Into the 20th Century

In 1895, Coseley Urban District Council superseded Coseley Local Board, which had been formed in 1867. This was a result of the Local Government Act of 1894, which provided legislation for the creation of urban and rural districts, with elected councils. The new council had wide powers, particularly in looking after public health, but many of the previous functions of the Local Board remained unchanged. The first Chairman of the new Council was Richard Clayton, previously Clerk of the Local Board. The Clerk was Joseph Smith.

Other members:
Rev. Henry Eachus
Job Edward East
William Hampton
William Hawkins
Samuel Jackson
Edward Jordon
James Lamb
Charles Lathe
William Mobberley
George M. Morgan
George Ray
William Henry Robinson
John Shorthouse
Frederick Slater
William Smout
Joseph Taft
John Walters
JosiahWhitehouse
Edward Wones
Thomas Gilbert - Treasurer
Joseph George Clendinnen - Medical Officer of Health
Charles William Shackleton - Surveyor
John Mills - Sanitary Inspector & Inspector of Canal Boats & Dairies
Albert J. Sherwin - Collector
The majority of the councillors had previously been officers of the Local Board. There was also a County Police Station, in Avenue Road, with Sergeant Henry R. Ward and 4 constables. Under the terms of the Act, Richard Clayton also became a Justice of the Peace for Staffordshire and in 1904, an Alderman of the county.

Permanent Council offices were opened in 1896 with the building of the Council House, which was on the corner of School Street and Green Street. The building contained a Council Chamber, Committee Rooms, administration offices and a mortuary. A fire station, an ambulance station, highway maintenance buildings and a health clinic were added later. Coseley still remained part of the ancient Poor Law parish of Sedgley, until 1902, when two separate Poor Law parishes were formed. The Council House survived until around 1970, when it was demolished.

Richard Clayton was Chairman and Managing Director of Cannon Iron Foundries and lived in Coseley Hall. He was born at Ingwardine Hall, Shropshire in 1846. In 1874, he married Fanny Eliza Barnett, the granddaughter of Edward Sheldon, founder of Cannon Iron Foundries. He became a partner in the firm in about 1878. Richard died in 1915 and Coseley Hall and the estate were sold in 1930 after Fanny Clayton’s death. The sale included a large piece of land on the opposite side of the railway line, which became Clayton Park.


Caddick Street and the Coppice Chapel.

In 1902, as a result of the Education Act of 1902, the School Board was dissolved and the Urban District Council became the local elementary education authority. Under the terms of the Act, it became a Part III Authority, because the local population was over 20,000. It retained this status until the passing of the 1944 Education Act.

In 1912, Coseley was divided into five Wards as a result of a County Council Order, made on the 6th June. The Wards were West Central, Hurst Hill, Spring Vale, South East and Highfields.

In 1913, Coseley acquired its first cinema, called the ‘Coseley Picture House’, which was at the junction of Ivyhouse Lane and Providence Row. It was run by William Page, a cabinet-maker, who lived across the road from the cinema and a Mr. Cook. It became known as ‘Page’s’. William died in the mid 1930s and his son, William John Page took over the running of the cinema.

Initially the front row seats were bare benches, which were later upholstered. The seats behind were proper tip-up seats, installed in the 1930s. The cinema could then seat 450 people. Mr. Cox, a local painter and decorator provided piano accompaniment and children’s matinees were held on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Sound equipment was installed in the early 1930s.

In about 1950, the cinema was bought by Mr. L. Wilde and Mr. L. Poole and renamed ‘The Cosey Cinema’. Cinema audiences were in decline and the new owners were unable to keep-up with their mortgage repayments. The cinema closed in 1957 and in 1961 it became Coseley Ex-Servicemen’s Club.

A large number of young men from Coseley, joined-up to fight in the First World War. Patriotism was rife, and people thought it would be a short war, lasting until Christmas. Sadly of course, this was not the case and many of the recruits never returned home. Coseley itself saw no action other than a nearby zeppelin raid in January 1916, which resulted in many deaths in Tipton, Wednesbury and Walsall, and a young couple who were walking beside the old main line canal at Bradley.

