bloom-roundaboutTamworth is in seventh heaven after striking gold yet again in the Heart of England in Bloom competition – the seventh year in a row.

The borough’s accolade in the ‘Small City’ category was revealed at a ceremony in Aldridge where Tamworth picked up two awards.

This year, Tamworth also came away with a Silver Gilt award for Wigginton Park in a new ‘Parks and Open Spaces’ category which was entered by The Friends of Wigginton Park volunteers group.

Months of hard work by council staff, community groups, sheltered housing schemes, businesses and green-fingered residents across the borough ensured it was lucky number seven for the gold medal by helping to maintain the town’s high standard for fabulous floral displays, impressive community projects and thriving wildlife habitats.

This year’s campaign has the theme Be Prepared to Bloom and was carried out in partnership with Tamworth’s Cubs to celebrate the organisation’s centenary, as well as continuing the commemoration of the First World War.

Judges Nicola Clarke and Roger Tait from Heart of England in Bloom were impressed with what they saw during their tour of Tamworth, which included the Cubs 100 logo and refurbished First World War floral statue on the Lichfield Street island, Broad Meadow Nature Reserve – one of only two sites in Staffordshire where snake’s head fritillaries grow wild – Rawlett School, Bright Crescent sheltered housing accommodation, the Castle Grounds and community gardens at Tamworth Community Fire Station.

The judges commented: “Through the continued spirit of community and partnership working, Bloom has become embedded in the way services are delivered and the benefits this brings to the environment and local residents were evident throughout the tour.

“From nurturing the young through the celebration of the Cubs’ centenary, to working with the local farmer and Wildlife Trust to have cattle grazing on Broad Meadow, to the continued investment in infrastructure and successful funding bids – Tamworth is positively in bloom.”

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Tamworth in Bloom Champion, said: “Our continued success in this competition is incredible, because staying on top of the game, year after year, is no mean feat.

“Obviously huge thanks go to our StreetScene team, who work tirelessly all year round to keep the town looking nice, but we must also praise the efforts of Tamworth’s growing army of green fingered enthusiasts who are working hard to improve the areas they live in.

“Tamworth now has seven Local Nature Reserves which are maintained by volunteers in conjunction with the Wild About Tamworth project – a partnership between Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. This is in addition to other voluntary groups like The Friends of Wigginton Park who help keep our open spaces looking lovely by going the extra mile.

“I’m pleased to see their hard work has paid off with the award for Wigginton Park and I hope this community pride will continue to grow around the borough as we prepare for next year’s Tamworth in Bloom competition.”

The Friends of Wigginton Park was started by a group of students from the Rawlett School around seven years ago and sees pupils, local residents and members of Tamworth Rugby Club coming together once a month to work in the park.

Together with support from Tamworth Borough Council, Wild About Tamworth and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the group has carried out a range of improvements such as the planting of 1,000 trees, including the preservation of species, introduced a new wildflower meadow, planted 500 bluebell bulbs and started work on a community orchard.

A variety of walks and activities take place in the park, such as bat walks and bird surveys, and more projects are planned, including the restoration of wetlands which will hopefully bring more amphibious species to the area.

Richard Kingstone chairs The Friends of Wigginton Park group. He said: “As this was a new category and we have never entered awards before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I am overjoyed at the Silver Gilt award. It’s testament to the hard work of the volunteers who get involved. Anyone is welcome to lend a hand on our task days and we probably have 30 to 40 people who regularly help out.

“This is a great example of people taking pride in their own community. We could all sit back and let the local authorities take care of everything, but sometimes, by taking ownership, you can make a place that much nicer. You can also be involved in some of the decision making processes. The group has been a real success so far.”

Anyone interested in getting involved can find out about forthcoming task days on The Friends Wigginton Park Facebook page at

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A weird and wonderful collection of items not usually on display to the public – including the medicine cabinet which once belonged to the infamous ‘Rugeley Poisoner’ – will be brought out of storage for a special one-off exhibition at Tamworth Castle at the weekend.

After previous successful Collections Weekend events, members of staff at the historic Castle decided to have another rummage through the stores to find more interesting items to put on display.

This time the theme will be Cabinets of Curiosities and will give visitors the opportunity to view some of the more unusual items that have been gifted to Tamworth Castle or acquired from local collectors over the years.

This weekend’s exhibition includes a medicine cabinet which is believed to have belonged to the infamous ‘Rugeley Poisoner’ William Palmer – a doctor who was found guilty of murder in one of the most notorious cases of the 19th century.

He was convicted for poisoning his friend with strychnine and was suspected of poisoning several other people, including members of his own family. He was hanged in 1856.

The medicine cabinet was part of the private museum of Tamworth Councillor Frederick Allsopp, which he donated to Tamworth Castle just before his death in 1953. There has been much interest in the cabinet since then, including in 2013 when it was filmed for the BBC’s ‘A Very British Murder’ programme.

Other items in the Cabinets of Curiosities display include a pencil made from a bullet, a miniature shoe, a small wooden replica of the double helix staircase in St Editha’s Church and a ball made from cow hair.

As well as looking at the collection, visitors will be able to chat to knowledgeable museum staff and volunteers to find out more about the rich history of the various items.

In addition, visitors to the Collections Weekend will be given the opportunity to have a go at some conservation work by helping to clean a row of tiles in a wooden frame that were found in store in the Castle.

Tamworth Castle launched its Collections Weekends in 2014. As two-thirds of the museum collections are held in storage, the themed weekends provide people with the opportunity to see objects that cannot be accommodated in the building on a more permanent basis.

The Castle is open between 11.30am and 4pm (building closes at 4.45pm) and general admission fees apply for Collections Weekend.

For more information, contact Tamworth Tourist Information Centre on 01827 709618, or visit


dig_2156You’ve heard about our dig at Tamworth Assembly Rooms – now’s your chance to come along and take a look at it for yourselves.

Two open days are being held at the excavation site next to Tamworth Assembly Rooms in Corporation Street, where experts from Wessex Archaeology have been digging up the car park to search for historical artefacts before the land is built upon as part of the redevelopment of the theatre.

The dig site is being opened up for people to go along and hear first-hand from archaeologists about the work they are doing and to see some of the items that have been found so far.

The open days are being held tomorrow (Thursday September 22) and Tuesday September 27, between 11am and 3pm.

So far the search for clues about the town’s history has unearthed several pieces of pottery, thought to date back to at least medieval times, and three suspected ‘pits’, which may have been used to dispose of rubbish several centuries ago.

The Assembly Rooms regeneration is part of the ambitious £6.1million project by Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council, and part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to develop an Enterprise Quarter in the heart of Tamworth town centre.

Work to the historic theatre will include the creation of a café bar and exhibition space, a multi-use area, a new box office and new glazed double doors at the front of the building.

A brand new glass extension will be added onto the side of the building which will be used as a studio space and lit up at night.

As well as the refurbishment and extension of Tamworth Assembly Rooms, the Enterprise Quarter vision includes the transformation of the Philip Dix Centre into a Business and Enterprise Centre, the redevelopment of the Carnegie Centre as a restaurant and improvements to the library and surrounding area to create a new cultural hub.

The project will create around 100 jobs, attract additional private investment and potentially boost the town’s economy by an estimated £13million by 2019.

To keep up to date with progress at the dig site, people can look online at , or follow Tamworth Arts & Events on Facebook, or @TArtsandEvents on Twitter.

Visitors to the open day are advised that parking is available at a number of Tamworth Borough Council car parks nearby and throughout the town centre. Usual terms apply.