Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes to The Bloxwich Telegraph

Bloxwich Telegraph Header

Following the recent Bloxwich Telegraph/BNN news service poll, and the low response to that poll, I have decided that, moving forward, the website will now become more of a feature-based magazine, with much less emphasis on time-sensitive news content and more articles on local topics, especially heritage.

This means that over the coming weeks and months there will be a number of changes in site design and content, notably more new local history related articles, plus upgrades to current content, and there will also be more links to other locally and regionally-relevant sites. All these features will be added as time permits.

It may also be possible, I hope, to do more to feature local organisations and institutions, so if this sounds like you, please do get in touch via the Contact page!

No news is good news

Old-style news will now take a back seat here on the website, though we will continue to maintain the site’s news archive and put out site announcements through it.  The social media-based news relay service through the Bloxwich News Network Twitter feed and Facebook page will also continue to operate as long as there is a need for it.

More as it happens – and meanwhile, watch for the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Stuart Williams

Bloxwich Telegraph/BNN News Service Poll

Online Poll

We’re looking to tailor The Bloxwich Telegraph and the BNN social media more to meet the needs of our readers and followers, so we’d be grateful for some feedback about what you’d like to see (or not) on the website and via Twitter or Facebook. This first poll is to find out how you like to receive your local news.

Please be honest with your answers – it’s particularly important to us to find out whether you need this service from us or not – after all, there are many local news services and there’s no point in us duplicating these unless you actually use ours.  Please tick only those options you really prefer to use, then click on Vote.

The amount of feedback we get will also prove a useful indicator of the actual level of interest in these facilities. Can you please fill in this first LOCAL NEWS poll accordingly, and many thanks for your help!

Stuart Williams

Bloxwich heritage art proposals on show this Friday

Luke Perry installing his well-known Pit Head sculpture at Oak Park in Walsall Wood
Luke Perry installing his well-known Pit Head sculpture at Oak Park in Walsall Wood

Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team and Regeneration and Development Service are currently working on a heritage project in Bloxwich to design, fabricate and install 4 new public art pieces in different locations, to promote and celebrate the history and heritage of Bloxwich. This has been made possible from Council and Section106 funding.

Nationally recognised public artist Luke Perry, who is also an award-winning director of Industrial Heritage Stronghold, is noted for his monumental sculptures, most especially those celebrating the heritage of the Industrial Revolution, particularly in the Black Country. He has been working on the Bloxwich commission and has over the last two months been carrying out community consultation to gather local people’s thoughts and  ideas for the themes of the sculptures.

The top Bloxwich themes identified for the project have included: Pat Collins Fairs, Industry, Musical icons (Rob Halford and Noddy Holder) and an anecdotal tale of ‘The escaped Bloxwich Lion’. Stuart Williams of Walsall Local History Centre and The Bloxwich Telegraph has acted as an historical advisor to the project.

The true story of the legendary Bloxwich Lion will be revealed in The Bloxwich Telegraph tonight!
The true story of the legendary Bloxwich Lion will be revealed in The Bloxwich Telegraph tonight!
Feedback invited

Council staff welcome people’s feedback on the exciting new sculptures, and the proposed designs will be on display for the public to see on Bloxwich Market today, Friday 12th August 2016, between 10am-2pm.

Please feel free to pop down and have a look!

It was fun in the sun at Bloxwich Carnival 2016!

The Mayor of Walsall Cllr Kath Phillips and consort Mr Maurice Phillips meet the 2016 Bloxwich Carnival Royalty Queen Amber Rolls, Rosebud Tayla Parker and Princess Libby Robbins
The Mayor of Walsall Cllr Kath Phillips and consort Mr Maurice Phillips meet the 2016 Bloxwich Carnival Royalty Queen Amber Rolls, Rosebud Tayla Parker and Princess Libby Robbins

The year’s top event for Bloxwich and district, Bloxwich Carnival, took place last Saturday, and with perfect weather on order this year, couldn’t fail to be a super success with thousands attending, thanks to the massive amount of hard work from the unpaid and often unsung heroes who run the show every year.

Specifically, thanks to Bloxwich Carnival Committee, now headed by Shaun Fitzpatrick as Chair, and other volunteers, including several members of hard-working past Carnival Royalty who give unstinting support.  Not to mention the stalwart Walsall Council workers who always provide invaluable support on the day and in other ways . Which is why this year’s carnival feature header is  a picture of the committee and volunteers!

