Smethwick Local History Society

January to August 2018



10 January - 2 for 2.30pm
“Stranger at the Window” – Local author Guy McElveny has written this moving account of love, loss and jealousy in wartime Britain. The story has a strong local connection and was inspired by his great-uncle, Sgt Geoffrey Deeley, a Smethwick airman who served in Bomber Command. Guy McElveny will tell us more about the inspiration for his book, which uses real locations in and around Smethwick, for example, Holly Lodge Grammar School and wartime dances at Smethwick Baths. Copies of the book will be available.

14 February - 2. for 2.30pm
“Sister Dora – Walsall’s Greatest Ever Resident” – Amanda Hume will tell us about Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison, born in Yorkshire in 1832, but who joined the Sisterhood of the Good Samaritans before moving to Walsall in 1865 where, known as Sister Dora, she devoted the rest of her life to nursing thousands of patients through diseases such as smallpox and the many serious industrial injuries suffered by workmen.

14 March - 2 for 2.30pm
“Bringing clean water to the Black Country” – "For most of us, running a tap to pour clean drinking water is nothing special, it is part of the fabric of everyday life. But this has not always been the case: in the mid nineteenth century, a new and deadly disease struck the country, wiping out thousands of lives. There was no known cause and no known cure. David Moore, Chairman of Lichfield Waterworks Trust, will tell us the story of clean drinking water and how an industrial building saved the lives of the people in the Black Country".

11 April - 7 for 7.30pm
"The History of the Mitchells & Butlers Fire Brigade" - nearby residents of M & B once knew that hearing the “bull” sounding three times at M & B would be followed by the excitement of the clatter of hooves, the ringing of bells, and the rumble of the horse-drawn fire tenders as they emerged from the gateway. One of our members, Vernon Fisher, worked at M & B for 39 years and has compiled a presentation of photographs documenting the history of early fire-fighting.

9 May - 7 for 7.30pm
The Lightwoods: The Park, the House and the Military Hospital - Before our visit next month, Mary will tell us about the familiar landmarks of the park and house which have their origins, rather surprisingly, with the thirsty beer-drinkers of Birmingham! This is the story of the Lightwoods estate, its owners, and the uses to which it has been put, from the Tudor period down to its public opening in 2017.

13 June - meet at 2.15 outside the Tea Room for a visit to Lightwoods Park Tea Room and Shakespeare Garden
Meet your fellow members for an informal afternoon when you can either eat or drink in the Edwardian tea room or bring sandwiches and sit at the picnic benches. We will then take a stroll around the Shakespeare Garden and at around 3pm Julia Morris will tell us a little of the history and latest developments in this much loved garden which is gradually being brought back to life. Will the Society's Shakespeare-themed roses be blooming? The usual £2 per head will be collected and donated to Lightwoods House.

11 July - 2.15? at Lightwoods House
Visit to Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple on Smethwick High Street” –
David Grainger is organising a special visit to this building. It is hoped that an Indian buffet will be available afterwards.

8 August - Meet at Smethwick Council House at 7.15pm for "Smethwick at the Centre" - join us for a pleasant and not too demanding stroll while Mary will tells us how the original settlement of Smethwick was in the vicinity of the Council House. We will look at the remarkable variety of history all around it, so look out for mentions of cough sweets, rowing boats, a World War I tank and a World War II parachute mine. We will also look in Victoria Park to see how our surviving Golden Jubilee trees are faring.

Please note that, unfortunately, there are no toilet facilities at either venue, the nearest being at Smethwick Library.

13 September - 7pm for 7.30
"A Forme of Cury" - No, nothing to do with curry! Jane Phillips will present a programme of what cookery was like in the time of Richard II. His favourite dish, apparently, was a type of custard pie which Jane will bring for us to sample. (A collection will be taken for SLHS’s nominated local charities).

11 October 2 for 2.30
"A Saxon Murder Mystery" - King Kenelm was believed to have been murdered and was later made a saint. Kenelm was a member of the royal family of Mercia living during the 9th century near a village known as “Kennelstowe” at Clent where the 12th century church of St Kenelm’s now stands. Mike Hall attempts to unravel the mystery of King Kenelm’s demise by considering the possible suspects, and exploring the facts and fiction behind the local legend.

8 Novembe - 2 for 2.30pm
Annual General Meeting followed by "Lest We Forget"
The poppies and the war memorials, the Cenotaph, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and the two-minute silence, are all familiar as the emblems of remembrance. Mary Bodfish looks at how they came into being to remind us all of the loss and sacrifice of the First World War; both nationally and here in Smethwick – an appropriate topic for our November meeting.

13 December 2 for 2.30pm
Christmas Social followed by "From Comic Cuts to Viz - One Hundred Years of Comic Papers"
Ray Aspden will add merriment to the festive season by tracing the history of “comics” from their origins in the Victorian era as Comic Cuts and Penny Dreadfuls to what we all remember as The Beano and The Dandy. From his presentation, you will probably recognise such childhood literary heroes as Desperate Dan, Dennis the Menace, Gnasher and Lord Snooty. We hope you will all join us for our usual mince pie and glass of mulled wine afterwards.

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