Sunday, May 28

Hub Marketing 2017: Bloxwich

There is wonderful weather all the way as the Hub Marketing Board take their third bite out of Bloxwich (with a little help from Lower Farm and Blakenall Heath too)...

- Forest Footbridge -
A look back through the archives confirms that Messrs D9 and WME do a 'Bloxwich Blast' roughly every two years. 2013 and 2015 had established the sequence so 2017 continues the happy trend as our trusty Secretary boards the 69 bus, the top deck of which feels something akin to a sauna in the sticky on-board temperatures. Blue skies are very apparent as the day's photo acquisitions get underway with some canal coverage - Top Lock on the Walsall Canal at Birchills is an old favourite making another archive appearance but Forest Footbridge on the Wyrley & Essington is a structure seldom seen among the WME back catalogue.

- A four dart flourish -
Apart from the canals, Mr WME is keen to uncover corners of Walsall he hasn't seen before. The Local History Centre on Essex Street is therefore an excellent discovery, although the old schoolhouse here will cease to be the base for the borough's local studies facilities when the service transfers to the centre of town later this year. Talking of historic relics, the Chairman is due to join proceedings so a Carl Street rendezvous precedes some refreshment in the Railway, a Leamore local where the Carling powers D9 Destroyer to an impressive 101 darts checkout. 

- All aboard for Lower Farm -
A trundle to Lower Farm is next on the agenda, the 302 negotiating the predictable congestion along Bloxwich High Street where Mr D9 grinds through the gears during another expert driving demonstration. Little Bloxwich Bridge then heralds the turning for Stoney Lane as we eye up the Beacon Way for a decent pint of Wye Valley Butty Bach. Elsewhere the estate has a tower block or two and a Costcutter store plus a further run of shops can be found on Buxton Road. The Secretary's local knowledge secures him a sleeve success in the form of the Saddlers Arms, a Fishley Lane alehouse that initially thwarts our hopes of access - persistence will pay off later though.

- Christ Church, Blakenall Heath -
Making the most of the beautiful sunshine, we continue our estate endeavours by breezing into Blakenall Heath. Christ Church is a key landmark here, built in 1872 and looking particularly commanding with its tower peeping out through the treetops. Valley Nursery School and a Sure Start Children's Centre can be found clustered around the church while the Peace Tree on the green serves as a focal point for poppy wreaths. Two pubs are in the vicinity, but having sampled the New Inn back in 2013, we focus this time on the Kings Head (Ingram Road). This proves to be an excellent choice, the back lounge being the setting for Banks's Original amidst an impressive teapot collection. 

- Showman Silliness -
With the aid of Leamore Park's New Deal pathways, we swap the Kings Head for the Queens Head as the centre of Bloxwich beckons. The pub's basic box boozer architecture certainly has the Chairman captivated even if for most observers it wouldn't win any beauty prizes - neither indeed would our erstwhile Secretary who bravely (or foolishly) accepts a challenge to wear a pink wig in the Bloxwich Showman. The resultant effect makes WME look like the illegitimate offspring of rock guitarist Brian May and 'Are You Being Served?' matriarch Mrs Slocombe!

- Pat Collins Memorial Clock -
The Bloxwich Showman (a former cinema) is the town's Wetherspoons outlet and is named in honour of local personality Pat Collins, a renowned fairground entrepreneur who made Bloxwich his home. A further tribute to the 'King of Showmen' is the Memorial Clock on Promenade Gardens, funded through public subscription and presented in 1955. The afore-mentioned pink wig is thankfully squirreled out of sight as board members dutifully conclude their pub deliberations with a combination involving the Victoria, the Diana, the One Man and His Dog and that promised return to the Saddlers Arms - all in an afternoon's work.

- And finally... -
No self-respecting account of Hub Marketing activities could be accepted if it lacked either a bald spot or a closet. Here at the Chairman's request is a photo that ticks both boxes, the location being Bloxwich Cemetery. Until next time... cheers!

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