Sunday, 3 June 2012


Oldbury is the chief headquarters of the Borough's Council House. Quite rightly too as Oldbury is the centre of Sandwell and sports a proud and prestigious new council complex that demonstrates the changes taking place in Oldbury today.
Many are confused as to where or what Sandwell is. Sandwell is the name for this area of the Black Country. In fact, so concerned were the council about this issue they considered changing the name of Sandwell. This resulted in a great deal of consultation and public involvement and after much debate it was decided to stick with the name Sandwell. Recognised or not as a name in itself and fighting for recognition against its big brother Birmingham, this is a big cosmopolitan borough comprising of the old Borough's of Oldbury, Rowley Regis, Smethwick, Tipton, Wednesbury and West Bromwich.

Olbury gets its name from the old Anglo Saxon "Ealdanbyrig" which in middle English was "Aldebury". It used to be Crown property but later became part of Halesowen parish in the early 13th century. Until the early 19th century the parish was a detached part of Shropshire. A manor is recorded on the site which was owned by Halesowen Abbey. Records date back to the 15th century but unfortunately the manor was demolished in the middle of the 18th century. In 1557 Sir Robert Dudley settled in the Manor of Oldbury. In 1633 the manor became the property of the Cornwallis family.

The oldest building in Oldbury today is the Big House in Church Street which dates back to 1705 and was the home of the Freeth family. It is now the offices of the Mayor and belongs to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.

Famous people from Oldbury include Cornelius Whitehouse (born 1795) and the inventor of the lap-welded wrought iron tube, Robert Hancock the 18th century portrait engraver, Henry Adcock the inventor, Sir Frederic Bridge composer and Jack Judge the composer of 'It's a long way to Tipperary'.

Like its neighbour in Smethwick, Oldbury saw rapid growth in the industrial boom. It quickly
developed into an important town renowned for its coal, iron, phosphorus and steel making. The first Lloyd's Banks was opened in Oldbury. The production of boilers and bricks also took place here. First World War tanks were made in Oldbury. The song 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary' was written by Jack Judge who came from Oldbury.

Nowadays you will see Savacentre, the retail parks and new office and warehouse accommodation replacing the brown industrial sites that once were. New housing and more modern facilities like the Sandwell Council buildings ensure that Olbury continues to move with the times and regenerate its identity.

The Sandwell Council Website can be found at

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