The Black Country Group has been formed by the joining together of three congregations, from Dudley, Oldbury and Wolverhampton. What follows is a history of each congregation (with thanks to The Unitarian Heritage: An Architectural Survey by Graham and Judy Hague):
Founded in 1690. An earlier chapel of 1702 was burnt down in the ‘Church and King’ riots of 1715, and was rebuilt with government compensation. The building has a stone façade, with a porch added in 1869. There is a three-sided gallery supported by cast-iron columns.
For more details see The Old Meeting House, Wolverhampton Street, Dudley by Arthur A. Rollason (1899)
The first meeting house was founded in 1708. The chapel at Unity Place, Birmingham Street was built in 1806, and was of red brick with blue brick detailing. The interior was altered in 1862 and 1899, but on classical rather than Gothic lines. Oldbury Free School was opened in 1851. A later parsonage linked the two buildings, ‘making the establishment very complete for educational and congregational purposes’ [Eyre Evans]. The building was demolished in 1981, since which time the congregation has worshipped firstly in the Barlow’s Home Community Centre in Oldbury, and latterly at Dudley Old Meeting House.
For more details see Picturesque Oldbury (1900) by Rev. McKean
The congregation originated in 1700. The first chapel was built in 1701 in John Street, but it was lost to Unitarianism in 1817 on a successful orthodox claim. A chapel was built at Snow Hill in 1831, and sold in 1898. They then moved into a temporary chapel at Bath Road in 1902. The last building was All Souls Unitarian Church, on Park Road West, which was opened in 1911. It was a red brick building with a Tudor Gothic window over the entrance. The interior had a wide nave with simple arches to narrow side aisles, and a Tudor arched roof. The congregation now worships at Old Meeting House, Dudley.