Rowley Regis (/ˌrli ˈrɪs/ ROW-lee REE-jis) is a town and former municipal borough in Sandwell in the county of the West Midlands, England. It forms part of the area immediately west of Birmingham known as the Black Country and encompasses the three Sandwell council wards of Blackheath, Cradley Heath and Old Hill, and Rowley.[2] At the 2011 census, the combined population of these wards was 50,257.[1]

Rowley Regis
St Giles' Church, parish church of Rowley Regis
Rowley Regis is located in West Midlands county
Rowley Regis
Rowley Regis
Location within the West Midlands
Population50,257 (2011)[a]
OS grid referenceSO9687
Metropolitan borough
Shire county
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtB65
Postcode districtB65
Dialling code0121
PoliceWest Midlands
FireWest Midlands
AmbulanceWest Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
West Midlands
52°29′17″N 2°03′00″W / 52.488°N 2.05°W / 52.488; -2.05

History Edit

The history of Rowley Regis can be traced back to the 12th century,[3] when a small village grew around the parish church of St. Giles, 2 miles (3 kilometres) southeast of Dudley. Rowley was part of the Royal hunting grounds - Regis was added to the name of Rowley in around 1140 to signify it was that part of Rowley belonging to the King.

Along with the rest of the Black Country, Rowley Regis began to see substantial development in the early to mid-19th century. Coal was mined at the Earl of Dudley's Ramrod Colliery from 1855, at Rowley Hall Colliery from 1865 and at Bell End Colliery off Mincing Lane. The three collieries were connected by mineral tramway to the Causeway Green branch canal at Titford. All had ceased operation by 1920.[4][5]

In 1933, Rowley Regis became a borough, and incorporated the communities of Blackheath, Old Hill, and Cradley Heath. These places were all within the ancient parish of Rowley Regis, which (despite being in the county of Staffordshire) was in the diocese of Worcester. The parish contained the manors of Rowley Regis and Rowley Somery, the latter being part of the barony of Dudley, but the extents of these manors and the relationship between them are not clear. Around the time that Rowley Regis became a borough, housebuilding accelerated in both the public and private sectors.

The present St. Giles Church on Church Road is not the original church in Rowley Regis. The church built in 1840 to succeed the original mediaeval building, was found to be unsafe and condemned in 1900. The next church, built in 1904, was burned down in 1913, some believing the fire to have been started by Suffragettes or local striking steelworkers; this however is supposition and it was more than probable it was a simple accident, the church at this time using paraffin as a means of lighting and the latter perhaps causing the fire. Its present-day successor was designed by Holland W. Hobbiss and A. S. Dixon, and was built in 1923.[6]

Brick made by H Doulton & Co. of Rowley Regis, displayed in the Black Country Living Museum

Rowley Regis railway station opened in 1867 in the south of the then village, and remains in use to this day.

The new Rowley Regis grammar school was opened on Hawes Lane in September 1962. Well-known former pupils include Pete Williams (original bass player with Dexys Midnight Runners), and actress Josie Lawrence. From September 1975, when comprehensive schools became universal in the new borough of Sandwell, the grammar school became Rowley Regis Sixth Form College, the last intake of grammar school pupils having been inducted the previous year. The younger pupils were distributed between local comprehensive schools.

In September 2003, it became an annexe of Dudley College, but this arrangement lasted just one year before the buildings fell into disuse. It was demolished three years later, and the site was redeveloped as the new Rowley Learning Campus under Sandwell's Building Schools for the Future programme,[7] comprising St Michael's Church of England High School, Westminster Special School, and Whiteheath Education Centre, which opened in September 2011.

Rowley Regis
Borough of Rowley Regis
Municipal borough
Former Rowley Regis Council House (1937–2012)
 • 191137,000[8]
 • 196148,146
 • Preceded bySanitary district
 • Created1894
 • Abolished1966
 • Succeeded byCounty Borough of Warley
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough
StatusUrban district
Municipal borough
GovernmentRowley Regis Borough Council
 • HQCouncil House, Old Hill
 • Motto"Loyal and Industrious"
Arms of Rowley Regis Borough Council

