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.
BROWNHILLS COUNCIL’S EFFORTS FOR BETTER HOUSING CONDITIONS.
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.
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.