There are two villages named Cradley in the Midlands of England. Our Cradley is an ancient Saxon Manor, Cradelei, included in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Cradley was historically in north Worcestershire, close to the county boundary with Staffordshire, and is now part of Dudley in the West Midlands. This area of north Worcestershire and south Staffordshire is widely known as the Black Country, a name derived from its industrial history, especially coal mining and iron works.
There is another Cradley, about 30 miles to the south, near to the Malvern Hills in south Worcestershire but just across the county boundary in Herefordshire. In contrast, this is a sparsely-populated, rural area, virtually untouched by heavy industry.
Our Cradley is close to but a different place from the larger Cradley Heath, across the river Stour, in what was Staffordshire, now part of Sandwell in the West Midlands. Cradley Heath is in the parish of Rowley Regis, relatively a new town in comparison to Cradley.
Cradley's location on the earth's surface is Latitude 52' 27" North Longitude 2' 5" West, and Ordnance Survey grid reference SO9485.
The 1881 UK Census transcription, as published in the set of CDs by the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), contains a major error when it comes to Cradley. A lot of the entries are mis-spelt as GRADLEY. When searching for someone living in Cradley, we recommend that you enter "?radley" in the City or Town field when searching on Census Place. This will find them all.
For purposes of Civil Registration (Births, Marriages and Deaths since 1837), Cradley is in the Stourbridge Registration District. Certified copies of entries in the Registers are obtainable from the Register Office by post at £6.50 each. The address is Superintendent Registrar, Register Office, Crown Centre, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 1PA. Don't forget to send a stamped addressed envelope with your order. The local Register Office is cheaper, quicker and friendlier than applying to the Registrar General at the Office for National Statistics. This is especially the case with Stourbridge, where the staff are most helpful and certificates are almost always despatched by return of post, that is, the day they receive your order.
When searching for marriages, remember that many Cradley people went to other parishes to marry. Much the same applies for christenings. The favourite places were St. Thomas at Dudley, St. John the Baptist at Halesowen and St. Mary's at Old Swinford (Stourbridge). Halesowen, Old Swinford and Cradley are all in the Stourbridge Registration District. Dudley has its own Register Office.
Cradley is part of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council for local government purposes, and has been since 1974. As well as Dudley town itself, Dudley Borough covers Stourbridge, The Lye, Quarry Bank, Halesowen, Netherton, Brierley Hill, Kingswinford, Sedgley, the Gornals, Cradley of course, and other smaller places.
Cradley postal addresses these days are in Halesowen, West Midlands. The name "Cradley" does not appear in the "official" postal address, but many of us carry on including it regardless. The postcode is generally "B63" followed by a number and two letters. (The "B" is for Birmingham.)
Cradley is a small town but it includes several smaller districts or local areas. Some of these are no more than one or two streets. There are no boundaries. These areas include: Colley Gate, Windmill Hill, Belle Vale, The Beecher, Fatherless Barn Estate, Two Gates, High Park, The Park, Netherend, Lyde Green, Overend, Homer Hill, High Town.
Some roads and streets have had name changes over the years. For example:
The High Street is now called Colley Lane
Salt Hill (from High Town down to Butcher's Lane) is also now part of Colley Lane
Furlong Lane used to be called Spring Lane (named after a spring of water from the Clent Hills - now stopped up)
Church Road used to be called Church Street and before that School Lane
Maple Tree Lane used to be called Kan Kan Row or Maple Gap Lane
Blue Ball Lane used to be called The Innage
Lyde Green used to be called Light Green
Slade Road used to be called The Slad Piece (and is still widely known by that name)
Many other roads, streets and places no longer exist. For example, Dick's Hill, Anvil Yard, Lumban's Bank, Parade, Ash Bank, New Street, Little Hill and Victoria Street.
We hope this helps.