Billinghams of Cradley Heath
Updated August 2008
Black Country Poems
By Arthur Raymond Billingham of Brierley Hill 1919-1987
Billinghams Staffordshire Knot
Reprinted from The Black Country Bugle
Brierley Hills Arthur Billingham supplied us with many fine ballards over the past several years and we are very sad to hear of his recent death.
He was a talented word-smith whose compositions always had an unmistakable Black Country ring about them and expressed pride in the place of his birth.
The Staffordshire Knot was from this mould and we publish it now as a tribute to this true Black Country bard whose dialect verse will be sadly missed.
Many many years agoo,
fore the reign of Good Queen Bess,
the wicked lords who ruled the land
held the power of life or jeth.
Their werd was Law, in them days
an just to satisfy a whim,
some poor surf dragged from out his field,
would lose an eye or limb.
Wi rampant privare armies,
theyd pillage rape an raid
an many men they carried off,
wun in stinken dungeons laid.
Then when they felt they wanted
A giggle or a loff
Theyd goo an fetch one poor sod out
An ave is yed chopped off.
Foewer men like these was chained up
Under the shadder of deaths dark fear
Three on um come from sumwheer else
An one from Staffordshire.
And the wicked local tyrant
in search of pleasures new
sed to the quartette mhung in chains
this is wot you`ve gorra do.
Think of a knot so cunning got
asll ang the tuther three
But they must swing at the saeme time.
If yoe dun yoe con goo free.
Then the Staffordshire mon looked puzzled.
But after scrathin at is chin.
Tied such a knot wot quickly
got the tuthers three yeds in..
The bad ode sadist set im free
an anged the tuthers on the spot.
That twisted ropes ever since bin knowed
as The Mon from Staffordshires Knot
An since that time iss bin our badge
an this ballads gorr an angle
A Staffordshire Mon con keep is yed
while lesser mortals dangle.
THE LIFE OF ARTHUR RAYMOND BILLINGHAM
My thanks to Anthony Billingham son of the late Arthur Raymond Billingham
ARTHUR RAYMOND BILLINGHAM (1919-1987)
He was a very intelligent man,in 1930 he obtained a Free Scholarship to King Edward VI Grammar School in Stourbridge ,only a few were given each year.
However, his parents were unable to afford his uniform and he was unable to attend and instead went to Mill Street School in Brierley Hill Staffordshie.
At Sixteen he was involved in an accident at the bottom of Quarry Bank Hill and was trapped under an omnibus . He Lost a leg because of this his
hair turned white within a week.He received £250 in compensation.
This was used to build two houses,89 & 87 Church Street Brierley Hill . 87 was subsequently sold due to financial problems to Mr. Pearson who owned
83 and 85,there being 4 houses in the block.
He worked for Horseley Bridge and Thomas Piggott,of Great Bridge, for Forty Years and became Works Shop Steward for the Boilermakers Union. Negotiating at one time a 10% wage Rise to all
but four workers.The Workers turned this down insisting that it was 10% for all or nothing.He resigned and the new negotiations Settled for 2.5%.He refused to retake the Job when asked.
In 1952 he carried out work of the Dome of Discovery for the Festival of Britain in 1953 in his role as a X-ray Welder.
He was Secretary of the Brierley Hill Rabbit Club for many years to be followed in the position by his wife Winifred and later his son Anthony Richard.At the 1953 Festival of Britain show he
won Best in Show with a Black Dutch Rabbit .He also ran the juvenile section of the Rabbit Club.At its height he had 120 rabbits being reared mainly for show.
He also became Secretary of Brierley Hill Football Club and towards his later years he loaned the club £1000 repayable on his death,however, the club folded before he died
He kept the grass from the penalty spot until his death ,which he tended with a pair of scissors.
He was an amatuer joiner and built a wooden greenhouse by hand which produced 1/10 ton of tomatoes in the first year of cultivation.
A keen gardner he cultivated his own and two other neighbours' gardens .This with the handicap of an artificial leg, to provide for his family during and after the second world war.
He was also a founder member,with his brother Thomas of the Brierley Hill Operatic Society, and was a vice-president for many years.He only carried out a back-stage roll but this gave his son
the bug to go on and become Stage Manager for Quarry Bank Amateur Operatic Society,Halesowen Amateur Operatic Society, and in various back stage capasties for Brierley Hill Operatic Society.
He was also a well know poet and had several poems published in the Black Country Bugle.
At his Funeral at Lower Gornal Cremitorium people where standing outside as there was insufficient room for all the people present.