LDTA Visit to Wall

LDTA WallWall Village holds many surprises as LDTA members discovered on Thursday 19th May. Considering it is such a small area, it has a great deal to offer. We met in the Village Hall and were welcomed by John Crowe and Julie Moulds, who acted as our knowledgeable guides for the afternoon. Julie, explained that the Roman site is managed and maintained by English Heritage, and owned by the National Trust. In 2008 a dedicated group of volunteers formed The Friends of Letocetum, to facilitate the opening of the Museum.

A replica Roman Milestone commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee marked the beginning point of our tour. The landmark is located at the original junction of Watling Street and Ryknild Street and was the idea of The Milestone Society, a group who restore ancient finger posts and milestones. Opposite the monument stand a row of modern bungalows, nothing remarkable on the surface but underneath them Roman columns were found hiding buildings that were without doubt far grander. On the edge of this area human bones and pottery have been discovered pointing to evidence this may have been a cemetery.

Continuing the tour, we passed the library encased in a redundant red telephone box, this was bought from BT for £1 and contains books to borrow, donated by the residents of Wall. Like Roman soldiers, we valiantly marched on up the Butts up to the top of the hill where St John’s Church stands. The word ‘Butts’, usually refers to an area used for archery training, but this area in Wall refers to an ancient British track. Standing in the churchyard gave us a wonderful vantage point looking down on to the Roman site below.

A quick peep inside the church was all we had time for, but we did learn that St John’s was consecrated in 1843 and built by George Gilbert Scott who also designed the Albert Memorial in London for the bereaved Queen Victoria. Lichfield Cathedral was also restored by the architect in the Victorian era. Workmen digging close to the church unearthed a large earthenware statue probably dedicated to the goddess Minerva.  John, explained that there has almost certainly been a place of worship at this location for centuries and artefacts with Christian symbols have been found over the years. During the 1920’s a bronze bowl inscribed with a “Chio Rhio” Christian symbol was found at a site of a burial, proving that Christian worship was practised before the end of the Roman period.

We were amazed at the history contained within the village, a stone arch once spanned Watling Street alongside the Trooper Inn where a Roman Well was discovered. The locals from the village started to excavate the well but when WW2 broke out filled it back in. After the war the project was resumed and the custodian of the Roman site volunteered to be lowered down on a rope attached to a winch to the bottom of the well. No health and safety in those days! Unfortunately nothing of interest was found. Our walk revealed the strategies used to defend the area, ditches and long grass concealed wooden spikes or sharp metal that projected out of the soil, making it hard to see by incoming invaders. Over the years there have been many interesting finds including a hoard of coins and a window frame still complete with glass, the building of the M6 toll road has unearthed other significant objects.

The name Letocetum, means ‘grey wood’ and began life as a military staging post but soon developed in to a civil settlement offering a high standard of living. We were able to see remains of a ‘mansio’ for travellers and public baths, with its sequence of cold, warm and hot rooms here soldiers could find lodgings for the night and change their horses. The recently refurbished museum provides a fascinating insight into Roman life and displays many of the pieces found in the village. As a local history site this is an excellent venue for school parties and educational visits can be arranged. The outdoor site can be visited by the public at any time. The museum is open on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month and bank holiday Mondays between 11am and 4pm.

The website www.wallromansitefriendsofletocetum.co.uk  provides more information about Letocetum and planning an educational visit.

The Roman God Apollo must have been watching over us, the weather was fine and warm during the tour but on arrival back at the village hall the heavens opened. LDTA members were greeted by a sumptuous feast. Fortunately for us not dormice cooked in honey and poppy seeds but a delicious English afternoon tea.  Volunteers Sheila, Jane and Jean had been busy since midday preparing a selection of sandwiches, home baked scones served with jam and cream, followed by cake and biscuits all accompanied by a good cup of tea. I’m sure the Romans would never have left Wall if they had tasted the refreshments! Each table had been adorned with a pretty vase of flowers making our food ever more pleasant.

Wall Village Hall is a practical community building and is suitable for a wide range of activities, from martial arts training to wedding receptions, hopefully not at the same time!  If you would like to hire this building more information can be found by visiting www.wallvillagehall.com

Many thanks to John and Julie for making our LDTA networking meeting so enjoyable and to the ladies who provided and served the afternoon tea.

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Calling all event organisers – please submit your events for the next issue of What’s On (September 2016 – February 2017)

It’s that time of year again when we start to think about promoting your upcoming events – between September 2016 and February 2017.

As part of this, we will be collating events for the Autumn /Winter What’s on starting TODAY! The deadline for submission of events is Friday 10 June 2016, so please do submit them as soon as you can to secure your place in our next edition! Here’s how:

We have a new system for applying for your THREE FREE listings in the brochure – so now it’s even easier to submit your events!

