Bromsgrove Arts News

  • Wed 14 Oct 2020

    The Autumn Newsletter for BAA has been produced as an e-edition. It is available here:




  • Mon 28 Sep 2020

    THE STORY of an 18-year-old girl struggling to come to terms with the loss of her family in a terrorist attack forms the plot of Tipping Point – the debut novel by Bromsgrove author Michelle Cook.

    The eco-thriller is set in a dystopian England in 2035 and centres on Essie Glass who lives a meagre existence while the Earth’s climate continues on its accelerating collapse.

    A powerful elite controls the population with propaganda, intimidation and constant surveillance.

    Esssie uncovers a conspiracy to suppress green technology which could reverse global warming and has to decide how much she is willing to risk to expose it.

    Michelle said: “The novel is set in and around Worcestershire and was inspired by worry about climate change and how ill-quipped we are to tackle it in the present circumstances.

    “I wanted to write an exciting adventure with an irrepressible main character who really does have the potential – and the guts – to change the world.”

    Michelle was born and grew up in Bromsgrove.

    After moving away to study Psychology at Liverpool University and living in Nottingham for seven years, she returned to Bromsgrove in 2003.

    She lives in Breme Park with her husband Daniel, their two children and a cat called Lyra.

    By day she works as a project manager for the NHS.

    She first became interested in creative writing at the age of ten when her slapstick tale of two talking kangaroos breaking out of a zoo was read ouut in class.

    She has had several flash pieces published, was long-listed for the Cambridge 2020 prize for flash fiction, and placed first in the February 2020 Writers’ Forum competition with her short story The Truth About Cherry House.

  • Mon 21 Sep 2020

    THE first drive-in cinema at Sanders Park has been hailed a success by Bromsgrove District Council after it was visited by more than 1,000 people.

    Blue Sky Cinema worked in partnership with the council’s Parks and Events Team in a bid to bring fun and interesting events back to the park.

    Eighteen films were shown over two weekends in August, including Mamma Mia, Grease, Joker, Back to the Future and Rocketman.

    Coun Phil Thomas, whose portfolio covers leisure and cultural services, said: “I must say a huge thank you to our team who worked tirelessly alongside contractors to ensure enjoyment to our residents.

    “The reviews speak for themselves, it was clearly very well received.”

    Residents praised the friendly and organised staff, sound quality and the view from their cars.

    They also said the food and drink was fairly priced and of good quality.

    Residents enjoy a bite to eat as they watch a film.

    Coun Thomas added: “Many of our usual events have already been cancelled due to Covid restrictions, but I’ve no doubt that the team will be creative and continue to bring enjoyable, positive entertainment to Bromsgrove.”

    The managing director of Blue Sky Cinema, Ian Taylor, said the feedback he had received from visitors was very positive.

    “I really hope that the drive-in movies can become a regular feature in Bromsgrove’s events programme,” he said.

    “Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket and helped make the event a success. We hope we’ve brought some fun and happiness to you during this unusual time.”

  • Sat 19 Sep 2020

    THE LATEST building to be restored to its former glory at Bromsgrove’s Avoncroft Museum will be unveiled on Wednesday, September 23.

    The Victorian Nailer’s Cottage will be available for visitors to view so they can get a real insight into what life in the profession was like.

    The cottage, which has been completely rebuilt and refurbished to look as it would have in the 1930s, originally stood at 79 Old Birmingham Road in Bromsgrove and had hardly been altered in 80 years.

    It had been earmarked for demolition before Avoncroft came to its rescue.

    The relocation and furnishing of the cottage over a number of years has had generous support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Connie and Albert Taylor Trust, the Edward Cadbury Trust and the Bromsgrove Society.

    Nick Sturgess, acting deputy director of Avoncroft, said: “I am delighted we’re opening the Nailer’s Cottage to the general public.

    “It tells a story of not just local interest but also regional interest as it shows how Midlands families adapted their homes to the loss of cottage industry.

    “In this case the inhabitants had given up making nails and gone to work at Longbridge to make cars.

    “It has taken a long time to get the interior detail right but we’re delighted to finally be able to say that the public can to look inside and learn more about this fascinating period of change in midlands history.”

