Dudley


Dudley

Coordinates: 52°30′43″N 2°05′45″W / 52.5119°N 2.0957°W / 52.5119; -2.0957

Dudley
Dudley Town Centre.jpg
Dudley Town Centre, looking towards the Market Place.
Dudley is located in West Midlands (county)
Dudley

 Dudley shown within the West Midlands
Population 194,919 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SO9390
    - London  130.5 m 
Metropolitan borough Dudley
Metropolitan county West Midlands
Region West Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DUDLEY
Postcode district DY1, DY2
Dialling code 01384
Police West Midlands
Fire West Midlands
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament Dudley North
Dudley South
List of places: UK • England • West Midlands

Dudley (Listeni/ˈdʌdli/ dud-lee) is a large town in the West Midlands county of England. At the 2001 census (according to the Office of National Statistics), the Dudley Urban Sub Area had a population of 194,919,[1] making it the 26th largest settlement in England, the second largest town in the United Kingdom behind Reading,[2] and the largest settlement in the UK without its own university.[3] Since 1974, Dudley has been the administrative centre of the wider Metropolitan Borough of Dudley; the original County Borough had undergone a lesser expansion in 1966.

Dudley is part of the West Midlands conurbation, and is located south of the city of Wolverhampton. It is the largest town in the Black Country region of England, and for many years the town (but not the castle, which was classed as part of Staffordshire[4]) formed part of an exclave of the county of Worcestershire.[5] Despite the more recent changes in county borders, the town still remains part of the Anglican Diocese of Worcester.

An application for Dudley to receive city status was made in 2011, with the decision due in 2012.[6]

Contents

History

Dudley has a history dating back to Anglo-Saxon times,[7] its name deriving from the Old English 'Duddan Leah' (meaning Dudda's clearing) and one of its churches being named in honour of the Anglo-Saxon King and Saint, Edmund. Dudley Castle has stood on a hill overlooking the town since the time of the Norman Conquest,[8] and is mentioned in the Domesday Book.[9] The present castle building dates from the 13th century, and provided the centre around which the town grew. Dating from the 12th century are the ruins of St. James Priory, set within the Priory Park.[10]

Dudley Castle

The town was a major market town during the Middle Ages, selling not only agricultural produce but also iron goods at a national level.[11] Working iron and mining for coal was in practice as early as the 13th century, and by the 18th century the town had become a significant industrial hub.

During the English Civil War Dudley served as a Royalist stronghold, with the castle besieged by the Parliamentarians and later partly demolished on the orders of the Government after the Royalist surrender.[12]

The town's population grew dramatically during the 18th and 19th centuries because of the increase in industry, and it became a central part of the Black Country. The main industries in Dudley included coal and limestone mining.[13] Other industries included iron, steel, engineering, metallurgy, glass cutting, textiles and leatherworking. Of historical significance, the first Newcomen steam engine was installed at the Conygree coalworks a mile east of Dudley Castle in 1712.[14]

During this time living conditions were incredibly poor, with Dudley being named 'the most unhealthy place in the country',[15] which led to the installation of clean water supplies and sewage systems, and later the extensive development of council housing during the early 20th century to relocate the occupants of local slum housing.

In World War II, Dudley was bombed on several occasions, with a number of fatalities, though nowhere near as severely as its near neighbour Birmingham.

Empty building of the former Hippodrome Theatre

The town was developed substantially in the early 20th century, with the construction of many entertainment venues including a theatre and cinemas, and later in the 1960s several indoor shopping precincts. In more recent years, however, the declining industry in the area has given rise to high unemployment, resulting in the closure of many town businesses. The development of the nearby Merry Hill Shopping Centre between 1985 and 1990 also saw the loss of most of the town centre's leading name stores, which relocated to take advantage of the tax incentives offered by Merry Hill's status as an Enterprise Zone.

In more recent years the town has declined further still, with the financial crisis and recession resulting in even more of the retail units in the town centre becoming vacant. The Woolworths store on Market Place closed in December 2008 when the company went bankrupt,[16] and Beatties closed its store - the last department store in the town - in January 2010,[17] after more than 40 years due to falling trade.

