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Our Trial Trailer Ride around Sandwell Valley is a great success

On Tuesday 10 September we welcomed 22 people to take a ride around Sandwell Valley in Sandwell Park Farm's Passenger Trailer. This was a trial ride to find out if people who couldn't normally access Sandwell Valley would enjoy seeing the wonderful countryside we are so lucky to have in West Bromwich. You will see from the photographs below that everyone had a great afternoon out. Two of Park Farm's Farmers,Wayne and Rob, met us in Dartmouth Park's Car Park and we started the ride with Rob giving us a little history about the Park. Then it was onto the Valley with Wayne driving the tractor that pulled the trailer. Rob gave us a very interesting commentary as we passed through the countryside. When we reached one of the fields where cattle were grazing Rob explained that the Farm was involved in saving rare breeds, and the cattle, sheep, goats and pigs in the Valley were all rare breeds.

We were shown where Jubilee Pit was located, and told about the railway line that once took the coal in trucks to the canal in Smethwick where it went down shoots into the waiting barges. The pit's baths building still exists and is used by the Boating Club that uses Swan Pool.The ride took us past the Priory Ruins and the site of Sandwell Hall, where the well that gave Sandwell its name has recently been restored. Then on through Priory Woods to Sandwell Park Farm Tea Rooms where afternoon tea was served.

Everyone said they had very much enjoyed their afternoon out in the countryside and a big thank you to Rob and Wayne
for looking after us so well.

See photographs below:

The Priory Ruins
Two residents of Bridgewood Mews, Tipton, with their carers


The Challenge team tackle a big job of clearing a bed in the Park
The Challenge team who had been on hand at our Summer Fair and produced a questionnaire to find out visitors views on the Park, which was a very useful exercise to assist in future planning, where back in the Park on the 27 August. Their task was to clear a bed close to the main gates. It was a very hot day, but the students got cracking following instructions from Craig, a member of staff. They did a great job and the Friends of Dartmouth Park are very grateful to them. A big thank you to these 16 year old students from Sandwell who are making a positive difference in the community.
The group below is the Namdhari Sikhs and their Spiritual Head Sri Satguru Uday Singh ji who are encouraging the community to make a positive contribution towards supporting environmental and conservation issues. Tree planting in Dartmouth Park is one such initiative.
On Wednesday 21 August the Park was full of children doing different activities and enjoying fresh air, exercise and also crafts in the
Community Room
The photograph above shows children from The Gap and the Blue Ribbon before they start doing some sporting activities.
On Tuesday 20 August volunteers from a second 'Challenge' team to visit
the Park do a great job on an overgrown bed
This group of teenagers worked really hard to clear a bed that had been neglected and was overgrown with weeds. They did a good job and now the bed will be prepared for new planting.
Our Summer Fair on Saturday 17 August is blessed with good weather and some special guests, plus great entertainment for all age groups

Cllr. Maria Crompton very kindly came along to our event to present a cheque for £22,560 which the Friends of Dartmouth Park have been granted from the National Lottery Community Fund. The money is to provide activities and entertainment in the Park over a two year period for all age groups, and in particular to encourage people who are isolated to join us and make new friends. Also in the photograph are Cllr. Richard McVittie and Cllr. Steve Melia, who have Council responsibility for West Bromwich town. Our Chair, Jenny Francis, who was manning the Tombola Stall, joined us, together with volunteers Chris Burgess and Joan Burns. There is also young volunteer, Tilly, Park's Gardener, Alan, and Friends' members Chris and Graham Saunders.

We have been hosting a group of students from Sandwell who are involed in a project called 'The Challenge' which involves helping in the Park. They joined us for the event and some of them engaged the visitors in a survey to find out their views and what they thought could be improved. The students had a chance to meet with Cllr. Crompton and put some of their findings to her. When the event ended they helped the volunteers to clear the events area. They will be in the Park again the last week in August to work on clearing a bed and to plant a tree which they will be donating to the Park.

A big thank you to everyone who helped to set up and man the stalls. Also to Antony, our compere for the event, Black Rabbit who played great music, and Funtime Theatre who entertained the children in their colourful costumes. Not forgetting June McAlpine and her Keep Fit Class for their exercise demonstration to music. The Craft Tent and Bouncy Castle were as popular as always, and there was a great variety of stalls. The Cafe was open in the 'Fort' and very popular. A very enjoyable time was had by all who attended.

Bouncy Castle in the Park during the school holidays funded by EPIC Grant

The Friends of Dartmouth Park have been awarded a grant from EPIC to provide a Bouncy Castle during the school holidays free of charge. It will be available from 11am until 2pm on the following dates: 14, 16, 21, 23 and 28 August.

There is a person supervising the Bouncy Castle at all times whilst it is in the Park.

Yoke van der Meer generously gives Dartmouth Park
plants she has grown herself

Horticulture has been Yoke's career since the early eighties after starting off learning and practicing Floristry in her native Holland. Mike Poulton of Sandnats very kindly mentioned the Friends of Dartmouth Park's Sensory Garden to Yoke, when, having grown many plants, she wanted to donate and plant some of them where they would be loved and cared for.

