How old is my street? … and how do we know?
Castlebridge Gardens WV11 3NQ is a street of Council-built flats dating to the late 1950s/early 1960s. The flats overlook the Lichfield Road, a major route out of Wolverhampton and of much older origins. The maps below show the area before and after the flats were built.
Housing from this particular period is not so uncommon – about one in every ten Black Country homes is still from the 50s. Castlebridge Gardens was built in (what was until 1966) Wednesfield Urban District and, with only four storeys, the flats came before the fashion for higher structures took effect. The first tower blocks in Wednesfield opened in 1962 for example.
What was there before?
Castlebridge Gardens was built on an area that had been fields next to the ‘Wyrley & Essington’ – the canal cut in the 1700s to bring coal from those villages to Wolverhampton (the canal is marked in blue on the maps).
The street takes its name from the crossing of the canal at the Lichfield Road, which was presumably named ‘castle bridge’ when it was first built 220 years ago (it has been rebuilt since). But why it was named castle bridge is not necessarily so obvious – there are no castles to see in the area today!
However, there are clues to how the bridge got its name on a tithe map of Wednesfield, drawn 170 years ago. Tithe maps recorded who owned land at the time, but they also made a note of the name of each field. Several fields around what is now Castlebridge gardens had the word ‘castle’ in their name.
In fact the field in which WV11 3NQ now sits was called ‘Castle Grounds’. And, while there was no surviving castle in 1840, the field names suggest there had previously been a castle in some form on this spot. The fields could have carried these names for centuries, so our castle might even have been medieval.
But the field names aren’t the end of the story. If we look back at our map of Castlebridge gardens in the mid 50s (above) we can see marks of an earthwork just to the south of the site of the flats (enlarged here). Although we have no way of knowing what this was without investigating it further, it also lay within ‘Castle Grounds’ and could have been part of the structure which gave the field its name (the same earthwork is visible on the 1945 aerial photo of the area on Google Earth). All this points to the suggestion that Castlebridge Gardens might be even be sitting on top of remains of the castle which gave it its name!
What else links the area to the story of the Black Country?
We have already mentioned the local canal was built to transport coal, and Castle Bridge also gave its name to a local colliery which was active, like hundreds of others, around the Black Country. It is now the site of the industrial estate a few metres on the other side of the Litchfield Road.
Can you add to this story?
We would welcome any more you could add to the story of WV11 3NQ. 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 Castle Bridge and Wednesfield on Black Country History, the catalogue of local museums and archives
> visit your local public archives – for Wednesfield it is Wolverhampton Archives & Local Studies
> Read about Wednesfield on the Wolverhampton History & Heritage website
> Go to Castle Bridge Gardens in Google Maps
> explore the Black Country landscape on one of these heritage trails
This briefing has been generously supported by English Heritage. Thanks to Ben Artingstall for his help in researching this page.