Stourbridge

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Stourbridge
Village
Foster Street, Stourbridge - geograph.org.uk - 907117.jpg
Foster Street, Stourbridge; leading towards the railway station
Stourbridge is located in the United Kingdom
Stourbridge
Stourbridge
Stourbridge shown within the United Kingdom
Population 69,829 (2011)[1]
OS grid reference SO899844
Country United Kingdom
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town STOURBRIDGE
Postcode district DY7 – DY9
Dialling code 01384
01562
Police  
Fire  
Ambulance  
UK Parliament
List of places
United Kingdom
52°27′27″N 2°08′52″W / 52.4575°N 2.1479°W / 52.4575; -2.1479Coordinates: 52°27′27″N 2°08′52″W / 52.4575°N 2.1479°W / 52.4575; -2.1479

Stourbridge /ˈstaʊərbrɪ/ is a castle city in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, in the West Midlands county of England. Historically part of Worcestershire and situated on the River Stour, Stourbridge developed during the industrial revolution into a centre of glass making. As of 2018 the town includes the suburbs of Amblecote, Lye, Norton, Oldswinford, Pedmore, Wollaston, Wollescote, and Wordsley.

The 2011 UK census recorded the town's population as 63,298. Margot James of the Conservative Party has held the Stourbridge parliamentary constituency since 2010.[2]

Geography and administration[edit]

Stourbridge is a part of the West Midlands metropolitan county and conurbation, in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley. Stourbridge is located about 13 miles west of Birmingham, at the edge of the industrial Midlands, located between Kidderminster and Dudley.

Much of the town consists of suburban streets, interspersed with green spaces. Stourbridge borders on green belt land, and is close to unspoiled countryside with rural Shropshire close by to the west. The Clent Hills, Kinver Edge and large areas of farmland lie to the south and west.

The town and surrounding area is at the south western extremity of the Black Country and the majority of the working-class population retain the region's accent and dialect.[citation needed]

Closest cities, towns and villages[edit]

Civic history[edit]

Stourbridge was in the ancient parish of Oldswinford, Worcestershire, but the manor of Bedcote (which was probably co-terminous) was a separate manor. This perhaps led to Stourbridge being a separate township for Poor Law and other purposes, distinct from Amblecote (which being in Staffordshire was separately administered) and the rest of Oldswinford. In 1834, the Stourbridge Union was formed consisting of Kingswinford, Amblecote, Stourbridge, Oldswinford, and most of the parish of Halesowen, though not Romsley, Hunnington, or Warley Oldbury.[3]

The town obtained a Board of Improvement Commissioners under an Act of 1825. A further Act of 1866 divided it into three wards and allowed the neighbouring hamlets of Amblecote, Wollaston and Lye to accede to the town if they wished.[4] The Improvement Commissioners were replaced by an Urban District Council in the 1890s. The town subsequently obtained a charter as a municipal borough. This later absorbed Lye and Wollescote Urban District Council, and in 1965 much of Amblecote. Since 1974, it has been part of the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley.

Stourbridge takes its name from the River Stour, which flows through the town and for centuries formed the border between Worcestershire and Staffordshire. But the border was moved a couple of miles north in 1966, when Amblecote Urban District (previously in Staffordshire) was incorporated into the Borough of Stourbridge. This arrangement lasted eight years until the advent of the Local Government Act 1972 in 1974, when Stourbridge was amalgamated into the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley and became part of the wider West Midlands county.

Stourbridge glass[edit]

The town gives its name to local glass production, which has been manufactured since the early 1600s. The local glass proved particularly suitable for the industry, taken up predominantly after the immigration of French coal miners in the Huguenot diaspora.[5] However, most of the glass industry was actually located in surrounding areas including Wordsley, Amblecote and Oldswinford. The rich natural resources of coal and fireclay for lining furnaces made it the perfect location for the industry. Glass making peaked in the 19th century, encouraged by the famous glass-making family, the Jeavons.[6]

