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Coordinates: 52°31′33″N 2°00′58″W / 52.52587°N 2.01617°W / 52.52587; -2.01617

West Bromwich
West Bromwich is located in West Midlands
West Bromwich

 West Bromwich shown within the West Midlands
Population 136,940 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SO9992
    - London  126 mi (203 km) 
Metropolitan borough Sandwell
Metropolitan county West Midlands
Region West Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WEST BROMWICH
Postcode district B70-B71
Dialling code 0121
Police West Midlands
Fire West Midlands
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament West Bromwich West
West Bromwich East
List of places: UK • England • West Midlands

West Bromwich (pronounced /wɛst ˈbrɒmɪtʃ/ ( listen)) is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, in the West Midlands, England. It is 5 miles (8 km) north west of Birmingham lying on the A41 London-to-Birkenhead road. West Bromwich is part of the Black Country. West Bromwich is the largest town within the Borough of Sandwell with a population of 136,940 at the time of the 2001 census.

The Latin motto on the town's coat of arms translates as "Work Conquers All".

Contents

History

Historical population of West Bromwich [1]
Year Population figure
1801 5,687
1811 7,485
1821 9,505
1831 15,377
1841 26,121
1851 34,581
1861 41,795
1871 47,918
1881 56,295
1891 59,538
1901 65,175
1950 89,000
1991 146,386

West Bromwich was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name meaning "the little village on the heath of broom" (broom being a particular type of bush). It is believed that it may have originally been part of the Handsworth parish.[2] A Benedictine priory existed in West Bromwich from the 12th century around which the settlement of Broomwich Heath grew. In 1727, the town became a stop on the coaching road between London and Shrewsbury and its growth began.

In the 19th century, coal deposits were discovered, ensuring that the town grew rapidly as an industrial centre, with industries such as spring, gun and nail making developing. Most of the coal deposits were found below the ground a mile or so west of Broomwich Heath, and so the "new" town adopted the name West Bromwich. Well before the end of the 19th century, West Bromwich had established itself as a prominent area to match older neighbouring towns including Dudley and Walsall.

In 1888, West Bromwich became a county borough, incorporating the village of Great Barr. It was expanded in 1966, acquiring most of the borough of Tipton and Wednesbury urban district, before joining with the neighbouring county borough of Warley (which contained the towns of Rowley Regis, Oldbury and Smethwick) in 1974 to form the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell.

Charlemont Hall, built during the 1750s, stood on the west side of the present Charlemont Crescent, in the Charlemont and Grove Vale district of the town. Charlemont Hall was described c. 1800 as 'a lofty neat-looking house of brick, faced with stone, with iron palisades etc. in front'. An east wing was added in 1855. The last occupant was the widow of Thomas Jones, town clerk of Wednesbury 1897-1921. The house was demolished in 1948, and is now covered by a number of smaller detached homes. Much of the surrounding area was developed during the 1960s as the Charlemont Farm housing estate, which ia a mix of private and council housing.

West Bromwich suffered heavily in the Cholera epidemic of 1831 which spread northwards into the town. A temporary board of health was set up and a hospital opened in the former Revivalist chapel in Spon Lane. The natural gradual slope of the land provided drainage within the soil, however, urbanisation made this increasingly difficult and drainage along the streets was described as inadequate. The West Bromwich Town Improvement Commissioners was established in 1854, and they tackled the drainage problem in the town. They appointed members to new titles and in the 1880s bought land in Friar Park for a sewerage farm.

Under the Reform Act 1832, West Bromwich became part of the new southern division of Staffordshire, and under the Reform Act 1867 it was transferred to the parliamentary borough of Wednesbury.[3] Under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, the borough of West Bromwich became a parliamentary borough returning one member. In 1885, it was held by the Liberal Party but from 1886 to 1906 it was held by the Conservative Party before being held by the Liberal Party again until 1910 when the Conservative Party regained the area which they held until 1918 under the representation of Viscount Lewisham.[3] In 1918, it became a Labour hold who have held it since, except for between 1931 to 1935 when it held by the National Unionists.[3]

By the outbreak of World War I in 1914, many of the older houses that had been built to house workers during the Industrial Revolution were becoming unfit for human habitation[citation needed] Sanitation was inadequate, decay was rife, and the homes were becoming a danger to the health and safety of their inhabitants. After the end of the war, the local council started building new homes to rehouse people from the rundown town centre. However, there are still many late 19th century and early 20th century buildings around the centre of West Bromwich today.

