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Walsall ( ) is a large industrial town in the West Midlands of Englandmarker. It is located northwest of Birminghammarker and east of Wolverhamptonmarker. Historically a part of Staffordshire, Walsall is a component area of the West Midlands conurbationmarker, and is sometimes described as part of the Black Countrymarker.

Walsall is the administrative headquarters of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsallmarker. In the 2001 census, the town had a population of 170,994 with the wider borough having a population of 253,500. Neighbouring towns in the borough include Willenhallmarker, Bloxwichmarker and Aldridgemarker.


The name Walsall is thought to have derived from the words "Walh halh", meaning "valley of the Celtic speakers" (referring to the Celts). Walsall is first referenced as 'Walesho' in a document dated 1002, however it is not referenced in the Domesday Book. Although, it is believed that a manor was held here by William FitzAnsculf, who held numerous manors in the Midlandsmarker. By the first part of the 13th century, Walsall was a small market town, with the weekly market being introduced in 1220 and held on Tuesdays. The Mayor of Walsall was created as a political positin in the 14th century. Walsall is known as "the town of a hundred trades". (This appellation is a nod to the fact that nearby Birmingham is known as "the city of a thousand trades".)

The town was visited by Queen Elizabeth I, when it was known as 'Walshale'. It was also visited by Henrietta Maria in 1643. She stayed in the town for one night at a building named the 'White Hart' in the area of Caldmoremarker. Queen Mary's Grammar Schoolmarker was founded by Mary I of England in 1554, and the school carries the Queen's personal badge as its emblem: the Tudor Rose and the sheaf of arrows of Catherine of Aragon tied with a Staffordshire knot.

The Industrial Revolution changed Walsall from a village of 2,000 people in the 16th century to a town of over 86,000 in approximately 200 years. The town manufactured a wide range of products including saddles, chains, buckles and plated ware. Nearby, limestone quarrying provided the town with much prosperity.

In 1821, St. Matthews Church was demolished with exception of the tower and chancel and replaced at a cost of £20,000 to a design by Francis Godwin. In 1824, the Walsall Corporation received an Act of Parliament to improve the town by providing lighting and a gas works. The gas works were built in 1826 at a cost of £4,000. In 1825, the Corporation built eleven tiled, brick almshouses for poor women. They were known to the area as 'Molesley's Almshouses'.

The 'Walsall Improvement and Market Act' was passed in 1848 and amended in 1850. The Act provided facilities for the poor, improving and extending the sewerage system and giving the commissioners the powers to construct a new gas works. On 10 October 1847, a gas explosion killed one person and destroyed the west window of St Matthews Church.

48 years after canals reached the town, Walsall finally received a railway line in 1847, Bescot having been served since 1838, by the Grand Junction Railway. In 1855, Walsall's first newspaper, the Walsall Courier and South Staffordshire Gazette, was published.

Walsall underwent modernisation in the 1970s with a new town centre being built at the expense of some medieval properties. In 1974, Walsall was transferred from the county of Staffordshire to form the metropolitan county of the West Midlands. Walsall is currently undergoing a new era of urban regeneration with many brownfield being replaced with modern houses, apartments and offices.

Construction is underway of St Matthew's Quarters. A new Asda store has already opened and when completed St Matthew's Quarters will also include brand shops and modern apartments. Walsall College will be moving to a new site within the town centre whilst on the old site Tescomarker will be building a new shopping complex.

The traditional market of Walsall
The other plans are to redevelop Old Square Shopping Centre to make it much bigger and connect it to the St Matthew Quarter. The 800 year-old Historic Market is also under threat of the town planners. It will be moved to the wind spot near the art gallery, making it more difficult to pitch stalls. The Historic Market is again blighted the new developments damaging Walsall's future.


A local landmark is Barr Beaconmarker, which is reportedly the highest point following its latitude eastwards until the Ural Mountainsmarker of Russiamarker. There was a plaque on the summit attesting to this, although it has been repeatedly stolen. The soil of Walsall consists mainly of clay with areas of limestone, which were quarried during the Industrial Revolution.

