History on the town of Oldswinford in the county of Worcestershire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.



Background Information
Visitors to today's Oldswinford probably assume that it is part of Stourbridge. However, the fact is that Stourbridge was once part of the ancient parish of Oldswinford that also included Lye, Wollescote, Norton, Amblecote and Wollaston.

Oldswinford - Upper Hagley Road [c.1928]

The first church at Oldswinford is thought to date from the 10th century, a period when King Eadred granted the thegn called Burhelm six hides at Swine Ford, a term derived from a brook called Swin. Old was added later to distinguish the settlement from that at Kingswinford. The ford refers to a Roman, and later Saxon, crossing of the brook although the exact position has not been determined because the waterway has changed course and in terms of flow over the centuries. It has also been suggested that the ford could refer to a crossing of the River Stour as the parish of Swinford extended up to Amblecote. The ancient thoroughfare of Brook Road running into Oldswinford from Chawn Hill is named after the brook which rises in Ham Dingle. This watercourse fed a pond located between Oldswinford Castle and the Junction Station. From there it flowed under a culvert beneath Brook Road and toward Job's Lane where, in the early part of the 19th century, it powered a small forge. The brook eventually flowed into the River Stour near to another location named after a crossing - Stepping Stones.

Saint Mary's Parish Church at Oldswinford [c.1905]

An early wooden church was replaced during the 14th century with a larger place of worship. Local red sandstone was used in the construction of the building. Only the tower remains as the nave of the church was rebuilt in 1842 to the designs of Robert Ebbles. A chancel by J. A. Chatwin was added in 1898. A thorough restoration was led in 1938 by Sir Charles Scott who also designed the gateway and church walls. The building enjoyed a spire for almost two centuries - it was erected in 1809/10 but, after being deemed 'unsafe', it was dismantled in 1985.

Oldswinford Hospital Sanatorium [c.1910]

Oldswinford is also home to the hospital school (founded in 1667) and features 'Artisan Mannerism' detail in the structure's architecture. Formerly known as The Bluecoats, the school was a gift from the Foley family who made their fortune by introducing a slitting mill to the Midlands after 'Fiddling Foley' conducted an industrial espionage mission in Sweden.

Oldswinford - Castle Boarding House [c.1913]

Other buildings of note include Old Swinford Hall dating from the mid-18th century. This building was later known as The Laurels. A walk along the picturesque Church Road will be rewarded with the site of a number of interesting buildings. The Castle is an early 19th century partly-castellated structure which was originally built in the Tudor style but has received several hotch-potch rebuilds. A much older building stood on the site and is marked on a map dated 1699. This is thought to be a timber-framed building which came into the ownership of the Hickman family who were closely associated with Stourbridge's cloth trade. Edward Hickman began adding the castellations to the building after he gained the freehold in 1782.

Oldswinford - Church Road and Parish Church [c.1920]

The rectory is a fine five-bay red brick house dating from around 1700. No's 6-16 Church Road is a splendid row of old cottages which all feature late Georgian lancet-pointed windows.
All text and images © Copyright - click here for more information.

