UPDATE 2015 Chamberlain Heritage Trust
Birmingham Conservation Trust is in the process of forming a new charity to manage the Highbury Estate.
Here's what Birmingham City Council said:
NEW CHAMBERLAIN HIGHBURY TRUST TAKES SHAPE: First Chair Appointed by City Council
Mr Les Sparks is to be the first chair of the proposed new Trust for Highbury Hall and estate, the former Kings Heath home of Joseph Chamberlain, built by the Victorian statesman in 1878.
Chair of the Birmingham City Council's Trusts & Charities Committee, Cllr Philip Davis said:
"We're delighted to have someone of Les's calibre as the chair of the proposed body to care for Highbury Hall and estate and to give new focus to the important legacy of Joseph Chamberlain. The Hall is a valued local venue for weddings and other events, but it's much more than that. The City needs to do more to tell the wider Chamberlain story - a Birmingham story that also shaped modern Britain."
Cllr Davis said the creation of the new independent trust will fulfil a Council promise to better safeguard the historic assets given to the people of Birmingham in the 1930s. The Council will endow the Trust with almost £1 million from the lease to the local Uffculme School of nearby Chamberlain House, plus rent from Civic Catering's use of Highbury Hall. He was hopeful the Trust could use this money to support major grant applications for the full restoration of the site.
The new Trust would be able to focus on Highbury and its local and national potential in a way the Council could not.
Welcoming his new role, Mr Sparks commented:
“We have a unique opportunity to assemble a group of experienced trustees from different backgrounds to work with the local community to determine the future of Highbury. There will be difficult decisions ahead, but I am confident that this famous estate can become one of the region’s most important centres of culture and learning, and truly worthy of Chamberlain’s generous bequest to the city of Birmingham.”
Mr Paul Richards has been appointed Trust Vice Chairman.
Following a strong response to the Council's advert for trustees, further appointments to the Chamberlain Highbury Trust shadow board will take place shortly.
Councillor Philip Davis at 07796 138930 (daytime); 0121 430 8108(H)
Chamberlain, Joseph Austen (1836-1914). Joseph Chamberlain was born in Camberwell London, coming to Birmingham aged 18 to work for his uncle Joseph Nettlefold at his screw factory. He was elected as a Liberal town councillor 1867 and became mayor in 1873 holding the office for three successive years. He was responsible for domestic gas and electricity, the building of Corporation Street and the beginnings of slum clearance; largely thanks to Chamberlain Birmingham famously became known as 'the best governed City in the World'. He entered Parliament 1876 and became Gladstone's President of the Board of Trade 1880. He was largely responsible for the fall of the Liberal government following which he led the Liberal Unionists who joined a coalition with the Conservatives; Salisbury appointed him Colonial Secretary 1895 after which Chamberlain was instrumental in directing government colonial policy during the Boer War. He built and lived at Highbury in Moseley now owned by Highbury Trust; his library remains intact. Chamberlain suffered a stroke 1906 and left politics; he died 1914. He was married three times; his eldest son was Austen Chamberlain; his son by his second marriage was Neville Chamberlain, a son of his second marriage also became Lord Mayor of Birmingham and Prime Minister.