Category Archives: History

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.

‘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.

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

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/

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.

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.