Some history on Stourbridge in the county of Worcestershire


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Greetings from Stourbridge

Stourbridge Pubs

At the time of Domesday, Stourbridge was in the parish of 'Suineforde' [Oldswinford] and was owned by William Fitz Ansculf. Ansculf, who lived in Dudley Castle, was rewarded for his services by William the Conqueror with the gift of twenty-five manors in Staffordshire, fourteen in Worcestershire and five in Warwickshire. Named after a crossing over the River Stour, the market town of Stourbridge has, over the centuries, been an important trading centre of the region. From early Norman times up until the industrial revolution Stourbridge was primarily a market town for the agricultural and woollen trades of the surrounding countryside - the town was granted a market in 1482. However, the town subsequently played an important part in the growth of the Black Country during the early industrial age.

A bridge at the lower end of the High Street [the river has moved over the centuries] was certainly in existence during the 13th century because the name of Stourbridge occurred as Sturbrug and Sturebrige in a Worcestershire assize roll of 1255. The bridge almost certainly caused the majority of interactions [and subsequently population] to shift from the parish of Oldswinford [once much larger than Stourbridge] down towards the river. A large road was constructed to move traffic over the bridge and was called Digbeth [now called Lower High Street].

The cutting of the Stourbridge Canal in 1776 [completed in 1779] further enhanced the communications of the town and, apart from serving the local settlements of Amblecote, Amblecote and Brierley Hill, attracted new industries that helped to establish Stourbridge as an important centre of commerce. The main hub, albeit across the River Stour and in Amblecote, was at the end of the Stourbridge Canal Arm and, following restoration work to both canal and buildings, the Bonded Warehouse [dated 1849] acts as a reminder of the town's former importance.

Close to the basin is Bradley Road. Once called Bank Street in the early 19th century, the road was re-named in recognition of Bradley's ironworks and foundry that was located on both banks of the river. Although the works was first established in the late 18th century by John Bradley, it was his great-grandson, James Foster, who expanded the firm. Foster formed a partnership with another industrialist, John Urpeth Rastrick, to create the company that, in 1829, built two historic rail locomotives near the river. The restored 'Agenoria' is now on display in York's railway museum but it was the 'Stourbridge Lion' that made the headlines in 1827 when it earned the distinction of being the first steam locomotive to run on rails in the United States. It was purchased by the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company of Pennsylvania to haul coal and the remains of it were housed in the Hall of Transportation at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. The Stourbridge Lion's role in America's transportation history is such that a replica locomotive was built in 1932 and housed at Honesdale.

Unfortunately, a lot of old Stourbridge was lost to the racetrack-style ring road opened in 1969. Encircling the old town, many old buildings were swept away for the convenience of motorists. However, some architectural delights can be found around the town centre, some of which I have featured here in photographs.

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Stourbridge Photographs

Stourbridge : Market Hall and Town Clock [c.1928]

A photograph of Stourbridge Town Clock that stands in the centre of the road junction of High Street, Coventry Street and Market Street. This decorative time-piece was made of cast-iron in 1857 at John Bradley's Ironworks. Up until 1972 the clock had to be wound manually twice a week from a loft in Stourbridge Market Hall but nowadays it has an electric mechanism. The adjacent Market Hall has since gone but Nos. 4-6 Market Street formed part of the building which was erected in 1827. It is typical of the period when Greek and Roman architectural styles were prevalent in British town planning. This building includes Doric-type columns and stucco has been used to replicate Mediterranean stone and marble. The shop on the corner was occupied by F. Alcock who sold gramophone records. The Regent Cycle Shop can be seen next to Hilton's.

Oldswinford : Stourbridge Junction Railway Station [c.1910]

This view of Stourbridge Junction railway station was probably captured from the tower of Saint Mary's Church at Oldswinford. Chawn Hill can be seen beyond the station. The original station was opened in 1852 on the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway line. It was further to the north and only moved when the line was taken over by the Great Western Railway who opened the branch line into Stourbridge Town. The old station was just to the south of Junction Road. The access road to the station buildings is still in use as a route to the Stourbridge Maintenance Depot. The station seen here was opened on October 1st, 1901.


Stourbridge : Greenfield Gardens with Bandstand and Fountain [c.1908]

Captured in the mid-Edwardian period, this photograph shows the Greenfield Gardens in Stourbridge. The bandstand can be seen, the fountain is in full flow and the park has many visitors. A man with a straw boater is stood next to the railings - he may be acting as a warden. Sadly, the grounds, located in what is known today as the Old Quarter, do not look as attractive as they appear here. The small park and recreation area, originally designated as Greenfield Promenade Gardens, were formally opened on Monday July 6th, 1904, by Fanny Nash, wife of Isaac Nash, the chairman of the Urban District Council. The land for the gardens was acquired by the Urban District Council out of the profits of the gas works. Oh, those were the days when folks could see tangible benefits of utilities. The cost of creating the gardens was aided by public subscriptions. Designed by the surveyor F. Wood, the planting and horticultural work was carried out by Frederick Godfrey, of the seeds and nursery business with premises in the High Street. Erected by John Guest and Son of Brettell Lane, the bandstand was donated by Walter Jones.

Stourbridge : Fountain and visitors to Greenfield Gardens [c.1908]

A close-up view of the fountain within Greenfield Gardens. The water feature was purchased by the flint-glass manufacturer Joseph Silvers Williams-Thomas, resident of Parkfield. It was previously sited in the garden attached to the Metropolitan Bank House. The ornamental pool in which it stood was filled with goldfish, the gift of Captain Whitmore Garratt of Wassell Grove. Prior to the official opening there was a large procession from the Town Hall, headed by the Titan Works Prize Band. Manufactured by Messrs. Elkington and Co., of Birmingham, a silver gilt key was presented to Mrs. Nash with which she opened the gate and declared the grounds open to the public. The Edwardians loved formal ceremonies so they had another for the opening of the bandstand.

