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Local Councillor calls for SBT tribute

IN A refreshing change to the usual round of anti-dog rhetoric associated with politicians, a local councillor has called on his own council to allocate funds to allow a permanent exhibition to be set up in tribute to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier – the borough's most famous breed of dog.

A temporary event was staged by the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Exhibition Society at Sandwell Park Farm, Staffordshire. It has just closed after attracting flocks of visitors.

However, Staffie enthusiasts now want to see a permanent home found for their growing collection of memorabilia which includes cups, collars, old photographs and video footage.

Councillor Robert Evans, who serves on Sandwell Council and has kept Staffordshire Bull Terriers for 25 years, said the exhibition could also help to put the borough's name well and truly on the map, as the Staffie is revered by dog lovers across the world.

Plans are afoot to move Tipton's Heritage Centre - currently located in the town's St Paul's Community Centre - into the vacant Carnegie Library in Victoria Road, freeing up space in the community centre.

Councillor Evans said: "The site would be ideal and would provide a boost to tourism in the area. "I think Sandwell Council would do well to invest money in a permanent exhibition."

New challenge

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was first registered with the Kennel Club in 1935 thanks to the efforts of Cradley Heath publican Joe Mallen and his friend Joe Dunn, who set up the first Staffie club at the Old Cross Guns pub in Cradley Road.

Their efforts established the breed, giving owners a new challenge and standard to aim to, and helped drive-out the less palatable Black Country tradition of dog fighting.

Councillor Evans said: "We need a permanent venue to record the history and the contribution this community made from the 1920s onwards.

"They were a group of working class men who worked exceeding long hours and still found time to form themselves into a group to get the breed registered.

"If they hadn't done this the Staffordshire Bull Terrier would be a mongrel and may not even have been around today. This heritage belongs to Sandwell."

Councillor Ian Jones, Sandwell's cabinet member with responsibility for the museums' service, confirmed the Tipton Heritage Centre would be moving from St Paul's Community Centre to the Carnegie Library building next year.

"It seems a good idea to have a permanent exhibition on the Staffordshire Bull Terrier located there," he said. "The breed is a valuable part of the Black Country's history."