Northfield's history -
19th and 20th century
In the 1800’s nail-making took place in cottages and small workshops near St Laurence Church, as a secondary occupation for low-paid agricultural workers when they had little work in the fields. There was also small separate hamlet on Bell Lane where a few late 18th century and early 19th century cottages still survive.
In 1870 Northfield railway station opened on Church Hill, bringing further visitors and industry from the centre of Birmingham out to the rural areas.
Northfield high street was the site of Ashbank Farm, where you could buy milk directly from the cow until Birmingham City Council made a compulsory purchase of the farmhouse and land in 1952 in order to build a road. Between 1904 and 1953 Birmingham also had a network of trams, including two routes that travelled along the Bristol Road South and through the centre of Northfield.
Northfield changed rapidly through the 20th century, including large areas of housing built during the 1930s and 1960s and the Grosvenor Centre in 1967 (known as Northfield Shopping Centre from 2005).
The pedestrianised area outside Co-op Travel, at the junction of Church Road and Bristol Road South, was once the site of a blacksmith’s forge and cottage. It’s now known as Tay’s Corner after Joseph Tay who opened a number of shops on the site during the 1930s to 1960s.
Behind the shopping centre is Victoria Common, an area that was originally called Bradley field before being transformed into a public park to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee that opened in 1901. It received £250,000 of improvements in 2013 including a new children’s play area, picnic area and outdoor gym equipment.