Stourbridge : Fountain and visitors to Greenfield Gardens [c.1908]

An inter-war photograph of the main entrance to Mary Stevens Park featuring the impressive gates. It is believed that the ancient Studley Gate, an entrance to the town from the south and marking the boundary between Bedcote and Oldswinford, stood near this site. In the late 18th century there was another gate erected somewhere near this spot where tolls were collected from those using the turnpike road. The park was formerly the grounds of Studley Court, formerly known as Heath House, with part of the land occupied by the Heath Glassworks. Studley Court, along with the grounds and lake was purchased by the holloware industrialist, Ernest Stevens, at an auction held at the Talbot Hotel in July 1929. He subsequently donated the grounds to Stourbridge Council for use as a public park and renamed in memory of his wife who had died in 1925. A very large crowd gathered for the opening of the gates by Ernest Stevens on Monday April 13th, 1931.

Stourbridge : Aerial Photograph [1930]

This aerial photograph of Stourbridge shows Lower High Street and the Grammar School. In the far distance is the remaining buildings once used by the North Worcestershire Breweries Limited in Duke Street. Beyond are a number of railway trucks on the railway line that ran beneath The Cliff and the old leather works. I have zoomed in on the right-hand side of the photograph below .....

Stourbridge : Aerial Photograph of Lower High Street [1930]

This photograph shows Lower High Street and, to the bottom-right, a section of Crown Lane leading to Enville Street. On the extreme right, on the corner of Coventry Street, is the landmark building of Nickolls & Perks, the wines and spirits firm established in 1797. The building is one of the oldest in the town centre and was once a public-house known as The Board. The premises of the Vine Inn next to the Grammar School feature in this photograph, though it closed as a public-house five years earlier.

Stourbridge : Aerial Photograph of Lower High Street with Giles Hill and Mill Street [1930]

Here one can see the bottom end of Lower High Street with the former Congregational Church towards the bottom left. The deep gulley is that of Giles Hill, a path that still exists, though it has been diverted since this photograph was taken in 1930. Here the path wound around the old Forward Works of Mark Palfrey and Co. Ltd., manufacturers of sheepskin rugs. Giles Hill continued past some housing and, after crossing Mill Street, pedestrians could continue over a footbridge across the railway line connecting Stourbridge Town railway station and the goods yard over the river in Amblecote. In the top-left corner of the photograph one can see the old leather, parchment and glue works of W. J. Turney & Co. The initials stand for William Jonadab Turney, brother of Sir John Turney of Nottingham, who came to Stourbridge in 1867, and took to the leather works of Joseph Pitman. As chairman of the Town Commissioners for many years, he would become an important benefactor to Stourbridge.

Stourbridge : Aerial Photograph of Lower High Street with Giles Hill and Mill Street [1930]

A key landmark in Stourbridge is the old Grammar School in Lower High Street. The site has been a place of learning since 1430 when the Haley Chantry was established and a priest called William Smith had the role of teacher. The school's charter however was not granted until 1552 by King Edward VI who ordained that 'there should be forever a Grammar School at Stourbridge.' Well, not quite, it is a college these days. The 'new' grammar school was erected on the site of the old chapel. The school's most famous pupil is the lexicographer, Samuel Johnson, who attended between 1725 and 1726. Only a year but Stourbridge has dined out on the story for nearly 300 years. The school was transformed into a Sixth Form College in 1976 and, subsequently, new sections were added. However, some of the buildings date from 1860-2 during a Gothic rebuild by Thomas Smith. The corbelled-out stair-turret is a particularly fine feature. To the rear there is a hall by Webb & Gray which opened in the early 1930s. The old hall, converted into a library, features a hammer-beam roof and a stained-glass window by William Pearce Ltd. This was unveiled in September 1908 by Viscount Cobham and dedicated to Dorothy Margueritte Gillam, Ernest Elijah Taylor, and James Walker Gillam, the latter two losing their lives at Blackpool on June 25th, 1907, in an heroic but unsuccessful attempt to rescue Miss Gillam, who was swept into the sea whilst photographing.

Stourbridge : Musical Instruments Shop of George W. Bates in Lower High Street [c.1905]

The Grammar School is also featured in this photograph that shows the buildings below. Central to the photograph is the musical instruments shop of George William Bates. Born in Darlaston in 1855, he was a professor of music so perhaps worked at the school in addition to the family running the retail premises at No.22 Lower High Street. He married Sophia Jenkins at Wednesbury in June 1880. She hailed from Stratford which was then in Essex. They previously lived at Mount Terrace in Oldswinford where George Bates, organist and choirmaster of St. Thomas's Church, offered lessons in pianoforte, organ, singing harmony, counterpoint and orchestration. He died in September 1906 but the business was continued with his name. The building still stands and in recent times it has housed an Indian restaurant. The shop to the left has been lost to redevelopment but here the old premises was occupied by the hairdresser George Bate and his wife Mary. The couple would later move across the road to 160 High Street. The large house in white stucco was acquired by the Grammar School and demolished to make way for an extension that included a staff room and offices on the first floor, beneath which were cloakrooms and storage space for bicycles. At the turn of the 20th century the house was the home of the surgeon and magistrate, Alfred Freer. Often described as the doyen of the medical profession of Stourbridge, he was a member of a family that could trace its association with the town back to 1547. He succeeded to the medical practice held by his father and grandfather, and continued it for over sixty-five years. He and his wife later moved to The Limes on Hagley Road where he died in June 1916 in his 88th year. His wife, Catharine, was one of the promoters of the Sunday School at Norton Barn, which she conducted for over 20 years. She was also the first secretary of the Stourbridge branch of the Primrose League.

