Elliott Brown

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Environment & green action
13 hours ago - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Moseley Bog from my December 2012 and September 2016 visits

Moseley Bog is not that far away from me, just catch the 11C up the Swanshurst Lane and get off the bus on the Yardley Wood Road near Swanshurst Park. The main entrance to Moseley Bog is on Yardley Wood Road. This photo gallery ahead of a proposed Birmingham We Are group visit to the bog! Part of the Shire Country Park. Another entrance / exit is on Pensby Close.

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A gallery of 20 photos. The first 13 from my visit in December 2012. The last 7 from my visit in September 2016. It is easy to get lost in here! Best to start from the main entrance on the Yardley Wood Road in Moseley.

The bus routes here are the 11A / 11C (bus stops on Yardley Wood Road near Swanshurst Park). Or the 2 or the 3 from the city centre or Yardley Wood. You could also get the 5 to Wake Green Road, close to where JRR Tolkien used to live as a child, when Sarehole was a hamlet.

You could also get the train to Hall Green Station and then walk down Cole Bank Road past Sarehole Mill (or catch the 11C down the hill if you want to). Trains from Birmingham Snow Hill / Moor Street or Shirley down to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Birmingham City Council sign for Moseley Bog and Joy's Wood Local Nature Reserve seen on Yardley Wood Road.

Moseley Bog sign

The sculpted entrance gate to Moseley Bog from the Yardley Wood Road entrance. Small car park here.

Moseley Bog Yardley Wood Road entrance

Welcome to Moseley Bog - this sign was near the Yardley Wood Road entrance, with a map of the area.

Welcome to Moseley Bog

Decking all around now, so your shoes are less likely to get muddy, but it could still be wet if it's rained!

Moseley Bog (December 2012). Decking.

More decking to walk around.

Moseley Bog (December 2012). Decking.

Around to the right past the trees.

Moseley Bog decking

Which way, left or right, it's up to you!

Moseley Bog decking

Narrow planks if you go this way.

Moseley Bog decking

A sign to stop and read close to this corner decking stop point.

Moseley Bog decking

There is steps here to go down to the dirt track.

Moseley Bog decking

Heading down the steps.

Moseley Bog steps down

Take these steps to the exit onto Pensby Close. A cul-de-sac. Head out via that road then onto Thirlmere Drive, then you get to Wake Green Road near Sarehole Mill.

Moseley Bog steps

Not all the routes are decked out. Are some dirt paths to follow as well.

Moseley Bog dirt path

The next 7 photos from a return visit in September 2016.

Somehow didn't get photos of the bog itself until 2016! Different conditions in different seasons.

Moseley Bog the bog!

Can see other members of Birmingham We Are enjoy taking photos of this from different angles!

Moseley Bog the bog!

Someone had made a camp site in Moseley Bog. Perhaps Cubs or Scout groups or school parties use the bog?

Moseley Bog camp site

Several fallen trees. Was looking a bit muddy underneath.

Moseley Bog fallen tree

Another fallen tree, this one above a pool of water.

Moseley Bog - fallen tree and pool of water

A muddy stream with logs in it.

Moseley Bog muddy stream

Those steps again that I used in 2012. In 2016 I entered via Pensby Close, and had hoped to find my way to the Yardley Wood Road entrance / exit. But it is easy to get lost, and ended up going back to the Pensby Close entrance / exit again instead! Would GPS / a compass help me / us find a route out?

Moseley Bog those steps again

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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Civic pride
20 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The first object in the collection at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: a marble bust of David Cox

Did you know that the first object donated to the collection of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was a marble bust of the landscape artist David Cox (1783-1859). It was made in the early 1860s by Peter Hollins. Cox used to lived in Harborne from 1841 to his death in 1859. He is buried at Saint Peter's Church in Harborne where a window is dedicated to him in his honour.

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David Cox

The bust of David Cox and a small exhibition about him used to be at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, on the landing area of the museum, not far from the doors to the stairs that leads to the Great Charles Street Queensway entrance (and to the Staffordshire Hoard and other galleries). These photos below taken during March 2012.

David Cox was born in 1783 and died in 1859 in Birmingham. He was an English landscape artist. He painted in watercolour. Cox was born on the 29th April 1783 on Heath Mill Lane in Deritend. He was based in London from 1804 to 1814, then Hereford from 1814 to 1827, and London again from 1827 to 1841. He moved back to Birmingham in 1841. He moved to a house on Greenfield Road in Harborne where he lived until his death on the 7th June 1859, aged 76.

The bust was commissioned after his death in 1860 by the Birmingham Society of Artists as a memorial to David Cox. It was made by Peter Hollins from 1860 to 1862. It was later the first object to be donated to the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

David Cox bust at BM & AG

The signature of David Cox that used to be on the wall above the bust in the museum.

David Cox signature at BM & AG

There used to be two history boards on the wall near the bust, with the history of his life on the first board below.

David Cox history board 1 at BM & AG

The second board was above David Cox and Birmingham. After 37 years living away from Birmingham, he spent his last 18 years living in Birmingham in his Harborne home.

David Cox history board 2 at BM & AG

The last time I saw the marble bust of David Cox in the museum was during January 2016 on the museum link bridge (it is not there now). The sign below notes that it was Birmingham's first object. If it's no longer at BM & AG now, it might be at the Gallery of the RBSA in the Jewellery Quarter.

David Cox bust at BM & AG moved location

I was looking for the blue plaque of David Cox in Harborne during April 2012. It is on a house now known as David Cox Court at 116 and 118 Greenfield Road in Harborne. A Grade II listed building known as Greenfield House when Cox lived there. The house was built in the late 18th century and was remodelled in the early 19th century. David Cox lived here from 1841 until his death in 1859. His son David Cox Jr. did a painting of the house, which you can see here on Wikimedia Commons David Cox Jr - Greenfield House, Harborne.

David Cox Court - Greenfield Road, Harborne

Metchley Abbey seen on Metchley Lane in Harborne. Also on the same day as looking for the David Cox plaque. This time for the blue plaque of Sir Granville Bantock (1868 - 1946) a composer who lived here from 1926 to 1933. A Grade II* listed building at 93 Metchley Lane (now private property). A E Greeman historian of the Norman
Conquest visited here, and David Cox apparently frequently visited this property! It was built in the early 19th century in the Picturesque Gothic style.

Metchley Abbey - Metchley Lane, Harborne

Saint Peter's Church in Harborne. The East Window here is in memory of David Cox, and he is buried here in the churchyard. The church and churchyard are around Old Church Road. A Grade II listed building dating to the 15th century. It is the Parish Church of Harborne. In 1867 Yeoville Thomason was responsible for the designs of the Nave, aisles, transepts and apsidal chapel. The West Tower dates to the 15th century, and some lower details from the 14th century.

Saint Peter's Church Harborne

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Architecture
15 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Round towers in Birmingham, UK and Pisa, Italy

I finally got to go to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa during a holiday to Florence and Tuscany in June 2018. While I didn't go up the tower (not worth paying for the short amount of time to go up). Was well worth seeing it and other landmarks in the area. A comparison with the Rotunda in Birmingham, UK. The Leaning Tower was stablised by 2008, while our Rotunda was renovated.

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Birmingham has direct flights to Pisa, from Birmingham Airport to Pisa Airport. When I went it was with Jet2.com (organised via Riviera Travel) during June 2018. We had around 3 days in Florence, before setting off for Tuscany. On one of the touring days, after a wet morning in the city of Lucca, our coach took us to the city of Pisa in the afternoon. I remember being in Pisa, and seeing Ryanair or Jet2 planes flying over head!

 

First up a look at the Rotunda in Birmingham, seen over many years in the city centre, from different views.

The Rotunda, Birmingham

The Rotunda was built from 1961 to 1965, it was by the architect James A. Roberts, and was built with the original 1960s Bull Ring Shopping Centre. It was a 12 storey office block. It was revised to 25 storeys and had an abandoned rotating restaurant on the top floor (that was never built). In the 1980s and 1990s it was used to advertise Coca Cola (and resembled a giant can of Coke!).  It was given Grade II listed building status in 2000. The building was rebuilt between 2005 and 2008 by the architects Glenn Howells Architects and was renovated by Urban Splash. There is now apartments and a hotel in the building.

This view below was taken in August 2009 at the Bullring. Looking up from St Martin's Square on a very sunny day in Birmingham. This was around the time that I was getting photos of the Horatio Nelson statue with a blue sky.

Rotunda

This view of the Rotunda was taken during December 2009 from St Martin's Queensway. A no 63 bus waits not far from Birmingham New Street Station (the refurbishment of the station had yet to start, but was done from 2010 to 2015). One of the "bridges" links the Rotunda side to the 2003 Bullring. From here you can head up the ramp to Rotunda Square, or head under the dark part of St Martin's Queensway to Moor Street Queensway and Birmingham Moor Street Station. Some maps also show this as Swan Passage (probably one of the poorly designed part of the modern Bullring).

Rotunda

This view of the Rotunda was taken during August 2014 from Digbeth. Not far from Selfridges at the Bullring was a paint brush for the City of Colours Festival. They held a demonstation at the Bullring, and later had a day in Digbeth around the Custard Factory area painting street art on walls. Birmingham Coach Station and the BT Tower was also visible from here. Behind Digbeth Police Station is the Beorma Quarter. This was when the Adagio Aparthotel was under construction. St Martin's Church seen to the left.

Rotunda

A view from the Library of Birmingham of the Rotunda and Ladywood House (either seen from the Discovery Terrace or the Secret Garden) during October 2015. Visible from up here also was the Premier Inn hotel near Birmingham New Street Station and the Charters Building.

Rotunda

The Rotunda seen from Bordesley Street in Digbeth, during a sunny day in January 2018. Seen with the Bordesley Viaduct (with scaffolding) and Selfridges. Moor Street Car Park is usually a good place for roof top views of the city. You can also see the Rotunda if you are standing at platforms 3 or 4 at Birmingham Moor Street Station.

Rotunda

A Secret Garden view from the Library of Birmingham during January 2019. Seen to the left of the Rotunda was St Andrew's Stadium, the home of Birmingham City Football Club. It's also possible up there to see The Hawthorns (home of West Bromwich Albion) or Villa Park (home of Aston Villa) on a clear day.

Rotunda

Sit at the front of the no 50 bus on the top deck for this view of the Rotunda. Seen during February 2019 on Bradford Street in Digbeth. Heading up, you can see at the Bullring: St Martin's Church, Smithfield House and Selfridges. As well as the BT Tower. In Digbeth on the right is the Adagio Aparthotel (at the Beorma Quarter development) and Digbeth Police Station. I don't fancy going up that eyesore concrete car park on Moat Lane for views, so this bus view will do for now!

