This year’s Sedgley Real Ale Festival promises to be even bigger
You could say last year’s Sedgley Real Ale Beer Festival was a success. In fact, it was so popular that thirsty visitors managed to down 2,000 pints in just 17 hours!
So, as organisers prepare for this September’s event at Sedgley Jubilee Scout Hall, more beers are most definitely the ‘order of the day’.
The festival, which combines real ale and live music, is fast becoming a regular autumn fixture for beer lovers across the Black Country.
Chairman, Ian Foster says:
“We are very excited with the amount of interest in the beer festival. It is really satisfying tasting beers for good causes, and with so many local people turning up, everyone seems certain to meet old friends.”
Sedgley Real Ale Beer Festival Helping Charities
The money raised from the beer festival will be used to benefit the Scout Group, Children in Need, and Cystic Fibrosis. The Scouts used their share of the proceeds to complete work on a fantastic logged cabin and new toilets.
The landlord of the Horse and Jockey at Woodcross will also be on hand to offer expert advice and recommendations.
Beer managers, Ron and Paul Reynolds, say: “In our first year, we got through almost 4,000 drinks in 17 hours! Last year it was 5,000, so this year we are ready to take it close to 6,000 glasses of ale, cider and wines.”
Drinkers will be entertained on Friday night with live music from locals Ben & Alun Davies, who will be serving up a range of 60’s, blues, folk, and classic rock numbers.
Joining the line-up on Saturday afternoon will be Sedgley Ukulele Strummers, and 1st Sedgley Morris Men.
The Four Rossis will be keeping crowds rocking on Saturday night
Star billing on Saturday night will be ‘The Quo’ also known as ‘The Four Rossis’, who will reel out ‘Good Time Boogie’ and a wealth of other favourites to re-create the ‘full-on, driving rock’n’roll that is Status Quo’.
This year’s festival will take place at Jubilee Hall, (rear of Sedgley Co-op), Friday evening 25th 5pm to 11pm and Saturday 26th of September from noon to 11pm.
The entrance fee of £10 includes drinks, a souvenir festival glass and three live bands.
Lovers of Thai food in Sedgley will already be familiar with the outstanding cuisine served up at the Bull’s Head in Bilston Street, where head chef Mee built up a reputation for perfectly balanced dishes bursting with authentic flavours and fresh ingredients.
And now, feeling the need to stay ahead of the pack, Mee has decided to branch out and bring the true flavours of Thailand to nearby Swindon, where the lounge of The Greyhound pub has been transformed into an exciting new restaurant with the same incredible tastes.
The new venture, Sommai Thai, opened its doors on Saturday, June 29th, with Mee and co-owner, Sommai Sin Pra Yakul, hoping to build on the success already achieved at their former venue.
And, having been invited to a preview evening, we at Sedgleyscene were delighted to accept.
Authentic Thai Ingredients and a Warm Welcome
On entering this restaurant, the first thing visitors will notice is the 7ft tall statue welcoming them into a relaxed atmosphere, where the historic pub’s dark wooden beams blend effortlessly with lavish wooden sculptures flown in from Thailand. And, when ordering a drink from the bar, it’s impossible to miss the painstakingly-carved watermelons which decorate each table.
This sense of authenticity is reflected in the menu, which features a wide variety of dishes to cater for all tastes – each lovingly prepared using locally-sourced ingredients and genuine Thai flavours by Mee and his team.
We started with the Sommai Thai platter – a mouth-watering combination of Thai prawn toast, chicken and prawn spring rolls, red chicken wings and deep-fried tiger prawns, accompanied by a range of sauces and dips.
Next to arrive were two of our favourite Thai dishes – a sweet green curry and a peanut curry. Both were bursting with flavour and served in authentic porcelain bowls.
These delicacies were soon joined by an amazing salad, where finely sliced beef was combined with chilli and a liberal sprinkling of coriander to create a sublimely fresh combination.
