Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > West Midlands (region) > West Midlands (county) > Sandwell
Sandwell is a metropolitan borough that spans a densely populated part of the West Midlands, including Bearwood, Blackheath, Cradley Heath, Oldbury, Rowley Regis, Smethwick, Tipton, Tividale, Wednesbury, West Bromwich.
Sandwell had a population of 328,000 in 2018.
Bearwood is a district of the town of Smethwick and part of the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, lying on the border of Sandwell and Birmingham (England) in the West Midlands County. Bearwood is primarily a shopping and residential area. one of its greatest claims to fame is that it was the home of the famous Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Company or Midland Red, the site of which is now a supermarket and car park.
Cradley Heath is a small town south of Dudley which lies in the South West of the borough of Sandwell.
Oldbury is an industrialised market town that serves as an administrative centre to the borough Sandwell.
Rowley Regis is a town that use to be its own municipal borough between 1894 and 1966.
Smethwick is an industrual town which sits on the border to Birmingham. The town has a link to the BCN Main Line canal. It has two rail stations: Smethwick Rolfe Street and Smethwick Galton Bridge.
Tipton is a small town in the West Midlands conurbation. It is a mainly industrial and residential area with a museum, limestone caves, canal tours, and nearby entertainments in the Castle Gate park.
The M5 starts in West Bromwich with Junction 1, 0.7 miles (1.2 km) from the town centre. Junction 2 lies south of Oldbury just 0.9 miles (1.4 km) away from Oldbury town centre.
The M6 runs along the outskirts of the North border of Sandwell with Junction 7 and 8 merging with the M5 North of West Bromwich. Junction 9 is north of Wednesbury 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from the town centre.
From Birmingham City Centre, Bearwood can be reached by travelling down the Hagley Road (A456), one of the main arterial roads in Birmingham. It can also be reached by travelling through Winson Green, past the City Hospital, down City Road (A457). By motorway, get off at Junction 2 of the M5 and head down the Wolverhampton Road (A4123) towards Birmingham. Turn left at the McDonalds, Amber Tavern Public House and The Chiquitos Junction onto the Hagley Road (A456). Alternatively you may also take M5 Junction 3 onto the Quinton Expressway/Hagley Road (A456) and once again past the above mentioned restaurants.
Routes 4/4H link West Bromich and Wednesbury to Merry Hill, Halesowen and Walsall.
Route 74 links West Bromwich and Great Bridge with Dudley and Birmingham.
Route 79 links West Bromwich and Wednesbury to Bilston and Wolverhampton.
Route 80 links Smethwick with Birmingham
Bearwood is served by a number of National Express West Midlands (Former West Midlands Travel) bus services, most of which call at Bearwood Bus Station, just off the Hagley Road next to the Kings Head Public House. Bearwood can be reached by most buses running down the Hagley Road, from Birmingham City Centre, also there is a service via City Road & Cape Hill (Number 82). As well as the bus station, some services take an alternative route via Three Shires Oak Road and call outside the Bear Tavern Public House. Services that start from Birmingham go on to Wolverhampton, Dudley, Stourbridge, Halesowen, Blackheath & Merry Hill taking various alternating routes.
Other buses not connecting Bearwood to Birmingham City Centre include the 444, 447, 448 and 450, all tracing various routes that terminate in West Bromwich and the 11 Clockwise and Anticlockwise services, known as 'the Outer Circle' which link the suburbs of Birmingham together, including Harborne, Selly Oak, Bourneville, Kings Heath, Hall Green, Perry Barr and Handsworth. Choice travel also run a limited service from Bearwood Bus Station to Weoley Castle, via Selly Oak and the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.
There is no train station in Bearwood. The nearest stations are Smethwick Rolfe Street, Smethwick Galton Bridge and The Hawthorns, which are all about a mile and a half away near Smethwick High Street. Most of the West Bromwich-bound bus services pass one of the stations; Smethwick Galton Bridge has the most intense service and also serves certain destination in the North West. There is a limited service to London via High Wycombe from Galton Bridge and The Hawthorns. Birmingham New Street is around 3–4 miles away and has services to destinations all over the country.
Sandwell & Dudley provides links to Wolverhampton and Walsall as well as Birmingham New Street.
Smethwick Interchange provides service to Stourbridge Junction and Kidderminster as well as Worcester Shrub Hill or Foregate Street
Tame Bridge Parkway is between West Bromwich and Wednesbury and has services to Birmingham International and Wolverhampton
Tipton train station is on a commuter service which travels mostly between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton, usually every half an hour during weekdays. Buses are also frequent with most of them going to the main bus station in Dudley, where connections to all areas of the West Midlands can be found.
