Kates Hill was the scene of chaos in 1648 when parliamentarians used it as their base in the Civil War against King Charles I. As a result, many roads in the area are named in honour of parliamentary figures from that era and afterwards; these include Oliver Cromwell (Oliver Close and Cromwell Street) and Robert Peel (Peel Street).
It is alleged that from Cromwell Street, Cromwell fired his cannons at Dudley's Norman Castle.
Kates Hill was not developed as a residential area until the 1830s, when houses were built to accommodate people moving to the Black Country in hope of landing jobs in the ever-growing number of factories and coalpits that were being created in the region at this time. In 1840, St John's Parish Church was laid out and an adjoining church school was built soon afterwards.
As recently as World War II, Kates Hill was surrounded by a substantial amount of farmland. There is still standing a historic grade II listed farm house, dating from the 17th century, at the top of Watsons Green Road; it is now solely a residential property as its farmland has long since been built on.
This rural scene was quickly swept away after 1915, as hundreds of council houses were built in the Watson's Green Road, Highfield Road, Corporation Road and Bunns Lane areas to accommodate families who were being rehoused.
These included the very first council houses to be built in Dudley, built on the Brewery Fields Estate, land which was purchased by the council in 1915 and which by 1918 consisted of more than 300 houses.
Most of the roads on this development were named after British heroes of the recently ended Great War; these include Kitchener Road (Herbert Kitchener), Cavell Road (Edith Cavell) and Haig Road (Douglas Haig).
The Green Park Road area was developed around 1930, along with Wolverton Road and the western section of Corporation Road, and the Rosland estate was added during the second half of the 1930s between Green Park Road and Bunns Lane.
The late interwar and early postwar years also saw most of Kates Hill's 19th century housing stock - and its numerous pubs - demolished, and much of the land was left undeveloped until the 1970s, when most of the remaining older houses were demolished to make way for new council housing.
Many of the newer properties on Kates Hill - notably blocks of four flats with two houses adjoining, with garages underneath the flats - are unique to the area, having been designed by an architect who received an award for designing the area's new homes which were built in the mid to late 1970s. They are built around the Peel Street area of Kates Hill, and a network of alleyways runs among the flats. This was initially a popular idea, as planners hoped to re-create the old-fashioned sense of community that had existed on Kates Hill up to the 1930s. But this proved to be unsuccessful as initially the alleyways were popular for drug addicts, vandals and muggers. Fortunately the problem has been reduced in more recent years.
Council bungalows and three bedroom houses were also built around this time on land between Peel Street, St John's Road and Cromwell Street.
Kates Hill Primary School on Peel Street was built in the mid 19th century when the residential area was first being developed. Part of the school was damaged by fire on 24 June 1969; shortly afterwards plans for a new school nearby were unveiled, and it was completed during 1972, being officially opened on 2 May 1973 by Alderman Morris, Mayor of Dudley. The new school incorporated a nursery unit for 4-year-olds (and from the mid-1980s also 3-year-olds), meaning that it served the 3–12 age range until July 1990, after which it was redesignated as a 3–11 school.
St John's Primary School moved to new buildings in Hillcrest Road on its merger with St Edmund's Primary School at around the same time. But the old St John's school buildings are still standing and have since been used by several different businesses, the current occupants being a recruitment agency.
Rosland Secondary School was opened on Beechwood Road in 1932, and it merged with the Blue Coat School on Bean Road in 1970; with the Blue Coat School existing entirely within the Rosland buildings after 1981. It closed in 1989 on a merger with The Dudley School, which saw the formation of Castle High School in the town centre. It remained open for a year as an annexe to Castle High, as there was inadequate space for pupils at the Dudley School site. In 1991, the Blue Coat buildings were converted into St Thomas's Community Network.
Kates Hill has changed dramatically in the last 80 years, yet still retains many pre-1900 buildings; these include St John's Church and St John's School (though now in use as offices), as well as many late 19th-century houses situated around St John's Road.
St. John's Church
There is a campaign to save St. John's Church, which has drawn membership from all age groups and faith groups. The graveyard houses the famous Tipton Slasher and internationally known education leader and artist Marion Richardson.
- Black Country Bugle (2 June 2005)