Wonderful Wolverhampton

Bloc's village was part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia and it was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. It is now a northern suburb of Walsall.

In 1338 Sir Thomas le Rous sold his share of the manor of Walshale to Sir Ralph Bassett. His son married Joanna, daughter of Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. He died childless and his manor passed to the Warwick family, whose emblem - the Bear and Ragged Staff - was adopted by Walsall Borough as its Coat of Arms.

The Black Death, bubonic plague, which had spread from the Far East, reached the area in 1349. The effect was to devastate the whole area and recovery was slow.

The oldest monument in Bloxwich is the preaching cross in the churchyard, thought to date from the 13th or 14th century. The church itself was originally dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, but was re-dedicated and the name changed to' All Saints' in 1875, when the foundation stone to the tower was laid.

The first inn recorded in Bloxwich was the sign of the Talbot. The sign would be a large hunting dog, and refers to the Earl of Shrewsbury.

For many years the area was well known for flax growing. The cultivation of flax and hemp was very important in Tudor times.

During the Civil War much of this area was fought over. Colonel Fox captured Stourton Castle on 30th May 1644 and thus enabled the Parliamentary Forces to reduce the Royalist garrisons in Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

There seems to be one sole reference to the building of the canal which was to have such a far reaching effect upon the area. 'In 1794 the Birmingham Canal Company obtained new powers by which they were enabled to extend their canal from Wednesbury to Walsall - a branch of four and a half miles in length. The Wyley and Essington Canal was projected in 1792 and the branch from Bloxwich to the Birchills was constructed at this time. The Extension Act from Birchills to Pelsall was obtained in 1794'. Economically the construction of the canal did much for the town. It was now possible to export coal and limestone from Bloxwich. This, in its turn, brought prosperity and increased trade productivity to the 'Bloxwich Bitties', locksmiths and tackies makers of fine leather goods and saddlery at Little Bloxwich and Great Bloxwich.

This development was as important to the Bloxwich area as the invention of the great steam engines was to other parts of the Midlands.

The Wyley and Essington Canal was constructed in such a way that it made the connection between the two great canal system, thus enabling the goods from Bloxwich to be moved quickly and easily to both London and Liverpool.

Walsall was first served by a railway when the Grand Junction Railway was opened from Birmingham to join up with the Liverpool and Manchester line. By 4th July 1837 the line was complete. Thus Bloxwich became connected by the great transport systems of road, rail and canal to neighbouring towns and villages and great ports of the British Isles and to the ships which carried Bloxwich goods to all parts of the world.

The village information above is taken from The West Midlands Village Book, written by members of the West Midlands Federation of Women's Institutes and published by Countryside Books. Click on the link Countryside Books to view Countryside's range of other local titles.