Chairman’s Letter: May 2015

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to your support, our first Road Show at Smethwick’s Council House to launch our book “From the Factories to the Front Line” was a wonderful success. My grateful thanks to all the volunteers who were involved with the exhibition and research for the book. Chris Sutton gave a well receivedtalk on the home front and the Zeppelin attacks during WW1. Since his comprehensive and interesting talk, many compliments have been made and a suggestion received that a book should be made on this subject. We will certainly look into this for the future. There are one or two more celebrations this year, besides continuing to commemorating WW1 with the Gallipoli campaign and the sinking or the Lusitania in 1915, this year is also the 70th anniversary of VE day. Therefore, during the month of May beginning on Friday 8thth of May there will be an exhibition at our museum about Smethwick during WW2 and VE celebrations . Any old photographs or memorabilia from that time would very welcome. On the 26th of July we are having an exhibition at Oldbury British Legion, where we will commemorate both world wars. Please keep this date in your diaries, more details will follow but it promises to be a great day out. There is a bar available plus our usual refreshments and special music during the day.

Another special exhibition to look forward to this year is in September, when we will have a one off exhibition of Chances Domestic Glass. The collection has been donated by Mr Joseph whose company took over from the Chance Company when they closed in 1982. There will also be a special reunion of Chance employees on Sat 4th September, when Mr Joseph will officially open the exhibition. We are also hoping to have one of the Chance family joining us on the day. The exhibition will continue for the whole month of September. Owing to the nature of the exhibition there will be no Genealogy for that month but Bob Baldwin will have extra sessions of Genealogy on other days. We thank all those members who send in their articles for the magazine, we are very grateful. Do not hesitate to let us have any new ideas or subjects you wish us to write in the Magazine. Mary LeeAlthough this year, we did not have an early Road show we have been very busy at our museum. On the first Saturday we opened in March, we hosted a Lightwood’s exhibition,  to promote an oral history project to find out and record people’s memories of Lightwoods Park. We also had a small exhibition to what would have been Ken Wharton’s  100th birthday – both of which were well attended.

In April Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II reached her 90th birthday. She has seen and lived through some extraordinary times during the 20th century of invention and progress. She is the longest reigning monarch, overtaking her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria. She has been served by a dozen Prime ministers and presided over six decades of British history. To celebrate this we have put together photographs of the Queen and her family, snaps shots of events in Smethwick and major events worldwide during the 9 decades of her life. This exhibition will continue throughout the summer.

We had a successful ” Volunteering Day” in April. As you all know our museum is run almost entirely by volunteers who work very hard with enthusiasm and commitment but   we still need more help to maintain the high standard that we have set ourselves. Just a few hours a week, or month to help us would be appreciated – help to staff the desk, cataloguing our collection research and help with exhibitions. History is ongoing and we are still looking for an enthusiastic photographer to take photographs of the changing face of Smethwick for our archives and help with editing our magazine.

Our first Road Show will be on 21st of May at St Hilda’s Church when we revisit one of our old venues. The theme will be “As we were and as we are now “ depicting how Smethwick has changed over the years and the important dates which made changes in our town. We are always looking for photographs of building which have disappeared especially from the 1950’s onwards. Windmill lane flats, High Street shops, Six Ways, clinics, pubs, cinemas, churches and schools so many have gone forever. So please if you have any photographs bring them along to the museum so we can scan them and use them for our exhibition.

 Best Wishes – Mary Lee

Mary Lee
mary@smethwick.org.uk