The site and its surrounding areas are steeped in history. The proposed development will recognise what has gone before, as well as what still remains there today and will look to build on the existing character in a number of ways.
Birmingham is known as “the city of a thousand trades”. This term was coined in the 19th century, after Birmingham had become established as the home for small, highly skilled businesses producing a wide range of products. The city’s growth was driven by Birmingham being free from restrictive guilds, meaning tradesmen from all over the country were able to come here and work in any trade, multiple trades, or regularly change their occupations. This culture of flexible work, industriousness and entrepreneurism will continue to be a part of the area's future.
Image: East Prospect of Birmingham, William Westley, 1732
In the 18th Century the land we are developing sat south of the Bradford Estate, otherwise known as Warners Fields, sharing a border at Moseley Street. Henry Bradford was a Quaker timber merchant and an important local figure in the early identity of this part of the city. The original Warners Fields stretched as far north as Bradford Street.
In 1767 Warners Fields was completely undeveloped and Henry Bradford wanted to lease the land to businesses.
He advertised his land for free in Aris’s Birmingham Gazette to anyone who wanted to come and set up a trade in the area. By 1778 the area was covered by a grid of new streets, with building plots laid out, and it became a new district for trade and business. The Henry Bradford Centre within our scheme has been named in his memory and will help to promote innovation and support start-up companies in the area.
Image: Recreation of Bradford’s advert in Birmingham’s Aris Gazette advertising his land for free.
During the 18th Century Birmingham had three pleasure gardens: Vauxhall Gardens, Strawberry Fields and Apollo Gardens.
The Apollo Gardens, which opened in 1786, was the smallest of three, and lay at the lower end of the newly laid out Moseley Street where the first meander of the River Rea to the east of Deritend Bridge ran parallel with the new road.
Entertainment at Apollo Gardens included music and fireworks, and it was also the site of the first recorded cricket match to have taken place in Birmingham.
The new Warners Fields will have a focus on leisure and play, offering elements of the social life and activities Apollo Gardens once offered.
Image: Birmingham’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens