Friday, 30 March 2012

Golf Masters comes to Warley Woods!

Viv Cole, Warley Woods Trust Manager, contacted welovebearwood to tell us their exciting golfing news.....they’re going to have their own Warley Woods Golf Masters.

Viv told us “ We may not be the perfectly manicured grounds of Augusta Georgia, but we have our own beautiful woodland backdrop. April 4th to 8th is the US Masters Golf and we will be having our own competitions here at Warley Woods. The monthly medal competition for golf club members will be the Masters Medal and take place on Saturday/Sunday 7th and 8th April.

There will be a Juniors’ Easter Masters Camp on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 4th, 5th and 6th with Greg Lynch, our golf professional. There are sessions each morning for 4- 8 year olds 10am -12pm and 12-2pm for 9 – 16 year olds. £10 per session or book all 3 days for £25.

Also any golfer (they don’t have to be a member, it is a pay and play course) who plays during this period can enter their scorecard into a Prize Draw. Finally there will be quizzes, word searches etc taking place throughout the week in the cafĂ© for anyone to enter. So come along and join in the fun!”

Who needs Tiger Woods anyway??!!

For more info, please call the Warley Woods office on 0121 429 2440

Welcome to Bearwood!

We love this so fingers crossed Mary Portas will too! All submissions had to be in by today.

Here are some photos we took of the filming!

Good luck Bearwood!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Hot News Flash! Mary Bodfish's Radio Interview!

Bearwood All-Star and all-around lovely lady, Mary Bodfish is going to be on Radio WM next Monday (2nd April!) Tune in at 11am to hear her interview with Radio WM presenter Adrian Goldberg.

Mary's got some interesting news too about Christabel Pankhurst (hope you saw Mary's recent article about her on our blog!) When Christabel Pankhurst came to Smethwick one of the public meetings was held at Bearwood Road School, so she really did set foot in Bearwood! Suffragette-tastic.

Who says libraries are quiet?

It’s all happening down Thimblemill Library next month!

They've got a creative writing group get together with special guest award-winning crime writer RJ Ellroy , a star gazing event with David Evetts from Birmingham Astronomy Society and Steven Hodgkinson from the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust with his tales of the mini beasts that live around Thimblemill Library. We’re moving in...sleeping bags and toothbrushes! Watch out Thimblemill!

One of the other highlights is going to be the folk music night on Saturday 28th April with Colin Hall’s Gypsy Blood Band, Louise Kilbride and an open mic slot for all your budding folkies in Bearwood.

Here’s Colin and his band in action – folking brilliant!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

X marks the spot!

Did you know that human rights activist, Malcolm X, was assassinated shortly after visiting Smethwick? No...we had no idea either!

Laurence Saunders (thanks Laurence!) found this great footage from the BBC archives of his visit which took place almost 50 years ago.

It made us want to know more so fortunately we knew the right person to of all our favourite Bearwood All-Stars, local historian and chair of Smethwick Local History Society, Mary Bodfish.

Mary told us....“A blue plaque has recently been placed by the Nubian Jak Community Trust on a house in Marshall Street, Smethwick to commemorate the visit to the street on 12 February 1965 by the outspoken and controversial civil rights activist Malcolm X. Controversy was rife in Smethwick at this period and he had come to show solidarity with West Indian and Asian people.

In the early 1960s numbers of migrant workers were moving into the town, especially West Smethwick, as they sought work in the metal-working industries, hoping for a better future for themselves and their families.

The local residents felt anxious and uncomfortable at seeing their neighbourhood rapidly changing, with more and more men who spoke strange languages coming and going, and with strange cooking smells in the air.

This culminated in residents of Marshall Street asking Smethwick Council to buy up houses that came on the market and let them to white families on the housing list.

The Minister for Housing, Richard Crossman, refused outright to allow any funding to Smethwick Council to do this, but international press coverage of these issues came to the attention of Malcolm X, who stood at the front line of the racial struggle that was going on there.

He was coming to Birmingham to address university students, and BBC reporters took the opportunity to bring him to Smethwick, planning to get him into a debate with the MP Peter Griffiths on the steps of Smethwick Council House.

