Stirchley knows small is beautifulon Jun 15 in News by Transforming Cities
You never know who you are going to meet in the Stirchley Co-op, off the Pershore Road in Birmingham.
Watch the trailer from Multistory here: http://vimeo.com/43194467
The Stirchley and Ten Acres co-operative society opened its first shop in 1875, a few years before the Cadbury’s arrived in neighbouring Bourneville. The co-operative society responded to the food needs of the local community, which grew rapidly due to the arrival of Cadbury’s workers. In the early days their members kept pigs, one for themselves and one for the co-op. They organized the buying of feed at wholesale prices.
The famous industrialist Andrew Carnegie built Stirchley’s impressive public library upon land donated by the Cadbury family. The Cadbury’s also donated the land for the grand public swimming baths.
The family business of Joseph Chamberlain, which went on to become GKN, also invested in Stirchley, bringing jobs and prosperity.
But today, like many places, Stirchley has a fight on its hands to retain its identity and prosperity.
When the railway arrived in 1879, the local station was called “Stirchley Street Station”. It was later renamed as the “Stirchley and Bournville Station”. More recently it has been renamed as “Bourneville Station”.
In 1911 the local Urban and District Council was abolished and the area came under Birmingham City Council. In 1988 Birmingham City Council closed the swimming baths and they have remained closed ever since, even though it’s a grade II listed building.
Tesco, Asda and the Co-op have been battling to build a superstore on Stirchley’s high street. Tesco have now been granted planning permission for a scheme that includes demolishing Hazelwell Lane, a street of Victorian terraced houses, to make way for a car park. No new homes are proposed.
Stirchley Prospects is a fairly recent arrival on the scene. It is a Community Interest Company set up and run by Emma Larkinson and Jayne Murray, operating from a community shop at 1427 Pershore Road. They have funding from the Arts Council and Heritage Lottery and they are working to strengthen Stirchley’s unique co-operative identity and the quality of its environment.
The Small Change Forum is a partnership between Oxford Brookes University and arts organization Multistory, together with a group of urban regeneration practitioners. They are working with Stirchley Prospects and the local Neighbourhood Forum to explore arts-led regeneration and how best to work with the giants of Tesco and the City Council.
Chamberlain, Carnegie and Cadbury were the giants of their time. In Stirchley, they helped local people to get educated, healthy and wealthy. They encouraged the community to get organised into a co-operative society. Could Tesco and the City Council support this legacy of co-operative working in Stirchley?
Nick Corbett www.transformingcities.co.uk