The Beggar who connects Brierley Hill, Jane Austin and Charles Dickens #NationalPoetryDay

The Beggars Petition

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.

Minutes Of The Latest Meeting Of Brierley Hill Civic Society

Minutes of the meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society held on 16th September 2014 at St Michael’s Church commencing at 5.30pm


Pat Cobern, Joy Cooper, Stephen Dunn, Beryl Fisher, John James, Betsy Lafferty, Lorna Morrison, Maggie Norton, Emma Shelton, Jenny Sunter, Tim Sunter, Dennis Whittaker


Cllrs Harris, Islam, and Martin together with Lorraine Bell, Beryl Biggs, Tim Lee, Ray Norton, and Rosemary Tomkinson

Minutes of the previous meeting

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

Matters arising not otherwise on the agenda

There were no matters arising which were not otherwise on the agenda.


JS reported that correspondence continued to be received from Civic Voice and offered to circulate this to any members who wished to receive it.

Treasurer’s report

DW reported that the Society has £40.11 cash in hand and £257.22 in the bank making a grand total of £297.22. There were not outstanding cheques for payment so this represented a true picture of the Society’s resources.

Planning Matters

Clean Power

TL could make it to the meeting as he was preparing for the public meeting to be held at 7.30pm at Hawbush Primary School. LM updated the meeting on the situation with regards to clean power.

It appeared that the environmental impact of the site could be considerably greater than had previously been anticipated. This was because it had now transpired that a condition of the use of the site was that a freight rail terminal also had to be built. This meant that even more heavy vehicles would be moving to and from the site. Additionally more waste could be brought in from around the country, so the amount of waste to be processed was likely to be considerably higher than previously stated.

It was also noted that the revised planning application had included some revised air locks to try and counter any odours from the plant, but other than that the application was substantively the same.

The local authority is revising its regeneration strategy and SNOW were advocating that the Moor Streets sites should be re designated as areas for light industry and housing. This would be in line to the wider change to residential use in the area.

The Society discussed how best to support SNOW in its opposition to the proposals and unanimously agreed to write in support of SNOW’s submissions to the planning authority.

Waste aggregation site adjacent of Buckpool nature reserve

TS read out a letter from Angela Wasely who is a leading member of the Fens Pool and Buckpool Wildlife Group. A planning application had been received to develop a site on the Leys Industrial Site for aggregate waste. Further investigation had revealed that initially local authority officers had failed to identify the high risk of noise and dust from the site. In the event the applicant had commenced operations before receiving planning consent and the negative consequences had been demonstrated. There was now a recommendation to oppose the application.

It was agreed that the Society should also oppose the application.

A more general discussion took place regarding the number of applications for development in the area which would adversely affect the amenity of local residents. It was felt the Society had a role in having a watching brief on planning matters and DW kindly agreed to monitor applications on a weekly basis and raise any issues which would be of concern. The offer was gratefully accepted by the meeting.

Preserving Brierley Hill War Memorial

TS and DW spoke about a meeting which had taken place in August with officers of the local authority regarding the condition of the memorial. James Ball of Wordsley School had joined the meeting. The school had indicated that it had wanted to adopt the memorial as part of its World War One centary activities.

The memorial is generally in good condition. The most vulnerable material was the Sicilian marble which was used to depict a scene on each side of the memorial, for the statue of the soldier, and for the decorative pillars on each corner. The western facing marble was eroded quite badly, whilst parts of the soldiers helmet had disappeared.

There were various options on how to go forward. The marble could be coated to prevent further deterioration; or the most eroded scene could be replace (but what would happen to the original); or interprative information could be supplied. Each of these raised issues in themselves and a futher question was who should decide what should be done.

When the memorial had first been mooted Brierley Hill had held a town meeting so that all residents had an opportunity to contribute their ideas. The memorial itself had been built by public subscription.

It was therefore felt that a ‘town meeting’ should be organised to try and get a wider opinion on which option to take. The meeting needed to be well publicised. TS agreed to make the arrangements.

Lights on Church Hill wall

DW reported that the council’s engineers had now identified funding to enable the lights on the wall fronting Church Hill adjacent to the memorial to be restored as part of the ongoing repair work.

Brierley Hill in Bloom

TS gave a progress report. A further bid has been submitted to Community First to expand the scheme further along the High Street. However, the fund is now over subscribed so it may be that other sources of funds such as Ibstock Corey will need to be approached. The present plants will be removed in early November, new plants will be put in place and will grow in situ. Hopefully another splendid display will be achieved for next year.

Discussions are taking place regarding the council’ planters outside Mecca Bingo. These are in a very poor state. It was pointed out that no other town centre in the borough had been neglected like this and there was a strong feeling at the meeting that Brierley Hill should be treated on the same basis as other towns.

JC reported that substantial bulb planting will take place at the Church Street side of the church. Some 3600 bulbs will be planted as part of St Michael’s 250th anniversary.

Nomination for an award of the former Royal Brierley buildings

Unfortunately it had not been possible to arrange for the meeting to be hold at the former Royal Brierley Buildings as the conversion to homes was nearing completion and access would be difficult.

The Society welcomed the preservation of the buildings and the new use which had been found for them. It was agreed to investigate architectural awards which are available and to nominate this scheme for one accordingly. If nothing suitable could be found the. Thought could be given to created our own award.

Membership of West Midlands MASA

The West Midlands MASA had invited the Society to take advantage of free membership. MASA is recognise by Civic Voice and enables Civic Societies to coordinate activity and information on a regional basis. It was agreed to join MASA.

Christmas Festival

JS reported on the emerging arrangements for the Christmas Festival which will take place in 6th December. JC informed the meeting if the excellent news that the Christmas Tree festival would be launched in the same day and St Michael’s would also be holding a drop in event on the same morning. JS commented on how well this complemented the other plans for the day.

Marsh Park and Lawyers Field

Concerns was expressed about possible reductions in the council’s maintenance budget for Marsh Park – especially sensitive in the centenary of the Great War for which the park formed part of the memorial.

SD raised the issue of the state of repair of Lawyers Field and the blocking off of access from the Church Street end for ‘health and safety’ reasons.

The feeling of the meeting was that Brierley Hill seemed to be suffering disproportionately from the cutbacks compared to other town centres. It was agreed to invite councillors to go on a walk to identify key issues which needed to be addressed.

In a more positive note, DW report reported that further planting work will take place through Friends of Marsh Park. JC told the meeting that St Michael’s had won funding to plant 3600 daffodils at the Church Street side of the church yard as part of the 250 the anniversary celebrations in 2015.

Any other urgent business

The meeting discussed rumours circulating in the town with respect to ASDA.

New Brierley Hill walks – starts Thursday – all welcome

Walk Works, a new Community Interest Company, founded by Vicki Smith and Fran Wilde aims to explore Black Country heritage and the arts through outdo events, mainly walks for looking and experiencing.

The good news is that they have been commissioned by the Office of Public Health in Dudley to run four walks along Brierley Hill Canal to demonstrate the contribution walking makes to helping us feel good.

The walks will take place on Thursdays 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd October. They will start at the statue of John Northwood, near to the Marks and Spencer/Argos entrance at Merry Hill, at 10.30am and finish around noon.

I’ve had the good experience to have been on one of Fran and Vicki’s walks before – in Cradley Heath – and found their local knowledge fascinating. So I’m happy to recommend this if you’re free on any of those Thursdays. Booking and other information are in the flyer below.

Walk Works

14th September 1955 – Brierley Hill Alliance become the first team EVER to play an FA Cup tie under floodlights

On 14th September 1955 Brierley Hill Alliance became the first team to play an FA Cup tie under floodlights – an honour they share with Kidderminster Harriers. It is indisputable that Brierley Hill Alliance is the sole holder of the honour of being the first team ever to lose under floodlights.

Here is the match report from the County Express of 17th September 1955.

Brierley Hill Alliance historic article

Community First Brierley Hill Meeting 16th September – Read All About It!

Minutes if the meeting of Community First Brierley Hill held at St Michael’s Church, Brierley Hill on 16th September 2014 commencing at 7.00 pm.


June Bowen, Rachel Harris, David Hoskin, Tom McCormack, Peter Plant, Tim Sunter


Graham Hudson

Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting had been circulated and were agreed as a true record.

Matters arising

  1. All necessary email consents had been received following the meeting from those who had not been present, and the grant recommendations had been processed accordingly.
  2. There had appeared to be a slowing done of the processing of applications by CDF, possibly because of staff turn over.
  3. CDF had queried the Brierley Hill Project on how the volunteer hours for matched funding were related to the capital works proposed.