Griffiths, whose election the previous year was tainted by a very unpleasant and racist slogan being bandied about, declined to appear, so Malcolm X was taken to Marshall Street, where he posed for photographs, before being taken on to Birmingham University.

Five days later, on his return to America, he was shot and killed at a public meeting.”

Monday, 26 March 2012

Bearwood All-Star: Ken The Milk

In a much simpler time before our current world of 24/7 convenience, when you couldn’t just pop down Bearwood High Street to buy a pint, milkmen were real heroes serving the local community and making sure that Bearwood got its daily quota of milk, cheese and cream etc.

Paul Flower’s dad, Ken, (aka 'Ken The Milk') delivered milk in Bearwood for over fifty years – the man’s a legend! The top photo is from the Sunday Mercury and was taken when Ken celebrated his fiftieth year of service. He’s standing next to one of his loyal customers, a lady who used to live in the Merrivale Road area. Do you recognise her? We’d love to know who she was.
Paul told us that his dad used to work like a Trojan and on his rounds covered the end of Bearwood around the school on both sides of the road and all then all the way towards Hadley Stadium. That kind of work ethic’s hard to find now!

"The area of his round covered a sort of triangle from Thimblemill Baths down to Smethwick Old Church and up around Bearwood to that side of the Bear Hotel - sort of the more Smethwick half of Bearwood I suppose. I imagine there's still a lot of people in the area who'd have grown up with their milk being delivered by 'Ken The Milk'."

Paul also remembers his dad driving a horse-drawn float like the one below.

Paul wasn't sure exactly where this photo was taken but he does know that it was on 15th June 1957. Wow, what a memory! The photo features the last horse-drawn Co-Op Milk Float to serve Bearwood. The horse's name was Marvel.

You may remember Paul too – he used to man the CND stall by St Mary’s Church on Saturdays in the very early 80s!

P.S. Bearwood's milkmen are still doing a grand job! Bob Piper told me about MoreFresh on the Bearwood Facebook page. "There's still a great milkman in Bearwood now, Lee gets the milk on the doorstep fresh around 5am most mornings. And you can pay, order, cancel, amend online at the milkandmore website."
Kate Slade also added "There is (more) than one milkman as I get mine from Morefresh. I think there might be 3 different firms around. I find it really reliable and useful."

Friday, 23 March 2012

Roll on Easter!

Welovebearwood are really excited about Warley Wood’s special Easter Event on Easter Monday, 9th April.

The main attraction’s going to be the Easter Egg roll down the Wood’s steep hill (the meadow) and this year adults are allowed to join in too! It’s down to all those Dads who wanted to have a play last year. We just hope they don’t get too competitive – you can imagine egg rolling wars! There’s going to be prizes for the egg-roller that rolls his or her egg the furthest.

There’s going to be other activities too – the Decorated Egg Competition for all those creative types, an Easter Quiz Trail for all you Bearwood brainboxes out there and a raffle for a giant chocolate bunny! Yummy!

Viv Cole, Trust Manager said “This is our fifth year of the Egg Roll and it has become a really popular event. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the fun – whether you are a child or adult, artistic, competitive, or just want an Easter stroll through the woods.”

The event’s for everyone so make sure you bring your hard boiled egg to the Upper St Mary’s entrance of Warley Woods at 11.00am on Easter Monday. Entry for the whole day is only £1 per person! Egg-cellent!

Sugar Baby Love!

You won’t believe this but the veteran beech tree in Warley Woods has a sugar habit! It’s addicted to the stuff!

Viv Cole, Warley Woods’ Trust Manager told welovebearwood that they’ve been worried about the OAP tree for quite some time as it was very sickly. They tried all kinds of remedies and were particularly concerned about the tree during the dry spell last year.

The Trust haven’t given up though and have found that by feeding the tree special micorrhizal fungus to encourage root growth and sugar (yes, you heard right....SUGAR!) the tree’s rejuvenated and it’s acting like its 21 again! Warley Woods need lots of sugar to help the veteran beech tree keep its good looks.

Alan Reynolds of Warley Woods Trust has said that “We very much want this to be a community supported activity, so we are asking members, supporters and volunteers to bring a bag of sugar to the pavilion over the next month or so. We will then arrange a date in the spring to mix all the donated bags of sugar into a solution that can then be watered into ground around the tree. “

So please remember Bearwood bring your bag of sugar to help Warley Wood’s old beech tree.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Bearwood Handmade Spring Fair!

