Rowley Regis History


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer


"ROWLEY-REGIS, a parish in the N. division of Seisdon hundred, county Stafford, 3 miles S.E. of Dudley, its post town, and 7 W. of Birmingham. It is situated in a rich mineral district, abounding with clay, coal, and ironstone, and is bounded on the S. and S.W. by the river Stour, which separates it from the counties of Salop and Worcester. The parish, which is of large extent, comprises the hamlets of Cradley Heath, Old Hill, and Reddall Hill. The village is a thriving and rapidly-increasing place, and the seat of a prosperous coal and iron trade.

The manufacture of nails, and an extensive hardware trade are also carried on. The original village is situated near the old church, but there are numerous hamlets and detached clusters of houses scattered over the parish. A large portion of the inhabitants are employed in the collieries and iron-works. The surface, which is uneven, is traversed by a range of hills, called the Rowley hills, which extend in a northerly direction across the parish, and attain an elevation of near 900 feet above the level of the sea. Numerous streams take their rise in these hills, and flow in opposite directions towards the Trent and Severn; and in the sides of hills are numerous quarries, which supplied materials for paving the streets of Birmingham and other towns in the vicinity.

The stratum of coal lies at a depth of from 80 to 200 yards below the surface, varying from 10 to 13 in thickness; and there are numerous collieries in operation. At the Cradley works, which are now chiefly employed for converting pig-iron into bars and rods, the experiment was first tried of manufacturing iron with pit coal instead of charcoal, which had been previously used for that purpose; and in the 19th of James I., Mr. Dudley, at that time proprietor, obtained a patent for that mode of operation. The Birmingham canal enters the parish at the Brades, and passes through Tividale for about a mile, and the Dudley canal at Gosty Hill, through which it is conveyed by a tunnel nearly 1,500 feet in length.

The glebe comprises about 61 acres, of which 9 are old enclosure, and the remainder was, by Act of Parliament, in 1799, for enclosing waste lands, allotted in lieu of the vicarial tithes. By the same Act the proprietors of the land were obliged to purchase the rectorial tithes at the valuation of the commissioners, or to give land from their old enclosures in lieu of them. The living formerly belonged to the Abbey of Halesowen, having been annexed to the vicarage of Clent by Robert de Somery.

The church, dedicated to St. Giles, has a square tower containing six bells. The tower was rebuilt in 1858. There is also a district church at Reddall Hill, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, value £300. The parochial charities produce about £101 per annum, of which £73 goes to Lady Monnin's and Macmillan's schools. There are National schools for both sexes. The Wesleyans, Baptists, Primitive Methodists, and New Connexion, have each a place of worship. Sir Stephen Littleton, of Holbech House, in the parish of Kingswinford, and one of the conspirators in the gunpowder plot, was for some time concealed in the old residence of the Whites."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]