• Welcome to this forum . We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

Birmingham Institute Of Art & Design (biad) Gosta Green


master brummie
[Photos added at the bottom!]

Hello all, it has been a while since I have been here, but after a few hours of searching on the net I have come up with less than 4 lines of sketchy history of the Gosta Green Art & Design University that was once owned by BCU (UCE) but now owned by Aston Uni. I have done a brief look on the forum but can't find anything obvious, although if I have missed a thread, please point me in the right direction.

I have history about how Birmingham City Uni was founded, but nothing telling me when building started on the Gosta Green faculty. Looking on the net it would suggest the early 70's but this could also be when Birmingham Polytechnic was founded?

If anyone has any information, it would be extremely helpful. I am ashamed a bit because I actually studied there from 2002 - 2005 but then again I had more interest in getting pissed and having fun than researching the buildings history!! :tongue:

A Sparks

master brummie
I don't know anything about the history of Gosta Green except it must have opened in the 60's at least as I applied to do an art course there in 1967, the year I left school. There was no such thing as a degree in Art in those days, it was just some sort of general higher level qualification.


master brummie
Sorry A Sparks but around the early sixties there was an art degree equivalent, the Diploma in Art an Design (DipAD) which could be converted to and became a BA in the late sixties. In the early sixties as I remember, Fine Art and some Graphics were at Margaret Street. The main Graphics, and industrial Design were at Gosta Green. Other departments, fashion, jewelry, etc., we're spread around the city. As a student of Fine Art at the time, I am not sure of the details. After 1967 I had moved to Goldsmiths in London to study a post graduate degree. Before, studying for a degree in art in the sixties you woul study on a Pre-Dip course (now called Foundation) for a year at Cotteridge and a place in the centre of town I have forgotten, perhaps around Kent Street. The College of Art probably came under the administration of Aston University at the time the College of Advanced Technology at Gosta Green became Aston University (the word uni wasn't used in those days). Sorry some of this is a bit vague but it was a bit of a time ago and being a student of Fine Art at Margaret Street I rarely went to Gosta Green. Margaret Street had its own administration at the time.

A Sparks

master brummie
Thanks Michael that's interesting, I couldn't remember the name the Art qualification.
It was the Foundation course I applied for but didn't get on, probably for the best as I had no idea what I wanted to do afterwards! I got a job at 16 instead.


master brummie
I got a couple of jobs first and started Predip when I was 23. I am glad I did as if I had gone straight from school DipAD hadn't been developed. Before it started in 1963 the qualification was the Intermediate (the Intermediate Certificate in Art and Craft, thr precursor of PreDip or Foundation) for two years, followed by a two year diploma NDD (the National Diploma in Design)


gone but not forgotten
As I recall the Gosta Green building first opened in September 1964 though not all departments used the building immediately. Fine Art remained at Margaret Street and Industrial Design, both NDD and DipAD years, was based over the Peggy Goss(?) shop opposite the TGWU building in Broad Street for the first term as were other faculties around that time.

Ceramics were annexed at Station Road School in Harborne, Interior Design (or as some wag at the time described it Inferior Design were also camped out in Broad Street, Photography was in Dorrington Road, Graphics at Moseley Road? etc.

Art history was in a building overlooking the Post Office tower next to the canal in Summer Row which was also an annex to Margaret Street. It had access to the roof for sleeping in the sun after a lunchtime at the Woodman.

We (the first DipAD Industrial Design and the earlier NDD years) moved into GG in January 1965 taking up residence on the second floor along with Interior Design and with the Architects above us.

Downstairs were the sewing machine drivers (Fashion and textile) and Graphics Design and the Student Common room where I could sleep after early morning stints at Markets.

Ground floor housed the offices and student's canteen where I first met my other half (a SMD) of 49 years!

Mr Node was the caretaker and subject to cruel wit by many.

Down in the bowels were Painting and Decorating, where I resprayed my Vespa GS and later bits of the Ford Popular used each Thursday to shift the Shoop Shoop gear.

During 1965 the Student's Union building was completed and the car park surfaced. Why do remember this rubbish!

