Saturday, 4 October 2014

Introduction to the Holford and Witton Area

"A countryside of babbling brooks, smiling meadows and green trees, amidst which the song of the cuckoo was heard as early as in any part of rural England.”
(Witton described in the mid 1800s)

This area stretches from Perry Bridge on the Aldridge Road, near where the Holbrook joins the Tame, to Witton Bridge, where the Witton Road passes over the river. It contains two ancient crossing points (one dating back to Roman times at least), Birmingham’s oldest structure, the site of a water-powered mill dating back to at least the 1200s, and the site of Birmingham’s largest ammunition works, some of which still remains. The making of ammunition was by far the largest and longest running industry in the area, and Holford and Witton were chosen because, in the mid-Victorian era, this area was green and open land; described as “a countryside of babbling brooks […] smiling meadows and green trees”. At this time the making of ammunition was exceptionally dangerous as the chemicals used were highly explosive, and could take whole buildings apart, so a rural setting made the process safer for the general populace.

There are other industries along the river here. Holford Industrial Park is the most modern addition, though it is not ‘industrial’ in the traditional sense of the term. Righton’s, on the corner of Tameside Drive and Holford Way, is a survivor of the booming metal industries that once filled the area. DANA, on the Witton Road, has over 100 years of history, whose drop-presses shook the surrounding houses. Higgs Motors sat near Witton Bridge, between the river and Holdford Road, and from time to time the area has accidently been called Holdford. It is of course possible that the old crossing at Witton Bridge was called the Old Ford, causing some confusion between it and the nearby Holford. Whether this is true or not, it was definitely called the ‘Foulford”, meaning that it was a difficult place to cross the river, owing to its marshy nature.

Holford Area:-  Perry Pont House  -:-  Perry Bridge and the Holford  -:-  Holford Mill
Ammunition, Kynoch's Lion Works & the ICI:-  The Beginnings of the Lion Works  -:-  Rules For Working at Kynoch's (1899)  -:-

R I V E R   G A L L E R Y

The Tame from near the old Holford crossing point,
summer 2014 by Jenni Dixon. 

The Tame curling through the Holford area,
summer 2014 by Jenni Dixon. 

The Tame through Holford near the M6,
summer 2014 by Jenni Dixon. 

The Tame through Holford Industrial Park,
summer 2014 by Jenni Dixon. 

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