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Winson Green


Birmingham has many greens indicating spots where Anglo-Saxon and Middle English folk settled on land which was better and easier to cultivate than surrounding heath or localities of heavy clay. Winson Green is no exception. It was a green amidst Birmingham Heath. Winson Green noted first in 1327 when it was written as WYNESDEN . In the Warwickshire volume of the English Place Name Society it is suggested that this indicated the hill, 'don', of a man called Wine. Joe Mckenna feels a better explanation is the derivation from the English word 'winn' it meaning a meadow. Thus Winson Green could be meadow hill green. Certainly the land drops quite sharply to the north of the Winson Green Road and as the Handsworth New Road it runs down towards the valley of the Hockley Brook. this topographical feature supports both interpretations as far as the 'don' element of Winson Green is concerned. It remains debatable as to the stronger for the origin of 'WIN'.

Birmingham Heath remained a great open space until 1798 when an act of Parliament was passed for its enclosure. Twelve years later, the Street Commissioners Map indicated the appearance of Winson Green Road. Lodge Road and Bacchus Road, but apart from Shakespeare's Glass House and two large houses called Ninevah and Bellefield there were no prominent buildings. The only hamlet as such was Winson Green, at the junction of the Winson Green Road and the future Wellington Street. There were also a few houses along the top end of Lodge Road.    
Adapted from Carl Chinn's "One Thousand years of Brum" 1999.

By 1900 most of the development of the present day Winson Green had taken place. Rows of streets stretched from the borders of Smethwick along one side of the Dudley Road joined  Brookfields near Dudley Road Hospital (now City Hospital) at Spring Hill.  Winson Green Road with rows of streets that stretch on one side to meet Smethwick and the other until they join up with Brookfields.  Just after the Prison (opened in 1849 as the Borough Jail) Winson Green Road joins with Handsworth New Road at the junction of  Lodge Road then continuing until it meets the Handsworth border at Boulton Road. Lodge Road only has housing and streets on the one side with Winson Green officially ending at Norton Street then becoming Hockley. The other side of Lodge Road is dominated by the high brick wall, designed to keep the inmates in and the public out, of All Saints Hospital (built 1850 as the Borough Asylum).


                                                            Benson Road School, Benson Road.

                                                            Benson Road School, Benson Road.

Benson Road School built by the Birmingham School Board in 1888 was originally called Soho Road School, the road now called Benson Road used to be called Soho Road. The building designed by Thomason and Whitwell is still in use as a school and is a grade 11 listed building.  

Handsworth New Road School (No Photo) designed by Buckland and Farmer was built by the Birmingham School Board in 1901.  This grade 11 listed building still remains but is no longer used as a school.

                                       Foundry Road School, Foundry Road and James Turner Street

                                       Foundry Road School, Foundry Road and James Turner Street

Foundry Road School designed by Martin and Chamberlain is still functioning as a school over one hundred and twenty five (125) years after it was built in 1883 by the Birmingham School Board.

                                                       Dudley Road School from Dudley Road

                                                       Dudley Road School from Dudley Road

Dudley Road School a grade 11 listed building the oldest school in Winson Green built by the Birmingham School Board in 1878 and designed by Martin and Chamberlain.

All Saints Hospital   Commemorative badge.

All Saints Hospital Commemorative badge.

All Saints Hospital Lodge Road in 1845 an Act was passed "to amend the laws for the registration and provision of lunatic asylums" The Act required Boroughs to provide Asylums and to receive patients therein at a weekly charge "not exceeding 14 shillings.
Birmingham Borough Council was the first to set up an asylum under the new act. On 18 November 1845 they appointed a committee to consider the best means of carrying out the provisions of the act, and after receiving the report of this committee the Borough Council agreed  to provide an asylum for the paupers of the three parishes constituting the Borough, with an initial accommodation of under 200 beds.
In February a piece of land at Winson Green comprising 20 acres was purchased from Captain Inge for £7,233.  Plans were drawn up by Mr D R Hill, a Birmingham architect, to provide accommodation for 300 patients and on 29 September 1847 the foundation stone to the hospital, to be known initially as Birmingham Lunatic Asylum, was laid by the Mayor, Robert Martineau.
In January 1850 Dr Thomas Green was appointed first Medical Superintendent of the new Hospital: Dr Green took up his duties on the 1st March 1850 , and the first patients were admitted, the average number in residence being 148. By 1864 further land had been bought making a total estate of 48 acres and buildings that could house 630 inmates.
From the beginning land around the hospital was run as a farm and this supplied all vegetables, milk and eggs to the hospital with surplus milk going to the adjoining prison. Until the 1950's farms were seen as an essential adjunt of the large mental hospitals, not only providing produce for the patients and staff, but providing regular occupation for many of the patients. The farm at the hospital went the way most other hospital farms went during this period with the Chairman at the time indicating that the decision to dispense with the farm was precipitated by the failure of an expensive prize bull to produce.  
Adapted from All Saints Hospital's 150th year Commemorative Brochure 7th September 1997


