Category Archives: Walsall Borough

Queen’s Silver Jubilee Walsall Visit – 40th Anniversary Exclusive

A friendly Walsall police sergeant shows his radio to curious children in Lichfield Street as the crowds wait
A friendly Walsall police sergeant shows his radio to curious children in Lichfield Street as the crowds wait

Today marks forty years to the day since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II honoured the borough of Walsall with a very special Royal Visit to mark twenty-five years of her reign – her Silver Jubilee. Many of our readers may well remember that day. We certainly do – and we have exclusive pictures to prove it!

The day of the visit, Wednesday 27th July 1977,  had dawned grey and chilly, but there was to be nothing chilly about the reception which the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would receive; indeed their route into town was lined with people up to twelve deep, despite hours of waiting.

Waiting for the Queen to arrive, Walsall Police enjoyed the occasion as much as the people
Waiting for the Queen to arrive, Walsall Police enjoyed the occasion as much as the people

The Royal motorcade arrived some twenty-five minutes behind schedule, and the crowds, made up of all ages from throughout the borough, had been there for up to seven hours. Despite this, there was an air of excited anticipation; even the local police on duty in Lichfield Street seemed to be enjoying the sense of occasion.

Walsall policemen on duty for the occasion proudly show off their medals.
Walsall policemen on duty for the occasion proudly show off their medals.

Press photographers had not been wasting the waiting time, and both they and reporters from local newspapers had been doing the rounds of the crowds, taking likely pictures for publication and gathering quotes and comments to take back to their editors. Many members of the public had their own cameras at the ready, unsurprisingly. Notably one Stuart Williams, then aged 16, now editor of The Bloxwich Telegraph.  Stuart had placed himself carefully on the Council House side of Lichfield Street, hoping to get some interesting pictures with his new Russian Zenith E camera. The professional pressmen had the best gear and the best access, but Stuart and his rather slower and clunkier camera were ready for action nonetheless. He took a few pictures of the crowds and police, and even targeted one of the pros who was busy snapping away at an excited group of young royalists nearby. Then waited patiently. Continue reading Queen’s Silver Jubilee Walsall Visit – 40th Anniversary Exclusive

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Walsall Silver Thread Tapestries project tour launches

This stunning main Bloxwich tapestry is just one of those relating to the Bloxwich area.
This stunning main Bloxwich tapestry is just one of those relating to the Bloxwich area.

Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team is celebrating 25 years of bringing community arts to Walsall. To mark this occasion the team is launching a tour of the Silver Thread Tapestries – eleven unique tapestries representing the six towns and other areas in Walsall Borough, created by an army of local volunteers.

The tapestries will be on display in the New Art Gallery Walsall from 21 – 29 January 2017 and will then move to various locations around the borough (see list of dates at the end of this feature) before being displayed at the NEC Sewing for Pleasure Show 17 – 19 March 2017. Commemorative postcards depicting each of the tapestries will be available to buy. Continue reading Walsall Silver Thread Tapestries project tour launches

Walsall writers hit 50 and still going strong!

Walsall Writers' Circle 50th Anniversary Celebration
Walsall Writers’ Circle 50th Anniversary Celebration

Walsall’s oldest group for writers across the borough is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year, and after a special Circle meeting to mark the occasion earlier this month (pictured), they are now joining forces with Walsall’s only independent bookshop, Southcart Books of Lower Hall Lane, to carry on the festivities and launch their latest book!

The Circle was formed by local writers in 1966, initially as part of an initiative by Walsall Central Library, where the group met for some years before moving on to Park Hall School and now the Broadway North Recovery College, where they meet every second Thursday of the month at 7.30pm. Continue reading Walsall writers hit 50 and still going strong!

Local authors support Walsall bookshop with new writing

The cover of 'Southcart Tales'
The cover of ‘Southcart Tales’

The proprietors of a popular Walsall bookshop have been given a very special gift by a group of local authors in thanks for the shop’s enthusiastic support of writing in the town over the past two years.

Scott Southey and Amy Carter, of Southcart Books in Lower Hall Lane, are in the process of moving to larger premises in the same street, and several of their friends in the writing community decided to write and publish a unique multi-genre anthology of short stories dedicated to the shop, to help defray some of the costs of the relocation.

The 136 page paperback book is entitled ‘Southcart Tales’.

