Birmingham Industry

Birmingham Battery & Metal Co – Selly Oak

Birmingham Battery & Metal Co - Selly Oak

Birmingham Battery & Metal Co - Selly Oak

The Birmingham Battery & Metal Co opened a new rolling mill in Selly Oak in 1871 to equip them for their new venture into rolling and tube production. Incidentally, to dispel a popularly held local misconception, the company did not make ‘batteries’: ‘battery’ was a term for hammering, or battering, ingots of metal into various shapes for the production of various products – pans and kettles, for example.

The Selly Oak site rapidly grew and added a copper refinery, tube mill, rolling mill and canal wharf on the Dudley Canal (now drained and filled) at its junction with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The firm enjoyed a boom period supplying railways with stay rods for boilers, amongst other products, and expanding to the point where a coal-fired gas production plant was built to power the machinery and its own power station!

However, as did many of the heavy industries, the company fell into difficulty during the 1980s and closed down leaving a large site prime for redevelopment but heavily contaminated. In its heyday the site was considerable but proposals for residential development were rebuffed due to the land contamination and instead, part of the site was turned into Battery Park – a retail development – and a large Sainsbury’s store.

Futher development of the area is underway with the future of the remaining factory structure looking seriously grim if the following consultation document is anything to go by:

“It was questionable whether the frontage of the Battery Office building could be retained as part of the redevelopment, as it would not correspond aesthetically with other buildings on the site. Also, the frontage was not in good structural condition.”

SELLY OAK WARD COMMITTEE 14/12/05

It would appear that what is now proposed is a renavigating of the Dudley Canal – which had been drained and filled, remnants of which can be clearly seen on Harborne Lane – and the construction of a 54-acre retail and residential site and a new, bigger Sainsburys on the site of the remaining Company building.

I have to say I think the remaining Company office building is fantastic and defintiely aesthetically pleasing in a rather gothic manner and I, for one, will be sorry to see it go if it does get swept away:  the road building and bypass scheme – although well-advanced – has not brought about the demise of the building on Bristol Road as yet but I feel it’s more a matter of ‘when’ than an ‘if’.

Discussion

2 comments for “Birmingham Battery & Metal Co – Selly Oak”

  1. I recently took a look inside the Battery works to document the change, and impact time and history have had on the place. Unfortunately, it’s been heavily neglected and vandalised. I wish I could have seen it in its’ former beauty.

    Here’s some photos, please copy them into your browser.

    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/13.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/1.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/2.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/5.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/6.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/7.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/8.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/3.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/4.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/9.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/10.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/11.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/12.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/14.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.adampowell.org.uk/urbex/010309/15.jpg[/img]

    Posted by Adders 0121 | March 30, 2009, 1:19 pm
  2. Excellent work Adam – I’ve spent years musing over what the interior must look like and now you’ve answered that question: shame to see it left to rot though.

    Posted by Andy Doherty | April 2, 2009, 10:41 pm

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