The Beawood Handmade Spring Fair, a couple of Saturdays ago, was fantastic! We were definitely spoilt for choice. The welovebearwood team bought some gorgeous gifts for Mother's Days and birthdays pressies.

Erin, one of the lovely Crafty Muthas, contacted welovebearwood and told us why she really enjoyed the fair.

"Hello to the lovely warm community of We Love Bearwood readers! It doesn’t seem that long ago I was writing up a blog post summarizing the success of our Bearwood Handmade Christmas fairs... and here I am again to tell you about how incredible our Spring fair was on March 10th.

I’ll introduce myself again... I’m Erin Power and I make up 1/6th of the Crafty Muthas, a collective of 6 close friends who love to bake and craft and generally make things by hand.

It has been a busy couple of months. February saw our 2 year anniversary of our beloved Bearwood Tapestry, the craft night we host every third Thursday of the month at The Bear Tavern. Our Baker Mutha Rachel baked a gorgeous cake for the whole group to celebrate. She decided to decorate it with our “I <3 Bearwood” logo. Not only did it look sweet, but it tasted amazing as well.

Then it was all hands on deck to deliver flyers and decorate the hall and set up for our second annual Spring fair! We thought it would be lovely to have one before Mother’s day so that there would be plenty of handmade gifts you could choose from to spoil the mothers in your life.

It was also very cool that we were able to help out in gathering information for the recent initiative to put together a bid for Mary Portas funding to help Britain’s high streets. We estimated that over 1000 people came through St Mary’s Church Hall that day to visit our fair, and we tried our hardest to get as much of their opinions on what makes Bearwood so great, and how it could be made even better.

Central News wanted to cover the story of Bearwood going for the Mary Portas bid, so our humble fair made it onto the news as well!

I had such a great day. I had a stall to sell some of my handmade items... but really, selling them seems to come second. The most important thing to me and the most fun I have is just seeing the familiar faces of my community and having a chat... as well as meeting new people. Everyone always seems to have a smile on their face.

Erin (along with Ceri, Jayne, Jennie, Nat, & Rachel)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Hot News Flash! Hooray for (Holly)Bearwood!

Do you live in or near Bearwood? Do you have the Bearwood Factor? Fancy saying on film how much you love Bearwood?

If so, get yourselves along to Lightwoods House this Saturday (24 March 2012) at 12noon and help make the Portas video. What better way to show our Bearwood community spirit!

We're applying for government funding to be a Portas Pilot: money to improve our high street.

We need as many people as possible to be part of the video, which is a major part of the application. Get your families, Neighbours, friends, dogs, cats, everyone that wants to show how great Bearwood can be.

It'll be fun, we'll be filming around the parks and high street and we'll be lead by local drummer Paul Carroll!

Please share this everyone you know by email, Facebook and for those not online by carrier pigeon! Only joking, word of mouth will be fine!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Bearwood (well...Smethwick) firsts...votes for women!

Mary Bodfish, local historian and Chair of Smethwick Local History Society has written a brillant article about Christabel Pankhurst. Welovebearwood never knew that the Pankhurst family had such strong connections with Smethwick.

Mary told us that...."Following the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918 a general election was held that December, and this was the first in which Smethwick became a single parliamentary constituency. It was also the first election in which women were allowed to stand as candidates. Christabel Pankhust, the Women’s Party candidate, decided that as it was a new constituency, she would try to get into Parliament via the Smethwick seat, even though she had never set foot in the town before. A few days after her campaign opened, her mother, Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the most famous women of our 20th century history, came to speak on her behalf at a public meeting held outside the Blue Gates public house on Smethwick High Street.

However they might have felt about “Votes for Women”, Mrs Pankhurst failed to sway the Smethwick voters. The leading Liberal politicians of the day, David Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour, wanted Christabel Pankurst to get in, and they had put pressure on the local Liberal candidate to withdraw from the contest. This was Major Samuel Thompson, who lived at the Uplands, had a large local maltings business, and was very well known for his distinguished record of public service in Smethwick. Not surprisingly, his forced withdrawal caused great indignation locally, and Christabel Pankhurst was defeated by 775 votes in favour of a Labour party candidate. And she never did get into Parliament."

