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Cradley Memorials Heritage Trail

Illustration of Homer Hill Band Stand by Jim Round

This Trail lists the sites where memorials to people of local historic importance can be found. It includes information on how to access each site using their Post Code, GPS or Ordnance Survey details.

You can read it on our Memorials Heritage Trail page, or download it so that you can print and carry it around with you.

Internet surfers can also visit a virtual trail on-line by visiting St. Peter's Church website, which contains maps and downloads and where you will find more detailed information on many of Cradley's military and historical memorials.

Book Launch

Some of Cradley's Finest, World War One, The Men Named on the Cradley War Memorial - and some that aren't

Some of Cradley's Finest, World War One, The Men Named on the Cradley War Memorial - and some that aren't, by Terry Evans

On Saturday 13th December Cradley Then and Now launched the new book by Terry Evans Some of Cradley's Finest, World War One, The Men Named on the Cradley War Memorial - and some that aren't.

The launch was held at Cradley Library in Colley Lane from 10:00am to 1:00pm.

The books are available to buy, price £12, at Cradley Then & Now meetings and from our online bookshop.

Terry Evans and his book at the launch

Terry signing a copy of his book

Time for a cup of tea and a read of the Bugle

Obituary - John Cooksey (23 Oct 1936 - 21 May 2013)

Brickyards of the Black Country - A Forgotten Industry, by John Cooksey

John Cooksey was a well-known expert and fount of knowledge about brick making in the Black Country, especially in the Stourbridge District and his home town of Cradley and also especially refractory bricks i.e. firebricks for furnaces.

When the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust restored the Harris & Pearson Office building in 2004/5 after it had been vacant for 14 years John was an invaluable source of information. For the Trust, historical knowledge of the buildings it conserves is an important ingredient, and John provided much of what it needed to know.

The restored Harris & Pearson Offices, Brettell Lane, Brierley Hill in 2005

He has a page on the Trust's web site about The History of Fire Bricks ("The Most Important Industry in the World"). The far more detailed version of this is his authoritative self-published book "Brickyards of the Black Country" (2003).

This book has sold 2000 copies, mostly from John's front room but also the Cradley Links Bookshop. It is now out of print, but we hope it will be reprinted.

John was born, lived and died in West Road, Cradley. He worked on the Great Western Railway, he drove Midland Red buses, he was a tank driver during his National Service, after which he worked at Harris & Pearson in Brettell Lane, Brierley Hill for many years. His last job was caretaker of the Colley Lane Primary School in Cradley.

John was the brick making industry expert for the Black Country Society Industrial Archaeology Group, and several members of the Group joined a large gathering of Cradley friends and family at his funeral in Rowley Regis on 3rd June 2013.

I have many happy recollections of John, including helping him contact old friends during his illness.

He will be sorely missed by many people for many reasons, not least of which concerns the very large collection of bricks from innumerable brickyards that adorns his back garden. As far as I know he left no instructions as to what to do with them.

High Town Ragged School Church 150th Anniversary

High Town Ragged School, Maple Tree Lane entrance

High Town Ragged School Primary Class, outside Women's Class. No other details known. Names and date required!

This year, 2013, is the 150th anniversary of the opening of the High Town Ragged School in Maple Tree Lane, Cradley.

High Town is one of only two surviving Ragged Schools in the country; both are in Cradley. A Historical Sketch of High Town Ragged School (New Edition) by Isaac Meachem Jnr. is available from the Cradley Links Bookshop. Price £5 (all profits to the Ragged School).

The anniversary was celebrated in a number of events, as follows:

On Saturday 11th May, a Flower Festival and display of Historical Memorabilia, from 11am to 3pm. Over 100 people attended during the day.

On Sunday 12th May, at 6pm, an 150th Anniversary Service. Speaker Rev. Mike Ganner. Items by the Ladies Choir conducted by Jackie Grace. Organist David Dunn. The congregation was 100+ strong.

On Monday 13th May, the regular monthly meeting of the Cradley Then & Now Historical Society was held at the Ragged School. Some 75 people attended the meeting, and heard Jill Guest give a talk on the History of the Ragged School.

Homer Hill Land Sell Off

Having closed down Cradley's only High School, now Dudley MBC intend to sell off all of the land which formed Cradley High School and Leisure Centre complex at Homer Hill, Cradley to a private enterprise house builder. What funds were raised would be put towards academy schools elsewhere in Dudley.

The identifiable routes that the Council could use to gain access to the site are frighteningly dangerous - double track roads joining 130 plus 4xstorey homes to the main road running through a park; single track roads elsewhere, with pinchpoints and blind corners; a busy road passing right by a cemetery, churchyard and school without any pavement. Over all this hangs the real threat of taking much needed parkland just to gain access.

