Heritage Weekend

I am not sure how many of you are aware of the Heritage Open Weekend. It happens annually usual in the middle of September and covers the whole of the United Kingdom. Basically, heritage sites are open to the public absolutely free of charge, some sites may be restricted access but most of them give unlimited access and usually have a guide to show you around and explain the history of the area/building etc. The weekend usually begins on the Thursday and lasts till Sunday. The details can be found on the internet at www.heritageopendays.org.ukbut I am sure if you do not have access to the worldwide web then a visit or telephone call to your local library will suffice.

Iris and I only discovered these open days a few years back and we have visited many sites since then, I will try and give you a small taster of what we did this year.

Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildingsis an open-air museumof rescued buildings which have been relocated to its site in Stoke Heath, a district of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England. Founded in 1963 and opened in 1967, the museum was conceived following the dismantling of a 15th-century timber-framed house in Bromsgrovein 1962 to provide a location for its reconstruction. It became England's first open-air museumand the second in the United Kingdom. This building is known as the 'Merchant's House' today, though it has been known by other names in the past, including the 'Bromsgrove House' and the 'Tudor House'.

It now houses a collection of domestic, industrial, agricultural and other forms of historic building, the majority dismantled and re-erected.

The museum's collection comprises more than 27 buildings and structures which have been relocated from their original sites under threat of demolition, being rebuilt and restored at the museum. This includes a fully functioning windmilland a post WW2 prefabhouse as used in many towns and cities after the Second World War to provide quick affordable replacements for houses destroyed by bombing. The Arcon Vprefabricated house was originally constructed on Moat Lane in Yardley, Birminghamand was transported to the museum in 1981.The other exhibits, which span over 700 years of history, include a perrymill from Redditch, a toll housefrom Little Malvern, a fibreglassspire from Smethwick, an earth closet, a cruck-framebarn and a counting house. Just a few photographs of the above buildings follow:-

Heritage Weekend

I am not sure how many of you are aware of the Heritage Open Weekend. It happens annually usual in the middle of September and covers the whole of the United Kingdom. Basically, heritage sites are open to the public absolutely free of charge, some sites may be restricted access but most of them give unlimited access and usually have a guide to show you around and explain the history of the area/building etc. The weekend usually begins on the Thursday and lasts till Sunday. The details can be found on the internet at www.heritageopendays.org.ukbut I am sure if you do not have access to the worldwide web then a visit or telephone call to your local library will suffice.

Iris and I only discovered these open days a few years back and we have visited many sites since then, I will try and give you a small taster of what we did this year.

Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildingsis an open-air museumof rescued buildings which have been relocated to its site in Stoke Heath, a district of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England. Founded in 1963 and opened in 1967, the museum was conceived following the dismantling of a 15th-century timber-framed house in Bromsgrovein 1962 to provide a location for its reconstruction. It became England's first open-air museumand the second in the United Kingdom. This building is known as the 'Merchant's House' today, though it has been known by other names in the past, including the 'Bromsgrove House' and the 'Tudor House'.

It now houses a collection of domestic, industrial, agricultural and other forms of historic building, the majority dismantled and re-erected.

The museum's collection comprises more than 27 buildings and structures which have been relocated from their original sites under threat of demolition, being rebuilt and restored at the museum. This includes a fully functioning windmilland a post WW2 prefabhouse as used in many towns and cities after the Second World War to provide quick affordable replacements for houses destroyed by bombing. The Arcon Vprefabricated house was originally constructed on Moat Lane in Yardley, Birminghamand was transported to the museum in 1981.The other exhibits, which span over 700 years of history, include a perrymill from Redditch, a toll housefrom Little Malvern, a fibreglassspire from Smethwick, an earth closet, a cruck-framebarn and a counting house. Just a few photographs of the above buildings follow:-

Co-operative Building is now the tea room


16thcentury Threshing Barn from Herefordshire


Mid 15th century Town House,Worcester Road, Bromsgrove



19th century Tollhouse-Little Malvern, Worcestershire



Danzey Green windmill, Warwickshire(built 1830)



Nailers Cottage-Old Birmingham Road, Lickey End, Bromsgrove built in the 1840s


Part of the National Telephone Kiosk Collection



Manor House, West Bromwich-is an important, Grade I listed, medievaldomestic building built by the de Marnham family in the late thirteenth century as the centre of their agricultural estate in West Bromwich. Only the Great Hall survives of the original complex of living quarters, agricultural barns, sheds and ponds.




Successive occupants modernised and extended the manor house until it was described in 1790 as “a large pile of irregular half-timbered buildings, black and white, and surrounded with numerous out-houses and lofty walls.” The building was saved from demolition in the 1950s by West Bromwich Corporation which carried out an extensive and sympathetic restoration of this nationally important building.