Rotunda

Another bus view, this one from the no 63 bus at the top of the Bristol Road near the Belgrave Interchange. Looking up the Bristol Road to Southside. The Rotunda seen with the McLaren Building and the tower of Exchange Square phase 1. At Belgrave Interchange you can see the on going roadworks of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution for the cycleway being built down the Bristol Road in Edgbaston. It goes as far as the University of Birmingham along sections of the Dual Carriageway. It's all change on Bristol Street too. Bristol Street Motors stands alone, while the Monaco House site awaits development for New Monaco House. A church used to be down here too, but that was demolished for new housing being built on the St Luke's land (towards Sherlock Street).

Rotunda

Now lets travel over 1000 miles to Italy. Fastest to fly from Birmingham Airport to Pisa Airport (the flight was around 3 hours with Jet2). As I said above we went to Florence first (where our first hotel was). The day after we went to Pisa. This was during late June 2018.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

In Italian the tower is called the Torre pendente di Pisa. It is the campanile or the freestanding bell tower of Pisa Cathedral. Work on the tower started in 1173 and was completed 200 years later in 1372. The tower began to lean during the 12th century. The tower is 55.86 metres high made of marble and stone. The tower was stabilised in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The tower has 294 or 296 steps. The tower lean has changed since the stabilisation work was completed by 2008.

It was well worth seeing, I was hoping to see it for years, before going on the Florence and Tuscany holiday. Could have paid in advance to go up, but for 30 minutes, the price wasn't worth it. So in the end, while there just explored the grounds of the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles).

This first view with the Cathedral. One of my first views after entering the tourist heavy area!

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Slightly more close up and zoomed into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Tourists try to do a selfie pose of "pushing" the tower over! I tried it myself, not that the photos of me got the desired affect! Being the summer, there was loads of tourists about.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

It realy is leaning! This view with the lawn and the tourists at the bottom. Can you see the people on the upper level balconies? There was other monuments about such as statues and sculptures.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

This view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa seen with the Fontana dei putti. The monumental fountain that welcomes the entrance of the square from Via Santa Maria is by Giuseppe Vaccà (base and fountain) and by Giovanni Antonio Cybei (the marble group of putti holding the coats of arms of Pisa and the Opera).

Leaning Tower of Pisa

I tried to head all the way around for different views. From this side to the right of the cathedral, it looks straight! Was also a Italian Army vehicle on site to keep tourists safe. I also saw them in Florence at different sites.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Even more closer looking up! I think this is near the entrance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Would guess that paying ticket holders would queue up around here?

Leaning Tower of Pisa

This view from the steps of Pisa Cathedral. We sat down here for a period. I also noticed planes flying overhead such as Ryanair and Jet2. It's really leaning from this view!

Leaning Tower of Pisa

It looks like here that the man on the left is leaning on the tower to push it over! While the man on the right is trying to push in left (for his own photo). Of course many tourists were trying the famous move for there holiday snaps! The tower also had a Republic of Pisa flag. That existed from the 10th to the 15th centuries. It was taken over by the Republic of Florence in 1402.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. My Twitter ellrbrown and Flickr ell brown.

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60 passion points
History & heritage
13 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Birmingham more miles of canals than Venice

I went to Venice in July 2010 and had a ride on a gondola. We were also taken around the lagoon. A comparison of Birmingham's canals with those in Venice, Italy. Gondolas vs narrowboats. We have more miles of canals in Brum compared to Venice. 35 miles of canals with the City of Birmingham, with most of that navigable. Around 26 miles in Venice. Venice first then a look at Birmingham!

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This post will mostly be a comparison of the Dragon Boat race near Brindleyplace and the narrowboats within the city centre on the Birmingham Canal Navigations near Brindleyplace. With the world famous gondolas seen on the canals in Venice.

We start off with Venice. After the long boat ride to get to the city we got straight onto a gondola for a ride around the famous canals of Venice! The journey starts from the Bacino di San Marco.

Venice canals - gondolas

I was on one gondola back in July 2010 and saw this gondola in front! This canal was the Rio di Palazzo. The gondolier's were having a chat with each other!

Gondola ride on the canals of Venice

Both gondolas were heading for this footbridge. Many interesting looking buildings on the way!

Gondola ride on the canals of Venice

A view of the Hard Rock Cafe in Venice. I can't even recall there being a Hard Rock Cafe in Birmingham! More recently saw a Hard Rock Cafe in Lyon, France and in Florence, Italy. Seen at the Orseolo basin (Bacino Orseolo). The canal might be the Rio del Cappello.

Hard Rock Cafe near a canal in Venice

More tourists enjoying a ride on a gondola, like I did earlier that day (a roasting hot 12th July 2010 over 35°C!). This canal was the Rio del Scoa Camini. The Bacino Orseolo (Orseolo Basin) is around the corner.

Gondola rides on the canals of Venice

The view from the same footbridge as above, so still the Rio del Scoa Camini. A footpath running alongside the shops. More tourists riding on gondolas. One gondolier on a brake (on the right).

Gondola rides on the canals of Venice

Another Venetian canal. Several boats moored on the left. Seen from a footbridge on the Riva degli Schiavoni. This canal is the Rio di San Lorenzo. The bell tower on the right is of the Church of San Giorgio dei Greci (Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci in Italian).

Boats and a tower from a canal in Venice

If you want a taxi around Venice, then this is the way to travel, by a speedboat! Seen from another footbridge on the Riva degli Schiavoni. This canal was the Rio della Pieta. At this point we were heading to catch a boat for a Lagoon cruise! This might be almost 9 years ago but this day in Venice is still quite memorable!

Speedboat taxi on a canal in Venice

OK enough with Venice, and back to Birmingham!

Flowers on the Brindleyplace Bridge over the Birmingham Canal Navigations in this view towards the Broad Street Tunnel. The ICC on the left, Brindleyplace to the right. Flowers out for the 4 Squares Weekender which was held in the city centre over the weekend of the 6th to 8th September 2013 (around when the new Library of Birmingham had opened). The red Waterbus seen behind. And the Sherborne Wharf tourist boat in front!

4 Squares Weekender 2013 - Brindleyplace bridge

Not something you see on the Birmingham Canal Navigations every day. Canoeing on the canal. Saw this in May 2015 close to the Barclaycard Arena (now Arena Birmingham). This view the corner close to the Sealife Centre.

Canoeing on the BCN

This view close to the Sheepcote Street Bridge. I also once saw canoes on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal from the Pershore Road Bridge in Stirchley!

Canoeing on the BCN

What you are more likely to see around here is a service boat! Seen passing the Waterbus and the Sherborne Wharf tourist narrowboat. It was heading past the Brindleyplace Bridge towards the Broad Street Tunnel during early April 2018. Behind was Arena Birmingham, The Malt House and the Brewmasters House!

See my post on them here The Brasshouse, The Brewmasters House and The Malt House - historic canal buildings around the BCN and Brindleyplace.

Service boat on the BCN from the Broad Street Tunnel

About a week later (still April 2018), saw this man on a surfboard and a lady on one (might be a canoe)? Well they weren't surfing on the Birmingham Canal Navigations, as they headed under the Brewmasters Bridge. Probably rowing on their boards! This was round about when the BSAVA Congress was on at The ICC (probably not related).

Surfing or canoeing on the BCN

OK here's the promised Dragon Boat Race photos. First one from June 2017 outside of the Sealife Centre Birmingham, close to the Brewmasters House and the Brewmasters Bridge. These boats are probably the closest thing we would have in Birmingham to the gondolas in Venice!

Dragon Boat Race 2017

The Dragon Baot Race  seen during June 2018. Packed full of spectators around the Birmingham Canal Navigations. This was also close to the Sealife Centre Birmingham.

Dragon Boat Race 2018

Now a building at Brindleyplace that wouldn't be out of place in Venice. Three Brindleyplace is seen to the left of the Sealife Centre. Teams at the race getting ready to race up and down from the Sealife Centre to the Broad Street Tunnel and back. I was only passing through, so didn't see much of the race in 2017 and 2018.

Dragon Boat Race 2018

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. The day trip to Venice was during July 2010.

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50 passion points
History & heritage
08 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Châteaux in France

I've been to several Châteaux in France on a couple of Riviera Travel holidays. In July 2009 to the Loire Valley, where most of them are located. Also in June 2017 in Burgundy (but not as many there - only visited the one). I could also see some from the coaches I was on, and on the Loire Valley holiday was a couple of photo stops for some of the Châteaux!

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Loire Valley

First up with the Chatateax visited in the Loire Valley during July 2009, with Riviera Travel. On this holiday they took us to two Châteaux for a visit. As well as a couple of photo stops. Others I saw from the coach.

Château de Villandry

This château is a grand country house located in Villandry, in the département of Indre-et-Loire, France. We came for a morning visit, arriving after 9am, and leaving by 11:30am. This château was built around the original 14th century keep where King Philip II of France once met Richard I of England to discuss peace. Jean Le Breton, France's Controller-General for War under King Francis I acquired it in the early 16th century and a new château was constructed. It remained in the Le Breton family for two centuries. In the early 19th century Emperor Napoleon acquired it for his brother Jérôme Bonaparte.  It was designated a Monument historique in 1934. Like the other châteaux of the Loire Valley, it is a World Heritage Site. There was some nice French gardens here!

Château de Villandry

Château de Chenonceau

An afternoon visit to this château, arriving just before 1:30pm and leaving by 3:30pm. At the time, part of the building has scaffolding on it. Nice gardens to visit and plenty of history here. It spans the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. This château was built between 1514 to 1522. Diane de Poitiers, who was the mistress of Henry II of France lived from 1547 to about 1555. It also became the residence of Catherine de' Medici in the 1560s. Mary Queen of Scots may have had a brief spell living here during 1559-60 as the wife of Francis II of France. You can visit the inside of the building as well as explore the gardens! One of the most famous châteaux of the Loire valley.

Château de Chenonceau

Château d'Anet

We had a coach stop here so that our group could take some photos of this château. Bit hard to see behind the walls, but the some of the buildings close to the wall were visible. I'd say that we were here for around 5 to 10 minutes? It is a château near Dreux, in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France, built by Philibert de l'Orme from 1547 to 1552 for Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II of France. There is statues here of Diane de Poitiers as Diana, goddess of the hunt, by Jean Goujon.

Château d'Anet

Château d'Ussé

Another photo stop. This time from the other side of the river near the bridge. Another 10 minute coach stop. It resembles or was the inspiration for the castle from Sleeping Beauty (the Disney version). It is a castle in the Indre-et-Loire département, in France. Close to the Chinon forest. Was mostly built in the 15th century. You can see how well it resembles the famous Disney castles!

