The last years of independence

The previous chapter has shown the impossibility of drawing an arbitrary line at the turn of the century. From 1851 the growth of population and the spread of building in Yardley were on ever-steepening upward curves. Having increased eleven-fold in the half-century from 1851, the population (33,946 in 1901) grew by 75% the next decade to 59,126 at the time of absorption by Birmingham. The associated development was not a steady outward growth from such foci as Sparkhill and Acocks Green: while many streets were only half-built, new ones were being laid out elsewhere. Building Societies bought up farms (e.g. Grove Farm 1896), demolished them, and laid out estates. These were notably different from most earlier housing in their magnitude, involving great capital outlay, and their uniformity of appearance. (On Knowle and Solihull Roads the terraces are dead straight and identical for 500 yards). Whole streets were often completed within a year or two by a single contractor. The outstanding example of this large-scale development was the Barber Trust estate between Walford, Barrows, Warwick, and Medlicott Roads, largely built in the 1890s, and completed early in the twentieth century. It is characterised by its neatness and uniformity. The streets are wide and straight, flanked by long terraces of 2-storey tunnel-backs with entries, porches, and ground-floor bays. Some rows open directly onto the street, but most have narrow front gardens, and plane trees line the roadway. Every house was painted a dull brown. The building of Benton Road roughly parallel and very close to Spark Brook was made possible by the culverting of what had now become a filthy ditch. (The brook is now above ground only beyond Golden Hillock Road). The remaking of Stoney Lane over the brook in 1896, largely at Birmingham's expense, so that trams could reach the City-Yardley-Kings Norton boundary (just beyond Esme Road) had encouraged the unlovely development of that street, whose east side is in Yardley. Seven streets on the west slope of Sparkhill were now complete down to the Lane, each side having a practically continuous wall from end to end: though individual villas or short terraces might have been built at any time during the 1880s or 1890s, they were ultimately to form a single unbroken facade. Tall tunnel-backs of 2 storeys with sometimes a dormer or gabled attic above, they have tiny front gardens and long narrow back ones. Decorative features are still Georgian or Baroque: Gothic had a short run and little impact in Yardley.


South of Durham Road, beginning with Ivor Road about the start of the twentieth century, the family-name roads on Smith-Ryland land continued their development until the war stopped it on Adria Road. A gradual change of style is seen: the unit was always the 6-roomed house for the lower-middle class family, with a bathroom, but this became lower and wider, with a larger front garden and pavement trees, gated entries, decorative woodwork replacing fancy bricks and mouldings, two-storey bays and pebble-dash appearing. The modern 'semi' was only a war away. On the later roads, Doris Road southwards, building stopped short of Stoney Lane, which was to be widened under the Yardley (later South Birmingham) Development Scheme.


From at least 1899, when Eastbourne Market was opened opposite the Mermaid, the large villas and terraces of Stratford Road were being converted to shops, their front gardens becoming forecourts. Two districts, one from the Brook to the junction, the other about the tram depot on 'The Hill', developed as shopping centres. They were ultimately to merge (and bid fair to join up with the Springfield centre). Corner shops, which abounded, were rarely built as such: conversions from houses were usual even on main roads, and only new districts had specially built shop rows.


In the late 1880s, a Technical Institute was opened on Stratford Road (site of Sparkhill Boys' School), and there the Rural District Council met from its formation until the Tudoresque Council House opened in 1902. Two years later Yardley Secondary School was established in the Institute, and Sparkhill Park (former Great Trust land given to the R.D.C. as other grounds had been) was opened. Beside the nobly-towered Council House, which bears the letters 'Y.D.C.', a court-house and police station, and a fire station were added to what might have become an urban centre, had Yardley remained independent. The site was a good one, near the geographical and population centre of the District, and on a tram route - electric trams were going to Knowle Road by 1907. Opposite the Council House was the Birmingham & Midland Women's Hospital in a converted villa, until it moved to a new building across the park in 1905. By that time, the whole area from the hidden Spark Brook south to Greetmill Bridge, bounded on the west by Stratford Road and on the east by Golden Hillock Road, east Greet (with its Fog Signal Works and fireworks factory in the confluence meadows), and the Cole, was completely built up. On the site of Greet Farm was the Board School (1892), there was a small shopping centre on the narrow Warwick Road, and St. Bede's Mission, an iron chapel, opened in 1907. Golden Hillock School, and a Catholic School on Evelyn Road, were built in l910. While the slate for Sparkhill's rooves was imported by rail (the Council House had local tiles), the brick walls were of good Yardley clay: though the Greet and Tyseley Brickworks had closed, the Burbury Works' pit grew ever larger and deeper.


