Rediscovering hidden history

Cordia Blackswan, 12 August 2021

Birmingham has got a rich heritage, and at Cordia Blackswan, the preservation of this heritage is paramount. It is a core part of our ethos to develop and deliver characterful developments that retain key historical features.

Whilst undertaking the demolition and clear out of our sites, we can sometimes find exciting hidden heritage gems or call-backs to the history of the city. Leading with our approach which combines both restoration and regeneration, these features are often used to inform our planning and design decisions.

Take a behind the scenes look at some of the fantastic pieces of history we have recently discovered at our upcoming developments.

The Lamp Works ghost signs

Whilst undertaking a recent clearance of our latest site, The Lamp Works on Great Hampton Street, we discovered painted shop or ‘ghost signs’ on the building at Great Hampton Street.

Whilst the signs are slightly hard to decipher, they are believed to mark the former home of J.R. Stevens, a tailor, hosier, and general outfitters store which traded on Great Hampton Street around 100 years ago.

On the other side of the building, two further ghost signs were also revealed during the demolition. The ghost sign in view is the home of ‘Strawbridge Painter & Glazier’ at 30 Great Hampton Street, estimated to be at least a century old.

These are believed to showcase the former home of a ‘glass, china and all kinds of Earthenware’. Earthenware is glazed or unglazed nonvitreous pottery that is normally fired below 1,200 degrees Celsius.

The Lamp Works will be a residential led mixed-use scheme of 148 apartments, with the industrial heritage of the site reflected in the design of the building, its form and materials used. A steel frame from one of the original buildings will be retained in memory of the original central factory space, referencing the sites key history in Jewellery Quarter.

Construction of the Lamp Works will begin in August 2021 with apartments ready for occupation in 2023.

Original tiles and flooring at 22a

At our latest site and new HQ at 22a Great Hampton Street, we have recently discovered a range of beautiful original features that we feel give great inspiration for our remodelling of this fantastic building.

At our latest site and new HQ at 22a Great Hampton Street, we have recently discovered a range of beautiful original features that we feel give great inspiration for our remodelling of this fantastic building.

The refurbishment of this Grade II listed former Lloyds Bank is a great way for us to showcase our development approach and the high quality that people can expect of our work. Once complete, the 15,000 sq ft building will feature six office suites, with the former banking hall transformed into an independent café space for local business and the community to utilise.

We also intend to fully refurbish the basement vault into a trendy music venue as part of the renovation….more on that to follow!

Firstly, when removing the current concrete flooring, we discovered some original flooring tiles in a plethora of untraditional bright colours, including red, yellow, green, purple, and turquoise.

We believed the tiles date back to the 1880s and were discovered in the former Banking Hall of the ground floor of the building. We intend to restore and retain the tiles which will soon be transformed into a café space.

On the same floor, we also discovered traditional Herringbone Parquet wooden flooring in a rich mahogany brown. We believe the flooring dates back to the 1880s and will be restored.

Former shop at The Nightingale

184a Great Hampton Row, the former site of Nightingale Knitwear, is being redeveloped as part of phase 3 The Gothic.

When undertaking a recent removal of the shop frontage, we discovered an old mosaic façade for the ‘Ye Olde Engine Tavern’.

184a Great Hampton Row, the former site of Nightingale Knitwear, is being redeveloped as part of phase 3 The Gothic.

When undertaking a recent removal of the shop frontage, we discovered an old mosaic façade for the ‘Ye Olde Engine Tavern’.

According to the Birmingham History Forum and Midlands Pubs, the Engine Tavern was trading from the 1830’s originally as a beer house. In the 19th Century, it was believed to be a homebrew house and other pubs in this throughfare included the Balmoral Inn, Saint George’s Vaults and the Star and Garter.

The electoral roll shows the Engine Tavern occupants in 1930 were a couple by the name Thomas and Annie Rose. We’d love to hear from you if this name sounds familiar!

We will be transforming The Nightingale into a small number of New York loft-style apartments as a future phase of The Gothic. The apartments will be sold as individual units for buyers to design and bring to life in their own personal style. For more information about any of our exciting developments and hidden history, please click here.

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