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Hungry Days in Brierley Hill

By Josephine.Jasper  |  Posted: September 05, 2013

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The pictures reproduced here take us back to 1912 - a hungry year for Black Country folk! With widespread unemployment and The Welfare State a distant idealist dream the situation for folk like those who appear in the photographs was nothing short of desperate. It is said that the worst brings out the best in people and real help, for the folk who populated the straggling rows of terraced houses which clustered around the slumbering giant of "The Earl's" Round Oak steelworks, came from an unexpected source.

 Whilst parsons and ranters in local chapels were apt to condemn the "Demon Drink" for any catastrophe which befell the people and the wealthy in the community largely averted their eyes from the light of their poorer neighbours, Alf Tandy, a publican whose premises stood adjacent to Round Oak Works, proved that deeds speak louder than words by turning his public house into a Soup Kitchen and virtually saved the lives of many Brierley Hill citizens.

 His brewing equipment was used in the preparation of enormous vats of soup which was given free to the endless queues of people who lined the worn pavements outside his premises. Shawled grandmothers, haggard housewives, ragged boys and thin girls all assembled, jug in hand, for the life-saving elixir which Alf Tandy dispensed in the true Christian Spirit. Many a Brierley Hill oldster is alive today because Alf Tandy acted thus, 62 years ago. Alf's brewing equipment suffered in the process and had to be replaced. Maybe he got his reward in Heaven?

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