Five Ways, Birmingham

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Five Ways Shopping Centre with Auchinleck House above and Metropolitan House to the left.
Before and after: The end result of cleanup work on the Joseph Sturge memorial at Five Ways.

Five Ways is an area of Central Birmingham, England. It takes its name from a major road junction, now a busy roundabout (with pedestrian subways through a traffic island) to the south-west of the city centre which lies at the outward end of Broad Street, where the Birmingham Middle ring road crosses the start of the A456 (Hagley Road).


The name of Five Ways dates back to 1565 when it was roads leading to Harborne and Halesowen were recorded as being located there.[1] Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, who lived at Five Ways up until 1785, describes that the origins of its name were as a result of the location being the junction of five roadways.[2]

Five Ways was disturnpiked in 1841 after disputes over the reparation of the roadways in the area.[3] It was the former home of King Edward VI Five Ways School,[4] before it relocated to its present site in Bartley Green. Five Ways railway station is located on the Cross-City Line. It opened in 1884 to replace the Granville Street station and closed in 1944, it reopened in 1979. The old station building survives as offices on Islington Row. There are plans to extend the Midland Metro light rail system underneath Five Ways underpass and on through to the city centre along Broad Street.[5]

On 4 June 1862, a memorial to Joseph Sturge (which originally incorporated drinking fountains) was unveiled in front of a crowd of 12,000.[6] The sculptor was John Thomas, who Sir Charles Barry had employed as stone and wood carver on the former King Edward's Grammar School at Five Ways. In 2006/7 the partnership of The Birmingham Civic Society, Birmingham City Council and the Sturge family saw the statue restored in time for the 200th anniversary of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. On 24 March 2007, there was a civic ceremony that formally rededicated the statue, and an interpretation board, giving details of his life, was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. The statue is grade II listed.[7]


Buildings also located at Five Ways include Philip Chatwin's Lloyds Bank (1908-9) and the Marriott Hotel (formerly the Swallow Hotel, and before that Tube Investments House), which was expected to receive a five-star rating when opened to rival the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Broad Street, however it was unable to achieve this.[8] The building was built in 1957 to a design by Cotton, Ballard & Blow.[9] It is now a Grade B locally listed building.[10]

Five Ways is a major commercial area of Birmingham city centre. The area began to develop in the early 1960s when Birmingham's business centre expanded westwards towards Edgbaston, along Broad Street and Hagley Road. Calthorpe Estates, the landowners, started various schemes to encourage highrise construction in the area and to develop it into a business centre. One of the first developments here was Five Ways Shopping Centre and Auchinleck House above it.[11] It consists of a traffic-free piazza with ground floor retail, an indoor market area, a car park on the second floor and the 10 storey Auchinleck House, which is named after Claude Auchinleck, with office accommodation. Designed by J. Seymour Harris & Partners, it was completed in 1962.[11] On the side of Auchinleck House was a mural by Trewin Copplestone which was illuminated at night. This was removed though another mural by Trewin Copplestone remains in the courtyard. Other developments in the near vicinity of Five Ways include Five Ways House on Islington Row, designed by Cotton, Ballard & Blow, and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce building, by John Madin.[12] Five Ways House was the location of the Ministry of Public Building and Works' library.[13]

Other highrise buildings that were constructed later on include:

Recent developments[edit]

Broadway Plaza

The Department for Work and Pensions has branches at Five Ways. The former Birmingham Children's Hospital site is now the Broadway Plaza entertainment complex. Completed in the early 2000s, it cost £80 million and consists of leisure, retail and residential space.[14] Nearby, is a 12-screen Cineworld cinema complex which also consists of restaurants, clubs and a casino (Grosvenor Casino).[15] The recent development was managed by Richardson Developments (responsible for the nearby Broad Street Tower) and cost £50 million. The listed public house on the corner of Bishopsgate Street and Tennant Street, currently known as 'The City Tavern', was fully restored as part of the development.[16] It has an approximate total area of 200,000 square feet (18,580 sq. m.).[17]

Future developments[edit]

Future developments at Five Ways include the £100 million redevelopment of Five Ways Shopping Centre by BPG Urban. The mixed-use scheme comprising shops, offices, a hotel and apartments is to be constructed on a 1.25-acre (5,100 m2) site. It will feature around 300 apartments and around 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) of office space as well as a basement car park. The front of the Five Ways shopping centre will be reclad as will Auchinleck House.[18] A 28-storey mixed-use block was unveiled at the March 2008 MIPIM show in Cannes, France. Named Pentavia, the building has been designed by Aedas Architects and will be constructed alongside the shopping centre.[19]

Although no planning application has yet been submitted, traders have been ordered to vacate the premises by 3 January 2008 'pending the commencement of certain demolition works'. This has created a groundswell of support for the newly formed Fiveways Traders Association from the many local interest, campaign, student and youth groups that use the centre's facilities, particularly Cafe One, the UK's first Fairtrade music venue. Under the banner 'Mars Attacks! Save Fiveways!' the campaign continues for consultation with traders and local residents on the future of the community space. The campaign has also gained the support of local MPs, councillors and media personalities, generating press coverage locally and nationally.

Located at Five Ways island, Edgbaston Galleries represents the largest regeneration project at a principal gateway to Birmingham. With demolition of Edgbaston Shopping Centre currently underway and construction scheduled to start on site later in 2008, the scheme has planning for 425,000 sq ft (39,500 m2) of Grade A office space, retail and leisure facilities, a hotel and significant car parking. Calthorpe House, an office tower on the Edgbaston Galleries site, was demolished by controlled explosion on 9 March 2008.


  1. ^ British History Online: Communications
  2. ^ Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck (1859). Life of Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck: autobiography (biographical sketch and letters). 
  3. ^ Great Britain Court of Exchequer; Robert Philip Tyrwhitt (1837). Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Courts of Exchequer and Exchequer Chamber. R. T. Davis. 
  4. ^ British History Online: Public Education - King Edward VI Elementary Schools
  5. ^ Department For Transport: Midland Metro (Birmingham City Centre Extension Etc) Order - Inspector's Report
  6. ^
  7. ^ Joseph Sturge Restored Statue Unveiled on the Calthorpe Estate - Calthorpe Estates, 26 March 2007 (Retrieved 11 July 2007)
  8. ^ Hedley Smyth (1994). Marketing the City: The Role of Flagship Developments in Urban Regeneration. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-419-18610-7. 
  9. ^ Michael Stratton (1997). Structure and Style: Conserving Twentieth Century Buildings. Taylor & Francis. 
  10. ^ "Schedule of Locally Listed Buildings". Birmingham City Council. December 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  11. ^ a b Signalling the Sixties: 1960s Architecture in Birmingham
  12. ^ British History Online: Secular Architecture
  13. ^ Thomas Greenwood (1964). The Libraries, Museums and Art Galleries Year Book. R.R. Bowker. 
  14. ^ Lights on Broadway: £80m development at Five Ways - Birmingham Post, 23 December 2000
  15. ^ Five Ways Leisure
  16. ^ Five Ways (Archive)
  17. ^ Richardson Developments: Five Ways
  18. ^ £100m mixed-use project planned for Five Ways - Birmingham Post, 10 July 2007 (Retrieved 11 July 2007)
  19. ^ Neil Nickolds (2008-03-13). "BPG unveils the striking Pentavia tower at MIPIM '08". Emporis. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°28′22″N 1°55′06″W / 52.4729°N 1.9183°W / 52.4729; -1.9183