Aston, Francis William, 1877-1945, English physicist and chemist. He was affiliated with the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, from 1910. In 1922 he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry mainly for his discovery of a number of isotopes in nonradioactive elements by means of a mass spectrograph of his own invention. His writings include Isotopes (1922) and Mass-Spectra and Isotopes (1933).
Aston is an area of the City of Birmingham, in the West Midlands of England. Lying to the north-east of the Birmingham City Centre, Aston constitutes an electoral ward within the council constituency of Ladywood.


Aston was first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 as "Estone", having a mill, a priest and therefore probably a church, woodland and ploughland. The Church of SS Peter & Paul, Aston was built in medieval times to replace an earlier church. The body of the church was rebuilt by J. A. Chatwin during the period 1879 to 1890; the 15th century tower and spire, which was partly rebuilt in 1776, being the only survivors of the medieval building.

The ancient parish of Aston (known as Aston juxta Birmingham) was large. It was separated from the parish of Birmingham by AB Row, which currently exists in the Eastside of the city at just 50 metres in length. It was partly included in the borough of Birmingham in 1838, and a further part, Saltley was added in 1891. The Aston Urban District offices, constructed in 1882, were located on Albert Road. An Aston Manor urban sanitary district was formed in part of the parish. In 1894, under the Local Government Act 1894, the parish was split up, with Castle Bromwich, Erdington and Water Orton becoming separate parishes, as did Aston Manor. The Aston parish now was entirely within Birmingham. Aston Manor was granted the status of municipal borough in 1903, and was then annexed to Birmingham in 1911, along with Erdington. Castle Bromwich and Water Orton remain outside Birmingham's city limits to this day.

Besides the church and Aston Hall, Aston village consisted of few houses, taverns, farms, a mill and Aston Furnace. The Holte almshouses completed in 1656 and a fine Georgian rectory which were demolished despite objections when Aston Expressway was constructed.

The Grand Junction Railway was built in 1837 although Aston railway station was not built until 1854. A branch from Aston to Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield was opened later, this eventually became part of the Cross-City Line.

On October 5, 1892, Victoria Road Baths were opened by the Aston Local Board. They consisted of first and second class swimming baths and first and second class private baths for men and women. Several hundred spectators could be accommodated in a spectators' gallery in the first class bath. During the winter months, a floor was fitted over the first class swimming baths so that the area could be used for gymnastic training. In 1911, it was taken over by the Birmingham Baths Committee.

Old buildings which became popular within Aston included the Aston Hippodrome and the Bartons Arms public house. Gospel Hall on Park Lane was opened in 1892 and demolished in the 1970s to be rebuilt at the top of Park Lane in 1979. The original hall had a seating capacity of 73. Another meeting place was the Ellen Knox Memorial Hall which was next door to The Midland Vinegar Brewery. The brewery was owned by The Midland Brewery Company was built around 1877. It was located on Upper Thomas Street. The brewery was a three storey brick building with rounded corners and semi-circular windows. The roof was slated. Other industry that was located in Aston include the Premier Motor Works which produced cars during the early 20th century. The works were situated at the junction of Aston Road and Dartmouth Street. On Miller Street was a tramcar depot which had a storage capacity of 104 tramcars. It opened in 1904.

Aston underwent large scale redevelopment following World War II. South Aston was designated a renewal area whilst a new town to the west of this. This became "Newtown" and is a large estate consisting of sixteen tower blocks, five of which have since been demolished. The project was approved in 1968. Three 20 storey tower blocks on the complex contained 354 flats alone.

Today, Aston is famous for Aston Villa F.C. and Aston University (the campus of which is not in Aston but actually located to the far south of Aston in Birmingham city centre). Aston University is one of three universities in Birmingham. Aston Villa have played at Villa Park since 1897, and it has traditionally been one of the largest football grounds in England that has staged many notable matches at club and international level.

Much of Aston consists of terraced houses that were built around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Some of these houses were demolished in the late 1960s to make way for the Aston Expressway, which links Birmingham City Centre to the M6 motorway. In the late 1950s, Aston was the location of the famous 'Venus Baby' case of Cynthia Appleton (87 Fentham Road).

