Category Archives: Black Country

Readers to beat a path to Walsall bookshop this Saturday!

Southcart Books' last event was a splendid Steampunk Day!
Southcart Books’ last event was a splendid Steampunk Day!

To end their Walsall Town Festival festivities, Southcart Books in Lower Hall Lane, Walsall, are having a little bookshop party showcasing some of their local and regional author friends’ talents on this Saturday 25th July.

And there’ll be quite a variety of writing talent on offer, all of whom will reading from their work in crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror and more!

The Master of Ceremonies will be the Editor of The Bloxwich Telegraph, A. Stuart Williams, who is himself a local author.

The programme for Saturday’s event  is as follows:

10.00am Southcart Books Opens

  • 11.00am WELCOME by Scott & Amy, proprietors of Southcart Books
  • 11.05am INTRO by MC and author A. Stuart Williams
  • 11.10am  Adrian Middleton
  • 11.35am  James Josiah
  • 12.00pm  Anthony Nick Britt
  • 12.25pm – 1pm Lunch Break for Mingling and Browsing
  • 1pm-1.25pm  Janet Edwards
  • 1.25pm-1.50pm  Mike Chinn
  • 1.50pm-2.15pm  A. Stuart Williams
  • Mid-Afternoon Break 2.15pm-2.35pm
  • 2.35pm-3.00pm  Don Melbourne
  • 3.00pm-3.25pm  Rob Cartwright and Theresa Derwin
  • 3.25pm-3.50pm Rob Grimes
  • 3.50pm Thanks & Chucking Out by MC A. Stuart Williams

Shop Closes 4.30pm

Works by these authors will be on sale, subject to availability, and may be signed on request.

All are welcome, and ADMISSION IS FREE! Light refreshments will be available. Get there early if you can, as these events are always highly popular!

If you are on Facebook, you are invited to sign up to the Event Page, where you can find out more about the authors who will be reading on Saturday:

Southcart Books is the area’s ONLY independent bookshop, and is located at 20 Lower Hall Lane, Walsall, WS1 1RL.

You can also find them on Walsall Market today with their mobile bookstall, as part of the special Walsall Town Festival market!

Countdown to TV station launch in Walsall

The Goldmine Centre, Walsall (pic: Stuart Williams)
The Goldmine Centre, Walsall (pic: Stuart Williams)

A brand-new television station is all set to launch in Walsall this Saturday evening – and it plans to cover Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull from its studios in the heart of the town!

Big Centre TV will broadcast digitally to an estimated 2.3 million viewers across the region, from the Goldmine Centre in Lower Hall Lane, where it has joined forces with Walsall Studio School to get a full programme of local and regional news, light entertainment, comedy, cultural and music shows, children’s programming and nostalgic TV including re-runs of the much-loved West Midlands-based ATV soap ‘Crossroads’, all ‘on the air’ via Freeview Channel 8.

Ofcom’s broadcast licensing committee awarded the TV licence to Kaleidoscope TV, which is the holding company for Big Centre TV, following the failure of City TV in 2014.

The auditorium in use as a studio at Big Centre TV in Walsall (pic: Stuart Williams)
The auditorium in use as a studio at Big Centre TV in Walsall (pic: Stuart Williams)

The new station is the brainchild of enthusiastic co-owners veteran ATV and Central newscaster Mike Prince and ex-teacher Chris Perry, who is the channel director at Big Centre TV.  Their enthusiasm is shared equally by Peter Stack, creative director and head of Sixth Form at Walsall Studio School, Dan Parkes, the school’s principal, and Kevin Davis, CEO of the Vine Trust Group, which runs the Goldmine Centre.

A wealth of experience as well as the latest  technical expertise is behind this new breed of local broadcaster.  Well-known ex-Central TV sports broadcaster Bob Hall is head of news and sport while Shropshire journalist Jennifer Meierhans and Birmingham broadcaster Marverine Cole are senior news producers.  Technical, production and studio staff and a team of roving video news journalists provide the skills needed to get the show crackling across the digital airwaves to homes across the region.

