Rowley Regis (/ˌroʊli ˈriːdʒɪs/ ROH-lee REE-jiss) is a historic
parish and former municipal borough, in the
Black Country region of
the West Midlands, England. Considered one of the six 'towns' that
comprise the modern-day
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough, it
encompasses the wards of Blackheath,
Cradley Heath and Old Hill, and
Rowley Village. At the 2011 census, the combined population of
Rowley Regis was 50,257.
1.1 Civic history
2.1 Localities (former borough of Rowley Regis)
3 Famous residents
4 See also
6 External links
The history of
Rowley Regis began in the 12th century, when a small
village grew around the parish church of St. Giles, approximately two
miles south-east of the town 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. It began
to develop substantially between the two World Wars, when thousands of
privately owned and local authority houses were built in the
surrounding area. During that time
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
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
parrafin as a means of lighting and the latter perhaps causing the
fire. Its present day successor was designed by
Holland W. Hobbiss
Holland W. Hobbiss and
A. S. Dixon, and was built in 1923.
Brick made by H Doulton & Co. of Rowley Regis, displayed in the
Black Country Living Museum
Rowley Regis railway station
Rowley Regis railway station opened in 1867 in the south of the then
village, and remains in use to this day.
Rowley's 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. In 1974,
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. In 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 programme, comprising St Michael's
England High School, Westminster
Special School, and
Whiteheath Education Centre, which opened in September 2011.
Borough of Rowley Regis
Rowley Regis Council House, demolished in 2012
• Preceded by
• Succeeded by
County Borough of Warley
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough
Rowley Regis Borough Council
Council House, Old Hill
"Loyal and Industrious"
Rowley Regis Borough Council
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
Smethwick to form the Warley County Borough, and became
part of Worcestershire. There had previously been plans to incorporate
Rowley Regis into an expanded
Dudley borough, and for
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 to form the
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough. It is now right in the core of the 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
Sandwell council. However, a plan was submitted in July 2012
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
History and Archives Service.
Turner's Hill, the highest point in the West Midlands
Rowley Regis is the location of the Rowley Hills, famed for the
Rowley Rag Stone. The hills form part of the east/west
watershed between the rivers Trent and Severn, and contain the
highest point in the West Midlands region, Turner's Hill, at 269m
above sea level.
Localities (former borough of Rowley Regis)
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Josie Lawrence – British actress, was educated at Rowley Regis
Grammar School (1970–75).
Pete Williams – bass player with
Dexys Midnight Runners
Dexys Midnight Runners between 1978
and 1981, was educated at
Rowley Regis Grammar School (1971–1976).
John Haden Badley
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
as well as clubs including
West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield Wednesday
and Leeds United.
George Smith 1805–1874 – executioner (period in office
1849–1872). George Smith was born in
Rowley Regis in 1805 and was a
prisoner himself at Stafford when he entered the "trade" as an
assistant to William Calcraft. His first job was assisting at the
double hanging of James Owen and George Thomas outside Stafford Gaol
on 11 April 1840. He learnt the job and was able to perform executions
himself, principally in the Midlands. Smith's most famous solo
execution was that of the
Rugeley poisoner, Dr William Palmer for the
murder of John Parsons Cook, before a large crowd at Stafford Gaol on
14 June 1856. Smith was to hang a further 14 men and one woman at
Stafford, the last in August 1872. He assisted Calcraft at the first
private hanging in
England (of Thomas Wells see below) in August 1868.
He was renowned for his long white coat and top hat which he wore at
public hangings. Smith's son, also George, assisted at three
executions at Stafford prison. Initially, it is said that he was hired
by the Under Sheriff of
Staffordshire to save the cost of bringing
Calcraft up from London. With the advent of a good rail network,
Smith, like Askern and Calcraft, could operate much further afield in
later years. George Smith carried out two private executions, the last
at Stafford on 13 August 1872, when he hanged 34-year-old Christopher
Edwards for the murder of his wife.
List of place names with royal patronage in the United Kingdom
^ a b "Census 2011 Key Stats".
Borough Council. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
^ "Where is Sandwell?". Tourism and Travel.
Retrieved 9 October 2012.
^ "About". I love Rowley Regis. rowleyregis.com. Retrieved 9 October
^ "Rowley Timeline". Rowley Village and Rowley Regis. Retrieved 9
^ The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, Nikolaus Pevsner, 1963 p89
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council: Building Schools for the
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.
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
^ "The Rowley Hills".
Black Country Wildlife Trust.
Retrieved 6 April 2013.
^ "West Midlands". Destinations. Live for the Outdoors. Retrieved 6
Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia
article Rowley Regis.
Community Forum for Rowley Regis
Ceremonial county of West Midlands
City of Birmingham
City of Coventry
City of Wolverhampton
Metropolitan Borough of Dudley
Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell
Metropolitan Borough of Solihull
Metropolitan Borough of Walsall
See also: West Midlands
Birmingham Canal Navigations
Shropshire Union Canal
Staffordshire & Worcestershire
Worcester & Birmingham
Population of major settlements
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
Coventry/Bedworth Urban Area
Transport for West Midlands
West Midlands conurbation
West Midlands Combined Authority