Holiday fun in the sun at Blakenall-on-the-Beach

It's Blakenall on the Beach

Last Saturday afternoon saw Blakenall Heath in party mood as hundreds of local people came together to enjoy a summer holiday on their doorstep!

And families flocked to the Blakenall Village Centre on Thames Road for an afternoon of traditional seaside fun for all ages – there was even real sand for the kiddies to make castles!

Crowds of young and old alike turned out for seaside fun
Crowds of young and old alike turned out for seaside fun

A host of activities for all were laid on between 2pm – 6pm in true nautical style – by the “crew” of the Good Ship Blakenall who took to the “high seas” and had everything running “ship-shape and Bristol-fashion”!

We don't need a sextan or a compass - we're home and dry!
We don’t need a sextant or a compass – we’re home and dry!

The fun to be had included:

  • Sand art.
  • Pirate-themed bouncy castle.
  • Uncle Bob Ormesher’s Magic and Punch & Judy Show (in the ‘Smuggler’s Cove’ themed cafe bar).
  • Seaside Donkey rides for the little ones.
  • DJ on stage.
  • Giant garden games.
  • Walsall Council’s popular Reach Up climbing tower.
  • Walsall FC’s Target shoot inflatable.
  • A skittle alley.
  • Bloxwich Fire Station with one of their engines.
  • Burger barbecue and fish & chips.
  • Ice cream vans a-plenty.
  • Traditional Candy Floss.
  • Tea and Scones.
  • A “stick your head through” Wish You Were Here photo board.

Plus a grand raffle and more!

Ahaar, it be a bouncy castle me hearties!
Ahaar, it be a bouncy castle me hearties!
Skittled or scuttled? Either way it's fun!
Skittled or scuttled? Either way it’s fun!
Shiver me timbers, shipmates - it be raffle time!
Shiver me timbers, shipmates – it be raffle time!
There's seaside donkeys on the starboard bow, Jim!
There’s seaside donkeys on the starboard bow, Jim!
Playing away on the ocean blue
Playing away on the ocean blue
Climbing the Mizzen Mast with the Walsall Council Reach Up Tower
Climbing the Mizzen Mast with the Walsall Council Reach Up Tower
Daddy puts the boot in at the Walsall FC inflatable
Daddy puts the boot in at the Walsall FC inflatable
A magical moment with Uncle Bob Ormesher
A magical moment with Uncle Bob Ormesher

This special photo feature offers just a small selection of the pictures taken by Stuart Williams of The Bloxwich Telegraph who enjoyed a couple of hours there on the day.  But there’s more!

DOWNLOAD

You can also see and download the rest from Flickr for personal souvenirs via this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bloxwichtelegraph/sets/72157634851856372/

Bloxwich partied in the park!

Party Banner outside the National School

Last year’s Olympic Torch Relay through Bloxwich concluded with the wonderful Party in the Park which was organised to complement that event by Bloxwich Business Partnership working with Walsall Council and other groups.

With that party being such a massive success, organiser Nikki Rolls  put together another pulse-pounding day of live music and family fun with the same partners for this year, and although there was no torch to bring in thousands from miles around this time, last Saturday’s Bloxwich Party in the Park was still popular – and great fun for all the family, as this special photo feature will show!

Loads of stalls for all
Loads of stalls for all

There was:

  • Live music.
  • Dance arena
  • Children’s rides including inflatables and go karts.
  • Summer stalls.
  • Display arena.
  • Picnic area.
  • Puppet shows.
  • Summer donkey rides.
  • Free face painting.
  • Free balloon modelling.
  • PLUS stiltwalker ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’.
Hidey-High - what's the weather like up there? "Great!"
Hidey-High – what’s the weather like up there? “Great!”

As well as all this, there was also a great live music programme, centred on Walsall Council’s mobile stage truck, and bands on stage included: West Coast Blues, Owd Yer Hosses, Becky’s Band (folk), Grey Goose Blues Band,The Jimmy Band (acoustic folk), Scarbelly Blues Band,G Bag/Stash (Hip Hop band), Enticement (an excellent function type band), and last but not least sixties-style covers band Owamya.

Not quite Glastonbury - but there's great music and no mud!
Not quite Glastonbury – but there’s great music and no mud!

The event ran between 10am – 4pm in Bloxwich Park, off High Street, and admission was free.

The Party in the Park got off to a slow start, but by lunchtime Bloxwich Park was buzzing and the rides and Pinxton’s Puppet show were charming the kiddies while the young people and adults were making a bee-line for the bands who played great music throughout the day.  There was even an Italian Market!

A ton of fun with rides, inflatables and bungee bouncing!
A ton of fun with rides, inflatables and bungee bouncing!

With the mobile library on hand and a wide range of charity, food and business stalls there was plenty to see and do for all the family – including a giant Meerkat who managed to escape the Children’s Society stall, a balloon-twisting stiltwalker and those wild, wacky and welcoming Event Marshals from Bloxwich Business Partnership who worked all day for free!

PHOTOS

For selected pictures of this year’s event, taken by Stuart Williams of The Bloxwich Telegraph, see a few examples above and below – and follow the link below for more than a hundred high-resolution downloadable photos (including those shown here) for all to see!

Bloxwich Party in the Park 2013 Photo Album

You can get more information on what’s happening with Bloxwich Business Partnership and local events by checking out the Bloxwich Town Centre Facebook page, where you can also contact Nikki Rolls or you can telephone her on 01922 654324.

Troy and Steve from the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix on their book stall
Troy and Steve from the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix on their book stall
The lovely ladies of The Tan Shop anticipating some summer sun
The lovely ladies of The Tan Shop anticipating some summer sun
The friendly staff of the Delhi takeaway in Bloxwich were serving up some hot stuff to party-goers!
The friendly staff of the Delhi takeaway in Bloxwich were serving up some hot stuff to party-goers!
You have to have a sense of humour in Bloxwich - and these marshals had it in spades!
You have to have a sense of humour in Bloxwich – and these marshals had it in spades!
Pretty as a picture in the facepainting tent!
Pretty as a picture in the face-painting tent!
The Slimming World team were ready to help you lose weight
The Slimming World team were ready to help you lose weight
It was Scooby-Doo or Scooby-Dip at the St Giles Walsall Hospice tombola!
It was Scooby-Doo or Scooby-Dip at the St Giles Walsall Hospice tombola!
Young Billy Wright lends a hand at the WS3 the tombola as Kath and Maurice Phillips look on
Young Billy Wright lends a hand at the WS3 the tombola as Kath and Maurice Phillips look on
It's keep on trucking for the kiddies with this unusual inflatable!
It’s keep on trucking for the kiddies with this unusual inflatable!
A real boy racer shows off some hot wheels on the go-karts
A real boy racer shows off some hot wheels on the go-karts
It's a storm-in-a-teacup for this young lady!
It’s a storm-in-a-teacup for this young lady!
These jolly donkeys aren't in Derby - they're in Bloxwich!
These jolly donkeys aren’t in Derby – they’re in Bloxwich!
Aleksander - or was it Sergei? - of The Children's Society wanted to borrow a book from Annie Wood of Walsall Mobile Libraries...
Aleksander – or was it Sergei? – of The Children’s Society wanted to borrow a book from Annie Wood of Walsall Mobile Libraries…
2012 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Alice Jones took time out to rediscover the Bloxwich Anvil Stones
2012 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Alice Jones took time out to rediscover the Bloxwich Anvil Stones
Things were looking lively on the Mirus Academy stall
Things were looking lively on the Mirus Academy stall
This little lady showed everyone how to party in the park!
This little lady showed everyone how to party in the park!
Pinxton's Puppets were Particularly Popular in the Park!
Pinxton’s Puppets were Particularly Popular in the Park!
Enticement were one of several great bands who kicked up a storm on stage
Enticement were one of several great bands who kicked up a storm on stage
All pictures by Stuart Williams

Live music night in Bloxwich to support autism charity

Bookmark Bloxwich Panorama

Music-lovers can look forward to a fantastic evening’s entertainment from multiple acts at Bloxwich’s top venue next month. 

And what’s more, the proceeds of the ‘Songwriters Night’ show on 6th July at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in Elmore Row will go towards helping support young people’s autism charity ‘Kidzlikedanny’, which has raised more than £15000 since being founded over 15 years ago.

Chuck Micallef on stage at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre.
Chuck Micallef on stage at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre.

The event offers an amazing line-up for just £5 per ticket, and will be co-compered by accomplished Canadian Country Singer/Songwriter Chuck Micallef, who will be performing his own original songs alongside covers by artists such as Hank Williams, Gordon Lightfoot and John Prine in a gather round back porch picking style of performance appreciated by audiences up and down the country.

Tony Barrett as 'The Tat Man'
Tony Barrett as ‘The Tat Man’

Joint compere for the evening is well known Folk Singer/Songwriter/Comedian/Raconteur Tony Barret. Tony’s cheeky stories interlaced with song parodies, well delivered covers and original compositions have helped make him a popular and well-respected performer on the UK’s music and festival circuit – and he has also recently starred as ‘The Tat Man’ in the acclaimed series of Bayard’s Colts street plays for Walsall.

The following performers will also be taking to the stage:

Dale Hanson, the Mod-influenced Birmingham singer-songwriter, originally formed half of acoustic duo ‘FreeMaySon’. Since going it alone in 2011 he’s been wooing audiences with his deeply meaningful songs hand crafted from situations that life thrusts his way. In the summer of 2012 Dale released his debut album ‘Out From The Shadows’ to great reviews and he hopes to record the follow-up in 2013 with some very special guests.

Dale Hanson
Dale Hanson

Damn The Weather, a recently-formed traditional Irish band who can draw on many years of musical experience, and are bound to be popular, with their passionate performances of Irish music old and new.

Damn the Weather logo

Matt Tyler has been showcasing his unique blend of folk/rock/pop around the UK and beyond for over a decade now. He will be playing songs from his solo albums ‘Dead Flowers By Midnight’, ‘Jonah’s Revenge’ and ‘No Lifeguard Required’ as well as premiering new material.  Described as “The aural lovechild of Tim Buckley in his folk phase and an early David Gray”, Matt is the brother of Daniel, the original inspiration for Kidzlikedanny. Joining him onstage at some point will be their other brother Jacob.

Matt Tyler
Matt Tyler

Kidzlikedanny fundraises mainly through live music shows but also through three Various Artists Albums available to download on iTunes, Amazon and all major digital stores worldwide.  For more information see:  https://www.facebook.com/Kidzlikedanny

Doors open at 7 pm for a 7.30 pm show and there will be a bar.

Tickets for the event can be reserved by calling 01922 655900 or visiting Bloxwich Library in Elmore Row.

Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre is managed by volunteer group Bloxwich Library Forum who have been running the popular venue since 2010, in partnership with Bloxwich Library.

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information on the artists, please see the following links:

http://www.chuckmicallef.com

http://www.dalehansonmusic.com

http://www.damntheweather.co.uk

http:// www.facebook.com/mattylermusic

Performer images courtesy of the artists.

Bloxwich Carnival royalty announced

Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2013 (courtesy Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix)
Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2013 (courtesy Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix)

Hairdressing student Louise Richards has proved she’s a cut above the rest after winning the coveted title of Bloxwich Carnival Queen.

The 18-year-old, who is studying at Walsall College, was chosen at a competition held at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre last month.

And she admits to being “overwhelmed” when her name was called as the winner.

“I saw the competition on Facebook and wanted to give it a go but I didn’t expect to win,” she said.

“I was overwhelmed and didn’t believe it when I heard my name. I’m really looking forward to the whole experience – although I haven’t sorted a dress out yet for the carnival!”

Louise, who also works in McDonald’s and has a son Jamie Francis, who turns one next week, said she regularly visited Bloxwich Carnival.

“It’s a great day out and I’m looking forward to it.”

Judges chose Courtney Andrews, aged 12, as Carnival Princess and eight-year-old Katie Wilkes as Carnival Rosebud.

All three are pictured above, together with 2012 Queen Alice Jones (left) and Carnival Committee Chairman Terry Bate (centre) on-stage at the theatre in Elmore Row.

Louise will be crowned on the big day itself which is Saturday 3 August 2013 at King George V Playing Fields, Bloxwich. The carnival begins at 12 noon and usually runs till around 4pm-5pm.

The carnival, which is organised by Bloxwich Carnival Committee, is supported by Walsall Council as well as various local groups, and senior park ranger John Millard joined in the congratulations for the three leading ladies:

“I’m sure Louise, Courtney and Katie will do Bloxwich proud and congratulate them on winning their titles,” he said.

“Thousands of people enjoy Bloxwich Carnival which organisers say is the biggest in the Midlands and we look forward to this year’s event being another massive success.”

Carnival organisers are also appealing for volunteers to help them this year. Anyone interested is asked to contact John Millard on 07736 388409 or 01922 654893.

The carnival day will be covered by The Bloxwich Telegraph as usual!

You could be Queen of Bloxwich!

The Mayor, Bloxwich Carnival Royalty and a very special coach and horses last year.
The Mayor, Bloxwich Carnival Royalty and a very special coach and horses last year.

That time of year is fast approaching once more, when the selection of the new Bloxwich Carnival Queen for 2013, along with a new Princess and Rosebud, will happen.

And this year the Queen choosing event wiIl be even more prestigious than before, taking place in style at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre (aka Bloxwich Library Theatre) in Elmore Row, Bloxwich, on Thursday 23rd May 2013 at 6pm.

The age categories (as of 23rd May 2013) for entrants are Rosebud 7-10 years, Princess 11-15 years, and Queen 16-24 years of age.

Contestants MUST live in the Walsall/Bloxwich area and their Parents/Guardians pay their Council Tax to Walsall Council.

The Carnival Queen, Princess and Rosebud will be required to attend the Carnival Day, where they will be crowned.  Winners, in particular, the Carnival Queen will be expected to attend at least 3 community events during their year including Carnival Royalty Selection 2014 and Senior Citizens’ Party. The Carnival Queen automatically becomes a member of the Bloxwich Carnival Committee and will be expected to attend regular meetings.

Winners will be representing the Bloxwich community as Ambassadors. Holders of similar titles in other towns/areas during the carnival year will not be eligible to apply as this could lead to conflicting commitments.

Previous holders of titles are not eligible to re-enter for the same category but may enter another group provided they qualify by age.

Entry forms are available in person from Sweet & Fancy (during retail hours) in Park Road or from Bloxwich Library in Elmore Row.  Full details and conditions of entry are included in the form.

The form and a poster can also be downloaded for printing in pdf form from The Bloxwich Telegraph via the links below, and from the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix website.

