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History & heritage
09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Island House, demolished after standing for 99 years

Island House was located at a site on Moor Street Queensway with Albert Street and Fazeley Street. Built during 1912 to 1913. It was demolished in 2012. Neighbour Hotel La Tour was built from 2010 to 2012. The land was for a time a temporary car park for the hotel, now called the Clayton Hotel. The land is now part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station building site.

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Island House, demolished after standing for 99 years





Island House was located at a site on Moor Street Queensway with Albert Street and Fazeley Street. Built during 1912 to 1913. It was demolished in 2012. Neighbour Hotel La Tour was built from 2010 to 2012. The land was for a time a temporary car park for the hotel, now called the Clayton Hotel. The land is now part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station building site.


Island House

Island House initially survived the demolition of Masshouse Circus in the early 2000s, and was originally going to be part of the proposed City Park Gate scheme, on the land running down Moor Street Queensway. The building was on a site on Moor Street Queensway, Albert Street and Fazeley Street. The address was 2 Fazeley Street.

Built during 1912 to 1913 by G. E. Pepper, in the Mannerist style. The entrance had columns in the Ionic style at the bottom, Doric in the middle and Tuscan at the top. It was built as offices and a warehouse for Churchill & Co. Birmingham City Council had locally listed the building at the time as Grade B. It may have been Grade II listed, but I was never able to find any listing text for it. The building was refurbished in 2005, when it was acquired by a design firm.

Everything changed when HS2 was announced, and City Park Gate was quietly cancelled.

Hotel La Tour was built on what was City Park Gate Plot 4, from 2010 until early 2012. Island House was demolished by February 2012. After that, hoardings went up around the site, and was for a time used as a car park for the hotel. Now the land is part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station site, and is behind hoardings and fences on Moor Street Queensway.

The hotel was renamed to Clayton Hotel in 2017 after getting new owners, and was having extra floors built during 2020.

 

 

Earliest views of Island House taken during April 2009. This was at the time a convenient route to get to Eastside from the City Centre. Masshouse to the left.

The snow of January 2010, and got some close up details of Island House. There was an art installation outside, but it looks like the design company had long since moved out by then. Last view of Masshouse before the site to the left was taken over by Hotel La Tour.

By December 2010, the Hotel La Tour site to the left was hoarded, ready to be built in 2011. Island House on the right had the lower windows boarded off. It's future looked bleak.

The view of Island House from Park Street during March 2011, as the crane was behind for the building of Hotel La Tour. This was the end of Fazeley Street to Moor Street Queensway.

By June 2011, Hotel La Tour was up to the first floor, as seen from Moor Street Queensway. Less than a year left for Island House.

Walking down Moor Street Queensway during September 2011, towards Hotel La Tour, Masshouse and Island House. They were building the 2nd and 3rd floor on the hotel at this point, and was already higher than the doomed Island House.

In February 2012, scaffolding went up on Island House to prepare for it's demolition, as Hotel La Tour next door was almost complete.

Later that month, Island House was under white wrappings, while the Bus Interchange works were being built on Moor Street Queensway. Hotel La Tour was almost finished and ready to open.

By March 2013 there was nothing left of Island House. Just a brownfield site next to Hotel La Tour.

Skipping ahead to January 2020, this view from Moor Street Car Park. There is nothing left of the Island House site, even the Fox & Grapes had gone (in 2018). While the Clayton Hotel (renamed from Hotel La Tour in 2017), was preparing to build some additional floors. All the land here now is part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station. That part of Park Street would later be permanently closed off by HS2 as well. Masshouse was joined by Exchange Square on the left.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Modern Architecture
05 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing The BT Tower, Birmingham: The tallest building in the City!

The BT Tower in Birmingham is located on Lionel Street in the Jewellery Quarter and still holds the record for the tallest building in the City. Built between 1963 and 1965, it was in operation by late 1966. Formerly known as the Post Office Tower or the GPO Tower. It is 152 metres high (499 ft). In recent years many of the dishes have been removed, as has the old BT logo.

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Introducing The BT Tower, Birmingham: The tallest building in the City!





The BT Tower in Birmingham is located on Lionel Street in the Jewellery Quarter and still holds the record for the tallest building in the City. Built between 1963 and 1965, it was in operation by late 1966. Formerly known as the Post Office Tower or the GPO Tower. It is 152 metres high (499 ft). In recent years many of the dishes have been removed, as has the old BT logo.


