TRIBUTES have been paid to a Wordsley historian and community stalwart who worked tirelessly to put the Black Country and its people on the map.

Stan Hill, a former councillor, headteacher and ex-editor of the Black Country Society's quarterly magazine The Blackcountryman, passed away on January 16 at the age of 90.

Brierley Hill born Stan dedicated his twilight years to highlighting the stories of Black Country personalities after a long and distinguished teaching career which began in 1950 at the old Audnam Secondary School.

After training to be a teacher at St Peter's College in Saltley, Stan taught at Audnam for eight years and was "remembered as the teacher who would go the extra mile giving them encouragement and time" - his close friend Angus Dunphy said.

Following an 18-month break for National Service, during which time he served in the Educational Corps, he took up a series of senior roles in schools in Smethwick - ending up as headteacher at Rosland Secondary School in Dudley between 1967 and 1969.

He then went on to become warden of Dudley Teachers’ Centre at Himley Hall and under Stan’s leadership the centre became nationally renowned for its curriculum innovation which saw teachers persuaded to write classroom materials and share them with colleagues.

In his retirement years Stan, of Lawnswood Avenue, presided over 45 issues of The Blackcountryman before taking on the role of president of the Black Country Society in 2002/3.

Even after relinquishing his role as editor he continued to help distribute the popular magazine and to write occasional articles for publication.

His passion for Black Country history also saw him persuade Sutton Publishing to commission books on Black Country townships in the Britain in Old Photographs series. Stan would find the authors and some 30 to 40 volumes followed, each carrying the Black Country Society logo.

Angus, his friend of 50 years, said: "It was little wonder that he was recognised nationally by the British Association for Local History in 2007 when he was given their prestigious Personal Achievement Award."

As well as editing The Blackcountryman for 13 years, Stan also authored the society's popular 57 Black Country People and the follow-up 57 More Black Country People as well as telling his own story in Stan Hill's Brierley Hill and Life. The book looked back at a lifetime of service to the community which began in the 1950s when Stan served as a Labour councillor for Quarry Bank on Brierley Hill Urban District Council.

In 1955-6, aged just 26, he was elected chairman - becoming what's believed to have been the youngest civic head in the country - and together with his beloved wife Jean he was afforded the chance to meet Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip.

Angus said: "Stan’s was a life well lived in the service of others. Like many I am proud to have known Stan and to call him a friend.

"He was a very well-read man and his written style had considerable merit. His books and the commentaries to his maps on Brierley Hill and Wordsley broke new ground. "He was determined to ensure his birthplace received national recognition for the hard work and products of its people."

He described him as "a people's person, easily approachable, keen to support and generous with praise" and he added: "There are many examples of how he helped others. "He mentored large numbers of young teachers who went on to influence classroom learning, enhancing the life chances of young people.

"His achievements were many, but none more so than as a loving husband to Jean."

Jean died in 2014, aged 82, after a short battle with cancer, leaving Stan heartbroken. He said at the time that his wife of 59 years had "proof read every word" he had ever written.

Although in poor health himself over the last few years, he battled on and celebrated his 90th birthday in March 2019 but he passed away at Russells Hall Hospital on January 16 after succumbing to pneumonia following a fall.

He leaves two daughters Sheila and Mandy and grandchildren Stuart and Scott, and one-year-old great-granddaughter Lucia.

A celebration of his life will be held at Gornal Wood Crematorium at 1.30pm on February 12 followed by a gathering at Himley Hall where Stan was based during his time with Dudley Teachers' Centre.

Mourners are asked to wear bright colours rather than black and donations in lieu of flowers will go to Mary Stevens Hospice which Stan was a keen supporter of over the years.

Stan, an old boy of Stourbridge's King Edward V1 Grammar School, was also heavily involved with the Francis Brett Young Society for many years and he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Wordsley's glass industry.