Photo By D J Norton

Old Brum Burns

In the three month period from November 2006 to January 2007, three of Birmingham's listed buildings were ravaged by fire.  Having seen the destruction inflicted on the city by the introduction of the Inner Ring Road, the further loss of any of the city's old buildings is a cause of great sadness.

In early November 2006, the first of the fires took hold.  While taking pictures for my Inner Ring Road East page I had found and photographed the splendid factory building on Belmont Row.  This was what it looked like in December 2005:-

Factory, Belmont Row 28/12/2007

The fire destroyed the right hand side of the building.  This picture shows the extent of the damage.  The building was Locally Listed Grade A.  Local listing provides no real protection other than to ensure that Statutory Lisiting is applied for as soon as a building is threatened.  In this case the old factory was threatened by the Ventureast development, part of the Eastside regeneration scheme.  I'm not suggesting that the fire in this building, a building that had stood unused for many years, had anything to do with overcoming objections about its destruction, I'm just pointing out what an amazing coincidence it is...

Just a few days later in the early hours of November 12 2006, a second, historic building was gutted as this BBC News story tells.  Edwards No.8 club was housed in a Grade II listed building on John Bright Street.  This was the scene several days after the fire:-

Edwards No.8 15/11/2007

Now Edwards No.8 was a rock nightclub opposite the site of a huge development of expensive apartments.  I'm not suggesting that the fire in this building had anything to do with this development, I'm just pointing out what an amazing coincidence it is that this potentially noisy neighbour is noisy no more...

I was very concerned about the future for 81-91 John Bright Street when Coleman & Company, a demolition business, surrounded the site with hoardings.  I was delighted to see metal support structures applied to the facade in April 2007 - the future now looks more promising!  Unless you are a rock fan, of course.

The third, and I hope final, fire occured on January 23 2007.  Part of the HB Sale die-sinking company in Summer Lane was the victim this time.  Grade II listed 394, 395 and 396 Summer Lane were affected.  When I visited the site on April 2 2007, I was pleased that the damage didn't look too bad, at least from the outside.  What the future holds, though, is another question entirely.  Here's what I found:-

HB Sale 2/4/2007

Let's hope that's it for now.  And let's hope at least two of these buildings survive for many years to come.

You may be interested to know that the council provide PDF files of Statutory Listed (1.2Mb) and Locally Listed (224Kb) buildings in Birmingham.