Miscellaneous - This, that & the other

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A Castle Bromwich SPELLING TEST

So how do you spell Castle Bromwich?


In 1168 it was Bramewice.

It was Bromwice in 1199, 

Bromwyz 1284, Bromwych 1292, 

Bromwych by Colleshull 1292, 

Castelbromwic, Chastelbromwix 13th century

Brumwyz Castel 1262, Chastelbrunwyz 1272 

Castellbrunnewyz 1287, Chastel de Bromwych 1287 

Castel Bromwich 1322, Castel Brumwych 1401 

and Castle Bromage in 1667.


It looks as if you can spell it how you like! 


Image from Google Streetview. Click to go to that website.
Image from Google Streetview. Click to go to that website.


Bradford Road


People of the Stone Age walked along the Chester Road thousands of years ago, but Bradford Road has not always been there. Before it was built, all the traffic used the Chester Road to go through Castle Bromwich village and the Birmingham Road in front of Castle Bromwich Hall.


But by the 1930s these narrow country roads were becoming unsuitable for the increasing amount of traffic and so Bradford Road and Newport Road were built to bypass the old village.


Now here's a funny thing.


Main roads are often named after the place they go to. The Chester Road goes to Chester, Water Orton Road goes to Water Orton and the Coleshill Road goes to Coleshill. But Bradford Road does not go to Bradford in Yorkshire and Newport Road does not go to Newport in Wales.


The roads are named after the lord of the manor of Castle Bromwich,

Lord Bradford and his son, Lord Newport. 


One of the Fab Five


Roger Taylor was born in 1960 and lived in Hawthorne Road, Castle Bromwich when he was young. He went to Castle Bromwich Juniors and Park Hall School.


Roger is the drummer of Duran Duran, a major 1980s' group with 14 UK top 10 hits and over 70 million record sales.


He recently wrote on the band's website:


"I had my first drum kit set up in the small bedroom at the front of the house. My adjoining neighbour (the very kind Mrs. Foster) told me years later that at 4 o'clock every day she would take down all the pictures from the walls of her living room lest they would come crashing down because that was the time I would arrive home from school to launch the daily assault on my drums.”



Castle Bromwich Methodist Church


The first Methodist church was built on Castle Bromwich Green in 1845. The Coach & Horses car park is there now. The buildings in School Lane were built in 1930 and 1964. Preserved inside the old church (seen in the photograph on the left) is the stone sign from the original church.




The Enemy


Tom Clarke (born 1986), lead singer of indie band The Enemy, lived in Wasperton Close, Castle Bromwich when he was young. He went to St Mary & St Margaret's School. The band was formed in Coventry in 2006 with their first album going straight to Number 1 in the UK.

Stechford Hall


Stechford Hall Park is the site of a large house which was built in the early 19th century. It was designed by the Castle Bromwich architect J J Bateman for the Birmingham wine merchant, Joseph Smallwood. In 1912 the house was used to house patients of All Saints Mental Hospital.


Stechford Hall is shown on the 1921 Ordnance Survey map still surrounded by fields, but it must have been demolished soon afterwards. Houses were built around here in the 1930s and the grounds of the house were used as a sand quarry before being laid out as a park. 


The Man with a Million Voices


Marc Silk (born 1972), is a voice actor who is heard but not seen on countless television programmes, adverts, computer games and films. You have heard him on Pingu, You've been Framed and Johnny Bravo. Marc, who went to Castle Bromwich School and to Park Hall, is the voice of Bob the Builder (in the USA) and Johnny Bravo. 

< Click here to see a trailer on YouTube of Marc Silk's many voices.

Image from Google Streetview; the B4119 is on the right.
Image from Google Streetview; the B4119 is on the right.

The Shortest Road in Britain?


The Chester Road from Whateley Green past the Bradford Arms to Bradford Road is numbered as the B4119. It measures only 320 metres in length and is one of Britain’s shortest numbered roads.


Jeff Lynne (centre) and his first band in 1963
Jeff Lynne (centre) and his first band in 1963

Jeff Lynne & the ELO


Jeff Lynne, the world-famous lead singer/ guitarist/ composer/ producer of the Electric Light Orchestra, ELO, was born in 1947 in Pype Hayes but he soon moved with his family to Shard End Crescent.


