William Dargue  A History of BIRMINGHAM Places & Placenames from A to Y

Adderley, Adderley Park

B8 - Grid reference SP095875

Adderley School
Adderley School


Saltley Old Hall


The first Anglo-Saxon settlement site here may have been set up near the junction of Adderley Road and Arden Road where Saltley Old Hall once stood. From the 13th century, low on the western slopes of Saltley, overlooking the willow-wooded valley of the River Rea, stood a large timber-framed manor house surrounded by a moat.  In 1343 Walter de Clodeshale bought the manor and in 1360 was granted a licence to build an oratory and chapel at his house.



Left: Adderley School opened as Arden Road Board School in 1879. It was built very close to the site of the medieval moated manor house of Saltley.


Although any signs of buildings had long since disappeared, a field was still shown on an estate map of 1758 as 'Great Moat Piece'. And when the surveyors measured up for the new Arden Road Board School in 1879, the earthworks of the dried-up moat, locally known as the Giant's Castle, could still be distinguished. That school, now known as Adderley School, still stands on this ancient site.

The River Rea is now diverted, culverted and hidden among industrial sites, but it used to run close to the old hall. Although this was a marshy area along a river which was subject to flash floods, it nonetheless served as a prestigious settlement site from well before the Norman Conquest into the Middle Ages.

In the 14th century a new Saltley Hall, also surrounded by a moat, was built further up the hill between Hall Road and Adderley Road. The old hall may have been abandoned, or more likely continued in use for farming purposes. The date of construction of the new hall is not known, but it must have been before 1348 when the devastating pandemic of the Black Death put an end to ostentatious displays of moat digging. Fashions changed slowly, but eventually moated timber-framed houses began to be regarded as old-fashioned. Early in the 17th century another new manor house, this time in brick in a neo-classical style, was built outside the moat.



The Adderley family


The name of Adderley was first associated with Saltley when the manor descended in 1643 to Anne Arden of Park Hall, Castle Bromwich, wife of Sir Charles Adderley. It hay have been he who was responsible for building the new manor house.

At the outbreak of the bitterly divisive Civil War the lord of the manor, Sir Charles Adderley pledged his allegiance to King Charles I. The king's nephew, Prince Rupert was a dashing royalist general who roamed far and wide, engaging in guerrilla tactics against the Parliamentary forces. There was always a welcome for him and lodging at Saltley. However, the hall's glory days were to come to an end, and in 1760 the house, owned by Charles Bowyer Adderley, was let as a farmhouse, the family having moved to Hams Hall at Lea Marston. Shown on the 1893 Ordnance Survey map as Saltley Farm, it survived into the 20th century.


Dick Hayhurst, now living in South Australia, contacted this site with his childhood memories of the building:


The large house between Adderley Road, Ash Road and Hall Road was still there in the 1940s but only accessible by climbing over back garden fences. It was badly damaged (perhaps partly by a bomb blast) but three floors were still visible through a collapsed structural front wall. As small boys the cellar was our headquarters (approx 1947) and I found a hunting horn there. The bell mouth was silver and the body animal horn but the mouthpiece was missing. Midway along it was a small silver shield with tiny rivets but the inscription was illegible.


Charles Bowyer Adderley's eponymous great-nephew was lord of the manor in 1850; he was created Lord Norton in 1878.  By 1855 he had started to build long straight streets of working-class houses, many of them homes for employees of the burgeoning railways industries in the area. Very many of these houses still survive. The manorial rights of Saltley had lapsed by the end of the 19th century, though the Adderley heirs remained major landowners in the area well into the 20th century.


Adderley Park entrance and library
Adderley Park entrance and library

Adderley Park


The name of the family so long connected with this area is now preserved in Adderley Park, Birmingham's oldest public park. It was laid out, planted and furnished solely at his own expense by Charles Bowyer Adderley Norton, great-nephew of the earlier Charles Bowyer Adderley. He generously offered it to Birmingham town council.