Playing Bingo at this year's Bloxwich Carnival Senior Citizens' Party at the Stan Ball Centre
Playing Bingo at this year’s Bloxwich Carnival Senior Citizens’ Party at the Stan Ball Centre

Members of other local groups like the tireless Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix and the energetic young people of 196 (Walsall) Squadron of the Air Training Corps also contribute hugely to the work of the carnival throughout the year, including the Carnival Royalty choosing event and one of the main reasons for the carnival, the annual Senior Citizens’ Party (now at the excellent Stan Ball Centre, but for many years at the now-demolished Bloxwich Baths).

In a rare picture of him, Bloxwich Telegraph editor and publisher Stuart Williams (centre) helps Bloxwich Carnival Royals catch a Pokemon!
In a rare picture of him, Bloxwich Telegraph editor and publisher Stuart Williams (centre) helps Bloxwich Carnival Royals catch a Pokemon!

This year’s carnival was also a very special occasion for The Bloxwich Telegraph, marking as it did the 10th birthday of The Bloxidge Tallygraph and the Telegraph, which it evolved into. One of the main purposes of this website has always been to support Bloxwich Carnival (and the local community) with publicity and by taking the official photographs, all free of charge, and our editor and publisher Stuart Williams has always been delighted to do so, this year as every year. Paying it back and paying it forward is what we do.

The Mayor of Walsall Cllr Kath Phillips opens Bloxwich Carnival 2016
The Mayor of Walsall Cllr Kath Phillips opens Bloxwich Carnival 2016

Gates opened on 6th August at 12 noon.  After an introduction by Chair Shaun Fitzpatrick, in which he thanked 2015 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Charlotte Locke for all her work in the past year, the Carnival was formally opened by our own Bloxwich East councillor and Mayor of Walsall Kath Phillips, who was there throughout the day with her consort Mr Maurice Phillips. MP for Walsall North, Mr David Winnick, also attended in support of the event as usual.

Right royally crowned - Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2016. L to R: Rosebud Tayla Parker, Princess Libby Robbins, 2015 Queen Charlotte Locke and (enthroned!) Bloxwich Carnival Queen Amber Rolls
Right royally crowned – Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2016. L to R: Rosebud Tayla Parker, Princess Libby Robbins, 2015 Queen Charlotte Locke and (enthroned!) Bloxwich Carnival Queen Amber Rolls

Shortly afterwards, the 2016 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Amber Rolls, Princess Libby Robbins and Rosebud Tayla Parker were crowned at around 12.20pm, looking radiant as the Mayor presented them with their ceremonial tiaras and flowers. They then went on to tour the many stalls on the field before enjoying a well-deserved break and their own fun-in-the-sun on the Pat Collins Fun Fair!

Dodgy driving on the Dodgems - courtesy of Bloxwich Carnival Royalty and Pat Collins' Fun Fair!
Dodgy driving on the Dodgems – courtesy of Bloxwich Carnival Royalty and Pat Collins’ Fun Fair!
Wild times high up on the Scream ride for Carnival royals and more!
Wild times high up on the Scream ride for Carnival royals and more!

Saturday’s Carnival was free to public admission, which is great, and it’s wonderful that the event is now so well supported locally that this was possible.  As usual, the event not only included a huge number of stalls (almost fifty!) and displays by local groups, charities and businesses, but also a range of entertainments including new arena events, and the ever-popular Pat Collins Fun Fair, which really is an essential partner to Bloxwich Carnival, going back to the days of Pat Collins himself.

Carnival Princess Libby Robbins goes eye-to-eye with a mighty owl from Armitage Bird of Prey Centre!
Carnival Princess Libby Robbins goes eye-to-eye with a mighty owl from Armitage Bird of Prey Centre!
A few of the almost fifty stalls
A few of the almost fifty stalls
Wrestling action aplenty from Alternative Wrestling World
Wrestling action aplenty from Alternative Wrestling World
Fun in the sun in Bloxwich

Apart from the fair, which presented a range of thrilling rides and fun for all the family, there was much more to see, do and enjoy all day in and around the arena, including:

  • Ridgeside Lurchers & Hunting Dogs Falconry and bird of prey display
  • Alternative Wrestling World’s exciting contests
  • Satori Freestyle Martial Arts demonstrations
  • The always amazing birds of the Armitage Bird of Prey Centre
  • A display of unusual animals including snakes!
  • Clive Chandler’s Punch & Judy – popular with all the family
  • The Fizzogs Dancing Grannies – who we sadly missed due to covering the Carnival Royalty and hope to catch up with another time.
  • Mad Dominic, clown and entertainer. Dom is a regular in Bloxwich and always raises a laugh with his madcap antics.

