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Great Barr is a large and loosely defined area in north-west Birmingham, England. The area was historically in Staffordshire, and the parts now in Birmingham were once known as Perry Barr, which is still the name of an adjacent Birmingham district.
"Barr" means "hill", and the name refers to nearby Barr Beacon.
Great Barr was a largely rural area in south Staffordshire, on its border with Warwickshire, as recently as the First World War, but during the 1920s development for private and council housing began. The urban district of Perry Barr was ceded to Birmingham, then in Warwickshire, in 1928.
Expansion continued after the war, and during the 1960s the area received a motorway link when Junction 7 of the newly built M6 motorway was opened on the A34. It is also located close to the starting point of the M5, which can be accessed just one mile (1.6 km) northwards on the M6.
On 11 August 1975, eight-year-old local schoolgirl Helen Bailey was found dead from a single knife wound, in woods near Booths Farm. Her killer was never found.
Kidnapper Michael Sams abducted estate agent Stephanie Slater from a house in Turnberry Road, Great Barr before holding her for eight days in January 1992. Following receipt of £175,000 ransom, Sams released her. Police arrested him three weeks later and he was sentenced to life imprisonment for abducting Slater and murdering Leeds prostitute Julie Dart.
The traditional centre of Great Barr is focussed on the busy junction of the A34 and A4041 roads, at the Scott Arms public house and shopping centre. This is named after the Scott family of Great Barr Hall, which was once home of Samuel Galton and a meeting place of the Lunar Society.
However, the name is also loosely applied to a swathe of the West Midlands bounded by junction 8 of the M6 motorway in the west, the Birmingham – Walsall railway line (part of the former Grand Junction Railway, opened in 1837, and including Hamstead railway station, formerly called Great Barr station) and Perry Barr to the south, Kingstanding to the east, and the open countryside of Barr Beacon to the north.
Great Barr includes much of the B42, B43 and B44 postcode areas.
Places of interest
Bishop Asbury Cottage (incorrectly named as "Bishop Ashbury's Cottage" on Ordnance Survey maps), was where Francis Asbury, the first American Methodist Bishop, was raised. It is owned by Sandwell Council and is Grade II listed. It is open by appointment for group visits, and opens occasionally to the general public.
Red House Park is open to the public and provides important amenities for the local community. It is owned by the Sandwell Council. In the grounds are both the Red House itself and an obelisk erected in memory of Princess Charlotte who died in childbirth in November 1817. The Red House is Grade II listed building, but is not currently open to the public, having been sold in 2015 for conversion to apartments.
Birmingham Canal Navigations' Tame Valley Canal runs through Great Barr, from Piercy Aqueduct at Hamstead, along a cutting in 200-million year old sandstone, under Freeth bridge at Tower Hill, under the A34 and into Perry Barr Locks at Perry Barr.
Great Barr's notable current and former residents
- Steve Adey – Musician was born in Great Barr and attended Great Barr School
- Francis Asbury (1745–1816) – one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.
- John Bainbridge, – Writer, attended Hamstead Primary School, Grove Vale School and Dartmouth Comprehensive
- William Booth, – Forger
- James Michael Curtin, - professional wrestler better known as Rockstar Spud
- Mike Burney, – Musician from Wizzard, attended at Hamstead Junior School and Churchfields Comprehensive
- Cat Deeley, – TV presenter, actress and former model, attended Grove Vale Primary School and Dartmouth High School
- Mark "Barney" Greenway, – Singer of Napalm Death, born in Great Barr.
- Keith Law, – Songwriter for Velvett Fogg attended Hamstead Junior School and Churchfields Comprehensive
- Vaughan Lowe, – Lawyer and Oxford professor, attended Hamstead Primary School
- Geoff Morris, – professional soccer player for Walsall, Shrewsbury Town and Port Vale, was born in Great Barr
- Martin Shaw, – Actor, attended Great Barr School
- Andrew Medlicott, Tallest man in Birmingham winner 2016-2018
- Mike Slattery, – Chartered Insurance Broker, attended Holy Name School
- Jeff Smith, – motocross world champion 1964 & 1965, born in Colne, Lancashire
- Dave Swarbrick, – Musician, attended Great Barr School
- Steve Winwood, – Musician, attended Great Barr School, born in Handsworth
- Chris Woakes, – Cricketer for Warwickshire and England attended Barr Beacon School
- Gillian Wearing – Artist, Turner Prize Winner
- Dhani Prem, – Padma Shri winner and the first Asian Councillor to represent Great Barr in 1946.
Great Barr is well served with a number of primary and secondary schools. Great Barr School is the largest single-site school in the country with over 2,400 pupils on roll.
- Calshot Primary School
- Dorrington Road Primary school
- Ferndale Primary School
- Glenmead Primary School
- Great Barr Primary School
- Greenholm Primary School
- Grove Vale Primary School
- Hamstead Infant School
- Hamstead Junior School
- Holy Name RC Primary School
- Beeches Junior School
- St Margarets CE Primary School
- St Mark's RC Primary School
- Whitecrest Primary School
- Meadow View Primary School
- Pheasey Park Farm Primary School
- Great Barr School is a mixed school catering for children aged 11 to 19.
- Perry Beeches The Academy is a mixed academy catering for children aged 11 to 16.
- Q3 Academy (formerly Dartmouth High School) is a mixed academy catering for children aged 11 to 19.
- Barr Beacon School is a mixed school catering for children aged 11 to 19.
Perry Beeches does not have a 'Primary' School it has two separate schools Perry Beeches Infant School and Perry Beeches Junior School.
The Perry Beeches Campus is the largest school campus in Birmingham and houses 5 schools: Perry Beeches Nursery School, Perry Beeches Infant School,Perry Beeches Junior School, Perry Beeches The Academy and Priestley Smith School for the Visually Impaired.
The James Watt campus of Birmingham Metropolitan College is at the junction of Beeches Road and Aldridge Road, at the Old Oscott side of Great Barr. The buildings were originally Brooklyn Technical College.
- Nicholson waterways Guide 2 – Severn, Avon and Birmingham, Collins, 2006 ISBN 978-0-00-721110-4
- "RealSport x TNA's Rockstar Spud: exclusive interview". RealSport. 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- "Dr Dhani Prem – Birmingham's first Asian Councillor". Birmingham City Council. 2015. Archived from the original on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.