Sunday, 7 September 2014

Made In Walsall


If you've read my blog for a while you'll know that I'm from Walsall, a large industrial town in the Black Country, once the manufacturing heartland of the UK. Even if you've never heard of my home town you'll be very familiar with something made here, the Launer handbags the Queen always carries. 

Source
Known for its leather industry since the middle ages, Walsall's craftspeople manufactured and shipped saddles throughout the entire British Empire and at one time the town was home to almost a third of the UK saddlers. There are still over ninety thriving leather manufacturing companies in business and the town even has a leather museum.


What I didn't know was that during the 1950s we manufactured an iconic sports car, the Swallow Doretti,


 Along with the Gadabout, an incredibly cool scooter.


As part of the Black Country Echoes Festival Kinky Melon, along with a handful of other local indie businesses, was invited to take part in Vintage Vehicles and Views, a celebration marking their 60th anniversary.



Built between 1954 and 1955 just 276 Swallow Dorettis were built at the factory at Aldridge Airport.


The groovy Gadabout was made from 1946 until 1951. This model used to retail at £103 in 1948.


Liz took quite a fancy to it.


These gorgeous delivery lorries were manufactured by Guy Motors in Wolverhampton which closed in 1981, the Black Country's longest surviving powered vehicle manufacturer.


I wouldn't mind having that John Lewis van as a pop-up vintage shop.


Or the chieftain mounted on Gilbert.


As well as some sexy motors was a hand-built, wood fired pizza oven doing a roaring trade. 


 And a local wood carver, Rustic Woodcraft, demonstrating and selling his wares.



Inside Top Hanger were an amazing variety of locally made handmade toys (from Dragonflies Den), silver jewellery (Jolene Smith), felting, painted furniture, home-made cakes & preserves (Hetty's Heavenly Treats), art and printed advertisements & printing blocks from Huxley's, a Walsall printing business founded in 1891.



Liz had a pitch opposite us with her Izzybird bags, corsages and honey from her hives.


I love an industrial setting, bare brick and concrete floors, corrugated metal and steel girders. I'm a townie through and through.


The salvaged cable reels with mismatched chairs and jam jars filled with wild flowers, brambles and berries were a lovely touch.


 There were some great local bands on, too. This was The Brave Boys blasting out a bit of 1950s rock 'n' roll. All in all, a fabulous FREE event for every age group.


 If you live in the West Midlands go to the website and download a programme. There's absolutely loads of interesting FREE stuff on from now until December with everything from art, films, canal trips, exhibitions, visits to temples and houses, events and parties. 


Wherever you live, learn to love your home town instead of moaning about it. We do!

See you soon.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday.

60 comments:

  1. I had such a lovely day out with you and I've taken a shine to at least one or two of Liz's beaut bags. Yep, don't moan about your town, get out there! What a fab festival, it looks so relaxing and oh I love the wild flowers in the jars. I can't believe the Dorettis were only made for a year, they're so gorgeous and Liz looks very cheery on the scooter. Marvellous post beautiful!! xoxox

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  2. Oh my God, those trucks and that motorbike and sidecar! I want them! So beautiful. It looks like a great day out.
    The space looks incredible. I want a warehouse too! Ah well, nice to look at the pretty pictures if I can't have them...xxx

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  3. That green truck so would make a great pop up shop! Be perfect for you and Jon. I love the city I live in I guess that is why I have never moved. Lizs bags are gorgeous.

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  4. You all look so fab - think I need to pay Walsall a visit! I love London but will always be a northener at heart. Blackpool's in my blood x

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  5. HOW sexy is that Doretti? I'd never heard of them before. *goes off to google*

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  6. Hello Vix,

    What a great day out this event looks to have been. And, free, what us not to like?

    The vintage vehicles look wonderful and, yes, one which could become a pop-up shop would be just perfect for your 'mobile boutique'. However, not so good if it failed to start on a wet day in November.....

    The industrial setting does look perfect and the attention to detail is charming. It certainly all adds to the occasion!

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  7. What a lovely way to celebrate your town's history. I love the Gadabout with the side car. What a beauty, and Liz looks smashing on it.

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  8. What a lovely way to celebrate your town's history. I love the Gadabout with the side car. What a beauty, and Liz looks smashing on it.

