Wombourne (also spelt Wombourn) is a large village and civil parish located in the district of South Staffordshire, in the county of Staffordshire, 4 miles (6 km) south-west of Wolverhampton and just outside the county and conurbation of the West Midlands.
Local affairs are run by a parish council. At the 2001 census it had a population of 13,691, increasing to 14,157 at the 2011 Census. Due to its proximity to the county and conurbation of the West Midlands, it is, to some extent, an urban fringe settlement or dormitory village for the conurbation, although it also has a distinctive centre and a long history.
Wombourne Civic Offices
|Population||14,157 (2011 Census)|
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The Old English word burna signifies a stream, and a stream is a notable feature of the village. Formerly the village name was thought to mean "Womb Stream", or stream in a hollow, because this is a reasonable description of the situation. However, more recent scholarship explains the name as meaning a Crooked Stream, which is at least as good a description.
Burna was one of the terms for a stream used in the earliest Anglo-Saxon place names, and the stream was presumably itself called the Wom Bourn. However, today it is always distinguished from the village by the name Wom Brook, from another, slightly later, Old English term for a stream: brōca. The Wom Brook, which has required considerable work to ameliorate its flooding, originates on Penn Common and is a tributary of the Smestow Brook, which it meets just south of Wombourne.
The spelling "Wombourne" is now preferred for official use. However, the village is marked "Wombourn" on the 1775 William Yates Map of the County of Stafford and as late as the 1945–48 series Ordnance Survey maps. There has been considerable feeling about the issue and road signs were regularly amended unofficially with spray paint until the 1990s at least.
The village has Anglo-Saxon origins, and was part of the large central kingdom of Mercia, which was settled by Angles. The whole region was wooded when the Germanic settlers arrived, and hamlet names like Bratch ("newly-cleared-land") and Blakeley ("dark clearing") attest to the need to clear land for settlement. The settlers reared large herds of pigs, which were easily fed in the beech, oak and birch woods, which are the naturally-predominant vegetation in the region. Local toponyms like Kingswinford ("royal pig crossing") and Swindon ("pig hill") confirm the importance of pig rearing in Anglo-Saxon times.
Wombourne is mentioned in Domesday Book and was clearly a medium-sized village by the standards of the time. Before the Norman Conquest, it was owned by an Anglo-Saxon nobleman called Thorsten. By the time of the survey, probably 1086, William, Fitz Ansculf, held seven hides of land, some of them let from him by one Ralph of Wombourne. William was an important landowner throughout the West Midlands, the son of Ansculf of Picquigny, a Picard baron who came to England with William the Conqueror and built a castle at Dudley. William's total holding at Wombourne supported 8 ploughs and was worth £3. There were 13 villagers (probably not including dependents, so perhaps thirty to forty people in total); a priest, and so perhaps some sort of church; as well as two mills, the first evidence for the importance of water power in the area. Wombourne was part of the Seisdon Hundred.
The Priors of Dudley built or rebuilt the Parish Church of St. Benedict Biscop around 1170, the only parish church dedicated to this Anglo-Saxon cleric. The building as it is seen today, however, is the result of numerous reconstructions and refurbishments, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. The parish of Wombourne extended far from the village, taking in Orton and Swindon.
For most of its history Wombourne was mainly an agricultural village. However, its involvement with industry began unusually early. From the Middle Ages, the Smestow Brook and the Stour were lined with small iron bloomeries and forges, using local reserves of charcoal and water. The Industrial Revolution brought coke-fired furnaces. In 1772, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal was opened, with major canal locks at the Bratch and Bumble Hole, integrating the area more closely into industrial Britain. Iron production concentrated in a smaller number of centres – at Swindon, in the southern part of the Wombourn parish, at Gothersley, at the Hyde near Kinver, and increasingly in the nearby Black Country – using the canal to bring ore, coal and limestone to the works. Other villages, however, remained centres for smithing, with cheaper and more available iron greatly increasing the number of workers. Increasingly, Wombourne became a centre for nail-making. The Wom and the Smestow continued to provide both power and cooling water, with several large mills along each stream by the late 18th century.
