Places Part Two

Wednesbury Parish Church.

The Parish Church of Wednesbury, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, is of ancient foundation, although the style of the present building is that of the Tudor period.

It stands on a hill overlooking the town, and occupies what was at one time the site of a heathen temple of the god Woden.

The register of the Church dates from the year 1561. Its most distinctive feature is the apse, which consists of five sides of a heptagon.

The proportions of the interior are not satisfactory, the breadth of the nave being almost as great as the length. During the present century very large sums of money have been spent on works of restoration.

The Free Library was opened in 1878, at the end of five years of struggling against public apathy, after the adoption of the Free Libraries' Act by a town's meeting. The cost was over £2,100, of which £1,000 was raised on loan, and the remainder by subscription.

When opened, 4,400 volumes were placed on the shelves, mostly derived from the old Mechanics Institute. There are now 10,400 volumes.

Free Library and Public Baths.

It is a struggling institution, the 1d. in the £ rate producing only £326 a year to cover everything. The Public Baths are in the same block of buildings. They include first and second class swimming baths, and a number of private baths. The architect was the late Mr. C. Newman.

Russell Street (showing a well-known character).

Coal jagging is the local term by which is signified the selling of small loads of coal, generally by pony or donkey load. This system of supplying the needs of poorer householders is very old. The supply of hundredweights in sacks is comparatively very new, straight from the pit bank to the coal house meant merely the additional cost of "drawing" it thither.

In the peculiar method of "drawing" here depicted, the separate loads find quicker sales among small consumers; this is the only excuse for such an outrage on the mechanical principles of draught which here forces the poor beast to overcome the friction of nine wheels instead of about two.

The Post Office, erected by Government, was opened March, 1883. The Science School, erected by County Council of Stafford and the Wednesbury Town Council, was opened in 1895.

The School Board Office was built as a residence by Mr. J. W. Fereday, and is the only "adapted" public building in the town. Beyond is seen part of the Town Hall.

Post Office, Science School, and School Board Offices.

Wednesbury Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Wednesbury Volunteer Fire Brigade was established in 1862, when two fire engines were sent into the town, one by the Royal, and the other by the District Insurance Company.

The second engine was withdrawn about 1874 and in 1878 the Royal Engine was presented to the town. This old manual is still kept in working order, although out of date.

The Town Council have not yet provided a properly equipped fire station, and spend but a very small sum in this preventive service. They do not even horse the engine; yet the brigade is always efficient, and is now under Captain E. M. Scott, the Borough Surveyor. The view is inside the Anchor Hotel yard.

Park Lane House, the subject of our picture, is one of the oldest houses in Wednesbury.

It is now the residence of Alderman Wilson Lloyd, J.P. Formerly it was occupied by Mr. George Royle, father-in-law of Councillor Knowles.

Previous to that it was occupied by Mr. Sparrow, and still earlier by Mr. Elwell, ancestor of Mr. Alfred Elwell, J.P., C.A.

Park Lane House.

The Forge, situated close by, was in former days worked by a water wheel fed by the Forge Pool and the Park Pool. The remains of one of the ancient wood tilt hammers are still preserved, and to be seen at the Forge. Part of the Forge stands on the estate of the late Mr. Sampson Lloyd, banker, of Birmingham, and now belongs to Mr. Wilson Lloyd, his descendant.

Wednesbury Drill Hall.

Wednesbury Drill Hall in Bridge Street, was erected in 1893, the initiative being taken by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, who was anxious to provide for the local volunteers headquarters of a satisfactory character.

Its cost was £4,036. It is a handsome and imposing building in military style of architecture.

The main hall allows a space of 88 feet by 44 feet without any obstruction, and at one end is a gallery for the accommodation of spectators at gymnastic displays. The premises also include armoury, magazine, officers' quarters, men's recreation room, and sergeant instructor's house. Our view shows the G and H Companies, 2nd Volunteer Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, leaving the building on the occasion of a church parade. The Crown Tube Works Band are making their last appearance in the capacity of a Volunteer Band.

