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All change as historic Bridgtown works bulldozed

Staffordshire | News | Published:

It was the beating industrial heart of Bridgtown, creating tools under the world-renowned brand Cornelius Whitehouse & Sons for nearly a century.

But bulldozers have now moved in to the site at Edgemead Trade Centre on Walsall Road, to raze the units to the ground making way for around 40 new homes.

Despite the tool manufacturer, with its iconic hedgehog logo, once employing more than 300 people the warehouses have lay derelict since it closed in 1964 albeit the occasional small business moving in to try and make use of some of the space.

In March, Cannock Chase District Council approved plans to demolish the old buildings and create 24 houses and 15 apartments.

An old picture of the works on Walsall Road

Derek Middleton, from Bridgtown and District Local History Society, explained the significance of the former Whitehouse works.

He said: "Bridgtown was created because of its industry, one of which was the Whitehouse site.

"Bridgtown was successful because it was right on the canal and the railway.

"Cornelius passed the business on and it went from strength to strength, and grew internationally.

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"At it's height I would say it employed 300 to 400 people.

"But like many other industries it suffered because of cheaper imports.

"Foreign companies could make an axe, not to the same quality, but for a much cheaper price."

The tool manufacturer employed 300 to 400 people at its peak

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Despite the fact the buildings have been bulldozed this week, signalling the end of an icon to Bridgtown's booming past, the history society has welcomed the new development.

Mr Middleton said: "As far as we are concerned the buildings have no historical importance. The major challenge is ensuring the 100 years are properly recorded and its place in world trade was reflected."

He said that talks were underway with Leicestershire-based applicant Galliford Try about incorporating some sort of memorial to the Whitehouse works within the new development which may be inspired by its Hedgehog brand.

Mr Middleton added: "The hedgehog was the company logo but many people referred to it as Hedgehog Tools. Now some of the tools fetch as much as £100 online but it depends if the hedgehog markings are clear or not."

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