Once part of Warwickshire, it became one of Birmingham’s wealthiest suburbs when it was absorbed by the city in 1912.
In more recent times, however, Aston’s fortunes have changed somewhat. Today the ward has the city’s highest proportion of children living in families who are on benefits.
A melting pot of different cultures, it was catapulted to national attention in 2003 following the gunning down of Aston teenagers Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare at a New Year’s party. The shooting was blamed a youth gun and gang culture that became symbolic of Britain’s violent under-belly.
The area has, however, since moved on – and over the weekend the rich history and culture of the ward that is the birthplace of Birmingham rock legend Ozzy Osbourne was celebrated during the first Aston Heritage Open Day.
A dozen buildings intrinsically linked to its past including Aston Hall, Villa Park, the Birmingham Jame Masjid Mosque, Aston Manor Transport Museum and black arts centre The Drum were opened to public viewing on Saturday. Those taking part in the history trail were issued with a passport which was stamped at each attraction.
Rachel West, chair of the Aston Heritage Network, said it was time the city celebrated its most historic suburb.
“Aston has impressive buildings from the days when the area was wealthier than Birmingham,” she said.
“Even more impressive are the recent buildings such as the Mosques and The Drum, associated with the heritage of newer communities.”
Nigel Cripps, of Aston Parish church who is also secretary of the Aston Heritage Network, added: “Aston is a very exciting place to be part of because it is such a mish-mash of places and people.
“You really have a tremendous diversity from the African Caribbean community and people of Asian background and a new wave of people who are from the former Russia.
“What we wanted to do is make sure we showcased Aston’s new heritage as well as the old. We wanted to make sure that heritage was opened up and was accessible to the people who have arrived over the last two or three years in the latest wave of immigration.”
Aston was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was called Estone.
It was recorded as having a mill, a priest - and therefore probably a church - some woodland and ploughland.
Aston Hall, arguably Birmingham’s most famous building after the Rotunda, was built by Sir Thomas Holte in 1635 on top of a hill so he could look down on his extensive lands.
The Holte family lived in the house – one of the finest examples of a Jacobean manor home in Britain today – for more than 200 years.
In 1643 it was besieged by Parliamentarian forces during the Civil War and the great oak staircase still bears the scars of the bombardment it suffered.
Aston Hall, and the several acres of parkland surrounding it, are now owned by the city council and is open to the public as a museum. It is currently going through a £10 million face-lift.
Aston Villa Football club, one of the highlights of the tour, was founded in 1874 by cricketers from the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel.
It was a founding member of the Football League in 1888 and today Villa Park is regarded as one of Britain’s finest stadiums.
Another attraction is the Bartons Arms on the High Street which was opened in 1901 by M&B Breweries.
Notable for its grand Victorian architecture, Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin are among the people who have stayed in the Grade II listed building.
Despite its many famous landmarks, the people of Aston are as much a part of the suburbs character and heritage as its buildings.
During the 1960s’ period of immigration, the area saw a major influx of people from the Commonwealth countries, drastically altering its make up. Today it is still a popular location for new arrivals to the city.
More than 70 per cent of the ward’s population are from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared with an average of 29.6 per cent for Birmingham. Despite flashpoints of tension that have received much press attention, the community generally lives in harmony and retains a strong sense of identity.
Among its famous residents is the author Sir Arthur Conan Dolye who lived at number 63 Aston Road North during the late 1800s.
But Aston’s most famous son is Ozzy Osbourne. Included in the trail is Aston Fire Station which lays claim to being the venue of the former Black Sabbath frontman’s first ever live gig.
A plaque on the wall of the building in Prestbury Road contains a quote from the singer in which he recalls performing in front of “three firefighters and a ******* janitor”.