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Aston History a brief look at the past

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Campanile Birmingham
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Aston Brook

During the Old English period, as the population in a village grew then some folk left to make clearings in forests, woods and heathland and start new settlements. Aston was one such place. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it was recorded as Estone, meaning the east farmstead, village, manor or estate.
In 1066, Aston was one of the many manors held by Earl Edwin. 
The Domesday Book indicated that Aston had a church, a mill, a wood which was three miles long and half a mile broad, and eight hides. The population was made up of 30 villeins, twelve bordars and one serf - and their families.
Over the years its name changed Estone, Aston, Aston Manor and finally became part of Birmingham in 1911

Aston Hall c1960Aston Hall
The building of Aston Hall began in 1618 by Sir Thomas Holte (1571-1645 and completed about 1635. 
The magnificent Aston Hall sited on a hill; the great house allowed Sir Thomas Holte to look down and over his wide lands. The Holtes were to live in Aston Hall for over two hundred years also to be rented by James Watt, now owned by Birmingham City Council, and now is run as a museum.
It is one of the finest Jacobean house's in Great Britain, refurnished to the styles of it's day, one of the highlights of the year a candle lit evening tour of this fine house bringing a realistic feeling to the occasion. There are plans to refurbish the old stables to the front and left of the building, was once a caf?but now stands in disrepair. 
The hall is situated in several acres of parkland, playing fields and playground for young children, an oasis of green in the middle of a built up area of industry and housing. 

Aston Parish ChurchAston Parish Church
St Peter and Paul church, Aston Juxta Birmingham standing in the shadow of Aston Hall a church as stood on this site for many hundreds of years serving the religious needs of the people of Aston, and now a multi - cultural society.
The church as seen many changes over the years to its structure now looks over the Aston Expressway and Spaghetti Junction. 

Terraces housing.Houses
There are many types of houses in the Aston area high rise flats, terrace housed, new modern houses standing on the ground were once stood the infamous back to back houses crowded in to numerous courts. There where two different back to backs, two storey and three storey, with no running water no electric or gas. The first power was gas lamps, the three storeys consisted of a very small kitchen, living road, bedroom and an attic, and a cellar was underneath the kitchen. The court supported several families with communal brewhouse two shared toilets and a lean to with the miskin bins. The new modern houses have gardens and all mod cons with plenty of space not like the old overcrowded days. 

aston Cross TramsRoads
Aston triangle, up Lichfield Road Aston Cross turn off Aston Street into Newton Row, along High Street at six ways turn into Victoria road completing the triangle at the A38 Lichfield Road. The two main shopping areas being Newtown Row and Aston Cross. Other well-known roads Summer Lane were the song of See the Palm trees Sway down Summer Lane is attributed to. Rocky Lane which took you to Nechells, Lichfield Road into Erdington Six ways junction where Lozells Road, Birchfield Road, Alma Street, Witton Road, Victoria Road and High Street. Out lets to Handsworth, Perry Barr, Witton, Erdington, Birmingham City centre and Snow Hill. 

Aston ExpresswayIn 1969 construction began on the A38(M) Aston Expressway to take traffic from the City Centre to the M6 at Gravelly Hill or as it is better known "Spaghetti Junction" and continuing as the A38 to Lichfield. The Aston Expressway and the M6 were formally opened to traffic on 24th May 1972. The main carriageway was designed as a single seven-lane highway to be used on a tidal flow basis. The original intention was to operate the tidal flow with four lanes and three lanes morning and evening depending on the direction of the rush hour traffic. This was never tried out since it was thought too dangerous to have traffic travelling in opposite directions on adjacent lanes. For many years it was used as dual three lanes with a buffer lane but in recent years tidal flow has operated during the commuter periods on a four and two basis whilst always maintaining the clear buffer lane.

Aston HippodromeCinemas
The jewel in the crown was the Aston Hippodrome. Grand opening performance was on Monday December 7th 1908, It cost ?10000 to build Architects James Lister and Company. Tommy Fitzgibbon took over the management 12 February 1938 The same year the Hippodrome was burnt down it took six months to refurbish at the cost of ?38000. It closed as a theatre 4th June 1960. The last performance a revue, A to Z of Striptease. It later became a bingo hall and was demolished September 1980
The Aston Cross Picture House The Astoria once a theatre. Victoria Playhouse on Victoria Road. The Newtown Palace Newtown Row, the Globe, and the Orient Picture House High Street these where demolished in the sixties to make way for the new dual carriage way.

