In 1890 St Augustine’s Church stood alone amongst the fields of Edgbaston. As shown on the map (click here), Lyttelton Road, St Augustine’s Road and particularly Melville Road were only partially developed: there were only four houses built on Melville Road at the Gillott Road end, there was no Manor Road North, no Moorland Road and there were no properties built around the church on Lyttelton Road. From the church you could look over and beyond Portland Road and Rotton Park Road and see Edgbaston Reservoir.
It would not be unreasonable to expect Number 42 to have a lifespan of some 118 years like its neighbours but this was not to be. During the mid 1930’s the house was owned and occupied by Mr John Fairclough and his wife Nesta Murial, along with other family members which in 1930 totalled 6 adults plus an Amelia Hobster, as shown on the Electoral registers (click here). One can only speculate who Amelia was: was she a relative or more likely a live-in servant? And likewise in 1935 Number 42 was home to only three Faircloughs plus one Fanny Ward; who was she?
Where did the Fairclough family go when they left Number 42? The list of private residents (click here) shows that in 1939 a Mr Stanley J Fairclough was living at Number 93 Portland Road, Edgbaston. It is notable that in 1930 John Fairclough was a “J” (Juror); by 1935 he had become an “SJ” (a Special Juror). Henry Trevor
Fairclough was a partner in Fairclough & Bishton & Co, Auctioneers, Valuers & Estate agents (click here), whose offices were at 10 & 11 Colmore Row.
During the mid 1930s the Faircloughs sold Number 42 Melville Rd to Mr Joseph Cohen, a prominent solicitor and property developer, who set out to build a number of blocks of flats in Birmingham, mostly on sites owned by Calthorpe Estates. The first of these was Calthorpe Mansions at Five Ways, followed by Norfolk Court on the corner of Hagley Road & Rotton Park Road. Number 42 Melville Road was then demolished to make way for the building of Moorland Court (click here), which was completed circa 1938. These flats were sold on long leases and Mr Cohen formed separate companies for each block in the names of Moorland Court Ltd, Norfolk Court Ltd, and also a company called C.G.C Holdings Ltd, one of these names that can be seen on some of the leases.
Insofar as each of these were separate entities, they nevertheless formed part of Joseph Cohen’s property companies JACEY INVESTMENTS LTD and JACEY PROPERTIES LTD. He also owned and controlled a cinema chain called JACEY CINEMAS LTD. Other notable developments by Mr Cohen were Jacey Road, Edgbaston, and Jacey Road, Shirley, which were named after JACEY, a.k.a. JC a.k.a. Joseph Cohen.
In the late 1940’s Stanley, the younger son of Joseph Cohen, started a gown manufacturing company with partner Kurt Rosenberg. Taking the “le” from Stanley and the “Rose” from Rosenbergthey called the company “Lerose Gown manufacturers” and were based at 1/7 Constitution Hill, Birmingham 19. In 1964 a new bespoke factory was built in Henrietta St 19 and continued to trade until the early 1970’s.
Mr Joseph Cohen died at the age of 91 in 1980. Stanley Cohen, the surviving younger son of Joseph Cohen and living now in Spain, dealt with the management of the blocks and lived at Number24 Moorland Court circa 1949/1950.
The Architect & Surveyor for the project was a company called Essex & Goodman who had offices at 21 Waterloo St, Birmingham. They are still in business today.
The second map (click here) shows the area well developed although there is still no Manor Road North. Number 42 stands at the corner of Melville Road and Moorland Road with its comparatively large garden.
The building plans (click here) show the ground-floor drawing room and the first floor master bedroom had a commanding view of the church from its octagonal bay window on the corner of the house.
Kelly’s Directories show that in 1888 Mr George Sperryn, a Birmingham councillor, moved into Number 10 Melville Road (the Cottage), in 1892 he moved across the road to Number 3, and then in 1896 he moved back across the road to Number 6.
In 1897 the Architect John Perrius Osborne was selected to design and submit plans for a residence for Mr George Sperryn which is listed as Melville Lodge, i.e. Number 42 Melville Road where, as records show, he lived with his wife Charlotte Jane and family in 1904. John Perrius Osborne had offices at 95 Colmore Row, Birmingham, and lived at 42 Handsworth Wood Road,Handsworth.