Birmingham Conservation Trust has a short blog post today on one of my favorite Birmingham places, Needless Alley

“This little passage way is a survivor from old Birmingham that has managed to escape the urban planners!”

It has only escaped the council planners, in the sense that it hasn’t been stopped up. But its unique character was badly affected by various changes in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and is now markedly different in many sections than it was in the early 1980s. Definitely less smelly.

“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. […] in the Georgian and early Victoria eras, 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 who also stood in the dock was described as “a nymph, resident in Needless Alley”.”

William Parker’s photo of the bottom half of Needless Alley, Birmingham, at a time when it hosted shops such as Reddington’s Rare Records, a little stamp collector shop, and seedy bookshops and burger bars…

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My own more recent photo of the alley itself, showing how gentrified it’s become…

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This 1930s postcard shows the lower entrance, off from New St. Follow the sight-line of the Austin Reed shop sign along the shopfronts a little, to glimpse the oblong street-sign plaque on the wall, indicating Needless Alley.