Over the years from 2011 to 2017, I travelled to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood, Sandwell to check on the progress of the restoration of Lightwoods House. In the early years it was covered in scaffolding. The house was built in the late 18th century and re-fronted in the mid 19th century. Birmingham City Council handed the park over to Sandwell MBC in November 2010.The house reopened in 2017.

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The restoration of Lightwoods House in Lightwoods Park





Over the years from 2011 to 2017, I travelled to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood, Sandwell to check on the progress of the restoration of Lightwoods House. In the early years it was covered in scaffolding. The house was built in the late 18th century and re-fronted in the mid 19th century. Birmingham City Council handed the park over to Sandwell MBC in November 2010.The house reopened in 2017.


Lightwoods Park and House

This will be the first of several posts relating to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood. In this post we will be looking at Lightwoods House.

First off some history from the Wikipedia page (link above). Lightwoods House was built in the late 18th century and was altered in the 19th century. It is a Grade II listed building. The house was built for Jonathan Grundy in 1780 who lived in the house until his death in 1803. The house was later bought by soap manufacturer George Adkins in 1865 who passed it to his son Caleb. In 1902 the grounds and the house were up for sale after the death of Caleb Adkins. A committee purchased the estate and handed it to the Birmingham Corporation who opened the grounds as a park. More land was purchased in 1905 for the park. In 1971 Lightwoods House was converted into studios for Hardman company who vacated the building in 2008. In 2010, Birmingham City Council handed Lightwoods Park over to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.

In the following years Lightwoods House was decaying, and it was only announced in 2015 that the house would be restored. Restoration work was completed in 2016, including the restored Shakespeare Garden, and also includes and Edwardian Tea Room. Other structures around the park were also restored.

2011

My first views of Lightwoods House from my first ever visit to Lightwoods Park back in March 2011.

Scaffolding was all over the house, and all the windows were boarded up.

Close up it looked like there was a P & M Demolition sign around the house. I didn't look very safe or good at this point in time. And was only months after Sandwell Council took over the running of the park.

The side view of the house close to the Shakespeare Garden.

In December 2011 I went back to Lightwoods Park. When there was an event on at the time called Bearwood on Ice. Which was the only outdoor ice rink in the West Midlands that Christmas. So only passed the park to see this event, and not really Lightwoods House (which you can see in the background on the right).

There was artwork in the boarded up windows of Lightwoods House. Which aren't too visible from this distance.

On these ice rink zoom ins you can see the pictures on the windows. They look like old photos or drawings of what the rooms in Lightwoods House used to look like.

Would assume that Lightwoods House was stabalised by this point and no longer in danger of being demolished. After all it is Grade II listed (not that that stops other old listed buildings getting knocked down. There was a small Christmas market here and an inflatable bear.

2014

Another visit to Lightwoods Park in July 2014. Nothing much to update about it at this point other than the fences around it, and the Lottery Funded sign (with the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund).

Saw this view of Lightwoods House from the back on Adkins Lane through this gate.

Windows at the time were still all boarded up. This is the area that would later become the car park for Lightwoods House. The Shakespeare Garden to the left. The old gates and fences would be replaced. The metal railings on the left was later replaced with a period style brick wall. The old surface of this area was also replaced for the car park that was later built here.

2016

In January 2016 there was fences and hoarding all around Lightwoods House and green sheets around the scaffolding. Evidence that the restoration had begun.

The fences outside of the house at the time meant that visitors to the park couldn't walk past it, but at least the restoration was under way.

So you had to walk near the wall close to Hagley Road West for views like this.

Was a bit hard to see what was going on behind the scaffolding. Looks like they were doing the roof and tiles.

This view from Hagley Road West. They were also restoring the Bandstand.

An update from September 2016. The scaffolding had come down and the house was looking as good as new.

The fences was still in front of the house and path, so saw again from the same views as earlier in 2016.

I also got this view through the fence of the left side of Lightwoods House. Into 2017 and it would be fully restored.

2017

By November 2017, Lightwoods House and all the other old structures in Lightwoods Park were fully restored and reopened. This is the best the house has looked in more than a decade. The Drinking Fountain is close to the entrance of the Shakespeare Garden.

The footpath has been re-tarmaced and the brickwork looking fresh and clean.

Close up of Lightwoods House. Compared to my old March 2011 views, this looks much better. Taking it back to 1780.

There is a new Edwardian Tea Room on the left. Although I didn't go in there. It is called Jonathan's in the Park.

Further back from Lightwoods House, they installed some picnic benches. Car park entrance to the left.

The Big Sleuth bear that was in Warley Woods in the summer of 2017 is now directly in front of the Edwardian Tea Room. Bentley the Bearwood Bear by the artist Rebecca Cresswell working with PAID (Positive Activities Innovative Development) and it was funded by PAID and Sandwell Council. It wasn't part of The Big Sleuth charity auction, it was paid for independently.

The back of Bentley the Bearwood Bear as he observes his new surroundings after the summer spent in the Warley Woods.

More Lightswoods Park posts coming soon, including one on the Shakespeare Garden.

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Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020