Applications for funding

  1. SBCBCP had requested £900. The panel considered the request. In line with precedents it noted that this application was likely to fund activities across the borough and there was not enough evidence of a Brierley Hill focus. It therefore decided not to recommend the request.
  2. Homework Club, based in Albion Street requested £1339 to enable support for local children with their homework. The panel discussed how ‘local’ the children would be and whether it was possible to extend the scheme to other areas. TM, who had declared an interest in this application, explained that there was a limit on the number of children who could be supported before the impact was diluted. Children from all sections of the local community were welcome to participate. The panel felt this was a good scheme which met the criteria for funding and recommended the full amount.
  3. Little Suckers – a breast feeding support group had requested £2000 for a twelve month project. It was explained that this was a locally based group which had previously worked in Brierley Hill and that it’s ‘clients’ would also come from the area. RH spoke strongly about the health benefits of breast feeding and informed the meeting that Brierley Hill was one of the areas of particular need in this respect. However, it was noted that the panel was only able to recommend funding to the end of February. It was agreed to recommend £833.33 as this would cover this period.
  4. Oakfield Community Centre were requesting £2372 towards capital improvements to enable more usage of the building. The panel considered that this was a good scheme and recommended that it be funded subject to a check on the calculation of match funding.
  5. Brierley Hill in Bloom requested £2500 to extend the scheme further through the town centre. The panel noted the positive impact the scheme had had to date. However, to fund this application in full would exceed the total of funds available. In view of the fact that this project had received funding last year it was decided to recommend £2273.11 for funding. TS and RH declared an interest in this request.

Any Other Business

It was noted that all of the funds available to Community First Brierley Hill had now been allocated. It was therefore unlikely that another meeting of the panel would be needed. It was agreed should anything now need to be agreed, as far as possible, this should be done via email.

TS thanked the panel for all of their efforts.


Community First Brierley Hill – Tuesday 16 Sept At 1900 – St Michaels Church – All Welcome

You are invited to the next meeting of the Community First Brierley Hill Panel which will take place on Tuesday 16th September 2014 at St Michael’s Church, Brierley Hill. The meeting will commence at 7pm.

The agenda for the meeting is:

  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of the previous meeting
  3. Matters Arising
    4 Correspondence
  4. Applications for funding
    • grant report – an update on where we are with our allocated grants
    • Small Black Country Business Community of Practice – request for £900 to purchase a laptop for presentations on social media for local businesses
    • Brierley Hill in Bloom – request for £2500 to purchase more planters and extend the project around Brierley Hill
    • Homework Club – request for £1330 to support young people to do their homework at The Storehouse in Brierley Hill
    • Little Suckers – request for £2000 to cover venue hire for this support group for breastfeeding mothers
    • Oakfield Community Centre – request for £2373 to improve the Centre’s facilities whilst keeping hire fees affordable
  5. Dates of future meetings
  6. Any Other Business

I do hope that you can make the meeting on Tuesday.


Brierley Hill Civic Society – Monday 15 Sep 1730 – St Michael’s Church – All Welcome

You are cordially invited to the next meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society which will take place on Monday, 15th September 2014, at 5.30pm at St Michael’s Church.

The Brierley Hill SNOW group – has organised a public meeting for 7.30pm at Hawbush School – so the agenda for this meeting will comprise of business matters rather than having a speaker.

The agenda will therefore be:

  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of the previous meeting
  3. Matters arising not otherwise on the agenda
  4. Correspondence
  5. Treasurer’s report
  6. Planning Matters
    1. Clean Power
    2. Waste aggregation site adjacent of Buckpool nature reserve
  7. Preserving Brierley Hill War Memorial
  8. Lights on Church Hill wall
  9. Brierley Hill in Bloom
  10. Nomination for an award of the former Royal Brierley buildings
  11. Membership of West Midlands MASA
  12. Christmas Festival
  13. Marsh Park and Lawyers Field
  14. Any other urgent business

I do hope you will be able to attend the meeting and look forward to seeing you there.

Kind regards,
Tim Sunter


Minutes of the meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society held on Monday 21st July 2014 at St Michaels Church, Bell Street South, Brierley Hill.

