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Grand Hotel Colmore Row

Phil

Gone, but not forgotten.
The Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel on Colmore Row was opened in 1875 as far as I understand it was built for Isaac Horton who later formed the company which is now Horton Estates and was designed by Thomson Plevins . In 1893 additions were made in Barwick St and Church St by Martin & Chamberlain and again later in Barwick St and Livery St by Henman & Cooper in 1900.

Included in these additions was The Construction of a ballroom The Grosvenor room and in 1895 was described as 100 ft long by 32 ft high decorated in the style of Louis XIV including decorative plasterwork, giant Corinthian pilasters and elegant cartouches. The interior was only made possible by the inclusion of steelwork in the ceilings with the possibility of this being the first ever use of steelwork for this purpose.

The early works to the hotel those designed by Martin & Chamberlain (including the Grosvenor Room) were carried out by a local prominent firm of builders John Barnsley & Sons who had been responsible for the building of other major buildings in Birmingham such as the Council House, the Art Gallery and The Children’s Hospital among others.

The hotel has seen some very important guests and visitors to Birmingham throughout its years but like other hotels of its kind in Birmingham it began to fall into a decline during the sixties and seventies finally closing its doors as a hotel in 2002. The frontage on Colmore Row is still occupied by shops but most of the rest of the hotel remains unoccupied. Horton Estates applied to demolish the building but at the last moment were stopped by the Birmingham Victorian Society who managed to obtain a Grade II* listing for the building after a first refusal.

Photos

1. A postcard view of the of the hotel across St Phillips Churchyard Colmore Row

2. The entrance doorway

3. An interior staircase

4. A Withdrawing room for the Grosvenor Ballroom (fromPevsner)

5. The Grosvenor Ballroom.

City Colmore Row Grand Hotel.jpg

City Colmore Row Grand Hotel entrance  (3).jpg City Colmore Row Grand Hotel Staircase.jpg City Colmore Row Grand Hotel Withdrawing Room.jpg City Colmore Row  Grand Hotel Grosvenor Room.png

 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
The Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel on Colmore Row was opened in 1875 as far as I understand it was built for Isaac Horton who later formed the company which is now Horton Estates and was designed by Thomson Plevins . In 1893 additions were made in Barwick St and Church St by Martin & Chamberlain and again later in Barwick St and Livery St by Henman & Cooper in 1900.

Included in these additions was The Construction of a ballroom The Grosvenor room and in 1895 was described as 100 ft long by 32 ft high decorated in the style of Louis XIV including decorative plasterwork, giant Corinthian pilasters and elegant cartouches. The interior was only made possible by the inclusion of steelwork in the ceilings with the possibility of this being the first ever use of steelwork for this purpose.

The early works to the hotel those designed by Martin & Chamberlain (including the Grosvenor Room) were carried out by a local prominent firm of builders John Barnsley & Sons who had been responsible for the building of other major buildings in Birmingham such as the Council House, the Art Gallery and The Children’s Hospital among others.

The hotel has seen some very important guests and visitors to Birmingham throughout its years but like other hotels of its kind in Birmingham it began to fall into a decline during the sixties and seventies finally closing its doors as a hotel in 2002. The frontage on Colmore Row is still occupied by shops but most of the rest of the hotel remains unoccupied. Horton Estates applied to demolish the building but at the last moment were stopped by the Birmingham Victorian Society who managed to obtain a Grade II* listing for the building after a first refusal.

Photos

1. A postcard view of the of the hotel across St Phillips Churchyard Colmore Row

2. The entrance doorway

3. An interior staircase

4. A Withdrawing room for the Grosvenor Ballroom (fromPevsner)

5. The hotel frontage with the later addition of shops and the ill advised painting to the stonework
We have a lot to thank the Victorian Society for, this is a building worthy of recognition. In the early 1990s I was responsible for organising a national conference at the Grand. The reason it was chosen as the venue was its ability to accommodate large events and the Grosvenor Room in particular was ideal for large plenary sessions. It was then still very striking, albeit a bit faded at the edges. I remember it being very ornate and many features were designed on a large scale such as the doors etc. We had a large number of syndicate groups which couldn't all be accommodated in the standard rooms, so we also used the gallery/balcony for these which, I think , ran along only one side of the ballroom (although could be wrong on that point). In its day it must have witnessed some very important functions, so sad to hear it's no longer open. Phil's postcard image 1 is interesting because you get a very clear sense of the scale of the place. Viv.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
i agree viv..its a wonderful building..i didnt realise it was no longer in use...what a waste but hopefully it will soon spring back to life...thank you phil for the great pics and all the info on it...

