Christmas fun begins in Bloxwich this Saturday!


A glittering slide into Christmas for Bloxwich and district begins this Saturday 28th November with the annual ‘Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas’ event in the village centre.

Organised by Walsall Council in co-operation with the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, local businesses and more, the popular annual event is now a firm fixture on the festive calendar, and offers family fun – and shopping opportunities – for all!

This Saturday’s activities, which are focused on Bloxwich Park,  High Street and All Saints Church, Elmore Row, run from 10am-4pm.

Fun for all!

There’ll be all the following:

  • A Christmas Trail
  • Santa on his sleigh handing out a FREE gift
  • Local Bloxwich choir performances
  • Christmas drinks and cakes
  • Christmas entertainment acts
  • Christmas donkeys!
  • Christmas shop window displays
  • Children’s rides
  • Christmas stalls

And at All Saints Church

  • Stalls
  • Rides
  • And a Christmas Concert from 4pm onwards!

Anyone looking for further information can contact Sharan at Walsall Council District Centre Management on 01922 654324.

Click on the image below for a larger version to print!

Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas - Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge

A Sunday to Remember in Bloxwich

Veterans, cadets and local groups march behind the standards to All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Veterans, cadets and local groups march behind the standards to All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)

This year’s Remembrance Sunday in Bloxwich was indeed one to remember, mostly for all the right reasons – but was also an event dogged by confusion and controversy.

Most importantly, the local community came together in their hundreds once again as they have done since the 1920s, to remember and honour in silence and in song those fallen in war and conflict, especially local servicemen and women and the other victims of war – and to hope for that peace which is the right of all but which is so rarely found in this world.

It has to be said, however, that the day was sadly somewhat tarnished by the controversy over the cancellation of the traditional High Street parade of veterans and local groups, including youth groups, who enthusiastically but thoughtfully gather to march each year.

The band leads the somewhat curtailed Bloxwich Remembrance parade past the grave of Bloxwich rebel Samuel Wilks (pic Stuart Williams)
The band leads the somewhat curtailed Bloxwich Remembrance parade past the grave of Bloxwich rebel Samuel Wilks (pic Stuart Williams)
Conspiracy theories and confusion

Confusion over the reasons behind the parade’s cancellation resulted in understandably angry but sometimes, it has to be said, ill-informed mutterings on local social media and on the streets of Bloxwich and district. Some of that was to be expected, as information was at first scarce and communication from organisers who were desperately trying to rescue the event and other official channels was sometimes confused. But then the publicising of the Bloxwich event has never been very good and always last minute, something which needs to be rectified in future.

No Legion, no parade

Variously blaming Walsall Council, local councilors, Walsall Police and others, these stirrings mostly missed the main reason why the parade was cancelled and re-scheduled as a short march through the grounds of All Saints Church. This was, as was widely reported in the Bloxwich Telegraph, primarily down to the demise of the Bloxwich branch of the Royal British Legion, presumably due to insufficient local support, in 2013.  This meant that, due to a combination of health and safety law and official red tape, as well as perfectly reasonable safety concerns, together with the unwillingness of the Royal British Legion to extend insurance for the march without a local branch, the usual parade could not go ahead.

Veterans and cadets march behind the standards to enter All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Veterans and cadets march behind the standards to enter All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Police cuts

Overshadowing this primary problem was the issue of nationwide police cuts due to our national Conservative government’s ‘austerity’ policies, something which has received a massive amount of media coverage in recent weeks. Even had there been a branch of the Legion to insure and organise a parade, our sources informed us,  it would almost certainly have been cut back due to there being half as many police available to marshal road closures as last year. This is a situation likely to get worse next year.

