Today’s Friday photo is Needless Alley a little passage way off New Street. This little passage way is a survivor from old Birmingham that has managed to escape the urban planners! For although the buildings around it have changed over the years, the outline of the alley itself still remains as it was. The first mention of Needless Alley was from maps dated from 1731, however, it it likely to have been there much longer, perhaps even as far back as medieval Birmingham. It has been suggested that it is a remnant of Birmingham’s agricultural past, likely to have been fordrough, which is a farm track allowing space for plough teams to turn between medieval fields.
Local historian Chris Upton researched the alley during the late Georgian period and noted that in 1829, for example, a local papers reported that the alley needed to go! The Birmingham Journal dubbed it “needless by name and needless by nature”. Indeed in the Georgian and early Victoria era’s Needless Alley was a “disorderly street”, full of “disorderly houses”. In the summer of 1829 six individuals appeared before the magistrates accused of keeping “disorderly houses”, whilst a woman that also who stood in the dock was described as “a nymph, resident in Needless Alley”.
Today the alley still provides the adventurous Brummie with a route down to New Street from Colmore ow. Walking down it myself to take this photo I felt like I had gone back in time for a second, it is quite a unique feature compared to the alternative bustling shop lined thoroughfares nearby.