• Welcome to this forum . We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

Tunnel Cottages Kings Norton


Master Barmmie
This is interesting, did Albert actually move to King’s Norton to pull the narrow boats through the Wast Hill Tunnel?

In the 1911 census Asenath Jane Boulton was a Card Box maker and 30 years old. Working in a chocolate and cocoa factory. She was living with her father Alfred Boulton who was 62 and a steam tug engine driver, Canal Co. Worker. His address is given as (Machine House) Worcester Wharf, Bridge St, Birmingham.

The thread starts by mentioning Tunnel Cottages in Masshouse Lane, just where are they in Masshouse Lane?
Further info on Alfred shows he was at Kings Norton before the 1911 census. As his daughter Asenath died at the cottages he must kept some connection...

In 1901 Alfred is down at Masshouse Lane, Tunnel cottages, Engine worker

In 1899 Albert is just King's Norton and down as Engine Driver, tug boat barge

In 1881 down as Tunnel End, Steam tug engine Driver.

In 1871 he is Engine Driver in Gloucestershire at age 21


Master Barmmie
Thank you for all the responses. The cottages are still standing as I live in one. Apart from what’s been posted there doesn’t seem to be any history that goes back any further. The tunnel I know was built in 1797 and apparently the houses went up soon after. I’m just intrigued what the area around the cottages looked like and the cottage itself. Can’t seem to get any history about it at all. Thank you all though for the information
I think quite a lot of history has been brought to light about the cottages.

If you look back to Mike’s post number 10, which gives info about the cottages, it can be seen that two pairs of semi-detached cottages were built around 1878. This is about 80 years after the tunnel was built. One pair on the hill above the portal, and the other above the cutting at Masshouse Lane/Primrose Hill at High Bridge. The two pairs can be seen on the map, post 14, from Janice.

Historic England mentions cottages 1 and 2, Masshouse Lane, Kings Norton. It shows them just south of the Tunnel entrance, which would correspond to those seen in Mike’s picture post. The other pair at High Bridge could well be 3 and 4 “Tunnel Cottages.” We can see that Alfred Boulton was living in one of the "Tunnel Cottages" in 1901 with his wife and 8 children, and one of his daughters, Asenath, died there in 1967. There are 3 other “Tunnel Cottages” mentioned in the 1901 census, two tug Steerers and tug driver and their families.

The cottages would be quite remote, and as the occupants were involved with tunnel, their history would be linked to it. There is a lot of history that can be found connected to the Tunnel.


master brummie
I understood that the cottages were for canal company workers who manned the steam tug that hauled boats through the tunnel, while the horses that normally pulled them were walked over the hill (hence "Bargehorse Walk" in Hawkesley which follows the bridleway they used).