On Tuesday Private John Thomas Rowley, 1/5 S. Staffords, died in the Military Hospital, Wordsley, from diabetes. He was the son of Mr T Rowley, 37, Albion Street, Brierley Hill. The funeral is today at Brierley Hill Church.
County Express 18 December 1915
ST JOHN AMBULANCE BRIGADE BRIERLEY HILL DIVISION
Parade today (Saturday), at 3pm, at headquarters, full dress, for duty at the funeral of the late Pte. T. Rowley, 1/5 South Staffs. Regiment.
Parade next Thursday, at 7.30.
W. H. OAKDEN
County Express 18 December 1915
Thomas Rowley: Wesleyan Roll of Honour County Express 23 June 1917
Last year it was revealed that Dudley Council had lost the historic painting of Sg William Jordan’s act of heroism in saving a wounded colleague. The painting was by Francis Gibbons, an artist of some renown who had exhibited at the Royal Academy and had also started the Gibbons and Hinton tile works at Buckpool. Now a trawl through Dudley archives have a revealed and article in The Advertiser of 21st August 1915 in which Sgt Jordan told of the exploits which were to inspire the painting.
It is interesting to compare the scenes depicted in the painting with the words of Sgt Jordan.
Here are the words of Sgt Jordan:
During the battle of Festubert, which took place on 16th, 17th and 18th of May last, the 2nd Brigade to which I am attached received orders for attack, ands successful were we that the enemy opposite us were completely demoralised and two lines of their trenches fell into our hands.
A flanking movement led by myself was chiefly responsible for this, but whether I was commended for the brilliance of this manoeuvre or for what ultimately happened I cannot say.
It appears that part of the German line had been cut off, and whilst my platoon was in the enemy communication trench we discovered we were being fired at from the rear.
Observations discovered a German maxim gun on the bridge of a trench, and we doubled towards it.
I was then with a Corporal of the Welsh Fusiliers, and on driving the Germans from the maxim gun I tried to break it with my rifle.
We advanced down the trench, and six gas bombs were thrown at the Corporal and me, and I just had time to clap my mouth pad on.
I got a whiff of the gas, and I can tell you it was nasty.
Soon after the Corporal was hit in the head whilst on the parapet of the trench.
After that I held the trench till reinforcements came. Still we bagged about 98 prisoners, and we found fifty in one dug-out. I shouted to the Germans to surrender as soon as I got there, and some threw up their hands but others opened fire.
The were bags of German Helmets in the trenches belonging presumably to the Prussian Guard.
After that we held the 1st firing trench and the communication trench for two days, and we were shelled the whole of the time, our artillery effectively responding. We then made an advance in order to re-build the parapets of the trench, and whilst there we were warned that the enemy were coming to attack us in large numbers. Naturally we had to retire on account of superior numbers.
A Valorous Deed
The Germans hoping to recapture the trenches we had taken, submitted us to a galling fire.
In these trenches lay a poor lad of the Royal Welsh, wounded in three places and who much have been there two or three days.
My officer having been wounded, I was left in sole charge of my platoon, and on Monday, May 17th, with a number of my men, I went into the trenches in search of any equipment that had been left behind.
A lad named Beresford, of Hart’s Hill, was with me, and pointing to something said “That fellow is alive.”
I ran up to him, and after chafing his hands succeeded in getting him round.
The poor lad was wounded in the eye, breast, and leg, and I asked him if he thought he would be able to move.
I began improvising a stretcher in order to carry him to safety, when the Germans bombarded us.
At this juncture I thought our own battalion were attacking again and my captain would be needing me.
But something told me not to leave the lad, so I asked him if he could get on my back, and I would carry him. He said he would try, and as I got him on my should the poor fellow called out with pain from his wounds.
I had to carry him a distance of 500 yards, and in some cases across open ground.
I do not wish to appear egotistical, but I can tell you the task was far from easy, for the ground was all blown up, and the wire entanglements caught my clothing added to which was the danger of being hit any moment, for a regular battle was now raging.