The Grove Farm estate, begun in the late 1890s and similar in style and status to the hill-slope streets, and the Springfield estate of uniform terraces built early in the twentieth century between Springfield Road and the river, were served by a developing shop centre on the main road. A large Board School opened in 1900 on College Road, whose south side was already built up with 3-storey terraces, and there were more villas on and near Wake Green Road. Schools, police stations, and public houses were usually built in terracotta and glazed brick, with heavy baroque decorations.


By 1911, Green Bank estate between Stratford Road and the new Sarehole Road was under construction. Though still in tunnel-back terraces, the houses are clearly transitional to post-war 'semi's'.


The compact developments so far described in this chapter were in complete contrast with the unaffected area south of a line between St. Agnes' Church and Acocks Green House. The natural outward spread from Birmingham, (the accelerating pace of immigration indicated by the rapid completion of the newer estates compared with the fitful upbuilding of the earlier streets), was very clearly associated with the provision of public transport. There were trams to Springfield and trains to Acocks Green: but for nearly all of Swanshurst and Broomhall Quarters there were still only horses and bicycles and ill-made lanes.


Acocks Green was a middle-class Edgbaston, a low-density detached suburb of the City. In 1909, a large school at Westley Brook, and a new police station on Yardley Road, were overdue improvements. By 1911 the district had peripheral development to add to infillings. There were terraces on Fox Hollies Road, and on Warwick Road about the Dolphin, villas on Oxford Road, and three straight endless-terrace streets north of the railway: Alexander and Douglas Roads, and Florence Road.


The main shopping centre was the narrow part of Warwick Road just east of Westley Brook, and a second one grew along Yardley Road. A large laundry was built at the Olton boundary. A smaller Barber Estate of two long rows occupied one side of the extended Avenue: on Lincoln Road, terraces faced the boundary.

In 1907 the North Warwickshire Line of the G.W.R. was laid from Tyseley, where a new station was built, south through the ridge to the Cole valley: sidings and a large engine shed appeared in the meadows of Tyseley Brook. The station's comparative nearness hastened, if it did not bring about, the development of Manor Farm and Roma Roads north of Warwick Road, and the Weston Lane - Reddings Lane five-street terrace estate opposite. Formans Road School opened in 1907. This small district was Completed in 1911, a year after Yardley Secondary School and a Methodist Church, by the erection of a fine high-banked terrace on the curving slope of Warwick Road that led to them. Though the main road was now intermittently built up through Yardley, the large farms to south (Tyseley, Greet Mill Hill, Shaftmoor) and north (Manor House, Hay Hall, Stockfield) clearly separated the urban areas of Sparkhill-Greet-Springfield, Acocks Green, and Hay Mills. Between the last-named district, (with its new factories among the terraces and the growing Waterloo claypit (which now claimed land intended for new streets), the canal, the east bound, and Coventry Road was another area of farmland, comprising Waterloo, Moat, and Highfield Farms, and Kingsley House. Terraces at the north end of Stockfield and Yardley Roads bisected this area, whose eastern part included the cemetery and sewage farm. Near the Swan there was now a shapeless district which included large separate villas and terraces, some very humble rows and cottages, mostly on the north side, and two planned estates of terraces facing each other across the highway, bounded by Warwell and Yew Tree Lanes. At Hay Mills north of Coventry Road the never-completed Shipway estate of projected 'places' was now continued eastwards by a new suburban growth. From the Quadrant (1890) the triangle between the old lanes - Deakins and Holder Roads - and the main road was neatly divided by four straight streets with girls' names. These were completed during the 1900s: kerbside trees, front gardens, elaborate porches and bays, were trimmings on what were still basically Georgian terraces, stepped down the slope.


