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The Quarry Bank Walk - 4th July 2001

The notes below describe a walk around Quarry Bank in 2001. This will be revisited on Wednesday 5th June 2024. in a walk led by Dave Galley. and these notes are provided so that they can be read beforehand if required. This walk will follow the route of the original walk which looked at how Quarry Bank had changed from the features of ‘Old Quarry Bank’ recorded in local post card views. Come along and see what has changed again over the last 23 years. Meet at the carpark at the junction of Park Rd and High Street, DY5 2JR (7.15 pm for a 7.30pm start).

This walk was surveyed by Ned Williams and John James, and the notes were assembled by the members of the Mount Pleasant Local History Group.

START: We meet in the new car park created at the junction of Park Road and High Street - an area that has recently undergone much change and is full of reminders of QB's past. Many of the features of "old Quarry Bank" recorded in local postcard views show details of this area that have now vanished - eg: The Royal Oak, the wall around the church yard, Birds Buildings and next door, Hawkeswood's, where we will assemble. Although much rebuilt as "Jantino's", the developer has shown some respect for local history by calling this building "Hawkeswood Lodge". We will not have time to explore the rump of the old High Street between here and the Blue Ball, as we will set off in the opposite direction.

STOP 1: The Church Yard at Christ Church. Construction of the church began in 1845 and thus the church grew up with the emerging settlement around it - although at the time it was a rather scattered settlement. The church is built in the distinctive creamy coloured bricks made from local refractory clays. In the church yard we pause to look left to see a large family tomb in which many of the Webbs and the Haslehursts are buried, and right to see the grave of Charles Godfrey. When the latter died in 1900 he was a star of the Victorian theatre world - now he is unknown! Note that the walls and gates all carry plaques making clear that they have been gifts to the church. There have been many bequests to the church over the years which commemorate people from local families - eg Ernest Stevens. Although we won't have time to explore the interior of the church we can walk right round the outside.

As we pass along Upper High Street try and imagine how this scene has changed. Firkin's shop was once Paskins, The Conservative Club was once the meeting place for many "important" folk from Upper Quarry Bank.

STOP 2: Pause in the Conservative Club car park to look back to the Library, opened in February 1939.

Turn down Church Street passing The Nailmaker - originally The Church Tavern. We cross the end of Oak Street looking left into one of Quarry Bank's industrial areas.

STOP 3: Pause at the end of Oak Street to contemplate the role of the cul-de-sac in the physical structure of Quarry Bank.

Continue along footpath - take in view across the cemetery. Emerge into Honister Close - this area had once been a cricket ground and then became the site of The Quarry Bank Secondary School for Boys. Now it is an area filled with bungalows for the elderly.

At the top of Honister Close we have to cross Coppice Lane. Before we cross the road, look left towards a view of the Brierley Hill Flats, and right towards a view of the Rowley Hills. The entrance to the school mentioned above was just on our left, beyond which is Coppice Close. (The latter was the drive to 'the Old House' - the home of William Stevens - the founder of Jury Holloware)

Having crossed Coppice Lane, take the footpath to Ladywood Close.

STOP 4: Close to the site of "Merry Hill" with impressive views across the modem Merry Hill Retail complex, with a skyline that takes in Eve Hill, Top Church, Dudley Castle, St. Andrews, Netherton, and round to the Rowley Hills.

Turn right across the grass to Robin Hood Road. Dive up the entry next to 63 Robin Hood Road. (In May this path traversed a wonderful bank of bluebells.) The railings probably denote the boundary of the former Quarry Bank Secondary School for Girls.

Into School Road, turn right and then cross into Bath Road. Note the street names here refer to the history of these locations rather than anything that makes contemporary sense.

The distinctive houses in this estate were built in the early 1930s by the old QBUDC In 1934 house no. 30 Birch Avenue was sold and became Myatts Shop. On the opposite corner no.25 was a shop run by the Willetts family.

At the bottom of Bath Road we come across a "green" - once used as an assembly point for the local carnivals.