All Saints Church was packed to the rafters for the reading of names and service of Remembrance (pic Stuart Williams)
All Saints Church was packed to the rafters for the reading of names and service of Remembrance (pic Stuart Williams)
The Bloxwich Royal British Legion must be reformed

So, it is absolutely essential that a new branch of the Royal British Legion be formed in Bloxwich, so that local veterans may be supported locally, so that funds may contnue to be raised for the charity, and  so that Bloxwich people may see the return of their traditional Remembrance Sunday parade.

Thankfully, local interest in forming such a branch is already taking shape, and anyone who is interested in helping and taking part is invited to contact the Legion’s local contact, Mr Bill Griffiths, by telephoning  07944869687 or 01922 492064.

The future

The present police cuts and the prospect of more of the same next year may call the parade’s future  into question again, even if, as is hoped, a new branch of the Legion rises phoenix-like in Bloxwich in time for Remembrance Sunday 2016. It looks like any future organisers will have to fund and organise at least part of the traffic management themselves, due to reduced numbers of police available.

Between now and then, Bloxwich people will really have to ‘step up to the plate’ and help.  After all, Remembrance is for life, not just Remembrance Sunday.

The reading of the names of the Fallen (pic Stuart Williams)
The reading of the names of the Fallen (pic Stuart Williams)
Bloxwich can still be proud

But whatever happens next year, Bloxwich can at least be proud that disaster was largely averted this year by the hard work of public-spirited local councillors, All Saints Church and representatives of other churches, many local groups and police – and not least the veterans themselves – who came together with other local people to organise a shortened march through the church grounds and a massively well-supported Service of Remembrance within the church itself.

Not only that, thanks should also be offered to those many local people who, whether unable to get into the church or determined, as Bloxwich folk often are, to stand up for Bloxwich and for tradition, still gathered round the Bloxwich War Memorial to pay their respects as in days gone by.

Hopefully, everyone who turned out in church or on the streets of Bloxwich on Sunday last will actively support the future of the Royal British Legion and Remembrance in Bloxwich as well as looking to the past  – otherwise it may have no future!

Paying tribute at Bloxwich War Memorial -- lest we forget... (pic Stuart Williams)
Paying tribute at Bloxwich War Memorial — lest we forget… (pic Stuart Williams)


To view larger versions of the above photographs, and for more pictures of the day by Stuart Williams, follow this link to a Flickr photo album.

For more background to this event, see our previous reports.

Bloxwich Remembrance parade replaced with church service

Remembrance in Bloxwich, 2012. Will this poignant scene become a thing of the past? (pic Stuart Williams, click to enlarge)
Remembrance in Bloxwich, 2012. Will this poignant scene become a thing of the past? (pic Stuart Williams, click to enlarge)

Bloxwich is to lose its popular Remembrance Sunday parade this weekend, amid a storm of media reports highlighting government police cuts as the cause of reduced road closure support for such events this year. Officially, the cancellation of the cherished Bloxwich parade has been blamed on the closure of the village’s local branch of the Royal British Legion in 2013.

However, even though there will be no Bloxwich High Street parade, a Service of Remembrance organised to partially rescue the much-loved event at the last minute will still take place, at a new venue – All Saints Church, Bloxwich – this Sunday 8th November, beginning at 10.30am, and all are welcome. Following the service, wreaths will be laid at the nearby Bloxwich War Memorial.

A perfect storm

Austerity-driven cuts in public services nationwide and the confusion surrounding the loss of one of Bloxwich’s most important annual events, as well as reported policing issues with other such events boroughwide, have combined to create a perfect storm  of angry public opinion, both on social media and amongst local people in person, blaming the police, the council and the government, but official messages have been vague till now.

Reliable sources have told the Bloxwich Telegraph that the reason for there being no parade in Bloxwich this year – and possibly in future years – is due to the closure of the Bloxwich Branch of the Royal British Legion in 2013, which has resulted in there being no official organiser for the event in 2015.

Had there been a Legion branch in charge of the event, we are informed, Walsall Police would have been happy to work with event organisers and deploy what  police numbers they had available on the day.  However, according to Bloxwich East Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, it would not have been possible to have a parade down Bloxwich High Street with the small numbers of police expected to be available anyway.

