A historic Birmingham garden estate which has been a pillar of city suburban life for over 100 years could be lost if fundraisers fail to raise £325,000 in four months.
The future of the Moor Pool Estate, established in 1907 by GKN legend John Nettlefold as one of the UK's first Garden City housing projects, is in the melting pot after landlord Grainger gave volunteers a deadline of September 30 to raise the money to buy it.
The Newcastle, the UK's largest listed residential landlord, wants to sell the estate, which includes Moor Pool Hall, tennis courts, a bowling green, skittle alley, fishing pond, shops and other facilities, to the local Heritage Trust.
But the trust has only until the end of September to raise the funds. After that date the offer will lapse and it is likely the estate amenities, used by thousands of local people for decades, will be broken up and sold or auctioned off.
The break-up of the estate would mark the end of 107 years of tradition dating back to John Nettlefold's Edwardian vision of creating an oasis which became one of the UK's best preserved garden suburbs and a core part of Birmingham's social development.
Moor Pool has been recognised by English Heritage as a national asset comparable to the likes of Welwyn Garden City or Hampstead and its facilities are used to this day by a range of community groups, from an amateur dramatics society to a shooting club and a toddlers group.
Igor Cusack, secretary of the Heritage Trust, said: "We have made a deal with Grainger to acquire the hall, the bowling green, tennis courts, some open space and shops and we have up to September 30 to raise the £325,000.
"At present we are at £26,000 and we are trying to aim for £50,000 locally by September, so we are over halfway there. We have also made about a dozen applications for various grants that would enable us to do this.
"It is a good deal, if we can do it. We think ‘fair enough,' we have now got to show that we are serious about trying to do it. We have got all sorts of events lined up over the summer.
"There is going to be a lot of repairs that need to be done to the hall, and we will eventually need to raise more than £325,000.
"But Grainger have made a fair offer to us and we are very grateful to them for that. It is a very good price. We set up the Moor Pool Heritage Trust as a charity and we want to work with Grainger, who have been supportive.
"The estate has been called a gem, has survived since Edwardian times and is extremely popular with local residents. It is used by thousands of people and there have been great improvements over the last 10 years or so. This has created a fantastic sense of community."
The trust is also seeking individual donations from local residents and from companies. A 20p event – allowing visitors to lay 20p pieces in a circle – and a food festival is being held on July 13.
Sarah Copley, who chairs the trust's fund-raising group, said: "It is a phenomenal asset. The estate has vital community facilities at the heart of the community, such as the bowling green and Moor Pool Players, who attract people from all over Birmingham."
Phil Nelson, Project and Operations Manager at Grainger, said: "We are extremely pleased that the Moor Pool Heritage Trust is so keen to take ownership of the community assets at Moor Pool.
"We are supporting them as best we can in their efforts to raise the necessary funds and we call on others to support them and allow them to breathe new life into Moor Pool.
"The MPHT are well placed to make the most of the community facilities. We really hope that they are successful and look forward to continue to working with them to make Moor Pool a great place to live."
The trust's website recounting the history of the Harborne estate, which saw 500 houses built between 1908 and 1911, states: "Built with Harborne to one side and countryside stretching away on the other, Moor Pool was indeed radical. It contrasted starkly with the back-to-back housing within the city and was built to show an alternative way forward.
"The arrangement of the roads and houses worked with the undulating contours of the land and provided a range of community facilities unheard of elsewhere in the city. The gardens and allotments provided a much healthier environment with mortality rates far lower than the city.
"In addition to the open space considered so important by Nettlefold, other facilities were provided including Moor Pool Hall with stage and basement skittle alley, a rifle range (used by the Home Guard during World War II), a billiard hall, reading rooms, library, tennis courts, bowling green and village green."
To contribute to the campaign contact moorpoolfundraising.co.uk .