Our Century

Father's rescue effort in vain

Two young children were "roasted alive" in June when fire engulfed their Dudley home. They died despite frantic efforts by their father to rescue the trapped youngsters by climbing a ladder to their bedroom window.

The father, Arthur Shakespeare, was beaten back by intense heat and flames licking the ladder on which he was standing.

During an inquest into the tragedy, the Dudley coroner, Mr R Marshall, said: "They must have been roasted alive, poor things."

The inquest was told that the children, aged five and 23-months, were bathed and put to bed by their mother. She went to a house next door, where the children's grandmother lived, but the house was locked and she then heard someone shout that her house was on fire. She had left her husband, who had been out earlier for a drink, dozing on the sofa.

The woman said there was a lighted paraffin lamp on the table when she left home. She had filled it hours before the tragedy.

The father said he had been asleep on the sofa and woke to see a sack burning near the fireplace. He jumped up and threw the sack up the chimney. He said the glass in the paraffin lamp, standing on a table, burst with the heat and fell to the floor in flames.

Mr Shakespeare said he tried to rescue his children but could not get near them. A police witness said the kitchen of the house was in flames which were running from the door and up the side of the house.

He said the father did his best to rescue the children but was forced down the ladder.

The inquest heard that firemen found the children lying on the floor. In the coroner's opinion the fire was caused by the lamp being knocked over.

He added that he could not put the blame on anyone and said the children's deaths were accidental.

County memorial unveiled in Stafford:
Stafford memorial The Staffordshire county war memorial was officially unveiled in May at Victoria Park, Stafford, by the Earl of Dartmouth, Lord Lieutenant of the County. The memorial took the form of bronze figures representing peace and war, supported on a stone pedestal about 25ft high.

The base of the memorial was enclosed by a low wall and set at the top of the pedestal was the Staffordshire Knot.

Too much 'mush' in the air: The Birmingham Broadcasting Station reported in March that a number of complaints had been received about "heavy jamming by spark stations" over the airwaves.

It was reported that listeners in general had to agree that wireless interference by "mush" was "far beyond a joke."

Listeners who complained were told that the Broadcasting Company could take no steps unless the call sign of the jamming station was determined. It was pointed bout that 99 per cent of listeners had little or no knowledge of the Morse Code.

It was therefore evident that they were not in a position to read the call signs of a station which was jamming a broadcasting wavelength. The Midland Counties Express urged readers to do all in their power to detect interfering stations and report them to the Broadcasting Company.

Teenager joins in the big day: In April, Wolverhampton teenager, Evan Oliver Dutton, was invited to the Duke of York's forthcoming wedding as a representative of the varnish trade of the country.

Duke and Duchess of York
The Duke and Duchess of York on the balcony at Buckingham Palace following their wedding in April.

The 17-year-old worked in the filling department of Mander Brothers in the town and was an ex-pupil of Red Cross Street School.

Dutton, who also played football for his firm's welfare club, was to stay in London with other boys representing various industries on the big royal day.

The local boy was also to be entertained by Lord Ivercairn, chairman of the Industrial Welfare Society, of which the Duke was president.

It was because of the Duke's interest in the society that the boys were invited to his wedding.

Grace the mode for this year: Dress fashions in the West Midlands were becoming more and more graceful with a greater use of drapery, now in the forefront as material for mantles as well as frocks.

But the Wolverhampton Midland Counties Express stressed in January that, to be successful, drapery must be associated with supple materials such as fine cloth or velveteen. Rough cloth and curl cloth could also be used as a match.

Regarded as an essential for the well dressed woman's wardrobe was a wrap that adapted itself equally to day or evening wear.

The mantle pictured was described as gracefully draped and possessing all the newest features - a must for the woman on the look-out for an unusual, but practical, design for her adaptable wrap.

Camp for the kids: A Wolverhampton holiday camp for "necessitous" children was officially launched in June with Councillor A N Tomlins speaking at the opening ceremony.

The camp, near Kingswood Common on the Holyhead Road, was set up to bring a little brightness and joy into the lives of boys and girls by taking them from the "mean streets and congested homes to the pure and bracing air of the open country."

Andrew Faulds
People thought I was a leftie, but I wasn't. I just espoused unpopular causes.