DUDLEY - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"DUDLEY, a parish, market-town, and parliamentary borough in the lower division of the hundred of Halfshire, in the county of Worcester, 8 miles to the N.W. of Birmingham, 26 N. of Worcester, and 126 from London by the North-Western railway. It is situated at the northern extremity of the county, locally in the hundred of Offlow, Staffordshire. The South Staffordshire and West Midland railway has greatly increased the importance of this town, by opening up communication with all parts of the country through the London and North-Western and Great Western lines.

A castle is said to have been built here about 740 by a Saxon chief, some traces of which still remain. At the Norman Conquest the manor was given to William Fitz Ausculph, and about the middle of the 12th century a priory was founded for Cluniac monks. Henry II. destroyed the castle, but it was afterwards rebuilt by Roger de Somery, and has descended through successive families to the present proprietor, Lord Dudley and Ward. The remains, consisting of a gateway, the keep, part of the tower and offices, are of considerable antiquarian interest.

The inhabitants of Dudley are principally employed in the iron and coal trades, and the manufacture of iron and brass goods, such as grates, fire-irons, carpenters' tools, &c. There are also extensive glass manufactories, and in the vicinity of the town are quarries, from which large quantities of limestone are obtained and brought to the kilns by means of a tunnel under the Castle Hill, one mile and three quarters in length. Dudley sends one representative to parliament, and has a population, according to the census of 1861, of 44,975, against 37,962 in 1851, showing an increase of 7,013 in the decennial period.

The borough has never been incorporated, and therefore is under the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, though it has a mayor and bailiff appointed by the lord of the manor. The appearance of the town, which comprises 8,725 inhabited houses, is neat, and the houses generally well built. The streets are clean and well paved, and the town is tolerably well lighted with gas, from the extensive works at West Bromwich, 4 miles distant; but the sanitary arrangements are imperfect, notwithstanding its favourable situation for drainage. It contains a subscription library, founded in 1805, a mechanics' institute, a savings-bank, a dispensary, and various charities.

The living is a vicarage* [the asterisk denotes that there is a parsonage and glebe belonging to the living] in the diocese of Worcester, value £1,000, in the patronage of Lord Dudley. The church, dedicated to St. Thomas, is a handsome modern structure, with a lofty spire. There are also the following district churches:- St. Edmund, a perpetual curacy, value £300; St. James, a perpetual curacy, value £274; St. John, a perpetual curacy, value £266, all of them in the patronage of the vicar. Besides these churches two school-rooms have been licensed for Divine service. The charities amount to about £2,000 per annum. The Presbyterians, Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, Unitarians, and Society of Friends have each places of worship here. There is also a Roman Catholic chapel.

There are several schools: a boys' blue-coat school, well endowed, a free grammar school, a girls' school of industry, National and British schools for both sexes and infants. The building for the National schools was erected by the present vicar, and is capable of accommodating 620 children. There is also a school for girls supported by the Unitarians. The ruins of a Cluniac monastery are about half a mile from the town. It is believed to have been founded in 1161, by Gervase Paganell, as a cell to the abbey of Wenlock. In cutting the new road which passes near the ruins of the castle and abbey, several coffins were dug up, but were again interred.

In the lime-quarries many fossils are found, particularly an extinct species of Monoculus, called the "Dudley locust", some specimens measuring 4.625 inches in length. In the vicinity of Dudley are several chalybeate springs and a spa-well, famed for their efficacy in the cure of cutaneous diseases. Saturday is market day, and fairs are held on the first Monday in March, May, August, and October, for the sale of horses, cattle, sheep, and cheese."
"DARBY END, a village in the parish of Dudley, in the county of Worcester, near Dudley."

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