Category Archives: News

Bloxwich Telegraph links up with Rediscover Bloxwich

Local rock legend Noddy Holder meets the project group at Walsall Academy, Bloxwich (Pic Stuart Williams)
Local rock legend Noddy Holder meets the project group at Walsall Academy, Bloxwich (Pic Stuart Williams)

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.

Rediscover Bloxwich logo

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

The Bloxwich 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.

Rediscover Bloxwich

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Bloxwich Model Railway Club exhibition this Saturday

Part of the 2014 Bloxwich exhibition
Part of the 2014 Bloxwich exhibition

This Saturday 21st May sees the seventh annual exhibition of the  popular Bloxwich (St. Johns) Model Railway Club, which is based at St John’s Methodist Church in Victoria Avenue, Bloxwich,  WS3 3HS.

Every element of a layout is painstakingly built up
Every element of a layout is painstakingly built up

The exhibition offers fun and fascination for young and old alike, showcasing a variety of layouts by invited guests with demonstrations and trade support, and most of the exhibits are appearing at Bloxwich (St John’s) for the first time.

The modellers' attention to detail can be amazing
The modellers’ attention to detail can be amazing

The exhibition is always well attended by exhibitors and modelling fans alike, and is a popular event on the Bloxwich calendar for all ages.

The exhibition, which is taking over the church and hall for the day, opens 10.00am – 4.30pm and admission costs £4 for adults, with concessions £3.50 and children  just £1.50.

Railway fun for all ages
Railway fun for all ages
List of Traders Attending : List of Layouts Attending :
Keith’s Model Railways
J & J Sales
Hobbyrail
12 Volts DC
Elaine’s Trains
Buffers Books
Minimum Gauge Models
Derby Trees
Kevin’s Trains
Shirley Harper Crafts
Deesle Park (00)
Pemberton (N)
Birchills (New) Junction (00)
Heath Green (00)
Bewdley (N)
Wansbeck Road (N)
Llantwy (009)
Nearleigh Works (0-16.5)
Motley Sub Shed (0)
Bettws Road (N)
Greenacre Yard
Journeys End (009)
Birkberg (H0e)
Fowlers Lane (0n30)
Brandeight (009)
Vigo Junction (00)
Board Street Sidings (00)
Franwood TMG (00)
List of Demonstrations : List of Other Displays :
Severn Models
Stuart Brasier
David Griffin
Ron Peach
Bloxwich (ST John’s)m.R.C. Club Stand
009 Society (Midlands)

For further information, contact the organisers on  07970 390258.

Pictures of past exhibitions shown here were taken by Stuart Williams of The Bloxwich Telegraph

Christmas fun begins in Bloxwich this Saturday!

Christmas

A glittering slide into Christmas for Bloxwich and district begins this Saturday 28th November with the annual ‘Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas’ event in the village centre.

Organised by Walsall Council in co-operation with the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, local businesses and more, the popular annual event is now a firm fixture on the festive calendar, and offers family fun – and shopping opportunities – for all!

This Saturday’s activities, which are focused on Bloxwich Park,  High Street and All Saints Church, Elmore Row, run from 10am-4pm.

Fun for all!

There’ll be all the following:

  • A Christmas Trail
  • Santa on his sleigh handing out a FREE gift
  • Local Bloxwich choir performances
  • Christmas drinks and cakes
  • Christmas entertainment acts
  • Christmas donkeys!
  • Christmas shop window displays
  • Children’s rides
  • Christmas stalls

And at All Saints Church

  • Stalls
  • Rides
  • And a Christmas Concert from 4pm onwards!

Anyone looking for further information can contact Sharan at Walsall Council District Centre Management on 01922 654324.

Click on the image below for a larger version to print!

Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas - Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge

Bloxwich Remembrance parade replaced with church service

Remembrance in Bloxwich, 2012. Will this poignant scene become a thing of the past? (pic Stuart Williams, click to enlarge)
Remembrance in Bloxwich, 2012. Will this poignant scene become a thing of the past? (pic Stuart Williams, click to enlarge)

Bloxwich is to lose its popular Remembrance Sunday parade this weekend, amid a storm of media reports highlighting government police cuts as the cause of reduced road closure support for such events this year. Officially, the cancellation of the cherished Bloxwich parade has been blamed on the closure of the village’s local branch of the Royal British Legion in 2013.

However, even though there will be no Bloxwich High Street parade, a Service of Remembrance organised to partially rescue the much-loved event at the last minute will still take place, at a new venue – All Saints Church, Bloxwich – this Sunday 8th November, beginning at 10.30am, and all are welcome. Following the service, wreaths will be laid at the nearby Bloxwich War Memorial.

A perfect storm

Austerity-driven cuts in public services nationwide and the confusion surrounding the loss of one of Bloxwich’s most important annual events, as well as reported policing issues with other such events boroughwide, have combined to create a perfect storm  of angry public opinion, both on social media and amongst local people in person, blaming the police, the council and the government, but official messages have been vague till now.

Reliable sources have told the Bloxwich Telegraph that the reason for there being no parade in Bloxwich this year – and possibly in future years – is due to the closure of the Bloxwich Branch of the Royal British Legion in 2013, which has resulted in there being no official organiser for the event in 2015.

Had there been a Legion branch in charge of the event, we are informed, Walsall Police would have been happy to work with event organisers and deploy what  police numbers they had available on the day.  However, according to Bloxwich East Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, it would not have been possible to have a parade down Bloxwich High Street with the small numbers of police expected to be available anyway.

A past Remembrance parade in Bloxwich (pic Stuart Williams)
A past Remembrance parade in Bloxwich (pic Stuart Williams)
Council clarification

The Walsall Advertiser newspaper recently published a news item about the parade cancellation, quoting Councillors Julie and Shaun Fitzpatrick on the matter. They were approached by Walsall Police to see if they could help because of their well-known community work, and they did their level best to try and rescue the parade, sadly without success.

We subsequently published an outline of why the parade was unlikely to go ahead, based on information received from Mrs Fitzpatrick and a local representative of the Royal British Legion, Mr Bill Griffiths:

https://thebloxwichtelegraph.com/2015/10/25/bloxwich-remembrance-parade-expected-to-be-cancelled/

Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick said at the time:

“Due to cuts to the police budgets, last year in Bloxwich we had 12 police to maintain public safety during the parade, this year we have 5. Due to this the High Street cannot be used and we are looking at alternative options at this time which have yet to be confirmed.”

Police statement

Inspector Keeley Bevington of Walsall Police has since issued a statement to the Bloxwich Telegraph via Kevin Pitt of the force’s Walsall Partnerships Team:

“Please contact Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick who is fully aware of the issues in Bloxwich and who has worked hard on this. In short there is no Royal British Legion Branch in Bloxwich and no organiser for the parade. The Council and Police legally need the details of an organiser with liability cover to allow the event to go ahead but due to the RBL not supporting activity in this area then there is no-one that can take on this responsibility which leaves issues around health and safety and organiser liability.

“All other areas where the events are taking place have an RBL organiser supporting the event with the appropriate liability cover. The church and individuals do not feel that the public liability would be covered by their own insurances so cannot volunteer as organisers. The only event taking place is at the church service and then after in the church grounds.

“I know this is disappointing but without RBL support this cannot be progressed. Please be assured a lot of work has been undertaken by police, council and councillors to try and find an RBL member with liability to support this but they do not have a branch in this area. There are around 9 other events taking place where RBL branches exist with an organiser across Walsall. I can confirm it is not the police or council stopping the parade but that the RBL have not asked for an event and are not supporting one in this area as there is no branch.”

New arrangements for Sunday

All Saints Church have thankfully stepped in to provide the venue for the now curtailed event, as it was necessary for there to be public liability cover, and this already applies to events within the church and grounds.

