Country and folk music concert for cancer charity this Sunday

Chuck and Janet Micallef.
Chuck and Janet Micallef.

This Sunday 6 November a very special Charity Concert will take place at the Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre connected to Bloxwich Library.

Canadian Singer/Songwriter Chuck Micallef is joining forces with his friends Pete Kelly, Tony Barrett and Enchante’ to help raise money in honour of his late wife Janet Griffiths Micallef, who lost her own battle with lung cancer three years ago at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Proceeds from the performance will be donated to Keele University Cancer Research, which is under the direction of Dr. Josep Sule’-Suso.  Dr. Sule’-Suso is one of the Oncologists that cared for Janet throughout her cancer treatment.

When Janet and Chuck found out that Cancer Research was being carried out between the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and Keele University, Janet asked Chuck to help raise funds for their local cause.

Event organiser Chuck Micallef said “My friends in the Bloxwich music community have all rallied around to make a special effort and offer their time to perform this coming Sunday afternoon. I am committed to continuing these events to honour Janet’s memory and my word I gave to her that it will be done.”

He went on “With your support we can help fund Cancer Research on a local level and enjoy life through live music in our community at the same time.”

Dr. Josep Sule’-Suso will be a guest speaker at the concert, which is supported by Bloxwich Library Forum, the local volunteer group which manages the theatre.

Tickets for the concert are just £5 and are available now at Bloxwich Library in Elmore Row, Bloxwich.  Doors open at 3pm and the music starts at 3.30pm.

Telephone Bloxwich Library on 01922 655900 to book, visit the library to purchase tickets, or for more information please call 07751 791 724.

Time for the Last Post?

A Victorian Postman.
A Victorian Postman.

A cold wind is blowing through Bloxwich, and its not just the herald of winter, it’s the wind of change, the sort of stiff breeze up the Khyber which often blows no-one any good.  That change is imminent in our once-great postal service, which back in the Victorian era when it was invented could offer as many as three local deliveries a day, and even same day, or evening, for the price of a penny, and without modern technology and transport.

Today, having been given a rather undeserved battering over the past couple of decades by successive governments and management of questionable quality, our Royal Mail is not what it was.  A first class stamp at 46p is no guarantee of even next day delivery, deliveries can indeed turn up pretty much any time of day, collections have been cut back and recent speculation on possible increases to up to £3 for a first class letter is alarming to say the least.

It’s only to be expected that some change will be needed to allow for the fact that a lot of ‘snail’ mail has been replaced by email for routine chit-chat and general communication, of course.  But this can be taken too far, to the point where ideology and profit weigh more in the balance than the service ethic that used to hold sway in such enterprises.

Now, we are receiving letters from Royal Mail’s Delivery Sector Manager for the Walsall area, stating that change is coming.  Where is he? Plymouth, of all places, according to the letter!  Of course, the word ‘modernise’ is coming into play, and immediately we can see where this is going.  Cost-cutting and ‘efficiency’ savings, no doubt.

What is going to happen? Deliveries will be spread out over a longer period during the day, so it seems likely that fewer of us will get our post first thing, nor at a time convenient to us.  Routes will be longer, and when you get your post will depend on where you are on the route.  When mail volumes vary, delivery arrangements and times will be adjusted accordingly, so you won’t be able to predict when your post will arrive.

What about our friendly posties? Well, they will be asked to carry more and heavier mail, though there will apparently be investment “in new equipment” to “reduce the risk of injury to our postmen and women.”  Powered trolleys may shortly be seen trundling around our estates, then, and vans will be shared.  New machinery will also replace jobs in sorting offices. Chances are that your usual postie will disappear onto another route or be shuffled around to take up the slack as required.

How will all this work out? Well clearly it remains to be seen.  Obviously changes need to be made in modern circumstances.  But if they are used as excuses to cut and cut again for profit or to make ready for privatisation, we will all lose out. Queen Victoria would certainly not be amused…

You can find out more on the Royal Mail website:

Zeppelin bomb goes on show at Walsall Museum

Zeppelin L21 berthed at Nordholz, 1916, and the crater it left in Bradford Place.
Zeppelin L21 berthed at Nordholz, 1916, and the crater it left in Bradford Place.

A very rare 20lb German incendiary bomb casing, which was dropped on Walsall in 1916 during the Great War, has gone on show in a new display at Walsall Museum.

The bomb casing, which is so rare that it may be the only one held in a British museum, is believed to be one of those dropped on Walsall during the night of 31 January 1916, when the Black Country suffered one of the heaviest air raids of the ‘war to end all wars’.

Tipton, Bradley, Wednesbury and Walsall were bombed by two Zeppelins, leaving 35 people dead.   One bomb landed on Wednesbury Road Congregational Church, but thankfully no-one was killed, while another landed in Bradford Place, and claimed the lives of three people, including 55-year-old Mary Julia Slater, the Mayoress of Walsall.

She was a passenger on the number 16 tram when the bomb hit, and suffered severe wounds to the chest and abdomen. She was taken to hospital and died a few weeks later on February 20th from shock and septicaemia.

Walsall’s Cenotaph now stands on the spot where this bomb landed and also destroyed the public toilets in the gardens outside the Science & Art Institute, which is why new ones were later built beneath Sister Dora’s statue on The Bridge.

Wednesbury Rd Congregational Chapel after the Zeppelin raid, 1916.
Wednesbury Road Congregational Chapel after the Zeppelin raid, 1916 (WLHC).