The rest of Church End Quarter was like much of Swanshurst, very little altered and for the same reasons. Other than rail-served Stechford, the area had poor communications and services. Church Road was the most-developed axis (Schools 1909) and even that had long empty stretches. The line of mansions on its east side, the isolated ones about the Yew Tree, the group on the west side of Station Road, the assorted villas on the Church Field summit, were new: but all the buildings in the Quarter outside Stechford totalled few more than the number found in that suburb.


From 1895 Yardley was a Rural District, identical in boundaries to the ancient parish (by then divided into five parishes), and it remained so until 1911: it had then seven parishes, fourteen schools, a larger population than many county towns {nearly 60,000), some extractive and manufacturing industries, and four decidedly urban areas linked to the City by public transport. But in some respects Yardley remained most rural. Its services had failed to keep pace with the growth of population and the demand for amenities. Piped water reached Acocks Green from Birmingham in 1890, and most built-up areas had taps and mains drainage by the end of the nineteenth century: but many scattered dwellings were still using backyard pumps and privies a decade later. Gas lighting was provided in made-up streets and new houses, but there was no electricity supply. Fire and refuse collection services were inadequate, and there was no general hospital in Yardley. Roads were narrow, hedged and ditched lanes, and many of those on slopes were holloways with dangerous bends: even the well-made ones had a surface of thick dust which rain soon turned to mud, and early cars made life miserable for all other traffic and roadside dwellers. There were fords and footbridges, such road bridges over streams and canals as there were being narrow and humped.


Birmingham acquired in 1911 many thousands of its former citizens, the well-built suburbs where they lived, and nearly 6,000 acres of unbuilt land devoted to pastoral farming, market gardening, allotments and open space - but also an immense task of modernisation. The provision of better communications, and services, and of amenities such as public baths and libraries, have continued to the present: two world wars, and the depression midway between, plus the enormously increased cost of everything, have prevented the completion of many schemes devised even before 1914. The road and bridge programme of the early 20th century, even if complete, would be inadequate for present traffic: but it remains very largely at the stage reached by 1939.


Development from 1911 to 1920

Building in what this essay will continue to call Yardley despite its having no administrative existence did not cease abruptly in 19l4, on the outbreak of war. But it was to decline with increasing rapidity, and then stopped for several years. The county and millrace bridges over the Cole on Stratford Road were replaced by the present bridge in 1913, and the tram terminus reached Robin Hood (Six Ways), the following year. Hall Green Parade of shops was built opposite Green Bank House, and the up-building of Reddings Lane, Russell and Southam Roads continued. Bromyard Road extended the line of the new riverside thoroughfare (Sarehole Road) to Formans Road, whose present bridge replaced the footbridge so often washed away by floods. A new 'name' estate was begun off Showell Green Lane. Acocks Green continued to grow outwards, and there were two small terrace estates off Wharfdale Road. More terraces appeared on Church and Clements Roads, and Wroxton Road was newly made with similar houses. There was more infilling on Lyttleton and Francis Roads in Stechford. The improvement of Warwick Road permitted the laying of tram tracks as far as Broad Road (1916): legal disputes prevented extension to the junction green until 1922. That was to become the post-war centre of Acocks Green. Industry had so far made little use of the North Warwickshire Line, a castellated chocolate factory (Hall Green Works) on Webb Lane being the only consequent venture - and that a failure. But on Kings Road had begun that industrial development on Hay Hall Farm-land which was to continue during and after the war. Other factories appeared on the east side of Wharfdale Road.