Stourbridge : Lower High Street [c.1950]

This excellent photograph of the western side of Lower High Street features many of the buildings that have managed to survive into the 21st century. For an immediate handle on where things are today, the trees seen here is where the job centre is located. Around the time of this photograph the plot was occupied by Scotland House, the residence of the physician and surgeon Eric Rae Sinton, who served as the public vaccinator and medical officer for the Stourbridge area. Designed by Abbey Hanson Rowe, the job centre was built in 1993. The old Labour Exchange used to be located in St. John's Road. But, back to this photograph, the premises on the left, where there is a man carrying an overcoat, is No.160 where Stourcote Dental Practice have been located for many years in recent times. Kelly's trade directory published in 1940 shows that it was also a dental surgery and operated by Phineas Moses. He had moved the practice from premises further up the High Street. He would commute into Stourbridge from his home on Enville Road at Kinver. The premises of No.160 were also used by the masseuses Misses Pearce & Morrey. The next building, on the corner of Queen Street, has had a frontage considerably altered. On the opposite side of Queen Street, one can see the name of Cartwright painted on the side of the building. This was indeed the premises of Elizabeth and Sarah T. Cartwright, drapers and outfitters, who also had a retail unit in The Arcade. A familiar building to many will be the Church Hall. The gable of this structure has the date of 1907. Just beyond, a wall is painted white with "Stop Here For Teas" advertising the café of Ewart and Elsie Newton. Returning to the white building just beyond the trees ... this is No.170, the former glass and china warehouse operated by Joseph and Elizabeth Woolley. Around the time of this photograph it was occupied by Enterprise Art Co., antique dealers. I have returned to this building because it is the first shop featured in the next photograph ...

Stourbridge : Lower High Street looking towards Amblecote [c.1908]

Capturing a view of the bottom of the High Street in the mid-Edwardian period, the photographer is stood next to No.170 at a time when it was run by the Woolley family. Sadly, the neighbouring Old Pipe Inn is not visible. However, the lantern of the Saracen's Head can be seen a litle further down the High Street. In the distance, top right of the photograph, the tower of Holy Trinity Church at Amblecote can be seen. The buildings seen above the lady's hat would all be swept away. Some of the buildings in the far distance have survived but are across the River Stour and in Amblecote. The tall structure with the large entry and passageway was a corn mill that faced Stourbridge Forge.

Stourbridge : High Street Shops and Congregational Chapel [c.1908]

This mid-Edwardian photograph shows a coal delivery cart outside the Congregrational Chapel. It belonged to Lunt Bros. who were coal, coke and breeze merchants with premises in the High Street and the Canal Wharf. Hailing from Pelsall, Ernest Lunt lived out at The Laurels in Hagley so was perhaps doing pretty good trade with the coal business. He and his brother spent their formative years at the Railway Inn at Pelsall, a pub kept by his parents, Thomas and Sarah. During World War One the firm supplied a load of coal as a prize during the Patriotic Jumble Sale. The Congregational Chapel faced the Presbyterian Chapel on the opposite side of the High Street. These separate congregations were once united in the 17th and 18th centuries. Collectively known as Independents, they held services in a building erected in Coventry Street. Built towards the end of the 17th century the chapel stood roughly behind the shop known as Nickolls & Perks. Typical of the times, there was a barney and William Scott built the Presbyterian Chapel in the late 1780s. Those who remained at Coventry Street built this structure around 1810 which became a Congregational Chapel. To the left of the photograph the two 18th century houses that once belonged to the Bradley family can be seen. Both have been subtantially altered with Stourhurst having only the repaired façade. For some years the building was roofless. Thankfully, the frontage, with its distinctive Palladian or Venetian windows, can still be appreciated. A blue plaque has been fixed to the frontage of No.7, a house dating back to the 1770s. Built in a style known as Strawberry Hill Gothic [after Horace Walpole's house at Twickenham], was the house of the hop merchant Gabriel Bradley but later home to James Foster. The photograph above shows the shops that once stood between Stourhurst and the Congregational Chapel. At No.9 was the ironmongers Saunders & Bowkley, a business established in the mid-1840s.


stourbridge-grammar-school-hall.jpg FLOOD 1940 HIGH STREET Stourhurst : Chimney Construction Co. Ltd. chimney shaft builders and boiler setting engineers stourbridge-town-railway-station stourbridge-south-road stourbridge-stanley-road

Stourbridge : John Davis Confectioner at 49 High Street [c.1913]

A poor quality image because it is taken from a printed postcard. Still, it is a precious view of the shop belonging to the confectioner John Davis. These premises were at 49 High Street but John Davis Ltd. also had an outlet at 7 Market Street. Indeed, the latter was probably the original premises when it was known as Rye Market. The business was founded around 1840 by John Davis who, along with his wife Mariah, originated from Upton-on-Severn. The proprietor at the time of this photograph was his grandson, John Albert Davis. The firm made most of the products sold in the shops and also provided outdoor catering for events around the town.

Stourbridge : Church of Saint Thomas [c.1914]

The Church of Saint Thomas in Market Street was built between 1728 and 1736. An information board in front of the building states that the architect is unknown, though Andy Foster suggests it was William Westley. Apparently, the church was built because of "the inconvenience suffered by the inhabitants of the town in having to go a long distance to the parish church in Oldswinford by which Dissent was fostered." The clother, John Biggs, left £300 towards the construction project and the remainder of the costs were raised by public subscription. However, an ecclesiastical 'falling out' resulted in the church not being consecrated for 130 years!

