William Dargue A History of BIRMINGHAM Places & Placenames from A to Y
Blabbs/ The Blabbs
B75 - Grid reference SP128959
This name is first found in a terrier, a land survey of Sutton Rectory in 1612 when Roger Eliot was the incumbent. Belonging to the Rectory was a block of land made up of gardens, fields, meadows and a number of closes, one of which was known as Keetly or Blab's Close. The terrier also states that 'all the [Rector's] lands lie together, separated by only one lane leading from the common belonging to Sutton, called the Blabs, towards Middleton.' This is now Coleshill Road and Reddicap Hill.
The placename is recorded on the Greenwoods' map of 1821 as the Blob and in 1841 as Blabs, The Blabbs was a hamlet at the present Broomie Close off Coleshill Road at the foot of Reddicap Hill. It lay either side of a small tributary of Plantsbrook which flows under the road here. The 1889 Ordnance Survey map shows what appears to be a higgledy-piggledy collection of houses and gardens here in a rural area about a mile from the centre of Sutton Coldfield.
This was an agricultural community. The 1861 Census lists the households of 8 agricultural labourers as well as a groom and a laundress. There was also one James Irving from Scotland, a farm bailiff, who very likely managed a nearby farm for the landowner. Robert Knattress aged 60 from Nottinghamshire also lived here. He was employed as a gas labourer at Sutton gas works which stood at the junction of Coleshill Road and Riland Road. This is now Norris Way, a 20th-century industrial estate.
The placename is unexplained. ‘Blab' is a medieval word meaning, as it does now, ‘to say too much'. It is possibly an onomatopoeic word describing the noise of the stream here. There is also a Blabbs Heath in Norwood near Lambeth.
William Dargue 30.07.2010/ 20.01.2011
For 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of Birmingham go to British History Online.