Church chuffed at railway show success

Chris Hill operates his father John’s fictionalised ‘Sneyd Sidings’ layout, full little local touches and names redolent of old Bloxwich (Pix: S.Williams)

This year’s Bloxwich Model Railway Show took place last Saturday 14 May, and was a great success, judging both by the crowds attending and the substantial number of remarkably detailed working layouts on show.

Owner/operator Malcolm Davies and his fictionalised ‘Birchills Junction’ layout

Organised by St John’s Methodist Church, the church institute (hall) is usually the venue for the popular annual show, and this year the event also overflowed into the church itself.

Layouts scheduled to attend included Tremore (00), Upton (EM), Conyer Dewit (00), Ashburton (00), Birchills Junction (00), Peters Street (00), Rowley St. Giles (00), Kingshill (009), Bryngwern (5.5mm), Bewdley (N), Larkrise (N), Eyning Broad MPD (00), Tinker’s Green Halt (00), Hawthorn Mill (009), and many were photographed by The Bloxidge Tallygraph for this news story.

Robin Daley (10, right) joined forces with fellow West Bromwich Railway Model Club member John Brown-Rigg to operate ‘Meadley’, a layout built by Ian Miles

Most of the layouts were large, intricated and beautifully detailed in a variety of gauges (scales), from ‘N’ being the smallest locomotives and rolling stock, with scenery scaled down accordingly, up to the popular Hornby-originated standard gauge ‘OO’ which many of will have owned as children, but which are definitely not toys at today’s prices!

Two unusual standouts were HO (an American gauge slightly smaller than the British OO) and 09, a narrow gauge scale.  Both were unusual subjects compared to the rest of the displays as can be seen below.

New England in the fall? An atmospheric close-up of Chris Gilbert’s compact HO gauge layout based on ‘Haston, Vermont’, USA. See Flickr set (link below) for a view of the whole thing

‘Kingshill’, a fictionalised narrow-gauge layout ioperated by owner/builder Ben Powell (right) and Julien Webb, members of The 009 Society which specialises in narrow-gauge railway modelling

Many layouts were long but not so deep, and most had to be transported in sections before reassembly on tables.  This was taken to extremes in the extensive N-gauge ‘Bewdley’ layout, for example, which packed an enormous amount of track into a long but relatively narrow space.

L to R: Nick Simons, Olley Reading and young Harry Brazier (6), members of the Telford Railway Modellers Group, operate the massive n-gauge ‘Bewdley’ layout based on the Severn Valley Railway

Some layouts were smaller, one or two being short but very creatively designed to show just a small section of a line, with exceptional 3D-layering when viewed at eye-level with the potential to be wall-mounted, such as the ‘Haston, Vermont’ layout above and the ‘Tremore’ layout below.

Owner/operator Nick Palette shows off his compact yet detailed ‘Tremore’ layout in the church hall

There were also a number of interesting model-making demonstrations plus trade model and book sales stands as well as a tombola and fundraising stalls.

Proceeds from the event were in aid of St John’s Church funds, and judging by the amount of enthusiasm both for participating in and viewing the shows, it seems its future as an annual event in the model railway calendar is ensured, putting Bloxwich on the modelling map, whatever the  scale!


A Flickr set of photographs of this event may be viewed and downloaded via this link.


The exhibition was so enthusiastically received that the formation of a new Bloxwich (St John’s) Model Railway Club will also now go ahead, and will meet at the church in Victoria Avenue every Thursday between 2pm-4.30pm.

Contact: John Hill, Tel: 01922 475557 or 07970 390258, and by email to:

For more about St. John’s Methodist Church, see their website.

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Walsall Recyclers trash Binmen in footie dust-up

The victorious Walsall Recyclers and their match trophy (Pix: Stuart Williams)Walsall football fans had an exciting alternative to the Stoke vs Man. City battle, on home ground, Saturday last at 2pm, when the borough’s Binmen challenged their colleagues the Recyclers to a charity football match in Bloxwich aimed at raising funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

The hard-fought ‘local derby’ between the friendly rivals from Walsall Council’s waste management department took place at Bloxwich United AFC’s ‘Old Red Lion Ground’ in Somerfield Road, the scene of many a dust-up between top amateur teams from across the country in recent years.

Get in there!  A Walsall Binman (in blue) skilfully out-manouevers his opponent

Both sides showed energy and passion in a good-natured but highly competitive game that saw much charging up and down the field together with a lot of smart footwork, agility and strong tackling which resulted in considerable excitement and tension right from the kick-off, with the Binmen playing from the downslope end of the pitch (south) and the Recyclers from the top of the pitch.

