Aldridge is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, in the West Midlands, England. Historically it was part of the county of Staffordshire, but in 1974 it was incorporated into the West Midlands county. It also became part of the borough of Walsall at this time, having originally been an independent local authority and then being merged with neighbouring Brownhills to form Aldridge-Brownhills UDC in 1966.
Aldridge was recorded as a settlement in the Domesday Book of 1086, though the now much larger settlement of Walsall was not. It was valued at 15 shillings under the name of "Alrewic", which may have originated from an abundance of Alder trees in the area.
Aldridge began as a small agricultural settlement, with farming being the most common occupation up until the 19th century.
In the 1800s, Aldridge became an industrial town with coal mines and lime kilns. The coal and clay in the area prompted many to set up collieries and brickworks. Aldridge clay is especially useful in the manufacture of blue bricks. The 1881 census shows that the mines and brick works were major employers. Because the coal and clay beneath the eastern side of Aldridge (towards Stonnall) is located much deeper under the surface, extraction of this coal and clay would not have been economically viable. As a result farms continued to dominate the eastern part, though a sand quarry was set up and still remains on Birch Lane.
During the 20th century modern shops were built in the centre of Aldridge, as well as council buildings. After the Second World War Aldridge became a dormitory town, or suburb, of Birmingham. A small airport called Walsall Aldridge Airport was used during the Second World War and after was used for passenger services.
Aldridge became an urban district in Staffordshire in 1894. Other villages within the district included Pelsall, Walsall Wood, Clayhanger and Streetly. This merged with Brownhills in 1966 to form Aldridge-Brownhills, and then became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall in 1974.
Aldridge was twinned with Montelimar, France in May 1964.
Today, Aldridge is a relatively affluent area of Walsall that consists of mostly private homes that have been built since the 1920s.
The recorded population in the 2001 Census was 16,862.
Aldridge is made up of two council wards: Aldridge Central & South, Aldridge North & Walsall Wood. There are three Conservative Councillors for Aldridge Central & South: John O'Hare, John Rochelle & Tim Wilson. Aldridge North & Walsall Wood is also covered by three Conservative councillors: Keith Sears, Anthony Harris and Mike Flower.
Aldridge has a number of primary and secondary schools. The primary schools are Cooper and Jordan (CE), Leighswood, St Mary of the Angels (Catholic) and Whetstone Field (Redhouse primary school was closed in the summer of 2006.). The secondary schools are Aldridge School and St Francis of Assisi Catholic Technology College.
Industry and commerce
In Aldridge there are a large number of factories, mostly located on Empire Industrial Park and the Redhouse industrial estate, but also heading up towards Walsall Wood along the main road, Northgate. Some of the most notable factories include the large Ibstock brick works, Harold Bird Golf and the GKN Driveshafts factory, although both of the latter companies have closed in recent years due to relocation and cheaper foreign imports. Birlec, a manufacturer of industrial furnaces relocated to Aldridge in the late 1950s, but has since closed. Aldridge Plastics Ltd, a plastics injection moulder, was set up in the town in 1968 and continued trading for almost 40 years before ceasing production in 2007. From January 2011, GFP Engineering Ltd, a Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) moulding company, will commence trading after relocating from nearby Lichfield. There is also a marina, Aldridge Marina, which recently underwent full refurbishment.
Most of the town's shops are located either on High Street, Anchor Road, or in the shopping area known as "The Parade". Well-known shops here include WH Smith, Iceland supermarket, Home Bargains, and Boots The Chemist. There are also a number of independent shops, an indoor market and a large Morrisons supermarket just outside the town centre. The village is covered by three main firms of solicitors. Lloyds TSB, NatWest, Barclays and HSBC all have branches in the town. The oldest independent insurance broker in the area R.H.N. Riley Ltd were established in 1958. There are many take-aways in Aldridge, including two Chinese take-aways, two Indian take-aways, a Greek take-away, a pizza take-away and two fish and chip shops. Many Restaurants both European and Asian can be found here too.
