Popular historian, broadcaster and author Professor Carl Chinn MBE will explore the pivotal role of Town Hall Birmingham and the city during World War II in two illustrated talks on Monday 2 November.

Professor Chinn will present both an afternoon and early evening talk illustrated through photographs, posters and imagery from the era, accompanied by live music from the 1940s performed by the Gary Allcock All-stars Band.

Les Douglas, a 95 year old former member of the RAF and Forces band leader, will recall some of his memories of the 1940s with Professor Chinn before directing the All-stars Band for a number live on stage.

Audiences will be invited to sing along and name popular tunes from the period.

Les Douglas formed and led the popular Bomber Command Dance Band, performing at garrisons across the world and broadcasting on both the American and British Forces Networks. After the war, he settled in Birmingham, taking up a residency as Band Leader at the Tower Ballroom in Edgbaston.

Town Hall Birmingham played a pivotal role throughout the Second World War, acting as an Army recruitment centre and giant billboard for wartime propaganda, as well as playing host to patriotic meetings featuring statesmen such as Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain.

The building was sandbagged against enemy action during the conflict and had many windows blown out, but continued to function as normal with events that included City of Birmingham Orchestra recording sessions, Women’s Victory Rallies as well as performances by British artists and orchestras taking place, with even occasional visits by international artists such as Yehudi Menuhin.

Town Hall Birmingham celebrates its 175th anniversary this year.

The Grade I listed building has a rich and varied performance history, from its earliest days as a venue for classical music, political speechmaking and public meetings, through its influential position in jazz, rock & roll and heavy metal history to the recent £35m renovation and Re-opening Festival.

The book ‘Town Hall Birmingham – A History in Pictures’, which charts the incredible history of the building is available to buy from both Town Hall and Symphony Hall, Birmingham priced £12.00 (paperback) and £18.50 (hardback).

A permanent exhibition, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and The Patrick Trust, which celebrates the concert hall’s place at the heart of Birmingham life from its opening in 1834 to the successful re-opening in October 2007 through a series of paintings, photos, prints and posters is free to visit in the Lower Bar at Town Hall Birmingham.

Admission is free and normal opening hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Saturday. Visitors are advised to call Town Hall on 0121 644 5039 to check whether the building is open to the public.


Notes to Editor:

Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a registered charity. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of over 600 concerts and events a year, designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and a thriving education & community department reaches a further 20,000 people of all ages.

Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).

(£2 fee per transaction on all bookings except those
made in person at the box office)

Fiona Fraser
Press & PR Manager
T 0121 644 5008 (Direct)

Lyle Bignon
Assistant Press & PR Manager
T 0121 644 6028 (Direct)

Issue date: Thursday 29 October