"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 Bloxwich itself, comprising Litte Bloxwich and Great Bloxwich, as well as Blakenall Heath, Leamore, and Harden, and associated 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!
These brief notes refer to what can be seen of the Bloxwich area on the 1902 Ordnance Survey County Series map, including history up to around 1902, and will be expanded upon in due course. The period photographs have been kindly provided by Walsall Local History Centre, who are able to sell copies of the originals (see under Acknowledgements).
9538 Bloxwich Road, Leamore, c1920's - 30's
Leamore means 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 c.1775 however, a settlement had grown in the area around Leamore Lane, Broadstone (now Bloxwich Road and Broadstone Avenue) and the northern end of Green Lane. During the 19th century the area was developed, with mining becoming the main local industry. The part of the lane adjoining Green Lane was called Bentley Lane on a sale map of 1886, however this is not the case on the Ordnance Survey map of the same year.
Leamore House was put up for auction in 1886 as a genteel family residence. It was then occupied by a John Williams Esq. and had been owned since the 1840’s by the Badger family. It had stables and pasture land. Later Jabez Cope, bridle cutter and currier, and councillor for the Leamore Ward, lived here, he was first elected to the council in 1890.
Nearby, off Leamore Lane, St. John’s mission church from Christ Church, Blakenall Heath, was built in 1883, rebuilt in 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.
Leamore Junior & Infants School, Bloxwich Road, was opened in 1873 as a board school for boys, girls and infants, and is still in use today.
9898 Little Black Horse (Georgian version or later 'Old Black Horse') public house, Leamore, pre-1911
Pubs in Leamore around 1902 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 owned in 1835 by John Kirk. It was a Tudor building and this ‘Old Black Horse’ was demolished about 1880, then was rebuilt and became the ‘New Black Horse’, acquired by Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries in 1907, and is still there, somewhat enlarged, as ‘The Black Horse’. Meanwhile the New Black Horse, a Georgian building, became the ‘Old 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.
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 building is late 19th/early 20th century), The Four Crosses on the Green Lane/Leamore Lane crossroads (there from at least 1835 as a coaching inn, but completely rebuilt in 1924) and the Railway Inn on the corner of what is now Broadstone Avenue and Bloxwich Road (there from at least 1880, rebuilt in the 1920’s and 1960’s).
Development continued into the early part of the 20th century with the building of Cope, Beatrice and May Streets. A council estate, including flats, was built in the late 1920’s, and in the 1950’s land south of Leamore Lane was cleared to replace earlier slum dwellings with a modern estate.
Forest Colliery was mined extensively during the 19th century, but by the time of the map was disused. The place name was derived from a local field name, The Forest, identified on the Tithe map of 1843. This lay between the present day Forest Lane and Hawbush Road.
Harden has had many spellings through the ages and the meaning is high farm or estate. Harden existed by the late 13th century and was a tiny hamlet lying at the junction of Harden Road and Well Lane. It had its own common fields, Harden field from 1513 and Great and Little Fursons in 1617, the exact location of these fields is unknown. In 1619 there were 120 recipients of Mollesley’s Dole and in 1652 there were 166. This charity was distributed on Twelfth Night Eve, when every man, woman and child in the Parish of Walsall received one penny. Census returns of 1801 list several bitmakers and awl blade makers and coal was mined at Harden during the 19th century. Harden No. 1 colliery ceased production in 1905.
Cromwell Cottage in Harden Lane (now Road), now demolished, was probably the oldest building in the area, but in spite of the name no associations with Oliver Cromwell have been found. In c.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’, and was much admired. The pastor at this time was the Revd. Francis Martin. From 1825 a Roman Catholic Day School was held in a room next to the chapel.
The Trooper public house was licensed to Joseph Lea in the 18th century and in 1774 the Amicable Friendly Society had 110 male members at this inn. Early in the 20th century it was described as having a fine Georgian fireplace and grate, this was removed at Christmas 1925 and the old Trooper closed in March 1930. A new inn of the same name opened the next day, but has since been demolished.