At the end of the war, the council’s housing schemes began. Between 1919 and 1922, over 200 houses were built at several locations including Old End, Upper Ettingshall and Princes End. In 1924, a further 600 houses were built over a period of 9 years. Other schemes followed in 1930 and 1936. Council estates were also built at Ward Grove, Lanesfield; Hartland Avenue, Hurst Hill; Norton Crescent, Wallbrook and the Batmanshill Road estate near Princes End.


The Woodcross Council Estate.

Another important event in 1924 was the start of the sewage disposal plan, which led to the building of sewers throughout the district and the opening of the sewage disposal works at the Foxyards. This had previously been impossible because of the vast coal and iron industries that once covered much of the area.

In 1926, The Hadow Report on ‘The Education of the Adolescent’ resulted in the reorganisation of elementary education. All-age schools were abandoned in favour of separate schools from the age of 11, which became known as secondary modern schools. Many new schools had to built throughout the country, including Manor School at Coseley, in 1933.

In 1927, much of the western side of Coseley began to change as a result of the building of the Birmingham New Road, which also greatly helped local businesses. The building of the ten mile- long trunk road from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, had been suggested much earlier but the large cost of such an enterprise could not be met by the local authorities. The project became a reality when the Ministry of Transport offered to provide half the cost, which was later increased to sixty percent. Work began in 1924. It was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons, and involved the building of many embankments and cuttings and the stabilisation of a large number of old mine shafts. At Roseville, a number of houses had to be demolished. The project cost £600,000 and the road was officially opened on the 2nd November, 1927 by Edward Prince of Wales.

An avenue of trees was planted alongside the road to commemorate the servicemen who were killed in the First World War. Each tree was surrounded by a metal frame with a plaque bearing the name of one of the dead. The road greatly benefited local industries. Some new industries opened in Coseley and others greatly expanded. New shops eventually opened in the area and the Silver Jubilee Park was built alongside the road, on the site of several coal mines. The land was purchased from the Earl of Dudley in December 1930. The park was named after the silver jubilee of King George V and officially opened on the 28th May, 1936. Councillor Grange, Chairman of the Parks and Open Spaces Committee, officially opened the park. Also present was Councillor Greenshill, Chairman of the Coseley Urban District Council.

In 1939, Coseley acquired a new cinema, in the form of the Clifton, which stood on the corner of Mason Street and the Birmingham New Road, where the animal hospital is today. It officially opened on Saturday, the 8th July, 1939, with a showing of Ralph Richardson in “South Riding” and Will Hay in “Oh Mr. Porter”. It seated 724 people in the stalls and 280 in the circle. For many years it was very successful, but in 1963 it closed because of the decline in cinema audiences at the time. The last film, starring Juliet Mills in “Nurse on Wheels”, was shown on the 10th August 1963.


St. Chad's Church and Coseley windmill.

The onset of the Second World War in 1939, saw the introduction of conscription for all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 41, unless they were working in a reserved occupation. They would receive their call-up papers in the post, which included details of where and when they had to attend a medical, and begin military training. In 1941, conscription was introduced for unmarried women between the ages of 20 and 30. They were not expected to take part in the fighting, but had to work in one of the reserved occupations, especially in factories and farming. They also worked as air raid wardens, and joined the ATS (the army’s Auxiliary Territorial Service), in which they acted as drivers, worked in mess halls, or worked on anti-aircraft guns, but were not actually allowed to fire them. Some also became welders, carpenters, and electricians. By July 1942 there were 217,000 women in the ATS.

Coseley got off very lightly in the war, considering the number of large factories in the area that could have been targeted by German bombers. Stewarts and Lloyds steelworks at Bilston was a target in the night-time bombing raids, and in one such raid, on the 30th August, 1940, a bomb missed its target and damaged the Horse and Jockey pub in Ivyhouse Lane. Other bombs fell on houses in Ward Street and a landmine fell on boggy ground in Bradleys Lane, but luckily there were no fatalities. Sadly some of the conscripts never returned home.


   
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