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JUST a 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 Chester Road.

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

 (Click here for MAP)



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.