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HistoryAndUs – A FreeTimePays community

History And Us is a community of passion for people to engage with their history and heritage. Here we provide a space where people can contribute articles and share historical facts and thoughts with others. In this space people and organisations can showcase their own work and inspire others to explore history.

Launch date: May 2020
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History & heritage
07 Sep 2020 - FreeTimePays
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J.R.R. Tolkien and The Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Along the road at Edgbaston Waterworks stands a later Victorian chimney tower. The tower was part of a complex of buildings designed by J H Chamberlain and William Martin around 1870. The pair (Perrotts Folly) are said to have suggested Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith, the Two Towers of Gondor, after which the second volume of The Lord of the Rings is named.

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History & heritage
07 Sep 2020 - FreeTimePays
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J.R.R. Tolkien and The Plough and Harrow Hotel

 In 1913, aged 21, and whilst still at Exeter College in Oxford, Tolkien re-established contact with Edith and their romance was rekindled. They were married in the Spring of 1916 in Warwick and in June of that year spent a night in Birmingham at the Plough & Harrow Hotel. here is a blue plaque here, which was presented by the Tolkien Society in 1997.

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History & heritage
07 Sep 2020 - FreeTimePays
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J.R.R. Tolkien and The Shire Country Park

The Shire Country Park follows the attractive and varied valley of the River Cole as a green ribbon for some four miles from Small Heath to Yardley Wood. It was named in 2005 to reflect Tolkien’s links with the local area. The ford at Green Road (formerly Green Lane) is one of the few remaining fords along the Cole Valley and would have been very familiar to the young J.R.R. Tolkien.

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History & heritage
03 Sep 2020 - FreeTimePays
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J.R.R. Tolkien in the Library of Birmingham

On Level 4 in the Archives & Collections section of the Library of Birmingham at Centenary Square you can find material related to Tolkien.

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J.R.R. Tolkien in the Library of Birmingham





On Level 4 in the Archives & Collections section of the Library of Birmingham at Centenary Square you can find material related to Tolkien.


So popular is the novelist that J R R Tolkien’s classic fantasy tale The Hobbit was chosen as the first book to grace the showpiece Centenary Square building in a poll carried out prior to the Library opening.

At Birmingham Repertory Theatre next door to the Library, a blue plaque commemorates Dr J. Sampson Gamgee, a local surgeon and founder of the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund.

‘Sam Gamgee’ was the name chosen by Tolkien for Frodo’s faithful companion in The Lord of the Rings.

The surgeon’s widow lived opposite Tolkien’s aunt in Stirling Road and therefore he would have been familiar with the name.

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History & heritage
03 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
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James Watt's Heathfield Hall in Handsworth

If you go to Handsworth and look for Heathfield Hall, the home of James Watt from 1790 until his death in 1819, you wont find it. Other than The Lodge, built in 1797. In 2019 on the bicentenary of his death, the Birmingham Civic Society placed a new blue plaque on the building. Sadly the hall was demolished in 1927, and the Heathfield Estate is now full of houses.

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James Watt's Heathfield Hall in Handsworth





If you go to Handsworth and look for Heathfield Hall, the home of James Watt from 1790 until his death in 1819, you wont find it. Other than The Lodge, built in 1797. In 2019 on the bicentenary of his death, the Birmingham Civic Society placed a new blue plaque on the building. Sadly the hall was demolished in 1927, and the Heathfield Estate is now full of houses.


Heathfield Hall, Handsworth

James Watt lived at Heathfield Hall from 1790, until his death there in 1819. The hall was erected sometime between 1787 and 1790. At the time Handsworth was located in the county of Staffordshire (it wouldn't become a part of Birmingham until 1911). The architect was Samuel Wyatt who was recommended to Watt by his business partner Matthew Boulton. He had designed Boulton's home of Soho House (still standing today and is a museum run by the Birmingham Museums Trust).

After Watt died in 1819, his workshop was sealed, and very few people saw it after that. His son James Watt Jr ended up living at Aston Hall in Aston. By 1876, the hall was eventually surrounded by semi-detached villas, such as up Radnor Road. The contents were later moved to The Science Museum in London in 1924 (to recreate the room) this included well over 8000 individual objects. The hall was later demolished in 1927.

The Heathfield Estate now contains houses around West Drive and North Drive (built during the 1930s). But The Lodge to the hall built in 1797 still survives on Radnor Road. In 2019 on the bicentenary of Watt's death, the Birmingham Civic Society unveiled a blue plaque on The Lodge.

An 1853 painting of Heathfield Hall in Handsworth by Allen Edward Everitt. From the Public Domain. Taken from the Birmingham Museums Trust Digital Image Resource which you can find here: 1977V43 Heathfield Hall, Handsworth.

The Lodge to Heathfield Hall

Located at 33 Radnor Road in Handsworth, this is the only building that survived the bulldozers in the late 1920s. The Lodge is said to date to 1797, so is probably the oldest building on Radnor Road (the other buildings looked Victorian to me).

Blue plaque from the Birmingham Civic Society, placed on The Lodge in 2019. The Lodge was the gatehouse to Heathfield Hall, which was the home of James Watt (1736 - 1819).

There was also a previous plaque here, about The Lodge being the Gate-keepers house to James Watt. Built 1797.

Was also this sign on the corner of Radnor Road and West Drive saying simply, The Lodge 1797.

Heathfield Estate

Before I got to The Lodge, I saw Radnor House, which is a Residential Home at 31 Radnor Road in Handsworth. This was probably a semi-detached villa built around 1876.

Beyond The Lodge, a look down West Drive. It's a bit hard to imagine Heathfield Hall being somewhere down or around here. Many of these houses were built in the 1930s.

On North Drive I saw this lion sculpture holding a shield outside of a house. I wonder if it is a survivor from the 18th century, or a more recent sculpture?

Heading back to Hamstead Road to catch the 16 back into the City Centre, I saw this building from Gibson Road. It's the Bethel United Church on the corner of Gibson Road and Beaudesert Road in Handsworth. I'm not sure if this was part of the Heathfield Estate, or just outside of it.

You can catch the no 16 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus from Birmingham City Centre, and get off on Hamstead Road in Handsworth. I decided to not go to Handsworth Park or see St Mary's Church again this time around, as I just came for the blue plaque mainly. Bus stops in town on Upper Dean Street, Moor Street Queensway, Colmore Circus Queensway and Snow Hill Queensway.

 

You can old black and white photographs of Heathfield Hall here: Birmingham Images: Library of Birmingham.

For more on the blue plaque, click here: Blue Plaque to James Watt unveiled.

 

List of previous Boulton & Watt related posts:

 

Modern photos taken by Elliott Brown at the beginning of September 2020.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

 

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