Oldbury, West Midlands

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Oldbury
Warley - Sandwell Council House.jpg
Sandwell Council House in Oldbury
Oldbury is located in West Midlands county
Oldbury
Oldbury
Location within the West Midlands
Population25,488 (Built-up area subdivision)[1]
13,606 (Ward)[2]
OS grid referenceSO989897
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Region
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townOLDBURY
Postcode districtB68, B69
Dialling code0121
PoliceWest Midlands
FireWest Midlands
AmbulanceWest Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
UK
England
West Midlands
52°30′18″N 2°00′57″W / 52.505°N 2.0159°W / 52.505; -2.0159Coordinates: 52°30′18″N 2°00′57″W / 52.505°N 2.0159°W / 52.505; -2.0159

Oldbury is a market town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, West Midlands, England. It is the administrative centre of the borough.

At the 2011 census, the ward of Oldbury had a population of 13,606,[2] while the wider built-up area subdivision has a population of 25,488 according to a 2017 estimate.[3] However, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council give the population figure of Oldbury in 2011 as 50,641.[4] This higher figure is the total population of the wards of Bristnall, Langley, Oldbury and Old Warley; the area defined by Sandwell council as forming Oldbury Town - one of the six towns of Sandwell.[5]

Etymology[edit]

The place name Oldbury, comes from the Old English 'Ealdenbyrig', – signifying that Oldbury was old even in early English times over 1000 years ago. Eald being Old English for 'old', Byrig is the plural of 'burh' in Old English – a burh being a fortification or fortified town.[6]

History[edit]

Oldbury was part of the ancient parish of Halesowen, a detached part of Shropshire surrounded by Worcestershire and Staffordshire. After the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII gave Hales Owen manor including Oldbury to Sir John Dudley. In 1555, Sir John's son Robert sold most of Hales Owen manor but retained Oldbury and Langley which became a separate manor. Thus Sir Robert Dudley became the first Lord of the Manor of Oldbury. Oldbury manor was held by several families thereafter with the land gradually being sold off and the manorial functions dispersed. The last Lord of Oldbury Manor was Patrick Allan Fraser.[7]

The first branch of Lloyds Bank was opened in Oldbury in 1864. The branch was founded to serve fellow Quakers Arthur Albright and John Wilson's local chemical factory. The original building survives to this day, but the Lloyds bank branch closed around 2005 and became a Subway fast food restaurant.[8] Subway moved from the building early in 2012.

Local government[edit]

By the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844, Oldbury was reincorporated into Worcestershire after a nine-hundred-year absence.

Coat of arms of the former Municipal Borough of Oldbury

In 1894, Oldbury became an Urban District, based at the Municipal Buildings and in 1935 the area gained Municipal Borough-status.[9] Oldbury council built several thousand houses, flats and bungalows for 40 years from 1893 until its disbandment, the 1,000th of which was completed in 1933 at Wallace Road near the border with Rowley Regis.[10]

The Municipal Borough of Oldbury was merged with the County Borough of Smethwick and the Municipal Borough of Rowley Regis in 1966 to form the County Borough of Warley.[11]

In 1974, Oldbury became part of the new Sandwell Metropolitan Borough (a merger between the county boroughs of West Bromwich and Warley), and was transferred from Worcestershire into the new West Midlands Metropolitan County. Since 1986, after the abolition of the West Midlands County Council, Sandwell effectively became a unitary authority. Sandwell Council's headquarters are in Oldbury town centre.

Industry and commerce[edit]

The town has seen a large expansion in retail since 1980. In October 1980, J Sainsbury opened one of its first SavaCentre hypermarkets in Oldbury town centre.[12] Twenty years later, it was rebranded as a traditional Sainsbury's store as the SavaCentre side of the business was phased out. A Toys "R" Us superstore at Birchley Island opened in October 1988 but the retail chain went out of business in 2018.[13] Oldbury Green Retail Park was built next to the town's ring road in the mid-1990s. Homebase relocated there from its 1980s purpose-built store, which Gala Bingo subsequently took over.

Due to the socio-economics of Sandwell, the area has a number of social housing organisations such as Black Country Housing Group which has been operating in Sandwell since its relocation from Birmingham in the 1980s.

