KIDDERMINSTER has had a colourful history, of struggle, conflict and change yet, surprisingly, this is the first complete account to have been published for over a century and the first ever chronological history of the town, wherein the author shows how one thing led to another. The medieval manor was large and extended across the Severn, incorporating what was to become Bewdley. It was a place of considerable importance from the eighth century, when a monastery was almost certainly established there, and the author discusses its transformation into a significant medieval town. In exploring the long history of its cloth industry, from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, the author fully assesses the contribution of religion to industrial growth; in particular that of the non-conformists and the legacy of the preacher, Richard Baxter, probably Kidderminster’s most influential citizen. The town’s story continues with the rise of the carpet industry, which made Kidderminster world famous for more than two centuries. Its progress was not easy, with a ruinous five-month strike in 1828 and the exploitation of child and female labour. Among the other social issues discussed are the unsanitary conditions of the 19th century and the attempts to solve the housing shortages in the 20th century. The detailed story of the hospital is also told, from its roots as a Victorian infirmary to the political uproar which led to the election of Dr Richard Taylor as an independent Member of Parliament. A social as well as a local historian, the author pays as much attention to the lives, work and recreations of ordinary Kidderminster folk as to the movers and shakers of local society. He also documents in detail the demolition and destruction of the ancient town centre. Fortunately many of the lost buildings are preserved in his fine collection of photographs, which add greatly to the irresistible appeal of this entertaining new book to all who live in, or near, or visit the old town.