Weekend Life Mag: Memory Lane: Ancient History

Birmingham Evening Mail (England), May 5, 2001 | Go to article overview

Weekend Life Mag: Memory Lane: Ancient History


Byline: Carl Chinn

PERHAPS best known today for its police station and swimming baths on the Outer Circle 11 route, Stechford is one of Brum's districts which strikes deep into the Middle Ages.

On the boundary of Yardley in Worcestershire with both Little Bromwich and Castle Bromwich in Warwickshire, it is mentioned in 1275 as Sticheforde.

Then, sometime in 1300 or 1301, a William of Berwode granted lands in Wodibromwis to Alice, daughter of Adam Smith of Stichesford.

If we pronounce the 'ch' of Stichesforde as a 'k', the origins of the name become obvious.

It was Stikesforde, a ford of sticks over the River Cole.

In fact, the local district remained known as Stichford until the mid-19th century when the local railway station was mistakenly spelled as Stechford.

The hamlet of Sticheforde grew up on a gravel patch which was drier than the surrounding land of heavy clay and which allowed easy cultivation and an accessible supply of water from shallow wells.

It was reached from Yardley Village by way of Flaxleye, now Flaxley Road, which was noted as early as 1327.

Across the River Cole and in Little Bromwich was Stechford Mill, which was in use from the later Middle Ages until the mid-1800s, whilst Stechford Hall lay in Castle Bromwich about where Beaufort Avenue now runs.

For all its individuality, Stechford was much nearer to the village of Yardley than were distant hamlets like Greet or isolated farmsteads such as Billesley.

As a result, Stechford and Yardley were connected closely. Indeed, Stycheforde Felde was one of the great open fields of the manor.

For centuries, Stechford remained a small settlement on the edge of Yardley, bounded by the River Cole to the north and west and by fields to the south and east.

Distant as it was from the burgeoning Birmingham, its development was late and did not begin until after a suburban railway station was opened in 1844. By 1877 the growing population could worship at a Wesleyan chapel and at an iron mission church of Saint Edburgha's, Yardley.

Becoming known as All Saints this structure on Alfred Road was replaced with a permanent building in 1892. Four years later, Stechford Infants School opened in Albert Road.

By this date Stechford had two villages. The upper village lay between Stechford junction and Victoria Road - although Albert Road and Lyttleton Road struck southwards to Yardley Fields Road and Fieldhouse Farm.

Over the railway line was lower village, where Northcote Road was apparent and nearby there were a few houses close to the Bull's Head.

By the First World War, more buildings had extended both the upper and lower villages and after the coming of peace in 1919, the great swathes of open land in Stechford mostly fell beneath housing.

Today, Stechford is marked out by its various stages of development, but the old village centre remains a focal point. …

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