The Bloxwich Telegraph, launched today
Dateline: 23 October 2011
Today, The Boxidge Tallygraph moved home, from from webs.com to Wordpress, in the process relaunching in an all-new high-tech format as The Bloxwich Telegraph.
Since 2006 this publication has been published on webs.com in tribute to the humorous – and scurrilous – 1870s news-sheet of the same name, written in genuine Black Country dialect and given out at the old Bloxwich Wakes.
The new online Tallygraph had a strong emphasis on local heritage, having its origins in my wish to offer articles on the local history of Bloxwich and district, but over time it became as much a newspaper, as well as providing a wide range of additional community and business information. It did its best to support local and community events like the Bloxwich Carnival, and to cover an area including Bloxwich and Little Bloxwich as well as Blakenall Heath, Leamore and, latterly, Birchills. All these places are closely linked by history and geography.
This year, however, it has become increasingly obvious that something had to be done to reduce the ever-increasing cost (a particular problem due to serial pay freezes and future wage cuts at my place of employment) and the amount of time taken to produce the Tallygraph, which was compiled using webs.com, an excellent system for hosting websites but sometimes very slow and inflexible to work with, and short on modern technologies like RSS capability and the ability to post news in the field.
So it was that I decided, reluctantly, since it would require a lot of work and not everything could be transferred, to move the Tallygraph over to WordPress.com, a basically free system better known for blogging.
It has not been possible to retain the ‘old newspaper’ look and feel of The Bloxidge Tallygraph under the new system, and some of the older, but little-used features of the Tallygraph have had to go. Despite this, I believe that on WordPress I can now offer a better, more responsive and more integrated service to the community, and it will certainly lighten the load at this end.
The new look publication has prompted a change of name, as you can see. The original Bloxidge Tallygraph itself underwent a major transformation in later years, and by January 1886 it had been reborn as The Bloxwich Telegraph, which although no longer presented in Black Country dialect, was even more of a rabble-rouser for the village than its predecessor!
I decided, therefore, that since major change was inevitable, it would be fun to follow the lead of the modern Bloxidge Tallygraph’s illustrious predecessors, and this new-look, WordPress-based publication has today been re-launched, and will henceforth be known as The Bloxwich Telegraph.
I hope that all our readers will follow us to the new site, and will not miss the old too much. In any event, it will remain here for a while until I am satisfied that The Bloxwich Telegraph is becoming a worthy successor. I am sure that it will.
Here’s the link: http://thebloxwichtelegraph.wordpress.com
Thanks for reading! Stuart Williams, The Edditerback to top
Chuck Micallef and Dave Locke enthrall the audience on the Bookmark Bloxwich stage (Pictures by Tony Marsh)
Dateline: 23 August 2011
Canadian singer songwriter Chuck Micallef brought his own style of Country, Folk and Blues music to Bloxwich when he made his mark on a local audience in a gig in the village's remarkable little theatre at Bookmark Bloxwich at last Saturday.
He was all set to appear at Bookmark Bloxwich with multi-instrumentalist Dave Luke and special guest The Trentvale Poet on Saturday 20 August. And before the event he was already relishing taking the stage at the Elmore Row venue"I am looking forward to playing at the Bookmark - It's a great room with a fabulous atmosphere," he said.
The singer started writing songs for his own enjoyment at an early age before venturing out on to the stage at Thistletown Collegiate's annual Variety Night. At that time he was based in Rexdale in Northwest Toronto but eventually he made his way down town getting exposure at such venues as the legendary Riverboat CoffeeHouse, The Backyard Café, The Backroom of Pizza Patio, and Free Times Café.
Time for a spot of down-home philosophy, country-style
He continued to perform at venues that presented acoustic-based Country, Folk and Blues music as he travelled across Canada to British Columbia. In 1979 Chuck returned to Toronto and was accepted on to the Humber College Music Programme as a Vocal Major.
There he met Ron Dann (pedal steel player/arranger/producer)and 1983 saw the release of his first single Within You. That first single was followed up by English Style Lovin'. His third release Loving You charted both in Canada and in the United States.
For the past 15 years Chuck has resided in the UK playing Country Music clubs and festivals throughout the country. He was recently asked by writer/director Chris Cook to record Man of Constant Sorrow for the film soundtrack of The Penalty King, an independently produced British feature film.
Cook also picked up Chuck's self-penned The Moon The Stars and The Sun for another scene in the film.
Chuck introduces Mark Bailey, aka 'The Trentvale Poet'
Chuck's classy track record on the country scene boded well for a great night im Bloxwich's top venue for live music, theatre, film and cultural events - and so it panned out, with real musical gold on show!
Chuck, whose soulful renditions of both his own works and classic country covers interspersed with down-home chat were received with open arms and ears by the appreciative audience, was strongly supported by versatile multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Dave Locke, whom he has known for twenty years, and by the extraordinary off-the-wall talent of Stoke-on-Trent's Mark Bailey, aka 'The Trentvale Poet' who had the audience alternately in stitches and in tears between the two sets.
The poet and the musician: two different worlds, two countries on one stage
The verdict at the end of the night was certainly 'More, please!' and thankfully Chuck is bound to return to Bloxwich before long, hopefully with Dave, Mark and more fine country music!
You can find out more about Chuck Micallef and his music on his website here.
Live music and other events at Bookmark Bloxwich are presented by Bloxwich Library Forum in partnership with Bloxwich Library.
Special thanks from The Bloxidge Tallygraph to photographer Tony Marsh for the use of his photographs in this article. You can see more of his work on his Flickr pages via this link.
Permanent story link here.
Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2011. Enthroned is Bloxwich Carnival Queen 2011 Abigail Nicholls, supported by (front left) 2011 Rosebud Phoebe Willetts, (front right) 2011 Princess Lucy Kirk and (rear standing) 2010 Queen Jessica Jones (Pix by Stuart Williams).
Dateline: 7 August 2011
Yesterday, Saturday 6 August, saw the latest instalment of a Bloxwich tradition dating back to 1919.
Bloxwich Carnival has its origins in the peace celebrations which followed the Great War, when the community came together to celebrate the return of local men from the trenches, commemorate those tragically lost in conflict, support their families and raise funds in aid of local hospitals.
Over subsequent decades, the tradition went from strength to strength, and became a firm local favourite, supporting both charitable causes and local senior citizens, both picking up the local Victorian tradition of organising a free annual party for the ‘Old Folks’ of the village and maintaining a close association with Pat Collins’ Fun Fair which has itself maintained the old tradition of Bloxwich Wakes for many years.
Senior Citizens Party at Bloxwich Baths on 14 July 2011
Today, the village’s premier community event, which was revived in 2000 by a new Carnival Committee after a gap of fifteen years since the last such celebration, is still the largest gathering of local people each year, holding the Senior Citizens’ Party in July and bringing thousands together on Carnival Day, a Saturday in early August.
Carnival Royalty with the Mayor and Mayoress, Terry Bate and David Winnick at Benton's Sons of Rest
This year, as before, Bloxwich Carnival took place at the King George V Playing Fields off Stafford Road, Bloxwich.
As is traditional, the event began 12.30pm after a procession on foot into the park from Benton’s Sons of Rest in Bealey’s Lane, with the formal opening of Bloxwich Carnival by the Mayor of Walsall Councillor Garry Perry, who welcomed one and all from the vantage point of Walsall Council’s MOVE lorry, in use at carnival for the first time.
The Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Garry Perry, formally opens Bloxwich Carnival
The sun then broke through the looming clouds in timely fashion, marking the moment that the Mayor joined local dignitaries Mr. David Winnick, MP for Walsall North, and Councillor Anthony Harris (of Pat Collins Fun Fair fame) in crowning the new Carnival Queen, Abigail Nicholls, Princess Lucy Kirk and Rosebud Phoebe Willetts.
After the coronation, L to R: 2011 Princess Lucy Kirk, Queen Abigail Nicholls and Rosebud Phoebe Willetts
This was followed by the awarding of medals to fourteen young Carnival Ambassadors, each having been nominated for their outstanding qualities by local primary schools. They were:
Young Bloxwich Carnival Ambassadors for 2011 await their medals (See Flickr link below for individual pictures)
Following the presentations, 2010 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Jessica Jones gave a speech about her time as queen. Jessica, always enthusiastic and ready to help, has had a fantastic year as queen and has done an amazing amount of work in promoting the carnival and Bloxwich during that time.
