September 25th, 2016

We work at home and like a drink – how times change in Redditch

We work at home and like a drink – how times change in Redditch We work at home and like a drink – how times change in Redditch

LOCAL historians are stepping back in time thanks to the discovery of a time capsule amidst the ruins of the old Methodist Church at Headless Cross.

The church, with its distinctive open lattice tower was recently demolished after it was discovered it would cost in the region of £1 million to restore it.

However one of the finds is a time capsule which captures Redditch as it was in 1895 – 121 years ago.

“I said there might be a time capsule in there and the demolition people pulled it out and saved it,” said Peter Harris of Redditch Local History Society.

“We have taken it all to pieces and inside there were three or four old newspapers, a lot of documents, a directory of Redditch, and fish hooks and needles in pristine condition.”

The church was built on the site of an older one which was destroyed when the steeple blew over, crashing into the main body of the church, spurring local church-goers to launch an appeal to raise the money to re-build it.

“Photographs show the old church after the steeple came down and it looks like a bomb has hit it,” said Peter.

“They decided to put up an open steeple – one of only two in the country – to prevent it being blown over ever again.”

Members of the history society have been busy cataloging the finds and Peter bemoaned the lack of a proper venue to show off such artifacts.

“Somewhere like Henley in Arden has ‘The Henley Centre’ while here in Redditch we have nothing and we have so many things to display,” he said.

“What the capsule tells us is that Redditch was one of the leading manufacturing centres in the region, that a lot of people were artisans working from home and that the needle industry was exporting all over the world. We were also making bicycles here and the first cars.

“It also tells us that Redditch was a religious and God-fearing town, but also a violent town – the needle makers would get paid on a Friday and go out and bash each other.

“This could well be because there was a cholera epidemic in the 1830s and as a result people took to drinking beer as the water was so bad.”