Great Wyrley

Great Wyrley

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Great Wyrley
longitude= -2.0102
latitude= 52.6593
map_type= Staffordshire
population = 1,566
shire_district= South Staffordshire
shire_county= Staffordshire
region = West Midlands
constituency_westminster= South Staffordshire
post_town= Walsall
postcode_district = WS6
postcode_area= WS
dial_code= 01922
os_grid_reference= SJ994068

Great Wyrley is a parish and village in South Staffordshire, in the county of Staffordshire, England. It includes Landywood, Churchbridge, and Wyrley Bank, but to confuse matters the settlement of Little Wyrley lies within the parish of Norton Canes, a nearby village. It is two miles south of Cannock, a mile east of Cheslyn Hay, and six miles north-west of Walsall.

In former times the town was a mining village — The Great Wyrley Colliery — with metalworking in outlying areas. The Wyrley and Essington Canal passes nearby.

The 'Great Wyrley Outrages'

The place was the scene of the "Great Wyrley Outrages", an incident involving six horse slashings at Plant Pit Meadow. A local solicitor, George Edalji, was convicted of the crimes in a miscarriage of justice, and sentenced to seven years with hard labour. Edalji’s family had been the victims of a long-running campaign of untraceable abusive letters and anonymous harassment for several years prior to the "outrages". These letters then alleged he was partially responsible for the outrages and caused the police suspicion to focus on him.

Edalji was released in 1906 after the Chief Justice in Bahamas and others had pleaded his case. But he was not pardoned, and the police kept him under surveillance. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame was persuaded to "turn detective" to prove the man's innocence. This he achieved after eight months of work. Edalji was released and exonerated by a Home Office committee, although no compensation was awarded. The case is related in Conan Doyle's "The Story of Mr. George Edalji" (1907, expanded re-issue in 1985). It was given a fictional gloss in the novel by Julian Barnes, "Arthur & George" (2005), which was nominated for the 2005 Man Booker Prize.

Local myth remembers the Outrages to have been enacted by "The Wyrley Gang", although Conan Doyle believed that they were the work of a single person, a local butcher's boy and sometime sailor called Royden Sharp. Ironically, Doyle’s suspicion was based on circumstantial evidence. It was an over-reliance on this type of evidence which had resulted in Edalji’s flawed conviction.

Poison pen letters in the name of the fictional "Wyrley Gang" continued for another twenty-five years, but these were subsequently discovered to have been posted from outside the town by Enoch Knowles of Wednesbury, who was arrested and convicted in 1934.


Great Wyrley has three primary schools and one high school.
* [ Landywood Primary School]
* [ St Thomas More Primary School]
* [ Moat Hall Primary School]
* [ Great Wyrley High School]


Great Wyrley now serves largely as a dormitory for commuters to Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Nearby is junction T7 on the M6 Toll motorway. Alternatively, the M6 can be accessed at Junction 11. Train services to Walsall and Birmingham are available at Landywood railway station. The former Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay railway station closed in the 1960's. Great Wyrley is served by two bus routes running between Cannock and Walsall. These are Arriva Midlands route 1 and National Express West Midlands route 351.

Nearest Places

* Aldridge
* Burntwood
* Brownhills
* Cannock
* Cheslyn Hay
* Featherstone

External links

* [ Conan Doyle and the Parson's Son: The George Edalji Case]
* [ The Parish of Great Wyrley]
* [ Wyrley Wide Web] (community site)
* [ George Edalji]
* [ Great Wyrley Community Band]

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