Civic history

By the end of the 13th century Dudley had become a manorial borough and, from the 16th century until 1853, was governed by the Court Leet of the Lords of Dudley. After this time the Town Commissioners were superseded by the Board of Health, before the town was eventually incorporated into a municipal borough in 1865. It became a County Borough in 1888 under the Local Government Act, consisting of the wards of St. Thomas, the Castle, Netherton, St. Edmund, St. James, St. John and Woodside.[18]

Dudley's Council House in Priory Road was opened in 1935 by King George V, and was financed by the then Earl of Dudley, William Humble Eric Ward,[19] to replace the original building from 1870. The Town Hall (now Dudley Concert Hall) opened on St James's Road in 1928; it stands next to council offices which were converted from the old Police Station in 1939 after the construction of a new building on nearby New Street.[20]

The town has had a public library since 1878; it was originally situated in Priory Street, before relocating to St James's Road in 1909. The library underwent a major expansion in 1966 and a significant refurbishment in 2002.[21]

In 1966, the county borough was expanded to include the urban district councils of Brierley Hill and Sedgley, along with parts of Coseley, Amblecote and Rowley Regis, while an area in the eastern section of Dudley was transferred into the new borough of Warley, which became part of Sandwell in 1974.[22] In 1974 it became part of the Dudley Metropolitan Borough, after a merger with the municipal boroughs of Stourbridge and Halesowen.[23]

Since 1974, Dudley has been part of the West Midlands county.

Places of interest

The ruins of Dudley Priory.

The town is home to Dudley Zoo, and the Black Country Living Museum. Visitors to the museum may also take a narrowboat trip from the adjacent canal, through the Dudley Tunnel. The ruined Dudley Castle is within the grounds of the zoo, and there is an extensive wooded ridge that runs north from the castle. Dudley Zoo is to be regenerated under proposals by Dudley Zoo in partnership with Dudley Council, St Modwen and Advantage West Midlands, which will see a former freightliner site redeveloped with a tropical dome, Asiatic forest, two aquatic facilities and walkthrough aviaries. It is expected to cost £38.7 million.[24]

Dudley is home to a former Odeon Cinema and a former music hall, the Dudley Hippodrome, both from the Art Deco period in the 1930s. The Dudley Hippodrome was built on to the side of the now-demolished Opera House (built in 1900 and burnt down in 1936) and is now a bingo hall. There is a Showcase Cinema in a retail park between the zoo and museum.

Sculpture on a plinth at Showcase Cinema, Dudley

The Odeon Cinema became an Assembly Hall for the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1976 for the West Midlands Area.

The Plaza Cinema was built on Castle Hill in 1938 next to the Hippodrome, and remained open until October 1990. The building was then taken over by Laser Quest, who used it until it was demolished in 1997. The site of the cinema remains undeveloped.

Since the 1970s, there has been a nightclub on Castle Hill situated on the corner of Station Drive; this has changed ownership several times since first opening.

Dudley Art Deco Cinema

There are many canals in and around Dudley, the main one being the Dudley Canal - most of which passes beneath Dudley in a tunnel which lacks a towpath and is therefore accessible only by boat.

The open sections of canal are popular with walkers, cyclists, fishermen, and narrowboat users.[25] Many of the canalside towpaths have been upgraded for cycling, and some sections are part of the National Cycle Network.

Established in 1260, Dudley Market in Dudley town centre is a major shopping area for the town. It has undergone numerous developments in its history. One major development was in 1982 when the area was pedestrianised and the 12th century cobblestones were removed. Other developments have included the addition of a new roof and new toilet facilities, with the new ground level block having replaced underground toilets in the early 1990s.[26]

Dudley is also the location of several churches. These include the Church of St. Edmund, Church of St. James, and Church of St. Thomas.

The old St Edmund's Church School, a 19th century building near the town centre, was closed in 1970 on a merger with St John's Church School on Kates Hill, and later converted into a mosque for the town's growing Islamic community, which is mostly concentrated around Kates Hill, Queen's Cross, Eve Hill and The Buffery.

St James's Church at Eve Hill also had a church school from the mid 19th century, but this was closed during the 1970s and was used as a community centre for several years before being transferred to the Black Country Museum in 1989. The site of the school remained vacant until 2008, when work began on a new health centre that is due to open by 2010.[27]

Saltwells Wood is nature reserve in Quarry Bank, whilst the reserve still remains, historic Saltwells House was allowed to fall into decline by Dudley Council and has been demolished in 2011.

