Chester Road, circa 1920

(Birmingham Central Library)

Boldmere Road is on the left, Gravelly Lane on the right. Looking down towards Pype Hayes (see the railway bridge?) Chester Road is not tarmacked in this photo.

Chester Road, 2003

In 1760 Chester Road met Goosemoor Lane around the area now the Greyhound pub (Chester Road being on the same side of the lake as all of Goosemoor and Goosemoor was not straight as implied by the Erdington Library info but curved, though much less sharp than today). So Chester Road was not always exactly where it is now. The BNRR is nothing new either! An early form of road-privatisation was turn-pike roads. A businessman would ensure the road was kept in good repair and collect tolls in return (the turn-pike was the barrier that was raised and lowered). This happened with Chester Road (originally called the London To Chester Road) sometime after 1760. This also partly acted as security against highwaymen in the area (the toll-collectors would be armed and often had a horse too).

Before then if a road got rutted it's users simply used another bit to the side, over time that became the road (tarmac roads began in the late 18th Century). That explains why on maps Chester Road's route is different over time before it was turn-piked (even given that the old maps might not be totally accurate either). I'm told they were accurate as that decided the value of your land/estate but cynical me reckons rich land-owners would have given back-handers to map-makers to alter things sometimes and become even more rich! However cartologists could have taken photos/drawings from balloons I suppose.

Dick Turpin And Other Highwayman
Fokelore has it that Dick Turpin operated on Chester Road at least as far from Staffordshire as what is now New Oscott (the Staffordshire border area was his preferred Midland hunting ground as aquaintances there would hide him). Farmers etc along Chester Road would leave horses out for him at night, those that didn't would find a barn on fire one night! A highwayman called Salisbury operated in Wylde Green.

Is Chester Road Of Roman Or Anglo-Saxon Origin?
A puzzle; Today the A41 is the trunk-road that runs from London to Chester (it's number alters at times on the way). The A452 runs only from Brownhills to Kenilworth. It and the A41 are never the same road. Looking at maps today, using the A452 to get to Chester by trunk-road would mean from Brownhills onto the A5 (the Roman Road Watling Street) and then off onto the A41. The other way from Kenilworth to London is rather convoluted but again means joining the A41 further down (the A41 trunk road "vanishes" at one point. Perhaps the M40 was built on it etc).

Yet somehow Chester Road was known as the "London to Chester Road". Perhaps then just a parochial name. Maybe an oblique route to London or Chester from this area, not the main route between the two nationally. Or perhaps where many historic trunk-roads are today is completely different somehow.

Peter Leather from the Roman Roads project;

"Difficult one - old-time historians often said the Chester Road was Roman and pointed to it's straight-line route (made even straighter if you include the former continuation through Pype Hayes Park) as evidence. However, the problem is that the Chester Road seems to be primarily designed to provide a short cut to Watling Street (A5) from Warwick and Coventry, neither of which existed in Roman times, only becoming important in the Anglo-Saxon period. My personal guess would be that it's medieval, perhaps 10th or 11th century but I wouldn't be shocked if someone turned up evidence of it being Roman".

House Names
There seems no obvious pattern to the house names carved into house stonework along this road between the Highfield Drive and Cherry Lane junctions. Perhaps just random by the builder as they sounded nice. Here they are in case someone can spot a pattern, along with a guess at origins.

Some are places BOTH in Canada AND Scotland etc - that seems the rough theme though.

Cherry Lane end

  Origin may be
Selkirk Villas Place in Scotland
Donald Villas Scottish clan
Alberr Villas ?
Burrard Villas Place in Vancouver
Glenora Villas Place in Canada
Tranmere Villas Merseyside district
Rewlyn Villas ?
Roxton Villas Place in Quebec,_Quebec
Melrose Villas Place in Canada
Oakdene Villas South Africa
Clevedon Villas Avon town
Grasmere Villas An English lake
Berwyn Villas Welsh mountain range

Highfield Drive end

Goosemoor Lane History

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