2015

Posted by on 31 Dec 2015 | Tagged as: Home


3rd June 2015

The Band concert on Monday night went very well with all who attended commenting favourably on the professionalism of the Bridgtown Show Band. There were fewer people there due to weather and a lack of advertising. The team meeting agreed to taking the concert forward and managing the publicity better. The next Bridgtonian should be available for the next talk ( David Gethin) on the 17th June 2015 but we need more stories and articles about the village . So if you have a story to tell, amusing, educational or emotional – David Williams would be happy to recieve them via email if possible through the Society e-mail address.The next event we are holding is a Coffee Afternoon at the Bethel on Thursday 11th June 2015 and there will be the usual fare of film/Slide shows Refreshments and a craft stall and you can chat to friends. It is from 2pm til 4pm ish. It has become a good old fashioned “Chin Wag”.   

24th May 2015

Our events of the last month went down well although with a reduced audience. Thank you to all who helped out with the coffee afternoon and those who attended had a good time.The talk on the 20th May at the Bridgtown School Hall  by Mr Arthur Aston, on the story of the life  of James Watt, the steam engineer kept all rapt as his life story was unravelled. Many thanks to Arthur for a most informative talk. Please don’t forget our annual Band Concert at the Bridgtown Social Club, Walsall Rd on Monday June 1st starting at 7.30pm and the Bridgtown Show Band will be strutting its stuff again with a variation of music to suit all tastes. Tickets are available from David Battersby or any of the Team at £5.00 each. Next month will be David Gethin’s  talk about the Stain Glass Windows of Cannock, St. Lukes Church. It should be an interesting topic for all as the Church is celebrating nonocentenery (900 years) of its own. Cheslyn Hay & District Local History Society is presenting an evening with David Bartley, Black Country comedy poet, at the Salem school room, High Street, Cheslyn Hay on thursday 28th May at 7:30pm. Entrance is £1.00 and refreshments are provided.

18th April 2015

Our next event will be a return of the Coffee Afternoon on Wednesday 29th April at the Bethel Church between 2 and 4pm. It will follow the usual format, an informal meeting where you can meet and chat to old and new friends. Help us out with mystery photographs – putting names to faces and places. Enjoy refreshments. and there will be a mini Craft Stall and maybe the odd film show?.

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Another boring reminder that the Annual Subscriptions have become due. We thank all who have already paid and would request that the subs due should be paid as soon as possible. It is still priced at £7.00 per household.

NORTH STREET TALK

This months talk was a return to village life with the people of North Street by Derrick Middleton with  back up from Paul Bedford. It was part two of Derrick’s history of North street and was well received by the members. Many memories were stirred and the discussion around the topic was lively and informative.Derrick stated that there was much more to reveal about Bridgtown’s main street and that a return to the subject was inevitable but he was concentrating now on the rest of the village.

OBITUARY

DOUG WILLIAMS 1924 – 2015 Douglas Williams, who had been writing his memoirs, was a former regional president, lifetime vice-president and founder member of the Cannock Chase branch of the Royal Air Forces Association. He gave up the comparative security of a reserved occupation in 1942 to join the RAF as a leading aircraftsman flight mechanic – but not without a fight. As a 16-year-old sergeant in the local Air Training Corps squadron he was inspired by the spirit of pilots fighting the Battle of Britain and determined to join the RAF as soon as he was old enough.
He became an aircraft worker following an apprenticeship at Boulton Paul, Wolverhampton, as a way of improving his RAF prospects, believing that working as a riveter on Defiant aircraft at Wolverhampton andrepairing the wings of Hurricane aeroplanes at the shadow factory in Wallows Lane, Walsall, would guarantee acceptance when it came to enlisting.
But he miscalculated the value of his job to the war effort and it was only after a battle lasting several months and the intervention of his boss that the authorities relented and allowed him to enlist.
His memoirs show he was known as ‘Duke Sahib’ during his three-year service in India. After the war Mr Williams attended the inaugural meeting of the RAFA branch in Cannock in August 1946. For many years he masterminded the local Wings Week appeal, with the whole of his family involved collecting, opening tins and counting donations