Suburbs and areas


Walsall Compared
2001 UK Census Walsall Walsall MBmarker West Midlands conurbationmarker England
Total population 170,994 253,499 2,284,093 49,138,831
White 81.6% 86.4% 79.6% 90.9%
Asian 14.6% 10.5% 13.5% 4.6%
Black 1.7% 1.4% 3.9% 2.3%
Source: Office for National Statistics
The 2001 Census gives the Walsall Urban Subdivision as the fourth most populous in the West Midlands conurbationmarker, with a total resident population of 170,994.

The Walsall dialect is often referred to as "Yam-Yam." The accent is often incorrectly referred to as a Brummie accent from people outside of the West Midlands.


Walsall has had many industries, from coal mining to metal working. In the late 19th century, the coal mines ran dry, and Walsall became internationally famous for its leather trade. Walsall still manufactures the Queen's handbags. Walsall is the traditional home of the English saddle manufacture industry, hence the nickname of Walsall Football Club, The Saddlers. Apart from leather goods, other industries in Walsall include iron and brass founding, limestone quarrying, small hardware, plastics, electronics, chemicals, and aircraft parts.

Walsall's location in Central Englandmarker and the fact that the M6 runs through the Metropolitan Borough of Walsallmarker has increased its investment appeal. The main RAC control centre is located in Walsall close by J9 of the M6 and there are now plans to redevelop derelict land in nearby Darlastonmarker and turn it into a state-of-the-art regional hub. Between Bloxwichmarker and Walsall there is a business corridor where TK Maxx has recently opened a regional depot. Currently established businesses include Homeserve plc and South Staffordshire Water.


Walsall is home to the University of Wolverhampton's Sports and Art Campus. Walsall College provides further education, and is based around three sites across Walsall. There are ten secular junior schools and two religious junior schools in Walsall.

Schools within the town are administered by the Metropolitan Borough of Walsallmarker.


Walsall Bus Stationmarker, is made up of two smaller bus stations, Bradford Place and St Pauls. Over 90 bus routes operated by eleven bus operators serve Walsall. Services from St Paul's Bus Station leave Walsall in many directions; there are services south-east to Birminghammarker; west to Wolverhamptonmarker, Willenhallmarker and Bloxwichmarker; north to Cannockmarker and Brownhillsmarker; and east to Sutton Coldfieldmarker and Aldridgemarker, with many to the latter. In addition, more infrequent services to Lichfieldmarker run. St Paul's is also home to the Walsall Information Centre. Bradford Place operates buses mainly to the south and south-west, to West Bromwichmarker, Oldburymarker, Dudleymarker and Stourbridgemarker. There are also numerous shorter bus routes, leaving from both stations which give the town centre a link to housing estates including Alumwell, Beechdale, Chuckery, Park Hall and the Mossley Estate.

Walsall has a busy railway stationmarker; four trains per hour run south from the station to Birminghammarker and two trains per hour run north to Cannockmarker and Rugeleymarker with fewer trains in the evenings and on Sundays. There are also suburban stations at Bescot Bloxwichmarker and Bloxwich Northmarker.

Walsall is served by the A454 and the M6 for road travel. There are three nearby junctions on the M6 motorway: J7, J9 and J10. The stretch between these junctions is one of the busiest in Europe .

Facilities and culture

Arboretum and illuminations

Walsall Arboretum was officially opened on 4 May 1874 by the wealthy Hatherton family. It was hoped that the park would provide "a healthy change from dogfights, bull-baiting and cockfights", however the 2d (old pence) admission was not popular with the public and within seven years the council took over ownership to provide free admission.

Over the years the arboretum has seen many events and changes, including the beginnings of the Walsall Arboretum Illuminationsmarker as an annual event in 1951.

Originally white bulbs in trees for courting couples in the autumn, in the 1960s and 1970s, the lights were purchased secondhand from Blackpool Illuminationsmarker, but over the years they were increasingly made "in house" and are now all are.

