Kingswinford is a suburban area (formerly a large village) in the West Midlands county but previously in
Mentioned in the
Domesday Bookits name relates to a ford for the King's swine (Kingswin(e)ford). The current significance is probably in tourism, education and housing. Positioned at the western edge of the West Midlands it borders on a rural area extending past the River Severn, which explains recent changes. But its position at the edge of the Black Countryand its long standing in the area means it has had significant influence in the past. This is illustrated by the influence in creating local workhouses [cite web|url=http://users.ox.ac.uk/~peter/workhouse/Stourbridge/Stourbridge.shtml| title=Stourbridge, Worcestershire |publisher=The Workhouse Web Site |accessdate=2008-02-12] which shows a population of 15,000 plus in the 1831 census.
The ancient parish of Kingswinford included
Wordsley, Brierley Hilland Quarry Bank. The parishes of Kingswinford and Amblecoteformed the Kingswinford rural districtin 1894. It gave its name to a Parliamentary constituency of Kingswinford from 1885 until 1950. However, Amblecote became an urban districtin 1898, leaving Kingswinford one of only a few single-parish rural districts. It was added to the Brierley Hillurban district in 1935, which became part of the County Borough of Dudleyin 1966 and then the Metropolitan Borough of Dudleyin 1974. [cite web|url=http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/relationships.jsp?u_id=10074460 |title=Brierley Hill Urban District through time |publisher=A Vision of Britain |accessdate=2008-02-12] However, the rural part of the parish was added to Kinverin 1935, becoming part of Seisdonin 1966and since 1974part of South Staffordshire.
The Kingswinford DY6 postal district covers the entirety of Kingswinford and Wall Heath as well as nearby rural areas such as
Near the town is
Holbeach House, a small country house which has now been turned into a nursing home. It was here in 1605 that most of the men who had attempted to blow up Parliament with Guy Fawkeswere cornered, and a bloody gunfight ensued, resulting in the deaths of at least four of the conspirators, including their leader Robert Catesby. Bullet holes can still be seen in the house's walls, but it is not open to the public.Many of the streets of the Charterfields housing development, built during the 1970s, adopted the names of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators, such as Catesby Drive ( Robert Catesby), Digby Road ( Sir Edward Digby), Keyes Drive ( Robert Keyes), Tresham Road ( Francis Tresham), Ambrose Crescent ( Ambrose Rokewood), Monteagle Drive (Lord Monteagle - William Parker) and Rokewood Close ( Ambrose Rokewood).
The parish church of St. Mary dates back to the 11th century, although much of the main body of the building is from the 17th century. It contains a notable Norman carving of St. George slaying the dragon. The church is also home to a well-regarded two manual Nicholson and Lord Pipe Organ. It remained the church of the huge parish of Kingswinford until it was closed because of mining activities in 1831, [http://www.stmaryskingswinford.org.uk] when a new parish church was built, Holy Trinity church in Wordsley. It reopened in 1846, although never regained fully its parish, initially as a
chapel of ease. The building is now a Grade II listed building. [IoE|403487]
From 1894 to 1938, Kingswinford was the centre of Kingswinford
Rural District Council. It was then part of Brierley Hill Urban District Council, and since 1966 has been controlled by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. It now forms part of the DY6 postal district.
Recent house building, commencing in the 1950s and 1960s, has largely destroyed the original rural character of Kingswinford, the result being the complete absorption of the former village into the large urban area that is the Dudley borough. This turn of events is lamented by some but has also brought considerable economic wealth into the area through the arrival of up-market housing estates.
There have been a number of notable events in Kingswinford over the years, the most notorious of which was the infamous fire at the Dreamworld Furniture Store in October 1990. Believed to be arson, the fire was the most dramatic incident ever to occur in the area to date and the inferno reduced the building to a bare shell. Hundreds of spectators blocked the streets to witness the blaze and the thick black smoke could be seen for over 5 miles. Ironically, the building erected to replace the destroyed store suffered its own blaze in 2004, again caused by arson, although damage was limited to the roofspace.
Kingswinford town centre has many local shops in the town centre, along with five public houses and bars. Once a town centre with a cinema, modern 1960s precinct and local quality butchers, bakers and grocers, it saw decline in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many locals attribute this to the opening of
Merry Hill Shopping Centre. Unlike Dudleytown centre, Kingswinford has brought many locals back to the town centre by concentrating on quality shops and attractions. Kingswinford town centre doesn't just attract locals, however. Due to its location and major road networks that pass through, many people who use the A491 road, stop in Kingswinford. This is somewhat seen as more of a disadvantage by residents than local business, as traffic on the A491 bottlenecks at Kingswinford Cross. Just before the A491 goes through Kingswinford it changes from a dual carriageway to a single carriageway, with numerous traffic lights in Kingswinford. A bypass has been suggested, however, this is still in early development.
There is an area at the end of Kingswinford which has been known as Townsend dating back to 19th century maps of the area. It was centred on Townsend House, the family seat of the Badley family from the 17th until the early 20th century. The Georgian house was demolished in the 1950s to build a shopping centre. John Badley of Townsend (1678-1768) was an ancestor of John Badley, F.R.C.S. and
John Haden Badleythe centenarianeducator and founder of Bedales School.
