The Bonded Warehouse

The Bonded Warehouse, Canal Street
Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 4LU

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Saturday, 9th Dec 2023

Planning permission has been obtained to demolish the old Stourbridge Rolling Mills factory and crane arm which is located next to the Bonded Warehouse. Work is due to start on 5th March 2018 and will take several weeks to complete. As part of the Planning approval process (Planning Application P17/1727) an Heritage Report was produced by the Canal & River Trust which outlines the history of the site in some detail as well as justifying the demolition of the building which is sadly now something of an eyesore. The following paragraphs are extracts from the Heritage Report and are accompanied by a gallery photographs of the site (which will be appended to at various stages of the work progressing). Site: Waterway: Stourbridge Town Arm Site: Former Caparo building (SAP code 758), Canal Street, Stourbridge, DY8 4LY

  1. Purpose of this document

In accordance with the CRT Approved Process: Heritage Management (development of Property) the purpose of this desk based assessment is to raise awareness of any significant heritage issues relating to the former Caparo building located next to the Stourbridge Town Arm, Canal Street, Stourbridge. The findings of this assessment will inform any future decisions made about the development of the site. It also supports National Planning Policy Framework (2012) and PPS 5 Planning Practice Guidance, which defines historic significance as: “The value of a place to this and future generations because of its heritage interest. That interest may be archaeological, architectural artistic or historic.”

  1. Location

The site is located on Canal Street, approximately 650m to the north of Stourbridge town centre. The site is centred on the National Grid Reference 389840, 284790 and is approximately 0.16 hectares in size. Access to Canal Street is gained from the A491 (High Street) to the east. 2.1 Site description The assessment site comprises two derelict industrial buildings of steel, brick and suspected asbestos cement sheeting and a derelict external travelling crane known as the ‘Crane Sweep’. The buildings are rectangular in shape and orientated with their long sides east-west, parallel to the Stourbridge Town Arm Canal which is present immediately to the north of the buildings and terminates approximately 100m to the east of the site. Both buildings have cast iron doors which are welded shut. The building comprises a predominantly brick tiled floor with steel girders / supports and a brickwork skirt. The walls and roof predominantly comprised suspected asbestos sheeting.

  1. Historic Background

3.1 Stourbridge Town Arm Canal The 1776 Act of Parliament that authorised the construction of Stourbridge Canal defined the main line as running from the town of Stourbridge to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Stourton Junction. A number of branches, including one to the bottom of Dudley No.1 Canal at the Delph, were also authorised. However, the section of the canal from Stourbridge itself to Wordsley Junction was always effectively treated like a branch. (Langford 1992 p.23) and later became known as Stourbridge Branch and then the Stourbridge Town Arm. The Canal was engineered by Thomas Dadford the Younger to 1781 assisted by Abraham Lees (1781-1800) and James Green from 1800. The existing terminus at Town Wharf was not always the end of the canal; it once extended beyond High Street to a large basin serving Foster’s Ironworks. Access to the basin was through a short tunnel next to the pub between Canal Street and Old Wharf Road. By 1861 the basin was linked to the West Midland Railway and, after Foster’s closed in the late 1960s, a goods station and shed were constructed to create a transhipment station, which came into use on January 1, 1880. When transport was nationalised in 1948 the canal was taken over by the British Transport Commission but a lack of traffic and general decline meant that, by the early 1960s, it was scheduled for closure. The tunnel was filled in but, as a result of a strong local campaign, the rest of the canal was saved. Restoration was carried out by a team of volunteers and the canal officially re-opened on 27 May 1967. In 1985 the Stourbridge Navigation Trust was formed to manage the heritage and the following year a local Conservation Area was extended to include the branch. (Collins 1992 p.46).