Still, I carried the lad to safety and gave him over to our first Company, where he had something to drink.
So parched and thirsty was he that he drank the tea boiling hot.
He blessed me for what I had done and said he should never forget me.
Nor shall I forget him.
Next day I saw him carried away, and thank God he was still living although I have not seen or heard anything of him since, I believe he would pull through, for he was a cheerful lad.
As soon as I could I quickly found my captain, and he learned the story he said: ‘I am quite proud of you.’
One thing I have forgotten to relate.
Whilst the lad was lying in the trenches a shell carried a part of the trench by him right away, leaving him exposed to fire, and it is a miraculous thin he was not shattered.
Minutes of the meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society held on Monday 15th June 2015 at St Michael’s Church commencing at 6pm.
Geoff Attwood, Janet Attwood, Beryl Biggs, Joy Cooper, Stephen Dunn, John James, Betsy Lafferty, Tim Lee, Maggie Norton, Jenny Sunter, Tim Sunter, Prue Warne, Dennis Whittaker
Rachel Harris, Zafar Islam, John Martin, Lorna Morrison
Review of criteria for local listing of building
Jayne Pilkington and David Piper from the conservation and planning policy sections of the council addressed the meeting on proposed changes to the criteria for local listing of building.
TS explained that DMBC had kindly agreed to consider any response from the Civic Society as the date of the presentation occurred after the consultation close date. DP confirmed that he would be happy to consider any submission as long as it was received by the end of June.
The following topics were covered in the presentation and questioning:
It has been prompted by Historic England issuing a new set of guidance for locally listed buildings;
It was the first review since DMBC had helped pioneer local lists in 1996. It was felt that developers might be able to successful challenge the protections provided by the list unless the council could show the criteria were up to date;
The present list of criteria for local listing was rather vague and it this needed tightening;
Consequently the new list of criteria was much lengthier and detailed
Marsh Park is not designated as a war memorial park. TS to send JP details of its history.
It was proposed to remove local listing status from buildings within conservation areas. Conservation area status held greater protection than local listed.
There was some unease about the removal of such buildings from the local list as it might weaken any arguement for protection of such a building – particularly when properties in conservation areas were of varying historic and architectural merit.
The criterion regarding local or regionally active architects could be too restrictive. The example of the Pugin designed Catholic Church in Brierley Hill was given as an example of where the architect had national signigicance.
Discussion of how the list could be enforced. The recent sale of The Plough was given as an example. The new owners had not been told of its designation and when skips had turned up to enable its demolition conservation officers had had to move fast to ensure that no such demolition took place.
The importance of informing the conservation officer when buildings came under threat – she had not been aware of the pending auction of The Plough, for example – although society members had been.
The possible extension of the Conservation Area to cover The Adelaide/Talbot Street area was discussed.
At the end of the presentation the meeting thanked JP and DP for their talk.
Because of the length of the presentation the rest of the meeting was dealt with at a brisk pace.
It was agreed that TL would draft a respone on behalf of the Society.
Minutes of the previous meeting
These had been circulated in advance and were agreed. TS informed the meeting that there had been some discussion regarding the inclusion of notes from the NHR meetings and subsequent press coverage. It was agreed that at a future meeting the approach to what was included in the minutes would be discussed.
JS reported there was no urgent correspondence.
DW informed the branch that has £410.43
Trees in Marsh Park
The meeting was shown pictures of damage done to trees on Marsh Park, at St Michael’s Church and at The Moor Centre, by dog being trained to attack. The police had been informed about this matter. The damage to the trees was significant and there was a high possiblity that they would consequently die.
The Society expressed its concern at this matter and offered its support to any action Friends of Marsh Park wished to take. DW to follow up.
Various items and future meetings
TS reported that:
It was hoped to represent the Jordan/Gibbons painting to the town at our September meeting.
That the flats were pressing ahead with the 50th anniversary celebrations. The next event would be an family fun day on 5th September at Lawyers Field/South Street Baptist Church. Our September meeting would also include a talk on the history of the flats and Chapel Street tenants in particular would be invited to the meeting.
