How old is my street? … and how do we know?
Cherrywood Green WV14 6HL is a looping circular street laid out near Bilston in the late 1940s (or early 1950s). We know it dates to this time because it’s not on photos from 1948 but it was mapped in 1957 for example (below).
Most of the houses on the street were built by the Council soon after the street itself. They are a mix of semi-detached (like those pictured) and short terraces.
As we can see from the 1957 map (above left), the street originally circled round the edge of a large open space… hence its name. This also explains why the houses on it today (above right, from Google Maps) are from two different periods – those facing the central green were part of the original plan, but later the green itself was built over.
What was there before?
In the 1900s the area had been colliery land which had become derelict by the 20th century. Historic maps of the area were also marked ‘Osier Bed’, the name for a plantation of willow. Thin ‘withies’ of willow were harvested for use in the basket-making industry. Today, we might think of hand-made baskets as being rarely used but, in an age before plastic and other modern materials, the production of wickerwork was an important trade.
Willow grows in wet ground, and a tributary of the River Tame ran through the area so it would have been well irrigated. It’s not clear when the osier bed ceased to exist or if the name was later used just to refer to the place – we know a mine 200m north of our postcode was known as ’Osier Bed Colliery’ for example.
What else links the area to the story of the Black Country?
The construction of Cherrywood Green and the changes to it when the green was built over might seem like a pretty ordinary story of postwar housing. But it actually represents a much wider struggle over how new suburbs would be built.
The Stowlawn Greens were one result of a new approach to planning which tried to foster community links within new suburbs. This imagined homes facing each other over a green, and communal facilities (including district heating) serving a network of interlocking greens. These designs were promoted by a particular group of architects, supported by officers and Councillors at the Borough of Bilston. Ella Briggs, designer of Cherrywood Green, was among these.
But critics of the designs, together with economic pressure for more housing in Stowlawn forced a number of compromises…ultimately leading to the building over of the greens. But they didn’t go down without a fight (one author referred to it as ‘the battle of Bilston’) and Lawnside Green (below) is one surviving legacy of the approach. After Bilston, the ideas were taken to Dudley where they influenced the creation of a network of greens at Old Park Farm Estate for example.
Can you add to this story?
We would welcome any more you could add to the story of WV14 6HL. 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 Cherrywood Green and Stowlawn on Black Country History, the catalogue of local museums and archives
> visit your local public archives – for Stowlawn it is Wolverhampton Archives & Local Studies
> Go to Cherrywood Green 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 Matthew Whitehouse for his photos, and to Ben Artingstall for his help in researching this page. Peter Larkham and Elain Harwood have written in detail about the design of the Stowlawn Greens.