LunchboxAlpha Television Studios
Alpha Television Studios, opened on 17 February 1956. Lunchbox a light-hearted sing-along show presented by Noele Gordon with Jerry Allen and his Trio providing the music. Jean Morton, was a continuity announcer on ATV. She was sent the two Koala Bears in 1962. and took them on screen. They were a resounding success and puppets were introduced which replaced the original toys. The Tingha and Tucker Club was formed, which attracted some 750,000 members !
1963--The Beatles travelled to Alpha Television Studios, to appear on the ABC "Thank Your Lucky Stars."

Meg, Sandy, Jill Richardson. David Hunter and BennyCrossroads was a ground-breaking British soap set in a Birmingham motel, starring Noele Gordon, Ronald Allen, Jane Rossington and Tony Adams which ran from 1964 to 1988. In its heyday the series attracted 18 million viewers and often topped the television charts. After the closure of the Alpha Television Studios in 1981 recordings were made at Central Studios in Birmingham
The series did return 18 years later on March 4th 2001, but this time no longer a motel, but a four star hotel.

Anne Aston and Charlie Williams on the Golden Shot Other popular shows recorded at the studios included The Golden Shot, first presented by Bob Monkhouse was recorded and broadcast in 1967-72 and 1974-75. The contestants would mostly be telephone callers on the show, and they would play the game by instructing a blindfolded cameraman to adjust their aim in order to fire a 'telebow' (a crossbow tied to the camera) at targets. The bow was loaded by the show's feature character, Bernie the Bolt with Hostess Anne Aston (famous as she was supposedly unable to count without using her fingers). Charlie Williams was host of the 1970's version of the show.
After ATV left the building it became the studio for Birmingham's first independent local radio station BRMB

The Barton Arms
The Bartons Arms

click here for photos of the Barton's Arms today

There was a pub on nearly every corner on the streets of Aston, just to mention a few. The Royal Albert, The Golden Eagle, The Royal Oak (Bosted Boot) the Black Horse, The Shareholders all in Park Lane.
A few well known ones The Scotch House, The Clements, The Wagon and Horses, The Vine (The Clock) but the most famous being The Barton Arms built in 1901 for M & B Breweries a grand Victorian building has gone through the process of a major refurbishment the new owners Oakham Ales of Peterborough it as seen many famous stars from the entertainment world and visitors from all over the world to view it's magnificent interior

Industrial past
The Gun factory bought by Kynocks, Dunlop Tyres, Hercules Cycles and Tubes industries Rocky Lane. Norton Motor cycles, Sun Bicycles, Coronet cameras, Ansells and Atkinsons breweries, The Midland Vinegar Company the forerunner of HP Sauce.
Then there was the cottage industries pearl button makers brass bed and fender makers pin makers and nailers, the lifeblood of the poor and needy families of Aston. 

villapark.jpg (27320 bytes)Sport
Founded in 1874 by cricketers from the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel, Aston, Birmingham. They played on Aston Park, moving to a field in Wellington Road, Perry Barr in 1876. Prominent nationally, the club was a founder member of the Football League in 1888. The landlord at Perry Barr made such demands that the club sought its own ground and eventually moved back to Aston occupying the Aston Lower Grounds, which had already been used for some big games. Not known as Villa Park until some time later, the ground first saw league football in 1897. The Trinity Road Stand was redeveloped during the 2000/01 season, making Villa Park once again one of the finest stadiums in Britain and indeed Europe. However development of the new stand is was not without its critics.

Ozzy Osbourne

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Famous names
Sir Thomas Holte of Aston Hall. Sir Arthur Conan Dolye, Doctor and writer was in residence at No 63 Aston Road North at the surgery of Dr Reginald Ratcliffe Hoare a surgeon. He was at this address from 1878 to 1881 according to the Birmingham Civic Society.. Albert William Ketelbey, musician. Sir Edward Downes, Johnny Prescott, Heavy weight boxer lived in Burlington Street with his nan. Roy Holder, film and television star. Born in a back to back house in Park Lane Aston, attended Burlington Street and Upper Thomas Street schools, first acting role was in the Train Set made in the ATV studio's on Aston Cross in the early 1960s. Roy also appeared along side Hayley Mills in "Whistle down the Wind"

Ozzie Osbourne, lived at 14 Lodge Road, Trevor Burton One of the founder members of the Birmingham pop group The Move, attended Upper Thomas Street School, born in Catherine Street Aston. Tony Iommi, Bill ward, Gezzer Butler, all of Black Sabbath

> More photographs of Aston
visit Aston History who have kindly helped helped with this page

Astonbrook through Astonmanor Local History
If you are interested in Old Aston you will enjoy these books each with over 200 old photographs.
 Click on the cover to enlarge and click on the Title to buy online

Images of England Aston and Perry Barr

Aston and Perry Barr
Maria Twist

innercircle.jpg (55366 bytes)

The Inner Circle Birmingham's No.8 Bus Route 
Margaret Hanson, David Harvey and Peter Drake



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