Efforts are being made to help save a former Birmingham school which has been named one of the most endangered buildings in England and Wales. Catherine Lillington reports
Dirt stains the crumbling facade of a former Birmingham art school whose past pupils include musicians Ali Campbell of UB40 and Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie.
The 1898 Arts and Crafts style Grade II listed former Moseley School of Art designed by esteemed architect W H Bidlake has been included in the top ten most endangered buildings in England and Wales.
The Victorian Society, which drew up the at-risk list using nominations from members of the public, said the Moseley Road building had suffered years of neglect.
Outside eroded brick pillars stand between ornate metal fencing and weeds are growing out of the deteriorating stone entrance.
Dr Ian Dungavell, director of the Victorian Society, said: “Our heritage is a finite resource and once historic buildings like this are lost they cannot be replaced.
“Even in harsh economic times historic buildings like the former art school need to be cared for or they won’t survive. This is a nationally significant building and we urge the council to use its powers and make sure urgent repairs are carried out.”
Owners of the Balsall Heath building, the Moseley Muslim Community Association, said it was doing all it can, without outside funding, to keep the building intact.
President Illyas Shaikh said it would cost £1.5 million to renovate the exterior for which he said the organisation would need help funding.
But since taking ownership from the city council in the mid 1980s, the charitable organisation claimed it had already spent more than £800,000 on work to the building.
Mr Shaikh said the first job was to put in a roof. When heating was installed this generated dry rot and wooden flooring throughout the building had to be replaced.
Last year the whole building was rewired to comply with European standards, at a cost of £40,000.
Three domed windows were also replaced in glass, rather than plastic, in line with listed building regulations.
Other improvements include new front and back doors, plus a fire escape and disabled toilet. Mr Shaikh also pointed out recent plastering work in the entrance hall.
He said: “We are trying to maintain this building from the interior of it so we can bring it in use,” said Mr Shaikh, who explained it is used by community groups including the scouts, the elderly and a new gym is also due to open in the basement.
“Yes, we know the exterior is not up to the required standard but the interior is maintained to European standards,” he added.
Pointing out the dilapidated state of the council’s Grade II listed Moseley Road Baths opposite, he added: “We’re not saying [the exterior] is not important but we don’t have that sort of funding. If heritage organisations are making so much noise why don’t they help us?”
As well as the elements, the organisation said it was battling against vandals who have daubed graffiti on the side wall of the building and smashed windows.
Thieves also took stone balls from the brick pillars and part of the fencing, which was replaced in the same style.