Terry Bate presents Jessica Jones with a bouquet
Last but not least, Master of Ceremonies Terry Bate, Chairman of Bloxwich Carnival Committee, warmly thanked 2010 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Jessica Jones for all her enthusiasm and support both for the carnival and the village, and presented bouquets of flowers to her and to the Mayoress.
He then received a cheque from Roy Peace, Chair of the Bloxwich Committee of Walsall Housing Group, for a donation of £4,000 in support of Bloxwich Carnival.
Roy Peace (right) Chair of the Bloxwich Committee of Walsall Housing Group presents a cheque for £4,000 in support of Bloxwich Carnival to Bloxwich Carnival Chairman Terry Bate
The rest of the event then got under way, with more than forty stalls and displays plus rides, seaside donkeys, and amazing arena entertainment ensuing for the rest of the afternoon, supported by the traditional presence of the great Pat Collins Fun Fair.
Amongst the many stalls and tents were some exceptional displays, including one from the Electric Palace, a youth centre run by Bloxwich Community Partnership, who lined up on the red carpet for the premier of their Oscar-winning display!
The Electric Palace movie stars and time-travellers - L to R: Ben Lewis, Dan Garbett, Dina Barnett (running the show), Destiny Jones, Kirsty and Natasha Moore, Alex Knowles, Joshua Baggott (The Doctor), Sue Harvey and Amy Oram.
It's tongues-out and fun in the sun for everyone as Shelagh Parker of the Retired Greyhound Trust introduces carnival-goers Kerren Saunders and her young daughter Kiah Saunders-Tottey to her retired greyhound Hazel!
The Mayor of Walsall Councillor Garry Perry takes up the 'throw the ball in the bucket' challenge at the Walsall District & Wednesbury SSAFA Forces Help tent
First up in the arena at 1pm with eye-popping aerial antics and gymnastics were the breathtaking turns from M.A.D, the world's largest (and best!) professional mountain bike stunt/trials display team. Presented by Giles Wolfe, himself a former professional mountain biker, team members Nick Manning and Scott Wilson had the audience gasping at their daring leaps and spins over and above a special stunt frame, some ‘lucky’ volunteers from the crowd – and a Landrover Discovery!
Nick Manning (left) and Scott Wilson perform M.A.D. stunts on their special mountain bikes!
Then at 1.30pm legendary strongman and ‘headbalancer’ John Evans, now famous for his spectacular stunts first showcased to the nation during the TV series ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, proceeded to draw ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ from the enthralled crowd at the other side of the arena by balancing huge objects on his head an walking freely about with them thereon.
Strongman John Evans balances a world record 10 car tyres before also succeeding with a large pedal car!
These included 24 massive buckets, a pedal car, and finally a world-record making ten car tyres balanced one on top of the other, all without dropping, falling over, or – thankfully – crushing Mr Evans!
The two spectacular acts alternated through the rest of the afternoon until the arena programme concluded with the last act at 4pm.
Chaos Queens Abigail Nicholls, Jessica Jones, Phoebe Willetts and Lucy Kirk reach for the skies courtesy of Pat Collins' terrifying Chaos ride!
Throughout the day, of course, the legendary Pat Collins Fun Fair, traditionally associated with Bloxwich Carnival since the great days of the Wakes, also kept things humming and provided fun and fear for all who dared! And, courtesy of Anthony Harris, the young ladies of Bloxwich Carnival Royalty also had a ticket to ride - everything!
Scream Queens Jessica Jones, Lucy Kirk and Abigail Nicholls riding high on Pat Collins' 'Scream'!
Bloxwich Carnival, which is organised by the entirely voluntary Carnival Committee, a non-profit organisation drawn from members of the local community, traditionally attracts thousands of people and the organisers say it is one of the biggest in the West Midlands; judging by the huge numbers of people enjoying both the village’s traditional annual celebrations and the unexpected bonus of several hours of warm sunshine beaming down on Bloxwich, we can well believe it!
John Millard, Walsall Council senior park ranger, who together with his exceptional team has supported Bloxwich Carnival for many years now, by running and managing the venue, providing full support including health and safety, and helping in many other ways, said before the event “The carnival is a fantastic community event both for Bloxwich and for residents who live in other parts of the borough and is a great day out for all the family.” And who could argue with that?
Next year is the UK’s Olympics year of course, and not to rest on their laurels, Bloxwich Carnival Committee are already thinking of something suitably spectacular for the 2012 carnival. Watch this space – you’ll hear it here first!
For hundreds more photographs of Bloxwich Carnival, check out our Flickr album via this link:
Permanent story link here.
Summer seaside fun off-High Street with special Red Route dispensation for donkeys in Park Rd! (Pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 31 July 2011
Saturday saw sun, seaside fun and happy families flock to Bloxwich to enjoy the latest promotion of the village and local traders by Bloxwich Business Partnership working with Walsall Council and the local community.
'Juggling Jim' proves he's the 'top' dog at imparting circus skills
Circus and carnival themed fun took place along High Street and Park Road, as well as at ASDA, as part of the Bloxwich Celebrates Summer event.
New Bloxwich Carnival Queen Abigail Nicholls (right) joined Princess Lucy Kirk handing out leaflets in High Street
Numerous activities including face painting, Punch and Judy show, circus workshop and donkey rides were lined up at the event organised by the Partnership supported by Walsall Council's district centre management team, organised by Nikki Rolls.
2010 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Jessica Jones (centre) joined event organiser Nikki Rolls (right) and staff of Sweet & Fancy for a laugh in Park Road
The popular event ran from 11am to 3pm and proved popular with children of all ages. One visitor even thought the Carnival had arrived a week early!
Donkey rides in Park Road
The borough's district centres, especially Bloxwich, which has been undergoing a renaissance since the refurbishment of Bloxwich Library and Theatre as Bookmark Bloxwich, and the reformation of Bloxwich Business Partnership, have a lot going on and this was a great event with wide appeal to people across Bloxwich and district.
Pinxton Puppets played Punch & Judy at the ASDA
Not just about well-timed fun in the sun, Bloxwich Celebrates Summer also has the serious purpose of attracting shoppers into the High Street to support hard-pressed local traders. Many of those traders also support the Bloxwich Business Partnership, and on this occasion a shop window decoration competition also attracted eight entries.
Also at ASDA, Bloxwich Carnival Committee Chairman Terry Bate (left) joined Cllr Shaun Fitzpatrick and his wife Julie selling raffle tickets for next Saturday's Carnival
The business partnership has also just published the 2011 Bostin' Bloxwich guide which includes information about events and businesses in Bloxwich including the forthcoming carnival (next Saturday 6 August!) and details of the village's entry in this year's Heart of England in Bloom competition.The guide, which is funded through advertising and Bloxwich Business Partnership, has been distributed through various avenues including schools and businesses.
Information about events in Bloxwich can be found on Facebook by searching for Bloxwich town centre or via Twitter @Bloxwichtown - as well as in the pages of The Bloxidge Tallygraph!
A photo album of the event may be viewed on Flickr via this link.
Permanent story link here.
Senior citizens from Bloxwich and district tuck in thanks to Bloxwich Carnival (All pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 17 July 2011
Senior citizens from across Bloxwich and district joined forces with local youngsters and carnival supporters in an afternoon of food, fun and fine entertainment on Thursday when Bloxwich Carnival hosted them as guests at their annual party at the former Bloxwich Baths.
And some unexpected guests from local schools put the icing on the cake for the more than two hundred "old folks" attending, who tucked in at the invitation of the Carnival Committee via various local groups, organisations and nursing homes in the very civilised Art Deco surroundings of the former 1920s baths on Pinfold, which is now a permanent function hall associated with Bloxwich Leisure Centre.
Carnival Royalty ( L to R, rear) Abigail Nicholls (Bloxwich Carnival Queen 2011), Jessica Jones (Carnival Queen 2010), Lucy Kirk (Carnival Princess 2011) and Phoebe Willetts (Carnival Rosebud 2011) serve members of Leamore & Blakenall Snr Ciitizens Sons of Rest and 50+ Forum groups
Air Cadets of Bloxwich-based 196 (Walsall) Squadron fly up and down the aisles delivering lunches with pinpoint accuracy!
