Category Archives: History and Heritage

The War in Ukraine – A Statement from Councillors in Wednesfield North

The Ukrainian issue is dominating our screens, our news, and our conversations at the moment. Like many of us (Your City Councillors) Mary and I with Rita are keeping a close watch on the situation.

This international conflict will of course touch every nation in the West as it continues. We do have Ukrainians of decent here in our City, they have been here for many years, as we will have Russian families as well.

Supporting our own community cohesion here in Wolverhampton will, and is, a must for us here in our City.

The City Council will continue to work with our partners, inside and outside our City boundary along with community leaders, faith groups, and residents with regards to any emerging issues.

In the meantime The City Council is working hard to produce a statement with a response to the conflict on the 2nd of March 2022.

These are gong to be long difficult days for all of us as we watch and witness what is taking place in Europe. We are of course here in Wednesfield North for residents who have a comment to make or whom wishes to pass their views on My email address for these issues is philip.bateman@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Jim Edwards BEM – A Railway Trade Unionist of Repute! 15th September 1929 -29 January 2022

Jim Edwards BEM – A Railway Trade Unionist of Repute!
15th September 1929 -29 January 2022

Brother Jim Edwards funeral arrangements are for Friday 25th February West Chapel Bushbury Crematorium.

Today I am remembering a trade unionist of great repute, a man that was a credit to his working class roots. A trade unionist who was very well know in the rail and ancillary industrial sector. This is a man that has helped countless hundreds if not thousands of rail workers during his 50 plus years in the RMT.
He was also my friend, for my whole working life.
Jim was an intricate man. A family man, in early years he told me he was a footballer. He came from a large family himself. Over all the years I knew him. I joined British Rail in 1965 at the Herbert Street Goods Yard, where he worked. I met him when I was still at school but visiting the Goods Yard, where both my parents worked. I was a little scared of him at that time.


When I joined the Railway in August 1965 as a Number Taker, within hours of starting, Mr Edwards was at the door. He gave me my first lecture then, and he repeated it through all the time I spent in the Rail Industry. He signed me up into the National Union of Railwaymen. Then he badgered me to attend the Union Branch Meetings.


His first lecture to me was all about the job that I had took on. He said “If you look after the job, The job will look after you!” I have never forgotten those words. I didn’t quite understand the meaning then, but I understand what he meant now! In fact I have used Jim’s words countless time myself.


As we entered into February, I found out that Jim had passed away on the 29th January 2022. Jim was 92 years of age. Jim’s daughter Glenis informed me.
During this time of finding out about Jim’s passing. I have been thinking a lot about Jim, and the huge impact he had on me.


Jim Edwards was not a man of huge physical stature, he told me on more than one occasion that he was a nimble footballer! but he was a man of huge stature when working for his mates, and for the trade unionists of the National Union of Railwaymen. (Later the Union changed its name and became the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union.)


Jim was the man ‘to go to’ if you needed help at work. He was on the Local Departmental Committee, he was on Sectional Council, the National Carriers Regional Council, he was known by trade unionist through out the Railway industry.


His reputation on representing men meant he was known also by more than a few Railway ‘gaffers!’


Yes, Jim was the man to have at your side through the trials and tribulations of working on the Railways! He loved his industry, and he took his duty as a trade union official so very seriously. A regular at the Unions Goods and Cartage conference, he was never slow to give his opinion. Represent the policy of the Union, and organising to gain support. Jim was a great organiser. Be it for fund raising for individuals, or for his requirement as a Union Official.


Jim was also a family man. Gladys, Jim’s wife and his two girls Glenis and Julie, must have been more than a little aggravated over the years, as often, just as they were sitting down with their dad for tea, or supper. An NUR person seeking help would be knocking the front door. Interrupting his family time.


Jim gave an enormous amount of his personal time to his duties as a trade unionist, LDC member, Branch Secretary etc. Jim was fearless when tackling the bosses. If right was on your side. But he was also very indignant and bruising if you hadn’t, shall we say, told the actual!


Anyone in difficulty phoned him or made their way to Jim’s home.
So, much so he converted his coal shed into an office! It gave the rest of the family a little more family time when work mates turned up wanting help!
I spent many a winters night in that shed come office! His passion for the trade unionist always came through.


