Lost history uncovered during tram works

A lost piece of history has been uncovered during construction work to extend the tramway to the Westside of Birmingham.

Original Victorian roller shutters have surfaced at a shop in Pinfold Street during works by the Midland Metro Alliance to extend the tramway from Grand Central to Hagley Road in Edgbaston.

The roller shutters, which would have been used to provide security, were previously hidden by the shop front of hair salon Supercuts, which was once home to 19th century piano manufacturers Dale, Forty & Co, among others, during that time.

Due to historical interest, the shutters will be preserved and enclosed with a new sign. They are unable to be left exposed as they currently extend under the shop front of an adjacent store. Based on the preservation rulings, the roller shutters do not need to be displayed.

Steve Grimes, the Midland Metro Alliance’s Project Director for the Birmingham Westside Extension, said: “There is always potential for items of historical importance to be uncovered during construction, and these roller shutters are a fascinating find that provide an interesting glimpse into the history of Birmingham city centre.

“We started construction on the first phase of the extension last year, and the shutters were uncovered during structural repairs to the building, which, due to its age, needed to be carried out prior to the main works. Due to their heritage, the shutters will be staying in place, but will be covered with new fascia.”

Strengthening works will form the next stage of construction in Pinfold Street, with works expected to be completed there in the summer. Supercuts will move back in following a full refurbishment.

The extension, designed and built by the Midland Metro Alliance working on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority, is the next phase of works following the tram extension from St Chads to Grand Central, which opened for passenger service in May 2016.

The ambitious plans will see the new line operate between Grand Central to Hagley Road in Edgbaston, improving transport links to and from the west of Birmingham, making journeys faster and more accessible, in turn helping businesses and supporting more jobs.

Five new tram stops will connect passengers to Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Brindley Place, Five Ways and Hagley Road, with links to popular attractions including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the International Convention Centre and Symphony Hall, allowing more people to use the tram in this area for day-to-day travel, reducing road congestion in the city centre, as well as improving sustainable transport options along Broad Street and beyond.

The first phase of the works will take the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services expected to commence in 2019/20. The second phase will continue to Edgbaston, and is planned to open in 2021, in time for Birmingham’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games, for which transport improvements in the city, including the tram extension, will play an important part in delivering a successful event.

For any further questions about the work, please visit www.metroalliance.co.uk/projects/birmingham-westside-extension/ or email communications@metroalliance.co.uk.