Saturday Market, Halesowen
|Dialling code:||0121 or 01384|
|Halesowen and Rowley Regis|
Halesowen is a town within Worcestershire, though technically it sits in a detached part of Shropshire locally situate in Worcestershire. A busy, suburban town, it is contiguous with the conurbation of towns of the Black Country.
Although predominantly urban or suburban in character, Halesowen borders on green belt land with excellent access to the countryside, for example the Clent Hills. It has extensive road links including Junction 3 of the M5 motorway, which allow easy commuting to Birmingham, other areas of the Black County or nationwide. The centre of Birmingham is approximately 30 minutes away by car and reachable with the number 9 bus.
The centre of Halesowen is home to a Norman church and a football ground.
Most of the housing stock in Halesowen is privately owned and was built in the 30 years which followed the end of Second World War, although some parts of the town are still made up of Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses. The town centre was almost completely rebuilt during the 1930s.
Name of the town
Halesowen appears on maps up to the nineteenth century also as Hales Owen. The name is believed to come from the Old English halh, meaning a nook or remote valley, and its name appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Hala. King Henry II granted the manor to Prince Dafydd ab Owain of Gwynedd, whereafter it was known as "Hales Owen"
Halesowen is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Hala, at which time it was larger than Birmingham. King Henry II granted the manor to Prince David Owen of Gwynedd, though later it came into the possession on the Premonstratensian Abbey of Halesowen. The parish of Halesowen, which incorporated other townships which were later to become independent parishes, was attached to Shropshire.
In the 1220s, Hales Owen had a market and fair and, by 1270, it had been granted a charter of liberties by its lord, the abbey. By 1300, it is estimated that the population was around 600. The court rolls for Halesowen survive to 1272 and show that the majority of migrants to Halesowen in the 14th century were women; 75% of them. Little was done to remove incomers and many went on to become small retailers in the area.
A well known mediæval conflict was fought out in the town around this time. In 1279, as the Abbot attempted to increase labour services for his tenants (which had been fixed in 1244), the peasants attempted to plead their case in the King's Court, a privilege forbidden to unfree villeins. The Abbot thus fined them £10 which was a large sum at the time, and resistance, led by Roger Ketel, heightened. The conflict was snuffed out in 1282 as Ketel and Alice Edrich (the pregnant wife of another prominent rebel) were murdered by thugs hired by the abbey.
During the 18th century Halesowen developed rapidly as a result of the Industrial Revolution. The manufacture of nails was the staple trade in the town and many mills were used for slitting and iron smelting. Coal had been mined in the area from at least as early as the reign of Edward I. Dating to 1893, Coombes Wood was the largest colliery in the town; at its peak in 1919 Halesowen had 130 working mines.
Halesowen became the centre of a poor law union in the 19th century. With increasing urbanisation of the area, in the early 20th century, an Urban District was created in 1925. Urbanisation continued and Halesowen became by the middle of the twentieth century a town engulfed in a wider conurbation.
Halesowen was once served by a railway line: in reality two lines which met at an end-on junction at the station. The first was a branch of the Great Western Railway from Old Hill to Halesowen, opened in 1878, followed in 1883 by a section jointly owned by the Great Western and the Midland Railway (though worked mostly by the latter), linking the town with Northfield on the Midland Railway's Birmingham to Bristol main line, with intermediate stations at Rubery, Hunnington, and a workmen's halt at Longbridge serving the car factories (not to be confused with the present Longbridge station). Being largely rural in character, the line failed to attract much traffic and regular passenger services ended between Halesowen and Northfield as far back as 1919, and between Old Hill and Halesowen in 1927, though the workmen's trains continued to serve Longbridge until 1960. The line is now lifted, but the track-bed can be seen close to the town, although there is no sign of the station. The goods shed remained until recently, serving as an industrial unit though it has now been demolished.
In the 1960s, the town centre underwent vast redevelopment which saw most of the older buildings demolished. The high street was pedestrianised and a shopping precinct (called "The Precinct") was developed, housing many new retail units as well as a new public library. The centre was refurbished in the late 1980s and placed undercover, being renamed The Cornbow Centre at this time.
Trade in the town centre declined between 1985 and 1990 as the Merry Hill Shopping Centre some five miles away at Brierley Hill was developed, although not as severely as it declined in Stourbridge and in particular Dudley. The only high profile casualty was the Sainsbury's supermarket, which closed in 1992 due to the popularity of the store which had opened at Merry Hill three years earlier to succeed the Dudley store - combined with the onset of the recession at the start of the 1990s.