Château d'Ussé

Château du Clos Lucé

The visit to the final home of Leonardo da Vinci (from 1515 to his death in 1519). A visit inside of the house as well as the grounds where there was many full size models of Leonardo's inventions! It is a a large château in the city of Amboise, France. It is 500 metres from the royal Château d'Amboise. Charles VIII of France aquired it in 1490. Francis I later used it in the early 1500s. The museum also includes a copy of the Mona Lisa, painted in 1654 by Ambroise Dubois. I saw that painting, but didn't take a photo of it!

Château du Clos Lucé

Château d'Amboise

The walk down from Clos-Luce into Amboise and you can see this château on the right on the hill above. We only visited the City and not this château itself.  It is a château in Amboise, located in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. King Charles VIII died at the château in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel. Many French King's liked this place including Francis I (the sponsor of Leonardo da Vinci). Mary Stuart lived here as a child when promised to Francis II.

Château d'Amboise

Château de Chinon

I saw this chateau near the end of a walk around the town of Chinon. We did not go up there, but was nice to see! It is a castle located on the bank of the Vienne river in Chinon, France. Henry II of England, a member of the House of Anjou took it in 1156 and he later died here in 1189. It was his favourite residence. It was founded by Theobald I, Count of Blois. In the 11th century. There was a major restoration project here between 2003 and 2010.

Château de Chinon

Île-de-France

Next up we head to Fontainebleau near Paris. On the Loire Valley holiday of July 2009, this was the day before we went back to Paris and caught the Eurostar back to the UK. A big Palace where many of the French King's and Emperors lived!

Château de Fontainebleau

Also known as the Palace of Fontainebleau or Château de Fontainebleau it is 34 miles south east of the centre of Paris. Located in the commune of Fontainebleau, is one of the largest French royal châteaux. It started as a medieval castle and subsequent palace served as a residence for the French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III. Francis I and Napoleon I had the most influence over the palace. It was here in 1814 where Napoleon abdicated as French Emperor, and inside I saw the table and chair that he signed the instrument of abdication. Of course he later returned for the 100 days in 1815! The castle dates back as early as 1137. And there has been many additions over the centuries. The château was used as a prison for Pope Pius VII from 1812 to 1814. It is now a national museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Château de Fontainebleau

Burgundy

The Holiday to the historic Burgundy region of France with Riviera Travel was during June 2017, including 3 days in Lyon. After we left Lyon, we headed to the next hotel in Beaune. But before we got there, we went to the Château in Cormatin.Many of the other châteaux I saw in the region was from the coach on different days.

Château de Cormatin

Our visit to this château lasted around 2 hours. We had an exclusive guided tour organised by our tour operator.  Cormatin is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. This was my first château visit in around 8 years! It is built on an island of the Grosne river. It resembles a moated manor house (similar to Baddesley Clinton in England). This building dates to the early 17th century. Although Henry du Blé has built a fortress here in 1280, on the road to Cluny Abbey (we also visited that on this trip). This used to be a complete quadrangle with a inner courtyard but two of the wings was demolished. The West Wing was lowered after a fire in 1812 and the South Wing collapsed in 1815 during its conversion into a textile factory. Jacques du Blé built this château from approx 1620 to 1626.

Château de Cormatin

I spotted many chateaux from the coach during this particular holiday. Some are now part of vineyards.

Château de Sercy

I saw this chateau from the coach after we left Cormatin and headed to our next hotel in Beaune. This could have been a coach stop, but am sure that we didn't get off the coach here. It dates between the 12th to 15th centuries. Sercy is in the Saône-et-Loire region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It was along the Route du Château, seen from near the River Grosne. It has been declared a historical monument in France since 1974. The castle is private property but is open to the public.

Château de Sercy

Château de Châteauneuf

I saw this château from the coach window on the journey back to our hotel in Beaune from the Autoroute du Soleil - A6 (having earlier visited Fontenay Abbey,  Semur-en-Auxois and Flavigny-sur-Ozerain). This château is also known as the Château de Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, and dates to the 15th century. About 43km from Dijon. It dominates the valley of Canal de Bourgogne. The earliest construction dates back to about 1132 by Jean de Chaudenay for his son Jehan, who took possession of it in 1175 and became Jean I de Châteauneuf. Philippe le Bon, duke of Burgundy in 1457 offered it to his advisor Philippe Pot, also of the Order of the Golden Fleece. It is now a protected historical monument in France.

Château de Châteauneuf

Château de Brochon

I saw this one from the Route des Grands Crus as the coach took us back from a day out in the city of Dijon back to our hotel in Beaune. This whole region is scattered with vineyards, and vines as fas as the eye could see! Very scenic to travel through! This chateau dates to the 19th century and is a Neo-Renaissance castle in Brochon, Côte-d'Or, in Burgundy-Franche-Comté. In the 14th century, Philip the Bold , first Duke of Valois of Burgundy donated the land to the Order of the Carthusians. It's had many other owners over the centuries and is now a vineyard producing wine, from 1962 by Lycée Stéphen-Liégeard.

Château de Brochon

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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0 passion points
History & heritage
05 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Stirchley Village up and down the Pershore Road and Hazelwell Street

There is plenty of history in the Stirchley area of Birmingham. A big chunk of it is called Stirchley Village. Here we will be looking at buildings up and down the Pershore Road and Hazelwell Street. There was a big Co-operative Society presence in the village, and the Cadbury's were nearby in Bournville. Buildings include the Stirchley Baths, the British Oak pub and many more!

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While there might be a lot of derelict shops on the Pershore Road in Stirchley, there are many historic buildings up and down the road in good condition. Some like the old swimming baths and the Friends Meeting House have been restored. Stirchley goes from Selly Park towards Cotteridge along the Pershore Road, and the road is used during the Great Birmingham Run every October and the Great Birmingham 10K in April or May. The village also has boundaries with Bournville and Kings Heath.

 

First up a look at the Sea Cadets building. It is not far from Cottteridge but it is in Stirchley. The Sea Cadet Corps Birmingham Sherbourne is located a 1667 Pershore Road. They were established in 1942. They help people learn the skills  to become a Sea Cadet and one day join the Royal Navy!

Sea Cadets - Pershore Road, Stirchley

Stirchley Community Primary School shares their building with the Selly Oak Constituency Office on the Pershore Road. There may have been a school here since the late 19th century. The building was built in 1879 by William Hale, on what was Stirchley Street. It had room for 215 pupils. Extensions built in 1883 and 1893, both by Hale, and in 1896 by Edward Holmes. (these details taken from a book called Victorian Buildings of Birmingham by Roy Thornton, published in 2006 - very useful for details of Victorian buildings).

Stirchley Primary School - Pershore Road, Stirchley

The British Oak is a public house on the Pershore Road in Stirchley. It is now near all that Seven Capital land awaiting development. The pub is a Grade II listed building. It was built from 1923 to 1924 by James and Lister Lea for the Mitchells and Butlers brewery. Red brick in Flemish bond, with diaperwork, brick mullion-transom windows and tile arches. It is a large public house in 17th century Domestic Revival Style. The pub also includes a garden loggia of the same date.

The British Oak - Pershore Road, Stirchley

The Dog Pool Hotel, also known as The New Dog Pool Hotel & Restaurant. On the Pershore Road in Stirchley, close to Selly Park. The pub has been closed down for years. Built in the 1920s, it was formerly the Hibernan. It replaced another Dog Pool Inn that used to be opposite. A wedged building at the corner of St Stephen's Road and the Pershore Road. The nearby road opposite is called Dogpool Lane. That leads to Dads Lane and onto Kings Heath. Some people (as a joke) vandalise the road sign to read "Dogpoo Lane"!

Dog Pool Hotel - Pershore Road, Stirchley

Stirchley Public Baths was restored in 2015 and reopened in January 2016 as a Community Centre. It's on the corner of Bournville Lane and Hazelwell Street in Stirchley. It is a Grade II listed building. The swimming baths was built in 1910 by John P. Osborne. Red brick in Flemish bond and diaper pattern blue brick, and with stone dressings. Slate roofs. Built in the Edwardian Baroque style. For many years the building was closed before it was restored. Seen here a few days after it reopened to the public in January 2016.

Stirchley Public Baths - Hazelwell Street, Stirchley

Stirchley Library is on the Bournville Lane in Stirchley. A short walk away from Bournville Station. It was built in 1905 for the Kings Norton & Northfield Urban District Council (years before the area became part of the City of Birmingham). A Grade II listed building. The Public Library was built in 1905 by John P. Osborne. Red brick in Flemish bond, with stone dressings and a slate roof. Built in the Freestyle. It is next door to the former swimming baths (now community centre).

Stirchley Library - Bournville Lane, Stirchley

The Birmingham Civic Society had unveiled a blue plaque for Mary Cottrell (1868 - 1969) at the Stirchley Community Centre (the former public baths) during February 2019 - Mary Cottrell Blue Plaque unveiled. When I got off the no 47 bus early in the rain near the British Oak, I thought the plaque would be at the baths, but walking along in the torrential rain, saw it at this building, which was the former Central Bakery dated 1891. The building is now home to Em's Pet Food Store at 1395 Pershore Road and Isherwood & Co. at 1393 Pershore Road. DJF Bathrooms and Kitchens is to the right near the archway. It was formerly the site of a Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society Bakery. Mary Cottrell was the first woman Birmingham City Councillor for the Labour & Co-operative Party in 1917. She was also a board member of the Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society from 1909, and the Co-operative Wholesales Society in 1922.

The Central Bakery - Pershore Road, Stirchley

Fun runners on the Birmingham International Marathon which was held on Sunday 15th October 2017. It was the 1st new marathon in Birmingham (26.2 miles) since the 1980s. Held on the same day as the Great Birmingham Run (which started a little bit later). There was no marathon in 2018  (due to roadworks along the route) but the normal Great Birmingham Run and Great Birmingham 10K were still held in the city.

Views below of the fun runners running past the Pershore Road in Stirchley towards Bournville. Between the community centre and the former bakery.

Birmingham International Marathon - Pershore Road, Stirchley

As usual the roads were closed to allow the run to take place.

Birmingham International Marathon - Pershore Road, Stirchley

I got the train to Bournville that day to check out the Birmingham International Marathon in the Bournville and Stirchley areas. Bus routes would have been diverted while it was on.

Birmingham International Marathon - Pershore Road, Stirchley

 

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
History & heritage
02 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The escape of Charles II after he lost the Battle of Worcester in September 1651

During the Commonwealth period, The Civil War came to an end in 1651 with the Battle of Worcester. Charles II lost that battle and went around the country (in secret) to escape to France. In the Midlands he left Worcester on the 3rd September 1651, and by the 8th September 1651 he got to Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton. He continued his journey south before he escaped the country!