Bloxwich Carnival itself will take place on Saturday 3rd August, from 12 noon, at King George V Playing Fields, Bloxwich, as traditional.

DOWNLOADS

Bloxwich Carnival Queen Selection Poster 2013

Bloxwich Carnival Queen Princess and Rosebud Entry Form 2013

If you do not already have Adobe Acrobat Reader or equivalent on your computer, you can download it via this link: Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Blaze destroys Blakenall furniture workshop

Peggy's Place yard and workshops after the fire - Ian Morton-Jones

A Blakenall Heath furniture workshop was gutted by fire in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The blaze destroyed stock, fittings, buildings and a delivery van as it ripped through the yard and worksop at the rear of popular dealer Peggy’s Place in Barrack’s Lane around 3am.

All but the shop facing onto the lane, which remains open for business, was destroyed, leaving charred wood, furniture, materials and debris surrounding the van, which was rendered a write-off.

Burnt out delivery van at Peggy's Place - Ian Morton-Jones
Burnt out delivery van at Peggy’s Place – Ian Morton-Jones

Owners believe the fire may have been started deliberately in the workshop area before spreading to other parts of the courtyard.

Co-owner Matthew Cooper has said that around £10,000 – £15,000 worth of stock has been destroyed in the incident.  Apparently the yard has been targeted by thieves and vandals in the past, with tools being taken.

Peggy's Place - still open for business!
Peggy’s Place – still open for business!

Firefighters from Bloxwich Community Fire Station and Fallings Park attended following the alarm being raised by neighbours, and worked for more than four hours to put out the blaze, concluding that work around 7.30am yesterday.

They have not yet been prepared to comment on the precise cause of the fire as an investigation is underway, with investigators examining the scene in detail for clues. Police were also due to attend later.

If any report is forthcoming we will update this news item in due course.

Special thanks to Mr Ian Morton-Jones for supplying the exclusive photographs of the aftermath of the fire above and to Peggy’s Place for the picture of the shop.

Sexton Blake Strikes Back – at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre!

Sexton Blake Strikes Back Poster

Edwardian London is being held to ransom – and who can rescue the capital from arch-villains ‘The British League of Underhanded Scoundrels, Traitors, Extortionists and Rapscallions?’

Only one man – the world-famous detective Sexton Blake, ‘The Prince of the Penny Dreadfuls’, can save the day!

In Sexton Blake Strikes Back!, the latest live on stage theatrical production by legendary professional theatre company Don’t Go Into The Cellar, presented by Bloxwich Library Forum, theatre-goers can expect derring-do, last-minute escapes, narrow scrapes and fates worse than death in this affectionate homage to the way heroes used to be.

Stuart Williams, Vice Chairman of Bloxwich Library Forum, said:

“Sexton Blake is one of the great literary adventure heroes of the 19th-20th century, standing proudly alongside such mighty figures as Sherlock Holmes, Denis Nayland Smith, Biggles and Hercule Poiroit.

“Created by Harry Blyth in 1893, Sexton Blake adventures appeared in a wide variety of British and international publications (in many languages) from 1893 to 1978, running to over 4,000 stories by some 200 different authors.

“Blake was also the hero of numerous silent and sound films, radio serials and a 1960s ITV television series which many remember fondly.

“Now the legend that is Sexton Blake is coming to Bloxwich, in a play by the invariably excellent Don’t Go Into The Cellar – so adventure, excitement and huge fun can be expected in equal measure!”

Sexton Blake Strikes Back! is live on stage for one night only – this coming Saturday 20th April 2013, at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, Elmore Row, Bloxwich, Walsall WS3 2HR.

The play starts at 7.30pm. 

Ticket prices are £8.00 or £6.00 concessions.  Tickets can be purchased from Bloxwich Library and reserved by telephone on 01922 655900.

Click on the mini-poster at the top of this item for a larger version.

Bus crash blocks bridge in Sneyd Lane, Bloxwich

Diamond 301 bus being recovered from Sneyd Lane

Reports are coming in of what appears to be a Black Diamond bus which has crashed in Sneyd Lane, Bloxwich, near the Mossley Estate.

First reports began to arrive via Twitter around 5pm this afternoon that the bus, operating on the 301 route from Walsall to Mossley Estate via Bloxwich, had hit the railway bridge and was partially blocking the A4124.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service reported that two rapid response vehicles were on the scene.  This was followed up by Walsall Police, who said that one passenger aboard the single decker was being treated for minor injury.

The vehicle was badly damaged, smashing the front grille, passenger door and side panels where it struck the bridge.  The vehicle has now been recovered and removed.

London Midland, the train operator, reported two hours ago that trains were now running normally.

There have been no official reports via Centro or Diamond Buses so far.

If we hear more we will update this report.

Details courtesy of Tom Stokes, travel broadcaster on Free Radio http://twitter.com/thetomstokes and our special thanks to Wulfey in Willenhall for the photograph above:  http://twitter.com/thewulfran

Readings and free books for World Book Night Bloxwich

2013_WBN_Logo

Members of Bloxwich Library Forum are getting ready to offer visitors to the library not just a free book for World Book Night, but the chance to hear readings from selected books and more during the afternoon of Tuesday 23rd April.

In a special informal daytime event at the Bookmark Bloxwich complex in Elmore Row, Bloxwich which will also include book readings by local author Stuart Williams, the Forum will make available, while stocks last, a small selection of free books provided by World Book Night for the event.  And admission is free of charge.

Stuart Williams, who is Vice Chairman of Bloxwich Library Forum, said:

“World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading and books which sees tens of thousands of passionate volunteers gift specially chosen and printed WBN books in their communities to share their love of reading.

“We usually run an evening event on this occasion but this year the Forum decided it would be be more accessible to many to hold an afternoon book giving session combined with readings, especially now the splendid new Bookmark Cafe is open at Bloxwich Library.

“The 23rd of April is also Shakespeare’s birthday and St George’s Day, so what better day to pop into Bloxwich Library for a free book (or to borrow one!), buy a cuppa and a cake and listen to some great stories?”

Readings will take place in Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre between 12.30pm – 1.30pm.  The theatre will be opened into the Bookmark Cafe, which will be open as usual from 10.30am – 2.30pm with a standard menu.  In addition to this the Cafe are serving a St George’s Day menu from 12pm – 2pm.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t regularly do so.  But it is also about more than that: it’s about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways, through the sharing of stories.  Bloxwich Library Forum and Bloxwich Library are delighted to give the event their support.

Bloxwich Library Forum is a volunteer group of members of the local community who manage the Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in partnership with Bloxwich Library.

You can download the World Book Night event poster in pdf form via the link below:

World Book Night Poster

For more information about Bloxwich Library:

Bloxwich Library

Amazing evening entertainment at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre

Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, Elmore Row, Bloxwich

There’s an amazing range of entertainment coming up soon at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, part of the Bloxwich Library complex in Elmore Row, Bloxwich.

The little theatre with the big heart is such an incredibly versatile venue that just about anything can happen there – and frequently does!

Managed by Bloxwich Library Forum in partnership with Bloxwich Library, the theatre, opened in 1964 and rebuilt in 2009-10 together with Bloxwich Library, the complex being relaunched as Bookmark Bloxwich, is completely reconfigurable and also boasts a Library Cafe, shared with the library during the day and usable as a bar in the evenings when events are on.

Hot evening events on the horizon at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre are listed below – click on each title to view full details on the What’s On Walsall website:

Fri 12 April 2013

Open Mic Night

image for Open Mic Night
 

Musicians For Life in conjunction with Bookmark Bloxwich Forum invite you to come and play….

Free Entry.  Time 7.30pm doors  8.00pm show.  Email Bruno On open.mic.bookmark@gmail.com  to Book a slot. Normally 15 min or 3 songs.

Sat 20 April 2013

Don’t Go Into The Cellar presents… Sexton Blake

image for Don't Go Into The Cellar - Sexton Blake
 

The British League of Underhanded Scoundrels, Traitors, Extortionists and Rapscallions holds Edwardian London to ransom in this jolly fine play!

Time: 7.30pm Ticket price: £8.00, £6.00 concession. Tickets can be purchased from Bloxwich Library: 01922 655900.

26 April 2013

Youth Open Mic Night

 
image for Youth Open Mic Night
 

A place for young singers, song writers, rappers and musicians to play, jam and try out songs and Rhymes….

Time 6.00pm doors  6.30pm show.  Free Entry.

Call Dan 01922 712069 for info and to book a slot.

 

Fri 10 May 2013

Open Mic Night

 
image for Open Mic Night
 

Musicians For Life in conjunction with Bookmark Bloxwich Forum invite you to come and play.

Time 7.30pm doors  8.00pm show.  Free Entry.  Email Bruno On open.mic.bookmark@gmail.com  to book a slot. Normally 15 min or 3 songs.

Sat 11 May 2013

Vera Van Heeringen

image for Vera Van Heeringen
 

Debut album from Dutch bluegrass guitarist/singer Vera van Heeringen promises much and delivers in spades.

Tickets £5.00. Call 01922 655900.

See:  www.veravanheeringen.com/_/Welcome.html

Fri 24 May 2013

Youth Open Mic Night

image for Youth Open Mic Night
 
 

Bookmark Bloxwich and IYPSS invite you to come and play…

Time 6.00pm doors  6.30pm show.  Free Entry.

Call Dan 01922 712069 for info and to book a slot

 
image for Don't Go Into The Cellar - Dracula Walks the Night
 
 

Count Dracula, has returned to exact a dreadful vengeance on his nemesis, Van Helsing in this show with real bite!

Time: 7.30pm Ticket price: £8.00, £6.00 concession. Tickets can be purchased from Bloxwich Library: 01922 655900.

 
image for Don't Go Into The Cellar - 'Warnings to the Curious'
 

Have your spines tingled and your bumps goosed with this atmospheric adaptation of the creepiest Edwardian ghost stories…  Spooky!

Time: 7.30pm Ticket price: £8.00, £6.00 concession. Tickets can be purchased from Bloxwich Library: 01922 655900.

And there’s more…

More events will be added as they are booked – don’t forget to check at Bloxwich Library or on the Bookmark Bloxwich web page:

https://sites.google.com/site/bookmarkbloxwich/

 
 

Bloxwich Rotary crocuses highlight Polio campaign

Rotary Crocuses

The host of purple crocuses recently spouting around Bloxwich, planted by the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix – most notably around the memorial oak tree in Bloxwich Promenade Gardens – are part of a national Rotary campaign to raise awareness of Rotary’s efforts with others in the global initiative to eradicate the disease Polio.

Just 50 years ago hundreds of people, mostly children, died each year here in the UK from this terrible disease.

With the advent of an oral vaccine and a vaccination programme the disease has now been eradicated from most countries worldwide.

Rotary’s efforts and it’s mass vaccinations in the remaining endemic countries have helped to get us to the point where now only three countries worldwide remain Polio endemic.

The purple crocus flower was chosen to promote the campaign as the purple colour is used to mark the fingers of vaccinated children when vaccination programmes take place overseas.

The world-wide Rotary International charity and its partners are so very close to completing the task.

Find out more about the campaign and its history at http://www.endpolio.org/ where you can take part in the world’s biggest commercial.

‘Sorrow into Pride’ Elmore Green memorial book special price

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman with their new book

A very special book about the men on the Elmore Green School Great War Memorial is now available again at a very special price (see below), exclusively from Blakenall Village Centre – but hurry, time is short!

Sorrow into Pride tells the story of the social and military history of the ‘old boys’ of Elmore Green School, Bloxwich, who went off to fight in the First World War.  Written by two retired teachers and local historians, Barry Crutchley and Ken Wayman (pictured, above, at the launch), the book reveals the search for a ‘lost’ war memorial, the stories of the commemorated lads and its re-adoption by the original school.

Sorrow into Pride
Sorrow into Pride

Elmore Green School Old Boys’ Association war memorial was unveiled in the school hall in 1922.  It commemorated the sacrifice made by former pupils of the school in the Great War of 1914-18, listing sixty-seven ‘old boys’ of what was then Elmore Green Central School, later High School, who gave their young lives in “the war to end all wars”, some not passing away until 1919.  It had been moved from the school in 1958 when the secondary functions of Elmore Green High School were transferred to the new T.P. Riley Comprehensive, not far away in Lichfield Road.

The memorial quietly became part of the life of the new school until, in 2001, T.P. Riley was demolished and replaced by the present Walsall Academy, which opened in 2003.  It was around this time that the finely carved marble sculpture by Bloxwich-born Frederick T. Perry “disappeared” from the public eye.  In fact, it had been put into storage because it was not required by the academy, but for a long time this was forgotten.

Over the following years, various people including Bloxwich local historians Edna Marshall, Barry Crutchley and ex-T.P. Riley history teacher Ken Wayman, had tried to find and raise the profile of the missing memorial and eventually, following convoluted enquiries via the Academy and within Walsall Council departments, in late 2010 it was tracked down to the premises of monumental masons A. Walker & Sons of Cannock, who had been storing it safely since the demolition of T.P. Riley years ago.

Following work done by Walsall Council officers Mike Gaffney and the now late Elaine Box, funding was found from the Council to have the memorial returned to its original home in March 2011, when it was mounted on the wall of the school hall by the masons who had preserved it.  On Armistice Day that year, a special service of re-dedication was held at the school, truly bringing the memorial home.

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.
Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.

Sorrow into Pride traces the families and experiences of the lads named on the alabaster memorial, as well as one Old Boy who for some unknown reason was omitted from the list. In addition, the events leading to the deaths of ten servicemen closely related to those commemorated are examined, showing how the war affected their wider families; moreover, a number of related servicemen who fought in the Great War have been bound into the tale.

Now re-adopted by the school community from whence it came, the war memorial has re-invigorated the local community and brought forward numerous descendants of the Old Boys, furnishing invaluable information, precious photographs and memorabilia.

The authors owe a debt of gratitude to the present school community and its enthusiastic head-teacher Jane Humphreys, staff and pupils – following the hard work of local historians and council officers, they gave the war memorial’s story an unexpected happy ending.

New Horizons Community Enterprise, which runs the Blakenall Village Centre and a number of local projects and activities, is proud to have sponsored the publishing of the book, which adds an important chapter to the history of Bloxwich and its people.

The 458-page profusely illustrated softback book is published by Tommies Guides under the Reveille Press imprint with the ISBN: 978-1-908336-44-6.  

BARGAIN BOOKS

The normal retail price is £18.99 plus postage, but for a short period – until the end of April 2013 – signed copies of the books can be obtained for just £11.40 each or 2 books for £20, exclusively from Reception, Blakenall Village Centre, Thames Rd, Blakenall Heath, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.  Please note – cash purchases only.

