Dudley has become known as the capital of the Black Country, but began as a Saxon village and was originally called “Dudda’s leah” or Dudda’s clearing. Dudley is famous for its castle which is believed to have originated in the 8th century and was initially made of wood but rebuilt in stone in the 12th century.
The present castle dates from the 1200’s and was partially demolished, by order of the government after the English civil war when Dudley served as a royalist stronghold.
By the 13th century a market was established in the town and the whole area began to become more prosperous and even at that time iron goods were being sold. Coal mining, limestone mining and iron working have been a major industrial base in the area since these early times. In the Middle Ages Dudley remained a market town known for its industry, chain making, nail making and its glass industry.
During the industrial revolution the population increased rapidly, canals were introduced to transport goods and industry in the area really took off. Vast amounts of iron goods were produced and coal mining increased in the area. Whole new areas of industry developed including metallurgy, engineering, glass cutting, leatherworking and textile production.
These and other industries continued to flourish into the 19th century but in recent years have declined, although the area remains an important manufacturing base.
Dudley and its surrounding area has an interesting historical past with many attractions such as the Stourbridge glass quarter, the black country living museum, Dudley museum and art gallery, Dudley castle, Dudley Zoo, the canal network with regular trips through the extensive tunnels, nature reserves and park land. There is still an open market and there is extensive indoor shopping at the Merry Hill centre.