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Foster Street, Stourbridge; leading towards the <a href="/content/Stourbridge_Town_railway_station" style="color:blue">railway station</a>
Foster Street, Stourbridge; leading towards the railway station

Stourbridge /ˈstaʊərbrɪdʒ/ is a market town in the West Midlands county of England. Situated on the River Stour, it was the centre of British glass making during the Industrial Revolution. The 2011 UK census recorded the town's population as 63,298.[1]


Stourbridge is approximately 13 miles west of Birmingham, the second biggest city in the UK. Sitting within the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley at the edge of the Black Country, Stourbridge includes the suburbs of Amblecote, Lye, Norton, Oldswinford, Pedmore, Wollaston, Wollescote and Wordsley.

Much of Stourbridge consists of residential streets interspersed with green spaces. Mary Stevens Park, opened in 1931, has a lake, a bandstand, a cafe, and a mixture of open spaces and woodland.

Bordered by green belt land, Stourbridge is close to countryside with Clent Hills to the south and Shropshire and Kinver Edge to the west.


Stourbridge was listed in the 1255 Worcestershire assize roll as Sturbrug or Sturesbridge.[2] The medieval township was named for a bridge which crossed the River Stour. It lay within the manor of Swynford or Suineford (now Old Swinford), which appears in William the Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1086.[3]

In 1966, the Stourbridge border between Worcestershire and Staffordshire, which for centuries had been marked by the River Stour, was moved a couple of miles north when Amblecote was incorporated into the Borough of Stourbridge. Following the Local Government Act 1972, Stourbridge was amalgamated into the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley and became part of the wider West Midlands county in 1974.

The town gives its name to local glass production, which has been manufactured since the early 1600s. The local glass proved particularly suitable for the industry, taken up predominantly after the immigration of French coal miners in the Huguenot diaspora.[4] However, most of the glass industry was actually located in surrounding areas including Wordsley, Amblecote and Oldswinford. The rich natural resources of coal and fireclay for lining furnaces made it the perfect location for the industry. Glass making peaked in the 19th century, encouraged by the famous glass-making family, the Jeavons.[5]

The 1861 census identified that 1,032 residents of Stourbridge were involved in the glass trade in some way. Of these, 541 were glass workers - an increase from 409 in 1851, believed to be partly caused by the collapse of the glass industry in nearby Dudley in the 1850s.[6] The vast majority of those involved in the glass trade came from Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire. 9% came from other parts of England and 0.2% had come from abroad. Of particular note are glass cutters, as 8.1% had come from Ireland, believed to be as a result of the decline of the Irish glasscutting industry in the first half of the 1800s. The houses inhabited by glassworkers were of a much better quality in comparison to the slums in which the nailmakers of Lye and Wollescote lived. However, only a few glassworkers owned their own houses.[5]

Stourbridge glass is recognised as amongst the finest in the world. However, in recent years, the industry has been almost obliterated by the effects of globalisation, with the glassmaking companies moving abroad.

The Red House Cone, thought to be the only complete remaining glass cone of its kind, stands on the Stourbridge Canal at Wordsley. It is the site of the Red House Glass Museum and there are regular demonstrations of blowing glass in the traditional way, and a collection of Stourbridge glass can be seen at Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford.

The other landmark heritage site is that of Tudor Crystal, also standing on the side of the canal, at Amblecote. Tudor Crystal is the last remaining fully functioning glassmaking factory in Stourbridge to be making lead crystal in full production.


Today, Stourbridge is one of the more affluent towns in the Dudley Metropolitan Borough although it continues to suffer deprivation in parts.[7] Some people retain the traditional Black Country accent and dialect.

The town centre has seen major regeneration in recent years. In 2014, Lion Health medical centre opened in the renovated former foundry of Foster, Rastrick and Company – where the Stourbridge Lion locomotive was manufactured. The next phase of regeneration on the foundry site will create parkland next to Stourbridge Canal with a "heritage and community hub" named Riverside House.

Between 2012 and 2013, the old Crown Centre and Bell Street multi-storey car park were demolished to make way for a new £50m Crown Centre Shopping Mall at the bottom of Stourbridge High Street Opening in autumn 2013, it is home to a 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) Tesco anchor store, a two-level underground car park, six retail stores and a central food court.[8] Stourbridge Bus Station underwent substantial redevelopment and re-opened as Stourbridge Interchange in April 2012.

Stourbridge High Street is home to a mix of chain and independent shops, pubs, coffee shops, restaurants, gyms and a yoga studio. Quaint Victoria Passage dates back to the Victorian era. Off the High Street is the Ryemarket Shopping Centre with retailers including Waitrose and WHSmith. Nearby Lye is known for its many Balti restaurants.

In 2010, Stourbridge was awarded Fairtrade Town status. Stourbridge Farmers' and Craft Market [39] takes place on the first and third Saturday of every month in the Clock Square. Stourbridge Beer Festival [40] happens every year in late April/early May. Throughout the summer, Mary Stevens Park hosts outdoor live music.

