Archives for category: Heritage buildings

Steve Beauchampé recalls the Cadbury Barn, a little known but once much-loved Birmingham building destroyed by fire last week.

There is some ambiguity surrounding the origins of the Cadbury Barn, burnt down in a suspected arson attack last week. Whilst the Birmingham Conservation Trust website states that it was erected in 1894 in the grounds of George Cadbury’s home at Northfield Manor House, set in Manor (formerly New House) Farm, the Bournville Works Magazine suggests otherwise (as does an 1893 Ordnance Survey map), indicating that the Barn, the work of company architect Alexander Harvey, was originally sited in Laurel Grove, where it was known as the Girls’ Gymnasium, and was relocated and re-assembled at Manor Farm in 1903 (a not uncommon practice, stands at both St Andrews and The Hawthorns were similarly relocated from their respective clubs’ earlier grounds around this time).

A wooden structure with a metal framework held in places by chains, and seating up to 700, the Barn became the focus of regular summer parties for Cadbury employees, their families and perhaps most famously poor children from throughout Birmingham and the Black Country. Speaking of these often joyous gatherings George Cadbury remarked: There could never be too many and they could never be too noisy. Children – up to fifty at a time – would be invited to swim in the nearby fish pond, girls before tea, boys after. The Barn was also used by Sunday School groups, the Mothers Union and members of Men’s and Women’s Adult Schools, as well as Scout Jamborees and Brownie Revels, with as many as 25,000 people using the facility each year. During the Second World War the Friends Ambulance Unit used the Barn as a training camp.

The Barn’s unusual rusticated timber detailing was a style seemingly specific to Cadbury’s with similar decoration also found on an original exposed section of the Cadbury Club (formerly the Girl’s Pavilion) on Bournville Lane. Its floor was tiled in red and grey terracotta with a single entrance at the rear (facing the main road) and a wider entrance and wide windows overlooking the park.

Following the death in 1951 of George’s wife, Dame Elizabeth Cadbury, the family donated Manor Farm and its buildings to the city of Birmingham with the Barn continuing to be used by park visitors and other groups.

In recent years the Barn had served as a storage facility for the Parks Department but had become semi-derelict and partially boarded up.

In 2014 Birmingham Conservation Trust, in conjunction with Bournville Village Trust and the Friends of Manor Farm Park, began drawing up plans for a restoration of the Barn as part of plans for a multi-use community space including a cafe and involving several adjacent buildings. Sadly, following the fire which destroyed the Barn on the night of July 31st, should those plans come to fruition, it will not be part of them. 

The BirminghamPress.com

Steve Beauchampé

August 7th 2017

 

 

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MARGARET FAIRHEAD RBSA: Exhibition in Reception Foyer

Canal views – Farmer’s Bridge Flight, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal

Until Friday 7 July

Margaret’s remarkable exhibition of works featuring manipulated machine stitching incorporating a variety of fabrics, threads and techniques, is inspired by a walk along the Farmer’s Bridge Flight section of the canal towpath. This journey took Margaret through both old and new Birmingham, passing thirteen locks in all.

At ​the BIRMINGHAM & MIDLAND INSTITUTE ​9 Margaret Street, Birmingham. B3 3BS

 

 

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The Powergen building, in Shirley Solihull, was vacated in 1995, when the council refused planning permission for the CEGB to extend this striking Madin building. It employed 1000 people and many shops closed due to this loss of trade.

Explore the remarkable interior of this building, immortalised unofficially by a group of young explorers who made a fascinating video, recorded on site. Here are three of the most striking photographs taken from that film: 

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 entrance

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And last Thursday accomplished amateur photographers, Shirley’s Ann & Malcolm Turner, sent this photograph of the demolition process.

After years of neglect, demolition started, due to a decision taken by Solihull council, commercial partners of Asda.

 

 

 

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BFOE’s community share offer closes on June 2nd

Birmingham Friends of the Earth own The Warehouse in Digbeth, operating it as a not-for-profit business whilst campaigning for the improvement of the local environment. They want to raise investment capital to refurbish their building, which will lead to an increase in the financial, social and environmental value of that space:

  • there will be more space to let that is of a higher quality; this will allow them to increase the amount of space they provide and to maintain or increase the amount they charge per square foot for that space;
  • they will be looking to exceed the legal requirements (Building Regulations Part L) for conserving energy in their building by installing more insulation and more efficient glazing;
  • and they will be more accessible to wheelchair users and people with limited mobility and offer more community meeting facilities. The work will also allow them to reduce administration costs and focus more on meeting their social goals.