A past Remembrance parade in Bloxwich (pic Stuart Williams)
A past Remembrance parade in Bloxwich (pic Stuart Williams)
Council clarification

The Walsall Advertiser newspaper recently published a news item about the parade cancellation, quoting Councillors Julie and Shaun Fitzpatrick on the matter. They were approached by Walsall Police to see if they could help because of their well-known community work, and they did their level best to try and rescue the parade, sadly without success.

We subsequently published an outline of why the parade was unlikely to go ahead, based on information received from Mrs Fitzpatrick and a local representative of the Royal British Legion, Mr Bill Griffiths:

Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick said at the time:

“Due to cuts to the police budgets, last year in Bloxwich we had 12 police to maintain public safety during the parade, this year we have 5. Due to this the High Street cannot be used and we are looking at alternative options at this time which have yet to be confirmed.”

Police statement

Inspector Keeley Bevington of Walsall Police has since issued a statement to the Bloxwich Telegraph via Kevin Pitt of the force’s Walsall Partnerships Team:

“Please contact Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick who is fully aware of the issues in Bloxwich and who has worked hard on this. In short there is no Royal British Legion Branch in Bloxwich and no organiser for the parade. The Council and Police legally need the details of an organiser with liability cover to allow the event to go ahead but due to the RBL not supporting activity in this area then there is no-one that can take on this responsibility which leaves issues around health and safety and organiser liability.

“All other areas where the events are taking place have an RBL organiser supporting the event with the appropriate liability cover. The church and individuals do not feel that the public liability would be covered by their own insurances so cannot volunteer as organisers. The only event taking place is at the church service and then after in the church grounds.

“I know this is disappointing but without RBL support this cannot be progressed. Please be assured a lot of work has been undertaken by police, council and councillors to try and find an RBL member with liability to support this but they do not have a branch in this area. There are around 9 other events taking place where RBL branches exist with an organiser across Walsall. I can confirm it is not the police or council stopping the parade but that the RBL have not asked for an event and are not supporting one in this area as there is no branch.”

New arrangements for Sunday

All Saints Church have thankfully stepped in to provide the venue for the now curtailed event, as it was necessary for there to be public liability cover, and this already applies to events within the church and grounds.

Groups traditionally involved in the Bloxwich event attended a meeting to discuss the new arrangements at the church on Monday evening, to discuss how the service should go and how they could take part.

The marching band and groups will now march within the church grounds then go into the church at 10.30am. The service of Remembrance will take place in the church and Rev Roger Williams, Rector of Bloxwich, is organising loudspeakers so that anyone outside the church can hear it. The aim is to get as many people in the church as possible.

After the national anthem the usual representatives will leave and place their wreaths around the War Memorial.

We Will Remember Them... (pic Stuart Williams)
We Will Remember Them… (pic Stuart Williams)
Across the borough

This problem is not unique to Bloxwich, by the way.  Police numbers are apparently down across Walsall Metropolitan Borough, and a similar situation seems to have unfolded in Walsall Wood, as was well described in Brownhills Bob’s popular Brownhills Blog earlier this month.

What’s more, we understand from Brownhills Bob that the Walsall Wood parade has never had an organiser, which calls into question at least some of the official reasoning behind the cancellation of the Bloxwich event.

Next year

There will likely be no Bloxwich Remembrance parade next year also, if as seems probable there continues to be no official organiser for the Bloxwich Remembrance Sunday.  Sources have also implied that there will probably be even fewer police available by then, and this is supported by national news stories about police cuts this past week.

Please share

Because of the confusion, the Bloxwich Telegraph has done its best to help clarify the matter for local people, and we would be grateful if our readers would share this post with their friends and others to help spread the word.

Needless to say, our editor Stuart Williams will be attending the service as always.

