Island House, Birmingham: 100 years of history demolished

Built by architect G.E Pepper in 1913, Grade B locally listed Island House stood proud on the corner of Fazeley Street for almost 100 years. After becoming derelict, the building was bought by company Quintain, and set to be developed. However, it didn’t go to plan.


Designed by George E. Pepper in 1909, the building was originally intended as offices and warehouse space for Messrs Churchill & Co, a prominent machine tool company. Island House opened in 1913.

The building was later repurposed as offices, housing Birmingham City Council’s arts teams. After it became unoccupied, the building fell into dereliction, subject to break-ins and antisocial behaviour.

Site of Hotel La Tour at Masshouse island house by elliott brown
Image property of Elliott Brown


It was the historic façade of Island House that captured the community around it. Ornately decorated, it was a grand triangular building which was iconic for many living and working in the Masshouse area.

Its Edwardian Mannerist style demonstrated the reversal of traditional design, with plain Ionic decoration on the ground floor and scrolled Doric decoration on the first floor facades. In contrast, the rear entrance to the property had a much more refined, utilitarian style. It has been noted the Classical building held similarities to the Flatifon Building in New York City.

The majority of the building was originally used as warehouse space. The front area of the first floor was reserved for offices, including the rounded main private office.

The warehouse space was originally open plan, although later alterations to the property included installing partition walls when the building was converted to office use.

Damage to the building had removed some original features. There was once a domed rotunda atop the building that went missing, possibly due to damage in WWII. Similarly, the Island House once had a third floor nestled in the roof believed to have been lost to bombing in WWII.

island house scaffolding elliott brown birmingham demolitionImage property of Elliott Brown


Bought by Quintain, Island house was intended to be incorporated into its City Park Gate development, restoring it to its former glory. However, as new HS2 plans began to surface, the buildings future became increasingly uncertain. Birmingham City Council went on to release their ‘Big City Plan’ in 2011, which pointed towards the demolition of Island House.

Quintain’s application for demolition was successful. It was originally believed that they would have to honour their Section 106 restoration agreement, but it emerged that as building work had not commenced they were not bound by the agreement.

Image property of Bs0u10e01


In January 2012, a campaign to save Island House launched, including a protest demonstration outside of the building to try and halt demolition. Protestors included members of local groups such as the Victorian Society and Birmingham Friends of the Earth. Due to the building’s Local Listing status and it’s much loved façade, it was felt that Island House had a prominent place in the community and many opposed its demolition.

Cranes at the Hotel La Tour site, Island House by Elliott Brown

Post demolition Island House site by elliott brown
Images property of Elliott Brown


The Building Heritage Assessment deemed Island House ‘a generic value and is not supported to any significant degree’ although its ‘communal value as part of a shared public history’ was noted. The building was eventually demolished in 2012 amidst fervent campaigning, a little under 100 years after its construction was completed. The site has remained empty since the removal of Island House.

Featured image property of BrianaC37

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Sarehole Mill Pond photo tour

Sarehole Mill overlooks an idyllic waterside view; the Mill Pond. Home to a collection of wildlife and beautifully wild gardens, it is one of the joys of visiting the property.

A long decking area at the rear of the building looks out onto the water. A small jetty is used by visitors to the Mill for pond dipping to discover the local wildlife.

pondside flowers, mill pond, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

bee on flower, mill pond, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

Waterside planting encourages an ecosystem to grow. Blooming country flowers are prominent features in the garden.

bridge, flowers, mill pond, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

Following the quirky layout of the property, the garden has nooks and crannies too. Vibrant flowerbeds and a wide range of different flowers create a welcoming country garden.

stone wheel decoration, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

It is the simple, relaxed restoration of Sarehole Mill which gives this museum its charm. Such care has been taken to create a wonderfully rural atmosphere, staying true to the Mill’s original purpose. At the front of the property, an old millstone is propped up for understated decoration.

exterior, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

Visiting Sarehole Mill and the Mill Pond is taking a step back to simpler times; hidden from the bustling city by vibrant foliage and a quintessentially country garden, the property is a rustic delight to explore. Open Tuesday to Sunday, take a look at Sarehole Mill to help plan your trip.