Stourbridge : Interior of the Church of Saint Thomas [c.1914]

The information board in front of the church states that the interior of the Grade I listed building is "startlingly like that of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields at Trafalgar Square." However, the relief of the Holy Ghost, a centrepiece of the decoration, is stated to be an almost identical copy of one in Saint Peter's Church at Vere Street, London. I believe this was an addition by William Henry Bidlake in the late 19th century. The chancel of the church was not added until 1890 because, until this time, it was considered "Popish." Another legend has it that when the clock was added to the tower, only three sides had a clock face because one part of the town did not contribute to the subscription required to fund the timepiece. The tower itself was a later addition, possibly due to a lack of funding when the original building was erected. It was eventually completed in 1759. It certainly seems to be a church that has been at the centre of local politics and ecclesiastical squabbling.


Stourbridge : Scala Cinema [c.1922]

Not the clearest of photographs. It was sent to me by a friend, the scan measuring nearly 4000 pixels so it should be clearer. Never mind, the key thing is that it shows the Scala Cinema in its early days. Designed by the Birmingham architect Joseph Lawden and featuring a faience classical façade, the cinema opened in October 1920. Erected on the site of old malthouses, work on the building commenced in September 1919. The contractors were Messrs. A. H. Guest Ltd., of Amblecote. Plonking their bums on tip-up seats of Turkish blue, The Scala could seat 1,100 patrons in stalls and the circle. The screen was the modern "Regector" behind an electronically-controlled curtain. The cinema operators were the Stourbridge Picture House Co. Ltd. and the first manager was the experienced Harry R. Morris. He had previously run the Albion Picture Theatre at Handsworth and the Highgate Theatre in Birmingham. The orchestra was under the conductorship of Paul Rimmer, a prominent musician of Birmingham, Manchester and London. The opening programme featured "Edge O' Beyond," a 1919 screen adaptation of the novel by Gertrude Page. Isobel Elsom, one of the stars of the film appeared in person at the opening of the cinema, making it a sell-out as a large crowd gathered to see the actor often described as "The epitome of opulent, grande dame pomposity." Talkies were first screened at The Scala in May 1930 when a Western Electric sound system was used for "The Sky Hawk" to wow the Stourbridge audience. Ownership of the cinema changed a few times before it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas in September 1942. ABC promptly change the name of the venue to the Savoy Cinema. In later years it was simply known as the ABC, finally closing in 1982. The building has had a chequered history since, the building being used as a supermarket, gymnasium and a lap-dancing club.

Stourbridge : South Avenue [c.1927]

The gateway entrance on the extreme left of this photograph is the side or rear entrance to Lyndhurst, a property fronting South Road. The photographer was pointing the lens along South Avenue. Not all of the lime trees have been allowed to grow and were chopped down. However, a few mature trees remain. The houses look pretty much the same as seen in this view. The first house on the right is No.35, a house called Glenfern. During World War One the house was home to G. Johnson, Secretary of the Midland Mutual Benefit Society.

Stourbridge : Norton Road [c.1906]

Heading towards the River Severn and beyond, I have cycled along Norton Road many times. I wish the traffic conditions were the same as seen here. Looking at how the road is starting to go uphill on a shallow gradient suggests that the photographer was stood close reasonably close to the junction of Beech Road. The house on the left may be what became a nursing home named Avondale. Henry Sydney Grazebrook in his tome "Heraldry of Worcestershire" stated that the road was named after the innkeeper William Norton who "enclosed a corner of Stourbridge Common," the name being applied to the wider area of Norton.

Stourbridge : Male Voice Choir [c.1911]

A lovely group photograph of the Stourbridge Institute Male Voice Choir who caused a sensation in 1911 by successfully defending the Grundy Challenge Shield won in the previous year. No choir had won the blue ribbon event twice, never mind in successive years. The competition was held at the Blackpool Musical Festival in the Winter Gardens, and attracted choirs from across the UK. Further vindication that Stourbridge was the best in the country came with the mixed voice choir or Madrigal Society, formed in connection with the Institute, won second prize. Two other societies also appeared at the festival, the Stourbridge Ladies' Choir and the Stourbridge Orchestra, completing a quartet of musical organisations for which the town was highly praised. The conductor of the Stourbridge Institute Male Voice Choir was Harry Woodall, the son of Thomas Woodall, a cameo worked with an international reputation. The family lived in New Street at Wordsley where Harry Woodall received tuition from his musically-talented father and grandfather. At the age of 18 he entered Trinity College, London, where he took all the honours possible. At the end of his studies he was offered a junior professorship, but decided to return to Wordsley where he resuscitated the old Wordsley Choral Society. He married the musically-gifted Bernice Pearson, daughter of Dr. Alfred Pearson of Townsend House at Kingswinford. He would later become the organist at the Baptist Church at Hanbury Hill to the south of the town before his work with the Stourbridge Operatic Society.

Stourbridge : Market Street [c.1924]

This view of Market Street was captured in the mid-1920s. The buildings on the right-hand side of the street have pretty much remained in place, the main difference to the Town Hall being the loss of the lovely canopy structure that extended across the pavement. Charles F. Dancer was the curator of the building at this time. Indeed, he had been looking after the place since it had been built and remained in post until his death in 1929. Another key change is the old Bell Inn seen here in the distance, a structure demolished during 1931. I notice that the road sign pointing to Hagley indicates that the road was the A449 whereas, in the 21st century, this is the A491. The first shop on the right was, and had been, occupied by the jeweller James Moxon for many years. Hailing from Barnsley, in his earlier career he had worked in Sheffield as a silver teapot engraver. He and his wife Eleanor originally operated a shop at 40 High Street before moving to these premises. It was a lock-up shop, the couple living at a house named Lausanne in Heath Street. In their retirement, James and Eleanor Moxon moved to Southend-on-Sea. Returning to the photograph, the second shop on the right was a draper's business run by the ladies' outfitter, Ellen Ward. By the time of the Second World War she had moved the business to 86 High Street. The third shop was an emporium stocked with fags and sweets run by Alfred Webb.

