At our Annual Meeting we stood in memory of our much-loved former President Marjorie Power who died earlier this year aged 96. Afterwards our Committee was re-elected en bloc and we thanked all our officers for their hard work throughout the year, particularly our President Elaine Partridge, Secretary Jane Hewitt and Gill Tyers who has been our Treasurer for nearly 20 years. Elaine presented her with a colourful bouquet in recognition of her long service to the WI. Brenda Sheard received a gift token to thank her for preparing WI posters for display in the library and on the Institute noticeboard in the High Street, a job she has done for nearly 50 years. Jane Mills has organised our programme of activities and talks for several years and will hand over the role in a few months’ time, having already arranged a varied and exciting series of meetings for 2019. We particularly hope these will attract more new members.
During social time, members enjoyed creating hand-made Christmas and greetings cards using a variety of shiny and sparkling collage materials. Our next meeting on December 11th is the Christmas party with a festive spread provided by the committee. Afterwards we will be playing old-fashioned party games and singing carols. The competition is for ‘Your Christmas Outfit!’
Members from Wishaw and Curdworth WIs will be joining us for the Group Carol Service on Wednesday December 12th at Coleshill United Church at 7.30, with mince pies and mulled wine to follow.
The New Year kicks off with a version of the ever-popular ‘Antiques Roadshow’ at our meeting on January 8th when auctioneer Steven Bruce also be appraising antiques brought in by our members and judging the best for the monthly competition. Members and any interested visitors are very welcome to attend and bring along their intriguing antique pieces to find out “What’s It Worth!”
On February 12th we are holding a Games Evening and the competition will be for a bowl of home-grown bulbs – so members are reminded to plant up their bowls in good time.
In March Steve Allen will take a musical trip through the 1800s and the competition is for ‘Something Your Mother Used to Say’.
Our meetings are held at Coleshill Town Hall on the second Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm and visitors are always very welcome.
Coleshill Country Market is gearing up for Christmas. Come in and place your orders for our home-baked Christmas treats and party food including rich fruit Christmas cakes with or without icing, holly wreaths, flour-free chocolate roulades, shortbread, mince pies, sausage rolls, local honey, jams, marmalades, chutneys, speciality pickled onions, stained glass Christmas tree decorations and other favourites. These include scones, iced chocolate and coffee cakes, Victoria sandwiches, gluten-free cakes, quiches, huge barn eggs, lemon drizzle cakes, winter pansies, cacti, exquisite clothes for babies and toddlers plus hand-turned woodwork – they all make great gifts.
Our hand-knitted tea cosies, cardigans, scarves, leg warmers, woollen hats with matching gloves and exquisite matinee jackets are proving popular, useful gifts as the weather turns colder. Stop your mobile phone getting a cracked screen with our hand-made phone covers – and if you’re looking for colourful stocking-fillers, choose from our range of unique purses, bags, pencil cases and striking jewellery plus cuddly owls and hedgehogs, all at very reasonable prices.
We’re also taking orders for our newly-launched hampers with a selection of favourite Market goodies specially tailored to the lucky recipient – from quiches, cakes and preserves to plants or a warm hat and glove set. Delivery available in the local area. The hampers and Christmas produce can be ordered in advance then collected on or before our last market of the year on Friday, December 21st from 8 to 11.30 am at the Parish Room, 132 High Street, Coleshill B46 3BJ. Pop in to give us your Christmas orders and have a chat at the same time or ring Christine on 01675-462012, Deanna on 01675-463239 or Sally on 07860-346878.
We always welcome new producers so if you enjoy cooking, preserving, sewing, craftwork or producing home-grown fruit, vegetables, plants or eggs, we’d love to hear from you. Our weekly market has a warm, welcoming atmosphere and offers the chance to make new friends.
At our next Market on Friday November 9th, come and buy a beautiful hand-made stained glass poppy brooch – perfect for Armistice Centenary day on November 11th. Each brooch costs £5 of which £1 goes to the nationwide Poppy Appeal.
Warwickshire Country Markets are looking for a new Treasurer to do the books for the three markets in the county. If you have a knowledge of book-keeping and are interested or know of anyone who might be suitable, please contact one of the numbers above.
In late October, Patrick Foster Smith, known locally for publishing In My Father’s Footsteps, the WW1 diaries of his father Harry, a lieutenant in the 216th (Nuneaton) Army Troops Company, Royal Engineers, travelled to Camblain-Châtelain (Nord-Pas-de Calais) a small town in France some 8 hours by car and ferry from Coleshill. Responding to an invitation from the town’s Comité Historique, Patrick, together with Brian and Paddy Nicholson, set up a bookstall in Camblain’s Salle des Fêtes, alongside displays that included a full-scale trench, first aid post, canteen, mortars, bombs and numerous showcases filled with items retrieved from the battlefields that surrounded the town a century ago.