Perhaps the largest water-driven forge was to the west of the village, where, an 1817 history remarks, "has been erected an iron-work called the Heath-forge, with genteel mansion". This works had a large mill pool, supplied by the Merryhill Brook and by a contour canal from the River Smestow. Water fell thence in several stages to the Wom, which then joined the Smestow a short distance to the west. The forge mill was later converted into a corn mill, which functioned until the 1930s. The Heath Mill industrial estate on the main Bridgnorth road preserves the name of the complex. The mansion building, now converted into flats, is still to be seen in the Poolhouse estate, itself named after the poolhouse that stood at the dam. The water mill is clearly marked on the 1775 Yates map of Staffordshire, along with one at the Wodehouse, and another just south of the village centre, the remains of which are now the Pool Dam.
It was around the same time that the Hellier family reached the peak of their influence in the area. The Helliers lived at the Wodehouse, on the Wom Brook, to the east of the village. It was the fourth Samuel Hellier, knighted in 1762, who turned the Jacobean house into a centre of culture. He had the grounds laid out in fashionable style, with a hermitage, a temple to the memory of Handel, and a music room. He spent a fortune on musical instruments and books of music, building up a private collection and endowing both the church at Wombourne and St. John's, Wolverhampton. The family collection included the Stradivarius named after them. Dying without issue in 1784, he left his property to a family friend, the Reverend Thomas Shaw, on condition he change his name to Hellier. One of his descendents spent years as commandant of the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall. It is claimed that the Wodehouse has not been sold for over 900 years.
In 1851, Wombourne was described by William White as a large village, "occupied chiefly by nailors, who work for the neighbouring manufacturers". Nail-making remained important into the 20th century. As White implies, it was mainly the preserve of outworkers, who operated small-scale machinery in, or attached to, their own homes, fetching iron sheet or rod from the foundries and returning the finished product.
White tells us that the main landowners in the area in the mid-19th century were John Wrottesley, 2nd Baron Wrottesley, a notable astronomer, and Lord Ward – at this time the Reverend William Humble Ward, the tenth Baron, a relative of the Earl of Dudley. The Wards made their wealth not merely from land, but what lay under it: the coal and limestone of the West Midlands. Another important landowner, the Reverend William Dalton, was an Evangelical clergyman from Ulster, but he owed his wealth to marriage to the widow of a Bilston iron master.
Although the parish had a population approaching 2000 by the mid-19th century, the village itself remained quite small – essentially confined to the area around the present village green. The hamlets of Giggetty, Blakeley, Ounsdale, and the Bratch were quite separate from the village and were only absorbed into it as suburban housing spread from the mid-20th century. This changed the whole character and structure of the village.
The area around the green, the original village of Wombourne, evolved as the commercial and cultural centre. The green was surrounded by small, independent shops, which remain a distinctive feature of the village's commercial life. A new civic centre, housing local council services, was constructed near Lower End, just south west of the centre. Suburban housing grew to form a wide ring around it, absorbing most of the hamlets.
Large housing developments of the 1960s and 1970s around Giggetty and Brickbridge, to the west, were followed by a still larger westward extension in the Poolhouse estate of the 1980s, which absorbed the former Heath Mill. Meanwhile, light industry developed along the canal and the River Smestow, particularly beyond the main Bridgnorth Road, with industrial estates replacing former foundries. A new bypass was driven through to the south of the village in 1988, carrying Bridgnorth and Telford traffic around Wombourne and Himley, and clearly separating much of the industrial area from the residential section. Housing development continued into the new millennium, with building to the west of the canal between Ounsdale and the Bratch.
