Little Known Ladywood

A guide to this new artwork from artist Claire Cotterill.

This large scale collage celebrates the history and many incarnations of Westside, Broad Street and Ladywood.

It’s inspired by walks, discussion and research with the participants and narrators who have put together the Little-Known Ladywood audio tour.

Once a host to many local trades and businesses, this area has evolved into a thriving inner city area of Birmingham for entertainment, hospitality and nightlife, though sadly paused recently during pandemic times! 

Undergoing extensive redevelopment in the 90’s and further works today, it is a beautiful place to meander through the inner city canal networks.

Archival imagery from the Rum Runner and Barbarellas, where bands like Duran Duran played and were discovered, celebrate its musical heritage, alongside recently named ‘Black Sabbath Bridge’.

The artwork celebrates companies like Lee Longlands, the well-known furniture company that has existed there for over 100 years, and the Ostler Glass company, famous internationally for its incredible glassworks and chandeliers.

Bingley Hall is featured as a key venue in Birmingham, its first exhibition hall, and we celebrate the Prince of Wales Theatre, predating Symphony Hall and sadly destroyed by bombing during WW2.

Kunzles chocolate factory is included, referencing the upmarket chocalatier that was based in Five Ways.

The artwork features St Peters Church, where the ICC now stands, and The Church of the Messiah, a prominent church, formerly on Broad Street.

One stunning church still stands in all its beauty, though now a nightclub, it’s rumoured an unidentified body was discovered buried beneath its steps! See if you can find this in the artwork.

Looking up as you walk along Broad Street, you’ll notice the amazing work of Brutalist sculptor William George Mitchell. Here playfully juxtapsoed with a sign for a club located next door.

At Five Ways, Joseph Sturge’s status is featured at the very top of the work. He was a much loved Birmingham industrialist, abolitionist and philanthropist.

As a member of the Temperance (no alcohol!) movement, it’s said that he would arrange for limes to be sent over from his plantation in the West Indies. He would often be seen handing them out to workers leaving the pubs, encouraging health and abstinence!

The clock at Five Ways is was dedicated to city coroner John Bert-Davies for his own deciation to his role – he’s featured on the artwork next to Joseph Sturge. It is said he was so dedicated to his work he never left Birmingham during his working life. 

There’s so much content and details in the artworks, we hope