|This wonderful and extremely rare book was published
in 1897 by Wednesbury’s best known printing company, Ryder &
Son, who published the Wednesbury Herald, the local
newspaper, and also the town’s directory, Ryder’s Annual.
It was published to obtain advertising
revenue from the many local businesses who advertised in the
book. Their adverts are full of information, and of great
interest today. It is not known how many were printed, but
very few seem to have survived. I have spoken to a number of
book sellers who deal in this kind of thing, and have never
seen one after many years in the trade.
The book offers a unique insight into
life in the successful and rapidly developing town. It is
the only example of its kind, featuring images of the town’s
dignitaries, local industrialists, councillors, photographs
of the town centre, and countless adverts describing locally
made products and industries. It is full of information and
In August 2013 a new limited edition of
the book was produced by myself, Richard Garbett, and Tony
Highfield. It was a great success, and instantly sold-out.
The cover of the new edition.
|Ryder's purpose-built printing room measured 60 feet by
20 feet and was lit by a lantern roof.
The company had one of the largest stocks of type in the
district, which was always well-sorted and up-to-date.
There were three fast-running cylinder machines, an
'Arab' platen, guillotines, and presses etc., which were
powered by an 'Otto' gas engine.
Ryder's printing works.
Ryder's Offices on Spring Head.
|Ryders was founded in 1878 by Robert Ryder, who took over
the Wednesbury Newspaper Company Limited, which produced the
Wednesbury Herald newspaper, established in 1875.
1878 the weekly newspaper, which sold on Saturdays for one
penny, was produced by Ryders.
In 1883 Ryder's offices and printing works were built on
the corner of Spring Head and Wharfedale Street.
|The premises, included the Herald Office, Wharfedale
Printing Works, and the Ryder's family home.
years of dereliction, it has been acquired by a property
rental company and divided into flats.
As well as Ryder's Annual, which first appeared in
December 1878 and was published for over forty years, Ryders
produced other books including several by Wednesbury
historian Frederick William Hackwood, and a book on
Methodism published in 1920.
Ryder's Offices, as they are today.
|Robert Ryder, the founder of the business, was born on
15th March, 1844. He had a son, James Edward Ryder, born in
1867. Robert died on 2nd December, 1910.
As well as
printers, the firm were lithographers, engravers,
bookbinders, and stationers. They produced postcards, and
specialised in handbills, circulars, booklets, account
books, and advertising literature, in fact everything needed
by local businesses.
The firm also produced Ryder's Railway and Tramway Sheet
which consisted of timetables for Wednesbury and Darlaston
public transport and several adverts.
Seaside towns and
places of popular resort inland all have
their Books of Views, more or less
artistically produced, which visitors
purchase and preserve as mementoes of
their holidays. Wednesbury is not a
fashionable watering place, nor can it
boast anything in its immediate
neighbourhood which is at all attractive
to the average tourist. It was not for
the benefit of chance visitors to our
town that we decided to publish this
collection of local pictures.
Wednesbury, however it may be viewed by
outsiders, is a spot dear to the heart
of every man and woman who was born in
the town, and it is for the satisfaction
and pleasure of Wednesbury people that
we have collected and printed the
portraits and pictures contained in the
It was a bold
venture on our part. We knew that the
cost of production would be very great,
and the undertaking, being quite a novel
one, was attended by much risk. All
doubts and fears, however, as to the
reception likely to be accorded our
book, were set at rest long before the
day of publication arrived. Orders
poured in, not only from the town and
neighbourhood, but from all parts of the
country, and, indeed, of the world. We
have been especially gratified by the
anxious enquiries which have reached us
from India, America, Africa, Australia,
New Zealand, and many other countries to
which Wednesbury men have gone out in
search of fortune. They are longing to
renew the scenes of their youth, and
this book will enable them to do so.
They will tread again the old streets,
noting with mingled feelings the changes
which have taken place since their day;
they will stand face to face with those
who are men of mark in the town today,
and will pick out with pleasure those
whom it was once their privilege to know
in the flesh.
It has been our
endeavour to record in permanent form
the appearance of the town and of its
principal men in this notable year of
the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. How far we
have succeeded it shall be left to
others to decide. Omission under all the
heads which we have chosen for the title
of our work will probably be pointed
out. We will therefore excuse ourselves
beforehand by mentioning that several
gentlemen who were approached were too
modest to allow their photographs to
appear amongst the "Faces" whilst with
regard to the other departments we may
say that some views which we desired to
include were not obtainable.
Notwithstanding all this we claim to
have produced an interesting book.
Our warmest thanks
are due in several quarters. Dr. Dingley,
an enthusiastic and successful amateur
photographer, kindly placed at our
disposal his album of photographs,
containing a very large number of local
views taken during the past five or six
years. Nearly all the pictures not
bearing the photographer's name are from
his camera. Mr. F. W. Hackwood, F.R.H.S.,
has helped us largely with the
descriptive matter which accompanies the
different views. His knowledge of the
town and its history is unsurpassed, and
he has imparted an interest to the
letterpress which could have been
acquired from no other source. The
advertisers and others have also helped
us in our work, and to all alike we
offer our hearty thanks.
With these few
introductory remarks we send forth
"Wednesbury Faces, Places, and
Industries" on its career, and we hope
and believe it will afford pleasure and
profit to thousands.
Herald " Office, Wednesbury.
Faces part 1