According to the 2011 Census, the average age of people in living Stourbridge is 42.[9]

Conservative MP Margot James has held the Stourbridge parliamentary constituency since 2010.[10]

Stourbridge has two railway stations, the main one being Stourbridge Junction. From here, it is around 30 minutes to Birmingham and between two and 2.5 hours to London. The other station, Stourbridge Town, is served only by a shuttle to and from Stourbridge Junction. At just over half a mile, the Stourbridge Town Branch Line is believed to be the shortest railway branch line in Europe. [11]

Stourbridge Interchange is the main bus station, located in the town centre next to Stourbridge Town railway station. The Interchange opened in 2012 at a cost of £7 million [12]. Network West Midlands [41] is the local bus operator.

By bike, National Route 54 [42] of the National Cycle Network links Stourbridge with Dudley via the canal towpaths.

The Stourbridge Canal links the town to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and the Dudley No. 1 Canal. This places Stourbridge on the Stourport Ring, navigable by narrowboat and popular with holidaymakers.

There is one college in Stourbridge. King Edward VI College was founded in 1552, becoming a sixth form college in 1976.[13] Stourbridge College, south of the city centre, was formed in 1958 and specialised in art and design, but was closed in 2019. [14]

There is also a sixth form at Old Swinford Hospital school, which was founded in 1667 by the Stourbridge-born politician Thomas Foley.[15] The boarding school was named the best secondary school in Dudley, closely followed by Redhill School, an academy also in Stourbridge.[16]

Elmfield Rudolf Steiner School is an independent school which follows the international Steiner Waldorf Education curriculum.[17]


The International Festival of Glass [43] is held at Ruskin Mill in Stourbridge every two years. Launched in 2004, it showcases the skill and innovation of glass artists, designers and craftspeople.

The British Glass Biennale is the festival's flagship exhibition, featuring contemporary work by glass makers in the UK. The exhibition attracts collectors, galleries and museums from around the world.[18]

In the late-1980s and early 1990s, three Stourbridge indie bands – The Wonder Stuff, Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned's Atomic Dustbin – all had chart success, selling millions of albums between them and gracing the covers of NME and Melody Maker.[19] Pop Will Eat Itself's former frontman Clint Mansell has since composed musical scores for films including Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream.

The 80s metal bands Diamond Head and Witchfinder General also came from Stourbridge, and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant once attended King Edward VI College (then King Edward VI Grammar School for Boys).

Stourbridge is covered by three newspapers: the Express & Star (daily), the Stourbridge News (weekly), and the Stourbridge Chronicle (weekly). Two news websites – BBC Birmingham & Black Country and Black Country Live, launched in 2019 [20] – also cover the area.

In addition, Stourbridge is served by commercial radio stations broadcasting from Wolverhampton and Birmingham as well as three BBC Local Radio stations: BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC Radio Shropshire and BBC WM.

From the 1860s until the early 1980s, Stourbridge was covered by the County Express newspaper. The archives are now on microfilm in Stourbridge Library.

Stourbridge Football Club, founded in 1876 and nicknamed "The Glassboys", shares the War Memorial Athletic Ground in Amblecote with Stourbridge Cricket Club. Stourbridge Rugby Club play at Stourton Park in nearby Stourton. Other teams include Redhill Volleyball Club, which plays at Redhill School. Stourbridge Running Club [44] also train at the War Memorial in Amblecote.

According to the 2011 Census, the majority of people living in Stourbridge identify as Christian (65%). Almost a quarter of people said they had no religion. Less than 1% of people identified as Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, or Hindu. 43 people identified as a Jedi Knight.[21]

  • Chawn Hill Church [49] , Stourbridge
  • Ghausia Jamia Mosque [50] , Lye
  • Holy Trinity Church [51] , Amblecote
  • Hope Baptist Church [52] , Stourbridge
  • Our Lady and All Saints Catholic Church [53] , Stourbridge
  • Presbyterian Unitarian Chapel [54] , Stourbridge.
  • Quaker Meeting House [55] , Stourbridge
  • St James' Church [56] , Wollaston
  • St Mary's [57] , Oldswinford
  • St Thomas' Church, Stourbridge
  • St Peter's [58] , Pedmore

Notable residents

  • James Foster, ironmaster, mine operator and banker. He was instrumental in bringing the first commercial steam locomotive into the Midlands
  • Thomas Webb, founder of Thomas Webb & Sons

In popular culture

  • In other literature, Stourbridge appears in Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, published in 1939 (part 1, episode 6, page 184).
  • The town also gets a mention in The Cantos of Ezra Pound, a long, incomplete poem mostly written between 1915 and 1962 (Canto LXVI, line 30, page 380). Pound's epic poem is inspired by a diary entry from 1786 written by John Adams, the second President of the United States, which mentions Stourbridge.
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