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Festival booklet predictions from 100 years ago

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The Saddlers winning the FA Cup 12 times, an airport built on Park Street, Wembley Stadium moved to Walsall and cows becoming extinct, a few predictions revealed from 1923.

Illustration from 1923. A prediction of what Walsall football ground could look like in 2023
An illustration from 1923 depicting what Walsall FC could look like in 2023

November 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of Walsall Shopping Festival, held from 2-10 November 1923. Organised by the Town Council, Walsall Chamber of Commerce, the Tradesman’s Association, and the Rotary Club of Walsall, its purpose was to promote retail and shopping businesses in Walsall.

As part of the festival, a booklet was produced featuring sections on Walsall’s past, present and possible future. It features a number of tongue-in-cheek predictions with  illustrations made by John Ashworth Crabtree, inventor and founder of prominent local business J.A Crabtree & Co.

Sadly, for fans of Walsall F.C, the Saddlers haven’t won the F.A Cup twelve times since 1948, nor has the home of English football, Wembley Stadium, moved to an all-purpose built stadium in Walsall. Cows have also luckily not become extinct, with Walsall’s top quality leather products still being made in the town and held in high regard. Park Street hasn’t ‘been levelled for use as an Aeroplane Station’ nor has an aerial lighthouse been built at the top of Barr Beacon or St Matthews’ Church.

Despite being in jest, the booklet did make some more accurate predictions. Crabtree showed foresight in predicting the development of electric trains and tracks, the growth of motor traffic and dairy-free alternatives to cow’s milk.

The Walsall Shopping Festival booklet is available to view at Walsall Archives, based at the Lichfield Street Hub.

“ This is a wonderful, fun insight into Walsall’s past and a possible future. We have been developing a more realistic vision for the future of the borough. Walsall has attracted substantial investment in recent years to build a brighter future. We’re currently in the middle of a £1.5billion transformation and looking forward to seeing the opportunities that will be created. “

Councillor Garry Perry, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Resilient Communities, Walsall Council

“ This booklet is one of my favourite items in our local studies collection. Not only does John Crabtree write with elegance and humour, but he also has hand illustrated his writings with intricate detail. The booklet as a whole captures the sense of the festival; a town looking forward to a prosperous future following the horrors of the First World War. “

Ian Gray, Archivist, Walsall Council



Notes to Editors

Walsall Archives

Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am-4pm. or 01922 652 212.

If you would like to see the booklet in full then it is available to be viewed at Walsall Archives. We are open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10am-4pm and recommend that you book an appointment if you wish to use our research room. You can contact us at or 01922 652 212.

Transforming our borough, creating opportunities:

  • 1.5 billion pounds of investment
  • 4000 new jobs
  • More than 1000 new homes

Walsall is a Borough undergoing real transformation, creating a wealth of opportunity. There is a shared ambition to deliver well connected, attractive places where people are proud to live and work and where businesses want to locate; where there is a strong mix of housing for all our residents, where our communities are well served, and all of our residents have the best life chances.

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