Category Archives: Bookmark Bloxwich

Have your say on possible closure of Bloxwich Library and Theatre

Walsall Council is seriously considering, amongst other options, closing all of the Borough’s branch libraries, including Bloxwich Library and Theatre (aka Bookmark Bloxwich) in Elmore Row.   This is due to the swingeing and cruel national government budget cuts being inflicted on the borough.

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.

Take part in the consultation NOW
Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)

We have covered the background to this in our previous story, including the arguments for why the library and theatre are needed, but what is most important RIGHT NOW is that individuals and local groups not only take part in Walsall Council’s current budget consultation (see links below) BEFORE the end of December but that they contact their local councillors and (politely, but firmly) express their  opinions on the matter to them.

It is also very important to demonstrate that you use these facilities and that they are needed, so please, please go into your local library on a regular basis and take advantage of all it has to offer. It really is a case of use it or lose it, and next year we may very well lose it if nothing is done.

Council budget consultation

Nothing is yet set in stone, according to Walsall Council, so it is time to make your voice heard. Apart from the general consultation, there is also an online libraries, arts and heritage consultation by the council.  To take part, follow the links below to further information and the online questionnaire.

To download a PDF format library consultation document click here:

Library, Leather Museum and Local History Centre Consultation

For further information about this section of the consultation on the Walsall Council website, go to:

Library Service Consultation page

For the online questionnaire on Draft Options, click on:

Draft Options for Libraries etc

And last but not least, the general Walsall Council Budget Consultation across all services pages:

Rebalancing our Budget – £86m over 4 years

Petition against closure

Bloxwich West Conservative Councillors Louise Harrison, Matt Follows and Brad Allen have organised 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.  It is worth signing the petition, but this is NOT an alternative to the consultation, so please make sure you do both.

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.’

Here is the link to the petition page:

Save Bloxwich Library and Theatre Petition

You can also contact the Bloxwich West Conservatives direct on their Facebook page:

Bloxwich West Intouch

Contact all your local Councillors

Write, email or speak to your local Ward Councillors and let them know you care about Bloxwich Library & Theatre. Here is a link to the Councillor contact details for all Walsall Council Wards:

Contact Councillors

Speak up

Walsall Council wants to hear from you about the budget cuts proposals, not just for libraries, culture and heritage but for many other services. Now is the time to make your voice heard, when our local facilities are under their greatest threat ever.

It is not just us, but our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will lose out if these facilities are closed forever.

Remember, the consultation closes on 31 December 2016.

Bloxwich Councillors bid to save Bloxwich Library and Theatre

Cllrs Allen, Harrison and Follows take a stand outside Bloxwich Library (pic Bloxwich West Intouch)
Cllrs Allen, Harrison and Follows take a stand outside Bloxwich Library (pic Bloxwich West Intouch)

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.

Cultural vandalism

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.’

Here is the link to the petition page:

Save Bloxwich Library and Theatre Petition

You can also contact the Bloxwich West Conservatives direct on their Facebook page:

Bloxwich West Intouch

Out in the cold
Bloxwich (formerly) Public Toilets, despite their neglected state, would be more of a haven if they were open!
Bloxwich (formerly) Public Toilets, despite their neglected state, would be more of a haven if they were open!

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?

Continue reading Bloxwich Councillors bid to save Bloxwich Library and Theatre

Knoxville Highway is rolling into town again!

Knoxville Highway at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre by Stuart Williams.

Country and Western fans will be high-tailing it down to Bloxwich next month to catch up with ‘Knoxville Highway’ – as the band roars back into town like a mighty freight train!

Former Bloxwich police officer Bob Gessey is all set to bring his talented posse of Black Country cowboys – and gals – back to his old stomping ground.

And they’ll be live on stage on Saturday 1st December with their Country Music Show – a Journey through the Heart and Soul of Country Music.

But don’t leave it too late to book your tickets – they sold out in quick-draw time on their last visit to Bloxwich’s premier venue – Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in Elmore Row!

The show features classic County songs authentically performed by the storming six-piece band – with that great Nashville sound, elements of Bluegrass and even an excursion South of the Border into Mexican Mariachi!

Featuring the music of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and many more, right through to The Eagles and Modern Country artists with a sprinkling of Blue Grass classics, this will be a great night for listeners and those who want to sing along.

Bob Gessey said:

“It promises to be a great night.

“You wouldn’t normally see a line up like ours outside of Nashville – there’ll be something for everyone I’m sure.”

Doors open at 7.30pm with the show starting at 8pm, and there will be a bar.

The event is presented by Bloxwich Library Forum as part of the Bookmark Bloxwich Live Music Review gig series.

