Nail Making

1977 Edition

Catshill is most famous for nail making. This was a cottage industry, and in 1750 the Bromsgrove area employed about 1000 nailers, and Catshill was very much a centre for this trade. The village contained many small cottages with nailshops where a nail maker his wife and often his children would work long hard hours for little pay producing hand forged nails. By 1861 Bromsgrove had become the leading centre for this industry and employed 2,500 nailers, but by 1881 the industry was in decline though nail making in Catshill continued.
Towards the end of the nail making era in 1914 Catshill, Bournheath, and Sidemoor were Bromsgrove’s sole nail making villages, and together with Dudley only about 200 nailers were employed. By the end of the Second World War only a handful of nailers remained.


Earliest Documentation

There is uncertainty as to why Catshill is so called. Folk lore has it that the area was once the habitat of wild cats, and that the name literally means Cats Hill.

The earliest documented use if the name dates from the 13th century. In an Assize Rolls dated 1221, a Calendar of Inquisitions dated 1262 and a Lay Subsidy Rolls dated 1275 there is reference to “Catteshulle”.

The Close Rolls of Henry III (1237-1242) mentions a deputy forest keeper called “Willielno de Catteshull”, another early charter refers to a “Walter de Catterhull”. 

In the Annals of St. Wulstans Hospital of 1245 and a Calendar of Fines dated 1255 the spelling is “Chateshull”, while other 13th Century spellings include “Cateshull”, “Kateshull” and “Chatehull”.

In 1300 the Feckenham Forest Rolls use the name “Cadeshull”, whilst in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Hales (Halesowen) dated 1427 we at last find the name “Catshill”. However, it should be noted that variations such as “Cattes Hill” and “Catsel” were in use until the 19th century.

The Gunpowder Plotters

It is recorded that on the morning of 7th November 1605 the infamous Gunpowder plotters Catesby, his cousins Thomas, John and Robert Wintour, Stephen and Humphrey Lyttleton, and other local Catholics fled to Hewell Grange, took armour and gunpower, and from there escaped to Holbeach House in Staffordshire by way of Burcot, Lickey End, Catshill, Clent and Hagley.

Want To Find Out More?

Catshill has a rich history which includes not only the story of nail making and the nailer maker’s battle to escape poverty, but also the story of the growth and influence of Christianity via the Church and Non-Conformists. If you would like to read more, then it is worth obtaining a copy of “A Place Called Catshill” by P. H. Mobley, which was first published in 1977, and has been revised and reprinted for September 2006.

2006 Edition
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