Heritage: Digbeth Slice of Life Trail
The trail begins outside the oldest secular building in Birmingham, the Old Crown, which dates back to circa 1450.
Originally built as a private house, it was probably the 'mansion house of tymbar' described by John Leland when he visited the town in 1536. It is now a public house.
Opposite the Crown in Heath Mill Lane is Birmingham's oldest surviving library building, Deritend Branch Library, opened on the same day as the first Reference Library in 1866.
The route passes many interesting buildings including the Gun Barrel Proof House in Banbury Street. Before the 1880s almost all the guns made in Britain were made in Birmingham. Until 1813, however, all had to go to London to be proved. In that year the Birmingham Proof House, designed by John Horton, opened. The buildings are grouped around a small central courtyard. Above the central door is a magnificent collection of trophies, the work of the sculptor William Hollins.
The trail passes Curzon Street Railway Terminus, original terminus of the London - Birmingham railway and built by Philip Hardwick in 1838, who designed the original Euston Station too. By 1854 trains were using New Street instead and Curzon Street became a goods station.
Many times threatened with demolition, it has survived as one of the City's most important buildings, in the centre of an area of great industrial heritage.
Floodgate Street and Heath Mill Lane say much about the character of pre- industrial Digbeth. The River Rea once flowed clear and wide through this area, cutting both Digbeth High Street and Floodgate Street in two. The 'Floodgates' came in handy when the river burst its banks! Heath Mill Lane meanwhile was named after the Water Mill used for grinding corn which had stood there since the 16th Century.