Proposed mosque

During the mid-2000s, plans were unveiled for the construction of a new mosque on the site of a derelict factory near the Dudley Southern By-Pass.

The mosque proposals were scrapped on 3 May 2010 in favour of an expansion to the existing Dudley Central Mosque on Castle Hill.[28]

Government

National government

Dudley is covered by two parliamentary constituencies, Dudley South and Dudley North, which also represent some other towns within the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley. The current MPs elected from these seats and to the House of Commons are Chris Kelly and Ian Austin respectively.

Local Government

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council is a 4-star unitary authority run by the Conservative Party. The Leader of the Council is Cllr Les Jones

Other

Law enforcement in Dudley is carried out by the West Midlands Police and fire and rescue by the West Midlands Fire Service.

Dudley Police Station is situated on New Street, in a building that opened in 1939 to replace a 19th century structure on Priory Street which now forms part of the local council offices.

The Fire Station is situated on Burton Road, where it relocated to from a 1930s building on Tower Street. Part of the current site was previously occupied by Burton Road Hospital.

The current Ambulance Station was opened in the late 1980s on Burton Road, on part of land that formed the site of the hospital six years before its demolition.

Libraries

Dudley Library service is currently made up from 13 branch libraries and 4 self-service library links based in community buildings.

Transport

Rail

View southward, towards Dudley Tunnel and Stourbridge Junction in 1951.

The nearest railway stations are all a mile or more from Dudley town centre; Tipton railway station and Dudley Port railway station are served by local services operated by London Midland, and Sandwell and Dudley railway station which is served by both local London Midland services and Virgin Trains West Coast services from London Euston to Wolverhampton.

Dudley railway station, in the town of Dudley itself, opened in 1850, and closed under the Beeching Axe in 1964. In its heyday it was a hub of services east to Birmingham (via a junction at Great Bridge), Walsall and Lichfield; north to Wolverhampton, Tipton and Coseley; and south-west to Stourbridge, as well as a line that served the small communities on the way to Old Hill and Halesowen. This site was then used as a Freightliner terminal by Freightliner UK until an unpopular closure on 26 September 1989.[29]

Both of the town's railway stations (Dudley and Blowers Green) were closed in 1962 under the Beeching Axe, although the line through Dudley remained open to goods trains until 1993. In the early 2010s, the town is set to regain a rail link for the first time in almost half a century when an extension to the Midland Metro opens between Brierley Hill and Wednesbury, although the Midland Metro is a Light Rail system, and does not feature through ticketing to the national rail network.[30]

Bus

There is a large bus station in the town centre which has many connections to surrounding towns and communities, including: Bilston, Birmingham, Brierley Hill, Coseley, Cradley Heath, Gornal, Halesowen, Kingswinford, Merry Hill Shopping Centre, Oldbury, Pensnett, Rowley Regis, Sedgley, Smethwick, Stourbridge, Tipton, Wall Heath, Walsall, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton, Wombourne and Wordsley.

The bus station also sees a service from National Express, whose services call at the bus station mostly for London or Wolverhampton. Other places served include holiday destination Blackpool and London Heathrow and London Gatwick Airports. There is also a bus station at Russells Hall Hospital.

The town has been served by a bus station at the junction of Birmingham Street and Fisher Street since 1952. The original bus station was cleared in 1984 and replaced by the current bus station which became fully operational in 1987.

Originally, Midland Red operated bus services in the town, mostly from its own bus depot, which opened in 1929. This depot was located on Birmingham Road and passed to West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive in 1973, along with operation of all bus services in Dudley. The depot itself was closed in 1993 and demolished a year later to make way for the Castle Gate roundabout at the eastern end of the town's new southern by-pass. The island was built in 1997 and the by-pass opened on 15 October 1999.

Road

Dudley itself is well-served by main roads which give a direct route to neighbouring towns. The longest of these roads are the B4176 (which runs to Wombourne, Bridgnorth and Telford) and the A461 (which passes through Wednesbury and Walsall, finally reaching Lichfield).

Air

The nearest international airport is Birmingham International Airport, around 18 miles to the east. The nearest local airport is Wolverhampton Airport, which is about 10 miles to the west of the town.