Aldridge is served by a local bus service. Many of the buses in Aldridge were renumbered in April 2010 as part of National Express West Midlands' attempt to simplify bus services in and around the Walsall area. Buses to Walsall run frequently several times an hour during the day, namely the 6, 7, 7A, 35, 35A, 35B and 997. The 6 (formerly 366, before that 966), a half hourly service, can also be used to commute to Sutton Coldfield. This service used to run all the way from Walsall, via Aldridge and Sutton Coldfield to Birmingham Airport until the route was split at Sutton Coldfield into the 366 running from Walsall to Sutton Coldfield and the 966 running from Sutton Coldfield to Birmingham Airport. The 35B travels to Lichfield, going via Shenstone, and runs every two hours. There are also four routes that run into Birmingham City Centre from Aldridge: the 56, 936, 935A and the 997.
Aldridge used to have a platform on the Sutton Park Line running to Walsall that operated services for passengers, though the station was closed in 1966 and since then the line has been used only for freight trains. Recently, there has been talk of re-opening this line for passengers and in the late 1990s/early 2000s, plans were drawn up for a modern station to be built on the site of the old one. The site of the old station lies behind the new doctor's surgery at the bottom of Portland Road, and part of the old platform is still visible. Should the station be re-opened, it has potential to become a park & ride station and could offer services to Birmingham via Sutton Coldfield, or the short journey into Walsall. Despite the plans that have been drawn up, nothing has yet happened. This is mainly because there are too many freight trains and currently no other route to which to move freight traffic.
There are also speculative plans to use the closed South Staffordshire Line as a single track freight line, which would be a quicker route from Stourbridge to Bescot, and this would also clear the way to re-introduce passenger services to Aldridge. This section of line was last used in 1984, and the entire trackbed remains intact, even though the track itself is long gone. There is no timescale for when (or if) the re-opening of this railway through Aldridge will take place, although Network Rail hopes that the bulk of the line between Walsall and Brierley Hill will re-open to goods trains by 2012.
Sports, recreation and entertainment
Druids Heath Golf Club is situated in Aldridge, a championship 18 Hole Golf Course with superb practice facilities, fast greens an excellent PGA professional and a welcoming clubhouse,tel 01922 455595
Aldridge has a cricket and hockey club called "The Stick and Wicket", located on the green behind the parish church, St. Mary's, and the Masonic Hall. Aldridge Hockey Club merged with Walsall Hockey Club in 2011; it is now known as Aldridge & Walsall Hockey Club.
Aldridge Rugby Football Club was formed in 1998 from an amalgamation of two established rugby clubs based in Birmingham: Witton and Old Centrals. The club is based on the former Old Centrals sports ground at Bourne Vale in Aldridge and currently plays in Midlands 5 West (North) fielding three senior sides.
Aldridge Compass Suites (based at the Masonic Hall on the Green) is a venue for wedding receptions, christenings and other functions.
There is also the Aldridge Youth Theatre, which was officially opened by the actor Bernard Hepton and is located on Noddy Park Road by the Croft. It is run by a group of volunteers and puts on a variety of plays throughout the year. A pantomime is usually staged in January.
Air Cadets: 425 (Aldridge) Squadron, part of Staffordshire Wing of the Air Training Corps was formed in 1941 and currently occupies a purpose-built HQ close to the village centre. The aims of the Air Training Corps is to promote and encourage in young men and women a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force, to provide training which will be useful both in the Services and in civil life, to foster the spirit of adventure and to develop the qualities of leadership and good citizenship. New cadets (both male and female) can join the Sqn between 13 and ideally 16 years of age and can stay as a cadet up to their 20th birthday. The Squadron is run by uniformed RAFVR(T) officers and ATC SNCO adult staff, assisted by Civilian Instructors and a Padre, and is open on two evenings a week for training. Additional activities also take place most weekends. These include flying, gliding, target shooting, competitions, first aid, Duke of Edinburgh award schemes, sport, fieldcraft, camps, radio communications, band, plastic modelling and many others. As well as making new friends and enjoying the numerous activities cadets can obtain a number of qualifications including BTECs.