  • Visit our website to add your event:  visitlichfield.co.uk/addyourevent
  • Complete the online form as normal.
  • If you would like your event to be included in the next brochure, please tick the What’s on box, headed Please tick if you would like your event to be considered for the next edition of What’s On
  • Provide a 30 word description in the What’s on description box – this is in addition to the main description (which will be published to our website and can contain more information) and will be the text that will appear in What’s On.
  • Please make sure you have permission to submit the data you send to us.
  • Click: Submit for approval
  • We will then pick up your listing contact you if* we plan to include it in the next issue of What’s On (see further details below). If your event is included, you will be sent a proof to approve.
  • If you have any photos you would like us to include in the What’s On guide, please email these separately to beesley@lichfielddc.gov.uk (please ensure they are approx. 5MB).

*Why would my event not be featured in What’s On?

  • Inclusion of your event in the next issue of What’s On will depend on whether it fits within the next version’s timeframe (the next edition will feature events from September 2016 to February 2017).
  • Special offers/retail sales will not be included.

What if I submit more than three events for What’s On?

  • If you wish to submit more than three events this is not a problem – we will however invoice £25 plus VAT for each additional listing.
  • You will be sent a proof to approve for each listing.

What if I have already added events to the Visit Lichfield website that I want featured in What’s On?

  • If you have already added an event to the Visit Lichfield site, and want it featured in What’s On, please email a 30 word description beesley@lichfielddc.gov.uk and copy and paste the event listing URL from the Visit Lichfield site into your email (e.g. http://www.visitlichfield.co.uk/content/middletonmotors, so we can pick up the date, time and location details).
  • You will be sent a proof to approve.

What if I want to add an event to the Visit Lichfield website, but don’t want it to feature in What’s On?

  • If you have events for the Visit Lichfield site, but don’t want them to be included in the next What’s on Brochure, do not tick the What’s On box and omit the description in the What’s on box.

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The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations, 21 April 2016

Queen90BirthdayThere is a long and unbroken tradition in our country of celebrating Royal jubilees, weddings, coronations and special birthdays with the lighting of beacons. The last major beacon celebration was on Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on 4 June 2012.

There will be a further opportunity to celebrate on Thursday 21 April 2016, when beacons will be lit throughout the United Kingdom and further afield in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th Birthday. Lichfield City Council will be hosting a free celebration, beginning with a Civic Parade from the Guildhall to Minster Pool at 6:30pm. School children will then read their own compositions – completed as part of a local competition – at Speakers Corner on Dam St from 7:00pm, followed by the dedication of a Tilia Europeae tree along Pool Walk and the lighting of a Beacon in the Memorial Gardens at 8:00pm with musical accompaniment. 

Refreshments will be available from Minster Hall café on Pool Walk, a project run by people with learning difficulties along with volunteers under the umbrella of Sherratts Wood Community Interest Company. The event will end at around 8:30pm.

The Mayor of Lichfield, Councillor Andrew Smith said “The City Council is honoured to join with hundreds of other councils and communities across the country in celebrating the Queen’s 90th Birthday. By highlighting the contributions of local schoolchildren and the work of staff and volunteers at Minster Hall café, our celebrations will emphasise the community spirit and future potential of our City”.

The public is welcome to attend from 6:45pm on 21 April, and schoolchildren’s compositions for the event will be on display in the main corridor of the Guildhall on St George’s Day (Saturday 23 April).

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Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival

Lichfield ArtsI do hope you have had a good start to the spring season, all we need now is some warm weather!

The festival season will shortly be with us and I have attached details of the Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival. This festival is taking place June 24- 26 and Fuse which is returning July 8 – 10. This community arts festival attracts over 10,000 visitors to the city. This is a FREE festival, which costs over £25,000 to run, if you feel you could help in anyway via sponsorship, donation or advertising please contact me on bpretty369@btinternet.com or 01543-264640. For further information visit http://www.lichfieldarts.org.uk/

Lichfield Festival programme

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Lichfield and Tamworth Swap Shop

Mayor Maureen Gant, Cllr Norma Bacon, Ken Knowles and Sarah Glennie from Drayton ManorThis year’s annual Swap Shop organised by Visit Lichfield and Enjoy Tamworth was held at the Tower Suite, Drayton Manor Theme Park, on Friday 18 March. It was a great success with over 50 exhibitors taking stands and promoting their businesses, exchanging leaflets and networking with other local attractions and businesses.

The event was formally opened by Sarah Glennie from Drayton Manor, Councillor Norma Bacon, Chairman of Lichfield District Council and Councillor Maureen Gant, Mayor of Tamworth and was introduced by Lichfield’s town crier Ken Knowles.

