Some history of Bilston
More information on Bilston to follow. I probably created the page as I had a link to Bilston from another page. When building the site it is easier to place links as they crop up rather than go back later on. I realise this is frustrating if you were specifically looking for information on Bilston. There is information on Staffordshire dotted around the website - click here for a suitable starting place.
Bilston in 1851 Melville & Co's Directory of Wolverhampton
Bilston is an important and populous Market Town and Chapelry, in the Northern division of the Hundred of Seisdon, 121 miles NW. from London. 18 S. from Stafford, 11 NW. from Birmingham, and 74 S. from Manchester. The North Western line passes Willenhall [about two miles distant], the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway has a Station in the town, and the Birmingham and Fazely Canal runs through it, by all of which, an active and constant communication is kept up with all parts of the Kingdom.
Although a distinct Township, as to all parochial purposes, it is comprehended in the Parish, Union, County Court District, and Parliamentary Borough of Wolverhampton, At the time of the conquest it was a royal demesne, in the reign of Edward III., was certified free of toll, and we find in the charter of the Portionists, or Prebendaries of Wolverhampton, that it had been conveyed to them under the name of "Bilsreton."
The town is situated on a gentle acclivity, somewhat irregularly built, and extending nearly two miles in length; the main street presenting many elegant and commodious tenements, large and handsome shops, and ornamental public edifices.
Bilston has long been celebrated for its vast mines of coal, iron-stone, quarry-stone, and clay; and the energy and enterprize, with which these natural advantages have been developed, aided by the facilities for the transport of their productions, by land and water carriage, to all the markets of the world, have resulted in an enormous amount of trade and the consequent employment of an immense number of workmen. Besides the blast furnaces and numerous works, for the production of the various description of iron, there are manufactories of machinery, japanned and enamelled tin and iron; brass, iron wire, nails and screws, stoves, grates, and other metal articles; which are here produced in the greatest variety and abundance, at wonderfully low prices. At the establishment of Mr. Joseph Spencer, immediately adjoining the market place, a large trade is carried on, in the manufacture of steam engines, mills, cranes, etc., and castings of every description. The Messrs Perry, at Highfields, are also celebrated, not only for their extensive foundry; but, for the beauty and elegant construction of their iron and brass bedsteads. The Olmstead stove, so much in favour both for dwelling houses and public buildings is solely manufactured here, at the works of Mr. James Rowley, Brook Street and Mount Pleasant. Here also are lime and cement works, chemical works, a pottery, etc. Buckle chapes, at one period the staple, has now become nearly extinct, being now confined to one artificer. Many of the mines are wrought to the depth of nearly four hundred feet; the main coal is about thirty feet thick, and has, both under and above it, valuable strata of iron-stone; and, being considered inexhaustible, there is no reason to doubt the continued progress of this locality in wealth and importance commensurate with its resources, skill and industry. A particular species of sand is found in the neighbourhood, of an orange colour, and so extremely fine as to be scarcely palpable, it is much used in the casting of metals; and there is a quarry of remarkable stone lying horizontally in twelve layers, the lowest being about three feet thick. Some of the tables are so large and even, as to have been obtained eight yards long and not varying an inch in thickness; specimens of it are shown curiously streaked black. It is made into grind-stones and whet-stones of excellent quality, some wrought into cisterns, mill-stones etc.; and the inferior beds are used for building purposes.
During the prevalence of cholera in 1832, that dreadful pestilence made fearful ravages amongst the inhabitants. From August 4th to September 29th, 3,568 cases occurred; of which 742 proved fatal, or about five per cent, of the entire population. Whole streets were depopulated, and business was suspended at many large establishments in consequence of the mortality amongst the artisans. Nor was the recurrence of this dire malady in 1849 less fearfully marked in its devastating influence, 700 having fallen victims in the short space of seven weeks. These fearful visitations seem to have been zealously taken advantage of by the clergymen of all denominations, to awaken in the minds of the community, a wholesome regard for religious and educational improvement, and it is gratifying to observe the efforts now being made to diffuse knowledge and instruction, both sacred and secular.
The country around Bilston is level and productive, yielding excellent crops even to the pit mouths; but the dense canopy of smoke evolved from the coal and iron works shuts out the landscape, and renders the atmosphere far from agreeable. The prospect by night, however, is startling and imposing; the continuous blazing of countless fires, the hissing of blast furnaces, the clanging of ponderous hammers and machinery, the dusky appearance of the workmen and their mystic operations upon huge masses of red-hot iron, combine to excite the imagination of the spectator.
The Duke of Sutherland and Thomas Walter Giffard, Esq., of Chillington Hall, are joint lords of the manor. An Act of Parliament was passed last Session constituting town commissioners and a local board of health. There are sixteen commissioners, thirteen of whom are elected annually by the inhabitants and three are magistrates, nominated and appointed by the justices at quarter sessions. They are invested with power for the regulation of watching, lighting, cleaning, sewerage, etc.; and are empowered to borrow £11,000 on the security of the rates, for the purpose of carrying out the Act; and there is, therefore, the perfect assurance that ere long the town will, in all sanatory respects, be equal to any other of its class in the country. The business of the Board is conducted in suitable offices at Pipe Hall, Hall Street, William Baldwin Esquire, Chairman; Mr. Edward Pugh, Treasurer; Mr. Henry Andrew Viles, Clerk, Mr. Henry Marten, Surveyor; Mr. John M. Parsons, Collector; Mr. Richard Spooner Cooper, Medcal Officer; and, Joseph Linney, Inspector of Nuisances.
Petty Sessions are held every Tuesday and Friday by the County Magistrates, at the Court Room, adjoining the King's Arms Inn, and John Leigh, Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate, adjudicates every alternate Tuesday.
In 1824 an Act of Parliament was obtained for holding Markets; Monday and Saturday being the days on which they are held, besides which, there are toll-free markets or fairs for cattle on Whit-Monday, and the Monday next before Michaelmas day. Bilston Chapelry contained in 1831, 14,492 inhabitants; in 1841, 20,181; and the population is now estimated at not less than 25,000.
St. Leonard's Church is a handsome and commodious edifice, with tower containing a peal of eight bells. It is seated for 2,200, 750 of the sittings are free. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the inhabitants; every householder, both male and female, being entitled to vote at the election of the Minister. Rev. Horatio Samuel Fletcher, B.A. Perpetual Curate; Rev. John James Slade, B.A., Curate; John Riley, Parish Clerk; Samuel Waldron, Organist; Hours of service, eleven, three, and half-past six o'clock. Prayers on Wednesday and Friday at ten o'clock. Holiday services 10am and 7pm. The national schools in connexion with this Church are in Mount Pleasant, and are attended by about 120 boys, 100 girls, and 110 infants; George Parker, master; Mary Ann Parker, mistress; Miss Lawton, mistress of infant school. The average attendance at the Sunday Schools is 540.
St. Mary's Church is situated in Oxford Street, and is a fine specimen of the later English style, having a square embattled tower surmounted with pinnacles, and boasting an illuminated clock. The interior is chastely and beautifully decorated and possesses a remarkably fine organ. The living is in the gift of the Crown and Bishop alternately. Rev. Joseph Butterworth Owen, M.A. Vicar; Rev. William Bennison, Curate; Service, eleven, three, and half-past six.
St. Luke's Church, now in course of erection in Pinfold Street, will be an elegant Gothic structure, and is built and endowed under Sir Robert Peel's Act. The congregation is temporarily accomodated in a wooden building in Coseley Street. Rev. Richard Jewsbury Heafield, Vicar; Service, eleven, three, and half-past six.
The above form the three ecclesiastical parish churches, in addition to which, there is the Trinity Church, Ettingshall; a pleasantly situated and pretty building, surmounted by a square tower; Rev. Frederick Williams, Incumbent. Service, eleven, three, and half-past six. Attached are the national schools in connexion; John Henry Wigley, master; Ann Dale, mistress.