A sizzling spicy duck stir-fry completed our feast, with bowls of sticky rice and soft noodles the perfect complement to the aromatic spices, lemongrass and lime leaves which infuse each dish.
Although our meal consisted largely of meat and seafood dishes, vegetarians are well catered for, with spicy tofu stir-fry being just one of several tasty meat-free options.
We could only manage fresh slices of chilled watermelon for dessert, but diners with a sweet tooth (and larger appetites!) can enjoy Thai pancakes with ice cream, banana fritters and mor gaeng – a delicious Thai custard with a flan-like consistency.
From sampling the menu at Sommai Thai, it’s clear that chef Mee has lost none of his passion for creating amazing dishes. Visit www.sommaithai.co.uk or call 01384 380062 to discover why The Greyhound in Swindon is set to become one of the leading Thai restaurants and takeaways in the Black Country.
Sarah Hughes, Ma Pardoe, Sally Perry. Throughout Sedgley and the rest of the Black Country, women have always played an integral part in the history of real ale. And, with the numbers of women drinking real ale on the increase, local ladies who’d like to learn more about the region’s fine brewing heritage can put their taste buds to the test this week.
For the ladies, the fun begins at 6pm in the lounge, with an ale tasting session hosted by Marverine Cole (Beer Beauty). Tickets are £10 in advance, purchased either from The Jolly Crispin or directly from the brewery by emailing email@example.com. Ticket holders will have great fun trying a range of Fownes ales, learning about foods that match well with particular beer styles and get a Fownes Brewery bag. Marverine is an accredited beer sommelier who appears regularly on TV and will ensure all the ladies come away having enjoyed themselves and being more knowledgeable about beer. So, why not get a group of friends together and come along for a great evening out?
From 8pm gents will be able to rejoin the ladies in the lounge and listen to Ali Capper from the British Hop Association talk about the UK hop industry and the essential ingredient British farmers produce for traditional English beers. Also, John Edgar will be performing the latest instalment in the tale of Korvak to celebrate the launch of Korvak’s Triumph: Honey Porter.
Those loyal customers who’ve finished collecting all 8 ales on their card and returned them by the 31st March will receive their Fownes Brewing Co. T-shirts.
Following on from a visit to Sedgley’s Beacon Hotel earlier this year, it seems local legend AJW, renowned for leaving beermats in pubs featuring a drawing of 1950’s star Mario Lanza, has been getting hungry for more exposure.
Anthony Arnold, a regular reader of Sedgleyscene, was amazed to discover the mysterious artist’s latest calling card drawn on an empty box of chicken pies in the somewhat unglamorous surroundings of a local Morrison’s supermarket toilet.
He says: “On Monday, November 21, I found a drawing of Mari Lanza . It had been drawn on the back of one of those frozen chicken packages. It’s got the usual picture and signature AJW and the Facebook.com under the picture and a Yahoo address down the side. No message except ‘Super Mario!’ written on it. I found it on top of the thingy machine in the gents toilet at Morrison’s, Wednesbury. I thought he only did them on beer mats – don’t know if it’s the real thing or what.”
Impressed by his discovery, Anthony took a picture, which is posted here. All the trademark signs are there – the line drawing of Mario Lanza, together with this anonymous artist’s Facebook page and email addresses. However, Tony is unsure as to whether this latest offering is the real deal and is appealing to Sedgleyscene readers to help.
The mysterious drawings, which have been appearing on beermats in pubs since the 1970s, have continued to baffle local residents.
No-one seems to know why each inscription by this phantom artist – who simply calls his or herself AJW – bears a dedication to Mario Lanza, a famous American tenor singer and actor who died in 1959.
This enduring mystery has led to a Facebook page being set up in this mysterious character’s honour which now has 172 members. It seems AJW also likes to get around, leaving calling cards in pubs and other public buildings across the Black Country and Birmingham – often with personal dedications to members of staff.
