West Bromwich, Staffordshire

Description
West Bromwich, a market-town, a municipal, county, and parliamentary borough, the head of a poor law union and county court district, and a parish in Staffordshire. The town stands on the river Tame, on branches of the Birmingham Canal, 5 miles NW by W of Birmingham, and 114 by rail from London. It has a station on the Birmingham and Wolverhampton branch of the G.W.R. and a head post office. It was at the close of the 18th century a rural village amid a barren heath, but is now a town upwards of 3 miles long, all astir with industry, and progressing rapidly. The High Street runs north and south, and is 1 1/2 mile long; many handsome streets go east and west, and public buildings, churches, factories, and fine private residences are numerous. The town-hall, erected in 1875, is a fine building with a tower 130 feet high; it contains the municipal offices and a spacious hall for concerts, public meetings, &c. The market hall in the High Street adjoins the town-hall. The West Bromwich Institute, built in 1885 at a cost of £13,000, includes reading rooms, lecture theatre, class rooms, laboratories, and a school of art. The West Bromwich Law Courts, a fine Renaissance building erected in 1891, comprise a court-room for quarter sessions, petty sessions, and county courts, offices, and police cells. The District Hospital was opened in 1871 and enlarged in 1882. There is a free library with branch reading-rooms. All Saints' Church, on an eminence at the north-east side of the parish, is an ancient structure, consisting of nave, chancel, aisles, south porch, and an embattled western tower. The original church belonged to the convent of Worcester, passed to the priory of Sandwell, and was rebuilt in the 14th century. In 1786 it was almost entirely pulled down and rebuilt; in 1872 it was restored on the lines of the old Decorated Church, which had been pulled down; and in 1888 further renovations were made in the interior. It contains a curious Perpendicular font, ancient monuments to the Whorwood and Turton families, and a memorial window of 1854 to the late Earl of Dartmouth. Christ Church, in High Street, was built in 1828, and is a stone edifice in the Perpendicular style with a square embattled tower 114 feet high. Holy Trinity Church, in Trinity Road, was built in 1841, and is a brick structure in the Early English style. St James' Church, at Hill Top, was built also in 1841, and is a brick structure with two turrets. St Peter's Church, in New Town, was built in 1859, and is a stone edifice with a small tower. St Andrew's, in Old Meeting Street, built in 1867, is a cruciform brick edifice. St John the Evangelist, in Sam's Lane, built in 1878, is a brick structure in the Early English style. St Paul's, Gold's Hill, was built in 1886. All the above belong to separate ecclesiastical parishes, and there are six other chapels of ease and mission churches. There are Roman Catholic, Wes-leyan, Primitive Methodist, Congregational, Baptist, Unitarian, and Catholic Apostolic chapels. The workhouse, in Hallam Street, was erected in 1851 at a cost of about £30,000, and was enlarged in 1884 and 1887. The new cemetery, on an eminence near the old church,was opened in 1859 and enlarged in 1887, comprises about 15 acres, and has two chapels.

The prosperity of the town has arisen from rich local mines of ironstone and coal. Extensive manufactures are carried on in all the departments of Birmingham hardware. There are also iron works, soap works (Hudson's), brass foundries, mailings, limekilns, brickworks, &c., and large gas works. The town is well paved, sewered, and well supplied with water. It was incorporated in 1882, and is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. It is divided into the wards of Greet's Green, Hill Top, Lyndon, Sandwell, Spon Lane, and Town Hall, and has a separate commission of the peace and a separate court of quarter sessions. Under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, it was made a parliamentary borough, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Under the Local Government Act of 1888 it became a county borough. Two stations on the Birmingham and Wolverhampton branch of the G.W.R., of the names of West Bromwich and Swan Village, each with telegraph, are at the town, and four stations of the L. & N.W.R. are within a mile of the parish church. Numerous branches of canals also give great facility for traffic. A weekly market is held on Saturday. There are three banks, a theatre, a police station, and a Constitutional Club. In 1895 the well-known example of ancient domestic architecture known as Oak House was acquired by the Mayor, and after having been thoroughly restored was presented by him to the town as a museum. Swan Village, Spon Lane, Hill Top, and Greek's Green are outlying portions of the town. Population of the municipal and parliamentary borough, 59,474.

The civil parish comprises 5851 acres. Population in 1841, 26,121; in 1861, 41,795; in 1881, 56,295; and in 1891, 59,474. The surface is pleasingly undulated, and some of it is in a state of high cultivation. The manor belonged in 1230 to the barons of Dudley, in 1293 to Walton de Everons, in 1533 to the Stanleys, in 1660 to Sir Richard Shelton, and subsequently to the Legge family, the ancestors of the Earl of Dartmouth. A Benedictine priory was founded here in the time of Henry II. or of Richard I. by William de Offney, was given at the dissolution to Cardinal Wolsey, and passed soon to the Legges. Sandwell Hall rose on or near the site of the priory, was for many years the seat of the Dartmouth family, is occupied now partly as a girl's school and college, and partly as a training college for servants. The park itself possesses much beauty, and is now let in allotments. A portion of the estate is occupied by the mines of the Sandwell Park Colliery Company. Dartmouth Park, comprising 66 acres, was opened as a public park in 1878. Greek's Green Recreation Ground was opened 1894. Kenrick Park, in Spon Lane, has been presented, and was opened in 1896. The population of the ecclesiastical parishes is as follows:-All Saints, 5784; Christ Church (constituted in 1836), 12,653; St James (in 1845), 5466; Holy Trinity (in 1842), 6728; St Peter (in 1861), 7743; St Andrew (in 1879), 8792; St John the Evangelist (in 1879), 8091; St Paul (in 1887), 4049. The livings are vicarages in the diocese of Lichfield; net value of All Saints, £400 with residence; of Christ Church, £280 with residence; of St James, £203; of Holy Trinity, £341; of St Peter, £300; of St Andrew, £161 with residence; of St John the Evangelist, £191 with residence. St Paul's has no endowment. Patron of All Saints, the Earl of Dartmouth; of Holy Trinity, trustees; of Christ Church, the Earl of Dartmouth and trustees; of St James, St Peter, and St John, the Bishop of Lichfield; of St Andrew, the Vicar of West Bromwich.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5

Owners of Land

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Staffordshire is online.