Stourbridge Canal Town Wharf c1920. Artist H. Watson-Smith

  3.2 Stourbridge Wharf Stourbridge Wharf, at the current terminus of the branch, is dominated by a cluster of historic canal related buildings which include the Bonded Warehouse (Grade II listed) built in 1799 with later additions and the Canal Company offices built in 1849. To the left of the canal and next to the Bonded Warehouse are the derelict ‘Caparo’ buildings which were once part of the former Stourbridge Rolling Mills where various types of rolled steel strip and plate were produced. Early editions of the OS Plans for Worcestershire (see appendix 1) show the Bonded Warehouse and buildings to the left of it, however these do not appear to be on the same footprint as the former Caparo buildings. On the 1920 OS Plan there were three cranes listed near to the site. Stourbridge Rolling Mills Ltd. was founded on 24 Apr 1908 as a metal rolling and sheet metal making firm producing steel strip. In both world wars the works were given over to munitions, making steel strip for aircraft and guns links during the Second World War. After the war there was a boom in demand for steel strip and the rolling mills supplied manufacturers of cars, bicycles, refrigerators, washing machines, radio and television sets to name a few ( In 1963, a new RWF cold-rolling mill was installed at the Stourbridge Rolling Mills, which considerably increased productivity and efficiency. This may be the site of the derelict buildings on Canal Street including the crane sweep. The OS plans (see appendix 1) for 1964-1969 do not show any development at the site but the 1975 plan shows the former Caparo buildings and the sweeping crane. According to the Stourbridge Navigation Trust (2017) the purpose of the crane sweep was to convey coiled steel from inside one of the derelict buildings to the outside storage area, and then ultimately on to lorries for delivery. One of the early Trustees of the Stourbridge Navigation Trust was the late Brian Standish, who was the original owner of Stourbridge Rolling Mills Ltd, and his company had leased this area for some years, before the business together with its leases, was sold. Photographs of Stourbridge Rolling Mills from the 1960s may show the derelict buildings in use (see below)

4. Heritage significance and recommendations 4.1  Statutory Designations  

Listed Building ý Scheduled Monument ý Locally Important ý
  Conservation Area   þ   Rare example   ý   Heritage Value   ý

The buildings and crane are located within the Stourbridge Branch Canal (Canal Street) Conservation Area. However, the dilapidated condition of the buildings and crane mean they are a ‘negative feature’ of the conservation area as noted in the Conservation Area Character Appraisal & Management Proposals for the Stourbridge Branch Canal (Canal Street) March 2007 p.29

4.2 Heritage significance The former Rolling Mills / Caparo buildings are of some limited heritage significance as they have some evidential and historic value. Historic maps indicate that there were earlier buildings on the site so there may be some intact below ground archaeology not yet known or excavated. However, the proposal to demolish the crane and existing buildings will not impact on any below ground finds. The buildings are also the only standing remains of the former Stourbridge Rolling Mills Ltd site in an area which once dominated by heavy industry. The sweeping crane may be of special interest to some historians as an industrial relic from the Black Country steel industry. The buildings have a significance scale of 2 – ‘Some limited heritage significance, perhaps more important because of a group of structures but not in itself rare, or highly altered’.

Scale      Significance
1 No heritage significance, very common or of average modern construction
2 Some limited heritage significance, perhaps more important because of a group of structures but not in itself rare, or highly altered.
3 Of a general significance with some rarity; perhaps of greater interest by association with event or individual. Local interest or local listing.
4 Of high significance, considerable interest and increasingly rarity. Most grade two listed structures would fall in this category.
5 Of exceptional significance, hugely interesting and very rare or unique. Most Grade 2* and 1 structures would fall into this category.


1) As the buildings and crane are within the Stourbridge Branch Canal Conservation Area, any proposed demolition works to the structures will require Planning Permission and it is vital that such proposals are discussed with the Conservation Officer from Dudley MBC.

2) The general opinion from Dudley MBC, CRT and the Stourbridge Navigation Trust is that the buildings should be demolished to make way for new development. A photographic survey of the buildings and crane will be undertaken before any demolition works take place.

  1. Bibliography

Collins, Paul (2001) Black Country Canals Sutton Publishing, Stroud

Langford, J Ian, (1992) Stourbridge Canal Towpath Guide No 3 Lapal Publications

Dudley MBC, (2007) Conservation Area Character Appraisal & Management Proposals for the Stourbridge Branch Canal (Canal Street).

Photo Gallery

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