Saturday, March 24, 2012

Endangered Birmingham chapel is awarded £375k from English Heritage

English Heritage has this week announced the awarding of £375,000 toward the restoration and making safe of the historically important Handsworth Cemetery Chapel. Together with £325,000 from the Local Improvement Schemes Phase 1, from Birmingham City Council, this means work will begin in June/July.

Handsworth Cemetery Chapel is one of the few buildings in Britain that is statutory listed grade I – putting it on a par for architecturally importance as Buckingham Palace or Birmingham’s Town Hall. Only 2.5% of Britain’s statutory listed buildings are given the grade I status.

At the moment, one of its two bell towers is in danger of completely collapsing and over the last two years, large pieces of stonework have fallen off it. As a result it is presently covered in scaffolding and the Council were coming to the point of having to make the difficult decision of completely removing the bell tower or restoring it. Cost of restoration being £700k.

Handsworth Cemetery Chapel is presently on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk register and these works will allow it to be removed from that register.

I attach photos showing the bell tower covered in scaffolding.

The building is grade I listed mainly because of the international importance of its architect: William Henry Bidlake (1861 – 1938); better known as WH Bidlake.

WH Bidlake lived most of his life in Sutton Coldfield and during his time was known as the “Man who Rebuilt Birmingham”. He is regarded as the city’s leading Arts and Crafts architect, his work securing national and international recognition. Indeed, nearly all his buildings have some form of statutory listing protecting.

His best known works are

St Oswald's Church, Small Heath, Birmingham (1892-9) Grade II*

Moseley School of Art, Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham (1899) Grade II*

Woodgate, 37 Hartopp Road, Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield (1900) - built for himself Grade II

Garth House, 47 Edgbaston Park Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham (1901) Grade II*

St Agatha's Church, Stratford Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham (1901) Grade I

Bishop Latimer Church, Winson Green, Birmingham

100 Sampson Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham (St Agatha's Vicarage) (1901) Grade II*

The Hurst, 6 Amesbury Road, Moseley, Birmingham, Grade II

St Andrew's Church, Oxhill Road, Handsworth, Birmingham (1907-9) Grade I

Emmanuel Church, Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield (1909) Grade C

Sparkhill United Church, Stratford Road, Birmingham (1932-3) Grade II

Many of the features used for Handsworth Cemetery Chapel were taken from a design that WH Bidlake unsuccessfully submitted for Winnipeg Cathedral, USA





At 10:33 PM, Blogger Lixy said...

This is wonderful news!
We see the mortuary chapel every day as we live in the gatekeepers lodge in the cemetary that I believe is also built by Bidlake. It is exciting to see that restoration has begun as we have not been able to view inside due to the unsafe nature of the building. It is spectacular to see from all viewpoints in the cemetary and it was sad to see it deteriorating into a state of disrepair. It is nice to know that other people care about ittoo. Do you know if it will be open to the public after restoration is complete? I would love to hear the bells ringing out over the cemetary one day.


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