Tea Cup

Black Country Memories Club
 Annual General Meeting
Wednesday 29th February 2012
Bilston Methodist Church
Bow Street, Bilston

Tea Cup

The first meeting of a new year, and as its 2012 it is the year for Olympians perhaps we should hold an event of our own.Perhaps not, It is of course also the Queens Diamond Jubilee year, we shall celebrate that instead, well, less strenuous for someone of my age. So lots to look forward to throughout the year.In the meantime we have AGM to get through.

As our residential photographer decided to book himself a holiday, you will notice that we are very short of photographs at this event. Therefore the report in brief is as follows.
Alma Darby has decided to hang up her secretarial hat. Alma has been the Club secretary since  it was founded. She has always been a very loyal and a hard working member of the committee, always keen to take part in activities. Some of you may recall her stage performance  with Kath Kiely, AKA Morcombe andd Wise.
Aslo retiring today is our very own ‘tech; guy, Henry Metzger. Henry sets up his camcorder, microphones, speakers etc at our events, not a task for the faint hearted, the equipment weighs very heavy. After filming he sets about editing, another daunting duty. Henry has produced some very historical videos for us over the years, they will be great to look back on in the years to come.
As today is the final AGM for Alma and Henry we decided to hold our own version of the old TV programme, ‘Crackerjack’ Any youngsters reading this report will, no doubt, wonder what ‘Crackjack ‘is. Well let them do some research and find out for themselves eh.
After failing to answer the questions correctly both Alma and Henry finished up with enough cabbage to feed the population of Bilston.They also won some nice goodies though, including, pens, and T shirts, they were also given a Lifetime Honarary Membership to the Club.
On with the business of the Annual General Meeting and time to introduce our youngest member of the Club, Stephanie Merrett, Steph has also agreed to stand in as our secretary. As in previous years the remaining committee members agreed to stand after being nominated en-block.

Business done and time to get refreshments.  

The topic for todays exhibtion is ‘Bilston Bathers’.

As the new ‘Bert Williams Leisure Centre opens, we decided to take a look at other ‘baths’ in the town.  Our very own Tom Larkin gave a brief history of the
Prouds Lane Leisure Centre as well as the old bath house that once stood in Market Street.
Upon the arrival of the Canals people took to bathing in the dirty waters,but after two epedemics of Cholera here there was an urgent need to improve sanitation.
Some of us recall the days having to bathe in the old tin bath in front of the fire, the water was shared by all family members. Although it has to be said that not all housholds had such facilities, so when the public baths opened in Market Street in 1853 Bilston folk couldn’t wait to use them. Not only for bathing but a lot of women used the facilities to do the weekly wash.
It was at this point in proceedings when one of our members, Sylvia Wellings shared some of her memories with us. “ The water was very green looking, not unlike pond water” she said. “Not very inviting when you look back, but we swam in it anyway. “ other members agreed, and one gentleman whos name escapes me went on to say, that men and women were not allowed to use the same entrance, and they had to bathe on different days of the week. Sylvia said “the street was crammed with people the day the old Bath house closed it doors for the last time."
The swimming baths at Prouds Lane opened in 1964 and crowds of people turned out to see the grand opening. This was the last new building by Bilston Borough Council before the merger with Wolverhampton in 1966. Cllr Graham Bold recalls the opening of the new baths very well, he was pushed in the water wearing a suit. Graham said
"someone decided it would make great publicity" Apart from Graham Bold, the first person chosen to swim in this new pool was Bill Pickering, who recorded the fastest
 crossing of the Channel form England to France. On August 27th 1955 Bills time was 14 hours and 6 minutes.
As well as Coucillors and record breakers, dolphins have also swam in our pool, yes, I did say Dolphins. The Dolphins were touring the Country back in 1973, In the picture below Alderman Ted Lane can be seen greeting one of the animals. Dolphins in the swimming pool, who’d have thought it, I hope they cleaned out the pool afterwards.
Of course, this once new building is now crumbling and the place closed last year,  2011. We now have a brand new Leisure Centre that stands on the grounds of what was once “Sankeys” . The new “Bert Williams Leisure Centre is named after the great footballing gentelman from Bradley. Bert played for Wolverhampton Wanders, (In the days of real players) .

                       Market Street Bath House
Market Street Bath House 
Prouds Lane – the last building by BBC
Prouds Lane – the last building by BBC
The Bert Williams Leisure Centre 
The Bert Williams Leisure Centre 
 A footballing legend,  Bert Williams MBE
A footballing legend,  Bert Williams MBE  
I told you there were Dolphins in the Pool I told you there were Dolphins in the Pool

Henry Mtzger and Alma Darby
Henry Metzger and Alma Darby
Their final AGM before retiring from the committee, of which they served well since 1999.
We shall miss you both at our monthly  meetings.
Our thanks go to you  and we wish you a long and healthy retirement.

Thank you to everyone else for your support during the last year and we hope to see you all in this the new year.  I’m sure there is something on the programme for everyone to enjoy. If not, we are always open to suggestions. Don’t forget to return your booking slips for the Christmas Party by the dates stated in your programme.

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