Wednesbury in 1859


Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis - 1859

WEDNESBURY, or WODENSBURY (ST. BARTHOLOMEW), a market-town and parish, in the union of WEST BROMWICH, S. division of the hundred of OFFLOW and of the county of STAFFORD, 19 miles (S.S.E.) from Stafford, and 117 (N. W.) from London; containing 11,625 inhabitants. This place, denominated by the Saxons Weadesbury, and now commonly called Wedgebury, was fortified in 916, against the Danes, by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great: at the Conquest it was held in royal demesne.

The shops are lighted with gas from the extensive works at West Bromwich, three miles distant. The trade consists principally in the manufacture of articles of iron, both cast and wrought, such as screws, hinges, gun-locks, gun-barrels, coach-ironmongery, agricultural implements, apparatus for gas-lights, &c., many of which are prepared for exportation. In the vicinity are numerous mines, yielding a superior kind of coal, which, from its great heat, is admirably adapted for the forges; and a species of iron is here manufactured, termed Damascus iron, of which the best gun-barrels are made; it passes through several processes, and when finished throws up a beautiful figure on the surface of the barrel by some chymical application.

The works of Messrs. James Russell and Sons, where wrought-iron gas-tubes, patent machinery, and other articles are manufactured, employ 200 hands. On a small rivulet near the place are an extensive manufactory for edge-tools, and some corn-mills. A branch of the Walsall and Birmingham canal extends to the western extremity of the town; and about a mile from it is the Bescot-bridge station of the Grand Junction railway, which passes through the parish. The market is on Friday; and fairs take place on May 6th and August 3rd, for cattle. The town is governed by a constable chosen at the manorial court held here in October; and a court of requests occurs occasionally, for the recovery of debts not exceeding £5.

The parish comprises by admeasurement 2096 acres, of which between 300 and 400 are broken up by pits.  Two church districts, named St. James and St. John's, were formed in 1844, and endowed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Divine service is also performed in a licensed school-room, erected by subscription, in 1837. There are places of worship for Independents, Primitive Methodists, and Wesleyans. William, the first lord Paget, secretary of state to Henry VIII., was a native of the town. 


[Description(s) from The Topographical Dictionary of England (1859) by Samuel Lewis - Transcribed by Mike Harbach ©2020]