Tickets cost just £5 and are available by contacting Bloxwich Library on 01922 655900.  Advance booking is strongly recommended.

Tickets can also be booked online via the band at: http://www.knoxvillehighway.co.uk

Rock Halloween in Bloxwich with Red Venice this Saturday!

Red Venice

Horribly good heavy rock and metal covers band Red Venice will be blowing the roof off in Halloween style at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre this Saturday 27 October.

And gig-goers are welcome to turn up turned out dressed in their spooky best for the frighteningly fantastic rock-fest at the popular venue in Elmore Row, Bloxwich.

The band which launched the return of live music to the former Bloxwich Library Theatre cover the greatest rock anthems from Journey, Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Cream and many more!

So with tickets costing just £5, why not celebrate All Hallows Eve and rock the night away?

Doors open 7.30pm, and the show starts at 8.00pm.  There will be a bar.

Telephone Bloxwich Library on 01922 655900 to book tickets now!

Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre is managed by Bloxwich Library Forum in partnership with Bloxwich Library.

Black Country Prog Rockers coming to Bloxwich

Eligh Toadd

Famed four piece progressive rock band Eligh Toadd, who have appeared at venues across the Midlands, will be hopping onto the stage in Bloxwich next month.

The Walsall-based musicians will be at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in Elmore Row on Saturday 7 July, where they will launch their latest CD!

The accomplished and talented band is well-known for its original prog rock music with a Black Country edge written mainly by vocalist and bass player Steve Evans and has recorded three CDs – Bored With Chess, Tales From A Misspelt Youth and Three Piece Suite which will be released at the Bloxwich gig.

Eligh Toadd has also recorded a live CD single Two From The Road.

Stuart Williams, Vice-chairman of Bloxwich Library Forum, said: “Eligh Toadd have played Worcester Arts Festival and The Robin 2 in Bilston among many Midlands venues and we are really excited to be able to welcome them to Bloxwich.

They play some of the great classic covers of progressive rock, but also offer some excellent Black Country-inspired anthems which are all their own, making them an act not to be missed!”

Tickets cost just  £5 and doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 8.30pm.  Be there – or be square!

For more about Eligh Toadd, check out their websites:

http://www.facebook.com/eligh.toadd

http://www.myspace.com/elightoadd

Take tea with the Queen and see her Coronation in Bloxwich!

Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip, 1953.

With national Diamond Jubilee celebrations imminent, Bloxwich Library Forum is doing its loyal duty by joining forces with Bloxwich Library and Walsall Council to mark the historic event in style.

On Saturday 9th June, local library users are being invited to ‘take tea with the Queen’ when the Forum will be showing a spectacular film of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on the big screen in Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, part of the Bookmark Bloxwich library complex in Elmore Row, Bloxwich.

And the right Royal event kicks off at 1pm, when Bloxwich Library staff will be providing tea and cake in the café there as a prelude to the film itself, which starts at 2pm.

Stuart Williams of Bloxwich Library Forum, the voluntary group which manages the theatre in partnership with Bloxwich Library, said:

“Walsall Council has invited us to contribute to local celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee, and we are proud to present, FREE of charge to the public, a spectacular, specially restored eighty-minute Technicolor film of Her Majesty’s Coronation, not shown in the Borough’s cinemas since 1953, in partnership with the Council.

“What’s more, the wonderful staff of Bloxwich Library have kindly arranged to serve FREE tea and cake for all library members in the Bookmark Bloxwich Café before the film, allowing one and all to have tea with the Queen!  What a great way to celebrate the 60th year of Her Majesty’s reign!”

Tickets to the event are now available FREE OF CHARGE at Bloxwich Library in Elmore Row – just show staff your Library Card to receive a Diamond Invite!  If you are not a member, what better time to join the Library?

The show concludes at 3.30pm and Bloxwich Library closes at 4pm.

For more information, telephone Bloxwich Library on 01922 655900.

Class act to launch new sound at Bookmark Bloxwich

Karla Milton

Music fans are in for a very special treat on Friday 18th May when a classy new band is being launched for the first time at the Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in Elmore Row, Bloxwich.

The Karla Milton Collective are headed up by two former stars of legendary sixties-influenced band DC Fontana, and are all set to blow the roof off at the Bookmark with their hot new sound.

Singer Karla Milton is the ‘tour-de-force’ whose unmistakeable star quality and talent was a major factor in the meteoric rise to fame of DC Fontana. Soulful and sultry, plaintive and pleading, Karla has been compared to Sharon Tandy and hailed as a natural successor to Julie Driscoll while Steve Trigg is an experienced and talented trumpet player, much sought after as a session player and arranger.