This year's happy throng were not only very well-served by 'carnival royalty' Abigail Nicholls (Bloxwich Carnival Queen 2011), Jessica Jones (Carnival Queen 2010), Lucy Kirk (Carnival Princess 2011) and Phoebe Willetts (Carnival Rosebud 2011) but also by many members of Bloxwich Carnival Committee and other supporters, together with local young people from 196 (Walsall) Squadron Air Cadets, based in Bloxwich.
Carnival Committee member Roy Peace (right), Chairman Terry Bate (centre) and Mrs. Peace hand out scones
The event started off with a prayer from Rev. Kareen Lowther of Holy Ascension Church, Lower Farm. Then, as well as a fine tea, the guests were treated to a grand singalong by veteran professional musicians and vocalists Antoine Socci (on accordion) and son Antony Socci (on trumpet) of Sapphire Entertainments, who really know how to work a crowd.
Two musical generations in harmony: Antony (left) and Antoine Socci play up a storm
In addition to the serenading sounds of the Soccis, guests were also entertained by the remarkable talents of two groups from local schools who very kindly stepped in at the last minute after another act let the party down.
The wonderful voices of the talented choir of Abbey JMI School, Mossley, easily filled the massive hall with a great range of songs. They were followed later by a number of remarkable routines from the graceful young ladies of Walsall Academy Dance Group, plus excellent singer Jack, also from the Academy, who proved particularly popular with female members of the audience!
Members of Abbey School Choir sing their hearts out for the senior citizens of Bloxwich!
Young performers from Walsall Academy dance and sing to the delight of the audience
Little did they know that they were performing on the very stage that legendary acts such as Jerry Lee Lewis rocked on back in the 50s and 60s!
Finally, accompanied by much jollity from both stage and audience, the guests all took part in a free prize raffle organised by the carnival committee, with the winning tickets picked out by one of the Air Cadets.
Raffle organiser Yvonne Westley (left) with prizes & Terry Bate (right) looks on as a young Air Cadet draws the raffle
Master of Ceremonies Terry Bate, Chairman of Bloxwich Carnival Committee, led proceedings and introduced both entertainers and carnival royalty alike to the happy, cheering audience. And a very special moment was reserved for the most senior of the guests, Mrs Florence Elizabeth Riley of Bloxwich, who will be aged just 102 in August, with birthday wishes announced to all from the stage, and congratulations from Rev Lowther!
Rev Kareen Lowther (right, standing) congratulates 'Lizzie' Riley on her forthcoming 102nd birthday
Air Cadets join guests for a final dance on-stage, led by their Commanding Officer Flt Lt Ian Averill RAF VR (T)
Finally, apart from having the pleasure of witnessing a great celebration of the value of our older residents and their irrepressible spirit and sense of humour, this reporter drew two important lessons from this event, which ought to be better acknowledged in the cynical so-called "big society", big-media Britain of today.
Firstly, that the age-old British sense of community and charity does still exist - it shines out from all those involved in the organisation and support of very special events like this and Bloxwich Carnival itself.
And secondly, that our often much-maligned "youth of today" deserve to be given far more credit and support than seems to be the case from the rants of politicians and tirades of the gutter press. Certainly these kids, from the Air Cadets and the schools alike, surely have "the right stuff" and should be given credit for it. The Bloxidge Tallygraph salutes them all!
Permanent story link here.
Friends in the community: project participants led by Jenny Cartwright on an outing to Blists Hill (Pic: S. Williams)
Dateline: 11 July 2011
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:
We hope that you will find it as fascinating as we and the local community have!
Permanent story link here.
Mike Glasson, Senior Curator at Walsall Leather Museum shows off Rob Halford's costumes (Pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 10 July 2011
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.
Permanent story link here.
Horace (Rebecca Little, left) and Harold (Nicole Webb) offer The Edditer a ticket (iPhone pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 13 June 2011
What can you do in Bloxwich on a sopping wet June Sunday in 2011? Why, go to the seaside in 1938, of course!
And that’s exactly where I and the rest of the audience at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre yesterday were transported to in a fun-packed hour of sun, sea, sand and silly songs presented by Little Pixie Productions of Derby.
Set in the fictional northern seaside town of Darley-on-Sea, ‘Turned out Nice Again!’ begins with the two stars, Rebecca Little and Nicole Webb, providing their own warm-up act as the audience enters the theatre to take their seats - which in this 1930s-style seaside review pass as deckchairs on the beach - dressed as beach attendants Horace and Harold. This daft (in a good way!) pair proceed to hand out deckchair tickets to all the audience, making merry quips as they go, until the last person has sat down and the show proper is ready to go.
Tea-time on the Beach
Harold and Horace repair to the stage, which is decked-out as a little bit of beach with various seaside accoutrements, for a jolly tea break, going through a number of comical routines to set the scene by reading the story of the unclaimed Darley Golden Trophy. They then transform, as if by magic, into Granny Flo and young Ruby, who, now in Granny’s living room, begin rummaging through a box of Flo’s seaside memories from the late 1930s, when she was but a lass.
Granny Flo and Ruby have a rummage in the box of memories
In this box, amongst shells, sea-sounds and sand, they discover a mysterious, cryptic postcard from 1938 which is to lead them to adventure. And so the real story begins, as their, and our, imaginations become a time-machine whisking us away to happier, simpler days of the kind we all remember from the long, hot summers of our youth.
Dancing with deckchairs!
Punch and Judy
At the Pierrot Revue
The rest of the show leads us, too, on their voyage of discovery as before long Granny and Ruby are acting out a trip to the seaside and embarking on the adventure promised in the postcard, in the process turning a small Bloxwich stage into a musical seaside town of the past, where literally anything is possible, as a twist at the end reveals…
This is a super little show, quite literally summer fun for all ages, and can bring sea-breezes and sunshine to any audience, even if the rain is hammering down outside. The audience is cleverly drawn in and encouraged to join in with actions and sounds at several points, and there is a genuine surprise for one member of the audience.
Love and laughter shine out from the delightful and polished performances of Rebecca ‘Becky’ Little as Granny Flo, and Nicole Webb as Ruby, who never put a foot wrong, even when dancing with deckchairs! A fine musical backdrop plus evocative scenery and well-chosen props put the whole show properly in its place.
Afterwards, there was also an opportunity for the children to investigate the props that were used in the show, and take a seaside photo. And here’s a tip: hang onto your deckchair ticket!
I can safely say that this was the best soggy Sunday I’ve had this century - and well worth the price of admission, deckchair and all. Fun, frolics and great comic acting. Music, madness and jolly japes, 1930s-style. For once, it really did turn out nice again in Bloxwich!
Little Pixie Productions easily won the Best Family Event award at the Buxton Festival Fringe in 2009 with the very popular "What Became of the Red Shoes?" and followed up with Best Show for Families there in 2010, with the sequel ‘Turned Out Nice Again!’
I hope I have a future opportunity to see part three, ‘Granny’s Big Top Tale’, which debuts on 17 July at Buxton United Reformed Church Hall and on 23 July at Buxton Methodist Church Hall - Tel 0845 127 2190 or 07932 941576 for details.
For more about Little Pixie Productions, check out their excellent website: http://www.littlepixieproductions.co.uk
And for more iPhone pix of Sunday’s production, follow this link: Show Pix. WATCH OUT FOR SPOILERS!
This show was presented by Bloxwich Library Forum and hosted by Bloxwich Library, with the considerable support of Black Country Touring, without whom the show would not have been possible: http://www.bctouring.co.uk
Disarm Goliath on stage at Bookmark Bloxwich (Pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 17 May 2011
From the 1950s, Bloxwich and Walsall were firmly on the rock-and-roll route for new bands on their way up. Noddy Holder of Slade and Rob Halford of Judas Priest Fame both went to school and began their rise to fame here. We are at the heart of rock and heavy metal music.
And Saturday night we saw and heard something we've not had in Bloxwich since the 80s: the soaring, roaring, churning, burning sound of smokin' heavy metal live on stage at a major venue in the village!