Civic history Edit

Originally in Staffordshire, the Rowley Regis Urban District was formed in 1894 to cover the villages of Rowley, Blackheath, Cradley Heath, and Old Hill. The urban district was incorporated into a municipal borough in 1933.[9] Following the acquisition of borough status, plans were unveiled to build new council offices in the borough to replace the existing offices in Lawrence Lane, Old Hill. A site on the corner of Halesowen Road and Barrs Road was selected. Work commenced in October 1937, and the building was opened by the Mayor of Rowley Regis in December 1938. Birmingham's Evening Despatch newspaper described the building as "spacious, imposing and distinctly modern".[10]

The local government structure within North Worcestershire and South Staffordshire – Prior to the West Midlands Order 1965 reorganisation

In 1966, the borough of Rowley Regis merged with the boroughs of Oldbury and Smethwick to form the Warley County Borough,[11] and became part of Worcestershire. The merger was unpopular with many residents and derided by some as 'Warley white elephant'.[12]

Eight years later, in 1974, on the formation of the West Midlands Metropolitan county, Warley merged with West Bromwich to form the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough. It is now right in the core of the West Midlands conurbation.

Following the demise of Rowley Regis as a standalone borough in 1966, the council offices in Barrs Road were retained by Warley council and then by Sandwell council. However, a plan was submitted in July 2012 by Sandwell Leisure Trust to demolish the buildings to make way for an expansion to the neighbouring Haden Hill Leisure Centre, and the development of a new fire station.[13]

The archives for Rowley Regis Borough are held at Sandwell Community History and Archives Service.

Bellend of The Year Statue Edit

In December 2022, a statue was erected in Bell End proclaiming Russian president Vladimir Putin to be "Bellend of The Year" for his role in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine,[14] but by 5 February 2023 it had been removed.[15]

Geography Edit

Turner's Hill, the highest point in the West Midlands

Rowley Regis is the location of the Rowley Hills, famed for the quarrying of Rowley Rag Stone. The hills form part of the east/west watershed between the rivers Trent and Severn,[16] and contain the highest point in the West Midlands region, Turner's Hill, at 269m above sea level.[17]

A feature in The Birmingham Post of 10 November, 1952 describes Rowley Regis as a "Town in Tiers"; the explanation being that Cradley Heath and Old Hill lie in a valley, Blackheath is "the next step up" followed by a further climb up to Rowley parish church and up and over the Rowley Hills to Tividale.[18]

Localities (former borough of Rowley Regis) Edit

Famous residents Edit

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Combined figure for Blackheath, Cradley Heath & Old Hill, and Rowley wards.[1]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "Census 2011 Key Stats". Sandwell Trends. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  2. ^ "About". I love Rowley Regis. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Rowley Timeline". Rowley Village and Rowley Regis. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  4. ^ Chapman, N A (1999). "The Rowley Hall Colliery, Rowley Regis, Staffordshire" (PDF). British Mining. The Northern Mine Research Society. 63.
  5. ^ "Coalmines in Oldbury" (PDF). Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  6. ^ The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, Nikolaus Pevsner, 1963 p89
  7. ^ Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council: Building Schools for the Future
  8. ^ "Rowley Regis UD/MD through time - Population Statistics - Total Population". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS/University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Archive catalogues | Our collections | Sandwell Council".
  10. ^ "Mayor of Rowley Regis opens new £32,000 civic centre". The Dudley Chronicle. No. 14808. 17 December 1938. p. 7. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  11. ^ "Rowley Regis UD/MB Through Time - Census tables with data for the Local Government District". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS/University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  12. ^ Chitham, Edward (2006). Rowley Regis : a history. Chichester, West Sussex, England: Phillimore. p. 122. ISBN 1860774180.
  13. ^ "Application submitted to demolish Cradley Heath Municipal Buildings".
  14. ^ Rawlins, Jack (16 December 2022). "Eggs thrown at statue of Putin erected at Bell End in Rowley Regis". Halesowen News. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  15. ^ Brassington, Jamie (5 February 2023). "Welcome to Bell End - Meet those loving life on one of the 'rudest' street names". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  16. ^ "The Rowley Hills". Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  17. ^ "West Midlands". Destinations. Live for the Outdoors. Archived from the original on 1 November 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  18. ^ "Rowley Regis and Blackheath". The Birmingham Post. 10 November 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  19. ^ Hackwood, Frederick William (1911). Staffordshire Worthies. Stafford: Chronicle Press. pp. 83-87. Retrieved 4 February 2019.

External links Edit