Victoria Law Courts

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Victoria Law Courts, Birmingham
Birmingham Law Courts.jpg
General information
TypeMagistrates' Court
Architectural styleVictorian
LocationCorporation Street, Birmingham, England
Coordinates52°29′0.75″N 1°53′36″W / 52.4835417°N 1.89333°W / 52.4835417; -1.89333Coordinates: 52°29′0.75″N 1°53′36″W / 52.4835417°N 1.89333°W / 52.4835417; -1.89333
Construction started1887
Completed1891, (+1894, 1914)
Design and construction
ArchitectAston Webb & Ingress Bell
Main contractorJohn Bowen and Sons
Awards and prizesGrade I listed
Listed Building – Grade I
Designated21 January 1970
Reference no.1075605
Queen Victoria sits above the main entrance
The Great Hall of Birmingham's Victoria Law Courts; serves as the main public entrance to the building

The Victoria Law Courts on Corporation Street, Birmingham, England is a Grade I listed red brick and terracotta building[1][2] that now houses Birmingham Magistrates' Court.


Designed by Aston Webb & Ingress Bell of London after an open competition in 1886, assessed by architect Alfred Waterhouse, to provide the first assize courts in the rapidly growing town of Birmingham, it is faced entirely in deep red terracotta from the clay of Ruabon in North Wales[3] and covered in intricate terracotta ornamentation. A statue of Queen Victoria by Harry Bates surmounts the main entrance.[3] Other figures are by sculptor William Silver Frith to designs by Walter Crane.[3] The rear of the building is less elaborately decorated.

The foundation stone was laid by Queen Victoria on 23 March 1887 in her Golden Jubilee year.[4] Built by Birmingham firm John Bowen and Sons, the courts were opened on 21 July 1891 by the Prince and Princess of Wales.[4] Additions were made adding a projecting bow window on the left in 1891–94 and extensions along Newton Street in 1914.[3]

The interior, including the Great Hall, is faced with sandy-yellow terracotta and intricate ornamentation. The terracotta used for the interior was produced by Gibbs and Canning Limited of Tamworth.[3]

The chandeliers in the great hall resemble Queen Victoria’s coronation crown and were the first outside London to be powered by electricity.

Standing at the northern end of the shopping street, it is complemented by the similarly coloured Methodist Central Hall, which stands opposite.

The site was previously occupied by Alaska Works and a small school.


A proposal was made, prior to the 2010 UK General Election, to move the Magistrates' Court to a new purpose-built building nearby. This proposal was shelved, indefinitely, by the incoming coalition government led by David Cameron as Prime Minister, with Ken Clarke as the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (being the responsible Minister).


  1. ^ Historic England. "Victoria Law Courts (Grade I) (1075605)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Photograph and details from listed building text (1075605)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 27 June 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d e Forster, Andy (2005). Pevsner Architectural Guides - Birmingham. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10731-5.
  4. ^ a b McCarthy, Nick (27 December 2008). "Uncertain future for Birmingham courts landmark". Birmingham Evening Mail. Retrieved 27 December 2008.