Stourbridge: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 52°27′27″N 2°08′52″W / 52.4575°N 2.1479°W / 52.4575; -2.1479

Stourbridge is located in West Midlands

 Stourbridge shown within the West Midlands
Population 55,480 (2001)
OS grid reference SO899844
Metropolitan borough Dudley
Metropolitan county West Midlands
Region West Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district DY7, DY8, DY9
Dialling code 01384, 01562
Police West Midlands
Fire West Midlands
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament Stourbridge
List of places: UK • England • West Midlands

Stourbridge (pronounced /ˈstaʊərbrɪdʒ/) is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, in the West Midlands of England. Historically part of Worcestershire, Stourbridge was a centre of glass making, and today includes the suburbs of Amblecote, Lye, Norton, Oldswinford, Pedmore, Wollaston and Wollescote.

The population, as recorded in the United Kingdom Census 2001, was 55,480.[1] Much of the population is now made up of commuters to Birmingham and the Black Country. Stourbridge is included in the Stourbridge parliamentary constituency, currently held by Lynda Waltho of the Labour Party.

The apse and north chancel screen at St Thomas' Church were added by W. H. William Bidlake.[2]


Geography and administration

Stourbridge is a part of the West Midlands metropolitan county and conurbation, in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley. Stourbridge is located about 13 miles west of Birmingham, at the edge of the industrial Midlands, located between Kidderminster and Dudley.

Much of the town consists of suburban streets, interspersed with green spaces. Stourbridge borders on green belt land, and is close to unspoiled countryside with rural Shropshire close by to the west. The Clent Hills, Kinver Edge and large areas of farmland lie to the south and west. It has been said that you could go west from Stourbridge and not encounter another built-up area until past the border with Wales.

The town and surrounding area is at the south western extremity of the Black Country and the majority of the working-class population retain the region's accent and dialect, although there is a larger middle-class population than nearby towns such as Dudley or Halesowen.


Closest cities, towns and villages

Civic history

For centuries, Stourbridge was in the ancient parish of Oldswinford, Worcestershire and was known as Bedcote. Since 1974, it has been part of the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley.

Stourbridge takes its name from the River Stour, which flows through the town and for centuries formed the border between Worcestershire and Staffordshire. But the border was moved a couple of miles north in 1966, when Amblecote Urban District (previously in Staffordshire) was incorporated into the Borough of Stourbridge. This arrangement lasted eight years until the ascent of the Local Government Act 1972 in 1974, when Stourbridge was amalgamated into the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley and became part of the wider West Midlands county.

There have been numerous[citation needed] campaigns to re-instate Stourbridge into the ceremonial county of Worcestershire (or the previous Hereford and Worcester) since 1974.[citation needed]

Stourbridge Glass

The town gives its name to local glass production, which has been manufactured since the early 1600s. However, most of the glass industry was actually located in surrounding areas including Wordsley, Amblecote and Oldswinford. The rich natural resources of coal and fireclay for lining furnaces made it the perfect location for the industry. Glass manufacture peaked in the 19th century, encouraged by the availability of canal transportation, which enabled the importing of large amounts of fine sand from Ireland and, by 1861, all eleven glass factories in Stourbridge were located alongside a canal.[3]

The 1861 census identified that 1,032 residents of Stourbridge were involved in the glass trade in some way. Of these, 541 were glass workers - an increase from 409 in 1851, believed to be partly caused by the collapse of the glass industry in nearby Dudley in the 1850s.[4] The vast majority of those involved in the glass trade came from Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire. 9% came from other parts of England and 0.2% had come from abroad. Of particular note are glass cutters, as 8.1% had come from Ireland, believed to be as a result of the decline of the Irish glasscutting industry in the first half of the 1800s. The houses inhabited by glassworkers were of a much better quality in comparison to the slums in which the nailmakers of Lye and Wollescote lived. However, only a few glassworkers owned their own houses.[3]

Stourbridge glass is recognised as amongst the finest in the world has been used countless times as gifts for royalty and visiting dignitaries. However, in recent years, the industry has been destroyed by the effects of globalisation, with the glassmaking companies moving abroad.

The Red House Cone, thought to be the only complete remaining glass cone of its kind, stands on the Stourbridge Canal at Wordsley. It is the site of the Red House Glass Museum and there are regular demonstrations of blowing glass in the traditional way, and a collection of Stourbridge glass can be seen at Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford.