He went to Alderlea Boys’ Secondary School where, in 1963, he formed a group called The Rockin’ Hellcats, renamed The Handicaps renamed The Andicaps, who rehearsed at Shard End Community Centre on Packington Avenue. 


Ten years later: The Electric Light Orchestra (Jeff is at the front wearing glasses)
Ten years later: The Electric Light Orchestra (Jeff is at the front wearing glasses)

For a short time The Andicaps were a successful local band. In 1964 Jeff joined another local group The Chads, then in 1966 The Nightriders who became The Idle Race.


In 1970 he joined the nationally successful Birmingham group, The Move and toured the country. Some of the group then formed the Electric Light Orchestra in 1971 wanting to create rock music with a classical music sound. From 1972 to 1986 ELO had 20 Top 20 UK singles and sold over 50 million records across the world.


To hear one of ELO's greatest hits, 'Mr Blue Sky' (official video 2012 version), click the image for a YouTube video >

PJ's - St Philip & St James, Hodge Hill


In the 1960s a hall was built on the edge of Hodge Hill Common. It was used as the church of St Philip & St James and was going to be used as the church hall when the main church was built. Unfortunately, in 1966 the building was so badly damaged by fire that it had to be demolished.


A new church was built in 1968 which was designed as a multi-purpose space which could be subdivided by screens to create smaller halls and rooms. Many churches are built like this now, but in 1968 this was a new idea.

But the clever design did not stand the test of time. The flat roof caused problems when it rained and in 2008 it was decided that the building was dangerous. The congregation could not afford to mend the roof and the church was closed. The congregation moved to share the building of the ‘Blue Cross' United Reform Church on the Coleshill Road and St Philip's & St James' was demolished.

Mary Ashford in her dancing dress
Mary Ashford in her dancing dress

But was it Murder?


Mary Ashford's dead body was discovered in a pond at Penn's Mill near Walmley on the morning of 27 May 1817.


20-year-old Mary was a popular young woman and well known in Erdington where her father was a gardener; she worked as a servant for her uncle at Langley Heath near Sutton Coldfield.


As local people discussed her death, they found out that Mary had been to a party at the Tyburn Inn on the Chester Road the night before and that she had spent the whole evening dancing with Abraham Thornton. He had walked part of the way back towards Erdington with Mary and two friends and then he had gone back home to Shard End.


Mary Ashford
Mary Ashford

Abraham was son of well-to-do parents at Shard End Farm in Castle Bromwich (The farm stood at the corner of Shard End Crescent and The Heathway). As local people continued to talk, they began to take sides. The rumour spread that the rich, wicked Thornton had murdered the innocent servant girl.


One week later an inquest was held at Penn’s Mill where a jury of local people decided that Thornton had murdered Mary. The farmer’s son, Abraham Thornton would have to stand trial before a judge at Warwick Assizes.


But three months later the jury in the Warwick courtroom took only six minutes to return a verdict of ‘Not Guilty.’ There was simply no evidence to convict Thornton. Witnesses testified that they had seen Mary walking home alone after she had left him.

The case attracted interest across the country and newspapers took sides for or against Thornton - mostly against. Mary’s brother, William Ashford was advised by his solicitor to use an ancient law called 'Appeal of Murder' which allowed a relative to have the case tried again.


The second trial took place in the Court of King's Bench at Westminster Hall in London (the same building where King Charles I had been sentenced to death.) The court was packed with members of the public and press on 17 November 1817.


Abraham Thornton was asked to plead 'Guilty or Not Guilty.'


But Abraham too had a solicitor’s advice. In reply to an 'Appeal of Murder' a defendant was allowed to challenge his accuser to a duel to the death. This was an ancient law and had not been used in England for 400 years.


Thornton replied, "Not guilty, and I am ready to defend the same with my life."


He threw down a leather gauntlet on the floor of the court towards Mary’s brother. But William Ashford refused to accept the challenge. 


Ashford's solicitor objected that it was unfair to expect a weak man like Ashford to fight a strong farmer’s son such as Thornton. But the judge replied, “It is the law of England.”


And so the case was dismissed and Abraham Thornton walked free.


Mary was buried in the churchyard at Holy Trinity in Sutton Coldfield, the gravestone engraved with a reference to her ‘brutal murder’. However, it seems most likely that Mary had stopped that night to rest by the pond on her way home and that she had slipped in and drowned. The writing on the gravestone is now worn away and cannot be read.


Shard End Farm
Shard End Farm

After the trial, life for Abraham Thornton was not easy, innocent though he was. He was known everywhere he went, not just in Castle Bromwich and Shard End but across the country. And so the next year he left England and went to live in America.


In 1819, as a result of this case, the right to trial by battle was abolished by Parliament.


A Change of Name

A number of roads have changed their names since the 19th century.


Bucklands End Lane used to be called Maggotty Lane, Green Lane was Bosworth Lane, Hodge Hill Road was Black Mires Lane, Hurst Lane was Bradley Hurst Lane,

Hurst Lane North was Old Woman's Lane, Old Croft Lane was Hawcroft Lane,

School Lane was Reas Lane and Timberley Lane was Partridge Lane.

The Green used to be called Seven Acre GreenBuckland End was known as Bucknall End, and New Street was the Fordrough.


From The Green to Castle Bromwich Hall the Chester Road was called the Birmingham Road and from The Green past the Bradford Arms it was just called the Main Road.


The Castle Cinema


The Castle Cinema opened on 31 August 1939 just days before the outbreak of the Second World War.


The cinema was built on the site of a large house called Timberley which had been built in the 16th century. The name is medieval and means a 'timber clearing'. 


The outside of the Castle Cinema was designed in an Art Deco style typical of cinemas of the time, but inside it was all Tudor style. There were seats for over a thousand people and there was also a dance hall and cafe. The cinema closed in 1963 and a car park and shops were built on the site, the most obvious now being a small Tesco supermarket.



The first film to be shown at the cinema was an American comedy, 'Out West with the Hardys'; the last movie screened was a British thriller, 'Return of a Stranger'.

Hob Farm

Artist: Steven Belledin
Artist: Steven Belledin

Hob Farm Park off Selworthy Road is named after a farm that stood here from the 1700s until the 1950s. Houses were then built on the farmland.


The word hob means a hobgoblin, a mischievous sprite. This is a common name for farms and moated sites across the country. A hob(goblin) looks like whatever your imagination wants it to look like!


(Some local people call the park 'The Old Barn' after the barn that was still standing even after the houses had been built.)

A village pound in Norfolk; reusable image from Geograph
A village pound in Norfolk; reusable image from Geograph

The Pound at Whateley Green


Nowadays, if you park your car in the wrong place, the council might tow it away and lock it up in a car pound. You then have to go to the pound, prove that the car is yours and pay a fine to get it back.


In the Middle Ages, most villages had a pound - not for cars but for stray animals. If your cow, pig, sheep or goose was found wandering off and eating other people's grass or crops, it would be taken to the village pound. 


To claim your animal back, you had to pay a fine for the damage it had caused and also pay the pound keeper for looking after it. The pound at Castle Bromwich was on the Water Orton Road opposite Whateley Green. It was surrounded by a brick wall, like the one in the photograph, and stood there until about 1960.


All Saints' church in 1954. Where are all the houses?
All Saints' church in 1954. Where are all the houses?

All Saints' Church, Shard End


All Saints' Church was opened to serve the new estate of Shard End which was built to replace the poor housing in Birmingham city centre.


The Bishop of Birmingham blessed the church on All Saints' Day 1954 and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opened it two days later.

It was the the first new church to be built by the Church of England after the Second World War. 


In 1964 the youth club was challenged by the vicar to raise £180 for a bell to hang in the tower. The young people raised the money in just over a year and the 10 hundredweight bell (500 kg) was cast by Taylor’s of Loughborough in 1966. The price for such bell now would be over £15,000.


Crossing the border

On the other side of the boundary marker is written: CITY OF BIRMINGHAM
On the other side of the boundary marker is written: CITY OF BIRMINGHAM

For a thousand years, if you came from Birmingham along Washwood Heath Road, you crossed the boundary into Castle Bromwich at the Fox & Goose Inn at Bromford Lane


After the First World War the City of Birmingham was looking for land on which to build houses to replace the slums in the city centre. 


