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Woodside history group remembers Job Garratt

By rob taylor  |  Posted: October 20, 2011

The memorial fountain.

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THE Woodside Memory and History Group meet once a month to explore aspects of the Woodside, Holly Hall, Scotts Green, Harts Hill and Low Town areas of Dudley. At the last meeting, on Monday 17th October, the subject was Job Garratt, an important businessman in the area and benefactor to the town.

The meeting marked the 100th anniversary of the official unveiling of the Job Garratt memorial fountain in Woodside Park. After 100 years the trees in the park are encroaching on the fountain and Netherton, Woodside and St Andrew’s councillor Qadar Zada is leading efforts for the area around the memorial to be tidied up.

Job Merchant Garratt was born in Dudley on 30th October, 1839, the son of Shelah and Harriet Garratt. Shelah Garratt and Son were prominent Black Country coal mas- TWO fun events are taking place at Sandwell Valley Country Park at the end of this month.

On Wednesday, 26th October, there will be a seed gathering event. October is a fantastic time of the year for collecting seeds in the country park and visitors are invited to join the rangers who will show them how to plant their own little part of nature which they can then take home.

Those taking part are advised to wear sensible clothing as part of the activity will be outdoors. It takes place at 10.30am and the price is £2.50 for children with up to two accompanying adults free.

With Hallowe’en approaching, now is a good time to explore one of the earth’s ancient mysteries.

On Friday, 28th October, Sandwell Park Farm will be staging a dowsing event.

People have been dowsing for centuries, not just for water, but for metal also. Nobody really knows how, or why, it works, but it is estimated that 90% of people can do it, although most haven’t tried. Another strange fact about dowsing is that if someone who cannot get it to work is touched by someone who can, it usually works.

On this walk visitors will be able to try this ancient craft using wire, pendulums and forked sticks. It is being held at 2pm and prices are £3 for adults, children and over 60s £2.50, and a family ticket costs £8.

To book for either of these events, or for further information, call 0121 553 0220.

Searching for seeds and water at Sandwell Valley ters, owning collieries at New and Old Hawne, Timber Tree, Park Head and Himley, as well as a number of brickworks.

Job Garratt took over the business in April 1883, according to notice given in the London Gazette, and in 1894 the firm acquired some of the assets of the New British Iron Company.

Job married Ann Underhill at St Edmund’s Church, Dudley, on 12th December, 1860 and they had 15 children.

Coal made Job Garratt a very wealthy man and he lived in a house in Wassell Grove, near Pedmore, that had its own theatre, where his children staged plays for family and friends.

He was generous too, staging feasts for his workers to celebrate the weddings of his many children and opening the grounds of his home to Sunday School picnics and other events.

Garratt entered local politics in Dudley and was elected to represent the Woodside ward in November 1872. He was elected Mayor of Dudley in November 1881 and was re-elected the following year.

On leaving office he was made an alderman and one of his lasting legacies to the town was the establishment of the free library, opened in 1884, and the later branches in Woodside and Netherton in 1894. Garratt was also a founder of the Dudley Chamber of Commerce and was its president until his death.

Job Garratt died in his sleep on 12th June, 1908, leaving an estate valued at £103,000, which equates to several million in today’s terms. He was buried at St Thomas’s (Top Church) Dudley, where his workers raised funds for a memorial plaque inside the church.

Honour The town of Dudley felt it should honour him too and 2,000 people subscribed to his memorial fund, with donations ranging from 1d to £1. The memorial, a drinking fountain topped with a bust of Garratt, was raised in Woodside Park and unveiled by Alderman Joseph Alfred Hillman, Mayor of Dudley, in a ceremony on 28th October, 1911. After the official ceremony 1,200 local children were entertained to tea by Garratt’s widow.

The discussion on Job Garratt and his memorial is typical of the events arranged by the Woodside Memory and History Group, which meets on the third Monday of every month. The next meeting takes place on Monday, 21st November, 7- 9pm, at Woodside Community Centre, Highgate Road, Dudley, DY2 0SN.

For more details of the group call Lenard Hughes on 01384 565291, or Val Worwood on 01384 865495.

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