The exhibitors included: Ashby Tourist Information, Bibbledy Bob – DJ & Children’s Entertainer, Broomey Croft Children’s Farm, Central SUP, Chasewater Railway, CIN Tamworth, Donative Holiday Cottages, Drayton Court Hotel, Drayton Manor Hotel, Elford Hall Garden Project, Enjoy Staffordshire, Erasmus Darwin House, Field Sport UK, Friends of Letocetum, FYI Families Ltd, Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust, Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield Festival, Lichfield Green Badge Guides, Lichfield Mysteries Community Arts, Mercia Marina, Midland Wind and Water Mills Group, Museum of Cannock Chase – Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, National Forest, National Forest Adventure Farm, Northern Warwickshire Tourism, NPF Bassetts Pole Paintball & Outdoor Activities, “Out There”, Rudyard Lake Steam Railway, Shakespeare in the Park, Sky Trail Adventure at Planters Garden Centre, SnowDome Ltd, St Mary’s in the Market Square, Staffordshire Libraries, Sustrans – INTO Tamworth, Swadlincote Tourist Information Centre, Tamworth Arts & Events, Tamworth TIC & Destination Tamworth, Civic Hall Bedworth, Claymills Pumping Engines Trust, National Brewery Centre, The Olive Tree, The Peapod Family with Lullabellas Cakes, Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Tamworth and District Civic Society, Tamworth Guild of Town Guides, Touch FM and Warwickshire County Council Country Parks.

A productive morning was spent, and some were lucky enough to win tickets, overnight stays, and much more from a selection of prizes donated by attendees from the Civic Hall Bedworth, Lichfield Garrick Theatre, Tempest Ford, Visit Lichfield & Lichfield District Tourism Association and the Holiday Inn Express Lichfield.

Delegates enjoyed a tasty buffet lunch prior to attending an informative presentation from Graeme Whitehead of Enjoy Staffordshire followed by a digital marketing workshop run by Emily Whitehead.

Feedback from the event has been very positive and we look forward to coordinating a similar event for 2017

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LDTA Networking Meeting at the Garrick Theatre

The Lichfield Garrick was the venue for our latest LDTA networking meeting, where we took a trip behind the curtain with a backstage tour. LDTA members were welcomed by knowledgeable guide and trained actor Perdita Lawton, who led us through unseen areas of the theatre following in the footsteps of the famous, and revealing the secrets that make a first class show.Lighting room

The theatre was built in 2002 replacing the 1970’s Civic Hall and is named after one of Lichfield’s most famous sons, actor David Garrick. It is an independent charity, part funded by Lichfield District Council.

While visiting the lighting and sound box Perdy explained how vital lighting is to any stage production as it visually and emotionally enriches a performance. Gobo’s are used to project a range of patterns and illuminate actors as they move around the stage, if necessary lights are specially brought in to enhance an act and pyrotechnics are used for a stunning effect.

One of the highlights of our visit was the opportunity to stand on stage and look out at what the actors see. The main auditorium has clear views of the stage throughout, the first four rows of the stalls are flat-floored, remaining seating in the stalls and circle is raked. The Lichfield Garrick has a Proscenium Arch auditorium, this type of design was the most common form of theatre building in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The term “Proscenium Arch” is used to describe any staging configuration in which the audience faces the stage straight-on regardless of whether or not there is a real “arch”.

The studio is smaller in size and used for more intimate performances where no complex scene changes are required. Known as a black box space the area is capable of endless configurations, seating can be changed and the area dressed for any occasion. Plays, monthly film nights, jazz and children’s workshops are among its varied uses. The Studio can be hired for corporate events and Perdy suggested it would be perfect place to host a unique wedding reception!

Our guide showed LDTA members where the Deputy Stage Manager sits during a show and described what an important and varied role this is. The DSM follows the script during a performance and is responsible for ensuring that everyone is in the right place at the right time. Cueing the opening of the show, calling the actors, costume changes, lighting, sound and technical effects are just a few of their responsibilities. Safety is always paramount and once again this falls to the DMS who makes the decision as whether or not it is safe for any special effects go ahead.

The fly tower enables large pieces of set to be lowered down on to the stage very quickly using cables and hoists. In Elizabethan times the fly man’s job and other stage staff were sailors hired from ships in port who had learned to ‘rig’ ships with ropes and pulleys, the technical staff are still known as the crew and the lights used to illuminate the stage are referred to as the lighting rig. It is considered extremely unlucky to whistle in a theatre, as the sailors used coded whistles on ship to communicate and did the same when in the theatre to signify scene changes. If an actor whistled this could confuse the crew into moving the set or scenery at the wrong time resulting in an accident or even death.

A visit to the dressing rooms concluded our tour and we heard about the unusual requests or demands a performer sets as a criteria when visiting any theatre. These requests are known as a “rider list”, Elkie Brooks specified no air fresheners or recently painted walls when she performed at the Garrick. Speakers are located in every dressing room so the cast are aware of what is happening on stage at any given time and the Deputy Stage Managers’ instructions can be heard.

