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 interest.

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.

From 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.

After several 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.

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.


Two adverts from 1909.


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 following pages.

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.

September, 1897.

1. Faces part 1
2. Faces part 2
3. Places part 1
4. Places part 2
5. Industries part 1
6. Industries part 2
7. Adverts

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Faces part 1