Also on display in the museum is a fragment of leaded window from the Wednesbury Road Congregational Church, the roof of which was destroyed during the raid.

The display, entitled Walsall’s Zeppelin Raid, can be seen in Walsall Museum’s local history gallery, The Changing Face of Walsall, from Tuesday 1 November until Saturday 3 December 2011, and is particularly poignant at this time of year.

The bomb casing no longer contains any incendiary material and is certified as safe.

For further information on the display please contact Walsall Museum on 01922 653116 or email

Labour Party take Bloxwich East by storm

Julie Fitzpatrick has the support of David Winnick, MP.
Julie Fitzpatrick has the support of David Winnick, MP.

Thursday’s by-election in the Bloxwich East Ward of Walsall Council has seen an historic swing to Labour of 19% in a ward which has for a good number of years been split between their party and the Conservatives, with the latter in the majority.

In a significant victory, the seat left vacant following the death of long-serving Tory Bill Tweddle fell to an apparently rejuvenated local Labour party, seeing the defeat of Conservative candidate Les Beeley by almost ninety votes, leaving the other parties to scrabble in the dust for those few votes left.

Labour’s successful candidate, the energetic and community-minded Julie Fitzpatrick, is married to Shaun Fitzpatrick, whose own battle on behalf of the Labour party saw a previous defeat of long-serving Beeley in the council elections earlier this year.

The full voting results are:

Labour 922, Conservative 834, UKIP 98, English Democrats 49, Green Party 16.

The numbers of seats on Walsall Council as therefore now as follows:

Labour 27
Conservative 27
Lib Dem 5
Independent 1

The Bloxwich Telegraph would like to congratulate Julie Fitzpatrick on her success.  We hope to be able to report more on her work as our newest Labour Councillor in the near future.

Figures courtesy Pheasey Park Farm Labour.

Ninety years of Remembrance and poppies…

A Little Bloxwich Poppy
A Little Bloxwich Poppy

Today marks not only the start of the annual Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, but the 90th year in which that remarkable organisation has operated.  The Legion, a voluntary organisation funded by donations, was formed in 1921 to support the veterans of the Great War.  But since then, as we know only too well, Britain has been involved in many other wars and fields of service, and still is, creating a continuous supply of service men and women, and their families, who need the Legion’s assistance – and that of those who donate to this very worthy cause yearly or more regularly.

The Royal British Legion provides welfare to the whole Armed Forces family – serving, ex-service and their dependants. They also campaign on a range of issues affecting service people, are the custodian of Remembrance, run the annual Poppy Appeal and are one of the UK’s largest membership organisations.

The Cenotaph in Whitehall and numerous war memorials around the country – including Bloxwich, Walsall and other towns and villages in our borough – commemorate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in World Wars I and II.

Of course in Bloxwich every year the local branches of the Legion and partner organisations, including the local churches, also organise a Remembrance Sunday parade and an Open-air Church Service at the Bloxwich War Memorial near All Saints Church, on the corner of High Street and Elmore Green Road.  That act of Remembrance will be a prime focus for Bloxwich people this year as always.

This year also sees the rededication of the Elmore Green School Great War Memorial, now repatriated thanks to Walsall Council, after decades at T.P. Riley School and then in storage after the school’s demolition.  This rededication will take place in a ticket-only ceremony at the school, appropriately on Armistice Day, 11 November 2011.

Further afield, to commemorate those that have lost their lives in the Service of their country since 1945, the Armed Forces Memorial was opened in 2007 in the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas in Staffordshire.

Each June, the names of those who have died in conflict, as a result of terrorist action or on training exercises, in the previous calendar year, are added to this impressive memorial, as a permanent reminder of their sacrifice.  It is well worth a visit, and our support.

The annual Poppy Appeal is an incredibly important way of helping to support those who have served our nation – and us – over many decades, and The Bloxwich Telegraph strongly supports the appeal and the important work of both the Royal British Legion and such similar but separate (and separately funded) volunteer organisations as SSAFA Forces Help and Help for Heroes.

Please consider buying a poppy, and making a donation to the Royal British Legion and other organisations supportive of our ex-servicemen and women. It is such an important cause.

Check out the Royal British Legion website for further information:

Hallowe’en bites back in spine-tingling new theatre tour!

Fright Bites poster
Fright Bites poster

Professional Theatre Company “Don’t Go into the Cellar!” is bringing a number of spooky shows to venues around Birmingham this Hallowe’en!

Hallowe’en itself sees them stage a “Fright Bites” night at the Kitchen Garden Cafe. Original creepy theatre and ghost stories will be performed in-between courses at an event that will serve up meals with squeals!

Later that week, and following their headline slot at Whitby’s Bram Stoker International Film Festival over the weekend of October 28th – 30th, the company perform their vampire show “The Feast of Blood!” at The Old Joint Stock Theatre on November 3rd and 4th.

The original piece is based on the notorious Penny Dreadful serials of the Victorian Era, and is an inspired mix of traditional frights and the occasional chuckle in-between the screams!

Don’t Go Into The Cellar! has only been active for the past year, and has already established itself as the UKs only professional troupe that specialises in original Victorian ghost and horror tales, Music Hall revivals and Steampunk shows.


“Fright Bites”

Venue: The Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, October 31st.

“The Feast of Blood!”

Venue: Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham City Centre, November 3rd and 4th.