Guided Town Walks led by Melvyn Thompson in July.
Three Guided Town Walks were arranged over the course of the summer, all led by our local carpet historian and expert Melvyn Thompson. All those who went on the walks appreciated them very much and many said that they had not realised the extent of existing history still viewable in the town.
On a very warm day Melvyn encouraged us to ‘look up’ and see the architectural heritage that still remains in Kidderminster in some of the Victorian buildings in our town. He explained, as we began our walk down Green Street, that just over 150 years ago the town was surrounded by rural scenery and lowland meadows, the legacy of which is still incorporated in names such as ‘Pike Meadows’, ‘Long Meadow’, ‘Green Street’, ‘Stour Vale’ etc.
As we approached the junction of Dixon Street with Green Street, Melvyn pointed out the Northern Lights windows above ‘Anatolia’s’ in Dixon Street; Paddington House, built in 1870; the dye house and the Gatekeeper’s house among other examples of our carpet heritage. He also explained that names of streets in the town commemorate carpet owners eg Dixon Street, and later Brinton Crescent; Tomkinson Drive etc . Green Street was formerly the new road in the town, which we find hard to understand nowadays.
In the town centre we saw the evidence of the carpet trades in the remaining buildings of the former Brintons factories and the famous ‘Bull’ which many remembered sounding out over the town and beyond at strategic times of the day, until its demise in the 1990s. We passed the ‘Piano Building’ and Melvyn recalled the scene in the town centre when the area smelled constantly of wet wool as one passed through the muddy alley by the Piano building on a short cut into town from the canal. He emphasised the importance of the Staffs and Worcester canal and the River Stour in the growth of the carpet industry in Kidderminster. His talk was interspersed with anecdotes and a wealth of facts about the industry of which he is clearly passionate and very knowledgeable.
As we approached the town centre, Melvyn pointed out the plaques that highlighted the carpet heritage of the town. He spoke of the Carpet Masters, the industry and the buildings and many members added their own memories in the carpet industry to those of our Guide.
The guided walk ended at the Brinton Fountain at the top end of Oxford Street near the subway to the Station and here again Melvyn entertained us with interesting snippets of information. We were sorry to have to end the walk, but the exceptionally hot weather made it unwise to continue and we were aware that there is a further wealth of history to be unveiled in another Guided Town Walk at another time.