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Birmingham Post: Hidden Spaces

Bournville Carillon was featured in the Birmingham Post's 'Hidden Spaces of Birmingham' series.

Birmingham’s varied past is charted through its rich and diverse architectural heritage and it’s this that gives the city its unique identity. In these Hidden Spaces features Matthew Goer, of Associated Architects, takes a rare glimpse behind the façades of some of Birmingham’s best-known buildings and also discovers some lesser-known, hidden spaces within the city, to reveal the people and stories that have shaped its history.

Walking through Bournville you might hear a haunting, gothic melody, something close to a mish mash of bells and an organ, this is the mesmerising sound of the Bournville Carillon , a musical instrument situated within the Bournville Junior School.

The tower which houses it has a distinctive weathered copper roof, which can be seen rising above the suburbs. The carillon was erected in 1906 and consists of 48 bells hung below a domed copper cupola, it is one of the largest and finest examples of a carillon in the country and is owned and maintained by the Bournville Village Trust .

The design of the historic Junior School is focused around a bold stair tower, which leads to the carillon. Gothic elements feature prominently throughout, oriel windows, detailed carving work and gorgeous golden clocks on the outer walls.

Seen from the roadside the tower conjures images of a bygone time, like a setting from an Enid Blyton novel. However, it’s in fact a fully functioning modern school, which continues to uphold the spirit and ethos of George Cadbury’s original vision.

We were kindly shown around by Trevor Workman, the carillonneur who has been associated with the Bournville Carillon for the last 50 years. Mr. Workman studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire, developing his skills as both an accomplished pianist and organist. Over the years he has become a world renowned carillonneur, representing Great Britain in festivals across the globe.

The Carillon plays every Saturday at 12pm and 3pm, for an hour at a time.Their website suggests that perfect time to catch a performance is one a hot summer's day as you wander through the leafy streets of Bournville. Like some of the other spaces in this publication, it’s occasionally accessible to the public on open days or via appointment and we urge you to get out and explore this fascinating part of our city’s rich architectural heritage.

By Jack Tasker, Colmore Business District

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