50 facts about Redditch on its 50th birthday

Kingfisher Shopping Centre, Redditch
Kingfisher Shopping Centre, Redditch Photo: ITV News Central

The New Town of Redditch in Worcestershire is officially 50 years old this week.

It's now famous for its roads and roundabouts and for being something of a pioneer in new town development.

But there's much more to Redditch than that. It's history is incredible, and it played a major role in manufacturing and developing technologies around the world.

Our correspondent Keith Wilkinson has compiled a list of 50 facts about Redditch on this 50th anniversary year.

Redditch turns 50 this week
Redditch turns 50 this week Credit: ITV News Central
  • Ninety per cent of the world's needles used to be made in Redditch.
  • Redditch was once home to the largest hammer in the world - called Erie.
  • The Romans built a road through Redditch (not then in existence) in about A.D 60.
  • The Daleks will be in Redditch in August to raise money for charity.
  • The name of Redditch can be traced back to the 13th century when it was Red Ditch or Red Dyche.
  • Redditch was world famous long before it became a New Town.
  • Like the rest of Britain, the Beeching Axe fell on Redditch - around the time the New Town was starting. But locals kicked up a fuss and a single track line to the town was saved.
  • Redditch used to supply the world with goods - by canal.
  • Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was born in Redditch.
  • An ancient monument called Moon's Moat was partly buried under a new housing estate.
Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham in 1970
Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham in 1970 Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • One of just three places in Britain to get a US-style "Clover Leaf" road interchange is at Headless Cross in Redditch.
  • A railway tunnel goes under Mount Pleasant. It's now derelict.
  • Redditch made a motorbike in the Second World War which could be dropped by parachute. It was called the Flying Flea.
  • Rapid population growth in Redditch is not new. It first happened to find enough people to make needles.
  • Harry Styles of One Direction was born in Redditch - 30 years after the New Town was born.
  • Redditch is known the world over for its manufacture of fishing tackle and hooks.
  • Samuel Allcock was founded in the 19th Century - and made millions of fishing hooks every week.
  • The document setting out Redditch as a New Town was signed on April 14, 1964.
  • The Cistercians set up Bordesley Abbey in 1138 - and helped tame the River Arrow with an early form of flood management scheme.
  • Needles were first made using water power. Then came a big advance - steam!
Forge Mill Needle Museum illustrates the needle and fishing tackle heritage in Redditch
Forge Mill Needle Museum illustrates the needle and fishing tackle heritage in Redditch Credit: ITV News Central
  • 50 years after Beeching, the single track railway to Redditch is being upgraded - with passing loops to allow more trains.
  • Redditch helped make the world's first jet engine when it was still a Top Secret.
  • Parts for the cars that broke the world speed records were made - yes, you guessed it, in Redditch.
  • The Redditch Development Corporation ended in 1983.
  • The huge road system and roundabouts of Redditch were built long ago to cater for the rapidly expanding populations of the future.
  • Locals tend to love Redditch's roads which are less congested than most. Visitors have a habit of getting lost.
  • Something useful still made in Redditch - springs.
  • Royal Enfield motorbikes were made in Redditch. They're now made in India and have a cult status among fans.
  • The comedian Freddie Starr lives in the Redditch area.
  • When the drummer John Bonham got his school report at a Redditch secondary modern, it forecast he would either become a dustman or a millionaire.
The Paolozzi Mosaics are world famous
The Paolozzi Mosaics are world famous Credit: ITV News Central
  • The Anglepoise lamp was made in Redditch. Some were used by navigators in wartime bombers.
  • Allcock and Company in Redditch became the largest maker of fishing tackle in the world.
  • The Kingfisher Shopping Centre became famous for its indoor trees.
  • Needle making and fishing tackle making were two industries clobbered by cheap foreign imports.
  • Engine parts for planes in the Second World War were made in Redditch.
  • Artworks called The Paolozzi Mosaics - inspected by the Queen in 1983 on a visit to Redditch - have received acclaim from all over the globe.
  • Duran Duran guitarist John Taylor went to school in Redditch.
  • Parts for the bouncing bombs used in the Dambusters Raid on Nazi Germany were made in Redditch.
  • Redditch still plays a major role in the aerospace and aviation industries.
  • The needle industry of Redditch actually started not in Redditch but in nearby Studley.
Redditch is famous for roads and roundabouts.
Redditch is famous for roads and roundabouts. Credit: ITV News Central
  • Charles Dickens is accused of painting too rosy a picture of working conditions in the factories of Redditch, having described them as "well off for air, light and cheerfulness."In fact they were employing children - as young as four!
  • According to the Forge Mill Needle Museum, in 1850 Redditch needles "could be exchanged for a wife in Sudan".
  • Redditch's Bordesley Abbey covers around 90 acres but not much is visible above ground these days.
  • The Abbey is described as "one of the most important monastic precincts currently being investigated in Europe."
  • Needles are more important to life than many of us appreciate. The indigenous people of America swapped land in exchange for needles made in Redditch.
  • The famous Paolozzi Mosaics can be viewed while shopping at the Kingfisher Centre. They hang from the upper walls.
  • Shopping precincts like the one in Redditch town centre were seen as a vital part of the social engineering of New Towns - providing vital meeting places.
  • Thousands of Brummies made a new life for themselves in Redditch.
  • Redditch manufactured nickel-cadmium batteries.
  • When Redditch New Town was created there were 30,000 locals. Within 20 years, the population had shot up to around 70,000.