The two social media sites, which aim to serve the Bloxwich and Willenhall areas, will remain in place, but will no longer be updated. The Bloxwich Telegraph has been on hiatus since October 2017, and this will continue. It has been retained online so that the historical and heritage information and other links which it contains may still be available to local people and ex-pats.
While it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that these sites may one day return to operation, or come back to provide a similar service in some other format, my health is not as good as it was, I have family responsibilities, and I presently cannot devote the time necessary to do them justice, as I need to concentrate on personal writing and research projects and other work, so I feel it is better to shut things down for the foreseeable future.
What does this mean in practice?
Basically, the WNN Twitter feed will not be updated, nor retweets shared, unless I receive any emergency messages for urgent sharing. The WNN Facebook page will also not be updated or monitored, though local people are very welcome to continue posting their own news there should they wish.
I have been operating all these sites, in one form or another (remember The Bloxidge Tallygraph?) since 2006, when I began by reporting on that year’s Bloxwich Carnival. I have covered a lot of ground and met thousands of people since then! Sadly, there will be no Bloxwich Carnival this year (and possibly in future), so this seems as good a time as any to cease our coverage. Time for a rest.
Having said that, I will still be out and about in Bloxwich from time to time, and aim to post on the Bloxwich Old & New Facebook page about local heritage topics when I can.
My thanks to everyone for their interest and support over the years, it will not be forgotten. Nothing’s ever forgotten.
Sad news today is that the popular Walsall Advertiser newspaper has ceased publication after 40 years and 2,059 editions, leaving the Wolverhampton Express & Star-published Walsall & Willenhall Chronicle as the last of our local borough-focused conventional weekly print newspapers.
The Walsall Advertiser, a Tamworth-based paper which has long been owned by London group Trinity Mirror, which also famously closed down the historic Walsall Observer in 2009 after 141 years of continuous publication, was a well-liked and substantial freesheet, although perhaps not so much by the earlier publishers of the Walsall Observer, then West Midlands Press, which was badly shaken at the time of its arrival in the town, and was eventually also forced into being given away.
In January 2017, the Advertiser, which was not the first paper of that name in the town (the original being published by Victorian printer and publisher W. Henry Robinson and his father J.R. Robinson from 1857), was merged with another Trinity Mirror freesheet, the Great Barr Observer, in a move which the then-editor said brought together two “cherished news brands”, though no local papers have actually been published in Walsall for many years, nor have there been any local newspapers present in the town since the Express & Star pulled out of their new, purpose-built Walsall offices in 2009.
Observing the Advertiser
Separate editions of the Walsall Advertiser and the Great Barr Observer continued to be published for each area, featuring localised front page and sports coverage, and were variously known as the ‘Walsall Advertiser incorporating the Great Barr Observer’ or ‘the Great Barr Observer incorporating the Walsall Advertiser’ depending on where distributed. The Advertiser and Observer also retained their own websites until last year, when they were absorbed into the Birmingham Mail website under the banner of what is now Birmingham Live. Perhaps the writing was on the wall for both papers from that moment, as they have now both folded for the last time, and will surely be missed by local readers.
Tweets from Great Barr Observer reporter Ashley Preece quietly and sadly revealed the bad news on Thursday, retweeted by Walsall Advertiser Sports Editor Michael Beardmore and followed by a tweet from Daniel Mole of Walsall F.C. on Friday. There is no mention of the closures on the Walsall section of Birmingham Live (aka the Birmingham Mail website) as yet, nor from the official Twitter feed of the Walsall Advertiser, which was active right till the end. Mr Preece has now moved over to report on the Black Country for Birmingham Live online.
None of this bodes well for the future of printed newspapers in Walsall, sadly. This development continues the desperate situation where Walsall has no locally-produced newspaper, or offices, with the Express & Star/Walsall & Willenhall Chronicle’s nearest offices being in Cannock or at their HQ in Wolverhampton.
I have been glad to know many reporters and photographers from the Walsall Advertiser over the years, and in fact in the past decade the paper published several of my own reports and photo features about local events such as Bloxwich Carnival and Walsall Town Show. I wish everyone involved in publishing both the Walsall Advertiser and the Great Barr Observer all the best in their future endeavours, wherever they may be.
The Bloxwich Telegraph is to cease operation as a news site this weekend, after being published (first as The Bloxidge Tallygraph) since July 2006, when it first covered Bloxwich Carnival.
There are a number of reasons for this, but this is primarily because for personal and family health reasons, our editor and publisher, Stuart Williams, is no longer able to spare the time to do the site justice in the way he would wish, something which will have been evident this year due to the infrequent nature of updates.