The West Midlands Metro runs through the borough of Sandwell with stations in Wednesbury and West Bromwich. The current line links Wolverhampton and Birmingham. There is work on a line that diverges at Wednesbury Great Western Street through to Stourbridge via Dudley this would see stops in Great Bridge and Tipton added to the current infrastructure.
- 1 Lightwoods Park, Bearwood. Park in Bearwood that can be reached from the woods by crossing Lightwoods Hill. A fairly average park with a bandstand and a playground built by Anneka Rice and her television program. It also houses an old stately home, Lightwoods House (not open to the public) along with 'Shakespeare's Garden', a walled Victorian garden that has seen better days.
- 2 Coronation Gardens, Tipton. You will find a statue to William Perry, a 19th-century bare-fist boxing champion, often known as the "Tipton Slasher".
- 3 RSPB Sandwell Valley, 20 Tanhouse Ave, Great Barr, B43 5AG (Train to Hamstead; No 16 bus; or signposted from local roads), ☏ , email@example.com. Tu-F 9AM-5PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM (closes at dusk in winter). A bird reserve on the border with Sandwell which organises regular guided walks, talks and family activities. free entrance.
- Dartmouth Park. B71 4AA, West Bromwich. A large green area with parks, a forest, a nature reserve, and Sandwell Park Farm. Tipton has a large horse population. Most of the horses are privately owned and many can be seen grazing in the public spaces. They are ridden with a small two person chariot along the roads so be mindful when driving.
- Silvershine Jazz Club (Bearwood Corks Club), 558 Bearwood Road, Bearwood (On the corner of Sherwood Road), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Every Th from 9PM (doors open 8:30PM). Andy Hamilton, MBE was a Jamaican-born British jazz saxophonist and composer, and the "leading light" of the Midlands' jazz scene for decades. Though Andy passed away in 2012, his band, The Blue Notes, are still the resident artists, and the jazz club continues to celebrate Hamilton's legacy and invite a variety of artists to perform every week. generally £5, £4 concessions, though some gigs vary.
- Warley Woods (Go for a walk), entrances on Barclay Road, Lightwoods Hill and Abbey Road, Bearwood. These used to be the private grounds of Warley Abbey, a stately home owned by the Galton Gunmaking family. Warley woods is now a public park, with a golf course and a small cafe. The annual picnic in the park takes place every July featuring live music.
Tipton has a network of canals, steeped in industrial history, that provide excellent walking and cycling routes.
- 1 Tipton Sports Academy, Wednesbury Oak Rd, Tipton, ☏ . It provides facilities for many sports including track sports, football, tennis, squash and others, all open to the public at cheap rates.
In West Bromwich, there are three shopping centres New Square which includes Tesco Extra, H&M, Sports Direct and Primark. Queens Square which is home to Boots, H. Samuel, Game and EE and Kings Square which has The Works, Iceland and the Sandwell indoor markets. The high street includes outdoor markets which are open M Th-Sa 8:30AM-5:30PM, and W 8:30AM-4PM.
The majority of shops in Bearwood are on the high street and to a lesser extent on Three Shires Oak/Abbey Road. There is no large supermarket in Bearwood, the largest in close proximity being Asda in Cape Hill. However, there is an Aldi, Cooperative & Iceland on the high street. There are also a 3 or 4 butchers, 3 florists and 2 greengrocers.
On Bearwood high street there are a few clothes shops, including a mature ladies fashion store, a discount store, a younger women's fashion store and a 'Peacocks'. There is also an independent shoe shop, Blunts. Three charity shops also take their place on the high street, three banks/building societies. There are a two dispensing chemists, and a non-dispensing drug store on the high street, a dentist and opticians. There is even a thriving building supplies shop on Three Shires Oak Road. Despite this very healthy selection of stores, both the high street and other streets seem dominated by takeaway premises.
By far the biggest off-licence in Bearwood is 'Global Wines' opposite the Abbey Pub, with a massive choice of beers, wines and spirits. It is a contender for best off-licence in Birmingham. Other off-licences include 'Park Cellars' on the corner of Park Road and Upper Saint Mary's Road.
There is also the quite famous 'Drink Stop' on Bearwood high street, which is managed by Tony who has been a well known face on the High Street for decades. The shop is renowned locally and regionally for stocking a wide variety of unique products. The Drink Stop was designed by Lapworth Architects, and won Design Retailer of the Year in 2011.
The main supermarkets in Tipton are the Cooperative near the train station and an Asda and Farmfoods in Princes End.
- Teknaf Cuisine, 622 Bearwood Road, Bearwood (Hagley Road end of the High Street), ☏ . One of the better balti houses in Bearwood, with a more modern take on Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. £10-20.
- [dead link] Franzl's (Austrian Cuisine), Milcote Road, Bearwood. An Austrian restaurant, nestled on a residential street in Bearwood. Expensive but well regarded. £20-30.
