"Smethwick, a large and populous manufacturing hamlet, forms the northern division of Harborne parish, and is distant from three to four miles W by N of Birmingham, near the Dudley road, the Birmingham Canal, and the Stour Valley Railway which has a station here.
It includes the southern part of Spon Lane, many extensive iron works, and two large glass works. The Summit Bridge, on the canal, near Galton Hall (the residence of John Freeth, Esq) is a neat iron structure of one arch. The Birmingham Plate Glass Works, on the south side of the canal, employs 350 workpeople. Chance Brothers & Co's extensive Glass Works, in Spon Lane, are the largest crown and sheet glass works in England, and employ about 1200 hands. Here was made nearly all the glass for the Crystal Palace, erected in London in 1851. Messrs Fox, Henderson & Co, were the contractors for building this immense structure, and nearly all the ironwork used in its construction was manufactured at their extensive Iron Works at Smethwick & Woodside, where they employ from 1000 to 2000 hands.
Here are about a dozen other foundries and iron works, for the manufacture of bar, rod, and sheet iron; steel, cast and wrought iron articles, machinery, etc, and here is the large foundry which forms part of James Watt & Co's celebrated steam engine manufactory.
Most of the iron works here have been established during the last 20 years. They give employment to many of the inhabitants of the surrounding parishes. Many new streets are now in course of formation, and the bustle created by the iron and glass works, and the extensive traffic on the canal, give Smethwick the air of an important town."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]
'Some Records of Smethwick'
by Frederick William Hackwood
Published 1896, by Telephone Printing Co, Smethwick.
'Smethwick from Hamlet to County Borough. A Brief History'
by Kenneth Walter Inskip
Published 1966, by Smethwick Corporation, Smethwick.
'Harborne & Smethwick Tithe Apportionment, 1839-1843. Transcription & Triple Index'
by AC & D Guest
Published 1988, by Eusebeia, Warley.
'Probate Inventories of Smethwick Residents, 1647-1747, in the LJRO & PRO'
by Mary Bodfish
Published 1992, by Smethwick Local History Society, Smethwick.
'Smethwick Hall Boys' School. The History'
by Michael Hall
Published 1992, by Smethwick Hall Boys' School, Smethwick.
'A Hundred Years of Engineering Craftsmanship. A Short History Tracing the
Adventurous Development of Tangyes Ltd, Smethwick'
by Rachel E Waterhouse
Published 1957, London & Smethwick.
'Smethwick in Old Photographs'
by John Maddison
Published 1989, by Alan Sutton, Stroud, Gloucestershire.
A transcription of the Monumental Inscriptions of Holy Lane Cemetery is included in a transcript of eleven Smethwick Cemeteries and Churches (Holy Lane Cemetery, St Alban, St Chad, St Hilda, St Mark, St Mary, St Matthew, St Michael & All Angels, St Paul, and St Stephen), published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.
Church of England History
For Anglican church history see individual Parishes
Nonconformist Church History
The Wesleyan Methodist's first chapel in Smethwick was at the French Walls, replaced by a new chapel in Rabone Lane in 1826. This in turn was replaced by a chapel in New Street built in the Classical style to designs of GB Nichols of West Bromwich in 1855-6. The New Street chapel was closed in1931, being replaced by the Akrill Memorial Chapel in the Uplands area. The Halford Lane Wesleyan chapel was operating in Brasshouse Lane by 1866, it was was replaced by a new building in 1882 and closed in 1970. A mission chapel was built in Slough Lane in 1889 and was used until 1939.
The New Connexion Methodist Mount Zion Chapel was built in Baldwin Street in 1865, replaced by a new building on the same site in 1885. It became a United Methodist chapel in 1907 and closed in 1957.
The Primitive Methodist Chapel in Rolfe Street, built in 1849, replaced an earlier building in the same street. This in turn was replaced by a larger building, adjoining the old one, in 1873. It was sold in 1886 and a new chapel built in Regent Street. A Primitive Methodist Chapel built in Corser Street in 1878 became a Methodist church from 1932 until 1955. The Primitive Methodist Chapel in Middlemore Road, built in 1901, was closed in 1965.
Cross Street Baptist Chapel was built in 1842 but closed in 1853 due to declining attendence. A new chapel was built in Cross Street in 1869 and replaced by a larger building in the Baroque style in Regent Street in 1879.
The Roman Catholic church in Smethwick was founded by members of the Oratory in Hagley Road. Services were held in the school, in Watt Street from 1863. The church of St Philip Neri, in Messenger Road, was built over a long period, the nave was opened in 1893 but the church was not completed until 1908.
Church of England Registers
For Anglican church records see individual Parishes
The following Smethwick nonconformist registers are deposited at Sandwell Community History & Archives Service:
Temperance Hall Cross Street Baptist. 1906-1966 (Mar)
Baldwin Street New Connexion Methodist. 1885-1952 (Bapts)
Halford Lane Wesleyan Methodist. 1871-1969 (Bapts)
Middlemore Road Primitive Methodist. 1893-1965 (Bapts)
New Street Wesleyan Methodist. 1870-1921 (Bapts)
Regent Street Primitive Methodist. 1927-1971 (Bapts)
Slough Lane Wesleyan Methodist. 1921-1939 (Bapts)
The registers of the Catholic church of St Philip Neri, Smethwick, Baptisms 1863-date, Marriages 1867-date, Confirmations 1867-date & Deaths/Burials 1882-date remain with the incumbent.
The transcription of the section for Smethwick from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.
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You can see the administrative areas in which Smethwick has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.
You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SP024875 (Lat/Lon: 52.485414, -1.966087), Smethwick which are provided by:
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- Vision of Britain (Click "Historical units & statistics" for administrative areas.)
- English Jurisdictions in 1851 (Unfortunately the LDS have removed the facility to enable us to specify a starting location, you will need to search yourself on their map.)
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