Category Archives: Museums

Historic Colts go on show as Museum closure announced

Bayard's Colts on display in Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)
Bayard’s Colts on display in Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)

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.

Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)

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.

Walsal Museum graphic panel (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsal Museum graphic panel (pic: Stuart Williams)

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.

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.

Half term fun at Walsall Leather Museum

Trick or TreatHalloween themed workshops for children take place at Walsall Leather Museum during the half term break later this month.

On Tuesday 25 October Ruth Turnbull will be leading a Halloween themed workshop helping youngsters make their own trick or treat t-shirts. Times are 10.30am – 12.30pm for five to seven-year-olds (who must be accompanied by an adult) and 1.30 to 3.30pm for eight to 12-year-olds. Cost is £1.50.

A day later on Wednesday 26 October the Halloween theme continues with a children’s activity event where youngsters can learn how to make their own creepy spider. The event is free, no booking required, and runs from 10.30am to 12.30pm or 1.30 to 3.30pm.

Francesca Cox, assistant leather museum curator, said: “Halloween is the theme of this half term’s workshops and, once again, we look forward to welcoming lots of children through our doors.

“The school holiday workshops are always well supported but we would also remind people that the museum itself is open as normal during this half term for anyone interested in finding out more about the leather industry.”

The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. For more information about events call 01922 721153.

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!

Hell Bent for Walsall Leather Museum!

Mike Glasson, Senior Curator at Walsall Leather Museum shows off Rob Halford’s costumes (Pix: Stuart Williams)

Walsall Leather Museum has joined forces with Home of Metal plus friends, family, fans and the band to lay on a superb show of costumes, collectibles, art and photography of seminal Heavy Metal music superstars Judas Priest – and expecially Bloxwich lad and lead singer Rob Halford .

The historic home of leatherworking is taking a look at ‘the look’ of Heavy Metal and its most famous sons of rock. Dressed top-to-toe in an awe-inspiring mixture of shining leather and gleaming studs and chains, Rob Halford and ‘Priest moved the Heavy Metal scene and its fans firmly into the territory of the rebellious outlaw; to a place where image became inextricably linked with sound.  And what could be more appropriate than an exhibition in the heart of the heavy metal Black Country and the leather capital of the world?

Two of Rob Halford’s costumes from the ‘Fuel for Life’ tour, 1986. Plus original art, posters and memorabilia.

The exhibition ‘Hell Bent for Leather: Judas Priest and the Heavy Metal Look’, which opened on Friday 8 July, occupies two rooms on the first floor of the Littleton Street West museum, part of Walsall Council, which showcases the quality craft and enormous contribution which the leather industry has made to Walsall’s economy and reputation over the centuries.

Costumes, art, memorabilia – and a photo wall by Stuart Williams.

The exhibition at the Leather Museum, which has been curated by Exhibition Officer Francesca Cox, comprises a range of costumes on loan from Rob’s sister Sue and the band, primarily those of Rob Halford, who in his youth lived on Beechdale Estate and went to school in Bloxwich,  from the 1980s-90s.

More costumes by Ray Brown, and much else.

Original costume design art by Ray Brown.

The costumes were designed and made by Ray Brown, who has loaned artwork showing some of his designs.  Poster artist Mark Wilkinson also has work on show. The exhibition also includes a wide range of memorabilia contributed by fans and collectors Steve Grennan, Bill Sneyd and Malcolm Carter, plus original photography of the band in a series of prints by Stuart Williams (Edditer of The Bloxidge Tallygraph. More detailed credits are available via this link.

Home of Metal, a remarkable project and series of events which is currently sweeping the Black Country and Birmingham with a range of exhibitions and events celebrating the origins of Heavy Metal Music in the region in the late 1960s and later, is doing much to bring to light the amazing contribution which local people, musicians, singers, songwriters, artists and craftsmen have made to the globe-spanning musical phenomenon. For more on the Home of Metal Project and events running through the season, check out their website here.

This truly excellent Walsall exhibition is surely not to be missed by Judas Priest fans and metalheads in general.  Moreover, even if you’re not a fan of heavy metal, you still owe it to yourself to find out how our amazing local musicians have conquered the world in a remarkable cultural phenomenon which still thrives and grows today.

Oh yes – and here’s what it’s all about:

‘Hell Bent for Leather: Judas Priest and the Heavy Metal Look’ is on till 10 September 2011.

Walsall Leather Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday: 10am-5pm, and admission is free.  More details of the Museum via this link.

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, why not check out our photographic tour via this link.

A short biography of Rob Halford by Stuart Williams is in our Bloxwich History section here.

Rob Halford’s own website is here, and Judas Priest’s site is here.

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