Related Newspaper Articles
"An unprecedented scene occurred in Oldswinford churchyard yesterday afternoon, at the funeral of Mrs. Susannah Brooks, the wife of a Stourbridge innkeeper. Rumours had been in circulation that something of an unusual kind was likely to happen, and for a long time before the hour fixed for the funeral a continual stream of people had been flowing towards the churchyard until there was an assemblage of probably fifteen hundred persons, men, women, and children. The cause of this large gathering at Mrs. Brooks's funeral was a statement that there was opposition to her sepulchre in a vault in which her father and mother and child lie, and in which, as is alleged, she was entitled to a resting place. There may probably be legal proceedings over what occurred, and we cannot enter into the merits of the question regarding the right of interment in the vault. The deceased's immediate friends say that she had an unquestioned right; the claim was resisted by another relative, and hence the scene which took place. Orford, the sexton, opened the vault on Saturday, and subsequently a letter is said to have been addressed to the rector, the Rev. C. H. Crauford, objecting to the coffin being placed therein. Mr. Crauford is seriously unwell, and he sent the letter to the officers of tile church, though he eventually intervened himself to a certain extend. Men were said to have been in the churchyard from four o'clock yesterday morning, and when the sexton went there at an early hour he found the vault he had opened on Saturday was bricked up. An hour or two before the funeral, the rector sent orders to the sexton to open a grave, and he proceeded to do this close to the vault in question, and had barely finished his task before the funeral cortège approached the church. Superintendent Freeman, Sergeant Jones, and a posse of policemen were on duty among the graves, and the sexton was so surrounded by people that he had to appeal to the police to come and keep the people back while he and his assistant finished their work. The service was read in the church over Mrs. Brooks and another corpse brought from the workhouse, and then the bodies were carried to their respective graves. Cries were raised by the people of "Open the vault," "Open it," and persons, many of whom obviously had an object in view, serried up to the closed vault and open grave as the coffin was placed down by the latter. The Revd. G. F. Adley, the curate, finished the service at the pauper grave, and seeing the excitement around Mrs. Brooks's coffin he retired to the vestry for a time. The cries of "Open the vault" were repeated. There were men present who were said to have intended opposing the opening of the vault, but the strong feeling manifested evidently convinced them that this would have been a hazardous course, and they offered no active resistance. A number of men were ready to break into the vault, and with the sanction of some of the funeral party, were soon operating on the brickwork, and an aperture was made for the admission of the coffin. It was carefully lowered into the vault, and as it was deposited there a ringing and sustained cheer was raised by a large number of those present. When it was obvious that the internment was to be in the vault the curate returned, and completed the service. An assault was committed by one person, and some dirt thrown by a female partisan, but the presence of the police checked anything further. The officers simply confined themselves to the passive duty of "keeping the peace," and did not interfere in any way in regard to the breaking of the vault. When the service was finished, some men set to work to brick up the vault again, the mourners remaining near the spot for a time. The men also filled up the empty grave, and the crowd, after long lingering, melted away.”
"Extraordinary Scene in Oldswinford Churchyard"
Birmingham Daily Post : June 22nd 1875 Page 7.

"At the Stourbridge Petty Sessions, yesterday, before Col. Fletcher and Messrs. R. L. Freer, C. P. Noel, J. Holcroft, and J. Cochrane, Mr. G. W. Prescott was summoned by Mr. C. King, for riotous, violent, and indecent conduct in Oldswinford Church, on December 5th. Mr. Perry supported the information and said the penalty to which a person convicted of such an offence was liable was a sum not exceeding £5., or instead, the Bench might commit for two months. Mr. C. King said he was one of the wardens of Oldswinford Church, and Mr. Prescott was the other. There was an offertory on Sunday Morning and, after the service, Mr. Prescott asked in the vestry how the money was to be divided. Witness said it was not to be divided, but was to be taken into the rectory as the Bishop had directed. It was after holy communion that this occurred, Mr. Prescott said the money should not go into the rectory, and snatched up as much of it as he could. He told the defendant that he had not accounted for all the money collected the previous Sunday. The collection then was for the Church Missionary Society. He asked the defendant for the receipt, and said it had not all been accounted for. Defendant said "You are a liar," Witness said nothing in answer to this. Defendant backed out of the vestry into the church, and used the most abominable language to him. Defendant said: "You are a blackguard, you are the biggest blackguard in the parish, and everybody knows it." He also said, "You are a young, conceited, stuck-up fool," and used a still more objectionable epithet. Witness said that Mr. Prescott used another expression of a filthy description. Witness asked him if he was aware he was in the house of God, Mr. Prescott went away muttering. Cross-examined: He adhered to his statement that he was a church warden. Witness told defendant on Sunday week he would have him locked up if he took the offertory money. Witness had not had the money since Lady-day; it had been taken into the rectory. The rector was ill, but he did not know he was incompetent to transact business. Witness did not know that he had written to the Rev. Mr. Adley, threatening him with any proceedings. He knew there was £6.12d.4d. paid to Mr. Welch for the Church Missionary Society, but £6.12s.4d. was collected. Witness did not count the money himself. He told defendant that he should send for the police if he took the money, and that he had not accounted for all the money the Sunday before. Several witnesses, including the Rev. Mr. Maugham [curate] and the clerk, were heard in support of the complaint. Mr. Prescott said the proceedings were a persecution against him, and were to please a certain clique in the parish. He submitted that Mr. King was not legally churchwarden, and if not churchwarden, he had no right to be in the vestry and to say where the money should go. He quoted a case with the view of showing that a vestry was not part of a church, urging that the charge must fail on that point; but with regard to the main evidence, he urged that there were discrepancies in the evidence, and he denied using the most offensive expressions attributed to him. It was after Mr. King accused him of not having accounted for all the money the Sunday before that he said he was a liar, if he said so; but he did not use the other language. He regretted anything improper should occur as much as anyone, but he did not like to be charged with dishonesty when he had duly accounted for the money he took the Sunday before, and paid the next morning to the secretary of the Church Missionary Society. The Rev. G. F. Adley, the senior curate, was called by Mr. Prescott, and deposed to what took place in the vestry down to the time when Mr. Prescott called Mr. King a liar. It was after Mr. King accused him of not accounting for all the money the Sunday before. Witness at that point went away. The cross-summons against Mr. King for riotous, violent, and indecent conduct in the church, on November 28th, was then called on, and Mr. Adley was examined by Mr. Prescott, in support of it. Mr. Adley said there was a collection on the 28th for the Church Missionary Society. He afterwards heard Mr. King threaten to have Mr. Prescott locked up. Mr. King had previously said the money should go into the rectory. Mr. Prescott said it should not, and went away with it. It was as he was going out that Mr. King used the threat. Mr. Perry said there was no case for him to answer. The Bench considered the case against Mr. Prescott fully proved, and fined him £5. and costs, and they dismissed the cross-summons against Mr. King.”
"Charge of Brawling in Oldswinford Church"
Birmingham Daily Post : December 11th 1875 Page 8.
All text and images © Copyright - click here for more information.

