Lord of the Rings LegoJason DeCrow/AP Images for LEGO

An odd folly in Birmingham has been bought by a homeless charity. The tower was derelict at the time. It's not in the most fashionable part of Birmingham, and it's not massively practical. It has seven rooms - one on each floor. None of them are particularly large, and the whole structure sways in high winds.

So why was the charity keen to buy it?


Perrott's Folly is near to the home where JRR Tolkien lived as a child. It's one of two large towers - the other a chimney of a nearby waterworks - that he would have walked past on his way to school. Together the pair are said to have inspired the twin towers of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

It was built in 1758 and has Grade II listing. It was once part of a large park - Rotton Park - but it has been gradually built on over time. The tower has served as a weather observation tower and was part of Birmingham University, but has been empty for more than 30 years.

It has already proved a major project for the Birmingham Conservation Trust, which carried out significant works to stop the tower from collapsing in 2005.

New project

The Trident Reach the People charity paid £1 for the structure, and it aims to raise a further £1 million in order to restore it and open it to the public. Ben Bradley, who works for the charity and was behind the purchase of the tower told The Guardian that it was an inspirational building in a very deprived area, and that not only could it be used to support the community when it was restored, but it could be something the local area was proud of.

The Perrotts Folly website promises: "As part of our plans Perrotts Folly will also become an educational training facility for young people and other groups potentially excluded from the job market, such as people suffering from mental health issues."

He said: "If all we ended up with here is four-wheel-drives pulling up and Mumsy, Mimsy and Wimpy hopping out for a quick look, and then driving away again 10 minutes later, as far as I'm concerned we'd have failed."