The Black Country Bugle had published a letter regarding the Brierley Hill Pioneers who had left the town in 1854 and helped to found Nanaimo on Vancouver island. TS had written to the museum and it had been agreed that they would give a talk at our October meeting via Skype.
Keith Hodgkins had agreed to talk on the “Last Days of Round Oak” at our meeting in November.
TL reported on the meeting which had taken place on 3rd June at the Bull and Bladder:
The planters for Brierley Hill in Bloom had now been restocked including the new ones on Venture Way.
Plans continued to extend the planting through the town.
DMBC had kindly agreed to keep the plants watered.
Thought was being given to a guerilla gardening project for the planters outside the gym and Mecca.
There was a desire to build on the previous work undertaken for the Christmas Festival including the Civic Centre.
A follow up meeting was taking place on 3rd July at noon at the Civic Centre to take these matters further.
Visit to the archives
The next meeting of the Society would be a visit and tour of Dudley Archives. This will take place on Monday 20th July at 6pm. A charge of £4 per member would be in place. There is a maximum number of 25 that the archives can accommodate, so it was important that members indicate whether they would attend before the invitation is extended. All members present indicated that they would be attending.
You are cordially invited to the next meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society which will take place next Monday, 15th June at St Michael’s Church, Brierley Hill. The main topic on the agenda will be the future of historic buildings in the borough.
The agenda for the meeting is:
1. Speaker and consultation of the policy of local listing of building: Jayne Pilkington and David Piper
3. Notes of the previous meeting
4. Matters Arising
6. Treasurer’s report
7. 50th anniversary of the flats
8. Jordan painting re-presentation
9. Organisation Sub of 3rd June
– Brierley Hill in Bloom
– Brierley Hill Christmas Festival
10. Nanaimo link
11. Regeneration issues
12. Next meetings
– July Archives
– September – Jordan painting presentation and flats talk
– October Nanaimo link
– November – Keith Hodgkins – The Last Day of Steelmaking at Round Oak Steelworks.
13. Any other urgent business.
Users seem to be somewhat unhappy with how they’re been treated under council control. Hopefully, now this has been identified the new management arrangements will help to put things right.
Although questions arise about the lack of public consultation over the future of the centre before a decision was taken which would have highlighted some important issues – such as securing investment for the future – it is really good to see someone with enthusiasm and vision driving the Centre forward.
Minutes of the meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society held on Monday 18th May 2015 at St Michael’s Church commencing at 6pm.
Joy Cooper, Stephen Dunn, John James, Betsy Lafferty, Tim Lee, Lorna Morrison, Maggie Norton, Jenny Sunter, Tim Sunter, Dennis Whittaker, Norma Whittaker.
Pat Cobern, Rachel Harris, Zafar Islam, John Martin
Minutes of the previous meeting
The minutes of the previous meeting had been circulated and were agreed as a true record.
JS gave informed the meeting of the correspondence received:
* NCVO general election briefing on the impact of the recent election on voluntary organisations
* Civic Voice weekly newsletter including details of the work on war memorials
* Information on the Community Rights pilot
* Details of NCVO workshops for volunteers
SD asked about whether Civic Voice had a website that he and other members could refer to. JS confirmed that this was the case.
DW gave the treasurer’s report:
* Cash in hand £53.46
* Bank account £1323.97
* Less money held on behalf of SNOW -£985.75
* Total £391.68
It had been agreed at the last meeting that an ‘organisation sub’ should meet to plan the future direction and activities of the Society. SD, TL, LM, TS, and DW had subsequently met at the Bull & Bladder (venue purely to support local industry).
Key points from the meeting were:
Need to have a balance in the Society’s activites between celebrating the past, action in the present and influencing the future.
Potential speakers with a historic perspective could be on the topics of Round Oak, Marsh & Baxter, the history of brickmaking in the area. To determine what actions the Society could take to improve Brierley Hill engagement with Dudley MBC cabinet members would be a positive step.