The Illuminations have up to sixty thousand bulbs and they need year-round planning. Although the event had attracted an estimated 250,000 people in 1995, lack of growth beyond this figure has raised the prospect of major redevelopment as the light shows have been exactly the same for a number of years. In February 2009, Walsall council announced that the Illuminations will not take place in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Art gallery

New Art Gallery Walsall
The New Art Gallery Walsallmarker opened in 2000. It contains a large number of works by Jacob Epstein as well as works by Van Gogh, Monet, Turner, Renoir and Constable. The large gallery space is host to temporary exhibitions.


Walsall Museum and Library building
Walsall has two museums, Walsall Museummarker and Walsall Leather Museum. Walsall Museum features local history objects primarily from the manufacturing trades and also has a space for temporary exhibitions, while the leather museum displays a mixture of leather goods and has recreations of leatherworkers workshops.

Public art

The refurbished Sister Dora statue stands at the crossing of Park Street and Bridge Street. Opposite this, stood a locally famous concrete hippopotamus, which has since been moved to a corner of the square and replaced by a fountain.


Walsall's football club, Walsall F.C., The Saddlers, was founded in 1888 when Walsall Town F.C. and Walsall Swifts F.C. merged. They won their first game against Aston Villa F.C.. The club currently play in Football League One.

Walsall also has a cricket club, Walsall Cricket Club who won Birmingham League Premier Division in 2006.

Walsall RUFC is Walsall's rugby union team who are currently competing in Midlands 2 West.

Walsall Hockey Club currently play in the West Midlands Premier League and are managed by Sir Mark Grundy.

Walsall was home to a horse racing course. The Grand Stand was constructed in 1809 at a cost of £1,300 on a piece of land donated by the Earl of Bradford on a lease of 99 years. Soon after completion, one of the lower compartments was converted into a billiards room which contained a table donated by Lord Chichester Spencer of Fisherwick Park. Throughout the 19th century, races were held annually at the course on Michaelmas.


In 1809, a market house was constructed at the end of the high street, on the site of the market cross, for the sale of poultry, eggs, butter, and dairy products. The building was demolished in 1852 along with other buildings that had fallen into disrepair. A pig market was constructed in the town in 1815 on the high street. At its peak, the market would handle the sale of 2,000 pigs per day.In 1847, the Corporation tried to construct a new market hall on the 'Bowling Green', to the rear of the Dragon Inn. The scheme proposed to use a large amount of public money to construct the hall. Shopkeepers feared that their businesses would be affected and demonstrations were held across the town against the proposals. The demonstrations forced the plans to be shelved.

Park Street remains Walsall's main shopping high street with Bridge Street cutting through the middle to host two average-sized indoor shopping centres at opposite ends; 'The Old Square' and 'Bradford Mall' formerly known as the 'Saddlers Centremarker'. The recent development known as 'Crown Wharf Retail Parkmarker' is host to larger scale shops including the first non-food Asda store. Other redevelopments include that of the former 'Quasar Centre' now known as 'Park Place Shopping Centre'. The Broadwalk Retail Parkmarker is also located within Walsall.

The area around the New Art Gallery Walsall is soon to be redeveloped into a huge shopping area coined 'The Waterfront' designed by architect Will Alsop with space available for restaurants, cafés and a new hotel.


Walsall has been voted the most up coming town in the West Midlands beating the likes of Birminghammarker and Wolverhamptonmarker.

Recent Changes

Walsall has been in the forefront of redevelopment in West Midlands. Recently, Walsall's regeneration company have won the prestigious Gold award for overseeing 'the regeneration project of the year' at the Midland's top Property awards. This is for a range of future development projects worth £1 billion. These are projects for developing offices, apartments, leisure facilities and shopping outlets. The projects due in completion in 2009 and 2010 are Walsall Manor Hospital redevelopment worth £162 million,the new Walsall College worth £65 million,the Waterfront South development worth £60 million and the St. Mathews quarter worth more than £25 million. There are also future plans which have recently given the 'go ahead' by the Government include the £500 million Walsall Gigaport which is a high-speed fibre optic internet environment for national and international businesses, Waterfront North development worth £65 million and the Waterfront Lex development.

Walsall Transportation Package worth £17 million is also due for completion in 2009. This is an overall development of roads in and out of Walsall town centre as well as those towards Walsall Arboretum.

Notable residents

Twin towns


External links

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