Edgbaston had a reputation for being the most affluent part of Birmingham or "where the trees begin". In the 19th century the town was under the control of the Gough-Calthorpe family who refused to allow factories or warehouses to be built in Edgbaston, thus making it attractive for the middle class. However, while the central and southern parts of the suburb remains ostensibly affluent, there are several areas in the northern part that are less so, with a high proportion of multi-occupancy rented private housing, as well as council-owned accommodation.
Edgbaston means "village of a man called Ecgbald", from the Old English personal name + tun "farm". The personal name Ecgbald means "bold sword" (literally "bold edge"). The name was recorded as Celboldistane in 1139, wrongly suggesting that Old English stān "stone, rock" is the final element of the name.
In 1801, Edgbaston had a population of around 1,000 people. By 1841, this had increased to 16,500 as a result of wealthy manufacturers moving to the area. By 1850, 29 roads had been laid out and uninterrupted growth continued.
The United Kingdom Census 2001 found that 20,749 people were living in the Birmingham City Council ward of Edgbaston, living in 8,666 households. This produced an average of 2 people per household, below the city-wide average of 2.5. The ward, which has an area of 871.6ha, had a population density of 23.8 people per hectare. Like the city of Birmingham, Edgbaston had a slightly higher proportion of females, at 50.1%, to males. 27.1% of the population was in the 25-44 age bracket and 15.1% were aged between 45-59. At 14.8%, Edgbaston had a lower proportion of people of a pensionable age than the rest of Birmingham (16.7%). It also had a lower proportion of people of working age at 73.8%, although it was below the national percentage of 61.5%.
Edgbaston has an above average percentage for ethnic minorities with ethnic minorities representing 31.8% of the population as opposed to 29.6% for Birmingham. The largest ethnic group was the British Asian group at 16.1%. 25.6% of people were born outside of the United Kingdom, above the Birmingham figure of 16.5%. Christianity was the most predominant religion, with 52.5% of the population stating that they were Christians, compared with 59.1% for Birmingham. 8.0% stated that they were Muslims, below the Birmingham figure of 14.3%. Edgbaston was home to a significant Orthodox Jewish community. 19.1% of the Edgbaston population stated that they had no religion.
46.4% of households were owner-occupied, below the Birmingham figure of 60.4%. 19.3% were rented privately, 15.2% were rented from a housing association and 11.6% were rented from Birmingham City Council. There was a total number of 9,191 houses in Edgbaston, 525 of which were vacant. At 45.6%, the vast majority of houses in Edgbaston were purpose-built blocks of flats. This is much higher than the city average of 17.9%. Detached houses were the second most common housing type in the ward at 19.7%.
Edgbaston had an unemployment rate of 8.1%, below the city average of 9.5% although above the national average of 5%. 13.4% of the population stated themselves as students. Of the unemployed, 42% were in long term unemployment and 15.6% had never worked. At 24.6%, the majority of the population worked in finance, real estate, and business activities. The largest employer in the area was the Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust, employing 10,000 people.
The Edgbaston Parliamentary Constituency has a much higher population.
Warwickshire County Cricket Club is based in Edgbaston (Edgbaston historically being part of Warwickshire), at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground. As well as hosting regular county matches, the ground often plays host to the England cricket team during one day internationals and test matches. In 2006, there were rumours that the team would move to the proposed City of Birmingham Stadium which would be shared with Birmingham City F.C.. However, there are now plans for the expansion of the ground, and no share with the football club.
The area also boasts a world class tennis venue; The Edgbaston Priory Club. The DFS Classic for female players has been held there every year since 1982 and some of the world's top players make appearances. The tournament is part of the WTA Tour and wins count towards world rankings. There is also a members-only golf course which offers good views over the southern part of the suburb. Edgbaston Croquet Club has been located in the area since 1915.
Places of interest
The church of the Birmingham Oratory, on Hagley Road, was built in 1907 in the Baroque style as a memorial to John Henry Cardinal Newman, who founded the English Oratory here. Its dome is a prominent landmark. Another religious building in the ward is the Grade II* listed St Augustine's Church. J. R. R. Tolkien lived in Edgbaston during his teenage years, and the two towers of Edgbaston, Perrott's Folly and the Waterworks Tower, both close to the Oratory, are said to have provided inspiration for part of his The Lord of the Rings novel. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which is located on the University of Birmingham campus, is a purpose built gallery which contains a wide range of art from the masters to Picasso.
