Category Archives: History

Sorrow into Pride

‘Sorrow into Pride’ Elmore Green memorial book special price

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman with their new book

A very special book about the men on the Elmore Green School Great War Memorial is now available again at a very special price (see below), exclusively from Blakenall Village Centre – but hurry, time is short!

Sorrow into Pride tells the story of the social and military history of the ‘old boys’ of Elmore Green School, Bloxwich, who went off to fight in the First World War.  Written by two retired teachers and local historians, Barry Crutchley and Ken Wayman (pictured, above, at the launch), the book reveals the search for a ‘lost’ war memorial, the stories of the commemorated lads and its re-adoption by the original school.

Sorrow into Pride
Sorrow into Pride

Elmore Green School Old Boys’ Association war memorial was unveiled in the school hall in 1922.  It commemorated the sacrifice made by former pupils of the school in the Great War of 1914-18, listing sixty-seven ‘old boys’ of what was then Elmore Green Central School, later High School, who gave their young lives in “the war to end all wars”, some not passing away until 1919.  It had been moved from the school in 1958 when the secondary functions of Elmore Green High School were transferred to the new T.P. Riley Comprehensive, not far away in Lichfield Road.

The memorial quietly became part of the life of the new school until, in 2001, T.P. Riley was demolished and replaced by the present Walsall Academy, which opened in 2003.  It was around this time that the finely carved marble sculpture by Bloxwich-born Frederick T. Perry “disappeared” from the public eye.  In fact, it had been put into storage because it was not required by the academy, but for a long time this was forgotten.

Over the following years, various people including Bloxwich local historians Edna Marshall, Barry Crutchley and ex-T.P. Riley history teacher Ken Wayman, had tried to find and raise the profile of the missing memorial and eventually, following convoluted enquiries via the Academy and within Walsall Council departments, in late 2010 it was tracked down to the premises of monumental masons A. Walker & Sons of Cannock, who had been storing it safely since the demolition of T.P. Riley years ago.

Following work done by Walsall Council officers Mike Gaffney and the now late Elaine Box, funding was found from the Council to have the memorial returned to its original home in March 2011, when it was mounted on the wall of the school hall by the masons who had preserved it.  On Armistice Day that year, a special service of re-dedication was held at the school, truly bringing the memorial home.

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.
Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.

Sorrow into Pride traces the families and experiences of the lads named on the alabaster memorial, as well as one Old Boy who for some unknown reason was omitted from the list. In addition, the events leading to the deaths of ten servicemen closely related to those commemorated are examined, showing how the war affected their wider families; moreover, a number of related servicemen who fought in the Great War have been bound into the tale.

Now re-adopted by the school community from whence it came, the war memorial has re-invigorated the local community and brought forward numerous descendants of the Old Boys, furnishing invaluable information, precious photographs and memorabilia.

The authors owe a debt of gratitude to the present school community and its enthusiastic head-teacher Jane Humphreys, staff and pupils – following the hard work of local historians and council officers, they gave the war memorial’s story an unexpected happy ending.

New Horizons Community Enterprise, which runs the Blakenall Village Centre and a number of local projects and activities, is proud to have sponsored the publishing of the book, which adds an important chapter to the history of Bloxwich and its people.

The 458-page profusely illustrated softback book is published by Tommies Guides under the Reveille Press imprint with the ISBN: 978-1-908336-44-6.  

BARGAIN BOOKS

The normal retail price is £18.99 plus postage, but for a short period – until the end of April 2013 – signed copies of the books can be obtained for just £11.40 each or 2 books for £20, exclusively from Reception, Blakenall Village Centre, Thames Rd, Blakenall Heath, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.  Please note – cash purchases only.

For further information and to order Sorrow into Pride, please contact Terri Wall, Service Manager of Blakenall Village Centre  – email terri.wall@nhce.org.uk or telephone 01922 714900.

Bull Stake Darlaston

Public talk on Darlaston history

Bull Stake Darlaston

People from across Walsall borough will soon be able to find out about the history of one of our most historic local towns, Darlaston, in a public talk on Monday 4 March 2013 at Walsall Local History Centre.

The Essex Street centre is hosting one of Darlaston’s most noted local historians, Mr Terry Smitheman, who will present a fascinating slide illustrated talk all about that fine old Black Country town between 7.30pm – 9pm, and admission will cost just £2.00!

Darlaston has a long and varied history stretching at least as far back as the Domesday Book (1086) and was once an important industrial and engineering centre. Mr Smitheman is one of the leading experts of Darlaston Local History Society, and has many years experience of researching and writing about Darlaston and district.

