Post-war High-Rise in Birmingham II: ‘Get these people out of the slums!’

Municipal Dreams

Last week’s post looked at some of the contextual forces behind Birmingham’s post-war volte-face – from a city proclaiming a ‘prejudice against flats’ as ‘one expression of its independence of character’ to one which led the country in building big and high.  Today, we’ll examine the internal dynamics – a potent combination of ideals, money and power – which brought this love affair with high-rise to its peak and ensured that it would all ultimately end in tears.

The Sentinels, Birmingham, built by Bryants between 1971-72.  At 32 stroeys, they were intended to surpass the recently completed Red Road tower blocks in Glasgow  © Oosoom and made available by Wikimedia Commons The Sentinels, Holloway Head, built by Bryants between 1971-72. Birmingham’s highest blocks at 32 storeys, they were intended to surpass the recently completed Red Road flats in Glasgow © Oosoom and made available by Wikimedia Commons

Birmingham had been home to some of the ‘big beasts’ of local government since the days of Joseph Chamberlain. That tradition continued.  Labour had won control of the Council in 1945 but a Unionist (Conservative) administration, highly critical of…

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