The site will, however, be maintained online (but not updated) for the foreseeable future, in order to both ensure that the information it contains remains available, and because plans are being considered to re-work it into a permanent local history and heritage site for Bloxwich and district at some time next year, which seems appropriate considering the site’s regular involvement with such matters as well as its historic origins. If that goes ahead, an announcement will be made.
The social media arm of The Bloxwich Telegraph, formerly known as Bloxwich News Network and now Walsall North News, which comprises both a Twitter feed and a linked Facebook page, with a combined total of more than 3,500 followers, serves in its own right to relay a wider range of news and information which may interest local people. This service is expected to continue to operate until further notice, and will remain linked to the front page of The Bloxwich Telegraph.
We would like to thank our readers for their support and interest over the years, and hope that we can serve the local community in different ways in future. Watch this space.
Thursday 13th July 2017 saw the traditional annual prelude to Bloxwich Carnival – the Senior Citizens’ Party – take place at the Stan Ball Centre in Abbotts Street, Bloxwich. And a great deal of fun – and food – was had by all!
This traditional celebration for local people from care homes and local groups is laid on annually by Bloxwich Carnival Committee, using funds raised by Bloxwich Carnival. They are supported on the day by 196 Squadron Walsall ATC, care home staff and others.
Each year since 2006, at the invitation of the Committee, The Bloxwich Telegraph’s editor Stuart Williams has also had the pleasure of supporting the event by photographing it and making pictures available online.
This year hundreds of local senior citizens streamed in by minibus to be rousingly entertained by traditional and other popular songs from ‘Kates Party’ – professionals singer Kate and instrumentalist Larry – who regularly provide entertainment for the over 50’s (tel 07969 755229) and had some partygoers dancing in the aisles! There was also bingo, and a tasty party lunch and other refreshments for all.
Permission is granted for use of these pictures, free of charge, to Bloxwich Carnival Committee as well as groups and individuals pictured, subject to the acknowledgement of photographer Stuart Williams and The Bloxwich Telegraph if published or used for display or online. Copyright is retained by Stuart Williams.
Today marks forty years to the day since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II honoured the borough of Walsall with a very special Royal Visit to mark twenty-five years of her reign – her Silver Jubilee. Many of our readers may well remember that day. We certainly do – and we have exclusive pictures to prove it!
The day of the visit, Wednesday 27th July 1977, had dawned grey and chilly, but there was to be nothing chilly about the reception which the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would receive; indeed their route into town was lined with people up to twelve deep, despite hours of waiting.
The Royal motorcade arrived some twenty-five minutes behind schedule, and the crowds, made up of all ages from throughout the borough, had been there for up to seven hours. Despite this, there was an air of excited anticipation; even the local police on duty in Lichfield Street seemed to be enjoying the sense of occasion.
Press photographers had not been wasting the waiting time, and both they and reporters from local newspapers had been doing the rounds of the crowds, taking likely pictures for publication and gathering quotes and comments to take back to their editors. Many members of the public had their own cameras at the ready, unsurprisingly. Notably one Stuart Williams, then aged 16, now editor of The Bloxwich Telegraph. Stuart had placed himself carefully on the Council House side of Lichfield Street, hoping to get some interesting pictures with his new Russian Zenith E camera. The professional pressmen had the best gear and the best access, but Stuart and his rather slower and clunkier camera were ready for action nonetheless. He took a few pictures of the crowds and police, and even targeted one of the pros who was busy snapping away at an excited group of young royalists nearby. Then waited patiently. Continue reading Queen’s Silver Jubilee Walsall Visit – 40th Anniversary Exclusive→
Yes, it’s that time of year again! Bloxwich’s biggest and best public event of the year, our annual Carnival, is almost here, and is all set to land in King George V Memorial Playing Fields on Saturday 5th August 2017. Apart from the traditional Pat Collins Fun Fair, there’ll be a host of stalls, attractions and arena events on offer – with FREE ADMISSION! And as always, it will be a feast of fun for all the family!
Bloxwich Carnival will be open from 12 noon to 5pm, with arena events spread throughout the afternoon. Times may be viewed below – scroll down to view. Main admission is as usual on foot, via the Bell Lane/Bealey’s Lane entrance. There may also be limited parking via the Stafford Road entrance.
Apart from all the fun of the fair, and various other smaller independent rides and attractions, special attractions this year include:
Flyin Ryan Stunt Riders
Elaine Hill Sheepdog Trials
Pete the Animatronic Dinosaur
Armitage Birds of Prey
Please note that while admission is free, rides on the Pat Collins Fun Fair and other rides are charged for individually.
This year there is no Bloxwich Carnival Queen crowning, but the Carnival will still be opened by the Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Marco Longhi, at 12 noon. Watch out for the mobile stage near the roped display arena.
You can download a jpeg of the arena programme for the day by clicking on the image below to enlarge it.
Support your local Carnival
Bloxwich Carnival is organised by the tireless and entirely voluntary Bloxwich Carnival Commitee, which also organises the annual Senior Citizens Party at the Stan Ball Centre every July, and is largely funded by donations. More help is always needed, so anyone interested in helping out at the Carnival should either have a word with a Committee member at the Carnival on the day, or contact them via the official Bloxwich Carnival Facebook page. You’ll be made very welcome!
Bloxwich Carnival is also supported by many local groups, such as the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, and by Walsall Council, which provides the venue and much invaluable assistance in preparation and on the day.
As has been traditional since 2006, our editor Stuart Williams will be covering Bloxwich Carnival and taking the official photographs, a selection of which will be published here after the event. Watch this space!
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. Continue reading Bloxwich Flag launched in heart of the town→
This weekend marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. Bloxwich News Network (BNN), the social media arm of The Bloxwich Telegraph, is changing – and so is the Telegraph.
BNN, which works by following and identifying locally relevant and interesting news and info on Twitter and Facebook, and sharing it out via its own Twitter and Facebook feeds, which together have a total of more than 3,000 followers and an even greater reach, has primarily focused until now on the Bloxwich, Blakenall Heath, Birchills and Leamore areas, with the addition of wider-ranging material of local relevance.
It has become evident, however, that BNN also has a natural fit with the rest of the Walsall North parliamentary constituency area, and can help with relaying news and information from that slightly wider area, which in addition to the current coverage would include Willenhall and Short Heath.
We have therefore decided that as of today, 10th June 2017, Bloxwich News Network will be renamed Walsall North News (WNN) and will focus primarily on Birchills, Blakenall Heath, Bloxwich, Leamore, Short Heath and Willenhall. Items of relevant regional and national interest will also be covered.
Both the names of our Twitter feed and our Facebook page have been changed accordingly – please see below.
Bloxwich Telegraph refocused
The Bloxwich Telegraph will not, however, be changing its name and will remain dedicated to the Bloxwich area. There will be content changes, and the site will become a less frequently updated magazine style site with more local interest and photo features (especially local heritage) and considerably reduced news coverage, something which has been coming for a long time anyway. This will take longer to implement, and changes will be flagged on social media as they happen.
We hope that the extended coverage will both help and interest local people from the whole of the Walsall North area and beyond. If you are on Twitter and would like to follow us, see below – and if you are a local organisation, official, group or company, please do give us a Tweet so we can follow you, and include WNN in your tweets so we can relay them.
To follow the ‘new’ news outlets on social media, please see:
I was reminded this past week of the centenary of the passing of a man who I usually think of in November, the month of remembrance, poppies, services and parades. A man who is probably not as well known as he should be, but of whom I have written several times in the past. Harold Parry, Bloxwich’s own War Poet, who like so many others, made the ultimate sacrifice for king and country in the Great War of 1914-18. And that centenary is this Saturday, 6 May 2017.
Harold Parry (‘Hal’ to his friends), son of Alderman, mine engineer, colliery proprietor and landowner David Ebenezer Parry and Sarah Parry, of ‘Croxdene’, Bloxwich, was born on 13 December, 1896, one of twins.
After studying at a junior school in Bloxwich (probably the National School, High Street), Hal won a scholarship to Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall, where he became an outstanding pupil, head of his House and captain of the school’s football and cricket teams, as well as a cadet officer. While studying there, he won the Queen’s Prize for History and in 1915 won an Open History Scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford.
Hal volunteered for army service in January 1916, being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and after training at Rugeley he transferred to the 17th Battalion, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps, on the front line in France.
Before the war, Parry had been a prolific writer of poetry. The bitter experiences of the trenches, at the Somme and in Belgium, soon made him turn again, this time for relief, to poetry, both reading and writing, and letters home to family and friends. He could express himself clearly in both prose and verse, and his writings are important in that they reveal what the young men who died in “the war to end all wars” thought about their experiences in that terrible conflict.
One of his shortest poems, ‘Tommy’s Dwelling’, written in the field, tells of the ever-present water and mud which was the curse of the trenches:
I come from trenches deep in slime,
Soft slime so sweet and yellow,
And rumble down the steps in time
To souse “some shivering fellow”.
I trickle in and trickle out
Of every nook and corner,
And, rushing like some waterspout,
Make many a rat a mourner.
I gather in from near and far
A thousand brooklets swelling,
And laugh aloud a great “Ha, ha!”
To flood poor Tommy’s dwelling.
Just two days after a battle, on 14 October 1916 Hal wrote to his sister’s friend Isabel “The average Fritz is as sick at heart over all this destruction as we are. We are preached a doctrine of frightfulness, and yet is it not sufficiently sad to think when you come across an unburied dead German, perhaps this day his wife and children mourn for him, and in the future can know neither peace nor comfort? I must confess it distresses me beyond measure, for I am not a soldier at heart.”