Ambulance at Mary Stevens Park [c.1937]

Stourbridge's new ambulance was plonked in front of the gates of Mary Stevens Park for a publicity photograph. A newspaper article in the Birmingham Daily Gazette, dated January 18th, 1937, stated that "a motor ambulance drew up outside premises near the bus stop at Wollaston, Stourbridge, on Saturday night. The doors were thrown open, revealing a softly lighted interior, which, with olive green upholstery, chromium fittings and mahogany finish to the woodwork, conveyed an atmosphere of comfort and restfulness. "Who's hurt?" asked everyone, and a small crowd soon collected. Then appeared among them a young man with a collecting box. It was the clever idea of the Stourbridge Motor Ambulance Committee to arouse interest in the new motor ambulance which has been purchased at a cost of £433 towards which the sum of £200 is still required. During the day the ambulance visited all parts of the wide area served by the committee, where it was similarly demonstrated. Collectors also paraded the borough and outlying villages."

Stourbridge : Carnegie Library [c.1907]

The Scottish-born American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated £3,000 towards the construction of Stourbridge Library and Technical Institute, a classic example of the High Victorian style. The Free Jacobean-styled building, erected on the corner of Hagley Road and Church Street, was designed by Frederick Woodward, surveyor to the Urban District Council and built by John Guest and Co. Constructed with buff terracotta and best red facing bricks, the principal architectural feature is the main entrance, with terracotta columns supporting a figured panel featuring a symbolic group of figures representing art and literature. The foundation stone of the building was laid in February 1904 by Isaac Nash, a local industrial who played a leading part in the public life of Stourbridge. As the representative for the town on the Worcestershire County Council and Chairman of the Urban Council, he was instrumental in the provision of a free public library. With a further contribution from Andrew Carnegie, the building was extended along Hagley Street. A clock tower was proposed but removed from the plans due to the additional cost. However, Isaac Nash died during the construction project so it was felt appropriate that the tower be added as a memorial to him.

Stourbridge : Junction of Hagley Road and Church Street [c.1899]

This photograph shows the corner of Hagley Road and Church Street before the construction of the Library and Technical Institute. It is not, as stated on reproduction postcards, a view taken in 1904. These historic buildings were cleared by October 1903 in order for the construction of the library to commence. Although the foundation stone of the library was not laid until February 1904 much work on the cellars and basement of the building had been completed. I believe this photograph dates from the 1899 or 1900 as the newly-laid tram line can be seen. Cars stopped just out of shot by the County Court. At the fag end of the Victorian era the corner was dominated by the boot and shoe business of Edwin Roberts. The Birmingham-born shoe-maker, who lived here with his wife Emma, also served as keeper of the Country Court. It was his second marriage. He tied the knot with Emma Clara Cooper in 1880 at Peppard Church in Henley-on-Thames. The couple are possibly feature in this photograph on the threshold of the premises. By 1901 the couple had moved to Theatre Road, a long-lost thoroughfare on which the Rye Market shopping centre stands. Edwin Roberts continued his shoe and boot-making business here whilst Emma had been appointed as caretaker of the School of Art that also stood in Theatre Road. Edwin Roberts died in 1901. Emma re-married four years later. Note the small horse trough next to the road. The lantern seen further up Church Street hung outside a beer house known as the Railway Inn. The tavern survived the major redevelopment scheme but did close in 1923. The building no longer stands in Church Street.

Stourbridge : High Street [c.1970]

This is a photograph of the High Street that will be in the living memory of many Stourbridge folk. One of the obvious changes is the traffic direction - all of the vehicles are pointing in the opposite direction than the traffic flow, if you can call it that, in the 21st century. Personally, I think the town would benefit from pedestrianisation of the High Street. On the right is a record shop. If memory serves this was an extension of the premises next door, occupied for generations by Mark & Moody's. This was well-loved emporium of Stourbridge but closed in August 1993. The upper part of the building used to feature lovely brickwork with gables, and had three bays to match the arcaded shop front on the ground floor. Uttoxeter-born Thomas Mellard moved to Stourbridge around 1840. The 1841 census recorded him and his wife Sarah as booksellers. In the census conducted ten years later Thomas Mellard was documented as a bookseller, printer and bookbinder, employing nine people. It is said that on the premises each day there would be a reading of The Times for the inhabitants of the town. Thomas Mellard died in November 1861 when the business was acquired by Thomas Mark, a son of Cumberland but in partnership with the Kidderminster printer and bookseller, Thomas Pennell. Thomas Mark developed the business and moved it to purpose-built premises in this location. The building was designed by Thomas Smith, a local architect. George Moody, along with his family, would later occupy the premises. He had joined the firm as an apprentice but was running the High Street outlet whilst Thomas Mark developed other business interests. He was almost head-hunted by Turney and Co., of Mill Street. Not wanting to lose such a valuable asset to the business, Thomas Mark made him a partner. In 1890 Mark & Moody acquired the County Express newspaper. George Moody became the proprietor following the death of his partner in 1896. His son, Arthur, succeeded him in the business and also served as Mayor of Stourbridge. I believe that the ground floor arcade was part of a refurbishment of the premises in 1936. Featuring polished granite columns, the new-look frontage was designed by Messrs. Webb and Gray, the Dudley-based architectural practice.

Stourbridge : Norton Covert with Boys Playing Leap-Frog [c.1904]

A lovely Edwardian photograph of boys playing leap-frog in Norton Covert. I know the path well as I enjoy walking through this area that once featured a gravel pit, providing building sand and aggregate for the Victorians and a little before. The northern end, close to the burial ground, was the earliest section of the area to be excavated. The operation continued in a southerly direction and, consequently, the trees helped with gradual regeneration of the area. The land to the right of this photograph falls away sharply into the former quarry. The pathway, following a route along the original level, is lined with large oak, beech and Scots pine. Elsewhere in the covert there are a variety of tree species, including birch, sycamore, ash, wych-elm and holly, all of which support a variety of wildlife habitats.

