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Barras Green and Alpha House

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Donna Milliner
City Centre
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1 of 24  Tue 16th Apr 2013 12:26pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2013  Total posts:2

Hello It's the 50th anniversary since the first resident moved into Alpha House, Barras Green. We are holding a celebration event in July and we would love to have some stories and photographs of the area. Do you have any photographs taken just before or after the block was built? Or any stories to share about the block when it was being built? Are you, or do you know someone who was one of the first residents to move in? Or can you give general advice on the best way to find this information, then we would love to hear from you. Thank you
Alpha House and Barras Green

Barras Green and Alpha House
MisterD-Di
Sutton Coldfield
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2 of 24  Tue 16th Apr 2013 12:45pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:873

I never lived there but I can shed some light on an activity that took place there in the 70s, late every Friday night. In those days I was a collector for Littlewoods Pools, and the main collector was my then girlfriend's father so I used to help him out. The collectors all brought their coupons and cash to their main collectors, who would then have to deliver the coupons to a central collection point, from where they would be driven to Liverpool overnight. It was a well organised operation. Everyone involved was self-employed and took a percentage commission. That central collection point for the Coventry area was in some sort of meeting room on the ground floor of Alpha House. So every Friday night between about 9pm and 1am there would be dozens of main collectors arriving with huge bundles of pools coupons. Every Littlewoods coupon for miles around went through Alpha House. It would not surprise me if most residents knew nothing of this operation, as it was kept quiet for security reasons. There was no indication outside the building of what was going on, and the door was only opened to known people. No money was ever transacted there, as it was all banked by the main collectors, usually into bank night safes. In those days the pools were very big business.
Barras Green and Alpha House
Greg
Coventry
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3 of 24  Tue 16th Apr 2013 3:17pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2011  Total posts:221

There have been articles and pictures on other local forums, about Alpha House. I will have a look later to see if I can find out where. What I can tell you is that the block was built by `British Lift Slab` using, what was then, a revolutionary new technique where they built a number of vertical concrete columns and then laid down the concrete base of the top floor, on the ground. This, when set, was `jacked to near the top of the columns and each floor was laid down and jacked in turn. The same company built the Barracks car park and Smithford Way car park (since demolished), using the same method.
Barras Green and Alpha House
NormK
bulkington
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4 of 24  Tue 16th Apr 2013 3:28pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:844

Hi Greg, We called them Jackblock flats, I watched them build the one in Hillfields where the crane collapsed....
Milly rules

Barras Green and Alpha House
mattash
Rugby
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5 of 24  Tue 16th Apr 2013 4:00pm  
Member: Joined Feb 2010  Total posts:590

We used to go to the Barras Market every week to get the groceries for me Mum's shop. The "Jack Block' was an amazing thing to watch as it went ever higher, it was a funny concept to build the top floor first. I watched that one grow from top to bottom. For all the years and flats that I worked on for the council, I never, ever worked on a jack block. Just as well, I was scared of heights anyway! Big grin
Barras Green and Alpha House
Greg
Coventry
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6 of 24  Tue 16th Apr 2013 4:19pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2011  Total posts:221

Have found this link that gives a rough idea of how they were built
Barras Green and Alpha House
flapdoodle
Coventry
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7 of 24  Wed 17th Apr 2013 6:58pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2010  Total posts:830

Didn't they stop using this method after that accident on London with a similar 'Jack' built tower?
Barras Green and Alpha House
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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8 of 24  Wed 17th Apr 2013 7:25pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2013  Total posts:1030

I worked on the top floor of the EMEB offices in Sandy Lane and we slowly watched a jack block of flats being built. We could not see it move but through the day you could see that the gap between the floors had got wider. I don't think it was Alpha House but it would have been one built between 1963 and 1970, probably over towards Foleshill.
Barras Green and Alpha House
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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9 of 24  Wed 17th Apr 2013 8:25pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:3824

On 17th Apr 2013 7:25pm, Annewiggy said: I worked on the top floor of the EMEB offices in Sandy Lane and we slowly watched a jack block of flats being built. We could not see it move but through the day you could see that the gap between the floors had got wider. I don't think it was Alpha House but it would have been one built between 1963 and 1970, probably over towards Foleshill.
Hi Annewiggy, Wave That was the correct period for the Jack-Block. It was the only building work in Coventry for nearly three months, as the severe winter of 1963 stopped all or most other outside work. Wave Thumbs up
Barras Green and Alpha House
Greg
Coventry
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10 of 24  Wed 17th Apr 2013 10:49pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2011  Total posts:221

I`m pretty sure that only three `jacking` projects in Coventry. Barracks car park, Smithford Way car park (later demolished to make way for Debenhams) and Alpha House. Apparently there were problems, years later, with the `wedges` which held the floors up and the technique seems to have been abandoned.
Barras Green and Alpha House
Old Lincolnian
Coventry
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11 of 24  Thu 18th Apr 2013 4:37pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2012  Total posts:455

Wasn't Mercia House also built using the same method?
Barras Green and Alpha House
Midland Red
Cherwell
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12 of 24  Thu 18th Apr 2013 5:09pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4468

On 18th Apr 2013 4:37pm, Old Lincolnian said: Wasn't Mercia House also built using the same method?
This link suggests that Alpha House and Mercia House were two of only three buildings constructed this way
Barras Green and Alpha House
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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13 of 24  Thu 18th Apr 2013 5:36pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2013  Total posts:1030

I think it must have been Mercia House that we watched being built. Would have been in about the same direction that we watched them replace the flying cross in the Cathedral after it blew off.
Barras Green and Alpha House
Donna Milliner
City Centre
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Thread starter
14 of 24  Fri 26th Apr 2013 10:03am  
Member: Joined Apr 2013  Total posts:2

Thank you everyone for your comments and links. The anniversary event will happen in July, once the date has been set I will let you all know. If any off you would like to come along, then you are more than welcome. In the mean time, if anyone knows someone who may have watched it being built and would like to tell us a story that we can share with the residents of the block then please ask them to contact us. Once again thank you
Alpha House and Barras Green

Barras Green and Alpha House
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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15 of 24  Fri 26th Apr 2013 10:16am  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:3824

On 26th Apr 2013 10:03am, Donna Milliner said: Thank you everyone for your comments and links. The anniversary event will happen in July, once the date has been set I will let you all know. If any off you would like to come along, then you are more than welcome. In the mean time, if anyone knows someone who may have watched it being built and would like to tell us a story that we can share with the residents of the block then please ask them to contact us. Once again thank you
You are very welcome Donna. Thumbs up We have nearly a thousand members, plus others browsing, so that new bits of info' can arrive at anytime. Thank you for your info, & please keep us informed. The site where the Jack block is built was a local CC engineers depot, where road surfacing materials were kept, as well as tar machines & even a steam roller for many years. Wave
Barras Green and Alpha House

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