Hay Hall is a surprising survivor, especially in the area covered by the former Parish of Yardley, where so many old buildings have been lost. Yardley church and Blakesley Hall are much better known and accessible. What is not immediately obvious, however, is that Hay Hall pre-dates Blakesley Hall. This seems strange, as Blakesley Hall is timber-framed, and Hay Hall appears to be a brick building. However, under that thick brick skin is a timber-framed building that dates back to the 15th century (1424, according to an archaeological assessment of the Tyseley Energy Park area made in 2009). In fact an earlier building on the site was constructed in 1275. So Hay Hall is doubly distinctive as an early timber-framed building and as possibly the earliest large brick building in the city.
Timber-framed buildings, or even large brick mansions, especially for example Gilbertstone House, have been swept aside to make room for residential expansion in Birmingham. One might think that industrial use would be completely antagonistic to a medieval and Tudor building standing in the midst of inter-war industrial growth, but thanks to the Reynolds family through the Patent Butted Tube Company, who bought the remains of the Hay Hall estate in 1917 and decided to use the Hall as offices, this remarkable building has survived. In fact the Hall was sold by the Deykin family trustees in 1917 as having no value: only the land had a price of £5,500 (Patent Butted Tube Directors' meeting October 19th 1917, referred to by James Cooke). Until the mid-2000s it was possible to visit Hay Hall by arrangement, however that is currently not possible, as the building is fully utilised for office space by the new owners.
The 15th century building was built as a Great Hall open to the ceiling, with two cross-wings. Within this 'H' shape the living accommodation was in the northernmost wing. A timber entrance porch was added c. 1500, and this is still visible on the south-east side of the brick building. At that time, the south-east side was the main entrance, with close-studded timber, forming the high-status elevation. The kitchen would not have been in the main building, because of the risk of any fire spreading. During the Tudor period the house was encased in brick, with some parts endowed with a ‘diaper’ pattern to break up the expanse of bricks. According to a leaflet produced by TI Reynolds with the assistance of Stanley R. Jones, this change was for fashion reasons. (This is a different reasoning from that in the booklet by Ken Sprayson reproduced within these pages). The north-west face of the building became the main entrance side, and maybe that is why the timber-framed porch on what was now the rear was not removed. A parapet wall changed the roof line, and the original ‘H’ plan was modified by the addition of a small privy (toilet) extension with chute down to ground level on the north east wing, with the kitchen now being brought into the building. According to Peter Leather, in his book Buildings of Birmingham, the occasion for the brick casing may have been the marriage in 1538 of one of the Este family to one of the Gibbons family of New Hall, Sutton Coldfield.
Around 1820, in the late Georgian period, there were more alterations. The old rear courtyard was filled in and a roof with gables was made on this north-west side, with a central entrance. A few decades later the building was subdivided into a farmer’s house and a gentleman’s house.
Land had clearly been sold to the Warwick and Birmingham Canal at the end of the eighteenth century (see the Tithe map extract below), and more land to the west of the Hall was sold to the railway companies in several pieces, including one in November 1847 as the line was nearing construction, and another sale that enabled Tyseley passenger and goods stations to be built, in February 1904. The Gilby family made £2,768 12s 6d in 1847, the Deykin family made £450 in 1904, and they sold more land in November 1911 for £2,500. In May 1926 and again in May 1929 Reynolds also sold land to the G.W.R. (source: Hay Hall, by James Cooke, original documents Birmingham Libraries).
During TI Reynolds’ time in the Hall, restoration and a new extension, as well as some demolition of an earlier extension took place in 1946 and in the 1970s, and between 1983 and 1985. This last stage was part-funded by the City, and undertaken by Associated Architects with Stanley R. Jones. A floor which had divided the Great Hall into two storeys by 1610 was removed. A number of modern additions were made to the interior, and no attempt was made to hide where repairs and replacements had taken place.
Before 1983, Ken Sprayson of TI Reynolds had researched the history of the Hall and had photographs of the interior and roof space taken. He has kindly agreed to his booklet being republished (see links at the bottom of the page). This is very useful to those interested in the building, partly because visits are currently not possible, but especially because the photographs provide such a good record of the interior. The booklet also includes copies of original documents. No use may be made of his material, especially copying of the photographs, other than viewing on this site. Any request for use should come through this site to Mr. Sprayson.
