REDDITCH HISTORY - "A Thousand Years"


Pre Redditch
At the time of the Normans, most of the area which is now Redditch was covered in forest, and the important villages in the immediate area are those mentioned in the Domesday Book, made in 1086. They are Feckenham, Tardebigge, Beoley, Alvechurch and Ipsley.

In 1140 the Cistercian Order were granted a charter for the founding of Bordesley Abbey. The site selected was in level meadows, near the River Arrow and the abbey grew to become wealthy, owning many manors in the county and beyond. The name of Redditch probably did not exist at that time The abbey prospered for some hundreds of years until it was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1538. The name of Redditch now appears as it was included in the list of lands belonging to the abbey at its dissolution.

However, 1000 years earlier than this Britain was occupied by the Romans and an important North-South Roman road, Rykneld Street passed through the area which is now the east side of the town. Rykneld Street (known locally and on old maps as Iknield Street) was about 80 miles long and started at the Fosse Way, south of the Cotswolds, finishing at Rotherham, a Roman Fort. Within Redditch it followed a route beginning at Washford Mill and leaving at Beoley crossroads and passing close by Church Hill Centre. The route is very clear following roads and paths through the area.

Redditch is born

The history of Redditch dates back to the 12th Century when Cistercian Monks built an Abbey at Bordesley in the Valley of the River Arrow.

During the three centuries which followed an number of families settled near the Abbey and their hamlet became known as La Redditch.

The name - first mentioned in medieval documents in 1348 - comes from the little Arrow Brook which flows into the River Arrow and runs through a layer of clay which often turns the water red.


In 1538 Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of monasteries in England and the community living near the Abbey moved from the lowland near the River Arrow to the drier ground on the plateau where the Town Centre now stands.After the dissolution of Bordesley Abbey in 1538 the town of Redditch began to grow and the Gatehouse chapel at Bordesley was restored for Redditch people.

Redditch then meant a number of houses and small cottages grouped round the cross roads at what is now Church Green and the population continued to grow as the needle industry prospered. It was soon found necessary to bring the chapel nearer to them and a chapel was built on the green, on the site now occupied by the Parish Church.

Redditch then began to take the shape we now know. Schools and churches were built and the town soon became a parish, and was no longer a part of Tardebigge Parish. This was in 1846, and was followed after a few years by the building of the Parish Church. A few more years and the railway had come to Redditch, while its roads to other towns were improved, and a new road made to Birmingham. It was a century of great activity and the boundaries began to expand

Redditch - Famous for ...

As the population of Redditch grew it became famous for needle making and by the 19th Century it led the field in needle production and other metal based trades such as fish hook and spring manufacture.

The growth of these trades encouraged people to live and work in Redditch and the population grew steadily during the early 20th Century.

This continued into the 20th Century as more industries came into the town, and the making of needles and fishing tackle was joined by motorbikes, springs, batteries and other light industry.The most recent major change for Redditch was the designation as a new town in 1964 and, since that time, the population has increased from 32,000 to nearly 80,000 and has been transformed in many ways.

The then Urban District Council built new housing estates at Mayfield's, Batchley and Abbeydale to house the increasing numbers in the town.

Housing estates were built at Church Hill, Matchborough, Winyates and Oakenshaw. Major industrial estates were built at Church Hill, Washford, Moons Moat and Park Farm.

Development included major landscaping works such as the 900 acre Arrow Valley Park - now home to the £1 million Countryside Centre - and the planting of more than two million trees.

In 1974 Redditch became a district within the new County of Hereford and Worcester and later gained Borough status when a Royal Charter was signed on 1st May 1980.

In 1976 the then Prime Minister James Callaghan opened the Kingfisher shopping Centre which for many years has been recognised as one of the largest and best covered in the West Midlands.

The Redditch population now stands at around 77,000 and industry varies from the old established crafts to expertise in modern technology.

Redditch New Town

Kingfisher Shopping Centre

Forge Mill

Arrow Valley Park

Morton Stanley Park