Association of Open University Graduates

Birmingham Library
taken by Mohammad Motawalla









Tea and Coffee morning
taken my Mohammad Motawalla


Walsall Leather Museum
taken by Jean Hertzog



New Art Gallery - Walsall


Halfpenny Green Airport

New Year's Dinner


Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery


St. Mary's Church, Handsworth



Aston Hall, Birmingham




News of AOUG in the West Midlands (04)

Welcome | News | Diary Dates

A visit to the Library of Birmingham

Our visit to the Library of Birmingham, Birmingham took place in September, 2018. Our members met at the main entrance. This library was opened in September, 2013. It is built between the Birmingham Rep Theatre and Baskerville House. This library was opened by the Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai. This new library cost £188.8 million. It is described as the largest public library in United Kingdom and it is the largest Regional Library and cultural space in Europe. During the first year of its opening, 2.7million visitors attended this library. Hence, it is recorded that this library is the eleventh most popular attraction in the United Kingdom. This library has created new opportunities for study space for the present generation. Our event was a fabulous one.

Mohammad Motawalla



A visit to the RAF Museum, Cosford.

Our visit to the RAF Museum, Cosford took place in July, 2018. This museum is dedicated to the RAF and also, to the history of aviation. It is sponsored by the Ministry of Defence. It is registered a charity. Our members met at the main entrance of this museum. The Visitors Centre is a glass fronted building which offers beautiful views of the airfield. The ‘Test Flight’ is a space which contains research and development and a collection of aircraft. ‘Fun ‘n’ Flight’ is a hands-on-interactive gallery and the Black Hawk flight simulator is located here. The famous ‘National Cold War Exhibition’ depicts the fearful story of the Cold War. In the Hangar 1, we see the home of the Transport and Training collections. There are many engines and missiles housed here. This is a huge museum and full of exciting history, but on the other hand, exceedingly fearful stories of death and destruction of humanity.

Mohammad Motawalla





Tea and Coffee morning

Our regular Tea and Coffee Morning took place in July at St. Peter’s House. We discussed our events and activities. There were some new suggestions and ideas to explore. This year is an historic year as AOUG is celebrating our Pearl Anniversary. Our members showed good support for this Anniversary.

Mohammad Motawalla








Leather Museum, Walsall

A visit to Leather Museum, Walsall took place in April. It was organised by Keith Ward. The Museum Guide explored the growth of leather industry in Walsall. Unfortunately, I could not attend.

There was an abundance of water, minerals, iron ore and a fertile agricultural environment in the area which promoted the development of the leather industry. Unfortunately, the successful Industrial Revolution damaged the traditional leather industry as the growth of the canals, the railways and the use of motor vehicles reduced the use of animals for transport. This therefore reduced the employment for horses. However, leather goods that were produced in Walsall, had been widely used domestically as well as exported all over the world. The people of Walsall continue to show affection to the old leather works which made this town well known throughout the world.

After the Industrial Revolution, machinery was employed in making leather goods. It required training and qualifications for staff.  The work was hard and hence the labour force was male dominated. Women were employed on lighter jobs, but all the wages were poor. Usually, the women were encouraged to work from home so that they could still look after their children but child labour was also common at the time.

Apart from the museum area itself, there were also showcases of leather goods and a shop. Members had a lunch before departing for this event.

Mohammad Motawalla


New Art Gallery,Walsall.

Our visit to the New Art Gallery, Walsall took place on Saturday 10th March. After my welcome and introduction, our museum guide took us around on a basic tour. This award winning art gallery was designed by architect, Caruso St. John. It was opened in 2000, replacing the old art gallery and the art centre. Later, we dispersed to visit the fourth and fifth floors. There is an art library, artists’ studio, activity room, gallery shop, cafe and roof terrace.

The outside of this art gallery is clad with pale terracotta and the interior has heavy concrete features with thick Douglas Fir wooden cladding. There is an attractive public square surrounding the gallery which was designed by Richard Wentworth and Catherine Yass. In general, this art gallery is an outstanding venue for the visual art s and also, a brilliant attraction for tourism and art scholars. We met again at the main reception at 3pm, to celebrate our mini Pearl Anniversary and to thank the Art Gallery for this wonderful visit. 

Mohammad Motawalla




Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport.

We visited Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport on Saturday 17th February, 2018. Our members arrived at the café, which is situated below the Watch Tower, at noon. We began with my welcome speech and lunch. After lunch, our members dispersed to the designated area of the airport to view aircrafts.

This airport is frequently known as Halfpenny Green Airport, Wolverhampton Business Airport but locally in Bobbington, it is simply called Bobbington Airport. It was constructed between mid-1940 and early 1941 for the RAF use. Today its use has changed. It has acquired a Public Use Aerodrome Licence which allows general aviation facilities and flying schools to operate.

We enjoyed observing light aircrafts in action. At the end of our event, we returned to the cafe to celebrate our mini Pearl Anniversary of AOUG and to show our appreciations to management of the cafe.

Mohammad Motawalla





New Year’s Dinner

We had our New Year’s Dinner on Saturday 27th January at the Bluebrick Restaurant, in Wolverhampton. Our members arrived at noon. The staff had reserved tables for us. This restaurant belongs to the restaurant brand called ‘Table Table’ which was set up by Whitbread plc in 2008. Whitbread plc is UK’s largest operator of hotels, restaurants and coffee shops. We were well received by the management who showed us our tables in the new cosy and stylish restaurant. Our New Year’s Dinner was selected from the menu individually. The celebration of New Year commenced and our members were looking forward to another New Year to enjoy the benefits of our AOUG memberships. I reminded our members that this year we are celebrating the Pearl Anniversary. Finally, we finished this joyful festive event by wishing everyone Happy New Year.

Mohammad Motawalla





A Visit to Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery

In November, members visited Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery, a purpose built Victorian Art gallery. It lies on Thomas Telford's London to Holyhead road which was built in the early 19th century.

The building was built in 1891 to house a collection of paintings, drawings and watercolours donated by Mrs Mary Ann Richards on behalf of her late husband Edwin. It was designed by architects, Wood and Kendrick of West Bromwich and built by Henry Wilcock of Wolverhampton.

This Museum & Art Gallery holds a number of permanent displays. It is notable for hosting the first public display of the Stuckism Art movement. Stuckism is an international art movement founded in 1999 by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson to promote figurative painting as opposed to conceptual art. The Gallery also has The Ruskin Pottery collection, The Richards Gallery and old toys and games.

Mohammad Motawalla



A Visit to St. Mary’s Church, Handsworth, Birmingham

Our visit to St. Mary’s Church, Handsworth was spectacular in helping us recall past history which brought about the birth of the Industrial Age. Often, this ancient church is referred to as ‘Handsworth Old Church’ and ‘The Cathedral of the Industrial Revolution’. It is an ancient church built in 1160 during Norman times and has undergone many restorations and extensions. Important reconstructions were made in 1820 and 1870. Our members were very pleased to explore unique features of this church with Rev. Dr. Robert Stephen. We started from the main entrance where we had our Welcome & Introduction and went round the church. We ended our tour at the main entrance where we had refreshments. Great men of the Industrial Revolution were laid to rest at this church. Matthew Boulton’s monument is on one side of the North wall of the Sanctuary and on the opposite side, we observed the monument of William Murdock. James Watt’s monument is South of the Sanctuary in a Chapel. This magnificent church is surrounded by a historic Churchyard which contains a graveyard.

Mohammad Motawalla




Aston Hall, Birmingham

Our visit to Aston Hall, Birmingham took place in September, during the Heritage Open Days. It was an exciting day with pleasant weather around us. There were many members of the public also present. It was a very busy day with a great deal to explore in this historic Jacobean House. It was designed by the architect, John Thorpe. Construction work was carried out by Sir Thomas Holte from 1618 to 1635. However, Sir Thomas moved into this house in 1631.

There were two floors open for public to visit - The ground floor and first floor. Aston Hall is a Grade I listed building with a remarkable history. It contains items of furniture, paintings and tapestries displayed in many rooms. On 18th October, 1642, King Charles I stayed a night at this Hall. This history is depicted in displays. Unfortunately, the English Civil War soon followed from 1642 to 1652 and we observed that severe damages were made to this new house during the English Civil War. Some of damages can be still seen. After our visit, we gathered in Museum Cafe for refreshments.   

Mohammad Motawalla




Executive Repsentative and Wolverhampton Coffee Mornings – Mohammad Motawalla 01902 771328

Local Contact
North Staffordshire – Keith Ward 01782 316429 Mobile 07981 744451