Slum clearance now on!

Teamwork, we have it. Spotted in the newspaper archives by local history rapscallion Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, transcribed by whizzo typist Richard Burnell, here’s a remarkable bit of history covering one of the oldest bits of modern, urban Brownhills: Ogley Square.

The report, published in the Friday, 16th August 1935 edition of the Lichfield Mercury, details the plans to begin the slum clearance of Ogley Square, and to replace it with the houses that still stand on the spot today.

Once the beating heart of Catshill, Ogley Square was notorious. Consisting of a pub, close terraces, grubby courtyards and open drains, it was never salubrious. Standing on the corner of Mill Lane and Ogley Road, where there’s now social housing, it was an oddly dense patch of development, surrounded by Ogley Mill, farm and open fields.

Thanks to Peter and Richard for their hard work here, this would have taken me days to transcribe. This is a real snapshot of the social history of the town, at a time when money was very, very short. Excellent stuff.

I really couldn’t do this without the help provided by you readers. Thanks.

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1884 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey map fragment covering Ogley Square and it’s relation to the rest of town. I’d be interested to know more of it’s origin. Click for a larger version.


Paving the Way for Demolition of Ogley Square.

Echoes of what is probably the biggest demolition ever carried out in this district-namely that of thirty houses at Ogly Square, Brownhills-following a Ministry of Health enquiry in January and February this year, were heard at Brownhills Urban Council meeting on Wednesday Evening.

This, now notorious square is on the Health Committee’s report, which stated that it was recommended that the order of re-housing of the tenants of Ogley be decided by the Central Ward Members and housing chairman, with the Inspector.

At the meeting Mr. T.E. Cox said it was a pleasing thing to see that paragraph, which showed that the houses were being built for those in Ogley Square were nearing completion, and to know that in the near future the demolition of Ogley Square would be completed, and that the people there would be re-housed in decent conditions.

This, now notorious square, is on the site of an old iron foundry and stands cornering Ogley Road and Mills Road. At the time of the enquiry it was alleged that the Square, which is chiefly tenanted by mining families, is unfit for habitation because of its disrepair and sanitary defects, and [is] dangerous and injurious to the inhabitants because of the bad arrangement.

 A brief description of the interior of the Square, reproduced on this page, reveals that there are twelve w.c’s and eleven common wash-houses, and it was further alleged by the council that the drainage of the yard was very bad, the lighting of certain living and bedrooms was very bad, the houses were damp without exception, and in wet weather the common yard was a quagmire; in the majority of cases the houses were over-run with crickets, black beetles and cockroaches.

 The owners strongly contested the proposed demolition, but the Ministry favoured the opinion of the Council, and the first successful clearance scheme by the Brownhills Council was embarked upon.

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From the Friday, 16th August 1935 edition of the Lichfield Mercury. Ogley Square looks grim. I’d love to know if there’s an original photo of this anywhere. Please click for a larger version.

Mr. Cox was very strong in his comments about its present condition on Wednesday. “It has been an eye sore and a bug bear for many years,” he stated “and if you could only see it today, with its slates off, walls crumbling…! Then you will realise the conditions under which these people have been living.

‘I think that with the completion of this scheme we should see more changes in this part of the district, and it has been like this in appearance ever since I can remember.

‘I think it shows the progress that has been made during this year,’ he concluded, ‘And even if we are a poor authority, we are a progressive authority!’

Mr. R. A. Jones who seconded Mr. Cox’s remarks, said he would like to get an amendment to that particular minute, as it was passed in Council, because he could see it would be said that someone had been favoured. ‘I can see danger in a line of that minute,’ he continued. ‘When it was said three months before that it would be completed-we are bound to get it said we are favouring someone from out of that old neglected site.’

In his opinion only by drawing out of a box could it have been said that it had been done without any favour to those displaced tenants.

It is obvious, however, that the Brownhills Urban Council has, especially during the last year, made a very determined effort with all speed to provide the workers of the district with adequate houses, and to see that where inadequately and unhealthily housed the tenants are soon found suitable homes.

Their direct labour schemes have again proved their soundness and success, not only in this particular instance, but in other matters dealt with the by the Housing Committee, and reported at Wednesday’s meeting.

With such determination and efficiency it will not be long before Ogley Square ceases to exist and all other such ‘Slum-like’ areas will become a thing of the past in the Brownhills urban area. 

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11 Responses to Slum clearance now on!

  1. Carter Magna says:

    My cynical first thoughts are that that reads like a piece of feel good fiction. Amazing to see politicians doing the right thing. Hard to believe that anything even approaching that sort of compassion and public service would be on display without a tranche of bluesky bollocks and sleaze attached today.

  2. Clive says:

    Very intresting, its funny how things change, Ogley Square would have been the main part of the Village and the Parish of Ogley goes all the way to Muckley corner.

  3. Pedro says:

    “The owners strongly contested the proposed demolition”

    Wonder who were the owners?

  4. Bill Boswell says:

    Hi. I too would love to have a print of the original photograph because this shows a woman with two children standing in front of what looks like number 13 Ogley Square. This was the house of my great grandparents, Moses & Susannah Onions, and its where my grandma Lizzie grew up. Lizzie married John Henry Smith, one of sixteen children to Robert & Elizabeth Smith, who lived at number 24.

  5. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    I wonder if the single storey homes were called “Cots”…or was this name just used in Walsall Wood and Heath End?

  6. Pedro says:

    The above picture of Ogley Square is about the best quality from the download from the National Archives. But they do offer…

    “Fine Quality prints of the original page…Impressive in size and beautiful quality. All the detail and texture of the original page is reproduced with extraordinary fidelity by our superb print quality. Printed on heavy-weight, satin finish paper, sized 23″ x 33”, using special archival inks, your British Newspaper Archive print will last for generations.

    But is 22 quid, and with frame up to 100 quid!

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