Partnership working with the public, private and voluntary/community sectors has the potential to achieve shared goals in the town.
Key actions to follow up were:
* To extend the Brierley Hill in Bloom meeting on 3rd June to involve the organisation sub and Christmas Festival team would be a good forum to start to pull partners together.
* Brierley Hill Civic Society to consider its priorities for action at its next meeting (i.e. tonight)
* Establish relationship with BHCF as there did seem to be overlapping objectives
* The chase Dudley Archives re a visit to the new facility with a chance to view materials in the Brierley Hill collection.
* To establish a programme of speakers.
* To consider whether the Society can offer any help to make the council’s forums more effective.
TS reported that following this meeting he had made contact with the archives. The Society’s meeting on Monday 20th July would now take place at the archives and we would receive a tour and then the opportunity to look at Brierley Hill materials. There would be a pass through charge from the archives of £4 and a minimum total charge of £40. It was agreed that this should be publicised as far and wide as possible to ensure maximum attendance.
Following on from the organisation sub meeting the Society had been asked to bring ideas for future activities for the Society. The following ideas were suggested:
* Continued engagement with NHR and DMBC to try and get some regeneration activity moving in the area.
* Presentation of a replica of the Gibbons/Jordan painting for display in the town centre. Andy Gray of DCVS had indicated an interest for it to be hung in the Civic Centre.
* Restoration of the Brierley Hill war memorials
* Resolution of the difficulties with access to and use of Lawyers Field (Friends of Marsh Park are leading on this). There was talk of whether the plaque commemorating the opening was still in the park.
* Litter picking events together with anti-graffitti activities. Questions arose about the best way to go about this and advice from DMBC should be sought. The litter strewn state of canals in the area was also highlighted.
* The introduction of weight limits on roads which are being used inappropriately by heavy vehicles, North Street for example.
* Replacement trees for those that once flourished in the High Street
* The renaming of Venture Way to something more appropriately reflecting the history of the town
* A ‘blue plaque’ scheme celebrating some of the achiements of the town
* A cultural regeneration programme to attract more visitors to the town centre. A brass band playing in Marsh Park was one suggestion put forward.
* Getting the publicly visible clocks in the town working – St Michael’s and The Moor Centre were mentioned.
It was suggested that the organisation sub on 3rd June could pick up some of these ideas and put meat on the bones (thought: is there a vegetarian equivalent for this phrase?)
Brierley Hill in Bloom
TS reported than the planters were now fixed on Venture Way; lamp post baskets were suggested for along the High Street and it was aimed to have these in place for the winter planting; the plants for the summer had been grown and it was planned to put them out early in June.
Brierley Hill Christmas Festival
TS had met with AG from DCVS. AG was keen to get involved as it was a potential project for the Civic Hall. He would be attending the meeting on 3rd June.
DMBC review of criteria for locally listed buildings
A spokesperson from the planning department had now agreed to come to the next meeting to talk through the implications of this. There were some concerns that the changing of the criteria might weaken the ability to protect historic buildings in the town.
Regeneration update including planning matters
DW updated the meeting on progress.
A date for further engagement with NHR and DMBC was awaited. At the previous meeting priorities of making a pedestrian link between the High Street and Merry Hill together with environmental improvements in the High Street had been identified. Indications had been given that funding may be available for the link but it was doubtful whether funds might be there for the High Street.
Intu were interested in development of the Daniels Land site for residential purposes whilst Rachel Harris had put forward the idea for a white water centre.
DW was also creating a planning database to keep track of proposed developments in the town. He gave an exhaustive list of live applications:
* Two applications for residential and offices adjacent to Red Peppers including the former Doug Holmes Taylors.
* The Dock and Iron in Delph Road was saved following objections to its demolition by the council as the building is on the Heritage Assetts Register. Instead the proposal has been amended to keep the pub and to use the car park as a van hire centre.
* 81 Church Street – the former Radio Shack building – application to demolish and build one dwelling.
* Housing proposals for the former RDF site. The environment agency has no objections subject to safeguards being put in place. They had also expressed they concern with respect to the site being suitable for a waste site.
