Bilston

Bilston is located 2½ miles south-east of Wolverhampton.

The name "Bilston" is derived from the name of a tribe of Angles - "The Bilsaeton" or "Bilsonii", who came up the Trent Valley and settled here in the 6th Century.

In the Domesday Book, the settlement still belonged to the King. It is recorded that there were 8 villagers and 3 smallholders with 3 ploughs and that there was an acre of meadow and a wood ¾ of a mile long by ¾ of a mile wide.

In the middle of the 18th Century the town began to expand thanks to the ironworks industry and its rich 30 feet coal seams. Unfortunately, the last furnace, "Elizabeth", was closed in 1979 and the iron works were demolished in 1980.

Bilston is also known internationally for its delicately decorated products, such as enamelware, which flourished between between 1730 and 1830, and japanware (goods made either of papiermaché or tinplate and varnished to give a high-gloss finish.) Japanning was a dead art by 1900, though it has recently been revived by Bilston Enamels.

In 1832, because of the squalid nature of the early industrial towns, there was a severe outbreak of cholera in Bilston. The local vicar is reported to have demanded the rebuilding of "brick graves called courts, alleys and back squares where the poor are buried alive, amid gloom, damp and corruption.....". The old courts were pulled down and replaced by streets of terraced houses which were more sanitary. (But still far from sanitary by today's standards!)