In 1913 the remaining manorial land in Yardley, 640 acres, was up for sale. The greater part was bought by Birmingham Corporation for future housing: stretching from Swanshurst Lane to the south boundary, bordered on the west by Yardley Wood Road and the Stratford Canal, and on the east by Priory Road and Tritterford millpool thence northwest and west to Swanshurst Pool, the 470 acres included four large farms (Billesley, Titterford, Quagmire, and Ivyhouse), Titterford steel-rolling mill, nine cottages, and various smallholdings and pastures. A building estate ('Cole Bank', including Southam Road North), Sarehole Farm and Mill, and a large 'small'-holding of 46 acres between Stratford Road and the railway, comprised the remainder which was acquired for private development.


Two decades, 1919 to 1939

Between 1911 and the start of the Second World War, the population of the former Yardley almost trebled, to about 173,000. The percentage increase was slightly lower than in the first decade of the century, but the changes in the landscape were greater than all previous development put together. The causes of this were public and private building, at lesser densities, improvement of communications and amenities, and the growth of industry. The Development Plans from 1909 for specified divisions of land use have produced clearly defined areas which may be conveniently summarised under headings below. By way of introduction, it may be noted that demolition and replacement, already observed in the previous period, were to be so drastic between the wars as to destroy all but one of the ancient hamlets. Greet Manor Farm was replaced by a large public house, and a block of shops and flats were built on the site of some 17th century houses opposite, so that with road widening even the plan of the old settlement disappeared. At Stechford the smithy and other buildings were razed, the roads were widened, and only the inn was rebuilt. At Tyseley, on Sparkhill and about the rebuilt Yew Tree, no buildings earlier than the 1860s survive. Without map evidence, it would be impossible now to trace the history of settlement in Yardley.



Between 1920 and 1939, 17,071 council houses were built in the former Rural District, occupying nearly 2,000 acres. There were two major building periods, separated by the slump. The first terraces of non-parlour houses, designed to look like a single mansion with huge gables and mansard rooves on projecting wings, were built on Lyttleton Road and Fox Hollies Road in 1920. The first estate, its streets named After World War One battles, covered a quadrilateral site off Brook Lane and Yardley Wood Road, in 1923. The next year, Broadyates Estate was built at South Yardley. Thereafter the major areas of the 1920s were Billesley, Yardley Wood, Waterloo Farm, Fast Pits, Hobmoor, Tyseley, Shaftmoor, Fox Hollies - Pool Farm, Stockfield, Manor Farm, Pitmaston, The Avenue, Manor Road: and from 1933, Riddings - Glebe Farm, Hilderstone, Ivyhouse Farm, and Lea Hall - which was not complete when further building stopped in 1939. As estates of the same period are similar, it will be sufficient to describe two, representative of the earlier and later developments.


Billesley estate was built in 1924-5, a triangle about the site of Billesley Farm, bordered by Yardley Wood Road, Chinn Brook and Trittiford {sic) Roads, the last two being newly made. The non-parlour cottage-type dwellings, in brick and tile and sometimes pebble-dash, are in pairs and fours, with many external variations between blocks which do not alter the basic form. On the main road and elsewhere are blocks designed to look like large traditional buildings, reminiscent of the 1920 rows.


There is no centre to the estate, and the few shops are on its edges. Across Chinn Brook Recreation Ground is an extension, the Yardley Wood estate, under construction in 1926. North of the shops, public house and schools (1893, 1929, 1936) on School Road, which bisects the estate, the houses are like those of Billesley; those to the south (1927-8) show rather more variation, though the accommodation and plan are still the same. Blocks are of 2, 4, and 6 dwellings. There are three small shopping areas on the periphery. Although Yardley Wood has a focus in Christ Church, this is close beside the narrow High Bridge over the Stratford Canal, and perhaps for this reason no attempt was made to create a centre thereabouts. Every house has front and back gardens, which due to the complex street-plan are often of very odd shapes. Trees and grass verges line the streets, and there are 'greens' for play, additional to the lavish provision of open spaces around the estates. In anticipation of dual carriageways, building lines on Priory and School Roads were set well back. Development at 12 houses to the acre was of low density compared with either 1914 or the 1960s.


