It’s a good time to be thinking about our feathered friends in this harsh winter weather, so I borrowed the post below from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds website. You can view their site via the link given at the bottom.
If you’re wondering about the cost of feeding the birds, by the way, you’ll find most of the local Pound Shops in the Walsall area and Home Bargains in Bloxwich selling bags of suitable bird seed, fat balls and feeders for a quid apiece, so there’s no excuse not to do your bit in your garden!
From the RSPB:
“With sub-zero temperatures suddenly upon us, the RSPB are advising people to make sure their bird feeders and tables are full of high-energy foods.
Richard James, one of the RSPB’s wildlife advisors, said:
‘The sudden drop in temperatures across the UK will have been a big shock to birds’ systems after spending the past couple of months with few worries in terms of food availability.
‘Thanks to the recent mild weather, many natural food sources have been readily available and water has been easy to come by. Now the snow and ice are here birds will need all the help they can get to survive the winter.’
You can feed birds calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, nyjer seed, fatballs, suet sprinkles, sunflower seeds and good-quality peanuts, as well as kitchen scraps like mild grated cheese, cooked rice and porridge oats.
A supply of water is also essential for bathing and preening. In freezing conditions birds become more dependent on water provided in gardens, since many natural sources are frozen over.
The most effective way to keep the water in your garden from freezing is to pop in a light ball that will be moved by even a gentle breeze and keep a small amount of water ice free – a ping-pong ball is ideal. Alternatively, pour on hot water to melt the ice to make sure the birds can get to it.”
The hammer of the north came down on Bloxwich on Friday as the UK was hit by massive snowfall, and Bloxwich was rapidly covered in a blanket of the white stuff.
And it was ‘”snow joke” when traffic slowed down to a crawl as it slipped and slided through the village, causing lengthy tailbacks at times, but Walsall Council had already gritted the main roads and parts of the High Street pavements so the village remained open for business, with shops ready to welcome customers, though libraries were obliged to close mid-afternoon as paths and side-roads became unsafe. Leamore and Blakenall Heath traders also mostly continued to serve their chilled-out customers despite a lack of pavement grit in places.
Notably, newly-relocated Bloxwich Hardware & DIY were well-prepared and ready to sell sledges and shovels to all from their new shop in the converted George pub on the corner of High Street and Elmore Row! Fork handles, anyone?
Most pubs including the historic Spotted Cow in Wolverhampton Road and the Prince of Wales in High Street were also open to offer a cosy fireside and warming drink – a fine old Bloxwich tradition! Park Road pub The Lady Diana looked particularly picturesque in drifted snow – though the scene highlighted Wetherspoon’s tardiness in getting the good old Bull’s Head rebuilt.
Sadly for those members of the public and bus drivers desperately needing a cold-weather pee, however, Walsall Council had gritted well all around Bloxwich Bogs but neglected to open them! On the up side, borough binmen worked hard for much of the day before heading back to base, a commendable effort.
For much of the day, bus services through Bloxwich were no more chaotic than usual on Friday (when was the last time you saw a bus turn up on time?) though vehicles were on a go-slow due to slippery conditions, especially in hilly areas and on bridged routes.
By lunchtime Friday near-blizzard conditions were evident, though this was no deterrent to Bloxwich Telegraph editor Stuart Williams who braved the stormy blast in his lunch hour to get the pictures shown here and in our Snowy Bloxwich Flickr album. Stuart also kept up the flow of relayed road and weather info from transport providers, Walsall Council, agencies and weather experts throughout the day on the Telegraph’s Twitter account: http://twitter.com/BloxTelegraph
Picturesque parks and playing fields were, remarkably, all open as usual on Friday, delighting hardy walkers and families with sledges for the youngsters. Snow in the parks had reached a depth of 4-6 inches by lunchtime, with drifting to as much as ten inches in places in the area. Dogs were in their element, with many seen bouncing about having walkies fun in the flakes. At Wallington Heath the pool was frozen hard, presenting a pretty but Siberian scene.
