Cradley's forges and iron works were of valuable military significance to both the Royalist and Parliamentary forces in the English civil war (1642-48)
CRADLEY AND THE CIVIL WAR
by N. BIRD
For a short period during the Civil War, Parliamentary troops were quartered in Cradley and they had to be maintained by the residents during their stay. Our predecessors were fortunate however, for this was the only occasion recorded when they were forced to pay a levy for the upkeep of troops of either of the contending armies.
Many other townships in Worcestershire, on a number of occasions had to pay levies for the maintenance of both Parliamentary and Royalist soldiers when these happened to be stationed within their boundaries.
This part of Worcestershire and the Black Country in general was mainly Parliamentarian in sympathy but it was overshadowed and kept in check by the strong Royalist Garrison at Dudley Castle. Consequently, this area with all its forges and iron works became an arsenal for supplying King Charles with equipment and weapons of war. At the same time however, there was a clandestine market supplying the other side with similar requirements, but in smaller quantities.
This state of affairs was damaging to Cromwell's cause, so the Earl of Denbigh who commanded the Parliamentary troops in these parts was commissioned to reduce this stronghold at Dudley, but all his attempts failed.
In June 1644, Sir Wm. Waller brought troops to Stourbridge and these were distributed and stationed in the neighbouring townships in preparation for a concerted attack on the castle. This also failed.
A number of these soldiers had their quarters in Cradley and the cost of their maintenance to the local residents was £11 per week. As the cost for each soldier was ninepence a day, the contingent would number about forty. It was the duty of the constable to collect this money.
According to tradition some were quartered in Barracks Lane, while others, probably the officers, had their quarters at the Manor House. This Manor House was in "The Park" and was partly moated. Its probable site was at the bottom of Tanhouse Lane (then an extension of Park Lane), where "Pool House" now stands. Here a moat could be traced until a few years ago when farm buildings occupied the land. Part of the moat was converted into a reservoir for supplying Harper & Moore's Colliery with water.
When Nash the Worcestershire historian visited Cradley about 1790, he recorded that the Manor House in The Park was in ruins and partly overgrown.
Nearby was the public pound. I am told this was a small triangular patch of land in the middle of the road at the junction of Tanhouse and Chapel House Lanes. The spot is still called "The Pound" by some of our older residents.
It was usual for brick built Manor houses to have the bricks made on the site to save transport costs, and the land adjoining known as "Brickill Close" used to have a marl hole and brick kilns. These have been completely covered by a bank of ashes.
Note by Cradley Links:
In the following (July 1953) edition of the Cradley Parish Church Magazine, Norman Bird added:
In my last article I said that the people of Cradley were fortunate in that they were only forced to make weekly payments during a short period for the upkeep of Sir Wm. Waller's troops stationed here. It is known, however, that the parishes of North Worcestershire were under double duress; they were also under the compelling obligation of sending supplies to the Royalist garrisons at Hartlebury Castle and Worcester. One can imagine the predicament of the poor constable of those days who had to collect both money and supplies from the same people for the two contending armies.
Here again, Cradley's history is confused through being a separate manor in Worcestershire, as well as being a part of the Parish of Halesowen, Shropshire. For local government Cradley seems to have worked in conjunction with Lutley and Warley (Wigorn) rather than with Halesowen.
This article was first published in the Cradley Parish Church Magazine, June 1953.
The author, Norman Bird, took an active interest in Cradley history, and was a regular contributor to the parish magazine. Deputy Head Master at the Cradley Church Schools for more than 20 years, he died suddenly in the school staff room in the late 1950s.