Copy deadline is 9 April for May 2021 printed editions.
Let local people know you are open and working. We will be delivering our May editions of The Pioneer Magazines and Great Barr Gazette to 42,000 homes. Our magazines are hand delivered free to local people in Walsall and the surrounding areas.
People read our magazines from cover to cover and keep them for an average of two months.
We were one of the very few publications that managed to print during the first phase of the current Coronavirus crisis. We are determined to deliver news and information to local people when they need it most, and to support our local business community.
See our Bounce Back leaflet below or follow this link to see where we deliver. You can advertise with us from as little as £25 plus VAT.
Uncertainty and economic hardship have struck the hearts of our local businesses over the last 12 months, but many are getting ready to bounce back, including local Aldridge deli, Wilsons Tea Room.
Known for its popular breakfasts, fresh afternoon teas and large variety of homemade hot and cold food and beverages, Wilsons Tea Room has served the people of Aldridge since 2018, but has faced a tough year due to coronavirus restrictions.
Collection Services Restart at Aldridge Tea Room
After closing, opening and then shutting its doors again in the last 12 months, there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel for the small, hard-working team who have recently put all of their efforts into a collection service.
“At the start of the pandemic we were closed for 10 weeks, which was really hard,” owner Deborah Wilson told Pioneer Magazines.
“We were able to provide socially-distanced meals and seating for a couple of months in between lockdowns, but we had to revert back to collection-only shortly after. After the spike in cases in January, we made the decision to close again for seven weeks and we’ve only just re-opened for collection at the beginning of March.”
Wilsons Tea Room Gets Ready to Re-Open
Staff at Wilsons Tea Room are now firmly focused on looking forward ahead to the planned re-opening in May allowing customers to eat in once again.
Business has also slowly started to pick back up thanks to the selection of sumptuous treats that are currently available to take away.
Deborah’s team ‒ Lisa, Dawn, Laura and her son Elliot ‒ were rushed off their feet in the lead up to Mother’s Day due to demand for their plentiful platters. With the Easter Bank Holiday coming in April, the team are it again, offering an enticing Easter treat that can be ordered by phone and picked up from the Tea Room on Lazy Hill Road.
TAG a friend or family member in the comments that you’d like to SHARE your afternoon tea with.
We’ll pick out one winner at random at 12 noon on Wednesday, 31 March and announce it on Facebook. The lucky winner will need to be able pick up their afternoon tea for two between 10-12pm on 2-5 April from Wilsons Tea Room. *T&Cs apply.
If you don’t win, don’t worry. There’s plenty of chances to sample the menu!
Saturday – 9am-12pm
Place orders via Facebook messenger or phone: 01922 452270
The Wilsons Tea Room Easter Giveaway starts on Sunday 28 March and ends on 31 March, 2020 at 12 noon. No entries will be accepted after this date.
One winner will be drawn at random from all eligible entries and announced on Facebook.
To be eligible, all entrants must LIKE the Pioneer Magazines Facebook page, LIKE the ‘Wilsons Tea Room Easter Giveaway’ post and tag a friend in the comments. All other entries will be excluded from the draw.
Prize: 1 x Afternoon Tea for Two (Gluten free option available on request).
The prize cannot be swapped or exchanged for cash.
Only one entry per household permitted.
The winner will be contacted via Facebook and must respond and order their prize from Wilsons Tea Room before 1 April at 12 noon in order to receive their afternoon tea over the Easter weekend.
Collection times are restricted to 10am-12pm on Friday 2 April until Monday 5 April.
The winner must be able to collect their prize from the Tea Room, which is located at 5 Lazy Hill Rd, Aldridge, Walsall WS9 8RW. Delivery is not available.
Pioneer Magazines reserves the right to redraw the prize should the winner not respond within 24 hours of being contacted.
This giveaway is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Facebook or any other parties.
Year 7 student, Jack Patterson, was praised by his English teacher Mr. Mobberley, who organised a surprise from his favourite football team.
Jack was sent a personalised shirt, a signed football and a programme courtesy of Walsall Football Club, but that’s not all! The Year 7 student will also be leading out the Saddlers at The Bank’s Stadium as a mascot and ball boy at a future game.
Jack was delighted with his reward, which was awarded to him by headteacher Mr. Salkeld.
English teacher, Mr. Mobberley said: “He is a credit to St. Francis of Assisi and himself and really does demonstrate all the values the school stands for. Well done Jack and keep up the amazing work.”
We’ve responded to requests for help from two people looking to complete their family trees. One looking for help with Aldridge connections, the other Walsall.
Looking for information on Sgt Thomas Wilkes
Hilary Wilkes is looking for information about her grandfather – can you help?
