William Dargue A History of BIRMINGHAM Places & Placenames from A to Y
B18 - Grid reference SP052881
First record 1833
Part of Birmingham Heath was enclosed in 1798 and laid out as his private estate by Sir Thomas Gooch as Brookfields. His house stood at the top of Pitsford Street, which follows the line of the drive up to the house. However, as urban developments in Birmingham drew nearer, Gooch's country estate became untenable and he decided capitalise on the business opportunities offered by the approaching town.
Gooch laid out his estate for housing development from the 1830s onwards. At that time an estate of any consequence had a church provided often by the developer, not only to cater for its religious needs but to act as a social focus and, not least, as a sign of the status of the district.
All Saints' church
Built in 1833 at the corner of All Saints Street and Lodge Road on land given by Sir Thomas Gooch, All Saints' Church gave the north-west end of Brookfields its name. Designed by Rickman & Hutchinson the building was an early example of the Gothic Revival in church architecture. Along with most of the district, the church was demolished in 1966 at a time of major inner-city housing redevelopment and of a low regard for Victorian architecture.
Robert Dent described the district in the early days of its development:
The scattered population which had been drawn into the neighbourhood of Soho and Hockley through the enterprise of Boulton and Watt was the next to be provided with church accommodation, by the erection of All Saints' Church, near Lodge Road, in 1833. "When the church was erected," says a recent writer, (J. M. Brindley: Church Work in Birmingham, 1880) "the suburb of Nineveh was far in the country, the nearest cluster of dwellings of any importance was at Hockley, in the neighbourhood of the Old Cemetery [Key Hill]. Farmhouses and cottages were scattered at intervals in the fields and lanes which surrounded the church on all sides.
Looking from the Old Cemetery the church was the one prominent feature in the landscape, its dwarf spires rising above the surrounding trees. From Key Hill a rural lane led up to it, lined with hedgerows, amid which twined the honeysuckle and the wild rose. Cornfields and hayfields were on either side the road. A lane to the left led through the meadows to Birmingham Heath. There was another way to the church from the bottom of Warstone Lane, over stiles by pathways through the fields, where murmuring brooklets crept along, where cowslips grew, and 'ladysmocks all silvery white' might be gathered for the trouble of stooping."
The church, which was erected in the Gothic style of the 13th century, was designed to accommodate about a thousand worshippers, and was consecrated on the 28th of September, 1833, by Bishop Ryder, of Lichfield, who had taken great interest in its erection.
Robert K Dent 1880 Old & New Birmingham - A History of the Town and its People
All Saints National School was built adjoining the churchyard in 1843, a simple tall gothic building with high narrow pointed windows, its name and date carved prominently across the front. It was the successor of the church's Sunday School and had accommodation for over 600 boys, girls and infants in three large rooms. The school building was demolished in 2015.
A series of extensions were built behind the original building not only to keep up with increasing numbers on roll, but also to keep pace with rising expectations as to how children would be housed in school. The school closed in the mid-1960s though the building survived until the early 21st century.
As the existing population was moved out of the area to be rehoused during the second half of the 1960s, the names of both All Saints and Brookfields fell out of use.
William Dargue 02.09.2008/ 30.07.2010
For 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of Birmingham go to British History Online.