The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

West Midlands

2014 Visits: Astley Castle and Redditch

Our first Scouting visit of 2014 was a guided tour around the Landmark Trust’s Grade II*-listed Astley Castle in North Warwickshire, the recipient of the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2013.

The building is a dramatically realised contemporary restoration, which rather than seeking to restore the ruined castle to its former Saxon glory introduced a bold contemporary reworking of the exterior walls and interior space.

The new accommodation was designed by Witherford Watson Mann and is available to rent. The bad news is that it’s fully booked until the end of 2016!

Redditch, in Worcestershire, was designated a New Town on 10 April 1964. Fifty years later the WM group made its first visit there on a Friday afternoon to see what the place had to offer.

Alan Clawley, our resident John Madin expert and champion led us around the Madin-designed Library. The building was opened in 1976 – an event that’s noted on the fantastic red graphic commemorative plaque (see above). It is faring quite well, with not too many later additions, though we did note concrete interior walls that had been painted over, as were some of the coffered ceiling blocks.

To our great surprise (because they were not listed in Pevsner, which was our guide to Redditch) we discovered that Eduardo Paolozzi had designed a series of large, colourful mosaics for the shopping centre in the 1980s.

We ended our afternoon with a coffee in the Stranz Square coffee house, in front of the Civic Hall. It almost felt as though we were relaxing in some continental European civic square!

Anna Douglas