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Central Hall Corporation Street


Gone, but not forgotten.
The Methodist Central Hall Corporation St built 1900-1903 to replace the first one built in 1887 that was built to replace the one in Cherry St. The Ewen Harper & J. Alfred Harper building was built to hold 2000 people with over 30 other rooms and 3 school halls.

It cost £96.165 to build and was thought to form the perfect complement for the Victoria Law Courts opposite. The terracotta for the building was supplied by Gibbs andC anning Limited of Tamworth.

As with a lot of church buildings I suppose falling numbers led to a lack of finance and interest in the building and in 1991 the first of several nightclubs took over the church building. The building has been allowed to deteriorate over recent years and is now classed as an at risk building.

Several planning application from offices to apartments have been submitted but all have been thrown out because of the damage that would be done to the interior of this Grade II listed building. I think the latest news concerning the building is that it is up for sale by auction this month though I don’t remember where I read that particular piece of information.


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Thank you for posting this information and the photos Phil, I have always loved the look of the Hall but had no idea what it was used for or what was inside it. I love the Court building too and have been fortunate enough to have had a guided tour around the inside of it.
When I looked at the spire? at the Central Hall yesterday my first thoughts were that Tarzan had move from the jungle to Brum and he had brought a few vines with him https://www.flickr.com/photos/dofartshavelumps/9114814039/

This is a closer view https://www.flickr.com/photos/dofartshavelumps/9117040430/
I would think that all that greenery cannot be doing the brickwork much good and I assume the the stuff growing there has got a purchase from the seagull/pigeon S**t that must be up there? just a thought the next time you pass have a look a the slime? on the ground floor on this photo
My goodness that is awful especially as it's in the city centre. I hope something is done before the damage is not reparable. I am still amazed by it. There is a lovely church in the center of Newtown, Mid Wales that has a constant battle with plants and trees growing in the spire. It's nowhere near as bad as this though as they do clear it. I hope it gets sorted out soon!!
Never seen such a variety before - usually just the ubiquitous Buddleia but it looks like this has been joined by Elderflower and some others. The pointing looks as if it is open to any seeds getting a foothold. The damage will be horrendous if not sorted soon.
right bernard whom owns the property council or what if its the council for get it we have huge cut backs with job losses
if its private inform them ; oh just relized we cannot tell them can we it private ;
if my memor serves me correct when i was on a committe we was told its only council properyys we can only do with
from edgbaston through to aston ;
but some ne wants to intervene what about the history society of brum ;
as wendy said it a discgrace it needs to be executed now ;
enjoy the rest of your day bernard astonian;
The building is grade 2 listed and I think it is privately owned.
Surely as a grade 2 listed building Birmingham Council could make the owners rectify the problem.
As you say Bernard looks like Elder, it will grow anywhere, such a nuisance shrub.
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Round the other side of the building is a very large advertise hoarding (covering a very large part of the building) I dread to think what horrors that is hiding
That's truly shocking. The guano must be making it even worse, wonderful stuff on the garden, but not up there. Needs must, so something needs to be done, even if it means sending someone up with a truck load of glyphosate. If it isn't tackled soon, another building will bite the dust. Thinking back, this end of Corporation Street always struck me as a bit neglected in the past, bit of a legacy perhaps of being out of the centre of town. Viv.
Never seen such a variety before - usually just the ubiquitous Buddleia but it looks like this has been joined by Elderflower and some others. The pointing looks as if it is open to any seeds getting a foothold. The damage will be horrendous if not sorted soon.
It reminds me of "The Quatermass Experiment" from the black and white TV serial.
I Am inclined to beleive you are correct it does not get much protection as its only grade 2 buildings for previous buildings i have seen and for what i
know of the regulations it does not
but on tis subject of that particular building i am trying to jogg my memory but i think it was at one time forty fifty years back belong to a christian organisation and also i think it was taken over by the salvation army when i do not know but long before my time as a nipper ;or it ws the back side of the building where it was engraved salvation army and a few yards rom there on the very corner was a uniform company and overalls and they eventualy moved across the rd to the brownies and scouts uniform shop right on the corner of steel house lane which i beleived to had been turned into a resturaunt ;then a drinking barr .
but that was years ago ;
best wishes to all Astonian;;
Phil I had no idea the terracotta on the building came from Gibbs and Canning who were in Glascote, Tamworth. They did produce some wonderful terracotta figures as well as guttering chimneys etc. Thanks for the info
I sent a message to a friend of mine here is the reply:

This has been on the VicSoc's list for years. The building was bought by a development firm to convert to apartments, but their proposals are always poor and fail to deal with the hall's central space, other than mothballing it.
No current developments are in place.
It is a shame it couldn't be used as a concert venue.

I think maybe some letters and photo's to the mail might highlight the plight of this building. Just the sort of thing Carl Chinn would have tried to help with. Sadly he has had the wind blown out of his sales at the moment!! How can a magnificent city like ours leave a building like this in such a mess especially so near to the city centre! I am appalled.
Not a new topic, but one worth some renewed and inspired thought by the City Fathers and Planners perhaps.....

Methodism is a movement in the Christian Church that seeks the Kingdom of God through personal discipleship and social justice in the name of Jesus Christ.
The founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, first visited Birmingham in 1738. From that time onwards, Methodism has served the city of Birmingham and its people.