As a precautionary measure, bus services on National Express routes shut up shop at 7pm, and the arctic night fell until morning.
By Saturday, snowfall had largely ceased and main roads were clearer than the day before, with buses actually running on time, something rarely seen in Bloxwich in good weather! The situation is much the same today, Sunday – though it’s expected that there will be further snowfall this afternoon and evening, so get your shovels ready!
Check out our Snowy Bloxwich Flickr album from Friday via this link for more pictures and panoramas!
It will be no news to many readers of The Bloxwich Telegraph that over the past few years there has been an increasing trend in the area for historic local pubs in particular to close and, having deteriorated over time, whether by misfortune or by intent, to either be demolished because of their poor condition or, something which has become a blight on the borough of late, ‘spontaneously combust’.
This latter event seems to happen either ‘accidentally’ due to people breaking in and smoking etc or – as seems more and more often to be the case – as a result of deliberate arson. Yet no-one ever seems to be brought to justice.
In Walsall town itself, there is now a disturbing trend for large,historic, often former industrial buildings, to be let fall into disrepair and eventually go up in smoke. Some of this at least is clearly due to deliberate arson, for what purpose we can only conjecture.
There has been much speculation off and online by local people as to whether there is a definable pattern to this, and what is or should be being done about it. In an area which has lost so many of its historic buildings to often ill-considered ‘redevelopment’ in the past 150 years we cannot afford to lose any more of our built heritage.
Perhaps more importantly to many minds, this plague of conflagrations which seems to be sweeping the Walsall area is bound, if it continues, to result in loss of life, whether public or within the emergency services, and damage to other properties, including both homes and businesses. The whole of Station Street and Navigation Street could easily have been destroyed as a result of the recent act of arson committed on the massive former Boak Ravenscraig leather works, for example.
This whole sorry matter has clearly come to a head now, and at the AGM of Walsall Civic Society earlier this month, angry questions were being asked by members about the plague of fires and derelict heritage buildings, and what was being done about it by Walsall Police and Walsall Council in particular.
This week the Civic Society has written to the local press, the Council and the Police raising the matter in no uncertain terms. Their letter, sent on the Society’s behalf by the Secretary, John French, is as follows:
Walsall in Flames
To whom should we assign blame for the regular disappearance of historic buildings in Walsall?
Certainly to the man or woman with the box of matches. But that is too easy. What about owners who care too little for their buildings to arrange appropriate maintenance and security?
What about the Council itself which fails to exercise its enforcement powers on recalcitrant owners? What about the Police whose investigations are fruitless, if they happen at all?
Nationally listed, Iocally listed, historically interesting, or architecturally interesting buildings have a value to the whole community not just to their legal owners. This point seems to have escaped all the above, they should wake up to it.
The concerned citizen of Walsall borough can hardly argue with the questions asked and sentiments expressed above.
This appalling and ongoing state of affairs in the Walsall area has understandably also exercised the active and rightly outspoken Twitterati of Walsall, as well as the borough’s prominent blogosphere.
The latest stage of the debate, which has been facilitated by historically-inclined local activist and blogger Brownhills Bob in his post “After the fire had gone out – an appeal’, is also about what can be done in a practical way to raise the profile of, in particular, historic buildings at risk, bring them to the attention of the Council and others, and perhaps make a record of them for posterity. Hopefully this will eventually develop into a community-led initiative in this regard.
The Bloxwich Telegraph certainly supports the initiatives of both Walsall Civic Society and Brownhills Bob and other local people as well as anything that Walsall Council and the Emergency Services can do.
Also, the members of the Walsall Flickr Group are very heritage minded, and this is very much a topic of conversation there, where you’ll find many a sad but well-taken photo of the demise of the Boak Ravenscraig Works at the moment – check it out via this link.
We would like to encourage you, our readers, to join in the debate and express your concern about the accelerating loss of our built heritage, whether it be by neglect or by criminal activity. We invite you to do all of the following:
Write to the local newspapers.
Email your local blog.
Contact your local Councillor and express your concern.
Write to Walsall Council, Walsall Police and West Midlands Fire Service and ask them what they are doing about this.
