Lloyd House has served as the police headquarters for West Midlands Police for all of its 40 year history. However the building was never intended for that purpose and started out life as something completely different.
Lloyd House was built between 1960 and 1961 to be the headquarters for steel stockholders Stewarts and Lloyds Ltd. The story goes that the building has an ‘L’ shape to represent the Lloyd half of the company and the name to match.
History doesn’t record what Andrew Stewart thought of this but presumably he accepted it was difficult to build an ‘S’ shaped building in the 1960s…
In 1972 the prospect of a new, larger metropolitan force starting in just two years set off a search for a headquarters to replace the previous accommodation used by Birmingham Police at Newton Street.
City engineers proposed a new building in the area of the legal precincts of Steelhouse Lane and a budget of £1,700,000 was allocated for work to start the same year.
Unfortunately, the favoured site in Newton Street at Dale End became earmarked for a new magistrates’ court, and in fact this site is now occupied by the Queen Elizabeth Crown Court.
The Watch Committee of the date decided that a central site was important and decided in favour of renting Lloyd House at a cost of £140,000 a year from Messrs Stewart and Lloyd.
The first officers, from the City of Birmingham Police, moved into the building in the early part of 1973. However the move was not a welcome one, with staff complaining about poor heating conditions on some floors and the ‘lack of character’ of the building.
These complaints appear to have continued, with Chief Constable Phillip Knights commenting in his 1977 annual report: ‘Whilst it can never provide all the facilities required of a modern purpose-built police headquarters, and little if anything can be done about its deficiencies so far as heating and air conditioning are concerned, it is essential that we do all we can to provide the staff with working conditions that are as pleasant and attractive as we can make them within these limitations.’
Forty years on the heating and air conditioning problems are set to be finally resolved as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment of Lloyd House, which will eventually see members of staff moving out of satellite city centre sites in favour of headquarters.
Plans for the building include returning it back to more of its former open plan state, with internal office walls being removed to help accommodate the extended working population.
Lloyd House looks set to remain West Midlands Police headquarters for several years to come although internally it will hopefully start to look and feel very different.