Perry Barr

Perry Barr
Perry Barr
 Perry Barr shown within the West Midlands
Population 23,652 (2011Ward)[1]
    density  29.7 per ha
OS grid referenceSP065919
Metropolitan boroughBirmingham
Metropolitan county West Midlands
RegionWest Midlands
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode district B42
Dialling code 0121
Police West Midlands
Fire West Midlands
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK ParliamentBirmingham Perry Barr
List of places
West Midlands

Coordinates: 52°31′30″N 1°54′15″W / 52.52494°N 1.90415°W / 52.52494; -1.90415

Perry Barr constituency shown within Birmingham

Perry Barr is an inner-city area in north Birmingham, England. It is also the name of a council constituency, managed by its own district committee. Birmingham Perry Barr is also a parliamentary constituency; its Member of Parliament is Khalid Mahmood.

The constituency includes the smaller Perry Barr ward, and the wards of Handsworth Wood, Lozells and East Handsworth, and Oscott, which each elect three councillors to Birmingham City Council.


"Perry" means small, and is derived from the Latin parva (not "pear", as some sources claim) and "Barr" means "hill". The name probably relates to the adjacent Great Barr, including Barr Beacon, the area's tallest peak.


Memorial to PC Malcolm Walker

Perry Barr was originally two separate entities, both mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Pirio'[2] and 'Barre'. Pirio is recorded as having an estimated population of 35 and Barre with an estimated population of 25. William FitzAnsculf is recorded as being the tenant in chief of both manors, and Drogo as the tenant. It is thought that the two manors may have been combined in the Early Middle Ages.

In 1874 Perry Barr established its own institute based on the model of the Birmingham and Midland Institute. Aston Villa opened their Wellington Road ground in Perry Barr in 1876, playing there until 1897. In 1878, Henry Irving became the president of the Perry Barr Institute and addressed members of the institute on March 6, 1878. His speech was reprinted in the March 13 release of Theatre and also reprinted onto pamphlets by the institute's members and sold for a sixpence to fund the construction of a new building for the institute.[3] It was converted into a Carnegie-funded library in September 1897. In early 2007, this library, ultimately known as Birchfield Community Library, was demolished, due to its dilapidated condition. A new building is to be commissioned. Another library in the area is Tower Hill Library.[4]

Perry Barr was an urban district in Staffordshire from 1894 until 1928 when it was incorporated into Birmingham, and thus also Warwickshire (this included an area which is now considered part of Great Barr). It then became part of the West Midlands in 1974 when Birmingham became a metropolitan borough in the county.

In 1903, Birmingham Crematorium, the City's first, was opened by Sir Henry Thompson, president of the Cremation Society, in Perry Barr at 389 Walsall Road. It has been privately owned, latterly by Dignity plc.[5] The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates the cremations there of 3 Commonwealth service personnel of World War I and 64 of World War II, besides a Czech soldier from the latter war.[6]

In the 1920s, Oscar Deutsch opened his first ever Odeon cinema here. The original cinema is now a conference venue, having also been a bingo hall. The 1920s Perry Barr Stadium on the Aldridge Road hosts greyhound racing and the Birmingham Brummies speedway team. It has a 500-seat capacity, and was refurbished in 2004. It is the former home of the Birchfield Harriers, whose badge, in Art Deco style, bas relief it still carries.[7] The Harriers now operate from nearby Alexander Stadium.

Aston Technical College (later North Birmingham Technical College) moved to a new site in Perry Barr in the late 1960s, and was incorporated into the creation of Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham City University) in 1971. Two of the college's buildings exist as part of the university's City North Campus.

There is a mall-style shopping centre in the district known as "One Stop" Shopping Centre. This was built in the early 1990s, replacing a previous, 1960s, shopping centre. To facilitate the 1990s construction, a length of the River Tame was diverted and canalised. A Wetherspoons pub, the Arthur Robertson,[8] opened later is named after Arthur (known as "Archie") Robertson - Birchfield harrier's first Olympic gold medallist (1908).[9]

A memorial to PC Malcolm Walker, of the West Midlands Police is situated outside shops on the city-bound side of Birchfield Road. He died on 4 October 2001, when his motorcycle was struck during a police pursuit.

