Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas Bearwood!

I just love this! A great Christmassy song sung by one of my favourite bands. You just can't beat it!

Here is Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody' being sung by Bearwood's favourites Dexy Midnight Runners and introduced by the one and only the very lovely David Essex!

Merry Christmas everyone with lots of love and best wishes for 2012 from welovebearwood!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas in Bearwood

This year Bearwood has definitely done Christmas in style!

We’ve had fantastic craft fairs courtesy of those lovely Crafty Muthas, a very merry Christmas Ceilidh at St Mary's Hall, Santa has visited Warley Woods at least twice, lots of gorgeous gifts to buy helped along by mulled wine and mince pies at Webb’s and the REP’s Snowman judging snowmen in Lightwoods Park.

There's been so much happening it's been amazing! Please forgive me if I’ve missed any yuletide events.

Starting tomorrow and bringing us nicely up to Christmas Eve we’ve got Bearwood on Ice.

It’s going to be great.....lots of market stalls, mulled wine and hot cider(yes please!), snowmen, a fun fair, inflatable slides and how could I forget the ice rink!

I know that I’m going to fall over and get lots of bruises but I can’t’s going to be such a giggle.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Windsor Theatre RIP

A while ago Mrs B Snr (my mother-in-law, who’s just lovely) told me that she used to catch the school bus from Moseley to Bearwood to go ice-skating. She couldn’t remember exactly where but she knew that it was on Bearwood High Street.

When I found out that Lightwoods Park is going to have its own iceskating rink on the run up to Christmas (very, very exciting!) I wanted to find out more so Mrs B Snr did some digging for me (see, I told you she’s lovely) and she found out that what is now Bearwood Snooker Hall used to be where the ice rink was in Bearwood.

I then went to the Smethwick Heritage Roadshow and found out even more – the snooker hall used to be the Windsor Theatre.

Inspired by finding this out we went to see if we could take any photos which would recapture the building’s splendour. I think we did! What a shame though that such a beautiful building has been so neglected – what a waste.

I don’t think I’m the only person to think so – for more details please click on here and here.

Mary Bodfish, local historian and Chair of Smethwick Local History Society, has written a brilliant article about the Windsor Theatre and there are even more surprises in store.

The Windsor was one of the most distinctive buildings in Bearwood, with its domed roof with the small lantern feature on the top, and the very large clock that projected from the wall. A fan-shaped glass awning sheltered patrons as they came up the steps to the beautiful glass-panelled doors. It was opened in 1930 as a “super picture and variety theatre” as part of the local empire of cinemas owed by local councillor Edward Hewitson. In a clever publicity drive before it opened he held a competition for local people to suggest the name for it and “Windsor” was suggested by a Mr Sankey, whose prize was a pass for permanent free entry.

During the Second World War the Windsor played a tiny but significant role in the victory of the Allies. A short-wave radio receiving station was installed in the roof and a Birmingham ear, nose and throat surgeon, Mr Naylor Strong, who had been an enthusiastic amateur radio operator before the war, was directed to come in regularly and listen in to the Wehrmacht, the German army radio signals , and report all transmission data to Station X, the code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park.

After the war the theatre was re-opened, with variety, and revue, and amateur operatics. Stars performed there such as Winifred Atwell (pianist) and Frankie Vaughn – he was retained for a further week, as news of him spread and he played to packed houses every night, During the 1950s for three years the Windsor housed a repertory company called “Frank H Fortescue and his Famous Players, with Harold Wolfenden as the producer. The company put on 40 plays a year and a pantomime at Christmas. For a short season the plays were filmed for live transmission on television, but this of course was the beginning of the end for almost all live local entertainment and the theatre company folded within a year. Films were shown once again for period again then in the 1960s it was converted to a skating rink, which lasted a number of years before in being converted into a night club in the late 1970s, There I saw the wonderful Dolly Allen, the legendary Black Country comic – of whom it was rightly said “’Er’d mek a slab loff”. Finally, since 1982, the premises have been the Sandwell Snooker Centre.