Words on the Bloxwich War Memorial (pic Stuart Williams)
Words on the Bloxwich War Memorial (pic Stuart Williams)


Aldridge transport museum to host Remembrance concert

Remembrance poster image

An historic transport museum in Aldridge, Walsall, is all set to present a wartime-themed fundraising concert next month.

The Aston Manor Road Transport Museum in Shenstone Drive, WS9 8TP,  is holding Remembrance on Sunday 8th November 2015, between 2.30pm to 5.00pm.

Tickets, which  cost £8.00 adult and £5.00 child are available online using Eventbrite via the Aston Manor Road Transport Museum Facebook page or from the museum shop, which is open Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, 10.30am to 4:00pm, telephone 01922 454761.

A free vintage bus service is expected to be available to and from Walsall – contact the Museum for details. Continue reading Aldridge transport museum to host Remembrance concert

Spooky time at Goscote Greenacres this Halloween!

Goscote Greenacres

Visitors to Goscote Greenacres Community Garden are in for a treat on Sunday 1st November when the centre celebrates Halloween.

This free fancy dress family ghoulish inspired event takes place between 1 – 4pm and will feature a range of fun activities to suit all ages.

Fun activities

Included amongst the activities will be pumpkin carving, apple bobbing and a chance to get some terror filled creative time to design a shockingly horrible mask.

For those with an interest in the eerie there will be the chance to listen to some truly scary tales and to witness the end result of a fancy dress.

Entertainment on the day will include a terrifying bouncy castle, a frightful putting green, a ghastly disco and a blood curdling BBQ. For further information call 07432625923.

All about Goscote Greenacres

Goscote Greenacres is an initiative which is a partnership between Walsall Council’s Adult Social Care, Walsall Adult and Community College, North Walsall Area Partnership and others.

Location: Goscote Greenacres, Goscote Lane , Walsall, WS3 1SJ.

See their website and Facebook for more details:

Walsall to join West Midlands Combined Authority

Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)

Walsall Council has voted in favour of joining the West Midlands Combined Authority.

At a special council meeting on Monday 19th October, 43 councillors supported the Cabinet’s recommendations for Walsall to become a full constituent member of the Combined Authority. Six voted against, with 4 abstentions.

In doing so, Walsall joins Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Solihull and Wolverhampton local authorities as constituent members, and various local district councils and the three Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as non constituent members in forming the WMCA. Sandwell were expected to vote on whether to join as constituent members on Tuesday 20th October.

Combined Authorities are legal bodies with powers of decision making granted by Parliament and are a new way for local authorities to work closer together on key strategic functions that cross geographical council boundaries.

Members also approved the Governance Review and Scheme which sets out the options for collaborative working and how the Combined Authority will operate and received an overview of the engagement outcomes which took place in August and early September. Walsall’s stakeholders and partners had been contacted to help them better understand the role of the WMCA.

Following Monday’s YES vote, Councillor Mike Bird, said: “Members have seriously considered the proposal in great detail and have approved for Walsall to be part of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

“This was too big an opportunity for us to miss, to be part of the biggest combined authority in the country. It’s a sensible way for us to organise ourselves.

“There are no geographical boundaries for transport and business and we already work with our neighbouring colleagues anyway but this formalises these arrangements.

“We have a good working relationship with our councils in the Black Country and this will continue that strength.”

When officially formed, the WMCA will continue its discussions with Government over devolving powers – including an investment programme, and local transport and housing powers – to the region.

To find out more about the WMCA visit

Leamore & Area Community Group seeks members

Leamore Shopping Centre in November 2010, before the rail was damaged.

A community organisation which aims to support Leamore folk and campaign on local concerns is on the lookout for new members, and is inviting people to come and put forward their ideas and raise problems experienced in their own streets.

The Leamore & Area Community Group, which was formed in January of this year, meets every 2nd Tuesday of every month at Colebatch’s Club in Bloxwich Road, Leamore.