Edgbaston Reservoir, formerly known as Rotton Park Reservoir, provides a header supply for the Birmingham Canal Navigations and is an important inner city leisure amenity. There are two public gardens located within Edgbaston; the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the lesser known University of Birmingham Winterbourne Botanic Garden. Adjoining the university gardens is Edgbaston Pool (not to be confused with the reservoir) which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Edgbaston contains the only Grade I listed domestic building in Birmingham, notably one of the Arts & Crafts houses number 21 Yateley Road, designed by Herbert Tudor Buckland, and built for his own use. Edgbaston Hall, a Grade II listed country hall, is located within the ward. It is currently the clubhouse for Edgbaston Golf Club.
Calthorpe Estates is a property developer and investor, responsible for the regeneration of the Calthorpe Estate in Edgbaston. The Calthorpe Estate covers 1,500 acres, just one mile to the west of Birmingham city centre, consisting of residential properties, a business community and a range of recreational, medical and educational facilities.
Calthorpe Estates are investing £350 million into developing Birmingham's western gateway, creating a range of mixed use, office and science park developments. With a focus on sustainable development, they have achieved Birmingham's first two BREEAM 'Excellent' office buildings at 19 George Road and Calthorpe House.
They are also creating new mixed-use developments at Edgbaston Mill and Edgbaston Galleries, as well as the the world-class University Science Park, Pebble Mill. The Calthorpe Estate features a wide range of recreational and leisure facilities including Birmingham's first Michelin-starred restaurant at Simpsons, the Botanical Gardens, Cannon Hill Park, the Midlands Arts Centre, Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Edgbaston Golf Club and The Priory Tennis Club (home of the annual DFS Tennis Tournament). The Estate is also home to many established businesses, residential homes and a selection of educational and medical facilities, including the University of Birmingham.
Birmingham Edgbaston is a constituency, and its Member of Parliament (MP) is Labour's Gisela Stuart.
The Edgbaston ward of Birmingham City Council elected three Conservative councillors in 2004 and re-elected one of the three, Fergus Robinson, in 2006. Another Edgbaston councillor, Deirdre Alden, unsuccessfully challenged Gisela Stuart, MP for the Edgbaston constituency, in the 2005 general election and has been re-selected as Conservative PPC in the seat for the next election. Of the other wards of the Edgbaston constituency, Harborne and Bartley Green are each represented by three Conservative councillors, while Quinton is represented by two Conservatives and one Labour councillor.
The ward has sent a female candidate to Parliament for the past 54 years. In the next election both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party candidates will be female, making it almost certain that this trend will continue. The most notable MP from the ward was Neville Chamberlain. The area has adopted a ward support officer with the holder of the status being Tony Bailey.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, Edgbaston has been home to the main campus of the University of Birmingham and to Edgbaston High School for Girls, St Paul's School for Girls, St. Georges School, King Edward's School and King Edward VI High School for Girls. Because of this, there are numerous university halls of residence in the area. At the centre of the university can be found the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, one of Birmingham's tallest buildings.
Edgbaston is also the home of Queen's College, an ecumenical theological college. The West House School and Birmingham Blue Coat School is also located in the area. The Elmhurst School for Dance, the oldest vocational dance school in the United Kingdom, relocated to a new building in Edgbaston in 2004. St. Philip's School used to be located adjacent to the Oratory, however it merged with South Birmingham College in 1995.
Transport and amenities
Two railway stations serve the area. The first, University station, is found in south Edgbaston, west of Birmingham University. The second is Five Ways railway station in the north of the ward on the city's inner ring road. Both stations are on the Cross-City Line. Between these two stations used to be another; Somerset Road station. However, this was closed and demolished some years ago.
The A38 road runs through the ward and is one of the main traffic arteries of the city reaching out to the southeast of the city and beyond from the city centre and Birmingham New Street. Along this route buses frequently stop. There are several other bus routes throughout. The Birmingham and Worcester Canal passes through the area, connecting the city centre with the River Severn at Worcester. This was constructed and opened in the 1790s and is used mainly for leisure and recreational purposes as opposed to its originally intended industrial usage.
The A456 road runs through the north of Edgbaston and gives a relatively swift link with the city centre as well as faraway places including Halesowen, Kidderminster and Hereford.
The area is served by Balsall Heath library, which is operated by Birmingham City Council, and the University of Birmingham library which members of the public can join for a fee. There are a number medical facilities in the area, with two of the most well known being the University Medical Centre and the Calthorpe clinic. Two hospitals are nearby, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Selly Oak Hospital.