In the words of Christabel Pankhurst "It is our duty to make this world a better place for women."

Monday, 19 March 2012

Walk the Woods!

All last week I worryingly watched Midlands Today to see what the weather forecast was going to be like for Saturday. Heavy showers seemed to be the order of the day...enough rain to stop the drought (in this country!) said Shefali. Jeez, you just got to love our English weather.

Anyway come Saturday someone was definitely looking out for Mrs B. The sun was out and the temperature just right...not too hot and not too cold!

Doing my best to dress in green for St Patrick Day’s I got myself up to Warley Woods Pavilions and was happy to see lots of people ready for the walk.

Although I was walking round the woods on my own I got talking to a very friendly bunch of fellow Bearwoodians and in the end we did the full 10 miles together. Now that’s Bearwood community spirit for you!

The course was just over a mile (1.05 miles in fact!) down the drive then up to the wilderness, round the golf course and then through the meadow. My worst bit was definitely walking back up the meadow!

Yes , my feet did hurt and my toes did get squashed in my very attractive (not!) walking boots but I couldn’t have asked for a better 3 hours walking round the woods. The runners made it to Tipperary whilst I was doing lap 5 but in the end we collectively walked 500 miles. So that’s like making the long way to Tipperary and then almost back again, we ended up near Stourbridge (I think!) just short of 20 miles away from Bearwood! It definitely is a long way to Tipper-warley!

P.S. A very BIG thank you to everyone who sponsored me - I raised over £300 for Warley Woods!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Happy 94th Birthday Andy Hamilton!

This is going be one helluva party.....Andy Hamilton's 94th Birthday Celebrations! Andy Hamilton and Soweto Kinch on the same night...nice!

Here's a video of Andy in action at Corks - legendary!

We love Soweto too! Such a lovely lovely man and OMG he can play the sax!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

What do you think of Bearwood High Street?

Have your say about Bearwood High Street by clicking on this link and filling out the survey!

It will take 2 minutes max and what better way to say what you love, hate or would like to see change with our High Street.

All your answers will help with our bid for Mary Portas’ money (she doesn’t need it!) to save Bearwood High Street so get filling out those questionnaires Bearwood...please!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Walkley’s a long way to Tipperary

On Sunday the sun was shining so the welovebearwood team decided to get in some practice for this weekend’s Warley Woods ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ Walk and walk to Digbeth and back to see the St Patrick’s Day Parade.

We walked 8 miles in total – ouch! but it was well worth it especially after 3 pints of the lovely dark stuff! You can’t beat a pint of Guinness whilst watching tractors, Irish dancers and pipe bands. It was great to see all the different regions of Ireland represented too - especially Tipperary.

It’s A Long Way To Tipperary was written by Black Country songwriter Jack Judge who was born in Low Town, Oldbury, in 1872 and young man worked on a fish stall in Oldbury Market. Music was always his first love though and he wrote and performed many songs in the music hall heyday across Britain and Ireland. It’s rumoured that our Jack was appearing at the Grand Theatre in Stalybridge, in 1912 when he was challenged to compose a song in 24 hours for a bet of five shillings and six cigarettes. So that’s about 25p – life was so much simpler in those days! He was said to have writer’s block until he overheard two men giving directions and saying: "It's a long way to..." He never heard where to but because his parents came from Ireland he added Tipperary. The song was a huge hit and the rest is history.

So, in tribute to Jack Judge Warley Woods Trust is holding a sponsored walk (in aid of the Trust) on Saturday 17th March with the aim being to collectively walk the equivalent distance of Bearwood to Tipperary. Now that’s a long way...

P.S Warley Woods need more walkers to walk the collective distance to Tipperary so click on here for more details.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Who's the baddie?

Welovebearwood’s ‘favourite’ Laurence Saunders has been nominated for best baddie award at this year’s British Soap Awards.

Laurence played really nasty Trevor Waterhouse in Doctors and OMG he was evil! He’s so lovely in real life that you’d never think it was the same person!