    Nail making was the main trade during the 18th and 19th centuries and figures from 1778 show 900 people were employed in the industry.

    That number had risen to 10,300 by 1851 and the trade was taken up by men and women in equal numbers.

    The demise of the Bromsgrove nail trade came from machine-manufactured nails and cheaper foreign imports.

    Avoncroft Museum in Bromsgrove shows Midlands life from the 1500s to the present day through a collection of buildings.

    It is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10.30am and tickets need to be pre-booked on the website to comply with Covid-19 safety measures.

    Visit or email collections [at] avoncroft [dot] org [dot] uk for more information or to book tickets.

    Go to for more on Bromsgrove’s nail making history.

    Our thanks to The Bromsgrove Standard for allowing us to reprint this article

  • Wed 16 Sep 2020

    AN ARTIST has paid her own unique tribute to key workers by creating portraits of those who have ensured day-to-day life has continued during lockdown.

    Madeline Goold, used to teach drawing at Artrix but all that stopped when the Government’s restrictions came in, so she turned her attention to this latest project.

    She started off drawing pictures of Bromsgrove’s refuse collectors as she felt they were ‘unsung heroes’ during the pandemic.

    She said: “Because of the restrictions they were unable to come and sit for me so I contacted Martin Roache at the council who was great – he would take photographs of them and send them to me digitally.”

    Madeline would then create her artwork from the photographs and send them off to the collectors.

    When they were happy with them, Madeline got them framed by Stourbridge-based Top Class Gallery for a heavily discounted price and then present the pictures to her subjects.

    She added: “Bromsgrove’s bin men have been amazing, they have not missed a week during the lockdown and I hate to think where we would be without them – literally in a mess.”

    Madeline is now painting other frontline workers, including nurses and a trainee doctor, and hopes when restrictions have eased further to hold an exhibition of her lockdown collection.

    Our grateful thanks to The Bromsgrove Standard for allowing us to reprint this article

  • Tue 8 Sep 2020

    A POPULAR locomotive and housing shortages will be two of the topics covered during the Bromsgrove Society’s next virtual local history presentations.

    The events will be held on Zoom after the success of the society’s Summer Season of Online Talks.

    Historian and researcher Annie Deeley, who runs the popular Bromsgrove Past and Present Facebook page, will speak at the group’s next meeting on Tuesday, September 15.

    Guests will discuss Bromsgrove’s efforts to overcome the national housing shortages after both World Wars.

    The talk, which kicks off at 7.30pm, will be illustrated with examples of slum clearance in the town and the arrival of the first prefabs in Sidemoor.

    It will also detail the development of council housing in Catshill, Charford and Aston Fields.

    A fortnight later on September 29, Alastair Moseley will lead talks on steam locomotive ‘Big Bertha’ which is now in its centenary year.

    Alastair will tell the group about the development of Bromsgrove’s much-loved banking engine, why it was created and how it became known as Big Bertha.

    He will explore some of the technical features of the engine and how these were developed and changed during its 36-year career.

    Visit to view both talks free talks.

    Those attending will be given the option to make a donation which will be split between covering costs and the Methodist Centre where the talks are traditionally held.

    Our grateful thanks to The Bromsgrove Standard for allowing us to reprint this article 

  • Sat 5 Sep 2020

    A RARE Bromsgrove-built Banshee motorbike and a 1920s sidecar from a town shoe shop will be outside Ollie’s Eatery next Saturday, September 12.

    Brighton’s Shoes used to be on the High Street from the early 1900s to the 1970s, where the coffee shop is now.

    The aluminium brogue sidecar was crafted by Alf Morris in 1923 for Brighton’s and, along with the bike was used to collect and deliver repaired shoes.

    The Banshee and sidecar belong to the Norton Collection Museum.

    Trustee Dennis Norton said: “It is a fantastic part of the town’s history.

    “Alf made the sidecar in his workshop at the back of Appleby’s the ironmonger.

    “Brighton’s was very important – during the war years because of the demand for shoes and repairs the firm had 18 cobblers working there.”

    The motorbike will be outside the shop for people to see and have their photographs taken with it from 9am.

