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Group campaigns against the closure of Moseley Road Baths

The historic Moseley Road Baths will be closed before the end of 2015, it has been decided. However, this has not stopped the tireless campaigning of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, a group aiming to retain and restore the building and its original featuresBrumitecture speaks with Steve Beauchampe, a member of the group, about the future of the building.

The History

Moseley Road Baths is located in Balsall Heath. The building was opened in October 1907, with the construction costing around £32,924. The oldest of three Grade II* listed swimming baths still open in Britain, this spectacular building retains much of its original layout, fixtures and fittings. It was given to the community of Balsall Heath when they ‘joined Birmingham’, and it is run by the Birmingham City Council.

Unique Architecture

It is the fixtures and fittings that make this unique building worth saving, according to the Friends of Moseley Baths. The rarity of these features shouldn’t be ignored; the building contains a complete set of 46 pre-war ‘slipper’ baths, which is the only full set of this kind in Britain, however they are currently closed to the public due to disrepair.

“So much of what is in there is now unique throughout the country. The Baths still have so many of its original features – these don’t exist anywhere else.” Steve Beauchampe, Friends of Moseley Road Baths

pool 2 moseley road baths birminghamPool 2 (still in daily use)

The architectural features of the building are astounding. A three-sided spectator gallery and balconettes look over the Gala Pool, while the 98ft frontage of the building is intricately decorated in a Gothic renaissance style.

Building Neglect

Due to continual budget cuts and lack of funding, Moseley Road Baths has fallen into neglect. This isn’t the first time the fate of the building has been uncertain – in 2007 it was included in the Victorian Society’s list of ten most endangered buildings in Britain.

heated towel racks moseley road baths birminghamSteam Heated Drying Racks in the Laundry Room

There is only one pool, the smallest, currently open. The grand Gala Pool, hosting unique balconettes, and the rare ‘slipper’ baths were closed in 2003 and 2004 due to structural safety and maintenance issues.

Closure Plans

Birmingham City Council plans to close Moseley Road Baths before the end of 2015, with the intention to convert much of the building to uses not related to swimming or fitness. This causes many concerns for the community, both for heritage enthusiasts and the welfare of the community has a whole. This troubles the Friends of Moseley Road Baths group, who have stepped in to campaign to raise awareness of the building.

Steve Beauchampe, a member of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, states that

“English heritage always say if a building can be used for its primary purpose it should be. There is a demand within the area for a swimming pool. This community facility its really important.”

gala pool closed moseley road baths birminghamThe Gala Pool (closed since August 31st 2003)

This conversion could put the original features of the building at risk. The Friends of Moseley Baths strive to encourage the council to restore the original features and reopen both pools for the public to enjoy this fine example of the community’s architectural and local heritage. One way of doing this may be to engage with a heritage group, which requires the support of the local council.  However, the problems with some areas of the building are so extensive that it would be costly to repair.

Replacement Baths

Importantly, when Moseley Road Baths close, many believe that the prospect of replacement baths in Balsall Heath is unlikely due to a lack of funding and available land. Instead, residents will have to travel to the ‘replacement’ pool in Sparkhill which is currently being built.

“It is an important loss of community space,” says Steve. “You are taking something away from the community. People won’t go [to the replacement baths]. People need them and can’t make the extra journey, from cost or time.”

Friends of Moseley Road Baths

The future of the pool is uncertain after plans to submit a Heritage Lottery Fund application were dismissed by the council. However, the Friends of Moseley Baths will continue to “keep highlighting the importance of building through events,” although Steve admits that despite engaging with councillors, they have generally been unsupportive, and “we have to be realistic.” Many other community buildings in the area have recently been closed, including the School of Art and the local library. There are also no clear plans for the development of the baths once it is closed to the public.

Steve reflects on what it may be like if the building were fully restored;

“The whole experience of using it would be such a different experience for everyone than anywhere else they are like to go swimming.”

To find out more, visit: Friends of Moseley Road Baths website

All images property of Friends of Moseley Road Baths

How HS2 will change Curzon Street in photos

The proposed changes for HS2 were announced earlier this year, with Birmingham recently named as the chosen engineering HQ for the project. HS2 sees to redevelop key areas of the country, including many parts of Birmingham city, including Eastside, which has already seen much change as part of the Big City Plan.