Geography

Geology

Wren's Nest

Dudley covers an area of the South Staffordshire Coalfield, which contributed heavily to its growth and industrialisation during the 18th century Industrial Revolution.[31]

North-west of the town centre lies the Wren's Nest Nature Reserve, the first British nature reserve in an urban area[32] and a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), considered to be one of the most notable geological locations in the British Isles. It was heavily mined for centuries because of its large limestone deposits, and is also the location of one of the largest fossil sites in England[33].

The most well known rocks which crop out at the Wrens Nest are the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation (formally known as the Dudley Limestone). This is overlain by the Ludlow Series and underlain by the Coalbrookdale Formation, all are Silurian in age. The Much Wenlock Limestone Formation, Nodular Member yeilds many marine fossils (up to 700 species) including the famous Calymene blumenbachi trilobite, also known as "The Dudley Bug".[34] The world’s first ever geological map, created in 1655, shows Castle Hill, Dudley and the Staffordshire Thick Coal, which at 12 metres is the thickest coal seam in the UK.

In the 1830's Scottish geologist Sir Roderick Murchison visited Dudley and the Wrens Nest to collect fossils from the miners to use in his research. In 1839 Murchison published his findings entitled "The Silurian System" of which 65% of his palaeontological evidence was from Dudley. Some of these fossils are still on display in Dudley Museum and Art Gallery.[35]

Localities


Demography

Dudley Compared
2001 UK Census Dudley Dudley MB West Midlands conurbation England
Total population 194,919 305,155 2,284,093 49,138,831
White 93.5% 93.7% 79.6% 90.9%
Asian 3.9% 4.0% 13.5% 4.6%
Black 1.2% 1.9% 3.9% 2.3%
Source: Office for National Statistics[36][37]

The 2001 Census gives the Dudley Urban Subdivision as the third most populous in the West Midlands conurbation, with a total resident population of 194,919.

Ethnic unrest

Tension between various ethnic communities, has been high in Dudley since the first Commonwealth immigrants settled in the town just after the end of the Second World War, though it has undoubtedly reached its height since the mosque project was first announced.

Dudley was the scene of some of Britain's first race riots in July 1962, when dozens of white men and youths rampaged in the North Street area of the town, vandalising properties in the area where the town's ethnic minorities were concentrated. Black Caribbean immigrants were particularly targeted in these disturbances.

Another riot, though less well known than the North Street riots, took place in Dudley in September 1991, when white and Asian youths clashed in the Kates Hill area.[38]

The English Defence League demonstrated in the town centre on 3 April 2010; although there were no injuries, eight people were arrested and there were several instances of criminal damage. A second demonstration took place on 17 July.[39] 20 people were arrested in unrest at the demonstration.[40]

The English Defence League again demonstrated against the mosque project on 17 July 2010. There were severe confrontations at many levels with the result that 20 criminal offenses[41] were being investigated by police during the aftermath, and many accounts of severe personal injury of visiting protesters were reported.[42]

Education

Primary schools

Dudley is served by a range of primary schools. Several of these are church schools. For example, Jessons Church of England Primary School, St Chads Roman Catholic School, St Edmund's and St John's Church of England Primary School and Netherton Church of England Primary School are all Church of England primary schools.

Other primary schools in the town include Dudley Wood Primary School, Priory Primary School, Kates Hill Primary School, Sledmere Primary School, Russells Hall Primary School, Milking Bank Primary School, Highgate Primary School, Northfield Road Primary School, Dudley Wood Primary School, Foxyards Primary School, Netherbrook Primary School and Blowers Green Primary School. Many of these schools are named after the housing estates they are located within.

Primary schools throughout the Dudley borough currently all provide education for pupils aged 5 to 11 years. Some schools also have nursery units for pupils aged 3 and 4 years. From 1972 to 1990, schoolchildren in Dudley, Sedgley, Coseley and Brierley Hill stayed at primary school until the age of 12. Halesowen ran a 5-13 first and middle school system from 1972 to 1982, while Stourbridge and Kingswinford have always had a traditional 5-11 infant and junior system.

Wrens Nest Primary School

Wrens Nest Primary School is a primary school that was built in 1936 to serve the new council housing estate which was being built at the time. The school expanded in September 2006 to accommodate pupils transferred from the nearby Sycamore Green Primary School, which had closed due to falling numbers on the school roll. This signalled the beginning of a £6.2million rebuild of the school, with the revamped school opening on 11 June 2010 with the official opening being made by long-serving school cleaner and community worker Margaret Lenton.[1]

Secondary schools

There are four secondary schools in central Dudley. Castle High School is a visual arts college and secondary school. It was formed in September 1989 as a result of a merger between The Dudley School and The Blue Coat School. It also occupies the buildings which once consisted of Dudley Boys Grammar School and land that was once used for Dudley Girls High School. By name, it is one of the newest schools in the town, despite using some of the area's oldest school buildings.

