Minutes of 15th July 2013 Civic Society Meeting – see what was discussed and what was decided

Brierley Hill Civic Society
Brierley Hill Civic Society

Brierley Hill Civic society met on Monday, 15th July.

The key speaker, funding by the Community First programme was Terry Church who gave a cracking talk on “1942 – a vintage year”.

The society also heard updates and local issues.  You can read the minutes here:

Minutes of the meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society held on Monday 15th July 2013 at St Michael’s Church, Bell Street South, Brierley Hill commencing at 5.30pm.


Geoff and Janet Attwood, Joy Cooper, Peter Hobbs, John James, Betsy Lafferty, Steven Martin, Maggie Norton, Jenny Sunter, Tim Sunter, Sylvia and Chris Swaithes, Dennis Whittaker
Speaker – Terry Church

As part of the Society’s Community First funded programme, Terry Church, author of ‘A Wall Heath Lad’ and regular contributor to the Black Country Bugle to the meeting addressed the meeting on “1942: A Vintage Year”, giving a witty and informative talk about changes he had seen in his lifetime.
Terry was in Wall Heath in 1942 and had lived there all of his life. As a youngster he had attended Brierley Hill grammar school and then worked at Baldwin’s and so had strong connections with the area. Times had changed, industries and sports grounds had been lost. What had once been Staffordshire was now the West Midlands and when Merry Hill gave its address as Dudley instead of Brierley Hill he wondered whether a sense of local identity was being lost.
The Civic Society then joined Terry on a journey through time joining in on discussions ranging from how attending cinemas had changed; the speed today’s communications compared to the written postcards of 70 years ago; Monday washdays with mangles; to working conditions now and then. He even through in a quiz for good measure.
Terry talked about the work he has done in recording and publishing local history – highlighting the success of the 1951 Brierley Hill Boys Football team who won the national schoolboys competition (when 5000 people would regularly attend their matches at the old Round Oak or Baldwin’s sports grounds) to his publication of ‘A Wall Heath Lad’.
The talk concluded with thanks and an enthusiastic round of applause from Society Members.

Beryl Biggs, Beryl Fisher, Judy Foster, Rachel Harris, Zafar Islam, Karen Jordan, John Martin, Margaret Wilson
Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a true record.
Matters Arising

There were no matters arising which weren’t covered elsewhere on the agenda

The secretary reported that the Society continued to receive regular emails from Civic Voice. Other than that there was no exceptional correspondence.
Treasurer’s Report

DW reported that there had been no income or expenditure since the previous meeting and therefore no change in the accounts. TS commented that Civic Voice had agreed to provide a speaker to our February meeting – the Society needed to get its membership dues paid asap.
Brierley Hill in Bloom

TS reported that these project, due to come to fruition in 2014, had received the support of the Scouts. Hawbush School had also expressed an interest in becoming involved. A limiting issue for them would be getting children to the town and ensuring that any plants remained watered.
Brierley Hill Christmas Festival

JS reported on progress on the Christmas Festival. The Santa Run now looked as if it would now take place. The venue would be the Dell Stadium and the event would take place on the morning of 30th November.
The Christmas Fayre at Insight House was growing in strength. It would be hugely helpful if Civic Society members could pop in and/or help out during the day.
Information exchange

TS updated members on various local issues.
Pete Boland of the council’s conservation division based in the planning department had become a casualty of the recent wave of redundancies at the council. This had left just one officer, Jayne Pilkington, within the Historic Environment Team.
Jayne had emailed TS to say that she was in discussion with the owner of the Plough Inn and had instructed them to get a roof back on the building asap. They had engaged the services of an architect and were having surveys undertaken on the property. Jayne’s colleagues in enforcement were also putting on the pressure. As far at the local authority are concerned the building is to be retained and made weather tight again.
The panel on the Church Street wall was a ‘test panel’. The Society’s details had been passed to the council’s engineers who had been requested to give a full resume and short and long term plans (Action: TS to chase).
There were trees and other plants growing out of the wall of the Walter Smith building in Brierley Hill. JP had agreed to visit and to see what could be done to ensure the preservation of this historic building.
TS reported back on the meeting of the council’s Brierley Hill, Brockmoor and Pensnett Community Forum which had taken place on 26th June at the Nine Locks Community Centre.
The meeting had been very interesting. About a dozen members of the community had attended – some of the councillors had sat amongst the audience to minimise formality. Items discussed were:
– The Marsh Park and Church Street wall;
– The RDF waste station in Moor Street (update: the court had ordered that no new waste was allowed on the site from 10th July – something which had been noticed by local residents and, in the noblest tradition of Brierley Hill had given rise to a rumour today that RDF had ceased trading – the Environment Agency had stated that they were no aware that this was the case);
– The use of twitter to engage with wider members of the public – TS had tweeted about what had been going on in real time and there had actually been people who had tweeted in questions to the meeting (a first for the council?);
– The sad ongoing issue of horses in Pensnett;
– Nuisance drinking on Brierley Hill High Street;
– The grant of £2,000 to retired employees of Simon Engineering, Old Park, towards the erection of a monument in gratitude for the contribution this company had made to the local economy. The meeting had also discussed the proposed Round Oak monument, but the estimate £40,000-£50,000 cost was too high for the committee to support with its meagre resources.
Speakers’ Programme

There is no meeting of the Civic Society in August
16th September – Dr Paul Collins on “The Dudley to Stourbridge Tram” (members noted that his new book on this subject had been published this week);
21st October – Miranda Dickinson, local author and Sunday Times best seller novelist, who will be speaking on the week of the publication of her new book;
18th November – Graham Fisher MBE on “More Miles Than Venice” – the history of canals in the Black Country.

Any Other Business

The meeting were informed that St Michael’s Church were able to accept a fee of £15 for room hire. This would be duly paid, and the room collection would, in future, go into the Civic Society coffers to fund future activities.

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