Past Events

Tuesday 25th June – ‘A Magical Midlands Mystery Tour’.  A welcome return of Ian Bott for another of his amusing and informative illustrated tours of local places of interest in the Black Country area.

Tuesday 28th May – ‘The History of Genealogy’.  Michael Sharpe’s illustrated talk demonstrated how studying family history became one of Britain’s most popular pastimes.

Tuesday 23rd April – ‘You can’t abdicate and eat it’.  Mary Bodfish gave a very interesting and amusing talk about the Duchess of Windsor and Edward VIII.        Tuesday 26th March – ‘Worcestershire Worthies’.  Anthony Collis gave a very interesting talk on people, past and present, who have shaped the County’s heritage. Tuesday 26th February – ‘The Anglo/Zulu War of 1879’.  Max Keen returned with a captivating & amusing story of how the British Army invaded Zululand, resulting in the epic battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.

Tuesday 22nd January – ‘What we bought’.  Bernard Mills gave a very interesting and amusing illustrated talk on our shopping habits over the last 200 years, with particular reference to the history of Kays Catalogue.                                                                              2018                                                                                                                                           Tuesday 11th December 2018 – ‘Members’ Christmas Social’.  Again a most enjoyable festive celebration.  Five members entertained those present with seasonable readings. ‘The Grace Notes’ sang beautifully once more and the afternoon ended with tea, coffee and mince pies.  A good number of wrapped gifts were donated to the Mystery History Draw, the proceeds from which will go towards the restoration of Church House in Areley Kings.                                                                                                                            Tuesday 27th November 2018 – ‘After the Deluge’    Caroline Hall talked about the part Women played in WWI and the resulting changes in British Society afterwards.   Tuesday 23rd October 2018 – ‘Three Suffragists from the Wyre Forest area’.  Gay Hill talked about the story of the Suffragettes, mentioning what she had found out about suffragists Eliza Sturge, Eliza Ashford and Ethel May Downing, all with links to the local area.                                                                                                                                           Tuesday 25th September 2018 – ‘Ironside the Sequel’.  Heather Flack continued her amazing research into the story of what happened to Edmund Ironside’s children following his death in 1016.  From England to Russia and Hungary and back!      Thursday 20th September 2018 saw 36 members and friends visit Southwell Workhouse in Nottinghamshire, run by the National Trust.   As one with  ancestors working in these establishments, I was eager to obtain some measure of their atmosphere.  I certainly did.  After a well organised lunch the group moved on to the Bishop’s Palace and the Minster where we were given very detailed tours.            Saturday 15th September 2018 – The Group had the usual stand in the Town Hall for the Heritage weekend.  We sold a good quantity of books and had several research enquiries.  It was quite inspirational to have the re-enactment, by members of the Rose Theatre, of Emmeline Pankhurst’s visit to Kidderminster with  banners, arrests and speeches from the Town Hall stage.                                                                                   Tuesday 24th July 2018 – ‘The Staffordshire Hoard’. Ron Gallivan gave an interesting illustrated talk on the finding of the hoard and the various theories on its origin.  This followed the usual short AGM.  Moira Brown, a founding member of the Group, was presented with a plant on her retirement.  Peter Picken & Olive Broadfield were also presented with gifts having completed 5 years on the Committee.                             Tuesday 26th June 2018 –  ‘James Brindley & the Canals of Worcestershire’.  Roy Murphy  gave an illustrated presentation examining the engineering challenges faced by Brindley and his solutions.  His legacy survives today.                                                  Tuesday 22nd May 2018  – ‘Editing the Black Country Bugle’.  John Butterworth, former editor, talked about the Bugle and his career as a journalist.                          Tuesday 24th April 2018  – ‘Restoration of the Perseus & Andromeda Fountain at Witley Court’.  Derek Clarke gave a wonderful presentation on his English Heritage project to undertake this significant restoration and put back a fountain into full working order; with the complete recreation of the South Parterre gardens.  A behind the scenes view.                                                                                                                             Tuesday 27th March 2018 – ‘Stourbridge Glass – A History’.  Dr Kate Round gave a very interesting illustrated talk on the general history of how the glass-making industry developed world wide and then arrived in Stourbridge.                                                    Tuesday 27th February  2018 –  Max Keen gave yet another of his entertaining presentations, this time  ‘Lord Nelson: England’s Greatest Hero’ from his birth in a Norfolk vicarage to his death on the deck of the ‘Victory’ in October 1805.                      Tuesday 23rd January 2018  –   Neil Roberts is an award winning magician and he gave a very interesting and comprehensive talk on ‘Pantomime – a real family show’.  He had researched the structure and historical development of the traditional pantomime.  It even included audience participation in singing ‘Sister Susie Sewing Shirts for Sailors’ !! 2017                                                                                                                                           Tuesday 12th December 2017 – Members’ Christmas Social.  24 brave members battled their way through the snow to be entertained by 14 equally brave singers from the  ‘Grace Notes’.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the concert.  Our Chairman produced several amusing ‘Christmas’ readings.  Proceeds from the mystery history draw this year will be donated to the fund for the Stanley Baldwin statue in Bewdley.                Tuesday 28th November  2017 –  ‘Understanding the Black Country’.  Ned Williams returned to the Group and gave a very interesting illustrated talk which examined various ‘explanations’ or ‘definitions’ of the Black Country from historical, geographical, social & cultural perspectives.                                                                                               Tuesday 24th October  2017 –  ‘The Kidderminster & Stourport Electric Tramway Co.’  Melvyn Thompson gave a very interesting and informative illustrated talk on the history of the company and the relationship between the two towns between 1898-1929. Tuesday 26th September 2017  –  ‘The Real ‘Allo ‘Allo – Shot Down in France’.  John Pittwood’s father was a navigator and his plane was shot down over France in WWII.  From the tales his father told, and from research, John has created a most interesting talk about the trials and tribulations of a group of airmen trying to make their way home through occupied France.                                                                                                          