Sergeant Thomas Wilkes, who served in the Staffordshire Regiment, was killed in the Battle of the Somme.
Hilary knows little about him, other than he lived in Bloxwich Road, in Walsall, and was married to Helen Pearman. Before he enlisted, she believes he worked in a brass foundry and served in the Territorials.
During the First World War, Thomas’s battalion held out for two days at Delville Wood, after being shelled from three directions, but he was killed on 29 July, 1916. She understands his body was not discovered until 1931.
“According to the Staffordshire Regiment archivist, he was mentioned twice in the ‘Walsall Pioneer’ of the time,” she said.
“The references I have been given are: 27 Date 3/6/1916 and 93 or 43 date 15/9/1917. These may refer to him being in hospital and/or being gazetted with the Military Medal, which was announced in the London Gazette on 19 February, 1917.
“Unfortunately, his record card at The National Archives was destroyed in the Second World War, so I’d be thrilled if you could shed some light. To see a photograph of him would be amazing!”
Could you be related to Sam Harvey? Sam, who lives in Kilnhurst, near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, has traced her family tree back to the 1830s, where the Harvey family lived in Aldridge.
Now she’s appealing to readers of The Pioneer to see if she has any relatives still living in the area.
She said: “I’ve been doing my family tree on and off for about 30 years, but when I was furloughed earlier this year, I had time to get back to it. Some of the family I’ve traced back to the 1500s in Alton in Staffordshire but I found quite a bit of information about the Harveys who lived in Aldridge.
“When all the restrictions are lifted, I’d love to come down and have a look round and visit the archives to find more birth, marriage and death certificates relating to my family, but in the meantime, I wondered if there are still any family in the area.”
So far, 51-year-old Sam has found Joseph Harvey, who was born in 1835 in Aldridge to John and Sarah Jane Harvey, and was followed by brother William in 1838. They had three sisters, Diana, born 1841, and Hannah, born 1843, and Emma, born in 1852.
In 1869, William, who is Sam’s great, great grandfather, married in Spalding, Lincolnshire, before settling in Kilnhurst, where family remains today.
Her searches have also found that Joseph moved to Lancashire before emigrating to Canada, where he died in 1922.
However, Sam believes that either William or Sam left behind three children – John (born 1858), William (1860) and Sarah (1864) – because these children were living with their grandparents in the 1861 and 1871 censuses.
Other searches show that William and Joseph’s sister Diana married a William Edwards in 1841 and she lived in the Pool Green area of Aldridge, while Hannah married James Meeks in 1843. Emma married Thomas Connolly in 1852 and lived in Keepers’ Cottage in Barr Lane West before moving to Handsworth, Birmingham.
The younger William, who stayed in Aldridge also lived in Dumblederry Lane, according to the 1871 census.
Sam also discovered that her great-grandfather Joseph, son of William senior, died in November 1916, in the battle of the Somme, while he served in the medical corps. A few months later, in April 1917, Charles Herbert, who was the Canadian son of Joseph senior, died in Vimy Ridge while serving in the Canadian Army.
If anyone believes they are related to Sam – or have more information about the Harvey family – please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org and the information will be forwarded.
Aldridge based Knight & Doyle Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning has teamed up with St Giles Hospice to help fund its vital care services for local families.
Knight & Doyle are now corporate supporters of St Giles pledging to donate more than £2,500 to the hospice each year.
The business is also offering St Giles Hospice lottery players a 10% discount through the charity’s Promise Card scheme.
Knight & Doyle, which offers residential and commercial carpet cleaning services across Lichfield, Aldridge and Walsall has rebranded its vans to promote their support of St Giles and will feature its logo in marketing materials to further raise awareness of the hospice.
Rich Doyle, partner in Knight & Doyle, said: “We wanted to support a local charity and when we looked at St Giles Hospice and the work that it does, we knew we had found the right cause. When we heard about the support patients get in the community and bereavement services on offer to patients’ families, we realised that St Giles is not just a place where people go to die – it’s so much more than that. By helping a vital local charity like St Giles, we can give a little back to support local people.”
Chloe Herbert, Head of Fundraising at St Giles, said “In a tough year which has been so hard for everyone, it’s absolutely wonderful to receive this support from Knight & Doyle, businesses and charities alike have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic so their generosity is particularly welcome and inspiring right now, and our message to all of our supporters is that we’ve never needed you more than we need you today.”
Tracing family histories is a fun hobby but for some people it becomes a passion. Maybe its because learning about our family helps us understand our place in the world. In the digital age there has never been so much information available to the public. This has resulted in the birth of a new industry devoted to helping us find the old records we need. I’m sure you will have seen the ads on TV. But rather than get lost in data, why not just ask people. Whether that’s family members or local history groups. For example, talk to older relatives. They will know family names and previous addresses. They will also know family stories, which will give you the first clues in your search.
