Birmingham Central Library

Birmingham, England, UK

Demolished 1974

The Disappointed Tourist: Birmingham Central Library, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

After the first Birmingham Central library burned in 1879, a new library was rebuilt on the same site in 1882 by J. H. Chamberlain in a Lombardic Renaissance style with a tall clerestoried Reading Room. By 1938, the council determined that a new library was necessary but the outbreak of World War II delayed its construction. It was not until 1960, and the creation of a new Inner Ring Road that the building was demolished. The site is now part of the Birmingham Conservatoire. A new brutalist Central Library was erected in 1974 on a separate site and was demolished in its turn in 2017. I don’t know who took the photograph on which this painting is based.

This is an old beautiful Victorian building which looks incredible and a piece of art in of itself. We both would have loved to have visited this place instead of the newer versions we have been able to visit. I am sure it would have been very spectacular. Steve B. & Sophie H.