Heavy metal came home with a burst of fire and brimstone onto the stage at what in the early years of heavy metal was simply Bloxwich Library Theatre. Now, the rejuvenated venue known today as Bookmark Bloxwich is truly back on the map as a rock venue where up-and-coming bands can discover their talent before a screaming crowd.
Wraith - truly smokin'!
Saturday's double bill consisted of established headliners and local guys Disarm Goliath supported by relative newcomers Birmingham band Wraith. Both bands offered a set of mostly original music plus one or two classic covers, with Wraith on-stage for forty minutes and Disarm Goliath for an hour after the break.
Wraith were up first, and while they've not been around as long as Disarm Goliath and lack their polish, they are immense fun and make up for this in pure metallic attitude! Rough, ready and raw as a chainsaw dripping blood, they drew admiring cheers from the audience for their full-on metal madness and sense of humour.
Matt Gore gets his chopper out!
Video: Demons and Angels - Wraith
Powerful vocals were delivered by Wraith frontman Matt Gore, who's clearly something of showman, getting his chopper out and playing with it toward the end of the set (you had to be there!). Matt was backed up strongly by Az on lead guitar, Mike on bass guitar, Jon on rhythm guitar and Kirby on drums all giving solid performances.
These guys are paying their dues and have a way to go yet but have loads of talent and potential so we definitely hope to see Wraith back in Bloxwich some time!
Disarm Goliath bring it on!
Disarm Goliath were headlining of course, and they never disappoint - every time I hear them they just get better and better, and this time around, they literally blew the dust off all the books in the library when they took to the stage at Bookmark Bloxwich!
This young band is truly amazing - they are so together, so polished, and so skilled, delivering everything from hard rock classics to their own special brand of old-school metallic mayhem with a distinctive edge. And, eyes blazing through the smoke, they gave it hell and then some on Saturday night.
Steve Surch (left) crumbles the foundations as the voice of wild-eyed Steve Bell slices the air like a razor blade...
With vocalist Steve Bell's incredible voice giving Rob Halford a run for his money - especially on classic Judas Priest numbers like 'Breaking the Law', as well as on searing tracks from their forthcoming latest album like 'Man of Sin', DG were just born to play in Bloxwich, home of metal (wicked grin)!
Video: The Trooper - Disarm Goliath
Video: No Prayer to Save Me - Disarm Goliath
Laying down a thundering bassline fit to shake the foundations to powder was Steve Surch, also the main man behind the band's management. Meanwhile Steve Beville and Anthony Ellis power-dueled on guitars, their raging chords burning a visible path through the air to the bleeding ears of an audience baying for more.
Last but definitely not least, the demented drumsticks of Karl Wade hammered out machine-gun-like, red-hot riveting the sulphurous, screaming performance together.
I have to say it - at a time when the legendary Judas Priest are getting ready to hang up their leather and studs, Disarm Goliath are truly on the rise - they'll go a hell of a lot further than Bloxwich, and as they say, only the Devil can stop them!
I really hope we'll get Disarm Goliath and Wraith back in Bloxwich before long. Meanwhile, if you have a chance to see and hear them, make sure you do - you'll be damned if you don't!
Check out the following links for more about Disarm Goliath and Wraith:
FLICKR PHOTO SETS
WEB AND FACEBOOK
Wraith's Facebook page via this link
Permanent story link here.
Chris Hill operates his father John's fictionalised 'Sneyd Sidings' layout, full little local touches and names redolent of old Bloxwich (Pix: S.Williams)
Dateline: 17 May 2011
This year's Bloxwich Model Railway Show took place last Saturday 14 May, and was a great success, judging both by the crowds attending and the substantial number of remarkably detailed working layouts on show.
Owner/operator Malcolm Davies and his fictionalised 'Birchills Junction' layout
Organised by St John’s Methodist Church, the church institute (hall) is usually the venue for the popular annual show, and this year the event also overflowed into the church itself.
Layouts scheduled to attend included Tremore (00), Upton (EM), Conyer Dewit (00), Ashburton (00), Birchills Junction (00), Peters Street (00), Rowley St. Giles (00), Kingshill (009), Bryngwern (5.5mm), Bewdley (N), Larkrise (N), Eyning Broad MPD (00), Tinker’s Green Halt (00), Hawthorn Mill (009), and many were photographed by The Bloxidge Tallygraph for this news story.
Robin Daley (10, right) joined forces with fellow West Bromwich Railway Model Club member John Brown-Rigg to operate 'Meadley', a layout built by Ian Miles
Most of the layouts were large, intricated and beautifully detailed in a variety of gauges (scales), from 'N' being the smallest locomotives and rolling stock, with scenery scaled down accordingly, up to the popular Hornby-originated standard gauge 'OO' which many of will have owned as children, but which are definitely not toys at today's prices!
Two unusual standouts were HO (an American gauge slightly smaller than the British OO) and 09, a narrow gauge scale. Both were unusual subjects compared to the rest of the displays as can be seen below.
New England in the fall? An atmospheric close-up of Chris Gilbert's compact HO gauge layout based on 'Haston, Vermont', USA. See Flickr set (link below) for a view of the whole thing
'Kingshill', a fictionalised narrow-gauge layout ioperated by owner/builder Ben Powell (right) and Julien Webb, members of The 009 Society which specialises in narrow-gauge railway modelling
Many layouts were long but not so deep, and most had to be transported in sections before reassembly on tables. This was taken to extremes in the extensive N-gauge 'Bewdley' layout, for example, which packed an enormous amount of track into a long but relatively narrow space.
L to R: Nick Simons, Olley Reading and young Harry Brazier (6), members of the Telford Railway Modellers Group, operate the massive n-gauge 'Bewdley' layout based on the Severn Valley Railway
Some layouts were smaller, one or two being short but very creatively designed to show just a small section of a line, with exceptional 3D-layering when viewed at eye-level with the potential to be wall-mounted, such as the 'Haston, Vermont' layout above and the 'Tremore' layout below.
Owner/operator Nick Palette shows off his compact yet detailed 'Tremore' layout in the church hall
There were also a number of interesting model-making demonstrations plus trade model and book sales stands as well as a tombola and fundraising stalls.
Proceeds from the event were in aid of St John’s Church funds, and judging by the amount of enthusiasm both for participating in and viewing the shows, it seems its future as an annual event in the model railway calendar is ensured, putting Bloxwich on the modelling map, whatever the scale!
FLICKR PHOTO ALBUM
A Flickr set of photographs of this event may be viewed and downloaded via this link.
NEW MODEL RAILWAY CLUB
The exhibition was so enthusiastically received that the formation of a new Bloxwich (St John's) Model Railway Club will also now go ahead, and will meet at the church in Victoria Avenue every Thursday between 2pm-4.30pm.
Contact: John Hill, Tel: 01922 475557 or 07970 390258, and by email to: email@example.com
For more about St. John's Methodist Church, see their website.
Permanent story link here.
The victorious Walsall Recyclers and their match trophy (Pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 16 May 2011
Walsall football fans had an exciting alternative to the Stoke vs Man. City battle, on home ground, Saturday last at 2pm, when the borough's Binmen challenged their colleagues the Recyclers to a charity football match in Bloxwich aimed at raising funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
The hard-fought 'local derby' between the friendly rivals from Walsall Council’s waste management department took place at Bloxwich United AFC's 'Old Red Lion Ground' in Somerfield Road, the scene of many a dust-up between top amateur teams from across the country in recent years.
Get in there! A Walsall Binman (in blue) skilfully out-manouevers his opponent
Both sides showed energy and passion in a good-natured but highly competitive game that saw much charging up and down the field together with a lot of smart footwork, agility and strong tackling which resulted in considerable excitement and tension right from the kick-off, with the Binmen playing from the downslope end of the pitch (south) and the Recyclers from the top of the pitch.
Players on both sides gave it their all, but it has to be admitted that the Binmen struggled with the slope at times, and by half-time the Recyclers, who just kept on coming back for more, were on top with a score of 3-0 in their favour. Keepers on both sides fought hard to bolster the defence, with mixed results offering the crowd both heroism and tragedy in equal measure.
Saved! The Binmen's keeper takes to the air
It was a game of two halves, however, and when the sides changed ends the tables were partially turned, with the Binmen stroking in two fine goals, but the Recyclers poured it on again before long and there was just not enough time for the gallant Binmen to put them on the tip, giving a result of 4-2 at the final whistle.
