Our Century

Reeling over a royal rumpus

December 12. "We want the King" was the cry from the crowds as the Duke of York was proclaimed monarch following the shock abdication of King Edward V111.

darlingotn stWest Midlanders were still reeling over the royal rumpus which led up Edward quitting the throne for love of Mrs Simpson - and in Wolverhampton, special measures were taken to ensure people heard Edward's adbication message to the world.

The 10pm radio broadcast of the new "Mr Windsor" was relayed to Wolverhampton Rotary Ball at the Baths Assembly Rooms and at the Gaumont Palace, the Queen's and Dunstall cinemas.

During the royal delivery there was complete silence at the Wolverhampton Rotary Ball and afterwards the guests in

the supper room toasted the health of the new King George V1.

Mayors and chairmen of urban councils across the West Midlands read out the proclamation of the new king, on his 41st birthday, and a crowd asembled in Wolverhampton's Queen Square to hear it read.

The reading was preceded by a fanfare from the Borough Band, followed by a second fanfare from army buglers.

At Shrewsbury the business of the police court was delayed due to the reading of Edward's proclamation.

The weather restricted the attendance at the Dudley reading, but despite blustering wind and pouring rain, a crowd of several thousand gathered in Birmingham for the reading which included a fanfare by the Birmingham Police Band.

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Walsall film fan joins the action: A filmgoer had an amazing escape when he fell 20ft from the balcony of a Walsall cinema in July, smashing the seat where he landed in the stalls - and then calmly got up and walked off.

Fortunately when the man fell onto the seat at Walsall Picture House, no one was sitting in it. The manager told the Express & Star that the matter was reported to him but when he went into the theatre the man had gone.

But later the police found the victim wandering about and he was thought to be suffering from loss of memory. He was taken to West Bromwich Hospital.

"When the King abdicated in 1936, I was five and my father was highly amused to hear me singing when I came home from school: "Hark, the herald angels sing/Mrs Simpson's pinched our King"
Enid Jones of Fordhouses, Wolverhampton

The town of perpetual youth: Bridgnorth may not have held the secret of eternal youth but they felt they had the next best thing - loads of active men aged eighty and over in key positions in the town.

In fact the town was so proud of its longevity record that in July it threw out a challenge to the rest of Britain to produce more physically active octogenerians than they had.

Officials claimed that no other town had as many men so old who looked so young and carried on work of such great responsibility.

They had created records of years in office that would be difficult to surpass, was the boast - and the locals put it down to the pure air in the high altitude of the High Town.

Among their perky pre-pensioners were: The oldest postmaster in England, the oldest land tax collector living, the oldest municipal officer still holding office in the British Isles, and the oldest captain of bellringers.

The oldest postmaster, Mr JE Hall, aged 86, boasted that he didn't have an ache or pain anywhere, had good hearing and didn't wear glasses except at night.

He said he only smoked in company and hadn't tasted beer for ten years He was also known as the town's wag - full of fun.

The clerk to Bridgnorth Rural District Council, Mr WJ Pitt, weighed in at a mere 80 and Mr J Buston, also in his 80th year, was still riding to hounds.

James Hughes Cooksey was in his 88th year and was the oldest municipal official in the country - and John Overton, in his 86th year, gave up 60 years unbroken service as captain of St Leonard's bell ringers.

A miner case of haunting: A ghost scare sent crowds from miles around flocking to Broomhill, near Cannock in December, after two miners were reputed to have seen strange lights and shadows on tombstones in the town cemetery.

It must be said they were on their way home from a night at the local working men's club at the time.

Nevertheless the Broomhill ghost story persisted and increasing numbers went sightseeing at night in the cemetery.

Some said the weird effect was caused by lighting from a street lamp - others put it down to moonlight playing tricks.

No offence! A party of visiting German ex-servicemen gave the Nazi salute at Wolverhampton's war memorial in May - but on the run-up to the second world war the gesture had not yet become associated with the worst excesses of the Third Reich.

The German visitors were being entertained in Wolverhampton and were taken to see the town's war memorial. They paid their respects to their fallen former enemies with the Nazi salute.

Fears for children: The plight of the Midlands overworked children raised concerns at the annual meeting of the National Council of Women in July. A delegate said the Midlands was one of three areas where children in factories worked especially long hours.

It was pointed out that long hours led to absence of concentration. Accidents to young children in factories had risen from 17,100 in 1933 to 21,767 in 1934. The meeting heard that in some cases children had to walk two miles to their factories.Delegates demanded legislation to limit children's working hours.

The Pendeford satellite: An ambitious "Satellite Town" was planned by Wolverhampton Council in August on 750 acres of land at Pendeford, complete with model factories, a shopping centre and a school.

Brenda Dean
Strangely enough after the war we went on to live in Germany and make friends with lots of German people...

1936 fashion ad