After nearly 30 years of working at the building just off St Chad’s Queensway, it is exciting to see a new dental school finally coming to fruition. As you stroll around Pebble Mill road you will see the frenzy of activity that is taking place on the former site of the BBC where such great shows such as Pebble Mill at One
I remember doing a radio interview on dentistry for the Beeb and being ushered into what amounted to be broom
cupboard near to the reception where the lunchtime showwas broadcast. Little did I know that I would be back again but this time under different circumstances. In 2004 the
BBC relocated to the Mailbox in the city centre and the once iconic studios were raised to the ground. The site languished
over the next decade until a new lease of life was offered by the relocation of the Dental Hospital and School. Several sites
had been discussed and eventually a decision was made that Pebble Mill would be the place to build.
The possible move to a new site for the present school and clinical services was regularly debated in the late eighties
and mid nineties however the outcome was always to stay at our present site. In the late 1990s and early noughtiesthe infrastructure of the school and hospital were becoming difficult to manage. There had been several removals of asbestos in the building and then there were other problems with the layout of the building that involved work arounds. During all these difficult times, the clinical facilities remained first class and the training of students, research output and patient treatments were comparable to the best institutions in the country.
Discussions reopened on the possibility and then the reality of moving our school and hospital. The passage of time does not provide details of the intense discussions, meetings and time involved with the setting up and building of a new dental school and hospital. It is impossible to mention every name and the people who have been involved with the planning of this project.
The new building discussions and the forthcoming move has an impact on everybody who works or is associated with the building. Construction commenced in 2013 and is now advanced and moving forward and the publication of this article will precede the opening by a few months.
What will we expect to see when we move into the new building? It will be four floors instead of the present 8 (or 9 if you count the maintenance floor). There will be two wings in a design not dissimilar to the old building. The clinical teaching and service floors will have a strong open plan look with smaller surgeries available for complex treatments and management. The smaller wing will include the education and research facilities together with the production laboratories. The school is nearer to the University campus and this will enable us to build upon our world class research.
We will have the facilities to undertake clinical trials research and also build on our strong interdisciplinary links with the rest of the University. Our clinical service is being integrated with the Community and allows us to continue tobe a centre of clinical and educational excellence. Everything will be new and it is this that will be exciting for staff, studentsand patients. It will be like receiving a new car or moving to a new house and all the enjoyment that such an event will bring. However the move itself is being planned with military precision and it is a big job to ensure that this takes place smoothly and that we do not disrupt either our service or our University duties. Next year we will look back at our move and reflect on how dentistry at Birmingham has gone from strength to strength. The collective memories and stories of our predecessors should be applauded as it is their work that got us here.
Therefore as I continue to stroll along Pebble Mill Road and look at the new building, my mind is flooded with many
thoughts and memories but also with the excitement of a new School: the first to be built from new in the UK for 40
years. Congratulations to everyone from our first building in 1858 to building no 7 in 2015 and the future which will be
guaranteed well into the present century.