Birmingham hidden gem to celebrate 150 years on the canals with a Dickensian murder

A renowned Birmingham landmark is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a Dickensian murder and many more amazing free events
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

From Victorian stables and stores to water sports - a remarkable hidden gem landmark in Birmingham has seen a lot of change in the city since it opened in 1874.

The distinct Grade II listed circular construction along the canal on Sheepcote Street was commissioned by the Corporation of Birmingham through a competition.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Brummie architect W H Ward won the right to design the brick building, which is known as Roundhouse these days. He also designed the Great Western Arcade.

When it first opened Roundhouse was called Corporation Wharf - the circular design was ideal to enable horse-drawn carts to pass from the lower level outer yard through the enclosed core, via a tunnel and ramp to load cargo from the canal and railway goods depot for the London and North Western Railway.

The council continued to use the site with the City of Birmingham Engineers Department based there until the 1980s. The Roundhouse was then acquired by British Waterways, now called the Canal and River Trust in 2001 and sixteen years later they secured funding through the National Trust to conserve and develop the site.

Canal view of the Roundhouse BirminghamCanal view of the Roundhouse Birmingham
Canal view of the Roundhouse Birmingham
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

These days it’s a new enterprise and independent charity with leasable spaces for start-ups, cultural organisations and small businesses. Roundhouse Birmingham also operates a range of city tours and experiences, including kayaking, cycling, walking and stand up paddleboard tours. Here’s how it’s marking its 150th anniversary:

A Dickensian murder and other events to mark 150 years of Birmingham Roundhouse

Roundhouse Birmingham is gearing up to celebrate a big birthday this May, as their building – the Roundhouse – turns 150 years old. 

To celebrate the milestone birthday, Birmingham Roundhouse are planning a weekend jam-packed with tours and experiences to suit the whole family, taking place from Friday 10 to Sunday 12 May.

Over the weekend, guests can enjoy a host of FREE activities, including family crafts, kayaking sessions – including the chance to experience their award-winning Bustling Birmingham tour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Kayak taster sessions at Roundhouse BirminghamKayak taster sessions at Roundhouse Birmingham
Kayak taster sessions at Roundhouse Birmingham

You can also learn more about this fascinating building on a FREE Workers of the Roundhouse building tour or stop by their Visitor Centre and chat to their lovely volunteers who can tell you more about the horses stabled here. The popular Heritage Working Boats Tour is back for the first time this year.

The celebrations continue into the evenings, with an improvised comedy murder mystery, a silent disco and an outdoor music concert happening from Friday - Sunday. 

Kayak Taster Saturday & Sunday| FREE | Various times each day - Take your first strokes on the water and learn how to kayak on Birmingham’s canals, right outside of the Roundhouse. Suitable for children aged 8+. Under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult.

Kayak Tour Saturday & Sunday | FREE | 10:30-12:3 - See Birmingham’s canals as they were intended on the award-winning Bustling Birmingham kayak tour. Booking essential. Suitable for children aged 8+. Under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Heritage Working Boat Tour Saturday & Sunday | £6.50-£9.00 |10:45-12:15, 13:15-14:45 - Step into the cargo hold of a 1930s heritage working boat and take a relaxing trip around Birmingham’s canal loops. A perfect way to explore Birmingham by water.

Family Crafts Saturday and Sunday | FREE | 10am-4pm - Drop into the Roundhouse for some free, family friendly heritage themed craft activities, including build your own Roundhouse or canal boat.

City Walking Tour Saturday & Sunday | £7-£12) |1pm-3pm - On this interactive Birmingham Bingo walking tour, you’ll head into the city discovering Birmingham’s rich heritage and local landmarks, all with an added dash of B-I-N-G-O.

Canal Walking Tour Saturday & Sunday | £7-£12) | 10:30am-12:30pm - Enjoy Roundhouse Birmingham’s More Canals than Venice guided walk around Birmingham’s famous canal network, hearing stories of how the waterways helped Birmingham become the City of 1000 Trades.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Murder on the Cobbles - A Dickensian improvised murderMurder on the Cobbles - A Dickensian improvised murder
Murder on the Cobbles - A Dickensian improvised murder

Murder on the Cobbles! A Dickensian Improvised Murder Friday 10th May | £5 | 6pm-8pm - Murder is afoot upon the cobbles of the Roundhouse! The script is unwritten and the plot is in your hands. Step into a world of suspense, laughter and betrayal in this hilarious whodunit.

Silent Disco Saturday 11th May | £10 | 7pm-10pm - Grab your dancing shoes, a glowstick and celebrate our big birthday in style, as you party away in the illuminated courtyard and tunnel of our beautiful building.

Sofar Sounds Outdoor Concert Sunday 11th May | £13 | 8pm-10pm - Three secret (and incredibly talented) musicians will be rounding off the 150th birthday celebrations. Bring a chair, something to drink and discover new music in a magnificent Victorian setting.

‘Learn a little more about the Roundhouse’s past’ & how to book tickets

Anna Pickton, Operations Manager at Roundhouse Birmingham, said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating this milestone birthday with a whole host of exciting events and activities planned across the weekend.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This unique building has such a rich history, as does the city and canal network that surround it. We hope guests will enjoy learning a little more about the Roundhouse’s past, with free building tours and volunteer led talks in our example horse stall.

“There’s something to suit the whole family across the birthday weekend, from free and discounted tours and experiences during the day, to special one-off events in the evenings – like our Silent Disco and Murder Mystery Night”.

Tickets for activities and events are limited, booking is essential. If you’d like to secure a place, we’d recommend booking via their website. If you’d like to know more about any of the events listed above, or book tickets, visit

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.