The Great Hall


Botanical Gardens-In the 18th and early 19th centuries a huge number of plants were introduced to Britain from all over the world. These plants created such interest that botanical and horticultural gardens sprang up throughout the country to display these unique and wonderful species.

Birmingham Botanical and Horticultural Society was founded in 1829, aiming to present to its members the greatest possible range of plants, outside or under glass. J. C. Loudon, the most innovative and successful garden planner of his day, designed the site and the gardens opened in 1832. A zoological collection was added in the early 20thCentury of which the bird collection remains.

Throughout its history the gardens have been self-financing and rely on the generosity of visitors and patrons and its business enterprise to safeguard the plant collection, to maintain the buildings and to teach all the visitors about the importance of plants to us all.

The gardens are always changing to meet the challenges of our evolving society and many famous families and horticulturists have contributed to their development.

The society secretary hidden behind the fountain and below the cactus and succulent garden




Oak House, West Bromwich- An historic building located in Greets Green, West Bromwich. It is thought to have taken its name from an oak which stood on the green in front of it and was burnt down around 1800, though it could have been named after the oak woodland that once surrounded the house. The last John Turton advised William Whyley to fell the trees, and in 1768 many were used to make lock-gates for the Birmingham Canal, which was then being built through West Bromwich. Very few oaks remained in 1836.

The original owners of Oak House are not known, but the family most closely associated with it are the Turtons who were living there by 1634. The house remained in the Turton family until 1768 when it passed to William Whyley, the "natural son" of John Turton. John Wesleypreached at the house on two occasions in the late 18th century when it was in the ownership of William Whyley.

It remained in the Whyley family until 1837. Following a succession of owners, Reuben Farley(three times Mayor of West Bromwich) purchased the property.

Alderman Reuben Farley was one of the town’s greatest benefactors. He purchased the Oak House with the intention of making it his private residence, but resolved to present it to the town as a museum. The leading architects in West Bromwich, Messrs. Wood and Kendrick, were employed with the task of restoring the house. Skilled craftsmanship ensured the outstanding quality of the restoration and the museum was formally opened on 25 July 1898; gardens and a bowling greenwere also laid out.

In 1949 the house was protected as a Grade II* listed building. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the gift, the corporation decided to convert the Oak House into a period house with antique furnishings; the formal re-opening took place in 1951.

The oak panelled dining room and below the kitchen



The house was open for three days and Sunday there was a jazz band playing in the grounds at the back.

Bournville Quaker Meeting House was the first place to be built on the Bournville estate, and it was used for shared worship and community activities until other churches were built. It is owned by Bournville Village Trust and is in a prominent position on the north side of the village green. It opened in 1905. From 1882 Bournville Quakers had been meeting in the Bournville Factory Works and later in the Stirchley Institute.


Photograph of the Meeting House taken in 1907


It was designed by W. Alexander Harvey, the young architect appointed by George Cadbury to develop the new village of Bournville. On the platform inside sits a table and four chairs loaned from the Laurence Cadbury Collection. The meeting house is unique in having a fine Harrison and Harrison organ, which was installed in 1915 as a gift from George and Elizabeth Cadbury to celebrate their Silver wedding anniversary.


A cedar tree was planted in front of the building in 1948 to celebrate Elizabeth Cadbury’s 90thbirthday, and this is illuminated by Bournville Village Trust every Christmas.


Bournville Quaker Meeting House-13thSeptember 2015

Selly Manor-A timber cruck-framed, 14th-century building, in England, dating back to at least 1327. Originally the manor houseof the village of Bournbrookin Worcestershire (Bournbrook is now a suburb in the modern day Selly Oak wardof Birmingham), it was relocated to the nearby Bournvilledistrict in the early 20th century.]Together with the adjacent Minworth Greaves, it is operated as a museum and venue for functions including weddings, for which it is licensed. It houses the Laurence Cadbury furniture collection.

The building's oakframe is held together by mortice and tenonjoints. The brick nogging(infill) is later, 16th century, and the star-shaped brick chimneys date from the 16th or 17thcenturies. The building was much altered during its history, and the three gabled bays are each from a different date.

The building was in a poor state of repair when its destruction was prevented by George Cadbury, who acquired it in 1907. From 1914, he had it painstakingly dismantled; the parts numbered, and rebuilt near his chocolate factory, as a centrepiece for his model village, Bournville. The rebuilding project, completed in 1916, was overseen by the architect William Alexander Harvey, at a cost of over £6,000 (today worth £363,000). It opened to the public, as a museum, in 1917. The house was protected with Grade II listedstatus in 1952.

Court rollsof 1327 record it as being occupied by the Jouette family, who were tax collectors. By the end of the 19th century the house had been sub-divided into three dwellings, which were known as Rookery Cottages.

