Our Century

Walsall misses out on Cup fever

England Payers celebrate
England Players Bobby Moore, Nobby Stiles and Jimmy Armfield celebrate with England boss Alf Ramsey.

It was to be England's greatest sporting achievment of the century as the host country won the World Cup for the first - and so far only - time in her history.

Excited fans from across the West Midlands and Staffordshire crammed on to special trains, coaches and buses to take them to Wembley for a day they would remember for the rest of their lives.

Football fever, however, failed to grip one area of the region, if the timetables for the day of British Railways were anything to go by.

The nationalised company that then ran the nation's trains announced that only regular local services would operate in Walsall at a time when every train carriage elsewhere was being pressed into service to get fans to the final aginst West Germany.

No explanation was given at the time why there were no specials when Pullmans were laid on for fans travelling from Stafford, Wolverhampton and Birmingham to the capital.

No special coaches were laid on from Walsall either so it was a case of a long drive to London or watch the match on the telly and hear those immortal words: "They think it's all over. It is now."

After the victory the region went mad although the celebrations went out of hand at Lichfield where vandals daubed the city centre statue of its most famous son Dr Johnson.

Widow dies in pleasure boat tragedy: A Stourbridge woman was among the dead when a pleasure boat capsized after hitting a bridge at one of the favourite destinations of West Midlands holidaymakers.

A massive air-sea rescue operation was launched after the craft went down in the Mawddach Estuary between Barmouth and Dollgellau.

Phyllis Dovey, a 55-tear-old widow from Turney Road, Stourbridge, was due to have returned home the day after the tragedy.

She was on a family outing with her stepson, his wife and their two young children as 16 people perished in the disaster when a 40ft naval pinnace the Prince of Wales struck a bridge over the estuary and went down in just three minutes.

MP Short calls for action on drugs: "I have in my hand a piece of paper", Wolverhampton North East MP Renee Short told the Commons in an echo of Neville Chamberlain's return from Munich nearly 30 years before.

Renee ShortBrandishing the piece of silver paper Mrs Short (pictures left) told her astonished fellow MPs it contained a wrap of heroin which she said she had "obtained illicitly" on the streets of Wolverhampton.

"If you have the contacts and know where to go young people can do the same," she said.

She had first had the menace of hard drugs brought to her attention by a series of articles in the Express & Star which "took the lid off the situation in the Midlands where pushers are doing good business", she said..

Demanding that police be given powers to enter and inspect haunts used by teeangers she went on to suggest an even more draconian solution.

"Consideration should be given to banning all nightclubs," she said.

Delivery drivers' strike hits Lucas: More than 10,000 employees of Birmingham-based firm Joseph Lucas - including 800 at the firm's Cannock plant - were laid off for the best part of a week because of a strike by car delivery drivers at the BMC plant.

The firm, which at the time employed 26,000 people across the West Midlands, made electrical components for BMC cars.

It was another knock at a time of strife for West Midlands industry.

It came on the day Minister of Labour Ray Gunter began a series of tough meetings with unions leaders about the jobs crisis in the Midlands motor industry - a crisis which was to rumble on throughout the rest of the decade.

Stumbling into the past . . . It was like stumbling across a land-locked version of the Mary Celeste. Abandoned workshopOne day in the 1960s all work stopped at the former Evans brass foundry in School Street, Wolverhampton. Everything was left as though the workforce had simply got up and walked away. In 1998, Express & Star photographer Mike Hayward stumbled upon the scene and recorded these extraordnary images.

A coat still hung on a peg, boxes of toffee and drinking chocolate had been left beside machines. Apart from the dust, it was a scene unchanged for more than 30 years, and a look back into the industrial days of 100 years ago.

Lung cancer destroys . . .


When once hooked on drugs a person has to have the drug regularly and any effort to stop taking it results in extreme side effects. Exactly the same applies to cigarettes.

If taken for long enough a drug can lead to deterioration of the body. Does not lung cancer destroy it completely?

Much is said about the men who make an easy living from selling these drugs to those who take them. But what of tobacco?

The government makes millions through taxation. The manufacturers and shopkeepers both enjoy the profits. Are their consciences ever disturbed?

I am, by the way, a heavy smoker.

J A Edwards, 27 Castle Drive, Summer Hayes Village, Willenhall

Ian Winship
I'd been nagging my dad since my birthday...