New Invention, Willenhall
New Invention is a small, suburban commuter village three miles north of the town of Willenhall and four miles east of the city of Wolverhampton in the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, West Midlands, although formerly South Staffordshire, England. It is situated halfway between Walsall and Wolverhampton on the main A4124 and A462 roads.
About the name "New Invention", Timmins notes:
This hamlet owes its strange name to a simple circumstance. The tennant of the first house erected there was annoyed by a smoky chimney, and he contrived an ingenious apparatus to remedy the evil. ... he invited every visitor to see his 'new invention' as he called it. ... it was applied to distinguish his house ... and others ... adopted it also.
Hackwood states that the invention was "a hawthorn bush which was pushed out the top of his chimney."
It has rich coal deposits and a significant mining past, with many extensive mines being located in the area during the 19th and early 20th centuries, including primarily 'The Sneyd Colliery'. One present day landmark still running through the village, having extensive ties with the coal mining history of the area, is the Wyrley and Essington Canal. The 'Curly Wyrley' was once used to transport coal via narrowboat to fuel industry in the neighbouring industrial havens of Walsall, Wednesbury and Dudley, seeing that New Invention, and Black Country, coal played a key part in the success of the British Empire. The coal and industry has now disappeared and the canal serves as a scenic walk through woods and green belt land toward the factory lined towpaths of Walsall.
The village also has strong links to the area's lock and key making history, with two major factories formerly being located here, 'Yale' locks and 'Squires' locks. Yale closed during the 1980s and Squires was demolished during the mid-2000s, due to the age of the building, and relocated in Essington. A new housing development has now been built on the land of the former factory.
The urban development of New Invention mainly began during the 1950s; prior to this it was a largely rural settlement dominated mainly by farmland and rural collieries. However, following a population increase in Willenhall and a need for new housing, New Invention was developed. The most recent major housing development to be completed was the Coppice Farm estate, which was mainly built throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
Methodist preacher John Wesley once stopped in the village after being stoned and forced out of Willenhall. New Invention being, in those days, considerably more isolated from Willenhall than it is today. According to Wesley "I proceeded thence to New Invention, where I met with civility and kindness." Perhaps in recognition of John Wesley part of the present day A462 road is in fact named Wesley Road.
The village is well served by transport links, being only 3 miles from the M6 motorway - linking it with the North, South and East of the country, and is also close to the M54 motorway, linking the area to the West and Wales.
Despite its relatively small size a large number of public transport services operate in New Invention, due to its location on the main Lichfield Road. These are mostly operated by National Express West Midlands, but also by Diamond Bus and Arriva Midlands:
The main shopping area is based around The Square, a small parade with shops on three sides. New Invention Methodist Church is now closed but the area is served by two other churches, Short Heath Methodist Church and Holy Trinity Short Heath.
Several pubs in the locality include The Broadway and The Milestone. A former early 18th century inn, 'The Gate', has been redeveloped into a Chinese and Indian takeaways.
Two doctors surgeries and a dentist's practice exist in the village.
The area is also served well by schools, including New Invention Infant School, New Invention Junior School and Beacon Primary School. The nearest Secondary school was the Black Country University Technical College (formerly Sneyd Community School), located on the border of New Invention and Bloxwich, that provided technical courses to 14- to 19-year-olds. This facility closed as an educational establishment several years ago and now serves only as a leisure centre. The other secondary school is Coppice Performing Arts School located on the border with Wednesfield.
The area has many green spaces including the village green, Coppice Farm open space, the Wyrley & Essington canal, Sneyd reservoir (developed to provide water to the locks of the former Wyrley branch of the canal), Sneyd Wharf and Rough Wood Nature Reserve.
Its proximity to surrounding countryside and greenbelt land on one side of the area, towards Essington and Shareshill, and the urban services of Wolverhampton and Walsall on the other makes it a popular commuter village.
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- Timmins, S., Birmingham and the Midland hardware district, Routledge, 1968, p. 88n.
- Hackwood, FW., The annals of Willenhall, 1908, Reprinted by Echo publications, 2010, p. 148.