This post will explore what further changes are in store for Curzon Street, Eastside, and will show you what some of the changes will look like in before and after slideshows.

Proposed changes

The new HS2 terminus aims to make the journey from London to Birmingham only 49 minutes. Hoping to boost Birmingham’s economy by £1.3 billion every year, and creating over 14,000 jobs and around 600,000 square metres of employment floorspace, it is an ambitious project. The construction is set to begin in phases from 2017, with trains arriving in Birmingham from 2026.

“The Curzon Street Masterplan… shows an exciting vision of how the area around the Curzon Street station can be developed and transformed.” – HS2 Chief Executive Alison Munro

The architectural changes are as dramatic as the figures – the new station – Birmingham Curzon –  will be shrouded in a large glass structure, signifying the new ‘entrance’ to the city. The new station will be the largest built in Birmingham for over 100 years,.

Birmingham Curzon

Birmingham Curzon will be encased in a large glass structure. The station itself will be the main point for trains from London to Birmingham, and will also host retail facilities.

“Their vision for the Curzon HS2 Masterplan demonstrates the transformational value of HS2, not just for rail passengers but for the communities that the railway will serve.” – Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury and Chair of the HS2 Growth Taskforce

Surrounding the station there will be extensive development, including transforming the derelict and fire-damaged Co-Op Building into a mixed use development. Much new office and creative business space will be created, further pushing the image of Birmingham as a city of enterprise and industry.

Curzon Street Station

 

Curzon Street Station will be incorporated into plans for the new station, although its exact use has not been specified. HS2 assets documents state that there will be:

“Protection of the former Curzon Street station building and the Woodman public house during construction and enhancement of their settings.”

While details of the station’s internal future remain vague, plans for its exterior and surroundings are certainly ambitious. Hopefully, the new development will help to make the historic station a hub of the community once again.

Nearby derelict public house Eagle and Tun will be incorporated into the new glass structure. The locally listed red brick pub will be modified as part of the construction process.

The History

Curzon Street Station

Curzon Street Station has stood proudly in Birmingham Eastside since 1838. It was a grand design by architect Philip Hardwick, which connected London and Birmingham by rail for the first time.

The station closed in 1966 and has successfully evaded demolition several times thanks to its Grade I heritage listing. The building is currently empty, save for an occasional art exhibition, most recently the Hidden Spaces exhibition by Associated Architects.

Curzon Street Station is set to be transformed to its former glory, once again part of the new HS2 terminus hosting trains from London to Birmingham – this time on an innovative high speed network. The station will be at the heart of the development at Birmingham Eastside.

Eagle and Tun public house

Just down the road from Curzon Street Station, the Eagle and Tun public house is a lost local treasure. It was once home to a thriving music scene, hosting the music video for UB40’s ‘Red Red Wine’ and holding live music regularly.

The pub closed in 2008 and has been empty since then. The building has fallen into dereliction and has some structural problems, future thoughts of retaining it in the wake of the new HS2 development uncertain.

The Eagle and Tun public house is a Grade B locally listed building. Although usually afford no legal backing in development decisions, the building will be incorporated into the new station, although its future use is still unclear.

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Library of Birmingham: From construction to landmark in photos

Opened on 3 September 2013, the Library of Birmingham has fast become one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. With a build costing around £188 million, the Library has gone on to win a number of design awards. How did the Library transform from a car park to an iconic structure? Here it is in pictures:

birmingham newsroom exterior build library of birmingham

Located in Centenary Square, the Library of Birmingham sits on a site which was once a car park, next to the REP Theatre. This final site was decided after much deliberation by Birmingham City Council in 2006.

library of birmingham harry cock

The facade of the building is clad in metal circles, forming a geometric pattern. A large roof terrace is full of lush planting including a wildflower meadow, encouraging a recent architectural trend for bringing greenery to a city using high rise buildings.

birmingham newsroom exterior scaffold library of birmingham

The public car park functioned until 2009, while in 2008 a shortlist of architects were selected during an international competition. In August, Mecanoo and Buro Happold were selected as the winners.

birmingham newsroom exterior scaffold library of birmingham

In 2009, plans for the Library were were unveiled, and building works began shortly thereafter in 2010.

library of birmingham harry cock

The building was opened in September 2013 by Malala Yousafzi, a young girl who survived a Taliban attempt on her life and now campaigns for women’s rights from Birmingham.

