About and around in Langley

Poor Langley! What did it ever do to deserve so many chemical factories? A sort of overexercised fat woman’s armpit sticking out of Oldbury with a brew of  beetroot and cabbage soup- AND DON’T FORGET THE TOMCAT PISS FROM ALBRIGHT AND WILSON.

You can look back with marvel and wonder at the chemical entrepreneurs and their “achievements” ,but when all is said done and written, what it all really comes down to is the toil of people who gave their blood, sweat and tears for making a very few families a pile of dough, who could then live in splendid isolation away from the industrial filth that made them rich and made their workers die younger than them. 

There are some who waffle on about how wonderful industrial heritage is, yet they don’t appear to talk about their fathers dying of cancer, heart attacks and strokes before the age of 60- perhaps they couldn’t see the link before blindly following in their footsteps.

The sons and daughters of Langley played their part, but when you take a look at the area today certainly some of it resembles Damascus on a bad day. Prosperity- where is it? One of the most iconic buildings in the area are the former Langley Maltings, situated adjacent to The Titford Canal and Western Road.  There’s some good urban exploration about the history of this site which was largely gutted by fire in September 2009 which can be read HERE.



The “bomb damaged” maltings as viewed from Western Road.






view from the cut





 There’s even an old bath in the canal.

 Unfortunately this building although iconic is now nothing but an abysmal blot on the landscape, and though Grade II listed, one has to wonder what purpose it serves in its current state. Does the area need a monument to beer making, when under the canal bridges you find pissheads and other such lowlifes blighting the area? If it is not to be restored (again), then it should be demolished before any more of it falls down, or before some bright spark decides on a phoney “restoration” to turn it into another 3 storey apartment block bolt hole for Poles.


The Maltings, attracting flytipping which is a problem that shames the Black Country. In the distance looms the chimney of Rhodia/Solvay.

 The dereliction continues onto Station Road with another of those fading institutions, the English public house. This one was called “The bridge” as its last incarnation, but only a structure going to nowhere. The top half has now gone and lies in rubble.


 And then Mill Street with its piles of bricks scattered like large lego. Two signs spell “OUT”,  but who would ever want to enter there in the first place?



There has been much debate as to who “uncle ben” actually was on this canal bridge named after him- Perhaps Stan Lee might have visited the area once and been inspired to name a character?

 On the Titford canal itself you get a few ducks and geese, but knowing from experience, this is one of the worst in Sandwell for vandalism towards birds. The further you go towards Whiteheath, the more council estate scum you will find loitering about. The M5 motorway providing a hangar for illiterate garbage underneath, usually with a rod in one hand and a cannabis joint in the other- and don’t forget to take your dangerous dog fishing with you, to make you look even more like a chav.


 “Langley village ” itself is more respectable, but looming over it , the chemical works of Trinity street. “At the heart” of the local community, perhaps in much need of  triple bypass surgery.

And a park opened in August 1886 which good old Arthur Albright donated, with another park house clock tower- they did seems to like those in Victorian days didn’t they?


 A touching tribute perhaps added when the old fella croaked it in 1900?



Today the parkhouse serves as a community centre, and is home of “The Sandwell Irish Society”. It is highly likely that many from Ireland settled in the area at the prospect of bettering their lives, but at what cost?

A letter from W.B.Albright, his Grandson  dated 14th May 1942 to T.N Blockley  of the Ministry of Supply concerning labour for the factory states;

“”We have been advised by the labour people that we can obtain 20 men from Ireland in the course of the next two months if we put down £70 for expenses. This we are doing. It seems to me that this is rather buying a pig in the poke, but under the existing circumstances one rather clutches at straws.”

Yes you don’t find such a description in the company biography “100 years of phosphorus making” by R.E Threlfall. What you do find from page 242 onwards is an epitaph on the Oldbury firms centenery “celebrations.”

“On 11 April, 1951, the company gave a dinner at The Savoy hotel, London to over 400 guets. The Rt. Hon. Anthony Eden, P.C, MP, Chancellor of Birmingham University, proposed the health of the company and the cahirman replied. The managing director proposed”The guests”, and replies were made by Sir Wallace Akers of I.C.I, and by Edward O’Neal, of Monsanto Chemicals Limited. From Niagra Falls the company welcomed Walter Wallace, M.B Geiger and Earl Whitford; from Buckingham, Fred J. Hambly and R.Bruce Walker; and from Ireland Norman Goodbody.”

It seems the Langley farmyard was not good enough for them.

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