Some history on Wednesbury in the county of Staffordshire

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Wednesbury

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Acorn : Birmingham Street
Anchor Hotel : Holyhead Road
Ancient Briton : Potter's Lane
Angel : Cock Heath
Angel : Monway Field
Bachelor's Arms : King's Hill Field
Barrel : Upper Darlington Street
Beehive : Trouse Lane
Bell : Church Street
Bell : Walsall Street
Bird In Hand : Campo Lane
Black Boy : High Street
Black Horse : Church Hill
Blue Ball : Earps Lane
Blue Bell : Walsall Street
Board : High Bullen
Boat : Crankhall Lane
Boat : Leabrook Road
Boilermakers' Arms : Camp Hill
Borough Arms : Cobden Street
Bricklayers' Arms : Portway Road
Bridge : Bull Lane
Britannia : Dale Street
Britannia : Darlaston Road
Britannia : Eldon Street
Britannia : Holyhead Road
Britannia : High Street, Moxley
Britannia : Lea Brook Road
British Queen : Trouse Lane
British Workman : Walsall Street
Brook Tavern
Brougham's Arms : King's Hill Field
Brown Lion : Hill Top
Brown Lion : King's Hill Field
Brunswick : Crankhall Lane
Brunswick : Great Western Street
Bull's Head : Campo Lane
Bull's Head : Tame Bridge, The Delves
Bush : High Street
Bush Inn : Leabrook Road
Castle : Oakeswell End
Church Tavern : Hall End
Church Hill : Church Street
Coach and Horses : High Street
Coachmakers' Arms : Bridge Street
Coronation : Friar Park Road
Cottage : Woodgreen Street
Cottage Of Content : New Street
Cottage Spring : Bilston Road
Cottage Spring : Franchise Street
Cottage Spring : Trouse Lane
Cottage Spring : Crook Hay Lane
Croft : Hydes Road
Cross Guns : Bilston Road
Cross Keys : Earps Lane
Cross Keys : Holyhead Road
Crown : Albert Street
Crown and Cushion : High Bullen
Cuckoo Tavern
Dartmouth Arms : Holyhead Road
Dog and Duck : Dudley Street
Dog and Duck : New Street
Dog and Partridge : Ridding Lane
Drum and Monkey : Portway Road
Duke of York : Lower High Street
Elephant and Castle : High Bullen
Erin Go Bragh : Holyhead Road
Exchange : Portway Road
Fallings Heath Tavern : Walsall Road
Fitters' Arms : Lower High Street
Foresters' Arms : Oxford Street
Foresters' Arms : Portway Road
Forge : Franchise Street
Fortune Of War : Trouse Lane
Fountain : King's Hill Field
Fountain : Fallings Heath
Four Hopes
Fox
Fox and Dogs : Albert Street
Freemasons' Arms : Dudley Street
Friar Park Inn : Crankhall Lane
George : Church Street, Moxley
George : Market Place/Union Street
George and Dragon : Lower High Street
George and Dragon : Walsall Street
Gladstone : Portway Road
Golden Ball : Market Place
Golden Cross : Market Place
Golden Cup : High Street
Golden Letters : High Bullen
Grapes : Upper High Street
Grapes : Portway Road
Great Western Hotel : Great Western Street
Green Dragon : Market Place
Green Man : High Street
Greyhound : Dudley Street
Hand and Flag : Camp Street
Hare and Hounds : Bridge Street
Hen and Chickens : Foster Street
Highgate Arms : Holyhead Road
Holly Bush : Dudley Road
Hop Pole : Holloway Bank
Hope and Anchor : Darlaston Road
Horse and Jockey : Franchise Street
Horse and Jockey : High Bullen
Horse and Jockey : Walsall Street
Horse and Jockey : Wood Green Road
Inkerman : Cook Street
Isle of Man : Brunswick Park Road
Joiners' Arms : Camp Street
Jolly Brewers : Camp Street
Jolly Collier : Meeting Street
Jolly Collier : Shambles
Junction : Trouse Lane
King and Constitution : Trouse Lane
King's Arms : High Bullen
King's Head : High Street
King's Hill Tavern : Darlaston Road
Lamb and Flag : High Street
Leabrook Tavern : Leabrook Road