For further information and to order Sorrow into Pride, please contact Terri Wall, Service Manager of Blakenall Village Centre  – email terri.wall@nhce.org.uk or telephone 01922 714900.

Bloxwich Labour campaigners protest the Bedroom Tax

Labour Councillors brave the harsh weather in Bloxwich to protest the bedroom tax

Local Labour Party Councillors and supporters were busy in Bloxwich on Saturday collecting  signatures from local residents on a petition in protest against the Tory/LibDem Coalition Government’s increasingly unpopular “Bedroom Tax” which was proposed by Chancellor George Osborne in his recent Budget and is expected to hit the most vulnerable hardest.

Protestors stepped out in jim-jams and dressing gowns despite the icy mini-blizzards alternating with “Spring” sunshine which blasted up and down the High Street throughout the day.

And they’ll be back in Bloxwich again this coming Saturday around noon, with a possible presence in Walsall town centre as well.

Walsall Labour Group spokesman George Makin said:

“Labour party councillors and supporters dressed in pyjamas braved the freezing cold and snow to protest against the bedroom tax which comes into affect this week. Over a dozen campaigners met on Bloxwich High Street on Saturday (30th March) to collect signatures for a petition against the Government’s cuts in housing benefit which will force low paid and unemployed people to pay up as much as an extra 25% in rent.”

Labour councillors and party members from Bloxwich, Blakenall, Leamore and Short Heath were highlighting the plight of over a thousand families in their wards who have unoccupied bedrooms. The protest came as the borough’s biggest social landlord Walsall Housing Group (whg) failed to give an assurance that tenants who fall into arrears will not be evicted.

Blakenall councillor, Anne Young, said despite the cold and snow the response from the public had been fantastic.“People understand the injustice of this tax coming in, as it does, on the same day as the government are giving thousands of millionaires a tax cut of £100,000 a year.

“Walsall has nearly 4000 households who will be hit by the bedroom tax; over a quarter of whom live in our four wards.  The Tories and Lib Dems’ Bedroom Tax tells you all you need to know about this Government. It’s hitting families of soldiers serving our country who will have to find extra money for their son or daughter’s bedroom.

“It’s making disabled people in council and housing association homes pay more when they need more space due to their disability and divorced parents whose kids come to stay are being affected. Labour are the only political party on Walsall Council fighting this.”

Labour’s Darlaston South councillor, Doug James, said the bedroom tax would lead to evictions. “Officers the 19,000-home Walsall Housing Group, estimated it has 3,476 under-occupiers who will receive a combined £2.4 million reduction in benefit payments if they remain in their homes.

“My enquires to the borough’s biggest social landlord, WHG, failed to obtain an assurance that it won’t evict tenants because of this evil tax. his is not WHG’s fault. When the council’s housing stock was transferred over to it ten years ago, the vast majority of homes were designed for families. It therefore has very little one or two bedroom properties it can move people into.

“The Government is hitting households with the bedroom tax despite admitting there aren’t enough smaller properties for tenants to move to. Instead, the Government expects families to pay extra rather than move house. This won’t solve under occupancy, but will hit low income working families, disabled people, and families of soldiers who are serving their country.

He added: “The situation has been made worse by the fact that at the last full council meeting local Tories and their Lib Dem partners voted down a Labour amendment to increase discretionary housing payments by £600,000 which would have helped families avoid losing their homes.”

Labour councillors will now present the petition at full council on April 8th as part of their continuing campaign for greater help to families.

UPDATED 17.50 1 April 2013.

Eggcellent Easter Saturday all set for Bloxwich!

Easter Fun in Bloxwich

Thanks to the generous support of local businesses, clubs and organisations as well as Walsall Council, Bloxwich families can look forward to a most eggcellent public Easter event in the village again this year – all set for tomorrow, Saturday 30th March!

The event will run from 11am to 3pm and leaflets and posters have been distributed to promote the family fun!

Confirmed activities include:

  • Reach Up Tower in Park Rd by the toilets (free activity)
  • Easter Bonnet Workshop at Bloxwich Market (free activity)
  • Face Painting at Bloxwich Market (free activity)
  • Donkey Rides in Park Rd by the toilets (small fee charges)
  • Walkabout Acts including The Mad Hatter, Stilt walker, and balloon modeller – promoting an Egg Trail Competition
  • Easter Bonnet Parade Competition at 2pm for 2.30pm in the Market Place for children up to 12 years of age
  • Easter Egg Team Hunt in King George V Playing Fields from the Play Area off Stafford Rd at 10.30am (see poster below).
  • Visit from the Easter Bunny and Easter Chick

The events are also of course aimed at increase the footfall into Bloxwich, and therefore supporting both a healthy business community and jobs. Activities organised to hopefully assist business and local organisations include:

  • The Egg Trail competition
  • Business Offer leaflet and promoting activities
  • Charity Stalls on Bloxwich Market

The Egg Trail competition starts at 2pm from the Market Place and offers the chance for families to track down up to ten letters, each in a different business in the village centre.

The event has been organised by the ever-energetic Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council, working with Bloxwich Business Partnership to support local trade, organisations and the people of Bloxwich.  For more about the event check out the Partnership’s Facebook page via the above link and click on the link below to download the PDF event poster.

Easter Eggstravaganza

Photo courtesy Bloxwich Business Partnership/Walsall Council

Bloxwich theatre to host lively night of music

Across The Borderline

On Saturday 6th April, Bookmark Bloxwich Live Music will once again be staging Across The Borderline as a follow up to the previous show’s sold out performance last October. The show features three great acts, offering an international line-up from Canada, U.K. and France.

Starting off the show, Canadian Country Singer/Songwriter Chuck Micallef will step up to the microphone joined by multi-instrumentalist Dave Luke with their interpretations of great country songs written by Hank Williams, Gordon Lightfoot, John Prine and The Carter Family to mention only a few. These works stand comfortably along side Micallef’s self penned tunes in a “gather ‘round the back porch picking style of performance” that audiences have appreciated up and down the country.

Next up will be well known Folk Singer/Songwriter/Comedian/ Raconteur Tony Barrett, who brings a vast variety of material to the Bookmark stage. Barrett’s cheeky stories interlaced with song parodies, well delivered covers and original compositions have helped make him a well respected performer on the U.K.’s music and festival circuit.

As the French connection component of the show takes the stage, EnChante’s performance intersperses French Classics from the 1950s & 60s by Brel, Barbara, Trenet, and Piaf. Lead singer Jocelyne Thompson adds her unique song writing skills to round off the night in an authentic style that has been denoted as “Chansons a Texte.” Backed by Nick Thompson on double bass and Ron Thomas on classical guitar, the trio brings the atmosphere of a Parisian Café into the intimate theatre for a night to remember.

Tickets are £5 and can be reserved by calling 01922 655900 or visiting Bloxwich Library in Elmore Row.

Doors open at 7.30 pm for an 8:00 pm show.

Bloxwich Rector to walk 87 miles for family worker

Revd. Roger Williams
Revd. Roger Williams

At this Easter season it seems only appropriate to cover a church-related story which is also important to local families.

Revd. Roger Williams is well-known to the people of Bloxwich as the affable, approachable and very active Rector of All Saints Church.

In the modern parlance of the church, he is very much the ‘Team’ Rector, and does a lot of work to support not only local people but also his team at All Saints which includes Curate Monica Arnold and the team Vicars of Holy Ascension, Lower Farm (Kareen Lowther), St Thomas, Mossley (Carlton Turner), and the smallest C of E church in Bloxwich, St James in Old Lane.

Roy Burley
Roy Burley

Also part of the team is the energetic part-time Family Worker, Roy Burley, who has been working at All Saints since 2010, when Bloxwich Parish raised sufficient funds to support his post for three years.  In that time, Mr Burley has become an indispensable part of the life and work of All Saints.

Roger Williams said of Roy:  “He has helped and supported many families, through their struggles and joys. At the same time he has enabled us to found a new family-friendly service on Sunday afternoons, to develop a youth club, and to reach out to a wide range of local people that had no link to church before. It’s been brilliant!”

Now Roger is stepping out to support the post by walking the Two Saints Way, a pilgrimage route from Chester to Lichfield, to raise funds to help keep Roy’s work going for another three years, and is asking for the support of Bloxwich folk.  Funds raised by the walk, which is 87 miles long (see map below) will supplement some of the church’s money and some grants.  Click on the map for details of the Two Saints Way.

The Two Saints Way
The Two Saints Way

There are various ways to support Revd. Williams’ walk.  A sponsorship form is available from the church in Elmore Row, and payment can be made in advance or afterwards.  Internet-savvy sponsors can also donate via Justgiving.com where Roger’s fundraiser name is Roger-Williams4:

See:  http://www.justgiving.com/Roger-Williams4

You can also sponsor Roger via your mobile phone by texting ROGW58 £10 (or £1, £2, £3, £4, or £5) to 70070.  Or simply send him or give him cash, or a cheque made out to All Saints’ DCC.

For further information on the walk, Roy Burley’s work or sponsorship: contact Revd. Williams on 01922 476598 or email to:  williams.roger@gmail.com – you can also find out more about the Parish of All Saints on the official Bloxwich Team Parish website: http://www.bloxwichparish.org.uk/welcome.htm

Happy Easter!

Asbestos warning following Bloxwich fire

Fire at DF Jones

Local residents are being advised to stay in their homes and keep the windows closed following a fire at a furniture factory in Bloxwich.

Fire crews from Bloxwich, Walsall, Willenhall and West Bromwich were called to the single storey brick building at D.F. Jones in Willenhall Lane after the fire broke out just after midday today.

The blaze caused the road to be  closed in both directions between the Leamore Lane junction and the Fryers Road junction.

Five fire appliances and an hydraulic platform were called to the scene.  Thankfully, no one was in the factory at the time of the blaze and there have been no reports of injuries.

West Midlands Fire Service have said that part of the building has collapsed.  Gas and electricity supplies have been isolated by the utility companies.

West Midlands Fire Service also alerted Walsall Council’s pollution control officers as some cement asbestos material from the roof, believed to be a lower risk type, has blown over footpaths, roads and garden areas.

Specialist contractors are in the process of clearing this material away this evening and residents, who have all been given a letter of advice, will be told when it is safe to leave their properties.

Councillor Mike Bird, portfolio holder for Public Health with Walsall Council, said:

“I understand asbestos material from the roof of the factory has blown over footpaths, roads and garden areas.

“Officers have advised that this appears to be a lower risk type of asbestos which is commonly found in industrial-type buildings.

“We are asking residents to stay in their homes while this clean-up is carried out and expect it to be finished later this evening.”

The cause of the blaze has not yet been reported.

The Health Protection Agency is aware of the incident.

Photo courtesy Bloxwich Old & New (click on photo to visit page)

Aldridge charity dance to raise funds for SSAFA

SSAFA Dance Poster

A special charity dance is set to take place on the evening of Saturday 23rd March in Aldridge, Walsall.

And the event, billed as ‘Dance Through The Years’, is sure to be popular, with five-piece band ‘Nostalgia’ ready to set toes tapping and bugs jittering with live music from the 1920s – 1960s!  To add to the fun, there will also be prizes available on the night.

The dance, which will be at Aldridge Social Club, High Street, Aldridge, is aimed at raising funds to support the work of the newly-expanded local branch of SSAFA Forces Help – the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association – a registered charity established in 1885.

Starting at 8pm on 23rd March, tickets for ‘Dance Through The Years’ cost just £8 and are available from the club or telephone 01922 866545.

The West Midlands North Branch serves the Black Country and is based in the Territorial Army Centre at Gordon House, Walsall.  The charity continually needs to raise funds for its volunteer efforts in supporting ex- and serving forces personnel and their families, vital work that is as necessary as ever with so many in need.

Please feel free to download the pdf event poster by clicking on the image above – we hope as many as possible will be able to help spread the word by printing the poster off and displaying it at work or in places where it can be seen – thank you!

A Celebration of Life – arts at Bookmark Bloxwich

A Celebration of Life poster

This Saturday 9 March sees a unique charity arts event coming to Bloxwich’s popular Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre.

‘A Celebration of Life’, which features artwork, poetry and other readings, includes work from Pete Boot (former drummer with rock band ‘Budgie’), Willenhall Society of Artists, Ian Henery, Elizabeth Stoney and Stuart Williams.

The aim of the event, which opens at 2pm and runs until 5pm, is to raise awareness of Parkinson’s Disease and to raise funds for the Neurological Research Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Cancer Rezearch UK.

Walsall Councillors Sean and Dianne Coughlan will be present.

ADMISSION IS FREE – but donations will be welcomed towards the good causes above.

Click on the poster image above to download a larger jpeg poster.

Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre is part of the Bookmark Bloxwich Complex which also includes Bloxwich Library, and is located in Elmore Row, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 2HR.

For more info on events at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, check out the What’s On Walsall website and the Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre website.

Telephone Bloxwich Library on 01922 655900.

Public talk on Darlaston history

Bull Stake Darlaston

People from across Walsall borough will soon be able to find out about the history of one of our most historic local towns, Darlaston, in a public talk on Monday 4 March 2013 at Walsall Local History Centre.

The Essex Street centre is hosting one of Darlaston’s most noted local historians, Mr Terry Smitheman, who will present a fascinating slide illustrated talk all about that fine old Black Country town between 7.30pm – 9pm, and admission will cost just £2.00!

Darlaston has a long and varied history stretching at least as far back as the Domesday Book (1086) and was once an important industrial and engineering centre. Mr Smitheman is one of the leading experts of Darlaston Local History Society, and has many years experience of researching and writing about Darlaston and district.

Advance booking is essential, and tickets for the talk can be reserved now by telephoning Walsall Local History Centre on 01922 721305.

Walsall Local History Centre is the archives service and local studies library for Walsall Metropolitan Borough, and is part of Walsall Council. It is located in Essex Street, Walsall, WS2 7AS. Disable facilities and on-site parking are available.

Further details of the centre may be found online at http://www.walsall.gov.uk/localhistorycentre

Curtain up for third Walsall Mummer’s Play this weekend!

Click to download poster
Click to download poster

The third in the remarkable series of new Walsall Mummer’s Plays written by local playwright David Calcutt, organised by Walsall Civic Society working with local groups, talented volunteers and Walsall Council and funded by a Heritage Lottery grant – ‘The Lovers and the Pirates’ – is all set for curtain up on its first open air performances this Saturday 16 February at noon, 1.30pm and 3pm in Walsall Marketplace, High Street, Walsall, just a short way down from the ASDA store – with FREE admission!

The successful series – commissioned specially as part of the historic  Walsall Bayard’s Colts Project – has brought a genuine revival of English street theatre to the town – not to mention much mirth, madness, music, mummery and mayhem!

