Walsall’s oldest group for writers across the borough is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year, and after a special Circle meeting to mark the occasion earlier this month (pictured), they are now joining forces with Walsall’s only independent bookshop, Southcart Books of Lower Hall Lane, to carry on the festivities and launch their latest book!
The Circle was formed by local writers in 1966, initially as part of an initiative by Walsall Central Library, where the group met for some years before moving on to Park Hall School and now the Broadway North Recovery College, where they meet every second Thursday of the month at 7.30pm.
This Saturday 3 December 2016, 11am-1pm at Southcart Books will see the arrival and first public sales of Fifty Years of Walsall Writers’ Circle, a brand-new book published by the Circle containing a wide range of members’ work, both non-fiction and fiction, specifically written for this publication and reflecting on the past fifty years in Walsall. It also includes some past Circle competition prize-winners, and aims to showcase some of the best work coming out of the Circle.
Light refreshments will be available at the launch. The Circle would like to thank Scott Southey and Amy Carter of Southcart Books for kindly agreeing to host this event in their fine bookstore!
Members of the public and fellow writers are welcome to attend this celebration/launch. Seats are available on a first come, first served basis due to limited space.
Here is the programme for Saturday 3 December, please also note the link below to the Facebook event page:
11am Welcome & Intro by Alison Reed, Secretary of Walsall Writers’ Circle.
11.10am Book launch of ‘Fifty Years of Walsall Writers’ Circle’ and celebration cake etc.
11.30am-12.30pm Readings from the Book – six slots of ten minutes to read extracts from their work will be given over to contributors to the book, leaving plenty to be read by book buyers! This section will be MC’d by WWC Vice Chairman Stuart Williams. Readings will reflect the variety of content of the book.
12.30pm -1pm Nibbles, signing and celebratory mingling. Chance to buy books, which will be in stock on the day!
Many Bloxwich people should be well aware by now that, due to the swingeing national government budget cuts being inflicted on many local authorities in England, Walsall Council is seriously considering closing all of the Borough’s branch libraries, including Bloxwich Library and Theatre (aka Bookmark Bloxwich) in Elmore Row.
Amongst the many other possible ‘culture cuts’ (including massive reductions in funding to the New Art Gallery and major cutbacks involving the potential downsizing and moving of Walsall Leather Museum and Walsall Local History Centre in with the Central Library in Lichfield Street), such a closure would be a huge blow to Bloxwich and district both in cultural and educational terms.
The loss of the library staff, facilities and book stock as well as the attached 1964 theatre, which was, along with the 1960 library, rejuvenated in 2009-10 and has since gone on, with the help of Bloxwich Library Forum, to become a successful music and drama venue and much more, would be very damaging. This kind of cultural vandalism is simply insupportable, and once these facilities are gone, they will never return.
Such a closure would also mean that local jobseekers and many others who cannot afford internet access would be hard-hit and forced to pay to travel into Walsall, a not inconsiderable cost in these days of expensive bus and rail services. Many people in the area neither have internet access nor can they afford to buy books, and this is bound to affect local employability, literacy and education, especially in poorer families. National government seems uncaring about all of this, but they of course will not suffer such a blight on self-improvement, which is after all why free libraries were founded in Victorian times.
It also affects all the other people and groups who use the Library, people of all ages from toddlers to pensioners who need a place to come, to be in company, to learn, to work or play in groups or alone, to come in out of the cold and to enjoy the pleasure of reading, of borrowing books and other media. The theatre is additionally unique in the borough, and no doubt if it were in Walsall town centre it would be celebrated to the rooftops instead of being underfunded and out of sight to some.
What is ironic is that it is now a Labour council in Walsall which is being forced to at least propose these draconian cuts, and following the public consultation which is now taking place (until the end of December 2016), they will very likely be required to enact them in the new financial year 2017 (from 1 April). This is the kind of thing that Labour would normally stand firmly against, and we do not envy them the position they are in.
Councillors take a stand
It is perhaps even more ironic, considering that it is the national Conservative government which is forcing local Labour into these appalling cuts, that the loudest voice which now stands publicly against the closure of Bloxwich Library and Theatre comes from the Conservative quarter of Bloxwich.
Active Bloxwich West Conservative Councillors Louise Harrison, Matt Follows and Brad Allen have banded together to organise an online petition on the Walsall Council website (see link below) aimed at saving both Bloxwich Library and the theatre, and have even been out collecting signatures in person.
Cllr. Allen told the Bloxwich Telegraph:
“Bloxwich Library and Theatre is a valuable cultural asset in our town. It is used well by surrounding schools, community groups and members of the public alike. Losing it would be a huge blow to people not just from Bloxwich, but across the whole borough”
Cllr. Allen even said to the Bloxwich Telegraph that they would welcome the signatures of Bloxwich’s Labour Councillors in support of the petition. They certainly deserve that support from us all.
The petition states:
‘Keep Bloxwich Library open. Although we understand the budget cuts coming from central government means that savings have to be made, we believe that Bloxwich library theatre is an asset to our town and very well used by people not just from Bloxwich, but across the whole of Walsall. The closing date of this petition will be Friday 6th January 2017. Once submissions have been made, it will then be handed into the council on 9th January 2017 at a Full Council Meeting.’
