Sutton Coldfield ( pronunciation (help·info)) is a town in the City of Birmingham, in the West Midlands of England. Sutton (as it is often abbreviated) is located about 8 miles (13 km) from central Birmingham, in the northeast of the city, with a population of 105,000 recorded in the 2001 census. It forms part of the West Midlands conurbation.
The town has a historical connection to the British Royal Family, resulting in it receiving the title of Royal Town when it was a municipal borough in its own right and part of Warwickshire. When the Local Government Act 1972 came into force in 1974, Sutton Coldfield was became part of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands county.
Sutton Coldfield borders Erdington and Kingstanding, the district of North Warwickshire and Lichfield and Tamworth in Staffordshire. The area in general is regarded as one of the most prestigious locations in the Birmingham area and even in Central England; a 2007 report by the website Mouseprice.com placed two Sutton Coldfield streets amongst the 20 most expensive in the United Kingdom.
The northern stretch of the Birmingham city sandstone ridge culminates at Sutton Coldfield. Plants Brook rises in the area of Streetly and flows through Sutton Park and directly beneath the town centre before culminating at Plantsbrook Nature Reserve in Walmley Ash.
The main shopping centre is the Sutton Coldfield Mall, which was built in 1974 as 'The Gracechurch Shopping Centre'. It changed its name after being bought by The Mall Company and was, by the end of 2008 rebranded 'The Mall, Sutton Coldfield'. The Mall complex also includes a multi-story car park. As a result of investment, the appearance of the shopping centre was improved in 2006 which included the installation of a glass roof above one of the walkways and the removal of a public square to form a cafe and extra retail units. There are now plans to construct a food court above Bishop's Court in the shopping centre. The shopping centre was formerly home to three bronze sculptures that depict, respectively, a boy and a girl on rollerskates, a boy with a dog, and a boy and a girl playing leapfrog, which have been moved to Rectory Park.
A second shopping centre was named the Sainsbury Centre until Sainsbury's closed their store; the name was later changed to "The Red Rose Centre". The centre has its own multi-storey car park with access from Victoria Road.
Walmley Court in Walmley.
New Hall Walk is a row of shops built behind The Parade in the late 1990s. The company that manages the site also manages several of the shops on the Parade built at the same time. It has its own large outdoor car park. Opposite the Red Rose Centre, behind New Hall Walk, is a single floor, indoor market facility known as the In Shops. The exterior of the building was improved in 2005.
There are several local shopping parades serving the suburbs of Sutton, including "The Lanes" Shopping Centre in Wylde Green, at Walmley, at New Oscott (local shops and a large "out of town" style development similar to New Hall Walk called Princess Park), and at Boldmere Road.
Sutton Coldfield is home to Sutton Coldfield Town F.C., which was founded in 1879 and also to Romulus F.C. who share their ground at Coles Lane. Golf is a major sport in the town, which is home to numerous golf clubs and courses. In the south of Sutton Coldfield is Walmley Golf Club and Pype Hayes Golf Course. There are also Aston Wood Golf Club, Moor Hall Golf Club, Sutton Coldfield Golf Club, Little Aston and Boldmere Golf Club. Nearby is The Belfry, a hotel with a renowned golf complex whose Brabazon course has hosted the Ryder Cup several times.
Sports facilities, including swimming pool and 400m athletics track, are located at Wyndley Leisure Centre (which is undergoing a major refurbishment), on the edge of Sutton Park. This was opened in 1971 by Ethel E. Dunnett. The nearby youth centre was opened in September 1968. Parts of Rectory Park is leased to Sutton Cricket Club and Sutton Town Football Club.
Linked by regular and fast services from Sutton Coldfield railway station on the Cross-City Line to the centre of Birmingham, Sutton is mostly a commuter dormitory town for people who work in Birmingham. The 1955 Sutton Coldfield rail crash occurred here, when an express train entered the very tight curve through the station much faster than the speed limit of 30 mph (48 km/h). The Sutton Park Line also crosses the town roughly perpendicular to the cross-city line (crossing at a point out of easy sight near the former Midland Road station), but lost its passenger services and stations in the 1964 "Beeching Axe". It retained a loading bay at the adjacent Clifton Road Royal Mail sorting office for a time, but now remains as a freight only line.
The Roman road Icknield Street cuts through Sutton Park to the west of the town. The town is bypassed to the north by the M6 Toll, the first toll motorway in the UK, accessible from Sutton by junction T2 at Minworth (co-located with the M42 junction), T3 and T4 (interchanging with the A38 at the south and north ends of their 5-mile (8.0 km) parallel run), and T5 at Shenstone. It also has easy access to the M6 proper to the south, via junctions 5 (Castle Bromwich), J6 (Gravelly Hill, or "Spaghetti Junction") and J7 at Great Barr; and also the M42 in the east, via junction 9 near Minworth.
The A38 itself used to run through the centre of the town (literally, using the since-pedestrianised line of the Parade), but now uses the dual carriageway bypass to the east. The former route of the A38 is now the A5127 Lichfield Road, branching from the southern end of the Aston Expressway on the Birmingham Middleway ring road, and continues to provide a major connective route running between and on slightly altered paths through the centres of Erdington, Sutton and Lichfield.
The Parade in the town centre is the main destination and terminus for numerous National Express West Midlands bus services in and through Sutton Coldfield. Such routes as 'Sutton Lines', 'CrossCity route66' and 'Showcase377' and 'Showcase451'; to name just a few arterial routes. The resultant congestion and perceived danger, from heavy (and almost exclusively) bus traffic on the repurposed and poorly sighted Lower Parade and Lower Queen Street coming into conflict with pedestrians (including children from several local schools) crossing between the Red Rose Centre and the other shopping areas, has led to calls for a dedicated bus centre to be built external to the town centre.
This would be built as part of the controversial Brassington Avenue development, with an elevated walkway across the ring road providing access to the main shopping areas. However, there are several sets of pedestrian crossings near to the bus stops, in order to provide a safe area for people to cross. Nevertheless, it remains a dangerous area with the large amount of traffic present, especially in the school holidays.