Keep an eye out for buildings at risk and report them to the authorities.
Let us know at The Bloxwich Telegraph about any specific concerns you have for historic buildings in Bloxwich, Blakenall Heath, Leamore or Birchills.
Detectives investigating the deaths of a man and a woman in Birchills, Walsall have formally named them as Clare Sly aged 39 and Derrick Vassell aged 43.
DI Michaela Kerr from Force CID said: “Following extensive investigations and the results of a post mortem, we can confirm the death of Derrick is being treated as murder.
“We continue to investigate the exact circumstances of how Clare came to sustain her fatal gunshot injury.
“Enquiries are very much ongoing but one line of enquiry is that Clare took her own life.”
Derrick’s family gave the following tribute: “Derrick was a much loved member of the family who will be deeply missed.”
Clare’s mother Eileen also paid tribute to her daughter by saying: “Clare was a loving mother to her three sons and was widely respected and popular with everyone that knew her.”
An extensive investigation was launched after police were called to a house on Laneside Gardens, Birchills at 1.37am on Friday 8 June, after ambulance crews were called to two people with serious gunshot injuries.
A forensic post mortem revealed both victims died as a result of gunshot wounds to the chest. Derek suffered two gunshot injuries, while Clare suffered one gunshot injury.
Whilst Walsall Police await further specialist test results, the 23 year old man and a 22 year old woman who were arrested in connection with the deaths remain on police bail.
Saturday shoppers in Bloxwich enjoyed a local flavour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee yesterday as Bloxwich Business Partnership, Walsall Council and local organisations brought a second day of right Royal celebrations into the village.
Despite the grey and windy weather, Bloxwich folk young and old alike were able to get a real sense of the national Royal occasion thanks to hundreds of yards of colourful bunting, much of it hand made by local schools, which fluttered everywhere, and the numerous inviting High Street shops with their specially decorated Diamond Jubilee windows, many of which were entered in a special competition, as well as local pubs.
Bloxwich is well-known for its many historic local pubs, and several hostelries were decorated for the Diamond Jubilee, notably the Spotted Cow and the legendary Turf Tavern in Wolverhampton Road and the Prince of Wales in High Street.
And Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council’s Regeneration department joined present and past Bloxwich Carnival Queens Abigail Nicholls and Jessica Jones in hanging hand-made bunting along the railings of the Promenade Gardens (see picture at top of page), as well as spending much of the day travelling up and down the High Street and round the Market Square handing out Bostin Bloxwich booklets and chatting to shoppers and local youngsters.
Local charities the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix and St Giles Walsall Hospice joined the Mirus Academy (of Beechdale) on the market where stalls were decked out in hundred of flags and selling Union Jack-themed goods.
Youngsters visiting the market were also not only able to have their faces painted (and adults their nails), but could also meet and have their photos taken with Micky and Minnie Mouse, courtesy of Sweet & Fancy (of Park Rd).
Last but not least, seaside donkey rides joined the Council’s ‘Reach Up’ Climbing Frame plus the St Giles Walsall Hospice Cake Stall van in Park Road, where Sweet & Fancy were also selling colourful sweets.
The Bloxwich Telegraph braved the blustery conditions to capture the visual flavour of the day’s events, as you can see from this short feature. For many more pictures, a hundred in total, check out our set for the day on Flickr! FLICKR ALBUM
Numerous other events have and are being held in Bloxwich and distroct over the four-day Diamond Jubilee weekend, please see our events listing vial this link.
The National Lottery funded Young at Heart project based at The Stan Ball Centre will be launching a selection of new friendship activities for the 50+ age group on Wednesday 16th May from 2-4pm and carrying on to a further meeting for those who wish to stay on from 4-5pm (Local 50 + Forum)
The Young at Heart project is funded from 2010 to 2013 to develop activities for the fifty plus age group at the Stan Ball Centre.
