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Historic Colts go on show as Museum closure announced

Bayard's Colts on display in Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)
Bayard’s Colts on display in Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)

Seventeen mysterious carved wooden clubs, known as the Bayard’s Colts, have gone on open display at Walsall Museum, but members of the public will need to visit the museum above Walsall Central Library as soon as they can to take advantage of this rare opportunity, as Walsall Museum is now slated for closure on 31 March due to budget cuts.

The ‘colts’ are thought be at least 300 years old but their exact age, origins and even how they got their name remain a mystery. Last year the museum received a £12,000 grant from the Arts Council to increase public awareness including commissioning an acclaimed play called the Tat Man Tales, family fun days and storytelling courses.

The clubs were carried behind the Mayor in ceremonial processions at the openings of markets and fairs and on other civic occasions.The colts were hung up on the wall of the Magistrates Court in the Guildhall when the Walking the Fair tradition was discontinued in 1870.

Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)

They were transferred into the care of Walsall Museum in the 1960s although continued to remain hung in the Magistrates Court, out of public view, before returning to the museum in 2012. They are now on show in the Changing Face of Walsall gallery.

Sadly, following the full Walsall Council meeting on 26 February, the popular museum announced on Twitter that it would close on 31 March 2015.  Museum staff thanked their visitors, donors and volunteers for all their support over the years.

The thousands of artefacts held by the museum will be put into storage.  A bid for Heritage Lottery Funding will be made to hopefully redisplay collections at some future time.

Walsal Museum graphic panel (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsal Museum graphic panel (pic: Stuart Williams)

Entrance to the museum, above the library in Lichfield Street, is free. It is open Tuesdays to Fridays 10am to 5pm and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm.

Council tax benefit scheme cut

Walsall Council House

A local Council Tax benefit scheme has been cut back in Walsall following  government funding reductions.

Walsall Council bosses approved changes to the council tax reduction scheme at Full Council on 12 January 2015 whereby all working age residents will have to pay at least 25% of their council tax bill.

Councillor Sean Coughlan, Walsall Council Leader, said: “In April 2013 central government replaced the national council tax benefit scheme with a new scheme administered by the council.

“Since then the government funding to support the new scheme has reduced year on year and the council has been able to protect all residents from the impact of these changes until now.

“From April 2015 this will no longer be possible as the council is faced with the challenge of having to save £86 million over the next four years.

“Our decision to provide a maximum benefit of 75% will save the council over £2.3 million in 2015/16 whilst still providing support to vulnerable groups within the working age council tax base.”

Portfolio holder for social care, Councillor Diane Coughlan, explained: “We understand that some households in Walsall may find it difficult to pay their new or increased council tax bill so we are making it easier by providing more flexible paying options.

“Instead of paying ten monthly payments, we can extend it over twelve months.  If you prefer a weekly or fortnightly payment scheme, that can also be accommodated.

“Council officers are also on hand to help with money management and budgeting advice.”

Council tax bills will be posted out to residents from 6 March 2015 which will include an information leaflet on help with paying your bill.

Council and police target truants

Walsall Council and police working together (pic: Walsall Council)
Walsall Council and police working together (pic: Walsall Council)
Truants will be targeted in a new joint project between Walsall Council and Walsall Police starting on Monday.

The project sees the council building on their success to date with partner agencies as part of the national Troubled Families programme and uses funding from within the programme for the truancy patrols.

A police officer and council attendance officers will tour the borough in a branded vehicle stopping children of school age and/or their parents to ask why they aren’t in school and if necessary ask them to return to school.

Officers will also support children, young people and their families if they identify any concerns or issues, as part of our focus to help families as early as possible. The team can help to signpost families and young people to a range of support and advice as sometimes there can be other issues beyond truancy.

The focus will be on school children of all ages.

The project will run to the end of the current school year at which time it will be evaluated.

Issues around school absence and anti-social behaviour are also addressed directly in schools with the support of attendance officers.

PS Gary Iliff, from Walsall Police, said: ”These dedicated multi agency patrols will supplement the existing engagement in schools by local neighbourhood teams.

“There will now be greater support for families at the earliest opportunity to maximise educational opportunity in Walsall.”

Councillor Barbara Cassidy, portfolio holder for children’s services at Walsall Council, said: “An education is one of the most important elements to a successful future.

“To learn, grow and achieve, children and young people need to be in school.

“As well as the educational benefits, many children get other benefits from attending school such as interaction with their peers and a healthy meal.

“This is why it is important that we support young people and their families to understand the importance of attending school regularly.

“These regular patrols will also help us to reach out to any children and families who may need some extra support so that we can put them in touch with the right agencies to help them.

“If you are concerned about a child or young person or if you have any queries I would encourage you to contact the council’s attendance service on 01922 686233.”

 

Mice close Bloxwich bakery

A bakery in Bloxwich was ordered to close its doors temporarily earlier this week, after mouse droppings were discovered in the factory’s food storage areas.

Polish Bakery Mazowse Ltd, of Bloxwich Lane Industrial Estate, Bloxwich Lane, was issued with a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice, requiring its immediate closure, following a visit by environmental health officers on Wednesday 25 February.

Walsall Magistrates supported the decision taken at a court hearing this morning. (Friday 27 February)

The court heard the owners have worked closely alongside environmental health officers to address the concerns they raised and the factory was allowed to reopen this morning.(Friday 27 February)

Neil Harris, Principal Environmental Health Officer, for Walsall Council, said: “Mice spread diseases such as salmonella and their faeces can contaminate food products thereby placing the public’s health at risk if they are present in an area where food is being kept.

