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Important Announcement: No Computers on 3 May

April 30, 2014 in Computers, News by Stuart Williams


keep-calm-im-just-offline (1)

There will be NO computers available at Walsall Local History Centre this Saturday 3 May 2014 due to essential maintenance work at Walsall Council.

This means Ancestry and other online sources will be unavailable here on that day.

Microfiche sources will remain available, please telephone 01922 721305 to check if we have the source you need on microfiche or film and to book a reader in advance.

Normal public computer service will resume next Tuesday as usual.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

New article – ‘The Gorgeous George’

April 30, 2014 in Articles, News by Stuart Williams


If you were born after the 1930s, you will probably have never seen what was once one of Walsall’s most spectacular and prominent town centre buildings – the 18th century George Hotel – and if you were born since the 1970s, you will likely know little or nothing about its remarkable successor, the 1935 Art Deco George Hotel.

Sadly no longer with us on what is today a much smaller and more cramped Bridge, these two magnificent hotels were home and host to both nobility and the famous over time, but they were also the focal point for travelling businessmen and many more, in times when Walsall was a great hub of industry on a main coaching and later railway route.

In our latest article, Stuart Williams joins forces with the late Billy Meikle to tell the story of how the ‘Gorgeous George’ came to dominate the town centre and symbolise the grand old days of Walsall town.

Click on the drop-down menu from the Articles menu above, or follow the link below, to discover the history of this fabulous building.

The Gorgeous George

Military speaker to tell story of the South Staffords in the Great War

April 26, 2014 in Events, News, World War 1 by Stuart Williams

Band of the 5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, at Ypres, Belgium.

Band of the 5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, at Ypres, Belgium.

A former British Army officer is getting mobilised to tell the story of Walsall’s local regiment, the South Staffords, during the Great War of 1914-18.

And in this centenary year of the start of the war, what could be better than to highlight the remarkable service of the men recruited from the borough and beyond, here in their home town?

Major Ted Green (Retired) will present an illustrated talk entitled ‘The South Staffords in WW1’ at Walsall Local History Centre in Essex Street, Walsall, in June.

Major Green spent most of his adult life in the Staffordshire Regiment, finishing his career as Regimental Secretary and Museum Curator at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield.  Since retiring in 2002 he has become a Museum Volunteer.  He first visited the Somme Battlefields as an officer cadet at RMA Sandhurst for the 50th anniversary in 1966 and started lecturing on the subject for the 90th anniversary in 2006.  Since then he has toured all the major battlefields on the Western Front and given talks about many of them.

His talk will look at the expansion of the Regiment in 1914 with the recruitment of the Kitchener Battalions, the early battles on the Western Front, the 7th Battalion at Gallipoli and the two North Midland Territorial Divisions (46th and 59th) from 1915 to 1918, illustrated by the two great murals in Walsall Town Hall.  He will also tell the stories of the three Victoria Crosses won by the South Staffords in the war.

‘The South Staffords in WW1’ will take place on Monday 2 June 2014, and doors open for the talk at 7pm for 7.30pm – 9pm.

Admission costs just £2.00 and advance booking is essential by telephoning 01922 721305.

On-site parking and disabled facilities are available.

Information about The Staffordshire Regiment Museum may be found on their website:

Three of the best back on the shelves!

April 23, 2014 in Books, News by Stuart Williams






SW's books at Waterstone's

Three great local history books by local history centre staffer and author Stuart Williams are in stock again at Waterstone’s bookshop in Walsall!

Walsall Borough Past & Present (£7.50), Reflections of Old Walsall (£6.99) and Billy Meikle’s Window on Walsall (£5) are all available from the Park Street store.

Beverley Hill and books.

These books and many more local history publications are also available direct from Walsall Local History Centre in Essex Street, where they can be signed by the author on request – please telephone to ask about a signed copy or to make sure Stuart is available for signing before making a journey.

Mail order is also available from the Centre in Essex Street, please telephone 01922 721305 to ask for a postage quote from local history centre staff member Beverley Hill (pictured with the books, above).


Public talk to turn limelight onto Black Country cinema history

April 17, 2014 in Cinemas, Events, News by Stuart Williams

ABC/Savoy/Cannon super cinema,  Park Street, Walsall, taken in July 1994 by Stuart Williams.

ABC/Savoy/Cannon super cinema, Park Street, Walsall, taken in July 1994 by Stuart Williams.

