A first impression of Sparkbrook could be fairly depressing - tumbledown vehicle engineers and scrap yards, eateries that last only a few months, general mess and much squalor. The population and health statistics show a high proprtion of children eligible for free school meals, a booming population leading to overcrowding and poor housing. The ward is predominatingly muslim and becoming more so.
Car workshop and the once-famous Bourke's Stores
All Sparkbrook's pubs have gone - many had quasi-religious names such as the 'Lamb and Flag' or this one 'The Angel', now a former steakhouse, St Agathas is next to a supermarket which did open 24/7, enabling evening worshipers to shop after midnight mass.
The old 24/7 supermarket, currently being renovated. Note the proximity to a Grade 1 listed building!
But Sparkbrook is full of life - the pavements are thronged with pedestrians, if a shop closes another springs up quickly. We are proud of our parish and would love to see it thriving again as it was when the church was built. Many of the local primary schools take their children to St Agatha's so they can see a 'proper' church, so the church's presence is widely felt. Sparkbrook is one of the 50 poorest parishes in England yet contains what one architectural historian has called 'simply the most beautiful building in this city'.