Some history on Cradley in the county of Worcestershire
This photograph of three children is one of the oldest images I have seen of Cradley. The little urchins look slightly undernourished and quite filthy. I realise that children all over the industrial areas of Britain led similar lives to these kids, but there is something about the photograph that reveals what conditions were like for those growing up in Cradley during the late 19th century. Many folks were poor and struggled to get by. Just look at the footwear they have on their feet. It looks as though they have been sent out on some errands or to collect some materials for the fire. The photograph may have been taken by the wall of the graveyard looking up towards Homer Hill House, possibly the building seen at the top of the hill. The occupier of the house in the late 19th century was Richard Turnley, a Romsley-born colliery clerk who was engaged at Homer Hill Colliery. He had previously worked at Withymoor, another mining area and from where his wife Elizabeth originated. The term 'clerk' is something of a misnomer for Richard Turnley was more of a manager and did rather well for himself.
"At a representative meeting of chainmakers at Cradley Heath on Friday it was stated that nearly all the leading employers had conceded
an advance, but there were still about 2,000 operatives out on strike owing to small employers refusing to concede the advance. It was reported that upwards of
£100 had been expended in providing relief for starving families, and it was announced nearly £50 had been received from newspaper proprietors at Liverpool.
It was resolved to continue the strike. During Sunday night the chain factory of Mr. Allen Beasley, Colley Gate, was broken into and ten pairs of bellows were destroyed.
During the same night Mrs. Male's factory, at Cradley, was broken into, and four pairs of bellows were rendered useless. The damage is estimated at about £30.
A meeting of the chainmakers on strike was held on Monday. Reference was made to the rattening which had taken place in the Cradley district, and regret was expressed
that any outrages should have been committed."
"The Strike in the Chain Trade"
Worcester Journal : May 21st 1887 Page 2
"P.C. Bricknell had a most sensational surprise yesterday [Friday] morning, at 5.30. He was passing the police station in Colley
Lane, when he noticed a man lying within the railings which are erected in front of the station. On closer inspection he found that the man's throat was cut and
blood flowing freely, but he was not unconscious. Bricknell immediately called up P.C. Nobes, and P.C. Ashford also arrived on the scene. Meantime Dr. Belbin was sent
for, the man was removed into the station and bathed, and when Dr. Belbin arrived he dressed the wound, which was about 14 inches long, following which the man was
removed to the Workhouse Infirmsry. It transpired that his name is Harry Willetts, aged 37, chain striker, of Little Hill, Cradley. He gave the police no
reason for the attempt on his life, or why the police station had been selected as the place for the purpose. The wound is not a serious one. A pocket knife covered
with blood was found on the ground near the man."
"Policeman's Startling Discovery"
County Express : July 2nd 1910 Page 8