Ray Crowther’s Blog

Kingston Secondary Boys’ School

There’s a school reunion for former pupils of Kingston Secondary Boys’ School, Dartmouth St, Stafford (all years) at Stafford Rangers Social Club on Friday 30th March 2018 from 8pm. The last reunion was back in 2010 and previously to that 1997. I’m trying to get everyone together for one last time. Please pass on the details to anyone who maybe interested, there will be more details to follow. There’s some interviews from last time (to wet your appetite) here,

Children invited to join Animal Agents for Summer Reading Challenge

Children from across Staffordshire are invited to join Animal Agents as part of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Staffordshire’s library Service are backing the campaign and are asking the county’s 4-11 year-olds to borrow and read any six library books during the summer holidays.

This year’s theme is Animal Agents, based on a detective agency staffed by all kinds of clever animals – furry, scaly and slippery – who are out to crack a case at the library with a little help from their friends.

To take part in the challenge, all children need to do is to head to their local library where they will be given a collector folder to keep a record of their reading journey.  As children read their library books over the summer, they collect stickers which will help them crack the clues and help the Animal Agents find out what’s really been going on behind the scenes!

Gill Heath, Libraries Chief at Staffordshire County Council said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is always incredibly popular amongst our young readers and this year’s campaign sounds even more fun.

“Reading is the perfect way for youngsters to let their imaginations run wild and keep the boredom at bay during the six week holiday.  The challenge is great news for moms and dads too, as it provides a free source of entertainment and it’s educational, so it’s a win – win for everyone.  Each year we also get lots of volunteers helping out, so once again, I’d like to pass on a big thanks to them too.”

Tony Ross, the UK’s best-selling children’s illustrator (creator of the Little Princess books, illustrator of the Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon, and of books by David Walliams and Claire Balding), has created this year’s exclusive artwork.

Animal Agents runs throughout the summer with a range of events and activities planned in the county’s libraries.  The campaign finishes on 11 September and people can find out more at their local library or at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/libraries

 

Revving Up for the Classic Car Show at Stafford Castle

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Organisers of the classic car show at Stafford Castle are inviting owners of veteran, vintage, classic and collectors’ cars to book their precious vehicles into the show.

The event, sponsored by RPH Motor Repairs from Astonfields, also gives owners the chance to enter their vehicles into the competition. Awards are presented to the ‘Best Vehicles in Class.’ Categories for the competition are: Pre 1920; 1920s and 30s; 1940s & 50s; 1960s and 70s; Future Classics; Best Vintage Tractor; Best Classic Commercial; Best Military Classic; and Best Vintage Motorcycle.

Thousands of visitors are expected at the show which is organised by Stafford Borough Council and is now in its 13th year.

Activities on the day include craft stalls, a miniature car museum, children’s quizzes and mini Land Rover rides; as well as entry to the Visitor Centre and Castle Keep.

The show runs from 11am to 5pm on Sunday 30 July. Admission to the event will be free of charge and car parking costs £3. Entrance to the Castle and Visitor Centre is also free.

For more information or to book your vehicle into the show contact Mark Hartwell, Heritage Sites Manager at Stafford Borough Council on 01785 619130 or email: [email protected]

For further event information visit, http://www.staffordbc.gov.uk/heritageevents

 

 

999 service is 80-years-old today

 

 

101_Non_Emergency_Phone_Number

Today, marks 80 years since the emergency call system 999 was launched in London on 30 June 1937. It was the first of its kind in the world, introducing a special signal indicating to the telephone operator that the call must receive immediate attention.

The 999 call system was introduced after a two-year inquiry, following the deaths of five women in a fire at Wimpole Street in London in 1935.

The choice of 999 was because in the dark or in dense smoke 999 could be dialled on the old rotary telephones by placing a finger against the dial stop and rotating the dial to its full extent three times.

The first week of the service saw it take more than 1,000 calls. They were indicated by red lamps and a loud klaxon. The first call was made by a Mrs Beard in Hampstead, north London, and led to the arrest of burglar Thomas Duffy.