List of Pubs
Bird in Hand
Bricklayers' Arms
Cottage Inn
Crabmill Inn
Cross Inn
Crown Inn
Hearty Goodfellow
Labour in Vain
New Inn
Railway House
Seven Stars
Shrubbery Cottage Inn
Swan Inn
Three Stars
Village Tavern
Waterloo Inn

Click here to visit the website's Facebook pages

Genealogy Connections
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Oldswinford area you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Worcestershire Genealogy.

Advertisement for Radcliffe's Cross Brewery in Kidderminster

Newspaper Articles
"On Saturday, a cat, belonging to Mr. Brentnall, of Oldswinford, kittened in the pig sty adjoining the house, in which are two large store pigs. The kittens are suffered to remain unmolested by the pigs, and even to share their bed. The old cat attends her charge, and all appear ""on the best possible terms." As another of natures freaks, we may state that in an adjoining garden there is an apple tree full blossom."
"A Happy Family"
Worcester Journal : September 29th 1847 Page 5.

"On Saturday night a person named Henry Round was walking near Oldswinford in a state of intoxication, when by some person or other he was dispossessed of £10.10s., which the party has since forgotten to return.”
"Caution Tipplers"
Worcester Herald : April 4th 1857 Page 4.

"Thomas Farmer, haulier, from Long Lane, was charged with being drunk and incapable. The defendant's horse and cart were met one night coming from Kidderminster towards the Oldswinford gate, by P.C. Kennedy. There was no driver, so he stopped the horse, which appeared to have been down, and after waiting about quarter of an hour the defendant came up and claimed the vehicle as his own. He was drunk, and, like his horse, seemed to have been down. Kennedy drove the cart to the station at Stourbridge, and when the defendant had got a little bit sober he was allowed to go on his journey. The defendant produced a lot turnpike tickets to prove that he had been a long journey on that day. Fined 5s. and costs.”
"Losing a Driver"
Worcester Chronicle : March 26th 1856 Page 4.

"John Everton, a higgler, was ordered to pay expenses for being drunk at Oldswinford, and unable to attend to his team. It was his first known offence, and he urged that he was " very quick come over." "You know, Gentlemen," said he, addressing the Bench, "it does soon come over some folks." "Oh, yes," said Mr. King, particularly when they have had enough of it." [Laughter.]”
"Public Office"
Worcester Journal : June 10th 1852 Page 3.

