Heavy Metal’s coming home!

Disarm Goliath at The Slade Rooms, 2010 (Pic: Stuart Williams)

Great news for rock music fans across Bloxwich and Walsall – home-grown heavy metal’s returning to a major Bloxwich venue for the first time since the great days of Bloxwich Baths and the school circuit!

And hair-raising local headbangers DISARM GOLIATH with members from Pelsall and beyond are leading the hard-rockin’ charge supported by Birmingham band WRAITH, both armed to the teeth with a battery of their own original heavy rock and metal songs.

Now Bloxwich Library Theatre – aka Bookmark Bloxwich – is continuing by leaps and bounds to establish itself as an important live music venue by bringing heavy metal rocking back to the home town of Rob Halford (JUDAS PRIEST) and Noddy Holder (SLADE).

The rebuilt theatre, under the banner of Bloxwich Library Forum, is all set to host an ear-crushing night of metallic music on Saturday 14 May 2011 – doors open 7.30pm for 8pm start – and tickets are already on sale at the library for just £5!  Tel: 01922 655900 to reserve tickets, or drop into the library in Elmore Row.  A can bar will be available on the night.

With such talented young musicians unleashed in Bloxwich, a great night of quality heavy rock is sure to be had by all!

More about Disarm Goliath on their website: http://www.disarmgoliath.co.uk

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Blaze ravages historic Leamore pub

Black Horse burning: emergency services surround the scene of the blaze (Pic courtesy Craig Smith)

Emergency services were called to an historic pub in Leamore, near Bloxwich, on Wednesday evening when a blaze was reported. From around 6pm for about two hours, the centre of Leamore was sealed off by police cars, and buses to Walsall were being diverted down Harden Road, causing tailbacks and confusion.

According to first local reports, a large fire had taken hold on the first floor of The Black Horse, on the corner of Bloxwich Road and Harden Road, and a man was believed to be inside the building at the time.

It is now possible (17/3/2011) however to confirm that in fact there was no person or animal involved in the fire, and that the person initially suspected of being a victim is in fact in prison.  The blaze, we now know, was certainly the result of intruders breaking into the upstairs bedroom of the building and deliberately setting fire to the residential area of the pub at around 6pm.

The incident was attended by at least two arson investigation and fire vans, together with three fire engines and three Walsall police cars who cordoned off the danger area, diverting traffic. Most of the damage to the building is inside, and the roof appears from external observation to be intact.  Burnt furniture is visible on a flat roofed extension at the rear. Entrances have now been sealed with padlocks.

The Black Horse, a classic Edwardian pub that has seen better days since being built around 1900, has been closed since mid-2010, a victim of the economic downturn which has shut so many pubs in Bloxwich and Walsall over the past few years.  The building is of historical interest but probably due to alterations is only on the Local List, which does not offer the more substantial protections afforded Statutory Listed Buildings.

The once-popular watering hole is the second closed historic pub to suffer a fiery fate in recent months; The Bull’s Head in Park Road, Bloxwich, the second pub of that name on the site and dating back to the late 1920s, was destroyed by fire in suspicious circumstances, having been broken into over the Bonfire Night weekend last November.

Only one pub now remains open in Leamore – the 1960s-built Railway Inn.

Our thanks to Josh Williams of Bloxwich for background information and Craig Smith for the photo above. Also to West Midlands Fire Service and Walsall Express & Star for updated information.

Photos taken the day after the fire may be viewed on Flickr here.

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Stacey seals Stan Ball Centre sale success

Willenhall Carnival Queen Stacey Senior (left) and Deb Brownlee of the Stan Ball Centre (Pix: Stuart Williams)

Yesterday saw the first ever Sunday Table Top Sale at The Stan Ball Centre in Bloxwich, and the undoubted success of the event was sealed by a visit from the lovely Stacey Senior.  Stacey  travelled across the borough from her home in Willenhall to open the event as the new Willenhall Carnival Queen, by invitation of the organisers, at 11am on Sunday.

The day saw two ‘firsts’ – the centre’s first ever sale event and Stacey’s first public engagement as Carnival Queen.  But why would a Willenhall Carnival Queen be making an appearance in Bloxwich?
The super new Stan Ball Centre consists of two buildings in canalside grounds off Abbotts Street
Well, this remarkable two-building centre, a major facility catering for the over 50’s, opened last year in Abbotts Street and replacing a previous building, has been working closely with Stacey in her ‘day job’ as a Senior Social Worker for Walsall Council.  And she has been helping to prepare the model for a widow and widowers group soon to be set up there.
And Stacey was not only performing a ceremonial role, she was joining in with the event itself as she and her mother had their own table selling their home made cakes  as a fundraiser for a family friend in need of treatment for cancer.

Stacey meets local artist Jackie (left) and Eddie Plimmer on their stall then checks out the display from St. John’s Church Perservation Group who had come all the way from Dudley

The Bloxidge Tallygraph was delighted to be invited to cover the event, and Edditer Stuart Williams rolled up with his camera at opening time to be welcomed at the door both by Queen Stacey and by Deb Brownlee, Young at Heart Project Co-ordinator and energetic organiser at the centre.  The hall in which the sale was being held was already packed with great stalls and enthusiastic buyers checking out their wares.

Deb Brownlee said “What a relief that people turned up! It had been throwing it down with rain all morning and being our first one we couldn’t be sure that people would come!  But by 11am the sun was shining and with 28 tables there was a wide variety of goods and stalls on offer.   To have the Willenhall Carnival Queen to perform the opening ceremony was really just the icing on the cake. It was a great day and we are so grateful to everyone who helped us develop this and gave us support.”

The centre opened its doors in January and is developing a wide range of classes, groups, care services and fundraising events, plus dances every Saturday night.Details from 01922 403351 or Facebook Bloxwich Community Partnership Stan Ball Centre.