Sam Harvey posted on the Aldridge History Group Facebook page because she needed local information. She lives in South Yorkshire and had found that her family was living in Aldridge in the 1830s. Following a phone call we featured her in our magazines. Hilary Wilkes was also looking for information on her family history. Regarding her grandfather Sgt Thomas Wikes (pictured) who had lived in Walsall. We also featured her story in our January magazines.
How We Help Trace Family Histories
We will be having a regular feature in our printed magazines to help people tracing family histories. So if you would like to tell your story and get some local help, email email@example.com. Please let us have your phone number and a brief overview of who you are looking to trace. We can also share your Facebook posts.
Top Tips For Tracing Your Family Tree
Ask Family Members
There are online tools, census and registers
Use other people’s research
Use the free online Births, Marriages & Deaths directories
Search parish records and visit churchyards
Ask for information on social media
Get in touch with Pioneer Magazines & Great Barr Gazette
Below we have listed some websites and social media groups to get you started. We would love to hear from you if we can help you trace your family tree.
Church services may be subject to change in line with national and local restrictions, so you will need to contact individual churches before attending in order to book your space. Many of our churches were unable to provide details before we went to press.
Aldridge Methodist Church
Anchor Rd, Aldridge WS9 8PT
Christmas Day 10.30am: Christmas Day service
Our carol service will be via Zoom and we are exploring the possibility of a Christingle service.
Please call or check our facebook page for updated details.
Tynings Lane Church
Tynings Lane, Aldridge WS9 0AS
Sat 19th Dec 4-8pm: Church is open to drop in for a carol and prayer experience (no need to book, spend as much or as little time as you like).
Sun 20th Dec 4pm: All Age Christmas experience. Come dressed up and explore Christmas as a family.
Christmas Eve 6pm: Christingle on Zoom. Get in touch for your Christingle in a bag and a zoom invite to join in Christingle wherever you are.
Christmas Eve 9:30pm: Midnight in Bethlehem. A communion service.
Christmas Eve 11:30pm: Midnight Communion
Christmas Day 9:30am: Christmas morning Communion for all ages
The Calvary Pentecostal Church
Brickiln Street, Brownhills, WS8 6AU
Christmas Day, Communion Service 11am-12noon
Sunday 27th December, Communion Service, 10.30am
Clayhanger Methodist Church
Clayhanger Lane, Clayhanger WS8 7DS
Sunday Services have recommenced fortnightly at 4pm.
1st & 3rd Sundays in the month
Contact for details of Christmas services.
Pelsall Evangelical Church
Old Town Lane, Pelsall WS3 4NJ
Sun 13th Dec 6pm: Carol Services
Sun 20th Dec 6pm: Carol Service
Christmas Day 10am: Christmas Morning Family Service
Sun 20th Dec Carol Service: A pre-recorded version available to view online via our Facebook page
Christmas Eve 6pm: A pre-recorded children’s Christmas bedtime story which will go online via our Facebook page
Christmas Eve 10pm & 11.30pm: Midnight Mass services
Christmas Day 10am: Holy Communion service
Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions on numbers, places will need to be booked at these services by ringing the church office on 0121 357 8941 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and social distancing must be observed, face coverings worn and sanitising guidelines followed.
St Matthew’s Church
Aldridge Road/Birdbrook Road, Perry Beeches, B44 8RA
For these services you will need to ‘book a pew’ by phoning the office on 0121 360 6964
Sun 20th Dec 6pm: Carol Service
Christmas Eve 6pm: Crib Service for all ages
11.30pm: Midnight Mass
You can join in our phone-in worship now and over the Christmas period. All you need is your phone, and it’s a free number from most phones (if in doubt check with your provider.) Every Tue. and Thur. at 8pm, and Sundays at 10.30am. Just phone 0333 011 0616, and then when asked enter the code 1499 488#. For regular updates please visit www.stmatthewsperrybeeches.org.uk
Beacon Evangelical Church
Sandwell Road, Handsworth, B21 8NH
Our Christmas services should be available online on our YouTube channel, Beacon Evangelical Church Handsworth:
Sun 20th Dec 11am: live streaming of our Christmas Family Outreach Service (Those who wish to attend in person should contact the church in advance to access our booking system).
Christmas Day service will premiere at 10.30am on YouTube.
Perry Hall Methodist Church
Rocky Lane, Perry Barr, B42 1QF
At the time of writing we are unsure how we will celebrate Christmas this year, but we will be celebrating! If you would like to join us, please look at the latest information on our website https://www.perryhallmethodist.org.uk/
An Aldridge family firm came up with a novel way to help families working from home and the NHS at the same time – raising £2,000 in the process.
