Shard End is an area of Birmingham and a ward within the formal district of Hodge Hill. Shard End borders the village of Castle Bromwich to the north and Kingshurst to the east.
Before the end of World War II, Shard End was completely rural with the only buildings being farmhouses, farm outbuildings and tithe cottages.
Shard End's most infamous resident was Abraham Thornton, son of the owner of Shard End Farm (later the site of The Harlequin pub). He was charged with the murder of a local girl, Mary Ashford, in 1817. The events of the trial led to the abolition of two ancient legal rights - the right of a close relative to demand another trial although the defendant had been acquitted, and the right of a defendant to defend himself by challenging the relative to a duel. The duel did not take place and Thornton left the area soon after his second trial to travel to the USA.
In the inter war years the Midland Sand and Gravel Company operated a mine on what is now the Norman Chamberlain Playing Fields (or Shard End park), off Packington Avenue. During World War II, this gravel pit was used to store and repair third-line tanks. After the war the area was landscaped to become the playing fields. The old gravel pit was allowed to fill with water from a natural spring to form Shard End Lake and has become a leisure facility.
A plan of the new housing estate was produced at the end of 1945 and compulsory purchase orders were issued in 1946. Building of the estate started in the late 1940s and was added to in stages producing some variety in the housing.
As a result of the construction of the estate, plans for a new church were drawn up. In 1954, construction of All Saints Church, a traditional Church of England church, began and construction was completed in 1955. Designed by F J Osbourne, it was the first new church to be built in Birmingham after World War II. On November 1, 1955, the Lord Bishop of Birmingham, Leonard Wilson, consecrated the church. This was followed by a visit by Queen Elizabeth II two days later.
Shard End Library opened in 1967 and was the first in Birmingham to use plastic membership cards instead of the traditional cardboard tickets.
Development in the 1970s
After the estate of the 1940s had been constructed, a large swathe of green land - known locally as 'The Fields' - remained along the River Cole valley. This rare open space in a city provided valuable recreation space for the new and young population of Shard End. During the late 1970s, however, this tract of land was sadly built over and the area lost much of its charm.
Since the building of this development, and a sharp decline in employment levels during the 1980s, Shard End has seen a marked increase in the problems typical of urban areas in large cities.
Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra fame grew up in a council house at 368 Shard End Crescent in Shard End. The lyrics to the ELO song 'All Over the World' mention Shard End along with cities like London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo.
The English artist, Geoff Bunn also grew up in the area.
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