Players on both sides gave it their all, but it has to be admitted that the Binmen struggled with the slope at times, and by half-time the Recyclers, who just kept on coming back for more, were on top with a score of 3-0 in their favour.  Keepers on both sides fought hard to bolster the defence, with mixed results offering the crowd both heroism and tragedy in equal measure.

Saved! The Binmen’s keeper takes to the air

It was a game of two halves, however, and when the sides changed ends the tables were partially turned, with the Binmen stroking in two fine goals, but the Recyclers poured it on again before long and there was just not enough time for the gallant Binmen to put them on the tip, giving a result of 4-2 at the final whistle.

There were one or two minor injuries and the occasional penalty awarded, but no cards or sendings-off from match officials Brian Heath (referee), Alan Dillon and G. Edwards (linesmen).

Head-to-head in the Recyclers’ goalmouth

The two teams showed their good-natured but competitive spirit right to the end, when they joined together for a mixed team photo with the victorious Walsall Recyclers nonetheless hanging tightly on to their well-earned trophy!

Friendly rivals to the end: Binmen and Recyclers together

Mick Edwards, assistant area manager for recycling at Walsall Council, had said in advance of the match: “A number of our family and friends have received treatment at the hospital, so this charity game is a way of saying thank you for the care they’ve received.

Mick played for the ‘binmen’, despite working for the recycling team in his day job. He said: “I’ll be playing against my new team at work so that should be interesting!”

A great game, well-fought between two great teams, for a good cause and in our own backyard. What could be better?

Follow this link to a full match album including team photos for download on Flickr.

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Heavy Metal returns to Bloxwich

Disarm Goliath on stage at Bookmark Bloxwich (Pix: Stuart Williams)

From the 1950s, Bloxwich and Walsall were firmly on the rock-and-roll route for new bands on their way up.  Noddy Holder of Slade and Rob Halford of Judas Priest Fame both went to school and began their rise to fame here.  We are at the heart of rock and heavy metal music.

And Saturday night we saw and heard something we’ve not had in Bloxwich since the 80s: the soaring, roaring, churning, burning sound of smokin’ heavy metal live on stage at a major venue in the village!

Heavy metal came home with a burst of fire and brimstone onto the stage at what in the early years of heavy metal was simply Bloxwich Library Theatre.  Now, the rejuvenated venue known today as Bookmark Bloxwich is truly back on the map as a rock venue where up-and-coming bands can discover their talent before a screaming crowd.

Wraith – truly smokin’! Saturday’s double bill consisted of established headliners and local guys Disarm Goliath supported by relative newcomers Birmingham band Wraith.  Both bands offered a set of mostly original music plus one or two classic covers, with Wraith on-stage for forty minutes and Disarm Goliath for an hour after the break.

Wraith were up first, and while they’ve not been around as long as Disarm Goliath and lack their polish, they are immense fun and make up for this in pure metallic attitude! Rough, ready and raw as a chainsaw dripping blood, they drew admiring cheers from the audience for their full-on metal madness and sense of humour.

Matt Gore gets his chopper out!

Video: Demons and Angels – Wraith

Powerful vocals were delivered by Wraith frontman Matt Gore, who’s clearly something of showman, getting his chopper out and playing with it toward the end of the set (you had to be there!).  Matt was backed up strongly by Az on lead guitar, Mike on bass guitar, Jon on rhythm guitar and Kirby on drums all giving solid performances.

These guys are paying their dues and have a way to go yet but have loads of talent and potential so we definitely hope to see Wraith back in Bloxwich some time!

Disarm Goliath bring it on!

Disarm Goliath were headlining of course, and they never disappoint – every time I hear them they just get better and better, and this time around, they literally blew the dust off all the books in the library when they took to the stage at Bookmark Bloxwich!

This young band is truly amazing – they are so together, so polished, and so skilled,  delivering everything from hard rock classics to their own special brand of old-school metallic mayhem with a distinctive edge. And, eyes blazing through the smoke, they gave it hell and then some on Saturday night.

Steve Surch (left) crumbles the foundations as the voice of wild-eyed Steve Bell slices the air like a razor blade…

With vocalist Steve Bell’s incredible voice giving Rob Halford a run for his money – especially on classic Judas Priest numbers like ‘Breaking the Law’, as well as on searing tracks from their forthcoming latest  album like ‘Man of Sin’, DG were just born to play in Bloxwich, home of metal (wicked grin)!