Stourbridge : Hagley Road from the junction of Union Street [c.1911]

This view taken around 1911 shows Hagley Road from the junction of Union Street. Many of the buildings in the foreground have survived into the 21st century. On the extreme right the first two properties are part of a row named Catherwell Terrace. On the left the building on the junction has been rebuilt but the next property was once the Fountain Inn. In more recent years it has been known as Knighton House and forms the offices to chartered accountants.

Stourbridge : Hyatt's Botanical Brewery at Norton [c.1905]

Another image from my Norton collection is this very interesting photograph of Joseph Hyatt's Botanical Brewery. I know very little of this enterprise and I am not even sure what a botanical brewery offered in terms of a USP. The lettering on the side seems to advertise "Sparkling Hop Ale." Headed by Joseph Hyatt, the business was located on the Norton Road. This images dates from around 1905.

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Contemporary Photographs of Stourbridge

Sadly, but inevitably, I do not own old photographs of all the interesting buildings in Stourbridge so I will have to use some images taken by myself to form a small gallery ....

Stourbridge : 170 Lower High Street [2023]

No.170 High Street was once the glass and china warehouse operated by Joseph and Elizabeth Woolley. An advertisement for the shop is shown on this page and dated 1917. James Woolley had did by this time, his passing was in the summer of 1901. He had been trading here since the mid-Victorian era. Indeed, he grew up to the rear of these premises in Queen Street from where his father, William, worked as a glasscutter. At the time of the 1913 advertisement the shop was being run by his widowed daughter, Susan Mary Hayes. She continued the business until her death in 1931. The price of being caught for shoplifting here could be severe in the 19th century. Arthur Rivers, a glassmaker, was caught stuffing a toilet bottle in his coat pocket by Mrs. Woolley. She called Constable Bird and as he apprehended him the thief fell to his knees and begged forgiveness. It turned out that he had only just been released from prison that day, having served 21 days for stealing a pork pie. The Bench remarked that it was a very bad case, and they dished out the maximum term for this type of offence. Arthur Rivers had to do six months' hard labour. On April 1st, 1881, Joseph Woolley managed to upset a local solictor named George Prescott to the extent that the legal expert assaulted him. The solicitor found himself standing in an unfamiliar position within a courtroom as the china salesman took the matter to the police. George Prescott was found guilty and fined. In the photograph above note the small opening to the left of the building. The wall to the left is part of the Job Centre, erected on a site that was once occupied by Scotland House, the domain of Brussels-born Elizabeth Walker in the late 19th century, a milliner and dressmaker. The house had formerly been the home of Robert Wellbeloved Scott, a barrister and Member of Parliament for Walsall in the 1840s. Between Scotland House and the china warehouse run by the Woolley family was a passage name Wheeler's Hill. An old blue street sign for the thoroughfare connecting the High Street with Queen Street remains on the side of Woolley's premises. The name almost certainly commemorates Thomas Wheeler who owned parcels of land here.


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Stourbridge Doors

Stourbridge : Door of The Old Bank [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of Torquay Villa at 2 Mount Road [2023]

Stourbridge : Door of the Church Hall in Market Street [2023]

Stourbridge : Door of the Post-Office on High Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of Blockley Brook House at 138 Worcester Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of No.58 Worcester Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of 81 Hagley Road [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of 177 Lower High Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of 42 New Road [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of 7 Lower High Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of the Old Library on Hagley Road [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of 63 Market Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of the County Court on Hagley Road [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of Northfield House at 176 Lower High Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of Lloyd's Bank on High Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of No.22 Parkfield Road [2023]

Stourbridge : Door of Grosvenor House at 73 Market Street [2023]

Stourbridge : Door of No.1 Worcester Street [2001]

Stourbridge : Door of Stourhurst in Lower High Street [2023]

Stourbridge : Door of the Unitarian Church in Lower High Street [2023]

Stourbridge : Door of 138 Worcester Street [2001]

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Stourbridge : Notice of an auction for a dwelling and malthouse in High Street [1830]

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the Hairdresser and Wig Maker George Harry Bate [1912]

George and Mary Bate had previously operated a salon across the other side of the High Street, or Lower High Street as it would become known, before relocating in premises facing the Grammar School. The son of a corn merchant, George Harry Bate was born in Brockmoor. He married Mary Hewitt at Wroxton in 1890. She hailed from Barton in Warwickshire.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the Chair Maker ane Wood Turner Thomas Mills of Enville Street [1856]

There must have been plenty of Stourbridge folk who plonked their bums down on a chair made by Thomas Mills. In the census of 1851 he was recorded at Lower Lane, along with his wife Rosannah and two teenage children. The family had earlier lived at Court House Lane, a thoroughfare that linked the High Street with the New Road.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for Samuel Fiddian of the Longcroft Buildings [1912]

Son of the Lye saddler, William Fiddian, Samuel Fiddian enjoyed a successful career as an ironmonger in Stourbridge. He and his wife Edith were able to buy a large residence on Red Hill. The elderly couple were still living there at the start of World War 2. In addition to the goods shown above, Samuel Fiddian was also a sole agent for Humber Cycles so many a two-wheeled adventurer may have acquired their bike from this emporium.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for Francis Heming, Printer and Stationer of the High Street [1855]

Francis Heming continued the above business operated by his father. He would later form a partnership with his brother Joseph. They were based at 141 High Street. Their partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on March 25th, 1865, when it was carried on by Joseph Heming. Francis moved to Hagley Road where he continued as a printer next to the Fountain Inn.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the Gigmill Works of Pratt Bros. in Cherry Street [1912]

I could have done with the services of Pratt Bros. a century later when I needed a gate. The engineering works was on the south side of Cherry Street, about midway along the cul-de-sac, where Cherry Grove is located today. Owners of land in the locality, the Pratt family operated Gigmill Forge in the late 18th century. The main products manufactured in those times were spades and shovels. In later years the firm were specialists in manufacturing guillotines. Arthur Pratt lived further out at Sugar Loaf Lane. He and his brother Brooke were sons of the leather dresser Mark Pratt.