There were one or two minor injuries and the occasional penalty awarded, but no cards or sendings-off from match officials Brian Heath (referee), Alan Dillon and G. Edwards (linesmen).
Head-to-head in the Recyclers' goalmouth
The two teams showed their good-natured but competitive spirit right to the end, when they joined together for a mixed team photo with the victorious Walsall Recyclers nonetheless hanging tightly on to their well-earned trophy!
Friendly rivals to the end: Binmen and Recyclers together
Mick Edwards, assistant area manager for recycling at Walsall Council, had said in advance of the match: “A number of our family and friends have received treatment at the hospital, so this charity game is a way of saying thank you for the care they’ve received.
Mick played for the 'binmen', despite working for the recycling team in his day job. He said: "I'll be playing against my new team at work so that should be interesting!"
A great game, well-fought between two great teams, for a good cause and in our own backyard. What could be better?
Permanent story link here.
Alex Murray prepares for a Mayoral haircut at Chatabox in Leamore (Pix: Walsall Council)
Dateline: 13 May 2011
Walsall's ubiquitous and always energetic Mayor, Councillor Gary Clarke, went into overdrive this week, spending two days flying across the borough from Bloxwich, Leamore, Blakenall and Coalpool to Aldridge and Walsall to work for businesses and schools while fundraising for charity.
The fun and frantic initiative, dubbed Mayor for Hire, was created by the Mayor in partnership with solicitors Addison O'Hare, with the aim of raising money for his Charity Appeal while giving him a taste of local life and work beyond the Council House.
Tuesday saw Cllr Clarke brushing up his customer service skills at Annette's Pram Shop in Blakenall Lane, serving up lunch at Coalpool’s popular Edgar Stammers Primary School in Harden Road, washing hair, making tea – and chatting - at Chatabox Hair & Beauty in the Leamore Lane shopping precinct and meeting staff at Piquant Limited on the Willenhall Lane Industrial Estate in Bloxwich.
Kiran Patel and Jenny Turner await their food at Simply Sandwich, Bloxwich
On Wednesday, the Mayor tried his hand at sandwich making at Simply Sandwich Buffets at The Broadway, Walsall, became acting manager at Walsall Bus Station, served lunches at Cooper and Jordan Church of England Primary School and was interviewed by pupils at Castlefort JMI School in Walsall Wood.
All of the Mayor’s ‘employers’ have pledged donations to his Charity Appeal for Walsall Hospice and disadvantaged children, and Chatabox generously agreed to top theirs up by giving 20 per cent of the day's takings as well.
The two days of fundraising and hard work, supplemented by a collection made by Walsall Hospice volunteers at the bus station, should net around £800 – a remarkable effort all round.
Cllr Clarke said: "I loved every minute of being put to work by everyone - it was an unforgettable two days. I started at the pram shop and owner Annette Owles-Bryan was an absolute joy. Her business is a real asset to the area and she really goes out of her way to look after her customers.
"Later that day I had the privilege of working at Chatabox hairdressers where I met the charming Doreen Chivers, aged 64, who allowed me to wash her hair and declared that I had a gentle touch! Owner Joanne Tidman has built up a gem of a business there and deserves to go from strength to strength.
No job too small: the Mayor makes tea at Chatabox
"I was also privileged to meet some of the hard working staff at Piquant Limited, another borough success story that we should all be proud of. Shan Nagendram has established a fine sauce manufacturing business.
"Paul Keeling of Simply Sandwich had me hard at work in no time at all on day two and told me off for not putting enough meat on the bread. He wasn't going to let me upset his customers.
"Centro made sure I carried out various checks at the bus station and took the time to listen to passengers' experiences.
"The business community I met was loyal and committed and showed me just a small example of the talent we have in the borough."
The Mayor was also asked to serve up lunch at Edgar Stammers Primary School – and did so resplendent in his white unform and purple cap.
He said: "What smashing children, teaching and kitchen staff I met at Edgar Stammers. I was on Yorkshire pudding duty to start with and progressed to gravy, beans and custard as I got into my stride. I didn't stop smiling all the time I was there - although I understand I made service a little slower than normal. That's partly because I was stopping to answer so many questions about my chain of office!"
The Mayor serves Ellie Fishwick her lunch at Cooper and Jordan School
"On day two I went to Cooper and Jordan School where I had to arrive as a fairy godmother, complete with a wand and sparkly headband. The children were fortunate that I'd had some school meal practice and I think I managed to hold my own, again with grateful thanks to the kitchen staff. Again, the children were fantastic. Some of them queued up at the end asking for my autograph which made me feel like a proper celebrity."
At Castlefort School the Mayor was toured by Year 6 pupils who then joined in a question and answer session as part of work they have been doing on leaders.
"The school should be very proud of the polite, well-mannered and confident children it has at Castlefort," said the Mayor. They gave me a guided tour and showed me all the classrooms and the work that is going on this term. They fired plenty of questions at me and kept me on my toes but I made sure I answered everything they asked.
"The two days were really enjoyable and I am delighted that I had the chance to meet some of the wonderful people who make this borough such a great place, " Cllr Clarke concluded.
Anne Ward of Addison O'Hare Solicitors also agreed the two days had been a super success.
"We'd like to thank everyone who took the trouble to make pledges and hope they all enjoyed the experience as much as the Mayor clearly did. Mayor for Hire was always intended to be a memorable fundraising experience for everyone concerned while drawing the Mayor's term to a fitting close."
The Bloxidge Tallygraph would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Councillor Clarke. We have attended many of the events he has supported as Mayor in Bloxwich and beyond, we have always been welcomed and we can’t remember a more active, friendly, supportive and enthusiastic Mayor – and Mayoress!
Permanent story link here.
Police and fire services at the scene of the tragic incident in Leamore (Pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 9 May 2011
POLICE in Walsall have today named a man whose body was found at a fire in Bloxwich Road, Leamore.
Gary Ford of Bloxwich, 32, was discovered when police and fire-fighters were called to the blaze on open ground (formerly The Butler's Arms) at the rear of Somerfield's Supermarket/Texaco Pertrol Station at around 6pm during the early evening of Wednesday 4 May.
Mr Ford had suffered serious burns, but a post mortem to determine the precise cause of death has proved inconclusive. Further forensic tests are now to be carried out.
At this stage, detectives are continuing to treat his death as unexplained and are making a fresh appeal for witnesses and information to throw light on the circumstances surrounding Mr Ford's death.
The scene of the crime: site of the now-demolished Butlers Arms
Detective Inspector Bob Bradford, from Force CID, said: "It is not yet clear exactly how Mr Ford died or whether there is any criminality involved either in his death or the cause of the fire.
"However, it is a matter of fact that he was badly burned and that we are still trying to gain a clearer picture of both his personal background and what happened.
"It is important to the inquiry for anyone with information to come forward. The scene of the fire is just off Bloxwich Road, which is a busy route and would have had a fair number of motorists using it at around 6pm on Wednesday.
"We are also keen to trace three youths or young men who were walking along the pavement adjacent to the scene at around 6pm to 6:15pm. They may well have seen something significant and we would stress that they could be vital witnesses.
Anyone with information should contact Force CID at Bloxwich by ringing 0345 113 5000 or calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Our first report may be found here.
Permanent story link here.
The clunking fist strikes back!
Dateline: 6 May 2011
News coming in this lunchtime has revealed a massively successful fight-back in the old 'Foreign Ward' by Walsall Labour Party candidates against their entrenched opponents in yesterday's Walsall Council elections.
Bloxwich East was the hardest-fought ward in Bloxwich and district, with Shaun Fitzpatrick for Labour on 1205 votes narrowly defeating long-serving Tory Councillor Les Beeley with 1191 to give an important gain for Labour over the Conservatives. Interestingly, Alan Sheath of UKIP with a modest 229 votes still managed to trounce Stephen Baggot of the Democratic Labour Party with just 107 votes and Chris Cockayne of the LibDems barely moving the needle at 81.