Holly Hall School is a comprehensive school in Dudley and has computing and mathematics college status and has served the south-west of the town since 1968.

Bishop Milner Roman Catholic School is a Roman Catholic secondary school in Dudley. Constructed in 1958, it became one of the first Roman Catholic secondary schools in the region and is the oldest existing secondary school - by name - in Dudley.

Hillcrest School is another secondary school in Dudley, serving the community of Netherton since 1958.

Dudley traditionally ran a system of 5-7 infant, 7-11 junior and 11+ secondary schools, but in September 1972 the system was altered to create 5-8 first, 8-12 middle and 12+ secondary schools - this affected the towns of Dudley, Sedgley, Coseley and Brierley Hill, while the traditional system remained in Kingswinford. Secondary modern and grammar schools were replaced by comprehensive schools in September 1975, and since that date all state secondary schools in the borough have been comprehensive.

Stourbridge, which became part of the Dudley borough in 1974, retained the traditional system as well, although Halesowen had adopted 5-9 first, 9-13 middle and 13+ secondary schools in 1972.

Halesowen reverted to the traditional 5-7 infant, 7-11 junior and 11+ secondary school system in 1982, and by 1985 there were plans afoot to return to the traditional system across the borough. The traditional system was finally restored across the Dudley borough in September 1990, around which time most of the remaining sixth forms in Dudley secondary schools were closed in favour of concentrating post 16 education at Dudley College, Halesowen College, Stourbridge College and King Edward VI College in Stourbridge.

Casualties of the introduction of comprehensive education included Dudley's girls high and boys grammar schools, which merged with the nearby Park secondary modern school to form The Dudley School (which in turn became Castle High on a merger with The Blue Coat School in 1989), while the equivalent schools in Stourbridge merged with Valley Road Secondary Modern School to become Redhill School. Several other grammar schools, including the High Arcal School in Sedgley, continued merely with a change in status rather than name.

The borough's final single sex state schools, Walton Girls School and Richmond Boys School in Halesowen, merged in September 1985 to form Windsor High School.

Special schools

There are three special schools within Dudley. Old Park School serves pupils from the age of 3 to 19.[43]

Rosewood School also caters for children within the age range. It was built on the Russells Hall Estate during the 1960s but relocated to the former Highfields Primary School in Coseley in March 2008.[44]

The Sutton School, built 1962, caters only for pupils from 11-16.[45]

Defunct schools

As well as The Dudley School, Sir Gilbert Claughton School and The Blue Coat School which merged to form Castle High School which also occupies the land and buildings of Dudley Boys Grammar School and Dudley Girls High School, other defunct schools in the town include Rosland Secondary School, which became part of The Blue Coat School in 1970, and Park Secondary School. Mons Hill School also shut down as a result of falling pupil numbers, it had originally opened in 1965 to replace another school; Wolverhampton Street School.

Primary schools that no longer exist include St James' School (erected in 1842), St John's Primary School and St Edmund's Primary School which both merged together to form St Edmund's and St John's Church of England Primary School in the 1970s. The St Edmund's Primary School building still exists and is currently used as Dudley Central Mosque.

Sycamore Green Primary School shut down in July 2006 following a consultation period which ended in the decision that it was no longer necessary to keep the school open as a result of falling pupil numbers. Staff and pupils were transferred to the Wrens Nest Primary School and the school buildings are currently used as a Pupil Referral Unit for students studying at Key Stage 3.

Further education

Some buildings owned by Dudley College.

Dudley College is a college of further education and lies mainly to the north of the town centre, with further campuses at Castle View and Wren's Nest. It is Dudley's only college of further education, having opened in 1936.

Until the summer of 2002, there was a campus of the University of Wolverhampton within the town. The newer part of the campus, built during the 1960s, was retained as part of Dudley College. The older buildings, which were originally a teacher training college built in 1905, were demolished soon afterwards and the site redeveloped for private housing.

Medical

The Joseph Guest Hospital's Victorian wing.