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There is a building on New Street in Worcester City Centre now named King Charles House. For many years it has been the King Charles II Restaurant. Photos below taken in September 2009, about 358 years after Charles II escaped Worcester after loosing the last battle of the Civil War in the city. King Charles House is Grade II* listed building. Including no 4 and 5 Cornmarket. And now 30 New Street. Built in 1577 for for Richard Durant and
William Blagden. Restored in 1956.

King Charles House Worcester

Restaurant sign of the King Charles II Restaurant.

King Charles House Worcester

This plaque details Charles II's escape from Worcester on the 3rd September 1651.

King Charles House Worcester

Close up view of the restaurant. The timber framed building was rebuilt in 1670.  This was also the site of a dungeon where Judge William Berkeley kept his victims who were awaiting trial (he was born in this building in 1684).

King Charles House Worcester

This building round the corner is also part of the same listing as King Charles House at 30 New Street and 4 Cornmarket. In 2009 it was a dry-cleaners. Now it is a Hearing Centre. Charles II escaped from here on his long route to get out of the country. Cromwell's soldiers would have been looking for him at the time. He disguised himself as a servant. This building was originally linked to 29 New Street. An engraving of 1799 by James Ross showed that it used to be a 3-storey building. A fire in 1800 partly destroyed the timber framed building and caused a rebuilding of 30 New Street with 5 Cornmarket.

King Charles House Worcester

After escaping Worcester, Charles II on the run from Parliamentary soldiers, rode to White Ladies in Staffordshire, where he was disguised as a woodsman by two of the loyal Penderel brothers. The River Severn crossing was guarded, so he headed to Boscobel where he took refuge in the house and later in the 'Boscobel Oak'. He made it to Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton on Monday 8th September 1651.

Now a National Trust property, the house is a Grade II* listed building. The house was built in the late 16th century, originally timber framed. Brown brick with blue dressings was later added by 1870. It is near the Fordhouses area of Wolverhampton and Featherstone in South Staffordshire. The busy M54 motorway goes past the farm and estate. The front garden is now walled off, but originally the front of the house would have been open to the main road outside. Charles II arrived at what is now the King's Door round the back of the house, and was taken upstairs.

A February 2019 visit to Moseley Old Hall, during the warm sunny spell we have been having!

Moseley Old Hall

The King's Room on the first floor of Moseley Old Hall. It is the darkest room in the house. It was Father Huddlestone's room, close to a hiding place with a priests hole. The bed is the one that Charles II slept on (not in). The bedspread dates to the middle of the 17th century and the curtains from the 18th century! He remained clothed that night that he slept here. After some rest Charles was taken to see Mr Thomas Whitgreave the owner of the house. Seen on the guided tour of the house.

Moseley Old Hall

The Priest's Hole is between the King's Room and the Dressing Room. Charles II himself went into it, but he was over 6 foot tall and there was not much room in there! A trap door would close to keep the priest (or the exiled King) hidden. Not much room to get food down there either!

Moseley Old Hall

Mr Whitgreave's Room. The lady on the left was out guide. And let's say that the man was Mr Thomas Whitgreave!  Charles II was brought into this room to meet Mr Whitgreave and was introduced to his mother Dame Alice. Charles watched from the window of the small study as the defeated Royalist army made their way back up to Scotland. Best not for Charles to look out the window, or someone outside might recognise him!

Moseley Old Hall

A portrait of King Charles II in the Entrance Hall. There was many portraits of him around the house. Probably placed there by the National Trust. Charles spent several hours in the priest hole when Parliamentary soldiers marched up to the front door accusing Thomas of fighting at Worcester for the Royalists. He told them he was too ill to travel, they accepted his story and left, never entering the house or finding Charles!

Moseley Old Hall

After he was moved again, he went to Bentley Hall near Walsall, the home of the Lane family. A portrait of Jane Lane hangs at Moseley Old Hall. He was then taken to Bristol disguised as a servant. But couldn't get a boat to France from there. He then headed south towards Bridport in Dorset.

Charles II arrived in Bridport, Dorset on the 23rd September 1651. He stayed at what was the Old George Inn on East Street in Bridport. Seen in May 2012. Now a Cancer Research UK charity shop. A Grade II* listed building. The former public house dates to the 16th and 17th centuries. Was altered in the early 19th century with Stucco. By 1788 it had become Dr Robert's Apothecary Shop. It was probably still a pharmacy by the 1950s to the 1970s. Not sure how long Cancer Research UK has been here, but must be more than a decade?

The Old George Inn, Bridport

Dr Giles Roberts opened a pharmacy at 9 East Street in Bridport in 1804. The building was previously The George Inn. Closer detail of the sign near the top of the building about Charles II's stay here on the 23rd September 1651.

The Old George Inn, Bridport

After the pharmacy closed, the contents was moved to the Bridport Museum. There is a display in one of the rooms of Dr Robert's Apothecary Shop with a dummy of Dr Roberts on the left. And a cabinet that says "Dispensing Department". This visit May 2012. All contents of the Bridport Museum remain their copyright. So no commercial use of the below photo allowed.

The Old George Inn, Bridport

After leaving Bridport, Charles II continued his journey to escape to exile in France. He finally got a boat from Shoreham. He would have to wait until 1660 to be restored to the throne! After the death of Cromwell and the fall of the Commonwealth!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
Transport
28 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Cyrille Regis tribute on West Midlands Metro tram 31

I've been waiting a while to see West Midlands Metro tram 31 again, since I heard that they have named the tram after West Bromwich Albion legend Cyrille Regis! He was born in 1958 and died in 2018 and had a CBE. The tram was unveiled at the tram depot in Wednesbury. I finally saw the tram waiting at Corporation Street Tram Stop! In the glorious sunny late February 2019 weather!

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Tram 31

Cyrille Regis was born on the 9th February 1958 and died on the 14th January 2018, aged 59.  Most famous for playing for West Bromwich Albion from 1977 to 1984, he also played for Coventry City from 1984 to 1991, Aston Villa from 1991 to 1993 and Wolverhampton Wanderers from 1994 to 1995, of the clubs in the West Midlands.

The tram was named after Cyrille Regis in the middle of January 2019 at the Wednesbury tram depot. You can see a video of that event at this link Cyrille Regis: Metro tram in memory of footballer.

I first saw the tram this time from Cannon Street and Fore Street, and found it stationary at Corporation Street Tram Stop.

West Midlands Metro tram 31 Cyrille Regis at Corporation Street Tram Stop

The same image seen further down the tram. Showing off nice in the unseasonable sunshine and warmth of late February 2019!

West Midlands Metro tram 31 Cyrille Regis at Corporation Street Tram Stop

Full view of tram 31 with the Cyrille Regis livery memorial on the side. I think it's on the other side as well.

West Midlands Metro tram 31 Cyrille Regis at Corporation Street Tram Stop

Down to Stephenson Street, and another tram was waiting at Grand Central Tram Stop, hence the reason why tram 31 was waiting at Corporation Street. This view looking up Stephenson Place to Corporation Street with the spire behind from the Methodist Central Hall.

West Midlands Metro tram 31 Cyrille Regis at Corporation Street Tram Stop

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
Transport
26 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Blue ended West Midlands Metro trams with advertisements

In February 2019 West Midlands Metro have recoloured at least three of their Urbos 3 trams with blue ends. Tram's 18 and 21 have a red Just Eat sponsorship. While tram 36 has a yellow My Metro app advert all over. I saw the trams between St Chad's / Snow Hill and Grand Central / New Street (not all on the same day). Am still waiting to see tram 31 again with the Cyrille Regis signs

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Tram 18

Seen at Grand Central Tram Stop. With the on going extension to Centenary Square, West Midlands Metro can only have one tram at a time at the stop near Birmingham New Street Station on Stephenson Street.

Tram 18 at Grand Central Tram Stop

Very bright sunlight during this unseasonable sunshine and blue sky during late February 2019. Spring has arrived early this year!

Tram 18 at Grand Central Tram Stop

The Just Eat sponsorship includes deals with Subway, Burger King and KFC.

Tram 18 at Grand Central Tram Stop

"Your favourite eats delivered to Birmingham streets".

Tram 18 at Grand Central Tram Stop

The middle section covered with the Just East sponsorship. The tram waiting to return to Wolverhampton.

Tram 18 at Grand Central Tram Stop

The other end with the same Just Eat take away deals with Subway, Burger King and KFC.

Tram 18 at Grand Central Tram Stop

Tram 21

My long wait was over to see some of the other trams in blue (tram 31 I first saw in the summer of 2018 but that was all blue). Here tram 21 is seen at St Chad's Tram Stop. Blue ended with Just Eat sponsorships.

Tram 21 at St Chad's Tram Stop

The tram with battery packs (all the trams changed colours now have battery packs) seen passing the Snow Hill Living Wall. It was going past Three, Two and One Snowhill.

Tram 21 passing the Snow Hill Living Wall

My first proper look at the tram with the blue ends and Just Eat sponsorship. Behind is the steps up to the Snow Hill Square between One and Nine Colmore Row. It was winding it's way around Colmore Circus towards Colmore Gate and Bull Street.

Tram 21 passing 1 and 9 Colmore Row

A close up look at the Just Eat sponsorship. This one has different deals to tram 18. On tram 21 they have Chop & Wok, Caspian Pizza and Big John's.

Tram 21 close up near One Snowhill

Tram 36

I was holding off doing this post until I saw tram 36, as I was aware it had a different sponsorship on it. Luckily it was waiting at Corporation Street Tram Stop when I was hoping to see it in town. It was waiting here, as there was another tram at Grand Central Tram Stop, and couldn't move until that tram had started it's journey back to Wolverhampton. Still got the strong sunny conditions of late February 2019, very unseasonable and warm for this time of year! Easy Gym and New Look are the shops behind the tram.

Tram 36 at Corporation Street Tram Stop

On this tram is a yellow branded livery for the My Metro app. Where you can plan your journey and buy day tickets (not tried it myself, and it's been over a year since I last had a ride on the Metro)! You used to have to buy your ticket from the inspector on board. Ticket machines at tram stops disappeared many years ago (never on the first extension).

Tram 36 at Corporation Street Tram Stop

Slightly better to see from this side, due to the sunlight. The platforms at Corporation Street are slightly staggered. I did walk down to Grand Central Tram Stop, but didn't wait to see this tram heading down there. I next walked up towards Snow Hill.

Tram 36 at Corporation Street Tram Stop

Before I saw tram 36 again, I had walked on the pavement near The Wesleyan at Colmore Circus and saw tram 28 with battery packs. Back on Colmore Row, I then spotted tram 36 making it's way back towards St Chad's Tram Stop. It is more striking looking like this than when it was pink!

