The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

The grade II-listed Rotunda, Birmingham (photo: © Staying Cool)
Penthouse at the Rotunda, Birmingham (photo: © Staying Cool)
Tower Block, Nechells, Birmingham (photo: Roxie Collins)
Tower Block, Nechells, Birmingham (photo: Roxie Collins)

West Midlands

Updated events programme autumn 2015

We’re taking a high level approach to Heritage Week in September and looking at some of the tallest buildings in the West Midlands. For those who prefer to stay closer to the ground, there’s a chance to see inside a private house designed by celebrated Birmingham architect John Madin.

In October we are heading to Shropshire, for a tour of Ironbridge Power Station and the 50-year-old “new” town of Telford. The power station, famous for its four pink concrete cooling towers, is due to close by the end of the year and this could be the last chance to see inside.

Tower Blocks – Our Blocks!

Talk – Friday 11 September 2015

Venue: Library of Birmingham, Room 104, Floor 1

Duration: approx 2.5 hours

As part of inaugural Birmingham Heritage Week, Professor Miles Glendinning (University of Edinburgh, co-author of Tower Block: Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and Paul Quigley (Wolverhampton Art Gallery, coordinator of the recent Block Capital heritage programme) will share contexts of international high rise living; insights from tower block residents, and experiences of engaging communities with post-war architectural heritage.

Chaired by the West Midlands Region C20 Society, this talk will provide an overview of the UK-wide three-year Heritage Lottery funded programme ‘Tower Blocks – Our Blocks!’ led by Glendinning. Described as a “Domesday Book” of the UK’s post-war reconstruction, the project will gather images of every single multi-storey public housing project ever constructed in Britain, including ones destroyed more than 30 years ago, digitising 3,500 images taken in the 1980s and making them fully searchable as part of the Tower Block Slide Archive.

To book a place, visit:

More information about Heritage Week is here:

Celebrate 50 years with the Rotunda

Talk and Tours – Sunday 13 September (repeated at 2pm, 4.30pm, 7pm)

Duration: approx. 1.5 hours

Staying Cool invite you to celebrate one of Birmingham’s most iconic landmarks turning 50! Take a tour and see how this Grade II-listed building has transformed from premium offices to unique apartments; find out why this building was important nationally, and learn about its conservation and refurbishment while taking in the amazing city skyline.

This event is part of the Heritage Open Day weekend and the inaugural Birmingham Heritage Week, taking place from 10–17 September.

To book a place, visit:

See also: and or contact a member of the Staying Cool team on: 0121 285 1290.

Open House 2015

Mary Keating is opening her John Madin-designed house in Estria Road, Edgbaston to visitors on the weekend of 11-13 September as part of Heritage week.

You can book your visit at:

A Madin slide show will be running during opening hours and Central Library campaigner Alan Clawley’s Madin monograph will be on sale.

Two hours of power and a new town tour

Saturday 3 October, 10am-6pm

Fifty years ago, the new town of Telford rose from the East Shropshire coalfields, transforming a landscape of small villages, derelict mines and declining industry. Our one-day tour will look at how the town has developed, taking in residential, commercial and industrial areas and exploring how a green city has grown around established older settlements.

Built while the new town was still in the planning, Ironbridge Power Station is the second on its River Severn site. Project architect Alan Clark worked with landscape architect Kenneth Booth to create a modern structure fully in sympathy with its historic and scenic setting. Fully commissioned in 1969, it will close by the end of the year due to restrictions on coal-fired power generation.

The Telford tour starts at 10am from Telford Central Station. A coach will take us by the scenic route to Ironbridge Power Station for a two hour visit, followed by lunch (included in ticket price) in Coalbrookdale.

Next stop is Sutton Hill for a short walk around the original Rayburn council housing, then on via Halesfield industrial estate to the town centre and library/Town Park.

Then (tbc) either a visit to the library for a talk on the development of the new town and the buildings/derelict pitscape it replaced, or a visit to the 1980s private development at Priorslee, before returning to the station by 17.30pm

Former Telford planner Martin White and C20 West Midlands member Lou Robson will provide commentary and notes.

Bookings via C20 website. Cost members £30; non-members £35.