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Staff come out of re-tyre-ment! FORT DUNLOP: Ex-workers get a guided tour of revamped city icon.

Byline: By Nick McCarthy

ERDINGTON'S reinvented Fort Dunlop tyre factory wheeled out tea, jazz and dance to one hundred former workers on Tyburn Road.

The ex-workers had a tour of the new lawn - on the roof - and heard about plans for early morning salsa dancing and yoga classes for 21st century employees.

Urban Splash hosted the party - 25 years after the factory closed its doors. The award-winning developer behind the landmark's reinvention, organised traditional refreshments and a tea dance with a 1940s style jazz band.

Guests were also given a behind the scenes tour, including a visit to the grass topped roof terrace, the largest in the UK.

Arthur Brookes, chairman of the retired workers' association, said: "The tea party has been a great way for us to get together with old colleagues and reminisce about our past experiences.

"We can't believe how the building has changed. It's fantastic that Fort Dunlop lives again - and so spectacularly too."

Built in 1916, the building was used to store tyres made on the site by the world famous Dunlop rubber company.

At its peak, 10,000 workers toiled at Fort Dunlop and an entire village, known as Tyretown, developed around the site to meet the worker's needs, including shops, a cinema, concert hall and a sports club.

Tom Bloxham MBE, chairman of Urban Splash, added: "We've been excited to hear the former workers' stories but also to see their reactions to how we've given this much loved but neglected building a new lease of life.

"We're proud to have an established reputation as a pioneer in urban regeneration. Whilst strong advocates of modern design, we also respect a building's heritage."

The phased opening of Fort Dunlop began in Spring 2006 and 108,000 square feet was let from January to March. It now plans to introduce morning rooftop yoga, salsa dancing and an Intranet where tenants can network, arrange car sharing and even date.

The former workers were also encouraged to share their memories on the day by bringing in old photographs and memorabilia from their time at Fort

Dunlop. The information will be catalogued to form part of the history of the iconic building.

CAPTION(S):

HAPPY MEMORIES... (clockwise from top) former workers Bob and June Dyke with Arthur Brookes look out from the roof of Fort Dunlop; workers' wives Eileen Cotton (left) and Pam Preece; Beryl and Stan Corbett, who found a picture of Stan on one of the old pictures on display; and a tyre worker on the job. Pictures: Trevor Roberts Photosales No.: TR260707FORT-1
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 28, 2007
Words:426
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