Legendary radio DJ and broadcaster David ‘Diddie’ Hamilton also has a regular chat show with some fascinating guests already ‘in the can’ and more to come.  Audiences are invited to selected shows, with notifications on the station’s Facebook page and presumably via their website, which is also launching on Saturday.

The David Hamilton Show being recorded last Saturday, with guest actress Madeline Smith (pic: Stuart Williams)
The David Hamilton Show being recorded with guest actress Madeline Smith (pic: Stuart Williams)

The station is sharing a media studio, presentation suite and four hundred seat auditorium – which also doubles up as a studio – with the school, and as a result students will benefit from valuable professional experience gained through the partnership.

As well as lighting and sound equipment, the station has the use of broadcast-quality cameras and a ‘TriCaster’ green screen production system, allowing the use of virtual backgrounds for factual programming and news.

A preview is already being shown on Freeview 8. Viewers will probably need to re-tune their Freeview boxes or TVs to pick up the channel initially.  It is not currently on Sky or Virgin.

Regular scheduled programmes will be broadcast by Big Centre TV seven days a week from 6pm on Saturday 28 February 2015, and the station also plans to make programmes viewable online.  Check out their website and Freeview’s programme guide for scheduling.

For more information see: and

Plus on Social Media:

Aldridge charity dance to raise funds for SSAFA

SSAFA Dance Poster

A special charity dance is set to take place on the evening of Saturday 23rd March in Aldridge, Walsall.

And the event, billed as ‘Dance Through The Years’, is sure to be popular, with five-piece band ‘Nostalgia’ ready to set toes tapping and bugs jittering with live music from the 1920s – 1960s!  To add to the fun, there will also be prizes available on the night.

The dance, which will be at Aldridge Social Club, High Street, Aldridge, is aimed at raising funds to support the work of the newly-expanded local branch of SSAFA Forces Help – the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association – a registered charity established in 1885.

Starting at 8pm on 23rd March, tickets for ‘Dance Through The Years’ cost just £8 and are available from the club or telephone 01922 866545.

The West Midlands North Branch serves the Black Country and is based in the Territorial Army Centre at Gordon House, Walsall.  The charity continually needs to raise funds for its volunteer efforts in supporting ex- and serving forces personnel and their families, vital work that is as necessary as ever with so many in need.

Please feel free to download the pdf event poster by clicking on the image above – we hope as many as possible will be able to help spread the word by printing the poster off and displaying it at work or in places where it can be seen – thank you!

Quick change of Olympic cycling heroes for Bloxwich event

Left to right: Steve Bagley, head of collections at Coventry Transport Museum, Chris Hilton, principal at Black Country UTC, Lesley Principal, assistant principal at Black Country UTC.
Steve Bagley, head of collections at Coventry Transport Museum, Chris Hilton, principal at Black Country UTC, Lesley Principal, assistant principal at Black Country UTC.

Youngsters across the Black Country and beyond are being given a unique chance to grill two of Team GB’s gold medal and world record heroes at an exclusive event, as seen in our earlier story.

The Black Country University Technical College (formerly Sneyd Comprehensive School), based on Vernon Way, adjacent to Mossley Estate in Bloxwich, had already secured team pursuit cycling star Geraint Thomas to host its ‘Accelerate Live’ extravaganza on Saturday 24th November, and has now added Thomas’ team-mate, Steven Burke.

The pair made headlines at London 2012 when they twice shattered the world record on the way to their velodrome sensation, and will now meet existing and potential Black Country UTC students.

‘Accelerate Live’ is the first of the UTC’s ‘Live Series’ of events, and will bring to life the magic of engineering in a series of exhibitions and showcases focused on the science behind the cycle.

Among them will be the award winning ‘Pedals to Medals Interactive Experience’ – a journey through the history of the cycle, from Penny Farthing to Olympic 2012 mean machine.

Alongside that, Geraint and Steven will talk about their own unique experience and how their gold medals were achieved.

Steven is delighted to have been included in the event. He said:

“I certainly have very good memories of working alongside Geraint and hopefully people will be interested to hear about our amazing 2012 journey.