Now, it is impossible to tell just how much impact this kind of petition is likely to have on the Council’s decision, or indeed the consultation which is already ongoing, but it seems very obvious that unless some kind of stand is taken, or public opinions made clear on the matter, we will very likely lose some of Bloxwich’s finest and most long-lived public facilities. And what next?
We have already lost the use of Bloxwich public toilets, and it should be noted that apart from all its other wonderful qualities and facilities, if we lose the Library there will be nowhere for local people, marketgoers, shoppers and visitors to go when they are in need of a public convenience. Do you really want to be in that situation, out shivering in the cold in a Bloxwich with no public facilities apart from the leisure centre, a very long walk away?
An appeal has gone out to members of the public in Bloxwich and district for desperately-needed financial assistance in supporting this year’s Bloxwich Christmas lights.
Contrary to popular belief, the sparkling annual decorations along the High Street and in trees adjacent to the War Memorial and All Saints churchyard, Bloxwich Park and the Promenade Gardens have not been funded by Walsall Council since the last round of government budget cuts in 2012, following which the local authority decided not to deliver Christmas lighting in the town.
As a result of this, and thanks to the organisational efforts of Nikki Rolls, the council’s District Centre Regeneration Officer for Bloxwich and Darlaston, working with Bloxwich Town Centre Partnership, the town centre businesses worked together and secured funding to purchase Christmas tree lighting.
The lighting purchased at the time was installed into 14 key trees in the town. Admired by all, the new lighting has revived childhood memories for many, and encourages new visitors to the town centre who shop in the small local businesses and use the local facilities. The community are proud of the lighting as it showcases Bloxwich and all that makes it special.
Funding streams run dry
This year, however, due to the cost of repair and maintenance as a result of severe damage caused during last winter, new funds now need to be raised to do the necessary work to remedy these problems and place the lights in the trees again this festive season.
Unfortunately, external funding streams from the Local Neighbourhood Fund, local business sponsorship and localised one-off funding have now, sadly, dried up, and the lights face cancellation this year if £5,250 cannot be raised through public and other sponsorship.
Accordingly, to save the Christmas lights for Bloxwich, Nikki Rolls has had no choice but to set up a JustGiving Appeal to try and raise the necessary funds.
If this cannot be done, then one of the favourite traditional aspects of Christmas in Bloxwich really will have been cancelled, ultimately due to government cuts, the cause of so much we have lost and are in danger of losing in Walsall borough.
Please help if you can
As someone who has seen just how much Nikki Rolls and Bloxwich Town Centre Partnership, working with Bloxwich Carnival Committee, the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix and many other local groups and churches have done together to promote Bloxwich and bring a little extra joy to the town and especially children with so many events over much of the last decade, I can only say that we really should all consider making a contribution if we can, no matter how small, and I and my mother will be making a personal donation ourselves. Here’s the page link:
If you care for Bloxwich, and want bright, sparkling Christmas memories of the town for your children and grandchildren like so many of us have from years gone by, please do take a look at Nikki’s JustGiving page via the above link, and see what you can do to help.
Do you love Bloxwich? Would you like to see a brand new flag flying over the town? Or even over your home? Well, now’s your chance to have your say on the matter, and even contribute to design ideas for our very own Flag for Bloxwich. You can even win a prize of £150!
A recently-launched competition from the Flag for Bloxwich Committee, in partnership with the Bloxwich Old & New Facebook page and several local councillors, is offering Bloxwich residents and ex-pats the chance to put YOUR ideas forward, and the Committee has asked the Bloxwich Telegraph to put the word out.
Below, you’ll find two scans of the front and back of the competition flyer, with full details, and you can enlarge or download these for printing just by clicking on them and saving then printing the enlarged versions. Alternatively, you can draw your own design separately and email it with your entry to the competition email address: email@example.com where you can also get an entry form. You can also speak to Martin Morris from Bloxwich Old & New on 07590 523561 if you need to know anything else, and contact the Committee on their Facebook page.
Remember – a flag is not like a coat of arms or a poster, so only certain design elements and relevant colours are likely to make it into a real flag design. Simple ideas are the best, such as those in the Black Country flag below, which symbolises the proud industrial past of the Black Country, ‘Red by day and Black by night’, and incorporates symbolism of chain making and the glass cones.
If you don’t feel up to drawing your own flag ideas, why not tell the committee what elements of Bloxwich ought to make it into the design, such as the Bloxwich Wishing Tree, the fountain, local industry, anvil stones, our green and leafy parks, war memorial or any other symbols? Even if specific designs are unsuitable, ideas are very useful when choosing the elements of a flag.
Submissions from all ages and abilities are welcome.
If successful, you could even win a first prize of £150 – and more importantly, see a flag based on your ideas flying over Bloxwich – now wouldn’t that be great?
The closing date for entries is 23 December 2016 – so get your thinking caps on now!
And when you send your entry or ideas in, please do mention that you saw this in the Bloxwich Telegraph!
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 NetworkTwitter 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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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!”
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
The Heart of England Regional Awards Ceremony will take place in Aldridge on 15 September 2016 at the Church Rooms Aldridge Green.
Covering Bloxwich, Little Bloxwich, Blakenall Heath, Leamore and Birchills