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Remembering, in rhyme, Bilston's potted meat place

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: April 27, 2014

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THESE days potted meat as a foodstuff is more refined, but the words, if associated with its manufacture, can still conjure up a specific smell, and people who lived in a certain part of Bilston in the 1930's and '40s were only too aware of the strong, pungent aroma given off by the Potted Meat Place.

A potted meat food product is a food similar to a pâté, made using a method of food preservation, canning, consisting of cooked meat product, seasoned, often puréed, minced, or ground, which is heat processed and sealed into cans. But that was only half the story emanating from the Moseley Road area of Bilston, as Gerald Hanrahan graphically described in his article about Air Circus Tiger Moth a few weeks ago when he mentioned the smelting down of animal bones for glue.

These memories have been picked up by Dilys Peeke (nee Butler) from Goole, Humberside, and she has been recalling a certain rhyme that was often chanted out by herself and her school chums. She told us, "I really enjoyed Gerald's account of Stowlawn and the surrounding area. His words gave me a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

"I lived on Moseley Road, Bilston, until I got married, and went to school at the Villiers and then on to Bilston Girl's High School. We used to have a rhyme at school, that one or two might remember, and it went like this : 'As Satan was flying over Stowlawn to hell, he was struck by the scenery and likewise the smell. He said 'I know not in which country I roam, but I know by the smell I am not far from home'.

"This was of course a reference to the smell that came out of the potted meat factory, a whiff, especially when the wind was in the wrong direction, I don't think I will never forget. Thanks Gerald for this nostalgic journey."

Have you any more memories of the potted meat place or other industries that used to create problems to the quality of living in the Black Country in days gone by? If you would like to share a story or even a photograph, contact editor@blackcountrybugle.co.uk, or Bugle House on 01384 567678.

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