By the summer of 1967 (think Procul Harum Whiter shade of Pale and the Beach Boys Good Vibrations) the fun was over and I emerged a partly fledged Product Designer

Dip AD (failed History of Art)

Halcyon days!


master brummie
A great memory Speedwing. The roof of the Summer Row building was great as you could walk across it an drop through the roof into an empty house there. On our first year of fine art we we sent on a day a week fo about six weeks to the painting and decorating school. A great time and helped me a lot in my arty painting but more so in later life with DIY.
One of the few times when I went to Gosta Green: my friends an I ran a film society in the Summer Row building. We ran at a loss, showing mostly French and Italian films. One week, however, we were showing Oni Baba, a Japanese film. By amazing luck, the weekend before there was an article in the Sunday papers about the Birmingham Watch Committee banning the film in local cinemas as it was considered very rude. So we made copies of the article and incorporated it into posters which we distributed around Gosta Green. When we showed the film we were packed out and could hardly get people in; we covered all our losses. By the way, I passed Art History


gone but not forgotten
Wasn't that the one with two mad women hacking Samuri soldiers up, edgy, all black and moody. Went on a lot with not much said. Not my cup of tea.

I recall the Sculpturists were also ensconced upstairs in Summer Row and possessed useful Acetylene and Oxygen gas cylinders and welding tackle on the top but one floor.

This being way before 'elf 'n safety but very useful for my newly acquired skills of Ford Popular chassis reconstruction followed later by Standard Eight passenger door reconstitution a couple of my earlier oeuvres, or in today's speak installations what I made.

I was later offered an opportunity of another go at obtaining the full ticket but by then even DipAD was on the way out in favour of a BA. In the end I missed the cut off date.


master brummie
That's the film. We did a lot of experimental work in Summer Row and I did a fair bit of welding on PreDip but I concentrated on painting at Margaret Street and Goldsmiths. I kept my DipAD as I thought it would become a sort of rare qualification representative of the sixties. Luckily I could afford to do it as I am ashamed to say that by the time of the cut off I had got another BA hons in maths and philosophy.


gone but not forgotten
You said earlier Kent Street as a maybe.

That is just off (and still is) the Horsefair/Wrentham Street part of town but nothing rings a bell for me down there, not educationwise anyhow, Pornophone was on a nearby corner which was however educational filmwise.

I recall going to the old Technical College in Suffolk Street to bone up on Maths A level to satisfy entry criteria for Margaret Street/Gosta Green, Industrial Design then resident in Margaret Street headed by Bauhaus original Naum Slutsky who gave me a place.

Perhaps instead Gem Street where the Jewellers were located temporarily which also did pre-dip type "tasters".

Nearby of course was Kyrle Hall where we ran live gigs for the Gosta Green arties on Thursday evenings in '65. Lol Creme, Graphicer and later of 10cc, made nice Rapidograph droolings for the posters.

Simple times....


master brummie
PreDip in 1964 was based in two old schools were based at one but spent time at each. Cotteridge, my main base, for 2D work and somewhere in town, the one I can't remember where, for 3D work.


master brummie
[Picture update, thanks to all the replies]

In 2002 I left college to persue a degree in Photography. I studied for 3 years at Birmingham’s Institute of Art & Design (part of the University of Central England at the time) at the Gosta Green campus, graduating in 2005. They were some of the best years of my life (mainly because of the endless parties and drunkenness and having to do your hobby as a degree!!).

The building itself was built in the 1960’s and was formed as part of Birmingham’s Polytechnic. It was the largest Art & Design faculty outside of London.

In 1992 the name changed to University of Central England and then in 2007 it changed to Birmingham City University.

BIAD has now (September 2013) moved to a brand new multi-million pound art & design campus next to Millennium Point less than a mile away. The old Gosta Green campus was bought by Aston University, which is located next door to the old campus.

The images below show the building in various states of decommissioning. Pictures are taken between the months of June & July 2013.

Considering the size of this building there are lots of images (just over 100), but more can be found here, https://flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/0W7X5p/

The Exterior…









9. The link between the art faculty and the Theoretical Studies dept. (Day dreaming land)




13. Aston Uni (The tall brick buildings) in the background, Aston Uni has bought the site…

14. Removal vans...

Interior (With some before and after shots) Not quite sure where to start, so I will break the first lot up into colours as on the Visual Communications side they divided up the floors into colours.


16. My old course


18. Looking right before the end, you see the theatre design room, this room was always red hot!! (Before & after photo)



master brummie
20. Back towards the ‘yellow floor’…

21. The first (traditional) photography wise thing you come to is the dark room on the left. When I studied here, there was still a colour dark room on the opposite side of the corridor (now gone). If you have ever exposed paper in a colour cubicle room, you will really appreciate how blind people live (as colour paper is sensitive to all light, including red light).



24. This is the small corridor into the photography staff office where you would go to have a win wag with the tutors…

25. The office (in the new building, all staff have been brought into one big staff room, no pictures allowed on the walls, and apparently, no students allowed in to talk to them)…


27. Now further down the main corridor, on your left is the special effects Green Room. (This used to be a video editing suite where I did one of my final projects… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtcXu4aqse0 ) And on the right is the photography studio.

28. The Green Room…


30. The Photography Studio (taken over various trips)…




34. The technician’s room…

35. Photographic storerooms…






41. Computer/research room.

42. The tutors (and security) of yesteryear…

43. To finish off the yellow floor, here is the faculty office…


master brummie
The Grey Floor (Ground floor)

The grey floor was mainly used for Graphic Design, Screen/Print works and Ceramics. The G/D rooms were all empty so no pics of them.

The print workshop…









52. Storage boxes ready for the move…

53. The ceramics room…


55. Moving on up to the Red Floor which is mainly offices and work rooms…


56. Now up to the Green Floor, which is a little more interesting…

57. The (small) lecture theatre…


There was a Blue Floor but it is again only offices and not very interesting

This completes the Visual Communications side of the building.


master brummie
Now we move over to the other side of the complex towards the Interior Design, Fashion, Textiles, Architecture etc & not forgetting (although trying hard to), the Art History Theoretical Studies department.

So lets start with the woodwork room on the ground floor.









Going up one level, we cross the corridors towards the student advice/support offices…





71. Now we move on to the Textiles rooms, an area I wasn’t aware of before taking these photographs. Including a before and after shot at the end.


73. Love this!





On to the Fashion floor, again with a before and after shot at the end.







master brummie
Remember I said and not forgetting Art History Theoretical Studies department? Well I forgot to add it! So will put it in here before we move to the top floor and round to the Library.

83. Theoretical Studies was where you went to sleep….err…I mean learn…

84. The (Big) lecture theatre…


Now that’s done with, back up to the top floor with Architecture etc…

86. Up we go…

87. Looking back down…




91. Now we move through the staff offices towards the Library…


93. Empty boxes…

94. The Library…

95. The old UCE logo before they changed over to BCU.

96. Left over from the final show in June.





Now we move down one floor to our final place, a small room, another that I didn’t know about. A place that people came to prey away from the distractions of Student life.




So that’s it, a Derelict-UK’s guide to BIAD, I hope you enjoyed it and it wasn’t too long!!

Tim Martin

New Member
Great photos - brings much back - I was a Three Dimensional Design / Industrial Design Student at Gosta Green from 1975-1979. The double height space that was originally designed as a working theatre design stage room was our first year space. I got involved in student politics especially in the second year and the occupation against the introduction of discriminatory fees for overseas students - Brum Poly was one of 48 colleges who went into occupation against this Labour policy proposal - Shirley Williams as education minister ... the thin end of the wedge that became fees for all ... In the process I got elected to the Sabbatical Vice President of BPSU for Gosta Green which was an education in itself ...
Ken Wiltshire was head of Industrial Design School, Maurice Juggins led the Postgraduate MA and Pete Durden was the quietly charismatic third year tutor who inspired many of us to dig a little deeper into the issues at hand ... John the Librarian was helpful even long after I had left ...

I want to shout out for some of the staff of the Art History and Complementary Studies team - first at Summer Row and then in the Portakabins down the back by the canal. Alan Crawford - of Victorian Society and Design History Society fame and Charles Crawford, who invited me back from the RCA to do a seminar with his students - my first attempt at teaching which must have sown a seed that germinated ...

There is a very evocative audio interview with Alan Crawford about his experience of teaching Art History and Complementary Studies to generations of us students ... I'll try to come back with link
https://www.vivavoices.org/website.asp?page=Crawford Track 1
Last edited: