Welcome to the wonderful world of Ralph's Surf Shack - Kingswinford's number 1 hangout.
This web site has been primarily designed to give an alternative guide to our wonderful town Kingswinford or as it's locally know 'Kford'. For those who don't know, Kingswinford is a leafy, residential town situated between the crossroads of A449 and A4101 and is part of the Dudley Borough . Simply click Enter Ralphy's to begin your interactive journey. Site features include:
Another question we regularly get asked is 'Who is Ralph? '. Well, Ralph was Kingswinford Park's (King George VI's) park keeper for many years. He cut the grass, picked up litter and pruned the hedges making sure that the park always was in tip-top condition. Generally a nice guy who loved nothing more than to puff on a Park Drive but when crossed he had the temper of a castrated bulldog.
Sadly Ralph passed away from our physical world in 2002 but be rest assured his spirit lives on in the form of this website.
Anyway, sit back, relax and enjoy my friends...
About Ralph's Surf Shack
Welcome to the wonderful world of Ralph's Surf Shack - The Number One Kingswinford Hang Out.
Ralphssurfshack.co.uk (RSS) started off back in 2000 as a very basic site allowing a few friends, all originating from Kingswinford, to keep in contact with each other on a daily basis. As these pals also had various alternative K'ford photos and stories we thought it would be a good idea to share this information via a website for all Kingswinford residents to enjoy. Word quickly got around and since the formation of RSS we are currently enjoying around 80,000 hits per month which in turn has lead to an average of 25 messages per day. To put this into perspective there are various online communities who boast in excess of 25,000 users (entire population of Kingswinford) yet receive far fewer messages. Since April 2004 RSS has moved away from the basic website style, creating a user-friendly entertaining environment allowing users to post messages, create polls and even shop online.
Another question we regularly get asked is 'Who is Ralph?'. Well, Ralph was Kingswinford Park's (King George VI's) park keeper for many years. He cut the grass, picked up litter and pruned the hedges making sure that the park always was in tip-top condition. Generally a nice guy who loved nothing more than to puff on a Park Drive but when crossed he had the temper of a castrated bulldog (I once had my hair pulled by the main man for deliberately throwing used chip papers onto his beautifully kept bowling green. Brought tears to my eyes like never before). Sadly Ralph passed away from our physical world in 2002 but be rest assured his spirit lives on in the form of this website.
Kingswinford is a leafy, residential town situated between the crossroads of A449 and A4101 and is part of the Dudley Borough , West Midlands. The name Kingswinford is the first entry in the Doomsday Book (Liber de Wintonia) for the County of Stafford . The name is derived from 'Rex tenet Svinesford', The King holds (King)swinford. Before the conquest it was called Swinford, but the manor was passed down from King Eddy Baby to King William and the prefix was changed to 'King' to differentiate it from the other Swinford.
One thing that many notice whilst visiting our wonderful town is the fantastic architecture the buildings have to offer. Whether it's the 'odd' looking Rotunda building situated at the centre of the central shopping district or the half-timbered beauty know as Bradley House (originally constructed around 1596), Kingswinford captures the minds of even the most demanding property enthusiast. Probably one of the most important public houses in the area is the traditionally rich Court House. The Court House was used as an actual court house until taken over by the brewery in 1900 and overlooks the immaculate Village Green. Rumour has it that nowadays only rowdy customers are taken into the cellar and subject to unimaginable torture.
A trip to K'ford wouldn't be complete without witnessing the local religious point, St. Mary's Church . It retains its original tower constructed by mice in the 11th century. The famous 600-year-old stone pillar can be found in the churchyard. This pillar was allegedly used to, among other things, to open cider bottles but was relocated to the churchyard from its original position at the main crossroad in a bid to stop villagers from using it to sharpen their scythes. For photos please navigate the picture gallery with the main site.
On a lighter note the town is always bustling with eager shoppers searching out unusual gifts and microwave ovens. The town boasts a wide variety of shops selling designer labels, antiques as well as high street stores such as Woolworths and Boots . By night Kingswinford is not a disappointment. There are restaurants to suit any taste ranging from Indian and Chinese to traditional pub nosh. Pubs normally abide to the standard closing times although The Cross continues to serve to midnight at weekends. For those who wish to go on further, the Kingfisher nightclub pumps out the latest tunes on the Kidderminster Road. Wallheath is a neighbour of Kingswinford and it is quite difficult to separate the two. Once again arrays of historical buildings remain, including pubs, shops, two primary schools and brothel. One of the most intriguing bits of the village is the old derelict windmill that stands south of Wallheath and is covered almost entirely in ivy. Various other tourist spots include The Albion public house, Bean's house and the infamous 'Fish-fanny Haslam' graffitied alleyway connecting Chapel Street and Top Park.
Most would agree that both Kingswinford and Wallheath are delightful places to live and have played a major role in the industrial revolution and development of the area. Amen
The Captain, aka Captain Lazonby Threpwell
The Captain is here to help you!
Drawing on his vast knowledge and experience, Captain Lazonby-Threpwell will strive to help you out with any situation. Feel free to ask The Captain anything, be it large or small, then check back here to read his solution. Enter Ralphy's to begin your interactive journey.
Q. How does one go about obtaining a lady friend? I have tried various bars, agencies and that new-fangled speed dating, but to no avail. Jeez, I've even tried getting the bus. Please help me...Stuart Slater
A. This is an eternal problem that has always faced man, from the days of Shakespeare to those coloured chappies who droned on about waking up in the morning to find their woman had gone.