Paying tribute, fellow branch member Laurence McGowan said: “Doug was driven by having observed first-hand the need for a welfare organisation supporting former comrades and their families on return to civilian life.
“His active concern for the lads continued into his late 80s when he was responsible for sending almost 100 parcels of goodies to squadrons in Afghanistan.” Mr Williams’ granddaughter Rebecca Cartwright said: “Granddad was very proud of his time in the RAF and the people he served with. “He was looking forward to the ceremonies that will mark the 75th anniversaries of the battle of Britain later this year.”
The widower, who lived in Gorsey Lane, Cannock, is survived by a daughter, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The branch standard will be carried in front of his flag-draped coffin which will be escorted by an honour guard of fellow veterans at his funeral at St Saviour’s church Courtesy Express and Star

31st March 2015

The last day of March brings a new start to our membership year and its time for subscription renewals. The last talk morning gave us a great start with members renewing in “droves”. The new subs are still PRICED at £7.00 for a household membership which is still value for MONEY with a quarterly Bridgtonian and 12 talks over the year. Subs can be paid to the membership secretary, Bob Brevitt either in person at any event or by post (cheques made out to Bridgtown & District Local History Society) to 4 Windsor Rd, Cheslyn Hay, Walsall, Staffs, WS6 7EN. The Bridgtown Showband concert on  Monday 1st June 2015 at the Social Club on Walsall Rd is with us again and tickets are already on sale. This was well attended last year and we are once again indebted to the Showband for providing a top class event which we hope has become a regular annual event. Our next event is on April 15th at the Bethel, 10am til noon and our own Derrick Middleton will focus upon the people of North Street. The 28th April will see the resumption of the Coffee Afternoon at the Bethel from 2 til 4 pm where you can meet and have a coffee & biscuit  and the usual film show (to be confirmed). 

22nd March 2015

It is with sadness that I report the resignation of our Chairman, Tony Pearson. Tony has given such a lot of his time and his expertise to  Bridgtown & District Local History Society. We shall greatly miss his input and presence. Indeed it was  Tony who was the motivating force behind the formation of our Society in 2009. This resignation ia a very recent event and, at this stage, no decisions have been made about how the Society will function without his leadership. Howver, I am keen to reassure everyone that that our Society will CONTINUE to function and CONTINUE to do all the things that we have regularly done over the past six years. We shall Miss Tony’s input but I know that he wants tour Society to CONTINUE to go from strength to strength. Publications Editor, David Williams

Since our Winter 2014 magazine was published we have enjoyed four first class monthly meetings.  In December we enjoyed our Christmas Festivities with special music from the excellent Bel Canto Choir. In January we learned so much more about “Old Cannock” from Mike Hewitt, in February Chris Gooch regaled us abiut life in Shugborough Hall and. in March, although our stated speaker Peter Hart was laid low with illness, our own Dave Battersby stepped into the breach with an interesting slideshow of Cannock.

We have a full lineup of speakers for the forthcoming year and our now regular concert, courtesy of the Bridgtown Showband on Monday 1st June 2015 at the Bridgtown WMC tickets are available now and our Coffee afternoons will resume.

2014

Posted by on 31 Dec 2014 | Tagged as: Home

11th December 2014

A lot has happened over the last 3 months:  The Annual Event has come & gone ( very well received by all ACOUNTS), We have moved from the School evening venue for the monthly talks to the Bethel Church morning talks and we have just had our XMAS celebration which was centred on a concert/SING along with the “Bel Canto” Choir and , of course, the mince pies. A grand time was had by all.

On an upbeat note, courtesy of our Honorary President – Mr Fred Pritchard, we now have a headquarters at the Virage Tower , which we will use as a base and storage facility for our archive. Although not big enough for our talks etc. it will be ideal for research and access.  Definiteley a step in the right direction. A further meeting is in the pipeline with the Parish & District Councils about a Community Centre so watch this space.

Sadly, we have heard of the death of member Mr Alan Green who was a regular at our events  and he will be missed.

August 5th 2014

Apologies for the lateness of the latest “Bridgtonian” but it should be available for the talk on August 20th.
Into August and we are preparing for the Annual Exhibition as we speak. A database of photographs is under upgrade and should be a welcome addition to our research as it will be fully searchable. Our thanks to our own Derek Middleton and Darren Butler from our sister Society at Cheslyn Hay, along with Tony Bibb who mounts the photographs in preparation for display. After a few months away due to illness we welcome Catherine Page back to the Team, much better now.