By the early 1980s, Aston was suffering from severe deprivation with many of the terraced houses being outdated for the requirements of the time. Many of them lacked bathrooms and indoor toilets, whilst the vast majority were suffering from decay as a result of a lack of maintenance. There was speculation that the homes would be demolished, but Birmingham City Council made money available to the homeowners for them to be brought up to modern standards.

In recent years, Aston has been the location of racial tensions due to the high number of ethnic immigrants, mainly Pakistani and Afro-Caribbean. The crime rate is higher than the city average and many high profile incidents have been reported in national news outlets. In 2003, gunmen shot at four innocent teenage girls who were celebrating the new year in the Lozells area of Aston. Two of the girls were killed and another was seriously injured. More than 30 bullets were fired from at least two weapons, including a sub-machine gun. Gun and knife crime is still heavily present in Aston.


The 2004 Council Election was marred by vote rigging by the Labour Party candidates who were subsequently removed from the Council. In a subsequent by-election, all three council seats were gained from Labour by Liberal Democrat candidates. In 2006 Labour recovered one of the three seats it lost as a result of the affair and one of the remaining Liberal Democrat councillors, Abdul Aziz, defected to the Respect Party. Aston is therefore now represented by one Labour, one Liberal Democrat, and one Respect councillor.

Aston has adopted a Ward Support Officer with the current holder of the title being Pat Whyte.


The 2001 Population Census found that 27,917 people were living in Aston with a population density of 4,185 people per km² compared with 3,649 people per km² for Birmingham. 50.4% of the population was female and 49.6% was male. This was above and below the national and city average respectively.

Aston has an area of 6.4 km²/ 451.5 hectares. Aston is a very diverse community, ethnically, with 70.6% (19,030) of the area's population being of an ethnic minority compared with 29.6% for Birmingham. 36.9% of the population was born outside the United Kingdom, over double the city average of 16.5% and nearly four times the national average of 9.3%. The largest ethnic group was Asian at 49.8%. More specifically, the Pakistani ethnic group was the largest at 22.2%. White British was the second largest ethnic group at 26.00% and Black British was third with 21.51%. The smallest broad ethnic group was Chinese and Other at 2.2%, double the city average of 1.1%. Islam was the most prominent religion in the ward with 44.3% of the ward's population stating themselves as Muslim. Christianity was the second most prominent religion in Aston at 32.4%.

A total 99% of the residents lived in households, above the city average of 98.3% and the national average of 98.2%. 1% lived in communal establishments. There was a total of 9,939 occupied households in Aston at the time of the census resulting in an average of 2.8 people per household, above the city average of 2.5 and the national average of 2.4. 37.7% of households were owner occupied, below the city average of 60.4%. 33.5% of households were rented from Birmingham City Council, above the city average of 19.4%. 454 households were stated as being vacant. 41.7% of the total households were stated as terraced, above the city average of 31.3%. 28.2% of households were stated as purpose built blocks of flats, just over double the national average of 14%.

11.6% of the population was of a pensionable age, below the city average of 16.7% and the national average of 18.4%. 57.7% were of a working age, below both the city and national average. The largest age group in the ward was 25-44 at 28.1%, compared with the city average of 28.3%. This age group is also the largest for Birmingham and the country.

46.7% of the residents were in full time employment, below the city average of 59.9% and the national average of 61%. At 20.6%, Aston had an above average unemployment rate with the city average being 9.5% and the national average 5%. 35% were in long term unemployment, below the city average of 36.3% but above the national average of 30.3%. 20.2% had never worked. The manufacturing industry provided the most employment to the ward at 18.2%.

Places of interest

Notable residents

Famous people who have lived in Aston include the author Arthur Conan Doyle, who worked in the area for a short period. John Benjamin Stone, a politician and prolific photographer, was born in Aston and took over his father's glass manufacturing business in the area upon his death.

Various musicians have lived in Aston with Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath being one of the most famous of these. Bandmate Tony Iommi was also born in the area. Albert Ketèlbey, composer, conductor and pianist, was born in Aston on August 9, 1875. R&B singer Jamelia lived for a short period in Aston.

See also


External links

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