Thursday, 24 December 2009


We all look for good stories and headlines at this time of year.  And this year is no different.  The Staffordshire Newsletter has published a great story about one of the long standing members of our community of Penkridge - Win Laffan.   I will say no more except that you MUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND GO AND READ THE ARTICLE YOURSELF.



Wednesday, 9 December 2009

St. John Ambulance CADETS OF THE YEAR

At the recent County Cadet of the Year Competition two young ladies from Penkridge Quad Division, St John Ambulance, secured both the Staffordshire County Cadet and Deputy positions. Both girls have been members of the Organisation for some years.

Miss Freya Burgess was invested as the Lord Lieutenant's Cadet for 2009/10 and Miss Rebekah Manifold as her Deputy. Presentations took place at the Young Achievers Reception held at the County Buildings Stafford in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire - Mr James Hawley. Freya will now go on to represent Staffordshire at the National Cadet of the Year Competition in Nottingham early next year.

Andrew Hughes, Assistant Cadet Leader said "Everyone at Penkridge Division is immensely proud of the two Cadets and congratulates them both on all their hard work and effort which helped them achieve their positions. We are sure they will prove worthy ambassadors for the County and the Organisation." Freya herself commented "It is both an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to represent St john Youth in Staffordshire. Rebekah and I are looking forward to all that our positions entail over the coming year and will endevour to do our best at all times".

Monday, 7 December 2009

Copenhagen LIVE

Sunday, 6 December 2009


We always known when Xmas has arrived when the "Sally Army" band is heard playing. On this bright and sunny morning, after heavy rain in the night, 8 turned up with their instruments and slowly walked up the road, stopping, as they do, every hundred yards to play several xmas numbers. My wife walked out to save them coming down the drive to hand them our usual donation towards their valuable work and I followed with my camera and took the following pictures.

I must now put out my Criers Bell on the front of the house. Look out for it when you drive up Haling Road (what was once called "The Marsh" and still is!).

Penkridge Town Crier

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Burial Ground News

The Parish Council is to apply for Planning Permission to erect a fence and gates around the boundary of the Burial Ground which will be opened in a morning and locked in the evening.  If parishioners have any comments they would like to put forward to the Burial Ground Committee with regard to the application which includes fence type and height, could they please forward these to Lesley at the Haling Dene Centre or via email [] no later than Friday 8th January 2010. 

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Other BLOGS of interest

I was talking tonight on the phone to two friends of mine who have a very good BLOG called Jupiter Birding. (June and Peter - get it! and they are both birdwatchers, like me). The main difference between us is that they live for several months of the year out in Portugal, taking visitors birdwatching in the Algarve area, including over the border into good birding spots in Spain too.

Take a look at their Blog ( where you will read about and see marvellous illustrations of some of the birds they have seen over the autumn out there on the Algarve.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


My wife and I were watching Blackbirds scrapping in the garden on Saturday last, when suddenly, the above bird appeared within a couple of metres of our kitchen window. At first I thought it was a Goldcrest but then we clearly saw the white eyestripe - A FIRECREST. It just shows that you should keep looking. It is the first we have seen in the garden in the 45 years we have been living here. I have seen them elsewhere in Staffordshire but never as close to home as this one was.

Since posting the above, my wife now tells me that she saw one in our front garden on the roses many years ago (I can hardly remember when we had roses in the front garden). I always knew she had better eyesight than me - now I know she has a better memory too.


Monday, 9 November 2009


Saturday, 7 November, was the 204th birthday of perhaps the one person who, more than anyone else, is responsible for the growth of Penkridge to what it is today. (Maybe Lord Hatherton also must also take some responsbility/credit for this).

For it was Thomas Brassey who, in 1837 finished building the Penkridge Railway Viaduct and 10 miles of track on the Grand Junction Railway. As a young Engineer, the viaduct was his very first contract - he went on to become the man responsible for building more railways in the world than any other person.