* ASDA car park for a self service filling station. Members expressed their concern that this ran counter to the AAP for the area, would undermine the pedestrian link to the area and would not be appropriate to front on to the proposed public square.
* Arc Alloys building on Moor Street adjacent to Foxdale drive. Two applications had been submitted for residential but problems remained about access to the site due to the hump backed bridge.
* The Plough has a residential planning permission and was sold at auction for £57,000. Work is presently taking place on the site.
* The former Alma Pub has an application for five flats upstairs, three on the first floor and two on the second floor.
* The Cottage Spring in Mill Street has had an application to turn it into a vets passed.
* The former Black Country Stoves shop on High Street has been approved for a launderette.
* HVC supplies in Bull Street has had an application for five homes agreed. An earlier application for six homes had been rejected because of lack of parking facilities.
* The former Round Oak Pub had been approved for a home improvements store on the ground floor and one flat upstairs.
* Harts Hill bus station – adjacent to hazardous chemical plants had had an application for a supermakret withdrawn as well and an application for 45 homes withdrawn.
DW is creating a 3 year database of applications to enable further close monitoring.
These extracts from the County Express 100 years ago contain letters from Brierley Hill soldiers who were serving at the front in 1914 when the famous Christmas Truce took place. There is also an article which describes how much the town raised to send parcels to serving soldiers and where they were stationed.
Peace in the Trenches
British and Germans Fraternise
Writing to his brother at Brettell Lane, Pt. A. Gill, 2nd Monmouth Regiment states:
“We spent Christmas Day in the trenches, and came out at night, so the mince pies and chocolate had a good innings.
“On Christmas Day the Germans got out of the trenches; we left ours afterwards, and meeting them halfway shook hands and gave them bully beef.
“The Germans do not get looked after like we do. The one to whom we were talking with his hands the way they hold rifle and said “English dam good!””
“Whilst they were out the Germans buried their dead, a good 200 of them, but I wonder if they would have allowed us the same privilege.
“We have all received a present from Princess Mary, consisting of a pint, tobacco, and fags.
“We have also had a Christmas pudding each, and they were fine.”
County Express 9th January 1915
A BROCKMOOR SOLDIER
Meets German Waiter from Birmingham
In Christmas Truce.
Pte William Hubble Has visited his home, 30 Cressett Lane, Brockmoor, convalescent after being eight weeks under hospital treatment suffering chiefly from frostbite and also from a shrapnel wound.
He was an under hand puddler, employed by the Hart’s Hill Iron and Steel Company when war broke out, and when men were asked for Lord Kitchener’s army he enlisted…his company becoming attached to the 1st South Staffordshires.
“We did enjoy ourselves on Christmas Day.
“Early in the morning a German came from the enemy’s trenches carrying a white flag.
“When he reached our trenches we blindfolded him so he could not see our positions, and then in English, he asked if we would like to have a drink with them.
“Some of our fellows readily said ‘yes,’ and the German replied ‘Meet us halfway; carry no arms. ‘
“So we left our rifles and trenches and met the Germans between our respective lines. We took some bully beef and exchanged this for cigars and cigarettes.
“They then brought two bottles of whiskey from their trench and we had a drink with them.
“One German told us that before the war he was a waiter in one of the big Birmingham hotels, and he said he wished he was back in Brum, and also that the Germans were ‘getting fed up with the war. ‘
“We made a football out of some old shirts and formed a side. We made goalposts with great coats from 20 to 30 aside took part in the match – English on the one side and Germans on the other.
“It was a draw, neither side scoring; in fact, you couldn’t shoot with the ‘ball ‘when you tried.”
Prior to the last season Private Hubble was a member of the Moor Lane Albion football Club, Brierley Hill.
“The truce” Private Hubble added, “lasted until 9 o’clock on the morning following, so that after having breakfast, we and the Germans were enemies again, shooting one another whenever the chance came.”