Minutes of the previous meeting

The previous meeting had consisted of Jayne Pilkington’s talk of preserving local buildings

Clean Power

Tim Lee updated the meeting on Clean Power.

  • The deadline for the consultation on the Evironmental Permit had now closed.
  • 707 residents had voiced objections.
  • The SNOW website has been updated to include comments and information on the Permit application.
  • DMBC will put in their application once they see the full picture.
  • A new planning application is likely to be submitted should Clean Power successfully obtain an Environmental Permit.
  • Review of regeneration corridors being undertaken by the local authority still had the area zoned for industrial use whereas the local consensus would be for housing. Discussions were taking place with councillors re this matter.

Comment were made by members regarding the laying down of conditions to minimise the potential detrimentail effects of any development which may take place.

Brierley Hill in Bloom

TS gave an update on Brierley Hill in Bloom.

Despite considerable pesimism amongst members of the public when the plants were put out, only a small amount of vandalism had taken place – mainly following England football games. In view of this an extra 5% of plants would be grown for planting in the autumn to enable rapid replacement should any be disturbed.

The informal steering group had set some new objectives which were to have a new set of plants ready for October in the existing planters; to extend the scheme to infront of the College and the Health Centre; to extend further along the High Street utilising hanging baskets and vertical planters. This was dependent of sponsorship and applications for grant funding.

Discussion took place regarding the state of the local authority planters in front of the former bowling alley. The council had indicated that insufficient funds were available to put bedding plants here. A suggestion had been made that possibly these could be turfed over with a small border for bedding plants. This was being investigated. JS pointed out that previous initiatives to plant shrubs elsewhere in the borough had demonstrated the potential of these to become litter traps.

Whilst there was disappointment regarding the local authority planters the council had been extremely helpful in ensuring that the Brierley Hill in Bloom planters continued to be watered by scheduling the Scaramanda Road Sweeper to water the plants three days each week. This had reduced the burden on organisers to find volunteers enormously.

The Plough

TS reported back on his visit inside The Plough. It had been very sad as it still contained remnants of its life as a pub and it was very atmospheric.

The good news was that a planning application had been received to convert the building into residential accommodation whilst maintaining its historic aspect.

The planning application was enthusiastically supported by members present and it was agreed a letter of support should be sent to the planners.

Royal Brierley Crystal

TL reported on a visit he and the chair had recently made to view the works which were taking place to convert this Grade II listed building into 17 flats and 10 townhouses.

The scheme was impressive and a great deal of attempt had been made to preserve historic features such as the internal pulleys which had driven the machinary. It was noted that such a development in other parts of the country would attract very high prices for the accommodation.

It was agreed to write to the developer asking if the Society could visit the site as part of its September meeting.

Brierley Hill’s Great War

The main item on the agenda was a talk on Brierley Hill’s Great War. This covered:

  • The methodology for collecting information
  • Wordsley School’s interest in raising funds to restore Brierley Hill war memorial
  • Brierley Hill War Memorial; those named on it, the regiments they belonged to, the key engagements (such as the Hohenzollern Redbout), where they are burried or have a memorial (many have no known burial place).
  • The St Michael’s Church and Delph Church memorials
  • Brierley Hill on the outbreak of war
  • The role of local scouts in the campaign
  • Rolls of honour, including the two rediscovered during renovation works at St Michael’s last week
  • The Quarry Bank riots in protest at food rises as the beginning of the war
  • The Stoubridge Military Hospital, the convoys of wounded from Stourbridge Town station and the intriguing way in which The Talbot Hotel supported patients
  • Local aliens, spies and pigeon restrictions
  • How to protect agains Zeppelin attack
  • Food shortages and rationing – including an unsual ‘baby loan’ system for jumping queues
  • Restrictred water supplies.

Date of Next Meeting

There will be no August meeting. The next meeting will be held on Monday 15th September 2014 at 5.30pm.

The meeting closed at 7.30pm.

Flames of Bengal – is this new Indian restaurant the best in Brierley Hill?

The new Flames of Bengal restaurant in Brierley Hill. Behind the frontage is a clean and well laid out restaurant

A new restaurant Flames of Bengal opened in Brierley Hill on 12th August. It is located at the south end of the High Street near to the Catholic Church and occupying the former premises of “Dine”. They advertised an opening offer of four courses for £6.95, so I thought I would give it a try

Not a good start – the offer that wasn’t

First things first. When I called in (27th August) and requested the special offer I was told that it was no longer available. Both their website and their advertising clearly stated that this would be available until 31st August. This wasn’t a good start.

