THE CHAMBERLAIN HIGHBURY TRUST was set up towards the end of 2015 to restore and manage the Highbury Estate which includes the listed Grade II* mansion and Grade II park and gardens developed by Joseph Chamberlain as his family home in Moseley, Birmingham.
Chamberlain went on to become a prominent figure in national politics, as did his sons Austen and Neville who handed Highbury over to a trust that in 1932 passed to the City Council as sole trustee.
The newly formed Chamberlain Highbury Trust will take a 35 year lease on the estate and will operate completely independently from the City Council. It has ten trustees and during 2016 became registered with Companies House and with the Charity Commission.
The first task facing the trust is to raise the money for the restoration of the mansion and the park. The mansion requires extensive repairs and new services but is largely unaltered, whereas the park has suffered from neglect and unsympathetic changes and will require work to reinstate its distinctive features.
The trust’s vision is to create a legacy in which the Highbury Estate provides a centre of learning for a diversity of people from local, regional, national and international origins to come to appreciate the beauty of the restored house, its grounds and park, and where young people, in particular, can find out about the Chamberlain family in their historic context and debate and discuss citizenship and the future of Birmingham. Local residents, cultural and business communities will be able to meet in a friendly atmosphere and involve themselves in the life of Highbury, enjoying everything it has to offer in terms of the arts, heritage and the environment.
The trust has, during 2016 and 2017, arranged consultation events with local organisations and residents. Consultants have been appointed to prepare plans and costs for the restoration works. Contact has been established with descendants of Joseph Chamberlain and they have confirmed their support for the project.
The trust has begun work on a business plan to ensure that, following restoration, the estate can operate as a viable business into the future.