We went to Moseley to find out if it's still Birmingham's bohemian district

Is Moseley still the thriving bohemian district it has long been known for? I went to the neighbourhood to find out
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Moseley has long been viewed as the city's most creative and trendy neighbourhood.

The south Birmingham district was even voted as the best place to live in the UK for city living by the Sunday Times in 2015. The annual Moseley Folk & Arts Festival, the weekly farmers' market, some great community pubs and independent businesses made the neighbourhood the place to be in Birmingham almost a decade ago. - but is this all still the case today?

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Kings Heath and the Jewellery Quarter were recently named by The Sunday Times as Birmingham's best places to live, and a new list by Muddy Stilettos saw Moseley ranked below Kings Heath and Edgbaston in 5th place in the city's top 10 best places to live. So has Moseley - the Birmingham neighbourhood that helped to inspire J.R.R Tolkien's iconic Lord of the Rings novels - seen a decline in recent years?

I ventured out into the cold on Wednesday afternoon (November 29) to see what local businesses in the 600-year-old suburb think about the area today, and whether it has managed to maintain its glowing reputation despite nearby neighbourhoods such as Harborne and Kings Heath becoming more and more popular with the younger generation.

Walking up Alcester Road, the first thing I noticed is that there's certainly an abundance of cafes and restaurants, but there appears to be a lack of independent boutiques, something the district has previously been praised for. Moseley has also been known as Birmingham's cosmopolitan suburb for many years, so I was eager to speak to a few businesses to see what locals think about the neighbourhood today.

Firstly, I stopped off at one of Moseley's most popular bars, The Dark Horse. The craft beer specialists on Alcester Road are one of the area's most established independents. The venue opened 10 years ago, at a time when Moseley was thriving as Birmingham's artistic hub. Jimmy, who has been working in the bar for two years, tells me that it feels like the area has seen a slight decline during the last few years.

Jimmy from the Dark Horse in MoseleyJimmy from the Dark Horse in Moseley
Jimmy from the Dark Horse in Moseley
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Speaking to BirminghamWorld, Jimmy, who is 25, said: "People my age - when we talk about living in places in Birmingham - it's Moseley, Stirchley, Kings Heath, and maybe Harborne, whereas five years ago, Stirchley wasn't really in that bracket. Moseley still has real potential and holds a lot of value to the local community. We (the Dark Horse) are always busy, and it's been one of our busiest years and summers in a really long time.

"I like Moseley because people here care about the area and want to see it do well. Everyone at the Prince of Wales pub, The Fighting Cocks, and Sorrento know one another. People want each other to do well," he said. Despite the community spirit, Jimmy feels Moseley's reputation as the city's creative hotspot has certainly dwindled.

He said: "I think many of the people who helped to bring that idea of Moseley have grown up and gotten jobs or left the area. The reason that element has moved away from Moseley a bit is age. The property here is also expensive so many younger people go to Strichley."

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that as of 2022, homes in Moseley sold for an average of £320,000, higher than both Kings Heath (£315,000) and south Edgbaston (£311,000).

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Jimmy says the traffic on Alcester Road is also a bit of an issue for businesses in the area, and he would like to see improvements to parking availability. But he's hopeful that Moseley's new train station will help to reinvigorate the area. Three new railway stations are being built along the Camp Hill line in South Birmingham.

Moseley Village, Kings Heath, and Pineapple Road are all set to get new stations, due to open next year."The transport here is good but after 10pm it's not great. When the station opens that will be amazing. It will be great that you'll be anywhere in the city but you'll only be five minutes away from Moseley."

Moseley on a chilly Wednesday eveningMoseley on a chilly Wednesday evening
Moseley on a chilly Wednesday evening

So there's certainly optimism about the neighbourhood's future, but Jimmy's opinion that Moseley has lost something in recent years is echoed by other business owners and workers in the village. One shop worker who I spoke to down the road from the Dark Horse told me: "We still have the Farmers' Market at the end of every month which brings in a lot of different people from a lot of different areas, but in terms of Moseley as a whole, I feel like it has slightly dipped down from where it was a few years ago.  "In terms of shops, there's only really the Co-op in Moseley. If you want to go out and do your shopping people tend to go to other places."

Walking up Alcester Road, there does seem to be a lack of new boutiques, although there are still a lot of great cafes and restaurants. One independent business that's a little different from the rest is located a bit further up the road on St Mary's Row. The Moseley Haven is a beauty salon and spa - the only spa in the neighbourhood.

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The business was founded by Alison Knowles in 2019. She tells me she thinks Moseley is still an "amazing area with a lot of character and history," but believes it lacks a bit of variety. "I feel like the neighbourhood is struggling in some ways because we're predominantly dominated by restaurants and cafes, so there's not a lot of walking trade - it would be nice to have a few more different types of shops.

Alison Knowles, owner of Moseley HavenAlison Knowles, owner of Moseley Haven
Alison Knowles, owner of Moseley Haven

"It doesn't impact us as we are appointment based, but I feel like it's a struggle for some independents as rents are very high and not having that walking trade like they do in Kings Heath. Alison says she thinks anti-social behaviour has also become a problem in Moseley.

"It was definitely worse in the summer time. It's not as bad now as it's winter, but when they summer arrives again something needs to improve there, but all in all I still think it's a lovely area."

As it was approaching 4pm, I fancied a bite to eat, so weighed up my numerous options in the village. I came across Peacer, the New York inspired pizzeria on Woodbridge Road. Peacer is actually one of Birmingham's highest-rated Pizza places, according to online reviews, so I decided to pop in for a slice.

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I had a chat with the head chef Josh, who tole me that it would be good to see Moseley become a bit busier during the weekdays, although he appreciates that many people are still being hit by the cost-of-living crisis. "We were doing really well just after Covid," he said. "I think maybe it has dropped off slightly more recently, but with the current economic climate, maybe people don't have the money to spend that they used to, so you can't really begrudge that."

Head chef of PeacerHead chef of Peacer
Head chef of Peacer

He also thinks Moseley's reputation as Brum's creative district has declined. "There's always been a strong sense of community here. I grew up in Stirchley and Moseley was kind of the place to be back then.  "It's dropped off a little bit but I think that just happens over time, you have the likes of Stirchley, Harborne, and they're going the way this place was 10 years ago. There's still bits and bobs there like to Jazz Festival but maybe it's not as prominent as it used to be."

There's still a lot to like about Moseley. You can feel it has a strong community spirit and the businesses look out for one another. And as shown in the recent Muddy Stilettos guide, the neighbourhood is still frequently ranked as one of Birmingham's best places to live, but many in the area feel as though the buzz that surrounded the neighbourhood a few years ago has faded away. The opening of the Moseley Village train station could well be the tonic that the area needs to reclaim its title as Birmingham's bohemian hotspot.

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