Alvechurch Village - Features

[The Crown, Withybed Green] Alvechurch is a nice size of village. It's large enough to have the full range of everyday requirements but small enough to be a community. We've got three churches, two schools and a library; a Village Hall and a Church Hall; a football club and a cricket club; three pubs, two restaurants, a chip shop and Indian and Chinese takeaways; two butchers, a bakery, and greengrocers; a small supermarket, a doctors, a vet, an opticians and a pharmacy.

On the less practical side it also has three ladies' hairdressers, four estate agents and a real ale off-licence with its own brewery. There is also a wide variety of smaller enterprises which are less obvious to the general public. Within 200 yards of our offices we have a gunsmiths and a specialist erector of broadcast aerials.

And if you can't get what you want in the village, you'll find it easy to get it somewhere else. We've got a railway station, a motorway junction, and a canal wharf.

Despite all these facilities, the village is small enough that you recognise most of the people that you see from day to day and it's a very pleasant place to live and work.

Some visitors find the village disconcerting. If you arrive by train you come down the main four-track Birmingham to Bristol line then peel off onto a double-track branch which quickly drops to a single track, runs through a cutting with trees down to the lineside, across some fields, and you arrive at a platform in the middle of nowhere. Alvechurch station is on the edge of the village with fields on three sides of it. There is a footpath that comes out of the hedge, crosses the platform and railway line and disappears over a stile in the opposite hedge. Another footpath heads off beside the line towards Redditch.

Arrival by night is worse because we don't have many street lights. You are on a bare platform and you were probably the only person to leave the train. There's a light over the platform and you can see the glow of Redditch and Birmingham on the horizon. You can't see the lights of Alvechurch because there aren't any. There are no houses in sight and you aren't too sure where to go next. There is (of course) no telephone.

A visit to our local pub in the evening can also be interesting to the visitor. You walk along the pavement until it ends, then under the railway bridge in the dark, over the (single track) canal bridge in the dark, and you find the pub just before the lane ends at a field gate.

[Alvechurch Morris] The pub is the base of the local border Morris dancers. They are a traditional 'black face' or 'ragged' side; nothing like the clean-shaven dancers in their white costumes who wave handkerchiefs and bells for the tourist trade in Evesham and Stratford on Avon. Our side wear beards and rags, black their faces, and dance with staves. Meeting them at the bar is a surprise for the visitor. Meeting them outside in the dark is something of a shock ...