Into the Nineteenth Century

In the early years of the 19th century, Coseley was still governed by the local parish at vestry meetings. The parochial officers included prominent inhabitants, ratepayers and church wardens. They appointed parochial officials and oversaw the collection of the rates, local expenditure, relief for the poor and preservation of the peace.

The area was a mixture of early industries and fields. Some families continued farming the land, and the much sought after Coseley Moor corn was still being grown in abundance. Coseley windmill, next to St. Chad’s Church, off Oak Street, was built in about 1780. In the "Jurers' Book" of 1784, the miller is listed as Joseph Maullin, whose family looked after the mill for several generations.

Coseley windmill in the 20th century.

In about 1829, the mill was taken over by W. King, who remained as miller until 1841, when it passed on to T. King, who operated the mill until 1871. In the 1880s it ceased to be a mill and had lost its sails by 1890. By 1895 the machinery had been removed and the building was converted into a house.

In the early 1800s, two of the main pastimes for many working class local inhabitants, were bull baiting, cock fighting and drunkenness. In 1830 there were between 70 and 80 brewers and beer sellers in Coseley.

Life rapidly changed in July 1832 with the outbreak of cholera. The area was thickly populated and within three months over 130 people in the parish of Christ Church had died. The disease was most prevalent in the area around Princes End. Most of the people who died were buried in part of Christ Church graveyard that was set aside for victims of the epidemic. The first casualty was 53 years old Thomas Hollis, of the Paddock, who was buried on the 5th July, 1832. The last victim was 3 months old Francis Armstrong, of Broad Lanes, who was buried on the 6th October, 1832. Other districts that suffered badly were Daisy Bank, Hall Green, Highfields, and Ladymoor.

At the height of the epidemic in August, 1832, a temporary Board of Health was set up to deal with the situation. The Board collected sums of money that were contributed to help with the crisis. A public notice dated the 19th August, 1832, reads:

Notice is hereby given that a Vestry Meeting will be held on Thursday, August 23rd, for the purpose of adding names to the Board of Health and placing a further sum of money at the disposal of the same.

The epidemic was over by the end of October, when the Board of Health was disbanded. Special thanksgiving services were held at Christ Church on the 6th November.

Cholera returned in August, 1849 and lasted until November. There were 86 burials at Christ Church, the first on the 1st September and the last on the 16th November.

The Square in Roseville, looking towards Bayer Street. From an old postcard. In the background is the old Roseville Methodist Church, built in 1853 and demolished in 1979.

The parochial council had worked well enough in the years when Coseley was purely a small farming community, but as local industries expanded and the population grew, unsolved problems began to arrive. The cholera epidemics were inadequately handled, there was poor sanitation and overcrowding in working class areas.

Because of the many industries that were beginning to appear, roads gained a new importance. Vast amounts of heavy materials and goods needed to be transported on poor roads, suffering from a lack of proper maintenance. Coseley desperately needed an efficient local authority to sort these matters out.

In 1867, action was taken, when Coseley joined with Brierley and Ettingshall to break away from the parish of Sedgley to form Lower Sedgley Local Board District. At this time, Coseley was becoming more industrialised, whereas Sedgley was still mainly agricultural.

The separation of the towns was made possible by the Local Government Act of 1858, which was to make provision for better government of the "towns and populous districts" of England. It gave powers for the setting up of local boards to deal with sanitary, public health and other problems. Initially there was some opposition to the separation, mainly regarding the boundary between the two districts.

A local enquiry was held before Robert Morgan, an official inspector. Evidence was given to show that there had been a definite boundary for a long period of time and that for the previous 50 years, poor rates had been collected separately on either side of the boundary. It was also shown that the civil parish of Sedgley had been divided into the two areas for highway purposes for a long period of time. The official inspector found that there was a definite boundary and so the Act soon became law in both Lower Sedgley (Coseley) and Upper Sedgley (Sedgley). The new Coseley Local Board would have a lot to do, particularly to improve public health in the area. Its powers covered such matters as sewage, cleansing, highways and streets, and the water supply.

The Local Board’s first meeting was held on the 27th August, 1867, in the infant schoolroom at Christ Church. Permanent offices were later established on the site of the Council House that was on the corner of School Street and Green Street. The first Chairman of the Board was Carmi Rollason, who had been extremely active in putting forward the case for Coseley's separation from Sedgley. At the meeting, Joseph Smith was appointed as Clerk, a post he had previously held for the parish council. A Surveyor, a Medical Officer of Health and a Sanitary Inspector, were later appointed, and the Local Board soon began its task of improving conditions in the poorer parts of the town. In 1875, Lower Sedgley Local Board District, became Coseley Local Board District, by order of the Council.

The population was still rapidly increasing, which led to a shortage of schools. Until now, schools had been built by some of the local churches. They had carried out excellent work, but more places for children were now required. The Elementary Education Act of 1870, commonly known as Forster's Education Act, determined the structure for schooling, of all children between the ages of 5 and 12 in England and Wales. It established local education authorities with defined powers to improve existing schools, and authorised the payment of public money to carry it out.

The local Education authority issued an Order in 1873 that accommodation must be provided for 1,500 children in Coseley; Princes End, Deepfields, and Woodsetton, each had to provide schooling for 350 children, plus another 300 at Hurst Hill. This led to the formation of a School Board District for Sedgley and Coseley, in 1873. The School Board consisted of nine elected members, four of whom were from Coseley. The first school was built at Daisy Bank between 1876 and 1878, for approximately 500 pupils.


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