There is no further news about our “Nomadic” existence at the moment, however, a meeting at the Bethel with County Planning Officer, Angela Grove, who gave us an UPDATE on the progress of various plans for Bridgtown, was completed with a plea from the team to keep us in mind. WATCH THIS SPACE……

July has come and gone and the talk at the school hall by Jan Burns on the 16th, was extremely informative and went down well with the reduced audience.

The “Sound of Bridgtown” concert at Bridgtown Social Club 16 th June was a great success and our thanks go to the Bridgtown Show Band and its Musical |Director, Barry Middleton and also to Elton and the bar staff at the club for their efforts and support.

There is a Coffee Afternoon at the Bethel on Thursday 5th June between 2 – 4pm. All are welcome to meet friends and CHAT about the old times and maybe give us some aid with the naming of people on photographs.
We would like to see you at our “Sound of Bridgtown” Musical Event , in collaboration with the Bridgtown Show Band, on Monday 16th June at Bridgtown Social Club, Walsall Rd. Tickets are £5.00 each (From any team member) and there are not many left. So if you enjoy good music, and maybe a sing song from the 1940’s on then …. “Come On Down “

28th May 2014

The monthly talk was the first from a new venue to us –  Bridgtown Primary School Hall. Our thanks go the School for allowing us to use it and special thanks to the caretaker Brian who provided access.The talk, given by Mr Patrick Corfield, Society member and former Councillor, about his life as a policeman. The talk was very interesting and witty and had the audience rapt.
Then Mr Smallman, another member from South Africa, gave a few anecdotes about his early life in Bridgtown.
Many thanks to both.

The next 3 evening talks are tentatively BOOKED for the School Hall.

7th May 2014

We are still short of people renewing their memberships a month into the new year. You can renew by cheque/post to the membership secretary with cheques made out to Bridgtown & District Local History Society or handed to any of the Team with your details and cash which is now £7.00 per household per annum.
The team will be at the Bethel today to carry on with the task of cataloguing the photographs we have into a database on computer which will be fully searchable and will make research much quicker. Any who wish to help are welcome. 


1st MAY 2014


The AGM, on the 30th April was a mixture of  “Good News – Bad News”. Whilst our Accounts were pretty static over the last year and our Team PERFORMANCE was good, we did suffer from the loss of the Community Centre and ill health among the Team. The Chairman’s Report is laid out below and more will be said when the minutes are available.

A.G.M. 30th APRIL 2014                    CHAIRMAN’S REPORT.

Two distinct aspects highlighted what otherwise proved to be a progressive and successful year. With membership remaining static around 120 we enjoyed well attended events throughout the summer months and the introduction of monthly Coffee Sessions provided a warm and light-hearted opportunity to introduce  outside members to our activities. The Exhibition in October reflected a lower than normal attendance, but the occasion provided the opportunity of joining with long distance members and the resultant nostalgia and good feelings. Within a few weeks however, a body blow was placed upon us. From the inception of our Society in January 2009 we were able to enjoy the excellent facilities within The Ramada Hotel complex. This, through the good offices of the Parish Council and the positive influence of Fred Pritchard.  However, in the weeks just prior to Christmas we were made aware that a FINANCIAL takeover was imminent. The outcome was such that the Parish Council and subsequently our Society were placed in an impossible financial situation, resulting in virtually immediate notice to acquire alternative premises. Such are our associations with Bethel Church and Bridgtown Primary School we were able to adjust arrangements to our programme and commence the quest to ensure more permanent facilities.
In parallel with the inevitable disruption caused, we have experienced significant indisposition of Team Members due to illness. With over 90% of our members in the “retired” capacity we are alert to the need to have adequate cover to ensure smooth administration. However, truth is we have been severely stretched and found it necessary to restructure our Team responsibilities.
So where are we now? I am confident that  with dedication the new Team formation will ensure positive continuity. Nevertheless reality demands improved FINANCES, and to this end you will be made progressively aware of efforts in this direction. Our first venture will be an Arts and Crafts Exhibition at Bethel Church on Saturday 24th May followed by a concert with Bridgtown Concert Band at Bridgtown Social Club on Monday 16th June entitled “The Sound of Bridgtown”. Both of these events will give us an opportunity to join together towards strengthening the Society.

