Demolition of the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama
In the middle of January 2006 I noticed some worrying activity
associated with one of the Victorian buildings in Lower Severn Street
that had survived the introduction of the Inner Ring Road. I
quickly took a couple of photo's, fearing the worst.
At the end of January the demolition crews moved in - not on the
building that concerned me but on another building immediately behind
it. This structure had always interested me. Large vents on
the roof suggested a factory but in its partially demolished state I
could see that it had clearly not been a factory.
I managed to take a few pictures before the demolition had progressed
too far. But what had it been? A bit of Googling helped me
find details of the planning
behind the work. On the map it was clear what it
had been - The Birmingham School of Speech and Drama! Further
research suggests that the school (now known as the Birmingham School of Acting
founded in 1936. The building was certainly older than that as it
is identified on a 1905 map as a gymnasium.
I was originally very optimistic for the future of the Victorian
building. There were signs saying, "Permit required for the
demolition of this elevation". The planning application
mentioned, "the retention of the facade to 15 Lower Severn
Street". It all looked good - until Friday 25 February 2006, when
I found the building almost completely demolished. Incensed, I
entered the site waving the planning application!
An e-mail exchange with the planning department case officer revealed
that a later application withdrew the developers offer to retain the
facade. Although the planners were against it, the building was
not in a conservation area and, in their words, "was not of listable
quality". The cynic in me feels that the developers always
intended to demolish this building as it makes access to the site much
easier. At least I took some pictures before it was gone forever…
|Now you see it...
|...and now you don't
historic buildings in John Bright Street are being retained as
part of this plan, the 2nd phase of the nearby Orion project
developers have also, imaginatively, decided to re-use the old entrance
to the B'ham School of Speech and Drama for the main concierge access.