Rowley Regis
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Rowley Regis ( ) is a town and former
municipal borough Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002. Broadly similar structures existed in S ...
in
Sandwell Sandwell is a metropolitan borough of the West Midlands (county), West Midlands county in England. The borough is named after the Sandwell Priory, and spans a densely populated part of the West Midlands conurbation. According to Sandwell Metropo ...
in the county of the West Midlands, England. It encompasses the three Sandwell council wards of Blackheath, Cradley Heath and Old Hill, and Rowley. At the 2011 census, the combined population of these wards was 50,257.


History

The history of Rowley Regis can be traced back to the 12th century, when a small village grew around the parish church of St. Giles, southeast of
Dudley Dudley is a large market town and administrative centre in the county of West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England, southeast of Wolverhampton and northwest of Birmingham. Historically an Enclave and exclave, exclave of Worcestershire, t ...

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. It began to develop substantially during the
19th century The 19th (nineteenth) century began on 1 January 1801 (Roman numerals, MDCCCI), and ended on 31 December 1900 (Roman numerals, MCM). The 19th century was the ninth century of the 2nd millennium. The 19th century was characterized by vast social ...
. In 1933, Rowley Regis became a borough, and incorporated the communities of Blackheath, Old Hill, and
Cradley Heath Cradley Heath is a town in the Rowley Regis area of the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England approximately north-west of Halesowen, south of Dudley and west of central Birmingham. Cradley Heath is ...
. These places were all within the ancient parish of Rowley Regis, which (despite being in the county of
Staffordshire Staffordshire (; postal abbreviation Staffs.) is a landlocked Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands region of England. It borders Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwicks ...

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 A suffragette was a member of an activist women's organisation in the early 20th century who, under the banner "Votes for Women", fought for women's suffrage, the right to vote in public elections in the United Kingdom. The term refers in part ...
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. 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 A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching Latin, but more recently an academically oriented secondary school, ...
was opened on Hawes Lane in September 1962. Well-known former pupils include Pete Williams (original bass player with
Dexys Midnight Runners Dexys Midnight Runners (currently officially Dexys, their former nickname, styled without an apostrophe) are an English pop rock band from Birmingham, with soul music, soul influences, who achieved major commercial success in the early to mid-1 ...
), and actress
Josie Lawrence Josie Lawrence (born Wendy Lawrence; 6 June 1959) is an English actress and comedian. She is best known for her work with the The Comedy Store Players, Comedy Store Players improvisational troupe, the television series ''Whose Line Is It Anyway? ...
. 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 Building Schools for the Future (BSF) was the name given to the British government's investment programme in secondary school buildings in England in the 2000s. The programme was ambitious in its costs, timescales and objectives, with politicia ...
programme, comprising St Michael's Church of England High School, Westminster Special School, and Whiteheath Education Centre, which opened in September 2011.


Civic history

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. 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, with working commencing in October 1937, and the building being completed in December 1938. In 1966, the borough of Rowley Regis merged with the boroughs of Oldbury and
Smethwick Smethwick () is an industrial town in Sandwell, West Midlands, England. It lies west of Birmingham city centre. Historically it was in Staffordshire. In 2019, the ward of Smethwick had an estimated population of 15,246, while the wider bui ...
to form the Warley County Borough, and became part of
Worcestershire Worcestershire ( , ; written abbreviation: Worcs) is a Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands of England. The area that is now Worcestershire was absorbed into the unified Kingdom of England in 927, at which ...

Worcestershire
. There had previously been plans to incorporate Rowley Regis into an expanded Dudley borough, and for
Halesowen Halesowen ( ) is a market town in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley The Metropolitan Borough of Dudley is a metropolitan borough of West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England. It was created in 1974 following the Local Government Act ...
to join up with Oldbury and Smethwick instead. Eight years later, in 1974, on the formation of the West Midlands Metropolitan county, Warley merged with
West Bromwich West Bromwich ( ) is a market town in the borough of Sandwell, West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England. Historic counties of England, Historically part of Staffordshire, it is north-west of Birmingham. West Bromwich is part of the area ...
to form the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough. It is now right in the core of the
West Midlands conurbation The West Midlands conurbation is the large conurbation that includes the cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton and the towns of Sutton Coldfield, Dudley, Walsall, West Bromwich, Solihull, Stourbridge and Halesowen in the England, English West ...
. 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. The archives for Rowley Regis Borough are held at Sandwell Community History and Archives Service.


Geography

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 and
Severn , name_etymology = , image = SevernFromCastleCB.JPG , image_size = 288 , image_caption = The river seen from Shrewsbury Castle , map = RiverSevernMap.jpg , map_size = 288 , map_ ...
, and contain the highest point in the West Midlands region, Turner's Hill, at 269m above sea level.


Localities (former borough of Rowley Regis)

* Blackheath *
Cradley Heath Cradley Heath is a town in the Rowley Regis area of the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England approximately north-west of Halesowen, south of Dudley and west of central Birmingham. Cradley Heath is ...
* Haden Hill *
Old Hill Old Hill is a small village in the metropolitan borough A metropolitan borough (or metropolitan district) is a type of districts of England, local government district in England. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolita ...
* Rowley Village * Whiteheath


Famous residents

*
Josie Lawrence Josie Lawrence (born Wendy Lawrence; 6 June 1959) is an English actress and comedian. She is best known for her work with the The Comedy Store Players, Comedy Store Players improvisational troupe, the television series ''Whose Line Is It Anyway? ...
– Actress, was educated at Rowley Regis Grammar School (1970–75). * Scott Liam Malone - professional footballer born 25 March 1991. * Pete Williams – bass player with
Dexys Midnight Runners Dexys Midnight Runners (currently officially Dexys, their former nickname, styled without an apostrophe) are an English pop rock band from Birmingham, with soul music, soul influences, who achieved major commercial success in the early to mid-1 ...
between 1978 and 1981, was educated at Rowley Regis Grammar School (1971–1976). * John Haden Badley – centenarian and founder of Bedales School grew up spending time at his family's country home "Foxcote" and visiting his uncle and cousins at Haden Hill. * Carlton Palmer – former footballer who played for the England team as well as clubs including West Bromwich Albion,
Sheffield Wednesday Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is a professional association football club based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. The team competes in EFL League One, League One, the third tier of the English football league system. Formed in 1867 a ...
and
Leeds United Leeds United Football Club is a professional association football, football club based in Leeds, West Yorkshire in England. The club competes in the Premier League, the highest level of English football league system, England's football leagu ...
. * George Smith 1805–1874 –
executioner An executioner, also known as a hanging, hangman or Decapitation, headsman, is an official who executes a sentence of capital punishment on a legally Death sentence, condemned person. Scope and job The executioner was usually presented ...

executioner
(period in office 1849–1872). * James Woodhouse 1735-1820 - poet, born in Rowley Regis, known as the "cobbler poet". *The poet, W. H. Auden’s ancestors were from Rowley Regis. His great-great-great grandfather, William Auden (1726-1794), owned or leased mines in the area. The poet's grandfather, Rev. John Auden (1831-1876), was born in Rowley Regis.


See also

* Regis (place) * List of place names with royal patronage in the United Kingdom


Notes


References


External links


Sandwell BSF

Community Forum for Rowley Regis
{{authority control Towns in the West Midlands (county)