 

Great to see so many families enjoying the Bloxwich Carnival atmosphere!
Great to see so many families enjoying the Bloxwich Carnival atmosphere!
1st Bloxwich Scout Group - they certainly do their best for Bloxwich young people!
1st Bloxwich Scout Group – they certainly do their best for Bloxwich young people!
 Falconry par excellence from Head Falconer Phillip Gibbons of Ridgeside Falconry and Lurcher Racing

Falconry par excellence from Head Falconer Phillip Gibbons of Ridgeside Falconry and Lurcher Racing
 It's one-two kung-fu from Satori Martial Freestyle Arts group and young volunteers!
It’s one-two kung-fu from Satori Martial Freestyle Arts group and young volunteers!
 Fun in the sun with Clive Chandler's Punch and Judy attracting an appreciative crowd

Fun in the sun with Clive Chandler’s Punch and Judy attracting an appreciative crowd
A big thank you to all involved

With the fantastic weather, great organisation and tons of hard work as well as new and varied attractions in and out of the arena, plus Pat Collins’ Fair, this year’s carnival, the sixteenth since it was revived for the millennium, was a real treat for everyone who attended, and a credit to all concerned. Well done, everyone, and thank you!

Snoopy Thank You

The Bloxwich Telegraph is already looking forward to next year’s event – and the next decade of serving Bloxwich folk!

Meanwhile, why not check out our full Flickr album of 170 photos taken on Saturday? Click on the image link below to view and download:

Bloxwich Carnival Royalty admire Pat Collins' historic showman's tractor. L to R: 2015 Queen Charlotte Locke, 2016 Princess Libby Robbins, 2016 Rosebud Tayla Parker (front), 2016 Queen Amber Rolls

It’s Carnival time in Bloxwich this weekend!

The year’s top event for Bloxwich and district, Bloxwich Carnival, takes place in just a few days!

And admission to the hugely popular event is FREE OF CHARGE!

Gates open at 12 noon at the King George V Playing Fields (recommended entrance off Bell Lane, Bloxwich) this Saturday 6th August, and the event not only includes a huge number of stalls and displays, but also a range of entertainments including arena events, and the ever-popular Pat Collins Fun Fair (rides are payable at the fair)!

The Carnival Queen, Princess and Rosebud will be crowned approx. 12-12.30pm.

Attractions include:

  • Lurchers and Hunting Dogs/Falconry displays
  • Alternative Wrestling World
  • Satori Freestyle Martial Arts Demosntration
  • Armitage Bird of Prey Centre
  • Clive Chandler Punch & Judy
  • Fizzogs Dancing Grannies
  • Mad Dominic, clown and entertainer

Please note that there is no parking on-site.

Bloxwich Carnival 2016 Poster - click to enlarge
Bloxwich Carnival 2016 Poster – click to enlarge

Bloxwich Carnival is organised by Bloxwich Carnival Committee on a voluntary basis with the help of local groups and the support of Walsall Council.

The Committee also organises the traditional annual Senior Citizens’ Party at the Stan Ball Centre in Bloxwich.

Blooming Bloxwich could be a winner

Experts from the Royal Horticultural Society continued their tour of Walsall’s five district centres last Wednesday as part of this year’s ‘Heart of England in Bloom’ competition.

This time, Bloxwich and Brownhills were put under the horticultural spotlight, to see if they will go forward to the next stages of the national event.

Before the official walkabout started, judges Graham Redfern and Trish Willetts were joined in the Promenade Gardens, at the northern end of Bloxwich High Street, Walsall’s Mayor, Councillor Kath Phillips and Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, portfolio holder for community, leisure and culture.  Both councillors represent Bloxwich East. Local volunteers also joined them on their inspection tour, as well as the youngest gardener of them all – Councillor Fitzpatrick’s

Local volunteers from groups including the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, St Giles Walsall Hospice and the new Bloxwich Carnival Queen plus Council staff also joined them on their inspection tour, as well as the youngest gardener of them all – Councillor Fitzpatrick’s one-year-old grandson.

Ready to rock!

Bloxwich and Brownhills were well prepared though, and with the help of local volunteers, businesses and school children – did their towns proud.