lyn
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
Hi Lyn. Actually, I'm assuming it's not in use as I believe it's been under scaffolding for quite a while. It was mentioned under the "Colmore Row" thread. It's a pity it's no longer a hotel as this one must have a lot of history given its proximity to the old Snow Hill Station. But at least the building's still there ...... Viv :)
 

Phil

Gone, but not forgotten.
As far as I am aware no part of the hotel remains open and only the shops along the frontage are in use. I could however be wrong so if anyone knows better please say.

Phil
 

Big Gee

master brummie
If it's got a preservation order on it, and scaffolding around it, does anyone know what's intended for it? Will it be a hotel again, or "luxury city-centre apartments", or what?

I once had a (very nice and rather posh) girl-friend who insisted on meeting at the Grand Hotel. There was a swish bar inside the hotel, and also a seperate bar with its entrance down the side-street (Newhall St, I think). Was this called The Backyard Bar? Anyone remember it?

They used to have boxing tournaments there, too. My wife's boss regularly attended.

Big Gee
 

Phil

Gone, but not forgotten.
Big Gee

I think the short answer is nobody knows, I don't believe the scaffold is for any works that are planned I think it is more along the idea of protecting the public from falling masonry. I still think Horton Estates would prefer to demolish as the estimated costs for renovation are quite scary. Though I believe they have been offered some assistance from English Heritage.

Phil
 

Big Gee

master brummie
Phil,

Falling masonry? Has it deteriorated that much in 9 years?

Top marks to the Birmingham Victorian Society and English Heritage. Too many great old Brum buildings got zapped in the 1960's, and I'd hate to see a repeat of what was wanton, official vandalism.

Big Gee
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
phil i can just imagine all those fine victorian ladies and gents walking in and out of the grand...lets hope something is done with it...
 

Big Gee

master brummie
Lyn,

and what about a long-haired hippie-type meeting their snooty girl-friend there in 1967? Not my kind of place at all in those days, but it made a lasting impression on my memory, and I do sincerely hope something worthwhile is done with it.

Big Gee
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
ahhh peace to the world big gee lol....yes i also hope something can be done....we have lost enough fine buildings as it is...

lyn
 

sistersue61

master brummie
Used to meet in the Grand to be posh before hitting the town in the early 80s, was very expensive though!!
Mom thinks the scaffolding went up when one of the storms caused a piece of masonry to fall, so as a safety thing.
Hope it can be renovated and re-used, its a lovely building
Sue
 

Big Gee

master brummie
The last time I was in The Grand was about 1985 when I entertained a customer who was staying there. He was with British Steel Sheffield, and really only a kind of senior technician, but his expense-account meant he could stay at places like The Grand. Instead of eating there, he wanted a curry! But we did end up in the bar at The Grand for a last couple of drinkies - and you're right, SisterSue, it was expensive!

Big Gee
 

Rupert

master brummie
The buildings to the left of The Grand sit on what was the old Priory fish pond in ancient times. Right there along side of, what would be Colmore Row. It's hard to visualize that area without the Grand across from St Phillips but it can't just stand there abandoned with scaffold around it can it? If it is going to be replaced it would be nice if building keynotes hark back to the Grands days but suspect that a new building will be very much taller. My recalled visual memory is fixed at a time when the old Snow Hill Station was still there. If it were refurbished; what function could it serve that would be financially viable. I was never inside the Grand and suspect that most on here were not either. The reasons for it being there and it's upper class clientele are probably long gone now. All along there would make very desirable high class residential accomodation IMO. Central to pretty much everything and in this guise a comfortable fit might be crafted perhaps.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
hi rupert....well i do agree with you about the grand maybe turning itself into residential accomodation...much nicer than most of the buildings that are being built these days for this purpose...

fingers crossed...

lyn
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
The basement of the Hotel has had a variety of uses over time. As well as the usual wine cellars and stock rooms it's housed a billiards room, a hairdressing salon and, in more recent times been home to the oldest press club in the world, the Birmingham Press Club. Viv.
 
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