High Street, Bloxwich, showing the original Electric Palace/Theatre Cinema, about 1913

About Bloxwich

High Street, Bloxwich, showing the original Electric Palace/Theatre Cinema, about 1913
High Street, Bloxwich, showing the original Electric Palace/Theatre Cinema, about 1913

Beginnings

 
“Bloxwich is a large and pleasant village, seated on an eminence two and a half miles N by W of Walsall, and comprising within its chapelry the whole township of the Foreign of Walsall, except Walsall Wood church district. The inhabitants of Bloxwich are chiefly employed in the manufacture of saddlers’ ironmongery, and awl blades, for which the village is more celebrated than any other in the kingdom. In Domesday Book, Blockeswich is described as being held by the king, and having a wood three furlongs in length and one in breadth. “
 
From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851

Bloxwich includes both Little Bloxwich and Great Bloxwich, and is closely associated with Leamore, Blakenall Heath, Harden, Goscote and nearby places.

It is possibly the oldest part of Walsall Metropolitan Borough and may even pre-date Walsall itself, since Walsall is not shown in the Domesday Book of 1086, compiled for William the Conqueror, and Bloxwich is!

Bloxwich, Walsall & The Foreign

Roundheads v Cavaliers (Walsall v Bloxwich and The Foreign), mid 1600s
Roundheads v Cavaliers (Walsall v Bloxwich and The Foreign), mid 1600s

The parish of Bloxwich was assigned out of Walsall. Christ Church, Blakenall Heath originated as a Bloxwich mission church. St. John’s mission church, Leamore, was out of Christ Church.

The Poor Law tax which supported poor people was organised by the churchwardens and overseers. Walsall Parish was divided into townships of Walsall Borough and Walsall Foreign for this from 1627-1835.

The Borough was the town centre, the Foreign the rest of the parish. The Foreign often argued with Walsall about taxes, politics & the English Civil War!

Walsall Foreign survived as a Civil Parish and Municipal Ward for many years.

Bloxwich is the main village of the Foreign, and the hamlets of Leamore, Blakenall Heath, Harden and Goscote have always had close ties with Bloxwich.

Bloxwich from Anglo-Saxon times

Coin of Offa, King of Mercia from 757 until his death in July 796
Coin of Offa, King of Mercia from 757 until his death in July 796

Bloxwich (Blocheswic or ‘Bloc’s Village’ in Domesday Book, 1086) was once part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia.

In 1162, the Manor of Walsall included Bloxwich as part of the ‘Foreign of Walsall’.

Medieval Bloxwich in the county of Staffordshire was a small agricultural village of around 600 people, expanding in the 1700s with coal mining, when many cottage industries thrived.

By the early 1800s Bloxwich was surrounded by canals, with goods easily transported, encouraging expansion.  The village became justly famed for its light metalwork, especially ‘awl blades of Bloxwich repute’.

The Church, Workhouse and Hospital

All Saints Church, Bloxwich, about 1880s (WLHC)
All Saints Church, Bloxwich, about 1880s (WLHC)

From the 1400s, Bloxwich had a chapel of ease within the parish of Walsall, and its own parish from 1842.

Originally named St. Thomas of Canterbury and rebuilt 1791-1833, today All Saints Church dates mostly from c1875-7 when it was rededicated after the chancel and tower were rebuilt and a clerestory added.

The workhouse on ‘Chapel Green’ was opened by 1752 in what is now Elmore Row (now a car park).  Bloxwich Hall, built in 1830 for ironmaster Henry Morson, now houses various companies.

Bloxwich Hospital, a Victorian private house (built c1850) converted to a maternity hospital in 1928, today offers mental health services for older people.

Bloxwich Parks and Gardens

Entrance to Bloxwich Park and Anvil Stones, late 1920's (WLHC)
Entrance to Bloxwich Park and Anvil Stones, late 1920's (WLHC)

An important part of the semi-rural character of Bloxwich is its range of leafy parks and gardens.

These include Bloxwich Park, originally the village Green or ‘The Short Heath’, enclosed and laid out as a park for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee 1888-1890.

Promenade Gardens and Fountain, Bloxwich, late 1920s (WLHC)
Promenade Gardens and Fountain, Bloxwich, late 1920s (WLHC)

Nearby on the other side of High Street are the Promenade Gardens. The famous Bloxwich Fountain was moved there from Bloxwich Park in 1928.

Elmore Green, formerly Chapel Green, is another old village green adjacent to All Saints Church.

King George V Playing Fields, off Stafford Road, were dedicated as a memorial to the king in 1938.

Bloxwich in Modern Times

Pat Collins Memorial Clock, 2002
Pat Collins Memorial Clock, 2002

Bloxwich has many historic pubs, including the Turf Tavern, Royal Exchange and others, though their numbers have declined over the years, some closed and converted, others destroyed by fire or developers (or both…).

Pat Collins (1859-1943) “King of Showmen” held the Bloxwich Wakes fair on the site of the present ASDA car park every August.  A modern fun fair still bears his name and a memorial clock to him now stands in part of the Promenade Gardens

Bloxwich had a Victorian Music Hall (now used for school sports) and 3 cinemas over the years.

The former 1832 Methodist Chapel in Park Road has subsequently been a cinema, garage, factory and retail unit from the Great War to today.

The Electric Palace cinema in High Street was replaced by Pat Collins’ Grosvenor Cinema in 1922, closing as an Odeon in 1959. It is now a Bloxwich Community Partnership youth centre.

Bloxwich Today

Bookmark Bloxwich, 7 September 2010
Bookmark Bloxwich, 7 September 2010

Bloxwich expanded further during the 1950’s-60’s.  Lower Farm, Dudley’s Fields, Chepstow and Mossley council housing estates and several schools were built.  In the 1990s the private Turnberry estate was built north of the village.

Elmore Green High School (now primary) became annexe for T. P. Riley Comprehensive School, built in 1958. In the early 2000s T. P. Riley was demolished and replaced by Walsall Academy.

The historic ‘National School’ by Bloxwich Park is now Bloxwich C of E Primary School.

In recent years, work has been done restoring Bloxwich parks and gardens and some of the old High Street shops. New houses are being built, and the 1960s Bloxwich Library and Library Theatre complex has been refurbished and relaunched as Bookmark Bloxwich, a cultural complex unmatched elsewhere in the borough, re-opening 7 September 2010.

Today, Bloxwich is a pleasant place to live, with an independent spirit and unique character.

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News, heritage and information for Bloxwich and district

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