The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868
Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer
"WEDNESBURY, a parish, manufacturing and market town in the hundred of South Offlow, county Stafford, 8 miles N.W. of Birmingham, 5 S.E. of Wolverhampton, and 118 N.W. of London, or 136½ by Great Western railway, and situated on the London and Holyhead high road, near the source of the Tame. It is a place of great antiquity, and was originally called Wodensburg, after the god Woden. Under the Normans it was a royal domain.
The town has increased rapidly of late years, and its extension has been as marked as almost any town in the so-called "Black Country." In 1811 the population was 5,372; in 1831 it was 8,437; in 1851, 14,281; and in 1861 it had risen to 21,968. The population of the parish in 1861 was 21,968, and its area is 2,175 acres. The large increase in the last decennial period is accounted for by the extension of the iron manufacture and by the facilities afforded by freehold building societies. The London and North-Western and the Great Western railway companies have stations here. A branch of the Birmingham canal passes close to the town.
For miles around, especially towards the N. and W., are coal pits, foundries, and blast furnaces innumerable; and almost all vegetation has disappeared. At night immense bodies of flame issue from the blast furnaces and the countless smaller fires of the foundries and works. Coal, iron, and limestone abound in the vicinity of the town, and a coal which produces intense heat, and therefore is admirably suited for the preparation and working of iron, is found here. The manufactures of the town are railway ironwork and carriages, axletrees, coach springs, gas tubing, water pipes, gun locks and barrels, hinges and screws. Among the principal manufactures are the iron, engineering, and Bessemer steel works; the Patent Shaft and Axle-tree; and the Crown Tube Works of Messrs. Russell and Sons.
The town is lighted with gas from the West Bromwich gasworks, and has a good supply of water from Lichfield: there is a reservoir on Church-hill belonging to the waterworks company. A local board of health presides over the town. The local magistrates sit every alternate Tuesday, and the stipendiary for the district attends fortnightly. Wednesbury is within the jurisdiction of the Walsall County Court. The parish is in the diocese of Lichfield and archdeaconry of Stafford.
The church, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, is situated on the highest point of the town, and its tower and spire are seen from a considerable distance. In the interior are monuments of the Dudley and Parkes families. The living is a vicarage, value £400, in the gift of the lord chancellor. St. John's, High street, value £300, was erected in 1844 at a cost of £5,200; St. James's, in the Holyhead road, value £175. Within the parish is the perpetual curacy of Moxley. The Roman Catholics, Baptists, Congregationalists, Wesleyans, Methodist Free church, Primitive Methodists, and Methodist New Connexion, have chapels.
There are National schools, British, Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan day schools, and numerous Sunday-schools, a mechanics' institute, workingman's club, and a subscription library and news-room. The Crown Tube Works also maintain a library and reading-room for their work-people. There is a music hall at the "Green Dragon," in the market-place, and a theatre in Earps lane. Two banking companies have establishments here: the Staffordshire Joint-Stock Bank, Lloyd's Banking Company (late Messrs. Philip and Henry Williams). A branch of the National Savings-Bank Association is in High-street. The Wednesbury Advertiser is published on Saturdays. Market day is Friday. Fairs are held on 6th May and 3rd August. The wakes commence on the Sunday between the 4th and 10th of September."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]