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  9. Kudoes to the organizers of this event! First for enlisting the truly enthusiastic and reliably upbeat presence of such vendors as Kinky Melon and Liz; secondly, for staging the display of the amazing vehicles; and thirdly, for making the most of that which remains (the essence of vintage appreciatiion) and topping it with flowers! Wish I was there!

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  10. first of all you and liz look so pretty! love all the photos of the vintage cars too. and i do take your advice as i absolutely love where i live. x

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  11. Looks like a great time was had by you all. I don't think people realise the west midlands produced such fabulous things.

    I shall most definitely be taking a look at the programme of events.

    X x

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  12. I didn't know that either ! It looks a snazzy little car

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  13. My husband is drooling over the Swallow Dorettis! His dad had a couple of Triumphs and Sandy has always lusted after the bug-eyed designs. You look gorge as per always, and I agree -- love your home station. xoxo

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  14. I'm soo with you, Vix - even though I live and loving living in a small college town now, I'm a Rust Belt gal through and through!

    And the Gadabout - OH MY GOD - I want one now. I'm tired of riding my bike everywhere, and want a cool ride.

    Happy Sunday, my dear! x

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  15. Oh those vehicles are beautiful! This whole event looks and sounds like it was great. I love to see your smiling faces, which in turn make me smile. xo

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  16. How cool is this place! I love the old scooters. What an unusual shape. The decorating with the cable tables and wild flowers all set in industrial setting is scrumptious! You know how to pick'em. Yes, our town is moaned about Australia wide since we are the capital and where the government resides, but all the locals like it that way because living here is fab! A well kept secret, so don't tell a soul...xo JJ

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  17. That looks like just the kind of spot I'd love to spend a Saturday at. So much to take in and so many great creative ideas and people.

    Those cars and vans! Wow.

    What a great experience.

    Your shop looks great. You both fit in so well to the environment.

    We also took a bit of a "staycation" last week and went round to local towns and antique markets. It was great getting to know some areas close to home.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  18. How cute is the Gadabout?! And it looks as though it was made for Liz.
    That's incredible that there are still so many leather manufacturers in Walsall!

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  19. Yes, absolutely with you on 'learning to love where you live'.
    Such a great looking event. Ah and the Gadabout: now there's an aptly named vehicle - it surely makes everyone want to hop on and whizz around town looking very, very cool indeed.

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  20. Fab post. I love that setting. I do like a bit of industrial meself..growing up in the shadow of the steelworks does that for a girl. What a brilliant celebration of the area too. I do love my adopted hometown more that I used to. We've drawn a truce and I can appreciate all the history and the scenery is gorgeous, so I'll stop moaning about it. I am a Newport at heart though.
    I'd love a Gadabout.
    Loves ya bits.
    xxxx

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  21. What a great event - and free too, bonus! I didn't realise Walsall was - and thankfully still is - a leather goods centre. Doesn't Queenie look hatchet-faced in that middle photo? She needs to try a different colour handbag, might cheer her up a bit!
    Your stall looks as wonderful as ever, and yes, that John Lewis van would be perfect as a pop-up shop! Love the Gadabout scooter, Liz look right at home on it. My parents used to knock about on a motorbike and sidecar, makes me laugh to think of it.
    What a great industrial setting, the cable reel tables are fab. Liz's bags are gorgeous, and I want a closer look at the printing blocks and silver jewellery. Yes, a good day out, and of course you should love where you live - why stay if you don't?
    Oh, and I LOVE the frock. And you! xxxx

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  22. glad to watch all that coolness around your neighborhood, love industrial settings and bare brick and all those fabulous details!, every stand looks amazing, and yours look particularly cute!!
    And it's great that you encourage us to enjoy whatever it's going on your town, love it!!
    Obviously, you look Fabulous, love that Liz's dress and yours are matching!, you're gorgeous ladies!
    besos

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  23. Hhahah, love Desirees first comment! Looks like a brillaint fair, in a couple of weeks my home town hosts their annual Country Comes to Town fair, I was so impressed last year and felt really pround of my hometown! xx

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  24. There is so much to love about where you live, so many things we have lost here in the South. The market, not a patch on what it was but still better than ours. Our car boots are mostly very expensive and so I don't bother.

    But, my dad's mum came from this neck of the woods and the beloved can keep his old, small, sailing boat very handy for not a lot of cash. I've made more friends that I ever had - but I put in the effort - and although I am getting on it's all a bit of a gas!

