Building work at Lock-Up reveals fascinating insights into its history

Work to transform Birmingham’s historic Victorian Lock-Up into a public museum is now well under way.

The revamp of the iconic Steelhouse Lane building to create a home for the region’s policing heritage is pushing ahead.

Building firm Trios were awarded a contract worth just over £1.2million − after lottery funding was secured - to make physical changes to the building.

And now work has started, the team are uncovering some fascinating insights into the Lock-Up’s history.

Work so far has included:
• The blocking up of three entrances between the Lock-Up and Steelhouse Lane police station. These were established in 1933 when the police station was built to give access from the Lock-Up. This means the Lock-Up is a standalone building again.
• Cupboards being removed from the kitchen, including the hot chocolate cupboard which was crucial as a source of sugar to give to drug addicts.
• Wooden panels fitted over the grilled floors.
• Beds removed from cells that will later be converted into new stairwells
• Cabinets removed and lino floor taken up in the main charge area, revealing original parquet flooring and cast iron encased glass blocks that would have let light into the basement area.

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Our Heritage Manager Corinne Brazier, said: “I think there’s real interest in the historic elements of the building.

“The next steps will be demolition works, including the removal of partitions.

“Then scaffolding will go up so that the whole roof can be replaced. Stairwells will be created, iron railings re-instated, new toilets installed in the basement and then the original heritage window in the charge area will be revealed."

The money for the project comes in large part from a £1m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Once the building work is complete, work will then start on the historical displays.

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These will tell stories of prisoners and staff, including the real ‘Peaky Blinders’ who were incarcerated in the building and how the original ‘Lock-Up matrons’ from 1895 were some of the very first women in policing.

The museum will create new jobs for full and part-time staff as well as volunteering opportunities for local people.

It’s planned it will open to the public in Summer 2022.

To follow the progress of the museum follow @WMPHistory on Twitter or ‘The Lock Up’ on Facebook.

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