In October 2006, Dudley Beacon and Castle Primary Care Trust and Dudley South Primary Care Trust merged to become Dudley Primary Care Trust.[46] It is chaired by Mark Cooke.

Dudley is served by two major NHS health facilities. Dudley Guest Hospital was the first to be constructed. However it began as a charity by the Earl of Dudley to accommodate blinded local miners in 1849. The charity did not become popular and it was taken over by a local chainmaker who turned it into a hospital in 1871. As a result of the loss of the Emergency department in 1983, the hospital has become a less important facility compared with the Russells Hall Hospital, also in Dudley. A new outpatient centre opening at the Guest in 2003 but the original buildings remained use for another four years before the remaining services were transferred to Russells Hall.

Russells Hall Hospital was constructed in 1976 but financial problems meant that it could not open until 1983. A major expansion of the hospital was completed in 2005 when it incorporated all of the borough's inpatient services, following the closure of Wordsley Hospital and the downgrading of Dudley Guest Hospital and Stourbridge Corbett Hospital to outpatient services only.

Another hospital serving Dudley is Bushey Fields Hospital, which was developed in the 1980s and early 1990s.[47]

Burton Road Hospital stood on Burton Road approximately one mile to the west of the town centre, but this was not part of Dudley until 1966 having previously been in Sedgley. It was built in the mid 19th century as a workhouse and became a hospital in 1859. The hospital was demolished in 1994, having closed in December 1993.

The town's ambulance station was opened on land adjacent to Burton Road Hospital in 1986. The fire station was opened nearby in 1999, replacing a 1960s building on Tower Street which was then incorporated into council offices before being demolished in late 2010 to make way for a new building of Dudley College which will incorporate a listed section of the fire station dating from the 1930s.

Dudley Health Centre was opened in Cross Street in 1979. There are currently four GPs employed there, as well as numerous administration staff. There are also doctor's surgeries in Bean Road, and the clinic on the Priory Estate was demolished in the mid-2000s after serving the local community for some 70 years. Another surgery was built in the extreme west of the town (on the border with Sedgley) around 1990, to serve the new Milking Bank housing estate.

Media

Dudley is served by a number of local newspapers. The town has its own version of the Express & Star, published daily Monday to Saturday. There are also Dudley News,[48] which is published weekly, and the Black Country Bugle, which looks at the history of Dudley and the rest of the Black Country. Dudley was also served by the Dudley Evening Mail until its absorption into the Birmingham Evening Mail in late 1986. Televised local news is provided through Midlands Today and Central Tonight, which also serve the wider area of the West Midlands.

BBC Radio WM, Beacon Radio, Heart West Midlands, Kerrang! Radio, and Smooth Radio 105.7 are some of the local radio stations that can be received in Dudley, also serving the wider West Midlands.

Business and industry

The town centre is home to numerous high street retailers including River Island, Wilkinsons, Clinton Cards, WH Smith, Argos and New Look. There is also a Subway restaurant. McDonald's, British Home Stores, Marks and Spencer and Pizza Hut have all had branches in Dudley town centre in the past. Most of Dudley's shops are concentrated along the main shopping street (named High Street apart from a short length at the foot of the Castle called Castle Street)and two side streets: Stone Street and Wolverhampton Street. Dudley Town Centre is now rather run down with empty shops all around the Market Place and along the High Street.

Dudley Market is situated on a wide part of High Street but most stalls are now empty. There are three small shopping centres or arcades with entrances on High Street: the Churchill Shopping Centre, the Trident Shopping Centre and the Fountain Arcade. The latest casualty was the Departmental Store Beatties which closed down in the Churchill Shopping Centre.

Dudley retailing was particularly hard hit by the opening of the Merry Hill shopping centre in the 1980s, losing a number of major retailers including:British Home Stores, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's, C&A and Littlewoods.[49]

This was self-inflicted by Dudley Council who promoted the Merry Hill Shopping Centre to boost their revenues and in doing so sacrificed Dudley Town Centre which is now a run down shadow of its former glory when it used to be a thriving market town.

Dudley residents and traders have asked for the removal of the parking charges in Dudley, which they see as a barrier to people coming into the town. (The rival Merry Hill Centre has free parking). Dudley Council has refused to reduce or remove parking charges citing "loss of revenue". Critics of the council point out that more revenue is lost through shoppers going elsewhere.

