Yates 1798 map of Staffordshire and a 1959 Ordnance Survey map of East Staffordshire, I’ve now got further mapping goodness here for readers to download. This map is an odd one, and I know nothing about it. It’s an 1801 map of Staffordshire, published By…

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Taking up the slack

Last March I posted an article featuring an image of the demonstration event for the ill-fated Merrie England project which reader Steve Hames had scanned from the book ‘Images of England – Cannock Chase’ by Sherry Belcher and Mary Mills. Interested in any book that would feature such an obscure photo, I purchased the publication…

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Unfolding the map

As promised earlier in the week, I’ve had some interesting maps, including a reproduction A1 size copy of the 1798 William Yates map of Staffordshire, scanned professionally. I came home today clutching a USB flash drive with nearly four gigabytes of scanned historical map goodness, the Yates map alone being 736 megabytes. Obviously, I can’t…

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The Imagined Village

  Further to my recent post about the early seventies phenomena that was the failed Merrie England project, I received a very welcome contribution from reader Steve Hames, of SJH Computing, who kindly scanned this remarkable image from the book ‘Cannock Chase (images of England)’ by Sherry Belcher and Mary Mills. I must confess that…

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Rest ye merrie gentlemen

Whilst searching for something else, I came upon the following news story, published in the Birmingham Post of February 2nd 2005. My old man had talked about this a lot, and I’d always taken it with a pinch of salt. In case you’re wondering where they’re talking about, it’s currently Poplars Landfill, and site of…

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