©  COLIN BAKER   2007                                                                                       

Kings Heath developed from about the 1760’s, when the old track road from Alcester to Birmingham was improved and became a turnpike road. The toll gate and house was probably located at the end of what is now the High Street near to the boundary with Moseley. The surrounding area was largely unoccupied wasteland with woods and commons, part of the Royal Manor of Kings Norton. The area would have supplied timber, flax and clay suitable for brick making. The area grew when cottages were built around the Cross Guns, where travellers stopped for rest and refreshment. During the 1770’s further enclosures of the heathland established a number of new farms in the area.

The area began to develop further in the early 1800’s when wealthy families began to buy farms and land in this undeveloped area. The area offered a healthy environment with fine views and convenient to the town, so it soon became a growing residential district. A railway station was opened in 1840, providing quicker access to Birmingham. The largest business enterprise was the Kings Heath Brewery, but most local people worked on the farms or in small handicrafts. The brewery, located at the rear of The Cross Guns, was founded in 1831 by the Bate family, who ran it until 1881, when Frederick Everitt purchased it, by 1851 it employed 50 men. It  became part of Birmingham Brewery Ltd. in 1895, and closed in 1902 and was demolished in 1904 when Bank Street was built.

After 1850, the district began to change as the population increased. The 1871 census shows a population of 1982 which by 1881 had increased to 2984 and by 1891 to 4610, by 1919 the population had increased to over 16,000. New churches, chapels and schools were built. The trams arrived in 1886, increasing access to Birmingham, but work could also now be found locally at Stirchley and Lifford.

In 1895, The Birmingham Freehold Land Society, brought land and a property known as The Grange from the estate of the late Isaac Bate at a cost of £40,000. This land consisting of 55 acres covered an area bordered by the Midland Railway track, Alcester Road and what is now Vicarage Road and Avenue Road. They built a housing estate consisting of 900 houses and shops and approximately 2 miles of roads. The estate was planned in such a way as to allow properties of different value to be built. The cheapest were those nearest to the Alcester Road and 300 were built at a cost of £250 a pair or let at a cost of 5s ( 25p) per week, covering an area of 250 square yards per house. A further 300 houses built were to cost about £300 a pair with an estimated rent of 6s.6d (32 ½p) per week, these covered an area of 400 to 500 square yards. The best were the houses by the railway they were of the villa type of house at a cost of £225 each or £450 a pair, or an expected rent of £25 per year, all covering a area of about 500 square yards. All houses were supplied with gas and water. The most costly land was the frontage to the Alcester Road which was reserved for shops. There was also a stipulation imposed by the District Council that no public houses or back to back houses were to be built on the estate. The District Council also purchased a plot of land to build a new Police Station on. The first allotment of houses took place on 7th November 1895, when 2,400 applications were made for the first 449 lots.

In 1900, the police station had a staff of ten, with a local court for licensing and for rating appeals. The fire station, established in 1886, had eight men.

Hough & Co. who had a large brickworks between Grove Road and Kings Road supplied materials for many new buildings in the area.

There was also a flourishing social life, much of it taking place at the Institute, with swimming, cricket, tennis, football and bowling clubs in the area