We believe it would be in everyone's interests if the land were retained for public open green space and included in Homer Hill Park as there is a shortage of such in Dudley borough (according to the Council's own Parks & Green Space Strategy, June 2009). Local football teams are crying out for more pitches which could be accommodated on the flat school site, and the Healthy Towns grant was awarded to Dudley some 4 years ago because it is not healthy, and still is not despite all efforts made.

A petition to the Chief Executive of Dudley MBC can be downloaded here. It simply asks people to sign to indicate that they "object to the sale of land which formed Cradley High School and Leisure Centre complex and call upon the Council to retail all of the land for use as green open space".

Please sign the petition and return it to the Chief Executive or to the postal or email address at the foot of the page. If you live in Australia or the US or anywhere else in the world - you can still support this attempt to stop the sell off of vital public land. Make it an international petition!

8th Cradley Day - Saturday 6th October 2012

On Saturday October 6th 2012 we held our 8th Cradley Day, from 10am to 4pm, at Caslon Primary School, Beeches View Avenue, Cradley, Halesowen B63 2ES.

There was a great variety of local stalls representing many of the clubs and societies in Cradley as well as local artists and crafts, and of course our friends from RamsActive (Derby County Football Club supporters) with their Steve Bloomer display.

We used our new display boards, displays included: the Anvil Yard, Adverts from old Cradley Parish Magazines, Cradley's Ragged Schools and much more.

There was the usual book stall with all the Cradley publications available plus more from the local area. Refreshments were available throughout the day. The 2012 Cradley Day was very well attended, as always, and Caslon School proved to be a great venue.

Cradley Then & Now group / Cradley Links

Series of Illustrated Talks on Cradley in Ancient Times
27 September, 25 October and 29 November 2012

Margaret Bradley, Cradley's foremost historian, will give a series of three free illustrated talks on the early history of Cradley in the autumn at Overend Mission, Banner's Lane, starting at 7.30 pm.

The first will be on Thursday 27 September entitled 'Cradley in Prehistoric Times'. This will recognise how geological features in the Silurian and Carboniferous Periods shaped the sort of community that Cradley became. That is, how the presence of accessible supplies of limestone, ironstone, coal and fireclay led to the early industrialisation of Cradley in the form of limestone works, the manufacture of iron products, collieries and brick making. Also the prevalence in this area of the surnames Bloomer, Smith, Cole and Coley.

The second will be on Thursday 25 October entitled 'Cradley before Anglo-Saxon Times' and it will feature a selection of small finds that have been discovered in the Oldnall/Foxcote area from the Stone Age to the 4th century Romano-British era. These indicate the presence of people inhabiting Cradley from the very earliest days.

The third will be on Thursday 29 November entitled 'Cradley in Anglo-Saxon Times'. We will look at place names that originated in this period, including Cradley, Foxcote, Burfield, Chilton, Holdenhale, Hanmore, Slade, Lyde Green, the Meers, the Hayes, Netherend. We will see how the boundaries of Cradley were set in an Anglo-Saxon Charter. We have the names of a few of the people who lived here. We will also see how features of the Anglo-Saxon language have been preserved in the Cradley dialect.

All welcome.

BBC Local History Event - Temple Meadow School - Sun 15 July 2012

A current series of programmes on BBC2 is telling 'The Great British Story : A People's History', broadcast at 9pm on Friday evenings. Fiona Dye, the Learning Project Manager for the BBC in the West Midlands, has contacted Cradley Links about an event that is coming to Temple Meadow School in July, and we will be there.

On Sunday July 15th Temple Meadow School in Wrights Lane, Old Hill will host a special BBC event to celebrate the remarkable history of the women chainmakers of the Black Country. Supporting the current BBC 2 series, the event will give people the opportunity to learn more about the hugely significant role these women played. In order to hear the real story of these women, the BBC need to hear from local history experts, perhaps even descendants of local women chain makers, who would be willing to come along on the day and share their knowledge and personal stories.

At various times during the afternoon, our chain maker, Annette Bradney, will be demonstrating her craft at the forge in the school playing ground. Annette will be supported by husband Mick, and her daughter. This forge is the semi-derelict chain shop that was re-located from Butchers Lane, Cradley to the school in 2004, where it was re-built and restored ready for use once more. This story is told in the Black Country Bugle.

Three films will be shown throughout the event: the BBC documentary, 'Nothing to Lose: The Strike of Women Chain Makers', which explores the lives of women chain makers, and has not been seen publicly since it was made in the 1970s; 'Joe the Chain Maker', a classic documentary by Philip Donnely; and 'Black Country Links', a film made in 1924 at the Noah Hingley and Sons chain and anchor works in Netherton. Cradley Links was instrumental in securing the Hingley film, an original black and white made in 1924, now converted to DVD format by the Sandwell Society of Film Makers, for the event.

