King's Norton Historical Trails PDF  | Print |

King's Norton Historical Trails

The River Rea, construction of the canals and coming of the railway, and more recently, proximity to the motorway network have enabled the area to thrive as a centre for industry and commerce.

At one time a 14 mile stretch River Rea provided the power for 18 mills producing a variety of products.  Hurst Mill, which was sited on the junction of Camp Road and Pershore Road South was the last flour mill in Birmingham.  Other mills in King's Norton were Baldwins Paper Mill (13) and Adderley Park Mills, founded in 1838 by Thomas Bayliss & Son in Lifford Lane which became the King's Norton Metal Co (21), the rolling mills producing brass, copper and other metal alloy strip. The Royal Mint became a customer and a minting plant is reputed to have been installed in 1914.  King's Norton pennies were minted there in 1918 & 1919 with KN mark.  In the 1930 the plant moved to Witton and the site bought by Slough Estates, became the Birmingham Factory Centre and is not the King's Norton Business Centre.  The site of Wychall (casting & forging) Mill is now King's Norton's other business centre, Catesby Park on Eckersall Road off Camp Lane.

The River Rea was also used as one of the sources of water for the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, which encouraged more industrial development, including the King's Norton Brick Works (8), which is now a derelict site in Ardath Road. In 1836 SHERBORNE MILL (13) became Baldwin's Paper Mill, it was breifly the home of the Patrick Collection (Motor Museum) and now contains a number of enterprises.  Despite several changes of ownership, the chemical works started by Joseph Sturges on the Stratford Canal, now owned by Speciality Minerals Ltd (14) is still involved in the chemical trade.

The Birmingham & Gloucester Railway was completed in 1841. In May 1849 the Midland Railway opened King's Norton Station, which became the inspiration for the Rev. Awdrey's railway stories whilst he was curate at St Nicolas Church.

King's Norton Historical Trails

Industrial & Commercial Heritage

(This trail is approximately 4 miles but can be done in stages,starting and finishing at any point)

Starting at the SARACEN'S HEAD (1), walk down Back Road, cross Pershore Road South at ehe Pelican Crossing; (2) No.288 Pershore Road South built in 1878 as the SCHOOL MASTER'S HOUSE to which the offices of the King's Norton School Board were added in 1901, the Village Board School opened in 1878, now (3) KING'S NORTON PRIMARY SCHOOL. Walk towards the roundabout; this section of main road was cut in the 1820's previously travellers passed through the Green via Back Road. Turn left down WHARF ROAD, named from the old coal wharves on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

Until 1930 a CATTLE MARKET (4) was held in the car park of the NAVIGATION INN; and the MOP Fair  was occasionally held in the field beyond known as THE LARKIN. (5) ALPHA FARM now Shortland Close, was the site of the Shepard family's wheelwright & blacksmith business until 1960. The BAPTIST CHAPEL (6) was built in 1809; the congregation previously met in a room in the Navigation Inn and baptisms were held in the canal. (7) No.75 WHARF ROAD used to be the Brant family's 'Coal & Lime Wharf, Machine House & Stable', where the animals for towing the narrow boats were stabled in the early 19th century. Across Wharf Bridge (8) KING'S NORTON BIRCK Co which closed in 1958, occupied a now derelict site on Ardath Road.

 A path to the left of Wharf Bridge runs down to the WORCESTER & BIRMINGHAM CANAL, approximately 30 miles long with 58 locks and 5 tunnels, started in 1792 it was completed in 1815.  Follow the towpath to the left passed (9) No 1-3 CANALSIDE COTTAGES these used to be the Boat Inn, a hostelry much frequented by canal folk. A canal feeder from the River Rea enters the canel here. The course of the canal followed the LINT BROOK (10) thought to be an AD699 Anglo-Saxon boundary (G Demidowicz, B & W Arch. Soc. Trans.2003 Vol.107); the brook enters a culvert on the Hawkesley Estate and emerges just beyond the canal feeder, it also acts as an overflow from the canal. (11) THE JUNCTION HOUSEbuilt 1796 as the tollhouse for the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Co, the tariff board is above the door.

