Category Archives: History

Discover the story of your house at Walsall Local History Centre

Walsall Local History Centre
Walsall Local History Centre

Whether you’ve moved in today or your ancestors have lived there for generations, the history of your house can be full of fascination – and surprises!

In fact, so many people in the Walsall borough are curious about their home’s past that Walsall Local History Centre is now laying on a special workshop session for local people wanting to discover their house’s history, and the story of the people who lived in it.

Paul Ford, archivist at Walsall Local History Centre, who is leading the workshop, said: “If you want to know how to find out when your house was built, what was there before it was constructed, who has lived there and more, why not join us in a workshop at the Local History Centre on How to Trace the History of your House.  Find out what you can learn from maps, plans, directories, the census and more.  Whether your house is old or new you can discover more about it.”

The workshop, which costs just £3, takes place on Friday, 28 October 1.30pm-4.30pm and is repeated on Saturday, 29 October 10.00am-1.00pm at Walsall Local History Centre, in Essex Street, Walsall.  Booking is essential on 01922 721305.

The Centre is Walsall Council’s archives and local studies service for the whole of Walsall Metropolitan Borough.

Admission to Walsall Local History Centre is free of charge during normal opening hours.  Telephone 01922 721305 for details or view Walsall Local History Centre’s website: http://cms.walsall.gov.uk/localhistorycentre

Fashion of the Austerity period celebrated in Museum talk

A special public talk at Walsall Museum this month explores the fashions of the post-war period in Britain.  The talk, entitled ‘Fashion, Austerity and After’ takes us on a tour through the clothing of the late 1940s and early 1950s, a time when the New Look was coming into style but when clothes rationing and austerity continued to limit women’s fashion choices.

The talk will be delivered by Walsall Museum’s Honorary Costume Curator, Sheila Shreeve, and will explore the impact of the Second World War on fashion and clothing, particularly through the Utility scheme which remained in force throughout the 1940s, and the reaction against this in the later 1940s when the large skirts and nipped-in waists of the New Look brought a more feminine look to fashion.  Sheila Shreeve has been working with the costume collection at Walsall Museum for nearly 30 years and is a recognised expert in the field of costume history.

The talk takes place on Thursday 27 October at 1.30pm.  Places are limited to advance booking is essential, please call us on 01922 653116 or email museum@walsall.gov.uk to reserve your place.

This is part of a regular series of public talks on local history, costume history and related subjects.  Details of our other talks can be obtained by contacting Walsall Museum on 01922 653116.

Blakenall Know Your Place Project pages launched

Friends in the community: project participants led by Jenny Cartwright on an outing to Blists Hill (Pic: S. Williams)

The Blakenall ‘Know Your Place’ Project was a Heritage Lottery Funded community history project created by Project Co-ordinator Jenny Cartwright, working with Bloxwich Community Partnership and in liaison with the local community and other groups and organisations in Blakenall Heath and Bloxwich.  It ran from January 2010 till May 2011.

The project was a great success, unearthing a rich selection of photographs of the area and its people, almost all never seen by a general audience or in preservation.  It also resulted in a range of oral history recordings of memories of Blakenall folk, and offered numerous well-supported community events for the interest and enjoyment of local people, in an area historically neglected by officialdom.

Booth Street Chapel, Blakenall Heath, c1930s (Cliff Webb)

A small book of photographs – ‘Blakenall Memories’ – was published, as well as a “digital reprint” (only available online) of the only book ever published about the Parish of Blakenall Heath – ‘When Numbers Cease to Count’.

Coronation party, Wordsworth Road, 1953 (Betty Friend)

The project materials are now, in digital form, in the keeping of Walsall Local History Centre, but The Bloxidge Tallygraph was chosen to host the project online so that its results might be available to all, locally and world-wide.

The books linked for download

A special section of The Bloxidge Tallygraph, including the books mentioned above as well as a link to an associated Flickr photo album, has therefore been created by the Edditer, Stuart Williams, working with Jenny Cartwright, to document and present selected results of the project, and it is now available directly via the nav bar under Blakenall KYP or via the following link:

The Blakenall Know Your Place Project

We hope that you will find it as fascinating as we and the local community have!

Blaze ravages historic Leamore pub

Black Horse burning: emergency services surround the scene of the blaze (Pic courtesy Craig Smith)

Emergency services were called to an historic pub in Leamore, near Bloxwich, on Wednesday evening when a blaze was reported. From around 6pm for about two hours, the centre of Leamore was sealed off by police cars, and buses to Walsall were being diverted down Harden Road, causing tailbacks and confusion.

According to first local reports, a large fire had taken hold on the first floor of The Black Horse, on the corner of Bloxwich Road and Harden Road, and a man was believed to be inside the building at the time.

It is now possible (17/3/2011) however to confirm that in fact there was no person or animal involved in the fire, and that the person initially suspected of being a victim is in fact in prison.  The blaze, we now know, was certainly the result of intruders breaking into the upstairs bedroom of the building and deliberately setting fire to the residential area of the pub at around 6pm.

The incident was attended by at least two arson investigation and fire vans, together with three fire engines and three Walsall police cars who cordoned off the danger area, diverting traffic. Most of the damage to the building is inside, and the roof appears from external observation to be intact.  Burnt furniture is visible on a flat roofed extension at the rear. Entrances have now been sealed with padlocks.

The Black Horse, a classic Edwardian pub that has seen better days since being built around 1900, has been closed since mid-2010, a victim of the economic downturn which has shut so many pubs in Bloxwich and Walsall over the past few years.  The building is of historical interest but probably due to alterations is only on the Local List, which does not offer the more substantial protections afforded Statutory Listed Buildings.

The once-popular watering hole is the second closed historic pub to suffer a fiery fate in recent months; The Bull’s Head in Park Road, Bloxwich, the second pub of that name on the site and dating back to the late 1920s, was destroyed by fire in suspicious circumstances, having been broken into over the Bonfire Night weekend last November.

Only one pub now remains open in Leamore – the 1960s-built Railway Inn.

Our thanks to Josh Williams of Bloxwich for background information and Craig Smith for the photo above. Also to West Midlands Fire Service and Walsall Express & Star for updated information.

Photos taken the day after the fire may be viewed on Flickr here.

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