Aldridge is a large village in the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, West Midlands, England. Historically part of Staffordshire, in 1974 it was incorporated into the borough of Walsall, having originally been an independent local authority.
Aldridge is an affluent area of the West Midlands that has mostly private homes built since the 1920s.
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 brickworks 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 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.
The recorded population in 2011 in 26,988.
Since 1979, Aldridge's MP was Richard Shepherd (Conservative), the MP for Aldridge-Brownhills. He stood down at the 2015 General Election. In May 2015 Wendy Morton was selected as the new MP. Aldridge-Brownhills is a safe Conservative seat.
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 Murray, John Rochelle & Tim Wilson. Aldridge North & Walsall Wood is also covered by three Conservative councillors: Keith Sears, Anthony Harris and Gary Clarke.
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 number of factories, mostly located on Empire Industrial Park, but also towards Walsall Wood along the main road, Northgate. Some of the most notable factories include the large Ibstock brick works, 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 offering facilities for canal boat moorers.
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. A purpose-built Safeway (UK) opened in 1992 and started operating as a Morrisons from 2004. B & M took over the former Focus DIY in Coppice Lane and opened its doors for the first time on the 1st August 2015. One of the oldest traders in Aldridge is R.H.N. Riley Insurances on Anchor Rd, they have been trading since 1957 and in Aldridge since about 1970. Also in the area is the relatively newly opened Wetherspoons Public House - it's on the site of the former Avion cinema, latterly a bingo hall before the transition to pub. Many of the original features have been retained including the protected facade. There are a good deal of eateries in the town and these are regularly enjoyed by locals and travellers from further afield.
Aldridge is served by local bus services. 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. Bus operators operating services through Aldridge are Arriva Midlands, Igo, formerly the WMSNT and NXWM.
Aldridge had a platform on the Sutton Park Line running to Walsall that operated services for passengers. The station was closed in 1966 and since then the line has been used only for freight. Ongoing speculation about returning passenger services to Aldridge, which would require a new station to be built, has continued with the apparent inclusion of Aldridge and Streetly stations on a map in the 2016 West Midlands Strategic Transport Plan.
Sports, recreation and entertainment
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 Sailing Club was formed in 1967 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. It is an RYA affiliated club and offers regular training courses. It is located on Barns lane / Stubbers Green Road. www.aldridgesc.org.uk
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.
The Aldridge Youth Theatre, 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 Squadron is run by uniformed RAFVR(T) officers and ATC SNCO adult staff, assisted by civilian instructors and a padre.
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.
The Methodist church, is used by 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. 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 and girls between the ages of 6 and 18.
Actors and actresses
Actor Richard Sinnott 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 footballer Lee Sinnott.
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 social housing 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.
Lee Sinnott (born 12 July 1965 in Aldridge) 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.
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