All images property of Brumiecture, please do not use without permission.

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Inside Sarehole Mill photo tour

Hidden away a short ten minute drive from Moseley town centre, Sarehole Mill is a delightfully maintained mill, one of only two working watermills in Birmingham. Now open to the public as a museum and working mill, this beautiful building is perfect for an afternoon visit. Here’s a look at the building’s interesting contents.

The courtyard sits at the entrance to the Mill, created by the L shape of the buildings. In the courtyard is a small outbuilding, housing an original bread oven.

machinery cogs, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

wood stone machinery, sarehole mill, birmingham, birmingham

The interior of Sarehole Mill is filled with fascinating machinery, demonstrating how the mill was run. Some of it still in working condition, the sound of running water, which powers the mill, fills the building.

wooden barrel, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

wooden detail, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

monogrammed sack, sarehole mill birmingham, heritage

Carefully placed details show visitors the items used in the mill. Monogrammed sacks were used to store and transport flour, hoisted from a hook in the ceiling to be lowered down trapdoors.

working water wheel, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

The water wheel was used to power the mill, pushing this wooden structure to turn the millstones via a complicated mechanism.

attic, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

replica steam engine, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

A new steam engine was added to the Mill in the 1850s to power the machinery when water was running low. The original steam engine has been replaced with an accurate replica.

machinery detail, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage

written accounts, sarehole mill, birmingham

Visitors can discover the history of Sarehole Mill, including copies of the Sarehole Mill account book. There are so many quirky corners of the Mill to explore, it’s worth a visit in person. Every Sunday, there is a milling demonstration! Visit Sarehole Mill for more information to plan your trip.

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All images property of Brumitecture, please do not use without permission.

Selly Manor gardens photo tour

Selly Manor was originally located in Bournbrook, moving to Bournville in the early 1900s when Laurence Cadbury built his factory. The bright gardens in the grounds of the Manor have been beautifully sculpted and maintained for visitors to enjoy. Following our photo tour of the interior, we are sharing our exploration of the Manor grounds.

The entrance to the property is decorated with a rustic fence beds of plants.

ferns foliage gardens, selly manor, birmigham, heritage

A variety of greenery and flowers boom in midsummer, overlooking nearby University of Birmingham buildings.

mini geometric maze, gardens, selly manor, birmingham, heritage

A miniature geometric maze adds grandeur to the beautiful Manor house.

Gypsophila and Lupins, gardens, selly manor, birmingham heritage

The small violet Gypsophila and vibrant Lupins create a careful colour scheme with their generous use in the gardens.

exterior gardens, selly manor, birmingham, heritage

Gardens wrap around the house, surrounding it with foliage. At the exterior is a large lawn is bordered by flowers.

minworth greaves, selly manor, birmingham

Minworth Greaves sits at the back of the property. It was originally situated in Minworth, dating back around 750 years, but was moved in 1932 by Laurence Cadbury.

trellis, gardens, selly manor, birmingham, heritage

There are many secret spots in the Selly Manor gardens to explore. Entrance to the gardens only is £1, and would make a lovely afternoon visit this summer. Visit to plan your visit.

All images are property of Brumitecture, please do not use without permission.

Selly Manor photo tour, Birmingham

Although modest in size, Selly Manor remains one of Birmingham’s finest examples of traditional wattle and daub architecture. First documented in 1327, Selly Manor and its accompanying building, Minworth Greaves, have had an interesting history, moving from their original locations to Bournville in the early 1900s.

Now open as a museum housing the Laurence Cadbury Collection of furniture, the property is open to the public throughout the year. Selly Manor is well worth a visit, but if you fancy a sneak peek, here’s our photo tour.

