front - children in Dudley are a picture of attention as they
watch a matinee performance of the 1951 Dudley pageant.
In the year when the notorious Soviet spies Burgess and
Maclean fled to Russia a row over snooping closer to home hit business
and industry across the West Midlands.
An unofficial strike by long-distance lorry drivers based at British
Road Services depots in the regions rumbled on over the summer months.
It was not so much a row about spies in the cab - that was to
come much later with invention of the tachograph - as about spies
outside the cab keeping an eye on what the drivers were doing.
BRS, the recently nationalised company which brought previously
privatised road haulage firms under one umbrella, had announced
it was to bring in a system of what it called "road patrols"
These were immediately condemned as policemen with a licence to
snoop on their colleagues.
The drivers argued that they were trusted by their private enterprise
employers before and could not understand why they were not trusted
More than 200 drivers at the Jenner Street, Wolverhampton, depot
immediately downed tools, appointed a strike committee and formed
a picket line.
In Birmingham there was also 100 per cent for the unofficial strike
but at depots in Dudley and Walsall some employees continued to
The strike fizzled out in the early days of June almost as suddenly
as it had started and normal service was quickly resumed.
Roads were not known for overcrowding in those days but there
had been an almost eerie quiet on some of the main routes across
the West Midlands during the course of the dispute.
was coming to an end, but industry needed more coa and householders
were asked to be frugal with fuel, as this cartoon illustrates.
Salvationists' citadel burns: Salvationists in Cannock wept
and prayed as firemen from the town fought in vain to save their Walhouse
Road citadel from burning down.
Only a few months earlier the then huge sum of 400 had been spent
on renovations to the citadel which had been built 63 years earlier
and was later rebuilt on the same site.
Fire broke out in the stockhole and rapidly spread to the main
hall - which proved to be beyond salvation.
All that remained was a tottering side wall but the following
day Sunday school services were held as normal amid the rubble.
No to new dentures: It was a year when people were beginning
to learn that the new National Health Service's promise of free care
from cradle to grave did not cover everything.
On February 9, 1951 the Express & Star reported a case considered
by Shropshire Dental Benefit Committee.
A woman explained how she had lost her bottom set of dentures:
"I took them out and cannot remember anything about them.
"The only explanation I can give is I think the little dog had
picked them up and took them out."
After due deliberation, the committee voted not to grant a free
People urged to economise: Like the rest of Great Britain the
West Midlands, then a key coal producing area, was in the grip of
a fuel crisis made worse by the fact it was bitterly cold early in
A fall in coal output had coincided with a big rise in the demands
of industry for more fuel.
Official rationing may have been coming to an end as the war receded
into the memory but in this area householders were urged to use
less and the region's miners asked to produce more.
20-year wait for ring road: Plans for Wolverhampton's ring
road - to cost 2 million at 1951 prices - came before a special meeting
of the old town council.
Councillors were told that the proposed 90ft wide twin-track road
would not be completed for at least 20 years.
There would be nine new roundabouts, considerable demolition of
properties that stood in the way and an increased rate burden of
between 1s 6d and 2s although this would be eased by government
Fashion fortified the over 40s in the early years of the 50s when
it was customary for the list of top 10 best dressed women to be
top heavy with those who had passed a certain age. This was no coincidence
as these women had developed the grace and poise craved for but
not achieved by their younger counterparts, according to the Express
& Star's fashion guru of the time.