THEN & NOW on the Outer Circle – stage 31

As we go along City Road we are passing Summerfield Park, which is behind the houses on the left. On the other side of the park is Gillott Road. Gillott Road named after Joseph Gillott who had made his fortune by mechanising pen-nib manufacture in Birmingham in the 1830s. It is said, that at one time, three quarters of the pen nibs in use in the world were made in Birmingham.

Further to our left, about a mile away, is Perrott’s Folly. There is some delicious speculation about the original use for the folly, including the notion that local landowner Perrott needed a vantage point to spy on his unfaithful wife. However, it was most likely to be a combination of observatory and a fashionable venue for private entertaining.

And near to the folly is the chimney at Edgbaston Waterworks. The towers, it is said, were visible by JRR Tolkein when he lived as a young man in nearby Ladywood and they were inspiration for his second Lord of The Rings volume. But more about Tolkein later.

On the right where new housing has been built is the back of the site of the Mitchells & Butlers famous Cape Hill Brewery which dated from 1879 and eventually covered 90 acres.

The factory had its own railway network, which was connected to the Harborne Railway by a branch line crossing City Road along here. The factory was demolished about 15 years ago and is now a housing estate.

Towards the end of City Road is the George Dixon Grammar School. This was opened in 1906 and named after politician George Dixon. The film producer Michael Balcon is amongst its famous old boys and in his 1950s film The Blue Lamp. He named the hero George Dixon after his old school.

“Evenin’ all!”

City Road c1900

City Road – 2019 – looking south

Gillott Road, looking north Towards Icknield Port Road – on the right is Summerfield Crescent with Christ Church in the centre – 2009

Albert, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), and Princess Alexandra visiting Gillott’s Victoria works in 1874

Advertisement for Joseph Gillott’s pens

Joseph Gillott

Gillott pen nib display board [The Pen Museum]

Gillott’s Victoria Works – Graham Street – 2018

Perrott’s Folly from Waterworks Road – 1950s

Perrotts Folly looking across Waterworks Road – 1960s

Perrotts Folly from Waterworks Road – April 2010

Perrott’s Folly – c2018

Perrotts Folly and Edgbaston Waterworks Tower from above Waterworks Road

M&B bottle label

Cape Hill Brewery – c1900

Cape Hill Brewery – drawing c1900

Cape Hill Brewery – c2000

The fire station at Cape Hill Brewery – now converted into housing

M&B steam locomotive John Barleycorn, seen emerging from the brewery locomotive shed in 1947

George Dixon School – City Road – c1910

George Dixon School – City Road – 2017

Michael Balcon

“Evenin’ All!”