Liquor Vaults : Bridge Street
Live and Let Live : Dudley Road
L. & N. W. R. Hotel : Stafford Street
Malt Shovel : High Street
Market Tavern : Russell Street
Mazeppa : Elwell Street/Friar Street
Midland Vaults : High Street
Millfields : Rydding Lane
Miners' Arms : Holloway Bank
Miners' Arms : Portway Road
Moulders' Arms : High Street
Moulders' Arms : Holyhead Road
Museum Inn : Elwell Street
Myvod Arms : Park Lane
Nag's Head : Lower High Street
Navigation : Navigation Lane
Navigation : Walsall Road
Nelson : Dudley Street
Nelson : Portway Road
New Britannia : Moxley
Oddfellows' Arms
Old Barrel : Darlaston Road
Old Barrel : Holyhead Road
Old Beehive : Walsall Street
Old Bird In Hand : High Street
Old Blue Ball : Church Hill
Old Church : Church Road
Old Cross Keys : Holyhead Road
Old Cross Keys : Queen Street
Old Dragon : Church Hill
Old Leathern Bottle : Terrace Street
Olde Leathern Bottel : Vicarage Road
Old Pack Horse : Lower Dudley Street
Old Park : Darlaston Road
Old Royal Oak : Meeting Street
Pack Horse : Dudley Street
Park : Walsall Street/Oakeswell Road
Paul Pry : Moxley
Pheasant : Wood Green Road
Pig and Trumpet : Market Place
Plough and Harrow : Lower Dudley Street
Portway : Portway Road
Post Boy : Market Place
Potter's Arms : Potter's Lane
Prince of Wales : King Street
Prince of Wales : Walsall Road
Prince Regent : Victoria Street
Queen's Arms : Holyhead Road
Queen's Head : Bunswick Park Road
Queen's Head : Queen Street
Railway : Great Western Street
Railway : Holyhead Road
Railway : Portway Road
Red Lion : Bridge Street
Red Lion : Moxley Road
Red Swan : Darlaston Road
Rising Sun : Piercy Street
Rising Sun : Trouse Lane
Robin Hood : Portway Road
Rodway : Holyhead Road
Rolling Mill : Cross Street
Rose : Union Street
Rose and Crown : King's Hill
Rose and Crown : Walsall Street
Rose Hill Tavern : Church Hill
Royal Exchange : Chapel Street
Royal Exchange : Upper High Street
Royal Exchange : Leabrook
Royal George : Portway Road
Royal Oak : King Street
Royal Oak : Meeting Street
Royal Oak : Elwell Street
Samson And Lion : Meeting Street
Scott Arms : Darlaston Road
Scott Arms : Hill Street
Seven Stars : Cock Street
Shakespeare : Dudley Street
Ship : Bridge Street
Smiths' Arms : Cross Street
Smiths' Arms : Holyhead Road
Smuggler : Hill Top
Spotted Dog : Darlaston Road
Spotted Leopard : Portway Road
Spread Eagle : High Street
Spread Eagle : Portway Road
Staffordshire Knot : Crankhall Lane
Standeford Bar : Springhead
Star : Wood Green Road
Star and Garter : Wood Green
Station : Holyhead Road
Stockport Arms : Oakeswell
Stores : Holyhead Road
Struggler : Church Street, Moxley
Struggling Man : New Street, Hill Top
Swan : Bridge Street
Swan : Darlaston Road
Swan : Victoria Street
Talbot : Darlaston Road
Talbot : Market Place/Spring Head
Three Crowns : Camp Hill Lane
Three Crowns : Darlaston Road
Three Crowns : Holyhead Road
Three Furnaces : Dudley Street
Three Tuns : High Bullen
Three Tuns : Union Street
Town Hall : Russell Street
Travellers' Rest : The Mount
Turk's Head : Lower High Street
Two Furnaces : Darlaston Road
Union : Bridge Street
Village : Alma Street
Vine : Alma Street
Vine : Portway Road
Wadsworth : Lower High Street
Waggon and Horses : High Street
White Horse Hotel : Bridge Street
White Lion : Market Place
White Lion : King Street
White Swan : Bridge Street
William IV : Trouse Lane
Windmill : Coronation Road
Woden : Church Hill
Woodgreen Cottage : Wood Green Rd
Woodman : Dale Street
Woodman : King's Hill Field
Woodman : Walsall Street