 In 1931 Lord Bradford sold all his land west of Castle Bromwich village to the City of Birmingham. Two new roads were laid out, Newport Road and Bradford Road, so that traffic would not have to go through the old village. 


At the beginning of the Bradford Road you can find this boundary post which still shows where Birmingham ends and Castle Bromwich begins. Until 1970 Birmingham Corporation buses (No.56) stopped here and did not go any further.


The Right to Vote

Voters could vote in secret after 1872.
Voters could vote in secret after 1872.

From 1430 the right to vote in elections was given only to freeholders, men who owned land in a district which would be worth 40 shillings (£2) a year if it was rented out. They did not have to live in the district. It is difficult to calculate what £2 is worth in modern money, but it is certainly thousands of pounds. In other words, you had to rich to vote - and you had to be a man.


A general election was called in 1820 when King George III died.


In Castle Bromwich only 7 men had the right to vote: John Chattock, John Dowler, Henry Leake, Joseph Ward and John White all of whom owned land and also lived in Castle Bromwich, William Dutton who owned land here but lived at Middleton (near Tamworth) and Henry Townsend who lived in Aston. There were about 600 people living in Castle Bromwich at the time. (Thomas Chattock lived in Castle Bromwich but was a 40 shilling freeholder of Birmingham - so he must have owned land in Birmingham.)


However, it didn't matter much who anyone voted for - or whether they voted or not.

There were only two candidates standing in the election for the two seats in Parliament for Warwickshire: Dugdale Stratford Dugdale and Sir Charles Mordaunt. Not surprisingly, they were both voted in as Members of Parliament. 


(In 1918 Parliament gave the vote to men aged 21 and over and to women of 30 years and over; in 1928 women were given the same voting rights as men. From 1969 men and women of 18 years and over became entitled to vote.)


The Farthings

The pub sign at The Farthings on Green Lane shows a man riding an old fashioned bicycle which was known as a penny farthing. The bike's name comes from the fact that an old penny was a large coin while a farthing, a quarter of a penny, was much smaller. The cyclist is shown juggling with farthing coins. (The pub has recently put up a new sign showing just the penny farthing bike.)


However, the pub's name is not taken from either the coin or the bike.


There was a pub here long before the building that stands here now and it stood near some small fields which were known as the farthings. The word comes from the old English word, feorthing which means a fourth part or a quarter. Originally the word was used to describe fields that had been divided up into four parts, but it was later just used as the name for a small field. 

A remarkable family

Edwin Kempson was born in Birmingham in 1799. He studied religion at Trinity College Cambridge and was ordained a priest at St Philip‘s Church (now Birmingham Cathedral) by the Bishop of Coventry & Lichfield in 1825. His first post was as a curate at St Mary’s church at Blymhill in Staffordshire.


It is not a coincidence that Lord Bradford is the patron of Blymhill church which is near Weston Park. The 2nd Lord Bradford, George Bridgeman also went to Trinity College Cambridge although a few years earlier than Kempson.


Edwin was then made a curate at Aston church and was sent by Rev George Peake, the vicar of Aston to look after Castle Bromwich chapel in 1827. In that year the chapel ceased to be a chapel of Aston and became a parish church in its own right. So Edwin Kempson became the first Rector of Castle Bromwich.


Edwin Kempson was for 6 years a curate at Castle Bromwich and was the rector here for 51 years. He died in 1878 aged 78 years and is buried in the church graveyard.


Edwin and his wife Mary had seven children who were all born at Castle Bromwich. The eldest, Edwin Alfred Kempson also became a priest of the Church of England. He was the vicar of Claverdon near Warwick and later moved to Surrey. He lived to the age of 76.


His eldest son, Edwin Hone Kempson was also a priest and became the Bishop of Warrington in Lancashire. He was noted for his cricketing skills.


And his son was yet another Edwin - Edwin Garnett Hone Kempson. He was born in 1902 and did not become a priest. He was a teacher at Marlborough College, became the Mayor of Marlborough and was a noted mountaineer who took part in the 1935 and 1936 Mount Everest Expeditions.


There are living descendants of Edwin Kempson.


You'll enjoy this  . . . 

A drive round Castle Bromwich in less than 4 minutes!

