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All this used to be fields – old map takes us back 70 years

By dan shaw  |  Posted: June 28, 2013

How times have changed since this map of Stourbridge was released in the late 1940s

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THIS old map of Stourbridge dates from around 1948 and it is taken from a copy of the borough guide book that has been loaned to us by Mike Brown of Bearwood.

The book, a prospectus to draw people to Stourbridge, contains a wealth of information on the town and its surrounding area, with details of its history, civic amenities and local industry. There is no publication date in the book but it contains a list of the borough’s mayors and the last listed is Councillor H.P. Jones in 1947. There are many adverts for long lost Stourbridge companies but it is the map that best illustrates how the town has changed.

Most towns of the Black Country have been transformed in the last 50 years, with new roads and developments rendering many almost unrecognisable from how they were before. Arguably, Stourbridge has been affected more than most, with the ring road built in the late 1960s, for good or ill, now defining the town.

By the 1950s the tightlypacked streets around the town centre were already heavily congested with traffic, with particular problems at the north end of the town, at the junction of Coventry Street, High Street and Market Street, and at the southern end, by the war memorial and public library. Planners saw the answer in a ring road and in its construction much of old Stourbridge was obliterated.

Roads such as Angel Street, Mill Street and The Cliff ceased to exist while others, such as Victoria Street, New Street and Duke Street, were curtailed or re-routed.

The ring road was opened by Viscount Cobham on 1st November, 1969.

Another notable difference are the housing estates that have been built since this map was made.

To the west is the Norton estate, which was only half built when the map was drawn up. The roads shown by dotted lines would become Shenstone Avenue, Lavender Lane, Princes Road, St George’s Road and Maynard Avenue, while Pleasant Arbour would be renamed Manor Lane.

In the north west the Wollaston Farm estate was built in the early 1950s, off Wentworth Road In the east much of the farmland around Pedmore and Wollescote was developed in the 1950s, particularly the area between Wollescote Road, Ham Lane and Pedmore Lane.

Although we think this map was issued in the late 1940s it may be based on a pre-war map as the Grange School, on Grange Lane, is not listed, even though it opened in 1939.

Local government in Stourbridge dates to 1790, when an act of parliament was passed for the lighting, cleansing and watching of the streets and other public places and a board of commissioners established. The commissioners were reconstituted and incorporated as the local board of health under the Stourbridge Improvement Act, 1866.

Expanded In November 1894 the board was replaced by Stourbridge Urban District Council and in March 1895 it was expanded to include Wollaston and Upper Swinford.

In 1914 the town received its royal charter and became a municipal borough and it was enlarged again in 1933 when Lye and Wollescote UDC was absorbed and the Parish of Pedmore was removed from Bromsgrove Rural District and added to Stourbridge.

Our map represents the borough’s boundaries as they then were. The northern limit was the River Stour, which meant that the War Memorial Athletics Ground, home to Stourbridge’s football and cricket clubs, and the Stourbridge Gas Works were outside the borough in Amblecote UDC. This changed in 1966 when the bulk of Amblecote UDC was absorbed into Stourbridge, while the area to the east of the railway line was given to Brierley Hill, which itself was swallowed up by an enlarged Dudley.

Then in 1974, Stourbridge found itself wiped from the municipal map when it and Halesowen became part of the new Metropolitan Borough of Dudley.

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