And good weather or no, you’ll get a chance to see the play this weekend, for a special indoor performance is also taking place within the bounds of Bloxwich, at our very own Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in Elmore Row, this Sunday 17 February at 2pm and 7pm.  Tickets for the Bloxwich performance cost just £5 – to book, call 01922 655900.

For more information, call Glen Buglass on 01922 653113, or check out the Bayard’s Colts Project website: http://www.bayardscolts.org.uk/

New homes for Mossley

New homes for Mossley
New homes for Mossley

Plans for a £3.6 million development of 37 new homes at Mossley Estate, Bloxwich have been given the green light by planning bosses.

Walsall Council approved a planning application from leading local housing provider Walsall Housing Group (whg) to build twenty two-bedroom and seventeen three-bedroom homes at Fisher Road.

The development, due to start in February, will provide much-needed family homes.

All the homes will be available for affordable rent. This means they will be made available to tenants at up to a maximum of 80 per cent of market rent and allocated to those applying for homes via choose & move.

The brownfield site is going to be developed by contractor Willmott Dixon on behalf of whg, with the expectation of handing over the homes to new residents in March 2014.

Funding for the project comes from the Homes and Communities Agency and whg.

The scheme forms part of whg’s ambitious plans to provide around 255 homes by early 2014.

Mark Tranter, Head of Development at whg, said: “We know there is a strong need for more affordable homes in our area, and this scheme is one way we are looking to address that.

“We are committed to developing affordable housing to ensure people in need have access to quality homes.

“Following consultation events we have held with residents to discuss our plans, we know that local people are happy to be seeing the site, which has been derelict for a number of years, be developed into family homes.”

Mossley Estate is a former Walsall Council estate constructed after the second world war.  The name dates back to at least 1840, and originates as an old farmer’s field name, Mosley (sic) Field, upon which the estate was built.

whg owns and manages around 19,000 mainly former Council properties across Walsall, including Bloxwich, Aldridge, Brownhills, Darlaston, Willenhall and central Walsall, housing almost 40,000 people.

Artist’s impression of the Fisher Road development courtesy whg

Masked robbers attack Bloxwich youth – appeal

Hildicks Bridge
Hildicks Bridge

A Bloxwich youth was attacked by three masked robbers as he walked along a canal towpath earlier this month.

The 17-year-old was confronted and threatened by the men near to Hildicks Bridge off Goscote Lane between 8pm and 8.30pm on Monday 7 January.

They demanded he hand over his mobile phone, which he did, and they then ran off towards the road.

Detective Constable Jon Baker, of Walsall CID, said:

“Fortunately the victim was not injured but was left very shaken up following the robbery.

“We want to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who saw three masked men in the area on the evening.

“If you have any information which could help our investigation, no matter how insignificant you think it may be, please contact us.”

Anyone with information about the robbery should call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Leamore youngsters inspired to medical careers

Elishia Firth and Levi Cox taking blood pressures
Elishia Firth and Levi Cox taking blood pressures

Year 6 pupils from Leamore Primary School developed their knowledge of all things medical last week by taking part in the ‘Careers in Health’ workshop morning delivered by representatives from Classroom Medics.

After an introductory talk and demonstration the children split into groups and used a variety of medical equipment for a range of purposes and in the process measured their own health and fitness.

Queuing up for the Batek light reactor
Queuing up for the Batek light reactor

Excited children from the popular Bloxwich Rd school were able to take their own blood pressure, pulse, heartbeat and temperature readings, used a rowing machine and a light reactor to measure strength and co-ordination.

They also performed resuscitation techniques, found out their lung capacity and wore a variety of goggles to see the effects on vision of various conditions including a stroke to name but some of the activities.

Classroom Medics are a team of medics, physiologists & scientists that visit schools and festivals to help pupils make more informed decisions about their health, careers and future ambitions.

They provide unique and memorable workshops and activities that inspire and engage school pupils and the general public.

Leamore teacher Mr Paul Mobberley said:

“The workshop was delivered superbly and really raised the children’s and staff’s awareness. It concluded with an interactive quiz and even at the age of 11 some of the children are considering a career in medicine as a result.”

Pictures courtesy Paul Mobberley

Salt grit being stolen – Walsall Council appeal

Gritting Lorry (Walsall Council)

Salt from grit bins in Walsall and Bloxwich is being stolen and then offered to residents to clear their driveways, say council transport chiefs. 

As the big freeze continues to hit the borough, residents in north Bloxwich have reported the theft to Walsall Council and the police. 

Residents living in the area have reported seeing young people aged around 18 to 20 stealing grit and then offering to clear icy driveways for a fee. 

Several homes were approached in the Stoney Lane and Ambergate Close areas yesterday, (Monday 21 January 2013). 

But Councillor Tom Ansell, portfolio holder for transport and the environment at Walsall Council Coalition said that grit bins are provided for highways only and appealed for residents to contact West Midlands Police.

“This has happened before and it amazes me that people will use this opportunity to make a few bob. Make no mistake about it. This is theft and people who are caught will be prosecuted.

“We’ve had problems with grit being taken from roadside bins over the past few days. We refilled our grit bins only the other day but it looks as if we’re having to do it again. 

“It costs us £100 a time to refill one bin.

“We have a zero tolerance of theft and are asking people to be vigilant and pass on any information of grit thefts to West Midlands Police.”

Grit bins are installed across the borough at critical points close to hills and sharp bends.

To report incidents of grit theft call West Midlands Police on 101.

Feed the birds!

Snowy bird table (Stuart WIlliams)

It’s a good time to be thinking about our feathered friends in this harsh winter weather, so I borrowed the post below from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds website.  You can view their site via the link given at the bottom.

If you’re wondering about the cost of feeding the birds, by the way, you’ll find most of the local Pound Shops in the Walsall area and Home Bargains in Bloxwich selling bags of suitable bird seed, fat balls and feeders for a quid apiece, so there’s no excuse not to do your bit in your garden!

From the RSPB:

“With sub-zero temperatures suddenly upon us, the RSPB are advising people to make sure their bird feeders and tables are full of high-energy foods.

Richard James, one of the RSPB’s wildlife advisors, said:

‘The sudden drop in temperatures across the UK will have been a big shock to birds’ systems after spending the past couple of months with few worries in terms of food availability.

‘Thanks to the recent mild weather, many natural food sources have been readily available and water has been easy to come by. Now the snow and ice are here birds will need all the help they can get to survive the winter.’

You can feed birds calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, nyjer seed, fatballs, suet sprinkles, sunflower seeds and good-quality peanuts, as well as kitchen scraps like mild grated cheese, cooked rice and porridge oats.

A supply of water is also essential for bathing and preening. In freezing conditions birds become more dependent on water provided in gardens, since many natural sources are frozen over.

The most effective way to keep the water in your garden from freezing is to pop in a light ball that will be moved by even a gentle breeze and keep a small amount of water ice free – a ping-pong ball is ideal. Alternatively, pour on hot water to melt the ice to make sure the birds can get to it.”

See  http://www.rspb.org.uk/ for further information.

Also check out the British Trust for Ornithology if you’re seriously interested in studying birds for science.

Bird feeders

Happy New Year! 2012 stats for The Bloxwich Telegraph

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all our readers, friends and followers!

We’ve received an annual report about The Bloxwich Telegraph from the WordPress.com statistics helper monkeys and we were so pleased that we’d like to share some of this with our readers!

How many views of The Bloxwich Telegraph in 2012?

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York to see Jay-Z perform. The Bloxwich Telegraph was viewed about 67,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2012, there were 220 news stories and features, growing the total archive of The Bloxwich Telegraph to 365 posts. There were 441 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 111 MB. That’s about a picture per day.

The busiest day of the year was September 29th with 2,797 views. The most popular post that day was Police ready for EDL and counter-protests in Walsall tomorrow.

Top stories in 2012

These are the stories that got the most views in 2012:

Site referrals

The top referring sites for The Bloxwich Telegraph in 2012 were:

  1. facebook.com
  2. theyamyam.com
  3. twitter.com
  4. theyamyam.net
  5. thebloxidgetallygraph.

Where do our readers come from?

Would you believe it, not just from Bloxwich but from all over the world – 137 countries in all!  Most visitors came from the United Kingdom. The United States & Canada were not far behind.

So not bad for our first full year on WordPress!

Bigger and better in 2013?

Here at The Bloxwich Telegraph we’re hoping to expand our coverage and readership in 2013, and we hope that you, our readers, will help us do that by telling all your friends and family about the site – and if you’re on Facebook, Twitter or have your own blog, we’d be very grateful if you could spread the word!

We’d also love to be placed on more lists for locally relevant press releases – so if you know any organisation, charity, community group, church, school or company working in Bloxwich, Little Bloxwich, Leamore, Blakenall Heath, Birchills or Goscote, please let them know that we’d be glad to hear from them via bloxwichtelegraph@gmail.com

Thanks so much for your support in 2012 – we hope to hear from you in 2013!

Stuart Williams

Editor & Publisher

Sparkling spectacle is icing on Bloxwich’s Christmas cake

Bloxwich Christmas tree and lights, Promenade Gardens, reflecting in the historic 'National' school windows
Bloxwich Christmas tree and lights, Promenade Gardens, reflecting in the historic ‘National’ school windows

In our final festive posting before Christmas, The Bloxwich Telegraph would like to wish all its readers both  Festive Felicitations and Season’s Greetings, wherever they are.

And it is a particular pleasure to conclude our 6th year first as The Bloxidge Tallygraph and now The Bloxwich Telegraph by presenting a photo-spectacular of the village’s wonderful new Christmas Lights – truly taking us all back to the days of our youth when bright bulbs hanging in trees along the High Street always used to complement the Bloxwich Christmas tree in Promenade Gardens, come rain, snow or hail!

For this sparkling return of our much-missed lights, now in powerful LED form, we have to thank the Bloxwich Business Partnership CIC and  donors, raising a total of £15,000 pounds to pay for the lights and their hanging by cherry picker; massive support was given by Walsall Housing Group in particular.

We especially need to thank Bloxwich’s energetic organiser Nikki Rolls of the Partnership/Walsall Council, for doing so much to bring back the Spirit of Bloxwich Christmas Past.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, ONE AND ALL - AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The new lights begin in trees opposite the former Grosvenor Cinema on High Street
The new lights begin in trees opposite the former Grosvenor Cinema on High Street
They continue outside St Peter's Roman Catholic Church
They continue outside St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church
Bloxwich Market Place boasts its own modest but attractive lights
Bloxwich Market Place boasts its own modest but attractive lights
A further eye-popping avenue of light begins outside the dear old 'National' school
A further eye-popping avenue of light begins outside the dear old ‘National’ school
The view back along High Street from the Bloxwich Christmas tree in Promenade Gardens is spectacular
The view back along High Street from the Bloxwich Christmas tree in Promenade Gardens is spectacular
The display of ethereal luminescence continues past Bloxwich Park
The display of ethereal luminescence continues past Bloxwich Park
The gem-like spiderwebs of icy light offer a dazzling gauntlet for night-riders
The gem-like spiderwebs of icy light offer a dazzling gauntlet for night-riders
Chlidhood recollections of trips to the 'Blocko Lights' on a trolleybus spring to mind as a double-decker speeds northwards
Chlidhood recollections of trips to the ‘Blocko Lights’ on a trolleybus spring to mind as a double-decker speeds northwards
The display concludes just before the Bell Inn
The display concludes just before the Bell Inn
And Pat Collins' Memorial Clock in the northern Promenade Gardens marks time as it views the spectacle
And Pat Collins’ Memorial Clock in the northern Promenade Gardens marks time as it views the spectacle

For more pictures at higher resolution, see our Flickr album via this link.

IT’S CHRISTMAAS! Santa lands on Lower Farm!

Santa and his little helpers pause in Bamford Rd
Santa and his little helpers pause in Bamford Rd

As we said in a recent post, in Bloxwich, you can always tell when Christmas is coming – it’s when the Rotary Santa Claus drops in!  And the Bloxwich Phoenix branch of Rotary continued its traditonal – and highly enjoyable – annual sleigh-ride around the Bloxwich area last night, when Santa and his happy band of Rotary helpers – plus Terry Bate (Bloxwich Carnival Chairman), and Bloxwich East Councillors Shaun & Julie Fitzpatrick – dropped in on the populace of Lower Farm, Little Bloxwich!

Santa lands in Bamford Rd
Santa lands in Bamford Rd

For decades, the real herald of the season has not been Mr Robin, Jack Frost, snow falling, or even naff festive muzak in the shops – it’s been the jolly red-suited man in the sleigh with the golden cog-wheel on its side.  And this year, after successful visits to Blakenall Heath, Mossley, Pelsall (!) and Dudley Fields, Santa’s arrival down on on the ‘Farm was welcomed with open arms by young and old alike.

But it was a close call this year, as not only had winter rain been hammering the already half-frozen folks of Little Bloxwich for hours, but a technical hitch with the sleigh’s sound system had threatened a ‘silent night’ for all concerned; a combination of the two would have put a real dampener on this much-loved seasonal scene-opener.

A happy family welcomes Santa to Bamford Rd
A happy family welcomes Santa to Bamford Rd

Fortunately, not only did the glitch evaporate after a modest delay to the start of Mr Claus’s peregination, but by the time all was in motion, the rain had stopped too!  With Santa’s slightly soggy little helpers, who have had to endure all weathers this year, breathing a BIG sigh of relief, the show got on the road, and The Bloxwich Telegraph’s Editor Stuart Williams, who had been dodging the downpour in a nearby bus ‘shelter’, met up with the Rotary parade in Bamford Road, joining the highly musical and very jolly party to follow the rest of the route from there – and taking the photos you see here along the way (to download full-size pictures, see the link at the end of this article).

All smiles as Father Christmas rolls into Buxton Rd
All smiles as Father Christmas rolls into Buxton Rd
Festive family fun on Fishley Lane
Festive family fun on Fishley Lane

The Rotary ‘elves’ were kept busy knocking on doors for donations, delivering Santa’s letters to youngsters and meeting happy families, some of whom braved the damp but thankfully rain-free air to meet Father Christmas in person – and like the elves with their Santa hats, hi-vis tabards and jingling buckets, those who did got a very warm welcome!

This family was all set for Santa in Simmonds Rd!
This family was all set for Santa in Simmonds Rd!
The party progresses along Simmonds Rd
The party progresses along Simmonds Rd

With smiling faces on every street and corner ready to welcome in the season and support Rotary’s great causes with their coppers and more, the night’s charitable tally soon grew to a very creditable total of £192,68 and the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix – and Santa – send big thanks to everyone who supported them on Lower Farm.

