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Things to do in Wednesbury, West Midlands

Wednesbury is one of the oldest parts of Sandwell. The 'bury' part of the name indicates there may have been an Iron Age fort or 'beorg' on Church Hill as long ago as 200BC, and the town was certainly a key defensive feature of the kingdom of Mercia.

In the Middle Ages the town was a rural village, with each family farming a strip of land and the heath nearby used for grazing. It was held by the King until the reign of Henry II, when it passed to the Heronville family. In the 14th century, while Wednesbury was still a farming community, local people began to mine their own coal and iron. By Tudor times, when local landowner William Paget was one of the most prominent men of the kingdom, pottery, metalwork and textiles were made. In the 17th century Wednesbury pottery - 'Wedgbury ware' - was being sold as far afield as Worcester, while white clay from Monway Field was used to make tobacco pipes.

In the 18th century the town's main occupations were coal mining and nail making and with the canals came a big increase in population. The poor social conditions proved a fertile breeding ground for religious nonconformism, and in 1743 John Wesley first preached in the town. His views were not always well received - fears that he was trying to undermine society led to riots, and on one occasion he was chased out of the area!

In the later half of the 20th century, Wednesbury's industry declined, but new developments like the automotive park, the retail park and the pedestrianisation of Union Street have given a new look to the town. The traditional market is still a feature of the bustling centre; while the streets round Market Place are a protected conservation area.

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