A Sedgley historian is appealing to local residents to get in touch with any information relating to landmark property, The Limes, which was the former residence of famous Black Country chainmaker, Eliza Tinsley.
The early Victorian house, located on the corner of Dudley Road and Catholic Lane, is currently being turned into flats after standing empty for many years. And, to help future generations and prospective buyers learn more about this iconic building’s history, Dudley Council has asked Martin Jones to help gather information and photos from local people to produce an interpretation panel explaining its history.
Piecing together the history of The Limes
Martin, who organised the popular exhibition ‘Sedgley’s Diamond 60’ last year to coincide with the Queen’s Jubilee, says: “We want local residents who may have lived or worked at The Limes since the war to come forward so we can piece together this historic building’s recent story.”
The Limes was built by the Tinsleys in around 1851, shortly before Thomas Tinsley died, probably from cholera. His wife Eliza carried on the family business, expanding it dramatically to the point where she employed over 4,000 outworkers in Cradley Heath in 1871.
Researchers have traced subsequent owners up to World War II, but its more recent past is sketchy. During the war it was used by firewatchers, Air Raid Patrol and the Auxiliary Fire Service, and during the 1960s by Sedgley Urban District Council as offices, until the abolition of the authority. After that a computer company rented it before it was vacated and became derelict.
After years of neglect, the iconic Sedgley house where Black Country nail and chainmaker Eliza Tinsley lived in the 19th century is finally to be rescued from dereliction. Developers DP Kelly Holdings Ltd of Sheffield began work on 4th June by demolishing recent commercial extensions to the historic property, which is on the junction of Catholic Lane and Dudley Road.
Under plans approved by Dudley Council Planning Department in July 2011, the core of the old house will be retained and turned into four large flats, while a new extension containing four smaller apartments is to be added on the Catholic Lane frontage. Two detached houses will also be built, one on each side of the development.
Eliza and her husband Thomas had the impressive home, called The Limes, built for them in the 1840s and she lived there till her death in 1881. During the Second World War, the central tower was used by fire watchers to spot incendiary bombs and it was also HQ for Gornal and Sedgley’s ARP wardens. Until 1966 the main building provided office accommodation for Sedgley Urban District Council before being sold by Dudley Council in 1970. It has had several occupants since, the last being ‘BaaN’ software developers, part of Invensys computer group.
Planning consent for 18 flats was granted to another developer in May 2007, but never implemented. Over the last few years, local residents watched in dismay as the historic building, bordered by unsightly graffiti-covered hoardings, sustained attacks by lead thieves, vandals and even arsonists.
Martin Jones, who ran the recent Sedgley Diamond Jubilee exhibition said: “The state into which The Limes has fallen is scandalous. The village lost nearly all its elegant grand houses in the 1960s to short-sighted, unsympathetic development, so I really hope The Limes and its rich Black Country heritage will be sensitively preserved.”