Saying hello to Santa
Saying hello to Santa
Wrapped up warm to say hello to Father Christmas
Wrapped up warm to say hello to Father Christmas
Scenic in Fishley Close
Scenic in Fishley Close
Angelic in Ashbourne Rd
Angelic in Ashbourne Rd
Cllrs Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick welcomed by Mrs Bull in Ashbourne
Cllrs Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick welcomed by Mrs Bull in Ashbourne
Another little angel and family in Ashbourne Rd
Another little angel and family in Ashbourne Rd
Youngsters brave the cold to make a donation in Belper Rd
Youngsters brave the cold to make a donation in Belper Rd
Ho ho ho - more happy smiles in Belper Rd
Ho ho ho – more happy smiles in Belper Rd
All ready for Christmas in Belper Rd!
All ready for Christmas in Belper Rd!

The Rotary Santa tour is a great Bloxwich tradition – it gladdens the heart of young and old alike and helps a hard-working and very worthy charitable organisation do remarkable good works in the world.  Truly – what better start to Christmas could you have?

And last but not least - saying by bye to Santa till Christmas Eve in Castleton Rd...
And last but not least – saying by bye to Santa till Christmas Eve in Castleton Rd…

TURNBERRY TONIGHT   Tonight sees Santa’s final tour of the Bloxwich estates as he and his Rotary entourage land at Turnberry, where the tour begins at 4.30pm and concludes at 8.45pm.  His Turnberry route is planned to be as follows:

Saunton Road, Enville Close, Sunningdale Way, Birkdale Road, Formby Way, Walton Heath, Selsdon Road, Gleneagles Rd, Burslem Close, Astbury Close, Elgin Road, Wetherby Street, Saddleworth Road, Redbourn Road, Nairn Road, Ferndown Close, Alnwick Road, Ganton Road.

PLEASE REMEMBER:

Routes/Times are subject to change. You can check and track routes at www.bloxwichphoenix.net

You can find out more about the friendly and community-minded Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix and the work of Rotary in general at the above website – the branch also has a Facebook group.

FOR FULL-SIZE PICTURES FROM SATURDAY NIGHT – see our Flickr Album to download via THIS LINK!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Bloxwich historians turn ‘Sorrow into Pride’

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman with their new book

Last Friday a quiet, poignant and significant event in the history of Bloxwich took place at Blakenall Village Centre: the launch of a new book about the men on the Elmore Green School Great War Memorial.

Sorrow into Pride tells the story of the social and military history of the ‘old boys’ of Elmore Green School, Bloxwich, who went off to fight in the First World War.  Written by two retired teachers and local historians, Barry Crutchley and Ken Wayman (pictured, above, at the launch), the book reveals the search for a ‘lost’ war memorial, the stories of the commemorated lads and its re-adoption by the original school.

Sorrow into Pride
Sorrow into Pride

Elmore Green School Old Boys’ Association war memorial was unveiled in the school hall in 1922.  It commemorated the sacrifice made by former pupils of the school in the Great War of 1914-18, listing sixty-seven ‘old boys’ of what was then Elmore Green Central School, later High School, who gave their young lives in “the war to end all wars”, some not passing away until 1919.  It had been moved from the school in 1958 when the secondary functions of Elmore Green High School were transferred to the new T.P. Riley Comprehensive, not far away in Lichfield Road.

The memorial quietly became part of the life of the new school until, in 2001, T.P. Riley was demolished and replaced by the present Walsall Academy, which opened in 2003.  It was around this time that the finely carved marble sculpture by Bloxwich-born Frederick T. Perry “disappeared” from the public eye.  In fact, it had been put into storage because it was not required by the academy, but for a long time this was forgotten.

Over the following years, various people including Bloxwich local historians Edna Marshall, Barry Crutchley and ex-T.P. Riley history teacher Ken Wayman, had tried to find and raise the profile of the missing memorial and eventually, following convoluted enquiries via the Academy and within Walsall Council departments, in late 2010 it was tracked down to the premises of monumental masons A. Walker & Sons of Cannock, who had been storing it safely since the demolition of T.P. Riley years ago.

Following work done by Walsall Council officers Mike Gaffney and the now late Elaine Box, funding was found from the Council to have the memorial returned to its original home in March 2011, when it was mounted on the wall of the school hall by the masons who had preserved it.  On Armistice Day that year, a special service of re-dedication was held at the school, truly bringing the memorial home.

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.
Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.

Now, Sorrow into Pride traces the families and experiences of the lads named on the alabaster memorial, as well as one Old Boy who for some unknown reason was omitted from the list. In addition, the events leading to the deaths of ten servicemen closely related to those commemorated are examined, showing how the war affected their wider families; moreover, a number of related servicemen who fought in the Great War have been bound into the tale.

Now re-adopted by the school community from whence it came, the war memorial has re-invigorated the local community and brought forward numerous descendants of the Old Boys, furnishing invaluable information, precious photographs and memorabilia.

The authors owe a debt of gratitude to the present school community and its enthusiastic head-teacher Jane Humphreys, staff and pupils – following the hard work of local historians and council officers, they gave the war memorial’s story an unexpected happy ending.

Pupils read the Elmore Green Roll of Honour at a Remembrance service on 11 November this year
Pupils read the Elmore Green Roll of Honour at a Remembrance service on 11 November this year

New Horizons Community Enterprise, which runs the Blakenall Village Centre and a number of local projects and activities, is proud to have sponsored the publishing of the new book, which adds an important chapter to the history of Bloxwich and its people.

Friday’s launch was hosted by the Chair of New Horizons, Tom Perrett MBE, presented by the authors and attended by descendants of the Elmore Green ‘old boys’ and other contributors, including Stuart Williams, Editor of The Bloxwich Telegraph, who wrote the Foreword and a special dedication to the late Elaine Box of Walsall Council, who was instrumental in returning the memorial to its rightful home.

Barry Crutchley chats to descendants of Elmore Green heroes at the launch
Barry Crutchley chats to descendants of Elmore Green heroes at the launch
Ken Wayman talks to Elmore Green Primary School head Jane Humphreys about the book
Ken Wayman talks to Elmore Green Primary School head Jane Humphreys about the book

The 458-page profusely illustrated softback book is published by Tommies Guides under the Reveille Press imprint with the ISBN: 978-1-908336-44-6, and is available to order via New Horizons at £18.99 plus postage.

For further information and to order Sorrow into Pride, please contact Terri Wall, Service Manager of Blakenall Village Centre  – email terri.wall@nhce.org.uk or telephone 01922 714900.

For more pictures taken at the book launch, check out our Flickr Album.

Bloxwich theatre marks anniversary with Christmas Open Mic Night

Christmas Open Mic

A popular little theatre in Bloxwich is marking the second year since its’ re-opening with a special Christmas Open Mic Night this Friday 14 December at 7.30pm for 8pm – and admission is free!

Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, part of the Bloxwich Library/Bookmark Bloxwich complex in Elmore Row, was formally re-opened in December 2010 after being closed for more than a year for major refurbishment together with Bloxwich Library.

The library itself was first opened in 1960 as a state-of-the-art facility for Bloxwich and district, and it was always planned that a theatre would be added for drama, music, film shows and educational lectures.  That theatre – originally known as Bloxwich Library Theatre – was later added as an extension to the library building, opening in 1964, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, Elmore Row, Bloxwich
Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, Elmore Row, Bloxwich

Since re-opening after the much-needed refurbishment, the life of the theatre has been rejuvenated not only by additional facilities such as the new café bar but by the efforts of local people, in the form of Bloxwich Library Forum, a volunteer group which manages,  raises funds for and supports the theatre in partnership with Bloxwich Library.  The Forum has worked closely with theatre technical manager Bruno Edwards and library staff over the past two years to book and present plays, live music, film shows and many other public events.

Stuart Williams, Vice Chairman of the Forum, said:

“We’ve had a lively couple of years with many great acts and events and after a busy and successful 2012 for the theatre it’s certainly time for a celebration!  This Friday night there’ll be music, poetry, costumes, Bayard’s Colts songs and with any luck – mince pies!  What’s more, admission is free!

“Our regular Open Mic Nights offer a place for singers, song writers, poets and musicians to play, jam and try out songs and poems on our full PA.  If you don’t play or perform then do come along and listen.  The venue and stage are fully accessible, as is the well stocked bar!

“Anyone interested in booking a slot to perform on the night should contact Bruno Edwards – email: open.mic.bookmark@gmail.com or telephone 07973 492387.  Christmas costumes optional!”

For more information on Bloxwich Library Forum and Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, check out the Forum website:

http://bloxwichlibraryforum.wordpress.com/

Christmas cracker showcases Goscote Greenacres

Goscote Greenacres

The popular Goscote Greenacres community garden on Goscote Lane held a seasonal market last Friday and Saturday – marking its first year serving both the disabled and the wider community.

And with craft stalls, festive foods, bric-a-brac, raffles and a school choir on Friday and festive music, jewellery, craft stalls, homemade pickles and handmade Christmas wreaths and yule logs on Saturday, this cracking little event, graced by a visit from Santa Claus, showcased what is clearly an excellent project for the disabled and the wider community.

Paul Mason outside the Community Cabin in glorious sunshine
Paul Mason outside the Community Cabin in glorious sunshine

Paul Mason, Goscote Greenacres’ community development officer, said before the free event:

“This is our first Christmas market here at Goscote and we’re really looking forward to both days.  There’s plenty to see and hear and it’s also a chance for people to have a look at the site and find out a bit more about the opportunities here.  We look forward to welcoming people and spreading some festive cheer!”

Goscote Greenacres viewed from the Woodland Walk
Goscote Greenacres viewed from the Woodland Walk

Goscote Greenacres Community Garden is based at the Goscote Centre for adults with disabilities and is being driven by them, their carers and the wider community. The Centre provides opportunities for people with disabilities who use the centre as well as residents, community groups and schools in the Goscote area, and also includes a great Community Café – Greenacres Restaurant – open to the public for breakfast and lunch, a training kitchen and social enterprise opportunities.

The building itself hosted the Christmas Market, with numerous stalls:

Christmas wreaths and preserves stall
Christmas wreaths and preserves stall
Cake stall
Cake stall
Arts and crafts stall
Arts and crafts stall
Jams and ginger cake stall
Jams and ginger cake stall
Dolls and other crafts stall
Dolls and other crafts stall
Cards and candles stall
Cards and candles stall
Various stalls
Various stalls
Costume jewellery stalls
Costume jewellery stalls
Guess the number of sweets in the jar stall
Guess the number of sweets in the jar stall

The main aims of the Goscote Greenacres project are to offer growing and gardening facilities and skills to the disabled and to offer the opportunity for members of the local community to mix with and become more aware of the needs of the users and others with similar issues.

Stuart Williams from The Bloxwich Telegraph dropped in on Saturday and was introduced to both the gardening project and the Centre by Mr Mason, who explained that the gardening facility with raised beds for easier access was launched in 2012 following a £250,000 makeover of the former Goscote Lane grounds of the old Goscote Hospital which house the Goscote Centre and the canal side open space behind the current building.

Panoramic view of Goscote Greenacres including Jo Stewart of Walsall Council and her daughter Chantel (click to enlarge)
Panoramic view of Goscote Greenacres including Jo Stewart of Walsall Council and her daughter Chantel (click to enlarge)

Paul gave Stuart a whistle-stop tour of the site, which apart from the Centre itself, includes a spacious community cabin, available for events and meetings, which also includes a home-grown veg shop as well computer facilities; a lovely canalside woodland walk with easy access for the disabled; the wide range of 45 garden plots (including 20 raised beds); fruit trees; polytunnels and a variety of other growing opportunities.

Panoramic view of the growing beds and grounds (click to enlarge)
Panoramic view of the growing beds and grounds (click to enlarge)

Gardeners have access to dedicated toilets and a conservatory to which the gardeners have access even when the main building is closed.  It is also planned to offer fishing facilities including a Fishing Club along the canal at the rear of the site.

Part of the delightful canalside woodland walk
Part of the delightful canalside woodland walk

Goscote Greenacres is a partnership between Walsall Council’s Adult Social Care, Walsall Adult and Community College, North Walsall Area Partnership and others.  Mr Mason’s work is funded by Walsall Council but the project itself has no other budget, so it has to be as self-sufficient as possible, and boxes of vegetables grown on-site are available for sale when in season.

Donations and sponsorship are also welcome, and anyone interested in helping with funding or in kind – or seeking further information about Goscote Greenacres – is welcome to contact Paul Mason on 07432625923.

You can also Like the project’s Facebook page: Goscote Greenacres and another at Goscote Greenacres Community Garden.

If you would like more information about future plans for the Goscote Centre please contact:

Goscote Centre
Social Care and Inclusion
Goscote Lane
Goscote
Walsall  WS3 1SJ

Telephone 01922 655800

Email goscotegreenacres@walsall.gov.uk

GOSCOTE GREENACRES FLICKR ALBUM

More photos of Goscote Greenacres by Stuart Williams are available to view in our Flickr Album.

Reflections of Old Walsall launches on Thursday!

Stuart Williams with the new book Reflections of Old Walsall

Bloxwich Telegraph editor Stuart Williams’ latest book for Walsall Local History Centre has just been published and will be on sale from this week – with a special launch event taking place at Walsall Museum on Thursday 6th December (details below), and just in time for Christmas.

Reflections of Old Walsall  – subtitled ‘Local history in and around Walsall Metropolitan Borough’ – includes diverse subjects from local heroes like Walsall’s greatest aviator Flt Lt Webster to coalman’s son and Bletchley Park code-breaker Harry Hinsley via spooks and spectres, the remarkable Highgate Windmill, Aldridge’s Naval VC, Bentley’s ‘Giant’s Causeway’, one of Queen Victoria’s greatest diplomats – from Birchills(!), the time Sherlock Holmes came to Walsall, Walsall’s electric trams which were “better than Blackpool” and Bloxwich’s war poet Harold Parry – plus many more!

In fact if you thought the story of old Walsall was just about the leather industry and Sister Dora, then you’re in for a few surprises with this book.  Even the essential Sister Dora article takes a very different track to the usual story…

Reflections of Old Walsall Book Cover
Reflections of Old Walsall Book Cover – click to enlarge.

The illustrated A5 format softback book, 72pp plus 4pp cover, is a compilation of the original, uncut texts of twenty of Stuart’s Local Heritage articles which were written on behalf of Walsall Local History Centre for his monthly feature in the Walsall Chronicle newspaper – a series which has run since 2001 and which was renamed Memory Lane at the end of 2011.

As such, the newspaper-published and edited versions of the articles are not only long out of print but were somewhat shorter than those in the book.  The articles in the new book also have their original titles, which were often changed by the Chronicle’s editors!