In October 2013, the commercial radio station Free Radio moved its local operations for the Black Country and Shropshire from Wolverhampton to new studios at Black Country House.[14]

In November 2015, Hagley Road West, Oldbury, became home to the new Home Interiors Store; Thrift Vintage Interiors, which has since won the 'Best Local Business' award at the Birmingham inspiration Awards 2017.[15]

Transport links[edit]

For over thirty years, there were three railway stations in the parish named Oldbury;[clarification needed] only one is still open, but under a new name. The oldest surviving one, on the Stour Valley Line at Bromford Road, has existed since the 1850s. It was originally called Oldbury & Bromford Lane, then Oldbury, and since 1984, Sandwell & Dudley.[16]

The second nearest railway station to the centre of Oldbury is Langley Green on the Stourbridge Extension Line, now the Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line. It opened in April 1867 and was originally called Langley Green & Rood End. However, a short half-mile long branch line, the Oldbury Railway, was linked to the station with its own (third) platform. It opened in November 1884; and Langley Green & Rood End was renamed Langley Green. The Oldbury Railway, which also linked to Albright and Wilson, had both a passenger station, named Oldbury, on Halesowen Road; and a goods station, at the Birmingham Canal Navigations wharf in Oldbury. Passenger services ran to Oldbury station until March 1915; and the line closed completely other than as a freight line for Albright and Wilson. All traces of its viaduct and embankment beyond Tat Bank Road were destroyed in 1964 when the M5 motorway was built. However until recently a short stub of the line to Oldbury remained in situ but out of use.

The M5 motorway runs through the town on an elevated section supported by reinforced concrete pillars. Access is from junction 2.

The majority of bus services serving Oldbury are operated by National Express West Midlands and Diamond Bus providing links to Birmingham and the Black Country.

Neighbourhoods of Oldbury Town[edit]

  • Bristnall Fields – a residential area centred on the roundabout where Pound Road, Moat Road, Bristnall Hall Road, George Road and Brandhall Road meet. There is a post office, the Plough Inn, a convenience store, launderette, off licence, fish and chip shop, Chinese takeaway and other services. Brandhall Allotments are off Brandhall Road. Oldbury Academy and a Salvation Army Church and Community Centre are on Pound Road.
  • Brades Village – an area of established housing and industry near the border with Tipton.
  • Brandhall – a residential area in the south of Oldbury that began to be developed in the 1930s.
  • Causeway Green – a residential and commercial area where Causeway Green Road and Pound Road cross the Wolverhampton New Road. The former Hen and Chickens public house is now a restaurant. There is a post office/newsagent, convenience store, chemist, fish and chip shop, Chinese takeaway and micropub. A BMW dealership is on Wolverhampton New Road; opposite is an Army Reserve Centre. Brandhall Golf Course off Heron Road, which dated from 1906, permanently closed in 2020.[17] Housing on Old College Drive was built on a Sandwell College site. The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) opened a pet hospital on St Matthews Road in July 2015.[18] Causeway Green Methodist Church on Penncricket Lane opened in 1863.[19]
  • Hill Top – a residential area surrounding Langley (Hill Top) Reservoir and the 225 metres (738 ft) high Warley Hill. Bristnall Hall Academy and Moat Farm Infants School are in the locality. Salop Drive Market Garden is a 3 acres (1 ha) working market garden and local food project operated by Ideal for All a registered charity for disabled and disadvantaged people.
  • Langley Green – an established residential area to the south of the town centre.
  • Lion Farm – a large council housing estate built in the early to late 1960s in the south-west of the town, near the border with Rowley Regis.[20][21] The estate originally included nine tower blocks, but only three of these remain.
  • Londonderry – in the south-east of the town, straddling the border with Smethwick.
  • Rood End – an Edwardian and late Victorian residential area in the east of the town, near the border with Smethwick.
  • Titford – a mainly residential area 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Oldbury town centre. The Titford Canal terminates at Titford Pool in the Titford Pools Urban Reserve Park. In 2015, Aldi opened a new-build supermarket on Wolverhampton Road,[22] opposite an ASDA supermarket.
  • Warley – an area of mostly private housing 2.8 miles (4.5 km) south-east of Oldbury town centre, bordered to the south by Quinton, Birmingham.
  • Whiteheath Gate.

Schools[edit]

Parks[edit]

Oldbury is a heavily built up, industrial area. However, there are a few green spaces including Tividale Park.[23] Broadwell Park features outdoor exercise equipment and fitness stations, as well as a small stream.[24]

Oldbury Borough archives collection[edit]

The archives for the Borough of Oldbury are held at Sandwell Community History and Archives Service

Notable people[edit]

The Sadlers rose to become an eminent family in Oldbury during the nineteenth century. Notable figures included John Sadler (1820-1910) ('the Grand Old Man of Oldbury') and Sir Samuel Alexander Sadler.