Wombourne has became well know for its "annual" carnival, held on the first Sunday of July. The carnival has a wide variety of stalls made up of independent traders, local businesses, community groups and local charities as well as lots of family entertainment. Including a funfair, bands, music groups, dance/drama groups, women’s institute event and the Wombourne Village "Quacky" Races. The main parade starts at 12pm sharp, allowing residents and guests of Wombourne to line the parade route to cheer on the floats and follow them up to the main carnival site for the official opening at 1pm. The Parade will start at Wombourne Civic Centre, passing down Gravel Hill, Common Road, Giggetty Lane, Planks Lane, Church Road, High street and back to Wombourne Civic Centre. There will be temporary road closures during the parade so we ask for your patience during this time and hope people join in the festivities. The parade is made up of floats which are theme based, created by local schools.
The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal runs north-south through the western side of the village and Bratch Locks are located just to the north-west. Another popular local spot is the South Staffordshire Railway Walk, which follows the path of a now disused railway (it served as a goods railway prior to the 1960s and as a passenger line for a few years between the two wars). Wombourne Village Green is considered to resemble an archetypal 'English village', as it is in the centre of the village and opposite St Benedict's Church. It regularly plays host to local cricket matches.
The main commercial area is around the village green and on the neighbouring streets. This contains a considerable range of small, independent shops, as well as banks, cafes and other services. There are also small developments of shops and services in the outlying areas of the village, particularly at Giggetty and Blakeley.
Wombourne has a retained fire station, run by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, which is currently being refurbished. The station houses one pumping appliance and is located on Giggety Lane next to Wombourne Ambulance Station. The ambulance station was run by West Midlands Ambulance Service and was manned full-time. The west midlands house builder Kendrick Homes acquired the site for residential development in June 2014, it has planning permission for 9 dwellings. Wombourne Police Station can be found on the High Street and is part of Staffordshire Police. Police officers work from the police station 24 hours per day, however staff of the enquiry office are only available at certain times.
The village is served by a wide variety of churches, many based around the village green, which do much in the way of maintaining village traditions and in serving the more needy people in the parish. There was considerable volunteer support for the mental health centre in Planks Lane before it closed. The Hand in Hand Centre is well-supported by Christians and a number of activities for older members of the village are run and paid for by volunteers.
A number of important footpaths cross Wombourne, constituting an important leisure amenity as well as providing safe access to the village and surrounding countryside for walkers and cyclists.
The Wom Brook Walk is a Local Nature Reserve entirely within the boundaries of the village. It stretches for about 1.5 miles (2.6 km) along both sides of the Wom Brook, traversing the village from east to west. It contains a mix of meadow and woodland. It was established after some years of work by a local conservation group, the Friends of Wom Brook. There has been great excitement over the arrival of Wombourne's very first Little Egret in October/November 2010. It was seen hunting and roosting around the Wombrook on a number of occasions and Daniel Traynor captured the very first image of the bird which was later shown in the Parish News.
The South Staffordshire Railway Walk is another Local Nature Reserve. It follows the course of the former Wombourne Branch Line, traversing Wombourne from north to south, before swinging east towards Himley and Dudley. It intersects with the Wom Brook Walk at the western end of Ham Meadow. To the north, it connects with the Wolverhampton Railway Walk, affording a pedestrian route into Wolverhampton via the Smestow Valley LNR. The former Wombourne station at the Bratch has car parking facilities, as well as a café and information.
The tow path of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal also runs north-south through the western part of Wombourne, roughly parallel with the South Staffordshire Railway Walk and intersecting with the Wom Brook Walk at Giggetty. It forms part of a conservation area and can be followed as far as Kidderminster and Stourport on Severn to the south and Wolverhampton and Stafford to the north. It is said that once a year the phantom ghost train runs through Wombourne, with many of the local residents claiming they have both seen and heard it.
As well as the walks in or passing through Wombourne, there are also many country parks and places to walk in the surrounding area including: Baggeridge Country Park, Highgate Common, Himley Hall and Kinver Edge.