BT TOWER, BIRMINGHAM

 

The BT Tower in Birmingham. It has been the tallest building in the City since it opened in 1966, taking the record from the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower (Old Joe). Other tall buildings have gone up and down in the last 55 years, but so far none of them have been higher than the BT Tower. There is also the issue with the flight paths in and out of Birmingham Airport.

Seen from various places within the City Centre, the BT Tower is also visible from the suburbs on the skyline.

The tower (having the equivalent of 24 floors) is not open to the public, so only BT staff are allowed to go up it.

At one point the tower was painted light brown, but this was changed in the early 2000s, and looks more white now. The BT logo on the top of the tower has changed over time. As of September 2020, the old BT logo has been taken down, but we are not sure when BT are going to put up their current logo.

The last of the satellite dishes were removed by 2012. Also during 2012, during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, they had a London 2012 banner on two sides of the tower.

Hopefully something will be done to the tower for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (if it goes ahead and isn't delayed by the 2020 pandemic).

 

Below gallery of photos taken over the years by Elliott Brown. 2009 to present.

2009

Earliest views from the Jewellery Quarter, and Great Charles Street Queensway.

2011

Zoom ins to the BT Tower as many of the dishes had been or were being removed from the top.

2012

Official logos for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralmpic Games.

2013

Views from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham.

2016

Was looking to see if I could see where the Peregrine falcon nests, but couldn't see it. Discovery Terrace views from the Library of Birmingham.

2018

Got this view below of the BT Tower and the red weather vane of the former Skin Hospital (on John Bright Street) from Holloway Circus near Suffolk Street Queensway during February 2018.

The view from Stoneleigh Road in Perry Barr during early November 2018. Was close to the Birmingham City University demolition site (of what was supposed to be the Athletets Village for Birmingham 2022).

2020

One of the last times seeing the old BT logo on the BT Tower. This was a month before lockdown. As seen from Ladywood.

The old BT logo is removed during August 2020.

Nothing left of the old BT logo by September 2020, other than a scar or ghost sign of what was left underneath.

On the weekend of the 17th and 18th October 2020, a helicopter lowered the new BT logos into place onto Three Snowhill, on the Snow Hill Queensway and Livery Street sides. But as you can see on the 19th October 2020, the BT Tower still was without new logos (apprently they have them inside ready to go up). This view from St Chad's Queensway.

From 2nd November 2020. Perhaps my last views of the BT Tower before Lockdown 2 for a month or so. Great Charles Street Queensway view from the train leaving Snow Hill Station and another view from Legge Lane.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the wonderful gallery of BT Tower photos above!

One day it will be nice to get permission from BT to go up to the top for photos, but at the moment that seems very unlikely for members of the public.

And while we are at it, can BT give us permission to go up to the top of Three Snowhill?

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Squares and public spaces
28 Oct 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Dayus Square a little known gem in the Jewellery Quarter

Most people would be aware of St Paul's Square and The Golden Square in the Jewellery Quarter. But there is one more little known square in the area called Dayus Square. Developed in 2011 to 2012 from what was previously called Albion Square. Named after a late local author Kathleen Dayus, who wrote about the area in her books. The Old Fire Station and The George & Dragon are here.

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Dayus Square a little known gem in the Jewellery Quarter





Most people would be aware of St Paul's Square and The Golden Square in the Jewellery Quarter. But there is one more little known square in the area called Dayus Square. Developed in 2011 to 2012 from what was previously called Albion Square. Named after a late local author Kathleen Dayus, who wrote about the area in her books. The Old Fire Station and The George & Dragon are here.


DAYUS SQUARE

There is a square in the Jewellery Quarter that is little known. Located at the junction of Legge Lane, Albion Street and Carver Street. It was formerly called Albion Square. It was redeveloped between 2011 and 2012, reopening as Dayus Square in the Spring of 2012. Named after the late local author Kathleen Dayus (born in 1903, she died in January 2003 a few days short of her 100th birthday).

Notable buildings located at Dayus Square include a pub formerly called The George & Dragon (later renamed The Pig & Tail after it was restored). There is also The Old Fire Station Children's Nursery.

