Friday Photo: Coleridge Chambers
This must be the most brightly coloured building at the end of Corporation Street by the Victoria Law Courts and Methodist Central Hall. It’s Grade II listed and was built in 1898 for the Birmingham Mutual Sick Benefit and Old Age Society. John W. Allen of West Bromwich was the architect and the builder was J. Harley & Son of Smethwick. The layout is quite modern with the ground floor laid out as shops with doors to the street while the upper floors are individual offices. Doorways and hallways leading to the offices are full of fantastic coloured and patterned tiles.
Coleridge Passage runs down the side of the building and connects Corporation St with Steelhouse Lane. A workhouse previously stood on this site, conveniently placed next to the general hospital and police station.
I had always assumed the Coleridge name was taken from the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge to give an air of sophistication – just like the Ruskin Building next door. Coleridge did visit Birmingham in 1796 on a two-fold mission, to preach a Unitarian gospel and to promote his “Watchman” publication. It seems neither task went well but he acquired a follower, aspiring poet Charles Lloyd of the Lloyds banking family. Charles did not take to a life of numbers and paid Coleridge £80 for a year of 3 hours tuition every day. Charles’ poetry would not improve in his quaker family and Coleridge needed the money.