I spent my first eighteen years in Stourbridge a town famous for its cut crystal glass industry and having both the shortest distance passenger rail service and the lowest acreage 18 hole golf course in the UK. To compensate for 'small', it has Merry Hill, the UK's largest shopping mall and in my home village of Wollaston probably more pubs than any comparable village in Britain.
Stourbridge as I knew it as a kid was, apart from the Town centre, an old run down town with ancient alleyways and passages pressed in menacingly by small terraced cottages in much disrepair. The River Stour with its fast flowing waters had been harnessed by numerous mills, creating industry alongside the river. The Industrial Revolution brought heavier mills and industry, the river soon becoming massively polluted. The hard labouring men and, yes, women needed to have uncontaminated drinks to replace lost fluids and quench thirsts. Malt houses and brew houses grew in abandon, providing low alcohol beers that would not intoxicate. The local brewing tradition continues today with the Craddock’s King William and the Sadlers’ breweries. The alleys and cottages have been replaced by the Ring Road, new light industries, modern housing estates and shopping centres, all reducing the Town to a mirror image of so many of Britain’s towns. Fortunately, its villages, always more gentrified, have retained much of their old character and ambience.
The town has a strong history in sporting participation and achievement. Its rugby club normally punches well over its weight, playing in the SSE National League North and likewise with its Football Club which would have been in a much higher league were it not for the fact that it only has three sides. By this, I don’t mean three teams, but that in sharing its Amblecote ground with Stourbridge Cricket Club, one long-side must remain forever without a supporters’ stand. As a consequence, whenever it might have been promoted, it has failed to meet the required standards for moving into the main Football League.
I've tied to provide you with a flavour of my youth on the linked pages.
For far more about Stourbridge and its villages, check out the excellent web site: http://www.stourbridge.com/welcome_to_stourbridge.htm