LDTA members had the opportunity to network in the Theatre Bar while enjoying a selection of delicious cakes and coffee rounding off a very interesting and entertaining morning. For more information about hiring any of the rooms at the Garrick or forthcoming shows please visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com or call the box office on 01543 412121.

Our next LDTA networking visit will be to: Wall – Letocetum Roman Site and Museum on Thursday 19th May @ 2pm.

Please let me know if you require transport to Wall.

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Visit Lichfield and JAMWIG at the British Travel and Tourism Trade Show

Visit Lichfield & JAMWIG (Lichfield’s group marketing partnership) attended the British Travel and Tourism trade show at the NEC on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 March.

The key elements of the show for Lichfield were:

  • 150+ visitors over 2 days came directly to the stand and interacted with us.
  • 38 organisations indicated they would participate in a Lichfield Familiarisation Visit (in September 2016).
  • 95 organisations provided their business cards/contact details.
  • There was a noticeable interest for inbound tourism – we met groups from Ghana and several from countries including China, Indonesia and Thailand.
  • The new Groups’ leaflet was launched and very well received, with positive comments about the new DL format.
  • A press pack was made available – this was well received and mentioned by several journalists.
  • We had several requests for educational/school visits  – we’re looking forward to launching our new education this summer in time for the autumn start of school term.

The contacts we made were generally of a high quality – including a management and conference consultant looking for a 4-5* package for groups of 10 up to 5000!

Overall the event was well worth attending and beneficial to us, we will in the future be looking to attend further similar events.

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Ember Inns Pale Ale Launch – Friday 25 March

EasterCaskaidFestivalBGsideB Pale Ale Launch and Live Music over this Easter Weekend

Visit the Bowling Green this Good Friday for the launch of Amber Inns Pale Ale – brewed exclusively by Black Sheep

Followed by a weekend of live music, good food and drink, including RetroEvolution Band on Friday 25 March and Boogie Woogie Piano with Emma Jonson on Sunday 27 March

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The Staffordshire Hoard is due to be featured on BBC4’s Digging for Britain

The Hoard and its HistoryThe Staffordshire Hoard is due to be featured on BBC4’s Digging for Britain programme tonight at 9pm.

The book ‘The Hoard and its History’ by Robert Sharp is available from Lichfield TIC, price £14.95.


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National award success for Drayton Manor Park and Fantastic Fireworks

Drayton Manor Park’s War of the Worlds Fireworks Spectacular event Drayton Manor Theme Park Fireworks Spectacular 2 credit Ashley Gardner resizedscooped national recognition at the Access All Areas, Event Production Awards 2016.

The park joined forces with Fantastic Fireworks, industry expert and winner of the 2015 British Fireworks Championship during its end of season firework finale weekend (October/November 2015) and both parties collected the award for Best Visual Spectacular on Friday 12th February at the ceremony which took place at the Lancaster Hotel in London. Now in its fifth year, the Event Production Awards brings together the best in the business and celebrates the excellence within the indoor and outdoor events industries.

The War of the Worlds Fireworks Spectacular took place on 30th and 31st October and 1st November 2015 and closed the park’s 65th anniversary season with a bang, with a record breaking attendance of over 33,000 visitors for the three days. Award-winning Fantastic Fireworks set off the largest volume of fireworks ever meaning it wasn’t just a record breaking attendance but it was also the largest firework display the park has seen in 25 years.

The spine tingling display was set to the critically acclaimed War of the Worlds soundtrack and visitors were wowed by a colourful array of bright, explosive lights.

Jon Culverhouse, Managing Director at Fantastic Fireworks said: “It’s wonderful to win this award and gain national recognition within the industry. Our success is testament to the hard work and passion that our team has and we always strive to provide people with an unforgettable experience.”

Colin Bryan, CEO at Drayton Manor Park said: “We’ve been working with Fantastic Fireworks for 25 years and it’s a real honour to collect this award for our Fireworks Spectacular. 2015 was a really special time for us as we celebrated our 65th anniversary and this is the cherry on top of what has been a tremendous year!”

Among the finalists in the category was Arcadia Spectacular, Star Events Ltd for its Floating House on The Thames for Airbnb and Progress Productions for the Rugby World Cup Final 2015.

Drayton Manor Park’s 2016 season runs from Saturday 12th March until Friday 28th October*, with the Firework Spectacular weekend taking place on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th October.  The award winning Magical Christmas event will be on selected dates from 19th November to 31st December.

To book tickets, or for more information about the park, visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk or call 0844 472 1950. Reduced prices are available for tickets bought in advance. For regular updates and news about Drayton Manor Theme Park join it on Twitter www.twitter.com/Draytonmanor and Facebook www.facebook.com/DraytonManorPark

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