September 25th, 2016

90-year-old Joyce at Avoncroft to see the cottage she used to live in

Updated: 10:54 am, May 07, 2015

CROWDS gathered at Avoncroft Museum last Friday (September 12) to see a ‘topping out’ ceremony to mark the completion of the first phase of the reconstructing the venue’s latest building.

The 19th Century Nailer’s Cottage, which was built between 1841 and 1851 and used to be 79 Old Birmingham Road, was moved to the site in a painstaking brick-by-brick operation after being earmarked for demolition.

It was saved by a successful last-gasp bid from Avoncroft Museum director Simon Carter to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, Reyahn King said: “When Simon came to me with this we fast-tracked the application.

“We believe people should choose their own heritage to keep and this was one of those projects.

“Having seen it on the Old Birmingham Road, it’s amazing to see it here after being assessed, deconstructed and rebuilt here.”

And she added seeing it in all its glory really brought home to her what life was like back then.

“It’s a great way of preserving the memories of how people lived and work,” she said.

The special guest of honour on the day was 90-year-old Joyce Rea who was born in the house in 1925 and lived there from then until she got married. As part of the project, Joy has shared some of her memories of living in the house which will be used to provide a more comprehensive picture of the building’s history.

The topping out ceremony saw Reyahn climb to the top of the building and place a bunch of evergreens collected from around the museum site on the roof of the property.

The ceremonies date back more than 1,200 years to ancient Scandinavia and celebrate the highest beam being put in place to enable the structure to reach its highest point. They are still carried out today in the UK, parts of Europe and in the USA.

During his speech to those gathered, Mr Carter thanked Holland Contracting, the architects, the structural team, those who reconstructed it, volunteers who cleared the house and researched it – both at the museum and from outside.

He said: “We hope people will come along and see it when it is completed.

“We are remembering all those who worked in the nail trade in Bromsgrove.

“They had to work long hours and they helped make most of Bromsgrove’s wealth in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

Funding of £50,000 is now being sought to complete the next phase of reconstructing the cottage – that includes fitting out the interior.

Anyone interested in finding out more or wanting to make a donation should email Rachel Shepherd at

Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, Reyahn King performing the topping out ceremony. 3814010ABR5

Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, Reyahn King, meeting Joyce Rea. 3814010ABR3




Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, Reyahn King, perfroming the topping out ceremony.




Joyce Rea in front of the cottage.