Eighteen people met at Hatherton House Country Hotel on Saturday last, to celebrate his life and work. Three of his descendants were also present. After a lunch and presentations, we walked the few yards past the Health Centre, down by the River Penk, and stopped for a while under the 7 arches where "Thomas Brassey" (alias John Whittingham), said a few words about his first project here - which is now one of Penkridge's most important buildings - across which thousands of people travel every week and which is a marvellous visual feature when viewing from the Market and Bull Bridge on the A449.

Your Penkridge Town Crier was also present and more information about Thomas Brassey and the building of the Viaduct can be found on the Penkridge Website.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

RIVER TRENT POISONED raises other questions

Trent Poisoning
"Partially treated sewage and cyanide were labelled as the two contaminants leaked into the Trent in Staffordshire earlier this month. It has transpired that over 30 miles of the river was polluted by the 200 million litre discharge on 4th October, killing thousands of fish and posing a risk to other animals for whom the river forms an integral part of their lives."

If we can't control something on our doorstep as serious as this, then how can we ever solve the problems that the Global Cooling and Global Warming camps are forecasting will happen?

The big problem, in my view, facing the people of Penkridge - and every other community in the world - is not whether the planet is warming or cooling. It is our increasing population and the provision of food for that population. In 1911 (according to the Census details which we now have), the population of Penkridge was 2,442. One hundred years later it now stands at 8,548 (2004 Estimate), i.e. an increase of 350%.

So two big questions - should we (and if so, how?) can/do we stop our population in Penkridge from growing any further and can/should we be growing more food LOCALLY (i.e. more sustainably) for 8,548 people? Individually, we can all do something about both these questions.

What are your views? Comment on here or on the Penkridge Community Forum. Is this something the "Lets Plan Penkridge" group should incorporate in their deliberations? Is there a role for Penkridge Parish Council? Should we perhaps set up a Co-operative to tackle growing our own food locally, working with the landowners/farmers in our Parish?

Friday, 2 October 2009

Elephants, Rhinos, Lammergeiers, Cheetah - but not in Penkridge

Just returned from a trip of a lifetime. We joined "C" who has worked at a Research Station in the middle of an African Game Reserve for 3 years. We lived in a wooden bungalow in the middle of the Reserve for 2 weeks, driving around the Reserve each day. This is a White Rhino with a baby only a few days old. My first visit to Africa and my wife and I can't stop talking about the country, the animals, the birds, the snakes, the trees, the people, the problems, the opportunities, the poverty, the diversity, etc. etc. If you get a chance to visit then take it - you won't regret it. You may come back very concerned at some of the things you see but it is an experience you will always remember - and you will always remember Rhinos and Elephants, Cheetahs and Giraffes, Vultures and Eagles, Snakes and ghekkos, whales and pelicans, zebras and buffalo, Leopard and monkeys, Trogons, etc. etc.

Thomas Brassey back in Penkridge on his 204th birthday

Any Railway Enthusiasts in Penkridge (and I understand there are quite a few) will surely know the name THOMAS BRASSEY. He was the man who built our Railway Viaduct across the River Penk which brought the railway and its Station to Penkridge. Thomas Brassey was perhaps the world's finest Railway Engineer and our viaduct was his first job. He went on to build railways all over the world.

On Saturday 7 November, the Thomas Brassey Society will be holding a Luncheon in Penkridge at the Hatherton Country House Hotel (a short distance from the viaduct)to celebrate his 204th birthday. Anyone with an interest in Thomas Brassey would be welcome to attend. Please contact me by phone (712733) or by email: and I will give you full details.


Sunday, 23 August 2009

Rodbaston Windfarm Application

South Staffordshire College at Rodbaston (as it is now known)has submitted a planning application for two large (126 metres high) Wind Turbines on their land close to the Staffs. & Worcs. Canal with a public right of way running between them.

Comments have to be submitted by the 27 August and this can be done ONLINE or by post.

For more information go to:

Friday, 24 July 2009

Penkridge Civic Awards 2009

Recently Penkridge Parish Council announced its 2009 Civic Award winners. The awards were made at a Civic Reception at Haling Dene and were presented by Cllrs. Anne Geoghegan and Petula Hughes, Chair and Vice Chair of the Council.