If you had made an indiscretion at work, or you had a grievance with the company. You wanted Jim on your side. He knew all about the Rail and National Carriers agreements, the protocols, and the Rule Book. He was phenomenal when it came to rules and regulations. His interest didn’t stop with the trade union. He was also a very committed Labour Party member.


Jim was an active member of the Oxley Labour Party. Playing more than a passing role in that organisation as well.


I am pleased to say that I witnessed him getting a much-deserved British Empire Medal for the work and time he gave to the trade union and his members. His family were very much proud of their Jim. as we all were, having been recognised by the Sovereign in this way.
My thoughts and that of my wife Mary is that we wish our dear friend and his loving family the deepest of sympathy and condolences.
Jim, you gave the greatest gift any of us can give, for the trade union, your friends and your comrades in the Labour Party.

That gift was the incredibly short personal time we have in this World.
Brother Edwards you have made more than a little contribution in this turbulent World we all live in.


You have spread the word that ‘Unity is Strength’. You have raised a fine family with your wife and best friend Gladys. Now is the time for you to take much needed ‘me time’.


Your name and deeds along with your friendship will always be remembered amongst those you leave behind . Rest in Peace


Brother Jim Edwards funeral arrangements are Friday 25th February West Chapel Bushbury Crematorium

“My Tribute to my friend Ken Spence”

Yesterday the 24th January 2022, we all gathered at Bushbury Crematorium with Ken’s wife Jean and their girls ,Gayle and Lynne and not forgetting Jayne, who the family lost just a few years ago. Plus all their large family and friends. There was one thing uppermost in our minds. That was to celebrate Ken’s very full life. Then to give Ken a ‘good send off’. We certainly did that! It was a sad but insightful occasion.
I had agreed to a request by the family, to play a small part in building the picture, of our great friend and sports mate. This was my tribute to my good friend whom we will all miss.

The Tribute
“This is a sad occasion but it shouldn’t be!
Ken was a funster, a great man, who liked to laugh!
Those of us who knew Ken will have known him in many guises. I got to know Ken from the 60’s, when I first signed for the Royal London Football team he was running. I soon became a fixture at Ken & Jeans home- Sometimes an unwanted guest. Always turning up when they least wanted me there…and troublesome at times…But that is another story.

My part of this celebration is a kind of a role in prodding you about Kens lifetime love of football.
If it wasn’t for football maybe our paths would never have crossed. Just maybe Jean and the Girls would have had a quieter life. But life didn’t work in that way. Ken was like so many of us, football gets a grip. Then after that it takes over your life.

Ken became these teenage boys Guardian, Custodian, Manager and a lot more.
We were the extra responsibility, that attached ourselves to Ken and Jeans loving family. Because Ken did everything for all of us as a bunch of young lads. We all played for Ken first of all at The Royal London FC.
latterly Springfield WMC Some of us played with Ken before we made our debut in the Wolverhampton Sunday league
It was Ken that applied to get Royal London a place in the Wolverhampton Sunday League. Ken got approvals from all of us to apply to join the Wolverhampton Sunday League after a few games together. But we didn’t quite make it. However the Sunday League offered us a place in a newly formed ‘Friendly League’.

We took it!
(The Royal London FC our team were invited into the Wolverhampton Sunday Leagues new division 7 .
Those early days as Royal London were great days for us as youngsters many of the players came from Ashmore Park. Players like Robert Bradley, Dave Wiley, Steve Skitt, another like Peter Blanton, Maurice Mincher, Ronnie Dunn and Alan Dunn were from the Orchard Road and Wednesfield area as were Stuart Richmond, Frank Hill, Brian Hill and even young Robert Hill, Bernard Lane ‘Bash’Bowen, all who played for us. Ken was proud of his young team. They could play a bit (Well some of them could)
Ken always told the tale about Peter Blanton who got a trial with the Wolves when he was playing for us. Ken was proud of that. But he was also chuffed that when waiting in the dressing room at Molineux. In came Jimmy Armfield then Manager at Leeds, but he was THE England Captain and Full back for many years. Ken was forever telling me that he was a gentleman, a really nice person.

He was delighted that Peter was also there with him. He went on about that for years! Ken met them all, he was a big Wolves man. He met many of his heroes, Stan Cullis at a Sunday League dinner, Sammy Chung, Jack Taylor the World Cup referee was a long-time pal. Danny Hegan was also a big buddy, and at the time quite a football star. (see me later about Danny Hegan stories.)