Each article as published now comprises 3-4 pages with 3 or 4 period photographs, so the book is ideal for dipping into, especially as the subjects focus on numerous surprising, quirky and often forgotten aspects of the area’s history and its people from ancient times to the 1970s.

The new book costs £6.99, and you may be interested to know that Stuart’s previous book for the Centre Billy Meikle’s Window on Walsall is also still available for £5.

The individual titles of the articles in Reflections of Old Walsall are:

  • A Bridge By Any Other Name
  • Bentley’s ‘Giant’s Causeway’
  • Things that Go Bump in the Borough…
  • From the Earth to the Moon – Highgate Windmill
  • From Red Books to the Red Planet – W. H. Robinson
  • One Man and His Books (to say nothing of the dog)
  • Remembering Aldridge’s Naval VC
  • Sister Dora and the Steam Engine
  • The Battle of Walsall
  • When Sherlock Holmes came to Walsall
  • Better than Blackpool: Walsall’s Victorian Tramways
  • An Englishman’s Castle: Council housing in Walsall
  • From Dixon of Dock Green to Gene Hunt
  • Flaming brilliant: Walsall Fire Brigade
  • From Guild Hall to Civic Centre
  • Going to the ‘flicks’ in ‘Sixties Walsall
  • From Borneo Street to the Stars
  • The Hinsley Enigma – Decoded
  • From Birchills to Beijing – Sir Harry S. Parkes
  • Remembering Harold Parry – Bloxwich War Poet

PUBLISHER’S DETAILS

‘Reflections of Old Walsall’ by Stuart Williams

Publisher: Walsall Local History Centre
ISBN: 978 1 907363 03 0

A5 format softback 72pp plus 4pp cover.
Retail price: £6.99.

BOOK LAUNCH AT WALSALL MUSEUM Thursday 6th December 2012

REFLECTIONS OF OLD WALSALL is being launched by Walsall Local History Centre with the kind assistance of Walsall Museum who are hosting the event in their Education Room on Thursday 6th December.

The launch will take place between 10am – 12 noon at Walsall Museum, 1st Floor, Central Library, Lichfield Street,  Walsall, WS1 1TR.  ADMISSION IS FREE.

The launch programme is as follows:

10am        Doors open.  Informal chance to speak to the author and view the book.

10.30am   Talk:  Reflections of Old Walsall.

11am         Book sales and signing.  Books cost £6.99.

11.30am    Videos and FREE refreshments.

12 noon  Close.

OUTLETS

After the launch, Reflections of Old Walsall will be available from Waterstone’s bookstore in Park Street, Walsall Museum, Walsall Leather Museum and of course direct from Walsall Local History Centre in Essex Street, Walsall, which will also operate a mail order service – telephone 01922 721305 for details.

It’s not Christmas in Bloxwich till the Rotary Santa drops in!

Santa drops in!

In Bloxwich, you can always tell Christmas is coming – it’s when the Rotary Santa Claus drops in!

For decades, the real herald of the season has not been Mr Robin, Jack Frost, snow falling, or even naff festive muzak in the shops – it’s been the jolly red-suited man in the sleigh with the golden cog-wheel on its side.  And this year is no different, children and adults in the village and on the estates will be delighted to hear!

Santa's on his way!

The Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix are enthusiastically maintaining the fine tradition of festive visitations and felicitations begun decades ago by their predecessor group, and they can always be sure of a warm welcome in so many places and from so many people that may have little else to cheer them on these cold, dark nights.

The Bloxwich Rotary Santa's on his way!
The Bloxwich Rotary Santa’s on his way!

As is traditional, Santa and his community-minded helpers will be touring all over Bloxwich and district – including Blakenall Heath, Mossley, Dudley Fields, Lower Farm, and Turnberry (plus Pelsall!) – and that tour starts this week!  See below for routes and times.

A LETTER FROM SANTA FOR YOUR CHILD

And for some added fun for families, if you’re on one of his routes, Santa and his helpers can deliver a letter from Santa to your child. Please send letters to Santa c/o 28a Lister Street, Willenhall, West Midlands. WV13 2HQ, or request a letter via the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix website. They will hand deliver a reply free of charge on the evening of your route.

Santa is also internet-savvy these days – so if you prefer to e-mail, he can be reached at santa@bloxwichphoenix.net for this, or any other queries you have.

FOR FULL DETAILS, follow this link: Santa Letter

SAT-NAV SANTA!

And what’s more – would you believe it, Norad in America may be able to track Santa on his way round the globe, but we can go one better, as you’d expect, and track him round Bloxwich!

On the evening of each route, you will be able to track Santa’s location in real-time online on Rotary’s website www.bloxwichphoenix.net, so there’s no need to stand outside in the cold weather for too long!

Of course, Santa’s visits to Bloxwich and district are not just about some much-needed seasonal jollity; there is a serious purpose too.  Rotary is a charitable organisation that does good works both in the local community and on a global scale.

All the money collected from the Santa Sleigh collection will be donated to the Rotary Foundation of the United Kingdom. The charity provides funds for many important humanitarian projects at home and abroad is one of the major partners in the drive to finally eliminate polio worldwide.

They need our help, and donations are welcome, so why not look out for Santa coming your way, say hello, have some family fun and do some good, in the true spirit of Christmas?

The times and dates of Santa’s visits this Christmas are listed below for your reference.  Remember they may be subject to change, but you can track Santa online to make sure!

For more information, you can also read or print online a special leaflet which is being distributed locally, via this link.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

SANTA WILL BE VISITING YOU ON THE FOLLOWING NIGHTS AND ROUTES:

Friday 7th December: Blakenall Heath  6:30pm – 8:45pm

Abbotts Street, Benton Crescent, Ryle Street, Pine Street, Ingram Road, Penderel Street,
Booth Street, Valley Road, Ryle Street, Hollands Road, Abbotts Street.

Saturday 8th December: Mossley  4:30pm – 8:45pm

Tintern Crescent, Cleeve Road, Cleeve Way, Pershore Road, Kirkstall Crescent, Tintern Way, Pershore Close, Cresswell Crescent, Waverley Road, Margam Crescent, Margam Terrace, Roche Road, Roche Way, Neath Road, Netley Road, Abbey Square, Fountains Road, Fountains Way, Tewkesbury Road, Glastonbury Crescent, Evesham Crescent.

Tuesday 11th December:  Pelsall 6:30pm – 8:45pm

Riddings Crescent, Trevor Road, Oak Road, Woodlands Crescent, Forge Road, Wood Lane, Wood Common Grange, Millers Walk.

Wednesday 12th December: Dudley Fields 6:30pm – 8:45pm

Sneyd Hall Road, Croxdene Avenue (loop), Sneyd Hall Road, Coalway Road, Chase Road, Sneyd Hall Road, Croxdene Avenue, Dartford Road, Heather Road, Ashley Road, Mulberry Road.

Friday 14th December: Lower Farm  6:30pm – 8:45pm

Stoney Lane, Sanstone Road, Bamford Road, Buxton Road, Fishley Lane, Simmonds Road, Fishley Close, Ashbourne Road, Belper Road, Matlock Road, Castleton Road.

Saturday 15th December: Turnberry 4:30pm – 8:45pm

Saunton Road, Enville Close, Sunningdale Way, Birkdale Road, Formby Way, Walton Heath, Selsdon Road, Gleneagles Rd, Burslem Close, Astbury Close, Elgin Road, Wetherby Street, Saddleworth Road, Redbourn Road, Nairn Road, Ferndown Close, Alnwick Road, Ganton Road.

PLEASE REMEMBER:

Routes/Times are subject to change. You can check and track routes at www.bloxwichphoenix.net

Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix also has a Facebook group.

Christmas kick-off at Bloxwich’s Stan Ball Centre this week

Stan Ball Centre Main Building

The festive season kicks off at Bloxwich’s Stan Ball Centre on Friday 7th December from 1pm until 3pm with the Centre’s annual CHRISTMAS CAROL CONCERT.

Reverend Monica Arnold from All Saints Church, Bloxwich and Reverend Paul Myers from Christ Church, Blakenall Heath will be in attendance at the Centre in Abbotts Street, along with the Green Rock Primary School Choir for what will surely be an enjoyable yuletide afternoon service.

CHRISTMAS FAYRE

The Stan Ball Centre’s Christmas Fayre takes place on  Saturday 8th December 10am until 1pm.

A few tables may still be available at a cost of £8 each or £5 for registered charities – contact Karen on 01922 403351 to book.

The Centre’s Bistro will be open throughout serving hot and cold drinks and snacks, and Santa will be paying a visit this year!.  Pop along for a festive morning out and find that last-minute Christmas gift! – free admission and free parking as usual.

CHRISTMAS DINNERS

Christmas Dinners will be available every day week commencing  Monday 10th December to Friday 14th December.  Purchase your Dinner ticket in advance from Stan Ball Reception for the day of your choice at a cost of £5.50 for two courses.

CHRISTMAS PARTY

The Stan Ball Christmas Party will be held on  Wednesday 12th December 1pm until 3pm with the “Val Rivers Show”.  This popular entertainment duo return for another festive musical treat for the party season.  Why not pop along for your Christmas Lunch beforehand and make a day of it?

Show tickets are on sale now from Stan Ball Reception costing just £3 per person.  A Christmas Hamper Raffle will be drawn during the afternoon – raffle tickets will be on sale from Monday 3rd December £1 per strip.

For further information, or to book any of these events, please contact Karen or Pete on 01922 403351 or come into the Centre during office hours Monday to Friday.

The Stan Ball Centre is part of Bloxwich Community Partnership (T.P.Riley Community Association).

A Christmas Carol comes to Leamore!

Mr Scrooge reads A Christmas Carol (courtesy Pamela Raith Photography)
Mr Scrooge reads A Christmas Carol (courtesy Pamela Raith Photography)

A much-loved Victorian Christmas classic will be reminding people of a bygone era when it comes to Leamore this week – and it looks like being a real Christmas cracker!

The dramatic reading of A Christmas Carol will be staged at Forest Arts Centre in Hawbush Road on Wednesday 5 December as part of a “rural tour” by the popular New Perspectives Theatre Company.

Charles Dickens took to the stage in 1853 to read from his famous work and it became one of the most talked about theatrical experiences of the Victorian era.

His series of readings included extracts from many of his most famous works, and New Perspectives is marking the bicentenary of the literary great’s birth by recreating the magic of that first reading.

Julie Simmonds, Walsall Council operations officer, said:

“This is an opportunity to experience one of the most famous Christmas stories ever written.

“With a mixture of heart-warming and spine-tingling moments, it promises to be a very special evening.”

The 7.30pm show is recommended for adults and older children and tickets cost £5.

They are available from Forest Arts Centre or at the venue 30 minutes before the show, subject to availability.

Forest Arts Centre Box Office is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am-4.30pm and can be contacted on 0845 111 2898.

Dreaming of a Goscote Greenacres Christmas!

Goscote Greenacres (picture courtesy Walsall Council).

A winter wonderland awaits visitors to Goscote Greenacres this coming week with a seasonal market running over two days. The first ever Goscote at Christmas Market will run on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 December 2012.

On Friday, there will be craft stalls, festive foods, bric-a-brac, raffles and a school choir from 10am until 2pm.  On Saturday, from 11am until 2pm there will be festive music, jewellery, craft stalls, homemade pickles and handmade Christmas wreaths and yule logs.

And Santa Claus is due to pop in on Saturday 8 December between 11am and 2pm!

Paul Mason, Goscote Greenacres’ community development officer, said:

“This is our first Christmas market here at Goscote and we’re really looking forward to both days.

“There’s plenty to see and hear and it’s also a chance for people to have a look at the site and find out a bit more about the opportunities here.”

Admission is free and the Goscote Greenacres cafe will be open for visitors to buy refreshments.

“We look forward to welcoming people and spreading some festive cheer,” Paul concluded.

Goscote Greenacres is based at the Goscote Centre for adults with disabilities and is being driven by them, their carers and the wider community.

It is a partnership between Walsall Council’s Adult Social Care, Walsall Adult and Community College, North Walsall Area Partnership and others.

The wheelchair accessible site in Goscote Lane, has a community cabin, raised beds and community garden plots.

DOWNLOADS

Goscote Christmas Market Flyer (pdf)

Goscote Greenacres Xmas Veg Boxes (pdf)

Sparkling Christmas shop window contest winners announced

Christmas cracker - Bloxwich High Street
Christmas cracker – Bloxwich High Street

Proud prize-winners in a glittering Bloxwich shop window decorating contest have been announced.

Last weekend’s ‘Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas’ event organised by Bloxwich Business Partnership working with local organisations, schools and churches was full of festive fun and entertainment for all the family – but also offered a special opportunity for retailers to not only raise their game in promoting their businesses, but to also get into the spirit of Christmas.

Now in its third year, the contest produced some real Christmas crackers all along the High Street and beyond, but several shone out – with top first prize-winner the LIFE children and baby charity shop claiming the gold star at the top of the tree with a display combining both childhood nostalgia and a traditional nativity scene appropriate to the period style of their shop front.

The winning Christmas window by the LIFE charity shop
The winning Christmas window by the LIFE charity shop
The LIFE charity shop on High Street
The LIFE charity shop on High Street

Second place was won jointly by attractive efforts from regular entrants Sweet & Fancy in Park Road and Elizabethan/Majestic Travel in High Street.

Another stylish festive window by Sweet & Fancy, Park Road - joint 2nd.
Another stylish festive window by Sweet & Fancy, Park Road – joint 2nd.
A bit of Victorian Bloxwich High Street - Joint 2nd winners Elizabethan:Majestic Travel
A bit of Victorian Bloxwich High Street – Joint 2nd winners Elizabethan:Majestic Travel.

Third place was won with a worthy window presented by Elaine’s Tan & Tone in Samuel Street (photo to be added later).

Finally, the separate School and Shop Window Decorating Competition was won by last year’s main shop window contest, Jeneve Bridal Wear of High Street – working with pupils from the Little Bloxwich C of E Primary School.

Jeneve Bridal Wear and Little Bloxwich C of E Primary School's winning entry in the School and Shop Window Decorating Competition
Jeneve Bridal Wear and Little Bloxwich C of E Primary School’s winning entry in the School and Shop Window Decorating Competition

Announcing the winners, Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas organiser Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council/Bloxwich Business Partnership said:

“A BIG MASSIVE thank you to all entrants, your window displays truly added the sparkle to the town and event.

“Certificates will be sent to to the winners along with a update letter to all who entered.”

The Bloxwich Telegraph seconds that sentiment – our retailers have made a great effort in recent years despite harsh economic conditions, and we hope they continue to do Bloxwich proud!

