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.
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.
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?
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.
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
This briefing has been generously supported by English Heritage