 

Back in December 2012, Elliott took a series of photos around Dayus Square after hearing in the news about it. Despite going around the Jewellery Quarter many times over the years with his camera, he only popped back to this area in January 2018, when The George & Dragon reopened as The Pig & Tail. He's not been back to Dayus Square since.

 

The Dayus Square sculpture unveiled in 2012, was sculpted by Peter Walker. It contains extracts from Kathleen Dayus's book "The Girl from Hockley".

General view below of Dayus Square, with The Old Fire Station on the left. At the time the white building on the right was occupied by One 2 One. But the use of it has changed over the years. In 2019 it was Ultra Hair Clinic.

Below was the Dayus Square road sign.

To the other corner with The Old Fire Station on the right. Modern offices on the left. The Orb at 15A Albion Street. The sculpted book quote is on that side.

Then the general view from the square of The Old Fire Station.

Panoramic of the two photos as it was at the end of 2012. Still looks like this now.

THE OLD FIRE STATION CHILDREN'S NURSERY

These buildings are on the corner of Albion Street and Legge Lane.

First up is 62-65 Albion Street (not actually in Dayus Square but adding for completion). A Grade II listed building. Built in 1833. The architect was W Tadman Foulkes. Jewellery Quarter works built of red brick in Italianate style with hints of Queen Anne revival. In 2012 it was occupied by Saunders and Shepherd Ltd. It was the Albion Street Works. In 2019 the building was up for sale.

The Old Fire Station starts from here from James House at 66 Albion Street.

But The Old Fire Station was listed from 67, 68 and 69 Albion Street. A Grade II listed building, now a Children's Nursery. It was built as the Corporation Fire Station from 1909 to 1910. The architect was T G Price. It combines the Edwardian Wrenaissance with Birmingham Arts and Crafts. Built of red brick with stone detailing.

Panoramic of the last two photos on Albion Street.

The former fire engine doors. Now with children's toys inside.

The Birmingham Forward coat of arms.

The corner view of The Old Fire Station at Albion Street and Legge Lane.

 

THE GEORGE & DRAGON / THE PIG & TAIL

Seen under scaffolding at the end of 2012 was The George & Dragon pub. Now called The Pig & Tail, this pub is at the corner of Carver Street and Albion Street, with Pope Street. The George & Dragon is a Grade II listed building. It dates as far back as perhaps 1820, with a rebuild of around 1860 to 1870. There was a one storey extension of 1922 by local Birmingham pub building legends James and Lister Lea. It was quite derelict when Dayus Square was redeveloped.

The George & Dragon was restored in 2016 and reopened as The Pig & Tail. Seen below in January 2018. It was originally a Mitchells & Butlers pub, it also inspired the novels of the late Kathleen Dayus.

It would be nice on future Jewellery Quarter walks, to perhaps pass through here again, if I can head in the general direction, as I'm always ending up at St Paul's Square, then heading back into the City Core. The last JQ walk took me along the pop up cycle lane down Graham Street towards Newhall Street.

Whether the Council had plans for a Kathleen Dayus heritage trail or not I'm not sure. And plans may have changed when the Con-Dem Coalition went out of power to the current Labour council. Or maybe one of the local Jewellery Quarter groups would do one.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown.

 

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70 passion points
History & heritage
23 Oct 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Fox & Grapes, another Eastside pub demolished by HS2 back in 2018

Of the three pubs on the site of the HS2 Curzon Street Station only The Woodman survives and is open. The Eagle & Tun was demolished in October 2020. We have to go back to about September 2018 for the demolition of the Fox & Grapes. This former Mitchells & Butlers pub had been left derelict for a long time, on the Freeman Street corner with Park Street. Was also a fire in 2014.

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The Fox & Grapes, another Eastside pub demolished by HS2 back in 2018





Of the three pubs on the site of the HS2 Curzon Street Station only The Woodman survives and is open. The Eagle & Tun was demolished in October 2020. We have to go back to about September 2018 for the demolition of the Fox & Grapes. This former Mitchells & Butlers pub had been left derelict for a long time, on the Freeman Street corner with Park Street. Was also a fire in 2014.


The Fox & Grapes was a Grade II listed building. It's origins might have gone back to the late 17th or early 18th centuries. So there had been a pub on this site for well over 200 years or more. The pub had alterations in the mid 19th century. It was originally listed back in 1982. I'm not sure if Historic England is aware that it was demolished back in 2018.

