The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

The old Birmingham Central Library, architect John Madin
Tibor Reich House, with original Tibor fabric (photo: Anna Douglas)
Housing at Bilston, part of Otto Neurath's vision for post-war modern living (photo: Anna Douglas)
Margaret Adler’s West Point house embroideries: The Strand House

West Midlands

Winter/spring 2015 events round-up

Our New Year events programme commenced on 31 January with the wake for John Madin’s ‘old’ Birmingham Central Library, expertly organized by Alan Clawley.

8 February
The first of our 2015 Scouting trips (freestyle social visits, no formal notes, just a guide with a Pevsner in their hand. Oh and a good pub lunch!) was to Stratford-upon-Avon. We were very ably guided by Judith Hurst, with Anna Douglas setting up a detailed tour of the theatre, led by two of the theatre’s expert guides.

After a good Dirty Duck pub lunch, we promenaded in the cold winter air to see the outside of the Shakespeare Centre (1964, Laurence Williams), headquarters of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Then it was on to the home of Tibor Reich, which is currently being restored by his grandson.

Hanging around (being nosey) proved fruitful, as Reich’s grandson, undertaking a bit of DIY indoors and curious as to who this group of 15 standing near the drive straining for a better view were, took pity on us and showed us around the exterior. Those still with some bare-faced cheek went on to sneak a peek over another hedge or two, glimpsing a rather good deco-ish brick detached house close by.

We’re looking forward to going back in the winter or spring of 2016 to see inside both the Shakespeare Centre (still with its original fittings including cutlery) and the Reich house, freshly restored.

29 April
A visit to Bilston Craft Gallery to see the excellent Bilston’s Happy Housing: Otto Neurath’s vision for post-war modern living. See here for more information.

We had an informative talk by the curators of this beautifully designed show: who would have known that Bilston could have been the centre of not only a happy housing experiment, but a leading centre for typographic innovation. (What could have been, eh!)

A stroll around the housing estate, which though mostly still standing is to a large degree almost beyond recognition from the original workers’ estate-style cottages and Austrian styled modernistic looking homes, bar one street (see photo). Though the town centre was dead at night, some of us did find a very good curry house.

West Point 55 – a six-month programme of artist residencies, public engagement and oral history responding to this award-winning 1960s private developer estate in Allesley Village, just outside of Coventry, curated by our C20 WM Chair Anna Douglas. See

Anna Douglas