Category Archives: Grade II

Ikon Gallery


Originally, this building was the Oozlles Street School. It was built in 1877 by the firm Chamberlain and Martin in the Neo Gothic style. In an industrial area, the school functioned until the 1960s. Following a many changes of use and periods of being unoccupied resulting in damage, the building gained Grade II listed status in 1981. The landscape around the old school continued to change, with the development and opening of Brindleyplace in 1994.

In 1998 The Ikon Gallery, a local contemporary art gallery, moved from its previous location in John Bright Street to the Oozlles Street building. Using a National Lottery grant, the building was restored, adding features such as the glass staircase and lift, and reconfiguring the layout to an open plan gallery style. The gallery now has around 120,000 visitors a year.

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The 1870 Education Act resulted in the building of lots of new schools across the country, including Oozlles Street School. The Neo Gothic style was popular at the time, aiming to re-imagine Medieval Gothic architecture. This architectural movement was influenced by the growing cultural interest in Alglo-Catholic religious beliefs.

Architectural motifs such as intricate decoration, lancet windows and towers reminiscent of churches were common. The original tower of the Ikon Gallery was demolished in 1976 after vandalism and disrepair left it unsafe. It was later rebuilt in 1997 using a modern steel frame to ensure longevity.

Fact file:

Location: Oozells Street, Brindley Place 
Built: 1877
Style: Neo Gothic
Status: Grade II 
Use: Art gallery

Further reading:

Newman Brothers Coffin Works


Situated in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, from 1894 to 1999 The Newman Brothers Coffin Works was a thriving business. The factory specialised making high quality coffin fittings from metal and resin, linings and shrouds. Their works were used worldwide in a number of notable coffins, such as that of Winston Churchill.

When the factory was sold in 2003, all of the stock was left in the building, including handles, photographs, catalogues and designs. This fortuitous discovery lead to the decision by the Birmingham Conservation Trust to restore the building. After years of project uncertainty, work is now underway to open the coffin works as a community museum, including the original stock, in summer 2014. The building will also have let units available to house local creative businesses.

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This industrial building is typical of most factories built in the Jewellery Quarter around the 1800s. The redbrick building is spread over three stories and is constructed of  with stone detail and a slate roof. The cast iron windows are iconically industrial, and can be seen on the facade of factories across Birmingham. The building was designed with specific rooms for each function, with two entrances separating the ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ areas of the factory.

Fact file:

Location: Fleet Street, The Jewellery Quarter 
Built: 1894
Style: Factory
Status: Grade II 
Use: Community museum

Further reading:

Sarehole Mill


Sarehole Mill is one of only two working watermills left in Birmingham. The structure standing today was built in 1750, although a mill was documented at this site from the Tudor period.

Notably, in 1755, Matthew Boulton, a key figure in the Industrial Revolution taking place in Birmingham, leased the mill and made some alterations, including the introduction of metal machinery.

The building was a working mill until 1919, when it became unused and derelict for many years. Upon suggestions of demolition, a local community campaign saved the mill and it was restored in 1969.

Now, Sarehole Mill is run by Birmingham Museums Trust and is open to the public from April to November. In the winter of 2012-2013, the mill underwent a large restoration project, including draining and repairing the millpond, renovating the mill itself, and restoring a Victorian bakery on the property which houses an original oven from the 1890s.

JRR Tolkien

JRR Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, spent part of his childhood in Sarehole. The mill is associated with Tolkien as it is believed he drew inspiration from the building and its surroundings in his creation of ‘The Shire’.

Sarehole Mill now offers a permanent exhibition, ‘Signposts to Middle-Earth’, which explores JRR Tolkien’s time spent in Sarehole.