Advance booking is essential, and tickets for the talk can be reserved now by telephoning Walsall Local History Centre on 01922 721305.

Walsall Local History Centre is the archives service and local studies library for Walsall Metropolitan Borough, and is part of Walsall Council. It is located in Essex Street, Walsall, WS2 7AS. Disable facilities and on-site parking are available.

Further details of the centre may be found online at http://www.walsall.gov.uk/localhistorycentre

Click to download poster

Curtain up for third Walsall Mummer’s Play this weekend!

Click to download poster
Click to download poster

The third in the remarkable series of new Walsall Mummer’s Plays written by local playwright David Calcutt, organised by Walsall Civic Society working with local groups, talented volunteers and Walsall Council and funded by a Heritage Lottery grant – ‘The Lovers and the Pirates’ – is all set for curtain up on its first open air performances this Saturday 16 February at noon, 1.30pm and 3pm in Walsall Marketplace, High Street, Walsall, just a short way down from the ASDA store – with FREE admission!

The successful series – commissioned specially as part of the historic  Walsall Bayard’s Colts Project – has brought a genuine revival of English street theatre to the town – not to mention much mirth, madness, music, mummery and mayhem!

And good weather or no, you’ll get a chance to see the play this weekend, for a special indoor performance is also taking place within the bounds of Bloxwich, at our very own Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in Elmore Row, this Sunday 17 February at 2pm and 7pm.  Tickets for the Bloxwich performance cost just £5 – to book, call 01922 655900.

For more information, call Glen Buglass on 01922 653113, or check out the Bayard’s Colts Project website: http://www.bayardscolts.org.uk/

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman with their new book

Bloxwich historians turn ‘Sorrow into Pride’

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman with their new book

Last Friday a quiet, poignant and significant event in the history of Bloxwich took place at Blakenall Village Centre: the launch of a new book about the men on the Elmore Green School Great War Memorial.

Sorrow into Pride tells the story of the social and military history of the ‘old boys’ of Elmore Green School, Bloxwich, who went off to fight in the First World War.  Written by two retired teachers and local historians, Barry Crutchley and Ken Wayman (pictured, above, at the launch), the book reveals the search for a ‘lost’ war memorial, the stories of the commemorated lads and its re-adoption by the original school.

Sorrow into Pride
Sorrow into Pride

Elmore Green School Old Boys’ Association war memorial was unveiled in the school hall in 1922.  It commemorated the sacrifice made by former pupils of the school in the Great War of 1914-18, listing sixty-seven ‘old boys’ of what was then Elmore Green Central School, later High School, who gave their young lives in “the war to end all wars”, some not passing away until 1919.  It had been moved from the school in 1958 when the secondary functions of Elmore Green High School were transferred to the new T.P. Riley Comprehensive, not far away in Lichfield Road.

The memorial quietly became part of the life of the new school until, in 2001, T.P. Riley was demolished and replaced by the present Walsall Academy, which opened in 2003.  It was around this time that the finely carved marble sculpture by Bloxwich-born Frederick T. Perry “disappeared” from the public eye.  In fact, it had been put into storage because it was not required by the academy, but for a long time this was forgotten.

Over the following years, various people including Bloxwich local historians Edna Marshall, Barry Crutchley and ex-T.P. Riley history teacher Ken Wayman, had tried to find and raise the profile of the missing memorial and eventually, following convoluted enquiries via the Academy and within Walsall Council departments, in late 2010 it was tracked down to the premises of monumental masons A. Walker & Sons of Cannock, who had been storing it safely since the demolition of T.P. Riley years ago.

Following work done by Walsall Council officers Mike Gaffney and the now late Elaine Box, funding was found from the Council to have the memorial returned to its original home in March 2011, when it was mounted on the wall of the school hall by the masons who had preserved it.  On Armistice Day that year, a special service of re-dedication was held at the school, truly bringing the memorial home.

Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.
Barry Crutchley (left) and Ken Wayman ponder the men on the memorial.

Now, Sorrow into Pride traces the families and experiences of the lads named on the alabaster memorial, as well as one Old Boy who for some unknown reason was omitted from the list. In addition, the events leading to the deaths of ten servicemen closely related to those commemorated are examined, showing how the war affected their wider families; moreover, a number of related servicemen who fought in the Great War have been bound into the tale.

Now re-adopted by the school community from whence it came, the war memorial has re-invigorated the local community and brought forward numerous descendants of the Old Boys, furnishing invaluable information, precious photographs and memorabilia.

