Why is there a bow on Old Joe?

This week, we are recognising the impact that giving has made across campus by shaping and supporting the University through donations for buildings, scholarships, and research.

Old Joe, the tallest freestanding clock tower in the world, was built thanks to one of the founding gifts received by the University, and we have tied a huge gift bow on him to celebrate! So look out of your windows, look up and check out Joe in his bow!

The donation to build Old Joe was the first of many philanthropic gifts to the University of Birmingham. The clock tower was built in 1905 after a donation was made during the construction of the Aston Webb complex. Joseph Chamberlain, Chancellor of the University at the time, decided that a bold clock tower should be built, instead of the completing the Aston Webb semi-circle. It wasn’t until 2012 when the Bramall Music Building was built, itself largely funded by donors, that the semi-circle was finally completed. 

In 2009, the University launched its Circles of Influence campaign, with the aim of raising £160 million to support research, students and development on campus. This has been the biggest fundraising campaign the Midlands has seen and will shortly be entering its final 100 days.

So today, in celebration and recognition of the generosity of our alumni and friends, we have tied a bow around Old Joe.

Have you got any photos of Joe in his bow? Tweet us at @birminghamalum using #oldjoebow to be in with the chance of winning your own miniature (3D printed!) Old Joe!

Learn more about the history of Old Joe.