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Redditch

Redditch is a town and local government district in north-east Worcestershire, England. The district had a population of 79,216 in 2005.

Geography

Redditch lies just south of (but is not part of) the West Midlands urban area, northwest of Studley on the A435, which skirts it to the East. The main route of access is the A441, a trunk road from Birmingham to Cookhill, via junction 2 of the M42 Motorway. The Roman Road known as Icknield Street is prominent, running North to South through the eastern side of the town.

History

The first recorded mention of Redditch ("Red-Dych", thought to be a reference to the red clay of the nearby River Arrow) is in 1348, the year of the outbreak of the Black Death. During the Middle Ages it became a centre of needle-making and later prominent industries were fish-hooks, fishing tackle, motorcycles and springs, the latter notably by Herbert Terry and Sons. It was designated a new town in 1964 and the population increased dramatically from 32,000 to around 77,000. Housing developments such as Church Hill, Matchborough, Winyates, Lodge Park and Woodrow were created to accommodate the large overspill from an industrially expanding Birmingham. Redditch was built as a 'flagship' town using new methods and new town planning, all the main roads in Redditch were banked to reduce noise to the new housing estates and the whole of Redditch was landscaped.

Today needle-making and other traditional industries have been replaced by modern light industry and services, with Redditch also functioning as a dormitory town for Birmingham. The automotive retailer Halfords and engineering giant GKN both have their headquarters in Redditch. Manufacturer of precious metal contacts Samuel Taylor Ltd have manufacturing plants within the town. With the redevelopment of the flagship Kingfisher Shopping Centre in 2002 Redditch is undergoing an economic and cultural renaissance.

The town is home to several historical sites. Besides the National Needle Museum and the ruins of Bordesley Abbey (situated in the Abbey Ward district of Redditch), there are also the remains of a moated settlement called Moons Moat - a Mediaeval moated settlement situated within the Church Hill estate.

In 2007 the town enjoyed increased publicity after its MP Jacqui Smith was chosen to be the country's first female Home Secretary.

On a lighter note, Redditch has the distiction of appearing in a section heading in An Utterly Impartial History of Britain by John O'Farrell.

Politics

The constituency of Redditch is represented by Jacqui Smith of the Labour Party (2007). With the resignation of Tony Blair and the succession of Gordon Brown, Jacqui Smith was chosen by the new Prime Minister to be Home Secretary, this making her the UK's first female Home Secretary. The borough council became Conservative controlled in the 2008 local elections after being under either Labour control or no overall control for 26 years.

Redditch Student Council

Redditch has its own Student Council, set up by the Borough Council in 1993 to help the Council to get in touch with young people. The Student Council is made up by representatives from the four main High Schools. They are democratically elected every year.

In the last year (November 2006 - February 2008) the Student Council won funding to deliver a series of multi-cultural events: two in Redditch and a further five across the County of Worcestershire.

HMP Hewell

Redditch was to be the new designation of reorganised prison HMP Hewell, due to be created from the merger of three prisons at Hewell Grange in nearby Tardebigge: Hewell Grange, Brockhill and Blakenhurst prisons. This is one of the first mergers along the Titan Prison concept. It was originally to be called 'HMP Redditch' but the name was changed due to a public outcry, especially as the prison was not to be located in the town. The new name was announced in March 2008.

Transport

Located in the heart of England, Redditch is an ideal point of departure for destinations in the surrounding region. The M42 motorway is a short drive away and it is linked by dual carriageways and A-class roads to surrounding towns such as Bromsgrove and Evesham. There are regular bus services to Studley, Bromsgrove, Catshill and Birmingham.

Railway

The Cross-City Line provides a regular train service via Birmingham New Street to Lichfield. Redditch railway station, the southern terminus of the line, was first opened as the terminus of the Redditch Railway on September 19, 1859, alongside what is now Clive Road. This first station stayed until May 4 1868 when the last section from Alcester to Redditch of the Redditch and Evesham Railway was opened, at which point a second station was built alongside the junction of Bromsgrove Road and Plymouth Road. This station was provided with a standard Midland Railway design and two platforms. The current station, built in 1993 offering little more than a ticket office and a store, is now a shadow of its former self.

