Building commences

Finally in March 1905 the land was leased to the Ideal Benefit Society. The purchase came with conditions attached:-

  • The development period was to be ten years.
  • There was to be an open space created.
  • Roads expenditure was to be not less than £4,000 within three years from date of lease.
  • Buildings expenditure was to be not less than £12,000 within three years from date of lease.
  • A further sum of not less than £28,000 to be spent within the reminder of the ten years development.
  • No more than 22 houses in every acre.
  • Houses were to be “suitable” for the Artisan class.
  • Facility to be made for tenants to acquire the houses they lived in.

The official opening day for the Ideal Village project was on 12th September 1908 . The exact location is unknown but we know that the format was a day conference and a festival. The festival had a series of entertainments featuring Saltley Railway Brass band, songs for solo and duet performers, a maypole display by children from Bordesley Green Council School and, most intriguingly, an “artistic skipping exhibition”. The formal side of the day started at 4 o’clock with a public address by Alderman the Rt Hon William Kenrick (who became a Freeman of the City on 13th June 1911). Following this the Lord Mayor “cut the first sod” with a spade to symbolically start the building works off. Also probably present was William Finnemore who was an early Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Society. In the evening there were a series of speeches outlining the concept and development of the village, under the chairmanship of John Nettlefold from Birmingham Housing Committee. (4)

The initial building programme of 225 shops and houses was swift. These were concentrated in the western area of the village around Drummond and Marchmont Road and Bordesley Green. This is established in the building register along with the name of the builder and architect who was Mr A. H. Goff of 187 Mansell Road, Small Heath. The registers designate the building areas Bordesley Green, which is the first official usage of that name for the area.

Plans for a church to cater for a growing population were initially met, from 1909, by using premises at 47 Blakeland Street as a worship centre and Sunday School. This subsequently became a Mission Room and carried on as such till 1924. The good attendances here helped the vicar of St Margaret’s Church,Ward End to raise the £800 necessary for building a church on Finnemore Road.  Thus it was that the second phase of building included the Mission Hall.  Originally it had been intended to build it in Belcher’s Lane, ironically on the exact site now occupied by St Paul’s Church. Instead it was built in Finnemore Road and for some time it stood alone with only two or three houses nearby. This is clearly evident in contemporary photographs and maps of the time. The architect for the Mission Hall was Charles Edward Bateman of the firm Bateman & Bateman.

The application to build was made on 5th October 1911 and building commenced in January 1912. It completed quickly by July of the same year! The reason for the speed lay in the simple and small design. The basic construction was brick with a tiled roof. Originally there were stained glass roundel windows in each end of the church. One quirk of the construction was the use of old bricks to face the building, thus making it older than it seems. The Bateman firm regularly used old bricks to give a feeling of age.

(continues in “Hands on Building” )

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