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.
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.
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.