Come along

The next group meeting is Tuesday 10th November 2015 at 7pm and all are welcome to attend, whether they want to know more information about the group or have a concern or problem they want to discuss.

Support your local community

A group spokesmen told the Bloxwich Telegraph that they are hoping for representatives to come forward for every street on their patch. They are also looking for more people to attend in general, so that the Leamore community can be better represented.

The group say they are striving for a better community to live in, and are currently in the process of campaigning for better speed limit signage on Somerfield Road between Leamore and Bloxwich, as there is a big problem with motorists using excessive speed in what should be a 30 mph area.  They are also concerned about car cruising on roads in the Leamore area.

Under 10’s team seeking football players

Young footballers

Young footballers are being sought for the 2015-2016 season by a local under 10’s team.

Rostance Edwards F.C. are looking for keen youngsters – who must be in year 5 at school from September 2015 – to join their existing Bloxwich team.

Trials are taking place on Saturday mornings between 11am-12 noon at King George V Playing Fields, Bloxwich (entrance just off Baytree Road).

For more information contact Andy on 07825 640326 or 07881 553885 or you can email

The team is FA Level 1 qualified and CRB checked.

Preaching across time in Bloxwich

The Preaching Cross at All Saints, Bloxwich, c1950 (pic E.J. Homeshaw)
The Preaching Cross at All Saints, Bloxwich, c1950 (pic E.J. Homeshaw)

It is not generally known that Bloxwich possesses one of the oldest and most complete monuments in the Midlands – although it is of two different periods – and it is certainly the oldest thing in Bloxwich.

The old preaching cross or column standing in All Saints churchyard, on the south side close to the church itself, has been an object of curiosity to generations of parishioners. We may safely designate it as a cross, since by no means all old crosses conformed to the true cruciform shape. But this cross is far older than the church itself, being probably the oldest monument in the borough, and is very important.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Bloxwich was a small agricultural village with a population of around 600. A Chapel of Ease to Walsall Parish Church was licensed for services at Bloxwich in 1413, but Bloxwich did not have its own separate parish until 1842. The chapel had a tower by the 1500s. In 1790 it was decided that the chapel should be rebuilt and the tower altered. This work was completed in 1794. All Saints Church as it is today dates mostly from 1875-1877 when the earlier church, St. Thomas of Canterbury (named such for the original 1842 parish), was rebuilt and rededicated.

Relic hunters
All Saints Church, Bloxwich, late 1800s
All Saints Church, Bloxwich, late 1800s

In 1940, when local historian Billy Meikle wrote about the Bloxwich Preaching Cross, he said that “The churchwardens are so jealous of this, their only historic treasure, that they have planted a grove of trees round it, possibly to protect it from local vandals or American ‘relic hunters’.  The cross is eighteen feet high, and cannot be seen from the church gates, even in winter when the foliage has gone.”

No records of the cross appear to have survived, nor was any indication of its full age discovered on it when it was restored in 1935. We are therefore thrown back upon the opinions of experts. All authorities are agreed that the practice of erecting such crosses goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. Sometimes, in English villages, they were set up on the spot where the Gospel was first preached. As time went on, according to historians, the south side of every churchyard contained a cross.

The fact that the Bloxwich cross occupies this position, as well as the fact that it is of the primitive ‘shaft with steps’ type and betrays the wear of centuries of rain and frost, suggests a very early origin.  Professor Hearnshaw, of King’s College, London, once wrote: “I should date it 13th or 14th century (say A.D. 1300).”

The cross
The Preaching Cross, 1940 (watercolour by Billy Meikle)
The Preaching Cross, 1940 (watercolour by Billy Meikle)

Though not of the usual form, the cross itself consists of an eight-sided shaft, slightly tapering towards the top, and terminating in a later Jacobean capital surmounted by a Jacobean ball, both of the early 1600s.  It is mounted on a base of three stone steps.

