Mossy Bank (Friends of)
Mossy Bank is a recreation area located next to Boldmere School. In 2016 plans were made to use the grassy plot of land to build a £50,000 playground where children could play safely and get some fresh air and exercise, however unfortunately this plan was cancelled. Following the cancellation of the playground and after residents were disheartened, the Friends of Mossy Bank group was formed to help reclaim ownership of the area, with hopes to turn it from an abandoned area known for anti-social behavior to something much more beautiful and useful for the community, especially for the younger generation to play, have fun and get some fresh air.
Friends of Mossy Bank’s research project about Fernwood Grange
Fernwood Grange’s history begins in 1872 when retired Birmingham jeweler, Alfred Antrobus, acquired 8.5 acres of land in New Oscott and constructed Fernwood House. Antrobus, a devoted botany enthusiast, utilized the estate for his numerous greenhouses where he cultivated rare and subtropical plants. His impressive botanical collection gained recognition from natural history societies, attracting frequent visitors. Antrobus’ plants likely adorned local gardens, with remnants possibly still existing today. He resided there until his passing in 1907 and was laid to rest nearby.
Following Antrobus, Fernwood Grange changed hands to wealthy bookmaker Ernest W. Beston after his death. Beston, who owned a publishing company, made lavish additions and enhancements to the estate, including a music room, Chinese lounge, cinema, ballroom, and other rooms. The house expanded to include more bedrooms, bathrooms, and even a heated garage for multiple cars. The grounds also grew, encompassing 11 acres with various features like a switchback railway, aviary, peacocks, and kennels for his St. Bernard dogs. Fernwood House bustled with activity as the Bestons hosted extravagant events and parties, including gatherings for wounded soldiers during World War I.
Ernest Beston’s life took a scandalous turn when his marriage dissolved in 1916, leading to his involvement with actress Daisy Dormer. Their relationship was unconventional, and despite having children together, they weren’t officially married until later. More controversy followed as Beston’s partnership with race fixer Horatio Bottomley led to financial ruin due to a race-fixing scheme gone awry. This setback forced the Beston family to leave Fernwood Grange and the country.
Fernwood Grange remained empty for years as it failed to attract buyers. Despite Beston’s return to England and eventual death in 1933, interest in the property remained low. The decision was made to sell the fixtures and fittings, and the estate was eventually demolished to make way for new roads and housing, leaving behind only the Lodge House at the corner of Chester Road and Fernwood Road as a reminder of its past grandeur.