Groups traditionally involved in the Bloxwich event attended a meeting to discuss the new arrangements at the church on Monday evening, to discuss how the service should go and how they could take part.

The marching band and groups will now march within the church grounds then go into the church at 10.30am. The service of Remembrance will take place in the church and Rev Roger Williams, Rector of Bloxwich, is organising loudspeakers so that anyone outside the church can hear it. The aim is to get as many people in the church as possible.

After the national anthem the usual representatives will leave and place their wreaths around the War Memorial.

We Will Remember Them... (pic Stuart Williams)
We Will Remember Them… (pic Stuart Williams)
Across the borough

This problem is not unique to Bloxwich, by the way.  Police numbers are apparently down across Walsall Metropolitan Borough, and a similar situation seems to have unfolded in Walsall Wood, as was well described in Brownhills Bob’s popular Brownhills Blog earlier this month.

What’s more, we understand from Brownhills Bob that the Walsall Wood parade has never had an organiser, which calls into question at least some of the official reasoning behind the cancellation of the Bloxwich event.

Next year

There will likely be no Bloxwich Remembrance parade next year also, if as seems probable there continues to be no official organiser for the Bloxwich Remembrance Sunday.  Sources have also implied that there will probably be even fewer police available by then, and this is supported by national news stories about police cuts this past week.

Please share

Because of the confusion, the Bloxwich Telegraph has done its best to help clarify the matter for local people, and we would be grateful if our readers would share this post with their friends and others to help spread the word.

Needless to say, our editor Stuart Williams will be attending the service as always.

Words on the Bloxwich War Memorial (pic Stuart Williams)
Words on the Bloxwich War Memorial (pic Stuart Williams)

 

Bloxwich Remembrance parade expected to be cancelled

Bloxwich War Memorial - the village remembers... (pic Stuart Williams)
Bloxwich War Memorial – the village remembers… (pic Stuart Williams)

A reluctant decision to cut back police support for Remembrance Sunday parade road closures in the borough this year due to lack of resources has left a trail of dismay and confusion in its wake. The closure of the village’s local branch of the Royal British Legion in 2013 has combined with this to create a perfect storm which means that Bloxwich is expected to lose its long-cherished remembrance parade this year.

Because of the confusion, the Bloxwich Telegraph is doing its best to help clarify the matter for local people, and we would be grateful if our readers would share this post with their friends and others to help spread the word.

Royal British Legion

On Friday, we were contacted by Bill Griffiths, the Royal British Legion official for the local poppy appeal and the Bloxwich Remembrance Parade, which had originally been scheduled for Sunday 8th November 2015.  Mr Griffiths has asked us to advise people from Bloxwich and the surrounding area that, sadly, there will now be no parade in Bloxwich on that date.  Instead, Bill says, paraders will be asked to meet at All Saints Church instead, before the usual service of remembrance takes place at the war memorial on High Street.

Council clarification

Subsequent to being contacted by Mr Griffiths, we noted that the Walsall Advertiser newspaper had published a news item about the parade cancellation this week, quoting Bloxwich East Councillors Julie and Shaun Fitzpatrick on the matter. We immediately contacted Mrs Fitzpatrick for clarification, and it now appears that she and her husband were approached by Walsall Police to see if they could help because of their well-known community work.

There are two difficulties standing firmly in the way of a parade this year. Firstly, because Bloxwich no longer has a branch of the Royal British Legion, despite Mr Griffiths best efforts there is currently no effective local organisation to take the lead on Remembrance activities.  Last year’s parade went ahead because, so we are told, Sergeant Jim Nixon of Walsall Police arranged it with another person. However, this year the police will not approve that kind of arrangement because of reduced police numbers.

How it works

It is usual for branches of the Royal British Legion to take the lead on parades and work with the police regarding the route. The local event organiser (in past years the Bloxwich branch of the RBL) then advises Walsall Council’s Traffic Management section, and if they are assured that the route has enough police marshalling it to maintain public safety, then Traffic Management will issue the necessary road closures.