Moxley Church is a neat building in the Gothic style, and was erected in 1851: it contains about 290 sittings, 100 of which are free. Rev. Patrick Wilson, Incumbent.
Wesleyan Chapel, head of Oxford Street. A large and well designed building, with handsome composite porch: it has 1,500 sittings, of which 500 are free. Rev. James Clapham, Minister. The Schools belonging to this body are in Bow Street [Edward Shelley, Master, Mary Ann Shelley, Mistress], and are attended by about 90 boys and girls. The Sunday Schools also have a very large attendance. Besides the above there are Chapels in connection with this denomination at New Village, Bradley [Rev. W. Exley, Minister], Hall Green, and Lady Moor, the last a very neat edifice, with tower and clock. Service, half-past ten, half-past two, and six. Sermons on Wednesday. Prayer meetings on Monday and Friday.
Baptist Chapel, Wood Street. Seated for 700. Rev. Thomas Skemp, Minister. Service, half-past ten, half-past two, and six.
Primitive Methodist Chapels, High Street and Shropshire Row. The former a roomy and convenient structure, with turret and clock; the latter a plain building, seated for 500. Ministers various. Service, half-past ten, half-past two, and six.
Welsh Chapel, Pipe's Meadow. A neat little erection, built in 1845 to accommodate the families of Welsh workmen employed in this locality. Seated for about 200. Ministers various.
Wesleyan Chapel, New Village. This is a substantial brick building, erected in 1842, and has about 600 sittings, 200 of which are free: it is supplied by circuit preachers. Services, 10am 2pm, 6pm; on Friday, 7pm. There are Sunday Schools connected with this Chapel, also an Infant School.
Independent Chapel, Oxford Street. This is a neat building, and will accommodate about 600 persons. Rev. Robert Davis, Minister. There are Sunday and Infant Schools in connection with this Chapel.
New Connection Methodist Chapel, Oxford Street. Will accommodate about 300 persons. Ministers various. Time of service, 10am, 2pm, 6pm.
Catholic Chapel, Oxford Street. Rev. John Sherlock and Rev. Robert Swift, Priests.
The Bilston Institute, in Swan Bank, possesses a well-selected Library, and also a News Room, liberally furnished with newspapers and periodicals. Under its auspices, too, lectures on scientific and literary subjects are delivered in St. Mary's School Rooms. President, the Rev. J. B. Owen, M.A.; Secretary, Mr. Thomas S. Hatton.
The Blue Coat School was founded in 1699, on land granted by Thomas Perrye, Esq., but is now in a somewhat decayed condition.
The Savings' Bank, in Lichfield Street, holds a large average amount of deposits, both from individuals and Friendly Societies. The Rev. H. S. Fletcher, B.A., Trustee.
Inland Revenue Office, King's Arms. Mr. James Lawton, Supervisor.
The Police Station is at present in Stafford Street, but larger and more desirable premises have been secured in Mount Pleasant, which will in a short time be occupied. Mr. Edward Thompson, Inspector; Mr. Ralph Wardle, Sub-inspector; and ten constables.
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Related Newspaper Articles
"For sale - one police station in good nick but with some previous. Bilston's landmark former police station is going under the
hammer with a guide price of £150,000, it was revealed today. The 170-year-old station, which was one of the oldest in the region, was deemed no longer
fit for purpose by force chiefs who opened a £3.5 million replacement earlier this year. The listed three-storey building is described by estate agents as
"attractive, spacious and detached." It has former cells in the basement and on the ground floor as well as store rooms and offices. West Midlands Police
will put the Mount Pleasant station, which was built around 1840, on the market after deciding it was no longer fit for use by its officers. It will go under the
hammer at Villa Park on Thursday from 11am."
"Bilston's former police station going up for sale"
Express & Star : July 4th 2011