Monday, 29 September 2008

Back after a few days in neighbouring Shropshire

Nice to be back in Penkridge but in just over a week we got to know parts of South Shropshire quite well. A lovely part of the world and very different from South Staffordshire. Up and down, more trees, roads much better, and some attractive towns and villages like Ludlow and Cleobury Mortimer and some interesting small churches. We also spent a day or two exploring the Titterstone Clee Hill, with it's Industrial History, particularly the Quarrying and Mining that has taken place over the last 150 years. At one time it was the largest quarry in Europe. Quarrying still takes place but now only employs a couple of dozen men or so compared with the hundreds that worked there in the early 1900's.

I purchased in Ludlow the book by A E Jenkins "Titterstone Clee Hill - Everyday life Industrial History & Dialect" which is a must if you are exploring the area. Titterstone Clee Hill is within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is Open Access Land although care must be taken as much of it is Common Land and several people still have Sheep Grazing Rights. During the week we had the Hills to ourselves but at the weekend, it unfortunately turned into a noisy hill with illegal scrambler bikes tearing around and damaging the habitat as well as disturbing the peace and quietness of the hills. Designating areas is great but there must be enforcement of the rules governing areas like Titterstone Clee Hills and Cannock Chase.

I will return, however, as the views on a good day are tremendous - an easy summit to reach gives one superb views around 360 degrees. I met some very interesting people up there - from Scotland and Poland as well as many local people, some of whom have lived around the Hills all their live, One evening while I was photographing a fantastic sunset, a man from Worcester appeared who had driven up to near the summit to mount his astronomical telescope on a tripod in order to study the sky at night. Light pollution in urban areas makes it practically impossible to see details of the stars but up on the Clee you feel a lot nearer to them and there are no street lights or cities nearby polluting the sky with their light.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Safe Cycling in Penkridge

For some time now I have been advocating safe cycling in our community. To start with I am proposing the following and I would like any comments please. There is a long way to go before we (whether young or elderly) can cycle throughout our community safely. However, I believe that if the following routes are tackled first, it will give us a strong base upon which to work and will provide a useful, safe cycling routes through our community.

1. The Staffs. & Worcs. Canal runs through the centre of our community from south to north. It enters the urban part of the village just south of Wolgarston Way close to the large housing estate and then runs past the Druids Way Estate, past Princefield First School and the Saxon Road housing estate. Then under the Cannock Road, past the Boat Inn and Little Marsh and then on past Marsh Lane and Leacroft Road estates before it runs on the eastern boundary of Penkridge Middle School to the Teddesley Road and on towards Acton Trussell and Stafford.

2. Otherton Brook (with its adjacent open space) runs from Boscomoor Lane in the south, through housing estates, under Vale Gardens road and north to where the footpath finishes at New Road, very close to the centre of Penkridge.

With the Canal route we only have to deal with British Waterways (the owners) and with the Otherton Brook route we only have to deal with South Staffs. District Council (the owners). I believe we will find both these authorities sympathetic and co-operative. British Waterways have already expresed an interest. I believe these two routes could be the first of a network of safe cycle routes in our community - all it needs is a partnership between County, District and Parish Councils and British Waterways.


There are obviously many more routes that could be explored but I think they would be more difficult to set up and would take much longer to come to fruition. There would be less red tape with these two routes and they should not be that expensive - but inevitably it will cost. Once we get the ball rolling, however, we can go on to explore other possible routes.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Penkridge Floods

After putting on my wellies to wade through 10 inches of water to reach the bottom of my garden, passing the greenhouse where the tomato plants were under 3 inches of water, and passing the underwater courgettes (a new species?), my wife and I ventured round The Marsh and on to the Teddesley Road.
These photos will show what we saw - the flooded Penk looking like a great lake; cars splashing through floods; and the usual high water mark right up to the Health Centre.

Monday, 1 September 2008

"Notable" Penkridge Citizens from the past

Tim Cockin produced the Biographical County Map of Staffordshire in 2006 (published by the Malthouse Press). It is based on the Ordnance Survey New Series six inch to one mile maps 1875-86 and it shows, presumably, his chosen, single most notable person associated with each parish.

Of course, I looked eagerly to see who Tim had chosen in Penkridge. No, not the first Lord Hatherton, Edward John Littleton, whom many people would say today was perhaps the most notable person, who had a great influence not only on the Penkridge we know today but also greatly influenced British history at the time. No, he was listed under Teddesley Hay Parish. (The map shows the old Ecclesiastical parishes, whose boundaries and names have changed in some cases since our current Civil Parish Councils were created in 1894.) He chose a churchman, Bishop Richard Hurd (1720-1808), born at Congreve, who became Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry and Bishop of Worcester, but declined the Archbishopric of Canterbury in 1783.

Why do historians, when considering a question like this and having to choose just one person, always look back to centuries ago and never consider people who were living in the 20th century. Is it because they don’t believe any 20th century person is “notable” or is it maybe that historians are programmed to only think back from the 19th century?

Are the happenings of the 20th century not history? Surely there are some notable persons of that century in Staffordshire, many of them still alive of course? Can you name anyone from Penkridge who you consider more "notable" and list his/her achievements? Or does it take over 100 years after someone dies before anyone considers they are notable enough to be remembered?