William Dargue A History of BIRMINGHAM Places & Placenames from A to Y
B14 - Grid reference SP078785
The Maypole is the name used to describe a location and its immediate area at the junction of Alcester Road South and Maypole Lane. Standing on higher ground between river valleys, this was the crossroads of the road from Alcester to Birmingham and a cross-country route from Kings Norton to Solihull.
As Birmingham grew during the 18th century, the Alcester Road became increasingly important for farmers bringing in produce from the rich farmlands of Worcestershire. This road was turnpiked in 1767:
To Alcester, about twenty [miles], formed in 1767, upon a tolerable plan, but it is rather too narrow, through a desolate country, which scarcely defrays the expence; but that country seems
to improve with the road.'
William Hutton 1781
The May Pole is thought not to have been a pole for dancing round, but to have been a tall pole which stood here to direct travellers. It may have been so called because it was later also used as a maypole, or this may have been a nickname. Certainly the 1887 Ordnance Survey map indicates a guide post here.
Maypole Farm stood on the north side of Druids Lane, a short way from the junction. Maypole Secondary Modern School later, Baverstock School was built adjacent to the site in 1983 - it closed in 2017 and was demolished in 2019.
The modern use of the term Maypole probably derives from the name of the public house which is no longer there. The road junction at the Maypole is now a local shopping centre.
Right: These shops are beside Alcester Road South as it approaches the Maypole. They date from the 1920s and 30s and still seem to be thriving. Image and text by David Stowell on Geograph SP0778 reusable under a Creative Commons licence.
A farmhouse which still stands is Sladepool Farm - its name indicates a pool in a small valley. The present building, now a private house, stands behind later houses at the east end of Stotfold Road and dates from c1770.
At some point it was converted into two dwellings. From the 1930s private housing was built between Sladepool Farm Road and the Alcester Road; at the Maypole the public house was built with shops and a cinema. Strangely the estate was laid out with no regard to the farmhouse which is set back at an angle just behind the later houses in Stotfold Road. It was perhaps assumed that it would be demolished when the estate was built. Certainly there were other farm outbuildings here which have not survived.
In 1840 at the time of the Tithe Survey, the farm was owned by Thomas Docker with William Craythorne the tenant. 37 acres of fields were attached to the farm, these lying between the modern Slade Pool Farm Road and the Alcester Road South, which is the housing estate built on the farm’s land. The pattern of fields is interesting here. Fields north of the farm, including the farm’s own fields represent old enclosure. These are irregular fields which had been enclosed from open fields or common land by agreements some time before 1772. The rest of Kings Norton’s open land was enclosed between 1772 and 1774 by a parliamentary act. Fields south of the farm, which was formerly Highters Heath, date from the parliamentary enclosures and are regular in size and with straight-sides. Maypole Lane, Highters Heath Road and the Alcester Road south of the Maypole are long and straight having been drawn up by surveyors on a map, and not by custom on the ground. Slade Pool farmhouse itself is just on the northern edge of the new enclosures and must have been built soon after 1772-1774.
A bond exists from 1794, an agreement of sale between Edward Moore of Alvechurch, Isaac Marston plumber and glazier of Birmingham, William Marston, gent. of Kings Norton and Edward Est, gent. lately of Kings Norton which concerned not only Sladepool Farm but also Kingswood Farm.
Although the present building dates from the 18th century, there was a house somewhere here at the centre of the farming estate in the previous century, and quite probably before. A painted heraldic tablet was placed high up on the arcade wall of Kings Norton church in 1632 commemorating Sarah, wife of Henry Est of Slade Pool (The Ests were a wealthy family in and around Yardley and Kings Norton from the Middle Ages).
The Census returns show the Marston family still there in 1851 and the Moores there in 1861. The Moores had a substantial household - the non-family members were presumably farm workers or servants. However, by 1871 the farm had passed out of the hands of the Moores and the Marstons.
The house in a dilapidated state was sold at auction in 2019.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks for the information about Slade Pool Farm to Linda Jones, now of Kidderminster, who was brought up in the former farmhouse in the 1950s.
William Dargue 06.04.2009/ 11.12.2020
For 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of Birmingham go to British History Online.
Map below reproduced from Andrew Rowbottom’s website of Old Ordnance Survey maps Popular Edition, Birmingham 1921. Click the map to link to that website.