See the video and read the well-produced share offer summary complete with plans. Then:

  1. Invest! If you are able to please invest whatever you can between £250 and £10,000. If you have some money in an ISA earning 0.5% interest it could be doing a lot of good. If you know you are going to invest, please do so as soon as possible as this helps them to demonstrate it’s a viable prospect with gathering momentum
  2. Tell everybody you can about it – when you’re campaigning and in your everyday life. Friends, relatives, colleagues, rich uncles – there are a lot of people that would like the chance to make an ethical investment, the challenge they have is getting the word out to enough people. It’s not a donation so they’re not asking people to give them their money, it’s an investment
  3. Support the social media campaignshare, like, retweet anything you see about the share offer – this will help them to reach as many people as possible.

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A link was sent today by a Bournville reader and followed by Cllr John Clancy’s message: “I know we have to do more to deliver the houses our citizens desperately need and deserve. This is an absolute priority for me and the cabinet. We are already building at a scale unheard of for decades and delivering the housing this city needs.

wake-green-prefabsValued homes: Grade 2 listed Phoenix prefabs in Wake Green Road, Moseley

The reader’s link led to an article by Reuter’s  Astrid Zweynert. After a brief account of post-war prefab building, she writes: “Faced with a chronic, new housing shortage, Britain is once more embracing prefabrication as it struggles to meet its promise to build a million homes in England by 2020. In a major policy announcement last month, the government said it supported off-site construction, promised financial support for prefabs and to make public land available for “modular schemes”, as they are known now”.

An online search will reveal many expensive and stylish prefabricated houses and fewer low cost models – but such options do exist. Building Design highlighted three prefabricated solutions to the housing crisis in 2016.

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The first design (above), by Urban Splash, was one of the new range of low-cost prefabricated housing solutions being ‘rolled out’ across the country with the potential to help tackle Britain’s affordable housing crisis.

 

 

 

gavin-2-stamp“To give so much to a grand country house (Wentworth Woodhouse) and nothing to Moseley Road Baths (or other neglected listed buildings) suggests a snobbery about “heritage”. Municipal baths are as important a part of our history – social and architectural – as aristocratic seats”.

So wrote architectural historian.Gavin Stamp (right) this week.

He asks if Birmingham City Council is happy to contemplate the loss of the fine and well-used swimming pool at Moseley Road Baths (below) – one of only three swimming pool structures still in operation listed at Grade II* and well-supported by an active and enterprising ‘Friends’ association.

Country: United Kingdom Site: Moseley Road Baths Caption: Second Class Pool Image Date: April 20, 2007 Photographer: Vivienne Harrison/World Monuments Fund Provenance: 2016 Watch Nomination Original: from Watch team

Professor Stamp points out that Birmingham city council had for years ’run, neglected and threatened to shul the complex’. Moreover, in 2012 the Heritage Lottery Fund offered £5m towards its restoration, but the council to refused to contribute the matching £3m – which Stamp finds ‘particularly reprehensible’’.

Our readers from further afield (yesterday coming from UK, USA, Mexico, Germany, Azerbaijan, India and Ireland) may read more about this in the Birmingham Post.

Stamp describes the Baths as one of the finest Edwardian bath buildings anywhere, with two fine swimming pools covered by arched iron and glass ceilings and two ‘unique survivals’, an intact set of private washing baths and a set of steam-heated drying racks.

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The first class men’s pool above – considered by Simon Inglis, historian of swimming pools, as “the mosl dramatic Edwardian pool hall in Britain” – closed in 2003 but survives intact.

Stamp concedes that historic baths are expensive to run and maintain, but can be restored to stay in use, as the pools in Camberwell and Kentish Town demonstrate.

In the words of the World Monuments Fund, if Moseley Road Baths were restored, it “would continue to serve a diverse urban community in the 21st century and would join other destinations in Birmingham that proudly recount the social history of the city.”

Main source: Gavin Stamp as ‘Piloti’ in Issue 1436, Private Eye.

 

 

 

Kopfkino & Stirchley Baths

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Friday, 10 February 2017 from 19:30 to 22:30

Bournville Lane, Birmingham B30 2JT

0121 464 9072

Suggested donation £5. Pay what you will. Refreshments will be available.

I, Daniel Blake will be preceded by a short film, ‘To Be Home, Stirchley’ by Geoff Broadway

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charity SIFA Fireside. The venue is wheelchair friendly. Unfortunately the film does not have sign language or support for the hearing impaired at this time. There is parking, though this is limited whilst work is being done on the Friends Meeting House.

Please visit us by public transport where possible.

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This is a free screening so that it is accessible to all. If you can afford to pay, proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charity SIFA Fireside who improve health and inclusion for the homeless.

There is also a collection box year-round at Stirchley Baths for the B30 Foodbank. We encourage you to bring along donations.

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After meeting a pleasing new neighbour and walking to Stirchley Street station – renamed Bournville (why?) – I travelled by train to New Street, now Grand Central (why?) and got on the Metro to Colmore Row. The usual blissfully silent glide became an endurance test as a cacophony of loud squeals and grating noises accompanied the journey. The conductor said it needed oiling (!)

