In March 2022, people were invited to embark on a series of guided community walks around Wednesbury where poets and performers brought to life the facts and fables, truth and tall stories to be found in the history of the High Street.
The performances taking place throughout the walks consisted of newly written song, scripts, text and poems by Marion Cockin, Brendan Hawthorne, Suzan Spence, Alex Vann and Matt Windle, and the project was convened by Emma Purshouse, previously Wolverhampton Poet Laureate.
Suzan Spence appeared out of nowhere by the bus station to give a rousing performance as the warrior queen Ethelfleda who fortified the town; Matt Windle’s brilliant poem about boxing was delivered at the top of Hitchen’s Alley; Marion Cockin was the wistful woman on The Shambles reminiscing about the past; Brendan Hawthorne delivered a potted history of Wedgebury Ware on a car park; and I brought John Wesley’s horse block to life outside the Methodist Central Hall on Spring Head. The event culminated with a song from Alex Vann, the aptly named ‘Tube Town’, performed with a definite nod in the stylistic direction of 80’s star Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army.
Wednesbury Tales Guided Walk, 2022 © Phillip Parnell Photography