    Our thanks to The Bromsgrove Standard for allowing us to reprint this article

  • Sun 12 Apr 2020

    AN Easter service will be streamed on YouTube by Bromsgrove’s St John’s Church.

    The service will take place at 10.45am on Easter Sunday, led by Rev Ray Khan.

    The traditional service is being streamed as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions mean no public services can be held in person following the Church of England’s decision  to stop coronavirus spreading.

    Click here for the church’s event Facebook page where the YouTube link will be posted.

    Click here to go straight to the St John’s Church YouTube channel where the service will be, along with all its other Holy Week services.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Thu 9 Apr 2020

    A BROMSGROVE man whose passion for music led to him inspiring thousands of students has died after being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

    Bernard David Hall-Mancey, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 77, was the musical director at Bromsgrove School from 1975 to 1987 and gave many pupils opportunities they would not have otherwise had.

    Many students had no musical background and he even gave their parents the chance to sing in choral works.

    Pupils he met later in life said their experience of participating in singing sparked a love of music in them and some pursued a career in the field.

    In a statement his family said: “Bernard was one of the kindest and generous people you could wish to meet.

    “He got along with everyone, no matter their station in life, and had the ability to light up a room with his wit and anecdotes, often accompanied by hilarious impressions.

    “He was adored and loved by his family, his wide circle of friends and numerous past students, many of whom had stayed in touch with Bernard some 40 years after being taught by him.

    “He is very much missed by all who knew him and the world has lost a true gentleman.”

    In later years he gave his time freely to help at Bromsgrove School, adjudicating on music competitions and accompanying staff and students on many cathedral trips with the chapel choir. Many students sought his advice at the end of those concerts or trips.

    Bernard was also hugely supportive of the orchestral and chamber concerts and remained actively engaged in music within the Bromsgrove community.

    He was a very enthusiastic supporter of Bromsgrove’s Orchestra of St John and joined its committee as a valued and hugely knowledgeable contributor.

    And he assisted the David Morgan Trust, a body set up to help young musicians in the Bromsgrove and Worcester area and he was also the secretary, right up until his untimely passing, of Bromsgrove Concerts.

    His early life

    Bernard was born in Early near Reading in 1942.

    He attended Earley Grammar School and it was while he was in sixth-form his love of music developed.

    Bernard graduated from the Royal College of Music as an Associate with an ARCM diploma as well as holding the GRSM, Graduate of the Royal Schools of Music qualification.

    This provided him with a high level honours degree in music and he also graduated to be an Associate of the Royal College of Organists.

    During the weekends, he would travel back from London to Reading to support local music organisations and in his final year he took up the temporary post of choir master and organist for Trinity Methodist Church.

    After attaining his degree, Bernard went on to Birmingham University where he gained his DipEd teaching qualification.

    His first job as a music teacher was at Fitzharrys School in Abingdon in 1965.

    The following year he moved to Abingdon School where he created the junior choral society and brought them up to a particularly high standard which was reflected in two excellent operatic performances of Britten’s Golden Vanity and Rodney Bennett’s All the King’s Men.

    He also ran the senior orchestra and as the school was linked with St Helen’s church, Bernard was also the choir master and organist at the church. In 1968, a service with Bernard conducting was broadcast from St Helen’s on Radio 4.

    Using his considerable music talents, he also formed the Corallian Singers group which received rave reviews.

    On leaving Abingdon, his fellow staff members reflected on Bernard’s ability to enthuse all ages and especially to guide those going through the first hurdles of piano playing.

    In 1972 Bernard took up the post of Director of Music at Hinchingbrooke School where he also received tuition in conducting from Sir Adrian Boult (whom he had met during his studies at the RCM). That would hold him in good stead throughout his life.

    He used his skills to conduct the Huntingdonshire Choral Society and Orchestra, as well as serving as a committee member on the Huntingdonshire Music Society.

    Songs of Praise pioneer

    A particular high note in 1973 was Bernard’s appearance as the conductor and choir master of the first trial of a new format for the TV programme Songs of Praise from Godmanchester.

    Bernard ensured that the trial was a success which led to it being commissioned in full by the BBC to be presented in the programme format we know today.