The earlier and dedicated planting, pruning and watering schedule meant that the judges were greeted and treated to a truly groomed and colour splashed landscape, which has been the subject of much comment locally.   All five of this year’s entries are competing in the Urban Community Category and were co-ordinated by Walsall Council’s district centre management team.

Local pride

Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick said “The Mayor and I were very proud to escort the Royal Horticultural Society judges. All the hard work that went into the tour was very much in evidence as Bloxwich and Brownhills were absolutely blooming and brilliant.

“Results like this don’t happen overnight – it takes real community planning, commitment and structure and underlines the importance we place on raising the profile of the five district centres.   I’m sure the Royal Horticultural Society was impressed by the large scale planting projects that we have in place and the infectious team spirit that was out yesterday in spades!”

Judging

The Heart of England in Bloom competition annually attracts over 1,350 entries from small villages to large cities. If successful the five district centres could go forward into the national Britain in Bloom event.

This year’s Judges will be looking at three main categories which are

  • Horticultural achievement
  • Environmental awareness
  • Community involvement.

The Heart of England Regional Awards Ceremony will take place in Aldridge on 15 September 2016 at the Church Rooms Aldridge Green.

Local authors support Walsall bookshop with new writing

The cover of 'Southcart Tales'
The cover of ‘Southcart Tales’

The proprietors of a popular Walsall bookshop have been given a very special gift by a group of local authors in thanks for the shop’s enthusiastic support of writing in the town over the past two years.

Scott Southey and Amy Carter, of Southcart Books in Lower Hall Lane, are in the process of moving to larger premises in the same street, and several of their friends in the writing community decided to write and publish a unique multi-genre anthology of short stories dedicated to the shop, to help defray some of the costs of the relocation.

The 136 page paperback book is entitled ‘Southcart Tales’.

Members of ‘The Southcart Storytellers’ present Scott Southey and Amy Carter with the new book at the new shop premises, which are currently being refitted. L to R: A. Stuart Williams, Ken Preston, Amy Carter, Dan Oram, Scott Southey, Rachel Oram, James Josiah. L to R: A. Stuart Williams, Ken Preston, Amy Carter, Dan Oram, Scott Southey, Rachel Oram, James Josiah.
Members of ‘The Southcart Storytellers’ present Scott Southey and Amy Carter with the new book at the new shop premises, which are currently being refitted. L to R: A. Stuart Williams, Ken Preston, Amy Carter, Dan Oram, Scott Southey, Rachel Oram, James Josiah. L to R: A. Stuart Williams, Ken Preston, Amy Carter, Dan Oram, Scott Southey, Rachel Oram, James Josiah.

The nine stories – which offer the reader everything from literary fiction through science fiction, sword & sorcery and psychological horror – come from the pens of ‘The Southcart Storytellers’, James Josiah, Dan Oram, Neil Sehmbhy, Rob Grimes, Kerry Hadley-Pryce, Bekki Pate, Ken Preston (publishing on behalf of the group), Lucy Onions and A. Stuart Williams. Cover photography is by Craig Beas.

A special foreword by noted fantasy author Stan Nicholls is also included.

Southcart Books, which is the only independent bookshop in the Walsall area, is expected to re-open in August 2016 and it is planned to hold a launch and signing of the new book at the shop, which has already been gifted a number of paperback copies for stock, as soon as convenient.

Southcart Tales is also available now on Amazon at just £4.99 for paperback (plus postage) or £1.99 in Kindle ebook format.

Telephone Southcart Books on 07528 144837 for details of the shop and opening. Further information about the book may be found on the shop’s Facebook page and on Amazon (search for Southcart Tales on Amazon).

Book links:
 

Bloxwich Active Living Centre set to make a splash!

Active Living Centre keys being handed over to Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick (pic Walsall Council)
Active Living Centre keys being handed over to Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick (pic Walsall Council)

The eagerly awaited opening date for both Bloxwich and Oak Park Active Living Centres became reality this week when the keys for both centres were handed over by contractors.  This significant moment marked the beginning stages to the run-up of their opening on Tuesday 9 August.

The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)
The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)

The new multi-million pound centres, which each include a 25 metre swimming pool, teaching pool, six court sports hall, dance studio and cafe will be fitted out over the coming weeks with state of the art station fitness suites in time for their opening to the public. Oak Park is also able to offer two glass backed squash courts, sauna and a steam room.  The full size, floodlit artificial grass pitch at Oak Park will be replaced over the autumn.

