Smethwick Local History Society

April to November 2021





Please note that all meetings scheduled for 2020 have now been postponed until 2021.  




Postponed until Jan 2022

"The Story of Warley Woods:  Past, People and Park"

There's 1,000 years of history in Warley Woods! Our well-loved park was once land cleared by the Anglo-Saxons for farming, then transformed by Georgian wealth into parkland; and Edwardian philanthropy gave it to the public. Its modern story continues through the work of the unique community trust that manages it today. (As Warley Woods Community Trust has been badly hit by the Corona Virus close down, Mary wishes to donate any fee she receives to Warley Woods Community Trust and if you personally would like to make a donation to this cause, then we can arrange this).


Postponed until Feb 2022

“Four Swallows and 2 Elephants or Hidden Biogaphies” – a cryptic title indeed which Ned Williams assures us covers the lives of seven people who existed under different names on the fringe of show business with connections to Smethwick and the Black Country.


Postponed until Mar 2022

“Medieval England an Arrival of The Black Death in 1348” – Ron Gallivan’s talk covers life in Edward III’s Medieval England before the Plague arrived in 1348. It explains the origins of the plague, how it spread across Europe and England, and people’s reaction to it and ends with the social changes which ‘The Black Death’ made to English life.  Surprisingly, there are some light-hearted moments and there are also some tips and ‘cures’ which may come in useful!.


Postponed until Apr 2022

Ruskin – Presentation with a difference!  Local lady Ruth Durrant will tell us about the lives of ordinary women who helped produce the world-famous Ruskin pottery. Dressed in work clothes of 1924, she speaks as one of the workers during her lunch break.  Ruskin’s glazes were famously destroyed when he died, but we

may even get a chance to try our hand with glazes which Ruth brings along.


Postponed until May 2022

Peaky Blinders:  Gypsies, Gangs and Girls – Lynda Sharpe will attempt to tell the truth behind the television superstars who were, in fact, rather unpleasant hoodlums.  Dressed in costume of the time, she will also cover the background of gypsy life, crime and punishment which contributed to the origins of such gangs.


9 June - 7.15 Meet outside Thimblemill Library

A Stroll round Smethwick - The Great Boundary Dispute - Our walk this year will take us along Thimblemill Road, for centuries the boundary between Smethwick in Staffordshire and the strange mix of Worcestershire and Shropshire for Oldbury, as they met at the Three Shires Oak. Horses, pigs and goats will remind us of the not-so-distant rural past on our way. Meet outside Thimblemill Library. A short, and not-too-strenuous stroll along mainly flat roads.


21 July - 2.15 meet outside Lightwoods House

Linda Clarke and Jonathan Guard of Lightwoods House will give an update on progress with this project. We can, of course, also take a stroll round the Shakespeare Garden and view the Society’s roses which should be in bloom then. This will be followed by a fun quiz about Lightwoods and a cup of tea or coffee and cake. A charge of £5 per head will be collected, a proportion of which will go to the Lightwoods House Volunteers Group. Once again, please bring a mask and observe social distancing as much as possible. Numbers are limited to 30 and for this reason it is restricted to members and partners only. Please add your name to the list by contacting Mary on 0121 429 6551 or [email protected] by 17th July.


11 August - meet at the Walled Garden, Leasowes Park at 2pm

A Visit to the Walled Garden, Leasowes Park, Quinton, B63 3TR – We have a arranged a privileged visit to this little-known Grade I listed garden near Mucklow’s Hill, Halesowen. The Leasowes was the home of 18th century poet William Shenstone and his house, which was rebuilt in 1776, is now the home of Halesowen Golf Club. The walled garden was an essential element in feeding those who lived on the estate and flowers and plants were cultivated to beautify the grounds and rooms of the house. We will have a talk and opportunity to look round the garden. Unfortunately, due to Covid Health & Safety requirements, they are unable to provide tea or coffee at this time; however, this may change. There will be a charge of £3 per head. You can access it from Leasowes Lane, off Spies Lane and there is parking. If you travel by bus, catch the No.9, get off at the Royal Oak pub, continue down Spies Lane, turn right into Leasowes Lane and follow the lane. Please bring a mask and observe social distancing as much as possible. Numbers are limited to thirty. Please add your name to the list by phoning Dorothy on 0121 429 4623.


8 September - 2.00 for 2.30 p.m.

"Belbroughton:  Scythe and Gun-making on the Belne Brook

In the 17th and 18th centuries many Midlands manufacturers, lacking access to fast-flowing watercourses, leased water mills in Belbroughton to provide the power they needed. Many sites where water mills had once been used to grind scythe blades now became furnaces and forges for the manufacture of high quality steel. Romsley born local historian Julian Hunt explains how the Belne Brook contributed to gun-making in Birmingham.


14 October - 2.00 for 2.30 p.m.

From Folk Remedies to Pharmacy

Marie Fogg takes us through the history of pharmaceuticals such as how aspirin was obtained from willow bark or heart treatment from Deadly Nightshade.


11 November - 2.00 for 2.30 p.m.

AGM followed by “Haunted Black Country”  : From roadside to graveside, from council house to castles

In keeping with the Halloween season, this being the time of year for ghostly goings-on, Ian Bott will attempt to allay our fears - or perhaps exacerbate them - by taking a light-hearted look at our dark region’s spookiest places and legends.


9 December - 2.00 for 2.30 p.m.

"Christmas Songs through the Ages"

Richard will present Christmas songs through the ages from the medieval “Boar’s Head Carol” to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” setting each song in its historical context. The audience will be encouraged to join in choruses and also play percussion instruments if they wish. The emphasis is on seasonal fun accompanied by a little education!  Afterwards we hope that Richard will join us for our traditional mulled wine and mince pie.