Joseph Willott, Jr., member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, was born in Oldbury in 1855.

Writers and academics

Mick Aston, archaeologist and star of the TV programme Time Team, was born in Oldbury and attended Oldbury Grammar School.

Tony Freeth, author of Sons of Albion book, attended Albright High School.[citation needed]

Visual arts

Martin Elliott (1946–2010), the photographer best known for the iconic poster "Tennis Girl", was born in Oldbury and attended Oldbury Grammar School.[25]

Performing arts

Oldbury is the birthplace of Sir John Frederick Bridge, who was a famous organist, composer and author. He was known as "Westminster Bridge" because of his long stint as organist at Westminster Abbey (1882–1919). He composed special music for Queen Victoria's Jubilee and King Edward VII's coronation, in addition to other choral, instrumental and organ music. His brother Joseph Cox Bridge was also an organist, composer and author, becoming well known for his recorder compositions.

Jack Judge (1872–1938), the songwriter and music-hall entertainer best remembered for writing the song "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", was born in Oldbury. The new library building in the town is named after him.

In his early years, the comedian Frank Skinner lived in Oldbury at 181 Bristnall Hall Road. He attended Moat Farm Infants School, St Hubert's Roman Catholic Junior School and Oldbury Technical School, and has been a TV comedian since the late 1980s.

Sports and games

Jodie Stimpson,the British triathlete, was born in Oldbury in 1989, and won Gold in the Individual and Team Relay Triathlon at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

The boxer Pat Cowdell, who achieved stardom during the 1970s and 1980s, was born in nearby Smethwick and lives in Oldbury.

Dr Frank Barney Gorton Stableford, the inventor of the world famous eponymous golf scoring system was born in Oldbury in 1870.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2011 Census – Built-up Areas". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Population Density, 2011 (QS102EW)". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  3. ^ "West Midlands (United Kingdom): Counties and Unitary Districts & Settlements - Population Statistics, Charts and Map". www.citypopulation.de.
  4. ^ "Census 2011 – Summary Key Statistics". Sandwell Trends. Research Sandwell. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Sandwell Town Profiles". Sandwell Trends. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  6. ^ Daniels, Terry (2000). "Old-Time Oldbury Photographs and memories" (PDF). historyofoldbury.co.uk. Oldbury Local History Group. p. 1. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  7. ^ Daniels, Dr Terry (2008). "The History of Oldbury Manor". historyofoldbury.co.uk. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Humble beginnings of a banking empire". expressandstar.com. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Oldbury UD/MB". Vision of Britain. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  10. ^ "History of Oldbury Timeline". History of Oldbury, Langley and Warley. The Local History Societies of Langley, Oldbury and Warley. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  11. ^ "The Story of Oldbury". History of Oldbury, Langley and Warley. The Local History Societies of Langley, Oldbury and Warley. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Oldbury supermarket rings the tills for 30 years". Express & Star.
  13. ^ Ross, Alex. "Toys R Us in Oldbury facing demolition to pave way for new shops". www.expressandstar.com.
  14. ^ Free Radio opens new studios in Oldbury, RadioToday, 24 October 2013
  15. ^ "Winners at the Birmingham Inspiration Awards – Guardian Liberty Voice". guardianlv.com. 5 December 2017.
  16. ^ Intelligence Railway Gazette International May 1983 page 314
  17. ^ "Century-old Oldbury golf course will close despite protests". Stourbridge News. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  18. ^ "Ribbon cutting marks the opening of Oldbury pet hospital". Halesowen News. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Causeway Green Methodist Church celebrating 150th anniversary". Halesowen News. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  20. ^ Superb Photos Of Life On A 1991 British Social Housing Estate, Flashbak, 2 November 2015
  21. ^ Life on the Lion Farm estate 25 years ago, BBC News, 12 August 2015
  22. ^ "October opening date for new Oldbury Aldi store". www.expressandstar.com. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  23. ^ "Friends of Tividale Park". Friends of Tividale Park.
  24. ^ http://www.historyofoldbury.co.uk/Oldtime%20Oldbury.pdf/[dead link]
  25. ^ Childs, Martin (12 April 2010). "Martin Elliott: Photographer whose iconic print adorned millions of bedroom walls". The Independent. Retrieved 18 April 2010.