Cradley historian and author Margaret Bradley, Sylvia Shaw, (great granddaughter of Patience Round), and Andrew Lound, historian and expert on the Titanic, will be the panel guests in an informal "conversation/discussion" during the afternoon.

In addition, the schools computer suite will host Cradley Links. There will be live links to the BBC Radio WM Ed Doolan and Carl Chinn programmes.

If you think you can help bring this event to life, please phone Fiona Dye, on 07912 583584 or contact Fiona by e-mail. Even if not, do come along on the day to learn and enjoy.

Cradley Community Celebrates

Cradley Community Group has been working hard to put together a week of celebration events to celebrate the Jubilee and Olympics but most importantly to bring together everyone in our local community and to have some fun.

Everyone involved has been working with little or no funding and by sharing resources and enthusiasm have put together an impressive list of events.

The first event takes place on Friday 29th June with the Mayor of Dudley officially opening the week and the last event takes place on Sunday 8th July. There will be lots of activities from family fun days, craft sessions, under 5 events, pub quiz, art exhibition and a "We've Got Talent Event". Each event takes place somewhere in Cradley at a variety of venues from Schools, Libraries, Community Centres and Churches.

We hope that you will be able to join us at one or more of the events and we look forward to seeing you there.

You can download the Celebration Newsletter produced by Cradley Community Group (click on image right).

If you would like to get involved or would like more information about Cradley Community Group please contact Vicki Wood.

Homer Hill Park

'Super' Bob Taylor (left) playing for Two Gates FC against Halesowen Town FC at Homer Hill Park, Cradley, Tuesday 5th August 2008.

The Friends of Homer Hill Park in Cradley have secured a £10,000 grant for a new children's playground from the Big Lottery Fund's Awards for All programme which aims to enable others to make real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need.

The Friends of Homer Hill is a group of local residents dedicated to improving the facilities and usage of Homer Hill Park, Cradley's largest park. Their activities include fund-raising, organising events, and working with Dudley Council.

Children from local schools and nurseries descended on the park on Saturday, 24 September 2011 at 10am for a sponsored Walkathon. The Walkathon was in aid of Help for Heroes and the park itself, which is badly in need of paths to allow access year round to all of its areas for park visitors, including those less able, and wheel chair and pushchair users.

Read more about Homer Hill Park here.

Cradley's Homer Hill Blues

Cradley's Homer Hill Park is the beneficiary of a new music venture by local Labour Councillor Richard Body. Richard has become a recording artist to raise money for improvements to the Park, formerly known as "the Rec." (Recreation Ground).

Richard sings and plays acoustic guitar. With help from guitar teacher Chris Hingley on lead guitar, he has recorded a CD of three Johnny Cash classics: Walk the Line, Folsom Prison and Cocaine Blues.

The CDs are for sale at £2 each. All proceeds from the sales are going towards improvements to Cradley's Homer Hill Park and Wollescote Community Centre. Copies are available from Cradley Labour Club, Windmill Market, Wynall Lane General Stores and the Beechtree Miners and Welfare Social Club, Wollescote.

Cradley Heritage Project - The Movie

The Cradley Then & Now 3xDVD set of 54 heritage films is now available. The film collection is broadly divided into; Cradley History & People, Work & Play and War & Peace. Featuring: Stories written, narrated and presented by local people with works by local artists and musicians.

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £49,700 to Cradley Then & Now to record local Black Country history.

Through the Cradley Heritage Project the community is rediscovering Cradley's diverse past. Read more...

Cradley Women Chainmakers' Festival

The Women Chainmaker's Centenary Festival 2010: Black Country Living Museum on Saturday 18th September 2010.

On Saturday 18th September 2010 the Midlands TUC and Black Country Living Museum commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 1910 strike of women chainmakers for a living wage.

The event recalled the fight of the Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers, who went on strike for ten weeks and were successful in winning the first ever minimum wage.

The event was hosted by and located at the Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 4SQ. Read more...

Cradley Map

Thanks to Google Earth™ and FotoTagger software we are able to bring you an aerial map of Cradley and the immediately surrounding district, with pointers naming the main areas, streets and buildings of the town.

We hope this will help you find your way around. If you do not see the place you are interested in, contact us and we will try to help.

Just click anywhere on the map image (right) for a full screen map. It may take a few seconds to load.

The Diary of Joseph Hingley 1911

Joseph Hingley in Cradley,

This is old news. Joseph Hingley was born in Cradley in 1850 and emigrated to the United States in 1873 with two brothers, Noah and Simeon. In 1911, at age 61, Joseph left Portland, Oregon to visit his place of birth.

Joseph recorded his journey in a diary that his grandson has now transcribed and illustrated.

Cradley Links makes the Diary available to download and also has extracts from it to read here. Read more...

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