The Riddings Estate was begun in 1933, north of Audley Road and bounded by Wyndhurst Road. The houses are of brown brick, in blocks of 2, 3, 4, or 6. There are shops only at the west and east ends of the estate, the latter being Glebe Farm Road (close to the site of the farm), where some attempt has been made to create a 'village green'. Glebe Farm Estate, which also occupies Church End Farm land, is fitted between the old lanes. Though hampered by the need to parallel the railway on both sides, the planners were able to indulge their fondness for arcs and circles in laying out the streets: these, while producing varied aspects and odd-shaped gardens, have created certain foci - Middle Roundhay, Rollington Crescent, Whittington Oval - but those are used only as greens. A large recreation ground has been provided in a loop of the Cole, but until recent years more use has been made of undeveloped land on the other borders of the estate. Lea Hall was under construction when war broke out: the shopping and other facilities there and at Glebe Farm remained inadequate for more than a decade.



During the 1920s and 1930s houses built for rent or sold by private firms in the southern Quarters spread south from Formans Road to the boundary in a widening arc between Stratford Road and the river. East of the main road a small wedge was completed between Shaftmoor Lane and Cateswell Road, and a much larger one (some of which can fairly claim to be in Hall Green, a name since appropriated by the whole area herein described), bounded on the north by the Greyhound Track, Shirley Road, and Oaklands playing fields, and on the east by Pitmaston council estate. 'Hall Green', so-called, includes about 90 streets from cul-de-sacs to main roads, and of those only 15 are ancient lanes. Hall Green developed as wholly residential except for the Robin Hood Works, two factories on Sarehole Road and one on Webb Lane. The northernmost and earliest streets, on Greetmill Hill Farm land, show the transition from terrace to 'semi'. Quite simple houses thereon, not so different from council houses of the period, were followed elsewhere by Decorated and Jazz Modern detacheds, semis and bungalows, in the later 1920s and early 1930s. Every possible permutation of stucco, pebble-dash, shingle, and fake half-timber; of gables, dormers, porches, bays, and docorative woodwork; of odd-shaped windows and doors - was employed to make similar buildings look different from their immediate neighbours or the next street. In the 1930s garages were added to existing houses where space permitted, and were standard features of new ones, incorporated in the structure of the latest pre-war houses which were returning to brick simplicity. Long front gardens, grass verges and trees lined the straight or faintly-curved streets, which often included quite large areas of land: some of these were used as private sports grounds and nurseries. The making of these estates involved the demolition of many farms and cottages, including Shaftmoor, Hall Green Hall, Oldhouse, Hillclose, Scribers', and Barton's Lodge, though others survived until recent years as garages or dwellings only. The Taylor land was covered by the extensions of Sarehole and Southam Roads, and Petersfield and Burnaston Roads. Shortly before the war two small estates were developed off Swanshurst Lane (itself built up with large houses in the 1920s, the farm having been razed in 1917) and Brook Lane: the latter, 'Brook End Estate', tucked in between Billesley and the river, was not completed until 1957. Other very small areas of private development in the southern Quarters were the completed Showell Green estate, and three short streets off Priory Road, both in the 1920s, the 'Lands' roads off Billesley Lane, Goodrest Croft, Yardley Wood Road, Prince of Wales Lane, Bradnock Close, Wheelers Lane and Barn Lanes, Phipson Road, and Hangleton Drive off Golden Hillock Road. Wake Green, Hayfield, Woodlands and McKenzie Roads, the top of College Road, and the streets about St. Agnes' Church were completed with modern mansions.