“Accelerate Live is a fantastic idea to excite youngers about the possibilities of science and engineering. I’m fascinated to see the ‘Pedals to Medals Experience’ too.”

Steven replaces Lizzie Armitstead at the event, as the silver medalist is no longer able to attend.

‘Accelerate Live’ is an all ticket event and demand is already high. Anyone interested in getting their complimentary ticket should visit to register.

Along with the cycling theme, ‘Accelerate Live’ will also showcase dynamic engineering and science demonstrations, including robotics displays, Green Power vehicles and much more.

Picture courtesy Black Country UTC

Olympians race to Bloxwich for Black Country UTC event

Left to right: Steve Bagley, head of collections at Coventry Transport Museum, Chris Hilton, principal at Black Country UTC, Lesley Principal, assistant principal at Black Country UTC.

Team GB Olympic cycling stars Geraint Thomas MBE and Lizzie Armitstead are among the star attractions coming soon to Bloxwich when the local Black Country University Technical College hosts the first of its ‘Live Series’ events later this month.

The top sporting cyclists, who became household names at the London 2012 Olympics during the summer, will be visiting the UTC, formerly Sneyd Comprehensive School, which is based on Vernon Way adjacent to Mossley Estate.

The specialist technical and engineering college for 14- 19 year olds will bring ‘Accelerate Live’ to the Black Country on Saturday 24th November, when prospective year 10 and year 12 students will be able to see the magic of engineering brought to life by a series of exhibitions and showcases.

Amongst them will be the award-winning Pedals to Medals interactive experience, a journey through the engineering history of cycles right through from the Penny Farthing to the high-tech bikes that saw our Olympians grab London 2012 glory.

This unique opportunity to get up close with some of the most famous bikes in history will be supplemented by the chance to hear first-hand about how important engineering is to the riders themselves, with Geraint and Lizzie talking through their experiences in London and what they expect to change before Rio.

The pair will also be offering young engineering enthusiasts in the area the chance to get autographs and pictures, along with posing their own questions to the duo.

Along with the cycling theme Accelerate Live will also showcase dynamic engineering and science demonstrations including robotics displays, Green Power vehicles and much more.  There will also be a chance to win a state-of-the-art bike!

Black Country UTC Principal Chris Hilton believes the event is a great way to demonstrate how the organisation differs from standard schooling.

He said: “The educational experience here really brings engineering and science to life, and we believe that anyone’s visit to our college should do exactly the same.

“The Olympics is a hugely interesting subject at the moment owing to our success and a big part of that has been engineering – it is fascinating seeing the exhibits in Pedals to Medals and how the advancements have been made.

“We are honoured to have two Olympic cyclists here on the day, especially two who had such notable achievements as Geraint and Lizzie.

“Lizzie was Team GB’s first medalist of the games and really started the ball rolling and Geraint was part of a team that shattered a world record on the way to winning a gold medal – it will be amazing to hear from them first hand.”

Organisers are strongly encouraging year 9 or 11 students, especially those who are into science and engineering, to attend Accelerate Live.  Students, parents, community groups and UTC employer partners are all invited to register. There are two Accelerate Live sessions 9:00 – 12:30 or 13:00 – 16:00.

Visit to register for tickets.

Picture courtesy Black Country UTC.
Left to right: Steve Bagley, head of collections at Coventry Transport Museum, Chris Hilton, principal at Black Country UTC, Lesley Principal, assistant principal at Black Country UTC.

Have a Jolly Bostin’ Jubilee Jamboree in Old Wedgbury Town!

Jolly Jubilee Jamboree

Jolly old pals at the professional theatre company “Don’t Go into the Cellar!” are to bring another slice of vintage entertainment to the Black Country this June, to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.

Wednesbury’s Museum & Art gallery will play host to “A Jolly Bostin Jubilee Jamboree!” on Saturday 2nd June at 7pm, and the performance will feature star turns from Victorian and Edwardian music hall stars such as Marie Lloyd, Dan Leno, Tod Slaughter and Le Petomane – or at least, actors impersonating them!