EDITORIAL Forever autumn: what future for our green spaces?

Bloxwich Park, our ancient village green: will those fallen leaves lie undisturbed in future?
Bloxwich Park, our ancient village green: will those fallen leaves lie undisturbed in future?

The summer sun is fading as the year grows old
And darker days are drawing near
The winter winds will be much colder
Now you’re not here

Today is Sunday, and the weather, surprisingly given conditions of late, was lovely, crisp, clear and sunny, with a sparkling light fit to shine deep into our souls. The grass was green, and the red-hot fallen leaves of autumn glowed bright in the wintry sunshine.  The great wheel of the seasons is turning, and we can see this all around us.  It is part of our lives, and our spirit.

What did you do?  Did you go for a walk?  Did you take the dog, your partner, the kids?  Where did you go?  A day out in the car?  Or a trip into our borough’s very own countryside havens?  A wander down to the local park, perhaps after church or a quiet drink in the pub?  Bloxwich is blessed with so many leafy parks and village greens, we are surrounded with trees and lawns, bushes and shrubs, little pools and hidden nature walks, with a once-bubbling fountain, quiet now but biding its time for the spring to come.

What a great day to be outdoors.  What was it like?  What did you see there?  Did you look around in wonder, stand silent amongst tall poplars, birch or oak?  Listen awe-struck to the birds, or stare out breathless across a trembling lake or pool?  Did you kick your way through the leaves, run along the footpaths and across the grass?  Did you feel the icy breeze sending a tingle up your spine?  Didn’t it feel good to be alive?

Come spring and summer, will you return to these green temples of peace for quiet contemplation, for family fun days and traditional carnivals, for childrens’ activities and adult education, for minibeast hunts and birdwatching walks, to spot bats or butterflies, to consider the rocks and waters beneath your feet or to watch the stirring of life on land, in the air and beneath the water of ponds and lakes?

Yet these havens of living beauty, and our access to them, cannot be taken for granted.  In dark times, we may have to fight for them, to raise our voices and our hands, to question and call to account those who set themselves far above us, as they see it.

What will you do if our parks and countryside spaces, the green and beating hearts of our towns and our borough’s hinterland, begin to suffer from neglect?  What if mowing the grass and managing the trees and heathland, trimming the bushes and husbanding the hedgerows, dredging the ponds and lakes, bending the willow fences and mending the stiles, picking the poop and clearing up all those glorious but now dark and rotting autumn leaves are all cut back, or heaven forbid, abandoned altogether?

What will you do if the opening hours are cut, the services dwindle, the helpful staff, the hard-working maintenance crews, the expert rangers, inspiring educators and supportive volunteers disappear, until one day you walk up to the gates of Bloxwich Park, or King George V Playing Fields, or Bloxwich Promenade Gardens, or any of the borough’s many parks and nature reserves large and small are locked and bolted, with barbed wire on the railings, the buildings boarded up, the play equipment rusting, the tools abandoned in the long grass and nothing stirring beyond the bars but the breeze, the peeling paint on burnt-out cars and the uneasy odour of fly-tipped rubbish.

What will you do?

Well you cannot say that you have not seen it coming.

What do you mean?  You cannot see it? You cannot hear it? You cannot read it? Are your eyes and ears open at all?  Things are falling apart all over England as a result of government cuts forced upon the people by those who think they are better than us, those with their millionaire’s hands jammed deep in our pockets but who care nothing for crumbling services, slashed jobs and ‘little’ lives that do not matter to them.

You see, it is happening already, even to the glorious legacy of our Victorian forebears who created the town and village parks for the good of the people, for their health and for their spiritual well-being.  And to the work of those who came after, inspired by the same ideals and a love of life and of knowledge to set up our nature reserves.  One day, perhaps, we may even see these places abandoned altogether, as part of “efficiency savings” or because “nobody cares”.

What will you do if the parks are built on and the nature reserves become a haven of a different kind – for drug addicts and burnt-out cars?  You may see no sign of this now, but those who do not care for the people will surely care even less for the green places that they love and need.

And swingeing green cuts are coming to Walsall.  Forced by massive and insupportable local authority budget cuts by national government, proposals already announced by the Council will lead to yet more staff cuts and “efficiency savings”.  We know what that means.  Oh, there are no parks closing now, nor are there plans to do so – but what of the future? A slippery slope is just that, and who will put on the brakes?

Thankfully, there are those arising who will stand against such decline and will fight for alternatives to cuts.  They are, appropriately, a “grass roots” group of Walsall countryside enthusiasts who can see clearly the dark clouds looming ahead for our local green spaces, because they are actively engaged in supporting them and the hard-working Walsall Council staff who do so much to make them accessible and enjoyable.

Beginning with the Friends of Park Lime Pits, they have not let the grass grow under their feet. Hearing of the cuts proposed, they stood up to be counted on Facebook, they made their opinions known through Twitter, they set up an official petition on the Walsall Council website, and organised not only a peaceful protest at the Council House but a meeting with senior Council officers, so that they could both better understand the reasoning behind the cuts – and make their voices heard.

Would that the people of this once-great nation would do as much.  Would that YOU would do as much.  Will you?

Much of what you really need to know is here, on the blog and other sites of this passionate group.  Make up your own mind on the issues and ask questions:

Save Walsall’s Green Spaces and Countryside Services

Sign the Petition against the cuts

Join the Facebook group

SHOW YOU CARE.

Before this all this is gone.  It has already begun…

Stuart Williams, Editor

Click on each photo below (and above) to see the full beauty of these precious places:

Abandoned Park Keeper's Lodge, Wiggin Avenue, King George V Playing Fields.
Abandoned Park Keeper’s Lodge, Wiggin Avenue, King George V Playing Fields.
King George V Playing Fields mean so much to so many.
King George V Playing Fields mean so much to so many.
Wallington Heath Pool - an 18th century stagecoach halt saved from weed and neglect by parks staff.
Wallington Heath Pool – an 18th century stagecoach halt saved from weed and neglect by parks staff.
History and natural beauty come together at Bloxwich Promenade Gardens on the High Street.
History and natural beauty come together at Bloxwich Promenade Gardens on the High Street.
Not just a patch of grass - a place of life and heritage on Elmore Green since ancient times..
Not just a patch of grass – a place of life and heritage on Elmore Green since ancient times..

Forever Autumn

(from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds)

The summer sun is fading as the year grows old
And darker days are drawing near
The winter winds will be much colder
Now you’re not here

I WATCH the birds fly south across the Autumn sky
And one by one they DISAPPEAR
I wish that I was flying WITH them
Now you’re not here

Like the SUN through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on the breeze you blew away

Through Autumn’s golden gown we used to kick our way
You always loved this time of year
Those fallen leaves lie undisturbed now
Cause you’re not here

Like the SUN through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on the breeze you blew away

A gentle rain falls softly on my weary eyes
As if to hide a lonely tear
My life will be forever Autumn
Cause you’re not here

Cause you’re not here

Cause you’re not here…

It’s Sparkle not Splutter as Christmas in Bloxwich starts with a bang!

The Italian Market adds sparkle to All Saints grounds.

Saturday saw the third annual Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas spectacular take over the village centre, and despite the dismal weather in the afternoon, this annual kick-start to the festive season still managed to sparkle instead of splutter!

The event was organised by Bloxwich Business Partnership – local businesses and organisations working with Walsall Council and the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, churches and schools to bring together local people for yet another fantastic event for the people of Bloxwich and district.

Numerous charity and craft stalls were showcased in All Saints' grounds.
Numerous charity and craft stalls were showcased in All Saints’ grounds.

Today’s feast of festive fun was billed to take place 11am to 4pm, with a busy and jolly-looking Italian Market and a synthetic Ice Rink open between 9am – 5pm.  It was also planned to showcase Bloxwich’s local talent and history – it certainly did the latter by being centred on the grounds of the picturesque All Saints Church as well as the historic High Street this year!

Walsall Cats Protection volunteers Val Turner and Jacki Chilton do their bit for pussies in peril.
Walsall Cats Protection volunteers Val Turner and Jacki Chilton do their bit for pussies in peril.
National Elf Pat Till of the Sister Dora Friends of Walsall Hospice engages youngsters in Christmassy conversation.
National Elf Pat Till of the Sister Dora Friends of Walsall Hospice engages youngsters in Christmassy conversation.
Heidi Summersby - holding a Bloxwich Lion - had been amazingly busy on her craft stall
Heidi Summersby – holding a Bloxwich Lion – had been amazingly busy on her craft stall.
Tasty treats were all for the taking in the Mamma Mia Italian market.
Tasty treats were all for the taking in the Mamma Mia Italian market.

The former was undoubtedly well-represented too, by talented local school pupils and the young stars of Russon Dance Academy performing at various locations, as well as the Steel Pans Band and the Salvation Army band – though due to being unable to attend before 2pm as a result of work commitments, we were sadly only able to catch up with Steel Pans and some young ladies from the Mirus Academy, who were putting on an energetic performance in a shelter near the church and the ice rink.

The Steel Pans Band strikes up a tune as The Bloxwich Telegraph arrives!
The Steel Pans Band strikes up a tune as The Bloxwich Telegraph arrives!
Talented pupils from the Mirus Academy, Beechdale, with Baljit Dutfield, the Academy's Director of Creative Industries and Partnerships.
Talented pupils from the Mirus Academy, Beechdale, with Baljit Dutfield, the Academy’s Director of Creative Industries and Partnerships.

The lynchpin behind the event was as usual the remarkably energetic Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council, whose efforts on behalf of Bloxwich since re-launching the Business Parnership with local traders and groups a few years ago have been tireless.

Of course she would be the first to say how much help she has had from Bloxwich Rotary, the schools, churches, Bloxwich Library, Council colleagues and other local organisations, as well as hard-working community-minded local councillors such as Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick, who joined Nikki’s daughter Amber and others as enthusiastic if rather damp event marshals!

Street entertainer Mad Dom pumps up a balloon hat for volunteer event marshal Amber Rolls.
Street entertainer Mad Dom pumps up a balloon hat for volunteer event marshal Amber Rolls.
Bloxwich East Labour councillors Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick also acted as volunteer marshals.
Bloxwich East Labour councillors Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick also acted as volunteer marshals.

Nikki told The Bloxwich Telegraph that before the rain rolled in the grounds of the church had been jam-packed with revellers looking for festive fun and bargains, not to mention the ice rink and stalls, which had been equally busy – and she estimated that around a thousand visitors had passed through All Saints’ grounds in the morning – very impressive.  She hopes that the event will be even bigger and better next year – with hopefully better weather to boot!

A moment of festive fun as organiser Nikki Rolls gets a hug from a roller-skating Christmas bauble!
A moment of festive fun as organiser Nikki Rolls gets a hug from a roller-skating Christmas bauble!
Buddy can you spare a dime? Neil Bennett, Steve Antill and Stuart Fisher promote the annual Bloxwich Rotary Santa tour.
Buddy can you spare a dime? Neil Bennett, Steve Antill and Stuart Fisher promote the annual Bloxwich Rotary Santa tour.
Slip-sliding away on the synthetic ice rink!
Slip-sliding away on the synthetic ice rink!
Jeneve Bridal Wear's festive entry in the Best-dressed Shop Window competition.
Jeneve Bridal Wear’s festive entry in the Best-dressed Shop Window competition.

The nature of today’s weather, however, inevitably put a bit of a dampener on activities late in the afternoon, though hardy Bloxwich folk and youngsters were still skating away right till the end.

The Bloxwich Telegraph was only able to cover part of today’s events, but I hope you’ll agree that it was well worth us turning out to witness some of the festive fun, food and foolery later on!  If any of our readers have pictures of events up to 1pm that we could add to this picture feature, we’d be very grateful if you could get in touch!  Please email Stuart Williams: bloxwichtelegraph@gmail.com

MORE PICTURES from this afternoon can be viewed on our Flickr Album.

We will report on the winner of the Christmas shop window competition when the results are available.

For more details of what was scheduled to take place today, please see our previous report.

There is no doubt that events pulled together by Bloxwich Business Partnership have raised the profile of Bloxwich in the borough and beyond, and especially by linking groups together in co-operation have fostered a greater sense of community in Bloxwich.

Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas is also a great curtain-raiser for the rest of the festive season, and we can surely look forward to more local events from the churches, the Rotary and other groups.  Watch this space!

Rare unity on Walsall Council as members condemn benefit cuts

Walsall Council House

In a rare sign of political unity in Walsall this week,  a motion by the Walsall Council Labour Group condemning cuts by the coalition government to both council tax benefit and housing benefit has won the support of Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, according to a press release from the Group.

The amended motion was passed unanimously at Monday night’s full council meeting, criticising the 10 per cent cut affecting OAP’s, single parent families and the unemployed.

Walsall, like other town halls, will have to pass on the cuts or fund the difference from its own budget which is already facing a £13 million reduction forced upon it by the government.

The proposed cuts in council tax and housing benefits are apparently expected to amount to £3.3 million in Walsall and hit some 4,000 households.

Cllr Sean Coughlan, Deputy Leader of Walsall Labour Group, said the fact that the motion won cross party support spoke volumes about the hardship the cuts would create.

“It is not often that politicians speak with one voice on contentious issues but everyone in the council can see the harm and misery that these cuts will create in areas like our own where we have high levels of unemployment and deprivation.

“These cuts will come into effect from April, just as the government gives enormous tax breaks to millionaires but working families on low incomes, pensioners and the unemployed will be faced with the choice of either paying the rent or buying food.”

Debating the motion, Liberal Democrat leader, Ian Shires, described the changes as ‘botched.’

Conservative Council Leader, Mike Bird, went further – saying that the government was forcing councils to do their dirty work leaving families to choose ‘between paying the bills and feeding their kids.’

Cllr Coughlan added:

“When the Coalition Government’s own supporters are describing their own parties’ polices in such terms, it’s time that Cameron and Clegg realised the destructive impact they are having on people’s lives”

For more information on the Labour Party in Walsall, see: Walsall Council Labour Group

New Bloxwich Labour councillor makes education her priority

Cllr Patti Lane (Picture: George Makin).
Cllr Patti Lane (Picture: George Makin).

Bloxwich West’s newest Labour councillor, Patti Lane, will make education her priority after a closely fought by-election which she won with over 50 percent of the vote.

The retired primary school teacher out-polled Conservative, UKIP and Liberal Democrat candidates with a majority of 266, increasing the party’s share of the vote and overall majority.

She won the seat at the election on 15th November after popular Councillor Sue Fletcher-Hall stepped down for personal reasons.