This year the awards were presented to:

Keith Burton - known to many elderly people in the village because of his Co-ordinators role for the local Voluntary Car Scheme and also for his sterling fund-raising efforts for Macmillan Nurses and for his work for St. Michael's church.

This year there were two Junior Awards made:
To Clare Blanchard - for her work as a Young Leader for Penkridge Guides. She is presently studying for her Duke of Edinburgh Award.
The second award was to Mark Gater for tutoring young children to swim at Penkridge Leisure Centre and his involvement as a member of Wolgarston School's Learning Council.

Heartiest Congratulations to all three of them. Penkridge is proud of you.

If you go to Parish Council Section of the PENKRIDGE WEBSITE at: you will shortly see pictures and more about their work.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

SEPARATING RECYCLED PRODUCTS - WHAT IS HAPPENING? Are Penkridge People "wasting" their time?

I have had a serious report from the Grange Estate on the west side of Penkridge about their collections of recycled products. It would appear that – although South Staffs. Council are asking for materials to be SORTED in separate containers (i.e. paper, tins, plastic, glass) - that when the contractors come round with a wheelie bin to collect these materials (it is a paved area with many houses some distance from the road where the lorries park), that THEY TIP ALL THE DIFFERENT RECYCLED MATERIALS INTO ONE WHEELIE BIN.

Because of this, the householder concerned did not separate the items next time (“why should I, when they put them together when collecting them”). The contractor then refused to take away their recycled products.

This was reported to South Staffs. Council who contacted their contractor who said they used two different wheelie bins to collect both types of recycled materials. THIS WAS UNTRUE as they were watched doing the job and ALL THE CONTAINERS WERE TIPPED INTO ONE WHEELIE BIN.

Is this an isolated occurrence or have other householders in Penkridge noted this happening? It has been reported in the past that different recycled containers have been tipped into the same compartment of the contractors vehicle? I would be interested to hear Penkridge residents comments.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Round Table donation to Penkridge PADS

Penkridge Amateur Dramatic Society were presented with a cheque for £500 recently by Penkridge & District Round Table Chairman Kevin Long.

The group, who have been celebrating their 50th anniversary recently with a performance of “The Railway Children” have been entertaining the people of Penkridge since 1959 when they performed their first production “Love in a mist”.

Kevin Day – Chairman of Penkridge Amateur Dramatic Society (pictured) is seen receiving the cheque from Kevin Long. The performance took place on Sunday June 7th , which although scheduled as an outdoor performance took place indoors due to inclement weather.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Age Concern South Staffordshire (who now have their home at the Roller Mill, Teddesley Road, Penkridge), are wanting volunteers to be the first point of telephone contact for older people seeking help and advice in South Staffordshire. Volunteer telephone advisors will receive full training to be able to answer enquiries and full support from their Information and Advice case workers.

They are also wanting a Volunteer to undertake duties developing and maintaing their gardens on site at the Roller Mill for the benefit of their service users. They are looking for someone to plant out pots and hanging baskets and to create and improve the environment to include shrubs, flowers and vegetables.

Further information and details of these two volunteer opportunities in Penkridge can be found on the Penkridge Website ( where you will find copies of the two adverts OR phone 01785 788481 (Gardening) or 788499 (Info & Advice).

Monday, 15 June 2009

"Battle of Britain" over Penkridge

Whilst weeding on the allotment yesterday, we had glimpses of the Cosford Air Show 2009. The first picture is of the Vulcan Bomber, only just been renovated and back doing the air shows. The other, of course, is one that all those will remember who were in the forces during the 2nd world war or who were waiting at home for the news. There's nothing like the sound of a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane overhead to bring back memories!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Cllr. Stan Wright's 80th birthday -11 June 2009

At the Parish Council meeting last night, Cllr. Stan Wright received presents, a card, birthday greetings and a chocolate CAKE with 80 candles (sorry, 8) on his 80th birthday.

