Leading figure at Roundhouse Birmingham calls time on his role

A senior manager behind the creation of a leading visitor attraction on Westside is leaving for pastures new after five years.

Chris Maher is stepping down from his role as experiences and visitor programme manager at the independent heritage charity Roundhouse Birmingham, which looks after the Grade II*-listed building on Sheepcote Street.

The Victorian building, originally used as a stables and stores for the-then Birmingham Corporation, now provides visitors to the Roundhouse with a variety of heritage tours, activities and exhibitions after undergoing major renovation work.

Chris, aged 41, who was previously head of events at Millennium Point in Digbeth, said it had been a pleasure working on the Roundhouse Birmingham project, but that he was now ready for a new challenge elsewhere in the city.

He said: “I was part of the team that was taken on five years ago to put together visitor operations for the site. We opened to the public for the first time in 2021, about four or five days after the original Covid lockdown ended. Our tenants and café then moved in about a year later.

“It’s been a really exciting project to work on, during which we have had a lot of successes and enjoyed fantastic feedback from visitors. There are lots of different ways for people to get out and explore Birmingham.

“I worked on all the different projects at the start, but then concentrated on heritage-focused projects such as the walking tours and exhibitions.”

Roundhouse Birmingham was created through a partnership between the Canal & River Trust and the National Trust, and subsequently obtained a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

A further grant, from Historic England in 2019, enabled full-scale renovation work to start on the circular brick building. This included structural support, and a replacement roof and windows.

The building is now split into a Visitor Centre, which serves as a base for guided walking tours and kayak canal tours, independent café Jonathans in the Roundhouse, and private offices occupied by tenants including the National Trust Midlands Office and Canal and River Trust Regional Hub.

Recognition for the visitor attraction includes the Experience of the Year Award in the 2022 West Midlands Tourism Awards for its kayak tours, and the New Tourism Business Award at the same regional awards in March this year.

Chris said he would now be taking a break for a couple of months before looking for a new Birmingham project.

He added: “It has been incredibly busy for the last few years, especially during 2022 when I did two projects. As well as Roundhouse I also worked on a Commonwealth Games project last summer called Wonderland Birmingham about the city’s cinemas.”

Westside BID general manager Mike Olley said: “Chris has played a major part in the creation of one of our leading and most popular visitor attractions and we shall be sad to see him go. We wish him every success in his future ventures.”

For more information visit https://roundhousebirmingham.org.uk

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