Walsall is a medium sized, industrial town in the English Midlands. It has an approximate population of 253,000 and a conservative local council. The Mayor is a conservative councillor by the name of Mike Bird. Walsall has two Members of Parliament in the constituencies Walsall North and Walsall South. The member for Walsall North is currently David Winnick M.P. (Labour) and Bruce George, M.P. is the member for Walsall South. Bruce George is also chair of the Defence select committee, a member of H.R.H.’s most honourable privy council, and was leader of the international team overseeing the recent elections in Ukraine.
The name Walsall is thought to have derived from the words “Walh halh”, meaning Valley of the foreigners (referring to the Celts). By the first part of the 13th Century A.D. Walsall was a small market town, with the weekly market being introduced in 1220 AD. The Mayor of Walsall was created as a political position in the 14th Century.
Queen Mary's Grammar School opened in walsall in 1554, the 450th anniversary was commemorated by the School achieving Language College status, and the date 2004 being added to the crest, next to 1554.
The industrial revolution changed the town from a village of 2,000 in the 16th century to a town of over 86,000 in approximately 200 years. It is a local story, although perhaps not accurate, that Walsall declined a railway line, which was later given to Birmingham, now England's second city. Walsall finally recieved a railway line in 1847, 48 years after canals reached the town.
Walsall has had many industries, from coal mining to metal working, but in the late 19th century the coal mines ran dry and Walsall became internationally famous for the Leather trade. Walsall still manufactures the Queen's handbags, and Walsall leather products have been found as far afield as Italy, which prompted some embarressment when a husband gave one to his wife as a present after a business trip, when she realised she immediately assumed that the handbag had been bought when the husband returned.
The Walsall Memorial Gardens and Arbouretum opened in 1952, and hold the second biggest Illuminations in the country, as they purchase their lights second hand from Blackpool. Walsall was made a Metropolital Borough in 1974, and a museum to the leather trade opened in 1988 by Princess Anne. The most recent development in Walsall has been the new Art gallery, opened by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, and the construction of a new retail park. Plans also exist to suppliment the town's bus and rail links with a tram link to West Bromwich.
Walsall's football club, Walsall FC (The Sadders), was founded in 1887 when Walsall Town FC and Walsall Swifts FC merged. They won their first game against the now legendary Aston Villa. The club are currently in 16th Position of the Coca-Cola Football league one, after being relegated last season.
Famous residents of Walsall have included Jerome K. Jerome and Sister Dora. Sister Dora is honoured by a status in the centre of town, next to the legendary Concrete Hippo. The town has multiple pieces of public art, none of which are appreciated by the residents who have paid for them with their taxes apart from the aforementioned pachyderm.
The shopping possibilities in Walsall are varied, with many electrical goods stores, and every mobile phone chain in the country being represented. There are all of the clothes shops you would expect in a large town, which avoids the need to visit Birmingham for most items.
I would also like to take this opportunity to recommend W. H. Hill and Son Family Butchers. Leave the town centre towards Pelsall, passing the Arboretum on your right, and turn left just before the run-down church. Since leaving home for university and being forced to pay for my own food, their meat is the thing I miss most.
Nightlife in the town, however, is rather one sided. There are seemingly no provisions whatsoever for people who do not enjoy dance or rnb music. The most popular club is without a doubt WS1, which is full of sixth form or college students every thursday night. Do not expect to get into any club in Walsall with a brand name visible on your clothes, or without real shoes.
The nicest place to go in Walsall is, without a doubt, the Wharf 10 bar. This small, modern pub next to the canal and the art gallery has a microbrewery on site, and serves many excellent beers, coffees and food. It also host live music on a Monday night, and assorted other times. Be aware, however, there is a £3 entrance charge on a Monday night.
The town is served by the Express and Star, the largest regional newspaper in the UK, and, if I may be permitted to say so, the most opinionated load of drivel I have ever read. The letters page is a favourite of mine, I believe it to be a testing ground for right wing propaganda, and the editorials by Peter Rhodes are excellent, I have never read them and not burst out laughing.
Walsall, as a whole, is not a very attractive place. It was voted the "ugliest city in the World" a few years ago, and its residents range from a pleasure to be with, to worse than Vicky Pollard of Little Britain fame. It would not be a good place to stop off at on holiday, but if you live in the local area it is an important centre.