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Meeting Report - September 2018

The first meeting of the new session of the Romsley and Hunnington History Society took place on Tuesday 25th September. The Speaker was John Billingham and his talk was called, "An Amble Around Staffordshire", the county where he was born.

John revealed that Staffordshire was full of surprises. Not too far away are the rock houses of Kinver. No one knows how long these caves in the sandstone have been inhabited, but could they have been the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien's tunnel homes of Hobbiton?

Another mysterious and very secret place was the Drakelow Tunnels, built underground by the Austin Motor Company so that they could produce their Spitfire engines. These tunnels were also proposed for a Regional Seat of Government during the war. Lichfield, famous for the Cathedral with three spires, was also the place where three famous men lived. Samuel Johnson, who compiled his dictionary; Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, who was a doctor; and David Garrick, an actor famous for his role as Richard III.

The River Trent runs through Staffordshire, and together with the canals, was an important means of transport for the china industry around Stoke on Trent and the Potteries. One of John's many fine illustrations was a picture of, "A Sagger Maker's Bottom Knocker" made famous by the television programme, "What's My Line?"

Staffordshire can also boast of having, "The Greatest Midlander of All Time": R.J. Mitchell, who designed the Spitfire plane. The other tribute to the war dead is based at Alrewas, the National Arboretum of War Graves.

Staffordshire proved to be a very interesting county and perhaps after John's talk, members of the History Society may be persuaded to visit some of the places which are on our doorstep.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday 23rd October at 7.30pm in the Church Hall, when Max Hunt will tell us about, "Shelsley Walsh, the Story of a Village." There will be meetings for the Court Rolls Group on Wednesday October 10th, November 7th and December 5th all at 2.30pm till 4.00pm in the Church Hall. Everyone is welcome.


Pat Evans

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