24/07/2012
New Future for Great Barr Hall

Great Barr Hall consists of a Grade II* Listed Building and a Registered Park built by the Scott Family with imprints from the architect John Nash and landscape architects William Shenstone and Humphrey Repton.

 

The hall has very strong associations with the lunar society and was used as one of their meeting places when the property was leased by the Galton Family. The lunar society was an exclusive group which never had more than fourteen members which included Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestly, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood along with other eminent people who met at the time of a full moon to assist their way home.

 

The estate was sold in 1911 and was eventually sold by the NHS who had owned the site for some time. The listed house had been vacant since 1978 and is now in a derelict state having been subject to vandalism, water ingress and dry rot. The registered park has not been maintained for decades and is also in a poor state following several unsuccessful attempts to find a future for the Hall and Park for over 30 years.

 

Earlier this year the Hall and remaining Estate was purchased by a group of local residents. A spokesperson for the new owners said that they are ‘looking to move forward in a positive way which would deal with the Great Barr Hall and Park in a holistic manner, and to help facilitate a solution which would deal with the sites historic nature sympathetically and ensure the Hall and Park is sustainable for the long term and will not look to the public purse for day to day survival.’

 

The new owners have already created 7 full time local jobs in Walsall and Great Barr and have commissioned local conservation architects, Lapworth Architects, to manage the project. Since their appointment Lapworth Architects have been busy talking to Walsall Council and English Heritage and also to the Great Barr Hall Action Committee and the Beacon Action Group.

 

Lapworth Architects have worked for many years for a number of clients with significant heritage assets which include Calthorpe Estate on their 610 acre estate in Edgbaston. In addition the practice has worked on numerous listed buildings of all grades and are well used to working with English Heritage and other similar groups which will of course be required with the Great Barr Hall project. A spokesperson for the practice said they felt the practices ‘expertise and experience will be pivotal in helping end the continued plight of the Great Barr Hall and the enthusiasm of the new owners will be also a very significant factor’.

 

Hopefully in the not too distant future the corner will be turned and the Hall and Park will be returned to something like its former glory.

 

All comments/ideas/suggestions are welcomed below!

30 Responses to “New Future for Great Barr Hall”

  1. Tony says:

    This is good to hear. Please keep me posted of any developments.

  2. Alan says:

    I did read about this projects in last weeks observer. Can you confirm you have registered me for updates? Thanks

  3. Jean says:

    Dear Sirs,

    I have been following the misfortune of great barr hall for the last 15 years I would be very happy if you would add my name and contact details to your list. Are you consulting with any of the local action groups? I feel they are best placed to help express local concerns?

  4. Derek and Pat says:

    Dear Sirs,

    I was reading your article about Great Barr Hall in Walsall Advertiser and note that English Heritage have allowed conversion to University Campuses. Could Great Barr Hall be used for residential holidays for able bodied and also disabled children of all ages, incorporating a theatre group workshop, art workshops,craft workshops, gardening workshops-using greenhouse cultivation- encouraging children to grow their own food- and a cooking workshop to cook and prepare organic food-workshops on handling money,credit,savings,budgeting for household etc- maybe animal workshops-getting pensioner’s clubs to come in and enjoy young children to teach respect of elders and to give people in homes and on their own the chance to mix with youngsters. Maybe we could cultivate a more responsible generation of youngsters for the future! Maybe volunteers could help to restore the gardens with the help of the children.

    I would be interested in any updates that you have regarding the use of this historic Hall!

    Regards Pat Holmes.

  5. Councillor Martin.R says:

    Dear Sirs,

    With reference to the article in the Advertiser July 19th, requesting comments with regard to its future. Walsall in a centre for saddle making, maybe an Equestrian Centre/Game Fairs/Hotel/Conference Centre. Being close to M6 an ideal location for such events.

