Category Archives: Walsall Borough

Walsall Silver Thread project now on Facebook

 

The project's first sewing group, Arboretum Craft Group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.
The project’s first sewing group, Arboretum Craft Group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.
Walsall’s new ‘Silver Thread’ project is a great new local community project organised by the Walsall Council Creative Development Team. It celebrates both local history and arts, and 25 years of work by the Team (which will itself be marked with a new book).
 
The project, which covers Walsall Metropolitan Borough, has now been launched and is being organised on many fronts – including Facebook!  A brand new social media page is now online, and can be visited via the following link: Walsall Silver Thread Facebook page
 
There will be local meetings in many places across the Borough to involve local people with the project on the history, arts and crafts front. Many local towns and villages are being represented in a series of ‘tapestry’ works which will be created.
 
Anyone interested in their local history (including in living memory) or who was involved in the past local manufacture of needles and awl blades (for which Bloxwich is historically famed), or who is a keen sewer or in a sewing group, will be particularly welcome. Arboretum Craft Group are the first sewing group to sign up to help sew the Silver Thread Tapestries.
 
Also, contacts are invited by the organisers from people who have been involved with past Creative Development Team projects like The Bloxwich Tardis on Elmore Green, or The Brownhills Miner!
More information can be found on the Facebook page and in our previous news item: PROJECT WILL SEW A SILVER THREAD OF ARTS AND HISTORY

Project will sew a Silver Thread of arts and history

The project's sewing group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.
The project’s sewing group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.

As part of a celebration of a quarter of a century working in community arts, Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team are now set to deliver a unique year long community arts project for Walsall Borough.

The scheme is being funded through a successful application for £73,400 from Arts Council England Lottery Funding.

Involving an army of local people, the ‘Silver Thread’ project will see 11 unique tapestries created, representing the six towns and other areas in Walsall Borough. The tapestries will reflect the borough’s living history, diversity and commonality; acknowledge the past, reflect the present and embrace the future.

A common thread

Creating the tapestries will provide the common thread to produce a commemorative book featuring 25 of Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team projects, which include the Bloxwich Tardis monument, the Brownhills Miner, festivals and a host of other projects from the 25 year history of the team’s work.

The book will tell the story of the engaging creative processes and the impact participatory arts have made in Walsall’s communities across an area so diverse in history, heritage and geography.

The Silver Thread Tapestries and the book project will demonstrate how the Creative Development Team is a thread linking people, places and policies and instigating positive change in communities. The aim of the project is to celebrate and bring to life the thread sewn over the life of the teams work in community arts.

Meetings across the borough

Throughout February and March organisers will be hosting meetings in 11 different areas of Walsall to plan the content for the tapestries and they are inviting local community groups, history groups, and individuals to help decide what to feature on the tapestries. If you would like to help tell Walsall’s story or you would like to attend a meeting in your local area please contact 01922 653114.

Awl blades of Bloxwich repute

Local historian Billy Meikle took this picture of a typical Sandbank awl blade maker’s workshop in 1915 (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre)
Local historian Billy Meikle took this picture of a typical Sandbank awl blade maker’s workshop in 1915 (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre)

Included on the tapestries will be leather work to show the rich history associated with the leather industry in Walsall.  An example of this link can be seen with the famed association Bloxwich had for centuries with needle and awl blade making through local people in tiny home workshops and firms like Somerfields of Clarendon Street, who operated for over 200 years until around 1992.

During their time in Bloxwich, Somerfields made it into the Guinness book of records for the world’s largest needle measuring more than 6ft long for sewing mattresses, made by Mr George Davies, master forger.

Letterhead of Somerfields of Bloxwich, circa 1930’s, (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre).
Letterhead of Somerfields of Bloxwich, circa 1930’s, (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre).

A tribute

The Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Underhill, when talking about the project stated:“This project is a fitting tribute to the work the team has carried out over the last 25 years and reflects the creative energy that the people of Walsall exhibit in not only the industry of the borough but also throughout the region’s history and culture.”

Content and sewing

Once the content for the tapestries has been decided, Midlands Artist Hunt Emerson famous for being an artist on the Beano comic will create the designs for the 11 tapestries. Once the designs are completed organisers will be recruiting an army of volunteers through sewing groups and individuals to help sew the images.

Starting after Easter sewing will continue until the autumn to create the unique set of tapestries to be exhibited together and toured around the borough in January 2017. If you or your sewing group or community group would like to take part in the sewing we call 01922 653114.  As well as sewing volunteers project organisers are also keen to hear from sewing experts able to lead groups and look after a tapestry as part of the delivery team.

Past projects included

Over the past 25 years Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team (Formerly known as Walsall Council Community Arts Team) delivered hundreds of participatory arts projects involving thousands of local people.

Of the best projects 25 of the best will feature as examples in the ‘Silver Thread’ book and the team are eager to hear from anyone who remembers participating in past projects to help tell the story of local communities and the impact these had for participants. If you remember taking part in any of the theatre projects, exhibitions, events, projects or festivals thye want to hear from you. Contact the team on 01922 65311.

