What really happened on that day before the war when the horse slid on the ice and went straight into Dentith's cake shop?  Or the night the bombs dropped on Cradley?   And just where exactly is the old chain shop in which Mrs Gill, the last lady to make chain in Cradley, worked?  What on earth is a "cognogger"?

This book has the answers!

Published by the Cradley Then and Now group, this 68 page A4 format book gives readers an insider's look at Cradley past and present, with an emphasis throughout on first-hand, first-rate, local knowledge.

Starting with a guided tour of the town, Cradley Then and Now moves on to tell the stories of local identities. An analysis of the residents of Colley Gate and Windmill Hill follows, and then we "listen in" while Cradley folk remember people and incidents from days gone by. Finally, the Cradley Then and Now folk share with us their list of words and phrases from the Cradley dialect.

Generously illustrated with rare photographs from private collections, packed with references to locations and family names, Cradley Then and Now offers a warm and often humorous insight into the unique Cradley identity.

Strongly recommended.

Cover of "Cradley Then & Now"
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 Cover of "Cradley Then & Now" 

Contents of "Cradley Then and Now"

Cradley Heritage Trail

The Heritage Trail starts at a church, and ends at a pub - which seems appropriate for Cradley!

Along the way, 45 points of interest are shown, annotated with historical and contemporary notes and snippets, together with 24 photographs.

  • 1 Park Lane Unitarian Chapel
  • 2 Netherend Brick Works
  • 3 The Good Shepherd
  • 4 Stour/Steve Bloomer memorial
  • 5 Trinity Methodist Church
  • 6 Bethesda Methodist Church
  • 7 Millward's Shop (Tinkalaries)
  • 8 Chainshop - Butchers Lane
  • 9 Dungeon Head
  • 10 The Parish Church of St. Peter
  • 11 Cradley Baptist Church
  • 12 The Anvil Yard
  • 13 Chainshop - Hightown
  • 14 Hightown Ragged School
  • 15 The Bull Ring
  • 16 The Spout/Spring
  • 17 The Paper Shop
  • 18 Sword Forge
  • 19 The Jail Yard
  • 20 Butchers (Tates)
  • 21 102 Windmill Hill
  • 22 The White Lion/Staffords
  • 23 Windmills
  • 24 The Round of Beef
  • 25 Rock Motor Cycles
  • 26 St. Katherines
  • 27 The Searchlight
  • 28 Anti-aircraft Gun
  • 29 Fatherless Barn Farm
  • 30 Beechtree Colliery/Bathhouse
  • 31 Workhouse
  • 32 Oldnall Colliery
  • 32a Flint Field
  • 33 Cradley Park Colliery
  • 34 Two Gates Ragged School
  • 35 Old Two Gates Public House
  • 36 Tregarron House
  • 37 The Tannery
  • 38 The Chapelhouse
  • 39 Park House Steps
  • 40 Milestone
  • 41 Cradley Colliery
  • 42 Homer Hill Colliery
  • 43 Colley Gate House
  • 44 Talbot/Chainmaker and Malthouse


16. Turn left into Ladysmith Rd, at the bottom on the other side of Furlong Road is the Spring or Sprout. At the present time there have been several reports of the spring drying up. This has happened at least once before, about a hundred years ago.

Report from the County Express Saturday 13th. January 1900.

"Cradley Parish Council. Mr. Cutler presented a report of the committee looking into the supply of water at the Furlong Lane Spring. It stated that necessary work had been done and it was hoped in the future there would be little or no cause for complaint. The intermittent supply of water in the past had been on account of the number of new houses which had been erected near the source of the spring."

Some Cradley Folk and Features

  • Crash, Bang, Wallop! (the demolition of the stack at Homer Hill Pits in 1929) by Wilf Allsop
  • Another Crash, Bang, Wallop! (the demolition of the Tanhouse flats in July 1999) by Julie Powis
  • William Oliver And a Brief History of the Talbot Hotel Cradley (The Chainmaker) by Eric Oliver
  • Albert Owen Beasley by Jill Guest
  • Henry Bird by Wilf Allsop
  • Mary Ann Jones (nee Mantle) by Glenys Hackett (nee Jones)
  • Caleb and Sarah Knowles by Bryan Knowles
  • Death of Mr Benjamin Hodgetts by Geoffrey E. Hodgetts
  • Clifford Willets OBE by Hazel Clifton
  • Tummy Two Sticks And other local characters by Kevin Powis
  • Thanks for the memory Old postcards of Cradley; the Talbot Street VE Day party; school photographs; Beech tree Colliery; the Sun Inn
Census Investigation

Using Kelly's Directory, Barbara Arrow tabulates the various shops and people in Colley Gate and Windmill Hill in 1921, 1940 and 1998.

Cradley Files Transcript

A transcript of a group discussion by Cradley Then & Now members, faithfully recording the speakers' use of dialect as they reminisce about days gone by. Stories include:

  • Dentith's Cake Shop
  • Willett's Bakery
  • Mr Mitchell - The Travelling Watch Repairer
  • Millward's Shop
  • Jones and Lloyds
  • Pubs Remembered
  • The Cobbler's Shap!
  • The night the bombs dropped on Cradley and other wartime memories
  • Windmill Hill/Colley Gate

Excerpt (from The night the bombs dropped on Cradley and other wartime memories):

Cecil:    Well I can tell you a story now if anybody's interested and probably nobodies ever heard this, but what I'm gonna tell you now is the truth!

In 1940, I was 12. We had a bomber raid over Cradley and they hit this bomber from Turner's Hill and he jettisoned 1000 incendiary bombs. Now we kept a shop in Cradley. Used to sell paraffin and all sorts - Millward's shop.

Now nobody here knows about this but what I'm telling you is the truth. I lay in bed, my brother was in bed three. It was the biggest bedroom in the Midlands. It was over the big shop. It had three double beds in, and the incendiary bomb went straight through the bed, the side of me brother, in bed, lying in bed!, went straight through and lodged over the paraffin tank in the shop.

I was 12 and I rushed downstairs with a bucket of sand and they rushed in from the street. They ripped the floor boards up and they got a pair of tongs and I was catching the bits because if it had the paraffin half of Cradley would 'ave gone up.

Anyway, that night they hit the Chapel just below. That was all burnt down. There was a thousand incendiary jettisoned!

Cradley Dialect

An alphabetical list of Cradley expressions and phrases.


AhviersEqual share. "Go ahviers" go halves (local)
AiveHeave, lift. Easter Monday was "aiving day" when the women lifted the men. After dinner the custom was reversed. (local)
AxenTo ask e.g. He axed her. (Anglo Saxon)

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