The early 20th century was a time of change. The town became more prosperous because of the many successful industries that started in the area and provided employment for a large number of local people. The increase in prosperity could be seen in the town centre where a large number of shops and businesses provided a wide range of products and services. Public transport was better than ever thanks to frequent tram and train services and locals could relax or take a boat ride in the newly opened Victoria Park. 

Victoria Park was opened by the Earl of Dartmouth on Monday 29th July, 1901. Large numbers of people lined the streets to view the procession of dignitaries and local organisations, who took part in the opening ceremony.
   
Read about the formation of the Midland Electric Corporation for
Power Distribution and Ocker Hill Power Station
   
Councillor W. W. Doughty opened Tipton's Central Library in Victoria Road on Wednesday 30th May, 1906 and on 12th August 1907 Joseph Powell opened Toll End Library. Both libraries were paid for by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In 1909 Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, came to Tipton to open a nurses' home in Lower Church Lane.


Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein at Tipton in 1909. From an old postcard.

The Coronation of George V and Queen Mary took place at Westminster Abbey, on 22nd June 1911.

This was celebrated at Ocker Hill, where a huge bonfire was lit to mark the occasion.

The bonfire was 69 feet high and weighed around 226 tons.

From an old postcard.

     
After 1910 cinemas became a popular form of entertainment. Tipton had a total of six, some were successful, others not. Read about Tipton's Cinemas
     
View a 1912 Directory
of Tipton
   
Shopping in 1912
Owen Street was once a vibrant shopping centre with a wide variety of shops and businesses, as can be seen from the list below, compiled from the 1912 Kelly's Directory.

Street Number

                                                     Business
    Urban District Council Offices
1.   Albion Hotel
2.   Walter Gordon's coffee shop
6.   David Hughes, picture frame maker
7.   Joseph Whitworth, collector of water rates for South Staffordshire Water Works
9.   George Wenyon, architect
11.   Britannia public house, Thomas Walton landlord
12.   William Foster, solicitor
13.   Tipton Herald. Printers and stationers
14.   James Halford, shopkeeper
15.   Edward Darrall, milk seller
16.   James Lister, ironmonger
17.   Black Cock public house
19.   Charles Cotterell, baker
20.   James Stanton, piano and organ dealer
21.   Joseph Eades, chemist
22.   Edward Starkey, confectioner
23.   Alfred Morris, dining rooms
24.   Edward Hipkins, pork butcher
25.   Harry Johnson, fruit shop
26.   Edgar Hawkins, dining rooms
27.   Samuel Johnson, confectioner
28.   Frank Jones, draper
29.   Thomas Plimmer, boot maker
30.   Tipton District Permanent and Benefit Building Society
31.   Albert and George Moyle, grocers
32.   Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, butcher
34.   Samuel Fletcher, boot and shoe maker
36.   Richard Westwood, furniture dealer
38.   The Grapes public house, Robert Fitzsimmons landlord
39.   Edward Hipkins, pork butcher
40.   Thomas Price, tobacconist
41.   Anthony McDadd, fruiterer
42.   Hinton Atkins and Son, confectioner and post office
43.   John Horton, beer seller
45.   Albert Hartshorne, boot repairer
47.   Elton and Brown, stationers
48.   Tipton Co-op, grocers etc.
49.   Tipton Co-op, grocers etc.
50.   Samuel Kirkham, fish and chips
51.   The Fountain Inn
53.  

Feltons Limited, printers  

55.   Leader Press Limited, newspaper proprietors
56.   The Miner's Arms public house, Henry Ward landlord
57.   Mrs. Emma McDadd, china and glass dealer
58.  

Henry Wood and Son, grocers, 58 Owen Street

60.   Thomas Richards, tobacconist
62.   Alfred Turner, hairdresser
63.   Joseph Ward, draper
64.   William Merrick, paint shop
65.   Joseph Edge, hairdresser
66.   Thomas Yates, watchmaker
67.  

J. Whitehouse and Sons, saddlers

70.   Henry Padbury, grocer
71.   Philip Witton, chemist
72.   Frederick George, draper and hosier
73.   John Green, butcher
76.   Grafton Bullas, tinplate worker
81.   Coombs Enoch. Pork butcher
82.   Benjamin Cadman, beef and pork butcher
83.   Benjamin Cadman, beef and pork butcher
    The Tivoli Music Hall, Benjamin Kennedy, proprietor
85.   John Millington, confectioner
87.   Mrs. Jane Smith, fancy repository
    The Church of St. Martin and St. Paul
    United Counties Bank Limited, H. C. Whitehouse, manager
    Midland Electric Corporation for Power Distribution Limited
97.   William and Samuel Foster Limited, corn chandlers
Tipton's main shopping area extended into Union Street, as can be see from the list of shops and businesses in Union Street in 1912:
Street Number                                                    Business
5.   Bert Martin, hairdresser
11.   Fred Hobson, beer seller
14.   Mrs. Sarah Buswell, shopkeeper
22.   Samuel Malugani, shopkeeper
23a.   George Freeman, shopkeeper
25.   John Hartland, shopkeeper
27.   Alfred Mander, carpenter 
31.   Arthur Edwards, boot repairer
35.   Miss. Annie Hassell, shopkeeper 
35a.   Richard Dewes, grocer
35b.   John Hurley, baker
36.   Thomas Taylor, beer seller
55.   William Mason, shopkeeper
59.   Mrs. Eliza Bodin, beer seller
60.   David Smith, shopkeeper
68.   William Johnson, fish and chips
69.   Mrs. Beatrice Hawthorne, baker
75.   Charles Williams, beer retailer
77.   Noah Sheldon, shopkeeper
79.   Samuel Bishop, draper
80.   Miss. Harriett Clifton, shopkeeper
81.   Harry Williams, butcher
82.   Mrs. Elizabeth Yates, shopkeeper
85.   Osborne Lewis, pawnbroker