All Saints - ~alan/family/C-WAR.html"WAR ENG
Also known as Gibb Heath, Hockley, Soho, Winson Green
OS Grid Reference: 52°29'N 1°55'W
Name Origin: Hockley: Middle English Hokelowe Hucca's mound or hill.
In the 16th century, two small groups of cottages at Winson Green and Hockley constituted the "foreign" of the village of Birmingham. Birmingham Heath was wasteland, with a small lake known as Hockley Pool.
In 1764, Matthew Boulton built his Soho Manufactory on the site a small mill built some years earlier for the manufacture of toys. This was one of several mills along the course of the Hockley Brook, which marked the boundary between Birmingham and its then independent neighbours, ~alan/family/G-Aston-juxta-Birmingham.html"Aston and Handsworth. The mill stood where Factory Road crossed the brook, with a pool to the north. Boulton chose the site as it provided a large open space close to a source of water power. He later experimented with steam power; and, following his partnership with James Watt, the design of steam engines became a significant part of the business. The manufactory concentrated on the production of a wide range of finished metal articles, including coins, whilst the components for Watt's steam engines were made at the Soho Foundry in nearby Smethwick.
Soho circa 1841
Soho Manufactory closed after the death of James Watt the younger in 1848, and was demolished some 15 years later. The Great Hockley Pool, by then renamed Soho Pool, was drained, and its site used for railway sidings. The minting of coins continued in Soho; Boulton's steam presses were brought by Ralph Heaton and Son in 1850, and installed at their workshops in Bath Street. The business moved in 1860 to a site in Icknield Street, on the fringe of the jewellery quarter, becoming the Birmingham Mint.
The invention of electro-plating in 1839 led to a great increase in the jewellery trade in the 1840s. Some fine gold and silver articles were produced, but the bulk was plated jewellery and toys: "Brummagem" (from Bromachem, an old version of Birmingham) became a byword for cheap and tawdry goods. Although a number of large factories were built, much of the work was done in small workshops: often a single sub-let room in residential accomodation. The use of outworkers was common in the trade, and remained so long after it had died out elsewhere.
James Brindley's Birmingham Canal opened in 1772, and a number of factories appeared along its banks, the largest being in Smethwick. In the 1820s, Thomas Telford, engaged to improve the canal, thought it "little better than a crooked ditch". He cut a new canal, keeping the bends of the old as branches.
The residential development of Winson Green and Hockley began about the time that Birmingham was granted its Charter as a Municipal Borough in 1838. The houses were mostly back-to-back two-up-two-down dwellings, and later terraces of through houses. The inhabitants were the impoverished labourers and their families, the more well-to-do preferring the nearby urban districts, such as Handsworth (then in Staffordshire, and not incorporated into the city until 1911). Joseph Chamberlain's improvement scheme of 1875/6 introduced short terraces at right angles to the streets. Sanitation was largely by means of the pan closet system, until the city's sewerage works on the river Tame came into operation in the early 20th century.
All Saint's Church was consecrated in 1838, a red-brick gothic edifice later to be sandwiched between the Great Western main line, and Hockley goods yard. A number of missions and churches were built within the Parish boundaries, and as the population rose some were in time provided with parishes created out of All Saints: St Cuthbert's in 1872; St Chrysostom's in 1890; and St Peter's was formed out of All Saints and St Mark's in 1902.
The area was the site of several public institutions.
Winson Green Gaol was brought into use in 1849, and extended in the mid 1850s. The first governer was dismissed after complaints of lack of discipline within the prison. His replacement was imprisoned after a Home Office Commission confirmed complaints of brutality.
The Lunatic Asylum, next door to the Gaol (and with the same architect, Daniel Hill) was opened shortly after the prison, and was continually extended between 1851 and 1878.
The Fever Hospital, opened in 1874, later became All Saint's Hospital.
The Union Workhouse was built between 1850 and 1852, replacing the original buildings near the city centre. An infirmary was added in 1889, and from this developed Dudley Road Hospital.
The area was served by two railway companies: the Stour Valley line of the LNWR opened in 1852, and the Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Dudley railway (part of GWR) in 1854. This coincided with the opening of stations in the city centre, thus allowing suburban rail travel, and encouraging the opening of local stations. A cable-car system connecting Colmore Row (in the City Centre) to Hockley was opened in 1888, and extended to New Inns in Handsworth in 1889. This continued in use until replaced by electric trams in 1911.