We were sent some images of Northfield Manor House last week by local MP Richard Burden, and we know many of you would love to see them.
The photographs of the house and gardens were taken back in the early 1970s by a then resident of the building, Keith (Phil) Mawer (Above photo: front row, 2nd from right).
Originally from Hull, Mr Mawer came to Birmingham in 1969 to do a BSc (Hons) in Geography at the University of Birmingham.
He moved into the hall of residence in January 1970 – at the time it was still male only (“well, in theory!”).
Mr Mawer told us that he felt fortunate to get a place in the Manor, where a full English breakfast was served every morning. A formal evening dinner was served by waitresses.
Mr Mawer moved into a large shared room above the President’s Suite in his second year. This room offered a balcony with stunning views and honeysuckle growing beneath the window.
Mr Mawer said: “I greatly enjoyed living at Manor – it was an idyllic place, not least the views down to the lake and park – midnight tipsy trips to the swings!
“The azaleas and rhododendrons in the grounds were an absolute delight, and the upper hidden gardens towards the estate.
“Not to mention games of croquet, water-fights in summer and sliding down the slopes on trays in winter.”
After studying for 4 years at the University of Birmingham, Mr Mawer went on to teach at St Philip’s Roman Catholic Boys’ Grammar School, next to the Oratory. In the eighties, he studied to become a Chartered Librarian before returning to Yorkshire, and eventually, home to Hull where he is now enjoying retirement.
Thanks to Mr Mawer for sharing his memories of his time at the Manor!
The history of Northfield Manor
Northfield Manor House was built in 1820 (although there was a manor house on the site since the early 1700s) and was the home of George and Elizabeth Cadbury between 1894 and 1922, when George passed away. Elizabeth Cadbury remained there until her death in 1951.
During the summer months, the family accommodated hundreds of disadvantaged children from around the city there, to give them a taste of the countryside. During World War II, the grounds were used as a training centre for the Friends’ Ambulance Unit.
It was gifted to the University of Birmingham in 1952 and converted to be used as halls of residence for the University of Birmingham between 1958 and 2007.
The Grade A locally listed building then stood empty for several years and it was deemed by English Heritage that it did not fulfil the criteria for becoming a fully listed building.
Banner Homes submitted a planning application to Birmingham City Council, seeking to renovate the existing Manor House and convert it into apartments. View Northfield Manor : in pictures
Video by onenarrowdoor on YouTube
Sadly, however, the building was destroyed by fire in July 2014, following an arson attack.
The University had engineers try to save parts of the building but, following the fire, it was mostly demolished.
Plans have been submitted by Crest Nicholson Homes to demolish the remains of the building but, with the University of Birmingham keen to keep a link to the site’s heritage, the proposals include a new apartment building to reflect the original house.
The external appearance of the reinstatement will be that of the Manor House as it was.
Inside there will be 26 modern apartments and it will be surrounded by new build apartment buildings and houses.
Northfield Manor: in pictures
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