Around Balsall Heath

We are the group from George Dixon Academy. 

 

We began the project by talking to Carl Chinn and Val Hart (from Balsall Heath Local History Society), to find out more about Balsall Heath and some of the landmark buildings. We created our own map of the area, as we went along!

Below, you can see a map of the area with some of the landmarks marked. Abi Bunting and Charli Finch (from Newman University) helped us out by finding some more information about them!

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Gooch Street - This street is named after Sir Thomas Gooch who owned one of the largest private estates in Birmingham. He inherited it form his uncle Thomas Sherlock in the 18th century and started to develop the area, naming many of the streets after his family – which is why you get Gooch Street and Sherlock Street. Nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes.

We found this story from the Daily Post, 3 April 1885, about the Mysterious Poisoner of Gooch Street. An infant boy was murdered and there were five suspects - the father, the mother, two servants, and an assistant who worked in the family shop, who was the prime suspect...

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This is what Belgrave Road used to look like. It’s hard to imagine it now – it was turned into Belgrave Middleway in the 1970s. That's "progress" I guess..

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Calthorpe Park takes its name from the Calthorpe family. This is a posh invitation to the grand opening in 1857.

 

Lord Calthorpe first leased the park to the council for £3 a year, but originally he insisted that it shouldn’t open on Sundays, and there should be no dogs or smoking.

 

In 1871 it was given to the council, apparently after a lot of arguing, because the council had allowed the crime of bicycling in the park!

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Birmingham Central Mosque was built in 1969 and opened to the public in early 70’s. The mosque has a capacity of 6,000, including women.

In 2017, it featured in a documentary TV series for Channel 4 called “Extremely British Muslims.” It showed the many ways in which the mosque intersects with the lives of its worshippers – not just through its religious services, but its Sharia council, its marriage bureau, and so on.

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Joseph Chamberlain College opened in 1983. The photos show what it looked like then … and now…

David (project leader for MAT) says it looks like a panopticon. (Yes, we had to look it up, too. It's a kind of prison.)

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Moseley Road Baths opened in 1907. When it first opened, you could go there for a private bath - as long as you stuck to a 30-minute limit. There were two swimming pools. You can still see the original entrances: Men's First Class, Men’s Second Class, and Women’s Baths.

In 1987 there was a pillow fight in the pool, as part of the Balsall Heath Carnival!

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The Old Print Works was once the home of J.H. Butcher & Co. Different organisations and artists are now based here – including the “Balsall Heath Local History Society,” who helped us with the "One Area Through Time" project!

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This is the start of our Ladypool Road Heritage Trail. Find out more here!

Contact: Midland Actors Theatre 

Tel.: +44 121 608 7144 or +44 7946 006511

Email: news@midlandactorstheatre.co.uk