library of birmingham construction newsroom interior

The building is centred around a large, circular stairwell. Higher floors look down into the basement of the library.

library of birmingham harry cock interior stairwell

The futuristic design has large escalators and curved book-cases housing over 400,00 books on the public floors.

library of birmingham construction newsroom interior

The Amphitheatre is a modern interpretation of Roman design, where an amphitheatre was traditionally used for gladiatorial shows and horse racing.

library of birmingham amphitheatre harry cock newsroom

The Amphitheatre of the Library of Birmingham is home to cultural entertainment, ranging from live music to exhibitions.view library of birmingham window harry cock newsroom

The new Library of Birmingham has a wealth of facilities, including over 200 public access computers, spread over 9 floors.

library of birmingham gallery harry cock

 The Gallery, sharing artwork and photography exhibitions cements the Library of Birmingham’s position as a cultural hub. Visitors also benefit from the panoramic city views.

Images of construction property of Birmingham Newsroom. Images of Library of Birmingham property of Harry Cock for Library of Birmingham.

The modern architecture of Birmingham

The city skyline in Birmingham is increasingly changing with a collection of modern architecture. These buildings are becoming iconic for our city, and are well worth visiting if you haven’t already!

library of birmingham elliott brown birmingham modern architectureLibrary of Birmingham by Elliott Brown

Library of Birmingham

The Library of Birmingham is one of the newest additions to the Birmingham skyline. Built on the site of a car park,  and has quickly become  a city landmark. The exterior of the library is clad in metal geometric shapes, linking to the cladding of The Selfridges Building. The interior revolves around a huge circular stairwell, which is definitely worth exploring.

selfridges building by brianac37 birmingham modern architectureThe Selfridges Building by Brianac37 

The Selfridges Building

Costing around £40 million to construct, The Selfridges Building is unmistakable. The building is clad in 15,000 aluminium disks, giving it a futuristic exterior. Inside, the Selfridges department store offers retail and dining outlets. The store is currently undergoing redevelopment work costing around £25 million, including the recent transformation of the Beauty Hall.

millennium point by guy evans modern architecture birminghamMillennium Point by Guy Evans

Millennium Point

Millennium Point and the Eastside building mark the beginning of the redevelopment of Birmingham Eastside, implemented by the Big City Plan the the current plans for the HS2 development. Millennium Point houses Birmingham ThinkTank and an IMAX screen, while both buildings are sites for Birmingham City University facilities, with a second phase of build currently in construction.

staying cool rotuda birmingham modern architectureImage property of Staying Cool

Birmingham Rotunda

The Rotunda has had a varied history and has divided opinion throughout Birmingham. Once a block of offices, the building has been developed by Staying Cool and UrbanSplash to provide an apart-hotel and luxury living accommodation.

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Explore Tolkien’s Birmingham

J.R.R. Tolkien spent much of his childhood in Birmingham, living in the Kings Heath and Sarehole areas after moving there from South Africa with his mother in 1896. It is believed by many that several prominent Birmingham landmarks may have influenced Tolkien, shaping the stories in his well-known books ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Discover Tolkien’s Birmingham; you could visit all these sites in one jam-packed day!

Sarehole Mill

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

Sarehole Mill may have been an influence when Tolkien created the places ‘The Shire’ and ‘Hobbiton’ in his books. Sarehole Mill’s idyllic setting and nearby Moseley Bog draws comparisons with Tolkien’s rural fantasy locations. Notably, Tolkien and his brother were regularly chased away from the Mill by the miller’s son!

The Mill held special memories for Tolkien, and he aided the public appeal to restore the museum in the 1960s. Now open as a museum, Sarehole Mill can be enjoyed all year round by the public.

Old Joe

The Joseph Chamberlain Clock Tower, or Old Joe to students, sits proudly in the centre of the University of Birmingham campus. Built between 1900 and 1908, it was designed in the Neo-Classical style, and is known as a campanile; the Itallian term for ‘bell tower’.

Tolkien stayed at the University of Birmingham in 1916. The University was being used as temporary wards during World War I, and Tolkien was treated there following contracting trench fever in the Somme.

It has been suggested that Old Joe’s glowing clockface inspired the creation of ‘The Eye of Sauron’ from Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.

