Monday, 25 March 2013

Smithfield Garage, Birmingham

The former Smithfield Garage in Digbeth, an industrial district immediately to the east of Birmingham centre, has a date of 1923 above one of its entrances. According to Andy Foster, author of the Pevsner Architectural Guides. Birmingham, it was built by Harry Weedon, an architect best known for his Art Deco factories and the Odeon cinemas.

While the entrance above has a nice sign with raised letters made of cement, one has to look to the adjacent part of the building to find a long and colourful ghost sign painted on wood.

In the early 1960s Rover cars were available from Smithfield Garage Limited. However it is as a car dealer for Volkswagen / Audi and BMW, between the 1960s and the late 20th century, that Smithfield is essentially remembered. By then Smithfield had been taken over by Hartwell and the official name changed to Hartwell Smithfield.

Smithfield Garage Limited

This building may not be standing for much longer. Indeed redevelopment projects in the Digbeth area may have been put on hold because of the current economic crisis, but plans have already been approved and many former industrial buildings are bound to disappear sooner or later.

Given the length of this sign and the narrowness of the street, several pictures have been stitched to create the complete front view of the ghost sign below.

Location: Meriden Street / Pictures taken in May 2012

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