Although, this post says it’s by Anne-Marie Hayes, I’m in fact an imposter, because this is Dave Evetts’ first ever Friday Photo post for Birmingham Conservation Trust, and it’s a good one! Lightwoods House in Bearwood faces Harborne across Hagley Road West. Originally built as a private house and park in 1791 for Jonathan Grundy II of Leicestershire, the last residents were the Adkins family who made their money running a local soap factory.
On the death of Caleb Adkins in 1902, the park and house were sold to developers. Woods and farmland to the north rapidly became the houses of modern Bearwood.
A fund was started by locals to buy back the house and park. The leading backer of this fund was Alexander Chance, one of the brothers of the famous glassworks.
The land was saved and presented to Birmingham Corporation in 1902. The park was opened to the public in June 1903. During the First World War, the house was used as a Red Cross Military Hospital for the recovery of injured soldiers.
After the last commercial tenants left in 2007, the house stood empty and began to deteriorate. Both the park and house were acquired from Birmingham by Sandwell Council in 2010. Work began to bring it back into use with £5.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery Fund and Sandwell Council.
The Lightwoods House restoration scheme picked up the Best Public Building title in the West Midlands Celebrating Construction Awards in April 2017. The refurbished Lightwoods House is due to open this year with a tearoom, community spaces and its famous Shakespeare Garden.