In Bloxwich West, Labour candidate Sue Fletcher-Hall romped ahead, spearheading the turn against the Tories and gaining the seat by defeating another long-serving Conservative Councillor Des Pitt by 1438 votes to 1360 and leaving the Democratic Labour Party's Michael Ross with 234 votes and LibDem Jeanette Pearce at 146 gasping in the distance.
Meanwhile in Blakenall Heath, a bruising Blakenall Ward bust-up left prominent (and only) Democratic Labour Party Councillor Peter Smith out-for-the-count after Ann Young delivered a surprise uppercut with 1256 votes vs 928 gaining the trophy for Labour yet again. Tory Afzal Muhammed and LibDem Robert Pearce were, unsurprisingly, left gasping on the ropes with just 453 and 95 votes respectively to show for their part in the melee.
Finally, there was icing on the day's cake for celebrating Labour 'Forreners' with a sold hold in Birchills-Leamore, as Walsall Labour Group leader, Councillor Tim Oliver, reaped a substantial vote of 1574 compared to 961 cast for Kamran Aftab (Conservative), 167 for Roy Robinson (LibDem) and 158 for Alan Davies (Democratic Labour Party).
Borough-wide it now seems that Walsall Council has, as predicted by local pundits, returned to the 'good old days' of no overall control, with 28 Conservatives, 26 Labour, 5 LibDem and 1 Independent councillors now in place. What will happen next depends largely on whether the LibDems follow their traditional practice of rolling over for the Tories or whether they regain some of the principles which their national party has seemingly abandoned and go for something more progressive alongside Labour.
Bloxwich and district awaits the consequences with bated breath - but one thing is sure, our new Labour councillors can be justly proud of a fight for progress in the old 'Foreign' well won.
Permanent story link here.
Police and fire services at yesterday's tragic incident in Leamore (Pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 5 May 2011 SEE UPDATE BELOW
For the second time in recent months, the centre of Leamore has been cordoned off due to a fire. Sadly, on this occasion, the incident appears to have also involved a mysterious death.
Yesterday evening, at around 6pm Walsall police and fire services were called to the site of the former Butlers Arms, on the corner of Harden Road and Bloxwich Road, Leamore, which is at the rear of Somerfields Market and petrol station.
The body of a man, as yet unidentified, was found on fenced-off land which has been waiting for redevelopment since the Butlers Arms was demolished several years ago. A fire appears to have been set close to or against the wall of Somerfield's, which backs onto the land. The death is being treated as unexplained at this stage.
Back in March a fire was deliberately set at the closed Black Horse pub just on the opposite corner. That act of arson did not result in death or injury and its perpetrators have never been brought to justice.
The latest incident, for the time being, also remains a mystery. There is no suggestion of a link between the two fires. The Coroner has been informed and the scene remains cordoned off for forensic investigations.
A post mortem is due to take place today to establish the cause of death.
Police and fire services on the scene this morning
Det Insp Tom Chisholm from Force CID said: "Detectives are continuing to work with the fire service to establish the cause of the fire, as well as the cause of death.
"Forensic scene investigators have been working at the scene to gather evidence and we have detectives conducting further enquiries in the area today.
"If anyone has any information I would ask that they get in touch with police."
Anybody who witnessed the incident is asked to contact Force CID at Bloxwich on 0345 113 5000 or call Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555 111."
The site was due to reopen at 9.30am today.
UPDATED 6 May 2011
Police in Walsall are continuing their investigation into the above case. The man, who has still to be identified, had suffered serious burns but a post mortem to determine the precise cause of death has proved inconclusive. Further forensic tests are now to be carried out.
At this stage, detectives are continuing to treat the death as unexplained and are making a fresh appeal for witnesses and information to throw light on the circumstances surrounding the man’s death.
Det Insp Bob Bradford from Force CID said: “It is not yet clear exactly how this man died or whether there is any criminality involved either in his death or the cause of the fire.
“However, it is a matter of fact that he was badly burned and that we are still trying to identify him and trace his family so that we can gain a clearer picture of both his personal background and what happened.
“It is important to the inquiry for anyone with information to come forward. The scene of the fire is just off Bloxwich Road, which is a busy route and would have had a fair number of motorists using it at around 6pm on Wednesday.
“We are also keen to trace three youths or young men who were walking along the pavement adjacent to the scene at around 6pm to 6:15pm. They may well have seen something significant and we would stress that they could be vital witnesses.
“I would appeal to them, and indeed anyone with information, to contact Force CID at Bloxwich by ringing 0345 113 5000 or calling Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555 111."
Permanent story link here.
Dateline: 1 May 2011
This Thursday, we go to the polls in the first opportunity for voters to deliver a verdict on the performance of local government and, indirectly, national government, since the 2009 General Election when the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition took over the reins of power.
Alongside this, there is taking place a referendum on a possible change to the national voting system for MPs, from first past the post to alternative vote, as used in Australia.
At a time when savage and controversial cuts in local government budgets and services have begun a major surge in unemployment and significant reductions in local services which are already having a serious affect on our lives, many will be relishing the opportunity to deliver a kick up the backside to those whom they hold responsible - in this case, most directly the local politicians who have been forced, with varying degrees of relish or resistance according to their political ideology - to implement those cuts.
And the verdict of these local elections, though not directly affecting Members of Parliament, who often see themselves as being above their constituents, is certainly capable of affecting national policy as well as the political make-up of local councils.
How are the forthcoming local elections likely to affect Walsall politics? Current predictions from local pundits suggest losses on the Conservative and LibDem sides, and a possible return to no overall control, with a remote possibility of a Labour resurgence to regain control of Walsall Council. Because not all councillors are up for election this time around, however, the electoral verdict is likely to be somewhat diluted. We shall have to wait and see.
As to the AV referendum, apart from the arguments about fairness and making your vote count, its seems to the Bloxidge Tallygraph that any system which is so rabidly opposed by the Tories and reactionary elements of other parties as AV is, must have something going for it if they don't want us to have it.
Whichever way you vote is a matter for your own personal conscience, of course. But whatever else you do, please go down to the polling stations on 5 May and make your voice heard. If you don't then our British democracy is no democracy at all.
Permanent story link here.
Fundraising Assistant Rachel Ridler explains the Zip Slide (seen left) to locals in Bloxwich
Dateline: 17 April 2011
St Giles Walsall Hospice is appealing for daredevils and thrill-seekers to rise to an exciting new challenge as the local charity launches its Zip Slide fundraiser.
Taking place on Saturday 14th May, the Zip Slide will see 165 willing volunteers zoom from the Floors 2 Go stand at Banks’s Stadium down onto the pitch below, travelling at speeds of around 25mph.
People can sign up for the once in a lifetime experience as individuals or as groups, and the sponsorship they receive will help to fund care for local people with cancer and other serious illnesses when St Giles Walsall Hospice opens in Goscote this Spring.
Rachel Ridler, Fundraising Assistant for St Giles Walsall Hospice, says: “This is the first time we have held a Zip Slide to raise funds for Walsall’s hospice, and it is one in our series of hugely popular ‘Challenge Events’, which last year included an abseil, a skydive and a firewalk.
“This year’s Zip Wire challenge will really appeal to lots of different people – from adventurous Saddlers’ fans, to bosses looking for an alternative team-building event – and so with limited places available, we’re urging anyone keen to take part to register now to secure their place!”
Registration is £35, and participants are also asked to raise £100 in sponsorship, with all proceeds to be spent on providing care at St Giles Walsall Hospice. Fancy dress can be worn as long as harnesses can fit over the outfit, and photos will be available on the day to record everyone’s achievements.
Zip Sliders must be aged 12 or over at the time of registration, and weigh between 6st and 17st 7llbs. Registration forms can be requested now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Rachel on 0845 113 0678.
St Giles Walsall Hospice is the new name for Walsall’s long-awaited 12-bed in-patient facility. The Walsall Hospice charity is merging with St Giles Hospice to ensure the efficient use of funds in providing high-quality care for people living with cancer and other serious illnesses in Walsall.
The total annual running costs of St Giles Walsall Hospice will be £1.6 million and with only half of this amount funded by the NHS in the first year, St Giles Walsall Hospice will work with the local community to raise £800,000 a year, which will be dedicated solely to providing care in Walsall.
Find out more about the Zip Slide challenge by downloading a Registration Pack via this link.
Permanent story link here.
