Friar Park (Wednesbury)

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Friar Park is an area of Wednesbury, England. It was developed by West Bromwich council in the 1920s and 1930s to rehouse families from town centre slum clearances. It is situated approximately one mile to the east of the town centre and since the 1960s has stood in the shadow of the M6 motorway.

Having originally been within the boundaries of West Bromwich, when the borough was expanded in 1966 to include the former urban district of Wednesbury, Friar Park was placed within the boundaries of the Wednesbury township and has remained part of it ever since, while an opposite reorganization took place in neighbouring Hateley Heath.

There have been some more recent additions to the estate, including Carisbrooke House multi storey council flats that were built in the 1960s. However, these flats were demolished in 2001 in a controlled explosion, one of many tower blocks in the West Midlands which have been demolished since the 1980s.

Joseph Edward Cox Infant and Junior Schools have served the 5-11 year olds of the estate since the 1930s, initially in temporary buildings before a permanent junior school opened in 1934 and an infant school in 1936.[1]

A tragedy struck the estate on 21 December 1977 when a house at 36 School Road caught fire. The fire took place while firefighters were on strike, and the Auxiliary Fire Service had to deal with the emergency call. The occupant of the house, 31-year-old Mrs Maureen Brazier, managed to escape the fire, but her four children Denise (aged 12), Suzanne (aged 10), Lisa (aged 6) and Tony (aged 4) were trapped inside and burnt to death. Mrs Brazier was rehoused at another council property nearby, where she lived until her death 35 years later, and the house was demolished, leaving a gap in the middle of the terrace where it once stood.[2]

Friar Park has been blighted by high unemployment since 1980, when the nearby Patent Shaft steelworks closed, followed soon afterwards by a number of other nearby factories. At the time of the 2001 census, it was reported that 9.9% of the area's residents were unemployed - well above the national average and slightly above the average for Sandwell. It has risen considerably since then due to the recession which began in 2008.[4]

Crime rates in the Friar Park area are very high, with anti-social behavior, burglary and violent crime being particularly widespread.[3]