    Today I've been married for 46 years. I woke up depressed but the alternative just ain't better! So I've got a few glasses of fizz and a couple of glasses or red down my neck and man I'm feeling mellow………...

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  25. You two look neat in the last pic definitely one for the press office! I am now in love with the Gadabout - it is so me and I would never have known if you hadn't shown me one!right down to the colour - I want one very badly. The setting for the event looked great and I think the music must have made it such a fab atmosphere.

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  26. Wow I love those scooters and old vans!

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  27. Sounds like a good time .
    That gadabout is super groovy !
    We try to embrace the goings on of our little town whenever possible from town fairs to parades with our ponies ~ local spirit is alive and well.

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  28. I know quite a few here who'd like to get their hands on some of those retro scooters. What a cool show in here today! We're having a car show in town next weekend so I'll try and post some pics.

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  29. interesting facts about your homeland! that swallow car is a beauty! the whole event looks like a lot of fun. and with a kinky melon stall - what can go wrong? as always your display looks gorgeous, love the suit on the doll.....
    xxxxxx

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  30. Civic pride is a great thing and you are a great example of someone who always makes the most of things and sees the best. Walsall has produced some incredible things: leather handbags, cool cars and fab motorbikes, plus beautiful girls if you and the two Lizs are anything to go on. I really like it when there is a celebration and the community comes put to support it. That interior space is fab with the cable reels and wild flowers. I'm a country girl at heart, but easily seduced by a good interior. Xxxxxxxx

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  31. I feel like I get to tour with you when you go to all of your markets, what fun! And you look beautiful as always! :)

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  32. Liz looks like she is out of a fashion mag posing on that motorcycle! Looks like a fun time. I love events that have live bands, makes such a nice atmosphere.

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  33. The queen looks seriously mardy in the middle picture! Oooh, I love the reel tables and the brambles. Off to look at Liz's bags- they look super in the pict you've taken! My local home town was really grubby and not the nicest but I did always like it, so you're right!!! x

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  34. Now that's what I call a great day out! Live bands make for a party like atmosphere at a market that I love!
    You and Liz are a foxy pair, and I do believe that adorable scooter ought to be hers!
    I saw a doco on the Launer handbags a wee while back. So nice to think that Queenie has a personal connection to your hometown!
    I am both a city and a country girl, but yearn more for the country......
    Love Helga XXX

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  35. Love the scooter ... I could see you and Jon whizzing around town on that one :0)

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  36. Beautiful maxi dress as always, and that Swallow Doretti is just gorgeous. And it's so nice to see someone thinking positively about there hometown. Too often do people put down the places in which they were born, it's just such a negative outlook I think.

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  37. You ladies look great! Love a good free event! I really need that blue scooter and green van.

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  38. What a doozy(?) of a post, Vix! You've got everything here - a little glamour, a little motor sport, great antiques, royalty!, pizza... Thanks for the look inside the festival. That's a great reminder - to appreciate what we've got right on our own doorsteps.

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  39. it looks like a great event, the old vehicles look rather swish. I really have to make it along to a vintage event somewhere local soon!

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  40. What a car! the swallow Doretti is a beauty! all the vehicles are just amazing, I'll always have a fondness for a scooter and a side car, love 'em! it's a cracking free event (free! one of my favourite words!) right up my street too and yep, I agree you should'nt moan about where you live - btw you both look fabulous!! x x x

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  41. This is a brilliant post, Vix. I love reading about a bit of history, plus you've got vintage cars and clobber too, a match made in heaven! P.S. That grumpy photo of Queenie in lilac made me smile, it looks like she's just remembered that she's forgotten to wear her Tena Lady! xx

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  42. What a treat! Wonderful history and you both look fantastic! I do try to love my town, really I do ..... xx

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  43. What's not to love here Vix? A free event, fabulous surroundings... (love those hangars) live 50's music, vintage cars, crafts and a celebration of the local area. How interesting to learn about Walsall's history, I had no idea that Ma'am's handbags were made there. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about one's home town, I've heard so many whingers over the years knocking our town, but most of them moved here from elsewhere to get a job at Gatwick. I felt like saying 'fuck off back to Scunthorpe then (other towns are available) and get a job there if it's so bad here' You and Liz are visions of loveliness as always and doesn't she look good on the Gadabout? xxx

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  44. Walsall sure knows how to put on a party! I love the photo of you and Liz rocking the hell out of my favorite color combo, gorgeous women! Her booth looks as bright as she is and those corsages are so pretty! I bet you guys had a blast hanging out and selling all day. Jon looks cool because he is, and the shop looks amazing and I think you need that Big ole bus for a pop up shop, stat!
    I think Walsalls sports car and scooter and gorgeous!