Wednesday 6th September 2017 – A coach full of members and friends visited Tutbury Castle.  This is a largely ruined medieval castle in Staffordshire,  in the ownership of the Duchy of Lancaster. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  People who have stayed in the castle include Eleanor of Aquitaine and Mary Queen of Scots was a prisoner there.  Lesley Smith gave a wonderful presentation as the ill-fated queen.                             Tuesday 25th July 2017 – ‘Weaving Yarns’.          Heather Wastie, Poet Laureate for Worcestershire 2015-16, accompanied herself on accordion, singing songs she had composed from the tales carpet workers had told her of their lives in the industry.  She also read some of her poems.   This followed a short AGM run by Vice Chairman Gough Baker due to the indisposition of Chairman Norman Broadfield.  Secretary Sandra Charlton presented Ann Taylor with a bouquet for serving five years as Membership Secretary & also Olive Broadfield, on behalf of Norman, was presented with a bag of ‘Toblerone’ for his five years as Chairman!  Jo Roche stepped down but the rest of the Committee were voted back.                                                                                                  Tuesday 27th June  2017- ‘Swinging Ladies (on Pub Signs)!’.       Anthony Collis showed a fascinating selection of queens, heroines, mistresses, fictional females, celebrities giving an insight into each of the ladies (and pubs) involved.                     Tuesday 16th May  2017- ‘Himley Hall: Past, Present and Future’.        To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Group, Alan Peace gave a very interesting illustrated talk on the history of Himley Estate.  Many notable people have visited, among them Edward VIII who was a regular visitor.  Eight of the ten original members of the group were present.  Founder Gay Hill helped Chairman Norman Broadfield cut the celebration cake.  Stuart Parsons was presented with an engraved glass bowl as winner of the Questionnaire.                                                                                                                          Tuesday 25th April  2017– ‘Owen Glendower in Worcestershire, Fact or Fiction?’     Heather Rendall gave a well researched talk on the last Welsh Prince of Wales, who instigated a fierce and long-running, but ultimately unsuccessful, revolt against the English rule of Wales.  Fact and fiction left the audience to make up its own mind!   Tuesday 28th March  2017– ‘Oliver’s Mound – Excavations at Shrawley – Shrawley Castle’.         Hazel Whitefoot gave an illustrated talk on the history this local archaeological site and her experiences on the excavations of it.  The site  is nearly 1,000 years old.                                                                                                                                   Tuesday 21st February 2017 – ‘King John: The Worst or Most Useful English King?’.     Max Keen gave his usual entertaining interpretation of the life & deeds of King John.  The packed audience was left to draw its own conclusion.                                                  Tuesday 24th January  2017 – ‘The Zeppelin Night of Terror’.           Ian Bott returned and gave a very interesting and well illustrated talk on the night in 1916 when a German Zeppelin bomber, on a mission to Liverpool, found its way to the Midlands and unleashed terror.                                                                                                                           2016                                                                                                                                            Tuesday 13th December 2016 – ‘Christmas Social’  Members packed the King Charles Room and enjoyed a festive celebration with   ‘The Grace Notes’  again.  There were various readings from members of the audience and the afternoon closed with mince pies, tea & coffee.  The Mystery History Draw raised money for a local charity.              Tuesday 22nd November  2016 – ‘Birmingham back-to-Backs’.       Derek Clarke RIBA, chief architect on the restoration of these houses, in the centre of the city, gave a fascinating & informative illustrated talk into the inside story of this project.            Tuesday 25th October  2016 – ‘Edmund Ironside’.      2016 marks 1,000 years since Edmund Ironside was king.  Local historian Heather Flack shared her research into this forgotten hero who fought valiantly to keep the Danes out of England.                      Wednesday 19th October 2016 – A coach full of members and friends had a very informative tour of the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales and afterwards visited Caerphilly Castle.                                                                                                                       Tuesday 27th September 2016  – ‘Alfred Baldwin: Industrialist, Philanthropist, Politician’.         Local historian Pauline Annis gave an illustrated talk about the life of the local businessman and MP for Bewdley, father of the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.                                                                                                                                       Tuesday 26th July 2016 – ‘Victorian Kidderminster’ – Melvyn Thompson, well-known local speaker, gave a very interesting talk to a full house at the AGM meeting.  Following that he presented a DVD filmed in the late 1990s by Ken Hobson with commentary by Richard Warner.   This brought back many memories to the audience.                            Tuesday 28th June 2016 – ‘A Day in Court’ – David Berry gave a revealing and amusing talk on everyday life in a Birmingham Court.                                                                         Tuesday 24th May  2016 – ‘Great Uncle Jack’ – Ron Gallivan’s great uncle, Jack Myers, served in the Gallipoli campaign, landing at Suvla Bay in 1915.  Ron gave an in-depth talk on the action in Gallipoli.                                                                                                        Tuesday 26th April 2016 – ‘Burne-Jones Stained Glass Windows’ Pam Craven, church warden at All Saints Church, Wilden, gave a fascinating insight into the story behind the windows to a full house.  The church has strong links with the Arts and Crafts Movement and all 14 stained glass windows were designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and produced by the Morris Company.  Burne-Jones himself was the brother-in-law of Alfred Baldwin.  The original church windows were replaced by the Burne-Jones designs between 1902 and 1914.                                                                                                          Saturday 16th April  2016  History Day                                                                                       It was a very successful day with over 60 people attending.  Speakers and members created displays all round the Corn Exchange which gave rise to many conversations. The theme this year was “Wyre Forest in the 20th Century”.  Chairman Norman Broadfield introduced Dr Richard Taylor, former MP for Wyre Forest and retired Consultant Physician,  who opened the meeting.  He has had a life long interest in local history.