Here he is photographed with the Chair of the Council, Cllr. Anne Geoghegan.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Google Car in Penkridge - Before Wolverhampton?

There are rumours that the Google Car was about in Penkridge today taking 360 degree photographs around the streets of our community. I have had one report and I briefly saw a car travelling south on the A449 late afternoon which looked suspiciously like it with a large pole on the roof of a black car with what looked like a camera system on the top. Perhaps Google have heard that Penkridge was the Capital of England many years ago so it deserves to be seen by the world at close quarters!

Rain creates floods which creates Sewage problems - BUT DAZ AND KEITH FROM Severn Trent Water COME TO THE RESCUE.

What a morning! Woken by next door neighbour who informed me that our drains were blocked and it wouldn't be long before the sewage was over the top and, well, you can guess the rest! So up quick, no breakfast, out to lift manhole covers and confirm that all three were up to the top. Now, as we are the lowest house in this area we always get it first so we checked with those opposite who hadn't gone to work and then investigated to find out whether the blockage was on private land or in the main sewer. (Did you know that from next year, new legislation will mean all properties having sewer problems will be able to call on the Severn Trent/South Staffs. to solve the problem - whether public or private sewers. At the moment, if the blockage is not in the main sewer, then you have to solve it and pay for it. Only if a blockage is on private land built before 1937 is the Water Authority responsible for clearing it at present free of charge.)

So out with the drainage rods, mine and my neighbours, and I rodded from my manhole just 3 metres from my boundary and then out into the road. I used 16 rods before I reached the main sewer where it came to a stop. Then went on the phone to the emergency number and after listening and tapping in numbers I eventually got a lady who listened to my problem and took down details. I had great difficulty in persuading her that the problem was in the main sewer as she repeatedly kept saying that as the sewer was on the opposite side of the road, then the house on that side would get a problem BEFORE me and they should phone up. I said "NO", our house and land is lower than theirs so, from previous experience, we get all the backup water and sewage BEFORE anyone else. In the end she said reluctantly, I thought, that they would investigate the main sewer ONLY but that it might be 24 hours before they got to us.

I said thank you - but not very enthusiastically - and started organising my campaign to get things done. Neighbours opposite phoned up and I got another neighbour (also affected) to phone as she is a Child Minder and the last thing you want is problems with toilets and sewers with young children in the house. By jove! - it worked - within an hour the Severn Trent Water van was outside with 2 very amiable and co-operate men. They listened to what I had to say, and then went about their work, explaining what they were doing and why. They had problems as it would appear that STW do not have accurate plans of where all the drains are and in fact they were unable to find where our drain goes to. However, with 100 metres of hose jetting the main sewer, it eventually solved the problem. Putting dye down to ascertain where the drain led to did not work. There seemed to be more storm drains in our road than sewer drains - "has a sewer manhole been buried somewhere?" one thinks.

They agreed with me that a thorough investigation is needed - with cameras - to trace where the sewer goes and where the continual blockages keep occurring. AND WE NEED MORE REGULAR SERVICING AND MAINTENANCE OF OUR PUBLIC SEWERS. WE ARE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE IF THE PROBLEM GETS WORSE.

But a big thank you to Daz and Keith from Severn Trent Water for being so cheerful and solving our problem in Haling Road this morning. I wish there were more people like them around.

Penkridge Town Crier

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Bats in Penkridge

A small group of us are attempting to survey the bats of Penkridge Parish this year. Not an easy job - but we have acquired a more modern Bat Detector and a Recorder which should help us with identification. What do we do? The Detector can scan from 20 Khz to 120 Khz which is the range in which all bats make their echo location calls to help them fly in the dark and home-in on insects. So we scan the airwaves and when a bat is heard calling, the detector microphone picks up the echo location calls and turns them into sounds that the human ear can hear. With the recorder we can now record the calls on a disc and when we return home, we can analyze the calls with special software on the computer which produces a sonogram. Examining the sonogram closely we are able to better identify the different species that have passed over and that we have recorded.