- The Kings Head (Gastro Pub), Hagley Road, Bearwood, ☏ . An upmarket pub serving restaurant style food. Good food but there can be long waits. £20-30.
- The Haweli, Hagley Road, Bearwood (opposite the Kings Head). Widely regarded for its Peshawari cuisine. Allegedly, Sir Mark Tully, ex-India correspondent for the BBC, is a fan of its food.
Bearwood High Street is littered with a ridiculous amount of takeaway joints, most are not noteworthy of a mention.
Neelams Kebab House is excellent. Food is nice genuine and tasty. Karachi Kebab House opposite the Bear Tavern isn't too bad either but not a patch on neelams. It is open literally all the time.
There is a great Chinese takeaway opposite Martins Tandoori and next to the Abbey in Tipton. It is called Oriental Delight and is definitely one of the best in the surrounding area. For traditional fish and chips, the Abbey Fish Bar is probably your best bet (opposite the Abbey). Lightwoods Fish Bar sells interestingly coloured orange chips for the more adventurous traveller!
Tipton, especially around Owen Street, has several takeaways and restaurants serving either traditional fish & chips, baltis, curries and pizzas. There are also several pubs that serve high quality food.
Make sure you try KVE Pork Scratchings, available in most local shops and pubs - they're a local delicacy.
- 1 Mad O'Roukes Pie Factory, 50 Hurst Lane, Tipton, ☏ . A theme pub which serves a range of hearty pies and ales. "Almost en-suite" rooms are available
- The Dog, Hagley Road, Bearwood (on the corner of Galton Road by Lightwoods Park). One of the Ember Inn chain pubs. Much like any of the other Ember Inns, can get extremely busy on Friday and Saturday nights, owing to it being the only decent pub in Bearwood now. Now hosts acoustic live music nights on Tuesdays. Per pint £2.50-3.10.
- The Bear Tavern, High Street, Bearwood. Formerly the Bear Hotel. It's the place to go in Bearwood to watch sport and is fairly cheap compared with The Dog or Plan B over the road. It is open late (til around 2AM) on the weekends and is also the place to go for a fight, with trouble on the weekend a regular occurrence.
- The Abbey, Abbey Road, Bearwood (corner of Thimblemill road), ☏ . A local pub for local people. Nicknamed 'the shabby abbey', to say it has a parochial atmosphere is an understatement. The beer's cheap, if not amazing, and the food is a bargain and edible.
- Plan B (Trendy Bar), 113/114 Three Shires Oak Road, Bearwood. The premises of 'Plan B' have been a bar for a while now. It started life as JD's bar, a seedy hole that had topless bar maids on certain nights of the week. It was then closed for a while until it opened as Atticus, a trendy alternative bar selling good European beer and having live music on Sunday evenings. It closed its doors, a casualty of the credit crunch but has now reopened as Plan B. Early reviews aren't favourable.
- The Old Talbot, Hagley Road, Bearwood. Small public house on the corner of Anderson Road and Hagley Road. It was thriving in the 1980s and has slowly declined. The last time I visited the bar had closed due to lack of trade, but the lounge was still busy. It is a fairly good pub if you want a quiet drink.
Tipton has many pubs that serve similar drinks to the rest of the UK. Even the local pubs are filled with lively bodies and all should make you feel welcome.
- 1 The Ace of Spades (formerly Barge and Barrel), Bloomfield Rd, Tipton. A friendly rock and blues popular with motorcyclists. It has a pleasant beer garden next to the canal.
- 2 The Fountain, 51 Owen St, Tipton (opposite Coranation Gardens). This too has a pleasant beer garden next to the canal, and is on the same canal as The Ace of Spades, which makes it ideal if you wish to try both locations out. This was also known as the drinking place of the "Tipton Slasher".
- Bearwood Court Hotel, 360 -366 Bearwood Road, Bearwood, ☏ , email@example.com. Small local hotel with car park.
- The Belmont Hotel, 419-421 Hagley Road, Bearwood, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Small hotel with Sky Movies and Sky Sports in every room. £25 - 68 per night, breakfast included.
- YMCA (Indian Student Hostel Birmingham), 339-343 Hagley Road, Bearwood, ☏ , email@example.com. Medium term (6 - 52 weeks) accommodation for students £130 - 180 per week + £50 admin and membership charges + refundable deposits.
- 1 Holiday Inn Express Birmingham Oldbury, Oldbury M5, Jct 2. Where comfort meets great value rates, all guests receive free WiFi in public areas and a complimentary breakfast to set you up for your day.
There are a couple of inexpensive guest houses located on the Sedgley Road in Tipton, a few minutes walk out of the town centre.