As well as a large number of public houses in 1912, there were many fish and chip shops,:

Joseph Artess, 233 Dudley Road, Tividale
John Baldwin, 244 Toll End Road
Henry Dursley, 81 New Road, Great Bridge
Mrs. Mary Garbett, 30 Spring Street, Ocker Hill
George Hayes, 113 Dudley Road, Tividale
John Hill, 101 Horseley Heath
William Johnson, 68 Union Street
James Jones, 159 Horseley Heath
Samuel Kirkham, 50 Owen Street
William Lambert, 196 Dudley Port
Harry Popple, 120 Bridge Road
Mrs. Mary Preece, 252 Horseley Heath
Miss.Annie Sparkes, 51 Bell Street
Samuel Whitehouse, 132 Horseley Heath
Thomas Wordsworth, 41 Horseley Heath

         
Read about the terrible
Zeppelin raid in 1916
  Read about the terrible explosion in Dudley Port in 1922 that killed 19 young girls
         

In the 1920s, Tipton Urban District Council started a housing programme in which derelict land would be reclaimed in readiness for the building of council houses. Much of the land was full of old coalmines, clay pits and sand pits, all of which had to be filled and made safe. There were also old pit mounds, some of which were over 50 feet high, that had to be levelled.


The Upper Church Lane site in February 1938.


The Upper Church Lane site in September 1938.

The landscape of Tipton rapidly began to change as the work progressed. There were also around 2,300 houses that would be demolished as part of the slum clearance programme. The council's new housing estates included the Shrubbery Estate at Tipton Green, the Tibbington Estate at Princes End, the Moat Farm Estate at Ocker Hill and the Cotterill's Farm Estate between Powis Avenue and Bridge Road.

On the 21st December, 1936 the 2,000th council house was officially opened on the Tibbington Estate by Councillor A. Jones.  3,186 council houses had been built by 1938 and land had been prepared for another 1,400. Around 1,800 slum properties had been demolished and something like 650 houses had been built by private building companies.


Gospel Oak Estate.


Moat Farm Estate.

Tipton Council's last major housing development, built in the early 1960s, was the Glebefields Estate, off Glebefields Road. The last major private housing development was the Foxyards Estate, on the southern side of Sedgley Road West. It was built in the mid 1960s.

The Public Baths in Queens Road, designed by H. N. Woodard, were officially opened on 25th January, 1933 by Councillor J. R. Baker. The main pool was equipped with a filtration plant and a chlorination plant so that the water was continuously purified. There were also 29 slipper baths and 3 foam baths. In the winter, the main pool was covered with a maple floor, so that dances and other functions could be held. It could seat over 1,000 people.

The baths closed in the summer of 2002 because of a lack of council funding, but reopened within two years after a successful campaign by local people. It finally closed in 2011 and was relocated to the new leisure centre in Alexandra Road. The old public baths building went on sale in 2012 and has since been demolished.


The public baths in Queens Road.

Improvements and changes in the late 1930s

In 1935 Tipton acquired another public park, Jubilee Park, originally called Ocker Hill Park. It was officially opened on the 13th April, 1935 by Councillor A. P. Welch, J.P., Chairman of Tipton Urban District Council and was built as part of an unemployment relief scheme.


The children's playground in Jubilee Park.


The Central Clinic in Horseley Road, which was officially opened on the 30th July, 1936 by Councillor W. E. Hampton.

In 1936 the council moved into the new Municipal Buildings in Sedgley Road West. Two years later the town became the Municipal Borough of Tipton after the granting of a Royal Charter.

Council Officials in 1936:


K. W. Madin. Solicitor and Clerk.


V. B. Tranter. Assistant Clerk.


H. N. Woodard. Engineer and Surveyor.


R. Pilling. Treasurer.


W. Williams. Gas Engineer and Manager.


A Hastilow. Director of Education.


G. H. Acton. Senior Sanitary Inspector.


H. Scriven. Housing Manager.


C. R. Gallie. Housing Director.


A. W. Taylor. Librarian.

The Second World War

During the Second World War, there were several air raids in the locality, carried out by the German Luftwaffe, which resulted in a number of injuries and fatalities. On the 19th November, 1940, a bomb was dropped in Bloomfield Road. Three people were killed and several buildings were destroyed, including the Star Hotel public house. One of the fatalities was the son of the licensee. The pub was rebuilt after the war, but closed, and was demolished in 1996.


