That remarkable little Worcestershire Town -
Designed, administered and published by Anthony Green
At the time of the Norman Conquest, most of the area which is now Redditch was covered in forest, and the important villages in the immediate area are those mentioned in the Domesday Book, made in 1086. They are Feckenham, Tardebigge, Beoley, Alvechurch and Ipsley.
However, in 1140 the Cistercian Order were granted a charter for the founding of an abbey at Bordesley. The Cistercians policy was to seek empty, remote and uncultivated places by this time little land remained wholly unused and, inevitably, therefore, Cistercian colonies gravitated towards the margins of occupied area and would evict any existing inhabitants. The site selected at Bordesley was in level meadows, near the River Arrow and, it was at this time that the community of Redditch, first mentioned in the monastic records, was created around the current town centre.The abbey grew to become wealthy, owning many manors in the county and beyond.
The name Redditch comes from the Red Dyches which were dug to drain the area in the Red Marl (clay) which is endemic to the area.The abbey prospered for four hundred of year until it was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1538. Following the dissolution in 1538 the town of Redditch continued to grow and the Gatehouse chapel at Bordesley was restored for use by the citizens of the town.
The town at this time consisted of a number of houses and small cottages grouped round the cross roads at what is now Church Green. With the introduction of needle manufacture, the population continued to grow as the industry prospered and it was soon found necessary to bring the chapel nearer to them and a chapel was built on the green, on the site close by that occupied by the Parish Church, Redditch then began to take the shape we now know. Schools and churches were built and the town soon became a parish, and was no longer a part of Tardebigge Parish. This was in 1846, and was followed after a few years by the building of the Parish Church. A few more years and the railway had come to Redditch, while its roads to other towns were improved, and a new road made to Birmingham. It was a century of great activity and the boundaries began to expand .This continued into the 20th Century as more industries came into the town, and the making of needles and fishing tackle was joined by motorbikes, springs, batteries and other light industry.The most recent major change for Redditch, since the major effort made by the town in WW2, was the designation as a new town in 1964 and, during that time, the population increased from 32,000 to nearly 80,000 but the ‘old’ Redditch still remains.
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