In October 1998 the Hay Hall Group, which had been incorporated in 1995/6, announced the sale of Hay Hall and the land to Easter Capital Investment, in order to reduce debt. They leased the site back from them. In December 2000 Easter Capital Investment Holdings sold Hay Hall and other sites to the Gertner family, with Fordgate taking on the management of the sites. The cycle tubing business moved to a site on Shaftmoor Lane in 2007. (They had been bought from TI in 1996 by Coyote Sports Inc., but underwent a management buyout in 2000). The Rings division became known as Smiths Aerospace Components Tyseley Limited in 2004. (TI and Smiths had merged in 2000). Smiths Aerospace became part of GE Aviation in January 2007. The Rings division operated within Unison Engine Components, part of GE Aviation until 2012, when it became part of the Precision Castings Corporation as Wyman-Gordon Tyseley, still at Redfern Road . The Hollow Extrusions division operated within the Hay Hall Group following an institutional buyout in 1995/6, with one company with that name being liquidated in 2008, and Hay Hall Tyseley, which had also had the Hollow Extrusions name from 1990-2000, being finally dissolved in 2011.
Other resources used:
Warwickshire and orcestershire Life, September 1985 (article by Charles Lines)
Leaflet by TI Reynolds: Hay Hall, the story of a medieval manor house
Hay Hall, by James T. Cooke
Almost all the land on this map belonged to Hay Hall in the 1840s. Below is an extract from the Schedule. Tenants are in brackets, and the field size follows the field names.
GILBY, William (King, Edward)
823 Long Meadow 6 1 15
824 Cabbage Meadow 2 0 12
825 Tough Piece 2 2 8
828 Poor Piece 4 1 36
829 Foot Road Meadow 6 1 37
830 Bissells Piece 5 1 20
831 Three-Cornered Piece 8 1 21
832 Double Gate Piece 7 2 7
833 Hovel Piece 8 0 36
834 Square Piece 5 0 37
835 Navigation Piece 6 0 25
922 Rickyard Piece 10 1 24
927 Osier Bed 1 1 14
928 Lower Front House Close 2 2 16
929 Front of House Close 6 3 6
934 House and Garden 2 0 10
936 Hay Hall Meadow 2 2 18
937 Hay Hall Meadow 3 1 34
938 Hay Hall Meadow 7 1 5
GILBY, William (Greenhill, Thomas and others)
866 Cottage, Garden and Tile Sheds 0 1 30
GILBY, William (Greenhill, Thomas)
867 Brickkiln Piece 9 1 23
905 Barn Piece with Plantation 18p. 10 0 17
906 Big Meadow 12 2 12
908 Slang 1 2 24
910 Lower Aqueduct Meadow 13 0 3
912 Garden Field 1 1 34
913 Garden 0 1 2
914 Garden 0 1 17
915 House, Hovel and Slang 0 3 34
917 Home Field 2 2 13
918 Pool Close 2 1 26
921 Five Acre Field 5 1 4
925 Upper Aqueduct Meadow 9 2 1
GILBY, William (Garden Tenants)
907a Gardens 0 1 37
GILBY, William (Smith and Horsfall)
909 Mill Slang 0 3 13
911 Mill Pool, etc. 0 1 32
916 Mill Pool 2 0 17
919 Mill, House and Garden 0 1 23
920 Mill Meadow 1 0 30
926 Mill Pound 2 1 10
GILBY, William (Grundy, )
933 Hay Hall, Buildings, etc. 3 1 39
935 Croft 0 3 1
A view of Hay Hall in its setting can be obtained by going to www.old-maps.co.uk, and entering the co-ordinates 410907 and 284491. Especially interesting is the 1951-2 Warwickshire 1:2,500 map, as it shows how much Hay Hall had become surrounded by industrial development. Click on the map to zoom in (the enhanced zoom requires payment).
However, even more impressive is a current satellite map from Google, when you zoom in and see Hay Hall in its setting these days.
ALS, who now occupy the building, kindly allowed access for the photographs below to be taken in the summer of 2013.
The north east wing. The filled in doorway at the left can be clearly seen. This was done in 1946 (Ken Sprayson). The Reception door is in the small Tudor privy extension with chute, which was built as a toilet for use by the 16th century owners! Just to the right of the door is a remnant of the walls of the 19th century outbuildings that were still standing in 1932. On the left of the picture a 1946 extension is visible.
The side of the north east wing. The 1946 extension was built up against the close-studded porch, which was added about 1500 to what was originally the front entrance. The 1946 extension was built to provide for a Directors' dining room (Ken Sprayson).
This was the original frontage when Hay Hall was built in 1424. It faces south east.
The south west wing. This was originally the service wing of the 15th century timber-framed house and later Tudor brick-encased version. The outbuilding where the left-hand car is standing, shown on the 1932 plan as a bakehouse, was removed in 1946 (Ken Sprayson). The wall was extended downwards to continue the buttressing. The roofline of the bakehouse is still visible on the brickwork. A small outbuilding approximately where the square extension is, and which was there in 1916, appears to have been removed before 1932.