Being a grumpy old soul I thought I’d go find somewhere else to eat, but as a turned to leave I was told that the offer would be available after all.

So I gave it a chance.

Pleased I stayed – professional service

I was pleased that I stayed. The decor of the restaurant was modern, clean and well laid out. The waiters were very helpful and professional.

When two people arrived to order take away food they were offered a cup of coffee whilst they waited.

The only down side was that, clearly working on very tight profit margins, I did feel that they were pushing options to spend more a little too much – “would you like a coffee?”…”…a sweet with that?…””…drink sir?”

Good food

The menu was offered a very good selection of Bengal food, and surprisingly Chinese and Thai too.

For an appetiser I had a Tandoori mix Kebab, and for the main course North Indian Garlic Chilli Chicken with Chicken Tikka Nan.

The food was hot (in heat terms), the meat tender and was very tasty. I enjoyed eating it, and the wait between courses was just right – enough time for the food to settle, but not too long.


Drink is available, but diners are able to bring their own if they so wish.

Overall impression – good

I took advantage of a special offer and for that money the restaurant was very good value. Even without the offer the prices were very good.

The restaurant was clean and well laid out.

The service was good and the food delicious. I would certainly visit again.

As well as eating in, the Flames of Bengal offers take away food, and home delivery.

Contact details

For Bookings & Order Call:
01384 482 444

44 High Street (Opposite Mecca Bingo)
Brierley Hill

Best Indian restaurant in Brierley Hill?

Is this the best Indian restaurant in Brierley Hill? Do you know somewhere better?

Let me know in the comments box below.


Brierley Hill in Bloom – thank you to our sponsors


Well, two and a half months on, despite dire predictions, the Brierley Hill in Bloom flowers are still brightening up the High Street.

We have plans to replant this October, and, dependent on achieving some grants, extend the scheme further throughout the town.

So a fine time to thank those who have sponsored us – and it would be really great if they got some business and support as a result of investing in our town.

Thank You

1. AgeUK Dudley
2. Asda Stores Ltd
3. Boots Brierley Hill
4. Brierley Hill Civic Society
5. Brierley Hill Market Hall
6. Brierley Hill Methodist Church
7. Brierley Hill Traders Association
8. Brockmoor Primary School (4)
9. Bruce Hodgkiss Family Butcher
10. Clyde’s Cafe
11. Cllrs Harris, Islam and Wilson
12. Dudley Council for Voluntary Service
13. Inner Wheel Club of Brierley Hill
14. Jennings, Homer and Lynch Architects
15. JMC Accountants and Tax Advisers Ltd
16. Jon Stanier Estate Agents (2)
17. Mecca Bingo
18. Pentax Developments Ltd
19. Polly’s Tea Room
20. T.H. Baker est 1888
21. The Underwear Store in the Market

War Memorial preservation – Wordsley School offers to raise funds.

It’s good to see some work has been done to replace the bayonet on Brierley Hill war memorial as well as painting some of the rails adjacent to it.

There’s more good news too.

Recently Wordlsey School indicated that they would like to adopt the memorial as their commemorative project for the Great War. One idea is that their students could raise money to restore it over the next four years whilst the commemorations are taking place across the country.

Two weeks ago we had a meeting with the council’s conservation officer at the Memorial.

The figure of a soldier on top of the memorial is looking tired to say the least. This was made from Sicilian Marble and has struggled to stand the test of time. It is, after all, located in one of the most exposed positions in Brierley Hill.

Of the four scenes depicted beneath the figure, one on each side of the memorial, three are in fairly good condition. But the one depicting the sinking of the Arethusa and the rescue of German sailors is in very poor condition. If you didn’t know what the scene was supposed to be you’d never guess.

All of which resulted in a fascinating discussion about what ‘conservation’ and ‘restoration’ actually meant.

Is it best, for example, to commission a copy of the original panel as a replacement and store the original elsewhere? Or is it better to coat the panel with a chemical to prevent further deterioration? Or should we leave it to weather with time and produce interpretive materials instead?

And then…who is it who should decide?

In the end we thought it would be best to meet in September to determine a way forward and perhaps to hold a town meeting. Watch this space.