This is a picture Mary found for us of the Windsor Theatre in the 1930s

Do you remember the Windsor Theatre in its former glory? If so we would love to hear from you so please email us at

Friday, 9 December 2011

Yee! Ha ! Take your partner by the hand....

Get your dancing shoes on Bearwood because you're in for a real treat!

Appearing for one night only the Cat's Whiskers Band will be getting everybody up on to the dance floor this Saturday night. The dancing starts from 6pm onwards at St Mary's Church Hall, just off Bearwood High Street.

Money raised goes towards Parkinson UK so don't miss your ticket today.

To purchase tickets please contact:Karen Blachford on 07908 681651 or call into St Mary’s tomorrow morning between 9.30 and 12.00 to purchase tickets from Marion Hills.

P.S. The above video footage is from their recent jig at St Martins Church in town.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa's on his way

Christmas has definitely come to Bearwood this weekend and Santa’s on his way!

This year he’s visiting Warley Woods twice (he can’t keep away!). On Saturday afternoon he’ll be at his grotto in Warley Woods Pavillions (so popular it’s really sold out!) and then he makes a return visit on Sunday afternoon.

Santa’s Sunday trip is one of my favourite times to visit Warley Woods. It’s just gone dark and all you can see is a spectacular row of lights. It really does look pretty and it’s just so cute. The lights are from all the children shining their torches so that Santa can find his way from the fountain to his grotto on his sledge (sponsored by Virgin Trains of course!)

The best thing for me though is the mulled wine raffle where every ticket wins a prize. Beats the German Market every time at half the price!

So wrap up warm, bring your children and a torch and get yourselves down to Warley Woods – it will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Walk the walk...

Based on the Brummie side of Bearwood (passports at the ready), Helen Gray who runs Pounce and Bounce loves animals. Turning this natural affinity into a business she now runs a Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Company and would love to help fellow Bearwoodians look after their pets.

Perhaps you feel that you never have the time to take your dog out for a nice long walk, especially now it’s getting nippy. Or maybe you’re at work all day and would love to know that there’s someone you can trust who would just pop in and check that your pet’s ok?

Cats, dogs, salamanders, giant African land snails (don’t think she’d take one of those for a walk though...might take a while), Helen’s happy to help - she’s fully insured (public liability and key cover), a member of the National Associates of Registered Pet Sitters, (NARPS) and CRB checked too.

If you’d like more info please visit Helen’s website or visit her on Facebook.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Anorakula spectacular!

Fiddly Paul (what a great name for a fiddle player!) is putting on a gig at the Bear (on Bearwood High Street) next Friday night, 9th December, and he would love fellow Bearwoodians to come along.

The show starts at 8pm and the line up comprises local bands Anorakula and Colin Hall's Gypsy Blood (Fiddly Paul plays in both bands – I’m impressed!) and Esther Turner, who I’m sure you’ll remember her from Bearwood Shuffle#1.

If you buy tickets in advance you get all this and a free samosa for £3 per person. Yes! I know, amazing! Tickets are available from Paul (don’t forget your fiddle!) by texting him on 07846 142 569 or emailing him at Tickets are £4.00 on the door.

The gig is in aid of Acorns Children’s Hospice so it’s for a really good cause too.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Tommy Hayes

Mary Bodfish, local historian and chair of Smethwick Local History Society, would like to nominate Tommy Hayes of TC Hayes, the electrical goods store at the Bear crossroads, for a Bearwood All-Star.

Mary tells us that his shop has provided excellent service and good value (welovebearwood agree!) to Bearwoodians for many, many years. Tommy has also supported the Smethwick Heritage Centre since it began in the late ‘90s.

I never knew this too (thanks Mary!) but the bear in the wood that you can see above an entry door to the TC Hayes premises has been there since 1894. Wow! He’s nearly 120 years old.

Here’s a lovely photo of the bear taken by local photographer Eric Collett.