Royal Visits, Midland Red, & Local Industry remembered at Smethwick Heritage Centre Roadshow Film Screening

A variety of stalls dedicated to Smethwick Heritage

On Saturday, 6th November St Mary’s Church in Bearwood,  hosted the 2010 Smethwick Heritage Centre Roadshow.

In the Church Hall were several stalls of memorabilia and old photographs and documents that people could look through at their leisure. There was also a Tombola and a number of stalls dedicated to The much-loved Midland Red Buses.

It was a celebration of all things Smethwick, not only including The Midland Red Buses, but also Royal Visit’s to local factories and interviews with local residents about housing conditions in the area. The day also paid tribute to all the Smethwickians who fought for the country during both World War One and World War Two.

It drew in a huge crowd from in and around Smethwick and also some people who had long since moved from the area dropped by to see old friends and reminisce.  

I was kindly invited along to represent MACE’s (The Media Archive for Central England) Full Circle Project and discuss the importance of searching out films and home-movies made by Midlands communities and preserving the film in an archive.

There was also a screening of footage from the MACE archive collection that had been compiled especially by Curator Phil Leach, who is in charge of cataloguing, researching and programming screenings for members of the public. The screening consisted of footage taken from Midlands News and also ATV that is held at MACE. There was a great response from the audience to the clips shown throughout the hour long screenings that took place in both the morning and afternoon in St Mary’s Church which made a great venue for showing the old films.

I asked Chris Sutton, Development Worker for The Smethwick Heritage Centre to tell us a little more about the work done by the members of The Heritage Centre and what they thought of the day.

“Smethwick Heritage Centre Trust was started by an independant group to capture the history of Smethwick. The home-base is a musuem which was the former lodge in Victoria Park, which houses the collection of artefacts on display. Smethwick was right at the heart of the industrial revolution and was home to many world famous companies such as GKN, Chance Brothers, Birmid and M&B. All these, and many more companies, are reflected in the museum alongside displays on the arts and crafts, local government, schools and both world  wars.

As well as the museum the Trust also gets out into the community, working with schools, sheltered accomodation and puts on four annual “roadshow” events which are attended each time by several hundred current and former Smethwickians. These latter events are always popular and the addition at the November 2010 roadshow of the MACE film was extremely well received. At least 120 people watched the film all the way through with others popping in and out. Response was highly favourable with requests for it to be shown again and for other clips.

 For us it was invaluable as a tool to get people talking about the past and bringing up long forgotten memories. There were one or two present who came forward to say they have films – which we had not been informed about before – and it prompted others to go and have a look in their cupboards and at the very least I would expect we get more photographs coming back in.

Because Smethwick had so many huge companies based there it does seem likely that there would have been plenty of archive films in their possession. It could well be worthwhile to start looking into the whereabouts of company archives. We are at the moment putting in a Lottery bid to set up an oral history archive pertaining to these companies and as part of that we will be organising a search along those lines.

Our sincere thanks are due to Lucie Kerley and all at MACE (especially Phil!!) for their help and support.”

The day proved a success with members of the public coming forward to discuss both personal cinefilm collections and also other collections that they were aware of that relate to the Smethwick Community. The MACE and Full Circle Team are looking forward to seeing more home-movies come to light as a result of public screenings of archive film like this.

If you have any home-movies relating to Smethwick or the wider Midlands area, please get in touch to hear more about how the Heritage Lottery Funded Full Circle Project can help you to preserve your films.


Full Circle Curator: Lucie Kerley. Telephone: 0116 252 5931 or 07919 896 505 or email:

Now available:

The Black Country 1969 DVD only  £14.99

Made by ATV in 1969, this documentary is a poignant and atmospheric profile of the people and character of the Black Country. The DVD is available to buy from a number of outlets including Amazon, The Black Country Bugle , Broadfield House & Glass Museum, TeeT shirts in Cradley Heath  and also from MACE  itself.

Emma Morley – Business & Commercial Development Manager at MACE – or telephone 0116 252 5062



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