An agricultural settlement
Aldridge is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Alrewic and is valued at 15 shillings. The name is possibly derived from the large number of Alder trees believed to be in the area in medieval times. It is likely that Aldridge began as a small agricultural settlement. Indeed the census of 1841 shows the most common occupation to still be that of farmer together with agricultural labourers.
In the 19th century the western side of the area was transformed into an industrial community. The underlying seams of coal and clay gave rise to the opening of several collieries and brickworks. The clay extracted in Aldridge is particularly suited to the manufacture of blue bricks. The 1881 census shows the mines and the brick works to be major employers. The seams of coal and clay shelve very steeply beneath Aldridge as you travel east towards Stonnall. Extraction at such depths would have been uneconomic. Consequently the eastern side of Aldridge remained very much agricultural with the exception of a large sand quarry.The development of these industries initially saw the construction of canals to service them and later the development of railways into the area. The population expanded rapidly as people moved into Aldridge to work in all of these industries.
With the demise of these industries the sites that they occupied have been developed into industrial estates, which house a diverse range of factories and industrial units specialising in mechanical engineering and other light industries. Whilst mining ceased completely, there has always been a presence of brick making. The popularity of block paving that has developed in recent years has accounted for a revival of brick manufacturing , with two large modern brickworks being built.The 1960s saw the evolution of 'The Village' ,as residents call Aldridge , into a town. All of the buildings in the High Street were demolished over a period of time to make way for modern shop units. The council offices made way for a shopping precinct and the cutback in rail services resulted in the closure of the railway station. Large housing estates were built at Redhouse, Druids Heath, Leighswood and Coppy Hall.
Fortunately the core of historic Aldridge remains, now preserved in a Conservation Area. This includes St Mary's church, which is believed to date from about 1250, The Moot House, and The Croft. Other fine Victorian and Edwardian houses also survive, notably Lea House, Cedar Court, The Shrubbery and Shutt Cross House . Whilst much of Old Aldridge has been lost, these surviving properties, together with other good examples of old houses and cottages, serve as a reminder of how Aldridge used to look.