Franc and I came to live in Wythall in August 2013. We were looking to buy a brand new off-plan home close to a railway station and Wythall popped up quickly on an internet search. We managed to find a home with the Stratford-upon-Avon line practically in the back-garden. With a twenty two minute ride into Birmingham, I was happy and pushed to close the deal.
One of the first things I did on moving in was to cycle the short distance to the semi detached house I knew John Taylor the founder of Duran Duran had lived in as a boy. John (burgundy fringe) was my teen idol and I wanted to see where he had grown up and first slapped the bass. Nick Rhodes (blue headband) lived in the Wythall area too, but he wore too much make up for my liking.
My parents grew up near Wythall but I had no personal affiliation to this area. However, as it turned out I had been here before but oddly I had not remembered this until a couple of years after moving in. I had joined an animal rights march in 1989 where we protested with banners and loud chanting in a field against the lives of battery hens at Becketts Farm. We chowed down on scrumptious vegan burgers from a van hired especially for the event. The chicken houses are no longer there so maybe this particular rant saw the end of such a barbaric practice. Becketts Farm is still going as a restaurant and farm shop and has a well known landmark roundabout named after it, “Becketts Island”
The only time Wythall gets a mentions in Worcestershire guide books is to show the old St Mary’s church which is by far the best looking structure here. It was built in 1862 and the tower was constructed in 1903. It has not been a church for many years; in fact it is now called “Carillon House” and is home to four businesses.
There is a more modern St Mary’s church in Wythall now where I got a bit drunk on champagne following their first service in a new venue. One does not expect to walk home from church flushed, grinning and swaying. Below is the old Baptist Church which has closed down with various bits of junk left inside it. I think it has to be the most boring looking place of worship I have ever seen.
Wythall is quite a sprawling place with no fixed centre or High Street which is what I would prefer by choice. On the plus side it has a great animal sanctuary which Franc and I support with charitable items for their fund raising shop. I once took in an old hot water bottle and was thrilled when I heard it was going to be used to keep rescued hedgehogs warm. https://wythallanimalrescue.org.
There is not too much village history since Wythall was purely fields back in days of yore. It was popular for tanning until the 1880s where the lime pit and bark infusion methods were used before the animal hides were washed in the River Cole (more like a small stream). Also near the River Cole there was a flax business going on and sheets were woven from the locally grown plant until the mid 1880s. This is of particular interest to me since I ingest flax seed oil daily to keep my brain upbeat.
There are still plenty of fields around Wythall and several with horses.
On New Years Day 2015 a few of them made a break from nearby land and appeared outside our front door, happy as you like. The small one even contemplated going down the slide.
The Wythall Institute provided the first reading room and library in 1892 under Andrew Carnegie’s new Free Library scheme.
Wythall homes may be a little grand.
Small and cosy.
Or middling like ours. It gets fabulous sun rises at the back.
My favourite local house is this one in the park. It’s the home of the Wythall Community Association and looks out onto a bowling green.
The Community Hub where you can find the library, a cafe, kids’ party area and gym.
Wythall Cemetery (not attached to any church).
Wythall has many caravans on its land. There are some for holiday makers, some for residents over 55 and some belonging to the travelling community which I found out about on making an error of judgement. A day or so after we had moved in Franc and I went for a walk to explore our new surroundings when we first saw a local caravan park. “Oh how lovely!” I said. “People come to our neighbourhood for a holiday“. I entered the site for a nosey around only to hear a group of gypsy lads threatening to finish me off for trespassing. “Get the gun! Get the catapult!” I retreated pretty sharpish with my nose out of joint. Fortunately not literally. Not having seen a large welcoming leisure board, Franc had wisely hung back.
The White Swan is only one of two pubs in Wythall itself (there are others in bordering areas). They put butter in all the vegetables here but will cook a fresh batch of everything if you glare at the chef and make a derogatory remark as I did. The other village pub is The Horse & Jockey but my dad says it is crap so I have yet to venture in although their vegetables could be vegan.
As a bus spotter, I have saved the best bit about Wythall until last. It’s Transport Museum. It is packed full of spruced up old Birmingham buses, milk floats and trams.
On Bank Holidays the museum allow the old buses out to give nostalgic trips to the visitors. How I love the cream and blue double deckers from my childhood. I walked to school but I jumped on them every weekend and for getting to my first jobs. There was an incredible offer going on in the early 1980s whereby for just 2p you got a ticket to travel around on West Midlands buses all day long. Ding DING!