15th APRIL 2014

No news as yet on our new premises but costs will be a major factor.
Our Fund Raising effort with the kind help of the Bridgtown Showband has now been firmed up. June 16th 2014 has been chosen at the Bridgtown Sports & Social Club, Walsall Rd, Bridgtown to begin at 7.30pm. The theme “The Music Of Bridgtown” has yet to be confirmed with the band but should include music from the two Wars and inter war years so we can all enjoy a bit of a “Yawp”. Tickets should be available from the AGM.

 14th MARCH 2014

The biggest news currently is the fact that Bridgtown Community Centre has had to close its doors permanently.  This was a sudden decision that had to be taken by the Centre Trustees.  The new owners required a commercial rent for the use of the property whereas previously it had been subsidised by Fred Pritchard.  This has meant that the society has had to change the venue for all of our monthly meetings.  The next two morning meetings are at Bethel Church and the next two evening meetings are to be held in the School Hall.  (See programme opposite).  Soon we shall be able to announce plans and venues for the rest of 2014.

Negotiations are going on with the Parish Council and a third party about acquiring a different property that would meet all the needs of our Society.  It is necessary to keep the details of this secret at the moment due to confidentiality issues.  Once we have something definite to announce we will inform members accordingly.

At our February meeting our chairman Tony Pearson explained to members why it is so important that the society needs to raise money in order to fulfil its continued development.  This is even more important now that we have lost the use of the Community Centre.

It is necessary to remind members that subscriptions for the forthcoming year become due on 1st April.  The family subscription price for 2014/2015 is £7.00.  Each subscription brings with it the 4 editions of this magazine for free.  Each magazine retails for £1.50 to non-members.

World War 1 memorabilia is needed for a display we are planning to mount at some relevant point in time.  Please search your homes to see if you have anything that you can lend to us commemorate the Great War.

We still have lots of copies of Bygone Bridgtown and Bridgtown Born & Bred and Bridgtown and Beyond for sale.  Every time we sell one of these books it is another £5.00 towards our fund raising.  Do you know somebody who would like copies of any of them?

Plans are well underway for the publication of this year’s new book which will concentrate on the Churchbridge area.  Do you have any relevant photographs that you could lend us to copy?

13th March 2014

Now is the time to collect the Annual Subscription Fees (running 1st April 2014 to 31st March 2015). This year, for the first time, due to rising costs, we have had to put up the fees to £7.00 per address. Please forward your cheques ( Bridgtown & District Local History Society) to the membership secretary at the address on the Bridgtonian quarterly or in person at the events or to any of the team members and you new cards will be issued.


12th March 2014 –UPDATE

The reason for the upheaval to our events calender is due to the new owners of the Ramada complex where the Community Centre was, required a commercial rent which the Trustees decided was well beyond their means. Previous to the sale it was subsidised in part by Mr Fred Pritchard.

For that reason we have had to find temporary venues for the foreseeable future. The Community Centre Trustees along with ourselves and the Parish Council are actively seeking a new venue in the shape of  a Heritage Centre where we can all be accommodated but until then we hope you will bear with us in these awkward times.

The next two events will be at the Bethel Church. Parking will be a problem and the room is smaller then the Community Centre. The following two will be at the Bridgtown School Hall where the parking and  hall are much roomier.

Other negotiations are taking place for the future so we will keep you informed as things develop.

27th February 2014 – VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE

Due to circumstances beyond our control we have to announce that the next two events (Talks by Kay Mathews on Wednesday March 19th and Patricia Boyd on Wednesday 16th April ) will now be held at the Bethel Church in Union Street and not at the Community Centre. I will post further notices as we go on.

15th February 2014

We are up to date with the “Bridgtonian” page and have the editions of the  magazine on line up to and including the Autumn edition of 2013. The current 2013 Winter edition will be introduced when the Spring 2014 edition is produced. To access the magazines, click on the blue writing as required. They are all PDF files and will open in a new window.

11th February 2014

Another month gone by. Valentines day is coming around again. Our next event at the Community Centre is on the 19thFebruary 2014  We welcome the return of Mr Michael Taylor , and “A Slip of the Pen”, come and share in stories of children’s written errors, collected over many years. Now the bad news! . Due due a rise in printing costs for the Bridgtonian and postage ( and the team’s medications) we are having to put up the membership fee to £7.00. We are also looking for temporary premises where we can hold our Archives as they are spread among the team and difficult to carry out research. I will update you more in the near future.


