slice of Staffordshire, a county which a former king - one
of the James's, I believe - said was only fit for being cut
up to make roads. Little he knew about it, for our county
is as varied in its scenery, history, and occupations as most,
and the slice we defend is worthy of the whole.
Our history goes back to the
dawn of civilisation in this country. True, it is unwritten
history, but the evidence is here for all to read who will.
Some of you have trained and sited strong points and machine-gun
posts on the fern-covered slopes, which once were Knaves Castle
and the Old Fort at Upper Stonnall.
Hills were just as important
strategically, when slings and boulders were the weapons,
as they are to-day, and for probably two thousand years or
more those entrenchments have mounted guard above the Old
Not so certain, but equally interesting,
is the tradition attaching to our most prominent landmark,
the solace of all prentice mapreaders, Barr Beacon, for "this
most central hill in England" so it is said, was
the scene of the Druids' great midsummer festival.
Aldridge, then, must have been as important to the "parsons"
of those times as York or Canterbury are to-day!
Moreover the Arch-druid liked the air of Aldridge so well
that he had his "palace" here and Druid's Heath
was his address.
Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the road from the
Beacon, along the ridge, down Whetstone Lane towards Walsall
Wood, would be one of the earliest trodden by men in our area.
It would join up with the Watling Street, that ancient military
highway which the Romans perfected and which our Brownhills
Home Guards know so well.
They, too, will remember the old signpost which stood at
the junction of the Watling Street and Old Chester Road, a
relic of the "good old days" of stage coaches and
highway robbery. One of the past masters at this game
was Tom King, who, again according to tradition, was born
at the "Irish Harp", that snug little inn, not unknown
to the 32nd Battalion, which one likes to believe has not
altered a brick since Tom took to the road, and which, one
fervently hopes, never will.