    Regards,

  6. Absolutely Fabulous says:

    I’m very interested to read your recent article about the restoration plans for great Barr hall, I’m the great Barr observer. I would like to receive regular updates as I have a keen interest in great Barr hall since the 1940s

    Thank you in advance

  7. Kevin Partridge says:

    Have just read the article in the Walsall Advertiser – it all looks rather interesting.

  8. Sonny Tut says:

    I would like to be informed on future developments of plans on what may be developed @ great barr hall.

  9. Andy Mabbett says:

    Hello,

    I am a Wikipedia editor, and wrote and maintain the article on Great Barr Hall:

    I should be very grateful if you would keep me informed (perhaps by including me on a press mailing list) of developments there.

    If you are erecting signage or hoardings at the site, I wonder if you would kindly include a QRpedia QR code linking to that article? If so, I’ll gladly provide assistance.

    As Wikipedia is available under an open licence, you are welcome to use any part, or all, of the article, with attribution, at no charge.

    Finally, perhaps you have a picture or pictures of the hall, which you would like to make available for use on Wikipedia, and elsewhere, under an open licence?

    Kind regards,


    Andy Mabbett

  10. John Clapcott says:

    Please include me in your distribution list for updates on Great Barr Hall, as mentioned in the Great Barr Observer newspaper. Thank you.

  11. Chris Brennan says:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    Would you please register me for your regular updates fegarding the future
    of Great Barr Hall.

    I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

    Kind regards,

    Chris Brennan.

  12. ian says:

    I am very encouraged to read this piece and the work done so far should encourage all local residents and interested parties.

    There remains a big question over the funding of this, obviously will not be cheap. I hope in any future plans the residents and interested groups are fully consulted.

    I would like to see the restored hall be turned into a convention place and maybe with lesiure facilities for people to use (we have no Walsall council facilities this side of Barr Beacon) but obviously in these times the economic cost has to be measured up.

  13. ian says:

    I would add that I think it would be good as Andy suggested that you place on the site the most recent photo’s of the Hall so we can see the neglect for ourselves.

    I too would like to be kept informed of any updates as well.

    Thanks

  14. Glen Buglass says:

    Hi

    I read with interest the recent article in the Advertiser on Great Barr Hall. I work for the Creative Development Team at Walsall Council and we specialise in fundraising for and developing bespoke community led art projects in the borough. I am also a part of the Barr Beacon Heritage Lottery funded restoration project. We have created some interesting ways of gathering information from local people on how they want to see the Barr Beacon’s usage develop and the most obvious element of this work has been the creation of ‘Bands on the Beacon’. Perhaps the Hall and it’s grounds could the site for a music event, a play, an arts exhibition? During the creation of such an activity, people could get involved in the project or at least express their opinion to its direction. In any case I would very much like to be kept in the loop with your plans for the future of the Hall.

    Best wishes

    Glen Buglass
    Manager
    Walsall Council Creative Development Team

  15. Jean Moore says:

    ello.

    My name is Jean Moore, and I am thrilled to read that you are going to restore the Hall and lakes to their former glory.

    I trained at Maggies in the 60′s, and the hall and the grounds were wonderful, and look forward to seeing it again especially the lakes they were beautiful. I took many photo’s of them but sadly lost, so I can re-take them.

    Please don’t cut the Silver Birch down outside the Hall ~ Lady Scott put a curse on it.

    Regards.

    Jean Moore.

  16. Marie Bent says:

    Please keep me informed as to any future plans for Great Barr Hall. I am a local resident who has watched with horror over the years at the sad demise of the hall. Please act in a sympathetic manner when devising future plans for the site.please no more houses but develop the parkland for local use wherever possible. it is an important part of our local heritage to be preserved as much as possible.

    • Jack H says:

      Marie, my heart is with you on this, but realistically my head says this has to be paid for somehow and I really don’t think it’s coming from this government or the council!
      If there IS to be development, please keep it sympathetic and something we as local residents can be proud of.
      Please restore the lake and restore \ rebuild the house (but ONLY if it absolutely can’t be restored!!).

