With the premiere of The Hobbit fast approaching, areas with connections to Tolkien are eager to bring in some tourism business by highlighting their connections to the professor. Such is the case in Birmingham, where a new gallery dedicated to Tolkien has opened at Sarehole Mill.
Tolkien lived in Birmingham from 1895 – 1911 and was inspired by the countryside and by various sites in the area, including Perrott’s Folly and Edgbaston Waterworks, which was said to be the inspiration for The Two Towers. As mentioned in the revised forward to Lord of the Rings in 1966, Sarehole Mill – a three-story mill and childhood haunt of Tolkien – gave him the idea for The Great Mill in Hobbiton.
The Birmingham Tolkien Group is delighted at this development. Over the next year, curator Irene Daboo plans to replace the roof, drain and refill the pond, and get the mill working again so that visitors can see how the mill would have looked in the early 1900s. She would also like to see a local bakery restored so that there would be authentic, fresh-baked bread nearby.
Birmingham Mail quoted Birmingham Tolkien Group Chairman Michael Wilkes: “This is a step forward for Tolkien heritage in Birmingham…the Birmingham Tolkien Group has worked closely with the city museum service on this. We get visitors from the all over the world here and we’ve even had visitors from eastern Europe.”
Click here to see Birmingham Mail’s short video documenting the town’s efforts to attract Tolkien visitors from all over the world.