Hall of Memory

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
I
List Entry Number:
1244943
Date first listed:
15-Oct-1997
Date of most recent amendment:
27-Oct-2014
Statutory Address:
Hall of Memory, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham

Map

Ordnance survey map of Hall of Memory
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Location

Statutory Address:
Hall of Memory, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District:
Birmingham (Metropolitan Authority)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SP0640686844

Summary

War memorial. 1923-5, by S.N. Cooke and W. Norman Twist; bronze statuary and panels by Albert Toft and William Bloye.

Reasons for Designation

The Hall of Memory, Birmingham, is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impacts of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20; * Architectural interest: as an unusual and ambitious architectural memorial to the city's war dead * Sculptural: for the notable bronze figures of service personnel by Albert Toft; * Setting: as a key element of Centenary Square, one of Birmingham's principal civic spaces.

History

During the First World War 150,000 men and women from Birmingham served; 12,320 were killed and 35,000 wounded. In 1920 a design competition among Birmingham architects (judged by Sir Reginald Blomfield) for a war memorial was won by S.N. Cooke and W. Norman Twist. Their winning design was The Hall of Memory. They also designed a Portland Stone (a material then new to Birmingham) colonnade which originally stood opposite it. That was moved to the Peace Gardens (formerly St Thomas’s church) in Bath Row when Centenary Square – intended as a grand civic space - began to be laid out soon after. The foundation stone was laid on 12 June 1923 by the Prince of Wales, and the Hall was opened by HRH Prince Arthur of Connaught on 4 July 1925. The overall cost was £60,000 which was raised entirely by public donations, and almost all the design and construction work, along with the memorial fittings, was by Birmingham craftsmen. The Hall was built by John Barnsley and Sons, and John Bowen and Sons.

Details

MATERIALS: exterior of Portland stone on a granite base, with bronze statuary and doors. Interior in Beer stone

EXTERIOR: the Hall of Memory, a classical octagon, stands in Centenary Square in the centre of Birmingham. It has a heavy Doric entablature and attic, and a low dome. There are pedimented projections on the four long sides, that to the south-east forming the entrance. The short diagonal faces are set back, framing four bronze seated figures on Cornish granite pedestals by Albert Toft (1862-1949), a native of Handsworth, representing the Services. One, a bare-chested sailor in a crouching position and holding a coil of rope in one hand and a ship's wheel in the other, represents the Navy. Another bare-chested figure is of a soldier, representing the Army. He is also in a crouching position and rests his tin helmet on his left leg with his right hand on the barrel of a machine gun. The Air Force figure, again bare-chested and crouching, holds a blade and aerlions of an aircraft in his left hand. The fourth figure represents the Nursing Service and here a woman crouches down whilst holding a wreath in her left hand.

INTERIOR: visitors enter the Hall of Memory through huge cast bronze doors. Inside the Hall, which has a ribbed and coffered dome set below the outer one and Doric detailing, a sarcophagus-shaped dais or tomb of Siena marble stands in the centre of the marble floor. A glass and bronze casket made by the Birmingham Guild rests on its top containing two books: the First World War and Second World War Rolls of Honour. A third Roll of Honour contains the names of Birmingham citizens who have died in campaigns since the end of the Second World War. Marble paving and seats occupy the angles of the Hall with bronze flambeaux above. Facing the main entrance is a stained-glass window with a cross designed by Richard Stubington (1885-1966). High on the walls over the three doorways are three carved Art Deco bas-relief plaques by William Bloye (1890-1975), a Birmingham sculptor, depicting scenes from the First World War. ‘Call’ shows men leaving home to join up; ‘Front Line’ represents a party of men in the firing line; ‘Return’ shows men, several badly wounded, returning to their homes. The plaques carry three inscriptions: Panel 1: OF THE 150,000 WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO ARMS / 12,320 FELL / 35,000 CAME HOME DISABLED Panel 2: AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN / THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER THEM Panel 3: SEE TO IT THAT THEY SHALL NOT HAVE / SUFFERED AND DIED IN VAIN



This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 18 January 2017.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
468884
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Foster, A, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Birmingham, (2005), 142-3
Noszlopy, G T , Public Sculpture of Birmingham, (1998), 21-4
Websites
War Memorials Online, accessed 18 January 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/141747
War Memorials Register, accessed 18 January 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/2049

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 22 Jul 2001
Reference: IOE01/00017/06
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Geoff Dowling. Source Historic England Archive
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