The 1861 census identified that 1,032 residents of Stourbridge were involved in the glass trade in some way. Of these, 541 were glass workers - an increase from 409 in 1851, believed to be partly caused by the collapse of the glass industry in nearby Dudley in the 1850s.[7] The vast majority of those involved in the glass trade came from Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire. 9% came from other parts of England and 0.2% had come from abroad. Of particular note are glass cutters, as 8.1% had come from Ireland, believed to be as a result of the decline of the Irish glasscutting industry in the first half of the 1800s. The houses inhabited by glassworkers were of a much better quality in comparison to the slums in which the nailmakers of Lye and Wollescote lived. However, only a few glassworkers owned their own houses.[6]

Stourbridge glass is recognised as amongst the finest in the world and has been used countless times as gifts for royalty and visiting dignitaries.[citation needed] However, in recent years, the industry has been almost obliterated by the effects of globalisation, with the glassmaking companies moving abroad.[citation needed]

The Red House Cone, thought to be the only complete remaining glass cone of its kind, stands on the Stourbridge Canal at Wordsley. It is the site of the Red House Glass Museum and there are regular demonstrations of blowing glass in the traditional way, and a collection of Stourbridge glass can be seen at Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford.

The other landmark heritage site is that of Tudor Crystal, also standing on the side of the canal, at Amblecote. Tudor Crystal is the last remaining fully functioning glassmaking factory in Stourbridge to be making lead crystal in full production.[citation needed] It is also famous for the fact that it still makes all of its lead crystal in a traditional glass making cone dating back to 1788. Visitors are welcome to take a tour to see the glass being made (mornings only).

Festival of Glass in Stourbridge[edit]

The British Glass Biennale exhibition is located in the Lower Glasshouse, Ruskin Glass Centre, Wollaston Road, Stourbridge. It takes place every two years and showcases the work of glass artists based in the UK.

The British Glass Biennale was set up to be a part of the inaugural International Festival of Glass in 2004. Prior to this show, there had been no major review of the British glass scene since the 1993 Crafts Council touring exhibition 'The Glass Show' .[8]

The Ruskin Glass Centre is situated in Stourbridge's historic glass quarter; located within the industrial heartland of the West Midlands; on the site of the former Webb Corbett/Royal Doulton glass factory. It is also the site where the British Glass Biennale exhibition and the International Glass Festival are hosted. The Centre is a subsidiary of the Ruskin Mill Educational Trust, a charity focused on specialist education for young people with learning difficulties.

Transport[edit]

Stourbridge has a railway station called Stourbridge Junction on the Birmingham to Kidderminster line, with a frequent and efficient train service and the town is also served by the shortest (half a mile) railway line branch line in Europe,[citation needed] the Stourbridge Town Branch Line, with a shuttle service from Stourbridge Junction on the Birmingham - Kidderminster line to Stourbridge Town railway station in the town centre.

There is also a complex network of bus routes, both interurban and local.

Stourbridge lies on the River Stour and is linked to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and the Dudley No. 1 Canal by the Stourbridge Canal. This places the town on the Stourport Ring, a popular route with holidaymakers and is navigable by narrowboat.

The town is served by National Route 54 of the National Cycle Network.

Transport history[edit]

Stourbridge Junction is on the former Oxford-Worcester-Wolverhampton Line. Just to the north of the station is Stambermill Viaduct over the River Stour and the A458 road. The railway towards Dudley closed to passengers in 1962 and is now used solely as a freight line.

The railway formerly continued to an interchange basin with the Stourbridge Canal. The old Stourbridge Town station, when demolished, was recovered and materials used for buildings at Tyseley Locomotive Works. In 2006, as part of a pilot scheme, a flywheel-powered Parry People Mover began operating on the line, providing a Sunday service between Stourbridge Junction station and Stourbridge Town. That ceased but it was thought it might restart when the franchise for the local train operating company, Central Trains, expired and was rebid. A bus service operated between Stourbridge Junction and the town in place of the train, but the train service resumed in 2009, operated by London Midland until 2017, and now by Pre Metro Operations, on behalf of West Midlands Trains.[9]

The Stourbridge Lion locomotive, was built in Stourbridge at the foundry of Foster, Rastrick and Co. in 1828. The shell of the building still stands and has been incorporated into the Lion Health Centre, which opened in October 2014. The Lion arrived in New York City on 13 May 1829, becoming the first steam locomotive to run on a commercial line in the United States. The locomotive is quite famous in the USA, although few people in Stourbridge have heard of it. It is currently on display at the B&O Railroad Museum Baltimore, Maryland, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.. A clock has recently been unveiled in the town to celebrate the engine.