Cllr Lane, a mother of three, told The Bloxwich Telegraph that her victory was a rejection of the Tory/Lib Dems coalition which runs Walsall council.

She said:

“The people of Bloxwich West have clearly rejected the disproportionate cuts the government, and its supporters in Walsall council, are forcing on local authorities.

“As a former teacher I will make education and care of our local children a priority.

“But campaigning on the doorstep it was clear that people are concerned that cuts in police numbers and council services like park wardens, will see an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime.

“Another issue of concern is the terrible state of the roads and pavements in areas like Mossely, which have been neglected and under funded for some time.

“I want to thank all those people who voted for me, and a great campaigning team, for their support and over the coming weeks and months I am looking forward to holding regular surgeries and visiting community groups to see how I  and the Labour Party can improve peoples’ lives in the ward.”

For more information on the Labour Party in Walsall, see: Walsall Council Labour Group

Countryside cuts protesters lobby Walsall Council meeting

Save Walsall's Green Spaces protesters at Walsall Council House.
Save Walsall’s Green Spaces protesters at Walsall Council House.

A successful protest was held outside Walsall Council House this evening by the Save Walsall’s Green Spaces and Countryside Services Group, who lobbied Councillors as they arrived for a scheduled Full Council meeting.

The Group, recently formed on Facebook by concerned local residents to celebrate, support and protect Walsall’s green spaces, which are under threat from a possible £400,000 cut in funding proposed by Walsall Council under draft proposals recently published, handed out leaflets and spoke to councillors during the peaceful protest.

After the protest Linda Mason, spokesperson for the group, explained that although the subject of cuts was not being debated at the meeting, it was important to keep the matter fresh in councillors’ minds and to remind them how much the borough’s green spaces and in particular the Countryside and Park Rangers mean to the people of Walsall.

The placard-waving and banner-wielding protesters numbered around a dozen and were able to engage some councillors in conversation, who in the main appeared broadly supportive.

Protesters outlined their particular concerns regarding a proposed cut in Ranger posts. Councillor Arif, representing St Matthews Ward said however: “We are not cutting any Countryside Rangers.”

Ms Mason commented to The Bloxwich Telegraph:

“Cllr Arif’s quote is most welcome to the group.

“We will continue with our campaign which also includes an online petition, now signed by the largest number of people in Walsall Council’s e-petition history, and a web site.”

The group’s online petition against the cuts will remain active on Walsall Council’s website until the end of December and can be signed via the following link: Green Spaces Petition

Concerned Walsall residents are also being invited to join the Facebook group via the following link: Facebook Group

The group’s website which includes further information can also be found at:

Save Walsall’s Green Spaces and Countryside Services

Bloxwich Telegraph Subscribers – please resubscribe

keep-calm-and-click-subscribe-2

As you will probably be aware, the Bloxwich Telegraph has moved to a new design system – WordPress.org – and a new host and URL:

http://www.bloxwichtelegraph.com

We need as many of our previous subscribers as possible to change to the new site, and we would therefore like to encourage you to go to the new Bloxwich Telegraph as soon as convenient and subscribe by entering your email address into the box at the bottom right of the Home page and clicking Subscribe.

Unfortunately we cannot transfer your subscription ourselves, so we would be very grateful if you would do this so we can continue to link directly to you as before, and offer a you a more direct service in this way.

New subscribers reading this are also welcome, of course!

Many thanks.

Stuart Williams

The Bloxwich Telegraph

Wave Goodbye, Say Hello as we move to WordPress.org

The Bloxwich Telegraph Mark II

A new beginning

Today marks an exciting and important day for The Bloxwich Telegraph and its readers as this publication regenerates, Timelord-style, from the previous version (which you are reading) into something which combines elements of both past and future – the NEW Bloxwich Telegraph - all in order to better serve the people of Bloxwich and district!

The Bloxwich Telegraph is the successor to the popular online publication The Bloxidge Tallygraph, which we published June 2006 – October 2011.  In October 2011 we moved from webs.com to WordPress.com, a more technically advanced platform which allowed us to make the Telegraph more interactive and linked-up.

Today, 5 August 2013, with the domain name of the old Bloxidge Tallygraph due to expire any day now, The Bloxwich Telegraph moves once again, and is re-launched on an independent server host using the yet more advanced and customisable platform of WordPress.org and a much more sophisticated design theme.

This allows us to implement display advertising and numerous other features which would have been difficult or more expensive to implement on WordPress.com.  It also allows us to offer a better and more sophisticated design, with the aim of bringing our readers more information, with more style and interactivity than ever before.

A new location

You will find the new Bloxwich Telegraph – the Mark II if you will – via the following link:

http://www.bloxwichtelegraph.com

We would be grateful if you would follow us from the new location henceforth, as from tonight this WordPress.com site will no longer be updated.

Work in Progress!

Although we have re-launched with a new design, there are a lot of legacy posts which we need to tidy up manually, some will need text and font edits, and many photos may not show up right away in these old posts.  There is no need to contact us about this, we are gradually working our way through the backlog – and I am sure you will appreciate that our latest posts are our priority!

The design and the content of The Bloxwich Telegraph will evolve as we get to grips with our new systems – so watch this space for additions, alterations, tweaks and improvements over the coming months!

Advertising

If you are a local business we can now help with affordable advertising and advertising features/advertorials and promotion on the new site.  Please get in touch via our Advertising page there.

Wave Goodbye, Say Hello

So, finally, we hope both our old readers and new will enjoy the new regenerated Bloxwich Telegraph – it has a new lease of life, and offers an even more powerful voice for our area.  Make use of it!

Say hello to today’s Bloxwich Telegraph – and wave goodbye to the Bloxidge Tallygraph and the Bloxwich Telegraph Mark I.  The future is at http://www.bloxwichtelegraph.com!

Stuart Williams

Editor & Publisher

The Little Bloxwich Press

It’s Bloxwich Carnival time tomorrow!

Carnival Dates

Yes, tomorrow is the day we’ve all been waiting for in Bloxwich – it’s CARNIVAL DAY!

One of the most important days in the village calendar, indeed on of the most important in the district, Bloxwich Carnival dates right back to the Great War Peace Celebrations of 1919 when local men dressed in fancy dress and played football to raise funds for the soldiers who returned, the widows and orphans of those who did not, for local hospitals and for local old folk – the latter a tradition still carried on today by the current carnival committee with the time-honoured annual Senior Citizens Party which this year took place in July at Bloxwich Baths.

As with the past few years, the 2013 Bloxwich Carnival is taking place entirely in King George V Playing Fields, and there will be no parade.

Gates open on Saturday at 12 noon at the Bealey’s Lane/Bell Lane corner entrance and at the Stafford Road entrance.  There is no on-site parking, you are recommended to arrive on foot.

The arena programme (see details of the main attractions below) runs till 4pm with the whole shebang concluding at 5pm, apart from Pat Collins’ Fun Fair, which will be close to the Bealey’s Lane/Bell Lane entrance as usual.

The Bloxwich Carnival Queen, Princess and Rosebud (see below for details) will be crowned at 12.20pm (ignore the printed time below) at the mobile stage adjacent to the event arena.  The young Carnival Ambassadors from local schools will also be presented with their medallions by local dignitaries.

Carnival Royalty

And admission to Bloxwich Carnival this year is silly cheap – just £1 on the gate or FREE if you’re aged under 16 or are a pensioner!

Details and photos are reproduced courtesy of the Bostin’ Bloxwich magazine published by Walsall Council’s District Centre Management Team for Bloxwich.

Watch out for our Bloxwich Carnival report and massive Flickr photo album early next week in the all-new Bloxwich Telegraph on WordPress.org – we’ll be giving the new link on this site and via Facebook and Twitter when we launch!

SEE YOU THERE!

Carnival Main Attraction

Carnival Tomfoolery

Fun for old and young alike in run-up to Bloxwich Carnival

Senior Citizens Party 1

Young and old alike have been having fun in Bloxwich in the run-up to the hugely popular annual village carnival which will take place on Saturday 3 August.

On Thursday 18 July more than 240 local old folk from Bloxwich, Leamore and Blakenall Heath were treated to a slap-up tea in the Art Deco surroundings of the historic Bloxwich Baths function hall and entertainment from both professional performers and youngsters from the Mirus Academy (Beechdale) and Walsall Academy (Lichfield Rd, Bloxwich) in the form of singing, music and dance.

This free Senior Citizens’ Party, provided from funds raised by Bloxwich Carnival and organised by Bloxwich Carnival Committee was presented on a voluntary basis with the help of local groups such as Bloxwich Rotary, 196 Squadron ATC, West Midlands Co-operative Society and Bloxwich councillors and others, and is an annual tradition dating back to the mid 20th century.

For more photos of the 2013 Senior Citizens’ Party, follow this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bloxwichtelegraph/sets/72157634705368122/with/9320776414/

YOUNG CARNIVAL AMBASSADORS

Also, on Thursday 25 July the young Bloxwich Carnival Ambassadors representing the best about local primary schools turned out for a fun photo call at the Bloxwich Tardis monument on Elmore Green!

The young Bloxwich Canival Ambassadors for 2013 have fun at the Bloxwich Tardis!
The young Bloxwich Canival Ambassadors for 2013 have fun at the Bloxwich Tardis!

The Carnival Ambassadors are part of a new Bloxwich tradition which was created when the Carnival was revived in 2000 for the Millennium, and they have proved a popular addition to the old tradition of the Carnival Queen and latterly the Princess and Rosebud.

The Bloxwich Carnival Ambassadors for 2013 are:

Callum Bedworth and Jayde Edwards of Blakenall Heath Junior School.
Joseph Simmons (absent) and Ellie Bakewell of Elmore Green Primary School.
James Webster and Toni Edwards of Green Rock Primary School.
Luke Hulbert and Beth Smith (absent) of Little Bloxwich C.E. Primary School.
Nathan Wycherley and Mary Beards of Jubilee Academy.
Saskia Thompson of St Peter’s Roman Catholic School.

The young Ambassadors will be formally presented with medallions following the Queen Crowning on Carnival Day.

For more photos of the 2013 Bloxwich Carnival Ambassadors, follow this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bloxwichtelegraph/sets/72157634797778236/

Bloxwich Carnival takes place in the usual venue of King George V Playing Fields between 12 noon – 4pm next Saturday, and will offer a full programme of family fun, arena events including the spectacular Stannage International Stunt Team, a plethora of stalls for charities and sales, the traditional Pat Collins Fun Fair – and most importantly, at 12.20pm the crowning of the Bloxwich Carnival Queen, Princess and Rosebud and the awarding of medals to the young Carnival Ambassadors!

Admission is just £1 for adults – and children and pensioners go free!

A poster for this year’s Bloxwich Carnival on Saturday 3rd August from 12 noon in King George V Playing Fields has been provided by Bloxwich Carnival Committee so that it can be made available for download by anyone who wants a copy for information, or who is willing to print one or more off and post it/them in places where people can see them.

You can just click on the link below to download the A4 version in pdf format, ready for printing:

Bloxwich Carnival Poster 2013 (updated)

The committee would be grateful if our readers and friends could put a poster on your work noticeboard, in your house or car windows (where safe to do so), or if you are a local business reading this then the committee would be grateful if you could put a poster in your shop window or door.

If you are a council venue reading this then you are very welcome to put up a poster, subject to any permissions you may need.  Please note that Walsall Council supports Bloxwich Carnival.

WEBSITE LINKS

If you have a local website, blog, Twitter or Facebook page you are invited to post the link to this page so that your own readers can download a poster if they wish to.

NO FLY-POSTING PLEASE

Both the committee and the Bloxwich Telegraph would like to emphasise however that fly-posting in public places should not be undertaken, including putting these posters on lighting or traffic poles – please do not put these posters where you do not have permission, as this is against the law.  Public spaces are being looked after by the committee, who have already put up large banners at both ends of the High Street, according to council regulations.

Many thanks for your help!

Bloxwich Carnival poster download now available

Bloxwich Carnival Poster 2013

A poster for this year’s Bloxwich Carnival on Saturday 3rd August from 12 noon in King George V Playing Fields has been provided by Bloxwich Carnival Committee so that it can be made available for download by anyone who wants a copy for information, or who is willing to print one or more off and post it/them in places where people can see them.

You can just click on the link below to download the (now updated) A4 version in pdf format, ready for printing:

Bloxwich Carnival Poster 2013 (updated)

The committee would be grateful if our readers and friends could put a poster on your work or school noticeboard, in your house or car windows (where safe to do so), or if you are a local business reading this then the committee would be grateful if you could put a poster in your shop window or door.

If you are a council venue reading this then you are very welcome to put up a poster, subject to any permissions you may need.  Please note that Walsall Council supports Bloxwich Carnival.

WEBSITE LINKS

If you have a local website, blog, Twitter or Facebook page you are invited to post the link to this page so that your own readers can download a poster if they wish to.

NO FLY-POSTING PLEASE

Both the committee and the Bloxwich Telegraph would like to emphasise however that fly-posting in public places should not be undertaken, including putting these posters on lighting or traffic poles – please do not put these posters where you do not have permission, as this is against the law.  Public spaces are being looked after by the committee, who have already put up large banners at both ends of the High Street, according to council regulations.

Many thanks for your help!

Fanged fun for Vampire fans at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre

Dracula Walks the Night - Count Dracula by moonlight 

That legendary fanged fiend of Victorian Gothic literature and countless horror films, Count Dracula, is now making sinister plans to walk the boards at the popular Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre next Saturday afternoon.

And members of the public are cordially invited to witness the bloody return of Bram Stoker’s most famous creation, brought literally to life once again in a unique play by those noted purveyors of Victorian Mystery, Shadowy Suspense and Gothic horror – ‘Don’t Go Into The Cellar’.

Stuart Williams of Bloxwich Library Forum, which manages the Elmore Row, Bloxwich theatre in partnership with Bloxwich Library said:

“Dracula Walks The Night’ sees the Count of the Undead forsake his home in Transylvania to vent his wrath upon the British Empire.

“In true Hammer Horror fashion, this frighteningly effective, interactive show on Saturday 20th July pits the Vampire Count against Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes in Victorian London. Eerie graveyard vigils, hansom cab chases, near-death misses and fiendish plots a-plenty guarantee audiences classic chills.

“But fear not – this particular production is a specially-arranged matinee only performance, and as we all know, vampires cannot attack in daylight – or can they?  Don’t miss this one-off show in Bloxwich!”

Doors open at 2pm and the play begins at 2.30pm.  Tickets cost just £8 or concessions £6, and are available now from Bloxwich Library in Elmore Row.

Telephone 01922 655900 to book, tickets will also be on sale on the day, subject to availability.

News, heritage and information for Bloxwich and district