Wednesbury

Wednesbury has lost most of its old pubs. In fact, the town itself has been lost. Gone are many of the historic buildings - mostly replaced by metal boxes. A panoramic view of modern Wednesbury is shocking. Light industrial units, retail warehouses, bingo halls and supermarkets in metal containers have sprung up where terracotta, stone and brick once flourished. And to think that the town was once based around a wooden fort and was later famed for its 'Wedgbury ware.'

One can normally blame the town planners of the 1960s for most urban vandalism but, although the destruction of ancient Wednesbury started in the swinging sixties, they just kept on going. For example, in March 1993 Sandwell Council produced a town trail leaflet entitled "Historic Wednesbury," a heritage guide I picked up from the town library. For one reason or another, I did not get around to walking the route until 2003 by which time a good number of the places of interest had gone! We undertook the walk and pub crawl with a friend who was born in the town and his sense of loss was so palpable we almost cried into our beer glasses.

There were only a few pubs that we could visit but, one glance at the list of taverns that once traded in the town tells the tale - Wednesbury is a ghost of its former self. Of course, the loss of heavy industry has played a key part in this decline. The old factories have gone, dual carriageways now occupy much of the landscape around the town and retail parks are where the money is spent these days. The economic multiplier effect is negligible as the companies who sell locally are big national or international brands. In other words, the cash goes elsewhere. No longer will the proprietors of a local factory help to pay for a civic building or a stained-glass window in the parish church. On the positive side, there is some interesting domestic architecture dotted around the town - the series of photographs devoted to doors is testament to this. But it seems such a shame that so much has been lost in terms of public buildings, industrial relics and even the churches. For example, St. John's Church, in the middle of town, was pulled down in 1985. But, before one gets too despondent, let's wind the clock back to look at some history of Wednesbury.

1872 Post Office Directory

Wednesbury is a market town, railway station, and parish in the Eastern division of the county, hundred of South Offlow, West Bromwich union Walsall county court district, rural deanery of Walsall, archdeaconry of Stafford, and diocese of Lichfield, 118 miles from London, 21 south-south-east from Stafford, 5 miles south-east from Wolverhampton, 8 south-south-west from Walsall, and 8 north-west from Birmingham. The South Staffordshire Railway has a station in Stafford Street, and the Great Western Railway has a station in Great Western Street. A branch of the Birmingham Canal passes in the vicinity.

By the "Representation of the People Act, 1867," Wednesbury, with Tipton, Darlaston, and West Bromwich, forms a borough, returning one member to Parliament.

Wednesbury is governed by a Board of Health, which holds its meetings every alternate Monday : the board consists of twelve members, elected triennially, four retiring annually, but are eligible for re-election. A court leet is held here annually in October. A School Board was established here in May, 1871, consisting of nine members, who meet every alternate Monday.

