Balsall Heath

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Balsall Heath is a working class, inner-city area of Birmingham, England. It is home to a diverse cultural mix including English, Irish, Arabs, Afro-Caribbean, Turks, Indian, Pakistani, Kashmiri, and is the home of the Balti Triangle, a collection of Asian Balti restaurants and sweet centres.

Contents

History

Balsall Heath was agricultural land between Moseley village and the city of Birmingham until the 1850s when expansion along Moseley Road joined the two. The area was originally part of the Worcestershire parish of King's Norton, and was added to the county borough of Birmingham in Warwickshire on October 1, 1891.

During negotiations in the previous year it had been promised a public baths, to be built by the City of Birmingham Baths Department, and a free library, to be constructed by the Free Libraries Committee. In 1895 the library was opened on Moseley Road and in 1907 Balsall Heath Baths were opened in an adjoining building. The small lake (Lady Pool on old maps) at the end of Ladypool Road was also filled-in to create a park. In 1900, the area became home to the city's College of Art.

Balsall Heath initially had a reasonably affluent population, which can still be seen in the dilapidated grandeur of some of the larger houses. A railway station on Brighton Road (on the Birmingham to Bristol line) led to further expansion, and the end of the 19th century saw a proliferation of high-density small terraced houses.

A Muslim community was started in June 1940 when two Yemenis purchased an artisan cottage on Mary Street. They went on to establish the first mosque in the city. With the mosque being located in the area, more Muslim immigrants began to move into private lodgings in Balsall Heath.[1]

Balsall Heath remained a respectable working-class suburb until the 1950s when street prostitution first appeared. Property values fell, attracting Birmingham's poorer immigrants. By the 1970s the area was notorious for street robberies and drug dealing. Prostitutes also sat semi-naked in the windows of houses on Cheddar Road, openly touting for trade.

By 1980, many of Balsall Heath's houses were in a dilapidated condition, and some were still without bathrooms or indoor toilets. The local authority considered demolishing these properties but chose to refurbish them as part of an Urban Renewal scheme. Most of these Victorian terraces still exist and characterize the area today. The area's traditional 'brick' pavements were replaced at this time by the more modern and conventional paving slabs.

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