Secret City arts

Specialist Search for Skills in Handsworth: what we found!

We spotted so much on our Specialist Search in Handsworth, we weren’t able to include everything on our trail map. Here is some more of our work and writing by pupils from 6H and 6W.

Skills today in Handsworth
As Handsworth residents, we come in contact with many skilled workers, such as doctor, nurse, dentist, teacher, lawyer, chef, electrician and many more.

Examples of skilled workers are doctors for health treating, mechanics for MOTs and hairdressers for haircutting. Skills in baking, tailoring, optician, dentist and more. Why do you think there are so many skills in Handsworth? Where do you think people learn these skills from?

Handsworth has people who are making or selling items for the community to use. We learn from teachers who get their knowledge from previous generations. We can be apprentices to learn to become bakers, chefs, mechanics, printers etc.

All these are possible if you really want to do something. If you put your mind into it, anything is possible.

You can learn other skills at school or college or as an apprentice. You can learn different skills and pass it on to the next apprentice and so on and so on. In this way your skills are being passed on from generation to generation.

In Handsworth library the librarians have lots of skills. They have to be patient and good organisers.

Our specialist search
Working in ten small specialist teams, such as Skills Detectives, Foodists and Alphabetists, we searched for evidence along Soho Road. Here’s what we found!

Our role was to spot anything science related. We spotted many things from a tiny phone to a giant hospital, which could contain many screens, cameras and computers. Have you ever seen the machine’s secrets?

We spotted lots of different kinds of cables, for example we saw a cable connected to an electric car which was very surprising. We saw lots of electric alarms for protection.

We saw lorries and cars which have fuel in them, diesel or petrol. Have you ever seen an electric car?

Can you make up a story with ideas from shop names or find things in shop windows to make up a story? For example beads in a charity shop window which might have magic powers.

On the Red Lion pub (now closed) have you noticed stone men holding up the arches? Is this something you could make a story about?

Historians looked for clues in the environment about what might have been in the past. One of our most fascinating finds was the gate next to the NHS building because that was the only thing left from Handsworth Market which used to be on that site.

For example, on the walls of Soho Bazaar are snooker tables, which suggest that this previously was a snooker hall. The most surprising thing was to spot dates on buildings. Can you find some of them? Have you ever wondered what could be standing before us a hundred years ago?

How did the steam engine come into James Watt’s mind?



Sound gatherers
We went to Soho Road to find out how many sounds and types of sounds we can hear.

We enjoyed listening to how there were different noises mixed together. We heard noises like birds tweeting, footsteps, click-clacking of high heels, shuffling of trainers, people talking, coughing, sneezing, people whispering, babies reading in the library, engines growling and roaring, rain dropping, alarms, silence when the traffic stops, ambulance sirens, car brakes squealing, paper crumbling, and even horses’ feet clip-clopping.

Which noises would you also have heard in the year 1800?

Can you find a sound that links to industry?


How do we talk to each other and keep in touch?
Newspapers from different countries and in different languages.
Why do we use phones? To communicate with people and stay on track with others


How many different countries can you find mentioned on Soho Road? For example Paddy Power is from Ireland. With Lycamobile you can phone to other countries. We saw Indian people making curry and Indian sweets, Jamaican shops, Kurdish restaurants and many other shops and restaurants selling things from other countries. Why do you think that there are many shops run by people from different cultures?


Our team explored different cultures and food on Soho Road. There were shocking surprises, even though we have come across Soho Road many times. The secrets this road has revealed many questions.

We saw Polish, Turkish, Kurdish food shops.

Have you ever noticed there are more food shops from different cultures than British food shops?

Why do you think there are more fried food places than healthy ones? Is this what society wants?


We found the whole alphabet on Soho Road! Can you make your own Soho Road A-Z?

Clothes, chiropodist
Fluffy slippers
Hula hoops
Lloyds bank
Paddy Power
Sandal House, Soho House
Traffic lights

We found Eurospex, which ends with X. Can you find something that begins with X?

Transport specialists

We went out to take a note of different types of transport and how people travel today. We saw cars, lorries, bus, vans, mini-vans.

We were surprised that in the olden days they didn’t have cars and now we have really good cars eg Range Rover, Lamborghini and Ferraris.

Can you find a lorry that is transporting in industry? Why is there so much traffic on the roads?

We saw horses pulling a carriage on our trip because there was a funeral.
Can you spot unusual transport on Soho Road?