Thursday, August 16, 2018

ISSUE NUMBER 207     JUNE 2018

Carl Writes
The story in my family goes that the Chinn Brook that flows between Billesley and Yardley Wood was named after my great, great grandfather, Henry Chinn. This stream rises by Meadow Hill Farm, close to the boundary of Alvechurch, Wythall and Birmingham, and runs through the middle of Druids Heath. Thence it flows beneath the Alcester Road South, behind  Limekiln Lane, through the Happy Valley below Yardley Wood Bus Garage and across the Chinn Brook Recreation Ground. Finally, just past Trittiford Road, the stream joins the River Cole at the Dingles, above Trittiford Pool. 
 So how true is the family story?  In the 1870s, my great, great grandfather worked as a bailiff on the Cartland Estate in Kings Heath and is supposed to have lived by the Chinn Brook. In fact his tied cottage was in Vicarage Road, near to Major Cartland’s house, the Priory, and closer to the River Rea than to the Chinn Brook.
 However Henry’s father, confusingly another Henry, had been the tenant of the 88 acre Church Farm in Kings Heath, which he rented from William Congreve Russell, one of the biggest landowners in the district. Henry the elder’s farm house stood where Sainsbury’s is now on the Alcester Road. Today it is one of the busiest, noisiest and most congested routes into Birmingham but then it must have been much quieter, going as it did through countryside.
 The farm took in all the land behind the house of Henry the elder as far back as about Hazelhurst Road and it stretched from Vicarage Road – then called Bleak Lane - along to Featherstone Road. That is nearer to the valley of the Chinn Brook but really not near enough to warrant its naming after my family. As it is, although the Chinns have lived in and around Kings Heath since the later eighteenth century, the name Chinn Brook predates the presence of my family by hundreds of years.
 A grant of land in about 705 by the ruler of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia to Worcester Cathedral mentions property in Kings Norton, to which Kings Heath belonged, including ‘on ciondan’. Ciondan also occurs in a document from 972 which refers to Yardley, through the easternmost edge of which the Chinn Brook flows. In The Place Names of Worcestershire it is stated that ‘from the bounds from which the first forms come it may be inferred that ciondan is a stream name’ close to Lindsworth Farm.
 Recalled in Lindsworth Road, this was on the high ground between the valleys of the River Rea and the Chinn Brook.  Thus ciondan is likley to have been the Chinn Brook. In the succeeding centuries, the name was given as Chende (1255), Chwyndes (1425) and Chyndehouse (1642).
 The Chinn Brook, then, is one of the oldest place names in Birmingham and although it is not ‘ours’ my family have walked along its banks and through Billesley and Yardley Wood for over 250 years. 
 This family story has been stirred by a pioneering and important publication, ‘Billesley and Surrounds’. Too little has been written about Birmingham’s formerly rural districts that were built upon in the 1920s and 1930s. Hopefully this engrossing work by John Lerwill and Pete Haylor will encourage others to follow in their trail and this month’s includes an article about the book as well as much more to arouse memories of Old Brum.

Have a bostin read.
Tara bit





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