  17. Andrew says:

    It’s great to see locals actively trying to improve their environment. However, it’s difficult to make meaningful comments without knowing the general intent of the new owners. For example, is this a commercial project using enabling development in the park (e.g. newly built homes) to fund the Hall’s restoration into residential/commercial use, or is it not-for-profit with the Hall and/or park placed in a charitable trust and applying for funding from HLF, etc? The owners could also consider approaching a TV production company to produce a TV series on the restoration project, for example Endemol UK (Restoration Home – BBC), Betty (Country House Rescue – Channel 4) or Renegade Pictures (Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare – Channel 4).

  18. Jack H says:

    I’d like to be kept up to date with any developments, please add my details to the list as I live locally and have walked around the lakes with my dogs for many years now.
    I’d like to ensure that the lakes are restored, having seen some of the pictures of the hall in the past, it would be wonderful to be able to walk with my family in such surroundings – especially as the lakes are on my doorstep!
    Can public use PLEASE be seriously considered as an option? I appreciate there’s a trade-off here between allowing the public on and stopping the quadbikers coming back, but if this can be taken into account, I for one would appreciate it and I think many local residents would too!
    As for the house, please please please DON’T knock the hall down and replace it with a modern building!! Please celebrate the history of the site – the Lunar Society was one of the great institutions of the 18th Century, I’d hate to lose that connection.

  19. Robson says:

    At least this time we can see actions from the owner rather than just words!No horrible Space Aged Glass building please!!

  20. Jonathan Clarke says:

    Following the article in the Walsall Advertiser July 19th 2012 regarding the future of Great Barr Hall I would like to register my interest in the site and if possible would be grateful if you could add my email address to those receiving regular updates for the site.

    I used to live close to the site and attended Barr Beacon School, a local scout group and St Margaret’s Church so know the site well but my main interest in the site is the wildlife. Over the years I have conducted several bird surveys on the site as well as enjoyed Birdwatching and other wildlife in the Great Barr Hall grounds in my own time.

    I was very pleased to hear that the hall has once again been made fully secure-hopefully this security has also been extended to the grounds preventing vehicles, motorbikes & quad bikes from accessing the grounds, each of which I have encountered in the past. On one occasion I had to call both the fire brigade & the police when I caught a group of men with petrol setting fire to large areas of vegetation following a dry spell. Presumably in an attempt to open up more areas to ride on.

    Following on from the article requesting public suggestions for the future use of Great Barr Hall I would be very much in favour of the area being turned into a nature reserve. The grounds are already of local importance for many species of wildlife and the mature woodland and lakes are a real hidden gem within the West Midlands. The grounds closer to the hall also hold a very diverse collection of trees from a historic collection from the Scott family and it would be fantastic if these could be preserved and opened up to the public.

    The site lends its self to a nature reserve very well with a diverse mixture of habitats and a series of good paths already in existence. The hall it’s self could then serve as a visitor and education centre complete with class room and other facilities.

    Thank you for the opportunity to put forward my ideas and please feel free to get back in touch with me if required.

    Good luck with the restoration of the Hall and site.

    Kind regards

    Jonathan Clarke

  21. William D says:

    It’s really a great place I’ve seen the hall recently and fully support a restoration project. I am happy that you just shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to dated like this as things progress. Thanks for sharing.

  22. David says:

    I am really hopeful that the new owners get the full support of the local residents in their venture. The site as it stands is in a desperate state. Being on my doorstep, I was very keen for the lakes to re-open for fishing and creating fishing clubs and fishing schools for young people in and around the area. Having been a previous fishery owner i know how much value this can be for the youngsters to learn and understand the value of being part of something great. If you decide to go down that route in any way, shape or form then i would be very interested to be a part of it. Good luck in whatever you decide to do

