All Saints Church
Small Heath, Birmingham
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Small Heath Parish 1970 - 1992

It was however, at the end of the 1960's and the beginnings of the 1970's that a wave of change began to take place in Small Heath which has come to alter almost every aspect of the community and therefore of the life of the Church. The historic industrial base of the area began to deteriorate, and the car and component industries that had grown up between the wars began to experience difficulties. The BSA collapsed in 1973 and the employment prospects as well as the physical fabric of the area began to fail. In 1975 the City Council approved a programme of local District plans, including one for Small Heath which had been designated as part of the Birmingham Inner Area Study which reported in 1977. By then substantial areas of housing had been demolished and cleared and even in 1981 it was estimated that 10% of Small Heath remained derelict and unused.

Total Demolition.....
A Planning map of 1971 shows the immediate area surrounding St Aidan church, overlaid with dramatic phrases such as "demolished" or "park redevelopment" or "home for handicapped children". It also shows the names of the now vanished streets immediately adjacent to the church. Nos 1-13 of the Limes lined the north side; the backs of Nos 1-6 Albert Terrace and No 13 Windsor Terrace and No 14 Osborne Terrace extended the length of the south side within ten feet of the church wall; to the west were the backs of Nos 168 - 182 Arthur Street; and immediately opposite the east end were Nos 159- 163 Herbert Road, 159 being the corner house with Chapman Road. Adjacent to the Vicarage was of course No 170. No 172, the present vicarage, was the only one out of 182 houses which remained undemolished in the small area outlined by Herbert, Butler, Arthur and Jenkins Streets.

The programme of demolition following compulsory purchase, engulfed almost every house in St Aidan's parish. A quick glance at the street map of 1960 and 1980 shows the enormity of what was done. The entire community was dispersed to other parts of the city and although many members of the congregation continued to return for worship in St Aidan's, the basis of the Church as a local parish community was seriously undermined, to the extent that by 1995 only 9 communicant members of St Aidan's lived within the former parish.

Slow rebuilding.....
The rebuilding of the area was slow and resulted in a quite different community than previously. Now there is a mix of hostels, mental health provision, sheltered accommodation for elderly people and some residential housing. The roots of the community had been pulled up and in its place a fragmented and to some considerable extent transient population, took its place. A church building which had been slotted into the midst of a residential area in the 1890' s had become a church building completely cut off from any housing - surrounded by a health and mental health centre, a park and supported housing for mental health sufferers. From being at the heart of the community, it now had its back to the community.

Ethnic and religious change.....
These were not the only changes to take place in the Small Heath parishes. In some ways an even more profound change was taking place in the ethnic and religious composition with the arrival of muslim people from south Asia, notably Pakistan and Bangladesh, but from other areas as well. The first generation were largely from rural areas and under the stresses of settling in this country, needed to be able to re establish a degree of continuity of culture and religion. Small Heath, with neighbouring areas of Saltley and Sparkhill, Sparkbrook, have become major centres for south asian origin muslim communities in a remarkably short timescale. A street census using the 1997 Electoral Register shows that about 25% of streets in Small Heath have over 60% of adult residents of muslim origin. Overall the adult and child population of muslim faith now makes up not less than 65% of the parish population. The majority of schools in the parish have over 90% of muslim pupils.

There are now more than fifteen mosques in the parish, including the largest in the city and also the first Shia mosque in Small Heath, now completed opposite St. Aidan (at that time).

Origins of Small Heath
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the area which includes the present parish became substantially urbanised outwards from the city centre through Digbeth.More...

St. Aidans 1861 - 1909
A word about one aspect of Church history of the time may be helpful at this point, as it is not possible to understand the development of the Small Heath Churches without knowing something of the renewal of the catholic tradition in the Church of England.More...

St. Aidans 1910 - 1969
In 1910, some seventeen years after the first dedication, a new phase was entered during which some of the now familiar and much loved decorative features were added to the church building under the supervision of Frederick Bligh Bond and his partner Ellery Anderson.More...

Small Heath Parish 1993 - 2002
The result of all these changes on the Church communities of Small Heath was of course dramatic with congregations in each of the parishes falling...More...