Another local-to-me area of interest for this post – Old Northfield.
This part of Northfield represents the origins of this part of Birmingham. Northfield village has been present here for yonks – it is mentioned in the Doomsday Books and is still a lively little place. It’s been built up and incorporated into the City; it is mostly a residential area with a few small businesses (pub, hairdressers, newsagents etc.) It is a conservation area, and the old nail makers cottages and old St Laurence school are now homes. It is heavily used by traffic on a daily basis but I wonder how many people pass through it without knowing what it all is?
One thing I love about this area is the way you can look at old maps and still see the same area. You can pick out where the pedestrian entrance to Northfield railway station car park now is; the location of where Woodland Road is today; the Church; the school; where the farm used to be, and you can really imagine what it used to be like. Church Hill is the same – when you walk up it you are literally following in the footsteps of the Saxons. (I do have a photo of a map but have nowhere to reference it to at the moment. Northfield Library and Birmingham Central Library should hold more information!)
The pub in Old Northfield is called The Great Stone Inn, and it is named for a huge boulder that used to stand on the corner. This boulder is a glacial erratic, and was dropped by the ice as it retreated in the last ice age! This makes the geo-geek in me very happy. The stone is now housed in the 17th Century pound, which is adjacent to the pub – this sandstone enclosure was where stray animals were kept until their owners paid a fee to get them back.
The church here, St Laurence, also may be older than it looks – I’m not a huge church geek, but I’ve been told it is Norman in age, but may have an even older predecessor, of which nothing exists. The graveyard here is closed to new burials, and you can walk around it, or around the boundaries of it. The latter is known locally as the Robin Path, and takes you from Rectory Road to halfway down Church Hill.
It’s a very quaint area of South Birmingham, and although it looks like a busy road junction, it’s got so much history for a small space and I just love it!
You can get to Old Northfield in a manner of ways – from Kings Heath, take the 27; the bus stops on Bunbury road by St Laurence school. Walk down Church Road (there are low-rise flats on the corner – blue line) and you’re in Old Northfield. You can also get a bus from the City Centre into Northfield high street – the 61 or 63, get off at Tays Corner (opposite McDonalds) and walk down Church Rd (yellow line). The train also runs close to this area – the cross city line stops at Northfield station at the bottom of the hill. Leave via the car park’s Church Road exit and walk up the hill – pink line.
There is a pub here which has food, drink & toilet facilities. Parking is limited – the road is narrow and is a one way system, please consider using public transport. The residential areas are private, please respect this.
Nail makers cottages.
Churchyard boundary wall.
The view looking down Church Hill towards the railway station.
St Laurence School - AD MDCCCXXXVII (1837)
All pics were taken by me on 30th May. Feel free to nick 'em, or visit to take your own. Please respect local residents. Google Earth screengrab taken on 2nd June. Click for bigger.