Originally a small, industrial market town, Redditch was designated a new town in 1964 and the Redditch Development Corporation duly formed. The subsequent development specifically aimed for the overspill population coming from the West Midlands, notably from the city of Birmingham; the new town project largely completed in 1985 when the Corporation was wound up.
Redditch was the world centre of needle manufacturing, which was its principal industry, with fishing tackle the next largest production. One of the factories, Alcocks Fishing Tackle, enjoyed world reknown. It was later taken over by Norris-Shakespeare, then latterly known just as Shakespeare...a product well known to anglers. Other industries included the manufacture of springs and small pressings. Royal Enfield began its production of bicycles and motor bikes late in the 19th century, and BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) manufactured and tested rifles in one of its factories just outside the town itself. Many of the old industries disappeared following the start of development.
My photos were taken during the very early 1970s, when many buildings in the town and the surrounding areas were vacated and allowed to become derelict during Stage 1 of the development. Above shows a small disused factory (on the left), amongst a large area of old terraced houses and other buildings. My long term memory isn't that great, but I had a feeling that the factory was a small electrical business that produced transformers, and where I actually worked for a short time before going back to art college. A visitor to my website confirmed that for me, and told me the name of the factory - R S M Transformers.
I've always had a fascination with derelict buildings and I'm glad that I took these, as now that it's history they can be used to document part of the development. My only regret is that I didn't take more or take any interior shots.
One of the many corner shops above, with a lovely old 'ghost ad' showing its original ownership. If memory serves correctly, this was situated on Beoley Road.
Above and below are photos of the old bus depot with it's interesting features...especially the large Dioclesian window above the front entrance. The building on the corner, in the photo above, was part of the Unemployment Exchange and the adjacent road contained many lovely old houses used for professional purposes, such as Solicitors Offices.
Below is a photo of one of the many needle mills in the town prior to re-development.
Evesham Street with its delightful old shop fronts, in the photo below. The opposite side of the road was cleared when the new Kingfisher Shopping Centre was built during the first Stage. The centre was later extended outwards.
One rather newsworthy event occured during this stage, when six extremely tall palm trees were imported from Spain for planting inside the centre. They each had to be transported on their own specially commissioned flat-bed lorry, and many townspeople turned out to watch them arrive. I worked for one of the local newspapers 'The Redditch Advertiser' at the time, and we had a grandstand view of them from the top office windows.
Below, further out towards Crabbs Cross was this lovely abandoned farmhouse. Strewn around the area were also several piles of pipes for underground utilities, so presumably this land was earmarked for development too...possibly housing. I moved away from the area in 1977, therefore didn't see any further development.
And just to illustrate how many of the locals felt about the development, the Redditch Development Corporation was nicknamed 'The Red Devils'!
More photos, as well as these, can be seen in the Photo Gallery.