My Postcode History – WS10 8NB


How old is my street? … and how do we know?
Bird Brook Close WS10 8NB is a short cul-de-sac in Darlaston. It is one of the Black Country’s newest streets and was laid out in 2006: the houses and flats were built at the same time – recent aerial photos show this (below). But Willenhall Street (where this photo was taken from) is a much older route, extending back into at least the 1800s.

Google Earth views of the site of WS10 8NB in the years (left to right) 2000, 2006, 2007 and 2010. Previously existing buildings on Willenhall Street had been demolished by 2006, while the image from 2007 shows construction in progress. By 2010 the development has been completed.

What was there before?
Bird Brook Close is set in the middle of Rough Hay, a large housing estate built after the First World War by (what was then) Darlaston Urban District Council (UDC). The modern cul-de-sac is actually on land once used for allotments and a social club at the centre of the estate – the development reflecting a general pressure for new homes in the area.

A plaque on the houses opposite Bird Brook Close on Willenhall Street

The houses opposite the Close are dated 1928, which puts them among the first decade of large-scale Council house-building in the Black Country.  At the time Darlaston UDC was one of two dozen different local authorities in the Black Country building houses (Birmingham was the same size but only had two). 

What else links the area to the story of the Black Country?

A sketch map from 1932. At the time the modern location of Bird Brook Close was on the edge of Darlaston – to its west lay ‘mostly pit mound’ (map by W A Eden)

Before the Council houses were built the area had been disused colliery land, possibly for several decades. Bird Brook Close actually sits on land (probably gardens) associated with a building called Rough Hay House, facing on to Rough Hay Road. The house existed at the time the area was mined – it was probably the home of a pit manager or owner.

Spoil heaps and waste land left by mining in the 1800s were a huge problem for local planners right across the Black Country and Darlaston was no exception. The conversion of pit mounds into land fit to put houses on was part of the epic reconstruction of the area after its mining heyday.

A map of the area in 1938 showing the partly completed Rough Hay housing estate, the brick works and the colliery spoil. The modern site of Bird Brook Close is marked in red (Source: Wolverhampton City Council Historic Environment Service; Ordnance Survey)

In the 1930s a brick works was active a couple of hundred metres away from what is now Bird Brook Close (marked on the map shown).  This is one of more than 200 known brick-making sites in the Black Country.

Can you add to this story?
We would welcome any more you could add to the story of WS10 8NB. It could be ancient history or something you know which happened recently. If you know something add it in the comment box below.

Where can I go to find out more?
> Search for more about Rough Hay and Darlaston on Black Country History, the catalogue of local museums and archives
> visit your local public archives – for Darlaston it is Walsall Local History Centre
Read about Darlaston on the Wolverhampton History & Heritage website
> Go to Bird Brook Close in Google Maps
> explore the Black Country landscape on one of these heritage trails

Go back to the ‘My Postcode History’ page

This briefing has been generously supported by English Heritage

7 responses to “My Postcode History – WS10 8NB

  1. Their meanings may seem obvious I suppose but you haven’t mentioned the names involved.
    Rough Hay is ( I assume) referring to the use of the land for farming. Do we know if the land was still used for making hay after the mining? Or does it pre-date the industrial stuff . Or what?

    Bird Brook is tantalizing as well. I’m assuming it’s a longstanding name for a water course now lost. Many a brook attracts birds to it but having a name seems to suggest it is something out of the commonplace.
    Sadly people used to lime for birds in the past. Possibly it’s an echo of this?

  2. Jefny, thanks for asking the question – I know this is something others are interested in too. ‘Rough Hay’ as a name has its origins before the industrial period. It comes from Old English for an uncultivated parcel of land. Bird Brook is, as you say, the name of a local stream feeding the river Tame. Not sure what is left of it to see now but there is a map of its approximate route here: http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/articles/Darlaston/Beginnings.htm

  3. Jefny Ashcroft

    I’ve looked at the map and yes Bird Brook’s fate was similar to many another small Black Country watercourse in that culverting led to it’s effective erasure from people’s awareness.
    Interestingly Broadwell in Oldbury is a street name which remains long after its well seems to hacve disappeared but I’ve found frogs obn the road some times showing suspect that the water is still there somewhere.

    Any thoughts on it being called Bird (Brook)?

  4. Not at the moment… bit there are people who know better about wildlife… I’ll put the word out!

  5. That area has a lot of history and at the end of Heathfield lane West near there, I found shale which I assume is millions of years of and a volcanic rock. The earth moving vehicles were churning it up last year and revealing all sorts of rocks.

    https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?saddr=Wednesbury,+WS10+9LZ,+UK&daddr=Heathfield+Ln+W&hl=en&ll=52.565604,-2.050495&spn=0.015391,0.048752&sll=52.565604,-2.050474&sspn=0.007695,0.024376&geocode=FSQEIgMdFyHh_ymrZYQb95hwSDG9f6S7sKUL3w%3BFbAWIgMdHrbg_w&oq=new+gas+&mra=ls&t=m&z=15

  6. The housing that originally occupied the area of Bird Brook Close, had to be demolished due to severe mining subsidence. It was the site of a row of a 1920s terrace block and the Rough Hay Social club.

  7. Thanks Roger … that’s a useful bit of missing information. Shame about the social club!

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