She visited the Park on two Fridays in June when the volunteer gardeners were working and planted a variety of salvias she had grown at her Nursery. They included Salvia dorisiana or Tutti Frutti Sage, Rosemary, Artemisia, Sweet William, Salvia coccinea ‘Snow Nymph’, London Pride’ Hollyhock, and French Marigold.

We then had the very hot dry spell, which was hard on the plants, but with the recent rain they are flouishing again. Below the bed being planted in June and after the rain we have experienced recently

'The History of Brewing in West Bromwich
and the most successful brewer Darby's '
Book Launch at the Heritage Brewery Centre, Burton
Project funded by the Heritage Lottery

The final stage of this Heritage Lottery Funded Project was the book launch held on Tuesday 23 July at the Heritage Brewery Centre in Burton. We have already saved, restored and re-sited the Darby’s Ale Ghost Sign from a demolition site. We have had a Blue Plaque put on what was The Bush Inn where Darby’s first started brewing, and on the 23rd July we launched a book telling the story of Darby’s brewing heritage, together with the story of the rise and decline of the brewing industry in West Bromwich. The Friends of Dartmouth Park hope that this book can stand alongside Terry Price’s and Robin Pearson’s wonderful books on West Bromwich.

We chose the Heritage Brewery Centre for the launch as it is the perfect place to celebrate the brewing industry. It evokes memories of the glorious days of brewing and the brewery companies whose brands were known and enjoyed all over the world.

We were met by National Brewery Heritage Trustees - Harry White, Chair of the Trustees, Terry Crichley, Bob Heaver and Valerie Burton, who made us very welcome. A special guest was Louise Darby, whose father Richard had once worked in the family business, but had decided to become a farmer when the business was bought by M&B.

The book has 114 pages and covers:

The History of the growth of
West Bromwich during the Industrial Revolution

Brewing becomes an industry

Darby's Brewery Limited

The Saving of the
Darby's Ale Sign

West Bromwich -
The Chicago of the Midlands


Charles Darby received a copy of the book and said be was honoured that the history of his family's connection with brewing had been put on record.

He also said when Darby's Brewery was at its height West Bromwich was a thriving town with a famous High Street, known as the Golden Mile, and many famous companies producing goods that were known around the world.

Louise Darby, was about to start her speech, when Charles had obviously said something that made us laugh. She recovered and said she was delighted to be with us and that her father, Richard, Charles' cousin, would be waiting for her at home to hear all about the day. She had taken lots of photographs to bring the event to life for him.

Chairman of the Trustees, Harry White, gave a speech which included reference to Charles's successful career with Bass, Mitchells & Butlers.

He also spoke about the Heritage Trust's Crowd Funding initiative to raise funds to enable them to have a website which would give access to the many items relating to the brewing industry which they didn't have room to display in the Centre.

Following lunch Mr White gave some of us a personal tour of the Centre. Other members of the group went on a tour led ny a guide.

Charles signs some of the books watched by trustees Harry White and Terry Critchley.

Looking on amused is Robin Pearson, who is an author of many books about West Bromwich, including one which makes reference to Darby's Pubs.

I appear to be doing my Tommy Cooper impression whilst chatting to the trustees.
Part of the group starting out on their tour of the Museum with a guide.
Before our tour started Charles, myself, and Pauline and Dennis Lawley, couldn't resist stopping off to see the beautiful Shire Horses. They are kept on a farm when they're not required at the Centre.
Photographs taken by Chris Holloway and Louise Darby, except the group photograph. Chris also painted the picture of Dunkirk Brewery which is on the front cover of the book.

Photographs from Saturday's Armed Forces Day by Seumas Kelly

On Saturday 29 June, The Mayor of Sandwell, Cllr. Ann Jaron and the Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Gurpeet Bhatia, attended the Armed Forces Day celebrations in Dartmouth Park.

Following the ceremonials there was entertainment on the bandstand and much needed refreshments were available as it was a very hot day. The Friends of Dartmouth Park opened the Cafe in the Pavilion, which was greatly appreciated by the visitors to the Park. A big thank you to Yvonne and Margaret for manning the Cafe and Selwyn, John and Mark (pictures on the right) for their help in setting up the Friends of Dartmouth Park stall.



Contact Address: Carol Hartill
Secretary of the Friends of Dartmouth Park
c/o 2 Sandwell Road North, West Bromwich, B71 4JB
Tel: 0121 588 4747 / e-mail: carolh.fodp@btinternet.com
Tel 0121 525 5524 / e-mail: annette_welch@sky.com


Jenny Francis
Yvonne Hayward
Vice Chairman
Annette Welch
Carol Hartill
Mandy Timms
Membership Secretary
Mark Barrett
Social Historian
Chris Blakesley
Minute Secretary
Chris Burgess
Maggie Turner
Roger Stopford
Joan Burns
Margaret Geddes