Loop Scheme : Local History

Icknield Port Loop is just one mile from Birmingham city centre and about ten minutes walk from Brindleyplace. It was built by the engineer James Brindley in 1772 and was part of his contour canal which ran from Staffordshire to Birmingham.

The Loop became isolated in 1829 and soon afterwards a canal workshop, stables and boatyard and repair depot were built at the furthest point of the loop. By the late nineteenth century, a number of workshops including a chemical and varnish factory, a saw mill, a charcoal mill, a glassworks and tube works were built along the loop.

The Icknield Port Loop area to this day is relatively unchanged since the industrial revolution and has many vacant and underused buildings and large warehouses used for car parking and general storage. All this will change as part of the Loop re-development in the next few years.

Icknield Street (ĭk`nēld), was the name for a prehistoric road in England, extending south west from the Wash, along the line of the Chiltern Hills and Berkshire Downs, to Salisbury Plain.

Icknield Road did start as a Roman road, although the street in Hockley, Birmingham may not really be on the line of the original road. The road went from Alcester to the Roman fort at Wall, near Lichfield. Some people also consider the Roman road which went north from Wall/Lichfield to Derby and then Rotherham as a continuation of Icknield Street.

The road formed a link between two earlier Roman roads: Watling Street

and Fosse Way. It is not known when or why the road got the name Icknield, also known as Ryknild, Ricknield etc. (And, very confusingly, it's the same name as the ancient Icknield Way across Southern England.)

The line of the road is unclear in the Birmingham area, but its course is well-established near Redditch, where it passes through Ipsley. The Birmingham section of the road is currently being investigated by archaeologists who tend to disagree with earlier opinions about its route.The solid red stretches of Icknield Street on this map show where the route is definitely known.

Sutton Park at Sutton Coldfield is a great place to see a surviving section of the Roman road. Use this map and click on the numbers to see photographs.

There doesn't seem to be any precise information about which years saw the construction of Icknield Street. It was after the Fosse Way and Watling Street were made, both in the 1st century AD. There were forts at Alcester and Metchley before the end of that century, but no dates for Icknield Street itself.

Icknield Port Loop is now part of a regeneration area and so will change quite a bit in the next few years. Take a look at the TNT website to see some more information about the history of the area.