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


B15 - Grid reference SP058860

First record c1780

Map (part) above from Charles Pye 1818  'A Description of Modern Birmingham' - out of copyright
Map (part) above from Charles Pye 1818 'A Description of Modern Birmingham' - out of copyright

Broad Street was a field track until the end of the 18th century when planned development began on St Martin's glebe land at the town end around the Birmingham Canal. The street there was widened and given its present name as it was by far the broadest street in Birmingham.


Development continued outwards, and from c1780 building began on the high-class Islington estate on the rural fringe of the town around Islington Row, Tennant Street and William Street. Islington is a London name which was given to add prestige to the development. This was land belonging to the Rector of Birmingham; the Rectory itself stood on Bath Row where the old Queens' Hospital now stands.

The Islington estate was developed by early building societies. A society bought the land and paid for the houses to be built. Members paid weekly subscriptions until their debt was paid off. When all money owing had been paid, the society was dissolved. In one scheme subscriptions were deferred for members who took part in building work on each other's houses.

Before the turn of the 18th century Broad Street was widened as far as Five Ways Edgbaston. This end was known as Islington until the second half of the 19th century when, except for the streetname, the name fell out of use. The area around the top end of Broad Street is now known as Five Ways. This crossroads was so-named when it had five roads which are recorded as early as 1565, but should have been renamed Six Ways when Calthorpe Road was added in 1820.


The former Queens Hospital
The former Queens Hospital

Take a look at the Queens' Hospital.

When the hospital opened on Bath Row in 1840, 20,000 local people attended. Although no longer a hospital, this is Birmingham's oldest surviving hospital building. It was set up at the instigation of the Balsall Heath surgeon William Sands Cox as a practice hospital serving the poor and as part of Queens College medical school on Paradise Street. It is named after its patrons Queen Victoria and Queen Adelaide.

The central block is a square building in neo-classical Georgian style; the columned porch bears the arms of Rev Dr Samuel Warneford who was one of the first to contribute funds.


To its left, and built in 1867 on the site of St Martin's Rectory, is the Workmen's Extension designed primarily to treat industrial injuries on an out-patient basis. The hospital was further extended in 1908.

When the Queen Elizabeth Hospital adjacent to Birmingham University opened in 1939, it became the undergraduate teaching hospital thus making Queens redundant in this respect. In 1941 Queens was reborn as the Birmingham Accident Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre, the first of its kind in the country. The much-loved 'Accy' closed in the 1990s and its Grade II Listed buildings are now student accommodation for Birmingham University.


Joseph Sturge statue
Joseph Sturge statue

Take a look - the statue of Joseph Sturge.

At Five Ways stands the statue of Joseph Sturge 1793-1859. A Quaker industrialist, Sturge was known as the Apostle of Peace. He campaigned against slavery and was prominent in promoting Sunday schooling, the teaching of reading and writing in order to be able to read the Bible. He campaigned for universal suffrage and against the Crimean War. His statue is flanked by allegorical figures of Peace holding an olive branch, and Charity comforting an enslaved child, while Sturge is shown holding a Bible. 12 000 people attended the statue's unveiling in 1862 which was placed here not far from Sturge's Edgbaston home.


Opened in 1876 the Birmingham West Suburban Railway BWSR followed the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to join the Birmingham & Gloucester B&G line at Lifford. The two lines were used as a circular route by the Midland Railway from 1885. The BWSR opened with a terminus at Granville Street which was by-passed in 1885 via a new station at Five Ways with tunnels into New Street Station. At the same time the single track was doubled and this then became the main Gloucester and Bristol line rather than the original B&G line via Moseley and Kings Heath. The line comes through the 190m Bath Row Tunnel into Five Ways Station, which closed in 1944 when the circular route was abandoned. However, Five Ways was to reopen in 1978 when a new cross-city service began along the Sutton Branch line from Four Oaks to New Street, then along the Birmingham West Suburban line to Longbridge. The whole line from Lichfield to Redditch was electrified by 1993 and is now the busiest commuter route outside London.


Former Islington Glassworks
Former Islington Glassworks

Take a look. Islington Glassworks owned by Johnson, Berry & Rice was set up behind Berry's house which had been built c1830.


The house became the Lying-in Hospital in 1842 set up to provide maternity care for the poor. From 1870 it was the Birmingham & Midland Free Hospital for Sick Children which had originally been founded in Steelhouse Lane in 1861.


It moved to a new purpose-built building on Ladywood Middleway in 1917 as the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and then to the former General Hospital in 1999. After 1917 the Broad Street building became the Royal Cripples Hospital, later the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. It is now a night club. The glasshouse itself had closed in 1864.

With the opening of the International Convention Centre in 1991 the remarkable regeneration of Broad Street into Birmingham's entertainment centre began, a process that has ricocheted along the whole length of the street as far as Five Ways where in 2003 the former Children's Hospital was converted into a leisure centre.


The former Children's Hospital
The former Children's Hospital


William Dargue 28.03.2009/ 03.08.2010


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