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West Midlands: Three things you wanted to know

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Media captionAsk us your questions about where you live

All week you have been using Your Questions to tell us what you want to know about the West Midlands.

You wanted to know which Christmas tree was best - real or fake.

You asked why Tamworth is not the county town of Staffordshire when it was once the capital of the Ancient Kingdom of Mercia.

We were also asked why Wem in Shropshire is known locally as "the treacle mines". Here's a look at how we got on with answering your questions.


Which Christmas tree is best - real vs fake?

It's the time of year when Christmas trees go up, becoming the centrepiece of our family festivities. We adorn their branches with twinkling lights and colourful baubles and place lovingly wrapped gifts underneath.

As such a focal point in our celebrations, getting the tree right is important.

Our BBC News elves were inspired by Kathie Walters' question, "Is my artificial Christmas tree good for the environment, or are real trees better?" and debated the pros and cons.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption What are the pros and cons of real and artificial Christmas trees?

Why isn't Tamworth the county town of Staffordshire?

Andrew James asked: "Why is Tamworth not the county town of Staffordshire when it was the capital of Mercia?"

Visit Tamworth says before the 10th century, the town was "the heartland of the Mercian Kingdom" and had "the King's main residence".

But Staffordshire County Council archivist, Andrew George, said political decisions at the time may explain why Stafford became the county town.

Image caption There could be historical, political reasons why Tamworth is not the county town

He said Edward the Elder, King of Wessex, may have deliberately downgraded the former capital when he established the modern county structures of Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire and Staffordshire.

Authority archaeologist Stephen Dean said in the early medieval period, Tamworth may also have been in Danish hands or under Danish influence.

Uncertainty around the town could have resulted in it being difficult to have as a political or administrative central place, Mr George added.

This is something he says continued into the 19th century with uncertainty as to whether Tamworth was in Staffordshire or Warwickshire - which was finally decided in 1889.


"Why is Wem known by locals as 'the treacle mines'?"

Town councillor Pauline Dee says there are two stories which could answer Jon Edward's question.

One is that there was a tanners in the town and the process gave off a glutinous by-product which looked a lot like treacle.

Image caption There are other towns around the country that claim to have mines

The other story involves a chemist shop in the town, run by a man called Mr Haynes.

During the war it was said that despite food-shortages, his shop never ran out of treacle, leading locals to joke that he had a treacle mine beneath the shop.

Other towns around the country also claim to have treacle mines, for various reasons, but of course you can't really mine treacle.

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