The fun interactive show will feature many well-known music hall songs and comedy skits, and audience participation will be actively encouraged! The vintage variety show, in the style of the BBC’s much-loved series “The Good Old Days”, will be the first in a proposed series of performances across the Black Country region.

The performance will also feature a specially-commissioned Victorian-style house-band! “The Penny Farthings” will supply live musical accompaniment to the acts, in the style that variety artistes of the day would have been familiar with. Popular songs to be played include “The Cock Linnet Song” and “Knees Up Mother Brown”. The show will finish with an audience sing-a-long of favourites from Last Night of the Proms.

The Birmingham theatre company has already established itself as the UKs only professional troupe that specialises in original Victorian ghost and horror tales, Music Hall revivals and Sherlock Holmes shows.

The theatre company’s Director, Rachel Green, is delighted that Cellar is able to help Sandwell celebrate the Jubilee in traditional style, the way the region would have done 100 years ago or more.

Rachel says, “We are thrilled to present this traditional theatre show and re-introduce audiences to the Victorian Era’s very own stage superstars!”

Tickets £6.00 / £5.00 children can be purchased directly from the Museum by calling 0121 556 0683.

Spooky theatre company auditioning in Birmingham!

Don't Go Into The Cellar

Great news if you’re a local thespian looking for a challenge that’s both fun and frightful – professional theatre company Don’t Go into the Cellar! is holding auditions for West Midlands-based actors and actresses at Birmingham’s Central Library Theatre on 7 February!

The acting troupe which chilled and enchanted visitors to the Black Country Living Museum and other regional venues late last year with their unique and original production The Legend of Spring-Heeled Jack, and is already lined up for two spooktacular shows at the Bookmark Theatre in Bloxwich this year, is famed for their performances across the UK.

And with thrilling adaptations of Victorian chillers, mysteries, Sherlock Holmes and Steampunk adventures as well as Music Hall evenings, this remarkable theatre company has already established itself as the UK’s only professional troupe that specialises in original Victorian ghost and horror tales, Music Hall revivals and Steampunk shows.

So if you have a flair for Victorian gothic and would like to be considered for the Company’s forthcoming shows throughout 2012, please email your CV and headshot to Company Director Rachel Green at or telephone 0777 2 572 060.

For more on Don’t Go into the Cellar!, check out their terribly scary website!

Keep Warm, Keep Well

Keep Warm, Keep Well

Keep Warm, Keep Well is the message to Black Country residents this winter as the cold weather sets in. The Black Country Cluster of PCTs has put together a range of leaflets filled with top tips on how to avoid getting a cold, how to heat your home effectively and efficiently as well as information on grants and benefits available to residents to help with paying heating bills or insulating their home. Continue reading Keep Warm, Keep Well

Christmas competition takes health messages online

Black Country NHS

A new online campaign will offer Black Country people a chance to improve their health – and boost their wealth – by finding out how to get the right treatment this winter.

The Black Country Cluster of Primary Care Trusts is promoting its recently launched Facebook page with a health awareness competition. People taking part will be asked to ‘like’ the page then guess the common word in a series of daily messages which will be posted in the run up to Christmas.

Michelle Beddow, from the Cluster’s communications team, came up with the idea. She explains: “We hope this will be a fun way of getting some important health messages across as well as encouraging more people to follow us on Facebook. We’re offering three prizes of high street vouchers, with £100 for the winner and £25 each for two runners up.

“Our Cluster covers Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, but anyone who wants to follow us is welcome to do so and take part in the competition, which started on Monday. (19 December) If you miss the start, you can always join in and catch up as long as you find our page and ‘like’ us before Christmas Eve.”

To enter the competition residents just need to visit and search for Black Country NHS. Once they have found the page they need to ‘like’ it. Each day a new message will be posted with a common word.

The last message posted on Christmas Eve will contain details of where to send answers and contact details to. Anyone who has sent in the correct answer and ‘liked’ the Black Country NHS facebook page will be entered into a prize draw.

The first prize is £100 high street vouchers with two runner up prizes of £25 high street vouchers each. The deadline for entries is Thursday 12 January 2012 with the draw taking place on Friday 13 January 2012.