History of the Great Western ArcADE, bIRMINGHAM

The Arcade was built by the Great Western Company in 1876/77 to span a tunnel for the railway line between Moor St and Snow Hill stations. WH Ward designed the Arcade strongly influenced by Joseph Paxton's pioneering Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851. 

Having sustained bomb damage in World War 2, the entrance at Colmore Row was rebuilt to a different style and the original roof was replaced by an apexed construction rather than the original arched roof. The plaster mouldings above the doors on the balcony remain adding to its original splendour. The stone masonry on Temple Row is still in good order and remains a focal point of interest with both tourists and students. 

The Arcade underwent restoration works in 1984 and in recognition of these efforts the Birmingham Civic Society awarded the arcade a prize in 1985. In 1988 the Arcade was voted Birmingham’s favourite building.

As the Arcade continues to provide a popular shopping environment the current owners, Aviva Investors, undertook further major refurbishment in 2009, investing £250,000 in the project.

In addition to being completely repainted throughout to provide a new look and clean appearance, the project included the repair and refurbishment of the floor.   A state-of-the-art lighting system has also been installed utilising the existing wrought iron Victorian globe lights which run along the full length of the Arcade balcony.  The computer controlled lights have the ability to change to any colour within the entire spectrum and can be selected to alter the mood within the Arcade, depending upon the time of day or year, or for special events.

The Arcade’s original Victorian chiming clock has also received a complete overhaul and although the Westminster chime will not be operational every day, plans are for it to be heard on special occasions and events.

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Historical Facts

The Arcade was built by the Great Western Company in 1876 / 77


During World War 2 the Arcade sustained bomb damage


The Arcade underwent restoration in 1984 & was given an award by the Birmingham Civic Society


In 1988 the arcade was voted Birmingham's favourite building


In 2009 the Arcade had a major refurbishment costing over £250,000

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