Stourbridge is a market-town, forming the central division of the parish of Old Swinford, in the
lower division of the hundred of Haifshire, in the county of Worcester. Two hamlets,
Swinford in Worcestershire and Amblecot in Staffordshire, constitute the remaining
divisions of the parish. It is situated at the south-west extremity of the great midland
mining and manufacturing district of England, on the south bank of the river Stour,
which divides the counties of Worcester and Stafford; and near to the head of the Staſ.
fordshire canal, by which it enjoys a water communication with all parts of the kingdom.
The appellation of Stourbridge, was derived from a bridge erected over the river, in the
reign of Henry VII; previous to which time, the township was known by the name of
Bedcote, which is still the designation of a contiguous manor. Its vicinity abounds with
valuable mines of coal, iron-stone, and clay of a very peculiar quality, calculated for the
construction of vessels destined to endure high degrees of heat without fusion; and for bricks
adapted to the building of furnaces. The facility of procuring this useful material for the
manufacture of crucibles, together with the plentiful supply of fuel afforded by the
neighbouring mines, gave rise probably to the glass-works in this vicinity, which yere
established in 1557, about the time of their introduction into England from Lorrain. The
number of glass-works in the neighbourhood of the town is sixteen. Various branches,
of the iron manufactory are carried on in the adjacent villages, particularly that of nails.
The clothing trade is also carried on here, though rather declining of late years. Henry
VII, granted to this town a court-leet, and two fairs, to be held on March 29th. and Sept.
8th.: for some days previous to the former, a considerable mart for horses is annually
held. Attempts have been recently made to revive a fair once held here on the 8th. of
January. The market-day is on Friday.—Edward the VI. founded a free grammar
school here, which is handsomely endowed. The church is a neat edifice, erected in 1735.
There are also dissenting chapels for Friends, Presbyterians, Wesleyans and Independents.
Numerous Charity-schools abound throughout the parish, both public and private ; and a
Madras school has recently been instituted. A Bible Society was established here in 1812;
and a Public Library in 1790. The population of the township, according to the last
census, is 4072; that of the whole parish upwards of 10,000. A noble hospital for
boarding, clothing, and educating sixty boys, founded by Thomas Foley, Esq. is situated
at Old Swinford. .