Try something new at Walsall Libraries

Computer course

Walsall Libraries have just launched their new programme of computer taster courses for the whole academic year starting from September 2015 – July 2016.

There are now an extensive range of courses available from lots of individual teaching slots where you can seek help on specific things e.g. if you are unsure of how to create an email, how to buy and sell online, to more structured sessions on Ebay, Family History, CV help and Work Clubs.

In partnership with Walsall College, some libraries will be running 3 week basic taster courses and also a brand new 3 week course covering social media, and using comparison websites.

Helena Denham Information and Learning Co-ordinator said “Walsall Libraries love to offer new learning opportunities for our customers. Libraries are a great place to learn in an informal, relaxing and friendly environment.”

To book your place please visit or telephone your local library, or check out Walsall Libraries’ Adult Zone, then click ‘Learning’ on the website at www.lovelibrarieswalsall.co.uk

Tasty computer courses in Walsall Libraries!

Walsall Libraries Adults Zone
Walsall Libraries Adults Zone

Walsall Libraries have just launched their new programme of computer taster courses for the whole academic year starting from September 2015 – July 2016.

There are now an extensive range of courses available from lots of individual teaching slots where you can seek help on specific things e.g. if you are unsure of how to create an email, how to buy and sell online, to more structured sessions on Ebay, Family History, CV help and Work Clubs.

In partnership with Walsall College, some of the libraries will be running 3 week basic taster courses and also a brand new 3 week course covering social media, and using comparison websites.

Helena Denham Information and Learning Co-ordinator said “Walsall Libraries love to offer new learning opportunities for our customers. Libraries are a great place to learn in an informal, relaxing and friendly environment.”

To book your place you can visit or telephone your local library, or check out the Adults Zone, then click ‘Learning’ on the Walsall Libraries  website at www.lovelibrarieswalsall.co.uk

Crabtree Society donation boosts Bloxwich Telegraph

The Crabtree Society logo

Following our recent appeal for donations to help save the domain name of The Bloxwich Telegraph, we were grateful for the generous support of four local people who very kindly chipped in and saved the day. Now, a local group has come forward to help out further!

Last week our editor, Stuart Williams, was contacted by the Chairman of  The Crabtree Society, Mr Allan Preston, with the generous offer of a donation of £50 in support of the running of The Bloxwich Telegraph, which we have gratefully accepted.

The Crabtree Society is a group formed in 2000, mainly by ex-employees of Crabtree Electrical Industries Limited, which at one time was the largest employer in Walsall borough.

The Society aims to acknowledge the importance Crabtrees had for Walsall in its 80 years association with the town. In 1999 Crabtree’s head office and factory, the Lincoln Works near Walsall Arboretum, was demolished, and shortly after all manufacturing sites in the Walsall and Brownhills area were closed.

The Lincoln Works being built, April 1923
The Lincoln Works being built, April 1923

The society  provides a social forum for its members who are mainly ex-employees and their friends, maintains maintain the archives of the company, and has published a substantial book on the history of the company. The book was actually launched on the 24th May 2012 and is a superb publication.

Many Bloxwich people, including the mother of our editor Stuart Williams, were proud to work at Crabtrees over the decades, being transported there by special buses. and several Society members still live in Bloxwich.  With such local connections, the Society felt it appropriate to offer its support to The Bloxwich Telegraph in this way.

A cheque was presented to Stuart Williams on Saturday, by the Society’s Secretary & Treasurer Ray Parton, and will be added to the remainder of other recent donations to help with any ongoing costs the site may have.

For more details of The Crabtree Society, check out their website: www.thecrabtreesociety.co.uk

For further background information, see:

http://thecrabtreesociety.co.uk/Articles.html

http://thecrabtreesociety.co.uk/Events%20Archive.html

Historic images shown courtesy Walsall Local History Centre

Readers to beat a path to Walsall bookshop this Saturday!

Southcart Books' last event was a splendid Steampunk Day!
Southcart Books’ last event was a splendid Steampunk Day!

To end their Walsall Town Festival festivities, Southcart Books in Lower Hall Lane, Walsall, are having a little bookshop party showcasing some of their local and regional author friends’ talents on this Saturday 25th July.

And there’ll be quite a variety of writing talent on offer, all of whom will reading from their work in crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror and more!

The Master of Ceremonies will be the Editor of The Bloxwich Telegraph, A. Stuart Williams, who is himself a local author.

The programme for Saturday’s event  is as follows:

10.00am Southcart Books Opens

  • 11.00am WELCOME by Scott & Amy, proprietors of Southcart Books
  • 11.05am INTRO by MC and author A. Stuart Williams
  • 11.10am  Adrian Middleton
  • 11.35am  James Josiah
  • 12.00pm  Anthony Nick Britt
  • 12.25pm – 1pm Lunch Break for Mingling and Browsing
  • 1pm-1.25pm  Janet Edwards
  • 1.25pm-1.50pm  Mike Chinn
  • 1.50pm-2.15pm  A. Stuart Williams
  • Mid-Afternoon Break 2.15pm-2.35pm
  • 2.35pm-3.00pm  Don Melbourne
  • 3.00pm-3.25pm  Rob Cartwright and Theresa Derwin
  • 3.25pm-3.50pm Rob Grimes
  • 3.50pm Thanks & Chucking Out by MC A. Stuart Williams

Shop Closes 4.30pm

Works by these authors will be on sale, subject to availability, and may be signed on request.

