UPDATE 7.50am 1/8/2014 West Midlands. Police have confirmed that three youngsters have been arrested in relation to arson at Manor House. The schoolboys, aged 12, 14 and 15, were taken into custody where they were questioned yesterday evening and later released on bail pending further enquiries.
Enquiries are on-going and witnesses are still urged to come forward.
Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
The historic Northfield Manor House, former home of George Cadbury, suffered a huge fire just after 8pm on Wednesday 30th July.
At the height of the blaze, 20 appliances from across West Midlands Fire Service were in attendance, along with police and West Midlands Ambulance Service’s HART teams, along with staff from National Grid, Western Power and the Environment Agency.
At just after 11.30pm, Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach tweeted: “Fire at Manor House Northfield, suspected Arson. Firefighters will be here through the night. No injuries to public or [firefighters] reported”
CFO Loach also said that although firefighters had contained the fire to the main building, the tall unsupported chimneys were making the area hazardous. He anticipated fire crews will be working through the night to fully extinguish the fire.
And this morning (31st July) West Midlands police have confirmed that the fire is being treated as suspicious. Enquiries are ongoing and a forensic specialist will examine the house once it is deemed safe to do so.
Video by onenarrowdoor on YouTube
Originally built in 1820 (although there was a building there at an earlier date), Northfield Manor House was the home of George and Elizabeth Cadbury, from 1894 until George passed away in 1922. During the summer months, the family accommodated disadvantaged children from around the city there, to give them a taste of the countryside. It was bequeathed to the University of Birmingham and previously used as halls of residence. It has been empty since 2007 and is Grade A locally listed which offers it some protection from demolition.
Over recent years, there has been a lot of discussion on the future of the building, as the University attempted to sell the building to developers.
In 2012, Banner Homes submitted a planning application to Birmingham City Council to turn the main building, and others on the site, into apartments, maintaining key features such as fireplaces, stained glass and stairways.There is no update on the council planning site since the public consultation period ended in March of this year.
Tonight’s fire is a sad ending to a long discussion on the future of another building that Northfield will be sad to lose.
What are your memories of the Manor House?
If you have any information regarding this incident, please call West Midlands Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111