On a visit to Gailey Pools recently we recorded much activity over a 2 hour period after dusk. On returning home and examining the sonograms we were able to confidently say that we had recorded 4 different species of bats that evening - Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Daubenton's and Noctule bats.

We would love to hear from anyone in Penkridge who knows of good areas for bats. Pipistrelle bats are common in the built up area (I have two or three regularly feeding over my garden and house as I have trees and a pond which means lots of insects here). What we are particularly wanting to establish is where our bats roost and breed so we can produce a picture of the different species we have in Penkridge and their preferred habitats and their breeding, roosting and hibernating sites.

Bats frequently change these sites throughout the year, depending on the weather, the humidity of the sites they use and the time of their breeding. They are found in cavities (sometimes only very small) in many types of buildings, old and modern, as well as in holes in trees, under bridges, in caves, as well as in bat and bird boxes, etc.

So if you ever see bats emerging from a particular spot in a tree or in a building (perhaps from under tiles or soffit boards) at dusk, we would love to know and would pay you a visit with the detector and identify the species and try to establish how many are there. This month female bats are beginning to form maternity colonies and are looking for suitable nursery sites, such as buildings, trees or bat boxes. Male bats of most species will roost on their own or in smaller groups.

We only have 17 species of bat in the UK, all of which are protected by law because their numbers have decreased so dramatically.


Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Did anyone see anything suspicious between Sunday and Monday evening 26 - 27 April in Grange Road?

The Air Training Corps HQ at the end of Grange Road was raided (again) some time between Sunday and Monday evening. As the Police have yet to inspect the scene, details of losses, etc., are not known, but lots of damage to Radio Controlled model Aeroplanes has been done (the engines ripped out). The Radio Room has been trashed and some equipment is apparently missing.

If anyone in the vicinity of Grange Road has seen any suspicious activity, please can they let us know ?.
Either the Police, the Commanding Officer or Dave Coomber, the Radio Officer. (712172)

Monday, 20 April 2009

Garden Wildlife

Our gardens are becoming a haven for wildlife. My next door neighbour on one side had a fox in his garden one evening recently and the neighbours on the other side had a badger eating worms on the lawn one night. One man living close by when walking to work early one morning last week, followed a badger up the road.

And from the larger mammals like fox and badger, there were also a couple of the smaller ones in my garden and on my allotment yesterday and today. On the allotment a mouse was running around in broad daylight while we were working and today, in the garden this evening, a Pipistrelle Bat was hawking for insects over the pond. It was successful in its hunting as the Bat Detector I was using, distinctively picked up the buzzing sound that the bat makes as he homes in on an insect.

Bird species breeding in my garden include 2 nests of blackbird, blue tit, great tit, robin, wood pigeon, collared dove, starling, house sparrow and dunnock. There may well be a song thrush and wren, goldfinch and chaffinch are behaving as if they will also nest in the garden or very close in the weeks ahead.

Recent summer visitors heard singing in the garden include, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap - but these species will move on to their more favourite habitats i.e. woodland. They all breed in the parish.

I am now waiting for the first house martins and swifts over the village. I have swift boxes attached to the house and they were investigating last year. Swifts usually return to their last year's nesting sites in the first week of May - only a couple of weeks to go.

But will we get a cuckoo in the parish this year? They used to be regularly heard even flying over our house on The Marsh but in recent years I have not heard of one in our parish, never mind in the village. Cannock Chase would appear to be the nearest where you can hear them now. Traditionally they are first heard around the 21 April - that's tomorrow folks - so listen out.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Inter-Parish Games - help needed

Bob Holmes is urgently requesting help from anyone who will volunteer to become part of a Penkridge team for Target Golf for the Inter-Parish GAMES. Please contact Bob Holmes by email at:

