The Birmingham & West Midlands Group of the Victorian Society has announced its eighth annual conservation award which goes to Birmingham City University, in recognition of the City University’s exemplary restoration of the Eccles Works as part of the STEAMhouse development.
The Victorian building was seriously damaged by fire in 2007 and appeared on the Victorian Society’s regional watchlist of endangered buildings for a number of years. The industrial building was erected in 1899 as a 'Manufactory' for the Eccles Rubber & Cycle Company. The distinctive terracotta façade, and all the elements of the frontage, have been reinstated following the fire. Terracotta is one of the most distinctive building materials of the city. The prolific Birmingham-based architect who designed the locally listed Grade A building was Frederick W. Lloyd who was also responsible for the Guildhall Buildings in Navigation Street and Stephenson Street (1899). Aukett Swanke were the architects for the former factory’s restoration to become part of the STEAMhouse complex which houses a multi-disciplinary community of entrepreneurs, businesses, academic researchers and students.
The Conservation Award, sponsored by Hortons’ Estate Limited, recognises an outstanding renovation or conservation project on a building that dates (or has had substantial alteration/additions) from between 1837-1914, within the geographical remit of the Birmingham & West Midlands Group of the Victorian Society. The winner was announced, at the West Midlands group's AGM, on Saturday 11th February 2023. An illuminated certificate and a 19” bronze disc recording the name of the winner and the year, for display, on or in the building, will be presented later.
Stephen Hartland, Chairman of the Birmingham & West Midlands Group of the Victorian Society said:
"Every year I am amazed and impressed by the quality of nominations for our award and this year is no exception. Nominations from Coventry, Wolverhampton and Birmingham in 2022 once again saw very high standards, which have become synonymous with this award. However, there can be only one winner and our Casework team felt that the STEAMhouse was a clear winner, by a country mile. This comes against the backdrop of the disastrous fire in 2007, which caused serious damage to the building, and which makes this award ever so more poignant. Congratulations to Birmingham City University for their vision and dedication in saving this beautiful Victorian heritage asset, for their use, and for our joy and pleasure."
Professor Philip Plowden, Vice Chancellor, Birmingham City University said:
“Birmingham City University is honoured and delighted by this award. The Eccles building is such a prominent and significant part of Birmingham's heritage that it is only right that we bring it back into use. STEAMhouse reflects the Victorian commitment to industrial innovation. It brings together our university’s 180-year heritage in Arts and Design to sit alongside the delivery of Technology and Engineering, in order to solve the challenges of today and tomorrow.And by using the building to host companies and start up enterprises we are ensuring a continuing engagement with enterprise and industry. I hope that our Victorian forebears would be proud to see their building brought back into use in this way, and we are very grateful for the award.”
Stephen Benson, Chief Executive, Hortons' Estate Limited, the award’s sponsor said:
“Hortons’ Estate Ltd are delighted to continue to support The Victorian Society and their important work promoting the restoration of historic buildings in the region, and to sponsor the 2022 West Midlands Conservation Award. Birmingham City University’s restoration of The Eccles Building is an excellent example of bringing back such valuable, historic buildings into modern economic life.”
The Victorian Society is the only charity dedicated to protecting our Victorian and Edwardian built heritage. We help tackle the climate emergency by campaigning for the sensitive reuse of historic buildings to generate much lower carbon emissions than demolition and rebuild.
The Victorian Society has a statutory role in the planning process. Our expert caseworkers are consulted on all applications where there is an element of demolition of listed Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Our work is largely funded by our members.