The Twentieth Century Society

Regional groups

St Peter's Church, Hall Green, Birmingham (photo: Matthew Schofield)

Event: Visit to Birmingham suburbs

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Birmingham is well known for its modernist city centre and its thorough reconstruction in the 1990s and later, but perhaps it is less celebrated for the remarkable concrete and modern glass churches in its suburbs.

The C20 NW Group will explore these on Saturday 20 June 2015, as well as visiting some lesser known Arts and Crafts sites. There will also be a chance to see the Modernist Face exhibition at the Barber Institute for Fine Arts.

Our itinerary includes two important 1960s churches by Richard Gilbert Scott: St Thomas More, Sheldon, and Our Lady Help of Christians, Kitts Green. Gavin Stamp, in the C20 Society’s 100 Buildings 100 Years, described the latter as ‘one of the most successful of modern Roman Catholic churches in England’.

Less well known is St Peter’s, Hall Green (Norman T. Rider, 1964): like a modern French concrete church flown into Birmingham, complete with splendid French dalle de verre glass.

We’ll also stop at Queen’s College, Edgbaston (Holland Hobbiss, 1929-30) and the Barber Institute. The former is an interwar college – Arts and Crafts neo-Georgian, with a pretty ‘early Christian’ style chapel and with humane 1960s additions by John Madin; the latter is a subtle Art Deco art gallery and theatre with a splendid auditorium, which was the architect Robert Atkinson’s masterwork.

Lunch will be at a Grade II-listed roadhouse of 1929, the Black Horse in Northfield, which was built to resemble a Tudor mansion – think Little Moreton Hall. Other local food outlets will also be available.

Our coach leaves Fairfield Street, Manchester (outside Piccadilly rail station) at 9am. We’ll have a pick-up in central Birmingham at about 10.45-11.00, at bus stop DS3 in Digbeth.

For people joining the tour in Birmingham, please meet outside the ticket office at New Street station by 10.20. Aidan Turner-Bishop will then lead you through the centre – a short walk – to Digbeth for the coach stop. If you arrive at Moor Street station, on the Chiltern Railways line from Marylebone, Digbeth is a short walk, past the wacky Selfridges store, to the south. Bus stop DS3 is almost opposite Digbeth coach station.

A Virgin train leaves Euston at 8.43am and it’s due to arrive at New Street at 10.08. We leave before 5pm at the latest and we should be back in Manchester by 7pm. Digbeth joiners will alight in the city centre and be walked back to New Street station. We’re on and off a coach for most of the day, with little walking or climbing steps.

Costs, per place including notes, are £25; £20 if you join at Digbeth (Birmingham).

Please book soon by emailing northwestc20thsociety@hotmail.co.uk. Places are issued on a first come first served basis.

Matthew Schofield

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