On Parade in Bloxwich (pic Stuart Williams)
On Parade in Bloxwich (pic Stuart Williams)
Cuts leave no alternative

This year, because the numbers of police generally have been reduced due to government cuts, Traffic Management have not been satisfied that there are enough police available to safely close off Bloxwich High Street.  Clllrs Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick have done their best to try and make alternative arrangements by asking whether Walsall Housing Group could provide funding for other traffic management, but their Local Neighbourhood Fund scheme cannot, unfortunately, be used to pay wages.

Liability

Another significant problem is public liability, as the event organiser needs to be an organisation rather than an individual.  At the moment, however, no formal event organiser has been established and so even if there were enough police available the usual parade could not go ahead.

Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick has advised the Bloxwich Telegraph that she has contacted the local Group Secretary of the Royal British Legion, and the County Secretary has been in touch, but no assistance has yet been forthcoming.

What next?

On Friday, the Rector of All Saints Church, Revd. Roger Williams, returned from holiday and Walsall Council has recommended something through him, but as of Friday this still had to be discussed.  This is presumably the arrangement communicated to us by Mr Griffiths.

Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick said:

“Due to cuts to the police budgets, last year in Bloxwich we had 12 police to maintain public safety during the parade, this year we have 5. Due to this the High Street cannot be used and we are looking at alternative options at this time which have yet to be confirmed.”

Service to go ahead
Words on the Bloxwich War Memorial (pic Stuart Williams)
Words on the Bloxwich War Memorial (pic Stuart Williams)

So, as it stands, it looks almost certain that there will be no Remembrance Sunday parade in Bloxwich this year, due to the lack of both an organisation to take responsibility and liability for it, combined with the inability of police to provide sufficient martialling to meet safety requirements. Despite the fact that local police voluntarily do the work, thanks to government cuts in police numbers there are quite simply not enough of them available.

It does seem, however, that the service of Remembrance will still go ahead at the Bloxwich War Memorial as usual, probably with the participants gathering at All Saints Church beforehand, though specific arrangements have yet to be confirmed. We expect to be there to cover it as usual.

Across the borough

This difficulty is not unique to Bloxwich, by the way.  Police numbers are apparently down across Walsall Metropolitan Borough, and a similar situation seems to have unfolded in Walsall Wood, as was well described in Brownhills Bob’s popular Brownhills Blog earlier this month.

Whatever arrangements are finally confirmed, the Bloxwich Telegraph will do its best to let our readers know as soon as we do.

Remembrance in Bloxwich, 2012 (pic Stuart Williams, click to enlarge)
Remembrance in Bloxwich, 2012 (pic Stuart Williams, click to enlarge)

 

Council has cunning plan for Walsall Market

New Walsall Market digital artist's impression (pic: Walsall Council)
New Walsall Market digital artist’s impression (pic: Walsall Council)

Planning chiefs have given the green light for a new, permanent location for Walsall’s historic market at The Bridge in the town centre.

The decision at last night’s planning committee cements the future of the 800-year old market, along with a number of public realm improvements in the town.

The Market will comprise of 70 pitches housed in a back-to-back layout so traders face pedestrian routes and two dedicated catering vehicle spaces focused around The Bridge.

Stalls can also be demountable, so when the market is not operating it can act as a public open space.

The current, rather careworn Walsall Market square (pic: Stuart Williams)
The current, rather careworn Walsall Market square (pic: Stuart Williams)

Changes to the market layout will be carried out in two main phases to minimise disruption to traders during the ongoing regeneration activity in the town centre.

Phase one, which gets underway in late March, will see the relocation of 11 stalls and a catering vehicle to The Bridge, two extra stalls on Bradford Street and up to 6 stalls in Market Square. Six trees will be removed from the north east side of The Bridge but these will be reinstated in phase two.