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Wildflower Meadow

I have been trying to turn a meadow by the River Penk into a Wildflower Meadow. With the help of wildflower plants supplied by South Staffs. Council and with some donated bulbs. At last I have pictures to show you that indicates, I believe, that we are succeeding.
Last autumn we planted 140 bulbs of wild Snakeshead Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris). This flower has become a favourite of mine ever since I was involved in managing the last two meadows in Staffordshire where this flower still grows in the wild - one at Wheaton Aston and one at Tamworth. At one time - before farmers started to drain lowland wet meadows, plough them and put fertilizer and chemicals on them, many of our wetland rough grazing meadows in lowland Staffordshire must have been covered by these purple chequered bell-shaped flowers.
I now have them growing in my own garden and on the front lawn (once part of the Great Marsh of Penkridge) and over the years I have grown many from seed (they take several years before developing into a proper bulb and start to flower like the one in the photo taken today).
The plan with our Meadow is to turn it into a really beautiful natural wildlife meadow on the banks of the River Penk. We checked what was growing there before we began introducing new species and found there were very few species. We have so far introduced about ten new wild species and the Fritillary is one of the first to flower in the spring - early April is their flowering time. Penkridge Parish Council have agreed not to mow the field until after the main flowering season so that the plants can seed and spread.

Friday, 10 April 2009

CHURCH BACK IN TIME.............

At last we will be able to catch that train and bus folks! The Church Clock is ticking again. And you'll be pleased to see that its moved on from ten to three! TIME STOOD STILL IN PENKRIDGE FOR NEARLY 6 MONTHS! Three cheers for the Clock Winder.



Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Pro's and Con's - two sides to the coin

There are always two sides to a coin - and sometimes you have to make a choice. Sometimes its made for you which of course, often goes against the grain - but sometimes we are given a choice. The problem, however, is that often the odds are weighed against us.

Today I am referring to the Planning System which is much more open than it was and now all planning applications are open to the public for comment. They all now appear on the Planning Authority's Website and you can even make your views known online.

Penkridge Parish Council regularly receive notices and details of all planning applications relating to our parish and their views are requested. The Planning Authority (i.e. South Staffs. District Council) then take those views, and any others they receive from the public, into account in arriving at a decision to either approve or reject the application.

In the near future, two very different applications will be submitted to the District Council for consideration by the Planners (the officers will advise the Council Members on them but the Members will make the final decision). Those two applications will be:

1. An Application by South Staffordshire Housing Association for a replacement Care Home for the elderly to replace the now demolished Silverdene which was closed by the County Council last year.

2. An Application by a developer (Wind Direct Ltd.) to erect two 130 metre high Wind Turbines on the Rodbaston College Estate.

Now, on the face of it, the above two applications seem pretty straight forward and most people would say "I have no problem with either of those - we need another Care Home and Wind Turbines turn the wind into energy that we can use and need".


I will leave it at that for the time being. Think about them both, ask questions, ascertain facts. I will write more about the the pros and cons of these two applications a little later or when they are submitted.


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Stafford Hospital NEEDS Surgery

Everybody will have listened with horror to tonight's news that Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust had an "appalling" system for looking after patients in A&E that may have led to many deaths, a report says.

I suppose the question is: "Does the blame really lie with the NHS Trust Board, Chair and Chief Executive OR does it lie with the Government"?

If any Penkridge person has any stories or points to make, can I suggest they post them on the "Have Your Say" section of the Penkridge Website where the link will take you to a page explaining the Community Group on Google where you are able to put your views.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


Your Town Crier was invited to help announce (or should I say PROCLAIM) the start of building a new ECO-PROJECT in Penkridge this morning. The project by Central Borders Housing Group on behalf of South Staffordshire Housing Association aims to compare the green credentials of a brand new house against that of a refurbished house.
Building work on the homes has just started in Clay Street, Penkridge as Sue Rowley, Managing Director of South Staffordshire Housing Association explains “The aim of the project is to see whether you can really make a refurbished house as green and efficient as a new build. We will be measuring energy ratings, performance and fuel bills to see whether in the future we can provide our customers with eco-homes that are super-efficient to run.”