Some avid followers of AJW also believe there could be several artists at work – especially as the original phantom would now be more than 80 years old – but no-one has been able to confirm this.
Can you help Sedgleyscene and Anthony confirm this latest discovery? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org We’d love to hear from you.
Magic, movies, comedy, grottos and fancy dress – there’s something for the whole family this Christmas at one of Sedgley’s most popular pubs.
And, as well as having fun, visitors to JD Wetherspoon pub, the Clifton, this festive season, will be raising vital funds for leading children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent.
Suzanne Nickl, who is organising this year’s event, says: “Our previous efforts to raise money for CLIC Sargent have been a huge success, so we wanted to build on that and promote the excellent work carried out by this charity, while providing a great range of entertainment for customers of all ages. We want everyone to join in, have fun and help raise funds for a very worthy cause.”
The packed programme of events gets underway on Monday, December 19 at 2pm, when a children’s entertainer will put smiles on the faces of youngsters and their families.
This is followed at 7pm by a movie marathon, where customers can relax with their favourite food and drink while enjoying a great selection of films including some festive favourites.
On Tuesday, December 20, from 2pm, youngsters can get into the festive spirit by making their own tree decorations, while at 5pm, the Clifton’s garden grotto will be unveiled, featuring a stall selling hot roasted chestnuts and jacket potatoes.
Wednesday, December 21, sees a packed programme of events beginning with a special Christmas party for youngsters at 2pm, where there will be tasty treats and party games aplenty.
This is followed at 6pm by an incredible display of trickery from Sedgley-based magician Colin Tighe, while at 8pm, budding comedians are invited to take the spotlight for the Clifton Christmas comedian open mic event. Anyone interested in entering can see a member of staff for details on how to apply.
Thursday, December 22, may be the shortest day on the calendar, but there’s still plenty of time for youngsters to make their own Christmas cards and post their letters to Santa from 2pm till 4pm.
As the big day draws near, Santa will be opening his grotto on Friday, December 23. At this event, which runs from 2pm until 4pm, youngsters will not only be able to meet the big man himself, they’ll also receive a gift for every donation to CLIC Sargent.
From 7pm, it’s time for grown-ups to enter into the spirit of the season, with the Clifton’s Friday festive pyjama party. Despite encouraging everyone to arrive dressed in their nightwear, Suzanne and her team promise this will be anything but a sleepy occasion, with festive shots on offer for £1 and all monies raised going to CLIC. The first 10 people to arrive in fancy dress will also get a free jelly shot to help them get into the party mood.
On Saturday, December 24, grown-ups can enter into a little seasonal sauciness with the Clifton’s sexy Santa Saturday event. Customers are encouraged to come along and sparkle in their best party outfits, while enjoying festive shots for £1. As with the pyjama party, the first 10 people dressed up will receive a free jelly shot and all money raised will be going to CLIC Sargent.
Registered charity CLIC Sargent is dedicated to helping children with cancer and their families. Every day, 10 families are told their child has the disease and, as the UK’s leading children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent is the only organisation to offer them all round care and support. Visit their website for more information.
On a dark winter’s night, there’s nothing better than to take a trip to the local pub, grab a seat by the fire and enjoy one of the fine seasonal ales produced by Sedgley’s excellent breweries.
And, with Camra’s Dudley Winter Ales Fayre launching next Thursday, it seems only appropriate that we at Sedgleyscene re-acquaint ourselves with some of the finest brews this region has to offer.
Firstly, it’s down to the Beacon Hotel, home to the Sarah Hughes Brewery and its fine selection of regular beers, Surprise, Pale Amber and the infamous Ruby Mild.
While this unique pub with its Victorian tower brewery may have attracted controversy of late due to a seemingly unpopular ban on dogs, one thing that has remained constant is the quality of its beer.
And its winter special, Snowflake, is no exception. Available from next Thursday, November 24, this well-rounded, rich ale is guaranteed to keep out the cold.
