Here are some views of Charles Barry's building in New Street which was built for and occupied by King Edward's School.

The building's life was from 30th January 1838 when the School first occupied it to March/April 1936 when it was demolished. In the 1890s it was joined by a building erected on the adjacent Hen & Chickens Hotel site in order to accommodate the Girls' School. It was this latter building which introduced the distinctive towers to the Birmingham skyline and it shared the same eventual fate in 1936.

The School had moved out on an unspecified earlier date to its new site in Edgabston. There the permanent replacement buildings had not yet been erected and so the School was housed in temporary accommodation. One of the reasons for the move, it has been suggested, was that the Headmaster had deemed the old building to be a fire risk.

Below are some images of Barry's masterpiece, designed before he moved on to the Houses of Parliament. It is a delicious irony that on 6th May 1936, just a few weeks after the pictures of the demolition were published and certainly before the site had been cleared, it was not the risky old building which caught alight but rather the School's temporary accommodation. The latter was burned to the ground in a conflagration which exercised the attention of 70 firemen and 14 appliances. The cause was probably identified as an "an electrical fault". But it is tempting to think of it as an act of divine retribution for the act of vandalism which had been taking place in New Street. Or perhaps a case of a Birmingham resident with a sense of history, a feeling of outrage and a handy box of matches.

Had the building survived the 1930s, it would only have had to withstand the Luftwaffe's attentions in 1940/41 and later those of the city planners of the 1950s/60s, and then we might still have had it today, restored for some 21st century use just like St. Pancras Station and a gem in Birmingham's midst.

This is where it was.

Old map showing location of King Edward's High School in New Street                               (Image courtesy of G.K.)


THE EXTERIOR   (1838 - 1936)

                                                                                                                                                                                  (Image courtesy of G.K.)

In the 1890s the appearance of the School changed as a result of an extension to the site. The appearance of girl pupils was the reason. This is how it happened.

The Girls' School was opened on 18th September 1893, in the Assembly Hall of the Boys' School in the Barry building.  150 girls were taught in the Hall, and 'classrooms' were separated by curtain partitions.

The Girls' Assembly Hall was separated from Big School - the Boys' Hall - by a corridor, the doors of which were carefully locked!

The establishment of the girls in the Barry building was most definitely a temporary measure, and the Governors continued to look for a central site on which to build the Girls' School.  In 1889, the premises of the Liberal Club at the corner of Congreve Street became vacant and the Governors decided to take the building as another temporary, but far more more spacious, premises in which to house the girls.

In 1893, the old Hen and Chickens Hotel (adjoining the boys' school in New Street) was for sale.  The Governors quickly bought the site.  At first sight the position was far from ideal, as it consisted of a narrow strip of land running back from the street with a very small frontage.  However, Mr Chatwin, the architect, made the best of the space and a handsome
school building - the High School for Girls - was opened on November 26th 1896.

below....Main Entrance to Girls' School ..........................................................   and Tower    (images by courtesy of G.K.)

     And images from 1905....

     ...and the late 1920s.....

    ....and perhaps a year or two later, in the early 1930s, viewed from the other direction so that it is to the right .........

THE INTERIOR   (1838 - 1936)

     Entrance corridor of the adjacent Girl's School                                                                                                                                            (Image courtesy of G.K.)

Staircase (Girls' School)                                                                                 (Image courtesy of G.K.)

     First Assembly Hall                                                                                                                                  (image courtesy of G.K.)

 The Board Room: Governors' table and chairs  

THE END   (Spring 1936)


Barry's building had itself replaced another apparently noble structure.

                                                                                                                                                          (Source: Wikipedia and "jennyann")

The sources of this information and the images to whom grateful acknowledgement is made are: 'AW', Foundation Archivist, The Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham (for general information, comments about the arrival of girls and most of the images not otherwise acknowledged); and 'Moma P' , 'jennyann', 'Cromwell/G.K.', 'motorman-mike' and others, all members of the Birmingham History forum.

This page exists mainly for the convenience of members of the Birmingham History Forum  from one of whose threads - on the subject of King Edward's - there is a link. For anyone interested in Birmingham history, that forum is highly recommended.
A memory of New Street from six or seven years after
the demolition of this noble building and very shortly after the Luftwaffe's attentions of 1940/41 can be read on an associated page within this website.
In addition, this staffshomeguard website contains other information about Birmingham and one aspect of its recent history - the role of the Home Guard in WW2. Please use the Home Page and Index link below to see what is available, or click one of the following shortcuts.