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Walsall - Hubbie's Home Town.

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

Walsall.

I certainly cannot be accused of going to the most scenic parts of Britain when I return home from Hong Kong. Our trips home are, of course, about visiting family and friends rather than sightseeing and are therefore spent in Clydebank, Scotland where I am from and in Walsall, the West Midlands, England where my husband is from. Neither of my husband's parents were actually from Walsall. His dad was from County Durham; his mum was from Vienna and his parents met in Vienna in the aftermath of World War II. Eventually they settled in Walsall which is where my husband was born. Walsall is the town my husband and I got married in almost thirty-one years ago.

Walsall was, and indeed is, a market town. It was also famous for leather making and there is a Museum of Leather there today. A lot of the leather was used in the production of saddles, so the local football team, Walsall F.C. are known as the Saddlers. There is also a Saddlers Centre shopping arcade in the town and a statue of a saddle on Bradford Place. My husband is a huge fan of Walsall F.C. travelling all the way back from far flung parts of the globe to see them play and generally lose to boot.

On our second ever holiday together when Peter and I were travelling back from Helsinki, where we met, to the UK by train, we stopped for a few days in Copenhagen. I dragged my reluctant husband along to the world famous Tivoli Gardens and he kept saying "It's not as good as the Arboretum". The Arboretum is a large park located in Walsall. It has a very pretty lake which was once the site of a limestone quarry. As a joke nowadays no matter where we go in the world: the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, the Temples of Angkor Wat, my husband always says:"It's not as good as the Arboretum."

As well as the Arboretum, Walsall has a beautiful church called Saint Matthews, a museum to Jerome K Jerome - author of "Three Men in a Boat" who came from Walsall, a statue to Sister Dora and a relatively new museum and art gallery with a wonderful collection of Jacob Epstein sculptures.

Walsall is not a pretty place, nor does it attract tourists. It has one or two sites as mentioned above and quite a lot of shops as well as the market in the town centre and the Sunday market near Bescot Stadium.

The Arboretum.

The Arboretum is without a doubt the prettiest part of Walsall. It is a big park not far from the city centre. It has a lake formed when an old quarry site was left abandoned and filled up with water. At one time it was possible to hire row boats here, but not any more. Years ago every September the park would be lit up during the Walsall illuminations.

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

My husband in the Arboretum. - Walsall

My husband in the Arboretum. - Walsall

The Walsall Arboretum. - Walsall

The Walsall Arboretum. - Walsall

The Leather Museum.

The leather making industry was a very important industry in Walsall in the past. Walsall specialized in making saddles, hense why the local football team are known as the Saddlers. The Leather Museum occupies a former leather industry workshop in Littleton Street. The museum explores the history of leather making in Walsall and explains how leather was made. Entrance is free.

The Leather Museum

The Leather Museum

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

I'll have to take and add a photo of this site later. Jerome K Jerome was born in Walsall in 1859. He is famous for writing the humorous novel "Three Men in a Boat". The museum to him is located in his former home in Bradford Place. The museum is only open between midday and 2pm on Saturdays or by prior arrangement. Admission is free. The museum displays photos, books and letters belonging to or related to Jerome K Jerome.

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

The Jerome K Jerome Museum.

Sister Dora.

There is a statue in Walsall town centre depicting Sister Dora. In St Matthew's Parish Church she is commemorated in a stain glass window. Sister Dora is Walsall's answer to Florence Nightingale. Sister Dora's real name was Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison. She was born in Yorkshire in 1832. In 1864 Sister Dora began work as a nurse in Walsall's new Cottage Hospital in Bridge Street. Walsall was an industrial town and safety standards in industry in those days were very poor. In 1872 Sister Dora was on hand when twenty-two men were trapped underground in the Pelsall Hall Colliery Disaster. In 1875 she tended the wounded following an explosion at the Green Lane Iron Works. She also worked in an isolation hospital in Walsall caring tirelessly for the victims of smallpox. When Sister Dora died of breast cancer on Christmas Eve, 1878 the whole of Walsall turned out for her funeral.

Sister Dora

Sister Dora

St Matthew's Church.

There has been a church on the hill dominating the town of Walsall for the last 700 years. At one time the Church was known as the Church of All Saints. St Matthew's became known as St Matthew's in the eighteenth century. It is an attractive building, well worth a visit. One of its stain glass windows represents the life of Sister Dora.

St Matthew's Church

St Matthew's Church

The New Art Gallery.

The New Art Gallery, Walsall was officially opened in May, 2000. It is located near the wharf in the centre of Walsall. Peter Jenkinson, who became the first director of the museum, was instrumental in creating the museum. The gallery has five floors. One of which includes a restaurant. The gallery's most famous exhibits are a collection of the sculptures of Jacob Epstein donated to the people of Walsall by his wife Kathleen Garman and her artist friend, Sally Ryan. The gallery has lots of hands-on activities for kids and makes an interesting place to spend a few hours. Admission is free.

The New Art Gallery

The New Art Gallery

The Walsall Museum and Art Gallery. - Walsall

The Walsall Museum and Art Gallery. - Walsall

The Hippo Sculpture.

There are several sculptures in Walsall town centre. One is a stone hippo statue. It was the idea of Tony Harrington, a Walsall architect with a seat on Walsall Council. It was created by sculptor John Wood and assistant Keith Jones and completed in 1972. It is a strange, squat sculpture. What does the hippo have to do with Walsall?

Actually I researched a bit into the statue's origins. The sculpture is situated on Bridge Street on top of an underground river, so it is a hippo on a river bank. There are claims that it is associated with the protection of Children. Tarewet was the Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. She had a hippo head.

In 1979 the ‘Hippo Leaping World Championships' took place here. The winner was 16-year-old John Simpkiss, who represented Goscote Boys Club,and managed 1,111 leaps. The event raised £300 towards Walsall’s summer festival from people being sponsored to jump over the Hippo including Lord Mayor Counceller Wilf Clarke.

The Hippo Sculpture

The Hippo Sculpture

The Saddle Sculpture.

Walsall was once a centre for leather production. Saddles were made here, so it is not surprising to find a saddle sculpture here. The local football team, with whom my husband is obsessed, are even known as the saddlers.

The Saddle Sculpture

The Saddle Sculpture

When we are visiting Walsall, we often go through to nearby Wolverhampton for shopping. Wolverhampton is also not a scenic place, but it does have one very beautiful old church.

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton.

As my husband is originally from the West Midlands, we often visit there but seldom visit tourist sights. With this sight we were glad we did. St Peter's Collegiate Church is right in the centre of Wolverhampton and it is a beautiful building both inside and out. On the outside of the church there are gardens with some interesting things to look at. At the front of the church there is a war memorial and a statue of Lady Wulfrun. There is also the shaft of an old cross. The cross itself is missing. There is also an old stone (possibly an old gargoyle) with a hole in the middle. People used to shake hands through the hole when they had completed a business deal. Inside the church there is a huge organ, wonderful stain glass windows, interesting tombs and an old weathercock which used to sit on the church roof. Entrance to the church is free though you can make a donation to its upkeep. The church is extremely beautiful inside and well worth a visit.

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

Posted by irenevt 22:05 Archived in England

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Comments

He may not have much meaning, but the little stone hippo is very cute. If I ever see the Great Wall of China, I'll remember The Arboretum is better. Good to know these things . . . ;)

by Beausoleil

Haha seems that Peter has found a kindred spirit in you.

by irenevt

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