John Wesley, founder of Methodist churches, had acquired freehold land in Cherry Street in 1782 and built a little chapel which he opened on 7 July 1782. One hundred years later, Birmingham Council put a compulsory purchase order on this building, thus providing the means to enable the trustees to build their larger church elsewhere.
The new church could hold one thousand worshippers. It stood in Lower Priory and was called the Central Hall. The Methodist Conference elected a minister, well known for his musical talents, to lead the Birmingham Mission, the Reverend Luke Wiseman. It opened on 8 September 1887. Mission work flourished and within ten years the Hall was having to hire the large room at the Midland Institute for Sunday services as well as providing them at the Hall. Trustees were again faced with finding more space.

The Corporation Scheme to clear the city of some of its worst slums meant that land was now available opposite the law courts. The Reverend Dr F Luke Wiseman had previously opposed plans to build a theatre there. Now he had a new interest in the site. So here was built the Methodist Central Hall at 196-224 Corporation Street. It is a three storey red brick and terracotta Grade II* listed building with a distinctive tower at the northern end of Corporation Street, opposite the Victoria Law Courts, and is fortunately located within the Steelhouse Conservation Area. The terracotta was manufactured by the renowned firm of Gibbs and Canning Limited of Tamworth, which also produced decorative works for 179-203 Corporation Street and the interior of the Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham and the Natural History Museum in London. Its main hall seats 2,000 and it has over thirty other rooms including three school halls. It cost £96,165 to build. The street level has twelve bays of shops (four with their original fronts). The building also runs along Ryder Street and has more original shop fronts. It was built 1903-4 by architects Ewan Harper & James A. Harper.

The new Central Hall thus opened on 16 September 1903. The Methodist Conference had decided some years before that its churches should be beautiful places, especially, its Hall. It did not feel that the gin palaces should be the only places that offered decoration and beauty.

The main worship area of the Hall has ornate columns floor to ceiling. Two stained glass windows are at the back, while at the front is a unique German organ with rows of seats in front for the choir. The room is enormous and very beautiful. It has a narrow corridor on the outside, encircling it on three sides with mosaic walls and floors. Small rooms lead off at right angles to the corridor which were used for all the Hall's various works. The small rooms, a large hall and kitchen facilities were available for hire to help offset the Mission's costs. Mission work was varied, projects grew, projects changed, new ideas came along, increasing needs meant the Mission had to flexible and quick to respond.

Work was not confined to within the city but branched out to areas of Aston, Nechells and Hockley. In the early nineties it also worked in areas of Kingsbury, Kingstanding, Perry Common and Ladywood, and later in Alvechurch, Tysley and Sheldon.

DURING THE VICTORIAN ERA non-conformist churches helped provide much needed aid to the poor, in what seems to have been a two-way relationship offering benefits to all. The church offered food, clothing, shelter and health care and, in return, they received the pooris trust, faith and gratitude which inevitably led to increased attendances at Sunday services, conversions and memberships.

The basement of the Hall is a maze of corridors with doors leading to what are now shops on the frontage. These corridors were open to provide shelter with hot chocolate and toast to the beggars and street sellers. The Hall was open day and night for religious services and prayer groups as well as temperance meetings, Boys' Brigade, Girls' clubs, Mothers' meetings, singing, drama, knitting, sewing, etc. The Mothers' meetings started a savings club and a clothing club. Money saved could go towards medical expenses or food when there was no work. Anyone donating to the clothing club would regularly be given clothes or material to make their own.

Staff at the Hall were also available at night. They were often asked to sit with a dying person and to give words of comfort to the bereaved. Sisters were often asked to be present at the birth of a child. Mision work went on regardless of hours. But with migration of folk to the outskirts of our City, and dwindling Church attendances, it graduallyfell into a spiral of disrepair and neglect. Security at the hall, especially the tower, had to be increased however, after an intoxicated man went to the top of the tower and jumped off subsequently being killed on impact[SUP].[/SUP]
In 1991, the Methodist Church was converted into a nightclub, however, since its closure in 2002, the building has remained empty and fallen into serious disrepair[SUP]. [/SUP]The building has been the subject of proposals to be converted into an office building. The first of such was submitted in 2001, only to be withdrawn. Planning applications to convert the building into apartments have also been rejected by Birmingham City Council on the basis that original internal features will be destroyed. However, the council has since given planning consent to a proposal to convert the building into apartments. It is to be referred to the Local Government Office.
But I note now it is still abandoned and awaits it’s dubious fate once more….fingers crossed....

Central Hall_Birmingham building.jpgCentral Hall interior.jpgCentral Hall entrance.jpg



I have not not long got back from the Meeting Hall, and I am now sorting the Photos of the same, I was not to bad, apart from the fact I had to wait an hour for them to open, if your are not that great on your pins (legs) you may find it painful to get about the place if you are taking photos it is a bit dark in there, here is one shot that I managed to get https://www.flickr.com/photos/dofartshavelumps/27655543351/in/dateposted/

I suspect that if the Victorians were to come back to view the Hall there would be lots of tears, that said it was free (the sort of places I love) and well worth the visit