Meikle commented that he had noticed that “…the churchwardens, although taking care of it one way, have allowed the contractor for the tarmac path round the church to lop off the corner of the bottom step (which is probably five centuries old) in order to continue the line of the gutter.  Fancy cutting the corner of an ancient monument so that the rain water could have a straight course, instead of a ‘wimple’ round the corner.  Notwithstanding this, the cross is in wonderful condition.”

The support of the stone ball had gone, leaving the iron rod which goes through the capital exposed.  Meikle thought this would certainly collapse in due course, and ought to be judiciously repaired “…not like a portion of Dudley Castle and other places which could be mentioned, but under the supervision of a local antiquary, if such there be in Bloxwich.”

He also noticed that at one time the centre of the steps had been clamped with iron staples, but these had rusted away except for the portions which were leaded into the stone.  An attempt to repair the clamping on the top tier had been made, but given up by the repairer as he had only been able to drill to a depth of three quarters of an inch.

All Saints Church, war memorial and High Street, 1920s
All Saints Church, war memorial and High Street, 1920s

Meikle went on “The shaft, which has been painted (another piece of folly) contains many initials carved on the surface, but I could find no date.”  He must have missed an 18th century date, part of centuries-old graffiti which is certainly visible now, but he concluded that the character of some of the lettering would indicate its dating back to about 1600, and the bottom steps “…would very likely be 13th century work.”

A thought for Christmas…

This coming festive season, which is not too far away, perhaps readers of this article, whether Christian or not, might like to go and stand by the old Bloxwich Preaching Cross and reflect for a moment, as Billy Meikle may have done before them, on what Christmas may have been like for their ancestors all those centuries ago when there was no church, and no traffic to disturb their quiet Yuletide contemplation.

Stuart Williams & Billy Meikle


Historic images courtesy Walsall Local History Centre

Calling Walsall’s unsung heroes!

Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Angela Underhill, and the Mace Bearers (pic Walsall Council)
Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Angela Underhill, and the Mace Bearers (pic Walsall Council)

A borough-wide call is being made by Walsall Council, who are on the lookout for exceptional individuals whose efforts make a real difference to the lives of other people, to be nominated for the twelfth Mayor of Walsall’s Civic Awards.

Held at Walsall’s Council House on Friday 29 April 2016, the ‘Doras’ as they are affectionately known, is a chance to recognise the unsung heroes of the borough and honour their achievements through these prestigious awards.

Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Angela Underhill said: “There are a great number of Walsall people who work tirelessly to make a difference in their communities and to the lives of the people around them, with no ulterior motive other than to help make other people’s lives better.

“The Civic Awards provide us with a chance to recognise and appreciate their hard work and dedication.

“These occasions are very special and offer the chance to put the spotlight on these very worthy individuals and to let them shine as they so richly deserve.

“We really want to hear from anyone who knows someone who deserves to be recognised because they’ve gone above and beyond to help their community.”

Last year’s winners included thirteen year old Brodie Meredith who worked for ‘Livvy’s Smile’ a charity started by her family in memory of her sister who sadly died of ‘Rett Syndrome’ in 2008. The charity aims to create memorable days for children with disabilities and their families. Brodie actively raised funds for the charity and inspired others to do the same.

Stella Pettifor gave over thirty years service to Goscote, providing the community with youth clubs, toddler clubs, parenting support, food parcels, nursery services, volunteering opportunities and support with debt and benefits. Through her hard work which impacted on her own health at times Stella worked to give vulnerable families a chance changing their lives in the process.

Organisers are keen to hear about anybody that is thought deserves to be nominated and welcome nominations made for anyone who lives or works in the borough whatever their age.

The closing date for nominations is Friday 18 December 2015.

For a hard copy of the nomination form please contact Jo Whitehouse in Democratic Services on 01922 654368.

Covering Bloxwich, Little Bloxwich, Blakenall Heath, Leamore and Birchills