Fact file:

Location: River Cole, Hall Green 
Built: 1542
Style: Water mill
Status: Grade II 
Use: Museum

Explore Sarehole Mill:

entrance, sarehole mill, birmingham, heritage Inside Sarehole Mill photo tour

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 14.41.14 Sarehole Mill pond photo tour

Further reading:

Birmingham Rotunda


The Rotunda has a controversial history as one of Birmingham’s most ‘marmite’ of buildings; you either love it or you hate it!

The Grade II listed building was originally planned as one of James A. Robert’s creations in the original Bullring scheme. However, the initial design was different; it was 12 stories high. Plans were later changed to be 25 stories, costing £1 million to build.

It was originally used as an office block with a bank and shops on lower levels. Mostly, local residents weren’t best pleased with the new structure. However, proposed demolition of the building in the 1980s was met with apprehension too!

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Work began in 1960 to construct the 81m tall building, built of a large glass tube design. The build was completed in 1965 after revisions. Notable design elements include a flat roof, and a structure made of reinforced concrete standing on a single story podium.

The Rotunda now

In 2004 the building underwent huge scale refurbishment to convert the it to residential use. The works were finished in 2008, housing  residential and hotel accommodation.

Urban Splash occupy 232 homes in the building, created by Glenn Howells Design. When the build finished in 2008, the final 92 apartments for sale sold within 3 hours of becoming available. These homes are now up for sale and rent. Iconic design includes a double height reception area, created in this refurbishment, and re-cladding the façade of the building.

Staying Cool at the Rotunda have 26 serviced apartments forming a boutique style Apart-Hotel over the top four floors of the building. Apartments range from a studio to two bed apartments, with two bed penthouses available. These apartments have been impeccably styled in a sixties theme, and are named after famous cars, inspired by the famous cars made in nearby Lonbridge.

Fact file:

Location: New Street, City Centre 
Built: 1961-1965
Style: Modern
Status: Grade II 
Use: Apart-Hotel

Further links:

Joseph Chamberlain Clock Tower


Named after Joseph Chamberlain, the first chancellor of the University of Birmingham, the Joseph Chamberlain clock tower sits proudly in the centre of the university campus. The tower is known as ‘Old Joe’ by students, giving the name to ‘Joe’s Bar’ in the university Student’s Union.

Built between 1900 and 1908, the project was kick-started by an anonymous donation, now known to be from Sir Charles Holcroft. The clockface was built by Joyce of Whitchurch, which is over 5m in diameter.

The tower was the tallest structure in Birmingham until the introduction of the BT Tower in 1969. However, it still remains the largest freestanding clock tower in the world at around 99m high.

It has been suggested that the tower was inspiration for one of Tolkein’s ‘Two Towers’ in his ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, joining several monuments in Birmingham that may have influenced his writings.


The design of the tower was influenced by the Siena Town Hall in Italy. It is built in the Neo-Classical style, and is known as a ‘Campanile’ which is an Italian term for ‘bell tower’.

Notably, there is a central lift shaft up the centre of the tower, used by staff for maintenance. It was once open to students, but closed due to a suicide risk.

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Fact file:

Location: University of Birmingham 
Built: 1900-1908
Style: Campanile
Status: Grade II 
Use: Clock tower

Further reading:

Selly Manor


Selly Manor was originally built around the 1300s. It was once located in Bournebrooke village. The building was constructed in traditional oak beams with a filling of ‘wattle and daub’ in architectural the style of the period. It was a Manor House to the Jouette family.

Over time, various changes were made to the building including the addition of brick chimneys, the three gables, and the later conversion into three dwellings named ‘Rookery Cottages‘. By the 20th century, Rookery Cottages were neglected and suffering structurally as a result.

George Cadbury bought the property in 1907, and began work on it in 1914. With the help of architect William Alexander Harvey, he took the property apart and erected it in nearby Bourneville, near to his new chocolate factory. The project cost around £6,000 to complete.

Fact file:

Location: Maple Road, Bourneville

Built: 1300s

Style: Tudor exterior

Status: Grade II Heritage Listed

Use: Museum

Further reading: