The flood barriers - and the Environment Agency s. Bewdley by floodlight!t!!! s: do we have yours?

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1 Bewdley by floodlight!t!!! The flood barriers - and the Environment Agency s tireless efforts - once again saved the town from the swollen, raging waters of the Severn. Those of us living on the riverside had a close-up and personal view of the massive protection operation. Sometime is seemed as if the river might overwhelm us but quietly and efficiently the the high-viz jackets came along with further elements of the protective barriers and our fears abated. The closure of the bridge was undoubtedly an inconvenience but few expressed anything but understanding and appreciation of the commitment and courtesy of the police and Environment Agency staff. For the duration of the flood threat, they became part of our community. The regular visits from TV crews also put the town on the map and the installation of the barriers was universally hailed as a success story and an example that could and should be followed elsewhere. s: do we have yours?

2 Icame across a poem the other day written by the well-known local author, George Griffiths, in It captured my imagination and I wondered if there was any written record of the Blackstone Hermit and, if so, how long ago did he inhabit the caves and guide people across the Ribbesford ford. I asked our local historian and Civic Society member, Heather Flack and this is what she told me. There is plenty of evidence that the caves at Redstone near Stourport were used by monks but none has so far emerged that the caves at Blackstone warrant their colloquial name of. In 1861, John Noake in wrote: "Access is by a low doorway into the kitchen, which has for a chimney a circular hole cut perpendicularly through the rock. There are also a chapel, a pantry with a chamber over, an inner room, closets with loft over, a study with shelves cut for books, and another opening in the rock, either for a belfry or a chimney. Small and rudely cut openings in the rock served as windows. In the front of the cell is a seat carved in the rock, from which the hermit looked forth on the Severn and the beautiful meadows and wooded banks adjacent. There is a tradition that this was at one time a smuggler's cave. It has of late been used as a cider-making house." She added Anne Hill, who lives nearby, confirms that the caves had a cider-making press and in World War 2, they were used as a storehouse by the Stourport company of Steatite to protect them from possible air attack. The caves are a feature in a 1721 drawing attributed to William Stukely and it is interesting to note he simply called it a cave and not a hermitage. John Noake was cleary convinced it was a hermitage and so am I although the sign BAR over the main entrance is surely a later addition! BLACKSTONE ROCK

3 The ever-changing face of Bewdley 1918: No 11 Dog Lane 2014: Dog Lane St. GEORGE S HALL CAFE While doing some research relative to the First World War in Bewdlley,I found the following paragraph in the Ribbesford and Bewdley Parish magazine for February 1915: The proceedings were opened in the afternoon by Lady Honor Ward before a distinguished company. Mrs. Hemingway was well supported by an abundant supply of willing helpers, and during both afternoon and evening there was not a vacant seat to be seen.



6 BUTT Town 1956 Butt Town 1956 and in 1962 (right) has owned the caravan park since There are now ninety caravans on site, with one being lived in permanently. It is one of the best in Bewdley and many tenants have rented for years. The vans were originally placed around the five-acre site so it could be ploughed and planted in the centre. Ted s family acquired the meadow from Luke Needham, who was so in debt to Ted s father that Luke passed it over to him in settlement. Ted can remember when the meadow was so filled with tents (before the vans arrived) that one found it difficult to walk between the guy ropes. The land was originally the archery for Bewdley s bowmen - hence its name

7 Bewdley Civic Society Newsletter 2014 Butt Town 2014 CIVIC SOCIETY TALKS: the Women s Land Army and Kidderminster High School for Girls The first talks of the BCS Programme in 2014 seem to have followed a gender theme and focused on women in history. In January, a large audience was treated to an interesting and personal perspective of what life was like for women during the Second World War when they signed up to take the place of men, working on the country s farms. Robin Hill, in, achieved this by using a selection of extracts from the women s letters and diaries, which were written during their service on the farms. These extracts were brought to life by the assistance of three ladies from the audience - Heather Flack, Heather Fairs and Judy Jones - who agreed to take part. Robin Hill, who recently retired as Curator at Hartlebury Museum, concluded his talk with the observation that the Women s Land Army was established, initially, during World War One and served the country well during both wars. The second talk of the year, in February, attracted a smaller audience perhaps because its title may have had a limited appeal. However, by Jo Roche, did prove to be popular amongst Old Girls of the school who especially enjoyed the photographs of the buildings and grounds as they knew them. Jo Roche didn t limit her talk to the post-1912 school but gave the audience an insight to the origins of the school from its foundation in 1868 at Broomfield Hall in Kidderminster until it was taken over by the County Council in 1908 to become the first girls grammar school in Worcestershire. Soon afterwards, plans were underway to build a brand new school building on the Hillgrove Estate, between the Chester and Bromsgrove Roads.

8 In t we quoted a member as saying her mother had cautioned her about approaching the former army camp site in Dog Lane because the families who lived there were such a terrible bunch. We are asked by Ted Hurst to point out that his brother and sister-in-law lived in a Nissen hut on the site quite legitimately. Having served in the Royal Marines during the Second World war, his country could not provide his brother with better accommodation. He and others created a community on the site. They were bound closely together and many is the child who recalls living in Dog Lane very we got a caption wrong when reporting on Bewdley Horticultural Society. We said a happily. In the photo showed Derrick Aston and Diane Chater. The photo actually showed Ken Williams with Diane Chater.

9 1947 flood still the high-mark! Jock Gallagher s piece on the front page is an excellent reminder of the recent floods and I thought it would be interesting to see how the height compared with previous floods in Bewdley. I went down to Blackstone to have a look at the markers on the post at the Pumping Station. Comparing these with the recent high water mark (from the mud stain on the bushes) I reckoned it had been 30 inches under the 1947 flood, the highest in living memory. I then checked with Gill Holland who told me that the Environment Agency (EA) records showed the following: The peak in March 1947 was 5.84m. T The peak in 2000 was 5.56m on November 2. (20 inches below 1947) My estimate proved to be 5.84 m March 21, 1947 not far out and while the recent levels were considerably below 1947, they were nonetheless potentially devastating. The main fact is that our defences held firm on both shores. Unfortunately however, it did mean that Telford s bridge was closed for several days resulting in traffic being diverted via the by-pass thus isolating the town centre and causing economic loss to traders. The reason for this lies in the nature of the pallet type barriers in Wribbenhall, the future of which remains uncertain. The Town Council has recently written to the EA asking for consideration to be given to installing defences of a similar design to those deployed on the Bewdley side. One feels this is an opportune time to lobby for this and we hope some funds can be found to see it achieved. Richard Perrin The formal re-opening of the refurbished St George s Hall was gracefully carried out by the Mayor, Councillor Linda Candlin on February 28. The event also marked the unveiling of the Society s plaque dedicated to Sarah Woodward, the lady who built the Hall in Sarah was the proprietress of the George Hotel at the time and in addition to using the building as an assembly room for the hotel, she foresaw it as a useful facility as a community hall for the people of Bewdley. How right she was. Interestingly it was used as a drill hall in both the Boer War and WW1. In WW2 it housed a needle factory helping with the war effort. Sarah was widowed in 1890 and was left to bring up seven children. Notwithstanding this she became an electoral pioneer being elected as England s first female town councillor. She was elected to serve on Bewdley Borough Council in 1907 soon after the passing of The Qualification of Women (County and Borough Councils) Act and served in that capacity for 3 years. She died in 1919 and is buried in Ribbesford churchyard. The Society was delighted Sarah s great grandson, Mark Woodward, was able to travel from London with his family, to be present at the occasion. Also present was my cousin, Jo Stock, the granddaughter of Mr & Mrs J H Cooper, who owned St George s Hall from 1908 to The AGM is on As usual, this will be an opportunity for members to comment about the work of the Society and indeed anything they would like to Society to look into or take action. After the formal part of the meeting Mr David Mills, a former director of Brintons Carpets Ltd, is kindly going to give a short illustrated presentation about the wonderful Museum of Carpet on our doorstep in Green Street, Kidderminster. The whole proceedings are expected to last not much longer than one hour after which the bar will open and canapés will be served. This will be an excellent opportunity for members to get to know each other better. Please do come along and enjoy the informal part of the meeting (and maybe the formal part too!).