History in Structure

Numbers 498-506 with Attached Gatepiers and Railings

A Grade II Listed Building in Sparkbrook, Birmingham

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Latitude: 52.4569 / 52°27'24"N

Longitude: -1.8856 / 1°53'8"W

OS Eastings: 407868

OS Northings: 284336

OS Grid: SP078843

Mapcode National: GBR 63K.K4

Mapcode Global: VH9Z3.8HHW

Plus Code: 9C4WF447+QP

Entry Name: Numbers 498-506 with Attached Gatepiers and Railings

Listing Date: 12 October 2006

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391784

English Heritage Legacy ID: 495889

ID on this website: 101391784

Location: Balsall Heath, Birmingham, West Midlands, B12

County: Birmingham

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Balsall Heath

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham

Tagged with: Building

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997/0/10446 MOSELEY ROAD
12-OCT-06 498-506

Printing works with office range, 1904-1924, and attached house, C18 with early C20 alterations, both with attached gatepiers and railings. The main elevation of the factory, facing Moseley Road, is in a Neo-Georgian style, built of brick with stone detailing. This range, dating from 1924, is rectangular on plan, running east-west, and comprises a single depth suite of offices with large print workshops to the rear; it adjoins the earlier factory range, dating from 1904-7, which runs north-south at the rear, creating an L-shaped plan. The workshops are brick built with metal frame construction to the interior.
EXTERIOR : The main elevation is of three storeys and five bays, with basement and parapet. The bays at either end project forward, with doorways to the ground floor with heavy doorcasings and alternate projecting stones in the voussoirs, and scrolls to the keystone and string course above. The first and second floors of these bays are articulated by alternate bands of brick and stone, now painted cream. Each storey has a single window, six-over-six pane sashes set in stone dressings. The bays in the central section each have a pair of similar windows; those to the first floor have arched tops and projecting keystones, and stone cills. The windows to the second floor have shallow projecting brick aprons. The parapet over the central range has a dentil cornice, and has a scroll similar to those used in the ground floor set at the centre. The printing workshops to the rear are two storeys, and have banks of north lights to the northern elevation, with segmental headed windows with timber casements to the south. The western elevation facing the inner courtyard has brick built bays with heavy cornice to either end, with four bays of full height metal framed windows between them.
Cottage : Myrtle Cottage is attached to the main range facing Moseley Road, and the two buildings communicate. The cottage is a two storey house of rendered brick, with slate covered hipped roof and brick stacks, with full height bow windows and a flamboyant central porch.
INTERIOR : The office suite is single depth, and has glass panel doors and tongue and groove clad partitions; the timber staircase has plain stick balusters and Deco-inspired newel posts and pendants. A decorative cast iron spiral staircase at the rear rises throughout all four floors, including the cellar, which is fitted out with washing and lavatory facilities and a strongroom. The original factory range has a steel internal structure, supported on round profile columns and with the central section of each workshop originally open to the roof with a gallery running around all four sides. The open floor has been filled in but the structure remains intact. The second factory range has two full floors of similar construction.
Cottage : the interior of the cottage dates almost entirely from the early C20. The former director's office has decorative hardwood panelling part hung with embossed leather, an Art Nouveau stained glass window and large fireplace with integral seating to either side. The remainder of the house has similarly high quality early C20 detailing. The stair is an open string type with two balusters to each tread, a ramped handrail at the top, and a projecting curtail step with wreathed handrail.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES : Both the printing works and Myrtle Cottage retain their original gatepiers and railings.

HISTORY : J H Butcher and Co. Ltd was already an established printing firm in the 1890s, at which time their premises were in New Street, Birmingham. In 1896, J H Butcher brought water slide transfers to the UK from Germany, where the technique had been developed, in order to supply them to Birmingham's cycle trade. By 1904 the venture had been so successful that he bought the site at Moseley Road, which included an eighteenth century house, Myrtle Cottage, and constructed his first factory on the site, to the rear of the plot on which Myrtle Cottage stands, which opened in 1907. The cottage was always the home of the Butcher family, and was in the early C20 altered to create fashionable bow shaped bays rising from the ground and first floors. By the time of the First World War, Butchers were already established as the market leaders in the country. The business continued to expand, and having discovered the technique whilst training in America, Ernest, the son of J H Butcher, became a pionner of the use of silk screen printing in Britain. The business continued to flourish and more space was required, so the 'new factory' was constructed on the Moseley Road site, adjacent to Myrtle Cottage and communicating with it, so that the family had immediate access to the works at all times. The main elevation of the 'new factory' is in part an office range, and this was completed in 1924.


The criteria for selection for industrial buildings of the period post-1840 include architectural interest, planning and evidence of processes and function, appropriate context and intactness, as well as completeness of an overall site and demonstration of local specialisms and industry. Butchers Print Works represents an increasingly rare survival of a print making factory which has remained in its original use and in the same ownership since it was built in the period 1904-1924, with very few alterations to the fabric of the buildings in the intervening period. The office range has special architectural interest in its well-handled Neo-Georgian fa├žade, with architectural distinction in its use of materials and classical forms which are more sophisticated than would be strictly necessary for an industrial building. The workshops clearly reflect their purpose in the printing process, with their extensive use of north lights and lofty, open spaces to house large scale machinery. In addition, J H Butcher and Co were associated with the introduction and development of important printing techniques which made the company one of the largest businesses of its kind in the country by the Second World War, and which intimately linked Butchers with the manufacturing firms of Birmingham, particularly the cycle trade, as it provided transfers and printed matter for their products. The fact that the family which owned the factory remained resident on the site until such a late date, rather than moving to the suburbs, adds to the buildings' special interest. The buildings also demonstrate strong group value with the School of Art (grade II*), to which they stand adjacent, and from which the works recruited many of its designers; and the Library and Public Baths (grade II*) opposite, which would have provided bathing and leisure facilities for the print workers.

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