    I think it's important to love where you live and to explore too. I love P town and you!
    Xxxoooooooooo

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  45. This is a marvellous way to celebrate your town, I agree, that vintage van would be brilliant for a pop-up shop. xx
    /Madison

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  46. what a great place to live, so full of life, such wise words too, I think we just saw a scooter like that on an American show , they had bought it in England, American Pickers its called, I don`t know it you get that show, we get it in Canada, retro is becoming so so hot, you are educating all us newbies to this retro life style, where I live most of what surrounds me is the forest but I still love it, not much conversationalist though, lol!!!

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  47. what a great place to live, so full of life, such wise words too, I think we just saw a scooter like that on an American show , they had bought it in England, American Pickers its called, I don`t know it you get that show, we get it in Canada, retro is becoming so so hot, you are educating all us newbies to this retro life style, where I live most of what surrounds me is the forest but I still love it, not much conversationalist though, lol!!!

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  48. what a great place to live, so full of life, such wise words too, I think we just saw a scooter like that on an American show , they had bought it in England, American Pickers its called, I don`t know it you get that show, we get it in Canada, retro is becoming so so hot, you are educating all us newbies to this retro life style, where I live most of what surrounds me is the forest but I still love it, not much conversationalist though, lol!!!

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  49. what a great place to live, so full of life, such wise words too, I think we just saw a scooter like that on an American show , they had bought it in England, American Pickers its called, I don`t know it you get that show, we get it in Canada, retro is becoming so so hot, you are educating all us newbies to this retro life style, where I live most of what surrounds me is the forest but I still love it, not much conversationalist though, lol!!!

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  50. I'm loving your home town through your blog, Vix. I agree with the concept of appreciating where you live! You and Liz are radiant in Walsall. Gorgeous colors! Beautiful photos!

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  51. looks like an awesome day out. The Gadabout is absolutely gorgeous and reminds me of a Smeg fridge (surely I'm not the only one?) Really like what you're both wearing and Lizs dress is stunning :)

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  52. Good advice, Vix! I had such a great time to learn about your hometown and even showed the car part to Justin. I'm a nomad by nature and sometimes it seems I could love almost any place like "my hometown" - the whole world is my hometown, way too much love inside. :)

    You, Liz and Jon look completely smashing! I can see you owning such a cute vintage shop on wheels. Here is to a new dream!

    Love xxx

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  53. Love the colorful history and crafts in this post. As a teen and in my early twenties I whined about my home town of 17 years and its lack f diversity but now I love it, instead I see opportunity. Helps that I moved to the bohemian side of town, too. Big time ;)

    Thanks for the history lesson. :D

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  54. This looks brilliant! I love the rustic chairs and cable reel idea!

    A pop up vintage shop from a van, now that's my idea of the good life :) xx

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  55. I need that scooter in my life!! What'd you call it? a Gadabout. Yeah, I need one with a sidecar that's car seat friendly for my babies!

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  56. A really interesting post, I find these posts great because I learn so much, two lovely ladies . xxx

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  57. Now that looks like a weekend to be thoroughly enjoyed! You and Jon look lovely, and the photos were are so fun! The history of industrial urban areas are extra fascinating ... drivers of culture and progressive ideas, etc. For a time we had an annual antique car show at our little town, and it was always great for the restaurant as these folks usually have a coin or two to rub together. Sadly we lost it to a little larger town down the road.
    Hope you had a groovy weekend!

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  58. This looks like a great event, I love having a browse around this kind of thing.

    We've moved up the Rhondda valley and everyone wondered why the heck we were leaving Cardiff, but we love it, there's some really great stuff locally.

    P x

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  59. Excellent advice Vix! People always say to me "oh you do so many things, I could never do that..." Yes you could - just look online, its all there! People WANT you to come to their events. Anyways this looks like a total blast - I love that old scooter, I have a thing for scooters even though I have never owned one (perhaps one day!). This looks like a wonderful venue, I hope you had a really successful day:)

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Love from Vix
xxx