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Read all about it – new microfilm reader arrives!

August 29, 2014 in Equipment, News by Stuart Williams

Solar Microflim Reader

We have now taken delivery of a new “Solar” microfilm reader for the research room at Walsall Local History Centre.

Our old microfilm reader gave up the ghost earlier this year after nearly 30 years stirling service. The new reader, which has a zoom lens and adjustable focus, brings our complement of microfilm readers back to two.

Researchers can use our microfilm readers to access our large collection of local newspapers which includes a full run of the Walsall Observer from when it began in October 1868 to its sad demise in July 2009.

St. Matthew’s church, Walsall parish registers and other resources can also be viewed.

As there are only two microfilm readers we advise booking them in advance by telephoning 01922 721305.


Cath Yates

Local Studies Librarian

New article: ‘Joseph Tonks of Willenhall – the Poor Man’s Doctor’

August 12, 2014 in Articles, Willenhall by Stuart Williams

Dr Tonks and his household in 1885

Dr Tonks and his household in 1885


The famous Memorial Clock in Willenhall Market Place commemorates a young man who became much-loved by the poor folk of the town to which he dedicated his short life.

And our latest article, ‘Joseph Tonks of Willenhall – the Poor Man’s Doctor’, gives an insight into why that memorial still stands proudly at the heart of Willenhall today.

A local boy and padlock maker’s son made good, Joseph Tonks graduated in 1879 as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, but did not desert his home town and was taken to the hearts of the local poor and more before, sadly, meeting a tragic fate.

Discover the fascinating story of Dr Tonks by reading this article via the Articles menu above!

New article: ‘The Church, the Candle and the Explosion’

August 12, 2014 in Articles, Churches, Local History by Stuart Williams

St. Matthew's Church after the explosion

St. Matthew’s Church after the explosion

Our latest local history article is ‘The Church, the Candle and the Explosion’, by Cath Yates, our Local Studies Librarian, and is published today.

This article relates to a now-legendary incident that happened in Walsall in the mid nineteenth century, when the parish church of St. Matthews Church was badly damaged due to a gas explosion and a man was killed.

As is often the case, the legend is not quite the same as 100% historical fact, and in this case Cath has been able to shed light on the story without a candle, by consulting several sources to bring the whole picture into focus!

See ‘The Church, the Candle and the Explosion’ under the Articles menu at the top of the page!