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Friends' Institute Building, 220 Moseley Road

A Grade II* Listed Building in Sparkbrook, Birmingham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4654 / 52°27'55"N

Longitude: -1.8821 / 1°52'55"W

OS Eastings: 408103

OS Northings: 285284

OS Grid: SP081852

Mapcode National: GBR 64G.B2

Mapcode Global: VH9Z3.B9BB

Entry Name: Friends' Institute Building, 220 Moseley Road

Listing Date: 17 September 2014

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1418995

Location: Birmingham, B12

County: Birmingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Sparkbrook

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Sparkbrook with Balsall Heath

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham

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Summary

A former Quaker meeting hall and institute building, built under the patronage of Richard Cadbury and designed by Ewan Harper. The building opened in 1897.

Description

A former Quaker meeting hall and institute building, built under the patronage of Richard Cadbury and designed by Ewan Harper. The building opened in 1897.

MATERIALS: red brick with terracotta dressings and a tiled roof.

PLAN: the building has two show fronts; the Institute faces onto Moseley Road, to the west, and the meeting hall faces onto Oughton Road, at east. The building is two-storied and of varying height. A central corridor at ground-floor level runs through the building from the entrance on Moseley Road to the meeting hall. To the west it is flanked by the original coffee room and reading room, above which is a lecture room. The centre of the building has a range of classrooms to the south of the corridor and there is a similar corridor with rooms at first floor level.

The meeting hall has a stage for the elders and musicians at the west end and a horseshoe-shaped gallery running along the flanks and around the eastern end of the hall. There are side aisles at ground and gallery levels. Beneath the meeting hall is a former gymnasium and kitchen.

Pursuant to s.1 (5) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 it is declared that the C20 lavatory block to the north of the ground floor corridor of the classroom block is not of special architectural or historic interest.

EXTERIOR: the Moseley Road front has three principal, gabled bays with yellow, terracotta walling to the ground floor and red brick with terracotta dressings to the first floor and gables. The ground floor also projects, with a balustraded parapet to the top of the wall. At the centre is a porch with round-arched portal, flanked by Ionic pilasters. The roof of the deep porch is a barrel vault of terracotta tiles and the pavement at the entrance is of patterned terrazzo. The parapet above this bears the words ‘FRIENDS HALL & INSTITUTE’. To either side are mullioned and transomed windows of six lights, with flat-arched heads to each light. The left hand window incorporates a doorway with half-glazed doors above which a carved panel reads ‘COFFEE/ROOM’. The first floor has three oriel windows with terracotta surrounds and ogee-shaped roofs, the heads of which extend up into the gables. Rectangular, metal down pipes with decorative rainwater heads divide the bays.

The Oughton Road front forms the rear of the meeting hall, and is on a large scale. The gabled front has two windows, each of three lights with arched heads. Rows of blind panels to the centre, indicate the internal gallery seating. There are polygonal turrets to the corners with domed caps and an arched terracotta cap to the gable with an inset date plaque which reads ‘A 1897 D’. At either side are gabled entrance porches with round arches, prominent voussoirs and panelled doors. An area before the front, with iron railings, provides light for the basement gymnasium.

The flanks of the building are partially abutted by other, later buildings at the western end, including a hostel at the western end of the south front and a single-storey lavatory block to the north side. A club building (now demolished) is shown to the north of the range fronting onto Moseley Road on the Ordnance Survey map of 1904, and the lower gable walling on this side has been rebuilt. The central portion of the flank has rows of windows for the adult education and Sunday School classrooms grouped at ground and first floor levels on the south side, each window having three lights with mullions and transoms. The north side has similar windows, which light the corridors. The meeting hall has projecting aisles to its flanks, each of five gabled bays, each bay having a round-headed window of two lights with Venetian Gothic heads. Blank tracery panels to the centre indicate the internal gallery. There are staircase projections at the eastern end of each flank and the north front also has a block with hipped roof which contains a prayer meeting room and offices. The building appears to have its full complement of chimneys to full height, and also prominent plenum chimneys with louvres to their tops at the west end of the meeting hall and to the east of the institute block.

INTERIOR: the original coffee room and reading room in the institute block have woodblock flooring and cornicing to the ceiling and to the sides of the transverse beams. The principal staircase has stone treads with cast iron balustrade panels and a mahogany handrail. A back stairs leads to a caretaker’s flat and there is a small, former scullery, with fitted cupboards to either side of the hearth. The first-floor landing has original lockers with panelled wooden doors and numbered brass plaques. The lecture room has vertical boarding to the lower walls which ramps up at the northern end where there is an original stage, approached by lateral staircases. The panelled and deeply coved ceiling has queen posts and moulded tie beams. Original, large central heating radiators of sarcophagus pattern are set at either side of the stage.