Henry VIII with six wives in privet form in the gardens

You may be greeted at the next meeting by this young lady

Birmingham Hippodrome - The first venue built on the Hippodrome site was a building of assembly rooms in 1895. In 1899 a stage and circus ring was added together with a miniature of Blackpool Tower(removed 1963) and the enterprise named the "Tower of Varieties". After failing, this reopened as the "Tivoli" in 1900, finally becoming "The Hippodrome" under the ownership of impresario Thomas Barrasfordin October 1903. The current neo-classicalauditorium seats 1,900 and was designed by Burdwood and Mitchellin 1924.

The exterior of the theatre was substantially rebuilt by Associated Architectsand Law and Dunbar-Nasmithin 2001.



Hippodrome stalls, dress circle and boxes

and the stage area(below)



Birmingham Back to Backs (also known as Court 15) at 50–54 Inge Street and 55–63 Hurst Streetare the last surviving court of back-to-back housesin Birmingham, England, now operated as a museum by the National Trust.

On the corner of Inge Street and Hurst Street and below

typical downstairs room

They are examples of the thousands of similar houses that were built, literally back to back, around courtyards, for the rapidly increasing population of Britain's expanding industrial towns.

Numerous back-to-back houses, two or three storeys high, were built in Birminghamduring the 19th century, the majority of them were still in quite good condition in the early 20th century and also prior to their demolition. Most of these houses were concentrated in inner-city areas such as Ladywood, Handsworth, Aston, Small Heathand Highgate. By the early 1970s, almost all of Birmingham's back-to-back houses had been demolished. The occupants were rehoused in new council houses and flats, some in redeveloped inner-city areas, while the majority moved to new housing estatessuch as Castle Valeand Chelmsley .

By the end of the 18th century, the land where the houses are now located was owned by several families. The Inge family, after whom Inge Street is named, owned the land on the west side of the street whilst the Gooch family owned the land to the east side, where the back to backs were built. The plot of land was 50 yards long and 20 yards wide.

In 1789, Sir Thomas Gooch leased the land to John Willmore, a local toymaker. It was agreed that within a year, Willmore should construct two or more large houses at a total cost, including the outbuildings, of no less than £700. Willmore failed to do this and Court 15, as well as Court 14 adjacent, were built by his successors who remained on the street throughout the 19th century. When John Willmore died, the land was split between his sons Joseph and John Willmore, leading to both constructions looking different.

Court 14 was completed in 1802 by Joseph Willmore, a silversmith. It consisted of six front and eleven back houses with some workshops on the larger southern end of the building plot. When opened, it was known as Willmore's Court but was later renamed Court 14 Inge Street. It has since been demolished.

At this time, John Willmore, a carpenter and joiner, constructed a house and workshop for himself. By 1809, the undeveloped remainder of the plot consisted of two nailer's workshops and a cooper's workshop with a knacker's yardbehind. The Hurst Street frontage was filled with sheds. By 1821, No. 50 Inge Street/ 1 Court 15 had been converted into a pair of back to backs. No. 52 Inge Street/ 2 Court 15 and No. 54 Inge Street/3 Court 15 were built about 1830. The terrace along Hurst Street was constructed in 1831.

Throughout the 19th century, the court was occupied by workers who worked in such industries as button making, glasswork, woodwork, leatherwork, tailoring and were also skilled craftsmen in the jewellery and small metal trades. Many of such workers worked from home. Over 500 families have lived in Court 15. From the 1830s to the 1930s, the Mitchells, a family of locksmiths and bellhangers, lived in the court. At one time, they were occupying both No. 55 Hurst Street and No. 54 Inge Street/3 Court 15. The family also worked at the workshop in the court for over 70 years.

In 1851, Joseph Barnett, a travelling Jeweller, lived at number 35 Inge Street, with his wife Hanna, and four children, Samuel, Eli Louis, Rebecca and Henry.

Other people who lived there highlight the crowded conditions of the houses, which were usually occupied by single families. In 1851, for example Sophia Hudson, a widow who worked as a pearl button driller, probably from home, lived at No. 1 Court 15 with her five children and her mother who also a widow. In 1861, Herbert Oldfield, a glass eye maker, occupied the same address with his wife and their eight children. At the same time, the Mitchell family had an apprentice who lived with them. Despite the cramped conditions, some families, such as the one who occupied 61 Hurst Street in 1851, were able to afford a servant.

By 1900, the ground floors had been converted into shops. Services offered from the buildings were a cycle maker, a hairdresser, a ticket writer, a fruiterer and a furniture dealer. The upper floors of No. 55 and No. 59 Hurst Street, the cycle maker's and the ticket writer's properties respectively, were converted into workshops as opposed to residential.

Most of the buildings remained in residential use up until 1966 when they were declared as unfit for living in. This resulted in those living in the buildings being required to leave.

So next year look out for the Heritage Open Weekend, it won’t cost you a bean but you may have to pay for your tea/coffee and cake.

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