The authors owe a debt of gratitude to the present school community and its enthusiastic head-teacher Jane Humphreys, staff and pupils – following the hard work of local historians and council officers, they gave the war memorial’s story an unexpected happy ending.

Pupils read the Elmore Green Roll of Honour at a Remembrance service on 11 November this year
Pupils read the Elmore Green Roll of Honour at a Remembrance service on 11 November this year

New Horizons Community Enterprise, which runs the Blakenall Village Centre and a number of local projects and activities, is proud to have sponsored the publishing of the new book, which adds an important chapter to the history of Bloxwich and its people.

Friday’s launch was hosted by the Chair of New Horizons, Tom Perrett MBE, presented by the authors and attended by descendants of the Elmore Green ‘old boys’ and other contributors, including Stuart Williams, Editor of The Bloxwich Telegraph, who wrote the Foreword and a special dedication to the late Elaine Box of Walsall Council, who was instrumental in returning the memorial to its rightful home.

Barry Crutchley chats to descendants of Elmore Green heroes at the launch
Barry Crutchley chats to descendants of Elmore Green heroes at the launch
Ken Wayman talks to Elmore Green Primary School head Jane Humphreys about the book
Ken Wayman talks to Elmore Green Primary School head Jane Humphreys about the book

The 458-page profusely illustrated softback book is published by Tommies Guides under the Reveille Press imprint with the ISBN: 978-1-908336-44-6, and is available to order via New Horizons at £18.99 plus postage.

For further information and to order Sorrow into Pride, please contact Terri Wall, Service Manager of Blakenall Village Centre  – email terri.wall@nhce.org.uk or telephone 01922 714900.

For more pictures taken at the book launch, check out our Flickr Album.

Stuart Williams with the new book Reflections of Old Walsall

Reflections of Old Walsall launches on Thursday!

Stuart Williams with the new book Reflections of Old Walsall

Bloxwich Telegraph editor Stuart Williams’ latest book for Walsall Local History Centre has just been published and will be on sale from this week – with a special launch event taking place at Walsall Museum on Thursday 6th December (details below), and just in time for Christmas.

Reflections of Old Walsall  – subtitled ‘Local history in and around Walsall Metropolitan Borough’ – includes diverse subjects from local heroes like Walsall’s greatest aviator Flt Lt Webster to coalman’s son and Bletchley Park code-breaker Harry Hinsley via spooks and spectres, the remarkable Highgate Windmill, Aldridge’s Naval VC, Bentley’s ‘Giant’s Causeway’, one of Queen Victoria’s greatest diplomats – from Birchills(!), the time Sherlock Holmes came to Walsall, Walsall’s electric trams which were “better than Blackpool” and Bloxwich’s war poet Harold Parry – plus many more!

In fact if you thought the story of old Walsall was just about the leather industry and Sister Dora, then you’re in for a few surprises with this book.  Even the essential Sister Dora article takes a very different track to the usual story…

Reflections of Old Walsall Book Cover
Reflections of Old Walsall Book Cover – click to enlarge.

The illustrated A5 format softback book, 72pp plus 4pp cover, is a compilation of the original, uncut texts of twenty of Stuart’s Local Heritage articles which were written on behalf of Walsall Local History Centre for his monthly feature in the Walsall Chronicle newspaper – a series which has run since 2001 and which was renamed Memory Lane at the end of 2011.

As such, the newspaper-published and edited versions of the articles are not only long out of print but were somewhat shorter than those in the book.  The articles in the new book also have their original titles, which were often changed by the Chronicle’s editors!

Each article as published now comprises 3-4 pages with 3 or 4 period photographs, so the book is ideal for dipping into, especially as the subjects focus on numerous surprising, quirky and often forgotten aspects of the area’s history and its people from ancient times to the 1970s.

The new book costs £6.99, and you may be interested to know that Stuart’s previous book for the Centre Billy Meikle’s Window on Walsall is also still available for £5.

