In June, after Birmingham’s Grade II* listed Roundhouse in Sheepcote Street was given an award of £2.2million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Canal & River Trust and National Trust formed a partnership and lodged plans with Birmingham City Council to transform the building.

Described briefly in a 2014 English Heritage ‘at risk’ list as circular stables, the Roundhouse was built in 1874 as a mineral and coal wharf by the Birmingham Corporation, with the London and North Western Railway to the north and Birmingham Canal to the south.


An architectural competition was held in the early 1870s and the winning design was by William Henry Ward, a local architect based in Paradise Street, who designed the Great Western Arcade and Louisa Ryland House.

The stables housed around 40 horses and, combined with the external outbuildings, would have provided overnight accommodation for a total of 200 horses. Interesting features include:

  • two-storey gatehouses, used as living quarters for a storekeeper and as office space,
  • large brick barrel-vaulted chambers, for storing coal and minerals,
  • a tunnel, down which horse-drawn carts passed from the lower canal-side level yard through to the secure internal yard and
  • external hoists projecting at eaves level, to serve haylofts at the first floor.


The Roundhouse will become a base from which to explore Birmingham’s canal network on foot or by bike. There will be a cycle hire and repair workshop, a café, a kiosk selling tickets for boat tours, volunteering opportunities, shared working space for conservation organisations and an enterprise hub with office spaces aimed at start-ups and small companies.

More information is given on the following sites: