Roy Peacock - Ernest and Mary Stevens.
A full hall of History Group members welcomed the return visit of local historian, Roy Peacock, to give a talk on two Stourbridge benefactors, Ernest and Mary Stevens.
His indepth knowledge coupled with a good dose of humour kept the group riveted to his presentation. We were impressed by his ability to speak without notes, thus engaging the audience throughout.
Roy explained the background to Ernest Stevens’ life and how he rose from humble beginnings to accrue his wealth by manufacturing cookware. He pioneered enamelling of cookware and founded the ‘Judge’ cookware brand. He explained in detail the extent of the beneficent and charitable giving that both Ernest and his wife Mary contributed to the Black Country population at the start of the 20th Century and well into the 20th Century. This was largely due to their strong Christian Methodist beliefs and ethos and to their commitment to tee-totalism.
Four local parks, a Maternity Home, (the best in the country at that time), hospitals, charitable Trusts and children’s welfare projects were among the many schemes that the Stevens were involved in, some of which are still benefitting the population of the Black Country today. Ernest and Mary also attempted to improve the conditions of their workers and were pioneering in bringing women into their factories.
Roy set the social background for the talk as well as the historical scene, and the audience learned about the whole period from the late 19th Century to the middle of the 20th Century – the social history, the industrial history and world history.
Roy provided interesting details in his talk, and delivered the presentation with humour and a real depth of knowledge of his subjects. It was obvious he had a passion for his topic and we, the audience, were caught up in his enthusiasm.
All in all, it was another fascinating talk by an expert Speaker.