As part of the second phase, the fountain at The Bridge will be relocated within the Town Centre as a piece of public art, the podium on which it sits will be removed and Sister Dora statue repositioned into a more prominent location. The iconic Hippo sculpture has already been moved to a temporary location outside Walsall Central Library to allow work to progress and will return to The Bridge as part of the permanent market layout.

Walsall’s regeneration chief, Councillor Mohammad Nazir, said that the decision was a ‘benchmark for the town’ and was the culmination of extensive consultation:

“I am delighted to confirm that we now have planning permission for the Market’s permanent location,” he said.

“The new Market and public realm improvements will definitely enhance the town and compliments the ongoing regeneration projects in the town centre.

“We have had to stick to a specific timeline as there are a number of projects taking place in the town and we want to minimise disruption to traders and retailers alike. Within a few months, Primark and the Co-op food store will be trading and we’re looking forward to welcoming a new cinema in the town, so it’s a really exciting period for Walsall.”

Work will now commence on appointing contractors for the scheme.

Beechdale boy sez cum on feel the noize!

Noddy Holder at Walsall Town Hall
Noddy Holder at Walsall Town Hall

Noddy Holder is hosting an evening of 60s Mania at Walsall Town Hall in support of the Mayor’s Charity Appeal later this month.

Freeman of the Borough of Walsall, Noddy Holder, returns to his home town on Friday 27 March 2015 as compere for this charity concert.  The evening will feature two 60s tribute acts, The Born Again Beatles and a ‘British Invasion’ tribute act, with support from Q4, Regale, and as seen on The Voice, Misternothing with Mitchel Elms and The Rooz with Louis Coupe.

Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Pete Smith, said: “We hope this concert will be a sell-out. Tickets cost just £10 each and for this there will be a terrific host for the evening, Noddy Holder, and over four hours of musical entertainment.

“All the supporting acts will perform at least one well known song from the 60s which will make 60s Mania a night to remember.

“Noddy will also be running the draw for a really impressive raffle on the evening.”

All proceeds after costs will go to the Mayor’s Charity Appeal beneficiaries MS (Black Country branch), Macmillan (Walsall Branch), Walsall Heartcare and Bloxwich Community Partnership.

Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)

Doors open at 6.30pm, as will the bar, with the concert’s first act going on stage at 7.30pm with The Born Again Beatles appearing  later in the evening.

Tickets are now on sale from Walsall Town Hall Box Office and can be purchased by calling 0845 111 2900 (Option1) or visiting the Council House on Lichfield Street from 10am-12noon and 2-4pm.

If any business or organisation would like to sponsor the event or donate an item for the Charity Concert raffle, please contact the Mayor’s Office on 01922 652072.

After the Oscars – here come the Doras!

Sister Dora looks humbly down on the town she made her own (pic: Stuart Williams)
Sister Dora looks humbly down on the town she made her own (pic: Stuart Williams)

Preparations are under way for the eleventh annual Mayor of Walsall’s Civic Awards which is being held at Walsall Town Hall on Friday 20 March 2015.

Walsall-born TV presenter Bob Warman returns as the celebrity compere since his last appearance in 2013. Mr Warman started his career as a journalist with the Walsall Observer and is now the senior presenter of ITV Central which broadcasts nightly to over a million viewers in the Midlands.

The awards, which are known as the Doras after nursing heroine Sister Dora, aim to recognise unsung heroes who work tirelessly to help others who are working to improve the lives of others in the borough and make people proud of Walsall.

Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)

The Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Pete Smith, said: “I am delighted that Bob has agreed to host this year’s awards as he is the most instantly recognised media face in Central England.

“He has hosted the awards in 2008, 2009 and in 2013 and is always brilliant on the night so we are delighted that he has agreed to host the awards again.

“We are really excited for the big night and I’m really looking forward to our unsung heroes getting the recognition they so richly deserve, hosted by one of the borough’s own success stories.”

