Castle Bromwich Village Trail
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From the graveyard along the Chester Road, past the church and Rectory Lane.
When you reach Lady Bradford's tree, turn left onto the Chester Road for the eighth stop. You're probably best to cross the over road to look at Delamere & Wayside from the other side. Take care crossing the road: this is the main stage coach route from London to Chester.
Before you get to Delamere and Wayside, you pass Lady Ida's tree - it's though that she planted it for one of Queen Victoria's Jubilees, but no-one knows which one.
Then the Remembrance Club. This is a private club where members can have a drink, watch tv, play snooker or just chat; concerts and dances are held here.
The house was built in about 1850 as a large private residence called Southfields.
In the 19th century a number of large houses were built in the countryside around Castle Bromwich for wealthy business and professional people. Most of them have now been demolished and small housing estates or blocks of flats have been built on the land. On the next part of the trail, for instance, you'll pass Hawkesford House, Langwood Court, Poplars Drive and Clayton Drive. There are modern houses here now, but there used to be large houses here for rich people set in spacious gardens.
Southfields was occupied by a number of wealthy people. John Smallwood was a Birmingham wine merchant whose family later lived at Stechford Hall; Smallwood's was said to be the oldest wine merchants in Birmingham with a shop near Old Square in town. A number of the Smallwood family are buried in the graveyard. The industrialist Mr Barclay of Southall Brothers & Barclay also lived here. The firm's large factory used to be on Alum Rock Road making toilet rolls. And Ernest Radnall who set up the Radco motor cycle company in the early 20th century also made his home here.
There is a sad tale told about one of the family, Ernest Smallwood.
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Southfields got its name from the large open fields that covered the land around here for a thousand years.
From Anglo-Saxon times the land around here was set out as a few very large fields. They went from the area around Southfield Avenue all the way down to the River Cole at Bucklands End and Shard End. Each field was divided into strips with the villagers having a number of different strips in each of the fields. This made sure that everyone got a fair share of the better land and the poorer land.
There was good land here for farmers to plough. Some parts of Castle Bromwich are made up of heavy red clay: this gets very wet and sticky in winter and rock hard in summer. But on this higher ground between the River Tame and the River Cole much of the land is sandy and gravelly and easier to plough. The farm workers would have lived in small cottages along the Chester Road.
Some of the strip fields lasted until the 19th century.
Nos. 15 & 17 Chester Road are now known as Delamere and Wayside.
However, this was originally built as a single building and was an inn on the London to Chester road. The first stagecoaches ran along this route in 1657 as the English Civil War ended. The inn was probably built soon afterwards and called the Bridgeman Arms (Sir John Bridgeman I had come Castle Bromwich Hall in 1657.)
The inn was in a good position. It stood near the top of the steep Mill Hill on the Chester Road near the church, which must have been a difficult climb for horses pulling a heavy coach full of passengers and their luggage.
The road past here was also the main road from Birmingham to Coleshill. Birmingham manufacturers and merchants used to send their goods for London to this inn to be put on the stagecoach for London.
In 1787 James Barton was the landlord. He kept horses here for sale and also had a blacksmith's forge behind the inn. This was an important asset as horses would lose their iron shoes on the
journey and wheels and other parts of the coaches often needed repairing due to the poor state of the roads.
After 1815, when Orlando Bridgeman was made the first Earl of Bradford by King George III, the inn was renamed the Bradford Arms.
The house was not be an inn much longer. In 1819 it became the Classical and Commercial Boarding School. In 1841 John Blewitt was the schoolmaster caring for 20 boys aged between 8 and 14 years old.
By 1891 the house was known as Delamere House and was occupied by Arthur Radcliffe from Lancashire and his family. He owned a telegraph company and two of his sons worked for him.
Some time during the 20th century the house was split in two.
There used to be another small house built on the left-hand side end of No.15. This was hit by a German bomb during the Second World War and was demolished. However, the outline of the buildings can be seen on the side wall of the house.
'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.