The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

West Midlands

Demolition begins on John Madin’s Birmingham Central Library

This week marked what could be the beginning of the end of the long-running campaign to save John Madin’s Birmingham Central Library. At around midday on 14 December, demolition work finally began on the ziggurat, with camera crews there to record the destruction of the first batch of concrete cladding.

As we reported earlier this month the Certificate of Immunity from listing was due to run out in January, and with support from leading architects and the efforts of Mary Keating and the Brutiful Brum campaign, hopes had been raised of a fresh bid to list the library.

Alan Clawley, author of the C20 monograph on John Madin, has been involved in the campaign to save the 1970s Brutalist masterpiece for more than a decade. On Monday he was invited to be interviewed on camera by BBC Midlands Today at the demolition site.

Work was due to get under way at 10am, but there was a delay until the BBC camera crew was ready to record pictures for the lunchtime news. Alan reports that there was “a polite cheer” from some of the spectators when the long-reach concrete breaker eventually got to work on punching into the top floor of the library’s Reference Block.

Alan wouldn’t concede defeat on camera, saying “My impression was that this first act of demolition was a stage-managed media event put on to convince doubters like us to call it a day.”