The individual titles of the articles in Reflections of Old Walsall are:

  • A Bridge By Any Other Name
  • Bentley’s ‘Giant’s Causeway’
  • Things that Go Bump in the Borough…
  • From the Earth to the Moon – Highgate Windmill
  • From Red Books to the Red Planet – W. H. Robinson
  • One Man and His Books (to say nothing of the dog)
  • Remembering Aldridge’s Naval VC
  • Sister Dora and the Steam Engine
  • The Battle of Walsall
  • When Sherlock Holmes came to Walsall
  • Better than Blackpool: Walsall’s Victorian Tramways
  • An Englishman’s Castle: Council housing in Walsall
  • From Dixon of Dock Green to Gene Hunt
  • Flaming brilliant: Walsall Fire Brigade
  • From Guild Hall to Civic Centre
  • Going to the ‘flicks’ in ‘Sixties Walsall
  • From Borneo Street to the Stars
  • The Hinsley Enigma – Decoded
  • From Birchills to Beijing – Sir Harry S. Parkes
  • Remembering Harold Parry – Bloxwich War Poet

PUBLISHER’S DETAILS

‘Reflections of Old Walsall’ by Stuart Williams

Publisher: Walsall Local History Centre
ISBN: 978 1 907363 03 0

A5 format softback 72pp plus 4pp cover.
Retail price: £6.99.

BOOK LAUNCH AT WALSALL MUSEUM Thursday 6th December 2012

REFLECTIONS OF OLD WALSALL is being launched by Walsall Local History Centre with the kind assistance of Walsall Museum who are hosting the event in their Education Room on Thursday 6th December.

The launch will take place between 10am – 12 noon at Walsall Museum, 1st Floor, Central Library, Lichfield Street,  Walsall, WS1 1TR.  ADMISSION IS FREE.

The launch programme is as follows:

10am        Doors open.  Informal chance to speak to the author and view the book.

10.30am   Talk:  Reflections of Old Walsall.

11am         Book sales and signing.  Books cost £6.99.

11.30am    Videos and FREE refreshments.

12 noon  Close.

OUTLETS

After the launch, Reflections of Old Walsall will be available from Waterstone’s bookstore in Park Street, Walsall Museum, Walsall Leather Museum and of course direct from Walsall Local History Centre in Essex Street, Walsall, which will also operate a mail order service – telephone 01922 721305 for details.

L19 Zeppelin

Archivist to reveal true story of Walsall Zeppelin Raid in public talk

L19 Zeppelin

Archivist Paul Ford is all set to reveal the secrets of the 1916 Walsall Zeppelin Raid in a public talk at Walsall Local History Centre on Monday 3 December.

In the talk, which starts at 7.30pm, Paul will use the original police, coroners, council and other records to try to piece together not only the series of events that night, but also to answer some important questions about the wider context of the raid.

On 31 January – 1 February 1916, the Black Country night was turned to flame when German airships attacked Walsall, Wednesbury, Bradley and Tipton. This totally unexpected Great War bombing raid caused ‘universal shock’ across Walsall – claiming several lives and badly damaging a number of properties.

It is said the lights of the town were blazing away and the trams were running, making Walsall a sitting duck; but in truth, no detailed official report of the night’s events actually survives.

Today, the raid is largely forgotten in the town, save for a shrapnel hole and blue plaque in Bradford Place and a bronze plaque in the Council House that commemorates Walsall’s most famous victim – Mary Julia Slater, Walsall’s Mayoress.

Nearly 100 years on, it is time to re-examine one of the most extraordinary episodes in Walsall’s history and to remember those that were affected by it. This talk aims to set the record straight and shed light on a dark chapter in the story of the town.

Tickets for the talk cost just £2 and booking is essential, telephone 01922 721305 to book.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CENTRE’S ANSWERING MACHINE WILL BE ON ON MONDAY – so leave a message with your telephone number, asking staff to confirm your booking before making a journey.

Walsall Local History Centre is the archives service and local studies library for Walsall Metropolitan Borough, and is part of Walsall Council. For further information on the centre, telephone 01922 721305 or check out the centre’s website: http://www.walsall.gov.uk/localhistorycentre

Walsall Civic Society Chairman and Bayard's Colts Project Director Tony Kemshall (left) meets Mayor of Walsall Cllr Dennis Anson, Pioneer Magazine editor Gill Thomas and Mayoress Mrs Kate Anson for the first ever performance of new Walsall Mummer's Play 'The Alchemist and The Devil'.

Devilish treat draws crowds to Walsall High Street

Walsall Civic Society Chairman Tony Kemshall (left) meets Mayor of Walsall Cllr Dennis Anson, Pioneer Magazine editor Gill Thomas and Mayoress Mrs Kate Anson.
Walsall Civic Society Chairman Tony Kemshall (left) meets Mayor of Walsall Cllr Dennis Anson, Pioneer Magazine editor Gill Thomas and Mayoress Mrs Kate Anson.

Shoppers, families and visitors to Walsall joined the Mayor of Walsall Cllr Dennis Anson (pictured, above) on Saturday in enjoying and applauding a traditional Black Country street theatre treat with a Walsall edge.

