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The independent spirit of trendy 'village' Moseley

With its indie spirit and cosmopolitan character, the Birmingham suburb of Moseley is known for its village feel and trendy vibe

Moseley high street

With its indie spirit and cosmopolitan character, the Birmingham suburb of Moseley is known for its village feel and trendy vibe.

One of the main creative areas of the city, it attracts a vibrant mix of residents, from trendy young students to older professionals, attracted to the substantial properties in leafy roads such as Wake Green Road and Cotton Lane.

Last year, it was crowned Best Place to Live in the UK by the Sunday Times, heading a list of Britain’s top 50 urban districts, beating the likes of Muswell Hill and Mayfair in the capital, based on a number of factors including schools, crime rates, house prices and transport links.

The village centre, which began to develop and expand in Victorian times, is home to an enviable range of independent retailers, restaurants and pubs, something that locals are fiercely protective of – so much so that residents were up in arms last year when Costa Coffee was given the go-ahead to open its coffee shop at the former Barclays Bank.

Preserving the character of the area is something people are also very keen on, with Prince of Wales licensee Keith Marsden launching a “keep Moseley special” campaign.

So what makes Moseley special?

Community. This is certainly the case for Pam Rutter, a volunteer with the Moseley Festival, an annual community arts and culture event.

She has lived in Moseley for most of the past 40 years and was keen to move back because of its unique feel.

“I love the sense of community,” she said. “I think it’s based partly on the commitment of so many people to the notion of community, and lots of people work hard to make that a reality. But also there’s a shared sense of enjoying living here.

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“There is a superb ‘can do’ attitude. As a result, we have a community magazine, an award-winning farmers’ market, a hugely successful Moseley in Bloom group, a community festival, and thriving local groups too numerous to mention. Did you know that Moseley has its own ukelele band and its own Morris dance group, for example?”

Moseley Forum is a community group run by locals which aims to look after the interests of all residents and campaigns on local issues, while the Friends of Highbury Park is another voluntary group that ensures the park – once part of Joseph Chamberlain’s home – is maintained and looked after.

Izzy Knowles, of Moseley Forum, who has lived in the area for 33 years, says there is much to love about the place – and she wasn’t surprised that it won best urban place in Britain to live because it has all the positives of living in a village with the advantages of the city.

“Many were surprised the best place in Britain was in Birmingham, but people who live in Moseley were not,” she says.

“I love the amazing architecture and that I can gaze up at the beautifully designed roofs, gables and quirky towers on many of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings but then come across a square Sixties block of flats bang in the middle of them.

“I love the diverse mix of people and that in many of the tree-lined streets multi-occupied properties exist next to large professional family homes without anyone noticing. I love the diversity of entertainment right on my doorstep, the community spirit and sense of identity, the buzz and atmosphere. I love that Moseley is seen by the authorities as a place not to be messed with.”

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Greenery

It’s a very leafy suburb with Highbury Park, which borders Kings Heath, and Cannon Hill Park, a 215-acre oasis that has lakes, formal gardens and the mac centre. Moseley Park is a tranquil space that is owned and run by a charitable trust. To gain access, visitors become members – a day membership is free but you’ll pay a £10 key deposit. Annual memberships cost £45.

Moseley Bog, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and Joy’s Wood Nature Reserve are former playgrounds of author JRR Tolkien and are places that are rich in wildlife and plantlife.

Moseley in Bloom is a charitable group that organises open garden weekends and floral displays.

Moseley Folk Festival in Moseley Park

Festivals

There’s no need to head out of the area for your fix of festivals. The Moseley Festival is an annual community arts and culture event, which takes place in Moseley Park. This year it takes place between July 1 and July 10, with its popular street fair happening on July 2.

The Moseley Folk Festival celebrates its 11th year in 2016 and this year acts taking to the stage include The Levellers, Billy Bragg, and The Proclaimers.

Award-winning farmers’ market

Moseley hosts a popular farmers’ market every fourth Saturday of the month and is the only one in the UK to have won best farmers’ market three times. The next one is on April 30 and you you’ll find more than 60 traders selling a vast range of goods from fruit and veg to artisan burgers and pulled pork.

The Moseley Arts Market also takes place on the last Saturday of the month, where visitors will find original handmade pieces by Midland designers.

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Heritage

The St Agnes Conservation Area was created in 1987 to protect a residential area that was built mainly in the Arts and Crafts style, with properties designed by architects including C.E. Bateman, George Pepper and Willoughby DeLacy Aherne.

Sport

Moseley Rugby Club – soon to be renamed Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club – was founded in 1873 and plays in the RFU Championship at its home ground of Billesley Common.

Wye Valley duck with parsnip from the lunch menu at Carters of Moseley.(Image: Sarah Probert)

Dining Out

Moseley is well blessed with restaurants and pubs.

Carters of Moseley, in Wake Green Road, won its first Michelin star this year, while, those wanting upmarket Indian cuisine should head to Imlees, Alcester Road. American-style dining can be found at One Trick Pony, while you’ll get quality Caribbean food at Carib Grill. Head to The
Village for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Love Latin American food and cocktails? The Cuban Embassy – in the former Bull’s Head pub – is the place to go. For tapas, head to La Plancha.

The Fighting Cocks and Prince of Wales remain two of the best known pubs in the area, but you’ll also find a warm welcome in the Elizabeth of York and The Patrick Kavanagh.

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Famous Moseleyites

Author JRR Tolkien spent his childhood in Moseley and it is believed that Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog were among the inspirations in his writing.

Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes hails from Moseley, while Bev Bevan, of ELO fame, and comedian Jasper Carrott were educated at Moseley Grammar School.

Schools

Moseley Church of England Primary School (Ofsted, outstanding); Park Hill Primary School (Ofsted, good); St Martin de Porres Catholic Primary School (Ofsted, good); Saints John & Monica Catholic Primary School (Ofsted, outstanding); Moor Green Primary (Ofsted, inadequate); King David JI (NC) School (Ofsted, good)

Secondary – Queensbridge School (Ofsted, outstanding).

Sarehole Mill in Moseley

House prices

According to RightMove, the average terraced house sold for £206,621 while semi-detached properties fetched an average of £315,419. Flats – the most popular buy last year – sold for an average of £127,013.

One of the most expensive properties on the market at the moment – which hasn’t been converted to flats – is an eight-bedroom Edwardian residence on Oxford Road. It’s being marketed for £795,000.

A five-bedroom detached house in Russell Road is on the market for £775,000, while you can get a three-bedroom penthouse apartment on the desirable Britannic Park for £535,000.

For more modest budgets, a three-bedroom semi-detached in Woodstock Road costs £285,000.

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