The Bean Cars factory was opened in the first years of the 20th century and remained in use until the 1930s, but survives to this day for other industrial use.

The town now has commercial business units in and around the Blackheath area of Dudley, the Excelsior Business park[50] is situated 2 miles from Junction 2 of the M5.

Notable people

Footballer Duncan Edwards was born in Dudley and is commemorated by a statue in the town.
  • Abraham Darby I (1678–1717) - Industrial pioneer, who developed the first practical method of producing iron using coke instead of charcoal.
  • Sam Allardyce (1954 - ) - Football manager and former footballer.
  • Duncan Edwards (1936–1958) - England footballer who died in the Munich Air Disaster. The Dudley Southern Bypass was renamed 'Duncan Edwards Way' in his memory, and a statue of him was erected in the town Market Place in 1999. He is buried at the town cemetery.[51]
  • Lenny Henry (1958 - ) - Actor and comedian.
  • Sue Lawley (1946 - ) - Newsreader
  • Bert Bissell (1902 - 1998) - Mountain clmber and peace campaigner. Dudley was twinned with the town of Fort William in his honour.[52]
  • William Perry (boxer) (1819–1880) - Prizefighter, also known as the Tipton Slasher. Buried in St John's Churchyard, Kate's Hill.
  • John Badley (1783–1870) - Surgeon of Dudley, FRCS (original 300 Fellows) Medical pioneer
  • John Haden Badley (1865–1967) - Educator, founder (1893) and Headmaster (1893–1935) Bedales School
  • Ben Black (1889–1950) - Composer
  • Jason Bonham (1966 - ) - Son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham
  • David Burrows (1968 - ) - retired professional footballer who played for clubs including Liverpool, Everton and Coventry City
  • Charles Alfred Coulson (13 December 1910 - 7 January 1974) FRS, Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics and then Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at the University of Oxford
  • John Metcalfe Coulson (13 December 1910 - 1990), Professor of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, author of major textbook series, twin of Charles, born in Dudley
  • Billy Dainty (1927–1986) - Comedian
  • Reanne Evans (1985 - ) - Three-time Ladies' World Snooker Champion
  • Wagner Fiuza-Carrilho (1956 -) - X Factor 2010 Contestant
  • Kaleigh Grainger (1986 - ) – unicyclist
  • Nigel Mazlyn Jones - Musician
  • Jas Mann (1971 - ) - Musician
  • Jim MacCool (1958 - ) Dudley's poet in residence
  • Ian Messiter (1920–1999) - Comedy writer
  • Norman Pace (1953 - ) – comedian
  • Dorothy Round (1908–1982) - tennis player who won the ladies' singles at Wimbledon in 1934 and 1937.
  • Percy Shakespeare (1906–1943) - artist
  • Joe Smith (1889–1971) - former footballer and manager (was manager of Blackpool at the time of their famous 1953 FA Cup final victory over Bolton, dubbed the "Matthews Final").
  • James Whale (1889–1957) - film director.

In popular culture

Sport

Dudley is the largest town in England never to have had a league football club.[56] The town's key football teams, Dudley Town F.C. and Dudley Sports F.C. have never progressed beyond the Southern League. They are both currently[when?] at Level 10 of the Football League pyramid.

Dudley Town is the older of the town's two clubs, and have enjoyed the most success. Their most notable success came in 1985 when they won promotion to the Southern Premier League, but in the same year they were forced to quit Dudley Sports Centre (at the junction of Tipton Road and Birmingham Road) due to mining subsidence. They played at Round Oak Sports Ground in Brierley Hill for the next 11 years, and then spent a season ground-sharing at Halesowen Town, before resigning from the Southern League due to financial difficulties. The club was reformed in 1999 to compete in the West Midlands Regional League, and currently ground-share with Stourbridge at the War Memorial Athletic Ground.

In 1981, when still playing at Dudley Sports Centre, Dudley Town played a prestigious game against Wolverhampton Wanderers to commemorate a refurbishment of the stadium, with the new floodlights being switched on by legendary former Wolves player Billy Wright.

For some time after leaving Dudley Sports Centre, there were hopes that it could be made safe for Dudley Town to return, but these plans never materialised and the site was instead redeveloped as a business and leisure complex which has been developing since 2000. The club currently play at The Dell Stadium in Pensnett.

Twin Towns

Dudley is twinned with:

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