Midland Metro[edit]

The Midland Metro is a tram that is planned to run to Stourbridge from Walsall via Wednesbury and Dudley on the South Staffordshire Line, the business plan of which was submitted to Network Rail for approval in March 2011.[10]

Education[edit]

Stourbridge is home to two colleges - the King Edward VI College, founded in 1552 (becoming a sixth form college in 1976);[11] and Stourbridge College of Further Education.

In addition, there is a sixth form for both genders at Old Swinford Hospital school, founded in 1667 by Thomas Foley.[12]

Stourbridge has several secondary schools including Redhill School, Old Swinford Hospital, Pedmore Technology College and Ridgewood High School, as well as Elmfield Rudolf Steiner School.

Old Swinford Hospital school is currently the highest performing school in the area.[13]

Shopping[edit]

Stourbridge's shopping centre lies on or near the High Street. Here can be found branches of many banks and building societies as well as big retailers such as Wilko, and Specsavers. There is also a Wetherspoons pub and a number of food outlets and cafes. Off the High Street is the Ryemarket Shopping Centre which houses a number of shops including a Waitrose and WH Smith.[14] Located at the bottom of the High Street is the Crown Centre, which includes a mix of retail and community facilities and includes an underground car park.

Culture[edit]

Sport[edit]

Stourbridge Football Club and Stourbridge Cricket Club both share the War Memorial Athletic Ground in Amblecote, and Stourbridge Rugby Club play at Stourton Park in nearby Stourton and Redhill Volleyball Club play at Redhill School.

Music[edit]

During the 1980s and the early 1990s, four Stourbridge bands - Diamond Head, The Wonder Stuff, Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned's Atomic Dustbin - all enjoyed chart success. Other notable musicians include Clint Mansell, the 80s Doom Metal band Witchfinder General and Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin) who attended the then King Edward VI Grammar School for Boys (now King Edward VI College, Stourbridge)

Media[edit]

From the 1860s until the early 1980s, the area was covered by the County Express newspaper. Archives are now on microfilm in Stourbridge Library. Today, Stourbridge is covered by the Stourbridge News, the Express & Star and the Stourbridge Chronicle.

The Stourbridge area is served by commercial stations broadcasting from Wolverhampton and Birmingham as well as three BBC Local Radio stations broadcasting from Worcestershire, Shropshire and Birmingham: BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC Radio Shropshire and BBC WM.

Stourbridge used to be served by four cinemas. The "Danilo" at the end of the Hagley Road is now the site of the Picture House nightclub. The oldest and smallest (The Scala, later known as the Savoy) was to be found at the top of Lower High Street. A third on the High Street (The Odeon) was incorporated into the Owen Owen store, which closed in about 1990. This was discovered when demolition began to create the new Wilkinsons store in the mid-1990s.

The Odeon possessed a large pipe organ. A mosaic from the cinema floor was rescued and moved to the crown centre nearby. The fourth and largest cinema was the "Kings" halfway down New Road, nearly opposite the Methodist church. Originally the old "King's Hall" it was rebuilt and much enlarged as the "Kings" around 1938.

Religion[edit]

Places of worship include:

  • St Thomas' Church, Market Street. The apse and north chancel screen at St Thomas' Church were added by W. H. William Bidlake.[15]
  • St Mary's Church, Oldswinford
  • Our Lady and All Saints Catholic Church, Union Street
  • St James' Church, Wollaston
  • Amblecote Holy Trinity Church, Vicarage Road
  • St Peter's, Pedmore
  • Chawn Hill Church
  • Presbyterian-Unitarian Chapel, Lower High Street. Built 1788.[16]
  • Quaker Meeting House, founded 1689.[17]
  • Hanbury Hill Baptist Church[18]
  • St John's United Reformed Church.[19][20] Built in 1860, the architect was G. E. Street[21] and the building is listed Grade II by English Heritage. After a period as a local ecumenical partnership, the church is now home to a small United Reformed Church congregation, seeking to build bridges into the community.

