The rollercoaster history of Edgbaston’s Tower Ballroom is taking a new twist after its latest owners unveiled a £1 million facelift and plans to tap into the lucrative Asian wedding market.
Bal Sangha, who last year took over The Tower Ballroom from its previous owner, pub entrepreneur Liam O’Connor, is planning to update the venue and maximise its potential to host wedding celebrations for up to 1,500 people, while still carrying on the traditional tea dances and Saturday night over-25s disco the venue is known for.
She said: “Before we bought it we could see the potential but it wasn’t being optimised. It was looking a bit dowdy, so we have already made various changes.
“We have put in a new bar and are changing the carpets and giving it a new coat of paint and have put in a brand new extension on the VIP room.”
The Tower Ballroom, located on the edge of Edgbaston Reservoir, has had a turbulent history over the last decade and was even earmarked for demolition at one point.
Developers Countrywide had intended to build 90 homes on the site in 2006 but hostility from local residents forced the firm to scrap the plans and keep the venue standing in its original form as dance hall venue.
The building – originally created as an ice skating rink but used as a dancehall since the 1920s – was reopened with huge fanfare in 2008 when Mr O’Connor took over the derelict ballroom, which had laid empty since 2005.
Mr O’Connor, whose firm The Midland Pub Company runs venues like the Kerryman in High Street Digbeth, the Bromford Inn in Washwood Heath, and Woodgate Valley Sports and Social Club, was celebrated as a local hero when he breathed new life into the venue.
He sold up last summer to Ms Sangha, who also runs a ready-mix concrete company called Trucube.
She has hired events manager Raj Jutlla to extend The Tower’s reach in the Asian weddings market.
Ms Jutlla said there was a gap in the market in Birmingham for venues which can hold large numbers of guests at Asian weddings, which she described as “a marriage of families, not individuals”.
She said: “The market is worth around £40 million an year and the majority of the people who offer venues have bought up run-down buildings in industrial areas and turned them into wedding venues.
“As far as I know the Tower Ballroom is the only Asian wedding venue in Birmingham that is set in a picturesque area.
“The recession hasn’t hit the Asian market at all – people are still paying an average of £15,000 to £20,000 for their weddings with an average number of around 700 people.
“What’s been happening though is that the younger generation are looking to still pay the same amount of money but have less people at the wedding.
“But even though the numbers coming to the functions are coming down, it won’t change too much because people are quite set in their ways.”