Organiser Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council enjoys a rare break with some veggie curry as Emma Harewood of Bloxwich Business Partnership/Co-operative Travel promotes the travel competition (pix S. Williams)
Dateline: 15 April 2011
Tuesday saw the latest in a series of fun public events in the village from Walsall Council's District Centre Management Team and Bloxwich Business Partnership - on a beautiful sunny springday!
Part of a week-long celebration of the borough's district centres, 'Know Your Town' in Bloxwicn ran between 10am-2pm in Bloxwich Market and Park Road.
Sharon Woodland (left) Community Fundraiser and colleague Rachel Ridler represent newly-merged St Giles Walsall Hospice with a friendly smile and a sense of adventure!
The event included a range of information stands and stalls, free fun activities for all the family, Walsall Council's exciting Reach-up Climbing Tower, giveaways and promotions and Beacon Radio street stars.
It was a great chance to find out about local shops and businesses, leisure opportunities, health services, area partnerships, employment and training opportunities, local charities, environmental initiatives, benefits advice, council services, police and fire services and much more!
The Beacon Radio team and Bloxwich Police formed the centrepiece of the Market Square
Stalls were on show from newly-merged St Giles Walsall Hospice, Walsall Council, the Stan Ball Centre, The Range, Best of Walsall, Bloxwich Childrens' Centre, Leamore Windows, Money Shop, Walsall Absence Management Service, Beacon Radio and Bloxwich Police - not forgetting the enticing Love Food - Hate Waste stall which was cooking and handing out veggie curry live!
The Stan Ball Centre stall
One of the Walsall Council stalls, in this case promoting a new Food Hygiene rating system
At the northern end of the village just off High Street in Park Road, there was more fun and advice to be had from the Walsall Council One Stop Shop bus,the Council's Reach-up Climbing Tower, and West Midlands Fire Service.
The Walsall Council Reach-up Tower was in non-stop use by adventurous Bloxwich youngsters
There was also a chance to win a seven night holiday at the Golden Sands resort in Lincolnshire thanks to The Co-operative Travel Walsall & Haven.
It was another great day in Bloxwich, and also supported our local market, so a winner all round.
For more information about the work of Bloxwich Business Partnership and the work of District Centre Management in Bloxwich, contact Nikki Rolls on 01922 652416/652095.
More photographs including these and other stalls etc in high-res in our Flickr set via this link.
Permanent story link here.
Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2010: Rosebud Holly Arrowsmith, Queen Jessica Jones and Princess Jessica Watts (pic SW)
Dateline: 15 April 2011
2010 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Jessica Jones's crown will be up for grabs soon as organisers set about finding her replacement to play an all-important role in the village’s big day and the coming year. And her entourage are also being sought!
The 2011 Bloxwich Carnival Queen, Princess and Rosebud will be selected on Saturday 21 May at St. John's Methodist Church Hall, Victoria Avenue, Bloxwich at 1.30pm.
Young ladies aged between 16 and 24 are invited to impress the judges and continue with all the good work that has been done by reigning carnival queen Jessica, who will certainly be a hard act to follow!
Selection will also take place for a carnival princess aimed at 11-15-year-olds and a carnival rosebud aimed at seven to ten-year-olds.
Previous holders of titles are not eligible to re-enter for the same categories but may enter another group provided they qualify by age.
The results will be published in The Bloxidge Tallygraph along with photographs of the new queen and her entourage.This year’s Bloxwich Carnival, which is supported by Walsall Council, is set for Saturday 6 August 2011 and will take place at King George V playing fields as usual. As last year, there will be no carnival procession, due to health and safety restrictions.
Organisers say that Bloxwich Carnival is one of the biggest in the West Midlands and it’s an event that attracts thousands of people.
Application forms and details can be downloaded via the following links:
Permanent story link here.
Youngsters from Green Rock Primary School, Blakenall Heath get ready for some tree planting as Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council (rear, left), urban forestry team members (in red) and Bloxwich Carnival Queen Jessica Jones (third from left, rear) look on (Pic courtesy Walsall Council)
Dateline: 7 April 2011
Schoolchildren have marked the beginning of this year's Bloxwich in Bloom entry by taking part in a tree planting project.
Youngsters from Green Rock Primary in Blakenall Heath and Lower Farm Primary in Bloxwich have teamed up with Walsall Council's district centre management team and Bloxwich Business Partnership to support the village's entry in this year's Heart of England in Bloom competition. Walsall Council's urban forestry team have also been lending their support to the tree planting project.
Bloxwich is entering the competition for the first time this year after being inspired by the example of Aldridge, Darlaston and Willenhall who took part last year.
Judging is based around three main categories which are horticultural achievement, environmental awareness and community involvement.
Nikki Rolls, Walsall Council economic regeneration officer, said: "This is the first year Bloxwich has entered the competition and everyone is hoping to make a real impression with the judges.
"It's great to see both these schools playing their part and I would like to hear from anyone else with suggestions for community projects. These can take a wide variety of forms from tree planting to painting and general tidy ups."
The Heart of England in Bloom competition annually attracts around 1,350 entries from small villages to large cities. This year all five district centres - Aldridge, Brownhills, Bloxwich, Darlaston and Willenhall have entered the event.
Community groups, individuals and organisations interested in offering their help should contact Nikki Rolls on 01922 652507.
For Bloxwich Business Partnership's Facebook page, follow this link.
Permanent story link here.
Bloxwich Carnival Queen Jessica Jones joins forces with eggcited youngsters from Green Rock Primamry School to promote the Bloxwich Easter Eggstravaganza (Pic courtesy Walsall Council)
Dateline: 6 April 2011
A wide array of events is being lined up in Bloxwich during April to celebrate Easter.
Walsall Council's district centre management team working alongside Bloxwich Business Partnership, Bloxwich Children's Area Partnerships, Bookmark Bloxwich (Bloxwich Library) and the council's Greenspaces team have joined forces to organise three days of family fun in the village.
The Easter activities get underway on Thursday 14 April with the Bloxwich Bunny Hop & Party at All Saints Church gardens and Bookmark Bloxwich Library, Elmore Row from 10am to 2pm. Activities include an Easter egg trail, Easter Bunny and family themed activities. People are invited to bring their own picnic.
On Tuesday 19 April there will be an Easter Bonnet Workshop at All Saints Parish Hall, Elmore Row, from 1 to 4pm. Children will be able to make Easter bonnets to enter the Easter Bonnet parade competition on Saturday 23 April.
The events culminate on Saturday 23 April with the Eggsta Special Easter Event from 11am to 3pm based around the market centre, High Street, Electric Palace and King George V Playing Fields. The day includes Easter fun activities, Reach Up climbing frame, Easter bonnet parade, Easter egg trail and a team egg hunt competition.
Nikki Rolls, Walsall Council regeneration officer, said: "There is a really good programme of events lined up in Bloxwich to celebrate Easter and hopefully people will be able to find the time to attend on at least one if not all of the days. It truly shows that partnership working can create a great events programme for the community."
For more information contact Walsall Council's district centre management team on 01922 652507.
For Bloxwich Business Partnership's Facebook page, follow this link.
Permanent story link here.
Black Horse burning: emergency services surround the scene of the blaze (Pic courtesy Craig Smith)
Dateline: 16 March 2011 UPDATED 17 March 2011
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
According to first local reports, a large fire had taken hold on the first floor of The Black Horse, on the corner of
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
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
The once-popular watering hole is the second closed historic pub to suffer a fiery fate in recent months; The Bull's Head in
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.
Permanent story link here.
Disarm Goliath at The Slade Rooms, 2010 (Pic: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 16 March 2011
Great news for rock music fans across Bloxwich and Walsall - home-grown heavy metal's returning to a major Bloxwich venue for the first time since the great days of Bloxwich Baths and the school circuit!
And hair-raising local headbangers DISARM GOLIATH with members from Pelsall and beyond are leading the hard-rockin' charge supported by Wednesbury band OBSIDIAN RAIN, both armed to the teeth with a battery of their own original heavy rock and metal songs.
Now Bloxwich Library Theatre - aka Bookmark Bloxwich - is continuing by leaps and bounds to establish itself as an important live music venue by bringing heavy metal rocking back to the home town of Rob Halford (JUDAS PRIEST) and Noddy Holder (SLADE).
