Copyright © Village Voice Magazines Ltd. 2013-2016     Website by Arcos Design

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.

In 1877 stonemasons in the Wombourne and Wordsley districts gave notice that they intended to strike unless they received an increase in wages from 7¾d to 8d an hour.

For many years there were two stone lions mounted at the entrance of the Dudley-Kingswinford Rugby Club at Heathbrook. They had originally guarded the main entrance of Ellowes Hall in Gornal and were donated by Harry Nock shortly before the old Hall was sold to developers in 1964. The plinth of each lion was inscribed with a verse from the Bible. Sadly they were later both stolen from the rugby club.


A Great Industrialist

Born in 1830 at Moat Colliery  House in Tipton, Alfred Hickman proved to be one of the most successful industrialists ever produced by the Black Country.

Educated at King Edward VI School in Birmingham, Alfred then joined his father’s business before taking over the Grovelands ironworks in Bilston. After his father’s death in 1854 Alfred went into partnership with his brother (also called George) but their business was hit hard in the depression of the ironmaking industry during the 1860s and the partnership was dissolved.

Using his contacts within the industry, however, Alfred acquired the Springvale Ironworks in Bilston and set about developing them using all the latest technology available. In the early 1880s he formed the Staffordshire Steel Ingot  Company which became one of the first  companies in the Midlands to use the Bessemer process to make steel.

Alfred Hickman also became involved in politics and became the MP for Wolverhampton. He was later knighted and became Sir Alfred Hickman.

Later he was to start the Tarmac Company which by the 1980s  employed over 30,000 people and had a £3 billion turnover.

Sir Alfred was also elected the first President of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC after he had provided the club with its first ground.

He died in 1910 and was buried in Penn. So well respected was he that thousands of people lined the route of the funeral cortege from his home—Wightwick Hall– to the church. Shortly after his death his widow donated the land for Hickman Park to the people of Wolverhampton.

Deaths blamed on Earl

In 1855 seven Sedgley men died after a coal mine in Gornal collapsed. A total of 47 dependents were left.

An investigation showed that the disaster was caused by insufficient timber supports being placed along the shafts. The colliers had apparently complained about the situation, only to be told by the Earl of Dudley’s overseer that he had been acting on orders “from higher up” in reducing the number of pit props.

This revelation caused a considerable uproar locally and led to the Earl eventually giving each of the seven widows a guinea (£1.05) in compensation. Whilst this was gratefully accepted by the widows the controversy did not end there. The following Sunday the parson at Himley Church preached a  sermon based on “The Good Samaritan” praising the Earl’s generosity.

This caused much annoyance amongst many of the local colliers who felt that the accident was caused by the demands of the Earl for  greater profitability from the mine. Demands were made for the parson to be dismissed and some local shops even refused to serve him and his family.

Eventually, to diffuse the situation the Earl announced that an independent safety survey of all his mines would be undertaken.