St. James' Church was opened in 1848; erected at a cost of £3,300.

Architecturally it possesses no style whatever; this plainness, however, is now compensated for by the internal adornment.

The chancel apse was erected in 1870 as a memorial to Mrs. Twigg.

St. James' Church.

The chancel itself in 1882 was raised (to apse height), and was fully equipped with new stalls, screen, and other necessary ecclesiastical fittings, at a cost of over £1,100, as a memorial to the Rev. Richard Twigg. To these improvements were subsequently added a new organ and organ chamber at a further cost of £500. The picture shows the interior decorated for Easter, 1897. The church is so closely surrounded by buildings that it is impossible to satisfactorily photograph the exterior.

Spring Head Wesleyan Church.

This heavy-looking edifice, Spring Head Wesleyan Church, which is supposed to be in the Italian style of architecture, was erected in 1867 at a cost of nearly £4,000; medals were struck to commemorate the event.

The original meeting house of John Wesley was in Meeting Street, opposite the end of Lloyd Street.

This was superseded in 1812 by a new chapel erected in Spring Head at a cost of £3,300 to seat 620 persons, and which in turn gave place to the present building. The third jubilee of the founding of Methodism in Wednesbury by John Wesley was celebrated in this place of worship in October, 1893. The dimensions of the chapel are 88 by 60 feet, giving seat room for 1,156. The organ was opened (in place of a smaller one) on 13th October, 1869, having cost £683. The pulpit is somewhat elaborate, a fitting contrast to the preaching block outside, which formerly stood in the High Bullen, and from which John Wesley preached when he visited the town.


The rapid development of Wednesbury ironworks some half century ago brought an influx of Irish labourers into the town. To meet their spiritual needs a Catholic Church was erected, but not without bitter opposition by the Protestant community, and the usual cries of "No Popery".

The present church and schools were erected in 1872 by the Rev. Stewart Bathurst from the designs of Gilbert S. Blount, Esq., of London.

It is in the early English style and consists of nave and aisles, chancel and chapels, sacristies and tower.

The presbytery, seen in the background, is the original one, built in 1852 by the Rev. George Montgomery.


St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.

The view of the interior shows the arcading and clerestory of the 84 feet nave (Painswick stone columns) and the apsidal chancel, all with open roof timbers 50 feet above the floor to ridge. The chancel and high altar are well lighted by five tall windows set in gablets which intersect the main roof.

The chapel on the right is that of Our Lady, while that on the left has been re-dedicated to The Sacred Heart. Both side altars contain panels painted by Mr. Joseph Withers, of this town.

This view shows but a vestige of the ancient hall, which has now been converted to a cottage tenement. In 1884 it was more picturesque as a ruin.

About 1775 the hall had become so ruinous that the top storey had to be entirely removed before it became habitable as a farm. For a long time after this it was so used; and was commonly called Mason's Hall, although only the servants' quarters were then tenanted.

Wednesbury Manor House.

How large the original structure was can only be guessed from the statements of Mrs. Howard, of Perry Street, who is 76 years old, and lived there as a child. She says the plough often turned up portions of old foundations.

From the Vicarage (looking over Wood Green).

The vicarage is one of the oldest of the "town ends."

Before the population was large enough to need street names, each cluster of houses was called an "End."

Here the parson's house is still to be found (not in the view), and is nothing more than a simple cottage.

On the opposite side of the road, which was the original high road from Walsall to Wednesbury, stands the ancient hostelry The Leathern Bottle Inn. These cottages are on the same side as the Inn.

The residence of Mr. A. Elwell, J.P., is seen in the trees. Large trees are exceedingly scarce in Wednesbury. The avenue in St. Paul's Road disappeared nearly a quarter of a century ago, while the large elms on the opposite side of the road in the picture were blown down in a storm some three years ago. Tree planting deserves to be artificially fostered in Wednesbury.

Wood Green (from the Station).


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