Behind-the-scenes tour of one of Birmingham’s curviest buildings

Roundhouse Hard Hat tour. Photo credit Jana Eastwood. Low res

AHEAD of next year’s exciting opening of the Roundhouse in Birmingham, a few lucky locals were invited to take a peek behind the scenes at the extensive renovations currently under way on one of the city’s most unusual buildings.

Thanks to £2.5m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Canal & River Trust and National Trust are working in partnership to reinvent this magnificent building, steeped in local history and set to become a base from which to explore Birmingham by water, by foot and by bike.

The ‘Hard Hat tour’ invited local people and businesses on a guided tour of the Roundhouse building as a way to say ‘thank you’ to people who helped to raise money for good causes by buying a National Lottery ticket.

Representatives from the Canal & River Trust and National Trust gave visitors a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the restoration works so they were able to see for themselves how the building is being brought back to life.

Built in 1874 by the Birmingham Corporation, the Grade II* listed Roundhouse is tucked next to the Birmingham Mainline Canal, a short walk from the centre of the City.

Formerly stables for the hard-working horses of the city, which helped the gas lamplighters bring illumination to dark Victorian streets and the night soil men take away all of the waste in the days before sewers, the beautiful landmark boasts an enviable canal-side location just behind Sheepcote Street.

Chris Maher, Roundhouse Birmingham’s Creative Producer, said: “This was a great opportunity for local people living near the Roundhouse to explore the site during our programme of renovations, and be updated on how the works are progressing. We were able to show them the heritage repairs we’re currently doing, such as the work to replace and strengthen the roof, as well as giving us an opportunity to explain what the next stage of the project will be.”

Jo Dimitri, Roundhouse Project Manager, said: “This is an exciting stage in the project where plans for the Roundhouse are really starting to take shape as we get closer to being able to welcome the public into the building. This project – and many others like it – couldn’t happen without people buying lottery tickets, so we wanted to show our appreciation and celebrate how far we’ve come. The Roundhouse is the product of the help, creativity and determination of a wide range of funders, partners and supporters who have shaped and driven our work. We hope it will continue to be a place that local community and the people of Birmingham enjoy and feel proud of. “

Simon Lewis, Investment Manager, England: Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund West Midlands, who also joined one of the tours, said: “It’s fantastic to see that local people are already connecting with the Roundhouse as it really is a special building and one of a kind in Birmingham.

“This restoration is being made possible because of National Lottery players so it’s great that we can thank them for their support and show them how, with their help, we are working to improve their local community.”

The Roundhouse is due to re-open in late spring 2020 and will be an exciting space for the local community and a focal point from which to explore Birmingham’s canals on foot, by bike or even on a kayak.

During the works, The Distillery and terrace area located next to the Roundhouse is open as normal.

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