Peter Picken, who was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal, talked about the development of the Police Force in our  area.
Bob Fleming, former Officer to the Town Mayor of Kidderminster, gave a very amusing insight into his life with the town’s mayors.
Rosemary Winnall, awarded the MBE for her conservation work, described how the Wyre Forest has evolved.
After the lunch break Dave Laverty, former Head of History at King Charles I School, read moving excerpts from the pocket book of Private Walter Willetts during World War I.  We were privileged to have his grandson Bill in the audience. Dave would love to publish them.
To close the day, John Pearsall a former fire-fighter from Stourbridge, Worcester and Kidderminster Fire Stations, described the development of the local fire service.
The day also saw the launch of the WWI Memories booklet in which member Olive Broadfield has combined the six talks given to a meeting in November 2014.
Sue Pope gave a short introduction to the long awaited scheme for restoring the Weavers’Cottages inthe Horsefair .                                                                                                                                                            Tuesday Tuesday 22nd March 2016 – “Titanic & its West Midlands’ connections “             What a wonderful afternoon discovering that Titanic wasn’t from Belfast or Liverpool but mostly ‘made in the Black Country’.  Andrew Lound provided fascinating proof that 70% of the internal fittings were made locally.  Based on his own research he told the story of the Midlands’ industrial work on the ship and the fate of the local passengers. His presentation was delivered in full White Star Line uniform, using images and audio presentation.                                                                                                                         Thursday 3rd March 2016 –       A second informal Research Meeting was held with Gay Hill at Kidderminster Library. The second part of the afternoon was  spent looking at some of the local maps held in the Library’s collection.                                                Tuesday 16th February 2016 –   ‘Sir Francis Drake’ – Max Keen made a welcome visit, this time passionately asking the question was he “England’s Greatest Naval Hero or was he a pirate and slave trader?” .  The answer, after much heart searching…… Yes and No to all ?                                                                                                                                            Thursday 28th January 2016 – ‘The Real War Horse’ Robin Hill described how, for the last time, the armies in WWI relied on horse power and how they coped with the conflict.                                                                                                                                             2015                                                                                                                                                    Thursday 10th December 2015 –  Once again the King Charles Room reverberated to the voices of the local singing group the ‘Grace Notes’.  A mixture of serious and funny pieces of prose or poetry were read, all with a Christmas theme.  The afternoon concluded with tea and mincepies.                                                                                                                                            Tuesday 24th November 2015 –   We were very glad to welcome Alan Peace who agreed to take the place of the advertised speaker.  He gave a very interesting illustrated talk about a challenge he took part in.  He raced his step-son & a friend from John O’Groats to Lands End to see who would arrive first – Alan by public transport or the lads on bikes?  He is a senior warden at a Black Country Park & took part to raise money for CancerResearchUK.                                                                                                                   Tuesday 17th November 2015 – A meeting was held in the Library to discuss research projects for the Group.  Gay Hill and Ann Taylor gave interesting presentations which promoted quite a few discussions and provided ‘f’ood for thought’.  Details were given of the projects completed and ongoing ones.  Anyone with ideas for other projects should contact Gay Hill  through this website.                                                                                 Friday 6th November 2015 – 47 members and friends enjoyed a trip to London to visit the Churchill Museum and have a very informative guided tour of the Houses of Parliament.                                                                                                                                   Tuesday 27th October 2015 – ‘From the Guildhall to Beyond the Seas’David Clark told his fascinating tale of the research behind his book tracing the true stories of 8 Worcestershire women who were condemned to death or transported ‘beyond the seas’ in the 1780s.                                                                                                                                  Tuesday 29th September 2015 –   Mary Bodfish returned to speak to a full house about ‘Cavalier Dogs and Roundhead Rogues’.  In her usual amusing and very informative way Mary related tales of the Civil War to our area and beyond.                                    Tuesday 21st July 2015 – ‘Witley Court’ – A short AGM was held before Ray Sturdy gave his wonderful illustrated talk, to a packed house, about the ups and downs of this local gem.                                                                                                                                                  Tuesday 16th June 2015 – ‘Memories of Grandma’.    Pat Green returned to give us a wonderful talk about her ‘little’ grandma from Smethwick.  She had spent many hours in her company as a child & had inherited her box of treasures which evoked many memories.  Pat also read some of the poems she had written to pass the time away while in the air raid shelter.                                                                                                                      Wednesday 15th June 2015 – 27 members & friends spent a very enjoyable afternoon on guided tours of  Hartlebury Castle.  These included a visit to the fascinating Hurd Library.  For many the afternoon ended in the tea room with home made cakes!       Tuesday 12th May 2015‘Twenty things you didn’t know about Rowland Hill’.  Gay Hill told of her research into the family of  Rowland Hill.                                                                                                                                              Tuesday 21st April 2015 – ‘The living Skeleton & the Bearded Lady’.  Ned Williams returned with more tales & archive photos of circus life.                                                        Tuesday 17th March 2015‘1942 – A vintage year’.  Terry Church gave a very amusing & memory-searching talk on how our way of life has changed…for better or worse….since 1942.                                                                                                                                                 Tuesday 17th February 2015  –  Max Keen again entertained & informed a full house in the Corn Exchange.  He gave a detailed insight into the life and character of King  Henry V and into the conditions and outcome of the Battle of Agincourt, which was 600 years ago this year.                                                                                                                            Tuesday 13th January 2015‘Three Doctors Stretton’.  Local historian & author, Nigel Gilbert, gave a very interesting illustrated talk about the three Drs Stretton, Samuel & his son Lionel & then his grandson John.  All three had a huge influence on the medical world in Kidderminster especially the hospital in Mill Street, from 1856-1952.              2014                                                                                                                                              Tuesday 9th December 2014 –   ‘Party Pieces’.  A festive celebration for Members.  This was a lovely afternoon very much enjoyed by 20 members.  The ‘Grace Notes’ choir sang a variety of traditional & modern carols as well as Christmas songs.  They are a small group from the local ‘Valentines’ ladies’ choir.  They had already sung at the Chateau Impney in the morning.  Several Group members read seasonal pieces.  The Mystery History Lucky Draw raised more than £20. This will be donated to the Local British Legion.  The afternoon finished with tea & mince pies & a chat.                                      Tuesday evening 25th November 2014. The subject was “WWI Memories“.  Six members gave very differing short talks about various family members during the War.  A wonderful display came together made up from treasured memorabilia.            Tuesday 11th November 2014‘Compliments of the Season’.  Frank Townsend gave a most interesting & amusing talk based on the history of Christmas Cards.                 Tuesday 14th October 2014  Diana Clutterbuck gave a most interesting social history talk based on the diary of  Emily Pepys, the young diarist of Hartlebury Castle.         Wednesday 8th October 2014   – Despite the early start the trip to Bletchley Park seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by the 45 people who went.  The majority opinion was that the time was too short.  We all received free entry return tickets so we think many will be used!                                                                                                                                           Tuesday 16th September 2014   –  ‘RAF & ATA Records 1918 – 1945’.   Ross McNeill’s  interesting talk described the process of researching names on various local war memorials.                                                                                                                                     Saturday 13th September 2014  – As part of the Town’s WWI commemorations the Group had a display on show in the Town Hall.  We had lots of interest from the public.  Olive Broadfield showed details of her husband Norman’s grandfather in WWI.  Gay Hill showed details of  the Boynton family she is researching, in the Navy.  She also did 2 workshops for researching ancestors of the Great War on the internet as well as trying to answer visitors’ queries on the day.   She was kept very busy.  About 18 families had produced display boards illustrating their ancestors’ lives in the war.  Soldiers & Scouts were there in 1914 uniform and local singer Claire Worboys sang as Vesta Tilley in Vicar Street, entertaining the Saturday shoppers.  The event was opened by ex mayor Anne Hingley.                                                                                                                                      Thursday 21st August 2014 – The trip to Elgar’s birthplace & Spetchley Park was attended by 14 members plus a friend.  We had a very enjoyable day starting with tea & biscuits at Broadheath followed by a really excellent video on Elgar’s life & time to browse the museum & house with audio guides.  Then the cavalcade of cars moved off to Spetchley where we had an excellent lunch & guided tour of the gardens.  The wooden house was bought by the Berkley family (of Berkley Castle) in 1605 but burned down in 1651.  The present house was built in 1811.  Elgar stayed at a cottage in the grounds & gained inspiration there for some of his many musical creations.                                Saturday 9th August 2014  – The Group again had a stand at the Midlands Family History Fair at Worcester Warriors Rugby Club ground – Six Ways.  10am-4pm.  Societies from all over the country attended.  We had a good day, selling lots of books & handing out many of our 2014-15 programmes to interested visitors.  8 stalwarts manned the stand……..  We could do with more helpers!!                                                                     Tuesday 15th July  2014 – Author & historian Ian Bott was the speaker after the Group’s AGM.  He gave a most interesting talk, illustrated with slides,  on the history and fate of some of the many wonderful houses around the Black Country no longer in existence.  Tuesday 10th June 2014Local historian Pauline Annis gave an informative talk on the life of  Stanley Baldwin & his family illustrated by photos from the family album.  Born in Bewdley he lived most of his life in Stourport.  He had strong links with Wilden of course, the family firm being Richard Thomas & Baldwin opposite the church on Wilden Lane.   He loved the local countryside and was concerned about the well being of others. Thursday 15th May 2014 –  14 members & friends met at Worcester Cathedral & were given very interesting guided tours.  It is amazing how many architectural periods are represented in this one magnificent building.  They were added & changed while church life continued.  It started as a Roman Catholic monastery & later became a Protestant church.  King John & Henry VIII’s brother Prince Arthur are buried there.                  Tuesday 13th May 2014 –  “The Story of Mr Lea and Mr Perrins—A Saucy Tale.” Tony Deakin, a retired employee of the company, told a very interesting tale about the history of this iconic product.  The original recipe is still guarded under lock & key.  There are many ‘copy cat’ products on the market but only the one original.                                Tuesday 15th April 2014“Elgar’s Countryside” – Brian Draper M.B.E. took the audience on a wonderful tour of Sir Edward Elgar’s countryside within the triangle formed by the cities of Worcester, Gloucester & Hereford.  We visited homes, churches, pubs & of course the Malvern Hills.                                                                                                                                           Tuesday 11th March 2014 – “The Real Dads’ Army” – Malcolm Atkins gave a detailed insite into the formation & activities of the local Home Guards during WWII.                Tuesday 18th February 2014“Richard III – Hero? Murderer? Loyal Brother?” – Max Keen, local historian and teacher,  entertained our largest audience yet with his arguments that Richard was not the evil monster portrayed by Shakespeare.  Complete with armour and weapons of the period and aided by modern technology in the form of computer slides he held the stage for an hour.                                                                 Tuesday 14th January 2014 – “Old Pubs & Lost Hostelries” was the title of local historian, Dr Richard Churchley’s talk.  He has researched many of the establishments in the nearby counties.  He entertained another full house with photographs & stories.          2013                                                                                                                                              Tuesday 10th December 2013 – The members’  A Christmas Compendium‘ was held in the King Charles Room.  About 20 were present & enjoyed reminiscing about Christmases past with family traditions.  Tea, coffee & mince pies were enjoyed along with time to chat. The ‘Mystery History Draw’ raised £30 which will be donated to the Hartlebury Church Roof Fund.                                                                                                                             Wednesday 13th November 2013 – “Pat Collins King of Showmen” – Ned Williams has researched the life of Pat Collins & written his biography.  He gave a ver yinteresting illustrated talk on his life, which was a very busy & successful one.  He was one-time Liberal MP and Mayor of Walsall, who is chiefly remembered for his involvement in the fairground industry.  The Pat Collins fairground name is still being used.                     Wednesday 9th October 2013 –  “Tickenhill Manor” – Jim Parker entertained a full house with memories of Tickenhill Manor, Bewdley.  It was his grandparents’ home for many years.  He showed slides of the many unusual items collected by his grandfather, many of which have now gone to museums.  The Manor was originally owned by the Mortimer family before becoming a Royal Palace.                                                                                                                                              Friday 27th September 2013 – A group of 32 members & friends made a visit to London to visit the National Archives at Kew (TNA).  Nearly everyone found something of interest there. A very good experience & one to be repeated I’m sure.   Some still have not recovered from the excitement!                                                                                                Monday 16th September 2013 – 19 members & friends had a most enjoyable tour of Arley Arboretum, led by the head gardener Michael.  He has been there 14 years & tries to create something new each year.  The skies had threatened but the sun came out instead!  The tour finished with a delicious cream tea.                                                         Saturday 14th September 2013 – The Group had a presence in St George’s Church for the Area Heritage Weekend.  5 members were there from 11am-3pm but it was very quiet.  Most visitors seemed to go to St Mary’s or the ‘Saxon Dig’.                                         Tuesday 10th September 2013 –  “Pioneers in Petticoats” – To a packed King Charles Room, member Jo Roche gave her postponed talk on the founders of Kidderminster High School for Girls.  It was a fascinating insight into the development of girls’ education in the late nineteenth & early twentieth centuries.                                         Tuesday 16th July 2013  –   AGM.      In a rather warm King Charles Room Peter Picken was elected the new Treasurer.  The rest of the Committee were re-elected.  After the main business, Goff Jones took a full house on a tour of Kidderminster, from Lorne Street to Wood Street.  His talk was illustrated by some wonderful photographs which drew lots of sighs of recognition & stirred memories from the audience.                          Thursday 13th June 2013 – Member Jo Roche gave 20 members and friends a very informative guided tour of Abberley Hall & Clock Tower.  Most of us managed to reach the top of the tower, experiencing the bells striking on the way.  At least we missed the midday strike!                                                                                                                               Tuesday 11th June 2013 – Volunteer Pat Green, dressed accordingly,  gave a very amusing and interesting talk on Harvington Hall, a gem of a house on our doorstep. On Tuesday 28th May 2013 –  20 members enjoyed a very interesting tour of the new  Museum of Carpet.  The two large looms were working which was fascinating to watch.  David Mills talked of the history of the Museum & the decline of the carpet industry in Kidderminster.  Several members are ex carpet workers.  Tea & biscuits were provided & many stayed on to have a good look round the exhibits.  A place to visit time & again. On Tuesday 14th May 2013 – After an unforeseen mix-up with the venue, which we hope did not inconvenience visitors, local historian Vanessa Morgan gave a talk on murders she had found reported in the local papers & researched further.                                             A very successful 3rd History Day was held on Saturday 13th April 2013 at the Elizabeth Mills Centre in Stourport with the title of  “Wyre Forest Folk, Places and Industry”.                                                                                                                                        Chairman, Norman Broadfield, welcomed over 50 people to the Group’s third History Day. Charles Talbot, Acting Chairman and Trustee of the Kidderminster Museum of Carpet, officially opened the proceedings.                                                                                The first speaker, Margaret Bradley, described the connection between the Blounts of Kinlet and Kidderminster and differing family loyalties during the Wars of the Roses. Bessie Blount was the mistress of Henry VIII and Sir Thomas Blount’s Will was of historical importance. There were family links to the Crofts of Croft Castle and John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.                                                                                                                       Mattie Underhill and Nicky Griffiths gave an illustrated presentation of their genealogical research in St George’s churchyard. To date 13,000 burials had been identified.  Memorials to prominent families included the only commonwealth war grave. Occupations included a fell-monger (preparer of skins and hides).  Mattie hoped to record all graves before her part in the project ended.                                                                Jo Roche described the construction of the Abberley Clock Tower by John Joseph Jones and the commissioning of 20 bells, a carillon and a bandstand. He died in 1888 and the Tower was retained by the family after selling Abberley School. Its contents were eventually sold in 1939 and the Tower was donated to the School.  The carillon was sold and there are only 4 bells left.                                                                                                     After lunch Pauline Annis spoke about Aaron York a wealthy Stourport businessman.  Born in Cleobury Mortimer in 1742 he worked initially as a waterman in Bewdley. His business interests flourished and  he re-located to Stourport where York House was built in the late 1770s. Aaron York married twice, was a committed Methodist and died in 1797 at the age of 55.                                                                                                                              Lizzie Hill described her research into the Welch Gate, Bewdley which housed many of the poorest of Bewdley’s inhabitants. The research initially concentrated on buildings but now focuses on people.  Many present day facades hide older constructions and lists giving tenants’ details were found in the 1665 Manor Court Rolls. Several of Bewdley’s most notorious (and entertaining!) events occurred in this area.                                          The day concluded with Geoff Shaw describing the Burlish Top project and the myths, misinformation and misinterpretations surrounding it.  A Lottery bid had been successful in 2012 allowing the development of facilities and educational tours. Anecdotes from local people about their interaction with troops and help with further research were invited. Further developments are planned.                                                  Norman Broadfield, WFHRG Chairman, thanked the History Day Committee and all those who had volunteered on the day for their contribution in making this third History Day such a hugely interesting and entertaining event.                                                                  10th April 2013 – John Yates, Birmingham Registrar, gave his third in a series of interesting and amusing talks on what he finds in the ‘Hatches, Matches & Despatches’ in Birmingham Register Office.  He said there was already a new series underway for the WDYTYA TV programme.  He named celebrities who had been born, married or died in the city.  An amusing tale of twins born either side of the Scottish/English border & nearly on different days!  From a census entry someone discovered an ancestor was blind which answered why the signature on a marriage certificate was written at a strange angle.  If anyone dies in the Houses of Parliament the body is taken over the road to St Thomas’ Hospital to prevent the Government paying for the funeral!              Tuesday 26th March 2013  – Following on from requests for trips to places of interest – our first one was to  The Hive in Worcester.  An escorted tour, by Sue from the Archives section and Rob from the Archeological Dept, took 18 of us round a fraction of the research shelves (12 miles in total!), into the archeological section and finally into one of the strong rooms, where we were able to handle ancient pottery pieces and some bones.  The Hive is a combination of city and university library open to anyone.                Tuesday 19th March 2013 – John Boynton gave us an illustrated talk on the local part of the Oxford – Worcester – Wolverhampton railway line, nick named the ‘Old Worse and Worse’.  It was interesting  to learn that Hagley is a ‘railway village’ having not existed before the coming of the railways.  We learned about ‘Big Bertha’ and the ‘blood and custard’ livery colours of the carriages.                                                                             Tuesday 19th February 2013 – A very enjoyable and entertaining afternoon was spent with historian Max Keen as, dressed if full army regalia, he informed the audience in the Corn Exchange, how many times events of the English Civil War came to this area.  Kidderminster, Bewdley & Worcester to name but a few.  It was not such a ‘civil’ war & it was very interesting to learn that both armies more or less wore the same uniforms, which led to the ease in which each side could be deceived.                                                                                                                                    Monday 28th January 2013 –  Gay Hill was holding a free Family History Surgery at Kidderminster Library between 1pm & 4pm.                                                                                                                                                         Tuesday 22nd January 2013 – Unfortunately due to weather conditions our speaker, Jo Roche, was unable to get to Kidderminster to give her talk on the founding of Kidderminster High School for Girls ‘Pioneers in Petticoats’, so the meeting was cancelled.  We hope people were not inconvenienced by this.  We hope Jo will be able to give her talk at a later date.                                                                                                         2012                                                                                                                                      Wednesday 21st November 2012 –   Member Heather Flack gave a very interesting talk on ‘Kidderminster 1912 – a year of Struggle’.  This included readings from her books ‘Pieces of Wyre’ about the attitude to Emmeline Pankhurst’s visit to Kidderminster of two local girls.                                                                                                                            Wednesday 24th October 2012 –   Appropriately for the time of year, historian Ian Bott regaled us with some of the darker secrets he discovered while researching his book “Black Country Murders”.  This included murders in Lye, Tipton and Brockmoor High Street.  The timescale for these murders was mainly between 1900 – 1958.  He spoke very well  and made what could have been a gory subject surprisingly humorous in places.  Tuesday 25th September 2012 – This was a collaborative event with Kidderminster Civic Society.  Continuing on from Gay Hill’s talk in January on Electoral Reform in the West Midlands, Nigel Gilbert told the story of Mary McArthur and her association with Kidderminster.  Member Heather Flack dressed up & acted out her speech with great effect.                                                                                                                                       Saturday 8th September 2012 – As part of the area’s Heritage Open Weekend Family History tutor Gay Hill held a free drop-in family history surgery in St George’s Church from 11am – 1pm.  Other members manned the stall where people were able to browse for book bargains, gather information from us & stroll round the church which wasopen all day.  There were many other displays including hundreds of local photographs collected by the Civic Society & the St George’s Burial Project headed by Mattie Underhill.                                                                                                                                Saturday 25th August 2012  – The Group attended the West Midlands History Fair at Worcester Rugby Club, Six Ways.  Eight members helped man the stand throughout the day & others came as visitors.  As with all kinds of activities it was not as well attended as in the past but nevertheless great interest was shown in our & other stands.  It is a recommended way to spend a day & to gather information from a wide area of the country under one roof.                                                                                                      Wednesday 8th August 2012 –  Mary Bodfish, Chairman of Smethwick Local History Society, returned to the Group to give another very interesting talk this time on “Early Days at Soho Foundry”.