A further upgrading of the town centre took place in 2007 and 2008, with part of the Cornbow Centre (including a petrol station and several smaller retail units) being demolished to make way for a new Asda superstore which opened on 24 November 2008. The bus station was also rebuilt. This 18 month £30 million project was completed in December 2008 and the town received a commendation for the work by the Retail Property Organisation.
The Parish Church of St John the Baptist was founded by Roger de Montgomery and stands on the site of an even earlier Anglo-Saxon church. Several extensions have been made including the outer south aisle which was added in 1883 by John Oldrid Scott although there is still much evidence of the original Norman work.
A Mediæval cross stands in the churchyard which previously stood in Great Cornbow, until it was blown down by a gale in 1908.
Sights of the town
In the eastern part of Halesowen is Leasowes Park, which is considered to be one of the first natural landscape gardens in England. The 18th century poet William Shenstone designed the garden, beginning works in 1743 and continuing until his death in 1763, transforming existing farmland he had inherited after his parents' death. Today, the parkland is Grade One Listed, as it is of national importance. The local theatre and a Wetherspoon's public house are both named after William Shenstone as are at least two roads in the locality.
Nearby the parish church are the ruins of Halesowen Abbey, founded in 1215 by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. The Dissolution of the Monasteries saw the Abbey pass into private hands in 1538. The Abbey was the subject of an archaeological evaluation by Birmingham Archaeology and is now owned and managed by English Heritage.
Most of the town centre was rebuilt in the 1960s to create a modern shopping area that incorporated a new library as well as many supermarkets and shops centred around the Cornbow Centre. This was refurbished in the late 1980s to create a covered shopping area.
Halesowen has recently undergone a £30 million regeneration of its town centre, which has included the construction of a new supermarket located in the Cornbow Centre, together with a new multi-storey car park, a new state-of-the-art bus station and improvements to the road layout.
The principal industry of Halesowen was traditionally nail-making, an industry that was performed on a small scale individually in the backyards of a large number of nail makers. Halesowen also had, along with most other areas of the Black Country, a large number of above and underground coal mines. In more recent years, the arrival of a junction of the motorway network allowed Halesowen to attract a number of large organisations to the town.
- Athletics: Halesowen Athletic and Cycling Club
- Cricket: Halesowen Cricket Club
- Cycling: Cycling Section at Halesowen Athletic and Cycling Club
- Football: Halesowen Town FC
- Hockey: Old Halesonians Hockey Club
Golf clubs are found outside the town.
Hobbies and skills
Halesowen is the base for two Amateur Dramatic Societies - Startime Variety (pantomimes in January and Summer Variety shows around July, both at the Cornbow Hall Theatre) and Mayhem Theatre Company (comedies and dramas, normally two shows per year at the Leasowes Theatre).
Halesowen Jazz Club holds fortnightly concerts on Sundays (except in Summer) at Halesowen Cricket Club (licensed premises), usually featuring Trad and New Orleans Jazz.
The Halesowen Scout Band is based in the town and rehearses and performs there regularly.
- Halesowen Abbey
- Halesowen College of Further Education
- Halesowen News Local Halesowen weekly newspaper
- River Stour
- Palliser, David Michael; Peter Clark, Martin J. Daunton (2000). The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. Cambridge University Press. pp. 97–9. ISBN 0521417074.
- John Hemmingway (2001). "A Brief History of Halesowen". Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. http://www.dudley.gov.uk/community-and-living/town-centre-management/halesowen-town-centre/a-brief-history-of-halesowen. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
- Council, Dudley. "Building a better Halesowen". Dudley Metropolitan Bourough Council. http://www.dudley.gov.uk/community-and-living/town-centre-management/halesowen-town-centre/halesowen-regeneration/building-a-better-halesowen. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, Nikolaus Pevsner, 1968 Penguin. p180
- "Halesowen Abbey". Birmingham Archaeology. http://www.arch-ant.bham.ac.uk/bufau/projects/Halesowen%20Abbey/Halesowen%20Abbey.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- "Halesowen Regeneration". Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. 2007-11-01. http://www.dudley.gov.uk/index.asp?pgid=29468. Retrieved 2008-04-01.