The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)
The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)

Bloxwich East Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure and Culture said: “Opening these doors for the first time is very exciting.

“It is truly wonderful to be able to take possession of these buildings and brings us ever closer to realising the Council’s commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of residents by getting more people, more active, more often.

Bloxwich Carnival Committee used the old baths function hall for their annual Senior Citizens' Party (pic S. Williams, 18 July 2013)
Bloxwich Carnival Committee used the old baths function hall for their annual Senior Citizens’ Party (pic S. Williams, 18 July 2013)

“Over the coming weeks the two centres will be a hive of activity and the excitement of everyone working to get these centres ready is positively brimming over.

“Our customers are about to be able to access some truly iconic and outstanding facilities that they can be really proud of. Over the coming days we look forward to being able to launch our activity programmes ready to open both centres on Tuesday 9 August.”

Bloxwich Baths (bottom right) in the late 1920s, before the roof was put on in the mid 1930s
Bloxwich Baths (bottom right) in the late 1920s, before the roof was put on in the mid 1930s

Controversially, Bloxwich’s historic 1920s-30s public baths, originally an open air pool and converted into a function hall when the first Bloxwich Leisure Centre was built in 1991, was demolished to make way for the new car park of the new facility now on the site.

The old baths were also once a well-known event and live music venue, presenting famous acts like Jerry Lee Lewis in the 1960s, and are well-remembered by Slade glam rock singing star Noddy Holder in a new film made recently as part of the Bloxwich ReDiscover project by Students of Walsall Academy in Bloxwich. More recently, the building acted as the venue for the annual Bloxwich Carnival Senior Citizens’ Party.

Funded through the Council’s £24.3 million Active Living Centres initiative, the latest project received a £2m grant from Sport England’s “Iconic” facilities award scheme to support Walsall Council’s aspiration to improve Walsall residents’ overall health and well-being.

Concert for Bloxwich Royal British Legion

The newly-formed Bloxwich branch of the Royal British Legion has organised an evening of entertainment next month to raise funds.

Local vocalist Keir Edwards will be singing cabaret songs from the musicals and he will be joined by comedy duo Sean and Roger, aka ‘The Boz’s’, at the Bloxwich Memorial Club in Harrison Street, Bloxwich on Friday 12th August 2016.

Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Bloxwich RBL Concert

If anyone would like to buy tickets, which cost £10 each, for this Royal British Legion fundraising concert, or would like further information, they should contact  Ann Barnes on 01922 495214  or 07870487504.

Beechdale tipper caught on the fly

Greenaway capture (picture Walsall Council)
Greenaway capture (picture Walsall Council)

A man who fly-tipped household waste and who was caught on camera has been ordered to pay £1,901.71.

Mr Duane Greenaway of the Beechdale Estate, Bloxwich, was filmed at Rayboulds Bridge Road fly tipping on Sunday 17 May 2015.

Known as a hotspot for illegal fly tipping, Mr Greenaway was filmed at the location illegally dumping 21 plastic bags of rubble and excavation debris removed from his house.

Magistrates at Walsall courts were shown footage of Mr Greenway removing the bags from a white Nissan Vanette and emptying them on to land by the side of the road at the site of the disused cul-de-sac.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFp2kBgDiE4

In mitigation the courts were told that 53 year old Mr Greenaway had removed the debris from his garden to improve access for his elderly relatives and was not doing it on a commercial basis.

On 27 June Mr Greenaway pleaded guilty at Walsall Magistrates Court and was fined £740 for the offence. On top of this he was ordered to pay costs of £ 1,087.71, with a victim surcharge of £74.

Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, who’s Portfolio includes public protection stated: “These types of activities show a total disregard for the environment and will not be tolerated.

“Fly tipping has a cost to the tax payers and we each have a responsibility to tackle this reprehensible behaviour head on and we will vigorously pursue a prosecution.

“A person witnessing someone dumping waste and wishing to report should record the following details; location of the incident;  day, date, and time; type and quantity of waste; vehicle details including  make and type of vehicle, colour, registration number, noticeable markings and the name or description of the person fly tipping.

“This information can be reported by emailing Clean and Green at cleanandgreen@walsall.gov.uk or you can contact the following telephone number: Walsall Council Contact Centre 01922 653344.”

Covering Bloxwich, Little Bloxwich, Blakenall Heath, Leamore and Birchills