Both homes will include:
• a Swedish heating system which uses natural resources;
• solar powered hot water;
• triple glazing; and
• low energy lighting.

Ursula Bennion, group development director for CBHG said, “Our eco-homes have been designed to very high standards and to fit in with existing Penkridge buildings. What we learn will help us consider how we can cut emissions and fuel poverty in the future.”

Your Town Crier said "I very much welcome this project in Penkridge. It is a big step in the right direction which should lead towards lower running costs in our homes and a more sustainable form of living. Over 30 years ago, my father was researching Heat Pumps for home heating when they were in their pioneering stage – I am very pleased that the Housing Association is now leading the way in Penkridge with this new technology.”

The photograph above show: Penkridge Town Crier Bevan Craddock with left to right Mrs Anne Geoghegan (parish chairperson), Grant Mitchell (Housing, strategy and regeneration manager from South Staffordshire Council), Cllr David Billson (Portfolio holder strategic services at South Staffordshire Council) and Ursula Bennion (Group Development Director CBHG).

Thursday, 26 February 2009


Published this week was Robert Maddock's latest edition to the Social History of Penkridge. Entitled "The Shops, Businesses & Trades of Old Penkridge", it was written with the help of about 50 elderly residents of Penkridge, many of them born and lived in Penkridge all their lives - and many of their parents and ancestors too.

Many new photographs and facts have come to light and it makes a very welcome addition to Robert's three previous books (The Good Old Grit, The Day Before Yesterday, and Who Lived in Penkridge in 1901?).

All those who helped and supplied information are mentioned in the acknowledgements and at the event this week when the book was launched, it was agreed that we would continue with planning the next publication and there will be a further meeting of Penkridge's newest voluntary "Local History Group, Great Marsh Publications" towards the end of March. If you would like an invite (must be over 60 - give or take a few years! - and have lots of memories of life and people in Penkridge), then let me or Bob Maddocks have your name and address.

The latest book published by Great Marsh Publications is on sale at the Pot Shop, Hawkins Electrical and Sally's Hardware Shop at Stone Cross, price £8. Bob has also compiled a list of all the businesses in Penkridge from the Trade Directories from 1793 to 1947 and they are now all listed in a separate publication on sale for £2.

, as they say! All profits are being recycled into further written revelations about the history of Penkridge and its People. We thank the County Council for its financial grant towards this publication and our research under the Local Member Initiative Scheme - Veronica Downes being our local member.

Monday, 23 February 2009


I urge everyone to go take a look at this BBC TV Programme. It is a video of a Natural World TV programme all about the future of growing food in a world that is running out of fossil fuels, particularly oil. It lasts for 58 minutes but it will make you think. Let me know if you do watch it and what your reaction is please. I have some thoughts on how we might feed all Penkridge people with food grown locally but would like to hear whether there are others in our community who have ideas.


Sunday, 15 February 2009

Its "Awards for Penkridge People" Year!

And I hear of yet another well-earned award. Anne Geoghegan, who many of you know as Chair of the Parish Council and owner of the Pot Shop in the centre of the village, is also an ajudicator for the Board of Trinity/Guildhall College of Music in London.

Each year the Chairman of the Board gives one Award from the Board for "Services to the College". This year the Award has been presented to Anne. This is a great honour for her. She is shortly going out to Hong Kong for the third time to adjudicate at the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival and will be one of the 30 adjucators from all over the world. CONGRATULATIONS ANNE.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Good News and not so good News

First the Good News - Penkridge British Legion have just been awarded the South Staffordshire County ~"Presidents Shield" for increased membership - a branch without its own hall. WELL DONE BOYS AND GIRLS - IT JUST GOES TO SHOW THAT COMRADESHIP IS AS STRONG AS EVER IN PENKRIDGE.

AND A Local woman recognised for work with older people

Dawn Northwood from Penkridge has been shortlisted as Tenant Liaison Officer of the Year for her dedication and sensitivity to older tenants who are moving house.