Tram 36 passing The Wesleyan from Colmore Row

One Snowhill, Lloyd House (West Midlands Police HQ) The Wesleyan were the backing for tram 36 as it made it's way towards the grass track and the Living Wall at Snow Hill Station. Traffic had to wait for the tram to pass at the lights.

Tram 36 passing The Wesleyan from Colmore Row

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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30 passion points
Civic pride
24 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham Town Hall - Did you know?

The Town Hall was built in 1834 by Joseph Hansom. When installed the Town Hall's 6,000-pipe William Hill concert organ was largest and most technologically advanced in the world. Between 1784 - 1912 the city hosted the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival and the Town Hall was built to cope with its popularity with greats like Felix Mendelssohn and Edward Elgar performing there.

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30 passion points
History & heritage
23 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham City status - Did you know?

DID YOU KNOW?... Birmingham was one of the last major cities in England to receive city status, only being fully incorporated in 1889. The city has had a long history of seeking devolution from Westminster, most notably by Thomas Attwood and his founding of the Birmingham Political Union.

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30 passion points
Photography
23 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Italian Lakes

A selection of photos from the Italian Lakes (also going over into Switzerland). Lake Garda was an amazing lake to visit with many towns around it. Lake Como was also nice with many towns and places to visit. Lake Maggiore had a palace on an island that you can visit. Lake Lugano goes between Italy and Switzerland. Many of these lakes have ferries and boats that you can go on.

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Lake Garda

The following photos were taken during July 2010 in Northern Italy.

Boats seen from the town of Garda, this was where we were based during that week on Lake Garda. World flags.

Boats on Lake Garda seen from Garda

Bardolino was not too far from Garda. More boats and more world flags. The visit to this town was on a free day.

Boats at Bardolino on Lake Garda

Boats seen in the town of Castelletto. That day we went all the way around Lake Garda on the coach and we had certain stops at certain points, to have a look around.

Boats at Castelletto on Lake Garda

You could get ferries across Lake Garda, and one day we went past Salo on a ferry. A few days later we headed to this town. Boats seen on the coastline. The day of this visit was during the coach tour of Lake Garda. We were following the holiday rep towards the main square in Salo.

Boats on Salo from Lake Garda

The view from the Apponale Tower at Riva del Garda. This town is at the top tip of Lake Garda. The visit during the day of getting the coach all the way around the lake. The cost to go up the tower was €1. In Italian it is called La Torre Apponale. The tower dates to at least 1273 or earlier. It is 34 metres high.

Riva del Garda from the Apponale Tower

Castello Scaligero is a 13th century castle in the town of Sirmione. It is at the bottom tip of Lake Garda. It was built by the Scaliger family. Construction started in 1277 by Martino della Scala. The town was an important military centre until the 16th century. Sirmione was a part of the Republic of Venice from 1405 until 1797 when the Austrians took over. Sirmione became a part of a unified Italy in 1888. The visit to Sirmione was by a car ferry, a journey which started at Garda, then went over to Salo, then down to Sirmione.

Castello Scaligero - Sirmione

This is one of the views from Castello Scaligero di Malcesine in the town of Malcesine. You get amazing views of Lake Garda from up here. It was built by the Lombards during the middle of the first millennium, and destroyed by the Franks in 590. It was rebuilt by 806. It became property of the Scala family from 1277 until 1387. Over the centuries it has been occupied by various different powers such as the Republic of Venice, later the French and Austrian Empires. The Austrians had it until 1866 when it was handed to the Italians after reunification of Italy. The visit to Malcesine was also on a free day.

Castello Scaligero di Malcesine view of a beach

The car ferry called Brescia seen arriving at Garda. This was the boat that we travelled over one of the days on Lake Garda. This view below was during our final morning on the lake before we returned to Verona Airport. The usual thing with these holidays is that you have to wait around at the hotel for hours before your coach comes to pick up up to take you back to the airport.

Brescia car ferry arriving at Garda

This view from the car ferry we were on was of the hydrofoil boat named Goethe. The day we headed to Gardone Riviera to visit a garden. The boat was probably named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German writer and statesmen. Goethe was caught doing drawings in Malcesine and was arrested as a spy during his visit in 1786.

Goethe hydrofoil boat on Lake Garda

Lake Como

The following photos were taken during June 2016 in Northern Italy.

We arrived at Bellagio on a small boat (seen below) from Villa del Balbianello (after a tour of the villa). Was a wet day, but had stopped raining by the time we got to the wonderful town of Bellagio on Lake Como.

Adda ferry and a boat at Bellagio on Lake Como

Bellagio's splendid architecture seen with Lake Como. Plenty of restaurants and shops here. We got the car ferry Adda later back to our hotel at Cadenabbia from near here.

Bellagio from Lake Como

View of Cadenabbia from the car ferry Adda we travelled on from Bellagio back to our hotel. You can see the dock where the boat will eventually stop. Plenty of hotels and bars along that coastline in Cadenabbia. Many mountains around too!

Cadenabbia from Lake Como

On our free day, we travelled down to the City of Como on a hydrofoil boat from Tremezzo (after a morning at Villa Carlotta). It was very fast. The boat was named Citta di Como.

Hydrofoil boat at Como

Arriving at the City of Como on the hydrofoil boat. Not far from Piazza Cavour. Wonderful historic architecture here. Lots of fountains. Plenty of restaurants and shops. They also have a railway station here. We later left not by boat, but by bus (much slower journey) to return to the hotel at Cadenabbia.

Como from Lake Como

Tremezzo was a short distance away on foot from the hotel in Cadenabbia. Plenty of bars down here. Plus lake side swimming pools! You can also visit Villa Carlotta down here, or get the ferry.

Tremezzo buildings near Lake Como

Kept seeing this road train around the towns of Lake Como. The Trombetta Express seen not far from outside of Villa Carlotta near Tremezzo. At this point it was outside of the Oratorio Sommariva (The Sommariva Oratory). While we didn't ride this road train, did days later on a visit to Lugano in Switzerland go on the road train there, while near Lake Lugano.

Road train at Tremezzo

A visit to Villa Carlotta. It is between Cadenabbia and Tremezzo on Lake Como. It was built for the Milanese marquis Giorgio Clerici in 1690. It was completed in 1745 and remained in the hands of Marquis Clerici until 1795.

Villa Carlotta

Stunning views of Lake Como and the mountains around it from the balcony at Villa Carlotta. Was also some nice gardens to explore during the visit here as well.

Villa Carlotta

A visit to Villa del Balbianello for a guided tour of the villa. I did not take any photos inside (not sure if that was allowed). The villa was built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery for the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini. There was wonderful gardens here. On our visit there was a torrential rain storm, so wasn't much chance to fully explore the garden before leaving on the boat to Bellagio.

Villa del Balbianello

A few days later on a day with beter sunny weather, got this view of the villa from the hydrofoil boat we got down to the City of Como. Plenty of mountains and trees on both sides of Lake Como.

Villa del Balbianello

Lake Maggiore

The following photos were taken during June 2016 in Northern Italy.

A couple of boats on Lake Maggiore seen from the town of Stresa. Earlier that day we had got a boat from Stresa to Isola Bella to visit Borromeo Palace. We didn't go onto Isola Madre like some people did, and instead returned for a look around Stresa in the afternoon.

Stresa on Lake Maggiore

A road train seen in Stresa.This one was called The TourisTic Tour. From DottoTrains. It was on the Corso Umberto I at the time near the Hotel Milan Au Lac.

Road train in Stresa

A view of Lake Maggiore from the coach heading towards Stresa. Mountains around this lake too!

Lake Maggiore from the coach

Isola dei Pescatori seen from the boat on Lake Maggiore. We were heading towards Isola Bella. It's name means Fishermen’s Island. We did not visit that island. There is restaurants on the island providing fish caught by the local fishermen.

Isola dei Pescatori - Lake Maggiore

Approaching Isola Bella for a visit to the Borromeo Palace. From this view the Teatro Massimo (Theatre Maximum) is seen to the left. The palace and the gardens was well worth a visit, at such a unique location!

Isola Bella - Lake Maggiore

Exterior of the Borromeo Palace on Isola Bella after our visit. The entrance was round to the right. It dates to the 17th century and was built by members of the House of Borromeo.

Borromeo Palace - Isola Bella - Lake Maggiore

A view of the Teatro Massimo (Theatre Maximum) from the gardens of the palace.

Teatro Massimo - Isola Bella - Lake Maggiore

Lake Lugano

The following photos were taken during June 2016 in Switzerland.

The coach journey from Italy into Switzerland along the coast of Lake Lugano. This lake is in both countries. Lots of tall mountains along the way. Was tunnels at the border control.

Lake Lugano from the coach

The approach to the city of Lugano on the coach, with Lake Lugano to the left. Architecture was very Italianette here.

Lake Lugano arriving at Lugano

One of the first things we did in Lugano was ride on the Lugano City Tour (road train). They accept Euros or Swiss Francs. A nice tour around this Swiss city. The tour starts near to the Piazza Manzoni. This view from the road train I was on, the Red Arrow. View of the starting point, also where it later ended.

Lugano City Tour

Boats on Lake Lugano seen from the Lugano. Didn't go on a boat trip while we were here though. Went to an art gallery while we were there.

Lake Lugano from Lugano - boats

Would assume that you could hire these boats? The walk along the lake front towards a park. They have a lot of nice pieces of public artwork here too. Many of these lakes have small beaches. There was a beach here to the right of this view below.

Lake Lugano from Lugano - boats

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
Architecture
22 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Brasshouse, The Brewmasters House and The Malt House - historic canal buildings around the BCN and Brindleyplace

There are three buildings around the Birmingham Canal Navigations near Brindleyplace that are historic. The first is The Brasshouse (now a pub) on Broad Street. The Brewmasters House is near The ICC. And a bit further down is The Malt House (also a pub) close to Arena Birmingham (was the NIA / Barclaycard Arena) and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Old Turn Junction.

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The Brasshouse

Now a pub and restaurant at Brindleyplace, this building was first built as the Birmingham Brasshouse in 1781 with alterations in 1870. Now a Grade II listed building a 44 Broad Street, Birmingham. The Brasshouse is a Traditional Free House and is also home to the Celebrity Restaurant (also known as the Celebrity Indian Restaurant). This view from Broad Street seen during late December 2009. Built of brick with stucco dressings and a slate roof.

The Brasshouse on Broad Street

This view also from December 2009. Now a service road for Brindleyplace, going off Broad Street is what used to be known as the Brasshouse Passage. There is an entrance to the bar and restaurant from this side. The Birmingham Metal Company founded the Brass House in 1781. Here they heated zinc and copper to produce brass. To make toys, buckles, buttons and badges. More information here Brass Founders and the Brass House.