  23. Eve Lowe says:

    I am encouraged that the hall and grounds have now been purchased and that a future is destined for this oasis in an urban environment. However, I would am worried at the suggestion that the access to the land will be restricted due to concerns about anti social and criminal behaviour. What I would like to see is public access enouraged, for walking, cycling (not quad bikes), enjoying the flora and fauna on what could become a well loved leisure activity parkland. If you restrict acccess for the many then the only people you will encourage are those that have untoward intentions and they will gain access whatever security is there and it would be a complete waste to secure it as if it were a prison. If you encourage the many to use the land for social and recreational activities then they become your eyes and ears of untoward activity. Regular users of parkland are very protective of it as they cherish the wonders that it offers, birdsong, nature, a space to relax and clear the mind. At a time when we are being encouraged to be more active, to be more sustainable (I more often than not have to get in my car to visit Sutton Park or Cannock Chase and we have this wonderful resource on our door step)what a wonderful place this could be if it openly encouraged people to get out there. With volunteering at the forefront of recent news events, it would not be too difficult I can imagine to recruit an army of volunteers to help return and sustain the grounds to their former glory.I would certinaly be first in line.
    As for the hall, to return it to it’s former glory would be wonderful, but it should not be a museum, it needs to be alive and active. If you create a wonderful enviroment people will flock there with a lovely coffee shop to boot would be the icing on the cake. I understand that this may be a business venture, but surely partnerhsips with charities, environmental and conservation could also be thought of. I am aware that English Heritage have also been involved, but you never know the RSPB may also have some ideas.
    Above all I would love to see this become an area which old and young can enjoy and feel part of and then want to put something back.

  24. ClaireA says:

    I am interested to hear how the hall can be restored and it would be great it you could chart the progress from decline to restoring – many residents would be interested in this – everyone wants the hall to be saved in some way but their are many concerns over the use of land and lake and what access people will have and where

  25. Ranvir says:

    I live locally to the hall, and I have recently received your questionnaire. I have to applaud the owners on their efforts to date, it is the first time in 20 years I can remember someone even bothering to ask our opinion, as in the past we have been told what is and what should be happening there. I would love to see this beautiful landscape brought back to something like it’s historical past. If you can’t achieve that at least give us some wonderful views and parks to walk in and enjoy. I wish the owners every success and i hope they get to see the project through to a successful conclusion .

  26. Jay.p says:

    Hi, Great Barr Hall has so much history!!! We need to be realistic, the hall must be restored/rebuilt to serve a purpose. It should be made available/accessible to the community, whatever it is used for. The surrounding land is just being wasted and neglected. The lakes appear ugly also now and need restoring to former glory! The Bovis development is ugly , there is no class to the buildings/houses. They could have done so much better. Whatever happens at Grear Barr Hall, there must be class and respect to history!!

  27. Neville says:

    I have seen the questionnaire and it would e wonderful if the lakes were restored to yester year , would love to see the boathouses at the top and bottom lakes with maybe rowing boats …

  28. Steph says:

    I have recieved the questionnaire as I am a local resident.

    The Bovis development is not ugly and is a quite well kept community I personally think this is a ridiculous comment to make.

    However, I totally agree with the restoration of the hall. English history is very much left by the way side. It would be nice to see it restored and used as a museum for the community to learn more about their local history.

    I do strongly disagree with unlimited access to all of the grounds as I feel this would plain and simple increase crime.

    I work in and around the Cannon Hill Park area of Birmingham and unlimited access is granted to the entire park 24 hours, unfortunately due to this alot of robberies and sexual & drug offences occur as people can hide easily in the grounds also local residents that back onto the park are repeatedly burgled as well as the environmetal issues such as an increase in rubbish graffiti etc.

    It’s a tricky one but if it is restored I feel the security of the area has to be seriously looked at such as unlimited daytime access and no access at dusk with security/park officers.

    As having the grounds completely open 24 hours would make all residents vulnerable, will attract undesirables and would be impossible for the local Police to manage because of the vast area to cover.

  29. Jay.p says:

    Sorry I was a bit harsh with the Bovis comments! I just feel they have built as many houses as possible in the land that was available. The result is a very cramped development in my opinion. I agree also full 24 hr access to the grounds would be a bad idea.

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