The officers, he said, looked sympathetically on the unofficial truce, but apart from a visit to the ‘playing ground‘ between the trenches, they took no part in it and remained in their dugouts nearly all the time…
County Express 06 Mar 1915
Wordsley’s Soldier’s Thanks
Peace on Christmas Day.
Pte. Adams, of the 3rd Worcesters, and formerly of Brettell Lane, states in a letter to a friend at Wordsley:-
“It is with great pleasure that I write to tell the parishioners of Wordsley that I received the Christmas card on Christmas morning. I cannot express the feelings which that day brought, but I am proud that there are people in Wordsley whose thoughts are for the men who are doing their best of the country’s sake. I was in the trenches on Christmas Day. There were six of us trying to get a warm from three pieces of wood we had alight in a bucket, when the Germans gave us a tune on a violin. Of course we gave them a cheer. We thought we should have a quiet day, although hold days are their fighting days; and we were right, for there was hardly a shot fired.”
County Express 09 Jan 1915
During the whole of the war effort local residents gave great support for the men in the services – and there are many letters throughout this time from soldiers expressing their gratitude for gifts received from the town.
This report of the 1916 town effort is interesting as it gives a glimpse of where soldiers from Brierley Hill were serving. It also gives an indication of the scale of the collecting which took place. £251 is the equivalent of £15,264 at today’s prices:
Report of Brierley Hill effort
The report, read by Mr Waldron, said the committee acknowledged with sincere and hearty thanks the assistance rendered by the ladies and gentlemen who voluntarily undertook work in connection with the various efforts for raising funds, and also packing and despatching the parcels to their destinations.
Some 735 parcels were forwarded to the addresses sent in to the committee by Mr T Williams, who undertook to complete the list of men serving with HM forces.
Every effort was made by means of circulars, advertisements in local papers, and by personal applications to get a complete list, and the committee could safely say that if any name has been missed it was entirely the fault of those who neglected to send in the names and addresses required.
The parcels were dispatched as follows:
HM Naval Forces 17,
France and Belgium 370
England, Scotland and Wales 267
Some 50 parcels were returned by the postal authorities, as persons to whom they were sent could not be traced, and the parcels were readdressed and forwarded.
About 45 new parcels and a few pipes, packets of tobacco, cigarettes and chocolate still remains to be disposed of.
The financial statements showed the amount collected and subscribed this year was £251 4 s 10d.
… This was very gratifying and spoke volumes for the goodwill and generosity of the bridal public, and been fused the answer of the workers.
Once again Brierley Hill will be a flurry of festive activity on Saturday December 6th.
We do hope that you can turn out for the event to have some fun and make the lights go on with a sprinkling community sparkle! Please spread the word.
St Michael’s Church Christmas Christmas Tree Festival 11am – 2pm
Refreshments, stalls and decorated trees galore (continuing on 8, 9 and 10 December 11–2 for trees and refreshments.) Christmas Panto Trail in Brierley Hill High Street
11am – 3.30 pm. Pick up a form from the Market or the Library and post at Insight House. Prize draw for tickets to The Panto at the Civic Hall performed by Brierley Hill Musical Theatre.
Free Crafty Make and Take
Insight House Pearson Street 1pm –4pm.
Activities including bead decorations, paint spinning, card making, snowflakes and bauble decorating
At Insight there will also be a face painter, a donkey and a steam engine plus chance to grab a great coffee.
Make your own Christmas card
At the Brierley Hill Library.
Live music and dance performances
At the Market, ASDA , Insight House Pearson Street, Polly’s Tea Room and the Moor Centre.
Countdown to the Lights switch on at Moor Centre at 5pm
In the late seventies and early eighties Brierley Hill witnessed the collapse of its local industries. With Marsh & Baxter, Round Oak, Baldwins and others – factories which had stood for over a hundred years – disappearing it was a time of terrible change. As the industry disappeared the social networks associated with them went too.
This poem, by A. Billingham, appeared in the Black Country Bugle in January 1983. I think it captures the mood of the time very well.