The rebuilt theatre, under the banner of Bloxwich Library Forum, is all set to host an ear-crushing night of metallic music on Saturday 14 May 2011 - doors open 7.30pm for 8pm start - and tickets are already on sale at the library for just £5! Tel: 01922 655900 to reserve tickets, or drop into the library in Elmore Row. A can bar will be available on the night.
With such talented young musicians unleashed in Bloxwich, a great night of quality heavy rock is sure to be had by all!
More about Disarm Goliath on their website: http://www.disarmgoliath.co.uk
Permanent story link here.
Willenhall Carnival Queen Stacey Senior (left) and Deb Brownlee of the Stan Ball Centre (Pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 14 March 2011
Yesterday saw the first ever Sunday Table Top Sale at The Stan Ball Centre in Bloxwich, and the undoubted success of the event was sealed by a visit from the lovely Stacey Senior. Stacey travelled across the borough from her home in Willenhall to open the event as the new Willenhall Carnival Queen, by invitation of the organisers, at 11am on Sunday.
Stacey meets local artist Jackie (left) and Eddie Plimmer on their stall then checks out the display from St. John's Church Perservation Group who had come all the way from Dudley
The Bloxidge Tallygraph was delighted to be invited to cover the event, and Edditer Stuart Williams rolled up with his camera at opening time to be welcomed at the door both by Queen Stacey and by Deb Brownlee, Young at Heart Project Co-ordinator and energetic organiser at the centre. The hall in which the sale was being held was already packed with great stalls and enthusiastic buyers checking out their wares.
Deb Brownlee said "What a relief that people turned up! It had been throwing it down with rain all morning and being our first one we couldn't be sure that people would come! But by 11am the sun was shining and with 28 tables there was a wide variety of goods and stalls on offer. To have the Willenhall Carnival Queen to perform the opening ceremony was really just the icing on the cake. It was a great day and we are so grateful to everyone who helped us develop this and gave us support."The centre opened its doors in January and is developing a wide range of classes, groups, care services and fundraising events, plus dances every Saturday night.
Details from 01922 403351 or Facebook Bloxwich Community Partnership Stan Ball Centre.
More photographs on Flickr via this link.
Permanent story link here.
Mayor Gary Clarke cuts the ribbon while Cllr Harris and Sue Grainger look on (Pix by Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 6 March 2011
Walsall residents unable to get to a library are already beginning to benefit from two new specialist mobile libraries.
The new state-of-the-art vehicles were raring to go following their official unveiling on Friday 4 March 2011 at the Mobile Library Headquarters in Willenhall Lane, Bloxwich, at 2.30pm.
Highlighted in bright purple and orange, the new vehicles certainly catch the attention of library users and passers-by - and have already proved a popular success on Saturday's World Book Night (see separate story).
Having cut the cake, Cllr Harris joins the Mayor to show it off, with Mobiles 1 (right) and 2 looking on!
And on Friday a special ribbon was cut by Mayor of Walsall Councilor Gary Clarke to symbolise the beginning of their service, followed by the cutting of a celebratory cake by Councillor Anthony Harris, cabinet member for leisure and culture. Both men, together with an assembly of staff and guests, were welcomed to the Mobile Libraries HQ by Sue Grainger, Walsall Council's Head of Libraries & Heritage, and all spoke of their strong support for libraries in Walsall.
Staff of Mobile 1 and Mobile 2 join Annie Wood, Area Librarian for Walsall Mobile Library Service (right)
Interiors of Mobile 1
From its base in Bloxwich, the mobile library service has been running in Walsall since 1982.
Purple-coloured Mobile One has replaced the existing vehicle which has been in service since November 1999 and which had clocked up nearly 90,000 miles. The vehicle regularly visits over 40 sites across the borough on a weekly timetable, offering a wide choice of adult & children's books plus audio books.
In contrast, Mobile Two, (orange) is programmed for serving a number of sheltered accommodation sites, adult training centres, residential and nursing homes in Walsall, providing the same service, with a selection of DVDs and music CDs.
Both libraries are fitted with public access computer suites as well as compact equivalents of the online library management systems found in fixed libraries.
Mobile 1 on its rounds at Alumwell Estate, Walsall. Note the rooftop solar panels!
Leicester Carriage Builders have provided the library service with the new range of vehicles which are capable of travelling on urban and rural roads throughout the borough. They complement the council’s existing network of 16 libraries. Based on the Mercedes Atego chassis, the vehicles are valued at £138k each and replace the current models.
Remarkably, both mobiles' roofs are covered with self-cleaning solar panels providing up to 50% of the power required to power the computers and lighting for both vehicles, which run on efficient Euro 5 engines. This could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 600kg each year and helps toward meeting the council's air quality targets.
Councillor Anthony Harris said: "I'm delighted that we've made this investment in our mobile library service. People rely on their mobile library especially residents who are less mobile and find it difficult to travel to our main library buildings.
"Walsall was the first local authority in the country to offer Internet access to the local community from a Mobile Library.
"With these new replacement vehicles, Walsall Library Service now has a fleet of modern, comfortable and efficient mobile libraries."
Annie Wood, Area Librarian for Walsall Mobile Library Service added: "The Mobile Library vehicles offer a free library service to customers at point of delivery.
"The stock ranges from fiction and non-fiction in large and small print, books in Asian languages, books for children of all ages and books on tape and CD, music CDs and a selection of Jigsaws."
Permanent story link here.
Stuart Williams ready to read and give away books at Bloxwich Library (Pic by Steve Mohammed)
Dateline: 6 March 2011
Saurday night was World Book Night, which amazingly not only took over BBC2 for much of the evening but also saw 20,000 people giving away a million favourite books throughout the evening and across the UK and Ireland.
And thanks to local writer, historian and Bloxidge Tallygraph Edditer Stuart Williams joining forces with management and staff of Bloxwich Library, World Book Night also came to Bookmark Bloxwich, in a small event at the Elmore Row library which took place alongside the Tiger, Tiger poetry night in Bloxwich Library Theatre, of which more news in due course.
Stuart was kept busy in the library foyer numbering and giving away free specially printed World Book Night collectors editions of NORTHERN LIGHTS, the first book in the legendary fantasy/science fiction trilogy 'His Dark Materials' by top author Philip Pullman, between 7.30pm-9pm.
He also read for a half-hour at 8pm from NORTHERN LIGHTS, which was adapted for the silver screen in 2007 as THE GOLDEN COMPASS starring Daniel Craig.
Stuart Williams said "Thanks to World Book Night I had the considerable pleasure of giving away 48 copies of one of the finest fantasy/SF books of recent years, and really enjoyed meeting fellow readers on the night. It was a great opportunity to promote books, reading - and Bloxwich Library, and it's always a pleasure to work with my friends and colleagues at the borough's finest branch!"
Several reserved books were not collected on the night, but they will be kept at the library for collection for up to two weeks. If your name is on the reserved list, you should drop into Bloxwich Library as soon as possible to claim your book, as unclaimed copies will eventually be given away to other readers and availability cannot be guaranteed.
Mobile Libraries joined in the fun
Three other WBN special edition books were given away by libraries and council staff on board the new Mobile One Library which was parked up at Sainsbury's Reedswood Superstore between 4pm-6pm, where almost 150 books were snapped up in just an hour, emphatically joining in with the World Book Night success at Bloxwich Library!
All book givers for World Book Night are volunteers, giving books on their own initiative without payment, with the support of the World Book Night organisation, authors and the publishing industry. Thanks are also due to Waterstones book store in Park Street, Walsall, which acted as the local pick-up point for World Book Night deliveries to givers.
For more about Philip Pullman's books, why not check out his website via this link!
For further information on WBN, follow this link to the official website: World Book Night.
Anti-Social Behaviour Meetings:
Bloxwich West - Thursday 22nd July 7-9pm, All Saints Church Hall, Bloxwich.
Leamore - Thursday 29th July 7-9pm ,Beechdale Life Long learning Centre, Stephenson Square, Beechdale.
Contact: Tel: 0345 113 5000 Email: a.mcphee@west- midlands.pnn.police.uk
Anti-social behaviour hotline: 01922 648 291. In an emergency dial 999.