The town’s weekend Commemoration of the Centenary of the Armistice began on Saturday morning with the inauguration of the newly-sited war memorial. It was a colourful ceremony with two marching bands, a mass of standard bearers and army veterans watched by a large crowd. Local children read out the names of the 80 local men who had died in the conflict. Wreathes were laid at the foot of the monument, among them a poppy wreath brought by Patrick. (In France cornflowers are as much associated with the Armistice as are poppies). In conclusion Mayor Lelio Pedrini spoke of the pain and sacrifice endured in the battles of Artois and elsewhere.
Soon after, in the Salle de Fêtes, the exhibition was buzzing with activity. The British stand promoted much interest and many books changed hands, particularly Sur les Traces de Mon Père, the French version of the diaries kindly translated by Patrick’s friend Gérard Laporte.
The last family to live at Lloyds Bank, Coleshill returned for a final visit to their old home on the day the bank closed its doors for the last time. There were poignant memories for Christine Jones, 90, widow of John Jones, the last bank manager to ‘live over the shop’, as the bank’s staff welcomed her and her daughter Sally to look round the Bank House where they lived from 1962-64. The bank has been based at 121 High Street, an imposing Georgian house, since 1878, but the decision was recently made to shut it because of the rise in online banking and the corresponding fall in customers visiting the branch in person.
“We loved living in this big house when we first moved to Coleshill,” said Mrs Jones. “It had 7 bedrooms, though we mostly only used two. It also had a wonderful walled garden, which has since been built on, but at the time it had two lawns where the children played for hours, a large vegetable patch, summer house, apple trees and a huge pear tree, which produced armfuls of pears each year. Mr Mann, the previous bank manager had tilled the garden assiduously and when we arrived, I carried on, growing some good crops of vegetables.”
“As a 7-year-old I loved playing gymkanas with my friends in the back garden, using cricket stumps and bamboo canes for jumps. ,” remembered journalist and broadcaster Sally Jones. “I also enjoyed roller skating on the polished floor of the banking hall at crack of dawn. One Sunday morning about 6am I pressed a button that turned out to be the alarm for cashiers in case of a hold-up. It shrieked piercingly for about 20 minutes and my dad was furious, saying the police would come and arrest us. In fact absolutely no one came to investigate at all, which was a bit worrying. As a school leaver, I worked at the Coleshill branch for 6 months to earn some money to play in the summer tennis tournaments and was probably the worst bank clerk they ever had; I could even burn water when making tea. Several of our family have made their careers in Lloyds Bank though, including my brother Edward, father, uncle, aunt, grandfather and great-grandfather. We are very grateful that the Lloyds staff gave us the chance to look round the house that held so many happy memories for us.”
Scores of the bank’s local customers enjoyed Buck’s Fizz and canapes as they said their farewells to the branch. Former Town Mayor Susan Wallace, of Gascoigne’s Funeral Directors, a longstanding Coleshill resident and councillor enjoyed reminiscing about her family’s banking history at the Coleshill branch and about the local organisations such as Father Hudson’s Homes and the Royal British Legion which also used it.
“My grandfather Sidney Gascoigne moved from Moseley to Coleshill in 1929,” she explained, “after he took over an existing undertaker’s business at 100, High Street where our firm is still based. The interesting thing was learning more about local history through seeing the names of local organisations, community groups and committees that I’d never heard of, such as the Coleshill and District Handicraft Committee and groups from Over Whitacre and Lea Marston which were raising money for a Victory Hall after the War I. It made me realise it was local people who instigated these things.
I was also interested to hear about the early days of the Coleshill Drama Group which I’m closely involved with. It was founded by Joyce and Ernest Pickering, who lived in a bungalow called The Woodlands in Coventry Road, Coleshill and started a drama group there initially linked to the Methodist Church in the late 20s. It was first called the Woodlanders but probably became Coleshill Drama Group in 1933. The first production they did was called ‘Paddy, the Next Best Thing’ and the Group is still going strong. We are putting on a powerful play called ‘Entertaining Angels’ by Richard Everett at the Town Hall, from November 22nd to 24th . So much local history has been connected to Lloyds Bank, Coleshill, over the years, this is very much the end of an era.”