Matthew Boulton, who could arguably be called the greatest figure in Birmingham history, founded the Soho Manufactory along with James Watt in 1761. The firm became world renowned for making an array of goods using steam power, thereby becoming the first steam powered manufactory in the world. Soho Foundry, on the borders of Handsworth and Smethwick, supplied the manufactory with power. Mary detailed the lives of the men involved until their deaths & those of their children until the company was taken over by Avery Scales.                                                                                    Wednesday 18th July 2012 –  At the AGM,  held in the King Charles Room, Town Hall, Kidderminster,  Norman Broadfield was elected as the new Group Chairman, taking over from Dave Gordon.  The General Secretary remained in her post as did the Treasurer.  Moira Brown retired as Membership Secretary, replaced by Ann Taylor.  Jo Roche retired as Forest Clearing Editor but will continue ex officio, until a replacement is found.  Olive Broadfield retired as Hostess.  A replacement is needed.   The speaker after the meeting was Richard Perrin from Bewdley Civic Society with a very informative presentation on ‘Bewdley: A Riverside Town’.  Member Heather Flack brought copies of her 2 new books ‘Pieces of Wyre’,  a series of semi fictional stories illustrating periods of local history.                                                                                                                            Tuesday 17th July 2012 –  As a result of Barbara Middlemass’ interesting talk in May, a group of 28 members & family had a wonderful guided tour of Chateau Impney finishing off with a delicious afternoon tea.  We were shown original parts of the house & how they had been integrated into the modern hotel.  We visited John Corbett’s bedroom with its spectacular views of the local area & travelled along the underground corridor built to connect the two parts of the house & keep guests dry.                                              Tuesday 26th June 2012 – Saw Chris Jackson returning to give the second part of his talk on ‘Worcestershire Postal Services’  This time he concentrated on the times after 1840.  The meeting was held for the first time in  The King Charles Room, in the Town Hall, Kidderminster, which venue was well received by everyone.  As previously, Chris’ talk was most informative and amusing.  Nothing much has changed – in 1840 the sender of a letter could pay or if he did not wish to do that the recipient had to pay double!  Luckily nowadays we do not have to pay again if a letter needs to be forwarded.  The Penny Black only lasted about 18 months being replaced by the Penny Red.  The black cancelation stamp could not be seen over it.  Chris has restricted his research to Worcestershire, having started with Redditch, and brought along some of his fascinating collection of local post marks. In 1868 a letter took 43 days to get to China.  By 1870 over 100 countries had joined in the world wide reciprocal postal service and in 1921 Sunday deliveries ceased.                                                                                                                      Monday 21st May 2012 – Barbara Middlemass  gave a very informative talk on the life of  John Corbett, Salt King of Droitwich and how & why he came to have the Chateau Impney built as his family home.   He left school age 11 to join his father’s canal boat buisiness but later did an engineering apprenticeship & became involved with salt extraction in Stoke Prior.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Barbara also gives guided tours of the Chateau.                                                                                                               Tuesday 17th April 2012  – The last meeting for the group in Kidderminster Library.  Chris Gibbons gave a very interesting illustrated talk  on  ‘Beatles, Boats & Buildings – Liverpool & its links with Worcestershire’.  The main link was that the two Liver bird statues were made in Bromsgrove by the Guild of metal workers.  The book containing the order for them is in the Avoncroft Museum.                                                            Thursday 22nd March 2012 – Gay Hill gave a slightly different version of  her talk in January for Women’s History Month, at Kidderminster Library.  It was entitled ‘West Midlands Women’s Struggle for the Vote’ .  Bargain books were also available for purchase  in aid of the  Group.  The exhibition, which was launched on January 24th, can still be viewed at the Corn Exchange, Kidderminster Town Hall.                          Wednesday 14th March 2012 –  Another full house at Kidderminster’s Corn Exchange heard John Yates, Genealogist at Birmingham Register Office, give another amusing insight into life at the office.  His talk was entitled  “Another Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Register Office “.  His first message was to inform us that the cost of ordering certificates is to rise again, to £10,  on 1st April.  A child cannot be given a number on its own as a name, hence ‘Harper Seven Beckham’.  A man christened as ‘King Herod’ changed his name to ‘King Henry’. The US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has ancesters from Birmingham so does Rolf Harris & so did Dirk Bogarde.  A child was given the names of  26 boxing champions.  Easter 1967 saw 207 couples married before the end of the tax year.  All kinds of rooms had to be made available for the ceremonies!                                                                                                                       Thursday 8th March and Friday 16th March 2012– Gay Hill ran two very successful  1911  census  computer  workshops  at  Kidderminster  Library.                            Wednesday 14th February 2012 – Ralph Richardson gave a most interesting and entertaining  illustrated talk on the Sheldons of Beoley just outside Redditch.  He has done a lot of research into the  family who were prominent in Worcestershire in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Although Roman Catholics, they managed to keep their heads down and escape the worst of any prosecution for following their faith during the turbulent Tudor times of the Reformation. They were also on the losing side of the Royalists during the Civil War and were fined by the conquering Parliamentarian side. Despite being on the losing sides on both occasions they were landowners and lords of the manor in Beoley. One of the  family, Ralph Sheldon, encouraged the establishment of tapestry weaving in Barchester, Warwickshire. There is a very famous Sheldon Tapestry, which he commissioned to hang at Beoley Hall, now at Warwickshire County Museum in Warwick.                                                                                                                                       