Edwardian village: the second growth phase in Acocks Green

 

The impetus for this development was to an important extent the result of land owned by the Greswolde-Williams family of Malvern Hall, Solihull, being put up for sale. This was north of the Warwick Road and west of Yardley Road. Apart from the semis and terrace rows of Alexander Road and Douglas Road, more expensive dwellings appeared on Arden, Flint Green, Greswolde and the Warwick Road itself. These were the work of a local builder, Williams and Boddy. Stokes and Boddy were mentioned as far back as 1876, but it was their house styles over the ten years between about 1899 and 1909 which produced some of the best 20th century housing in Acocks Green. What is remarkable is that they went through at least four styles in this short period, ending with houses that foreshadow the typical houses of the 1930s.

 

In order to service these houses, two purpose-built shop rows appeared on Yardley Road, one on each side. Just as important, a police station and courthouse of 1909, opened in 1910, was built by Yardley Rural District Council on Yardley Road. A Baptist Hall of 1903 on Alexander Road is a listed building, as are the caretaker's house next door and the 1924 Glyn Edwards Hall. The Yardley Road frontage is occupied by a 1913 church, opened in 1914, which is listed. The railway station was also enlarged and the tracks were doubled from two to four in 1906. Quality houses like 50 Yardley Road were constructed. However, the owners of the five large Victorian houses nearby were apparently not so happy at the new developments. One of these was Cottesbrook House, which disappeared under the new Cottesbrook Road in the 1930s, while its grounds contained a new school of that time which locals had said should have been built there instead of at the Green in 1908 because of all the new housing off Yardley Road.

 

Greswolde Park Road and Arden Road are attractive roads that would grace any town or city, and are an important part of a bid to have a Conservation Area in Acocks Green. They may have been designed from pattern books, but that does not detract from their quality after a hundred years. While some of the Victorian buildings have gone, here is a coherent area created by a local builder, and one that is a source of pride for the people living there.

Acocks Green's new police station and courthouse, opened in 1910
Acocks Green's new police station and courthouse, opened in 1910
Alexander Road's 1903 Baptist Hall
Alexander Road's 1903 Baptist Hall
New shops on Yardley Road, before 1913. The Baptist church was built where the trees are on the right in this image
New shops on Yardley Road, before 1913. The Baptist church was built where the trees are on the right in this image
The new Baptist church and shop row
The new Baptist church and shop row
Opening of the Baptist church, 28 February 1914 (thanks to Peter White)
Opening of the Baptist church, 28 February 1914 (thanks to Peter White)
The 1924 Baptist Hall and 1913 church
The 1924 Baptist Hall and 1913 church
New shops near Florence Road
New shops near Florence Road
Yardley Road by the big houses, no longer in serene exclusivity
Yardley Road by the big houses, no longer in serene exclusivity
Williams and Boddy houses, 'type one', Warwick Road
Williams and Boddy houses, 'type one', Warwick Road
Williams and Boddy houses, 'types one and three', Greswolde Park Road
Williams and Boddy houses, 'types one and three', Greswolde Park Road
Williams and Boddy houses, 'type two', Arden Road
Williams and Boddy houses, 'type two', Arden Road
Williams and Boddy houses, 'types three and four', Greswolde Park Road
Williams and Boddy houses, 'types three and four', Greswolde Park Road
Arden Road street scene, c. 1905
Arden Road street scene, c. 1905
Arden Road, a similar view, with the tree prominent
Arden Road, a similar view, with the tree prominent