The awards are sponsored by APCOA Parking, Barhale Construction plc, DWF LLP, The Mid Counties Co-operative and whg. They judged the entries and chose the finalists in January. The finalists, who have all been notified, will be announced soon.

WW2 Arctic Convoy veterans honoured by Russia

Veterans, dignitaries and guests at the presentation of the Ushakov Medal (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
Veterans, dignitaries and guests at the presentation of the Ushakov Medal (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

Local World War Two veterans were awarded Russia’s Medal of Ushakov at Walsall Town Hall on Wednesday 25 February 2015.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation hosted a ceremony to award the Ushakov Medal to twenty-two local veterans involved in the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War.

The veterans were accompanied by family and friends at this moving event where they were greeted by the Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Pete Smith, and presented with their medals by Sergey Fedichkin, from the Russian Federation’s Embassy.

The Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Pete Smith, welcomes the assembly (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
The Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Pete Smith, welcomes the assembly (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

Councillor Pete Smith said: “This was a proud day for Walsall to see their veterans awarded Russia’s Medal of Ushakov in recognition of their brave exploits during the Arctic Convoys.

“The Arctic Convoys were very dangerous and conditions were among the worst faced by any Allied sailors.

“Over four million tons of essential supplies were delivered to the Russians between 1941 and 1945 and it is truly noble of the Russians to continue to recognise these veterans who risked their lives to help them.”

Third Secretary Sergey Fedichkin from the Embassy of the Russian Federation presented the medals (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
Third Secretary Sergey Fedichkin from the Embassy of the Russian Federation presented the medals (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

Third Secretary of the Russian Embassy, Sergey Fedichkin, said, “This ceremony is done for the Arctic Convoy veterans to recognise their invaluable contribution.

“Their heroism will always be remembered both in Russia and in the UK and this will continue to serve as a supreme expression of bravery and kindred spirits.

“I am confident it was not by accident that our nations found ourselves on the right side of history.  This truly critical point of history will forever remain an important part of European spiritual heritage including the ties between our two navies.”

Veterans and guests await the presentation (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
Veterans and guests await the presentation (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

Of the twenty-two veterans honoured, some posthumously, seven hail from the borough of Walsall.

Kenneth Taylor, aged 88, from Beechdale served on an Arctic Convoy in February 1945 when he was aged just 18.  His was a hectic journey as they were constantly under attack by enemy aircraft and Kenneth manned gun number two in defence.

Kenneth recalled that their route would be dictated by information received from Bletchley Park whose staff worked out where U-boats were likely to be through the interception of their radio messages.

Eventually his ship was sunk by a U-boat in a strait near Murmansk. They were picked up by HMS Bluebell and taken to harbour. HMS Bluebell later suffered a torpedo attack and was sunk in the same strait with only one survivor.

When asked how he had enjoyed the day’s medal ceremony, he said, “It was alright,” and then with a smile added, “I’m still alive!”

Ivor Oldbury, aged 89, is from High Heath Pelsall and was accompanied by four generations of his family; daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter and great great grandsons.  He too was only 18 when he served as a stoker with the Royal Navy.

His ship left Liverpool in November 1944 as escort to one of the convoys and luckily avoided being gunned or torpedoed.

When asked what it felt like to have the Ushakov medal handed over by the Russian Federation, Ivor simply replied, “Smashing!”

John Kinsella, from Aldridge and aged 91, enlisted with the Royal Navy in December 1941 serving in the Mediterranean at first. He was in the Y Service working for Bletchley Park intercepting enemy radio transmissions from the German U-boats.

John explained, “Whatever duty they wanted us on, they would tell us where we would pick up the ship and that’s what we did, either as escort duty or shooting up enemy ships along the Norwegian coast.”

He did three trips to Spitsbergen taking Norwegian troops and their ammunition on board HMS Belfast.  John once met Randolph Churchill who sat next to him on an RAF plane.  John was with nine others and Churchill remarked, “Bloody hell, flying sailors!”