Members of ‘The Southcart Storytellers’ present Scott Southey and Amy Carter with the new book at the new shop premises, which are currently being refitted. L to R: A. Stuart Williams, Ken Preston, Amy Carter, Dan Oram, Scott Southey, Rachel Oram, James Josiah. L to R: A. Stuart Williams, Ken Preston, Amy Carter, Dan Oram, Scott Southey, Rachel Oram, James Josiah.
Members of ‘The Southcart Storytellers’ present Scott Southey and Amy Carter with the new book at the new shop premises, which are currently being refitted. L to R: A. Stuart Williams, Ken Preston, Amy Carter, Dan Oram, Scott Southey, Rachel Oram, James Josiah. L to R: A. Stuart Williams, Ken Preston, Amy Carter, Dan Oram, Scott Southey, Rachel Oram, James Josiah.

The nine stories – which offer the reader everything from literary fiction through science fiction, sword & sorcery and psychological horror – come from the pens of ‘The Southcart Storytellers’, James Josiah, Dan Oram, Neil Sehmbhy, Rob Grimes, Kerry Hadley-Pryce, Bekki Pate, Ken Preston (publishing on behalf of the group), Lucy Onions and A. Stuart Williams. Cover photography is by Craig Beas.

A special foreword by noted fantasy author Stan Nicholls is also included.

Southcart Books, which is the only independent bookshop in the Walsall area, is expected to re-open in August 2016 and it is planned to hold a launch and signing of the new book at the shop, which has already been gifted a number of paperback copies for stock, as soon as convenient.

Southcart Tales is also available now on Amazon at just £4.99 for paperback (plus postage) or £1.99 in Kindle ebook format.

Telephone Southcart Books on 07528 144837 for details of the shop and opening. Further information about the book may be found on the shop’s Facebook page and on Amazon (search for Southcart Tales on Amazon).

Book links:
 

Bloxwich and Walsall election results

 

It was a quiet start to the day for the Little Bloxwich polling station at Holy Ascension Church
It was a quiet start to the day for the Little Bloxwich polling station at Holy Ascension Church

After a busy day and night for candidates and Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council staff, the results are now in for this year’s round of local government elections.

Council control

With a low voter turnout overall, and despite being the party with the largest number of elected Councillors, Labour have still not managed to achieve a majority across the Borough. However, Walsall’s Labour Leader Cllr Sean Coughlan has reportedly stated that the party will be meeting the two Liberal Democrat councillors this morning to discuss joining forces to run the council. We are awaiting an official announcement on this.

Whoever takes control will still have to implement massive cuts forced on them by the Conservative governments ‘austerity’ policies, although it is expected that Labour will have a differerent take on what public services and other areas will be cut, where and how.

Victims of changes

There was dramatic change in Blakenall Ward this time around, with ‘independent’ incumbent Pete Smith being knocked out by Labour’s Matt Ward with a majority of 257.  Meanwhile in Bloxwich West, the Conservatives gained a surprise seat, with Brad Allen defeating Labour’s Patti Lane by just 109 votes.

Over in Birchills-Leamore and Bloxwich East, the song remained with same with Tina Jukes and Julie Fitzpatrick holding fast for the Labour Party with 1736 and 1168 votes respectively, the Tory candidates being beaten soundly by Labour majorities of 1229 and 690.

Polling Station banner

The detailed results for the Bloxwich and district wards are as follows:

Birchills-Leamore
Candidate Party Votes received
Ali Shaz The Conservative Party Candidate  507
Jukes Tina Joan Labour Party  1736**H

** Elected
H or G: Hold or Gain

Blakenall
Candidate Party Votes received
Derry Hilda The Conservative Party Candidate  228
Smith Pete  811
Ward Matt Labour Party Candidate  1068**G

** Elected
H or G: Hold or Gain

Bloxwich East
Candidate Party Votes received
Fitzpatrick Julie Labour Party  1168**H
Statham Mark Andrew The Conservative Party Candidate  682
Timmins Gary UK Independence Party (UKIP)  478

** Elected
H or G: Hold or Gain

Bloxwich West
Candidate Party Votes received
Allen Brad  The Conservative Party Candidate  1434**G
Lane Patti Labour Party  1325

** Elected
H or G: Hold or Gain

Borough results

Election results for the whole of Walsall Metropolitan Borough can be found via the following link:

http://webwalsall.com/elections/results2/

 

Results figures are provided here courtesy of Walsall Council

Beano Artist to produce designs for Silver Thread Tapestries project

Artist Hunt Emerson and Rachel Parker from Walsall's Creative Development Team
Artist Hunt Emerson and Rachel Parker from Walsall’s Creative Development Team

A borough wide project set up to celebrate 25 years of delivering community arts in Walsall has drafted in renowned Beano artist Hunt Emerson to help design 11 unique tapestries.