Mass immigration from the Commonwealth took place in West Bromwich during the 1950s and 1960s, with most of these hailing from the Indian sub-continent, although a significant number of Afro-Caribbean immigrants also settled in West Bromwich. The majority of these immigrants settled in the older parts of the town that were mostly made up of Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses.

The local road network was also massively improved during the 1960s and 1970s. West Bromwich is located at the extreme northern end of the M5 motorway, and has had direct access to it since the early 1960s. This gave the town an immediate fast road link to faraway places including Worcester, Gloucester, Bristol and Exeter. Traffic passing through West Bromwich on the main route from Wolverhampton to Birmingham was diverted along the new Northern Loop Road (also known as The Expressway) after 1972, with another dual carriageway being built to link The Expressway with neighbouring Oldbury.

As with many other parts of the Midlands, West Bromwich was hit badly by the recessions of the mid 1970s and early 1980s. Many local factories closed as there was no longer an adequate demand for the supply they were generating. Several more factories have closed in more recent years as manufacturers look to countries where the labour is cheaper, but West Bromwich remains a busy industrial area despite the decline of the last 35 years.

West Bromwich's road links were further enhanced in 1995 on the completion of the Black Country Spine Road that gives an unbroken dual carriageway link to Bilston. The completion of this new road opened up several square miles of previously inaccessible land, and has allowed several major businesses to set up along the route. This has helped relieve some of the unemployment problems in West Bromwich, although most parts of the town still have the highest unemployment rates in the West Midlands.

Governance

The coat of arms of West Bromwich.

The town is divided into two constituencies; West Bromwich East and West Bromwich West. West Bromwich East is served by Tom Watson of Labour. He has held the position since the 2001 general election. Preceding him was Peter Snape, also of Labour, who had served the ward since the 1992 general election.[4]

West Bromwich West is served by Adrian Bailey of Labour who won a 54.3% share in the 2005 general election. He has been MP for the ward since the 2000 by-election.[5] Preceding him, the MP for the ward was Betty Boothroyd,[6] who for eight years served as the first female Speaker of the British House of Commons.

West Bromwich is the largest town in the United Kingdom without its own Royal Mail postcode.

Geography

Below is a list of localities:

Features

The Farley Clock Tower in memory of Reuben Farley first Mayor of West Bromwich.

The town is famous for its football club, West Bromwich Albion. The club was founded in 1878 and in 1888 it became one of the twelve founder members of the Football League. It won the league championship in 1920 and has won the FA Cup five times, most recently in 1968. The club recently won the Coca Cola Championship in 2008. Albion were based in and around the centre of West Bromwich during their formative years, but moved further out of the town in 1900 when they switched to their current ground, The Hawthorns. The Hawthorns is the highest football ground (above sea level) in the country.

Engineering and chemicals are important to the town's economy, as it played a crucial part in the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century and still retains many manufacturing jobs to this day, despite a steady nationwide decline in this sector since the 1970s.

Sandwell General Hospital (On the site of the former Hallam Hospital) is located near the town centre. It is part of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, one of the largest NHS teaching trusts in the United Kingdom.

William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth had his seat at Sandwell Hall. Legge was unusual as an aristocrat of this period by being a Methodist and attending the Wednesbury Methodist meetings, where fellow Methodists - many of them colliers and drovers - knew him as "Brother Earl".

West Bromwich Town Hall, situated in the centre of the High Street, is a Grade II listed building. It was built between 1874 and 1875 in brick and stone to an Italian Gothic design, and its interior reflects the Victorian interest in Gothic and Medieval architecture. Its Grand Organ, built in 1862, is considered to be of historic importance for its musical and technical qualities[7].[8]

The Public by Will Alsop.