    After Bromsgrove School

    Following his departure from Bromsgrove School in 1987, Bernard became a full-time examiner.

    His travels took him all over the world, including Malaysia, Indonesia, the Caribbean, Canada, USA, Japan, Europe, Ireland and the UK.

    He relished his trips abroad, not only helping thousands of children to develop their music skills and qualifications but making friends wherever he went. Many remember him as cutting a very distinguished figure with smart jet black hair and neat beard.

    Eventually he became a co-ordinator for the Board and, before retiring, was involved in training ABRSM examiners as part of a scheme that ran in the 1990s. He would spend many hours regaling all of his hilarious stories and experiences whilst working abroad.

    Bernard gained a great deal of satisfaction in giving back through the generosity of his time, experience and knowledge.

    He is survived by his daughters Susan and Gillian, their husbands Elliot and Mark and his grandchildren Tom, Eleanor, Edward, Robyn and George.

  • Thu 9 Apr 2020

    RENOWNED comedians Marcus Brigstocke and Hal Cruttenden and Dodgy frontman Nigel Clark were among those taking to social media to express their sadness about Artrix’s demise.

    And organisers of classical music and literary events have written into the Standard – illustrating the widespread appeal of the centre.

    Brigstocke, who has made TV appearances on Have I Got News for You and Live at the Apollo, wrote on Twitter: “An absolute tragedy.

    “Such a great example of brilliant local theatre.

    “Offered loads of great and varied nights out for people in Bromsgrove and a great place for the likes of me to play.

    “Very sad indeed.”

    Fellow stand-up star and TV comic Cruttenden also tweeted his affection for the venue.

    “So sad about this – I used to sell well here when I never sold that well anywhere else.

    “Lovely lovely staff and a middle England audience that veered nicely between laughter and disapproval at the political stuff.

    “Bromsgrove Artrix must rise again!”

    Clark, who ended up performing the last gig there, tweeted: “It’s such a shame, we had some great gigs there the crew and everyone that worked there were great. Sad day.”

    Musician Daniel Trigger was one of many who have written us letters this week.

    He said he had many happy memories of performing at Artrix with his band Trigger and of attending shows, and watching films.

    “Artrix is critical to Bromsgrove as it provides a central hub for all of the local performing arts, while also offering an essential source of joy and entertainment to the community.

    “We can’t accept the closure of the Artrix.”

    Former Bromsgrove Arts Alive chairman Jim Page has organised classical music events since its opening, including weekends of complete Beethoven and Shostakovich quartets which attracted audiences from across the country.

    He said: “Ever since Artrix opened – with a classic design by architect Glenn Howells – it has been at the heart of the cultural life of Bromsgrove and with a wide variety of shows it has catered for all tastes in the community.

    “It proved the ideal venue as with excellent acoustics and sightlines it pleased both audiences and performers.”

    Historian and arts champion Jennie McGregor-Smith said Artrix had provided so much for the town in the last 15 years adding, although its financial struggles were well-documented, it going it ceasing trading was a shock.

    She said Howell’s design had seen the auditorium boast the best acoustics in the whole of Worcestershire and praised it for the multitude of activities it had hosted – from local and professional drama and all kinds of music to jewellery making, belly dancing, ballet art exhibitions and cinema screenings.

    “Bromsgrove people fought for many years to get an arts centre here.

    “We mustn’t let it disappear.”

    Margaret Evans, a member of WORDS which put on literary events at the venue, said she was ‘dismayed’ at the closure, calling Artrix a ‘jewel in Bromsgrove’ and praising its friendly helpful staff and team of volunteers.

    She added it offered versatile entertainment and education groups, meant locals did not have to travel to other towns and cities but it also drew people to Bromsgrove from other areas.

    “Where will groups gather for recreation and culture now?

    “The number of suitable concert and sports halls has reduced drastically.

    “The old college on Burcot Lane had the Spadesbourne Suite where concerts took place before the Artrix was campaigned for by local residents and the Dolphin Centre Sports Hall was demolished recently where sports groups regularly met.

    “Please where are we to go, and what are we to do in our spare time now?”