Express & Star

Go-ahead given for museum to recreate gas showroom

The Black Country Living Museum has been granted planning permission to recreate an historic gas showroom as part of its new postwar village.

The gas showroom, decorated for the Coronation in 1937

Dudley Council has given the go-ahead for the former West Bromwich gas department showroom to be rebuilt as part of its 1940s-1960s village, which opened this summer.

But the condition of the original building meant that a 'brick-by-brick' reconstruction would not be possible.

The building, which stood in West Bromwich High Street from 1930 to 2017, will be recreated next to the recently built Co-operative branch, which originally stood in West Bromwich.

The building suffered extensive bomb damage in 1940

A design paper, prepared by agent Hannah Boland of Glancy Nicholls architects, said the ground floor area of the building was the chief office, showroom and distribution centre for West Bromwich gas department.

"The main part of the building was a smartly decorated showroom, highlighting the gas fires, cookers and lights for sale, hire-purchase or rent," said Miss Boland.

"At the rear were partitioned offices, separated with wooden panelling and frosted glass, behind which the salesmen sat and conducted their deals."

The West Bromwich gas showroom, pictured here before demolition, will be recreated at the Black Country Living Museum

Miss Boland said the ground floor would be recreated to provide demonstration space.

She said efforts would be made to recreate the original materials where possible, and historic techniques would be used in the construction process.

"Whilst the condition of the building meant that it couldn’t be taken down ‘brick by brick’, some materials were able to be saved and if possible may be used within the build," said Miss Boland.

"The rear and the side of the building will be built with a red brick appropriately selected to match the appropriate age that they need to represent.

"The correct mortar mix will be chosen as a close match to the original where possible.

The original building featured a highly ornate frontage, but this was replaced by a simpler design after it suffered bomb damage in November 1940. It is the later design that the new building will replicate.

Miss Boland said: "The bomb largely destroyed the façade and the second storey, but the shop was reopened after two days.

"This damage left the building with a flat roof."

The gas showroom forms part of a £23 million investment in the site, backed with £9.8 million lottery funding.