West Bromwich Manor House, Hall Green Road B71 2EA. Built by the de Marnham family in the late 1200s as the centre of their agricultural estate in West Bromwich only the Great Hall survives of the original complex of living quarters, agricultural barns, sheds and ponds. Successive occupants modernised and extended the Manor House until it was described in 1790 as “a large pile of irregular half-timbered buildings, black and white, and surrounded with numerous out-houses and lofty walls.” The Manor House was saved from demolition in the 1950s by West Bromwich Corporation which carried out an extensive and sympathetic restoration of this nationally important building.

In 2004, a modern community arts centre known as "The Public" was developed in the town centre. Designed by the architect Will Alsop, the £52 million venue consists of a massive cuboid building constructed in dark grey and silver metal cladding with irregularly-shaped windows edged in magenta. Its appearance has drawn comparisons with a fish tank.[9] The development was beset by financial difficulties, going into administration and finally finished in 2009. Many people refuse to visit the venue as they consider it a waste of money and an extreme eyesore.[10]

A large portion of the town centre has been procured by Tesco for a development of a superstore. The store and its car park would have sat on the site of the current police station and the surrounding street, including the site of Cronehills Primary School. Cronehills staff and pupils have now relocated to the newly built Eaton Valley Primary School, which opened in September 2009 on the edge of Sandwell Valley Park to make way for future development.

Religion

West Bromwich is a culturally diverse area with many places of worship for several different religions.

Christianity is still the predominant faith group in the area, with the Church of England providing the most places of worship across the geographically wider West Bromwich Deanery (taking in West Bromwich, Hill Top, Stone Cross, Carter's Green, Holy Trinity, All Saint's, St Andrew's, Friar's Green and others) which contains nine Anglican churches and the newly formed West Bromwich Network Church. Other Christian denominations are present, including Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Elim Pentecostal, Assemblies of God and other independent churches. The deanery of West Bromwich is under the Diocese of Lichfield.

There is also a large number of Muslims living in West Bromwich and have 2 main mosques which are both on Dartmouth Street. The main mosque of West Bromwich is situated at 47 Dartmouth Street which can accommodate up to 400 worshippers during Busy Periods like Friday Prayers and Eid Prayers.

There is also a very large number of Sikhs in the area have also had a massive affect on the population in West Bromwich. There are many Gurudwaras in the area. Sikhs have settled in the area since 1950 when the first influx of immigrants came into West Bromwich.

Hindus have had a formal place of worship in West Bromwich since the opening of the Shree Krishna Temple in 1974, in a converted church once called Ebenezer Congregational Chapel which had closed in 1971.[11]

West Bromwich also has a significant black Afro-Caribbean population.

In 1875, being locked out of a packed Evangelist meeting in Birmingham caused John Blackham of Ebenezer Congregational Church to start the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Movement.[12]

Transport

For roads, the M5 motorway between the West Midlands and the West Country and its junction with the M6 motorway passes through the town, making West Bromwich at the hub of Britain's motorway network. West Bromwich has its own bus station in the town centre, with connections to Birmingham and other major towns in the West Midlands region.

West Bromwich railway station was opened by the Great Western Railway on its route between Birmingham Snow Hill and Wolverhampton Low Level on 14 November 1854. The trackbed of that line is now served by the Midland Metro light rail (tram) system. The nearest main-line railway station is now Sandwell and Dudley railway station, approximately one mile away in Oldbury town centre.

The nearest airport which is approximately 16 miles away, is Birmingham International Airport.

Carters Green, High Street and the beginning of Birmingham Road formed the original main route through West Bromwich as part of Thomas Telford's London to Holyheadroute in the early 19th century. This later formed part of the A41 road which links London with Merseyside, taking in the midlands, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire on the way. However, the route through central West Bromwich was by-passed in the 1970s on the completion of the Expressway, a two-mile dual carriageway beginning at Carters Green and finishing at Junction 1 of the M5 motorway (which had opened a decade earlier) on Birmingham Road. The original A41 road through the centre of West Bromwich was downgraded to an unclassified route.

Around this time, West Bromwich Ringway was opened, circulating the main shopping areas.

Further revolution came to the local road network in 1995 with the completion of the Black Country Spine Road which stretches from Carters Green to Bilston via Wednesbury, forming another new section of the A41.