The site of the former Perry Hall is now Perry Hall Park. Perry Park hosted the Birmingham Carnival in 2005.


Major roads in the ward and constituency include the M6 motorway and the A34. Bus routes operated by National Express West Midlands in the area include Nos 11A, 11C, 33, 46, 51, 52, 54, 68A, 68C, 907, 934, 935 & 997. The A4040 and A34 roads cross at Perry Barr, the former carrying the Birmingham Outer Circle bus routes.

To the south-west of the ward is the Walsall line, part of the old Grand Junction Railway, which has two railway stations within the boundaries of the ward; Hamstead railway station and Perry Barr railway station. The latter, opened in 1837, is one of the oldest stations in the country to remain on its original site.

The Tame Valley Canal bisects the ward, with boats from Salford Junction, under Spaghetti (motorway) Junction climbing the 13-flight Perry Barr Locks towards Hamstead and on to Rushall Junction. There is a feeder reservoir, Perry Reservoir, in Perry Park.[10]

The River Tame passes through the area and is crossed by several bridges, including Perry Bridge, a scheduled ancient monument of 1711, on the line of the Roman Ryknild Street and its 1932 Art Deco replacement carrying the Aldridge Road. The old bridge appears on the badge of nearby Handsworth Grammar School.

Sport in the Area

Aston Manor Cricket Club are situated in Perry Barr, as too is the international athletics stadium Alexander Stadium. These are located on Church Road just by Perry Park.


The Perry Barr ward is part of the Birmingham, Perry Barr parliamentary constituency. Following boundary changes in 2004, the eastern edge of the ward follows the M6 motorway from Spaghetti Junction near to junction 7 at Great Barr, including parts of the communities of Witton, Aston, Perry Barr and Great Barr.

Since 2004, the three councillors representing Perry Barr on Birmingham City Council have been Ray Hassall, Karen Hamilton and Jon Hunt, all of them Liberal Democrats. Hassall was elected in 1990, Hunt in 2003 and Hamilton in 2004. Hamilton became the first black councillor elected for the ward.

Prior to 1990, the ward had a strong tendency towards the Conservative Party. No single party held all the seats in the ward between 1990 and 2004. The Liberal Democrats took a clean sweep at the 2004 Council Elections in which all seats were contested, but only after three recounts. In 2006, Hamilton increased her personal majority from 31 to more than 1,500.

The ward had Labour representation for a period, from 1995 till 2004 following the election of Mike Leddy (1995-2003), along with the defection of Ron Whitehouse from the Liberal Democrats to The Labour Party (2000-2004).

The ward has adopted a Ward Support Officer.

Election winners


The 2001 Population Census recorded that 22,704 people were living in Perry Barr. 28.2% (6,410) of the ward's population was represented by ethnic minorities, compared with 29.6% for Birmingham in general.

See also


  1. "Birmingham Ward population 2011". Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  2. Perry in the Domesday Book. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  3. Richards, Jeffrey (2007). Sir Henry Irving: A Victorian Actor and His World. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 86. ISBN 1-85285-591-6.
  4. Tower Hill Library Birmingham City Council website | Tower Hill Library
  5. Dignity funeral services website
  6. CWGC Cemetery Report
  7. Public Sculpture of Birmingham, George T. Noszlopy, Liverpool University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-85323-682-8
  9. Philpotts, Chris (8 October 2010). "Pub runs with hero's reputation for unexpected triumphs". Great Barr Observer. Birmingham: Central Independent News & Media Ltd. pp. 4–5.
  10. Nicholson waterways Guide 2 - Severn, Avon and Birmingham, Collins, 2006 ISBN 978-0-00-721110-4

External links

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