Allpack Packaging, which is celebrating 25 years in business, developed easy to assemble cardboard desks and chairs during lockdown which proved a real hit.
Managing Director George Clarke explained: “Like many businesses we’ve had to adapt during the pandemic and came up with the idea of creating cardboard desks and chairs for children which our Creative Design Executive Steven Cook brought to life.
“We appreciate that many families have been trying to juggle home schooling with working from home themselves and thought our products helped to bring a fun element to this. Children have been much more willing to sit down and do their work when they’ve been able to help put a desk and chair together themselves. They’ve been so popular that we’ve also developed adult versions and are really proud of these products.
“We pledged to donate £1 from every item sold to NHS Charities as we wanted to show our thanks and support to all of those in the NHS who have supported us at this terrible time. We were thrilled to be able to raise £2,000 and come into Walsall Manor Hospital to hand over the cheque.”
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s Chaplaincy Team Leader Joe Fielder and Matron Lead for Quality David Powell were only too pleased to receive the cheque – as well as try out Allpack’s desks and chairs for themselves!
The trust has been successful in securing cash from NHS Charities to refurbish its chapel area and multi-faith room which Joe and David described as “a much-needed boost to an area that has been lacking in TLC for a while.”
The photo shows L-R Natalija Komisarova who is responsible for procurement for Allpack, Joe, George Clarke and David. The company also kindly donated cuddly toys and a couple of desks and chairs to the hospital’s Children’s Ward.
Nestled at the foot of Barr Beacon is a place that could be described as Aldridge’s ‘best kept secret’ – but it is a hidden treasure that more and more people are discovering.
Beacon Farm, off Beacon Road, has been in the Lilwall family for generations, rearing cattle, breeding pigs and growing produce for local people. Peter Lilwall first took over the farm 35 years ago, after his uncle passed away.
“The buildings were derelict, but Peter spent three months living in a caravan on the site, repairing and rebuilding the place and getting it up and running,” says his wife, Pauline.
“We’ve spent the last 22 years extending and improving the farm to create what it is now.”
The result is a thriving working farm that also supports a number of businesses on the site, selling everything from restored furniture to bicycles – but it’s the farm’s own butcher’s shop that has developed a following of loyal customers who are willing to travel miles to buy quality, farm-reared meat.
“We rear cattle on the farm and breed pigs too – all fed on grain that we mill ourselves – which means that the meat we sell in our butcher’s shop is incredibly high quality,” Pauline said.
“Most of our trade comes from word-of-mouth, and people keep coming back once they have tried our produce.”
The butcher’s shop sells meat products, black pudding, bacon, pork pies, fresh eggs and pork to die for.
The farm also has a popular grocery business, selling vegetables grown on the site alongside fresh produce brought in daily from wholesalers.
The COVID pandemic has had a positive effect on the farm’s trade, bringing new interest in quality food.
“During lockdown our trade in the butcher’s shop trebled,” Pauline said, “and now we find we have retained a lot of those new people.
“I think a lot of people didn’t want to queue in supermarkets to buy their food and, if you compare our meat to what you might buy in a large supermarket it really is superior. So I think the lockdown changed people’s shopping habits in a good way.”
Those changing habits have also introduced a new kind of customer to the delights of Beacon Farm.
“We have always had a lot of older customers – some have been coming here or 20 years – but we are now seeing a lot more younger people coming here too,” Pauline said.
“Young people these days care so much about what they eat, and I think they can see that the food we sell here is high quality.”
Throughout the pandemic, the farm has stuck to all the strict guidelines laid down by the Government, following hygiene rules, restricting the numbers of people in the shops at any time and practising social distancing.
All of this has been carefully overseen by staff who pride themselves on friendly, welcoming and homely customer service.
“People have been very understanding,” Pauline said, “they have been amazingly supportive.”
Perhaps the most unusual thing about Beacon Farm is its location – a slice of rural life right on the doorstep of the urban West Midlands.
The couple’s two sons live in Sutton, while their daughter lives in Little Aston.
“I think we get the best of both worlds living here,” Pauline said. “If I look out of any of our windows, the view is trees and countryside, but at the same time we are just a short drive away from Aldridge, Walsall, Sutton and Birmingham.
“I suppose that’s why people are often so surprised when they first discover us. We quite often get a new customer who says: ‘you know, I’ve lived around here all my life, and I had no idea this farm was here!’”
Thanks to the quality food they produce and the recommendations of loyal customers, it seems more and more people are discovering the secret of Beacon Farm.