Links to other Websites
Old Maps of Oldswinford
Old Swinford Hospital
Saint Mary's Parish Church
Welcome to Stourbridge

Medieval Ducking Stool
"Whoever serves beer or wine watered down, he himself deserves in them to drown.”
Medieval Plea

Banks's Imperial Mild Ale [1960's]

Not One to Mix with the Riff-Raff in the Bar

1950 Advertisement for Mitchell's & Butler's

Work in Progress

Click here to visit Digital Photographic Images

Ansell's - The Better Beer

Holden's Coneygre Ale

Batham's Special Strong Ale [c.1950's]

Brewery Poster for William Butler's Springfield Brewery [c.1900]

Worthington's Pale Ale in a Bottle

Ansell's Bitter - That's Better

Comic Postcard - Church Sermon

Butler's All Malt Stout Poster [c.1953]

Banks's Imperial Mild Ale [c.1948]

Holden's True Love

Trade Directories
1868 Noake's Guide to Worcestershire
Oldswinford parish includes the comparatively modern town of Stourbridge, the former name being derived from a ford over the Swin brook at this place, and the addition of "Old" to distinguish it from Kingswinford. Stourbridge derives its name from a bridge over the Stour, and the earliest known mention of it is in a deed of 1358. Oldswinford contains the township of Oldswinford, the hamlets of Lye, Wollescote, Upper Swinford, and Wollaston, in the county of Worcester, and the hamlet of Amblecote, in the county of Stafford. There is still the manor of Oldswinford, of which the Earl of Dudley is lord, and the manor of Bedcote, the boundaries of which are identical with those of the township of Stourbridge, and containing 363A., 3R., 30P. Earl Dudley is lord of this manor also, but in neither this nor Oldswinford has a manorial court been held for many years. There is not a copyholder in either manor, and hence no necessity for holding courts. The Earl of Stamford and Warrington is lord of the manor of Amblecote, but exercises no rights or control in consequence, and I am not aware of a court leet having been held at any period, certainly not during the last forty years. The area of the entire hamlet is 513A., 0R., 19P. Acreage of Oldswinford, 2,559. The bridge over the Stour was no doubt a great attraction for traders and settlers, and in the fifteenth century the existence of a weekly market and two fairs denoted that Stourbridge must have been then a considerable village. An old MS. states that coal and ironstone were worked here in the reign of Edward III ; but if so, it could not have been to any great extent, as the population of both Oldswinford and Stourbridge combined numbered only 182 families in the time of Elizabeth. The free school founded here by Edward VI, and Oldswinford Hospital for feeding, clothing, educating, and apprenticing boys, founded by T, Foley in 1670 [and both of which institutions are still in existence, the hospital having an income of £3,500 per annum], had no doubt an important influence on the increase and prosperity of the parish; and then the clothing, glass, and iron trades were carried on here for upwards of two centuries by the Foleys, Scotts, Hickmans, and other families, who made large fortunes thereby. The clothing trade expired here about half a century ago. Glass making was introduced to Stourbridge by French Protestant refugees from Lorraine in 1557, and the town has long been the principal seat of this trade. Former restrictive duties kept down the consumption of glass to a comparatively small amount until 1845, when the abolition of the duties took place, and the increase of the manufacture was soon enormous. It is still on the increase, and the principal manufacturers now are Messrs. Thomas Webb and Sons, Dennis Park; W. Walker and Sons, Heath; Richardson and Smith, Holloway End; Joseph Webb, Coalbournbrook; Hodgetts, Richardson, and Co., Wordsley; Webb, Mills, and Stewart, Wordsley; J. Webb and Co., Wordsley; Williams and Stevens, Moor Lane; the Platts Plate-glass Company, and numerous cutting shops. The manufacture of fire bricks and the sale of clay for the glass works has become almost as important an interest as glass itself. This clay is found under the coal strata, and being capable of resisting intense heat is therefore used for glass-house pots, and the bricks in making glass furnaces; it is also exported in large quantities, and formed into crucibles and other vessels requiring great durability. Clay retorts for gasworks and also baths are manufactured. Nails and other articles are likewise fabricated here. Coal mines are a short distance from the town, being a portion