Ken even managed to get Jimmy Mullen one of his heroes to referee a Charity Game. At half time Jimmy Gave up refereeing and played!

That Royal London Football Club morphed into Springfield WMC Football Club as Ken and Jean took up the Stewardship of the Club. Ken told me that he hated having to persuade us all to give the Royal London FC name up.

There were some good footballers that played for Ken. Yes, they came to play for Ken as much as to play for the team.
Ken was very much a ‘man’s man’. He loved a joke, he played terrible practical jokes on people. He was a good organiser, a very brave (Nuts) Goalkeeper, when we were forced to have to look for a player, through injury holidays etc. He was a former Soldier, and he often told me about the scrapes he got into in the Army!

Ken was always quick to make friends and he had such a wide range of people he had become friends with.
I first met Ken in Ashmore Park. I lived in Millbank Street, Ken and Jean lived on Kitchen Lane with their three young girls, Gayle Jayne and Lynne. I think that I was introduced to Ken in those days by Steven Skitt and who was already playing for the newly formed Royal London team.

In those days Ken worked for Taylors of Stoke on Trent, a kind of travelling salesman, before that I think he was a Milkman, then he became a Postman, he run the Stars Newsagents on Ashmore Park for a short time. He was one of the original guys who worked for Wolverhampton Wanderers supporting the Club with sales of the clubs’ various commercial deals with the supporters. I used to take the mickey out of him in that Gold and Black van he used to drive about in. You could see it everywhere!

Ken and Jean became very well known as the Stewards of a number of Social and Working Men’s Clubs here in the city. Ken and Jean ran the Jones Road WMC, Springfield WMC, Chillington WMC and the Heath Town WMC.
When we applied to join the Wolverhampton Sunday league – No one would have thought that a few short years later Ken would be elected as the Secretary of one of the biggest Leagues in the Midlands .

Others in Amateur Football also recognised Kens abilities, his love of football, and the talents he possessed in organisation. He became the Secretary of the Wolverhampton Sunday League. He was a good organiser and most people liked his character, and his ‘hail fellow well met, attitude to life’.

I have a very clear image in my mind of a great bloke, who loved his family, and who loved life, as long as there was an element of football in it! Wolverhampton and Wednesfield will miss this man, as will the football family who knew him, met him, and became lifetime friends with him.

Dearest Ken. You made a massive contribution in keeping young people out of trouble, you and Jean and the girls gave the biggest and most massive gift anyone can make to another. That is the gift of your own personal time. All of us here are here to honour you and your life.

Rest in Peace Ken”


Death of Honorary Alderman John Davis,a Former Mayor of Wolverhampton.

(The Picture shows Cllr Phil Bateman congratulating Cllr John Davis on the day of his Inauguration in May 2006, as Cllr Phil Bateman stepped down from the role.)


I read with sadness a report on the death of Honorary Alderman John Davis, a former Mayor and long-serving councillor.

He passed away in hospital on 29 December. His family are planning a small Covid-safe funeral with family flowers only, but are hoping to organise a memorial service later in the year at St. Michael and All Angels Church, Tettenhall.

I have known John a Conservative Councillor, for a very long time. John and his wife Noreen were our Deputies when Mary and I performed the role of Mayoress and Mayor back in 2005 and 2006, here in the City of Wolverhampton.

We both want to offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to Noreen and their family, and friends and colleagues.

We might have been on the on political opposite sides, but both of us found John to be a man who loved the City of Wolverhampton, and when he became Mayor did a really fine job of representing the City. He was also a fine Cartoonist, and I am pleased to say he was very amusing with those cartoons. Rest in Peace John.

Sad News As Ken Spence My Friend Passes Away.

(Picture- Ken with Frank Hill former captain of his Football team)

Sad news for all my former colleagues and all our friends over the decades who knew Ken Spence. Over the New Year Ken passed away, after a long illness.


Those of us who knew Ken will have known him in many guises. I got to know Ken from the 60’s, when I first signed for the Football team he was running (The Royal London FC) and we went into the 7th Division of the Wolverhampton Sunday League. That Club morphed into Springfield Football Club as Ken and Jean took up the Stewardship of the Club. There were some good footballers that played for Ken.

