Our Century

A little respect, please!

Engines at Oxley
Engines wait in the loco sheds at Oxley, near Wolverhampton, in 1935

The Mayor of Wednesfield was busy rattling his chain of office in May after claiming people were not treating him and his wife with the respect due to the leading town citizen. "I do not hesitate to say that even public servants, like the police, have not treated me fairly," Alderman J Marks, JP, told a local bible meeting, which apparently was treating him fairly. He said at the meeting that if everyone treated him as well as they had, he would never complain.

The leading citizen told the Express & Star that he had had two communications from the police and neither addressed him as "His Worship, The Mayor." He went on: "I made a statement some time ago complaining of the way I have been treated and the unfair treatment has continued." He resented that the unfair treatment had continued.

The Mayor added: "I am going to be mayor or nothing at all. I expect to be treated with respect."

Teeming IngotsMetal bashing the creator & destroyer of men: The 1930s was an age when the Black Country was a byword for heavy industry. By night, the skies roared fiery red with the glow of furnaces and foundries.

Local creameries could be hit': A new scheme in April designed to eliminate "wasteful competition" in dairy produce would hit Shropshire and and Staffordshire to the tune of 1,750,000 gallons of milk a month with numerous creameries in the area also being affected, it was claimed.

The scheme, drawn up by the National Association of Creamery Proprietors, would also apply to cheese butter, condensed milk, dried milk and cream.

Factories throughout Britain and Northern Ireland were to be brought into the plan aimed at halting competition between manufacturers in different parts of the country. It also aimed at killing intense competition from dairy produce. It was revealed that there were 521 licensed factories and creameries in England and Wales alone - with Shropshire claiming a large number.

An authority spokesman told the Express & Star that the elimination of wasteful competition was behind the plan.

He added that indications showed that home production of dairy products in 1935 would absorb about 400,000,000 gallons of milk. He said that in Shropshire and Staffordshire the quantity used so far was was double the amount for the corresponding period last year. Imports, however, showed no indication of decline.


In the FA Cup Final at Wembley in April, West Brom-wich Albion were beaten 4-2 by Sheffield Wednesday.


A "land scarcity" in Dudley prompted a local councillor to claim that if the town did not get more land for building, "we are going to die of decay."

Metal bashing the creator and destroyer of men

It was a poisoned chalice. The metal-bashing business brought wealth to the region but, all too often, an early grave to the men of the Midlands who worked there.

The work was hard, hot and dirty and yet, when it was swept away in the Thatcher years, folk felt a curious fondness for the vast, polluting smokestacks of yore.

Bilston poet Reg Summerfield summed up his feelings in verse:


The furnace red glow lighting evening skies,
Bringing warmth and comfort to our aching eyes.
Sunset hidden by clouds of black,
Smoke belching from train and chimney stack.
Foundries and furnaces creating iron and steel,
Producing nuts and bolts, every kind of wheel.
Car parts, buckets, chains and spaces.
Forging prosperity from the heat of Hades.
Honest toil bringing forth sweat and tears,
Workers earning wages for many long years,
Factories and workshops processing orders,
Some for export beyond Britain's borders.
No factories now, no industrial scene,
Just "urban villages" with lawns of green.
No black smoke, no red sky at night.
No more industry, no Black Country might.
Progress it's called! What a sickly joke!
Bring back honest toil, we'll stand the smoke!

Derek Barlow
...midst all this carnage the navigator was found alive in the middle of the wreckage...