Another devastating blow for local heritage as an historic wooden barn in Manor Farm Park, built by the Cadbury family as a community resource, was totally destroyed by fire in the early hours of this morning (Monday 31st July).
West Midlands Fire Service received over sixty 999 calls and 23 firefighters attended the severe fire around 3am.
West Midlands Police confirmed this morning that the fire was being treated as arson and appealed for witnesses to come forward.
The ‘Cadbury’ Barn, at the entrance to Manor Farm Park in Northfield, was originally built in 1894 by local business man and philanthropist George Cadbury.
The barn was built when he and Dame Elizabeth lived at neighbouring Northfield Manor House, which was destroyed in an arson attack almost 3 years ago to the day on 30th July 2014.
The Cadburys held parties for impoverished children from across the city in the barn and it was used as a base and training centre for the Friends Ambulance Unit during World War II.
In recent years, a consultation was carried out by Birmingham Conservation Trust to determine a plan for restoring the barn and adjacent buildings as a community resource once again.
Following the consultation there was hope that the barn would be restored as a tearoom and facilities, with adjacent buildings also being restored for use by a charity or group.
A spokesperson for the Friends of Manor Farm Park group said:
“We have been working with other stakeholders over a number of years to develop plans and secure funding to restore the Barn and associated buildings as a multi-use community resource with cafe and toilets, for the benefit of park users and the local community. This is therefore devastating news for the whole neighbourhood.
“Needless to say we are all very upset – another piece of Cadbury legacy now lost forever.”
Northfield MP Richard Burden (Labour) said:
“The barn at Manor Park Farm was part of this area’s heritage. It is only a few years since fire destroyed the nearby historic Manor House so it is very sad that the Barn has now been lost to fire as well. If this was a deliberate act, I very much hope those responsible can be identified and held to account.”
If you have any information on the cause of the blaze, please call West Midlands Police on 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org
[Article will be updated as more info received]
Click images to enlarge