However, worried by the implications of on-going maintenance costs, the council turned him down, so in 1855 Adderley decided to open it himself. Known by 1862 as Adderley Park, it was only in 1865 that the council accepted the land on a 999-year lease at the cost of five shillings a year, if requested. In 1864 the magnanimous Adderley also gave to the council a free public library and museum which were built at the park entrance. These no longer stand.


Adderley Park looking towards Hams Road
Adderley Park looking towards Hams Road

This was a very early public park in national terms and its opening was reported in The Gentleman's Magazine: 


Opening of a Public Park in Birmingham. — Within the last few months Lord Calthorpe and Mr. Adderley, M.P.,owners of a large portion of the land in the suburbs of Birmingham, have handed over to the people of that town, for purposes of recreation, the former a park of thirty acres, and the latter one of ten acres.


On Saturday, Aug. 30, the opening of the Adderley-park was celebrated by a procession, public dinner, &c. At the dinner, to which six or seven hundred sat clown, Mr. Adderley presided, supported by Lord Lyttelton, Mr. C. H. Bracebridge (Atherstone-hall), the Mayor of Birmingham, and many of the influential gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood.


Amongst the ladies at table were, Mrs. Adderley and her sisters, and the Honourable Misses Leigh, of Stoneleigh-abbey. The speeches were appropriate to the occasion. After dinner, an open air concert was given, in the course of which an ode, composed for the occasion by Mr. Monckton Millies, M.P., was sung by a choral party. Dancing followed, and games of cricket, football, etc., closed a pleasantly spent day.


At the entrance to the park, Mr. Adderley has erected buildings which are to be used as museum, reading-room, and library, by the working classes of the neighbourhood. For the purpose of furnishing and endowing these, a bazaar was held a fortnight ago in Birmingham Town-hall, the proceeds of which were upwards of £2,000.


The Gentleman's Magazine October 1856 Volume XLVI



The Adderley Park public house
The Adderley Park public house





The Adderley Park, a typical Victorian corner pub, stands at the junction of Adderley Road and Ash Road. 


Photograph © Copyright Carl Baker licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence, from the Geograph website Ordnance Survey reference SP0987. 








St Peter's College Saltley
St Peter's College Saltley

Saltley College


Adderley, who was later to become Lord Norton, was also largely responsible for building Saltley Church of England College for teacher training, latterly known as St Peter's. Originally the Worcester, Lichfield & Hereford Diocesan Training College, it was built in open countryside in 1852 around a quadrangle in the Tudor style of an Oxford college and housed just thirty students. Now it comes as a surprise at the top of College Road in an area of Victorian working-class terraces.

The college remained a small all-male community of some 300 students until the mid-1960s when the intake was significantly increased to cope with falling teacher numbers and rising school rolls. The first female students were admitted in 1966. Closed in the 1980s, the buildings are now in use as homes, as a community centre and as local authority offices.

The college had its own school at the junction of College Road and Bridge Road known as the Worcester Diocesan Practising School where students could learn the practice of teaching. The school opened in 1853 with just two schoolrooms and one master with 185 boys. A new schoolroom and classroom brought accommodation to nearly 500 by 1871. Badly damaged by a German bomb in 1941, the school was closed and never reopened. 


Adderley Park station
Adderley Park station

Saltley cutting


The deep Saltley cutting was hewn for London & Birmingham Railway by 1838. At that early date in railway history the line was considered only as a long distance route. However, the opening of Adderley Park Station in 1860 and others like it was prompted by the outward spread of Birmingham and also gave impetus to it.


Left: Adderley Park Station viewed from the bridge at Bordesley Green Road. The electrification of the line was carried out in the mid-1960s. In the background on the left is Saltley College and the bridge which carries Bridge Road.


See also Saltley


Click to enlarge the photographs in the Gallery below.



William Dargue 02.09.2008/ 18.03.2009


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