“Environmental health officers carry out regular inspections throughout the borough where food is being prepared and sold. The safety of our residents is paramount and we will always look to take prompt action against those premises that fall outside the required hygiene standards.”

Crossroads returns to local TV screens

Benny (played by Paul Henry) and 'Miss Diane' (Sue Hanson) in Crossroads, 1980
Benny (played by Paul Henry) and ‘Miss Diane’ (Sue Hanson) in Crossroads, 1980

Iconic West Midlands television ‘soap opera’ series, Crossroads, is being brought back to the small screen by Walsall’s new local television station Big Centre TV, which launches this Saturday, 28th February, at 6pm on Freeview Channel 8, covering Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country.

In a move that will delight fans of the show, Big Centre TV, which has studios at the Goldmine Centre in Lower Hall Lane, plans to broadcast all existing episodes, including some classic early episodes from the 1960s.

Crossroads originally ran from 1964 to 1988 on ITV (originally in the ATV days) and at its peak the show’s viewing figures reached up to 18 million. The show, which was the UK’s first full length daily soap, revolves around the fictional village of Kings Oak, near Birmingham, portrayed as the main location of the Crossroads Motel.

Channel director, Chris Perry, said: “It’s an incredible honour to bring Crossroads back to viewers. More than 4,500 episodes were filmed, but only around 3,000 have survived and these are mostly from 1978-1988. The earlier editions were largely lost and only a few classic editions survive. However, we plan to show all editions available, including those known as the ‘Crossroads Classics’.

“Bringing Crossroads back to the small screen has only been possible because of the close partnership between ITV and me and my team at Kaleidoscope. Arranging this deal was not easy, as checking assets from the 1960s took time, restoration and research, but we are deeply proud to be the new home of such an iconic programme.”

Early photo of the cast of Crossroads including Jane Rossington (centre left) and Noele Gordon
Early photo of the cast of Crossroads including Jane Rossington (centre left) and Noele Gordon

One of the show’s stars, Jane Rossington, who played Jill Richardson, said: “I am delighted that audiences will be able to experience the phenomenon that was Crossroads. We filmed at a number of locations here in the Midlands, so it’s great that Big Centre TV, the local station for the area, has chosen it as the headline show.

“Many people have fond memories of the show and even today I meet people who remember characters and storylines.”

Andrew Gavaghan, ITV’s archive operations manager, said: “ITV and Kaleidoscope have worked together for many years in sharing knowledge and information about ITV’s rich broadcasting history and ITV has donated archive materials to Kaleidoscope to help assist with its endeavours in preserving and exploring past British TV programming.

“The in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm that Kaleidoscope possess, is a valuable resource not only to the broadcasting and production communities but also to anyone interested in this important area of our culture.”

Big Centre TV is the UK’s newest station and will provide an estimated 2.3m viewers with an eclectic mix of local and national programmes. It will broadcast seven days a week and programmes will also be available online, giving the station a potential global audience.

Crossroads will be broadcast weekdays at 9.30am, 6pm and 11pm and will be live-streamed via the stations website at: http://www.bigcentre.tv/

For more information on receiving the new station see:  http://www.kaleidoscopetv.co.uk/

And on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BigCentreTV

Edgar Stammers – where are they now? Appeal

Edgar Stammers School Pantomime, circa 1959
Edgar Stammers School Pantomime, circa 1959

This week our attention has been drawn by local man David R Harper to an interesting search for information by ‘ex-Pat Phil Bottomer, who now lives in West Sussex.

Phil is appealing for former pupils who appear in the photograph above, which is of the cast of the Edgar Stammers Junior School  (Harden Rd, Coalpool) ‘Babes in the Wood’ pantomime of circa 1959, to contact him.

Phil recently had some success with a similar appeal regarding the Edgar Stammers School football team dated circa 1959 (in the Walsall Advertiser, January 15), when he received several replies from former team members, including old pals and a long-lost cousin!

So, he’s now hoping for similar results with this latest picture, which was sent both to him and  to The Bloxwich Telegraph by David Harper (thanks David!).

As a result of these appeals, there will be a re-union organised later this year.  One important element is that Phil is hoping to hear from more girls this time, as obviously they weren’t in the school football team back in the 50s, but are very evident in the 1959 panto!

Apparently several of the football team (see picture below) are also in the panto pic – so another question is, did any of them go on to play professional foot ball, or did they become thespians?

If anyone recognises themselves, or friend and family, in both of these pictures, please telephone Phil Bottomer on 07757 959272 or email philip.bottomer@btinternet.com

Readers can also contact David R Harper on Facebook or via the Bloxwich News Network Facebook page.

Edgar Stammers Junior School football team, circa 1959. Pictured back row is, from left to right, is headteacher Mr Powell, Steven Groom, Phil Bottomer, Keith Pepperworth, Brian Webster and class teacher Mr Prothero. Front is Phillip Hathaway, Peter Nolan, Paul Ayres, Chris Shaw, Robert Hollowood, Morrris (Maurice) Heinze and Terry Healey.
Edgar Stammers Junior School football team, circa 1959. Pictured back row is, from left to right, is headteacher Mr Powell, Steven Groom, Phil Bottomer, Keith Pepperworth, Brian Webster and class teacher Mr Prothero. Front is Phillip Hathaway, Peter Nolan, Paul Ayres, Chris Shaw, Robert Hollowood, Morrris (Maurice) Heinze and Terry Healey.