Cross the bridge, the STRATFORD -UPON-AVON CANAL started from here in 1793, the toll house was next to the GUILLOTINE LOCK (12) a listed and scheduled ancient monument, built to prevent loss of water between the canals and to ensure the toll was paid; the stop lock has very unusual wooden guillotine style gates suspended in iron frames by chains and counterweights; the lock and machinery are no longer in use. Behind the brick wall next to the towpath was originally the site of SHERBORNE MILL (13) in 1836 it became Baldwin's Paper Mill, and was breifly the home of the Patrick Collection (Motor Museum). Continue along the towpath to Tunnwl Lane on the left if SPECIALITY MINERALS Ltd (14), the 150 ft tower is a kiln which reduces high-quality limestone from Derbyshire into compounds used in pills and paper. On the opposite bank is a SWING BRIDGE (15) that replaced a fixed bridge across the canal; originally there was a drawbridge, which was destroyed by fire.

(a)   Either continue along the towpath to (16) BRANDWOOD TUNNEL, named after the Brandwood Estate, 325 metres/ 352 yards long, boats used to be pulled through on ropes. The red brick portal with its plaque showing its plaque showing William Shakespeare is listed. Cross the bridge over  the tunnel to TUNNEL LANE, which becomes a rough track. At the SWING BRIDGE a rough footpath to thel left will take you back to the GUILLOTINE LOCK.

(b)  Or turn left down the lane past (17) LIFFORD RESERVOIR a source of water for the canel; in the 1930's it was used as a boating lake. The River Rea runs in a gully along the far side where you will find a RIVER REA HERITAGE TRAIL interpretation board. The nest building of interest is LIFFORD HALL (18) built in 1781; there was a Medieval mill in this area. Cross (19) LIFFORD LANE, which follows the line Icknield (or Rykneild) Street, a Roman Road which runs from Alcester and passes Metchley Roman Fort sited at QE Hospital & Birmingham University. Turn right and you will come to a bridge over the canal; about of a mile along the towpath to the right is one of the few remaining (20) WW2 LOOK OUT POSTS. To the left of the roundabout just beyond the bridge is the King's Norton Business Centre originally the site of  (21) THE KING'S NORTON METAL COMPANY to complete the trail cross the canal bridge, turn left on the towpath and return to the Junction House.

At the end of a wall on the right you will pass the point where the RIVER REA (22) enters a culvert under the canal. Follow the REA VALLEY CYCLE PATH across KING'S NORTON PLAYING FIELDS with a fine view of St NICOLAS CHURCH, cross Pershore Road South at the pelican crossing. On the other isde of the River Rea, HURST MILL (23) used to be at the junction of Camp Lane. The miller's house is now the right hand section of The Toby Carvery. Either continue along the cycle path following the canal feeder across KING'S NORTON PARK, on the far side there is a car park and children's playground. The canal feeder goes into a culvert under Westhill Road and the houses on Wychall Lane, evenually meeting the River Rea. For KING'S NORTON STATION (24) continue on the cycle path, cross Camp LAne pst the Camp Public House, previously known as the Station Inn and walk up Station Raod. Otherwise walk up Pershore Road, on the opposite side is KING'S NORTON LIBRARY (25) opened in1906. A gate in the churchyard wall will take you past the OLD GRAMMAR SCHOOL (26) and St NICOLAS CHURCH back to the SARACEN'S HEAD (1).

Kings Norton Trail map

icon Kings Norton Trail Map.pdf (169.52 KB)

King's Norton

KING'S NORTON, meaning the King's north town, is so named from its position as part of the great royal manor of Bromsgrove to which it once belonged.  It remained crown property until 1804 when it was purchased by John Taylor of Moseley Hall.

The origins of KING'S NORTON GREEN are still obscure, whilst it is tempting to assume that the Green is a pre-Norman Conquest landscape feature we cannot yet prove it. Early Saxon pottery from Kings Norton Park simply suggests settlement in the area. Some medieval houses survive around the Green and it is therefore likely that it existed by the 15th century.  The earliest map of the Green is early 18th century and shows four rectangular greens.  By the early 19th century the Green accupied the now familiar triangular shape but was separated by a raodway which was relegated to footpath status in 1905.  The area around the Green, together with part of Kings Norton Park, was designated a conservation Area in 1969.

In 1616 King's Norton was granted a Charter to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs.  By the end of the 18th century these had been reduced to a fortnightly cattle market, which ceased in 1930 and an autumn Mop Fair, which still takes place on the first Monday in October.  The market has been reinstated and a Farmers Market was held on the 9th June 2005.  Future markets (9am-2pm) will be held on the second Saturday of each month.

This leaflet is produced by the King's Norton History Society and King's Norton Library

King's Norton History Society

The King's Norton History Society have devised three more walks in and around King's Norton.

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