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Cradley Heath

Cradley Heath is a town in the Black Country located in Sandwell Metropolitan Borough, England.

In Cradley Heath many of the shops and houses in the town’s High Street are still standing after 100 years.

Cradley Heath was originally an area of heath, between Cradley and Netherton in the Staffordshire parish of Rowley Regis. The residents of Cradley had grazing rights, subject to a payment to the Lord of the Manor. The River Stour forms the natural boundary, not only between Cradley and Cradley Heath but also between modern MBCs of Sandwell and Dudley.

The town is also famous nationally for the Cradley Heath Heathens, a Speedway team, which originally operated as Cradley Heath Cubs. They took part in British speedway until the 1980s with World Champion riders such as Erik Gundersen and Bruce Penhall.

Cradley Heath remains a traditional shopping centre offering an alternative to modern malls. It has two market halls and a variety of privately owned shops and businesses. The old Market Hall has been in existence for over 100 years. There is a Tesco Extra store, which opened in 2007.

The Black Country Bugle newspaper is based in Cradley Heath and was set up by Derek Beasley. It focuses on local history and the culture of the Black Country and often features articles written in the Black Country dialect.

Cradley Heath has two large municipal parks, Haden Hill Park, which contains Haden Hall and Haden Old Hall (the latter with Tudor origins) which was the ancestral home of the Haden family and the Mary McArthur Memorial Gardens (known locally as Lomie Town park). Haden Hill Park, the former home of the Haden family and now in the care of Sandwell MBC. Adjoining the park is Haden Hill Leisure Centre which houses a swimming pool and other facilities, and also the Old Hill Cricket Club.

Cradley Heath has good bus and rail links and a major landmark is the Cradley Heath Interchange at the west end of the town. The railway is on the route from Birmingham, Snow Hill Station to Stourbridge Junction.

Nearby Cradley achieved prominence in the 19th century as a centre of iron chain making, though the most important centre was the adjacent (but distinct) Cradley Heath. The chain was made on a hearth by hammering cut lengths of red-hot wrought iron rod into oval links, one link passing through the next to form a cable.

As on other commons in the Black Country, cottages were built encroaching on the heath. These were occupied by nailmakers and other smiths. The anchor on the RMS Titanic was produced by chainmakers in Cradley Heath.

A number of pre 1900 homes remain in Cradley, but most of the housing stock dates from after the First World War and there is a substantial mix of private and council properties.

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