About Leamore

Bloxwich Road, Leamore, c1920's - 30's (WLHC)
Bloxwich Road, Leamore, c1920s - 30s (WLHC)

Beginnings

The name Leamore comes from ‘lea’ – a pasture or field, and ‘more’ – a moor or heath.

It is mentioned in property deeds in 1420 and was probably uninhabited heathland for centuries.

By about 1775 however, a settlement had grown in the area around Leamore Lane, Broadstone (now Bloxwich Road and Broadstone Avenue) and north Green Lane.

Leamore became a hamlet (a small village) associated with Bloxwich as part of the Foreign (see About Bloxwich).

During the 19th century the area was developed, with mining becoming the main local industry.

Industry in Leamore

Leather, mining & metal were local industries.

Jabez Cope, bridle cutter and currier, and councillor for the Leamore Ward, lived at the 1840s Leamore House, he was first elected to the council in 1890. Cope Street was named after him in 1901.

Forest Colliery was mined extensively during the 19th century, but by 1902 was disused.  The place name was derived from a local field name, The Forest, identified on the 1843 Tithe map.  Between Forest Lane and Hawbush Road W.R. Wheway School (1954) was later Forest Comprehensive School (1973) now Forest Arts Centre.

The Hatherton Iron Furnaces were built to the west of Leamore in the early 1800s, some of the earliest iron works in Britain and part of the Industrial Revolution in the Black Country.

Churches, Chapels and Schools

Walsall Corporation Transport Trolleybus No. 353, a Sunbeam F4, passes Leamore Wesley Church on Bloxwich Road, 1964 (Jack Haddock)
Walsall Corporation Transport Trolleybus No. 353, a Sunbeam F4, passes Leamore Wesley Church on Bloxwich Road, 1964 (Jack Haddock)

Nearby, off Leamore Lane, St. John’s mission church from Christ Church, Blakenall Heath, was built in 1883, rebuilt 1931 and demolished in 1967.

A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was established not far away in Broadstone (Bloxwich Road) in 1862-3, and extended in 1864, hosting a flourishing Sunday School.  It was demolished in 1963.

The Leamore flats were built on the Wesleyan chapel site in the 1960s.

Leamore Junior & Infants School, Bloxwich Road, was built in 1872, and opened in 1873 as a board school for boys, girls and infants. Extended in the late 20th century, it is still a popular school today.

Frank F. Harrison Comprehensive School was opened in 1965 on Beechdale Estate.

Early Catholicism

Cromwell Cottage in Harden Lane (now Road), now demolished, was probably the oldest building in the area, but no associations with Oliver Cromwell have been found.

In about 1800 the cottage was a shop which the local Roman Catholic community turned into a chapel dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle.

It was enlarged in 1808 and described as a “small but neat place of worship, capable of between three or four hundred persons”.’ It was decorated with paintings and the altar – piece represented “the dead body of our Saviour after it had been taken down from the Cross”.

The priest at this time was Father Francis Martin.  In 1827 he went on to build St. Mary’s the Mount church in Walsall, and is buried there.

Leamore Pubs

ittle Black Horse (Georgian version or later 'Old Black Horse') public house, Leamore, pre-1911 (WLHC)
The Little Black Horse (Georgian version or later 'Old Black Horse') public house, Leamore, pre-1911 (WLHC)

Pubs in Leamore once included the early 19th century Spread Eagle public house (rebuilt by 1932), with the Red Lion (there from at least 1838 but rebuilt in the early 20th century) nearby.

The Old Black Horse and the New Black Horse were on opposite corners of Harden Lane and Bloxwich Road.  The Old Black Horse was a Tudor building, demolished about 1880. It was rebuilt and became the New Black Horse. It remained as, simply, The Black Horse, until being closed, burnt in an arson attack and demolished in mid 2011.

Meanwhile the original New Black Horse, a Georgian building, became the Old or ‘Little’ Black Horse.  It was renovated but was later pulled down, and a mock-Tudor building replaced it as the ‘Butlers Arms’, itself being rebuilt in 1925 and demolished in 2009.

In addition there was The Crown in Leamore Lane, with an inn of that name being mentioned in Leamore from at least the 18th century.

The present (closed) building is of early 20th century construction, about 1911, the Crown Brewery operated from there until 1953.

The Four Crosses on the Green Lane/Leamore Lane crossroads (there from at least 1835 as a coaching inn, but completely rebuilt in 1924) was converted in recent years into an Indian bar/restaurant, but has since become derelict.

The Railway Inn on the corner of what is now Broadstone Avenue and Bloxwich Road was there from at least 1880, rebuilt in the 1920’s. The present Railway Inn, the only pub still open in central Leamore, was built in the 1960s.

Leamore Park

Leamore Park, today a popular amenity for all, was originally playing fields which were provided for the people of Bloxwich and Blakenall Heath from the Miners’ Welfare Fund charity.

Later, it was taken over as a public park by Walsall Council.

In 1994, after years of anti-social behaviour, the park pavilion was burnt down by vandals.

In the early 2000s refurbishment of the park and fencing was undertaken from government funding provided via the “Walsall’s New Deal” initiative (now New Horizons) operating primarily in the Blakenall Heath and Leamore area.

Recent community work has improved the park yet again, and there is now a mining memorial in the form of a Davy Lamp.

20th Century Change

The Rosum cinema, Leamore, about 1936 (WLHC)
The Rosum cinema, Leamore, about 1936 (WLHC)

Development in Leamore continued into the early part of the 20th century with the building of Cope, Beatrice and May Streets.

An Art Deco cinema and concert venue, the Rosum, was opened on Bloxwich Road in 1935.

Its commissionaire for many years was a retired world-travelled Lion Tamer, Captain Bert Clarke, who also ran a newsagents shop in Beeches Road until 1955.

The Rosum later became a bingo hall and was rebuilt for Farm Foods in the mid 2000s.

A council estate was built in the late 1920s, and in the 1950s new houses replaced earlier slum dwellings with a modern estate first known as Gypsy Lane and later Beechdale Estate.

In the early 1960s new flats and shops were built on the site of a chapel off Bloxwich Road.

Leamore Today

The centre of Leamore has suffered badly from neglect in recent years, with all its pubs but the Railway Inn closing, and the Black Horse and Butler’s Arms being demolished. It is to be hoped that future regeneration may help revive the old hamlet centre, but it may be a while coming.  Meanwhile the Leamore traders are doing their best to provide a good service to Leamore folk.

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