St. Alban the Martyr

Parish Heritage Trail

This version of our heritage trail is still under construction.

If you navigated here from our Parish Heritage Trail leaflet, please follow the maps and directions in the printed leaflet.

Begin your tour outside the west door of the church ❶. There is now an open area opposite the church. Before the housing clearance of the 1950s and 60s, this was a densely populated area of crowded terraces, courtyards and back-to-back houses.

Vicotian Housing on Conybere Street

The Grade II* listed Victorian Gothic Church of Saint Alban the Martyr opened in 1881. The tower planned by the architect, John Loughborough Pearson, was never completed; instead a tower was added in 1938 to a different design by local architect E.F. Reynolds.

J.L. Pearson's Design with Tower and Spire

The tall Celtic cross in the church garden on the corner is a memorial to the brothers James Samuel Pollock and Thomas Benson Pollock, founders not only of the two churches of St Alban and St Patrick but also of the first schools in the parish.

Turn the corner into Conybere Street and go uphill past the church tower, where a Birmingham Civic Society plaque commemorates Birmingham artists Kate and Myra Bunce, who made and gave the fine altarpiece inside the church.

Continue up Conybere street. On the right, James Samuel Place and Thomas Benson Place behind it are named for the Pollocks. Beyond the church are Grade II listed former Lench’s Trust Alms Houses ❷ of 1879 by J. A. Chatwin, now St Basils Conybere Gardens, housing young people.

Once past the Alms Houses, turn right into Pentland Croft.At the end, follow a footpath heading between the 1960s Wilmcote and Brinklow Tower Blocks, to reach Upper Highgate Street. Ahead, to the left, the red brick building ❸ behind St Patrick’s Centre for Community Health was St Patrick's church school. Built in 1933 to replace an earlier school building on the same site, it closed in 1983.

St Patrick's School

Cross the road into Frank Street.Stop by the carpark for the health centre ❹, the site of St Patrick’s Church (red outline on the map). Designed by J.L. Pearson, St Patrick's opened in 1896 as a daughter church of St Alban's. It was demolished in 1966 and the parishes were united.

St Patrick's Church

Ahead is Belgrave Middleway, part of the ring road, and the parish boundary, but turn left onto the footpath between the carpark and Hingley Pharmacy.This path follows the line of the vanished Highgate Brook, which was the original parish boundary between Aston and Kings Norton, and also between Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Bear left to follow the ring road, here called Highgate Middleway and again the parish boundary. Continue for 400m / 430 yd, crossing the mouth of Upper Conybere Street (the street sign says only "Conybere Street"), to reach Leopold Street on your left. Here you have a choice.

For the shortest tour, turn left down Leopold Street, passing brass founders Samuel Heath & Sons ⓫, founded in 1820.Cross Stanhope Street and when you reach Dymoke Street, continue at ⓬.

For the full tour, continue 130m / 145 yd along the Middleway and fork left into Moseley Road, then right into Stratford Place to view Grade II* listed Stratford House ❺. Built in 1601, this was originally a prosperous farmhouse.

Here again you can shorten your tour. To do so, turn your back on Stratford House, cross the grass, join Moseley Road and continue at ❾.

For the full tour, continue along the front of Stratford House, cross New Mosely Road and rejoin the ring road. At the roundabout take the first exit for Camp Hill. 

Turn left into the top of Ravenhurst Street (pedestrian access only) to view the Grade II listed Ravenhurst Cottages ❻. Opened in 1848 by Lench’s Trust as Alms Houses, they now provide accommodation for homeless young people. 

Return to Camp Hill and continue, passing a Seventh-day Adventist Church on the other side of the road, towards traffic lights at the corner with Bradford Street. Here look across the road through the trees to the slate-roofed yellow stone church. This is Holy Trinity, Bordesley ❼, opened in 1822 as a chapel of Aston Parish for this district as Birmingham grew rapidly in size. It received its own parish in 1864.