Places of interest[edit]

Development[edit]

The recent £50m rebuilding of the Crown Centre shopping mall, which originally opened in 1985 has regenerated a large section of the town centre. It included the creation of a 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) Tesco anchor store, a two-level underground car park, six retail stores and a central food court. Work on demolishing the original Crown Centre and Bell Street multi-storey car park took place in the spring of 2012 and the project was completed by autumn 2013. Development of the new centre was completed in late October 2013 in which Tesco opened its doors to new customers in the same period.[22] Other tenants in the centre included Subway, Timpsons and Explore Learning.

A long-running cafe, The Well, closed in early 2013 after 22 years of service in the High Street.[23] It has now been replaced by a restaurant called Vines.

Stourbridge Bus Station has undergone redevelopment and re-opened as Stourbridge Interchange in April 2012. Consultation for the new station first began in 2006 but construction did not begin until late 2010.

In 2014, the Lion Health medical centre opened in the rejuvenated former foundry of Foster, Rastrick and Company where the Stourbridge Lion locomotive was manufactured. The next phase of regeneration on the foundry site will create parkland next to the canal with a heritage and community hub. The hub of buildings on the new site is to be called Riverside House.

Famous residents[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Stourbridge appears in two great works of poetry from the 20th century: Finnegans Wake by James Joyce and The Cantos of Ezra Pound.

- James Joyce Finnegans Wake, part 1, Episode 6. Page 184.

- Ezra Pound, Canto LXVI, line 30, Page 380.

Stourbridge found its way into Pound's Cantos via John Adams the second President of the United States, whose diary entry from 1786 Pound translated into his own epic poem.

Stourbridge Golf Course is also mentioned by P. G. Wodehouse.

- P. G. Wodehouse, Money for Nothing, Chapter 5.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "All UK Towns & Cities in Population Order (2011 Census)". LoveMyTown.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 
  2. ^ "About Margot James". Margot James - Member of Parliament for Stourbridge. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Higginbotham, Peter. "The Workhouse in Stourbridge, Worcestershire". www.workhouses.org.uk. 
  4. ^ 'Parishes: Old Swinford', Victoria County History, Worcestershire, volume 3 (1913), pp. 213-223. [1] Date accessed: 28 March 2012.
  5. ^ Boucher, B. The Huguenot Role in Industrial England
  6. ^ a b Matsumura, Takao (1984). "Flint glass makers in the local community". The Labour Aristocracy Revisited: The Victorian Flint Glass Makers, 1850-80. Manchester University Press. pp. 149–161. ISBN 0-7190-0931-6. 
  7. ^ Philips, David (1977). Crime and Authority in Victorian England: The Black Country 1835-1860. Taylor & Francis. p. 29. ISBN 0-87471-866-X. 
  8. ^ "British Glass Biennale 2012 - British Glass Biennale 2012". Biennale.org.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Stourbridge Shuttle". Pre Metro Operations Ltd. Retrieved 5 March 2018. 
  10. ^ "Tram-train line work could launch in 2014 « Express & Star". Expressandstar.com. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "More about King Edward's". King Edward VI College Stourbridge. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "School History". Old Swinford Hospital School. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Secondary schools and colleges in Dudley". BBC News. 12 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "Shopping in Stourbridge Town Centre". Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. Retrieved 15 October 2009. 
  15. ^ The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, Nikolaus Pevsner, 1968 p268
  16. ^ "Priestley centenary". 
  17. ^ "Stourbridge.co.uk". 
  18. ^ "Hanbury Hill Baptist Church | Stourbridge". Hanburyhill.org.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  19. ^ Good Stuff IT Services. "Church of St John the Evangelist - Dudley - Dudley - England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  20. ^ "St John's United Reformed Church: NatWest CommunityForce". Communityforce.natwest.com. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  21. ^ George Edmund Street
  22. ^ "50m-stourbridge-tesco-opens-after-year-of-work". Express & Star. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  23. ^ "Stourbridge_coffee_shop_calls_in_administrators". Stourbridge News. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 

External links[edit]