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THE BLACK COUNTRY MEMORIES CLUB

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Made in Bilston
Some of the exhibits

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 Made in Bilston Poster There were more than a hundred Bilston-made artifacts at the exhibition, as well as an enormous collection of documents about Bilston industry.  So we show here just some of them.  Photographs of many of the others either already appear on our pages about Bilston industry, or will do so in due course. 

The Bilston steel works were the dominant industry in Bilston for many years.  But it is difficult to show much of their product in an exhibition!  So we were lucky to have several interesting representative items.  One was a specially produced oil painting of the Elisabeth furnace, by Jeff Poole
A reproduction of the painting appeared on the front cover (seen on Left). of the souvenir booklet which Reg Aston produced.  The booklet will be a most useful summary account of industry in Bilston.

We also had the original name plate from the Elisabeth furnace (seen on Right).  It was lent to us from the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, through the kind offices of Philippa Tinsley.
 Elisabeth Dec 1954
The Last Iron And from the same source we also had the very last iron to come from the Elisabeth furnace. Copperware Copperware and brassware from Joseph Sankey and from Beldray are now collectors' items.  We had this table full and a couple of display cases, with a representative selection, mainly lent Frank Sharman and Reg Aston.
Sankey made a wide variety of objects in copper including a copper lifebouy.  They claimed to sell large numbers of these unlikely items but they are now exceedingly rare.  In fact this is the only one we have ever seen and it was lent to us by GKN, through the kind offices of Denis Evans. Copper Lifebouy  Denis Evans and GKN also lent us this steel helmet.  They produced millions of these but they are now rare and much collected.  Our Deputy Chairman was happy to model it as, during his time, he had worn, in earnest, both types of the helmet, the civil defence version and the infantry version. Deputy Chair
Steel Bowl for Hospital Sankeys also produced a good deal of stainless steel ware, mainly for hospitals (such as this bowl) but also some domestic ware.  We had a display case full, thanks to Kath Kiely and Denis Evans. Cast Iron Cannon The Cannon Foundry was another important local firm.  Thanks to many local people we had a vast array of enamelled cast iron ware, including this cannon.  So, as part of the exhibition, we were able to tell the story of the Quest for the Bilston Knights.  That appears in details elsewhere on this web site.  Click here to go to the Quest for the Bilston Knights.
Bilston enamels are world famous, both the old ones and the modern ones.  We had a good selection from Reg Aston and Kath Kiely, including some unique ones.  The portrait seen to the left in the case is a one off of Mr. Jordan himself (leant by Mr. Roberts) - and behind the case you can just see one of Jordan's enamel signs, this one being for Pear's soap. Bilston Enamels   This enamelled version of Constable's painting, lent by Kath Kiely, is also thought to be a unique example. Enamelled Picture  
Enamelled Picture  Two delightful examples were brought into the exhibition.
The 18th century example on the right is owned by Winnie Brown, who had it mounted by Ruddells.
Enamelled Picture Many people forget that Bilston was a glass producing town.  We had many examples of Phoenix glassware, mostly from the collections and kitchens of Kath Kiely and Frank Sharman. Phoenix Glassware
This glass tea pot, by Phoenix, was one of the most unusual items in the exhibition.  It was lent by Joyce May (nee Roberts). Glass TeapotAnd Phoenix produced these plates and casseroles as souvenirs of the Coronation.   Coronation Souveneirs
Models   Thanks mostly to Kath Carter and Reg Aston we had a good number of items made in Bilston factories but not as regular production pieces.  Some, like this model of a man tucking into a chicken and the two leaf-shaped dishes, were one offs produced by workers in a factory for their own pleasure.   Ash Tray  Others, like this pipe smoker's ash tray, were experimental pieces or trial pieces, which never went in to production.
Many makers did not stamp their names on their goods and relied on paper labels, which have long since vanished.  But these domestic items were typical of the products of Farmer and Chapman. Domestic Enamels But at least Holcrofts had no qualms about having their name in large letters on this cast iron kettle.  Things were made to last in those days. Cast Iron Kettle

One way or another the enormous and diverse output of Bilston was well represented.  Maybe on another occasion we can get even more things and maybe one day there will be a permanent public collection as a memorial to what the people of Bilston achieved.

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