Chris Hodgkinson went for a drive around Castle Bromwich on Mothering Sunday 22nd March 2009, setting off about 06:10 am when the roads were quiet. He posted his his 45 minute drive on YouTube - and it takes less than 4 minutes!

It's fast - but maybe you can spot some places you know. (You could always pause the video.)


Castle Bromwich People



Find out more about these Castle Bromwich people by searching the internet. When searching, it's best to put the name of the person in inverted commas.


(Remember: Wikipedia is not the only place to find information!)



Walter Devereux, born 1431, killed at the Battle of Bosworth 1485

Edward Arden, born about 1542, executed for treason 1583

Edward Devereux, born about 1544, 1st Baronet of Castle Bromwich, died 1622

Orlando Bridgeman, lawyer, 1606-1674

William Hutton, Birmingham historian, 1723-1815

John Gibson, architect, 1817-1892

Frederick Knight, 1837-1919, paper manufacturer (Smith, Stone & Knight) of Whateley Hall 

George Bridgeman, 4th Earl of Bradford, 1845-1915

John Joseph Bateman, auctioneer, 1854-1886

Edwin Cooper Perry, medicine, 1856-1938

Thomas Clayton 1858-1927 of The Cedars, owner of canal carriers Fellow, Moreton & Clayton

Charles Bateman, architect, 1863-1947

John Paul Cooper, 1869-1933 of The Elms, silversmith/ teacher at Birmingham Art School  

John Williams, blacksmith and bellringer, 1872-1926, and his wife Lucy Williams 1871-1949

Richard Bridgeman, Commander Royal Navy, born 1879, killed in action World War 1 1917

William Moorwood Staniforth, 2nd Lieutenant Royal Flying Corps, born 1884, killed during World War 1 in 1917

Eric Birch, Rifleman, born 1889, killed in action 1914

David Kitto Billings, 2nd Lieutenant RFC, killed in training 1917

Lucien Higgs, Lieutenant RFC, born 1892, killed in training 1917

Clifford Ryder, Corporal RFC, born 1893, killed in training 1917

Raymond Tenney Balch, 1st Lieutenant RFC, born 1894, killed 1918

Edwin Tufnell Hayne DSC, Captain RAF 1895-1919

Peter Murray-Willis, cricketer, 1910-1995

Alex Henshaw, Spitfire Test Pilot, 1912-2007

Peter Bode, Flight Sergeant RAF, born 1923, killed during World War 2 1944

Peter Jackson, rugby player with Coventry RFC, 1930-2004

Peter McParland, Aston Villa, born 1934 - 

Alan Coleman, television producer, 1936-2013

Colin Tooley, stage name Carl Wayne, pop group The Move, 1943-2004

Jeff Lynne, pop groups The Move and ELO, born 1947 - 

Richard Bridgeman, 7th Earl of Bradford , born 1947

Christopher Boyle, bishop, born 1951

Tom Farmer & Dave Farmer, pop group Blackfoot Sue, born 1952

Stephen HuntSteve Hunt, football player Aston Villa FC, born 1956

Roger Taylor, pop group Duran Duran, born 1960

Gary Shaw, football player Aston Villa FC, born 1961

David Hodgson, stage name David Benson, actor, born 1962

Stephen Kettle, sculptor, born 1996

Stephanie Chambers, actress, born 1971

Daryl Burgess, football player West Bromwich Albion FC, born 1971

Marc Silk, actor, ‘the man with a million voices’, born 1972

Robin Devereux, 19th Viscount Hereford, 16th Baronet of Castle Bromwich, born 1975

Lee Hendrie, football player, Aston Villa FC, born 1977

Luke Rodgers, football player Shrewsbury Town FC, born 1982

Tom Clarke, pop group The Enemy, born 1986

Joseph Murphy, Rifleman, Rifles Regiment, born 1991, killed in Afghanistan 2009


'A History of Castle Bromwich for Young People' written by William Dargue 2016 for the Castle Bromwich Bellringers.

We’ve been ringing here for 500 years and are keen to involve local people in our ancient art. Contact us via our church website, if you want learn to ring or visit the tower or have one of us talk to your group about the history of Castle Bromwich, our church or bellringing.  Material on this site may be reused only for non-commercial purposes providing appropriate attribution is given (Creative Commons Licence Attribution NonCommercial 4.0) - details on the Contact page.