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Walking along Colmore Row I was perturbed to see that what had been the restored, award-winning Grand Hotel (see June 2016 post) was apparently now a café called Gusto . . . and further down a large site was being demolished by Considerate Constructors  – what had been there before?

A far more cheering sight was the Java Lounge (see a November 2015 post) which now has a golden sign unobtrusively erected, replacing the Hudson name.

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Further down in Chamberlain Passage, it was cheering to see that Jake (see an October 2015 post)  has survived and prospered to some extent. He now has a well-furnished canopy at the left of the kiosk and tells me that – as hoped – the German Market had been very good for business.

On to one of the city’s gems (below) and a good, inexpensive lunch in the members’ room.

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Birmingham and Midland Institute

There were changes: The Birmingham College now occupies the premises used for many years by a firm of architects and a host of students were to be seen, including Mariam from the Gulf, improving her English before going on to business studies. Most of the top floor, formerly occupied by Central England Co-operative, has been used by the Conservatoire whilst their new premises were being built. Noting that the ‘topping out’ ceremony has been performed, it was expected and regretted that they would leave, as planned, some time in 2017.

A couple of well-informed folk at the BMI told me that the demolition site had formerly housed the NatWest building and that the Grand Hotel was indeed still to be an hotel, reduced in size, with the entrance in Church Street. I walked back and found that door but it was still being renovated and the six workers standing by the entrance greeted me cheerfully, “Hello Bab”. I walked down the side and saw the storeroom and many other intriguing rooms, noting signs of ongoing work by Hortons Estates.

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Then on to the Great Western Arcade, a restored Grade II listed Victorian  shopping arcade with a remarkable clock (see this and many others in the city here).

beadleThere I met the security guard and told him about the beadle who used to promenade there, ringing a bell, reminiscent of a town crier.

Less colourful than the beadle, but equally polite and informative, the guard – who came from London to work there three years ago – told me about his routine supervision duties, in between halting and redirecting a cyclist and asking a man to stop smoking whilst passing through.

On the return by Metro again there was another distressing cacophony of loud squeals and grating noises and I heard from a passenger – who was to get off at Kings Norton station – that it is located in Cotteridge (Why? Even William Dargue does not explain?).

 

A golden day

 

 

 

 

Future world monument? Unlikely!

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New images which are said to show how the project will transform the city

The Express and Star quotes Argent’s claim that the new buildings – One and Two Chamberlain Square – will complement the existing civic buildings including the town hall, council house and the museum and art gallery. The Express and Star asks what readers think. First comment: comes from Jessmere:

“Yeah ‘stunning new CGI images’ of yet another nondescript glass, steel and concrete box”

These buildings will replace the Madin library (above) – the second-highest used in the country, listed in 2011 by the World Monuments Fund – as a significant building at risk.

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That library really did ‘complement the existing civic buildings’.

 

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News that the New World Trading Company has put in a planning application to renovate the dilapidated James Brindley, off Bridge Street, closed in 2008 (pictured here in 2001), recalls readers’ interest in the Fox & Grapes post on this site.

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This now derelict listed Eastside pub was intended for incorporation into the City Park Gate development project but shelved when it was announced that the proposed HS2 station would be situated there. However, the December 2011 Eastside Masterplan does say “There is also potential to incorporate the Fox and Grapes within the new station concourse to enhance design quality” . . .

Peter Allen wrote about James Brindley, Birmingham:1986 to 2011: “James Brindley built the very first British canal, the Bridgewater Canal in 1761. He then went on to the Trent & Mersey Canal including the feat of constructing Harecastle Tunnel which opened in 1777. In all he was responsible for building 365 miles of canals and also for the design of the narrow lock that is the feature of many canals. He also built the original main line canal from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. The pub was built at the starting point of this canal. I’m not sure exactly when it opened, but our first canal visit was in 1986″.

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H. Davies in his book ‘Birmingham Canal Navigation Through Time’ has a wealth of photographs, including this one of the Severn and Canal warehouse, which was on the site before the James Brindley pub was built. Other interesting information is given in Culture 24.

The Business Desk reports that New World Trading Company (NWTC) has appointed P4 Planning to design a brief for the scheme and to submit a planning application to the city council to transform the dated, vacant and now derelict appearance of the pub, described as ‘something of an eyesore on the city centre’s otherwise popular canal quarter’: Duncan Tift continues: “The James Brindley was built in the 1980s replacing a former canal side warehouse. With its canal side frontage and outdoor terrace the venue was initially popular but the development of the Mailbox and its waterfront bars lured trade away to the point where it was forced to close in 2008”.

The brief ends:“Overall, the proposal will rejuvenate and bring a long derelict building back into productive use, generating employment opportunities and enhancing the character of the canal basin and setting of surrounding listed buildings”.

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And the Fox and Grapes?

Recorded here by Elliott Brown some time ago – looking far worse now.