But, don’t be fooled by its delicate-sounding name – weighing in at a hefty 8 per cent ABV, this barley wine-style concoction packs an almighty punch and is wisely served by Alex Marchant and her team in half-pint glasses.
Having a blast
Down in Woodsetton, the brewers at Holden’s have been putting the finishing touches to their festive special ale, named – appropriately enough – Christmas Blaster.
This golden ale, which is a more manageable 4.8 per cent ABV, is described by the popular Black Country brewery as: “Challenger hops and Optic malt suffuse to create winter sunshine in a glass. With a lively and assertive hop character and a dominant malty sweetness throughout this premium beer results in a moreish malty aftertaste. Will certainly blow away the cobwebs!”
Christmas Blaster also takes its name from local history. In days of yore, “time off” was a rare luxury. The Sabbath was strictly adhered to – but this was a time for sober religious reflection not joviality – and holidays were few and far between. Christmas holidays consisted of Christmas day and (for some) Boxing Day.
However, nothing stood in the way of efficiency, and a blast furnace needed to be cared for and kept up to temperature no matter what day of the year, for if it cooled it would need to be dismantled and re-fired – a long and costly process. As a result, a skeleton workforce was always in attendance and if they were unfortunate enough to have to work on the 25th December, the poor souls were jokingly referred to as Christmas Blasters.
Sedgley drinkers can sample this winter wonder at the Bull’s Head in Bilston Street.
Over in Lower Gornal, the boys at Black Country Ales have been mashing merrily to create their seasonal offering, English Winter. With an ABV of 5.5 per cent, this stronger than usual brew is described as: “A well-balanced brown ale with a complex character of fine Marris Otter malt and choice Fuggles and Goldings hops.”
But be warned – this beer is dangerously moreish.
Slighty further afield, in Netherton, lies another traditional gem of the Black Country. The Old Swan, or Ma Pardoe’s as it’s more commonly known, is a unique, quirky pub full of character and serving a range of excellent real ales brewed in its Victorian tower brewery.
And, as the winter chill really starts to bite, landlord Tim Newey and his team are almost ready to launch their seasonal special, the aptly named Black Widow.
This incredibly dark tipple, which has a venomous ABV of 6.7 per cent, is a wonderfully balanced ale which shares some characteristics with the previously mentioned Dark Ruby Mild available at the Beacon Hotel.
Once again this winter, Sedgley’s suppers are spoilt for choice, with a winter ale to appeal to all tastes. It’s time to wrap up warm, take a trip to one of the region’s fine historic pubs and enjoy the taste of tradition.
The Camra Dudley Winter Ales Fayre is held at Dudley Concert Hall and begins on Thursday, November 24, at 5.30pm and continues from 12 noon on Friday and Saturday. There will be more than 70 real ales available, along with cider, wine and foreign bottled beers. Hot and cold food is available and there will be live entertainment. Entry on Thursday and Friday is £3, or £1 for Camra members.
With the shadow of Halloween looming large, it’s time to delve into local history and uncover some ghostly tales and strange goings-on in Sedgley. And, fittingly for a village steeped in history, there is no shortage of spine-chilling stories and eye-witness accounts of apparitions….
The amazing photograph shown above seems to show a spectral figure emerging from the darkness on Turls Hill bridleway – a route which local historians believe dates back to before 1600 and has been the scene of several ghastly incidents.
Local photographer Mike, who posted this image on his Flickr page under his username, Derarfni, says: “It all started about 10 years ago, after hearing local stories and reading an article about the ‘Turls Hill Ghost’.
“We went down for a laugh, just with simple a ‘point and shoot’ digital camera and came back and noticed peculiar occurrences in the photos.
This became a bit of an obsession and we ended up spending many nights, taking photos – which amounted to many thousands, mostly pictures of nothing, but occasionally, say 1 in a 1,000, we had something unexplainable.”
