West Bromwich was the largest and most distinguished of the towns amalgamated into the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell and, despite its modern appearance, has roots in the distant past. There is evidence of prehistoric and Roman occupation in the Sandwell Valley, and there were two monastic institutions in West Bromwich during the Middle Ages. The area was home to the earls of Dartmouth, who played a significant part on the national stage as well as fostering the industrial and civic growth of west Bromwich. They were entrepreneurs who developed coal mines under Sandwell and in Smethwick to the south of the Birmingham Road. The River Tame, which forms the boundary of the old parish for many miles, had provided water power for the mills that sprang up beside it; these now switched from grinding corn to industrial production. This new history draws on primary sources in local record offices as well as secondary material to investigate the pre-industrial as well as the more recent story of West Bromwich. Nineteenth-century histories have been re-examined, the significance of some old place-names explored, and use made of Latin documents from the Reformation and earlier.
Census returns and manuscript records of landholdings have contributed information about the growth of the town in the last two centuries. A wide range of illustrations, many from the author's own collection, show aspects of the old parish and town that have rarely been seen before in published form. The town retains many signs of its ancient heritage, both in rural survivals such as the Oak House, the Manor House and All Saints church and in the many flourishing industries, some of which are still situated near the banks of the Tame or beside the canals of the early industrial revolution. This story of West Bromwich will intrigue past and present residents and make an important contribution to the historic profile of the whole of the West Midlands conurbation.
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(248mm x 172mm x 20mm)
Phillimore & Co Ltd
Publisher: The History Press Ltd
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