The Birmingham Civic SocietyTree





The Austin Village

Wording on plaque - 'Birmingham Civic Society 2002. The Austin Village - built by Herbert Austin in 1917 to house his workforce for the Austin Motor Company at that time engaged in the manufacture of vehicles, aircraft, ammunition and equipment to support this country's forces in the Great War.'

Note: On the other side of the plinth is a plaque put up by the current residents of the Austin Village to commemorate the life of Herbert Austin.


The plaque is on a blue brick plinth on the central grass strip adjacent to No. 1 Central Avenue, The Austin Village, Northfield, Birmingham B31. The Village is half a mile from the Longbridge factory (which now belongs to the MG-Rover Company) and can be reached from either Longbridge Lane or Turves Green Road.


The plaque recognises the foresight shown by Herbert Austin in building a complete village to house some of his key workers during the 1914 - 18 war. In 1914 the Austin Motor Company employed 2500 people but, by 1918 , over 22,000 were employed (including a high proportion of women) making ammunition, aircraft, vehicles and armaments to support the war effort. Herbert Austin recognised early on in the war that transport facilities serving the Longbridge site were wholly inadequate for employees living in central Birmingham, Bromsgrove and the Black Country. He therefore purchased what was then farmland in Hawkesley Mill (between Bristol Road and Turves Green) and built - from pre-fabricated kits imported from America - 200 cedar wood bungalows, interspersed with 50 brick built houses designed to act as firebreaks should that problem ever arise. Some of the first consignment of pre-fabricated parts was torpedoed by a German submarine and a replacement batch had to be shipped in. The bungalows, which had a degree of central heating and modern kitchens and bathrooms, are still in use. Initially, the bungalows were rented to employees at a subsidised rate. Subsequently they were sold to employees.




Civic 2