When asked how he felt about the day’s medal ceremony, John said, “I enjoyed it – I had to get up early to pin all my medals on and now I have the Medal of Ushakov to join them.”

A proud veteran shows off his Ushakov Medal (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
A proud veteran shows off his Ushakov Medal (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

The Medal of Ushakov was created in 1944 and is named in honour of the Russian Admiral Fyodor Ushakov who never lost a battle and was proclaimed patron saint of the Russian Navy.  The medal was awarded to their navy’s service personnel.

The medal was subsequently retained by the Russian Federation who reached an agreement whereby the Ushakov medal can be awarded to any Allied service personnel involved in the Arctic Convoys.

Photos from the ceremony at Walsall Town Hall, courtesy of Ed Bagnall, can be viewed via this link: http://edbagnall.dphoto.com/album/d96b9w

Crossroads returns to local TV screens

Benny (played by Paul Henry) and 'Miss Diane' (Sue Hanson) in Crossroads, 1980
Benny (played by Paul Henry) and ‘Miss Diane’ (Sue Hanson) in Crossroads, 1980

Iconic West Midlands television ‘soap opera’ series, Crossroads, is being brought back to the small screen by Walsall’s new local television station Big Centre TV, which launches this Saturday, 28th February, at 6pm on Freeview Channel 8, covering Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country.

In a move that will delight fans of the show, Big Centre TV, which has studios at the Goldmine Centre in Lower Hall Lane, plans to broadcast all existing episodes, including some classic early episodes from the 1960s.

Crossroads originally ran from 1964 to 1988 on ITV (originally in the ATV days) and at its peak the show’s viewing figures reached up to 18 million. The show, which was the UK’s first full length daily soap, revolves around the fictional village of Kings Oak, near Birmingham, portrayed as the main location of the Crossroads Motel.

Channel director, Chris Perry, said: “It’s an incredible honour to bring Crossroads back to viewers. More than 4,500 episodes were filmed, but only around 3,000 have survived and these are mostly from 1978-1988. The earlier editions were largely lost and only a few classic editions survive. However, we plan to show all editions available, including those known as the ‘Crossroads Classics’.

“Bringing Crossroads back to the small screen has only been possible because of the close partnership between ITV and me and my team at Kaleidoscope. Arranging this deal was not easy, as checking assets from the 1960s took time, restoration and research, but we are deeply proud to be the new home of such an iconic programme.”

Early photo of the cast of Crossroads including Jane Rossington (centre left) and Noele Gordon
Early photo of the cast of Crossroads including Jane Rossington (centre left) and Noele Gordon

One of the show’s stars, Jane Rossington, who played Jill Richardson, said: “I am delighted that audiences will be able to experience the phenomenon that was Crossroads. We filmed at a number of locations here in the Midlands, so it’s great that Big Centre TV, the local station for the area, has chosen it as the headline show.

“Many people have fond memories of the show and even today I meet people who remember characters and storylines.”

Andrew Gavaghan, ITV’s archive operations manager, said: “ITV and Kaleidoscope have worked together for many years in sharing knowledge and information about ITV’s rich broadcasting history and ITV has donated archive materials to Kaleidoscope to help assist with its endeavours in preserving and exploring past British TV programming.

“The in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm that Kaleidoscope possess, is a valuable resource not only to the broadcasting and production communities but also to anyone interested in this important area of our culture.”

Big Centre TV is the UK’s newest station and will provide an estimated 2.3m viewers with an eclectic mix of local and national programmes. It will broadcast seven days a week and programmes will also be available online, giving the station a potential global audience.

Crossroads will be broadcast weekdays at 9.30am, 6pm and 11pm and will be live-streamed via the stations website at: http://www.bigcentre.tv/

For more information on receiving the new station see:  http://www.kaleidoscopetv.co.uk/

And on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BigCentreTV