Landscape Timeline

Over time the Gardens have gone through several transformations including a medieval grazing pasture, a private garden, an environmental studies’ centre and a therapeutic community garden. The following is a collection of notes made from records held at Birmingham Central Archive:

From records held at Birmingham Central Archive:

The Martineau Centre was based in Malvern House no.225 Bristol Road, extending into no.227; in the garden was a pavilion and tennis courts. These Bristol Road properties are no longer part of the Gardens

The Gardens are made up of three sections, which seem to have been assembled in the course of the 1950s and 60s.

1) The wildlife area at the north end. In 1955 this was a playing field, but once taken into Martineau Gardens it was planted with beds and shrubs. In 1979 it was transformed into a wildlife area; the present ponds were already in existence at that date. Hence most of the trees in this area have been planted since 1979, but the line of the mature oaks on the boundary with the Priory Tennis Club is considerably older, and they are marked on the OS map of 1888.

2) Shipwreck, meadow and clay oven area. This is on the site of the tennis courts mentioned above. The story of these courts is a bit of a mystery. In the late 19th century the land was part of the garden of 233 Bristol Road. A pavilion had been built on this land by 1939, but it is uncertain whether this served private tennis courts, or to which house they might have been attached by this date.  Alternatively the pavilion might have belonged to a small tennis club, accessed by an alley from the Bristol Road (the alley was closed in 1990). However, as seen, the courts were part of the Martineau Centre when it opened in 1952.

3) The horticultural area, rose garden and car park. The Priory Road entrance to the Gardens appears on maps in the 1960s, before which this area was open land, not linked to the Gardens.

With thanks to P L.

Our History

The Martineau Family