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There is considerable documentary evidence that shows that the first manufacturer of steel pen nibs in the UK was Thomas Sheldon from Sedgley. He started his enterprise in 1806, some years before the idea was copied by Joseph Gillott from Birmingham. Gillott, however, was something of a super-salesman. When he married Maria Mitchell he made 144 pens the night before the wedding. He then sold them to guests at 1/- each. He also  frequently referred to himself as “The wickedest man alive—I make people steel pens and said they did write!”

In 1926 Kinver Football Club came to an agreement with the Recreation Committee of Kinver Parish Council to rent land at the side of the recreation ground. The charge was set at 4/- (20p) a match.

The mid 1980s saw Kinver suffer from a serious outbreak of vandalism. In 1986 on a number of occasions shop windows were smashed and National Front slogans sprayed on walls. Two years later there was more trouble when groups of local teenagers started roaming the streets of the village until the early hours of the morning. There were numerous reports of property being damaged, plants uprooted in residents’ garden and playground equipment being destroyed. This was at the time of the national miners’ strike and so it was suggested that the outbreak was due to too few police patrolling the village as many had been transferred to the picket lines.

On 18th-19th June 1988 the staff at Boxleys of Wombourne created what was then the world’s longest continuous sausage—a 21.12km monster. It took a total of 15 hours 33 minutes to make. The current record, however, stands at 59.14km for a sausage made at Asda in Sheffield in 2000.

In March 1928 workmen in Coseley excavating a 12 foot deep hole for a new sewer found that they had some unexpected help. Where they were digging an underlying coal seam came close to the surface  and a group of women and children gathered at the top of the hole and were loading up sacks, baskets - and even prams - with the coal as it was brought to the surface.


A new beginning

In the 1870s John Ruskin, art critic and social reformer promoted a scheme called St George’s Guild to get factory workers from the cities back into farming communities.

His idea was to set up a completely new village using families who had been living in the industrial suburbs and to make it self-supporting. He also believed that rather than money all trading should use simple bartering to determine the value of goods.

At first he looked at setting up this experiment at a site between Wombourne and Bobbington. Indeed, at a speech in Birmingham he even announced that the site had been acquired.

At that meeting George Baker, a previous mayor of Birmingham, was fascinated by the idea and immediately offered Ruskin the use of 20 acres of land just north of Bewdley. He was obviously very persuasive as Ruskin immediately abandoned his plans near Wombourne and set about establishing the community just outside Bewdley.

The project, however, proved unsuccessful and those who took part swiftly moved back to Birmingham.

Tales from the Red Lion

One of the most interesting local pubs is the Red Lion in the centre of Gornal Wood. Originally a ‘home brew’ pub it was acquired in 1935 by Tommy Booth, a one-time miner from Old Hill. Booth started in the licensed trade at the King William Inn in Netherton before acquiring the Blue Pig also in Netherton where, as well as running the pub he established a brewery. In 1935 he bought the Red Lion in Gornal which already had a brewery attached. This was quickly extended in order to provide the capacity to supply all nine of Booth’s pubs and off-licences.In 1939 Booth moved to Pensnett and opened a brand new brewery in Corbyn’s Hall Lane whilst his daughter, Charlotte, took over running the Red Lion. In 1942 the pub was sold to Julia Hanson & Sons.

Before Tommy Booth acquired the pub, however, it had two famous licensees who passed into Gornal folklore..

For 38 years mine host at the Red Lion was Thomas Malpass—known locally as Pokeymon. His general good humour and love of practical jokes made him a legend in and around Gornal. He sold the pub to William Clewes of Quarry Bank’s Home Brewery during the First World War and William Jones became the licensee. Known to one and all as ‘Billy on the Ob’ he became a firm favourite in Gornal.