Stourbridge : Letterhead of William J. Turney & Co. Ltd.

The artist has made the premises of William J. Turney & Co. look straight and built on a grid-like system whereas it was nothing of the sort. The leather works, formerly operated by Joseph Pitman, curled around the line of Mill Street. William Jonadab Turney, brother of Sir John Turney of Nottingham, took over the leather works and, as chairman of the Town Commissioners for many years, become an important benefactor to Stourbridge.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for William Warrilow, Bootmaker of 39-40 High Street [1912]

Occupying premises next to the Old Bank, a branch of the London City and Midland Bank, William Henry Warrilow supplied residents of Stourbridge with his boots and shoes for decades. He did pretty well in business and lived with his wife Florence in a house on Norton Road facing Heath Pool. Born at Stone in 1857, he was the son of a master bootmaker where he learned all the skills of the trade from his father Robert Warrilow.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for Habberley and Mills in Enville Street [1855]

The above advertisement appeared in a trade directory published in 1855. However, the publication was seemingly out-of-date in this particular example as the works and land was sold at auction in July 1855. The land, containing 1,714 square yards of land formed part of Washingpool Meadow and located close to Mamble Square. The name indicates a pool which is thought to have been created by damming of the stream that flowed from Heath Pool and Gigmill, under Enville Street, and flowing into the River Stour near Bradley's Iron Works.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the Midland Drug Stores Limited of 75 High Street [1912]

Although this advertisement is dated 1912, George Starr Simpkins had been trading in the High Street since the late 1880s, a period when the shop was managed by Thomas F. Bland. Hailing from Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire, George Simpkins was the managing director of the company. He had worked under his uncle who operated a drug store on the High Street at Minchinhampton. He married Annie Augusta Hollis in 1887. She hailed from Tilbrook in Bedfordshire. The couple settled in Stourbridge where George Simpkins lived until his death in 1922.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for John Davis of 49 High Street [1912]

A photograph of the shop operated by John Davis shows it at No.49 High Street. Like the photograph, the proprietor at the time of this advertisement was his grandson, John Albert Davis. The firm supplied customers across the area in addition to its retails outlet in the town centre.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for Thomas Mellard of 68 High Street [1855]

This 1855 advertisement features an illustration of the shop premises operated by Uttoxeter-born Thomas Mellard after he moved to Stourbridge around 1840. It was from these premises that there would be a daily reading of The Times to the people of Stourbridge. Thomas Mellard died in November 1861, the business being acquired by Thomas Mark. He had new purpose-built premises built and, after taking on the partner, George Moody, the new shop would become a much-revered element of the High Street.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for Jones & Attwood of Enville Street [1883]

Stourbridge : Advertisement for James Woolley's Glass and China Warehouse at 170 High Street [1917]

The premises of James Woolley still stands in what is now Lower High Street. Note that the advertisement states that there was an "old established enterprise registry for servants." Most towns had one such office, some had several. They catered for an increased demand for servants by the growing middle class segment of society. Such a registry specialised in finding and matching up people, mainly women, with households requiring domestic servants. It was usually the woman of the middle class household that would submit their requirements, type of work, with remuneration and accommodation. The Woolley establishment would interview those seeking employment and would receive a fee for matching up suitable applicants with households.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the tailor and woollen draper Isaac Stevens at 185 High Street [1855]

185 High Street was down the bottom end near Bank Street, a short thoroughfare leading to Park House, a building probably was used to house the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Banking Company, spearheaded by James Foster of Stourton Castle, the industrialist being dissatisfied with his affairs at the Hills, Bate and Robins. Founded in 1834, the bank, managed by the Yorkshireman John Amery, was later moved to the High Street. It remained as the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Banking Co. until 1880, when it was amalgamated with the Birmingham Banking Co., and other absorptions took place, until finally it became a branch of the Metropolitan Bank. Born at Chaddesley Corbett in 1825, Isaac Stevens served an apprenticeship under the tailor and woollen draper, Paul Mathews, possibly at this address, though by the early 1850s No.185 was occupied by Francis Perks. His name can be seen in the advertisement above. At that time Isaac Stevens was developing his skills at Birmingham. When he returned to Stourbridge he seemingly did exceedingly well. He employed eight people and accumulated considerable wealth by the time of his death in June 1880. In later years the premises were occupied by the tailor Harry Bates.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the grocery and provision stores of William Warr in Clifton Street [1912]

William and Maud Warr operated the Longlands Corn, Grocery and Provision Stores in Clifton Street throughout the Edwardian period. This advertisement appeared in mid-1912 but, unfortunately, the business failed later in the year. At his public examination for bankruptcy William Warr stated that his takings dropped significantly when the local authority stopped householders keeping pigs. He had enjoyed good trade with sales of pig meal supplied by his brother. He had started in business in October 1896 and for some years his profits were healthy. He had always done better trade in the corn and meal trade than he did in groceries.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the tailor and outfitter James Purchase of 138 High Street [1912]

Born in October 1850 at Crewkerne in Somerset, James Chamberlain Purchase was another incomer tailor to prosper in Stourbridge. His father was a solictor's clerk and accountant but James Purchase served an apprenticeship in the cloth trade. He moved north to Stourbridge and married Eliza Collins in March 1876. Hailing from Cornwall, the farmer's daughter was living in Mount Street at that time. The couple were living at Rosslyn on Worcester Street when she died in February 1915. James Purchase later moved to Lansdowne in Victoria Street. He died in March 1925.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the plasterer Charles Mills of Enville Street [1855] [1912]

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the Central Garage of Alfred Weaver [1912]

The Central Garage at Stourbridge was the domain of the local motoring pioneer Alfred Stanley Weaver. The son of a corn dealer and grocer, he was born at Brierley Hill in November 1879. Living with his widowed mother and siblings on Hagley Road, he worked as a gas engineer at the end of the Victorian era. He married Mary Nicholson in January 1906. The couple initially lived on the premises at the top end of the High Street close to the Horse and Groom public-house. They later moved to Foley Road at Pedmore.