The parish church of St. Bartholomew is a Gothic structure, situate on the summit of a hill at the northern extremity of the town, occupying what was once the site of the heathen temple of Woden. It has nave, aisle, transept, and spire, and was repaired and enlarged by the erection of a north transept in 1827 : a handsome font was the gift of the late Rev. Isaac Clarkson : the organ was the gift of Benjamin Wright, Esq., of Birmingham, and cost £500 and additions were made to it in 1869, at a cost of £250 : there are monuments and effigies of the Dudley and Parkes families, also arms of the Harcourt family, and a beautiful bust monument to the memory of John Addison, Esq., who took an active part in the alteration, and with his father, contributed largely for the purpose; the stained window in the chancel was the gift of the father : there are also two monuments by Mr. P. Hollins, one in memory of Samuel Addison, Esq., and the other, surmounted by a life-size bust, to the memory of the Rev. Isaac Clarkson, vicar of Wednesbury nearly thirty-five years, and who was mainly instrumental in the restoration of this church, and the building of the other churches and schools in this parish. The register dates from the year 1561. The living is a vicarage, yearly value £310, in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, and held by the Rev. John Lyons, M.A., of Trinity College, Dublin.

St. John's Church, in the High Street, is a fine stone building, in the Early English style, with an elegant open timber roof, lancet-shaped windows, and open seats : it has accommodation for 1,000 persons, out of which there are upwards of 500 free sittings : it was erected at a cost of £4,500, and a further sum of £700 was given by the late John Addison, Esq., to complete the tower and spire : at the north entrance a handsome porch has been added, at a cost of £120 : in addition to the principal window in the chancel, executed by Messrs. Chance, this church has recently been enriched by the erection of eight stained-glass windows, as memorials, viz.: on the south side of the chancel, a window, presented by Mr. Edward Smith, "Our Lord Blessing the Children," by Messrs. Chance; another on the same side, the gift of R. Rayson Esq., subject, "The Baptism of Christ," by Messrs. Ward and Hughes; also, by the same firm, a window on the north side, given by Mr. Winter, subject, "Our Lord and Martha and Mary" at the end of the south aisle a trefoil light by Messrs. Chance, given by the teachers and children of the Sunday schools, subject, "Eli and Samuel;" a trefoil light, displaying "The Descending Dove," on a rich traceried ground of ruby and blue, the gift of the late rector the Rev. John Winter; also in the south aisle a memorial window, given by Mr. Joseph Hockley, subject, "The Offerings of the Magi" and "John the Baptist Directing two of his Disciples to Our Lord;" a memorial window from Mr. Hartland, organist of the church, subject, "Zacharias and Elizabeth" in the same aisle a memorial window, presented by Mr. R. Williams, subject, "Our Lord's Appearance to the Holy Women after His Resurrection," this window, like the foregoing, is by Ward and & Hughes; another window near the pulpit is the work of O'Connor, and is a graceful memorial from several members of the congregation to the late Bishop Lonsdale, the subject of one light is "Our Lord as the Good Shepherd," with the legend "Feed my Lambs," the other light represents a figure of St. John with his apostolic emblems, with the legend "God is Love." The register dates from the year 1846. The living is a rectory, yearly value £300, in the gift of Lady Emily Foley, and held by the Rev. Robert Baker Stoney, M.A., of Trinity College, Dublin.

There is a National school for boys, girls and infants, with residence for the teachers, erected in 1848, at a cost of £2,000.

St. James's Church is in the Holyhead Road : it cost £2,500 and is a neat stone edifice, with a square tower and four ornamental pinnacles, in the Early English style, the interior is light and neatly pewed : a beautiful chancel window with various devices, is the gift of John N. Bagnall, Esq. The register dates from the year 1845. The living is a rectory yearly value £300 in the gift of J. N. Bagnall, Esq., and held by the Rev. Richard Twigg, of Durham University. A parsonage house and school-rooms, capable of holding upwards of 500, have been provided by grants and subscriptions.

There are places of worship for Roman Catholics, Baptists, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Congregationalists, Methodist Free Church, and Christian Brethren, with schoolrooms attached, The Wesleyans have a large handsome school at Springhead, erected in 1847, at a cast of £700, which will accommodate 300 boys and 300 girls.

At the constitution of the Board of Health, in May, 1865, twelve acres of land, situate on the Walsall Road, about half a mile from the town, were purchased, at a price of £5,000, for a cemetery, which was consecrated in 1868 : the mortuary chapels are situated on each side of an enclosed entrance porch, above which rises a stone spire, furnished with a bell, and springing in an octagonal shape from a square base to the height of 56 feet : the roofs are formed of open wood work, stained, and the floors of ornamental tiles : the lodge is of corresponding style.

The Town Hall, which has been lately erected in the Holyhead Road, is a brick building in the Modern style, and is capable of containing 750 persons : the interior is lit by chandeliers from the ceiling; there is a gallery in a circular shape, besides a large orchestra, in which is placed a very handsome organ, presented by the borough member, Alex Brogden, Esq., M.P. at a cost of 1,200 guineas. The architects are Messrs. Loxton Brothers, of this town, and the builder, Mr. Daniel Moore, of Walsall.

The manufactures here are numerous and important, the principal being railway carriage axletrees, general ironwork for railways, and tubing for gas, water, and steam, upon an improved principle; spades, shovels, and edge tools, gunlocks and barrels, springs for coaches, hinges, and wrought-iron work of every description. In the vicinity there is an abundance of coal, iron ore, limestone, clays [both potter's and brick], and beds of peat in the Old Park Colliery. A superior species of coal is found here, which, from the intense heat it gives out, is admirably adapted for the smith's forge. The old coal pit fields bear remarkably good crops of corn, although the land has a very barren appearance.

The Mechanics' Institution in Russell Street, comprising a library and reading room, is well supported.

There is a Theatre and Public Hall, situated in Earls Lane, for public entertainments.

There is a Penny Savings Bank in connection with St. John's, originated in 1857, which is in a prosperous state. There are Male and Female Mutual Friendly Societies, and a Bible Society.

The charities are as follows : Hopkins', £203, Addison's, £64 5s. 1d., Watkins', £17 13s., Crowther's, £9 3s. 10d., Shelfield's, £6, Griffiths', £3 3s. 3d., Rollinson's, £2 19s. 3d., Tibbitts', £2 12s. 4d., Holden's, £2, Heaton's, 10s., and Addison's, for St. John's, £32 2s. 6d. yearly value.

The principal hotels are the Dartmouth and the Turk's Head.

The market is held on Friday, and is well supplied with provisions and vegetables. Fairs are held on May 6th and August 3rd, chiefly for pedlery; the wake commences on the Sunday between the 4th and 10th of September.

Wednesbury is a place of considerable antiquity. By the early English it was named Wodnesbury, after the god Woden, and is popularly called Wedgebury. Formerly a castle stood here, which was fortified in 916 by the gallant Princess Æthelflæd, daughter of Alfred the Great, at the Norman Accession it was held in royal demesne.

The area is 2,130 acres; gross estimated rental, £84,890 19s.; rateable value, £67,359 10s.

In 1831 the population was 8,437; in 1841, 11,025; in 1851, 14,281; in 1861, 21,968; and in 1871, was 25,031. Parish Clerk, Thomas Parkes, 175 Holyhead Road.

Photographs of Wednesbury

Wednesbury : Horse and Cart of the Batchelor family of Delves Green [c.1907]
© Image from author's photographic archive. DO NOT COPY

This photograph possibly shows members of the Batchelor family of Delves Green during the Edwardian period. In the late Victorian period James and Sarah Batchelor worked Brockhurst Farm,¹ a smallholding on land a short distance from today's Bescot Stadium. Sarah was born and had lived in the Maw Green area for much of her life. Her husband, however, hailed from Northamptonshire. In the Edwardian era widow Sarah Batchelor was living at Delves Green with her three children.² This is possibly her sons James and Arthur who both worked as farm labourers. That may be her young grandson in the cart. The young lad, born in 1902, was also named James.