All are welcome, and ADMISSION IS FREE! Light refreshments will be available. Get there early if you can, as these events are always highly popular!

If you are on Facebook, you are invited to sign up to the Event Page, where you can find out more about the authors who will be reading on Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/events/1600897530184162/

Southcart Books is the area’s ONLY independent bookshop, and is located at 20 Lower Hall Lane, Walsall, WS1 1RL.

You can also find them on Walsall Market today with their mobile bookstall, as part of the special Walsall Town Festival market!

Click and care online in Walsall

Walsall Community Living Directory

A range of up to date information, support and advice available in Walsall is just a click away thanks to a new online directory.

Walsall’s Community Living Directory is an easy to use comprehensive website available online at www.wcld.co.uk/

Walsall residents can now find out about local and national care and support services including what’s going on in their local community, at the touch of a button by accessing the new directory.

Individuals can search information about money matters, help to live at home, housing advice, things to do, staying safe, caring for someone, health and wellbeing, getting about and education, training and employment.

The site will include a product showroom where people can view aids and equipment to help them live independently as well as a personal assistant network to search individuals they could employ to help them with their daily living needs.

Individuals will also be able to refer themselves to help and support electronically through the website.

The web-based directory has been developed to help signpost local people to help and advice in their community which has become more important as the Care Act becomes law on 1 April 2015.

The act places a duty on all councils to provide comprehensive information and advice about care and support services in their local area. In addition, councils will be expected to give people the support they need to help prevent their care needs from becoming more serious, or delay the impact of their needs.

Children and families with special educational needs (SEN) will also be able to access a range of information and advice through the directory as the SEN local offer will also be available through the website.

Councillor Diane Coughlan, portfolio holder for social care at Walsall Council, said: “This directory is much more than a social care resource, it is for anyone wishing to find out more about help and activities available in Walsall.

“Our aim is to signpost people to a range of good quality information and advice.

“Being able to access local information about community groups and support agencies will help people to remain more independent.

“This is important because in future the council will likely have more people requesting help and support, so it is essential we try to signpost people and their families where possible.

“If people are able to access good local information and advice they will remain more independent for longer and they will have the information they need to make good decisions about activities, care and support.

“I would encourage everyone to take a look at the Walsall Community Living Directory on www.wcld.co.uk/ and find out what’s on offer.”

Urgent Dental Treatment over Christmas

toothache

Residents in Walsall who do not have a regular NHS dentist are being reminded where to go if they need urgent dental treatment over the festive period.

The Dental Access Centre, which is based in Blakenall Village Centre, will be open between 8.30am and 12 noon on weekends and bank holidays including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. It will offer appointments to NHS patients who require urgent  dental treatment for pain or swelling.

Vikki Tolley, Oral Health Coordinator for NHS Walsall, said:

“With Christmas just around the corner everyone is ready and geared up for the festivities to get underway. Constant snacking, drinking and eating sugary foods and drinks can make the holiday period a miserable time for teeth.

“NHS Walsall just want to remind people to think about their teeth and continue to look after them like you would do all year round. However if you do find your teeth are causing you pain or swelling then there are services available to help you.”

For help and advice or to book an appointment during a weekend or bank holiday contact the Dental Access Centre on 07976 246 404.

The standard NHS urgent fee of £17.50 applies unless you are entitled to free NHS dental treatment.

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.

SSAFA forces charity Christmas concert this Saturday

Pelsall Ladies Choir (courtesy Gary Nicholls)

A hard-working charity which supports both current and former armed services personnel is all set to hold a festive fundraiser tomorrow (Saturday) and is inviting kind-hearted people to join them for an enjoyable night out.

The very active West Midlands North Branch (Walsall District) of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help, the national charity supporting those who serve in our Armed Forces, those who used to serve, and their families, has organised a Charity Christmas Concert at St Bartholomew’s Church in Wednesbury on 1st December.

Featuring the talented and ever-popular Pelsall Ladies Choir (pictured above, courtesy Gary Nicholls), the musical evening is taking place at the historic church on Little Hill, Wednesbury.

The concert starts at 7.30pm – tickets cost just £5 and are still available on the door.

Roy Aldridge of SSAFA Forces Help Walsall said:

“Each year, SSAFA’s trained staff and network of 7,500 volunteers provide practical support and assistance to more than 50,000 people, from D-Day veterans to young soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

“To do this we need to raise funds, and anyone attending our Charity Christmas Concert at St Bartholomew’s will have the pleasure not only of a very enjoyable start to the festive season but of knowing that they have contributed to important local work.”

If you are interested in helping to support our local branch of the charity, SSAFA FORCES Help – West Midlands North Branch (Walsall District) can also be contacted by post at the T A V R Centre, Gordon House,  Sutton Road, Walsall WS1 2PA or by telephone on 01922 722778 (not manned daily, please leave a message).