To vote for Laurence please click on here

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Thimblemill Brook causes a stink: Wildlife beauty spot under threat

Steven Hodgkinson caught up with welovebearwood and told us why we must save Thimblemill Brook.

Steven is from the Wildlife Trust’s Black Country Living Landscape Community Involvement Programme and is working alongside the Friends of Thimblemill Brook to raise awareness of this issue and tell people what they can do to help.

He explained that "faulty pipes and duel manhole covers are causing havoc for Smethwick’s Thimblemill Brook’s wildlife. In places raw sewage is pouring into this wonderful local water course and affecting its inhabitants. The problem comes from inadequate duel manhole covers that can become backlogged meaning raw sewage can pour into the local streams."

People don’t often realise that waste water from their property could be going directly into the streams. We have been working with Severn Trent, Sandwell MBC, the Environment Agency and the Friends of Thimblemill Brook to raise awareness of this pollution and try and prevent it.

We are asking people if they spot signs of pollution including grey water, toilet rolls, detergent (bubbling water) and effluent to call the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 807060 or Severn Trent on 0800 783 4444."

Moira Black from the Friends of Thimblemill Brook has added “The friends group works alongside Sandwell MBC to constantly try to improve the brook and make it a special place for people and wildlife. We would really like to sort this issue out and getting people to report the pollution is the first step.”

The Wildlife Trust’s Black Country Living Landscape Community Involvement Programme, has been awarded £442,338 by Natural England as part of its Access to Nature Programme, funded by £25M from the Big Lottery’s Funds Changing Spaces Programme.

To find out more about the water connections from your house you can visit the Environment Agency’s Yellow Fish project webpage which is full of information about water pollution and how to help your local streams. There is also a free ConnectRight leaflet which explains how to check your property.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country is one of 47 local trusts working to make the United Kingdom a better place for people and wildlife.

With over 800,000 members, the Wildlife Trusts are the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK’s habitats and species, whether they be in the countryside, in cities or at sea. Collectively they manage over 2,300 nature reserves covering more than 90,000 hectares.

Locally The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country works to conserve biodiversity, improve the environment and raise awareness and understanding of wildlife issues.

For more information please visit or telephone 0121 454 1199.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Bearwood’s Bric a Brac Man

When Erin (one of the lovely Crafty Muthas) told welovebearwood that Odds and Sods is one of her Bearwood All-Stars we just had to find out more.

Positioned on Milcote Road, Odds and Sods is a real treasure trove where you can buy anything and everything. It harks back to the good old days where there use to be a bric and brac shop on every high street.

In the last couple of months a pair of bull’s horns, a 7 foot long Danish sideboard which is being transported to Australia and a vintage Muhammad Ali poster have all been sold. You could probably find a kitchen sink in there too if you looked hard enough!

Stuart Tisdale has run Odds and Sods for the last 5 years and the car lot, ST Motors, next door for even longer. An instantly likeable character he’s from true Black Country stock and has a heart of gold.

Right now the future looks really good for Odds and Sods. The antique corner is going to grow and Stuart’s changing the name to Bearwood Antique and Bric a Brac Centre. Stuart works with Robert Bird who runs Earlybird Antiques Ltd so there are going to be even more antiques, collectibles and objets d’art soon, all at affordable prices. In fact if you want that quirky item for your home the Centre’s the place to go (where else are you going to find bull’s horns eh?).

So please make sure you tell everybody about our Bric a Brac man, Stuart’s exactly what Bearwood needs!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Join forces to bring Mary Portas to Bearwood!
Bearwood is applying for government funding to improve our high street.  
If you can help prepare this bid by consulting with local people, contributing your own ideas or in any other way, please come to the public meeting on 7 March. See poster below for details.

If you'd like to help out before 7 March please email or sign up to the facebook page

Want to know more about Portas Pilots? Check the details here:

Bearwood Crafty Muthas Bearwood Handmade Fair Spring 2012

At welovebearwood we're all really excited about the next Crafty Muthas' Bearwood Handmade Fair!

March is always popular month for birthdays and of course Mother's Day so the craft fair on Saturday 10th March is perfect timing.

We've had a look at the gorgeous things those Muthas have been making for the fair on their website and it looks like it's going to be brillant! Yeah, can't wait!