Stourbridge has a railway station called Stourbridge Junction on the Birmingham to Kidderminster line, with a frequent and efficient train service and the town is also served by the shortest railway branch line in Europe, the Stourbridge Town Branch Line, with a shuttle service from Stourbridge Junction on the Birmingham - Kidderminster line to Stourbridge Town railway station in the town centre.

There is also a complex network of bus routes, both interurban and local.

Stourbridge lies on the River Stour and is linked to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and the Dudley No. 1 Canal by the Stourbridge Canal. This places the town on the Stourport Ring, a popular route with holidaymakers and is navigable by narrowboat.

The town is served by National Route 54 of the National Cycle Network, although a profusion of barriers make it unattractive to cycle.

Transport History

Stourbridge Junction is on the former Oxford-Worcester-Wolverhampton Line. Just to the north of the station is Stambermill Viaduct over the River Stour and the A491 road. The railway towards Dudley closed to passengers in 1962 and is now used solely as a freight line.

The railway formerly continued to an interchange basin with the Stourbridge Canal. The old Stourbridge Town station, when demolished, was recovered and materials used for buildings at Tyseley Locomotive Works. Until recently, on Sundays, as part of a pilot scheme, a gas-powered Parry People Mover operated on the line. This ceased but it was thought it may restart when the UK rail franchise for the local train operating company Central Trains expired and was rebid. There was a coach service in operation between Stourbridge Junction and the town, in place of the train service but the train service has now resumed.

The famous Stourbridge Lion locomotive, was built in Stourbridge at the foundry of Foster, Rastrick and Co. in 1828. The shell of the building still stands and is easily accessible, though potentially hazardous as with any derelict building. It arrived in New York on 13 May 1829, becoming the first steam locomotive to run on a commercial line in the United States. The locomotive is quite famous in the USA, although few people in Stourbridge have heard of it. It is currently on display at the B&O Railroad Museum Baltimore, Maryland, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.. A clock has recently been unveiled in the town to celebrate the engine.


Stourbridge is home to two colleges - the prestigious King Edward VI College founded in 1552 (becoming a sixth form college in 1976) and Stourbridge College of Further Education. Both of these colleges attract students from a wide area.

In addition, there is a sixth form for both genders at Old Swinford Hospital school, founded in 1667 by Thomas Foley.

Stourbridge has several secondary schools including Redhill School, Old Swinford Hospital, Pedmore Technology College (previously known as The Grange School) and Ridgewood High School as well as Elmfield Rudolf Steiner School (includes: kindergarten, plus classes 1 to 11).

GCSE results achieved by pupils in Stourbridge are consistently among the best in the Dudley borough. Oldswinford Hospital School is traditionally the highest performing school in the area with the comprehensive schools generally never far behind.

Stourbridge, barring Kingswinford, is the only town in the Dudley borough to have stuck with the traditional 5-7 infant, 7-11 junior and 11-16/18 secondary schools. Dudley, Sedgley, Coseley and Brierley Hill operated 5-8 first, 8-12 middle and 12-16/18 secondary schools from 1972 to 1990. Stourbridge councillors were considering adopting a similar system, but decided against it. Halesowen, meanwhile, followed the model of schools in neighbouring Worcestershire communities such as Redditch and Wyre Forest by adopting 5-9 first, 9-13 middle and 13-16/18 secondary schools in 1972, only to revert to the traditional age ranges in 1982. [1]


Stourbridge's shopping centre lies on or near the high street. Here can be found branches of many banks and building societies as well as big retailers such as Wilkinson, Somerfield, Ethel Austin, and Specsavers. There is also a Weatherspoons pub and a number of food outlets and cafes. Off the High Street is the Ryemarket shopping centre which houses a number of shops including a Waitrose and WH Smith [5].



Stourbridge Football Club and Stourbridge Cricket Club both share the War Memorial Athletic Ground in Amblecote, and Stourbridge Rugby Club play at Stourton Park in nearby Stourton and Redhill Volleyball Club play at Redhill School.


During the 1980s and the early 1990s, four Stourbridge bands, Diamond Head; The Wonder Stuff; Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned's Atomic Dustbin, all enjoyed chart success. Other notable musicians include Clint Mansell and the 80's Doom Metal band Witchfinder General.


From the 1860s until the late 1960s, the area was covered by the County Express newspaper. Archives are now on microfilm in Stourbridge Library. Today, Stourbridge is covered by the Stourbridge News, the Express & Star and to a lesser extent the Stourbridge Chronicle.