The ‘Silver Thread’ project involving an army of local people will see 11 unique tapestries created representing the six towns and other areas in Walsall Borough. Reflecting the borough’s living history the tapestries will show the diversity while acknowledging the past, reflecting the present and embracing the future.

A successful £73,400 Arts Council England Lottery Funding bid is allowing Walsall Council Creative Development Team to deliver the unique year long community arts project which will involve an army of local people.

Artistic involvement
Panel from 'Ratz', one of Hunt Emerson's Beano comic strips
Panel from ‘Ratz’, one of Hunt Emerson’s Beano comic strips

Hunt Emerson said of his involvement in the creation of the tapestries, “This project provides a fantastic opportunity for local residents to put forward their suggestions for what should be included in each tapestry and how it represents their view of the world. This is about ways of seeing the world and I’m looking forward to making their creative imaginings take shape.”

The tapestry aspect of the project is aimed to provide a common thread of arts and local history and runs alongside  work to produce a commemorative book featuring 25 of Walsall Council’s Creative Development Teams most notable projects.

The first meeting dates have been set for local people to help decide what will be included on the tapestries. Walsall Council Creative Development Team are inviting anyone who has an interest in local history, local Identity or to find out more about the project to come along to a meeting in different localities across the borough.

Get involved
Silver Thread meetings details - click to enlarge
Silver Thread meetings details – click to enlarge

If you are interested in getting involved in the sewing which will start in May, or if you want updates on the Silver Thread project visit www.creativewalsall.com or facebook page  Walsall Silver Thread or by contacting the team on 01922 653114 or email prey.chauhan2@walsall.gov.uk

Walsall Silver Thread project now on Facebook

 

The project's first sewing group, Arboretum Craft Group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.
The project’s first sewing group, Arboretum Craft Group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.
Walsall’s new ‘Silver Thread’ project is a great new local community project organised by the Walsall Council Creative Development Team. It celebrates both local history and arts, and 25 years of work by the Team (which will itself be marked with a new book).
 
The project, which covers Walsall Metropolitan Borough, has now been launched and is being organised on many fronts – including Facebook!  A brand new social media page is now online, and can be visited via the following link: Walsall Silver Thread Facebook page
 
There will be local meetings in many places across the Borough to involve local people with the project on the history, arts and crafts front. Many local towns and villages are being represented in a series of ‘tapestry’ works which will be created.
 
Anyone interested in their local history (including in living memory) or who was involved in the past local manufacture of needles and awl blades (for which Bloxwich is historically famed), or who is a keen sewer or in a sewing group, will be particularly welcome. Arboretum Craft Group are the first sewing group to sign up to help sew the Silver Thread Tapestries.
 
Also, contacts are invited by the organisers from people who have been involved with past Creative Development Team projects like The Bloxwich Tardis on Elmore Green, or The Brownhills Miner!
More information can be found on the Facebook page and in our previous news item: PROJECT WILL SEW A SILVER THREAD OF ARTS AND HISTORY

Project will sew a Silver Thread of arts and history

The project's sewing group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.
The project’s sewing group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.

As part of a celebration of a quarter of a century working in community arts, Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team are now set to deliver a unique year long community arts project for Walsall Borough.

The scheme is being funded through a successful application for £73,400 from Arts Council England Lottery Funding.

Involving an army of local people, the ‘Silver Thread’ project will see 11 unique tapestries created, representing the six towns and other areas in Walsall Borough. The tapestries will reflect the borough’s living history, diversity and commonality; acknowledge the past, reflect the present and embrace the future.

A common thread

Creating the tapestries will provide the common thread to produce a commemorative book featuring 25 of Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team projects, which include the Bloxwich Tardis monument, the Brownhills Miner, festivals and a host of other projects from the 25 year history of the team’s work.

The book will tell the story of the engaging creative processes and the impact participatory arts have made in Walsall’s communities across an area so diverse in history, heritage and geography.

The Silver Thread Tapestries and the book project will demonstrate how the Creative Development Team is a thread linking people, places and policies and instigating positive change in communities. The aim of the project is to celebrate and bring to life the thread sewn over the life of the teams work in community arts.