The classrooms in the central range have vertical panelling to the lower walls and a plain cornice. The majority retain their original panelled doors, which are solid at ground floor level and half-glazed to the first floor. Some rooms have been joined by the removal of the dividing walls. To the end of the central corridor is a plinth in an alcove which originally supported a bust of Richard Cadbury, which is now stored elsewhere in the building. The half-landing of the staircase which leads to the first floor classrooms has a war memorial in the form of a wooden board commemorating those members of the institute who gave their lives in action or died during the course of the First World War. The lugged and shouldered classical surround has an arched panel at the top with a laurel wreath, carved in relief, circling the word 'PAX'. The names of the dead are recorded by year, without service or rank.

The meeting hall has rows of columns which divide the central, rectangular space from the lateral aisle spaces. These columns are astylar with reeded decoration to their upper bodies and four brackets forming their capitals. Encircling the lower body of each of the ground floor columns is a circular, central heating radiator. Similar columns appear at gallery level, but without the radiators. These upper columns support an arcade with moulded terracotta dressings to the arches. Each lateral bay at both levels can be formed into a separate room of variable size by deploying wooden shutters which are housed in panelled boxes, suspended from the ceiling beams. The whole of a side aisle space or one or more individual bays can be separated thus. Above the arcades is a clerestory which has three, round-headed lights to each bay. The podium at the western end has been extended forward. Behind this there is a large recess in the western wall, with a round- arched head and terracotta dressings which apparently originally housed an organ. The lower walling at ground floor and gallery levels has vertical boarding and the gallery has a panelled front. The ceiling is panelled, with pendant bosses. Behind the podium is a dressing room, with original wooden lockers with panelled doors. The gallery is approached by staircases with cast iron balustrade panels and mahogany handrails, as seen in the institute block. The hall has wood block flooring, and the lobbies have terrazzo paving. Doors throughout are original and several have glass panels with etched decoration.
The basement beneath the meeting hall is the former gymnasium, which has paired, cast iron columns to the sides. Hooks and iron loops in the ceiling indicate where gym equipment was formerly suspended. At the west end is a kitchen.


This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 21 August 2017.

History

The building was commissioned by Richard Cadbury, a son of the founder of the chocolate manufactory, and designed by the brothers, Ewan and James Alfred Harper.
It was completed in 1897, shortly before Cadbury's death in 1899. The front range, facing Moseley Street, had a coffee room to the right and reading room to the left of the ground floor, with a lecture room at first floor level designed to seat 400.

A wing to the rear had 37 classrooms set at ground and first floor levels which served for adult education and Sunday School classrooms, and for social work for the local community. Beyond these the Large Hall, which could seat 2,000, faced onto Oughton Road. The basement under the Large Hall was used as a gymnasium by the Dolobran Athletic Club. The Birmingham volume of the Victoria County History (see SOURCES, Stephens) records that the building housed activities which were previously carried on at three different sites. In 1908, when 800 were said to attend the Sunday afternoon Bible class, the total of members, attenders, and associates was 649.

The Dolobran Athletic club started in Sparkhill in 1884, but by the end of the century it had grown to have almost 700 members. Its president was Barrow Cadbury, Richard Cadbury's son, and he moved the club to the Friends' Institute. In March of 1900 the first ever international gymnastics match to be staged in England was held here, with teams from Scotland, Ireland and England. The gym is also believed to have been used as a training venue by the 1936 British Olympic Teams who were also training at the nearby Moseley Road Baths. The space now serves as a dining room and assembly room for the New Testament Church.

From 1962 to 1979 the Large Hall functioned as a bakery and from 1979 to the present it has been used by the New Testament Church.

The plan of the building has been little altered since its opening and many of the fittings and details of the original decoration remain.

Reasons for Listing

The Friends’ Institute, 220 Moseley Road, Birmingham, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the building, designed by the noted Birmingham practice of Ewan and James Harper, has distinct architectural quality and is effectively designed;

* Quakerism: the building is one of the largest Quaker buildings in England and was the setting for the Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends in 1908 and 1954. It carries a clear message of altruism and the desire to educate, which are a distinctive part of that faith;

* Historic interest: the gymnasium, home of the Dolobran Athletic Club, was the venue for the first international athletics match between England, Ireland and Scotland in March 1900;

* Patronage: the building stands as an indication of the considerable generosity and enlightened patronage of the Cadbury family, which has done much over the years to help education in the Birmingham region.

Selected Sources

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