The Community Centre - a Memory of Wordsley.

The large building on the right is the Community Centre, built as an art school to improve the standards of design which in the 19th century was very poor, particularly in the glass industry. Opposite was a parade of shops, just out of shot. On the left at the corner of Kinver Street was Whitehouses the butchers, housed in a very old building with a Dutch gable. Farther on was the chemist, double fronted with large glass bottles in each window. Next I think was the bank, followed by the Co-op, and on the corner was Woods the baker. Mr. Wood's son Bob was in my class at Lawnswood Road school, and we were friends until I left to do national service with the RAF at 21.
However, it was the Community Centre that had a major influence on my life, in a variety of ways. Each night of the week had a different activity, Monday and Wednesday were boys' club nights, Tuesdays and Thursdays girls' club nights, Fridays was Art Club and also the cycling club, Audnam Wheelers. Saturdays was always a general social evening, mainly for adults with modern and old time dancing. There were also ladies' health and beauty classes as well as woodwork, which had its own special room. It was at the boys' club that I learned to play table tennis which I still enjoy.
However it was the Fridays that became important to me, first from about 12 the art club and then after my fifteenth birthday when I became the proud owner of a Percy Stallard lightweight bike. Bought from his shop in Wolverhampton, and served by the man himself, I rode it back to Belle Vue, via Wombourne, Swindon, the longest ride I had made at the time. But it wasn't long before the Sunday runs with the wheelers was topping the 100 miles mark. Taking part in time trials, Wednesday night was the 'ten" from Hagley to Kidderminster and back, while Sundays we rode in 25s and 50s , for the under 18 juniors. When there was no racing weekends would be spent Youth Hosteling in the Peak District or Wales. In 1954 I became the club junior champion! Not such a great achievement as there was only two juniors!
The great achievement was that it gave me a life-long love of the the bicycle, now in my 70s I still get the bike out on occasions!
Incidentally the church hill in the photo was where I used to pass the 257 bus as it changed gear at the top of the hill outside the post office!
The other thing I owe that large building in the photo was a career in art that is still going some 60 years later. The seeds that were sown at the art club lead me to Stourbridge Art School, first from the age of 13 in the Junior Art school, and then the Art School proper where I stayed until doing National Service, in 1957. ( I rode my bike to college everyday which must have payed for it several times over, it cost 22 pounds in 1951!)
After leaving the RAF I did an Art Teachers Diploma Course in Bristol, and from there I became an assistant lecturer at the College of Art in Newcastle on Tyne, at the fine salary of 40 pounds a month! This did improve as I got promoted through the lectures scales. Retiring 28 years later as a Senior Lecturer. Most of those 28 years I travelled to and from the College, yes you've guessed it by, bike!. Half and an hour in each direction. Saving money and keeping me fit.
I am sure there are many similar stories that started at the Community Centre where people met, and enjoyed the varied activities.
Geoff Lowe

A memory shared by Geoffrey Lowe on Sep 2nd, 2008.
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