The Parlour, Selly Manor Birmingham, heritage

The Parlour is situated at the entrance to the Manor, a large open plan room designed for relaxing and socialising. It also doubled as a sleeping area for the male servants who guarded the house from intruders.

inglenook fireplace, the parlour, selly manor, birmingham, heritage

The room was heated by an inglenook fireplace, the equivalent of ‘central heating’ at the time! Each room in the house had a fireplace primarily for heat, although they were also functionally used for light and cooking.

the hall, dining table, selly manor, birmingham, heritage

The Hall acted as both the dining room and the kitchen, and was the most active area of the home. The fireplace was used for cooking, and still contains early ‘appliances’ for preparing food.

table dressing, the hall, selly manor, birmingha, heritage

The household would eat here, entertaining guests over dinner.

the bedchamber, selly manor, birmingham, heritage

On the first floor of the Manor lies The Bedchamber. One of two bedrooms on this floor, this room houses a tester bed from the Laurence Cadbury Collection.

four poster bed, the bedchamber, selly manor, birmingham, heritage

The wooden headboard is engraved with the letters ‘EP’ and the date ‘1592’. It is believed to belong to the Welsh Bishop Edmund Prys, the first translator of the Psalms into Welsh.

There is much more at Selly Manor to explore, including The Kitchen, The Garret and The Solar rooms. Entrance to the Manor is priced £3.50 for adults, while family tickets are £9.50. Visit for more information.

Images property of Brumitecture, please do not reproduce without permission.

What are Locally Listed buildings?

Some buildings are of heritage value, but aren’t listed by English Heritage. They are of a specific local value, retaining the character of an area or an important part of community history. Often, these properties become Locally Listed by the council, identifying their value and grading them accordingly.

Status Explained

Grade A: These buildings are so highly valued that the Secretary of State will be involved and a Building Preservation Notice can be served if they are under threat.

Grade B: Structures that are key to the city as a whole, and the council will attempt to preserve them.

Grade C: Buildings which are important to local history.

Local Listing Aims

The aim of Local Listing is to encourage these buildings to be flagged if development takes place. Locally Listed buildings will be considered in planning applications, and although this listing status doesn’t offer any formal protection, it can affect construction.

Unfortunately, Locally Listed building aren’t exempt from demolition, and some buildings have been demolished without planning permission.

Which buildings are covered?

Local Listing protects structures of community value, but those structures aren’t always buildings! Birmingham has a wealth of Locally Listed structures, around 441 in 2013. These sites include residential homes, Churches, urinals and a railway viaduct!

Discover more Locally Listed Buildings with Brumitecture!

Image of The Kingsway, Grade A Locally Listed former cinema in Kings Heath, by Tony Hisgett

Kent House, Birmingham: From bath house to car park (updated)

Once a Grade B Locally Listed bath house, Kent House lay derelict for many years before it was demolished to become a car park.

Bath House building boom

Kent House was an extension of Kent Street Baths, which was the first baths constructed by the Birmingham Baths Committee, a council-run organisation, following the Act ‘to encourage the establishment of baths and wash-houses’ was passed. The site of the baths was chosen in 1849, while the foundation stone was laid when building work began on the 29th October 1849 by the Mayor.

Opening day!

Designed by D.H. Hill, they were opened in 1851, before their completion in 1852, after a three year build costing around 23,000. The baths housed a variety of facilities. In 1915, Kent Street Baths were the first in Birmingham to introduce mixed family bathing, for three days a week initially. The idea was so popular it became common across bathing houses in the city. A separate women’s’ swimming baths were opened in 1914 in the next building.

A new addition

The original Kent Street Baths were closed in 1927, and come 1930, the most of the baths were demolished, leaving the women’s baths still standing.

The womens baths were be incorporated into a new art deco building designed by Hurley Robinson, opening in 1933. This building was known as Kent House. The new building notably contained a spectator gallery and a diving stage set in a Proscenium arch.

World War II

During World War II, Kent House was bombed in 1940, damaging the gala bath and its surrounding buildings. The structure was repaired, and continued use until it closed in 1977, following a sale to the current owners, Benacre Estates, around 1970.

Dereliction and demolition

After a long an interesting history, the Grace B Locally Listed Kent House was demolished in 2009 after becoming derelict, despite local dispute. The owner of the property was Benacre Property, and the site is now a surface car park.

Featured image property of Erebus55