Stuart Williams of Bloxwich Library Forum, which manages the theatre in partnership with Bloxwich Library, said:

“Both Karla and Steve are extraordinary talents, and we’re delighted to see them back on stage in Bloxwich with their amazing new project, The Karla Milton Collective.

“The band are treading exciting new ground this time around, and music fans who know Steve and Karla’s past work are in for a surprise!  Soulful, funky, cool and sophisticated sounds will be on offer from these world class musicians on the 18th, and with more than a passing nod to acid jazz and 60’s groove this could well be the shot in the arm the music industry has been waiting for!

“We’re particularly proud – and immensely excited – that the band have chosen Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre for their launch gig, and we hope that music fans will beat a path to our doors to hear what it’s all about!”

Doors open at 8pm on the night for a 9pm start, and there will be a bar.  Tickets cost just £5 and are available from Bloxwich Library – call 01922 655900.  Booking is highly recommended!

Rock on in Bloxwich with Hayes and Hunt!

Popular venue Bookmark Bloxwich is getting ready to rock with another great night of live music coming up soon!

Latest act Hayes and Hunt, who will be taking to the theatre stage in Elmore Row, Bloxwich on Saturday 5th of May, are regulars on the international music scene – and now look set to take Bloxwich and Walsall by storm!

Steve Hayes is lead singer/guitarist with highly acclaimed Nearly Dan and Lester Hunt can be heard around the world whipping up a storm as lead guitarist with the famous Climax Blues Band, still one of the UK’s finest acts after nearly 40 years.

The talented pair will be raising the roof in the ‘Bookmark’ with their take on classics by Sting, Gerry Rafferty and Jimi Hendrix, to name but a few.

Stuart Williams of Bloxwich Library Forum, which manages the theatre in partnership with Bloxwich Library, said:

“Hayes and Hunt are well known around the UK for their acoustic set which includes songs from many musical genres, offering something for everyone – and we’re really looking forward to a great night out for one and all!

“We’d hoped to have them on the stage in Bloxwich back in February, but blizzard conditions in Staffordshire prevented them travelling.  Tickets purchased for that gig will be honoured this time around – just call us to book!”

Doors open at 8pm for an 8.30pm show start, and there will be a bar.

Tickets cost just £5 and are available now from Bloxwich Library in Elmore Row, Bloxwich or by calling 01922 655900 to reserve.  Advance booking is strongly recommended.

The gig is part of Bookmark Bloxwich’s Live Music Review series, organised by Canadian singer-songwriter Chuck Micallef.

Book giving and poetry celebrate the Bard at Bloxwich

Bloxwich Library

Bloxwich Library Forum is joining forces with talented Midlands poets next Monday to celebrate World Book Night and the birthday of William Shakespeare!

An evening of free book giving and Shakespeare-inspired performance poetry is being held at Bookmark Bloxwich in Elmore Row on 23rd April, and members of the public are invited to drop in from 7pm for a 7.30pm start.

While stocks last, free books marking World Book Night will be handed out in the foyer of Bloxwich Library by volunteer book givers, plus an evening of poetry entitled ‘Sounds and Sweet Airs’ will be available for those who wish to stay on and make a night of it.

Guest Poets Marcia Calame, Charlie Jordan, Roy McFarlane and Bobby Parker will be hosted by David Calcutt in the adjoining Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre, and Floor Spots will also be available.

Admission to the World Book Night book giveaway is free, and admission to Sounds and Sweet Airs costs just £4, tickets are available now and on the night.

Booking is recommended for ‘Sounds and Sweet Airs’.  Tel: 01922 655900.

Bloxwich Library Forum manages Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in partnership with Bloxwich Library.

Bloxwich Library Forum website:  http://bloxwichlibraryforum.wordpress.com

Retired sheriff brings musical posse to Bookmark Bloxwich!

 

Knoxville Highway

Country and Western fans should mosey on down to Bloxwich next month to catch Knoxville Highway on stage.

Retired Bloxwich police officer Bob Gessey will be coming back to his old stomping ground with his posse of Black Country cowboys on Saturday 3 March to perform at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in Elmore Row.

The six piece band is promising “a musical road trip across the heart and soul of Country and Western music” and is bringing the sound of Nashville into the borough.

The show features songs from Country greats such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Glenn Campbell and the Eagles right up to today’s modern country stars with a sprinkling of Blue Grass classics.

Doors open at 7.30pm with the show starting at 8.15pm.

Bob said: “It promises to be a great night.

“You wouldn’t normally see a line up like ours outside of Nashville – there’ll be something for everyone I’m sure.”

The event is presented by Bloxwich Library Forum as part of the Bookmark Bloxwich Live Music Review gig series.

Tickets cost just £5 and are available by contacting Bloxwich Library on 01922 655900.