Birmingham: The Brutiful Years


Birmingham: The Brutiful Years

By Mary Keating, Jenny Marris and John Bell.

"A beautifully designed book that gives Birmingham brutalism a distinctive identity that I hadn’t really appreciated until I saw it all together."

Elain Harwood, Historic England

Our latest book celebrates Birmingham’s urban history and documents the city’s Brutalist past as never before.

Birmingham: The Brutiful Years puts the spotlight on the city’s often under-appreciated post-war architecture, with striking images alongside essays on some of Birmingham’s most iconic locations, as well as some of its lesser-known modernist gems.

Spaghetti Junction, the Ringway Centre, The Rotunda and Corporation Square all feature, alongside Brutalist buildings such Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Ashley and Strathcona Buildings at Birmingham University, and Neville House on Harborne Road.

The book also highlights some of the city’s modernist public art, such as the Hockley Circus ‘Climbing Wall’, designed by sculptor William Mitchell, and John Piper's Mosaic in the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.
Some of Birmingham’s lesser-known post-war churches are also featured, including St. Thomas More Church in Sheldon, St. Matthews Church Perry Beeches, and Our Lady Help of Christians in Tile Cross.

Birmingham: The Brutiful Years highlights three home-grown architects in particular whose cutting-edge designs helped to reshape post-war Birmingham: John Madin, who designed the majority of Birmingham’s finest Brutalist buildings; Graham Winteringham, best known for the Birmingham Repertory theatre, and James Roberts, whose work included The Rotunda.

The book is made up of a collection of 22 articles written for The Birmingham Post by The Brutiful Action Group, founded by Birmingham residents Mary Keating, Jenny Marris and John Bell.

The group came together when Birmingham's Central Library - considered an icon of British Brutalism - was about to be demolished. They began writing for The Birmingham Post six years ago, highlighting the plight of the Ringway Centre, and have since written over 60 articles discussing the architectural merit and the heritage value of Birmingham’s Brutalist buildings, and raising awareness of those that are under threat of demolition.

Designed by Birmingham based designer Sharonjit Sutton, the book launches in September to coincide with Birmingham Heritage Week (9th-18th September) and is now being made available for pre-sale. 

This publication is a fitting tribute to some true masterpieces of modernist design, with a real sense of history and nostalgia. We hope that it helps people to appreciate the value of this period of Birmingham’s architectural history.

Published by the modernist society
Written and edited: Mary Keating, Jenny Marris, John Bell
Original photographs: John Bell with Mary Keating and Jenny Marris
Design: Sharonjit Sutton

Softcover, 160 pages,
Colour and B+W
200mm x 200mm

ISBN 978-1-9164718-3-2

“What a great way to explore Birmingham's modernist heritage. This kaleidoscopic tour of buildings and public art past and present is a celebration of extraordinary mid-twentieth century creativity and a plea for the city to appreciate its remarkable built landscape. A treasure for anyone who loves mid-century design, brutalist architecture and urban exploration.”

John Grindrod, author of ICONICON and Concretopia

'Birmingham's natural state is one of self-destruction. This informative and beautifully illustrated book is written and made by people who have tried to salvage one of the city's many incarnations - the rough and egalitarian motor-city of multi-level concrete megastructures and calm green spaces - and tells that city's story with humour and warmth, and a cast that ranges from Clint Eastwood to John Madin.'

Owen Hatherley, author of Modern Buildings in Britain

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