Before HS2 was even thought of, the pub was originally saved for the now cancelled City Park Gate scheme (which would have been on the land of the now future HS2 Curzon Street Station). But by the early 2010s the pub was boarded up and derelict. Then in 2014 arsonists targeted the pub and burnt it down, leaving it in ruins, and there was no effort at all to restore this historic building.

Sadly the decision was taken by HS2 to knock this listed building down, and it was reduced to rubble in September 2018.

The Eagle & Tun would survive for another 2 years until it to was demolished in October 2020. But it was able to reopen as a pub between 2016 and early 2020.

 

 

The views below of the Fox & Grapes from June 2010 as seen on the corner of Freeman Street and Park Street. It was near the entrance to the surface car park that was on the land between Moor Street Queensway and Park Street. Showing all the signs of it being a Mitchells & Butlers pub in the past.

 

A bit of sunshine on the Fox & Grapes during March 2011, as seen from Park Street. Hotel La Tour was under construction to the far right. Island House was still standing, but would itself be demolished by 2012.

 

A March 2013 view of this Thomas Caffrey's Irish Ale sign. Perhaps the Fox & Grapes later years was as an Irish pub until it closed down?

 

After a series of fires / arson attacks to the Fox & Grapes in 2014, the pub was in ruins, and the roof was exposed, as I saw in April 2015. No effort by any organisation to fully repair the pub, not even by the Council or HS2.

 

The Journey Starts Here. HS2. Sadly that didn't include the Fox & Grapes, still visible (below) in January 2018. This view from Eastside Green. The trees would be cut down as well to make way for the station.

 

Perhaps my last indirect photo of the Fox & Grapes during March 2018. In this view of Millennium Point and Curzon Street Station, with The Woodman. It was the day that Prince Harry and Meghan visited Millennium Point (before they tied the knot and became the Duke & Duchess of Sussex). View from a train.

 

In September 2018, HS2 performed an act of cultural vandalism by demolishing the Grade II listed Fox & Grapes pub. I was walking back from the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre at the time from another open day. 200 years of history down the toilet.

 

The view from a bus of the HS2 site from Moor Street Queensway. The car park had been closed down by this point. But you could still kind of see the site of the Fox & Grapes at the corner of Park Street and Freeman Street during November 2018.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
22 Oct 2020 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

Birmingham Repertory Theatre - Reinvention

Birmingham’s famous Repertory Theatre is set to undergo dramatic new works that’ll see a new striking new entrance on the iconic façade - and in turn securing the long-term future of the company!

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Birmingham Repertory Theatre - Reinvention





Birmingham’s famous Repertory Theatre is set to undergo dramatic new works that’ll see a new striking new entrance on the iconic façade - and in turn securing the long-term future of the company!


The remodelling of its front of house areas aims to produce a more permeable façade and open plan layout internally – one that engages with the outside public and ultimately increase footfall.

Approved in December 2019, The REP are aiming for a 2021 completion date to coincide with the celebration of its 50th anniversary on Centenary Square. 

EMBRACING CHANGE

The REP, like many arts organisations, has suffered against the backdrop of untimely funding cuts, meaning that this project is absolutely vital as it strives to become financially sustainable; the remodelling has been designed to increase footfall, which in turn will help increase revenues.

What a time to re-invent given the other significant regeneration projects within the area -namely Centenary Square, the Arena Central redevelopment, and Symphony Hall. 

In addition to the new entrance, works will see the introduction of external balconies, two free-standing feature structures, illuminated signage, digital screens, and enhanced forecourt landscaping works.

Internally, alterations to public areas will see the creation of informal performance spaces, improved orientation, an upgrade to the current bar and catering, as well as the introduction of a new restaurant on the first floor and other such units.

Existing floor plans: (Right click for a closer look)

Approved floor plans: (Right click for a closer look)

DID YOU KNOW?

The architects behind the scheme, APEC, consulted in-depth during the planning process, and even contacted the buildings original designer, Graham Winteringham, 92, who pointed out that a central entrance was originally considered but was ultimately ruled out due to the location of a pool of water in a civic square that was never realised. Second times a charm!

Words by Stephen, with RIBA 3 images (subject to change) from APEC Architects.

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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