Belmont Row Blues

7 05 2007

Belmont BeforeBelmont Row was and is not the most popular of streets in Birmingham. It holds very little importance to its name. But it does have history – a history rarely told and little known.

Belmont Row is in the industrial backwaters of city centre Birmingham. Warehouses and workshops are dotted around the place offering little value socially, morally, economically and architecturally. But there is one building that always makes its presence known whether you are travelling to or from Birmingham New Street station towards Curzon Junction on the railway. Just look north and you’ll see an unusual tower poking above the conglomerate of corrugated metal roofed warehouses. Red brick with a strange dark top. That tower is the candle of the building which this posts directs its subject.

The usage of this tower is unknown but it most likely was a ventilation shaft or chimney stack for the building it is attached to. The Belmont Row warehouse is a locally listed council owned building that contrasts itself to the other buildings on the street. With arched windows and detailed arched entrance, it does hold some form of architectural beauty though it just looks out of place.

I, myself, know very little of the building. But I do know that it was built with the sole purpose of being the furniture factory for the Co-op (more recently renamed in a modernising scheme to The Co-operative). It was obviously a factory building, though the Victorian elaboracy does not indicate such, as a result of the engravings and extrusions decorating the entrance archway “Work people and Goods Entrance”.

I can’t find any information on the architect or the year/ date it was built but I suppose it doesn’t matter when you just admire the grandeur of the gables and arched windows.

Belmont AfterWell, maybe I should have changed everything I have just written to present tense because disaster has struck – not once, but twice. The first blow came on January 11th, 2007 when, in a suspected arson attack, 75% of the building was damaged or destroyed by fire. The loss resulted in seven arched windows and one of the two precious gables. The roof collapsed beginning in the area where the workers and goods entrance is. The weather did no favours too and it struck with another blow. Just one week later on January 18th, 2007, high winds which had battered the country for a short while caused the front façade to collapse in on itself due to the lack of structural support the building received soon after the fire was extinguished.

And now, as the building’s site is being cleared to prevent any more damage, it seems it’s life is over. It may seem all too convenient that the building has been destroyed when a major regeneration scheme dubbed as the next Brindleyplace is set to begin this year. Clearance of many buildings has begun and we will see the entire road layout changed. So, we won’t just witness the loss of one building, but an entire roadmap.

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16 responses

7 09 2007
jan

hi, the building will not be destroyed, is protected and forms part of the proposed scheme, so does the old roads layout. regs jan

29 07 2008
Ken Jones

I came to notice this building when heading to the canal for a walk with my wife. The frontage with its ‘Staff Entrance’ at one end, and ‘Workers and Goods’ the other end, gave the “Know your place” message. My ancestors lived in the area, namely Fisher Street which is now under Aston University, and worked mainly in the brass trade and also button, so the thought crossed my mind whether they may have worked there. I am pleased that the frontage will be included in the Eastside Developments, and if it is made into a pub or such, look forward to a pie and a pint there.

3 11 2008
Phil Crowe

I lived at 93 Belmont Row. Born upstairs in 1957, virtually next door to the Co-op building. I think that there was a waste paper factory directly next door. I always remember looking up from the back of the alley and seeing the back of the Co-op building. Thank you for the article, I hope that the building survives. I was about five when they demolished the homes, I wish that there were some surviving photographs…

11 10 2011
dawn thursfield ...nee humpage

i was born at 71 bellmont row in 1950,we lived in the house next to the factory that made glass domes for the road lanterns

25 10 2014
David Blakeman

i was born in 66 Belmont Row. David Blakeman

29 08 2012
stanfrancis

Hi Phil, picked urs out because you actually lived there. My mother lived there, born 1909, died almost 2 years ago at 101 years. I do not know the number of the house she lived at with her family but they did sell newspapers and lamp oil, was there any such shop, house front of style when you lived there and where in the road was that, the family name was CORRALL.

5 09 2009
Angella

I’d love to know if the terracotta was by Gibbs and Canning of Tamworth. It looks a lot like thier handiwork. The date on it says 1899. I saw it today from the cafe in the Think Tank, and went to photograph it before it disappears. Sad.

27 10 2010
Ian

The building forms a key element of the redevelopment of the area called ‘Eastside’ The road configuration will change slightly to accommodate services and pedestrians but links in with the City Park project due to start April 2011. The developer, Goodmans, have safeguarded the building to be used within the redevelopment as well as the old public houses further down the street

16 09 2012
Philip Dickinson

There is something so beguiling about a road that is called A B Row. Whilst walking down there on my iPad courtesy of Mr. Google, what should I stumble upon but this beautiful building. So please, what is the latest? Would the Council be pleased if it just fell over? Is there a real intention of preserving this? While I am upon my high horse, what will happen to the Fox and Grapes? Does that await an arson or is its future, too, assured?

11 07 2014
Tina

I hope this still beautiful building will be preserved. it would be great to see it as a living museum like the back to back Houses on Inge Street. There is a good deal left of the b ricks and finials left to make a start on rebuilding and I think he rest of the bricks can be sourced else where.I replied to your post because I am also passionate about it.

Tina

17 09 2012
stanfrancis

Each time I drive through Brum I try to call at Belmont Row and just sit in my car and imagine what it must have been like in my mothers day. We lose so much in this country of ours, history, heritage whilst we go abroad and view other places with awe, that had the sense to preserve.

17 09 2012
stanfrancis

My old school pal Mike Whitby would have been in charge at Tory controlled Brum Council when this area once called Ash-ted for a reason was passed over for redevelopement-he’s the best one now to contact and ask, will these two last standing buildings be kept or as Phil says we see a torch lit one night from an idiot passing by decides it’s to all go up in flames.

19 01 2013
patrick garland

I remember as a child watching the workers arriving for work we lived opposite at no 13 Belmont Row.

21 12 2014
pmailkeeyMike

Looks to me like the tower – the top half of at least is newer than the building /bottom end. It doesn’t have a ‘chimney’ feel nor does it appear to be right for a goods lift. My best guess is that it’s a support for a large water tank – assuming the slightly fatter top bit is where the tank was. But why – was it so reliant on water they needed a back-up ? And considering the tower height, they obviously needed a bit of water pressure down at the works.
Can’t help but comment on entrance label ‘WORKPEOPLE’ rather than workmen – in 1899 !!

10 02 2015
Pat hatton

I lived at no 93 Belmont Row (Belmont Upholstery) next door to the waste paper factory. It was a three storey building and we shared a small back yard, brew house, and three toilets next to the rubbish bins. Across the road was an old derelict warehouse. Local public house was the Black Horse (licencee Ray Harvey) my best friend was Lynn Harvey but lost touch when we were re-housed. Lynn went to a private school in Ward End and I went to Windsor Street School. I have many happy memories of playing on the bomb peck at the bottom of House Street. When the gypsies camped on there Lynn and I would spy on them! Omg.

Can any remember the cafe on the corner of Belmont Row? Round the corner was a barbers shop, Taylor’s sweet shop, chip shop and a bike shop (Joyners). I think there was also a shop that sold hardware and paraffin etc but afraid my memory’s a little vague about it. Pat Crowe

10 02 2015
stan francis

Rose Corrall lived at no 50, was a house, a shop that sold paraffin oil, also a newsagents. She went to Windsor St schools. Her sister Lillian married Len Hart that lived in a street back of Belmont Row. I believe no 50 was opposite the only house now standing, near canal bridge…b 1909, died 2010 FROM A FALL in one of our wonderful Care Homes that have one thing on their minds and that’s MONEY!!

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