Rotary Club of Wednesbury History

CLUB HISTORY

Established in 1929, Wednesbury Rotary Club

is one of the oldest in the district

of 1210 which covers most of
Staffordshire County and the Black Country

- an area in Central England, North of Birmingham.

Part of R.I.B.I. our club meets weekly

Thursdays 6.15 for 6.45pm at:

The Masonic Hall, Russell Street

Wednesbury WS10 7AZ

Phone contacts; for
CARNIVAL 07880 927110

Wednesbury Rotary

(Web Manager) 07790 946478 or

(Asst Secretary)07540 250691

please note our e-mail address

wednesburyrotary@btinternet.com

History of Wednesbury

A Brief History of Wednesbury

The name of the town can be traced back to before the middle of the seventh century, and, like most English settlements, it changed its name a timer two since then until becoming 'Wednesbury' by which name it is still known. Early versions were predominantly 'Wodens Burh' (Woden' being an early Pagan God or Cult, and 'Burgh' being a fort, temple or shrine or similar structure situated on the hill.) The hill still predominates Wednesbury and this site presently accommodates St. Mary's Church (Roman Catholic) and also St.Bartholomew's Church (Church of England) side by side, which in itself is an unusual occurrence.

Wednesbury is later recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) as 'Wadnesberie' , again having a similar meaning. It is not clear when the present name of 'Wednesbury' became widely used but in historical terms, probably quite recently.Wednesbury was one of the smaller major industrial towns in the centre  of a district known as 'The Black Country'. Most heavy industry has now ceased, giving way to modern 'service' industries and Wednesbury has admirably survived the ravages of many trade and industrial recessions and has continued to adapt to modern needs.

Wednesbury is among the earliest recorded places in England where coal
was obtained and Wednesbury coal was the basis upon which the development and
prosperity of Birmingham was founded. In the nineteenth century, Wednesbury was the birthplace of the tube industry, developing the 'seamless' metal tube, which we all take for granted today. Wednesbury also made a great contribution to the development of the railways, both at home and overseas.

Apart from its notoriety for heavy and light industry, Wednesbury is also well known for the near fatal demise of John Wesley, a Methodist preacher who was mobbed by the locals in the eighteenth century. The horse block upon which he preached in Wednesbury can today be found inside the Springhead Methodist Church.

More recently in 1951, the last instance of a wife being sold at market took place. (quite legally!) The market still exists today, being originally chartered in 1709, but now in quite a different form from then. (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays)

Wednesbury still remains the hub for local public transport, the newly opened Midland Tramway system being housed here, and to remind present day travellers of its history, a Sleipner (eight legged horse) can be found at Wednesbury station. The town centre was 'refurbished' in the early 1990's and many old shops  and buildings can still be seen and appreciated. Most shops are still owned by independent retailers and a friendly reception can be guaranteed to any visitor.

A comprehensive account of Wednesbury's past can be found in a book
entitled 'The History of Wednesbury' written by a local schoolmaster in 1961 named J. F. Ede. This is probably the best ever account of Wednesbury to date and copies can be loaned from the local library, the library building itself, having been donated to the town from a grant in 1902 from Andrew Carnegie, the American industrialist and millionaire.Wednesbury continues to flourish, the number of inhabitants growing almost daily and it is well worth a visit just to browse around and to see and hear about all its
wonderful past.

Bob Simmons