Maybe it’s not so surprising Mike and his friends captured something unexplainable on camera. Turls Hill bridleway is said to be haunted by a veiled lady and her two suicidal sons, who shot themselves in the adjoining quarry on separate occasions. Also, a steelworks owner, who once lived in Turls Hill House, at the top of the lane which was also known as The Belgians (now demolished), apparently went bankrupt, building a wall around his estate and eventually shooting himself in the quarry.
Pubs are notorious sites for hauntings, so it comes as no surprise to discover that not all the spirits at Sedgley’s Beacon Hotel, home of the Sarah Hughes brewery, come in bottles.
Andrew, a former manager of the Beacon Hotel, tells this story:
“In the summer of 1994 when I was managing the Beacon I often used to stay overnight for security. I usually slept in the sitting room. In that room is a painting of Sarah Hughes in which the eyes seem to follow you around the room. I suppose you never sleep properly when you are on protection duty, and one night something awoke me.
“My alarm clock showed 3am. Opening my eyes, I took a quick glance around the room. In the corner by the door to the passage stood a figure. After a couple of seconds I realised they had not broken into the pub or the alarms would be shrieking.
“I don’t know how long I looked at the figure. It was a man in his 50s wearing Wellington boots, dark trousers and a grey or white shirt with an old-fashioned Grandad-style collar and a waistcoat. I have always thought that ghosts were transparent, but he looked quite solid. Suddenly grasping what I was seeing, my heart raced and I shut my eyes tight. When I looked again a few seconds later the figure had vanished. I told my father about the night visitor and described what he was wearing. He said it sounded like the father of the present owner who always liked to go about in old-fashioned clothes.”
Paul, another former manager of the Beacon, claims he has seen Sarah Hughes herself. He says: “She was walking across the smoke room and through a wall where there is now a conservatory. Fifty years ago there was a door at this point.
“If you stand in the corridor near the main server and listen carefully, you might hear bumps and bangs from upstairs and the noise of someone standing on a loose floorboard, though those rooms are used only for storage. Many regular customers claim to have heard the noises.”
Paul’s story is backed up by the fact that one of the book’s authors, Andrew Homer, heard similar noises when researching. He explains: “At first I took no notice of the sounds, though they were quite loud. It sounded as though someone was moving heavy barrels about upstairs.
“Later the same evening, a casual remark to Aidan, the barman, revealed the story and confirmed there had definitely been no living person upstairs at the time.”
Ghost stories also feature prominently in Gornal’s history, including a particularly shocking incident for a caretaker’s assistant at Ellowes Hall School – now a sports college.
This excerpt from local community website, Yampy, explains further:
“About 12 years ago, Clive Brookes, the school caretaker, left his assistant Phil to lock up the school on the 6pm-10pm shift. Clive is pretty certain that it was a Thursday and there was nothing on at school that evening. Phil had already worked at the school for around six months and so was used to the procedure.
“Before going home, (the caretaker’s house is on-site), Clive had taken a floor ‘buffer’ to Phil and asked him to take it down a flight of stairs to the cupboard where it was kept. As Phil started to wheel the buffer down the stairs, something attracted his attention down the corridor, so he lifted the buffer back to the top of the stairs.
“He went to check everything out and walked through some glass double-doors, down to the end of the corridor. The staffroom door was locked. He went back to the floor buffer.
“As he started down the stairs again, he ended up dropping the buffer down the stairs as a “bloke in overalls walked straight through the double doors and straight through the staff room door.”
“Phil rushed to the caretaker’s bungalow, and Clive says that, although he was a big fellow, he was extremely scared. It was a long time before he locked up alone again! ”
And, over at Upper Gornal Conservative Club, there have been several reports of a monk in a gown, which has apparently been seen by several people in the bar and cellar.
Do you have a ghost story to tell? Get in touch with us – we’d love to hear from you.