Video: The Trooper – Disarm Goliath

Video: No Prayer to Save Me – Disarm Goliath

(Apologies for the shaky iPhone videos!)Laying down a thundering bassline fit to shake the foundations to powder was Steve Surch, also the main man behind the band’s management.   Meanwhile Steve Beville and Anthony Ellis power-dueled on guitars, their raging chords burning a visible path through the air to the bleeding ears of an audience baying for more.

Last but definitely not least, the demented drumsticks of Karl Wade hammered out machine-gun-like, red-hot riveting the sulphurous, screaming performance together.

I have to say it – at a time when the legendary Judas Priest are getting ready to hang up their leather and studs, Disarm Goliath are truly on the rise – they’ll go a hell of a lot further than Bloxwich, and as they say, only the Devil can stop them!

I really hope we’ll get Disarm Goliath and Wraith back in Bloxwich before long.  Meanwhile, if you have a chance to see and hear them, make sure you do – you’ll be damned if you don’t!

Stuart Williams

Check out the following links for more about Disarm Goliath and Wraith:


Disarm Goliath 



Disarm Goliath’s website is here and their Facebook page is via this link.

Wraith’s Facebook page via this link

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Have Mayor – will travel!

Alex Murray prepares for a Mayoral haircut at Chatabox in Leamore (Pix: Walsall Council)

Walsall’s ubiquitous and always energetic Mayor, Councillor Gary Clarke, went into overdrive this week, spending two days flying across the borough from Bloxwich, Leamore, Blakenall and Coalpool to Aldridge and Walsall to work for businesses and schools while fundraising for charity.

The fun and frantic initiative, dubbed Mayor for Hire, was created by the Mayor in partnership with solicitors Addison O’Hare, with the aim of raising money for his Charity Appeal while giving him a taste of local life and work beyond the Council House.

Tuesday saw Cllr Clarke brushing up his customer service skills at Annette’s Pram Shop in Blakenall Lane, serving up lunch at Coalpool’s popular Edgar Stammers Primary School in Harden Road, washing hair, making tea – and chatting – at Chatabox Hair & Beauty in the Leamore Lane shopping precinct and meeting staff at Piquant Limited on the Willenhall Lane Industrial Estate in Bloxwich.

Kiran Patel and Jenny Turner await their food at Simply Sandwich, Bloxwich

On Wednesday, the Mayor tried his hand at sandwich making at Simply Sandwich Buffets at The Broadway, Walsall, became acting manager at Walsall Bus Station, served lunches at Cooper and Jordan Church of England Primary School and was interviewed by pupils at Castlefort JMI School in Walsall Wood.

All of the Mayor’s ‘employers’ have pledged donations to his Charity Appeal for Walsall Hospice and disadvantaged children, and Chatabox generously agreed to top theirs up by giving 20 per cent of the day’s takings as well.

The two days of fundraising and hard work, supplemented by a collection made by Walsall Hospice volunteers at the bus station, should net around £800 – a remarkable effort all round.

Cllr Clarke said: “I loved every minute of being put to work by everyone – it was an unforgettable two days.  I started at the pram shop and owner Annette Owles-Bryan was an absolute joy. Her business is a real asset to the area and she really goes out of her way to look after her customers.

“Later that day I had the privilege of working at Chatabox hairdressers where I met the charming Doreen Chivers, aged 64, who allowed me to wash her hair and declared that I had a gentle touch!  Owner Joanne Tidman has built up a gem of a business there and deserves to go from strength to strength.

No job too small: the Mayor makes tea at Chatabox

“I was also privileged to meet some of the hard working staff at Piquant Limited, another borough success story that we should all be proud of.   Shan Nagendram has established a fine sauce manufacturing business.

“Paul Keeling of Simply Sandwich had me hard at work in no time at all on day two and told me off for not putting enough meat on the bread. He wasn’t going to let me upset his customers.

“Centro made sure I carried out various checks at the bus station and took the time to listen to passengers’ experiences.

“The business community I met was loyal and committed and showed me just a small example of the talent we have in the borough.”

The Mayor was also asked to serve up lunch at Edgar Stammers Primary School – and did so resplendent in his white unform and purple cap.

He said: “What smashing children, teaching and kitchen staff I met at Edgar Stammers.  I was on Yorkshire pudding duty to start with and progressed to gravy, beans and custard as I got into my stride.  I didn’t stop smiling all the time I was there – although I understand I made service a little slower than normal. That’s partly because I was stopping to answer so many questions about my chain of office!”

