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How West Bromwich celebrated jubilee in 1935

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: July 14, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • West Bromwich 1935 Silver Jubilee programme

  • Councillor J.H. Wills, West Bromwich's first Labour mayor, served in coronation year

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LAST week we featured a souvenir badge from West Bromwich Albion's appearance in the FA Cup final in the silver jubilee year of George V in 1935. Now we have another memento of that time from the collection of Peter Hill of West Bromwich, this programme of the town's celebrations 79 years ago.

In the booklet, the borough council were keen to stress how the town of West Bromwich had developed and grown over the king's reign:

"During the period there have been two extensions of the borough boundaries, and though in neither case was the increase large, they added very desirable and necessary building areas in the only direction in which West Bromwich can extend. In 1927 a small part of Perry Barr was added, and in 1931 a part of Great Barr, including Hamstead, and a small bit of Wednesbury came within the Borough boundaries, West Bromwich making an exchange with its neighbouring borough. The increase amounted to 1,312 acres, the total area now being 7,172 acres, while the population in the same period has grown from 68,345 to 82,200.

"There has, of course been a considerable increase in the number of houses, the figure now being nearly 20,000 compared with 14,825 twenty-five years ago, and of this increase, the Town Council has provided upwards of 4,000.

"The quarter century saw the election of a first woman Mayor of West Bromwich, Alderman Mrs G.E. Cottrell being appointed in 1926, and in 1934 the first member of the Labour Party in the person of Councillor J.H. Wills was elected to the Mayoral Chair. In 1920 the Council acquired the Highfields estate, in High Street at a cost of £7,100, one of the residences being converted into offices for the Education Department.

"The growth of the Borough in the past 25 years is strikingly illustrated by the fact that in that period the mileage of roads has increased from 52 to 77. Considerable road widenings and improvements have taken plave and clearance schemes involving the demolition of no fewer than 266 old houses have been completed or are now being carried out. Most of the slum areas have been abolished, and West Bromwich has kept pace with the country generally in the task of improving the housing conditions of its population."

The official programme of jubilee events began on May 5 with a massed band concert in Dartmouth Park.

Monday, May 6, was official jubilee day and began with a procession of ex-servicemen through the town, finishing at Dartmouth Park and a 21-gun salute. A civic service was held at Christ Church and there was an ox roast at the Olympia Ground in Carters Green. Meanwhile, West Bromwich Harriers held a sports day at Dartmouth Park, followed by a match between West Bromwich Hockey Club and Stone Hockey Club and in the evening a schoolboy football match between the north and south of the borough.

In the evening a dance was held at Charlemont School and the grand jubilee ball was at the Town Hall. The night rounded off with a great bonfire at the Jubilee Colliery.

Celebrations continued the next day when all schoolchildren were given a jubilee tea at their schools. In the evening the West Bromwich Operatic and Dramatic Society gave their Jubilee Show with over 200 performers.

On Wednesday, May 8, the West Bromwich and District Bowling League held a jubilee competition while in the evening West Bromwich Albion took on the "Pick of the Midlands" at the Hawthorns. Salter's Amateur Dramatic Society staged The Whole Town's Talking, a farce by Anita Loos and John Emerson, with proceeds going to the King George V Jubile Trust Fund.

A Grand Jubilee Procession was held in the town on the Saturday, with a fireworks display in the evening and the week of celebrations ended on Sunday with church services.

Have you a souvenir of George V's jubilee or any other events in the Black Country? Contact dshaw@blackcoun trybugle.co.uk

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