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Wildlife Photographs

graphic of tree and park bench
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Friends of Dartmouth Park
Patron: William, 10th Earl of Dartmouth

Latest News

Seumas Kelly's beautiful autumn photograph below.
More of Seumas's autumn photographs on our
'Wildlife Photographs' page

The Friends of Dartmouth Park place their own tribute on Armistice Day

Just before 11.00 Selwyn Hayward read The Exhortation and we stood for the two minutes silence before Jenny Francis laid the wreath on the Rose Bed dedicated to the members of the Armed Forces who have lost their lives in past and present conflicts.

At the end of our tribute Selwyn read the Kohima Epitaph:
When you go home, tell them of us and say,

For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

We were a very small group due to Covid-19 but the little ceremony went well.


Due to Covid-19 a different Remembrance Sunday Service was held in Dartmouth Park to pay tribute to those members of the the Armed Forces community from Sandwell who lost their lives in the two World Wars and other conflicts. The photograph below centre shows from left to right Minister Phil Thomas, Mayor's Sgt at Arms, Kennedy Brown, West Bromwich West MP Shaun Bailey, Sandwell MBC Dep. Leader, Cllr Maria Crompton, SMBC Mayor Cllr Ann Jaron, RTC Military Sgt., SMBC Chief Exec. David Stevens, Warley MP John Spellor, and SMBC Armed Forces Champion Cllr Steve Melia. The War Memorial was adorned with wreaths representing all the organizations in the Borough. This year there were tributes to the many 'Shot at Dawn' casualties in World War 1.

Autumn in the Sensory Garden

The volunteer gardeners have been doing a wonderful job tidying the Sensory Garden. It is looking beautiful in its autumn colours.


Our first trip of the year
We had our first trip of the year to Kew on the 15 September in a Covid safe coach and with Covid safe procedures. It was a beautiful day and everyone enjoyed the chance to visit somewhere different. A few photographs mainly showing us relaxing in the shade.


Lovely photographs of the Sensory Garden

The small pool in the Park is tidied up ready for children to fish


Last summer some of the children who attended our holiday activities in the Park were given some Angling lessons by Nigel, a member of the Friends and a keen angler. Nigel and fellow angler, Dave, with grants from EPIC procured by our Treasurer, Annette, have been working on returning fishing to the Park.

The small pool has been made accessible so that children can use the skills they have learned in a safe environment.

We are hoping to also encourage local anglers to try their luck in the large pool.

A big thank you to the Environment Agency who have restocked both pools.

Improvements to the Park

As you will see from the photographs below there have been some improvements in the Park. The clearing of overgrown areas of the Park has been done by University Students and Sandwell Valley's Maintenance Team to improve safety in the Park for visitors.

The large number of flower beds in the Park were difficult to maintain, so Grounds Maintenance have cleared some of these beds and will be grassing over them to allow the Park to be better maintained.

The kerbs around the beds in the Sensory Garden had become very worn and dangerous for wheel chair and disabled buggy users. Disability Officer, Dave Dwyer and Steve Scriven from Highways came to inspect the problem and quickly got contractors, Stourbridge Paving, to replace the kerbs. The contractors have done an excellent job and the Sensory Garden is a safer place for the many disabled users who can often be seen enjoying the garden.

A big thank you from the Friends of Dartmouth Park to all those who have made these improvements to this wonderful green oasis in West Bromwich which is now displaying its 'host of golden daffodils'.



funtime theatre a great success in the Community Room
in the Pavilion during the half term
The Community Room was full of children enjoying themselves during Half Term. The weather hasn't been great for them, but funtime theatre made up for any disappointment by giving a wonderful performance of Snow White. Thank you to the Big Lottery for funding this entertainment for the children.


Police Cadets Arriving in the Park to work on a very
bleak Tuesday in February

Sunday 19 January and twenty-two students from
Birmingham University visit the Park to carry out environmental work.

As you can see from the photographs below their hard work will make a great difference to the Park. A big thank you to the students and also to Zahra Khalil from Groundwork UK for organizing the visit for the Friends of Dartmouth Park.

Annual Christmas Event at the Hawthorns

The torrential rain didn't stop us all arriving on time for our Christmas Event at the Hawthorns. The food and service were excellent and after the obligatory raffle we enjoyed dancing to Mike Surman's music. A great night was had by everyone as you can see from the photographs below.


What a wonderful start to the festive season - our Christmas Concert at
West Bromwich Central Bowling Club

Saturday 30 November and the start of the Friends' Christmas Celebrations. What a perfect programme of entertainment was provided by the Wolverhampton Ukulele Band and The Gap Choir.

The Ukulele Band played and sang our favourite Christmas songs and then some old rock and roll numbers which brought back lots of memories and got our feet tapping.

The Gap gave us beautiful renditions of traditional carols and did a very clever Twelve Days of Christmas, which our members tried to copy and didn't do too badly as you can see from the photograph on the left.

We had tea, coffee and mince pies in the interval and collected £95 in donations for the Ukulele Bands' chosen charity, Cancer Research.

By special request the Ukulele Band will be entertaining us next year on the bandstand in the Park.


Visit to West Midlands Police Museum at The Lock-Up in Birmingham

Steve Rice, above, has been with West Midlands Police for thirty years, and is now responsible for the Heritage Project at the Lock-up in Birmingham. His knowledge on policing in Birmingham went back to its origins in 1839. He gave us a fascinating talk which ended with policing today.

Then tea, coffee and biscuits were available before we explored the Lock-up at our leisure.

Above Mandy, Sam, Selwyn and Barry looking very cheerful as they experience what it was like to be in a cell.
Below Selwyn tries on a police helmet for size
Below Sam escapes from the cell disguised as a policeman
Graham seems to have turned to a life of crime, but not for long, here he is in handcuffs


Remembrance Sunday in Dartmouth Park
Photographs by Seumas Kelly

A large crowd attended the Remembrance Service in Dartmouth Park. Here are a few photographs of the event.

Evie, whose mother was helping in the Snack Bar, read the beautiful poem "Lest we Forget".

A big thank you to Councilor Steve Melia for his hard work in making this event so special and the crowds seem to get bigger and bigger each year. Also thank you to those who attended and were so generous in their donations. The British Legion collection boxes were full.


Friday 1 November - Bonfire Night in the Park
Photographs taken by Seumas Kelly

Students from two colleges in West Bromwich take on The Challenge

The students are helping the volunteer gardeners tidy up the Park and giving us some insight into what teenagers would like to see in the Park that relates to them.

On the 1 November they were given a presentation on the Park's history, how it had gone into decline in the 70s and how a grant from the Heritage Lottery had brought it back to life for the people of West Bromwich.

They started their challenge on 2 November by tidying one of the beds on the main avenue. They worked very hard as you can see from the photographs below. There are more challenges for them to take part in later in the month.


Our Half Term Activities event proved to be very popular
Some fabulous photographs of children enjoying themselves at the Friends of Dartmouth Park's Half Term Activities Event. They planted a 1000 daffodil bulbs in the Dell under the supervision of Annette and other volunteers. Go Play provided outdoor sports, Creative Academies did pumpkin carving and other crafts. Animal Tastic brought along small animals. Ground Work UK helped supervise the crafts. 60 adults and children planted the bulbs, including Neev and his friends, who were celebrating his birthday, and then joined other children in the pavilion. A great day and a big thank you to The Big Lottery's Community Grant who funded it.

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