Meetings across the borough

Throughout February and March organisers will be hosting meetings in 11 different areas of Walsall to plan the content for the tapestries and they are inviting local community groups, history groups, and individuals to help decide what to feature on the tapestries. If you would like to help tell Walsall’s story or you would like to attend a meeting in your local area please contact 01922 653114.

Awl blades of Bloxwich repute

Local historian Billy Meikle took this picture of a typical Sandbank awl blade maker’s workshop in 1915 (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre)
Local historian Billy Meikle took this picture of a typical Sandbank awl blade maker’s workshop in 1915 (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre)

Included on the tapestries will be leather work to show the rich history associated with the leather industry in Walsall.  An example of this link can be seen with the famed association Bloxwich had for centuries with needle and awl blade making through local people in tiny home workshops and firms like Somerfields of Clarendon Street, who operated for over 200 years until around 1992.

During their time in Bloxwich, Somerfields made it into the Guinness book of records for the world’s largest needle measuring more than 6ft long for sewing mattresses, made by Mr George Davies, master forger.

Letterhead of Somerfields of Bloxwich, circa 1930’s, (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre).
Letterhead of Somerfields of Bloxwich, circa 1930’s, (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre).

A tribute

The Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Underhill, when talking about the project stated:“This project is a fitting tribute to the work the team has carried out over the last 25 years and reflects the creative energy that the people of Walsall exhibit in not only the industry of the borough but also throughout the region’s history and culture.”

Content and sewing

Once the content for the tapestries has been decided, Midlands Artist Hunt Emerson famous for being an artist on the Beano comic will create the designs for the 11 tapestries. Once the designs are completed organisers will be recruiting an army of volunteers through sewing groups and individuals to help sew the images.

Starting after Easter sewing will continue until the autumn to create the unique set of tapestries to be exhibited together and toured around the borough in January 2017. If you or your sewing group or community group would like to take part in the sewing we call 01922 653114.  As well as sewing volunteers project organisers are also keen to hear from sewing experts able to lead groups and look after a tapestry as part of the delivery team.

Past projects included

Over the past 25 years Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team (Formerly known as Walsall Council Community Arts Team) delivered hundreds of participatory arts projects involving thousands of local people.

Of the best projects 25 of the best will feature as examples in the ‘Silver Thread’ book and the team are eager to hear from anyone who remembers participating in past projects to help tell the story of local communities and the impact these had for participants. If you remember taking part in any of the theatre projects, exhibitions, events, projects or festivals thye want to hear from you. Contact the team on 01922 65311.

Try something new at Walsall Libraries

Computer course

Walsall Libraries have just launched their new programme of computer taster courses for the whole academic year starting from September 2015 – July 2016.

There are now an extensive range of courses available from lots of individual teaching slots where you can seek help on specific things e.g. if you are unsure of how to create an email, how to buy and sell online, to more structured sessions on Ebay, Family History, CV help and Work Clubs.

In partnership with Walsall College, some libraries will be running 3 week basic taster courses and also a brand new 3 week course covering social media, and using comparison websites.

Helena Denham Information and Learning Co-ordinator said “Walsall Libraries love to offer new learning opportunities for our customers. Libraries are a great place to learn in an informal, relaxing and friendly environment.”

To book your place please visit or telephone your local library, or check out Walsall Libraries’ Adult Zone, then click ‘Learning’ on the website at www.lovelibrarieswalsall.co.uk

Tasty computer courses in Walsall Libraries!

Walsall Libraries Adults Zone
Walsall Libraries Adults Zone

Walsall Libraries have just launched their new programme of computer taster courses for the whole academic year starting from September 2015 – July 2016.

There are now an extensive range of courses available from lots of individual teaching slots where you can seek help on specific things e.g. if you are unsure of how to create an email, how to buy and sell online, to more structured sessions on Ebay, Family History, CV help and Work Clubs.

In partnership with Walsall College, some of the libraries will be running 3 week basic taster courses and also a brand new 3 week course covering social media, and using comparison websites.

Helena Denham Information and Learning Co-ordinator said “Walsall Libraries love to offer new learning opportunities for our customers. Libraries are a great place to learn in an informal, relaxing and friendly environment.”

To book your place you can visit or telephone your local library, or check out the Adults Zone, then click ‘Learning’ on the Walsall Libraries  website at www.lovelibrarieswalsall.co.uk