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Aldridge is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, in the West Midlands, England. Historically it was part of the county of Staffordshire, but in 1974 it was incorporated into the West Midlands county. It also became part of the borough of Walsall at this time, having originally been an independent local authority and then being merged with neighbouring Brownhills to form Aldridge-Brownhills UDC in 1966.

Aldridge was recorded as a settlement in the Domesday Book of 1086, though the now much larger settlement of Walsall was not. It was valued at 15 shillings under the name of “Alrewic”, which may have originated from an abundance of Alder trees in the area.

Aldridge began as a small agricultural settlement, with farming being the most common occupation up until the 19th century.

In the 1800s, Aldridge became an industrial town with coal mines and lime kilns. The coal and clay in the area prompted many to set up collieries and brickworks. Aldridge clay is especially useful in the manufacture of blue bricks. The 1881 census shows that the mines and brick works were major employers. Because the coal and clay beneath the eastern side of Aldridge (towards Stonnall) is located much deeper under the surface, extraction of this coal and clay would not have been economically viable. As a result farms continued to dominate the eastern part, though a sand quarry was set up and still remains on Birch Lane.

During the 20th century modern shops were built in the centre of Aldridge, as well as council buildings. After the Second World War Aldridge became a dormitory town, or suburb, of Birmingham. A small airport called Walsall Aldridge Airport was used during the Second World War and after was used for passenger services.

Aldridge became an urban district in Staffordshire in 1894. Other villages within the district included Pelsall, Walsall Wood, Clayhanger and Streetly. This merged with Brownhills in 1966 to form Aldridge-Brownhills, and then became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall in 1974.

Today, Aldridge is a relatively affluent area of Walsall that consists of mostly private homes that have been built since the 1920s.

The recorded population in the 2001 Census was 16,862.

Aldridge is made up of two council wards: Aldridge Central & South, Aldridge North & Walsall Wood.

In Aldridge there are a large number of factories, mostly located on the Redhouse industrial estate, but also heading up towards Walsall Wood along the main road, Northgate. Some of the most notable factories include the large Ibstock brick works, Harold Bird Golf and the GKN Driveshafts factory, although both of the latter companies have closed in recent years due to relocation and cheaper foreign imports. Birlec, a manufacturer of industrial furnaces relocated to Aldridge in the late 1950s, but has since closed. Aldridge Plastics Ltd, a plastics injection moulder, was set up in the town in 1968 and continued trading for almost 40 years before ceasing production in 2007. From January 2011, GFP Engineering Ltd, a Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) moulding company, will commence trading after relocating from nearby Lichfield.

Most of the town’s shops are located either on High Street, Anchor Road, or in the shopping area known as “The Parade”. Well-known shops here include WH Smith, Iceland supermarket, Home Bargains, and Boots The Chemist. There are also a number of independent shops, an indoor market and a large Morrisons supermarket just outside the town centre. The village is covered by three main firms of solicitors. Lloyds TSB, NatWest, Barclays and HSBC all have branches in the town. The oldest independent insurance broker in the area R.H.N. Riley Ltd were established in 1958. There are many take-aways in Aldridge, including two Chinese take-aways, two Indian take-aways, a Greek take-away, a pizza take-away and two fish and chip shops. Many Restaurants both European and Asian can be found here too.

Aldridge used to have a platform on the Sutton Park Line running to Walsall that operated services for passengers, though the station was closed in 1966 and since then the line has only been used for freight trains. Recently, there has been talk of re-opening this line for passengers and in the late 1990s/early 2000s, plans were drawn up for a modern station to be built on the site of the old one. The site of the old station lies behind the new doctor’s surgery at the bottom of Portland Road, and part of the old platform is still visible. Should the station be re-opened, it has potential to become a park & ride station and could offer services to Birmingham via Sutton Coldfield, or the short journey into Walsall. Despite the plans that have been drawn up, nothing has yet happened. This is mainly because there are too many freight trains and currently no other route to which to move freight traffic.

There are also speculative plans to use the closed South Staffordshire Line as a single track freight line, which would be a quicker route from Stourbridge to Bescot, and this would also clear the way to re-introduce passenger services to Aldridge. This section of line was last used in 1984, and the entire trackbed remains intact, even though the track itself is long gone. There is no timescale for when (or if) the re-opening of this railway through Aldridge will take place, although Network Rail hopes that the bulk of the line between Walsall and Brierley Hill will re-open to goods trains shortly.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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