Wednesbury : Steam Locomotive of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway at the Station [c.1947]
© Image from author's photographic archive. DO NOT COPY

This photograph shows Wednesbury Railway Station just after World War 2. The lettering on the locomotive shows it was part of the rolling stock of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. The number on the side is 6661. Rail enthusiast John Davenport told me that "this is what was called a 5' 6" Tank, a 2-4-2T classified 1P, from a class of 160 designed by F. W. Webb and built at Crewe between 1890 and 1897 for the London and North Western Railway. This railway was one of the constituent companies which became the LMS at the time of the Grouping on 1st January 1923, and this one must have received the LMS number 6661 at the same time. Some of these engines survived until Nationalisation in 1948 when the L.M.S. became British Railways [London Midland Region]. Most L.M.S. locos would have had the suffix '4' added to their number. None of this class survived into preservation, the last ones being scrapped about 1955. Some of these engines were fitted with equipment to enable push-pull operation. It is possible that 6661 was one of these, but I cannot be sure."

Wednesbury : Market Place and Clock Tower [c.1930]
© Image from author's photographic archive. DO NOT COPY

In this inter-war image, the impact of the motoring age is emerging in the Market Place. The centrepiece of the square is the clock tower, erected in 1911 to commemorate the Coronation of King George V. There had once been a market cross from the time that Wednesbury was granted a market charter by Queen Anne in 1709 to John Hoot, then lord of the manor. Originally, there was only one market day which was held on Fridays. A Saturday market was not established until the early 19th century.³ The row of buildings seen here on the south-east edge of the Market Place have largely survived into the 21st century. The sun canopy to the left was extended across the shop frontage of Foster Bros. at No.28. In more recent times the shop was occupied by a television dealership, a business established in 1986. The premises was unoccupied for a couple of years before The Nail Room was opened around 2017. The shop formed part of the large structure dedicated to banking. In this photograph it can be seen as a branch of the Midland Bank. The adjacent late 18th century building is Grade II listed. At the time of this photograph it was used by the Foresters' Institute. In more recent years the premises has been occupied by a discount beer, wine and spirits business. The building to the right was the George and Dragon Hotel, premises that have since been re-fronted or rebuilt.

Wednesbury : Munitions work at the Globe Tube Works [c.1915]
© Image from author's photographic archive. DO NOT COPY

The Globe Tube Works, a works founded in the late 1840s by Cornelius Whitehouse was located at Holloway Bank, on land between the River Tame and the Tame Valley Canal. Much of the site is occupied by the Red Mill Trading Estate in the 21st century. In this image it can be seen that the tube works was given over to munitions work during the First World War, the women in the factory engaged in the production of artillery shells.⁴

Contemporary Photographs

Wednesbury : Art Gallery [2003]
© Photo taken by author on October 20th, 2003. DO NOT COPY

Genealogy Connections

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Related Newspaper Articles

"You come to Wednesbury and get drunk and spoil this town's record for sobriety. Why don't you stop in Walsall where you belong instead of letting the Chief Constable crew about his town being sober?" The Clerk [Mr. E. E. Brown] made this comment at Wednesbury, yesterday, when Thomas Newman, aged 56, a labourer, a native of Walsall, was bound over for six months for being drunk and disorderly in Holyhead Road, Wednesbury, at 11.10 on Wednesday night."
"Tilt at Walsall "Sobriety"
Birmingham Daily Gazette : January 8th 1938 Page 9


References
1. 1891 England Census RG 12/2277 Folio 97 : Staffordshire > Wednesbury > District 17, Page 42.
2. 1911 Census Piece No.17343 : Staffordshire > Wednesbury > District 371, Enumeration District 15 Schedule 11.
3. "Market Rates And Tolls Inquiry At Wednesbury" : Wolverhampton Express and Star; March 11th, 1889, Page 4.
4. Wednesbury Town Council [1918] "Wednesbury As A Manufacturing And Commercial Centre and A Base For The Establishment Of New Industries" London : J. Burrow & Co. Ltd.


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