Industrial Biography – The Black Country Chapters – Samuel Smiles
Samuel Smiles’ Industrial Biography - Iron Workers and Tool Makers was first published in 1863. In this volume are the chapters on the lives of Dud Dudley and Andrew Yarranton which will be of particular interest to anyone with an interest in Black Country history. That Dud Dudley claimed to have invented the means of smelting iron from sea coal is fairly widely known. Details of his life are more obscure. His capture by parliamentarians during the civil war, and his daring escape on the eve of his scheduled execution are described here. Andrew Yarranton was an iron founder who set up a furnace using Forest of Dean ironstone at Worcester, a project only possible because of the river Severn, but he is best remembered as a navigation engineer. He saw the potential in making the Stour navigable down to the Severn to in effect open up the Black Country. His project ultimately failed and it was a hundred years before the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal made a water connection to the region a reality. Andrew Yaranton’s life and visionary endeavours are described in detail.
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Memories and Thoughts – Tossie Patrick
"There comes a thrush around each day To sing to us his merry lay" From The Thrush Several of her poems have been published previously in The Black Country Bugle but here, for the first time in one collection, are all the poems of TOSSIE PATRICK which cover such diverse subjects as the seasons, nature, and writing as well as describing her family and the Black Country. Includes; "An Ode to Shenstone Woods", "Flowers in Season", "Mill House", "Black Country Nostalga", "When Pat Collins Fun Fair Came To Blackheath."
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Marooned – Louise Mary Stokes
"The way she looked, the way she spoke to me. Those things she said, the threats, the put-downs, the vicious, snide tone of her voice, grinding me down, day after day, after day, until I became a shadow, a hollwed out shell, unable to think or function..." From In The Cold Light Of Day MAROONED is as author LOUISE MARY STOKES describes it, “a journey through bullying using poetry as the guide.” Just one look at Louise’s CV tells a story of a formidable woman, who has achieved intellectually and professionally, and more recently as a writer and performer. How can a woman like that be bullied? Well, bullies are everywhere and the bullies described in Marooned operated in the NHS, beloved by the British public. The NHS came into being in the context that health care being the sole preserve of the wealthy could not continue. But the NHS is changing. There was a sketch in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life in 1983 in which the patient was an afterthought. It was satire, and not meant to be the blueprint for future health care. In these days of targets one begins to wonder. To this we can add the welter of paper protocols in the name of Quality Assurance that in fact assure that quality doesn’t enter into it as the context of service to patients is stripped from the equation. It takes a certain type of person to manage this. Today’s NHS is constipated with functionaries, the frankly not very good who can’t or don’t do context, only paper protocol. In this environment another type of person flourishes alongside the functionary, a type of person whose skills are valued when hitting targets is the prime aim… the psychopath. Not the knife wielding maniacs depicted by Hitchcock and Hopkins but the bog standard person without a conscience who operates by distorting reality, draining their victims of their humanity like vampires. Another of their skills is superficial charm, wolves in sheep’s clothing who take people in and avoid detection. That is how even formidable people can be bullied. MAROONED charts a course through that process. It isn’t about the bullies as such. While it is important that the existence of bullies in our public services is broadcast, MAROONED is above all the compelling story of one woman’s survival. American psychologist Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door has written, “living well is the best form of revenge.” Bullies do not like people who are truly alive and beyond their power. In writing MAROONED, Louise Stokes has shown them that she is now living well.
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Rescued – Louise Mary Stokes
Louise Mary Stokes’ emerging profile as an author, poet, performer and comedienne was preceded by a flourishing career as a mental health professional in the NHS... Until she fell foul of bullies. She wrote of her experiences at their hands in MAROONED. Louise described MAROONED as “a one-off, a desire to share an experience of pain and hope, to help those immersed in similar experiences know that they are not alone, and to help those who are not to understand.” But, Louise recognizes, “one must confront not only the bad bits in others, but also the resultant unsavoury parts of oneself. Aspects that one never knew about or wanted to exist, brought from one’s core to the surface by trauma and crisis created by other human beings.” RESCUED describes this road to true healing and show that:- BULLYING IS A CRIME TO SURVIVE IT IS AN ART
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Echoes of Foiano Di Valfortore – Billy Spakemon and Angelo Guidotti
1955: Foiano Di Valfortore, a backwater in the Italian province of Benevento, where men toil in fields on picturesque hillsides to eek out a living. Oldbury, in the heart of the Black Country, where men toiled night and day in smoky factories to maintain the post war boom. Echoes of Foiano Di Valfortore tells of Guido Guidotti’s journey from the rolling hills of his forefathers to the rolling mills of the Black Country, a region which at first seem satanic, but will ultimately become a new home and provide a new life for his family. The Black Country, formed and forged over two centuries by the determination of families from th’off to come in and work in the industries.. Top Black Country poet Billy Spakemon joins Guido’s son, Angelo Guidotti to tell a tale of Black Country Italians, proud of their new land but for whom, there will always be Echoes of Foiano Di Valfortore
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Five Minutes Love – Carol Hathorne
The first part of nationally acclaimed author Carol Hathorne’s autobiography, Slurry & Strawberries was published by the Black Country Society in 2002 and covered the early years of her Tipton childhood. Carol went on to write a further two parts, Bread Pudding Days, and A Woodbine on the Wall covering her teenage years. In 2006, The Kates Hill Press brought out Five Minutes Love, bringing together in one volume all three parts of this incredible story. Now available in paperback, Five Minutes comprises:- Slurry & Strawberries tells of life on Tipton’s Lost City Estate. The early and junior school years of a working class up bringing depicting the warmth of family life set against a backdrop of social deprivation. Bread Pudding Days moves the story on to senior school, travelling to Wednesbury, broadening horizons, new friends and old truths. A Woodbine on the Wall covers the rite of passage era in which a young woman and a writer emerges. At turns moving, endearing and funny, Five Minutes Love is a must for anyone interested in the social history of the Black Country.
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Tales With a Twist – Tossie Patrick
"The inside of the Manor had been kept in the old style but with all modern conveniences hidden by the decor..." From The Halloween Weekend Seven stories from the pen of Tossie Patrick. On the surface, they are everyday tales. But things are not always as they appear as Tossie explores the supernatural. Includes The Halloween Weekend, The Cabinet, The Inheritance, Roundabouts and Swings, The Portrait, Happy Memories and The Wedding Dress.
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A Bundle of Rags – Len Webster
A BUNDLE OF RAGS   Ten-year-old, Jimmy Willson claims to be the youngest rag and bone merchant in town. And when a rug with a strange design is given to him by a lonely old lady he recognises it as a very valuable piece of work.   Finding out just how valuable is only one of Jimmy’s many problems during a hectic fortnight in which he learns more about other people and about himself.   For this is the fortnight when Jimmy Willson really grows up...   Set near Birmingham in the Black Country of the late-1950s, A Bundle of Rags is a moving story of how a young boy comes to terms with his world.   Written in the tradition of working class writers such as Stan Barstow, John Braine, Barry Hines and Alan Sillitoe.
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