Walsall Civic Society’s second new “Mummer’s Play” The Alchemist and the Devil was penned by top local playwright David Calcutt and performed by a talented cast of local volunteers and project workers as part of the society’s Heritage Lottery-Funded Bayard’s Colts Project.

David Calcutt gets to grips with a reproduction Bayard's Colt.
David Calcutt gets to grips with a reproduction Bayard’s Colt.

The play, which was directed by Glen Buglass and performed in the open air on Walsall’s ancient High Street, offered both history and hilarity, music and mayhem – and delivered all this and more in spades!  From a mad French Alchemist (wizard), capering minions and a decidedly saucy comedy Sister Dora to scary spooks, a personal appearance from The Lord of the Flies and his inevitable defeat by the mighty Bayard and the Black Country spirit of Walsall, the quite literally all-singing and all-dancing show led by narrator ‘The Tat Man’ captivated and amazed hundreds on the High Street throughout the day.

Pot calling the kettle Black Country - the Froggy Alchemist gets some stick from Walsall folk
Pot calling the kettle Black Country – the Froggy Alchemist gets some stick from Walsall folk.
Saucy Sister Dora camps it up with a colleague...
Saucy Sister Dora camps it up with a colleague…

The original Bayard’s Colts, which are held by Walsall Museum in Lichfield Street, are a unique collection of seventeen clubs which used to be carried behind the Mayor in ceremonial processions at the openings of markets and fairs and on other civic occasions.

Bayard's Colts in Walsall Guild Hall, 1921 (Walsall Local History Centre).
Bayard’s Colts in Walsall Guild Hall, 1921 (Walsall Local History Centre).

At one time they were kept in the Guild Hall when it was the police court and the seat of local government, then later they were mounted on a wall at Walsall Magistrate’s Court for many decades, until recently, when the project was initiated by Walsall Civic Society working in partnership with Walsall Museum, Walsall Council and other partners.

Walsall’s colts, which are unique, are at least 300 years old but their exact age, origins and how they got their name are shrouded in mystery – though new research is now taking place and it is believed that there are links with Carolingian legends of the mighty horse Bayard and his Thousand Colts.

The latest in the series of four special Mummer’s Plays commissioned by Walsall Civic Society (the first was Robin Hood and The Giant, unveiled in August) was performed on Saturday at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

The Mayor said in advance of the event:

“I watched another play earlier this year and it was a real crowd puller – the Walsall Civic Society is doing the project proud.

“We should seize the opportunity to celebrate Walsall’s heritage and history at every turn and the Bayard’s Colts certainly have an intriguing past.”

Tony Kemshall, project director added: “This vibrant and colourful street theatre not only brings something unique to the town but has also helped start the campaign to highlight the Walsall story Of the Bayard’s Colts.

“Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and key local partners the Bayard’s Colts are a strand of local history that we can all be very proud of.”

Devil may care - Beelzebub shows his ugly mush in Walsall High Street!
Devil may care – Beelzebub shows his ugly mush in Walsall High Street!

MISSED IT? IT’S NOT TOO LATE!

There is also a special indoor showcase event highlighting the project and including a live performance of The Alchemist and The Devil at The Peformance Hub at University of Wolverhampton Walsall campus, Gorway Road, Walsall, on Saturday 24 November.

Performances will be at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and the Mayor will attend the 2.30pm show.  Tickets cost £5 and proceeds go to help support the project.

To book tickets for the 24th November shows, follow this link for more information, telephone 07885 317491 or go direct to http://performance hub.eventbrite.co.uk

WALSALL MUSEUM TALK 4th DECEMBER

The story of the Colts themselves, as far as is known, will be revealed in a special public talk at Walsall Museum on 4th December.  The talk will explore the theories about the possible origins and age of the Bayard’s Colts, as well as presenting what is known of their history from documentary and other sources.

It will be presented by Jennifer Thomson, Community History Curator at Walsall Museum, who has been undertaking research into their history.  People attending the talk will be able to view the original Colts for themselves and contribute their own ideas to the debate on their origins.

The talk, entitled ‘The Curious History of the Bayard’s Colts’, takes place on Tuesday 4th  December from 2-3pm.  It costs £1 per person to attend and advance booking is essential as places are limited. Please contact the Museum on 01922 653116 or email museum@walsall.gov.uk to reserve your place.

MORE PICTURES

To see many more pictures of Saturday’s first performance of The Alchemist and The Devil, check out The Bloxwich Telegraph’s Flickr Album via this link.