The Stourbridge area is served by commercial and BBC Radio stations broadcasting from Wolverhampton, Birmingham as well as from within Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Shropshire.

Stourbridge FM was established in March 2001 to campaign for a commercial radio station broadcasting to and from the Stourbridge area. Stourbridge FM Radio Ltd carried out three experimental 'trial' broadcasts in November 2001, May 2002 and January 2003 from studios in the centre of the town and was sponsored by Stourbridge College. The station received a great deal of support from listeners and business people alike within the community, including numerous letters of support and a petition. By February 2004, Stourbridge FM had disbanded due to official information that there were no immediate plans for a small-scale commercial radio licence in the Stourbridge area, nor would the up-and-coming commercial radio licence in Kidderminster receive an area extension. The volunteer force of Stourbridge-FM established a new steering group known as the Stourbridge Radio Group to apply for a non-profit making community radio licence for the area.

The group won a community radio licence in September 2005, to be called The 'Bridge. Test transmissions began on 102.5 FM on 4 December 2007, and the full programming launched on 1 January 2008 at 10.25am.


Places of worship include:

  • St Thomas' Church on Market Street: The apse and north chancel screen at St Thomas' Church were added by W. H. William Bidlake.[2]
  • Amblecote Holy Trinity Church, Vicarage Road
  • St Peter's, Pedmore

Places of interest


One such scheme is the proposed £50m development of the Modus owned Crown Centre. This will include the creation of a new 80,000 sq ft (7,400 m2) anchor store (Tesco), budget hotel (Premier Inn), new multi storey car park, six shops and a 15,000 sq ft (1,400 m2) market hall.[6]

Famous residents

In popular culture

Stourbridge appears in two great works of poetry from the 20th century: Finnegans Wake by James Joyce and The Cantos of Ezra Pound.

Of course our low hero was a self valeter by choice of need so

up he got up whatever is meant by a stourbridge clay kitchenette and lithargogalenu fowlhouse for the sake of akes (the umpple does not fall very far from the dumpertree)

- James Joyce Finnegans Wake, part 1, Episode 6. Page 184

and i went in a post chaise

Woburn Farm, Stowe, Stratford, Stourbridge, Woodstock, High Wycombe and back to Grosvenor Sq

- Ezra Pound, Canto LXVI, line 30, Page 380.

Joyce's interest in Stourbridge is self evident from the passage quoted above and Stourbridge found its way into Pound's The Cantos via John Adams the second President of the United States, whose diary entry from 1786 Pound translated into his own epic poem.

"Or take Golf", said Mr. Carmody, side-stepping and attacking from another angle. "The only good golf-course in Worcestershire at present is at Stourbridge." from chapter 5 of Money for Nothing by P. G. Wodehouse, published in 1928.


  1. ^ Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Urban Areas : Table KS01 : Usual Resident Population Retrieved 2009-08-26
  2. ^ a b The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, Nikolaus Pevsner, 1968 p268
  3. ^ a b Matsumura, Takao (1984). "Flint glass makers in the local community". The Labour Aristocracy Revisited: The Victorian Flint Glass Makers, 1850-80. Manchester University Press. pp. 149–161. ISBN 0719009316. 
  4. ^ Philips, David (1977). Crime and Authority in Victorian England: The Black Country 1835-1860. Taylor & Francis. pp. 29. ISBN 087471866X. 
  5. ^ "Shopping in Stourbridge Town Centre". Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  6. ^ Crown Center development

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

STOURBRIDGE, a market town in the Droitwich parliamentary division of Worcestershire, England, 144 m. N.W. by W. of London and 10 W. of Birmingham by the Great Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901), 16,302. A branch canal connects with the Worcestershire and Staffordshire system. The town stands on an eminence on the left bank of the Stour. Among public buildings are a town-hall (1887) and town offices, and a school of science and art. There is an endowed grammar school founded by Edward VI., and a bluecoat or hospital school. Dr Johnson received part of his education in this town (1726-1727). The principal manufactures are in iron, leather and skins; there are glue works and fire-brick works. Coal and fire-clay are raised. The manufacture of glass was established in 1556 by emigrants from Hungary, the place where they erected their factory being still known as Hungary Hill. Annual fairs are held. The town was originally called Bedcote, a name retained by the manor. The urban district includes the townships of Upper Swinford and Wollaston.

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