In the 1930s Warwick Road was lined with detached houses from Stockfield Road to Flint Green. Infilling at Acocks Green included Hazelwood, Westley and Victoria Roads. Cottesbrooke was demolished, and the street named after it was built up with a temporary school and semis. From the re-named Grand Union Canal northwards to Broadstone Road beyond Yardley village, a narrow strip of more than two miles between the east bound of Yardley and Woodcock Lane/ Clay Lane/ Yew Tree Lane/ Church Road/ Queens Road, was built up during the period but mostly in the 1930s with private estates similar to those already described: they included 50 streets, 40 of them new. North of Coventry Road, the addition of Sheldon to Birmingham in 1931 caused new streets to be laid out without regard to the ancient boundary; only Elmcroft Road, paralleling the boundary ditch, Bilton Grange Road, and Charlbury Crescent filling the angle where two brooks met, and Vibart and Farnol Roads which stop short of the boundary, still mark it on the ground. A more open area of private housing from just south of the Yew Tree extends between Church and Clements Roads to Stechford and Audley Road: it is chiefly a development of old lanes, with only 10 new short streets, leaving large open spaces for sports grounds, etc. Groups and axes are the Rockingham Estate, Stoney Lane, Vicarage Road, Church Road (north end), Yardley Fields Road (mostly bungalows), Inglefield, Flaxley, and Old Farm Roads, and the west ends of Audley and Wyndhurst Roads. There are rather more large detached houses, especially near Yardley village, but humbler semis abound. There are a dozen rows of these south of Stechford.



The chief shopping axis was Stratford Road: the separate centres, Spark Brook to Sparkhill, Springfield, Hall Green, Robin Hood, developed in that order as the estates spread southwards. They continued to extend by conversions and new building towards each other. It should be noted that the centres were catering for local needs: branches of city banks, clothes and grocery stores, Co-ops and Woolworths, were the only additions to rows of mostly small private shops. Old centres which expanded were Greet, Tyseley, Acocks Green, Hay Mills, the Swan: and new ones appeared at the Yew Tree, Warstock, Fox Hollies, Glebe Farm and Lea Hall. These were supplemented by small rows and corner shops in every district. Garages and filling stations, some at old farms, grew steadily in number. Of Yardley's smithies two buildings survived in other uses.


Most Victorian and earlier inns were rebuilt - e.g. the Lea Tavern, Yew Tree, Red Hill Tavern, Dolphin, Dog & Partridge, Swan: and new ones were erected like the Hob Moor Hotel, the Fox Hollies, the Haven, and the Good Companions. All were palatial, in would-be traditional or jazz-modern styles, and had reception and ball rooms. Cinemas were a new feature: ultimately there were nine in Yardley, all on main roads, though five others were close to its borders. None were in council estates, whose amenities were generally peripheral (and inadequate, especially in the north). An exception was Yardley Wood Library: two others were added to Sparkhill Library (the converted Council House): namely Acocks Green and South Yardley. Public Baths were opened on Sparkhill in 1931. By the outbreak of war there were perhaps 50 schools of all kinds, new and enlarged, including private ones and several church schools, two Grammar Schools (the latest Moseley 1923, in the former College), and one Commercial School (Sparkhill Institute site, 1929). There were about the same number of places of worship of all denominations, most of which had church halls. There was one specially-built Community Centre, at Billesley.


In 1911 Yardley had had parks and recreation grounds at Sparkhill, Formans Road, Fox Green, Hay Mills, Yardley and Stechford. There were also Yardley Poor allotments at Springfield and Yardley Wood. To these were added after World War One Swanshurst Park (Taylor land), Trittiford (sic) Mill Pool, The Dingle, Chinn Brook Recreation Ground, and Billesley Common: Fox Hollies Park (Broom Hall, Sandpits and Pool Farm land): and six recreation grounds in Church End: Oaklands, Gilbertstone, Yardley Green, Richmond Road, Bachelors Farm, and Glebe Farm. Schools playing fields were provided on Yardley Wood Common where projected streets were abandoned. Wake Green, Cole Bank, Oakhurst (Broom Hall land), Shirley Road, Reddings Lane, and Henry Road (Oaklands). Other open spaces were Moseley Golf Course (Bulley Hall land), Robin Hood Golf Course, the Municipal Sports ground (partly in Sheldon), and many private grounds belonging to sports clubs, including The Moorlands Football Club. In 1928 Sarehole Mill and Meadow were left to the City, thus adding more of the land needed to complete the 1909 plan for a riverside walk from Solihull Lodge to Sheldon - a plan to which subsequent development has conformed, but which the industries of Greet and Hay Mills obstructed: the Cole Valley is, except for those areas, open on one or both sides, but the parts of it allocated to playing fields and allotments were not generally accessible. There were 11 allotment areas in Church End, 10 in Greet, 8 in Broomhall and 7 in Swanshurst - many of them very small. Yardley Cemetery came to occupy more than 150 acres.