“The real evil in this conflict is not of the individual so much as of the powers that be. If these dignitaries could only be sat in the trenches for a wee short space, and made to carry heavy coils of wire for long distances up long communication trenches – blasted by the incessant force of the guns, I could guarantee that their war would not last longer than the time to fix up provisional peace terms. Let Dot read this letter, but not my mother or father, it would make them grieve and I don’t want that.”
Sadly, like so many soldiers Hal was fated to die young, killed in action on 6 May, 1917 by a German shell at Ypres, in Flanders, while moving from his billet to safer quarters in the cellars nearby. He was just twenty years old. Writing to Hal’s father, his commanding officer said “He was a splendid youngster, and a most capable and keen officer, much loved by all. Had he been spared I am sure he would have made a great name for himself as a soldier.”
Instead of making his name as a soldier, in the decades following his death Harold Parry instead become known to posterity as a war poet. A posthumous volume of letters and poems compiled by G.P. Dennis ‘In Memoriam: Harold Parry’ was published, showing he was exceptionally gifted for such a young man. The letters show above all his extreme cheerfulness and loyalty, even in the face of danger and death. Some of his poems are also published in ‘Songs from the Heart of England’, an anthology of Walsall poetry edited by Alfred Moss with a foreword by Jerome K. Jerome.
G.P. Dennis wrote of him “Harold Parry was no saint, he had with the rest of us his faults and failings and annoyingnesses; but that the evil in him was less than most, and that he fought it harder, that the good in him was greater, and that he used it better – of these things his friends are certain. He always tried to do what he believed was right: what more can a good man do?”
Such is the measure of the man. His good name and his words live after him, and he is not forgotten.
Harold Parry is buried at Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium. His headstone bears the inscription “Death is the Gate To the High Road of Life And Love is the Way (Harold Parry).”
Its twin, rather more careworn after a century, honours his name in Field Road Cemetery, Bloxwich.
I usually go there to ponder on the life of a Bloxwich man and the folly of war in cold November. This time around, in the sunlit spring, I have visited that small, forgotten shrine of remembrance and placed flowers for the centenary of his passing. I placed them today. Perhaps others may do the same tomorrow, and think on the apt words of another poet, Mary Elizabeth Frye.
Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.
Ironically, although Harold Parry has a monument at Bloxwich, and there are a number of similar stones there, he is not listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s list for Bloxwich Cemetery, he is listed at Vlamertinghe. But there are also many men who are listed as buried here, via this link, and they are all worthy of remembrance.
In 2016, young people and staff from the Walsall Academy in Lichfield Road, Bloxwich (site of the former T.P. Riley Comprehensive School) joined forces with Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team, video producers and digital media specialists Catcher Media, local writer and Bloxwich Telegraph editor Stuart Williams, Walsall Local History Centre, Walsall Council Regeneration and other local people on a very special Heritage Lottery-funded project to literally focus on the history and heritage of Bloxwich through the eyes, ears and voices of the school’s students, local people and other contributors and through the camera eye of Catcher Media.
What’s it all about?
The basic idea of the project, known as Rediscover Bloxwich, was:
What if each Bloxwich building or street has a story to tell? And what if some of these stories are fascinating? Or scary? Or funny? And what if they make you think about Bloxwich in a new way? Re-discover it.
So Walsall Academy students set out to find out about Bloxwich’s heritage, and to tell that story back to Bloxwich residents. They talked to celebrities, their own families, older people and historians.
The Rediscover website and the film they made pools all of the information, photos, interviews and stories that came to light throughout the project.
The project is also being followed up by the production and installation of a range of related public heritage art pieces set to be installed in Bloxwich centre later this year.
What’s on the site?
Apart from information about the project and the main video content itself, there are also a number of pages which offer links to more resources, several video clips of extra interviews of local people and Bloxwich rock legend Noddy Holder of Slade fame, and several pages themed on local Bloxwich heritage topics, with historical information, covering everything from Bloxwich pubs and local myths to industry, churches, fairs – and the Bloxwich lion! Information is also provided about the planned heritage artworks, and credits and acknowledgements.
Linking up for Bloxwich
TheBloxwich Telegraph, whose editor Stuart Williams was commissioned to act as Historical Advisor to the project, is proud to announce its formal – and now digital – links with the project, the film and the resulting website.
From time to time we will highlight aspects of the project from this site and and on our social media. To this end we have now installed a permanent direct link to Rediscover Bloxwich on our main site menu, and via clicking on the Rediscover logo in the right-hand column of every page.
We hope you enjoy finding out about Bloxwich’s past, through Rediscover Bloxwich and via the pages of The Bloxwich Telegraph.
For further information, please click on the following link or any of the others highlighted in this news item.