 Walsall Local History Centre are continuing their popular series of public talks next month, when their latest guest speaker will turn the limelight on cinema history in the Black Country, on 12 May.

Noted local historian, cinema expert and author Ned Williams is all set to raise the curtain on the story of one of the most popular forms of entertainment, and its architecture, from the late 19th century to recent times, in his illustrated talk ‘Cinemas in the Black Country’.

As in most parts of the Black Country, Walsall was at one time full of cinemas, from the converted theatres to the flea pits to the magnificent Art Deco super cinemas of the 1930s and the multiplexes of the late 20th century.

And with the expectation of cinemas returning to Walsall town centre in the next few years, there has never been a more exciting time to rediscover the story of this remarkably social art form in our area.

‘Cinemas in the Black Country’ will take place on Monday 12 May 2014, and doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm-9.00pm.

Admission costs just £2.00 and advance booking is essential by telephoning 01922 721305.

The talk had previously been planned to take place on 6 January, but had to be re-scheduled.

Walsall Local History Centre is the archives service and local studies library for Walsall Metropolitan Borough and is part of Walsall Council.

Further information about Walsall Local History Centre may be found on the Centre’s website:

Information about Ned Williams may be found on his website:

New WLHC blog goes live

April 16, 2014 in Blog, News by Stuart Williams

Walsall Local History Centre blog

Walsall Local History Centre is proud to announce the arrival of its new blog, effective today, Wednesday 16th April 2014.

Intended to offer a range of news about the Essex Street centre and its work, and articles about local and family history relating to the Walsall Metropolitan Borough area, the blog will be formally launched later in the year, but as of today, hits the ground running, and is available for public viewing!

The blog, which can be found online via the link below, is edited by Stuart Williams, and will incorporate content from all areas of the Centre’s remit and from colleagues specialising in archives, local studies, photographic services, oral history and family history.

It is early days yet, and the range of news, content and information will increase over the coming months and years, but we hope to offer something for everyone – please keep coming back to look for more!

Readers can subscribe, if they wish, by email, via a box on the Home page.

You are cordially invited to visit, and enjoy, this new website!

Please go to:

Workshop for adults: House History

April 15, 2014 in Events, Local History, News by Stuart Williams

Opening of 5,000th Municipal House by Joseph Leckie, Walstead Rd West, 1935.

Opening of 5,000th Municipal House by Joseph Leckie, Walstead Rd West, 1935.

Walsall Local History Centre’s next public workshop for adults is on the subject of House History, and takes place on Saturday 21 June 2014 from 11am-12.30pm.

During the workshop, you will find out how to begin researching the history of your home, whether it be a Victorian villa or a 1960s council flat.  Discover the records behind your bricks-and-mortar.

Cost is £4.00  Booking is essential, please telephone 01922 721305.

Exhibitions in 2014

April 15, 2014 in Exhibitions, News by Stuart Williams

Exhibition hall

Walsall Local History Centre puts on themed exhibitions, designed, printed and prepared in-house, in the form of reproductions of items from our collections, on a regular basis throughout each year.

Our current and next exhibitions are as follows:

Jack Haddock’s Transport Memories 4 February 2014 – 17 April 2014

Walsall’s well-known transport photographer, author and historian Jack Haddock receives a retrospective showing some of his finest photography from the 1950s onwards, the originals of which are held in his archive collection at the Centre. Comprising atmospheric location images of steam railways, buses and canals and their environs in Walsall borough.

Admission FREE during normal opening hours.

Walsall’s Great War 2 June 2014 to 29 November 2014

As we think about the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and the tremendous impact which it made, this exhibition echoes the impact of the war on the home front in Walsall. From local hospitals to events to the Zeppelin raid, find out how the town responded.

Admission FREE during normal opening hours.

Easter closing

April 15, 2014 in News, Opening Hours by Stuart Williams

Easter Card

Walsall Local History Centre’s Easter Closing days are as follows:

  • Friday 18 April (normal closing)
  • Saturday 19 April
  • Sunday 20 April (normal closing)
  • Monday 21 April (normal closing)

We will be back to normal opening hours from Tuesday 22 April, as below:

  • Tuesday 9.30am – 5.30pm
  • Wednesday 9.30am – 7pm
  • Thursday 9.30am – 5.30pm
  • Saturday 9.30am – 1pm