STOP 5. Pause as we pass into Saltwells Lane - a little road that has only been surfaced for about the last twenty years. Saltwells Wood is now on our left and a footpath does cross the valley of the Black Brook to reach Saltwells Wood, a few yards from where we have paused. This was once the boundary between Quarry Bank and Netherton (Dudley). (Saltwells Lane may be the trackbed of a branch of the Earl of Dudley's railway system which was built to serve Saltwells No.33 Colliery which was so close to the centre of Quarry Bank.

At the end of Saltwells Lane turn right into Coppice Lane, which has to be crossed by Birch Coppice Methodist Chapel. The Chapel - brick built 1958 is still known as The "Tin Chapel".

STOP 6 - Entering Birch Coppice - the church and the hamlet of Birch Coppice. Note no. 55 is a typical nineteenth century "squatters" cottage and plot - now providing a contrast with its neighbour no. 53 built in the 1960s chalet style. Infilling like this over the decades has changed the face of Birch Coppice. On our Left note Woodbine Cottage of 1895 and the tie bars etc on no. 22 - plus the Anderson Shelter!

STOP 7 - Birch Coppice pub car park. This has been an assembly point for more recent carnivals in Quarry Bank. The extension of Woodland Ave and the suburbanising of Birch Coppice obscure the extent to which this area was quite "remote" from the centre of Quarry Bank.

Now proceed into Woodland Avenue. Note the royal names of some roads suggesting 1950s origins. As we reach 82 Woodland Avenue note the "boundary" between two periods of development - 82 is a 1950s building, next door - 80 - belongs to the 1930s.

Turn left and left again to descend into the valley and flood plain of the Mousesweet Brook. Note "New Pool House" draws our attention to the one-time existence of the Cradley Pool.

STOP 8: The Pipes. This is a very famous Quarry Bank location and was once the local "monkey run".

The fence in front of marks the frontier between Quarry Bank and Cradley Heath (now Dudley and Sandwell). We have to proceed into foreign territory here to reach the far side of the brook and thus avoid the inconvenience of trying to scale The Pipes!

As we eventually reach the road at Cradley Forge - the old dam across the pool - we can glimpse the site of the forge, the Wagon and Horses, and the Cradley Forge Chapel which played an important part in the history of Quarry Bank's musical activities. We will not have time to explore the site of the forge and the confluence of the Mousesweet Brook with the Stour. Sorry!

We now begin the long climb of the bonk - the climb out of the Stour vale up into Quarry Bank.

LHS: The site of The Three Horseshoes and Crocko's Store

RHS: The site of The Coronet Cinema

LHS: Ivy Cottage of 1903 RHS: Rose Hill - leading to some of the oldest surviving houses of Quarry Bank and to the Earl of Dudley's pit that was once so close to the centre of Quarry Bank.

LHS: Note the lean on Jubilee House (1897) and the removal of its neighbours. (This is an area much affected by subsidence)

RHS: QB Bikes was once The Elephant & Castle.

LHS: Wine Cabinet was once "Yates"

LHS: New Street - the growth of nineteenth century Quarry Bank.

LHS: The Labour Club

STOP 9 on the Club car park to look at the Infants School Building which has just had its bell tower removed. This typical School Board building which has played such a part in QB's history now seems threatened. QB has lost many of its key historical buildings and no one in the local authority seems interested in saving this one. Nearby is The Liberal Club - extremely important in QB's history as this is the location which was the centre of the "Night the Bomb Dropped" story - giving rise the QB's claim to being "The Holy City".

RHS: Note the elegant school "lodge". The original junior school behind this was replaced in the 1930s with the new Primary School serving this end of Quarry Bank.

LHS: On the corner of Queen Street - The Doctors House

RHS: The Community Centre of 1960s vintage and the Sheffield Street area once the centre of QB's chain-making community.

 RHS: Jewess Butcher - once Grove's - in front of which stood a tree seen in old pictures of QB High Street and marking the border between "lower" and "upper" Quarry Bank.

LHS The New Inn - we would like everybody to come for a drink in The New Inn - either stop off now or continue to the car park at the top of the High Street if you've got to dash off!

LHS The Congregational Church of 1935 and its new hall of 1967.

RHS: The Dental Lab was once The Vine Inn - home of QB's pigeon fliers.

LHS Chapel Street was once the famous "Z Street" - home to another chapel, replaced by the Congs.

And back up the High Street to the place we started.

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