Now, Staffordshire Police takes about 146,000 999 calls a year. Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning are the busiest times for 999 calls and we have a target of answering 90% within 10 seconds.

Matt Goldsmith, Contact Services Manager, said: “We urge people who have dialled 999 for a genuine reason and then decided that the police are not required to stay on the line and speak to one of our call handers. We will always call them back to make sure all is ok and this can take time and impact on others who have an emergency.”

A video ‘When to call 999’ is available at:
https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/article/1991/999-Emergency

Staffordshire to commemorate Battle of Messines 100 years on

On 7 June 1917 Allied troops were fighting their way into the village of Messines, near Ypres in Belgium, in one of the most successful offensives of the Great War.

Now, 100 years on, Staffordshire is set to commemorate the battle and the role of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, which was based at the military training camps on Cannock Chase from late 1917.

The battle lasted seven days and was an important moment in the history of the NZRB. But such a spectacular victory came at a price, with some 24,500 allied casualties sustained, 5,000 of which were New Zealanders.

Staffordshire played an important role during the Great War where the two military training camps on Cannock Chase trained over half a million troops for the trenches from across the UK and abroad. Today, they survive as some of the most complete Great War archaeological sites in the country.

It was here that men from the NZRB built an intricate scaled model of part of the battlefield at Messines which was used to train troops in battle tactics and map reading.  The model, made of concrete and about the size of five tennis courts, was excavated and recorded by archaeologists in 2013 and is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country.

The model showed not only Messine’s buildings and structures, hills and streams but both the German and NZRB trench lines and sniper positions.  Using such a model would not have been a standard approach to training at the time, but is thought would have allowed men to physically walk the battle zone to understand the best way to attack.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, said: “Staffordshire played a vital role training troops during the Great War and we’re incredibly proud to have such a valuable heritage site on our doorstep.

“The discovery and recording of the Messines model is particularly special and, as a rare example of its kind, is recognised as having both national and international significance.  It offers us an insight into ‘modern’ approaches to training.”

“As custodians of this important landscape and its history, it is vital that we remember the work of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and its role in the Battle of Messines as well as the many British units which trained on the Chase.”

Soldiers would have spent time at the training camps to learn the skills required on the Western Front. Lines of practice trenches, sniper ranges, the railway, remains of the parade ground and hut bases, and a Great War Hut are all still visible.

A special memorial on Armistice Day for Freda the dog who was the Mascot of the NZRB also rests on Cannock Chase near to the site of the Messines terrain model.  The Commonwealth Cemetery on Cannock Chase is also now the resting place for hundreds of troops including those from the NZRB who were based on Cannock Chase.

Sir Jerry Mateparae, New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK, said: “I applaud the County Council and the community for all the work they are doing to commemorate the Battle of Messines and the special link New Zealand has with Cannock Chase.

“It’s fantastic to see the connection between New Zealand and Staffordshire still so strong 100 years after the New Zealand Rifle Brigade trained at Cannock Chase.”

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 5461) Near Wytschaete, 8 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237594

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 5461) Near Wytschaete, 8 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237594

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 5487) A smashed up German strong point at Wytschaete, 10 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237618

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 5487) A smashed up German strong point at Wytschaete, 10 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237618

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 3519) A German Light Railway destroyed by British guns, 11th June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205236055

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 3519) A German Light Railway destroyed by British guns, 11th June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205236055

BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 2314) Soldiers, probably from the 12th Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, seen in a British communication trench in Ploegsteert Wood, during the Battle of Messines, 11th June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205078194

BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 2314) Soldiers, probably from the 12th Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, seen in a British communication trench in Ploegsteert Wood, during the Battle of Messines, 11th June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205078194

Staffordshire County Council Archaeologist Steve Dean talks about the Battle of Messines on its 100th anniversary and the county’s role during the Great War in this short video,

You can find out more about Staffordshire’s role during WWI at www.staffordshiregreatwar.com