12th March 2014 –UPDATE

Coach Trip to Bletchley Park
A trip is being made by Cheslyn Hay & District Local History Society to  Historic Bletchley Park on Thursday 10th July 2014, where the German Codes were decrypted in World War 2. A most interesting place. There will be 2 coaches leaving from the Salem Church. High Street, Cheslyn Hay at 7.30am and the cost is £23.00 (includes coach and entrance fees) There will be a 3-4 hr guided tour then lunch (not inclusive) and a stop in Banbury for a couple of hours before returning to the Salem about 7.00pm.  Over half the places are already taken so please let me know (Bob Brevitt on 01922 414863) as soon as possible.

As the centenary of the 1914-18 war nears we are working to find whereabouts of the fallen soldiers on the War Memorial and any history of them. We have no details at all on just 6 now. They are : R.BEADLE, E.HAYNES.H.JONES, J.JONES, T LOCKET, J.MORRIS. If any of recognise or know anything of them or any of our village heroes from the WW1 Memorial  please get in touch.(Bobbrevitt @aol.com).

5th January 2014

Another year gone and another to consign to the archives. This coming year will be as busy for us as 2013. We have the centenary of the start of the Great War when so many of our menfolk went to fight for King & Country. Not a celebration, but  a remembrance of the sacrifices made by all in the face of evil. We are joining with our sister organisations locally to compile as much information about those who appear on our memorials over the next 4 to 5 years and would be glad to hear from any of you who have information or stories/anecdotes from your ancestors who were involved either at the war front or the homefront. There will be more about this through the year.

We are also continuing with our archiving of our photographic collection which is growing week by week. We are going to be concentrating on more recent pictures. A lot of us think that colour fotos are of no use to recording of history, but when you think that the boom in photos started after world war 2 and colour came in the 1960’s , its now “THE PAST” and is definatley important especially to this village where the bulk of its changes have occurred in the last 70 years or so. So if you have any photos you think may be relevant in some way, no matter how insignificant they may seem please get them to us and we will copy and return them as you wish.

The Society are producing 2 books, one for publication this year and another which will be a definitive history of the village which will take a few years to complete. The Bridgtonian and this site will keep you informed on the progress of these.

Last ,but not least, we will be striving to put on our annual exhibition and although the photographs will still be the principal items on display, we are looking to provide more diversity. If anyone has any ideas , please get in touch.

2013

Posted by on 31 Dec 2014 | Tagged as: Home

6th October 2013
Apologies for the lack of news in the last 6 months but due to unforeseen circumstances I have not been able to update this site.
I hope to rectify this as of now and will try to update as soon as possible when news occurs.

Over the spring/Summer period we have been working hard on various projects. The indexing of our archives is an ongoing task not made easier by illness and a shortage of volunteers with computer experience. Preparations for the upcoming exhibition and our annual book and Bridgtonian quarterly all have taken its toll on the team. It is hoped that the Bridgtonian will be ready for the Exhibition, but unfortunately the book will not be ready until our November Event, the Slide/music display of the 1977 flower festival presented by our friend Ron Darby. This will start at 10am to midday on Wednesday 20th November at the Community Centre .

9th May 2013
Please note there is a change in the events calendar. Due to illness the North Street Talk by Dave & Dec has had to be postponed. However, Cheslyn Hay History Society have stepped in and Peter |Cadman will give a talk on the History of Cheslyn Hay over the last 2,000 years. It is hoped that the North Street Talk will be given by Dave & Dec in July.

4th April 2013
Could you please note a change to our AGM date , it is now being held on wednesday 24th April at the Bethel Church starting at 10.00 am and all members are welcome.

28th March 2013
This is the time year we need to renew our membership. The fees are the same as before at £5.00 per annum. If you cannot get to our events or see any of the team you can post a cheque made out to “Bridgtown & District Local History Society” to : Bob Brevitt, 4 Windsor Rd, Cheslyn Hay, Walsall, WS6 7EN .