More photographs on Flickr via this link.

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World Book Night success at Bloxwich Library

Stuart Williams ready to read and give away books at Bloxwich Library (Pic by Steve Mohammed)

Saurday night was World Book Night, which amazingly not only took over BBC2 for much of the evening but also saw 20,000 people giving away a million favourite books throughout the evening and across the UK and Ireland.

And thanks to local writer,  historian and Bloxidge Tallygraph Edditer Stuart Williams joining forces with management and staff of Bloxwich Library, World Book Night also came to Bookmark Bloxwich, in a small event at the Elmore Row library which took place alongside the Tiger, Tiger poetry night in Bloxwich Library Theatre, of which more news in due course.

Stuart was kept busy in the library foyer numbering and giving away free specially printed World Book Night collectors editions of NORTHERN LIGHTS, the first book in the legendary fantasy/science fiction trilogy ‘His Dark Materials’ by top author Philip Pullman, between 7.30pm-9pm.

He also read for a half-hour at 8pm from NORTHERN LIGHTS, which was adapted for the silver screen in 2007 as THE GOLDEN COMPASS starring Daniel Craig.

Stuart Williams said “Thanks to World Book Night I had the considerable pleasure of giving away 48 copies of one of the finest fantasy/SF books of recent years, and really enjoyed meeting fellow readers on the night.  It was a great opportunity to promote books, reading – and Bloxwich Library, and it’s always a pleasure to work with my friends and colleagues at the borough’s finest branch!”

Several reserved books were not collected on the night, but they will be kept at the library for collection for up to two weeks.  If your name is on the reserved list, you should drop into Bloxwich Library as soon as possible to claim your book, as unclaimed copies will eventually be given away to other readers and availability cannot be guaranteed.

Mobile Libraries joined in the fun

Three other WBN special edition books were given away by libraries and council staff on board the new Mobile One Library which was parked up at Sainsbury’s Reedswood Superstore between 4pm-6pm, where almost 150 books were snapped up in just an hour, emphatically joining in with the World Book Night success at Bloxwich Library!

All book givers for World Book Night are volunteers, giving books on their own initiative without payment, with the support of the World Book Night organisation, authors and the publishing industry.  Thanks are also due to Waterstones book store in Park Street, Walsall, which acted as the local pick-up point for World Book Night deliveries to givers.

For more about Philip Pullman’s books, why not check out his website via this link!

For further information on WBN, follow this link to the official website: World Book Night.

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New mobile libraries launched at Bloxwich

Mayor Gary Clarke cuts the ribbon while Cllr Harris and Sue Grainger look on (Pix by Stuart Williams) 

Walsall residents unable to get to a library are already beginning to benefit from two new specialist mobile libraries.

The new state-of-the-art vehicles were raring to go following their official unveiling on Friday 4 March 2011 at the Mobile Library Headquarters in Willenhall Lane, Bloxwich, at 2.30pm.

Highlighted in bright purple and orange, the new vehicles certainly catch the attention of library users and passers-by – and have already proved a popular success on Saturday’s World Book Night (see separate story).

Having cut the cake, Cllr Harris joins the Mayor to show it off, with Mobiles 1 (right) and 2 looking on!

And on Friday a special ribbon was cut by Mayor of Walsall Councilor Gary Clarke to symbolise the beginning of their service, followed by the cutting of a celebratory cake by Councillor Anthony Harris, cabinet member for leisure and culture.  Both men, together with an assembly of staff and guests, were welcomed to the Mobile Libraries HQ by Sue Grainger, Walsall Council’s Head of Libraries & Heritage, and all spoke of their strong support for libraries in Walsall.

Staff of Mobile 1 and Mobile 2 join Annie Wood, Area Librarian for Walsall Mobile Library Service (right)

Interiors of Mobile 1

From its base in Bloxwich, the mobile library service has been running in Walsall since 1982.

Purple-coloured Mobile One has replaced the existing vehicle which has been in service since November 1999 and which had clocked up nearly 90,000 miles. The vehicle regularly visits over 40 sites across the borough on a weekly timetable, offering a wide choice of adult & children’s books plus audio books.

In contrast, Mobile Two, (orange) is programmed for serving a number of sheltered accommodation sites, adult training centres, residential and nursing homes in Walsall, providing the same service, with a selection of DVDs and music CDs.

Both libraries are fitted with public access computer suites as well as compact equivalents of the online library management systems found in fixed libraries.

Mobile 1 on its rounds at Alumwell Estate, Walsall. Note the rooftop solar panels!

Leicester Carriage Builders have provided the library service with the new range of vehicles which are capable of travelling on urban and rural roads throughout the borough. They complement the council’s existing network of 16 libraries. Based on the Mercedes Atego chassis, the vehicles are valued at £138k each and replace the current models.

Remarkably, both mobiles’ roofs are covered with self-cleaning solar panels providing up to 50% of the power required to power the computers and lighting for both vehicles, which run on  efficient Euro 5 engines. This could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 600kg each year and helps toward meeting the council’s air quality targets.

Councillor Anthony Harris said: “I’m delighted that we’ve made this investment in our mobile library service. People rely on their mobile library especially residents who are less mobile and find it difficult to travel to our main library buildings.

“Walsall was the first local authority in the country to offer Internet access to the local community from a Mobile Library.

“With these new replacement vehicles, Walsall Library Service now has a fleet of modern, comfortable and efficient mobile libraries.”

Annie Wood, Area Librarian for Walsall Mobile Library Service added: “The Mobile Library vehicles offer a free library service to customers at point of delivery.

“The stock ranges from fiction and non-fiction in large and small print, books in Asian languages, books for children of all ages and books on tape and CD, music CDs and a selection of Jigsaws.”

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