of the Staffordshire beds, and iron-stone is abundant. All these and many other industries of the place are greatly promoted by the agency of the canal and the rail. The 0. W. W. Railway [now part of Great Western] was opened to this town on the 1st of May, 1852; and recently the town has obtained a direct communication with Birmingham by a new line via the Lye, Cradley, Rowley, &c. Mr. Akroyd is chairman of this company. This line accommodates a rich mineral and manufacturing district, passing through that portion of the thick coal which lies east and south of the Pensnett district, and in which immense quantities of fire-bricks, iron, chains, cables, and nails are made, of the magnitude of which traffic some idea may be formed from the fact that one company alone [the New British] makes 1,000 tons of pigs weekly. Besides this the town has canal accommodation, and is therefore well situate for business. Forty years ago the population was but 4,000, whereas now there are more than double that number, and the population returns in 1861 for Oldswinford parish [probably including Stourbridge] was 22,958. Till last year the government of the town was vested in a Board of Commissioners, a self-elected body, distinguished for the acrimony and personality infused into its proceedings by one or two of its members, but nevertheless it died in comparatively good odour, having left scarcely any debt to its successor. A new Town Improvement Act was procured in 1865-6, at a cost of over £2,000, under which the township is divided into three wards, each electing nine Commissioners. The first election took place in the autumn of 1866, when Mr. Akroyd was elected chairman, Messrs. Harward and Co., solicitors, and Mr. J. Taylor, clerk. With the local are incorporated the several public Acts of 1847, by which the Commissioners are enabled to do any act that may be necessary for the improvement of the town. The town is well supplied with water by the Waterworks Company, of which Mr. J. Cochrane is chairman, and Mr. S. Brooks is chairman of the Gas Company. The Health of Towns Act is applied. The Board of Guardians is presided over by Mr. G. Granger, of Hales Owen, and Mr. G. Holloway is clerk to the Board. There is an excellent Rifle Corps, Captain James Walker; a market and corn exchange; two banks - the Old Bank, a branch of the Birmingham and Midland, and the Stourbridge and Kidderminster; a Mechanics' Institute and Church of England Young Men's Association; a Town Library, founded in 1790; schools, and many other lesser institutions, charities, &c. Stourbridge gives name to a County Court district, which includes the parishes of Oldswinford, Kingswinford, Kinver, Enville, Halesowen [except Oldbury and the Warleys], Pedmore, Hagley, and Clent. A new Court-house has recently been erected of stone, having a handsome exterior, and containing every requisite accommodation for the large amount of business transacted. During the year 1867 upwards of 6,200 plaints were entered. Judge, F. Dinsdale, Esq., Leamington ; registrar, J. Harward, Esq.; high bailiff, W. Akroyd, Esq.; all of whom have held their appointments from the time the County Court Act of 1846 came into operation. Oldswinford Church was rebuilt by subscription in 1843, at a cost of about £5,000, and contains upwards of 1,400 sittings, about one-half of which are free; Rev. C. H. Craufurd rector; value of living, £780; Earl Dudley patron. Stourbridge has two churches - St. Thomas's and St. John's. The former was erected in 1735, and enlarged in 1809. Till recently the election of the minister of St. Thomas's was vested in the inhabitants, and very unseemly consequences arose at the elections, which were generally contested with much fierceness, the Dissenters having then a right to vote. The present incumbent, the Rev. Hugh Sherrard, was elected by the inhabitants, but within the last two or three years the church has been fortunately brought under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who have endowed it with an income of £200 per annum; and although the inhabitants have now lost their right of election this is amply compensated by the suppression of the scenes which usually occurred in the exercise of that right, and by the assignment of a district or parish for the church. After remaining 130 years without being consecrated, the church recently received that sacred rite at the hands of the Bishop of Worcester. St. John's District Church was built in 1859-61, on a site in Warehouse