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HistoryEdit

Kings Heath came into being as a village in the 18th century when improvements to the Alcester to Birmingham road acted as a catalyst for the development of new houses and farms. Prior to this, the area was largely uninhabited wasteland run by the Royal Borough of Kings Norton.

The streets running off High Street are dominated by pre-1919 terraced, owner-occupied housing.[citation needed]

A number of independent shops have taken advantage of comparatively cheap rents in the side roads off High Street, leading to an influx of boutiques and the start of an (organic) café culture. In 2008, the businesses agreed to establish a Business Improvement District, which top-slices a proportion of their local business taxes to go directly into improvements and promotion of the area.[1]

The local community still refers to Kings Heath as a "village" even though it has been part of Birmingham for over a century. Its centre at the High Street / Vicarage Road junction has been developed to form an attractive public square which is used as a venue for a monthly farmers' market and other events.[2]

On 28 July 2005, Kings Heath was hit by a major (by European standards) tornado which damaged several shops on High Street and All Saints' Church. The tornado then moved on to damage many houses in Balsall Heath. There were no fatalities.

EducationEdit

Kings Heath has several schools including Colmore Infant, Nursery and Primary School, St. Dunstan's Catholic Primary School, Kings Heath Primary School, Kings Heath Boys, Wheelers Lane Technology College, King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls and Bishop Challoner Catholic College.

Public transportEdit

Kings Heath is serviced by National Express West Midlands' bus routes 11 (Birmingham Outer Circle), 35 (central Birmingham – Hawkesley) and 50 (central Birmingham – Druids Heath).

FeaturesEdit

The central shopping area runs along High Street and Alcester Road, and the shops include branches of national chain stores, charity shops, supermarkets, electrical retailers and opticians. There are also a number of pubs, churches and schools on and around High Street.

 
Plaque marking UB40's first gig.

Kings Heath has two parks: Kings Heath Park, which is famous as the setting for the popular ATV series Gardening Today,[3] and Highbury Park, which is adjacent to Highbury Hall, a former residence of Joseph Chamberlain. Kings Heath Park has "Green Flag" status. It features a Victorian-styled tea room and is the venue for the annual Gardener's Weekend Show, which comes under the Royal Horticultural Society and is one of the top regional events for gardening enthusiasts to show off their vegetables, floral displays, etc.

The Hare and Hounds public house, in Kings Heath High Street, was the location of the first concert by UB40 on 9 February 1979, which is commemorated by a PRS for Music plaque. The pub was rebuilt in 1907, but is Grade II listed, as it has retained many original Art Nouveau internal fixtures. The pub is still an important local music venue.[4]

Sport and leisureEdit

Kings Heath Stadium was a greyhound track that existed from the 1920s until its closure in 1971.[5] The site was first developed in 1923 at Alcester Lane's End on the southern outskirts of Kings Heath as the venue for the annual Kings Heath Horse Show. The ground was converted to include a greyhound track and the first dog race took place in May 1927. After the Horse Show moved elsewhere in the 1960s, the ground was exclusively used for greyhound racing until being permanently closed in 1971. The land was eventually sold for housing development.[6]

An 18-hole golf course opened in 1926 just to the south of the race track along the Alcester Road.[7] This is also the site of the modern Cocks Moors Woods sports and leisure centre, the largest of its kind in south Birmingham.[8]

Kings Heath Baths was an indoor facility on Institute Road that first opened on 15 August 1923. For many years, the swimming pool was drained and floored over during the winter so it could be used as a dance hall, with additional badminton courts also provided.[9] The baths closed in 1987 and the building was subsequently demolished.[10]

The Kingsway Cinema opened on High Street in March 1925 and remained open for more than fifty years until its closure in May 1980. The cinema was later converted into a bingo hall, first run by Essoldo Bingo, then Gala Bingo, but eventually closed in 2007. The building was largely destroyed by a fire on 17 September 2011.[11] It was auctioned off in 2016 to a local building development company[12] and demolition work was carried out at the rear of the building in early 2018.[11] The Grade A locally listed facade at the front was largely unaffected by the 2011 fire and the redevelopment plans include restoring this to its former glory.[12]

Notable residentsEdit

People born in Kings Heath
Notable residents

In popular cultureEdit

The 2011 musical film Turbulence was shot in the area, with much of the film's action taking place in the Hare & Hounds pub.[15]

The 2013 song "Green Garden" by Birmingham born Laura Mvula is an elegy to her home in Kings Heath.[16]

The BBC documentary Fighting For Air, about suburban air pollution, was filmed in Kings Heath in 2017 and broadcast on BBC2 on 10 January 2018.[17]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Business Plan for 2018–2023 Kings Heath BID". Enjoy Kings Heath. June 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Village Square". All Saints Centre Kings Heath. All Saints Community Development Company. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  3. ^ Buxton, Roddy. "Studio One". Archived from the original on 8 January 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2002.
  4. ^ "Hare and Hounds, The Venue". Hare and Hounds. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  5. ^ Tarter, P Howard (1949). Greyhound Racing Encyclopedia. Fleet Publishing Company Ltd. p. 62.
  6. ^ Pittaway, Gail. "King's Heath Horse Show & Kings Heath Greyhound Stadium" (PDF). King's Heath Local History Society. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Cocks Moors Woods Golf Course". Mytime Active. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre". Birmingham Community Leisure Trust. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  9. ^ J. Moth (1951). The City of Birmingham Baths Department 1851-1951 (PDF). James Upton. p. 32.
  10. ^ Baxter, Mark (4 August 2016). "Lost Moseley: 'Last Splash?' Part One – Lidos & Baths". Moseley B13 magazine. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  11. ^ a b Blackham, Bob (July 2019). "Kingsway Cinema Story" (PDF). King's Heath Local History Society. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  12. ^ a b Jones, Tamlyn (18 January 2018). "New plans to restore historic former Kings Heath cinema". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  13. ^ a b c "Famous former residents of King's Heath". King's Heath Local History Society. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  14. ^ Mike Lockley (17 February 2013). "Plaque to be erected for Kings Heath Cluedo inventor Anthony Pratt". Birmingham Mail.
  15. ^ Suart, Paul (15 July 2011). "Kings Heath film maker turns to bike power for new movie". Birmingham Mail. Trinity Mirror Midlands. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Latest Birmingham and West Midlands news on Food & Drink, Nostalgia, Fashion,". www.birminghampost.co.uk.
  17. ^ "'Fighting For Air' BBC2 documentary broadcast 10 January 2018". Kings Heath Residents' Forum. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.

External linksEdit