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Sam Taylor was born 5th Feb. 1915 at 5 Intended St, Cradley, the home of his maternal grandfather. He died 3rd January 2010, aged 94, an active member of the Cradley Then and Now group until just a few short weeks before his death, and a poet to the end.

He was well known locally for growing his own vegetables, walking from Fatherless Barn to High Town Ragged School every Sunday evening, although he did usually get a lift back up the hill, and writing poetry until well past his 92nd birthday. He was the winner of the Cradley Day Poetry Competition in October 2007 with his poem, Ode to Geoffrey our Local Tramp.

It could have been Cradley come and gone

With so many skills lost forever.

But progress decrees that we must move on

Its not then but now will be our greatest endeavour.

We cannot boast of many great names

Of people born in our town,

Like Shenstone, Hardwicke, Kipling or James,

But our industry was the greatest and world renown.

By the sweat of their brow and calloused hands,

Our forefathers worked in pits, forge and foundries.

The women toiled in brickyard and chainshop,

Their skills were such they knew no boundaries.

Enough chain was made, it would have circled the world,

And with bricks great buildings and churches were built,

Some still stand today with flags unfurled,

With bricks made in Cradley, we should be so proud.

The women went on a twelve- week strike for better pay,

At a time when things were so desperate and bad,

With determination and courage they won the day,

It was the start of equality and better pay.

There were no paid holidays or trips abroad,

A walk in the country was all they could afford,

To work in the hopfields gave them great pleasure,

These were the holidays they would always treasure.

They lived in terraced houses with ever open door,

It was their earthly kingdom, they asked for little more

Than the friendship of neighbours, which riches cannot buy

And a helping hand and a shoulder on which to cry.

Their dialect was such people asked from where do you come

And they would say proudly, Cradley by the river Stour.

This is the place they always liked to call 'wum'

And on returning twas always a happy hour.

But that was then and today is now,

And we have laid them to rest in their glory,

To achieve such greatness we shall never know how,

As the way we live today is a much different story.

Sam Taylor, January 2007

Then & now by sam taylor