Education

The town is served by three secondary schools; Menzies High School, George Salter High School and Dartmouth High School.

The town has many primary schools. Some of which are: St. John Bosco RC Primary School, All Saints, St Mary Magdalane, Hately Heath, Eaton Valley.

Menzies High School serves the area around Hateley Heath, Tantany, Charlemont and Grove Vale. George Salter served the west of the town near the border with Tipton. Dartmouth serves the north-eastern part of the town around Great Barr.

The area was also served by Churchfields High School. Due to dwindling numbers the school was closed in the late 90's/early 2000s and was flattened to make way for an as yet unstarted Housing development. The old school site has been left overgrown since the demolition of the school.

Sport

The town's sport scene is dominated by West Bromwich Albion football club, who were founded in the town in 1879 and played at a stadium near the town centre until they moved to their current home, The Hawthorns on Birmingham Road (directly on the border with Birmingham) in 1900. Although they are now in their 109th year at the stadium, all traces of the original structures are long gone; the oldest stand is the Halfords Lane Stand that was built in 1979 and the other three stands were built between 1991 and 2001.

Fans spill on to The Hawthorns pitch following West Bromwich Albion's escape from relegation in 2005.

Albion were among the 12 founder members of the Football League in 1888, along with their two fiercest local rivals - Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The club has won seven major trophies; five FA Cups, one Football League title and one Football League Cup. Their most recent major trophy came in 1968 when they won the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Everton at Wembley Stadium. They enjoyed further success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when they finished in the top five league positions three times in four seasons as well as reaching a UEFA Cup quarter-final. However, since relegation from the old Football League First Division in 1986 (this division became the Premier League in 1992) they have played in the top level of English football for a total of just four seasons. This spell of relatively disappointing performances included 16 successive seasons without top division football, two of which were spent in the third tier of the English professional league system.

Notable former players of West Bromwich Albion include Ronnie Allen (who later had a relatively unsuccessful spell as the club's manager), Bryan Robson (who was later the club's manager), Laurie Cunningham (one of the first black players to play for the England national football team, but who unfortunately died in a car crash in 1989 aged only 33), Tony Brown (the club's all time leading goalscorer) and Jeff Astle (who scored the club's winning goal in the 1968 FA Cup final and remained a cult figure among Albion fans).

Notable people

  • Al Atkins Founder member of Judas Priest,and still lives in West Bromwich.

Quotes

  • "I would rather spend a holiday in Tuscany than in the Black Country, but if I were compelled to chose between living in West Bromwich or Florence, I would make straight for West Bromwich." J.B. Priestley, English Journey

See also

References

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WEST BROMWICH, a market town and municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Staffordshire, England, 6 m. N.W. of Birmingham, on the northern line of the Great Western railway. Pop. (1891) 59,53 8, (1901) 65,175. The appearance of the town, like its growth as an industrial centre of the Black Country, is modern. It is, however, of ancient origin; thus the church of All Saints, formerly St Clement, was given by Henry to the convent of Worcester, from which it passed to the priors of Sandwell, who rebuilt it in the Decorated period, the present structure (1872) following their plan. The chief public buildings are the town hall (1875), the Institute (1886), providing instruction in science and art, under the corporation since 1894, the free library (1874) and law-courts (1891). The picturesque Oak House, of the 16th century, was opened as a museum and art gallery in 1898. Among schools is one for pauper children in which engineering, baking, spade-husbandry, &c., are taught. Sandwell Hall, formerly a seat of the earls of Dartmouth, contains a school for daughters of clergymen, &c. The house, standing in pleasant wooded grounds, is on the site of the Benedictine priory of Sandwell, founded in the time of Henry II. There are charities founded by the families of Stanley and Whorwood (1613 and 1614). Dartmouth Park is a recreation ground of about 60 acres; others are Farley, Kenwick and Hill Top Park. Numerous mines work the extensive coalfields, which include a thirty-foot seam. There are large iron and brass foundries and smelting furnaces, and malting and brickmaking are carried on. The parliamentary borough returns one member. The town is governed by a mayor 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 5860 acres.


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