Founded 1946, by Geoffrey Beard

Stourbridge Historical Society

The Vice President Michael Blamire-Brown welcomed 72 members and 28 visitors to a presentation by Past President Roy Peacock on Ernest and Mary Stevens.

Roy outlined the lives of Ernest and Mary Stevens and their influence as benefactors on the community of Stourbridge.

Ernest Stevens was born in 1867 in Lye and as a young man showed an aptitude for business by setting up his works in Cradley Heath and selling buckets and pans being known as the “Bucket King”. His works produced the well-known ‘Judge’ ware.

Mary Stevens was born in 1869 and met Ernest in a chance meeting at the Mount Pleasant Methodist Church, Quarry Bank. They married in 1895. Their first child, a daughter died after four hours and this tragedy clearly affected both parents and led Mary who had a strong conscience about poverty and illness, to provide classes for women to cook and protect children from alcohol.

Both Ernest and Mary were strong supporters in raising funds for the Corbett Hospital and when Mary died of cancer in 1925 Ernest sought to provide a suitable memorial for her life. This was achieved by his gift in 1929 of Mary Stevens Park as ‘a place of rest for the weary, of happiness for the children and of beauty for everyone’.

In 1932 Ernest had a new building erected as the Mary Stevens Maternity Home, a badly needed facility at the time and which was used as a maternity home until 1984.

Ernest Stevens was a generous man and his legacy lives on today in the Ernest Stevens Trust which provides grants to local organisations.

Ernest Stevens was a benefactor of St. Mary’s Church Oldswinford and on his death on 2nd October 1957 was buried in the cemetery at St.Mary’s.

The next meeting is at Stourbridge Town Hall on Thursday 19th October when David Howe will speak on “Prime Ministers and the West Midlands”.