Deb Brownlee, Young at Heart Project Co-ordinator, said “The first half of the project time has been spent with developing the £3.5m brand new rebuilt Stan Ball Centre from a magnificent but empty building into a thriving community centre for the target age group fifty plus. 120 events have generated 3512 visitors and the classes and groups have generated 5,424 attendances so far. Running alongside this was research into the best way to run the Young at Heart personalised Befriending Service, and after extensive research including visits to other groups, we have decided to go for the circle approach. We believe that members of the Friendship Circle can each give as well as receive friendship and this will also help to make the service sustainable.”
Many of the Friendship Circle activities will take place in the Stan Ball Centre, however for those who are housebound there will be personal visits and telephone calls by trained volunteers. Housebound members will be known as Home Members and in addition to the home visits a Computer Scheme also aims to encourage Friendship Circle members who are housebound – they will be known as ‘Home Members’ to learn how to use the internet so that they can keep also learn to keep in touch through email, facebook and skype.
Friendship Circle Home Members will be offered a computer on loan, refurbished by volunteers at The Stan Ball Centre. The computer will be set up in their home for them and private tuition will be given to them in their own home for a nominal amount to contribute to the costs of the scheme. If the member finds they like using the internet, they can then either purchase the loan computer, or purchase their own computer. The loan computer if returned will then be used to help another Home Member to make a start on the ever expanding world of the internet.
Deb Brownlee said “We hope by removing as many barriers as we can to encourage housebound elderly to give the internet a try. They will almost certainly find far off friends and family on facebook, and will discover that they can not only speak to family anywhere in the world free of charge through Skype but also see them as they speak through. With increasing travel costs and loss of mobility there may be no other way of actual seeing and speaking to children and grandchildren. There is no doubt that the world is increasingly moving online, and not to know how to look things up online or communicate online is becoming a serious disadvantage particularly from the point of view of cost. There can also be huge savings by shopping online which could help pensioners working to a strict budget, and cheaper shopping can also be delivered to the home rather than using premium rate convenience stores”.
Friendship Circle members will also receive information about sources of help, advice and advocacy, and automatic membership of the Stan Ball Centre based Local 50+ Forum, which deals with matters of interest to local people aged 50 plus and arranges trips to places of interest.
The Friendship Circle will also include a dedicated Stan Ball Centre Widow and Widowers group which will be launched on the same day and will meet monthly on Mondays.
Deb Brownlee commented “We have identified several other very successful widow and widower groups, and learnt a lot from them due to their generosity in sharing their experiences with us. There is clearly a need for a similar group at the Stan Ball Centre, where peer group support along with access to a lively social programme and bereavement counselling if needed can make a real difference to people. We are specifically saying that it does not matter how long ago the bereavement was, as people can still be suffering just as much many years later, and even if they now have a new partner”.
Potential volunteers for the Friendship Circle home visiting scheme are also asked to come along on the day. Volunteers will need to have an outgoing and friendly personality and will be reference and CRB checked.
Programme for the day
2pm Arrive, view leaflets and displays
2.30pm Presentation – Deb Brownlee Young at Heart project Co-ordinator:
Stan Ball Friendship Circle
Home Visiting Service
Widow and Widower group
Digital inclusion – free loan of computer scheme ‘Try Before You Buy’.
Volunteers – what is involved with becoming a Friendship Circle volunteer
Membership of the Local Community 50+ Forum
Followed by questions and answers and registration for the Friendship Circle Groups
3.15pm Break for refreshments
3.30pm Presentation – John Jones, Chair, Local Community 50+ Forum
Followed by questions and answers and invitation to join the 50+ meeting taking place at 4pm.
A Birchills author little-known in his own home but appreciated nationally has now been remembered once again in death.
John Petty, who was born in Walsall in 1919 and lived in Kent Street for many years, wrote the influential 1950s novel ‘Five Fags A Day: The Last Year of a Scrap Picker,’ but received no recognition in Walsall during his life, which he resented so much that on the dust cover of his autobiography ‘The Face’ he claimed that he came from The Potteries.
Walsall Council has however now joined forces with Walsall Housing Group to set that right by mounting a commemorative blue plaque on the wall of 40 Kent Street, where he lived.