It was the second vicar of Holy Trinity, Dr Oldknow, who invited James Pollock to start St Alban’s Mission in 1865 in Vaughton’s Hole, a poor corner of his parish undergoing rapid development. His successor, Fr Richard Enraght, was famously imprisoned in 1880 for High-Church practices, made illegal by the Public Worship Act 1874. Holy Trinity closed in 1971. For a time it served as a shelter for homeless men, but has been unused since about 1999. If you wish, you can cross the road for a closer look at the church, though access is not possible. To do so safely, first cross Bradford Street to the triangle by the pedestrian crossing lights, then cross Camp Hill in two stages by the pedestrian lights, finally cross Old Camp Hill (the current parish boundary); return to the corner of Bradford Street.

Continue down Bradford Street past Broom Street to Moseley Road. For the standard tour turn left into Moseley  Road and continue at ❽.

As a web-only bonus, not in the printed leaflet, here you can extend your walk by 500m / 540 yd to see St Anne's Church and Rowton House. 

To do so continue down hill past132 Bradford Street, a Grade II listed late eighteenth century red brick two bay town house of three stories (the ground-floor brickwork is covered by early ninteenth century stucco), followed by ⓱, a substantial three story Victorain building 123 - 131 now Bradford Court Business Centre. Pass Rea Place and continue to Alcester Street (the parish boundary) and turn left. On the other side ot the road isSt Anne's Roman Catholic Church.

Continue along Alcester Street past Cheapside to Moseley Street the Large building on the opposite side of Mosely Streetis Rowton House ... go up Moseley Street pastSt Anne's Hostel .... On reaching the junction cross Moseley Road, turn right, and continue at ❾.

On the corner of Ravenhurst Street is the Moseley Arms ❽, a Victorian Public House. Continue as Moseley Road curves left past Highgate Park, to view numbers 90-118, ❾ Grade II listed villas built from 1820 to 1855. Here on the higher ground richer people bought plots to build their homes on the edge of Birmingham. Cross the road and return to the entrance of Highgate Park. Enter park and fork slightly left to cross the park ❿ by a tree-lined avenue with benches on each side.

This park originated from four fields given in 1790 in the will of Elizabeth Hollier to provide clothing for 24 poor people each year from the rent for grazing rights.The old field boundaries are marked in red on the map.By 1875 they were the only green space left in the parish and Birmingham City Council bought them for a public park.

On leaving the park, turn right. At the end of the road turn left following a footpath beside railings to reach and cross Darwin Street. Follow Stanhope Street to Leopold Street, passing on your left ⓫ the brass foundry of Samuel Heath & Sons, founded in 1820. Turn right down Leopold Street to reach Dymoke Street.

The corner plot on the left ⓬ was the site of the original St Alban's Mission building on Leopold Street, opened in 1865, and the first ʻpermanentʼ church building, opened in 1871 beside it on Dymoke Street. These are outlined in red on the map. When the present church opened in 1881 the old church was converted for use by St Albanʼs school. In 1915 it was replaced with a purpose-built school, outlined in blue. This was demolished after the school moved in 1965 to a building opposite the present church, in turn demolished when the school, now an Academy, moved in 2013 to a new building ⓭. Turn left into Dymoke Street. When the road turns left, continue ahead to reach Angelina Street with the Academy building ahead of you, strikingly clad in stripes of red, brown and orange. Turn right and follow the road as it swings left, then take the footpath to the right of the ramp, following the fence of Chandos Primary School. When the path forks, go right then left, to walk beside the River Rea to the bridge carrying Gooch Street over the river. ⓮ This is the site of “Vaughtonʼs Hole” where until 1831 a floodgate held back the river to divert water into the ʻflemʼ an artificial channel along the line of Gooch Street that fed a mill in Digbeth. By the 1860s the name was applied to a nearby clay pit and brickworks and to the whole lower part of Highgate.

Turn left up Conybere Street past St Albanʼs Academy ⓭.

On your right, Highgate Baptist Church ⓯ carries a blue plaque commemorating the Rev. Peter Stanford, an African American born into slavery, who became Birminghamʼs first black minister in 1889 at the earlier Baptist Church in Hope Street. Continue to return to your starting point ❶.

We hope that you have enjoyed our heritage trail and learnt something new about the history of our parish.

The maps for this trail are based on