Wombourne is part of a two-tier local government structure, typical of rural county areas in England.
Wombourne also has a parish council. This was originally established in 1894 and took its present form in 1974.
Before the local government reforms of the 19th century, the local parish or vestry was both a civil and an ecclesiastical unit within the Seisdon Hundred of the historic county of Staffordshire. In Victorian times, it became part of the Seisdon Poor Law Union.
Wombourne's Member of Parliament is Gavin Williamson, who represents the South Staffordshire constituency in the House of Commons after Sir Patrick Cormack stepped down in the 2010 general election . He is a Conservative. In elections to the European Parliament, Wombourne is part of the very large West Midlands constituency which is represented by a total of seven MEPs: 3 Conservative, 2 Labour, 1 Liberal Democrat and 1 UK Independence Party. All nine of Wombourn's district councillors are Conservative and the district council is Conservative-controlled.
National Express West Midlands bus routes 15, 16, 15s and 16s all serve Wombourne, with the 15s and 16s serving Ounsdale High School along with Staffordshire CC sponsored route 584 (operated by Arriva Midlands. Timetables for these buses can all be found on the internet. A bus route 254 served Wombourne until it was discontinued in 2010. There used to be a railway line but this closed to passenger services in 1932. Also, this area is near the main A449 road.
There are four primary schools in Wombourne; Westfield, St. Bernadette's R.C., Blakeley Heath and St. Benedict Biscop. There is also a secondary school, Ounsdale High School, that takes many of the local primary schools pupils on. Students also come from local areas on coach and bus services to the school. There is also Cherry Tree's special school and Adult Education centres operating in several locations around the village, including Ounsdale High School and the Library.
A small Sainsbury's supermarket was completed in spring of 2010, following a fierce campaign by villagers, led by Anna Owen, a resident in the village for all of her life. Along with major road adaptations to the B4176 and community investments such as a local free shuttle bus. This was preceded by a long contest with Tesco to secure a site and planning permission near the village. The supermarket is located to the south of the village centre, just off the main road to Bridgnorth, in an industrial estate.
Wombourne V.C. was founded in 1995 and currently competes in the West Midlands Volleyball Association. The club has recently moved to train and compete at the brand new Evolve building near Dudley town centre. At the conclusion of the 2015 season the club was named "Volleyball England Club of the Year", topping competition from across England.
° Images of England: Wombourne Compiled by Derek Thomas and John Bowler (Tempus 2000)
The Bratch is an area of Wombourne in South Staffordshire, England, noted for its industrial heritage and more recently as a way station for walkers, riders and cyclists. Formerly, it was a small, separate hamlet, and became fully absorbed into Wombourne only in the 20th century. Population details for the 2011 census can be found under Wombourne.Brettell Lane railway station
Brettell Lane railway station was a station on the Oxford-Worcester-Wolverhampton Line built to serve the communities between Brierley Hill and Stourbridge in England.Brockmoor Halt railway station
Brockmoor Halt was a small railway stop on the Wombourne Branch Line. It had very poor patronage and, along with the rest of the line's passenger stations, was closed just seven years after its introduction by the Great Western Railway in 1925. The halt served the small town of Brockmoor, which is now part of the Brierley Hill area.
Brierley Hill railway station was closer to the town's small High Street than the halt named after it. Brockmoor Halt remains in place with the platforms and single rail including the bridge to Kingswinford Junction but it has been fenced off and mothballed since 1994.Bromley Halt railway station
Bromley Halt was a small railway stop on the Wombourne Branch Line. It had very poor patronage and, along with the rest of the line's passenger stations, was closed just seven years after its introduction by the Great Western Railway in 1925. The halt served the communities between Pensnett, Wordsley and Kingswinford.
