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Featherstone & Brinsford History

The boundaries of Hatherton, Water Baton, Hilton, and Featherstone are described in the Charter of Wulfrun to the Monastery at Wolverhampton in 994. For centuries the parish belonged to the Deans of Windsor and Wolverhampton. In this charter, Brenesford, modern Brinsford, is mentioned. Sparsely populated, Featherstone’s most celebrated resident was the antiquary John Huntbach.

There was little urban development in the area until the sinking of the Hilton Main Colliery, which brought in miners from widely separated coalfields. In 1921, the population was only 39, an increase of just 4 over 1851, but by the late 1950s it had risen to 1,500. To the original colliery estate has been added a larger number of council houses.

The only place of worship is a Methodist Chapel, which was erected in 1929. Under the Staffordshire Review Order, 1934, part of Bushbury was added to Featherstone. The Centre was erected during the last war and today has a full-time warden. The Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation has provided a Social Club, with extensive playing fields, on the Wolverhampton Road.

The name of the village is the main indicator of the length of time that people have been active in the area. The name Featherstone is of Saxon origin, but it describes something of much greater antiquity.

The modern name derives from Feotherestan. Feother meaning 'four' and stan meaning 'stone'. The four stones in question where most probably a ‘tetralith’.  Three upright stones with the forth forming a roof, a large version of a three-legged-stool. The body of an important person was placed inside and the whole construction was buried. Sadly all traces of this have long vanished. In 1971 a Stone-age axe-head was found at Brookhouse Farm and dated to about 3,000BC.

By the time of the Doomsday Book, 1086, it was referred to as Ferdestan, and had been owned by the Clergy of Wolverhampton since 994. It is described as ‘waste’ meaning that it had probably been abandoned.

The next 800 years are not times of great growth for Featherstone, in the census of 1801 the population was 48, by 1901 it had risen to 51, in 1911 it was just 39.

In 1924 Hilton Main was opened and the pit owners built some housing for the miners others were built by the council. The Chapel opened in 1929 and a community centre was built in The Avenue in the Second World War.

Also in the war the Royal Ordinance Filling Factory No 15 (ROF Featherstone) was constructed, this provided many new jobs, many of them filled by women from the locality and further afield. The pit though was the largest employer in the area and considerable hardship was caused when it closed on 31st January 1969.

At the time of the pit closure the population of Featherstone was around 2,000, with the building of the ‘new’ houses to the west of the old centre the population is now over 3,000.

At present Featherstone has a school, a chapel, a pub, a petrol station, a couple of restaurants, a variety of shops and a Community Centre. What would the 39 people from 1911 think of it now?