The 36th Walsall 1st Aldridge scout group is located on Middlemore Lane, opposite Anchor Meadow, and runs Beaver, Cub, Scout and Explorer sections for boys aged 6 and upwards. The beavers are aged 6–8, cubs are aged 8–10/11, scouts are aged 11–14 and explorers are aged 14–18; network and fellowship follow.
The Methodist Church, located besides the large Morrisons branch, plays host to 1st Aldridge Girl guides, as well as two brownie groups and a rainbow group. The rainbows group is for girls aged 5–7, the brownies for girls aged 7–10, and guides aged 10–14. Older girls do take part, and are known as the senior section.
St. Mary's Parish Church has one of the largest church youth groups in the area. Around 90 young people, between the ages of 13 and 18, attend the group, which meets on Friday nights. The group also hosts an annual summer camp in Wales (in recent years attracting over 100 teenagers), as well as a weekend away in February.
The 33rd Walsall Scout group is based at Aldridge Methodist Church and holds Beavers, Cubs and scouts for boys and girls aged 6–14. They go on annual scout camps and have been to Beaudesert Campsite and Blackwell Adventure.
The 49th Walsall Scout Group is the third Scout Group in Aldridge based at St. Thomas's Church in Churchside Way on the estate just off Lazy Hill Road and Greenwood Road, it also caters for boys between the ages of 6 and 18, it is a thriving Group holding family camps as well as Scout, Cub and Beaver Camps each year.
Actors and actresses
Richard Sinnott - Actor attended Leighswood School, then Aldridge School. He has appeared in Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Where the Heart Is and Life on Mars. He is the older brother of Lee Sinnott (below).
Isabel Dean (1918–1997) film, stage and television actress was born in Aldridge.
Brigadier (Edward) Richard Holmes (1946–2011). Military historian, author, television presenter, Cranfield professor, and Territorial Army soldier.
Charles George Bonner VC, DSC (29 December 1884-7 February 1951), born in Aldridge, was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Bonner Grove is a well-maintained neighbourhood of council flats and privately owned houses in Aldridge that remembers his name.
Sports men and women
Vic Milne - Had a doctor's surgery in Portland Road, Aldridge. Played football for Aston Villa, including an appearance in the 1924 FA Cup Final where his team were defeated 2-0 by Newcastle United.
Charles Harold Ward (16 September 1911 – August 2001) was a prominent English golfer of the 1940s, winner of the British Order of Merit in both 1948 and 1949, and twice finishing third in The Open Championship, in 1948 and 1951.
Johnny Bullock - Jockey-won the Grand National in 1951 on Nickel Coin. She was the 12th mare to win the Grand National and none has triumphed since.
Lee Sinnott - Footballer (born 12 July 1965 in Aldridge, Walsall, England) is an English ex-professional footballer and was the manager of Farsley Celtic, whom he led to promotion three times in four years. He went on to manage Port Vale for a short period. He began his career at Walsall as an apprentice, and played in the 1984 FA Cup final for his next club Watford in 1984. He captained Huddersfield Town to Division Two playoff glory in 1995.
Eleanor Simmonds MBE - swimmer representing Great Britain in the Paralympics. She won two gold medals at each of the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics. She attended Cooper and Jordan Primary School, then Aldridge School, before attending school in Swansea.
- THE DOMESDAY BOOK INDEX 1086 - 'A' Places ( Domesday Book Settlements / Places )
- Aldridge in history
- A Brief History[dead link]
- National Statistics Online - Census 2001
- "British Parliamentary Election results 1997-: English Boroughs part 1". Election.demon.co.uk. 1995-03-01. Archived from the original on 3 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- "United Kingdom Parliamentary Election results 1983-97: English Boroughs part 1". Election.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- Current Walsall Councillors
- Jayman Estate Agents
- Davies, Gareth A (2008-09-15). "Eleanor Simmonds claims two gold swimming medals at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing - Paralympics". Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-05-02.