Bromley Halt ran alongside the Stourbridge Extension Canal, which itself was eventually removed. Only two platforms and a single line from Bromley Halt to Pensnett Halt and Kingswinford Junction remain.Compton Halt railway station
Compton Halt was a small single platform halt on the Wombourne Branch Line. It was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1925 and closed in 1932. Poor patronage was a factor in the closure of the line and Compton Halt's existence was similarly blighted.
Only the platform remains but is heavily overgrown and is partly decayed. The halt is now part of the South Staffordshire Railway Walk.Dunstall Park railway station
Dunstall Park railway station was a station north of Wolverhampton Low Level railway station on the Great Western Railway's London Paddington to Birkenhead via Birmingham Snow Hill line. The station opened on 1 December 1896. Stafford Road engine shed and works and Oxley shed were nearby. It saw high traffic due to the nearby Wolverhampton Racecourse but closed in 1968 when services between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury were switched to Wolverhampton High Level.
It was the first stop north from the Low Level station, and was served by local trains towards Shrewsbury, as well as those on the Wombourne Branch Line to Stourbridge.
The station site has since been demolished although freight and passenger trains still pass through the site. There is a bricked up pedestrian entrance and ramp to the former station.Gornal Halt railway station
Gornal Halt was a small railway stop on the Wombourne Branch Line. It was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1925 and closed in 1932. The halt served the nearby village of Gornal Wood. The railway passing through the site remained open until 1968.
The South Staffordshire Railway Walk ends around the Gornal Halt area and the site of Gornal Halt towards Pensnett Halt railway station has become "Himley View", which is a mix of a housing estate and industrial estates.Himley railway station
Himley was a station on the Wombourne Branch Line. Unlike other stops along the route, it was deemed worthy of full station status. It was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1925 and closed in 1932. It served the community around Himley Hall.
A picnic area now stands on the site of the station. It is also part of the South Staffordshire Railway Walk but is the final stretch of track still in situ as after the site is a landfill site.List of electoral wards in Staffordshire
This is a list of electoral divisions and wards in the ceremonial county of Staffordshire in the West Midlands. All changes since the re-organisation of local government following the passing of the Local Government Act 1972 are shown. The number of councillors elected for each electoral division or ward is shown in brackets.Orton, Staffordshire
Orton is a hamlet in the South Staffordshire District, in the English county of Staffordshire. Nearby settlements include the city of Wolverhampton and the villages of Wombourne and Trysull.
In 1817, William Pitt described the hamlet as being in Wombourne parish: it contained a few farmhouses and other residential buildings. He also referred to the hamlet as Overton. In 1872 a gazetteer entry described Orton as a liberty in Wombourn parish, Stafford; on the Birmingham canal, 3½ miles S W of Wolverhampton. Pop., 169.Ounsdale High School
Ounsdale High School is an 11-18 mixed comprehensive secondary school located in Wombourne, Staffordshire, England. It is situated on Ounsdale Road in the west of the village, and stands on an adjacent site to the local leisure centre. It also has a sixth form for 16- to 19-year-olds, which has a built 6th form centre detachment which was opened by the pop star Beverley Knight. The schools is currently undergoing building, this includes; New window fixtures, A secondary entrance to the reception area with a disabled ramp and stairs, and a small building to the left of the reception which the school has not commented on.
The school has approximately 1,200 pupils and provides education at Key Stage 3, GCSE and sixth form. Its current head teacher is Dr. Gemma Smith who took over this position in September 2018 after Ms.Christine Brown.
76% of the school's GCSE students gained 5 or more A*-C grades in 2010.Pensnett Halt railway station
Pensnett Halt was a small railway stop on the Wombourne Branch Line. It was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1925 and closed in 1932. The halt served the small town of Pensnett.
The sidings around the station survived until about 1994, thanks to the Perrier distribution centre. The line north of these sidings has now been lifted.
