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Tolkien Tower: Iconic building that fed young Hobbit author's imagination to be restored

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Tolkien Tower: Iconic building that fed young Hobbit author's imagination to be restored

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Featured and also in Communities, Development, Housing

Tolkien Tower: Iconic building that fed young Hobbit author's imagination to be restored Tolkien Tower: Iconic building that fed young Hobbit author's imagination to be restored

A seven-storey tower that is thought to have inspired the writer JRR Tolkien is to be restored and opened to the public - if enough funds can be found.

It is believed that Perrott's Folly Tower in Edgbaston, Birmingham fed The Hobbit author's imagination when he lived nearby it as a child.

Trident Reach the People Charity, which manages the imposing landmark, needs to raise £1 million to restore it to its former glory.

Tolkien grew up in Birmingham and drew inspiration for his novels from local landmarks, including Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog.

He lived in Stirling Road as a young boy and would have passed Perrott’s Folly and the neighbouring Edgbaston Waterworks tower on his way to and from school.

It is believed these two structures made such an impression on the young Tolkien that they inspired the book 'The Two Towers' - the second part of his world-famous Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Trident hopes to eventually open the 18th Century building - which has been closed for 20 years - permanently and use it as a centre for young artists and art exhibitions.

The 96ft tower, one of Birmingham's oldest architectural features, has a spiral staircase of 139 stone steps that links each of its seven rooms.

The homelessness charity - which provides accommodation and support services for vulnerable young people - has now started the restoration campaign by installing an 'artist in residence’ Lizzy Jordan in the building. She is planning a series of community art projects over the next year to raise awareness for the cause.

The dilapidated tower is a Grade II listed building and is on the national Buildings at Risk register.

Trident's Benjamin Bradley, said: "Perrott’s Folly is an awe-inspiring structure which towers over the nearby suburbs.

"It is steeped in history and, as a model for the Twin Towers, is believed to be a key inspiration behind The Lord of the Rings – one of the best-loved stories of all time and a fantasy which has gripped the imagination of millions of people worldwide.

"Such an impressive landmark should be brought back into use for the community to safeguard its future and to allow the public – including Lord of the Rings fans – to enjoy it for many years to come."

tower inside

Eccentric landowner John Perrott, who lived in Belbroughton in Worcestershire, had the tower built in 1758 on the remains of a medieval hunting park.

There are various theories as to why the tower was built, the most likely being that – in keeping with the fashions of the day – it was an elaborate hunting lodge where Perrott could entertain guests and survey his land.

It has also been suggested that it was a vantage point for Perrott to look at his wife’s grave 15 miles away. Another more fanciful theory is that he used it to spy on his wife when he suspected her of having an affair with the gamekeeper.

In 1884, pioneering Birmingham glass-maker and meteorologist Abraham Follett Osler began using the building for weather observations. As the Edgbaston Observatory, it became part of one of the world’s first regular weather forecasting services.

The University of Birmingham’s geography department took over the running of the observatory until operations were transferred to its main campus in 1979, when Perrott’s Folly fell into disuse.

In 1984 the Perrott’s Folly Company was formed to renovate the tower and secured grants from English Heritage and Birmingham City Council.

The company worked with Birmingham Conservation Trust to carry out emergency repair work in 2005 to stabilise the structure and save it from collapse.

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