Field; architect, Mr. Street; cost, £4,000, of which Earl Dudley gave £1,000; and it is endowed with £200 out of the income of the parish church at the next avoidance of the living. Rev. T. Williams incumbent; Earl Dudley patron. At the Lye is a church, built and endowed by the late T. Hill, Esq., of Dennis, in 1843. Wollaston also has a church, erected and endowed by W. 0. Foster, Esq., M.P., and is a separate parochial district, of which the Rev. J. Gilbank is minister. Amblecote has likewise a district church, of which the Rev. J. Boldero is incumbent. It is worthy of note that the whole of the church erections, and (with the exception of Oldswinford, which has extensive glebe and a small amount of tithe payable in the hamlet of Amblecote) the whole church endowments are the result of voluntary effort. There has been but one church-rate levied during the last forty years, and that was in the year 1845. The present rector of Oldswinford, Rev. C. H. Craufurd, is opposed to church-rates, and his parishioners by their liberality amply provide for the decent and orderly performance of Divine worship. The annals of Dissent in this town commence with (so far as known) the Quakers. In 1674, Sarah Reynolds, a poor Quaker woman with five children, was sent to Worcester gaol for not paying 9d. towards the repair of the "steeple-house." The Quakers erected a meeting-house here in 1680. In 1697 the house of John Scott was licensed for Divine worship, and in 1715 the house of Samuel Carter. The Presbyterians date from 1698, at which time the Rev. G. Flower, domestic chaplain to Mr. Foley, of Prestwood, began to preach alternately at Prestwood and Stourbridge, and so continued to do in the chapel (now a warehouse) in Coventry Street until 1716, when he ceased to be chaplain at Prestwood, and for many years he continued to be the minister of the Stourbridge congregation alone. The Presbyterians have a chapel in High Street, erected in 1788, of which the Rev. D. Maginnis is minister. An Independent chapel was erected in 1810; Rev. James Richards minister. There are also a Wesleyan chapel [Rev. J. Hanna], a Catholic chapel, to which a nunnery has been added [Rev. Mr. Kean], a Baptist Chapel [Rev. B. Bird], New Connexion Methodist [Rev. J, White], and Primitive Methodist. Joanna Southcote had a champion here some years ago in no less a person than the rector of the parish, Rev. T. Foley, who kept a horse always ready saddled to convey him to the New Jerusalem; who was frequently visited by the lady, and published in an advertisement a long vindication of her pretensions, Two or three more historical items and I have done with Stourbridge. In the year 1800, the colliers being in great distress from a scarcity of provisions, the farmers were requested to bring their wheat into market at 15s. a bushel and barley at 8s. In 1817 a petition was presented to Parliament from this parish, complaining that the poor-rate assessed on houses amounted to 29s. in the £; on the rent of farming land to 32s.; and on other kinds of land to 61s. Out of a population of 4,381 no fewer than 1,868 received parish relief! and only 158 persons were able to contribute to the poor-rate In 1830, Michael Toll and Charles Wall were hung at Worcester, the former for the murder of Ann Cook, at Oldswinford. After his execution a piece of blanket was found in his stomach, he having swallowed it to produce suffocation. Wall had murdered a little girl named Sally Chance, whom he threw into a lime-pit, as a preparatory step to marrying her mother!

Click here for more information

Ansell's Good Old Mild

Butler's Pride of the Midlands Playing Card [c.1950's]

Advertisement for Robert Allen and Company Ltd. of Barbourne in Worcester

Oldswinford Doors - The Castle [2007]

Oldswinford Doors - No.16 Church Road [2001]

Oldswinford Doors - No.81 Hagley Road [2001]

Oldswinford Doors - Elmfield Rudolf Steiner School [2001]

Oldswinford Doors - No.49 Love Lane [2001]

Click here to follow on Twitter
Click here to visit the website's Facebook pages

Click here for more details

Beer and Pipe Smoker

Bar Parlour Stained Glass

Tap Room Etched Glass


Pub Drinkers between the Wars

Rural Drinkers outside the Pub

The Young Barmaid by Charles Sillem Lidderdale

Drinking Celebrations

Le Bock by Picasso [1901]

Beer is Best

Best Room and Snug

Edwardian Barman

Bar Etched Glass

Drinking in the Snug


Wartime Drinkers

Victorian Barmaid

Click here for more details


Public Bar Stained Glass

Woman Serving Beer

Brewery Buildings