27th March 2013
We lost a founder member of the Society this last week and a staunch Bridgtonian in Mr Hilton Baugh. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

20th March 2013
I hope some of you have noticed the new Notice board on the corner of North Street and Union Street. This is a joint venture between the Parish Council and this Society. We have half the space and the Council, the other half. This was generously provided with monies from the Conduit Trust, the Parish Council Fund, The Pritchard Group. We are in the process of inviting all parties to join us to “commission” the Board.

A Brief History of Bridgtown

Posted by on 18 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The earliest information describes a mill in Walk Mill Lane and this is supposed to date back to the sixteenth century, being quite close to the old Roman Road, the Watling Street.  There was also a toll-keeper’s cottage on the Walsall Road but not much besides prior to the nineteenth century.  At this time the name Bridgtown was not used.

In 1859 there was Long House Farm on the Watling Street and 6 houses on the Walsall Road.  Soon after that the land was developed by the Wolverhampton Building Society following the opening of the local collieries.  Streets were laid out and houses were built.  The Bridgtown Estate belonged to the then Lord Hatherton.  Its boundaries were Watling Street, Bridge Street, Walsall Road and North Street.  The land on the other side of North Street was known as the Bridgtown West Estate and belonged to a Mr. Cotterell.  The name Bridgtown was almost certainly devised because of the high numbers of bridges and, indeed, it seemed to be impossible to enter Bridgtown without crossing either over or under a bridge!

The Walsall to Hednesford railway line had been constructed between 1856 and 1858, causing the level of the Walsall Road to be lowered considerably near to the junction with Bridge Street.  Soon afterwards came the development of the canal system and the construction of the 13 locks between Churchbridge and Leacroft.  Bridgtown had superb communication links, by road, by railway and by canal.  By the time 1870 came the village was growing rapidly and was considered to be a fine example of modern planning.  By 1880 people were talking about Bridgtown becoming bigger than neighbouring Cannock and residents were demanding their own railway station.

As well as the collieries came the pioneering work of men like William Gilpin and Cornelius Whitehouse, developing industries that made use of local coal supplies.  So it was that Bridgtown was a thriving energetic community all through the first half of the twentieth century.  Then the nature of industry began to change and planners wanted to separate housing from industry. The days of Bridgtown seemed to be numbered and the village came near to extinction in the early 1980s.  But planners did not reckon on the indomitable  spirit and will of the Bridgtown people.  The village lives on and today regeneration continues apace!

The earliest information describes a mill in Walk Mill Lane and this is supposed to date back to the sixteenth century, being quite close to the old Roman Road, the Watling Street. There was also a toll-keeper’s cottage on the Walsall Road but not much besides prior to the nineteenth century. At this time the name Bridgtown was not used.

In 1859 there was Long House Farm on the Watling Street and 6 houses on the Walsall Road. Soon after that the land was developed by the Wolverhampton Building Society following the opening of the local collieries. Streets were laid out and houses were built. The Bridgtown Estate belonged to the then Lord Hatherton. Its boundaries were Watling Street, Bridge Street, Walsall Road and North Street. The land on the other side of North Street was known as the Bridgtown West Estate and belonged to a Mr. Cotterell. The name Bridgtown was almost certainly devised because of the high numbers of bridges and, indeed, it seemed to be impossible to enter Bridgtown without crossing either over or under a bridge!

The Walsall to Hednesford railway line had been constructed between 1856 and 1858, causing the level of the Walsall Road to be lowered considerably near to the junction with Bridge Street. Soon afterwards came the development of the canal system and the construction of the 13 locks between Churchbridge and Leacroft. Bridgtown had superb communication links, by road, by railway and by canal. By the time 1870 came the village was growing rapidly and was considered to be a fine example of modern planning. By 1880 people were talking about Bridgtown becoming bigger than neighbouring Cannock and residents were demanding their own railway station.

As well as the collieries came the pioneering work of men like William Gilpin and Cornelius Whitehouse, developing industries that made use of local coal supplies. So it was that Bridgtown was a thriving energetic community all through the first half of the twentieth century. Then the nature of industry began to change and planners wanted to separate housing from industry. The days of Bridgtown seemed to be numbered and the village came near to extinction in the early 1980s. But planners did not reckon on the indomitable spirit and will of the Bridgtown people. The village lives on and today regeneration continues apace!

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