Stourbridge : Advertisement for George and Mary Bate at 160 High Street [1917]

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the Stour Motor & Cycle Depot at 64 High Street [1912]

Stourbridge : Advertisement for Edward John Wise of the Portobello Iron Foundry [1855]

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the upholsterer B. Lees of Hagley Street [1855]

Stourbridge : Advertisement for Edward J. Davis of 65 High Street [1912]

Stourbridge : Advertisement for the printer and bookseller William Hutchings of 151 High Street [1912]

Related Newspaper Articles

"On Friday morning an accident occurred at the corner of the Rye Market, Stourbridge, to a young man named Thomas Saunders, who, with several of his fellow workmen, had been drinking during the early hours of the morning. The party subsequently began "larking" in the street, when Saunders came in contact with the wheel of a water cart, which knocked him down, the wheel passing over his ankle and instep, snapping some of the small bones, and causing the poor fellow excruciating pain."
Worcestershire Chronicle : August 4th 1847 Page 5

"Ann Callaghan, a young woman about 17 years-old, was charged with robbing Francis Richards, of Stourbridge, of upwards of £5. On Wednesday the prisoner went into prosecutor's shop, and asked to look at some combs. Richards took the advantage of her visit to contract an imprudent intimacy with her, the result of which was that on her leaving the house he missed the above from his pocket. He gave information to the police, and P.C. Turner apprehended the prisoner. On Mrs. Turner proceeding to search her, she struck Mrs. Turner, when her husband went Mrs. Turner's assistance, and on shaking the prisoner, £4. 18s. 2d. fell from her bosom, in addition to 2s. which had been found upon her before. She was committed to the sessions."
"A Fool And His Money"
Worcestershire Chronicle : January 25th 1854 Page 2

"Charles Morton, a coal seller, of Stourbridge, was charged by his wife, Ann Morton, with cruelly assaulting her on the 31st ult., and produced a quantity of her hair which he had torn from her head. The defendant said she began assaulting him, and took his drink from him while in a public-house. One month's hard labour."
Brierley Hill Advertiser : April 5th 1856 Page 2

"Samuel Timmins was charged with assaulting Thomas Hill, on the 18th inst. Defendant pleaded guilty. Complainant stated that on the evening in question he met the defendant in Birmingham Street, and without giving him any provocation he gave defendant several blows on the face. Fined 2s 6d and costs; or in default seven days' imprisonment."
"Assaulting A Man"
County Express : January 23rd 1875 Page 8

"At the Police Court on Monday, before Colonel Fletcher and Mr. R. L. Freer, William Wadham, hawker, of Lincoln, and Jane, his wife, were charged with violent assault on Police-Constable Dunn. Between twelve and one on Sunday morning Dunn found the female prisoner making a great noise High Street, and remonstrance being of no avail, he took hold of her to remove her to the station. The man lost no time in attacking Dunn, and the latter though no match for Wadham, who is a very powerful fellow, seized him and held him resolutely. They went down in the mud and rolled over and over, the woman helping her liege lord the best in her power by kicking Dunn. His cape and muffler were torn off, and he would have had the worst of it but for the arrival of some men who assisted him in removing the hawker to the police station. Mrs. Wadham followed the fortunes of her husband, and Dunn no sooner found her in the yard of the police station than he closed the outer door. On discovering the trap in which she was, she began hurling pieces of stone at Dunn, who had to summon assistance. George Jones subsequently went to search the male prisoner, who thereupon struck him the face. The prisoners were each committed for two months, without the option of a fine."
"Assaulting A Policeman"
Worcestershire Chronicle : February 20th 1875 Page 7

"Charles Commander, maltster, was charged with being drunk and disorderly in Coventry Street, Stourbridge, on the 4th inst. Police Constable Jewson gave evidence, and a fine of 5s. and costs was imposed. John Hart, miner, Quarry Bank, was fined 5s and costs, on Police Sergeant Payne's evidence, for being drunk and disorderly on the 6th inst., at Pedmore. Robert Butler, gardener, Oldswinford, on Police Constable Paynter's evidence was fined 5s and costs for a similar offence. Walter Walker, cabman, Stourbridge, drunk in charge of a horse and cab after midnight on the 29th ult., was fined 1s and costs, as he had been already fined at Brierley Hill in the same case. The offence was proved by Police Sergeant Jones, who found defendant in Kidderminster Street. Benjamin Davenport, carter, Belbroughton, who admitted that he felt the effects of drink while in the highway on the 5th inst., was charged with drunkenness, as while he was intoxicated he unfortunately went to the police station for sales and weights. Colonel Fletcher remarked that it was not quite so singular as the man who rang the bell at a magistrate's door and asked, "Be I drunk?" [Laughter.] As it was defendant's first offence he would be fined 1s. and costs. Thomas Stanton, labourer, Stourbridge, was fined 20s. and costs on Police Constable Eve's evidence, for being drunk and disorderly near the Clock. He had been up several times before."
County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire : July 12th 1879 Page 5

"A shocking accident occurred last Monday to James Careless, steam-roller driver for the Stourbridge Commissioners. He had been at work some Stourbridge with the roller, and after he started homewards he stumbled and fell from the fireplate into the road. He tried to get clear of the roller, but it crushed against his side, inflicting a terrible injury. The poor fellow did not long survive."
"Fatal Steamroller Accident"
Worcestershire Chronicle : April 14th 1888 Page 2


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