Ken was very much a man’s man. He loved a joke, he played terrible practical jokes on people. He was a good organiser, a very brave (Nuts) Goalkeeper! He was always quick to make friends and he had such a wide range of people he had become friends with.

I first met Ken in Ashmore Park. I lived in Millbank Street, Ken and Jean lived on Kitchen Lane with their three young girls, Gayle Jayne and Lynne. I think that I was introduced to Ken in those days by Steven Skitt who lived in Thornley Road and who was already playing for the newly formed Royal London team.

In those days Ken worked for Taylors of Stoke on Trent, a kind of travelling salesman, before that I think he was a Milkman, then he became a Postman, he run the Stars Newsagents on Ashmore Park for a short time. He was one of the original guys who worked for Wolverhampton Wanderers supporting the Club with sales of the clubs’ various commercial deals with the supporters. I used to take the mickey out of him in that Gold and Black van he used to drive about in. You could see it everywhere!

But Ken and Jean became very well known as the Stewards of a number of Social and Working Men’s Clubs here in the city. Ken and Jean ran the Jones Road WMC, Springfield WMC, Chillington WMC and the Heath Town WMC. He also was the Secretary of the Wolverhampton Sunday League.

He was a good organiser and most people liked his character, and his ‘hail fellow well met, attitude to life’.

I have a very clear image in my mind as I type out this communication, of a great bloke, who loved his family, and who loved life, as long as there was an element of football in it! Wolverhampton and Wednesfield will miss this man, as will the football family who knew him, met him, came across him. This is not an obituary. It is just a communication to inform you of this really fantastic bloke passing.

Both Mary and I want to offer our sympathy and condolences to Ken’s wife Jean, Daughters Gayle and Lynne. Sadly, Ken and Jean lost their other daughter Jayne in 2018. I am sure that Jayne would have met him as he ‘crossed over’ on January 1st 2022.

I will be writing a much more fulsome tribute later.

Ken’s funeral is Monday 24th January Bushbury Crematorium West Chapel. 3pm

Paying Farewell Respect to Roger Horton Freeman of the Borough of Sandwell

Today three former West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority Chairs with former PTA member Judith Rowley, attended the funeral of former colleague and Sandwell Councillor Roger Hortons funeral at Sandwell Crematorium.

Pictured here together is Cllr John McNicolas, Cllr Richard Worrall, and Cllr Phil Bateman, all former PTA chairs, with former PTA member Judith Rowley. With Linda Horton – Rogers wife, and Mayoress during Rogers time as Mayor of the Borough. whom we were paying our respects too.

We were all moved by the ceremony which was well attended. Roger besides making a huge contribution to West Midlands Transport over three decades and more. Was a former Cllr in Smethwick, Former Mayor of Sandwell, as well as being a Freeman of the Borough.

Roger was a fantastic colleague who was close to his roots. We were pleased to be able to attend. We spoke with Rogers wife Linda, who was a powerful local politician in her own rite and was also Mayor of the Borough, and their family.

I made a small tribute to Roger during the service, and I had the legions of people that knew and worked with Roger at the PTA, Centro and the West Midlands Integrated Aurthority, and others working in public transport, in my head as I spoke.

I know they like me would recognise, that he had made his contribution to public transport and to his Community in Smethwick and Sandwell. Rest in Peace Roger. We will always speak with warmth and feeling about you, a very dedicated local politician always close to the community he served.

7,000 Tests Taken for Covid-19 – The Hub at Ashmore Park

Councillor Phil Bateman said today, “what an amazing contribution our Hub has made in trying to keep people safe from Covid-19. Read about the contribution it has made to Wolverhampton’s fight against the Virus.”

Since opening in January, more than 7,000 tests have been completed at The Hub at Ashmore Park, while over 4,000 test kits have also been given out for residents to use at home.

The site will close on Friday (12 November), enabling the hub to reopen for regular community activities early in the new year.

Free rapid testing, for people without symptoms of Covid-19, remains available at the Civic Centre (Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm), the Jamia Masjid Bilal, Newhampton Road (10am-7pm, daily), New Cross Hospital (by the Eye Infirmary, Monday to Friday, 8am-4pm) – which is the nearest site to Ashmore Park – and at participating pharmacies across the city.