Two amenities which changed the appearance of the Cole Valley were the Tyseley Destructor Works, whose ash and clinker banks on each side of the river and mill-race raised the level to that of the canal embankment, so that the watercourses flow in spectacular gorges: and Colehall Sewage Works which occupied nearly 200 acres.



There were two railway developments during the period, the provision of a Halt (or 'Platform' as the G.W.R. called these stops with longer platforms) at Spring Road in 1919, and a concrete station at Lea Hall in 1937. On tram routes the intention was to lay sleeper tracks on central reservations between two carriageways, but existing ribbon building prevented this except from Highfield Road to the boundary on Stratford Road, and on the extension of Bordesley Green East Stechford, both 1928. As the narrow lanes and awkward intersections of Yardley were unsuitable for new tram services, Corporation motor buses provided the through-transport which the District had always lacked. The Outer Circle route (1926) at last ended the isolation of Yardley village. A garage at Acocks Green served the Circle and 1A routes, and another at Yardley Wood the routes which linked the southwest estates to the Stoney Lane tram terminus. Other services were added as needed throughout the developing district. Trams were replaced by buses on Stratford and Warwick Roads and by trolley buses on Coventry Road in the 1930s. The termini were then extended to the City Boundary on the last two highways, and New Coventry Road was cut. The central reservations on Stratford Road became grassed strips. Widening of all throughways was planned: the major roads were to be 120 foot dual carriageways, and this work was still under way in 1939. It necessarily involved the demolition of many old buildings, particularly on Highfield, Fox Hollies, and Stockfield Roads. There were many holloways to be filled in: Lea Hall Road was raised, but part of Yardley Green Road was abandoned, and Scribers Lane is still a trench. Parts of Wake Green Road, Brook, Robin Hood, and Webb Lanes were left to return to nature. A notable plan to take long-distance traffic round the bottleneck of Acocks Green was the construction of Olton Boulevard. It was completed between Fox Hollies and Warwick Road boundary, and a part was built between Reddings Lane and Spring Road: but needed demolitions and the rebuilding of the railway bridge on the latter were stopped by the war, and the Weston Lane end was never begun. (Wartime factory development covered the planned line). Bordesley Green East was another new highway which stopped short, barred by a terrace on Stuarts Road.



The Development Plan confined industry to existing or designated areas. The largest was Hay Mills/Tyseley, bounded by Percy Road and West Greet, Spark Brook and the Cole, Coventry Road, Waterloo and Stockfield Roads, Tynedale Road and Olton Boulevard: except for the housing districts already described it was devoted entirely to industry or unused land awaiting factory extension. Extractive industry continued at the Burbury and Waterloo brickworks, and there was a sand and gravel works by the Grand Union Canal. From the century-old wire-works and the small factories of Hay Mills, the area came to include such large works as Wilmot Breeden, C.W.S., Rover Cars, Girlings', Reynolds Tubes (almost surrounding Hay Hall), Bakelite, Smiths' Crisps, King Dick, Dawes Cycles, Excelsior Motor-cycles, Permoglaze, Slumberland - and a total of more than a hundred firms engaged in various branches of metal and plastic production. The Serck Radiator and Brooke Tool factories filled the gap between East and West Greet. Stechford acquired some rail-based industry, notably the Parkinson Stove Co. and the B.C.S. Works. At Tyseley the M.E.M Works and Lucas's were the largest of the firms making electrical goods, using motor transport.


The urbanisation of Yardley

Urbanisation of Yardley (introduction)

The natural landscape

Ownership and administration

Yardley in medieval times (map)

Yardley at the end of the eighteenth century (map)

Section two

The early 19th century

The mid-nineteenth century

The Victorian half-century 1850-1900

Section three

The last years of independence

Development 1911-20

Two decades 1919-39

Section four

Yardley since the war

Urbanization maps

Surviving antiquities of Yardley (map, 1981)


Return to AGHS Homepage