I can understand your plight. You are hardly likely to meet anyone of merit in a public bar, and dating agencies are a home to the desperate, operated for profit by blood-sucking parasites that prey on human misery. As for the bus - only the poor and the mentally challenged use public transport, so forget that as a hunting ground.
In terms of rectifying the situation, I would recommend a vist to a gentleman's outfitters, such as Gieves and Hawkes of Saville Row (or failing that, Charles of Kingswinford). Care with personal grooming is another must, as is the maintainance of an insanely rigorous excercise regime (this has to include dragging railway sleepers through the woods at 6am).
However, a simple short cut is this:
Simply select a pretty, yet intellectually inferior girl and make her laugh. We had a saying in the Dragoons: 'Make a girl smile and they are halfway down'. I'll stand by that.
Good luck Sir.
Ralph's Surf Shack offers a host of message boards and forums. Here is a quick example of the things you can I hop to find in Ralph's. Enter Ralphy's for more...
I think K'Ford is still hanging onto its revered status, although several factors have combined to undermine this over the past decade or so. For example;
1. Getting rid of the Nelly House 2. Allowing Jonno to leave The Cross 3. Removal of Tin Park 4. Overdevelopment of Safeway car park, resulting in loss of common land 5. Prevention of vehicular access to King George VI park 6. Shameless removal of gas holders.
We still have much to be proud of, but too much of what they call progress may rob us of our heritage. How long before Fast Bob replaces his hand scrawled 'Gents Cut £5.50' sign with a new one printed from his 486 in an all too common sans serif font?
There is still some talent in K'Ford. Usual faces as opposed to fresh, as the catchment area has perhaps narrowed with the demise of the Cross and Bell of old, resulting in less visiting talent. The Bell is now too young, The Cross just awful, Leopard has sold out really, losing its former character in favour of ramming in as many pretty boy clubbers and label obsessed trend followers. The Cottage remains fairly steady but unspectacular, Courthouse too expensive and old clientele. Swan, as ever, MHT bravely trying to find itself a consistent identity, Drews just about holding onto its broad appeal in spite of its poor size, too small bar and inadequate beer.
Several other factors have contrived to turn Kingswinford into an ordinary sedentiary town: the lack of rope swings down the park; elimination of 'rat run' through The Cross car park; neglect of private pool; K'ford school's GM status; too much swearing under the wooden arch at St Mary's church.
Quite right. How could we ever feel the same about the old place once Vestric changed its name. And the beigey coloured Bedford Steel of Staffs wagons disappeared over night. Where's Terry Danks? What about Dawley Brook Road (unadopted)? It's perfectly bloody tarmacadamed now. Some do-gooder's adopted it. The rat-run from there to Stallings Lane, round the back by the Jet Garage is long gone as well. Fenced off. What harm was that doing? How long before they make Back Road and Waterford Road one-way, so you can't get from Moss Grove to High Street/Dudley Rd in a trice via Penzer St and Water St? Traffic calming arseholes. What really goes on in Hampshire House? Why bloody Hampshire anyway? Why not Salop? Dougie Perks can't even park his motors on the road now outside his ramshackle bivouac. Double yellows. A low blow. How long's he had that Zephyr up on ramps in that lean-to? Got to be 20 years. Just as well, he can't park it on the bloody road now can he? The community is slowly but surely being bled dry of its character, quirks, idiosyncrasies and personalities. Fucking shame.
Although there are a few pockets of informed debate on this comments page, many of these commentators are obviously working at surface level.
Okay, perhaps we'll never see the likes of the internationally famous Christopher's nightclub in our town again (who will ever forget the twinkling foyer?), but each town has it's heyday, it's epoch.
Just consider the worldwide cultural impact of developments in Paris 1905-15, Vienna 1908-1, Moscow 1916-30, Tokyo 1967-73 and New York 1969-74. These were times when cities became a pure definition of the zeitgeist.
Perhaps Kingswinford can take heart in the cyclical nature of London's worldwide importance. This great city has been at the eye of the storm in terms of cultural and social development not one but three times: 1851 (Great Exhibition), 1960-69 (centre of fashion, popular culture and music - the cultural revolution) and finally 1990-2001 (world fashion centre, Britpop etc).
So just as Kingswinford had its heyday around the mid to late 1980's, the era of Farahs, slip-ons and Waddle perms, who is to say that these times won't return? A time when K'ford becomes the rightful leader of the satellite towns of Dudley?
If anyone would like to debate this with me I will be drinking White Lightning with Goony, Ade and Fibby on the bench near the lights on Friday evening. I will later be pilled-up to the eyeballs with Si James in the Market Hall, or MHT as the new rebranding spindoctors have decided to call it.
Johnson McGill, author of Channels of Discourse Reassembled (reassessing the real in cybernetic semiotics).
Frequently Asked Questions:
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Ralph's Surf Shack
Ralph's Surf Shack Kingswinford's Alternative Guide, Ralph's Surf Shack. Leave messages, view photographs, create polls, buy merchandise and tickle my ploot.
Ralph's Surf Shack
The alternative guide to Kingswinford
Guide to Kingswinford, Ralph's Surf Shack
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This web site has been primarily designed to give an alternative guide to our wonderful town Kingswinford or as it's locally know 'Kford'. For those who don't know, Kingswinford is a leafy, residential town situated between the crossroads of A449 and A4101 and is part of the Dudley Borough . Simply Enter Ralphy's to begin your interactive journey.