Cannabis Courthouse: Zombie attraction has left West Bromwich site due to leaky roof

Police van outside the old West Bromwich Magistrates’ Court where a large transport of cannabis was found

The drug transport was found inside the old West Bromwich Magistrates’ Court building on Sunday, which was temporarily occupied by tourism company Zombie Infection until 2018.

The Grade II listed building in Lombard Street West dates back to 1890 and was closed in 2011 as part of the reduction in the number of courts in England and Wales before being sold around six years ago by the Ministry of Justice.

Zombie Infection’s current owner, Greg Rudman, said the company pulled out of the site four years ago, after taking over the business due to issues with the property’s lack of repairs.

The former West Bromwich Magistrates’ Court will be put up for sale in 2016

Mr Rudman said: “It’s a shame this happened, we loved this building. We didn’t own it, we just paid the rental fee into a bank account as far as I know. It was one of our favorite places when we got it.

“It was an amazing venue and even won an award for being the UK’s best zombie experience of 2018 for us.

“We’ve had thousands of happy customers who have been through it. Unfortunately the weather took its toll, the roof leaked and during the winter it snowed in and became unusable.

“I was the events manager at the time and used to go to West Bromwich on Saturdays to run the programme. I bought the business in 2018 and the first thing I did was to stop operating in this building in July 2018. I never dealt with the owners and had no idea who they were.”

As a place of zombie infection, the site was transformed into a theater-style attraction with action scenes, escape room puzzles and a movie-style storyline that encouraged visitors to fight alongside of a “post-apocalyptic” group.

The building was among many to be sold following a major reorganization by the Court and Tribunal Service which required Sandwell Council to transfer ownership of the building from Lombard Street West to the Court Service in 2005.

The former West Bromwich Magistrates’ Court in Lombard Street West pictured in 2012

It was serviced closed in 2011 and estate agents were appointed to arrange the sale. At the time, senior advisers expressed dismay at the decision.

Magistrate’s Court business was later transferred to Sandwell Magistrates’ Court at Oldbury Ringway, but that complex also closed and services were transferred to Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton instead.

Dr Paul Birch, who spent 15 years as a magistrate, including in West Bromwich, said the building’s disappearance was the result of government policy to cut court services.

“We have lost buildings and magistrates. We had 30,000 magistrates, today their number is 10,000. The government says it has closed a third of all courts.

“They have closed the courts now that there is a backlog of 60,000 cases. Cases are now being heard in hotels, lawyers are on strike. More investment in the courts is needed,” said Dr Birch .

House of Commons Library data showed that Halesowen Magistrates’ Court closed between 2011 and 2012 and was sold for £314,250. West Bromwich Magistrates’ Court closed in the same period and brought in £160,000.

Sandwell closed in 2016-17 and brought in £530,000 and Staffordshire Magistrates Court closed in the same period and brought in £435,000. Aldridge Magistrates Court closed in 2006 to make way for a £2million development of homes and offices.

The building has been in West Bromwich since 1890

The former West Bromwich Magistrates Court is a Grade II listed building dating from the late Victorian era, writes Mark Andrews.

The red brick building in Lombard Street West, designed by architects Wood and Kendrick, was built by Birmingham-based T Rowbotham in 1890. Its foundation stone was laid by the Mayor of West Bromwich, Samuel Lees JP, and Mr. EW Wheelis, Chairman of the County Court Committee.

It achieved Grade II listed status in September 1987, but by the start of the 21st century it was beginning to fall into a state of repair and concerns were raised that it was not fit for the needs of the system modern judiciary.

These were bolstered in 2010, when it was described as the most expensive court in the Black Country to run.

The Ministry of Justice said the building needed urgent repairs costing £270,000 and cost £193,805 a year to operate.

The report described the accommodation as “extremely poor”, with magistrates having to be escorted to use the toilets which they had to share with the defendants.

“Furthermore, the detention area is poor and regularly flooded,” the report said, adding that it did not meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.

By this time the building, previously owned by West Bromwich and later by Sandwell Council, had been returned to court service, and speculation was rife that it would be closed.

Proposals to replace the building with a modern courthouse were drawn up and finally granted planning permission in April 2010.

But the funding never materialized and the court closed – without a replacement – as part of a £41m cost-cutting scheme. The court officially closed on April 15, 2011, although no cases have been heard since December. Hearings were instead moved to Warley Magistrates Court in Oldbury.

The building was put on the market with an asking price of £350,000, with speculation that Sandwell Council could buy the building.

But in March 2012 it went under the hammer with a list price of £150,000 and was sold to a private buyer. While it was suggested at the time that it would be suitable for conversion into a wine bar, take-out or cinema, it struggled to generate much interest and re-emerged on the market four years later. late. It has been suggested that its Grade II listed status and location in a conservation area hinder its redevelopment.

In 2015, recreation company Dusk Till Dawn began hosting ghost nights from the building.

Keith P. Plain