Of Little Bloxwich and Lower Farm

Satellite image of Lower Farm Estate and Little Bloxwich courtesy Google Earth

A distinction was drawn between Bloxwich and Great Bloxwich in 1300; the first was presumably Little Bloxwich, a name in use in 1307.  It has been suggested by some that what is now Little Bloxwich was the first settlement, by others that the site of Pinfold was the beginning of Bloxwich.

Nothing but fields in this view across Lower Farm from the foot of Sellmans Hil in the late 1930s 
By the later 18th century Little Bloxwich lay in the area formed by Little Bloxwich Lane (now Lichfield Road), Stoney Lane, and Selman’s Hill.  It may originally have centred on the stretch of Stoney Lane between Fishley Lane and Selman’s Hill where Little Bloxwich Green lay in the later 18th century.

1514b  The old Nag’s head pub was at the centre of Little Bloxwich (early 20th century)

Lower Farm, a late-medieval crucktrussed house, stood in that part of Stoney Lane until its demolition in 1963.   The site of Poplar Farm in Fishley Lane was formerly moated.  Little Bloxwich had its own common fields.  There were 182 recipients of Mollesley’s Dole in 1619 and 259 in 1661.

3215  Lower Farm, Stoney Lane, c1960-63

The road from Walsall to Stafford, crossing Watling Street at Churchbridge in Cannock, originally ran through Little Bloxwich.  It is said to have continued via Fishley to Great Wyrley, but there is evidence of a route via Yieldfields, where a road called Stafford way is mentioned in 1576 and 1617.  The road, which had a coaching inn (the King William, closed 1904) in Fishley Lane, was turnpiked in 1766, and its course was then altered to run through Great Bloxwich.

211  King William Coaching Inn, Fishley Lane, 1938

The Wyrley and Essington Canal runs through the area, and by the 1880s there was a canal basin off Fishley Lane.  In the later 19th and early 20th centuries there was coal-mining in the Fishley area to the north of Little Bloxwich, and there was a steam mill near the basin in the earlier 20th century.  Fishley is an area of farm-land which runs down to Norton Road and the A5.

5384 Colliery, Fishley Lane, c1900

Selman’s Hill and Sanstone Road contain privately built houses of the period between the World Wars, and after the Second World War Little Bloxwich became an area of mixed council and private housing. The first council houses date from the late 1940s, and by the early 1960s there were 270 of them.  The Lower Farm estate centres on nine blocks of council flats completed in 1963, eight of three storeys and one of six; a block of shops and maisonettes was built at the same time.   The estate’s street names are mostly based on places in Derbyshire, inspired by the house called ‘Ambergate’ (itself a place in Derbyshire) after which Ambergate Close, the first part of the estate to be built, was named.

Wiggin House, a block of sheltered accommodation apartments, was built in the early 1960′s next to the main block of shops on Buxton Road, but is planned to be demolished in August 2007 (this has been delayed as of October 2007).  The Rector of Bloxwich began to hold services at the Saddlers Arms on the Lower Farm Estate in 1963 pending the opening of a church, and the mission church of the Holy Ascension, a dual-purpose building in Sanstone Road, was opened in 1968.  Lower Farm Junior and Infants’ School, off Buxton Road, was also opened in 1968.

During the 1980s much of the council housing on Lower Farm Estate was sold off to the tenants.  What remains in rented accommodation is managed by Walsall Housing Group.  In 2005, residents of Lower Farm Estate formed a Community Association to represent people on the estate and to campaign for much-needed improvements there, as well as a Youth Forum to represent the interests of young people.  In 2006, Lower Farm Community Association organised a fine and well-lit Christmas Tree on the traffic island at the centre of the estate, and has organised several Fun Days on the ‘green’ behind Ashbourne Road.

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