B74 - Grid reference SP089990
Straet Lea: first record 957
The Anglo-Saxon Charter of (Little) Aston and (Great) Barr records a grant of land from King ?Eadred to his minister, Wulfhelm in 957 AD. The boundary of the estate in question begins at Straet Lea whose name means 'street clearing'. The Anglo-Saxon word straet derived from the Latin via strata meaning 'a paved or laid road'. Here the term refers to a settlement on the Roman road which can still be seen running through the west side of Sutton Park.
Known from the Middle Ages as Icknield or Ryknield Street, this road linked Metchley fort with the Roman fort at Wall near Lichfield. The road was clearly in use and an important topographical feature in Anglo-Saxon times.
When Sutton Park became a deer park in the 12th century this section was no longer used; Sutton's continued use as a park has ensured the road's preservation. The road through Sutton Park is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Interestingly, Streetly is the same name as Stirchley, which was known at one time as Stretley. In addition to the road, Roman evidence has been found in the area. Near Hardwick Road a small bronze ornamental disc was found with representations of classical figures, and possibly showing the death of Orpheus. Discovered in 1840 in a field of Hardwick Farm, it was first thought to be a shield boss, but it is probably too small for that.
And in Thornhill Road a sandstone Romano-Celtic head about 30cm high was unearthed. Of a type commonly found in northern Britain, it possibly came from Letocetum (Wall) Roman fort and is now in Birmingham Museum. There have also been a number of coin finds in Sutton Park, some with metal detectors, the coins dating from the 1st to the 4th century.
From medieval times the area was part of Sutton Chase, a forested area that formed part of the Earl of Warwick's hunting grounds.
Much of the forest had gone by the 13th century, cleared by charcoal burners, and became heathland and marsh.
With improved agricultural techniques in the 18th century landowners saw economic opportunities in wastes such as this and acts of Parliament were passed to divide the land in blocks between those who had claims on it. Great Barr Common, which included this area, was enclosed in 1795 to the advantage of local landowners such as Sir Joseph Scott of (new) Great Barr Hall and Elizabeth Foley of (old) Great Barr Hall. The land was let as nine farms.
The development of the district as a residential area began with the opening by the Midland Railway Company in 1879 of Streetly Station near the corner of Foley Road and Thornhill Road on the edge of Sutton Park. There was considerable local opposition to the building of the Sutton Park line, especially regarding its passing through Sutton Park. The railway company promised that with the opening of a station at Sutton, residents would enjoy the benefits of cheaper coal. It is hard to imagine, however, why a station was opened at that time at Streetly, a completely rural area.
The station was closed in 1965, was later used as a garage workshop and was demolished c2000. Housing has since been built on the station site.
The 1889 Ordnance Survey map shows the geometric pattern of fields around here, but very little housing at that time. However, substantial private houses began to be built and by the time of the 1921 OS map, a scattered development of houses can be seen in the triangle between Hardwick, Thornhill and Featherston/ Middleton roads. Commuters could be in Birmingham by train within half an hour and back out to their rural retreats just as quickly.
High quality housing development spread from then until the Second World War, but even then this was, in effect a residential suburb set in a rural area. Housing development continued piecemeal into the 1960s and -70s, but the district is still surrounded with farmland on the north and west and on the south by Sutton Park. A numbers of woods have been preserved in the district, including Foley wood, Blackwood Park and Hardwick Wood.
All Saints’ Church, Streetly opened in Foley Road in 1909 as a chapel of ease to Great Barr Church. The land was given by Arthur Turner of Blackwood Farm and Beaumont Featherston of Maxstoke Castle. The church was run by a curate of Great Barr until Streetly parish was created in 1918.
As the population grew, the building was enlarged in 1953, the original nave and chancel becoming the south aisle, the extension forming nave and chancel.
All Saints' Church, Streetly. Image by Geoff Pick on Geograph SP0898 reusable under Creative Commons licence Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).
The south aisle is the nearest part of the building in the photograph, ie. the orginal church.
William Dargue 07.03.09
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.