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

Good Knaves End/ Three Naves End

B15 - Grid reference SP045854

There is no evidence of there having been an Edgbaston village. Until housing development from the mid-19th century this was a rural area of scattered farms and homesteads. However, by 1700 there was a cluster of cottages on Harborne Lane near the Chad Brook ford. Good Knaves End was so-named before 1800 and was located around the junction of Westbourne Road, Harborne Road and Richmond Hill Road at Chad Hill.

It is known that there was a bell foundry at Good Knaves End in 1760, to the rear of the White Swan at the junction of Westbourne Road and Harborne Road


from whence several neighbouring churches were supplied with bells to summon the good knaves of the day to prayers, or to toll the bad knaves to their end.  Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham 1888

The origin of the name is unknown. The word knave was not always a perjorative term but meant simply either a boy or a boy servant. In the 16th century the word just meant 'fellow' or 'chap'. Good Knave's End or Good Knaves' End? - the position of the apostrophe would affect the meaning. It is suggested that the name was orginally Three Naves' End, the White Swan having previously been a terrace of three labourers’ cottages.


The name is no longer in use and the area is part of Harborne, or is it Edgbaston?



The White Swan on Harborne Road
The White Swan on Harborne Road

William Dargue 05.03.2009/ 01.02.2014


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