The trackbed between Gornal Halt and Pensnett Halt has become a wasteland with the bridge that took the line under High Street and towards Tansy Green Road being fenced off and has since been overgrown. At one point, the line from Pensnett Halt to Brockmoor Halt railway station became a footpath but has since been hardly used and is now overgrown with only the single track that carried the line to Gornal Halt still in situ and a steep, dangerous footpath from Gibbons Lane.South Staffordshire
South Staffordshire is a local government district in Staffordshire, England. The district lies to the north and west of the West Midlands county, bordering Shropshire to the west and Worcestershire to the south. It contains no towns of major size, and many of the settlements within the district are considered dormitory villages for Stafford, Telford, and the West Midlands conurbation.
The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by the merger of Cannock Rural District (in the north) and Seisdon Rural District (in the south).
Its council is based in Codsall, one of the larger settlements in the district, along with Brewood, Cheslyn Hay, Great Wyrley, Kinver, Landywood, Penkridge, Perton and Wombourne. Other villages in the district include Swindon, Coven, Essington, Featherstone, Gospel End, Huntington, Lower Penn, Pattingham, Seisdon and Trysull.
The district covers a similar geographic area to South Staffordshire parliamentary constituency, although the north of the district is covered by the Stafford constituency. Sir Patrick Cormack of the Conservative Party held the South Staffordshire seat, and its predecessor, Staffordshire South-West, between 1974–2010, when he retired and the seat was won by Gavin Williamson for the Conservative Party.South Staffordshire (UK Parliament constituency)
South Staffordshire is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Gavin Williamson, a Conservative.
This article also covers the history of the previous constituency of South Staffordshire or Staffordshire Southern which existed from 1832 to 1868, covering a much larger area.Tettenhall railway station
Tettenhall railway station was a station on the Wombourne Branch Line, serving the town of Tettenhall in the West Midlands of England. It was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1925 and closed in 1932. A significant number of station amenities were supplied but failed to improve patronage at the station, which ultimately led to its closure.
The station site is a rarity in that, despite the removal of the line 33 years after the station closed, it is almost totally complete.
Since 2014, the building has been home to a tea room named 'Cupcake Lane' having previously been a park ranger station. The goods depot behind the station is now a small transport museum.
The station is also the start and the northern end of the South Staffordshire Railway Walk which carries on down towards Wombourne railway station and onto Gornal Halt railway station.Wom Brook
The Wom Brook is a stream in South Staffordshire, England. It flows through the large village of Wombourne, and has played an important part in its industrial history. It is an important tributary of the River Smestow and part of the Severn catchment.Wombourn railway station
Wombourn railway station was the main intermediate station on the Wombourne Branch Line, situated at the Bratch. It was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1925 and closed in 1932. It was a grandiose affair with a goods yard and many station amenities. This, however, didn't stop poor patronage which led to the station's closure a mere seven years after opening. It remained in use for freight traffic until the line passing through the station was closed on 24 June 1965.
The building survives, however, and is now a tearoom, popular with walkers, and an information centre. It also is the second only station building to still be still in situ on the South Staffordshire Railway Walk.
The station itself was named Wombourn, the standard spelling of the time, in preference to the spelling Wombourne. This is the result of a decision made by the Great Western Railway, who feared confusion with the similarly named Wimborne.Wombourne V.C.
Wombourne Volleyball Club is a volleyball club based in Dudley (and previously Wombourne) competing in the West Midlands Volleyball Association leagues, as well as Volleyball England's National Cup competition. It runs 5 teams (3 men's and 2 ladies) in the WMVA leagues, and 2 teams (1 men's and 1 ladies) in the National Cup Competition.Wombourne branch line
The Wombourne branch (also known as the Wolverhampton and Kingswinford Railway) was a railway situated in the English West Midlands. It branched from the Great Western Railway's Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton line at Kingswinford Junction to the north of Brettell Lane railway station and joined the same company's Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton line at the triangular Oxley Junction on the north-western approach to Wolverhampton Low Level.
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