Buses

There is an extensive network of local bus services run by Diamond Bus, First and other operators (including Hardings Coaches, Johnsons Excel Bus). Many services run from the bus station in the town centre, a postcard of which was voted Britain's most boring postcard in a competition run by the photographer Martin Parr. The bus station was rebuilt as part of the 2002 shopping centre expansion.

Some areas of Redditch have dedicated bus routes; however, there have been issues with safety on these routes and 3 children have died over the past 15 years. A campaign group called The Redditch Foundation is being set up to campaign for better safety on the bus routes.

Road system

Redditch is locally well known for its confusing road system dominated by a system of dual carriageways built when it became a New Town, including the only cloverleaf interchange in England at the junction of the A441 and the Bromsgrove-bound A448. Due to the similar appearance of the road layout, drivers easily become disorientated, although the story of an elderly couple admitted to hospital with severe dehydration after spending more than sixty hours trying to navigate the highway system is an urban legend. Redditch was briefly famous for a tongue-in-cheek calendar featuring its "picturesque" roundabouts created by a local printing company. The calendar was called, unsurprisingly, 'Redditch Roundabouts,' and it proved so successful that it sparked a national series.

Education

See also List of schools in Worcestershire
Redditch schools operate a three-tier system, where students progress from a 'First (or Primary) School', to a 'Middle School', and then to a High School (rather than the more common two-tier system). Redditch currently has four high schools, Saint Augustine's High School, Kingsley College, Trinity High School and Arrow Vale High School.

North East Worcestershire College (often referred to locally as "New College") is a large general further education college: one of its two campuses is in central Redditch; the other is in Bromsgrove.

Places of Interest

Kingfisher Shopping Centre

The Kingfisher Shopping Centre was opened in 1976 by the then Prime Minister James Callaghan and now forms the town's primary retail centre. It is well known for its palm trees in the centre's Worcester Square. The original trees and their accompanying fountain were removed by the centre's management after health and safety fears relating to the age of the trees, which were nearly thirty years old. More appropriate palm trees were planted after the 2002 redevelopment, and remain as of 2008. The centre is also well known for its large mosaic panels designed by famous Scottish artist and sculptor, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. The centre has over of retail space, making it one of the largest covered shopping centres in the United Kingdom. In 2007, a cinema opened on the new upper floor.

Arrow Valley Country Park

Redditch benefits from of public open space in Arrow Valley Country Park. This incorporates the 27 acre Arrow Valley Lake, fed from the River Arrow. It features a countryside centre, which was opened in 2000 and features countryside and wildlife displays and has a cafe and conferencing facilities.

Royal Enfield motorcycles

Redditch was the home of the Royal Enfield motorcycle. This is where the main factory of the original company was located and the business continued manufacturing through the sixties, the last model being the Interceptor In the mid fifties the Company established a partner Madras in India, who manufactured the Bullet model. The Indian factory is still very successful, with new Indian models and has taken Royal Enfield into its third century of manufacturing. English Enfield manufacturing ended in 1970. Many of the original factory buildings still remain, most remain in a derelict state and can been seen at the beginning of Bromsgrove Road and opposite the town railway station. Some buildings have been taken over and now make the old part of Enfield Industrial Estate closest to the town centre.

Notable residents

Local Dialect

Due to its geographical location Redditch was isolated from the Worcestershire vernacular, instead developing a soft Brummie mode of speech which owes more to the influence of nearby Birmingham. The establishment of Redditch as a new town and the accompanying influx of migrants from the West Midlands area, along with the influence of national television, mean that particularly amongst the younger generation virtually all traces of a local dialect have been lost.

However the Redditch accent is known to be a worcester accent. Redditch People tend to speak correctly.

Town twinning

In 1956 Redditch was twinned with Auxerre in Burgundy, France. This twinning proved sufficiently popular to form an organisation named The Friends of Auxerre (FoA). At the beginning of June each year the coupling of these two towns is officially celebrated.

In 1986 Redditch was twinned with Mtwara in Tanzania. Frequent events are organised with assistance from the community of Tanzanian students at Birmingham University and Selly Oak College.

Friendship Links

Redditch also has formal “Friendship” links with:

Sport

Redditch sport teams include:

See also

  • http://www.kingfisherfm.co.uk - Local Community Radio for Redditch
  • Radio Redditch

External links

References

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