The Mayor serves Ellie Fishwick her lunch at Cooper and Jordan School “On day two I went to Cooper and Jordan School where I had to arrive as a fairy godmother, complete with a wand and sparkly headband. The children were fortunate that I’d had some school meal practice and I think I managed to hold my own, again with grateful thanks to the kitchen staff.  Again, the children were fantastic. Some of them queued up at the end asking for my autograph which made me feel like a proper celebrity.”

At Castlefort School the Mayor was toured by Year 6 pupils who then joined in a question and answer session as part of work they have been doing on leaders.

“The school should be very proud of the polite, well-mannered and confident children it has at Castlefort,” said the Mayor.  They gave me a guided tour and showed me all the classrooms and the work that is going on this term.  They fired plenty of questions at me and kept me on my toes but I made sure I answered everything they asked.

“The two days were really enjoyable and I am delighted that I had the chance to meet some of the wonderful people who make this borough such a great place, ” Cllr Clarke concluded.

Anne Ward of Addison O’Hare Solicitors also agreed the two days had been a super success.

“We’d like to thank everyone who took the trouble to make pledges and hope they all enjoyed the experience as much as the Mayor clearly did.  Mayor for Hire was always intended to be a memorable fundraising experience for everyone concerned while drawing the Mayor’s term to a fitting close.”

The Bloxidge Tallygraph would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Councillor Clarke.  We have attended many of the events he has supported as Mayor in Bloxwich and beyond, we have always been welcomed and we can’t remember a more active, friendly, supportive and enthusiastic Mayor – and Mayoress!

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Leamore death mystery man named

Police and fire services at the scene of the tragic incident in Leamore (Pix: Stuart Williams)

POLICE in Walsall have today named a man whose body was found at a fire in Bloxwich Road, Leamore.

Gary Ford of Bloxwich, 32, was discovered when police and fire-fighters were called to the blaze on open ground (formerly The Butler’s Arms) at the rear of Somerfield’s Supermarket/Texaco Pertrol Station at around 6pm during the early evening of Wednesday 4 May.

Mr Ford had suffered serious burns, but a post mortem to determine the precise cause of death has proved inconclusive. Further forensic tests are now to be carried out.

At this stage, detectives are continuing to treat his death as unexplained and are making a fresh appeal for witnesses and information to throw light on the circumstances surrounding Mr Ford’s death.

The scene of the crime: site of the now-demolished Butlers Arms Detective Inspector Bob Bradford, from Force CID, said: “It is not yet clear exactly how Mr Ford died or whether there is any criminality involved either in his death or the cause of the fire.

“However, it is a matter of fact that he was badly burned and that we are still trying to gain a clearer picture of both his personal background and what happened.

“It is important to the inquiry for anyone with information to come forward. The scene of the fire is just off Bloxwich Road, which is a busy route and would have had a fair number of motorists using it at around 6pm on Wednesday.

“We are also keen to trace three youths or young men who were walking along the pavement adjacent to the scene at around 6pm to 6:15pm. They may well have seen something significant and we would stress that they could be vital witnesses.

Anyone with information should contact Force CID at Bloxwich by ringing 0345 113 5000 or calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Our first report may be found here.

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Election 2011

Welcome to The Bloxidge Tallygraph’s page focusing on the forthcoming local council elections, and the national AV referendum on the voting system for MPs, which both took place on 5 May 2011, with results announced on 6 May.

Here you will find information on our local Bloxwich East,  Bloxwich West, Blakenall and Birchills-Leamore ward  candidates, as well as links to AV info, statistics, and local and national party websites.

The results are now published here.

Stuart Williams, Edditer

Breaking election news

Significant election news for those Walsall Council wards within Bloxwich and district is included on this page.

TODAY’S RESULTS – 6 May 2011

Walsall Council election results today reveal that there is now no overall control due to a surge in Labour gains – see our report below and the link to Walsall Council’s website for detailed results across the borough.

See below also for the results of the AV referendum.

For news sourced from across the web we highly recommend The Yam Yam, which has been automated to pick up local news online from selected websites:

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Election Report – Bloxwich and district

Dateline: 6 May 2011

News coming in this lunchtime has revealed a massively successful fight-back in the old ‘Foreign Ward’ by Walsall Labour Party candidates against their entrenched opponents in yesterday’s Walsall Council elections.

Bloxwich East was the hardest-fought ward in Bloxwich and district, with Shaun Fitzpatrick for Labour on 1205 votes narrowly defeating long-serving Tory Councillor Les Beeley with 1191 to give an important gain for Labour over the Conservatives.  Interestingly, Alan Sheath of UKIP with a modest 229 votes still managed to trounce Stephen Baggot of the Democratic Labour Party with just 107 votes and Chris Cockayne of the LibDems barely moving the needle at 81.

