About Aldridge LHS



 

 Aldridge Local History Society was formed in 1992 and it's membership peaked  in excess of 144 people. Two gentlemen in particular were especially responsible for the society’s creation.  Stan Brookhouse and John Sale had collected photographs of old Aldridge for many years and staged slide shows for charity.  John Williams (founder Chairman) encouraged them to adopt a formal structure  and reach out to the wider community.  An inaugural meeting in March 1992 was called to establish the level of interest in forming a " local history society" . The well attended meeting in the old Church Rooms proved to be very encouraging and the main committee members were recruited  and in July 1992 we had 16 paid up members.  Andrew Wood became Chair of the Society in 1995 and the society has since built on these foundations leading to membership increasing to 100 in 1998 and  144 by 2007 and beyond.


The format of the society has been to hold regular monthly meetings, at which there has been  a varied programme of events, involving visiting speakers recalling various aspects of Aldridge’s history and that of the surrounding districts. The society became a real social get together, with new friendships being formed among the members. For many years, annual  outings were arranged to places of historical interest, such as Portsmouth, Bath, Gloucester, Elan Valley and Windsor. We have also arranged fun events such as a walking treasure hunt around Lichfield, a skittles evening and a quiz night. An annual Presidents Lunch and Christmas social event were included in the programme too.


Within Aldridge, the society has reached out into the community by organising a photographic competition for Junior school children, giving slide shows at schools and various other venues. Groups of Primary School children have been taken on walking tours around  the village with albums of 'old photographs' so that they could see how locations along the route look ' now and then.'  ALHS donated a bench sited at the Cenotaph to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day. During the research for the VE Day slide show and video we were extremely proud to discover that MTB71, a Motor Torpedo Boat, paid for by the people of Aldridge with money raised during Warship Week and thought to have been lost in action during the second world war, had been found being used as a house boat near Chichester. The boat is now displayed as a static exhibit at RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire.  A scale model of the MTB71 and the original plaque from Aldridge Urban District Council to the Admiralty for MTB71 are located at the Anchor Medical Centre in Aldridge..


In 2010 ALHS was invited by the BBC to be a partner group for the ' Turn Back Time' programme, which that year series focused on 'The High Street' and the evolution of shops over the decades. ALHS took over the then empty shop unit on the corner of High Street and Bakers Lane. It was manned by volunteers from our membership for two months. Hundreds of people visited the display which concentrated on our own High Street. Visitors were invited to record and leave their own memories of Aldridge High Street


A huge 'Local History' exhibition was held in the Methodist Church to mark our 20th anniversary, when other midlands local history groups attended too,.  ALHS used to mount displays at the Aldridge Show and other outdoor events when the summer weather used to be more reliable.


For the centenary of  WW1   ALHS partnered with the  Aldridge Great War Project  and over the four years a team of ALHS  members assisted in the research of the  histories of the men from Aldridge who went to war.  ALHS  suggested that some of those histories could form the basis of a poppy trail  around the village. That idea culminated in the hugely successful  POPPY ROAD event in November 2018 when Station  Road Aldridge became a sea of poppies for two weeks.


Twenty Seven years on ALHS membership is in decline. Efforts to attract new members do not keep pace with the inevitable loss of the original members from the early years.. We find that people new to Aldridge are interested to see how Aldridge used to look and particularly where in Aldridge they may live, but there seems little  desire to attend a programme of formal meetings.  In 2018 the committee decided that the efforts of the society should  be diverted into making its material available to a wider  audience via the internet and Social media. That recommendation was adopted by members at the 2018 AGM  and accordingly  there  is no programme of formal meetings until further notice.