Dawn is a tenant liaison officer with South Staffordshire Housing Association and was nominated for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Residents May and Wilf Lewis think Dawn should win, they say “Dawn did everything, she even offered to turn up our new curtains. Dawn still pops in to see us. She’s an adopted daughter really; I’d like to take her on permanently.”

Dawn was modest about her achievements: “It helps that at SSHA we have a policy of providing excellent service to everyone and I know I have the backing of senior staff. Basically though I just think about how I’d want my own parents to be treated. That’s what most people would do, isn’t it?”

The Connecting People Tenant Liaison Officer of the Year award is sponsored by TPAS, the Tenant Participation Advisory Service. The overall winner will be announced in March.

And NOW the not so good news - its my birthday today but I aint telling you how old I am. All the cards I have received have reminded me I am a year older. SO WHAT! I AM ALSO ANOTHER YEAR WISER.

And some more good news - for those who have helped Bob Maddocks and me with information about Penkridge in the Past, you will be pleased to hear that the book is due from the printer any day now. We are planning another meeting of our Social History Group to launch the book on Tuesday, 24 February - Shrove Tuesday. Invitations will be going out to all those who have attended meetings in the past. Bring your own Pancakes.


Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Sudden Oak Death identified on Cannock Chase

A potential outbreak of Phytophthora ramorum has been identified by Staffordshire County Council in Brocton Coppice, Cannock Chase *. The exact extent of the infection is not yet known. Otherwise known as Sudden Oak Death *, this relation to potato blight is a virulent and deadly fungal type infection that is spread by spores. These can be spread on clothes, animal fur, and in soil on boots, tyres etc.

Phytophthora ramorum attacks a range of species including oak, ash, beech, sycamore, yew, bilberry and heather. There are therefore potentially very grave consequences for the ancient oaks at Brocton Coppice and for the internationally important Cannock Chase heathland. Phytophthora ramorum is a notifiable plant pathogen and the Environment & Countryside Unit * at Staffordshire County Council is liaising with DEFRA's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate * regarding control and eradication measures.

The Council is not, at this point, closing the Chase to visitors, but is asking people to stay on footpaths and tracks and to keep dogs on leads in the woodland. If you visit this area please refrain, however tempting, from leaving footpaths. Apart from the risks to this special site, there is the chance of spreading the infection to gardens and other places visited. Among the many ornamental plants susceptible are rhododendron, magnolia, lilac and camellia.

Global Warming! Surely they mean Global Freezing!

I have always had my doubts of the hype about Global Warming. Now, everyone seems to be changing their minds - and at minus 9.5 Celsius last night I am not surprised. I well remember 1962/3 winter which was the coldest in England and Wales since 1740. Forecasters are already predicting that this January chill could rival that. I haven't been able to contact my ancestors who were around at that time but I do remember the 1946/7 winter when the snow drifts were over the front door! We didn't have central heating in those days but depended on heat from the open coal fire in the front room (where I used to sit for ages toasting bread on the end of an extendable toasting fork) and the Aga cooker in the kitchen.

Last night (on the day when the Russians cut the gas to the EU via the Ukraine), and temperatures plummeted to minus 10 Celsius in the UK, our state of the art Gas Central Heating decided to break down. Panic stations when we woke this morning to find no hot water or heating. By mid afternoon (after driving to Stafford to collect the plumber whose van was out of action), it was got going again. Relief!

Have you noticed how your dog behaves when snow covers the ground and it freezes? No smells and they can't nuzzle through it. Our poor Bess seems to have grazed her nose on the ice - or is it frostbite? No shortage of birds in the garden searching for food. Squabbling over the peanuts, the mixed seed, the bits of pork pie, the crusts of bread, the turkey remains, etc. Gulls and Jackdaws chasing each other after collecting stale bread thrown on to the garage roof. Today we had visits from Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed Tits and Pied Wagtail.


Thursday, 1 January 2009


A Happy New Year to all visitors to this BLOG and the PENKRIDGE COMMUNITY WEBSITE.

Penkridge Town Crier & Webmaster