Kingswinford serves 4-11 year olds education with six primary school, one of which is a
special school. [http://www.bromhills.dudley.gov.uk/ Bromley Hills] is adjacnet to the Crestwood School, with the vast majority of children moving to Crestwood when they enter year seven. [http://www.dingle.dudley.gov.uk/ Dingle Primary School] children also attend Crestwood in the majority of cases. Another school in Kingswinford is [http://www.crestwood-p.dudley.gov.uk/ Crestwood Park] , a school that was one of the worst schools in the area but have improved dramatically.
St. Marys Primary School, Maidensbridge Primary school, Blanford Mere Primary School and Glynne Primary School, amongst others are feeders to Kingswinford School.
Summerhill School sees children come from mainly the Glynne and Dawley Brook Primary Schools and from other local areas, such as the neighbouring
Wall Heathand Wordsleyand even areas of Stourbridge.
The area has three major secondary schools:
The Kingswinford Schoolis located in the heart of the town, a five minute walk from the main road that runs through, the A491 (Market Street). [cite web |url=http://www.kingswinford.dudley.sch.uk |title=The Kingswinford School |accessdate=2008-02-12]
*Summerhill School is located some half mile away and has recently undergone major building works. Perhaps reflecting the area's status, it was rebuilt in 2003 with a brand new 21st century design replacing the original 1950s buildings. This project was one of the first large scale PFI projects (the deal was worth around £27 million) and is considered to be a showcase for the local authority's education provision. A remaining building from the old school that was built in 1993 has been the subject of local debate since its closure in 2003, with
Dudley Metropolitan Boroughcouncil intent upon using it to house the borough archives. This caused conflict following the proposal of an alternative scheme (The C.I.C Kingswinford) put forward by a local young entrepreneur(John Hackett) to use the building as an arts centre that was rejected by the Council. The council planned to move the archives service to this building in 2007, but the scheme was cancelled in 2008 after it was found to be uneconomic. The building remains standing but in an increasingly dilapidated state.
The Crestwood Schoolis located on another busy road through Kingswinford that joins the A491 (Market Street) to the Brierley Hillarea, often used, to residents dismay, as a quick way to Merry Hill Shopping Centre. The Crestwood School has recently also undergone major building works, which has seen the relocation of the Brier school upon on land between Crestwood (As known to locals) and Bromley Hills primary school. This has also been seen as an annoyance to local residents as it has brought extra traffic to an already busy road, especially at school run times. [cite web |url=http://www.crestwood-s.dudley.gov.uk/index.htm |title=The Crestwood School |accessdate=2008-12-02]
Local Christian Churches
In addition to the parish church of St. Mary, Kingswinford [http://www.stmaryskingswinford.org.uk] is home to several churches of other denominations including:
*Our Lady of Lourdes R.C. Church,
*Crestwood Church [http://www.Crestwoodchurch.org.uk] ,
*Kingswinford Methodist Church and
*Kingswinford Christian Fellowship.
Despite its roots as a small village, Kingswinford is now better described as a dormitory town to Birmingham, containing as it does a large number of commuting communities, small industrial businesses and several schools. The area is considered by local residents to be a good place to live and work. There are however, increasing congestion and over-population problems coherent with those that exist throughout the Dudley borough.
There are two major industrial trading estates in Kingswinford, the Dawley Brook estate and The Pensnett Estate. These provide good local employment opportunities.
In 2005, work began on a project which is expected to bring around 2,000 new homes to the Kingswinford area, in order to create enough supply to accommodate the high demand for properties in and around Kingswinford - which is now one of the most favoured localities in the Black Country.
* In 1987, Kingswinford adopted the Ocean Quahog (Arctica Islandica) as the official town shell.
* Kingswinford's most notorious resident is the mysterious author known as Captain Lazonby-Threpwell. His reputation was built on a series of bizarre letters to local newspapers and the fantastical book "Gulleys, Alleyways and Shortcuts of Kingswinford". Believed to have been written under a psuedonym, his writing has been favourably compared to that of
J. D. Salinger.
* Sri Lankan born double murderer Senthamil Thillainathan lived in
Kingswinfordfor a short time before his arrest in 2002.
* In 2004, Kingswinford was put on red alert when it was announced that a crocodile had been sighted in a local park.
* [http://www.kingswinford.org Kingswinford Information Site]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/blackcountry/content/articles/2006/09/11/blast06_sophia_captainlazonby_feature.shtml BBC Invesitgation into Captain Lazonby-Threpwell]
* [http://www.dudley.gov.uk Dudley Borough Council]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/3612064.stm BBC News Crocodile Report]
* [http://www.ralphssurfshack.co.uk Ralphs Surf Shack - Kingswinford Resident's Site]
* [http://www.ralphssurfshack.co.uk/pigking.pdf The Pig King of Kingswinford]
* [http://www.yourdudley.com/ Your Dudley]
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