Saturday saw the launch of a brand, spanking new flag for Bloxwich, in the presence of the new Mayor of Walsall Cllr Marco Longhi, while local Bloxwich West councillors Louise Harrison, Matt Follows and Brad Allen, the recently-elected MP for Walsall North Mr Eddie Hughes and others looked on.
The flag, as far as we know the first of its kind for Bloxwich and district, has came about as a result of a competition for local people and schools, at the instigation of a Bloxwich Flag Committee formed by the heritage-minded organisers of the Bloxwich Old & New Facebook group Martin Morris and Tony Kulik plus local councillors and others. The editor of The Bloxwich Telegraph, Stuart Williams, acted as historical advisor to the committee.
Flying the flag for Bloxwich
Inspired by the creation of the Black Country flag and the Willenhall flag, which have raised spirits in those areas as well as promoting them world-wide, the final design incorporates elements relating to Bloxwich’s rich heritage which had been selected, after much discussion in meetings and online, from entries submitted to the competition by local people and schools since it was launched last October. The competition was sponsored by WQ Inspection & Certification Ltd, Bloxwich Hardware & DIY, DC Nutt Sewing Machines and Chamberlains Funeral Directors & Stone Masons.
There can be only one
The final, winning entry was one of several which were carefully prepared and submitted for potential design approval by Mr Philip Tibbetts, Communities Vexillologist (flag expert) of the Flag Institute, which is the UK’s national flag charity. Mr Tibbetts said:
“It is always a pleasure to support any community developing its own flag, but it is a particular joy to be able help back in my native Black Country. The Midlands generally and the Black Country specifically have been leading the national movement for registering flags for and by the community and Bloxwich is the latest to continue this growing trend. Bloxwich follows Finchfield, Kingswinford, Willenhall and of course the both the Black Country and neighbouring Birmingham in not only successfully registering flags but doing so through design competitions.
“The results of these competitions never fail to impress me, being innovative, bold and meaningful – this design for Bloxwich elegantly achieves all this. I particularly like the good use of colour tying to local institutions and the symbols recalling local history and legend. The design is a testament to the rich history of a proud town and to the organisers – especially Stuart Williams and Martin Morris – for their work. I am pleased to see Bloxwich take its rightful place in the registry alongside the flags of the Black Country, Mercia, England and Britain and perhaps flying together with them”.
Having considered all the competition entries received, four final possible designs were consulted on with local people in person and through final online vote to decide the winning design. Competition winner Julie Hikins was ceremonially awarded a cheque for £150 at a meeting in The Bloxwich Showman pub on Saturday afternoon. The prize was presented by main competition sponsor Mr. Andy Spence from WQ Inspection & Certification Ltd of Wednesbury, with the kind assistance of the Mayor, and Flag Committee organiser Martin Morris with his son.
Those attending the meeting then proceeded to The Bloxwich Tardis monument on Elmore Green to take a group photograph to mark the occasion.
What’s in the Bloxwich Flag?
The final design consists of a black cross represented Bloxwich’s industrial history, especially the local metal industries, combined with a green cross representing the rural (today semi-rural) nature of Bloxwich. To the west, Bloxwich was for centuries traditionally Black Country in nature, with small coal mines, foundries, gravel pits, factories and other works, notably lock and awl-blade making (Bloxwich’s signature industries), stretching out in the direction of Willenhall. To the east and north, Bloxwich was largely agricultural, right up until the early 1960s when Lower Farm Estate was built. This mixed heritage is reflected today in the many leafy local parks and green spaces which typify the town.
In addition to the joined black and green crosses, the top left corner of the flag (the ‘canton’ in flag terminology) contains an heraldic ‘lion rampant’ or Romping Cat. In part this refers to a centuries-old tradition that there should always be a Bloxwich pub of that name in memory of Sir Gilbert Wakering, 16th century Bloxwich landowner, Sheriff of Staffordshire and patron of Bloxwich Church. Sir Gilbert’s coat of arms included three such animals, and is described as ‘Ermine, upon a Chief Azure (blue) three lions rampant Or (gold). It also refers to a popular local legend, since proven to be true, of a real lion which, in the 1930s, escaped from the showground of Pat Collins (the world-famous ‘Bloxwich Showman’) and went for an adventurous visit with a family in Church Street!
Below the cross on the hoist side (where the flag is raised) is a tree with central branches crossed to symbolise the story of the legendary Bloxwich Wishing Tree, which at one time grew in front of the original Bull’s Head pub in Park Road, but which was apparently cut down by Walsall Council in the 1960s. The tree recalls the legend and folklore of the town and also signifies local aspiration. The Wishing Tree also features atop the ‘Bloxwich Tardis’ heritage monument on Elmore Green. A tree also appears on the insignia of Bloxwich Rugby Football Club, and a lion once appeared on the shield of the now-defunct Bloxwich United A.F.C., playing as it did at the Red Lion Ground.
The Bloxwich Flag design is now officially registered with the Flag Institute.
Preview in the Park
Earlier on Saturday, the flag was previewed by the public-spirited Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, who were having their Great Get Together Picnic in Bloxwich Park. Needless to say, the flag received a bostin’ reception!
How can I buy a flag?
It is hoped to make the flag available for sale in due course, and a prototype flag has been produced by Flagmakers which is in the possession of Martin Morris. Meanwhile the design may be freely used by local people, charities, groups and organisations for non-commercial uses, and a pdf of the flag design, courtesy of The Bloxwich Flag Committee, may be downloaded via this link:
You can also use this png version of the front of the flag for web and home printing use. Click to enlarge.
If you use the flag design, please mention it on the The Home of the Bloxwich Flag Facebook page.
The Bloxwich Telegraph is delighted to support the new Bloxwich Flag and it will appear in our site design shortly.
Pictures by Stuart Williams