The aftermath of the bombing in Bloomfield Road.

On the 21st December, 1940, anti-aircraft guns were in operation on the hills at Rowley Regis. A shell from one of the guns fell into the chimney of the Boat Inn, in Dudley Road East, Tividale, fatally injuring 12 people. At the time, a wedding reception was being held in the pub. The shell exploded next to a cast-iron stove and filled the room with the contents of the fire and flying shards of sharp, hot, metal.

The married couple were Sid Jones and Lily Pottinger. The bride was instantly killed and the groom lost both legs. Six people died at the scene, and six died in hospital. One of them was a 20 year-old man who was in a neighbouring house that was struck by debris. He died in hospital on the following day. Twelve people were seriously injured. The pub was rebuilt after the war, but has now disappeared. It was demolished in 2004.

On the 17th May, 1941, during an air raid at Great Bridge, six people were killed and the Tipton Tavern public house in New Road and New Road Methodist Church were destroyed. Several nearby houses were also damaged. The landlord of the Tipton Tavern, Roger Preece, was trapped in the rubble, but luckily survived with minor injuries. After the war, a temporary wooden building was erected on the site, until the pub could be rebuilt. In 1996 it became the Hallbridge Arms and then the Pearl Girl. It closed in 2016 and is now a children’s day nursery.

During the war, Tipton was defended by the Forty First Staffordshire (Tipton) Battalion of the South Staffordshire Home Guard, which was formed in May 1940 and operated until December 1944. The commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel G. G. Heathcock who had previously been in the Royal Engineers. They were based at the Municipal Buildings in Sedgley Road West.

The Post War Years

Tipton gained another area of parkland in June 1953 with the opening of Coronation Gardens in High Street. The gardens were built on derelict land that used to be occupied by Townshead’s Warehouse, where sacks of flour were stored after being transported along the canal from the company’s mill at Worcester. The canal moorings beside the gardens are very popular and since 2008 have been used for part of the annual Tipton Canal and Community Festival.


A boat moored alongside Coronation Gardens.

Also in High Street, on the opposite side of the traffic island to the gardens, is Tipton's first multi-storey block of flats called 'Coronation House'. The building was officially opened by Alderman A. E. Bolton in 1959.

The Borough of Sandwell

In 1966 an important event happened, as a result of the Local Government Reform Act. Tipton lost its Borough status and became part of West Bromwich County Borough, along with Wednesbury. To further complicate matters, part of the old Tipton Borough that was next to Coseley became part of Dudley, including the former Municipal Buildings and most of the Foxyards housing estate. Most of Tividale became part of Warley, and Tipton acquired a small section of Coseley.

In 1974, West Bromwich County Borough and Warley County Borough merged to form the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, within the newly created West Midlands County Council.

There were many other changes in the 1970s. Tipton had become one of the most industrialised towns in the Black Country, but by the late 1970s the factories were closing and so large areas of industrial dereliction were commonplace. Most of the ex-industrial sites have now been redeveloped and are occupied by housing estates. The area has now become a commuter town where many of the inhabitants work in other local towns and cities.

In 1971, Tipton’s new fire station in Alexandra Road opened and before the decade was out, Owen Street, which was once full of shops and businesses, had been redeveloped. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of the old shops were replaced with council houses and flats. A small number of new shops were built, along with a bank, a supermarket, and a car park. In 2000, the pedestrian shopping area between Union Street and Owen Street called Unity Walk opened. It includes 28 retail units, Tipton Library and accommodation for businesses.

In 1982, the last surviving canal stable block, next to the old main line canal at Factory Junction was saved from dereliction by the council and converted into a community outdoor activity centre.


The old stable block.

In the 1990s, Tipton was visited by two members of the royal family and a deputy prime minister. On the 24th June, 1994, the first visit of a reigning monarch to the town took place when the Queen visited the headquarters of the Tipton Challenge Partnership in High Street, as part of a visit to the Black Country.

The Tipton Challenge Partnership was established by the government in March 1993 as part of a regeneration programme. Within the first five years of its existence, the Partnership claimed to have brought £173 million of investment into the town and helped to develop new housing, workspaces, infrastructure and social support programmes. The Queen was received by Colin Cooke, Chairman of the Tipton Challenge Partnership Board. Whilst there she unveiled a plaque to mark her visit.

On the 12th July, 1999, the Princess Royal visited Tipton to open the Neptune Health Centre in Sedgley Road West and on the 12th June, 1998, the Tipton Sports Academy in Wednesbury Oak Road was opened by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.


Pleasure boats on the canal.

Modern Tipton is a very different place from its industrial heyday. It has developed into a pleasant residential town with a wide variety of housing, local shops, and plenty good shopping nearby in Dudley, Wednesbury and Oldbury. There is an excellent library with a local history section, lovely parks, canals to be enjoyed, excellent pubs and restaurants, a good railway station and good bus services. There are also plenty of schools and jobs to be had in the industrial estates. Hopefully, Tipton will continue to be a good place to live for generations to come.


A train arrives at the railway station.


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References