A previous plaque went missing for more than a decade, but a new plaque was created after noted local historian Jack Haddock and others raised the issue and campaigned for its return. They have now been praised for their role.
Councillor Anthony Harris, Walsall Council cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “John’s is quite a sad story. He was a talented writer who was encouraged by a teacher but had a very tough life. He joined the Army, deserted and spent time in prison and made a living for a while picking over scrap heaps.
“A blue plaque to commemorate him was put on his old Kent Street home but taken down in the 1990s for building work. Our Local History Centre became interested in seeing the plaque put back up and WHG have played their part in this as they own the property.”
Petty left Walsall in 1967 after receiving an Arts Council bursary which allowed him to purchase a cottage in Ironbridge, but even then he was out of luck as his new home was condemned within months of his arrival, though the local council eventually provided him with a little cottage in Dawley.
He became a well-known personality and wrote a number of books and newspaper articles before his death, aged 54, in 1973, including ‘The Face’ as well as ‘A Flame In My Heart’ and ‘The Last Refuge.’
John Petty is best known for ‘Five Fags A day’ which paints a bleak picture of the Black Country in the late 1940s and received critical acclaim when it was published in 1956. Many of his books are available for reference in nearby Walsall Local History Centre’s local studies library in Essex Street.
It is to be hoped that now his plaque has been replaced John Petty will at last assume his rightful place as one of Walsall’s most influential authors.
Following a recent news item in The Bloxwich Telegraph publicising the Stan Ball Centre’s Tuesday morning Computer Beginners Club, which was suffering from a shortage of members, the Centre is pleased to report a very positive response and the next class was OVERSUBSCRIBED by two people, requiring extra chairs!
This means that the over-50’s Centre in Abbotts Street, Bloxwich may look at putting on a second beginners class, making a real turnaround from looking at closing the class last week.
Deb Brownlee, the Centre’s Young at Heart project co-ordinator said “What was really heartening was to see how brave some of the people, including an 80 year old, had been in coming forward to finally learn about computers.”
“It takes a lot of guts to start on something so completely new and it was fantastic to see how excited they were when they realised they could do it and the feeling at the end of the two hours was really vibrant. Several people had been bought laptops for Christmas and didn’t have the faintest idea what to do with them.”
Anyone interested in joining the group or helping to form a second session can ring the centre on 01922 403351. The sessions can be used for complete beginners, to find out about specific problems and own laptops can be brought in.
The sessions are pay as you go, the first session is free then £4 a session.
Bloxwich police have arrested a local man following the discovery of a cannabis factory yesterday.
Officers searched an address on Stamping Way, off Bell Lane, Bloxwich, at approximately 8am and found a sophisticated hydroponic growing system, together with a quantity of fully grown plants, set up in an upstairs bedroom.
Another bedroom housed a makeshift power supply which was powering the equipment.
The 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of cannabis and abstracting electricity and is currently helping police with their enquiries.
Sergeant John Bissell, from Walsall police station, said: “We will always act upon any information received especially where drug criminality is concerned. We are extremely pleased with today’s result and will continue our fight against this sort of crime.”
The plants seized have an estimated street value of £7,000.
The local history of all the towns and villages within the borough of Walsall is going to be the subject of a six week course.
Residents are being invited to go along to Walsall Local History Centre, in Essex Street, to learn how to discover history first-hand in a new six week course starting on 7 November.
Ruth Vyse, head of Walsall Local History Centre, will be teaching the weekly course with others.
The course runs until 12 December at Walsall Local History Centre, and costs £30 for the full course, or £5 for each class. Booking is essential on 01922 721305.
Councillor Anthony Harris, cabinet member for leisure at Walsall Council, said: “Participants will find out how to explore their area from documents, maps, photographs and other resources, and will be inspired to change the way they walk around a town by discovering what it can tell them about both the past and the present.
“All this can be done by studying the resources at the Local History Centre which you can use to find out about the borough’s history.”
Walsall Local History Centre is Walsall Council’s archives and local studies service for the whole of the Walsall borough.