In Bloxwich West, Labour candidate Sue Fletcher-Hall romped ahead, spearheading the turn against the Tories and gaining the seat by defeating another long-serving Conservative Councillor Des Pitt by 1438 votes to 1360 and leaving the Democratic Labour Party’s Michael Ross with 234 votes and LibDem Jeanette Pearce at 146 gasping in the distance.

Meanwhile in Blakenall Heath, a bruising Blakenall Ward bust-up left prominent (and only) Democratic Labour Party Councillor Peter Smith out-for-the-count after Ann Young delivered a surprise uppercut with 1256 votes vs 928 gaining the trophy for Labour yet again.  Tory Afzal Muhammed and LibDem Robert Pearce were, unsurprisingly, left gasping on the ropes with just 453 and 95 votes respectively to show for their part in the melee.

Finally, there was icing on the day’s cake for celebrating Labour ‘Forreners’ with a sold hold in Birchills-Leamore, as Walsall Labour Group leader, Councillor Tim Oliver, reaped a substantial vote of 1574 compared to 961 cast for Kamran Aftab (Conservative), 167 for Roy Robinson (LibDem) and 158 for Alan Davies (Democratic Labour Party).

Election results Borough-wide

May be found in detail on Walsall Council’s website via this link.

Borough-wide it now seems that Walsall Council has, as predicted by local pundits, returned to the ‘good old days’ of no overall control, with 28 Conservatives, 26 Labour, 5 LibDem and 1 Independent councillors now in place.

What will happen next depends largely on whether the LibDems follow their traditional practice of rolling over for the Tories or whether they regain some of the principles which their national party has seemingly abandoned and go for something more progressive alongside Labour.

Bloxwich and district awaits the consequences with bated breath – but one thing is sure, our new Labour councillors can be justly proud of a fight for progress in the old ‘Foreign’ well  won.

The AV Referendum

As this was a national vote, the results have come in later.

The AV result for Walsall is as follows:

Yes: 18,437, No: 52,641 with 736 void and 57 not counted as they voted for both options.

Overall nationally it looks as if the Nos have it in the referendum

Our thanks to Walsall Council for election results

The Council Press Office is also to be complimented for their excellent Twitter announcements through the count.

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Which ward are you in?

If you are not sure which electoral ward you are in for the purpose of Walsall Council elections, take a look at the official downloadable pdf format maps linked below:

Birchills Leamore


Bloxwich East

Bloxwich West

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Walsall Council election candidates by ward


Aftab, Kamran.    13 Segundo Road, Walsall, WS5 4PY.   The Conservative Party Candidate.

Davies, Alan George.    78 Chase Road, Walsall, WS3 2PT.   Democratic Labour Party.

Oliver, Tim.    54 Delves Crescent, Walsall, WS5 4LR.   The Labour Party Candidate.

Robinson, Roy .   245 Stroud Avenue, Willenhall, WV12 4DA.   Liberal Democrat.


Afzal, Muhammed.    30 Eastbourne St, Walsall, WS4 2BN.   The Conservative Party Candidate.

Pearce, Robert Norman.    5 Myrtle Close, Willenhall,  WV12 5NS.    Liberal Democrat.

Smith, Peter Edward.    65 Harden Road, Leamore, WS3 1EL.    Democratic Labour Party.

Young, Ann.    12 Archer Road, Leamore, WS3 1AN.   The Labour Party Candidate.


Baggott, Stephen John.    175 Ingram Road, Blakenall, WS3 3AL.   Democratic Labour Party.

Beeley, Les.    27 Mallory Crescent, Little Bloxwich, WS3 3DD.  The Conservative Party Candidate.

Cockayne, Chris.    26 Smithfield Road, Walsall, WS3 1ND.  Liberal Democrat.

Fitzpatrick, Shaun Francis.  41A Victoria Avenue, Bloxwich, WS3 3HT. The Labour Party Candidate.

Sheath, Alan.   9 Portland Road, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 3HT.   UK Independence Party (UK I P).


Fletcher-Hall, Sue. 49 Clarendon Street, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 2HT.  The Labour Party Candidate.

Pearce, Jeanette.  5 Myrtle Close, Short Heath, Willenhall, WV12 5NS.  Liberal Democrat.

Pitt, Des.  5 Whitminster Close, Willenhall, WV12 4ER.   The Conservative Party Candidate.

Ross, Michael Ronald.    36 Abbey Square,  Walsall, WS3 2RJ.  Democratic Labour Party.

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