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Moseley: A Local Guide

Selly Oak: a local guide

The lively suburb of Selly Oak, which houses a mixture of families, pensioners and a large student population, is bursting with history and has a great community spirit.


The name ‘Selly’ derives from ‘scelf-lei’ or shelf-meadow, meaning a pasture of land on a shelf or terrace. The ‘oak’ part of the name comes from a remarkable oak tree that stood at the crossroads of the Bristol Road and Oak Tree Lane/ Harborne Lane. There is a plaque above one of the nearby shops with a date of 1880, announcing it to be “Oak Tree Place.” The tree was felled in 1909 due to safety concerns; its remains were removed to Selly Oak Park, where it still exists today.


Selly Oak is a site of great archaeological importance; a number of artefacts, including Late Neolithic pottery and weaponry, and Bronze Age mounds and pits, have been recovered.


Selly Oak has its own railway station on the Cross-City Line, taking passengers to Birmingham city centre.

Public Facilities

Selly Oak Library is a grade II listed building and has served the community since it’s opening in 1902. There used to be a cinema, called the Oak, which stood on the current Sainsbury’s site. Selly Oak Hospital, which was built in 1872, originally a workhouse, finally closed in 2010, with all NHS services transferred to the Queen Elizabeth hospital.


Selly Oak has a number of schools, including Selly Oak School, Selly Park Girls Technology College, St Edwards RC Primary School, Raddlebarn Road, Tiverton Road and St Mary’s C of E Primary School.


There are lots of intriguing and historical pubs that remain in the area, including the British Oak, the Goose at the OVT and the Bristol Pear. The area is often bustling with students, due to the university being just around the corner, and there are a number of student bars, such as Soak Bar, dotted a long the high street.


Selly Oak has an abundance of churches and religious institutions, including Bournbrook Chapel, Bournbrook Gospel Hall, Christ Church, Raddlebarn Lane Mission Hall, Selly Park Chapel, St John’s Church and St Mary’s Church.

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