Friday 3rd February 2012 –  The Group held a free Family History Surgery in Kidderminster Library run by Gay Hill.                                                                             Tuesday 24th January 2012 –  On the actual date, in partnership with Wyre Forest District Council, the group presented an exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the visit to Kidderminster Town Hall by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1912.  A very informative, illustrated talk was given by Gay Hill, a local historian, who is also Research and Publicity Officer for the group.         Gay explained further ” It took over a hundred years for all adults, both male and female, to be granted the vote. The talk covered the history of the agitation behind electoral reform, which started in 1832 with the Great Reform Act. We know that Thomas Attwood and the Birmingham Political Union visited Kidderminster in 1830 to encourage the public to join the movement and a Kidderminster Political Union was formed. The Great Reform Act effectively gave the vote to the middle classes but the working classes continued to agitate for the vote under the banner of Chartism, which was a very strong movement in Kidderminster in the 1840s and 1850s, under the leadership of William Charlton and George Holloway. Although there had been agitation for female suffrage as early as the 1860s, the movement gained momentum nationally under the banner of the suffragettes in the early 1900s. It was not until Emmeline Pankhurst visited Kidderminster, as part of a national tour in 1912, that a Kidderminster branch was formed. Their first Secretary was Mrs Helen Talbot, grandmother of Charles Talbot.”                                                                2011                                                                                                                                           Tuesday December 6th 2011 – The Christmas Social was for members only.  Those who attended brought a small offering of savoury or sweet dishes.    Gay Hill organised a quiz won by a team of new members and there was the usual Mystery History raffle.  The proceeds of this went to Great Witley Church Restoration Fund.                                 Monday 21st November 2011 –  Anne Bradford entertained a full house  with her talk called “Ghosts, Murders and Scandals”.   Anne  has written a number of books on Worcestershire ghosts and murders which she had on sale at the meeting.  She also donated some to the Group’s raffle.                                                                                        Yours Ever Charlie                      On 19th October 2011 the author of  “Yours Ever Charlie” Ann Crowther gave the revealing story behind an unintended book.  Ann wrote this book based on 34 letters she found in a toffee tin. The letters were written by her grandfather Charles Crowther, born and bred in Wilden, to his wife while he was serving in the Worcestershire Regiment in France and Gallipoli.                                                            Textile Mills in North Worcestershire            On 27th September 2011 Dr Peter King explained about the growth of textile mills in North Worcestershire in the 17th and 18th centuries. The growth of the carpet industry in Kidderminster meant an increase in the demand for yarn, not just in Worcestershire but also throughout Warwickshire and the West Midlands in general. This was a very important part of the economy during this particular period.  Dr. King was be able to throw further light on this fascinating subject.                                                                                                                                           375th Kidderminster Charter Celebrations           On 17th September 2011, as part of the celebrations for the 375th anniversary of the granting of the town charter by King Charles , the group had a stall in St. Mary’s Churchyard.                                               Heritage Open Weekend 2011 – Discover Your Personal Heritage with the 1911 Census                         On 8th September, as part of the 2011 Heritage Open Weekend, we ran a Census workshop.  The workshop was fully booked and spokesperson Gay Hill said “In fact it could have been filled four or five times over, it attracted so much interest!” West Midlands Family History Fair        We attended this successful event on 6th August 2011, held at Worcester Rugby Club.                                                                       Annual General Meeting 2011        We held our Annual General Meeting on 18th July 2011.  The event was attended by about 40 people, both existing and new members.  At the meeting Gay Hill, our Chairperson for the last 4 years, retired and was replaced by Dave Gordon. Also Ann  Taylor, an original Hostess  called it a day and her replacement is Pauline Carroll.  After the formalities were completed we were  captivated by our guest speaker, Mary Bodfish, Chairman of Smethwick Local History Society.  Her talk on  “Skullduggery at the Soho Foundry” was fascinating.  Using archive material she followed the consequences of the rise and fall of the company’s bookkeeper.  To see pictures from the day visit our gallery.                                                                                  Living the Poor Life                  The group took part in the Living the Poor Life Conference, organised by the British Association for Local History, which took place on Saturday 7th May 2011 at Canterbury Hall, the University of London.  This was part of the project, by the same name, which had been organised by the National Achives, involving 20 different groups from all over the country. Gay Hill presented a paper “The Proponents and Opponents of the Kidderminster Poor Law Union”,  detailing the class struggles between the two opposing sides in the early years of the New Poor Law in Kidderminster.  Gay was particularly pleased to see that  only two doors away from the venue, in Cartwright Gardens, according to a blue plaque, was the site of a building where Rowland Hill (later knighted for his work)  wrote a pamphlet outlining his ideas for postal reform in 1837.                                                                                                        History Day 2010                Last October the group held its second History Day  at the Elizabeth Mills Centre in Stourport.  The event was very well attend, with over 50 people listening to a variety of talks.  They ranged from Margaret Bradley of Kidderminster Viaduct Woodland Project to Pauline Annis talking about searching for Monica Baldwin. Based on the success of this event, planning has already started for our next Wyre Forest History Day.  For pictures of the day visit our gallery.



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