About Allens Cross Community Centre

Allens Cross Community Centre is unique in the fact that it was the first of its kind to be opened in Birmingham.  Opened in 1931 to provide a community facility for the residents of Allens Cross and surrounding areas the centre includes two halls, both with disabled access, extensive grounds and a large car park.

The buildings have recently been refurbished, thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery. The new state of the art centre will include a range of up to date facilities suitable for a variety of community activites, wedding receptions and other celebrations, teaching, training and meeting rooms. 

Located in Tinkers Farm Road in the Northfield district of Birmingham, the centre is ten minutes walk from Northfield Shopping Centre.  Bus numbers 18, 44, and 61 from Birmingham City Centre stop nearby.

For more enquiries and to book facilities telephone 0121 478 3310 9:30 - 2:30 or email allens.cross@tiscali.co.uk









Our History

The story of Allen’s Community Association really began with the building, in 1931, by the City of Birmingham, of a large estate of 2,161 houses in the vicinity of Allen’s Cross Farm at Northfield.  At that time, huge municipal estates were being built by the Local Authorities on the outskirts of the large cities and the two largest in Birmingham were Kingstanding and Allen’s Cross. The housing being
provided was a great improvement on that of the inner city slums from which most of the tenants were to come, but Local Authorities failed to provide any community or recreational facilities on these estates, apart from public houses, churches and schools.  There were no public meeting rooms, no playing fields and no centres at which a community spirit could be built

So a band of volunteers decided to form Community Associations with community halls on these two estates.  Allen’s Cross residents can be very proud to have been associated with this pioneer movement, which, in the following twenty years was copied all over the country. This development took the interest of that great local public benefactor George Cadbury and thanks to his personal efforts and the help he received from the local community, the first Community Association in Birmingham and almost the first in the country was born in 1931 with a brick built hall situated in Tinkers Farm Road. The hall consisted of a large room with a stage, two committee rooms and toilets with a grass tennis court, small Bowling Green and an outside hut at its rear.

Along with the social side, a sporting element soon developed and use was made of a field near Tessall Lane, under the shadow of the water tower belonging to the Rubery Hill Hospital, later they moved to vacant land towards the city which adjoined Merritt’s Brook, and which was later developed as a self-build co-operative at the southern end of Meadow Brook Road.  This land was small and had a severe slope and for several years the local community sought a more permanent spot for sports.  Mr Christopher Cadbury had been drawn into the movement by his father and he had the idea that if the Community Associations could have their own sports field, the sports clubs could cooperate with the various groups using the halls to support each other to their mutual benefit.  The first of these playing fields was provided at Kingstanding on what had been a farmer’s potato field and the farmer became the first grounds-man.  So successful did this prove that Mr Cadbury and others raised the 
money to lease 22 acres from Bournville Village Trust on a site on the other side of Shenley Lane.  The field was opened in 1935, that year King George V and Queen Mary were celebrating the Silver Jubilee of their reign. Eventually, in 1937, work started on a clubhouse pavilion, provided by the Feeney Trust, tarmac tennis court and caretakers house, all of which were officially opened on 27th August 1938 by Mr George Cadbury.


History of the neighbourhood

Northfield, or as it was once known "Nordfeld" (a clearing in the north forest of Feckenham, from its mention in the Domesday Book), is probably one of the oldest villages within the present boundary of The City of Birmingham. Throughout its history, together with its neighbour Weoley, it has remained a quiet and peaceful backwater of rural England, nothing very exciting ever happened here, no battle was fought; but it has been totally transformed in the past 100 years. 

In late Saxon times the area was in the charge of Alwode (or Alwolde), a name     commemorated in present day Weoley Castle. In 1066 the Lord of the Manor was William Fitz Anscuff with a Manor House in Weoley Castle and parklands that reached across to present day Bristol Road South.  That road, despite being a "Kings Highway", was kept in a shocking manner with broken bridges and a flooded road.  The life of the humble people in those days was no fun living as they did in mud huts with an opening for light that had to be closed in winter, no chimneys and a rotten sheepskin for coverlet.  As the corn and wheat grew less and less they had a long fast through the winter, living on salt meat and fish, scurvy and leprosy abounded and the weather became literally a matter of life and death.  In summer they farmed strips of land, each having some good and some bad strips. The "Black Death" in 1349 came and went, taking its toll and in 1386 the house of the Lord of the Manor was sold by the Botetort family to the Jervoys family, both also commemorated in Weoley Castle road names of today. 

The 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries passed by with little real change, with no poverty or prosperity of note and in the census of 1851 Northfield Parish was described as 6 miles by 4 miles (north to south) comprising 6,000 acres, with 4,000 under cultivation, timber or parkland, in effect a rural backwater.  It was divided into 4 "Yields" for purposes of tax gathering or tithes; these were Bartley, Shendley, Selly and Hayes with Middleton.  The Shendley Yield had 106 houses, 576 people and 23 farms and appears to have been a sparsely populated area of great fertility. Allen’s Cross Farm was one of the farms.  In 1893 you could walk from Bristol Road through fields passing over Merrits Brook, abounding in trout and the haunt of kingfisher and eventually reach Frankley Church without once walking along a road, truly rural. 


In the late 19th century there was some infiltration of the metal trades with nail makers cottages providing a backyard industry.  The nail makers having to tramp 6 miles to Halesowen to get metal bars and earned 6d for every 28lb they made.  The nail makers finally dwindled as the villa dwellers arrived and in 1923 Northfield was incorporated into Birmingham as an urbanized suburb.  Further building work up to the Second World War and especially since, has seen the built up area which today houses 75,000 inhabitants compared with the 2,460 in 1851 and 250 at the time of the Domesday Book.  The residents are better educated, richer in health and money, but are they happier or living with purpose.  Rather than be lost as yet another large chunk of the City, perhaps we need some local "soul", perhaps in that way the Association has had a part to play and it is hoped an even bigger part in the future. 


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