Th’Earl’s – Gone West
By A. Billingham
At six an two, an then at ten
Yoe’d ’ear et blow ter tell the men,
Ess time ter change the shift again Yoe woe ’ear it no moower.
Ah’m on about th’Earl’s bull, yoe know
Et yewsta goo, cum rain, cum snow,
An them fiery ingots orl aglow Yoe woe see them no moower.
Ef yoe goo by now, the gaetes am shit
On a notice, R.I.P. they’ve put,
Tried ’ard they have ter keep et, but They woe open them no moower.
Iss like a graveyard, quiet an’ still
Ther’s no sparks a flyin’ in the mill,
Iss another piece uv Bri’ley ’Ill As woe be used no moower.
Stacks a stonden, tall en proud
Spew forth a red oxide cloude,
Soon ter be covered in a rusting shroud Fer they woe smoke no moower.
The powers that be, ’ow con they sleep
Orl them men, et meks yer weep,
Chock the lot on the scrap-heap We doe want them no moower.
An now et’s gone wi’ great regret
Ter get Macgregor out uv debt,
Er monewment to toil an’ sweat Et woe cum back now moower.
This famous town once Industry’s lap
Like the muffler en cloth cap,
Slowly being rubbed right off the map Et woe be known no moower.
Baldwin’s en Marsh en Baxters am done
Woolworths the co-ope, and Boots ’ave gone,
The shaps am close, one by one Never to cum back no moower.
Bri’ley ill’s lost most uv it’s pride, alas
But at least we’ver gorrer touch of class,
We’ve still got Royal Brierley Glass That wull goo on some moower.
Men round ’eer am bred ter werk
Evolved through tryanny, toil an murk,
Ess in their blood, the never shirk Why cor they work some moower.
Tossed on the slag heap, ter fall apart
Orl on the dole, left in the cart,
A shocken crime, et breaks yer eart Et ay our world no moower.
As it’s National Poetry Day I’ve been looking at some poems which are Brierley Hill related. It’s fascinating stuff and there’s more out there than you’d expect. Perhaps the most famous of Brierley Hill’s poems was penned in the eighteenth century by Thomas Moss who was the first vicar of St Michael’s.
The Beggar’s Petition was so famous that it is even mentioned by Jane Austin (Northanger Abbey) and Charles Dickens (Nicholas Nickleby) in their works as explained by the Black Country Bugle.
Here is the poem in full:
PITY the sorrows of a poor old man!
Whose trembling limbs have borne him to your door,
Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span,
O, give relief, and Heaven will bless your store.
These tattered clothes my poverty bespeak,
These hoary locks proclaim my lengthened years;
And many a furrow in my grief-worn cheek
Has been the channel to a stream of tears.
Yon house, erected on the rising ground,
With tempting aspect drew me from my road,
For plenty there a residence has found,
And grandeur a magnificent abode.
(Hard is the fate of the infirm and poor!)
Here craving for a morsel of their bread,
A pampered menial drove me from the door,
To seek a shelter in the humble shed.
O, take me to your hospitable dome,
Keen blows the wind, and piercing is the cold!
Short is my passage to the friendly tomb,
For I am poor and miserably old.
Should I reveal the source of every grief,
If soft humanity e’er touched your breast,
Your hands would not withhold the kind relief,
And tears of pity could not be repressed.
Heaven sends misfortunes,—why should we repine?
’T is Heaven has brought me to the state you see:
And your condition may be soon like mine,
The child of sorrow and of misery.
A little farm was my paternal lot,
Then, like the lark, I sprightly hailed the morn;
But ah! oppression forced me from my cot;
My cattle died, and blighted was my corn.
My daughter,—once the comfort of my age!
Lured by a villain from her native home,
Is cast, abandoned, on the world’s wild stage,
And doomed in scanty poverty to roam.
My tender wife,—sweet soother of my care!—
Struck with sad anguish at the stern decree,
Fell,—lingering fell, a victim to despair,
And left the world to wretchedness and me.
Pity the sorrows of a poor old man!
Whose trembling limbs have born him to your door,
Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span,
O, give relief, and Heaven will bless your store.