Cotton, Ballard and Blow

In answer to the question as to who were Cotton, Ballard and Blow, who designed Grosvenor House on Bennets Hill in central Birmingham, the answer seems to be that they were a firm of successful speculative architects, originally based in Birmingham, where Jack Cotton, one of the partners, was a well known property developer, without architectural training, who was said (by the Spectator in 1959) ‘to have done much building in Birmingham, little if any of which is said to have improved the look of that city’. They also worked in London where they were ‘responsible for much of the unimaginative and uncoordinated building in the new Notting Hill Gate’, as well as a scheme for developing the north side of Piccadilly. A member of the firm, Major ‘Trof’ Trofimov, the son of the Professor of Russian at Manchester, worked for them before taking over their practice in Newcastle. It sounds like they were prime suspects in the murky world of 1950s property development, but, like Seifert, were capable of producing occasionally interesting – as well as frequently appalling – buildings.

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