Heritage joy as historic Bells Farm saved

By on 03/08/2011 in Culture, News

One of Birmingham's most historic buildings has been saved for future generations thanks to Birmingham City Council and English Heritage.

Vital repairs can now be made to 17th Century Bells Farm in Druids Heath after a £639,000 restoration project was given the green-light.

Work will begin in October to repair of the roof and other external elements of the main building and to rebuild the rear wing, with the project scheduled for completion in March 2012.

The repairs will allow the Grade II* listed building to be taken off the English Heritage 'Heritage at Risk Register' and once the work is completed, current occupiers – the Spearhead Trust at Bells Farm – will seek additional funding to consider a Community Asset Transfer of the premises.

Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, Cllr Martin Mullaney, said: “This is fantastic news for a unique piece of Birmingham heritage and I'm delighted we have been able to reach an agreement.

“Working with English Heritage, the Birmingham Conservation Trust and the Spearhead Trust we now have a clear plan for this historic site.

“This is a building with a rich history and it now has a bright future as a vital facility for the Druids Heath community.”

Nick Molyneux, Historic Buildings Inspector at English Heritage, who are contributing £308,979 towards the project, said: “English Heritage is delighted to be working in partnership with the Council, Birmingham Conservation Trust and the Spearhead Trust on this important site. Bell’s Farm has been on the Heritage at Risk Register for a number of years and it is wonderful that its future has been secured”.

Partially restored in the early 1980s, the building has suffered fire damage and vandalism in recent years and now must be made watertight and structurally sound.

The planned works will improve community services, make the building safer for its users and provide scope for the Spearhead Trust to secure additional capital funding to complete the refurbishment of the property.

History

The building was in use as a farmhouse until 1976, but was then left empty and fell prey to vandalism. In 1978 more than 1,000 local residents signed a petition to save the Bell's Farm from demolition and the Bells Farm Community Association was formed to use the building.

In 2008 the Association was merged with the Spearhead Trust. The new charity, The Spearhead Trust at Bells Farmhouse, then entered into an agreement with Birmingham City Council to manage Bells Farm. A range of different community activities - including sports, art and crafts, playgroups, gardening and bible groups - now use the house and grounds.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The Bells Farm Community Centre Full Business Case: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/democracy/Pages/AgendaDetail.aspx?AgendaID%3d62009

English Heritage exists to make sure the best of the past is kept to enrich our lives today and in the future. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

Birmingham Conservation Trust is a charity which exists 'to preserve and enhance Birmingham's threatened architectural heritage and to promote an enjoyment and understanding of the City's historic buildings'. http://birminghamconservationtrust.org/

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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