Alternatively, people can collect free rapid Covid-19 home test kits from the Civic Centre, the test centre at New Cross Hospital, Bilston and Wolverhampton markets and WV Active leisure centres, or from selected local pharmacies. Please note, anyone collecting test kits from a pharmacy must register for a collection code in advance, either online at www.gov.uk/get-collect-code or by calling 119.

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “One in three people with Covid-19 do not have any symptoms but could be infectious and so rapid testing continues to be a vital weapon in our fight against Covid-19.

“The Hub at Ashmore Park has played an important part in this, delivering over 7,000 tests on site and handing out thousands more home test kits over the last 10 months.

“The test centre will close at the end of this week to enable The Hub at Ashmore Park to reopen as a community centre and library in due course, and I would like to thank everyone who has helped out over the past 10 months.

“Rapid testing will still be widely available across the city; you can get a free test at one of our other test centres or at participating pharmacies, or by using test kits in the comfort of home.

“Getting tested twice a week, and particularly before you meet up with people you don’t live with, will help stop the spread of Covid-19 and keep this deadly virus under control, so please make rapid testing part of your regular routine.”

James Clarke, Chairperson at Ashmore Park Community Association, said: “We’d like to give our thanks to everyone who has been involved in running the testing from our building. This service has provided a real benefit to the local community during the pandemic and we are proud to have played a part.

“We now look to the future and hope to begin reopening this much-loved community facility to regular activities in the new year. Please see our website, https://the-hub.info/, and social media profiles for updates.”

For details of rapid testing, for people without symptoms of Covid-19, please visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/get-tested.

People with symptoms of Covid-19 are reminded they must self-isolate and book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.

Latest figures show there were 264.4 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the last seven days. That means 695 people tested positive for the virus in that same period – though the true number of cases will likely be higher.

ENDS

Gillian Walton -3rd June 1954 – 31st August 2021

Yesterday , Mary and I attended the Bushbury Crematorium for the Humanist funeral ceremony, of former Wednesfield North Councillor Gill Walton.

The rain eased in the morning and then stopped for the ceremony, It was a humanist ceremony and there was a very big turn out.

Your Councillors – Mary, Rita and I attended the ceremony to pass on our respects.

The tribute to Gill was read by friend and work colleague Julia Buckley, and a moving poem ‘Farewell My Friends’ was read by Madeleine Freewood, again a friend who worked with Gill.

Those that knew Gill well were reminded of her character, her wittiness, her loves in life, and her hates! Margaret Thatcher amongst them!

Gill was a very good Councillor for Wednesfield North, she was doughty fighter for our residents. We were very proud of what Gill did in life, and we were very ,very proud of her, as we were reminded of all her life time achievements during the service.

You will never be forgotten, for the great work you did here. The huge contribution you made to Wolverhampton society, during your time on this earth was a feature .

Your family John and daughter Alice, and your close relatives and friends admired and loved you, and they will never forget you. Our fondness and respect for you as a political colleague in the Wednesfield North Labour Party, remains undimmed.

You certainly made our World better in life, and in death we will remember you as a proud Mum, a person with a great sense of humour, fine local Councillor and a person who cared.

Rest in Peace My Friend.

Sad News – As Actor John Challis Family Announces his Death.

The news that John Challis, better known as ‘Boycie’ from the hit comedy show, ‘Only Fools and Horses’, has past away on Sunday 20,September 2021, brought back happy memories for Mary and I when we met him back in November 2005.

John Challis, who had his own spin-off television series, ‘The Green Green Grass’ was joined by Polly Parsons, from TV’s Fun Song Factory, during publicity that Mary and I were involved with at the time when we were the Mayor and Mayoress of the City.


The pair were  both appearing in the pantomime Aladdin, at the Grand Theatre. They had been tempted out to switch the City’s Christmas lights on with us.

During our time with them, we found John Challis to be amusing and charming. He told us he loved appearing in Wolverhampton and he ranked the Grand Theatre as a ‘favourite’. The big crowd loved him!

So, it was sad to hear the news on Sunday that he had passed away. He leaves behind some great memories for us.

We wish his family and friends our deepest sympathy and condolences.

Mary and I are grateful to have met him, and chatted with him in those relaxed times. Rest in Peace one of the UK’s most loved person, both he and his character will live on in Wulfrunian’s minds for a very long time…..