Perrott’s Folly

Perrott’s Folly was built in 1758 by John Perrott, who was a local landowner. There has been very creative speculation over the reason for constructing the Folly, but the most common reason is as a status symbol and place for entertaining guests.

Perrott’s Folly and the nearby Edgbaston Waterworks Tower make a formidable pair in the Birmingham skyline. It has been suggested that these two towers could have influenced the ‘Two Towers of Gondor’ in Tolkien’s works.

Tolkien’s Birmingham is a varied collection of sites that inspired Tolkien and featured at key moments in his life. Take a tour and travel through idyllic hideaways to city landmarks. Visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery website for more information on their Tolkien Trail to get your exploration started.

Featured image property of Nic Redhead

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.

History

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

Design

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

Development

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.

Island_House_Hotel_La_Tour
Image property of Bs0u10e01

Campaign

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

Demolition

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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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 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 sellymanormuseum.org.uk for more information.

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

Eagle and Tun pub to be transformed in HS2 development

In new plans unveiled by Birmingham City Council this May, it has been revealed that the Eagle and Tun public house would be transformed and incorporated into the new Curzon Street Gateway as part of the proposed HS2 developement.

The Eagle and Tun, on the corner of Banbury Street, has a quirkier history than most. The location for UB40’s ‘Red Red Wine’ video and a once thriving music venue, the pub now sits derelict. With a local listing status of Grade B, the building has been unused since its closure in 2008.

6686591145_bd248f0885_bImage by Brianac37

“HS2 will be an important catalyst for this ongoing development and regeneration activity.”

– Waheed Nazir, Birmingham City Council

The new HS2 network is proposed as part of Birmingham’s Big City Plan, which will see changes to 141 hectres of the city centre, stretching from Eastside to New Street. The Curzon Street Gateway would restore the Grade I listed Curzon Street Station, making it the new hub of the HS2 network.

hs2 artists impression new canal street 3d birmingham newsroomNew Canal Street 3D render – image property of Birmingham Newsroom

Fears that the pub would be demolished during these works have been set to rest, as new plans state that

‘there will be modifications to the locally listed Eagle and Tun public house on New Canal Street to integrate the building within the proposed Curzon Street station structure’.

Nearby pub, the Fox and Grapes which is Grade 2 listed, would be demolished during the new development.

Waheed Nazir, Director for Planning and Regeneration at Birmingham City Council sates “The Masterplan sets out the City Council’s aspirations for the new HS2 terminus station and the huge regeneration potential that surrounds it.”

Works on the HS2 development across the route are expected to start in 2017, following formal consultations and environmental surveys.

Walking Tour: 24 hours in Birmingham City Centre

If you have 24 hours to spend in the centre of Birmingham, what better way to spend the day than exploring the city’s finest examples of architecture. Follow this simple walking tour to visit Birmingham’s iconic buildings.

Walking tour

The Bullring

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Head to the Bullring for early morning shopping to avoid the crowds. Admire the modern architecture of the Selfridges Building, and visit the famous rag markets – taking in St Martin’s Church along the way.

Library of Birmingham

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Take a leisurely walk to Broad Street, and spend the rest of your morning exploring the Library of Birmingham, one of the city’s newest architectural icons.

Lunch at Brindley Place

Brindley Place Birmingham canal by Roland TurnerImage property of Roland Turner

Have a well-earned break and stop for lunch at nearby Brindley Place in one of the many eateries overlooking the canal.

Museums and galleries

chamberlain square birmingham by brianac37Image property of Brianac37

Stroll nearby Chamberlain Square, spending an hour or two in the Birmingham Museum or the Ikon Gallery (just around the corner,) whichever takes your fancy!

Birmingham Cathedral

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Head back into the city centre to admire Birmingham Cathedral, the building that gives Birmingham its City status.

Dinner at The Lost and Found

the lost and found briminghamImage property of The Lost and Found

Have dinner at The Lost and Found, a Grade II listed building with stunning interior design. Treat yourself to a cocktail  after a day of exploration.

Sleep at The Rotunda

staying cool at the rotunda birminghamImage property of Staying Cool

If you’re a visitor, spend the night in The Rotunda thanks to Staying Cool, and sleep in the lap of luxury in one of their many apartments with views across the city skyline.