The Brasshouse between Brasshouse Passage and Broad Street

I found a route from Brindleyplace along Brasshouse Passage leading back to Broad Street during early January 2019. And saw this view of the pub. It's amazing to think that this Georgian building has survived the centuries and has been restored in recent decades into the pub it is now (probably around the time that Brindleyplace was built in the 1990s).

The Brasshouse from Brasshouse Passage

One of my earliest photos of The Brasshouse taken in April 2009 when I started going around Birmingham with my fist digital camera. This view from the Canalside on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line, not far from the Broad Street Tunnel. The tower block behind is the Quayside Tower on Broad Street.

The Brasshouse from the Canalside

This February 2019 view of The Brasshouse from Brindleyplace. The view you would see if you leave Broad Street and are walking towards Central Square at Brindleyplace. Walked past this side before, but this is the first time I have got a close up view of it (not counting my canal view from 10 years earlier - see above photo). They are now calling the Celebrity Restaurant, the Celebrity Indian Restaurant! Quayside Tower again is visible even from up here! There is a stepped wall near the fence above the Broad Street Tunnel (the tunnel is closed for the Midland Metro Alliance works as of early 2019).

The Brasshouse from Brindleyplace

The Brewmasters House

A Grade II listed building, there are different dates from the early 19th century suggesting from when it was built. The 1978 listing, as 7 St Peter's Place, says it dates to circa 1800. The brown Birmingham Conservation Trust plaque says c. 1805. While Pevsner says 1816! The house is made of brick with a hipped slate roof with deep flat eaves. This view from April 2009 from Brindleyplace opposite (round about when I started taking photos around Birmingham).

The Brewmasters House

This view also from April 2009 looking towards The Brewmasters House and The ICC Birmingham. The Birmingham Conservation Trust undertook a programme of restoration during 1983 to 1984 (this was well before the construction of The ICC or even Brindleyplace!). The building was glazed by the City Architect in 1989.

The Brewmasters House

I went back in February 2010 for some more close up photos of The Brewmasters House. There is also a nearby bridge called the Brewmasters Bridge, which links behind the house and Brindleyplace (near the Sealife Centre). There is a brown plaque from the Birmingham Conservation Trust, dating the buildings erection to 1805 and it's restoration to 1984!

The Brewmasters House

Another February 2010 view from Brindleyplace near the Waters Edge looking towards The Brewmasters House. It is now just offices. Could make a nice little canal museum about what the Brew Master did here in the 19th century! The steps behind up from The ICC go past the ICC Energy Centre and you can walk to Cambridge Street from here.

The Brewmasters House

This February 2010 view I think from the Brindleyplace / ICC footbridge (it has steps down the canal side). The Brewmasters Bridge is seen on the left, and behind The NIA Birmingham (refurbished and renamed in 2014 as the Barclaycard Arena and in 2017 Arena Birmingham). Three Brindleyplace, a Venetian style office building is on the left.

The Brewmasters House

 

The Malt House

This building was originally the Kingston Building, built in 1803. It is near Old Turn Junction where the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (Cambrian Wharf and Farmers Bridge Locks) meets the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line (the Oozells Loop is also nearby). It was built as a nail warehouse. This view from April 2009 when I started to take photos around Birmingham. The Malt House is remembered for those photos / videos of US President Bill Clinton drinking a pint of beer on the outdoor balcony in 1998 during the 19G8 summit held that summer in Birmingham.

The Malt House at Old Turn Junction

This view in June 2009, by this point I had changed cameras. The NIA is seen to the left. The footbridge on the right leads to a Canal Garden that was installed in the summer of 2012 with a model narrowboat (I think it is still there). A remnant of the annual City Centre Floral Trail. Behind the pub is a Grade II listed warehouse at 79 Cambridge Street dated to 1820. The remains of the loading bays can be seen, there is still doors there, but there is now grills in the way, and some have been bricked up.

The Malt House at Old Turn Junction

This view below was taken during May 2014. Behind The Malt House, the National Indoor Arena was been transformed into what was to be known as the Barclaycard Arena. It reopened in late 2014. And kept that name to sometime in 2017, when it was renamed again to just Arena Birmingham. In the years since my earlier photos, the pub had some new pub signs installed around the building.

The Malt House at Old Turn Junction

In March 2016, the flags of the Six Nations were flying outside of The Malt House. Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and England. The Barclaycard Arena is seen (now completed) behind the pub. The bridge visible in this photo is the Brewmasters Bridge. The tourists that were around the city centre canals (at the time), were probably there also for the Badminton at the Barclaycard Arena. The view was taken from Brindleyplace.

The Malt House at Old Turn Junction

It is now July 2018 at The Malt House, and the bunting was out for the World Cup 2018, being held that summer in Russia. A nice blue sky, and it was probably hot! Arena Birmingham seen to the left. The trees and flowers in full bloom! For the first time in 28 years England made it to the Semi Final, but they lost (again). In the 3rd Place Play-off they ended up in 4th, like in 1990. France won that years World Cup for the first time in 20 years (since they last won it in home in France in 1998).

The Malt House at Old Turn Junction

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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50 passion points
History & heritage
20 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

More National Trust properties around the West Midlands Region

Here we take look at Upton House in Warwickshire, Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire, Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire and Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton.

All National Trust properties that you can visit from the spring onwards. They might be open all year around, but I think it's best to visit in the spring, summer or early autumn. Especially for the gardens and grounds.

Related

For my previous National Trusts posts follow these links:

National Trust properties in Birmingham: Back to Backs and The Roundhouse

National Trust properties in Warwickshire

Now on to this selection of National Trust properties!

Upton House from a visit during May 2016.

This visit to Upton House in 2016 was while the house and grounds was set up for an event called "Banking for Victory! A Country House at War". Like it could have been in the 1940s during World War II. At this time it was used as a bank.

It is a country house located northwest of Banbury in Oxfordshire in the areas of Ratley and Upton in Warwickshire. It was built in 1695 for Sir Rushout Cullen, Bt and might have been designed by one of the Smiths of Warwick. Possible alterations in 1710 and again in 1735 for William Bumstead. Remodelled in 1927 to 1929 by Percy Morley Horder for Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted. It's a Grade II* listed building. Built of Ironstone ashlar.

 

Upton House

This view at Upton House during May 2016 from the rear lawn area. This was a big lawned area, and at the far right side was an outdoor swimming pool! It leads down to the gardens on the lower part of the grounds. The house has a 16 window range. From here it looks quite wide! There is a small terraced garden just in front of the back of the house. Bunting from the houses time as representing as if it was during wartime. Inside there was more examples of what the house may have looked like during the 1940s.

Upton House from the rear lawn

A look around the inside of the house. This view from a balcony on the first floor looking down at the library. In wartime most of the furniture would have been under white sheets. In 2016 they were projecting a film onto the sheet between the pair of portraits. "The pre-war heyday of the country house party never returned."

Library in Upton House from a balcony

Another room, I think the lounge or living room. How it could have looked during the 1930s or 1940s. A pair of comfortable chairs with a fire in the middle. I assume that there must have been a wireless (radio) in this room? Also old books on the shelves. Was also a desk near the window, which I assume is where Lord Bearsted may have worked, or read his newspaper?

Lounge at Upton House

If you fancy a bite of lunch and a hot drink, then the Wartime Pavilion Restaurant is the place to come! That was temporarily renamed to "Wartime" in 2016 while Upton House was in it's 1940s wartime representation mode. Now just the Pavilion Restaurant again. Other place for tea is Iris's Tea Room and the Tea Window.

Wartime Pavilion Restaurant at Upton House

Hanbury Hall from a visit during June 2018.

During this visit in the summer of 2018, they had Falconry on display in the grounds. We got a guided tour of the house, but only on the ground floor. After I went back outside, I didn't go back in to have a look around upstairs.

It is a large stately home built around 1701 in the Queen Anne style by William Rudhall for Thomas Vernon. Red brick in Flemish bond with ashlar dressings. It is a Grade I listed building. Located in Hanbury, Worcestershire. The nearest town is Droitwich Spa. It has been a part of the National Trust since around 1953. The last baron Sir George Vernon took his own life here in 1940. And their were no further heirs and the Baronetcy which became extinct.

Hanbury Hall

If you are a bit early for your guided tour of Hanbury Hall, then head towards the Long Gallery. This view from The Sunken Parterre. Inside was a small art gallery featuring the art of local artists. The building is a Grade II* listed building. Built in 1701 and had alterations in the mid 19th century. Red brick in Flemish bond; hipped plain tiled roof. In the Queen Anne style. Inside are two Jacobean overmantels and also frames a funerary hatchment with the three Vernon wheatsheaves. Prince of Wales feathers inside believed to have originally come from Tickenhill House, Bewdley.

Long Gallery at Hanbury Hall

The Orangery at Hanbury Hall. Also known now as The Orangery & Mushroom House. It is a Grade II* listed building. Built around 1750. Red brick in Flemish bond with ashlar dressings and hipped plain tiled roof behind parapet. There was orange trees outside. And a large field. Which was behing used by many families on the day of our visit. One area was roped off for a falconry display (I think we kept missing it). Although I did see the handler with a bald eagle on his special glove!

Orangery at Hanbury Hall

The interior of the house on the ground floor. Seen during a guided tour. This was the Great Hall. We were taken in and out of the various rooms. The main entrance to the house lets you into this room. Above the fireplace on the left was a marble bust of Thomas Vernon. Behind (not in this photo below) was the staircase with the Life of Achilles wall paintings. Unfortunately I did not go upstairs as it was not part of the tour, and I didn't later return to go back inside of the house.

The Great Hall at Hanbury Hall

The Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. Quite grand. Family portraits all round the room and a painted ceiling above. I believe that the papers on the table was representing a Suffragette meeting in 1918 (as 2018 was the 100th anniversary of Women gaining the vote).

Dining Room at Hanbury Hall

Shugborough Hall from a visit during August 2008.

I hadn't fully taken up photography in 2008, and started using my then compact camera in 2007 - 2008 when we went to various stately homes or on holiday to various places.

The hall is located in Great Haywood, Staffordshire, not far from Cannock Chase. It was the seat of the Earls of Lichfield and the estate was in the possession of the Anson family for three centuries. When the 4th Earl of Lichfield died in 1960, the National Trust was allocated the hall and it was leased to Staffordshire County Council. Management returned to the National Trust in 2016. The hall is a Grade I listed building. Was built from about 1695. Was enlarged from 1760 to 1770. Samuel Wyatt remodelled it in the late 18th century. More specifically it is in Colwich, Stafford.

Shugborough Hall

The rear view of Shugborough Hall seen in the summer of 2008. I recall that we did go inside of the house, but I only got a handful of photos from outside of the house and around the grounds. Some steps down from the French windows that Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield (1939-2005) might have enjoyed the view of his garden. Also known as Patrick Lichfield he was known as a photographer and he took official photos of the Royal Family. He lived at Shugborough Hall after his grandfather's death, but he gave the estate to the National Trust in 1960 in lieu of death duties.

Shugborough Hall rear view

The Doric Temple at Shugborough Hall. It is a Grade I listed building and was designed by "Athenian" Stuart, circa 1760. It was identical to one that he had built at Hagley. Made of stone and plastered brick. With 6 Doric columns. It has been recently restored (the listing was from 1968 so perhaps restored in the late 1960s?).

Doric Temple at Shugborough Hall

A Chinese style bridge. Grade I listed as the Garden Bridge. Probably dates to the late 18th century. It is on the River Sow. The Chinese House is next to it (not in the photo below). That was erected by Admiral Anson circa 1747 after his voyage round the world.

Chinese style bridge at Shugborough Hall

Outbuildings at Shugborough Hall, not far from the Vegetable patch. Which is a Grade II listed building dating to the early 19th century, although I'm not sure the building in the photo is part of the same listing. This might be the Orangery. I've not been back in over 10 and a half years now. Seems like that there is now the Mansion Tea Room somewhere around this location. Also known as the Shugborough Hall Cafe.

Outbuildings at Shugborough Hall

Wightwick Manor during a visit in April 2018.

On this visit we became members of the National Trust. Eventually received a card that can get scanned whenever you visit any National Trust property around the UK.

It is a Victorian manor house located on the Wightwick Bank, Wolverhampton. Built in 1887, the National Trust has owned it since 1937. The house was built by Edward Ould for Theodore Mander, of the Mander family. They were successful late 19th century industialists who owned the company Mander Brothers. The house was only 50 years old when the National Trust acquired it from Geoffrey Mander (a Liberal MP who was son of the original owner). A Grade I listed building. Interiors by William Morris and and C.E. Kempe. Built of brick with ashlar dressings and timber
framing. The house was built in the Aesthetic movement and Arts and Crafts movement. And the house is half-timbered, Mock Tudor style.

Wightwick Manor

A look around the house at Wightwick Manor. The house is very much as the Mander family left it in 1937 and the National Trust has preserved it. A look at the library. There is a desk close to the window on the left with papers and books probably used by Mr Mander. Stained glass window is in this room and in other rooms. Some parts were done up in 2018 to represent the Suffragette movement who finally gained the vote in 1918!

Library at Wightwick Manor

View of The Great Parlour from the Gallery above. Plenty of period seating inside. A lady (a National Trust volunteer) seen playing the piano. While a man sitting on the bench takes a rest (I think he had his dog with him). A stags head seen at the far end of the room above the entrance to the room.

The Great Parlour from the Gallery at Wightwick Manor

Some of the buildings on the estate. This is now the Malthouse Gallery. Head up the steps to see the art inside. A Grade II* listed building. It was the Old Malt House. At the time of listing was used as an Education Centre. Was built either in the late 16th or early 17th century. It was restored for Theodore Mander in the late 19th century. Brick with red brick dressings; tile roof. The De Morgan collection is inside on the first floor of the malthouse. Various ceramics and paintings around the room. Before the Mander's bought the buildings and land, it was the site of a farm. The Hinckes family owned it from 1815 but leased it to the Moore's until the 1880's. The Malthouse was originally used for malting barley and brewing.

Malthouse Gallery at Wightwick Manor

The gift shop and plant sales are in this building (with the plants available to pick up from outside). This was the Old Manor House and it is a Grade II* listed building. Built for the Wightwick family in the late 16th or early 17th century. Theodore Mander has it restored in the late 19th century. Roughcast with brick dressings; tile roof with brick stacks. There is a coat of arms above the entrance to the gift shop. Also on one side is a sundial that resembles a black lion. The Old Manor House is a short distance away from the manor house that the Mander family had built in the late 19th century.

Old Manor House at Wightwick Manor

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

 

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60 passion points
Transport
16 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Class 153 single carriage Sprinters

You might sometimes see the Class 153 single carriage Sprinter's around the West Midlands railway network attached to the back of the Class 170 Turbostar trains. Sometimes on the Birmingham to Hereford line or the Birmingham to Rugeley Trent Valley line. On there own they were also on the branch lines out of Coventry (to Nuneaton or Leamington Spa). Also been on the Snow Hill lines.

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Class 153

The Class 153 also known as the Super Sprinter are a single carriage diesel multiple unit train. They were built to be used on branch lines or rural lines were the number of passengers was not expected to be very high. They were built in 1987-88 and were converted in 1991-92. They have been used on many branch lines across the Midlands. These units could be attached to other DMU's such as the Class 150, and later with the Class 170. There is currently 10 Class 153's with West Midlands Railway (previously with London Midland and before that Central Trains).

 

Starting off with the Class 153's I saw attached to Class 170's. Some I even travelled on (although I may have got on board the Class 170 instead!).

 

I was at Shirley Station in April 2017 to check out the newly completed road bridge on Haslucks Green Road. When London Midland 153371 and 170633 arrived (was expecting the usual Class 172). There was about another 8 months before the old London Midland franchise would end and West Midlands Railway would start (around December 2017). This train was heading towards Worcester Foregate Street. I got on board the back carriage of 170633 and rode the train to Birmingham Moor Street.

West Midlands Railway 153371 at Shirley Station

I saw Arriva Trains Wales 153323 at Wolverhampton Station during October 2013 (I was on a train from Birmingham New Street to Liverpool Lime Street for a weekend). Arriva had the Wales franchise from 2003 to 2018. They used to run trains between Birmingham International and Holyhead in Wales via Wrexham Central. Transport for Wales took over the Wales franchise from October 2018.

Arriva Trains Wales 153323 seen at Wolverhampton Station

At Aston Station I expected to see / catch the usual Class 323 trains from this station. Heading to Perry Barr in August 2012, I got off my Cross City line train here, and waited for a train on the Chase Line. 153366 arrived with a Class 170 at the back. London Midland (and now West Midlands Railway) regularly have combinations of Class 153's with Class 170's. In the north of Birmingham, usually on the Chase Line to Walsall and beyond to Rugeley Trent Valley. The line was only electrified as far as Walsall. But for many years Network Rail has been electrifying the line towards Rugeley. So it meant that only diesel trains could go beyond Walsall. It's possible that electric trains could run on the line to Rugeley from about May 2019.

London Midland 153366 at Aston Station

In April 2018 I headed up on the train to Staffordshire, and got off at Hednesford. I walked down to Cannock. Later when I went back to Cannock Station I got this train back to Birmingham New Street. West Midlands Railway 153364 and 170513 arrived from Rugeley Trent Valley. It took the normal route via Perry Barr and Aston. My earlier train that day went the alternate route on the line that goes from Winson Green via Handsworth to rejoin the line at Perry Barr. Electrification of the Chase line was well under way at the time.

West Midlands 153364 at Cannock Station

The 11th December 2017 was the launch day of the new West Midlands Railway, and the city was full of snow! After a walk up to the Jewellery Quarter through the white stuff, I went to Jewellery Quarter Station to catch a train home. But West Midlands Railway 170634 and 153334 was only going as far as Birmingham Snow Hill Station due to various delays due to the weather! I had only seen 153334 a few days early at Bedworth Station (which was my last journey under London Midland). That day was dry, but it had snowed on the 10th December 2017! Chiltern Railways 168106 was seen at platform 2.

West Midlands Railway 153334 at Birmingham Snow Hill Station

 

Now to the branch lines. Starting with the Nuneaton to Coventry Branch line that goes via Bedworth. And second the branch line from Coventry to Leamington Spa via Kenilworth (that opened in 2018 after a few delays).

I visited Nuneaton during May 2015, having arrived there on the Cross Country line that goes through the town from Birmingham New Street and onto the likes of Leicester etc. Coming back to Birmingham, I thought I'd try a ride on the Nuneaton to Coventry branch line. At Nuneaton Station was London Midland 153354. The train would pass the new stations under construction (at the time) as well as Bedworth (I would go there in late 2017 when the London Midland franchise ended).

London Midland 153354 at Nuneaton Station

On the last ever day that London Midland operated their franchise in the West Midlands, on the 9th December 2017, I headed to Bedworth. I got London Midland 153334 and 153354 from Coventry to Bedworth Station. Later after I explored the town centre, I got the same train back on the opposite platform. Here (in the below photo), I had just got off the train from Coventry, and it was heading onto Nuneaton. By then all the new stations on the line including Coventry Arena were open. I was thinking ahead to the opening of Kenilworth Station, which should have opened the next day, but was delayed until May 2018!

London Midland 153334 and 153354 at Bedworth Station

I had previously got a Class 153 from Nuneaton to Coventry Station back in May 2015. I saw another Class 153 at Coventry during October 2017, when I headed to the city to walk to the Coventry Canal Basin. London Midland 153375 was waiting at one of the platforms waiting to return to Nuneaton. That day I did observe Cross Country Voyager's heading on the branch line to Leamington Spa. In fact I tried the branch line early in March 2018, to see a glimpse of the new Kenilworth Station. The Cross Country Super Voyager I travelled on was packed, but I got a window seat, and I caught glimpses of the new Kenilworth Station. I would have to wait until May 2018 before travelling to Kenilworth by train!

London Midland 153375 at Coventry Station

The new Kenilworth Station opened at the end of April 2018. I visited the station and the town on the 3rd May 2018. I caught West Midlands Railway 153364 from Leamington Spa (having earlier got a train from Solihull to Leamington Spa with Chiltern Railways). The station should have opened on the 10th December 2017 (the first day of operation for West Midlands Railway), but a series of delays meant it didn't open until the spring. There is only one platform at the new station. I later got the same train back towards Leamington Spa from the same platform. You can use this station if you want to visit Kenilworth Castle.

West Midlands Railway 153364 at Kenilworth Station

Having got off my Chiltern Railways train from Solihull at Leamington Spa Station platform 3, I only had to walk a short distance to platform 4, to await a train on the Leamington Spa to Coventry branch line that had opened to the public for service days earlier. My visit was on the 3rd May 2018. West Midlands Railway 153364 would take me to Kenilworth. And I would later get it back to Leamington Spa on the way back to the West Midlands. The only difference between getting a train from Coventry to Leamington Spa with Cross Country, and West Midlands Railway, is that Cross Country would stop at platform 3 (and continue on south), while West Midlands Railway would terminate at platform 4. On both occasions, I had to walk down the steps to the subway, and head to the platform to get my Chiltern Railways train back to Solihull.

West Midlands Railway 153364 at Leamington Spa Station

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
History & heritage
15 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Steelhouse Conservation Area: From Corporation Street to Steelhouse Lane

The Steelhouse Conservation Area is between Corporation Street and Steelhouse Lane. Starting approximately from Old Square towards James Watt Queensway. Buildings include the Victoria Law Courts, Methodist Central Hall, the former Steelhouse Lane Police Station and Birmingham Children's Hospital. The Old Fire Station near Aston University is part of the area too!

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Corporation Street

The Victoria Law Courts on Corporation Street. Designed by Aston Webb & Ingress Bell who won a competition in 1886. It was built from 1887 to 1891. It is now the Birmingham Magistrates' Court. A Grade I listed building made of Red brick and terracotta. There is a statue of Queen Victoria by Harry Bates above the main entrance of the building. This view below seen in May 2009. You would see it if you walk between Aston University and the city centre shops. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone during her Golden Jubilee year of 1887 and it was opened in 1891 by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Victoria Law Courts

The County Court on Corporation Street seen with a brilliant blue sky in May 2009. On the corner of Newton Street (which leads to Steelhouse Lane). A Grade II listed building built in 1882, by James Williamson Stone. It is in Italiante palazzo style  It has a Roman Doric porch on the left.

County Court - Corporation Street

One of Birmingham's derelict terracotta buildings is near the bottom of Corporation Street. The Methodist Central Hall runs down to Ryder Street (a pedestrianised cul-de-sac to James Watt Queensway). And the back is on Dalton Street. It is a Grade II* listed building. From 196 to 224 Corporation Street including 1, 3 and 5 Ryder Street. Built from 1903 to 1904 by E and J A Harper (Ewan Harper & James A. Harper) of Red brick and terracotta. There is many empty shop units down here, some have been let, and some of the units have been closed down by the landlord. The buildings future may include getting converted into a hotel. See this 2017 article on he Methodist Central Hall in the Birmingham Mail. This view from May 2009.

Methodist Central Hall - Corporation Street

The Pitman Building also known as the Murdoch Chambers and Pitman Chambers. Was originally a Vegetarian Restaurant. There is a plaque here for James Henry Cook who opened the very first Health Food Store in the UK on this site in 1898! A Grade II* Listed Building built from 1896 to 1897 by J Crouch and E Butler, partly for A.R Dean. Purple bricks and buff terracotta; tile roof. In an Arts and Crafts style.  Today there is lawyer or solicitor offices on the upper floors and fast food take away places on the ground floor including Dixy Chicken and Pepe's Piri Piri. Previous places here include Min Zu until 2008 / 2009. Angel's Cafe from 2011, and Zaytuna'z Diner from a period from 2015 to 2016. This view from August 2017.

Pitman Building - Corporation Street

Today Boston Tea Party is in the Court Restaurant building at 184 Corporation Street (from at least 2014 onwards). On the corner with James Watt Street. The architect was G. H. Rayner and was built after 1882. For many years it was vacant. Was previously Yate's Wine Lodge. Made of brick and stone. Boston Tea Party are also in part of The Citadel building to the left at 190 Corporation Street. That was by W. H. Ward and built in 1891. A short lived period as a Vietnamese Restaurant called Viet An Restaurant from 2010 to 2011. This view from June 2016. Pizza Express is to the left at 4 The Citadel (not in this photo).

Boston Tea Party - Corporation Street

Steelhouse Lane

Steelhouse Lane Police Station was to the far left of the rear side of the Victoria Law Courts. This building opened in 1933 as the Central Police Station, replacing a Victorian police station that was on the same site. West Midlands Police used it until it closed down for good in 2017. This view was from November 2009 when the police station was still in use. It was built in the neo-Georgian style but is not a listed building. The only part that is Grade II listed is the corner building on Coleridge Passage which dates to the late 19th century. That was the Cell Block built of Brick and terracotta.

Steelhouse Lane Police Station

The Birmingham Children's Hospital opened here in 1998 in the building that was formerly the Birmingham General Hospital which had closed down in 1995. It was opened as the Diana, Princess of Wales Children's Hospital after the late Princess Diana who had died the year before in 1997. The General Hospital was built from 1894 to 1897 by William Henman. Was built in the Romanesque style of th Natural History Museum in London.  The rebuilt central entrance porch was built from 1995 to 1998. Various modern extensions have been built in the year since it became the Children's Hospitall. The building has never been listed. This view also from November 2009.

Birmingham Children's Hospital

This building also seen in November 2009 is a bit more recent than the others in this post as it dates to the 1960s. Fountain Court on Steelhouse Lane, has the four badges of the Inns of Court on the front above the entrance. They represent: Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray's Inn. The Fountain Court barristers' chambers was built between 1963 and 1964 by Holland W Hobbiss & Partners. A conservative brick classical block, with a majestic Bath stone cornice. It's between Printing House Street and Whittall Street on Steelhouse Lane.

Fountain Court - Steelhouse Lane

Seen on the corner of Newton Street and Steelhouse Lane is the Juvenile Court. As with photos above this view taken in November 2009. Following the Children's Court Act of 1908, it led to children's courts being established across the country. Dame Geraline Cadbury campaigned for such a court to be built in Birmingham, which her family donated to the city. This court was established by 1928 and opened in 1930. It was by Peacock & Bewlay, built of brick with stone dressings.

Juvenile Court - Newton Street and Steelhouse Lane

Next door to the Juvenile Court is The Jekyll & Hyde pub at 28 Steelhouse Lane. The building was built in the 1960s. Was the site of The Queen's Head pub, which used to be ran by Mitchells & Butlers. A plain, tall four storey building. The pub was renamed from The Queen's Head to The Jekyll & Hyde in 2009, and it remains with that name today.  Island Bar group who owns the pub also owns The Victoria on Station Street near the Alexandra Theatre. This view was from February 2010.

The Jekyll & Hyde - Steelhouse Lane

Corporation Street and Steelhouse Lane leads to the helipad built for the Birmingham Children's Hospital. On the other side of James Watt Queensway, running between Lancaster Circus and Aston Street is The Old Fire Station. Corporation Street continues beyond Lancaster Circus and the Lancaster Flyover, but that is now considered part of the Aston Expressway. The Old Fire Station is a Grade II listed building. Originally built in 1935 by Herbert Humphries and Herbert J. Manzoni. Red Flemish bond with Portland stone and concrete dressings with a pantile roof. After the Fire Station HQ closed in the 2000s, in lay empty for a few years before being converted into student accommodation. It opened in 2015. This view from April 2014 when the crane went up.

The Old Fire Station from the Helipad near James Watt Queensway

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

 

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60 passion points
Civic pride
13 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Tangye Brothers: Manufacturers and benefactors of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery / Birmingham School of Art

George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye donated funds for the construction of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as well as the Birmingham School of Art. Head up the stairs from the Chamberlain Square entrance of BM & AG to see the bronze sculpture in their honour. The Tangye's were also manufacturers making engines and various machines from the mid to late 19th century.

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George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye

If you are heading up the main staircase from the Chamberlain Square entrance of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, stop when you get to this bronze sculpture. It is made of bronze and marble and was unveiled in 1908. It was by William Robert Colton (1867-1921). They were engineering manufacturers and were generous patrons of the arts. They gave large sums towards the building of both the Museum & Art Gallery as well as the Birmingham School of Art. They presented their collection of fine Wedgwood ceramics to the Gallery as it's foundation.

Sir Richard Tangye was born in 1833 and died in 1906. His brother George died in 1920. Their company Tangye Ltd was founded in 1856. Where they manufactured engines and machines. Their Cornwall Works was in the Soho area of the West Midlands.

George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye

Memorial stone unveiled in 1884 by Richard Tangye at the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street. Architects William Martin and John Henry Chamberlain. The building opened in 1885. See my recent post on Edward Richard Taylor who was headmaster at the School of Art when the building opened on Margaret Street. Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor: Birmingham School of Art and Ruskin Pottery.

Richard Tangye memorial stone laid at the School of Art

This Tangye vertical engine was seen at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley. Seen near a wall with a Walsall exhibit. Seen on a visit to the museum in August 2011. Seen in the Exhibition Hall in the Rolfe Street Baths building.

Tangye vertical engine at the Black Country Living Museum

Tangye Manual Fire Pump seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I first visited this (then) new gallery in November 2012. In the section called Forward for the years 1830 to 1909. Above the Tangye sign was Webster & Horsfall's. To the right was Avery.

Manual Fire Pump by Tangyes Limited at the Birmingham History Galleries

It was previously seen at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre in the garage area. Labelled as a Fire Engine. Made by Tangye Brothers in 1880. This visit was from May 2012, so was before the Birmingham History Galleries had opened over at BM & AG.

Tangye Fire Engine at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre

The Titford Pumphouse seen on the Titford Canal. It is close to Langley Green Station and also near Oldbury in Sandwell, West Midlands. The Pumphouse is a Grade II listed building. It was built shortly after the Oldbury Locks opened in 1837. Blue brick with a slate roof. The beam engines was replaced in about 1930 with a Tangye gas engine. That has since been superseded by electric pumps which are used occasionally. I got the train to Langley Green in March 2017.

Titford Pumphouse - Titford Canal

Going back to my August 2011 visit to the Black Country Living Museum. Sidebotham's Trap Works seen a short walk away from the Dudley Canal. It was originally in Wednesfield near Wolverhampton and was built in 1913. It has a single cylinder gas engine of 1906, built by Tangye's of Smethwick. It is also known as The Trap Shop. Not far from here you can go on boat trips with the Dudley Canal Trust.

Sidebotham's Trap Works at the Black Country Living Museum

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Civic pride
12 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor: Birmingham School of Art and Ruskin Pottery

A pair of artists that lived on Highfield Road in Edgbaston, also had their hand in Ruskin Pottery in Smethwick. Edward Richard Taylor also helped to found the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street and was it's first headmaster. A collection of Ruskin Pottery is in the Industrial Galery at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I also recently found a portrait of E. R. Taylor.

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Edward Richard Taylor was a potter and a painter. He was born in 1838 and died in 1912. He was the first headmaster of the Birmingham Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, from 1877 until about 1903. He also oversaw the opening of the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street in 1885. I saw this portrait of him in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The painting is dated 1905, but the artist is unknown. Although their is a possibility that the artist was Taylor himself!

Portrait of Edward Richard Taylor in BMAG

If you head up the stairs in the Industrial Gallery at BM & AG, be sure to make a look out for this Ruskin Pottery sign. These Ceramic letters were made at the Ruskin Pottery factory in about 1905. The factory was at 173 and 174 Oldbury Road in West Smethwick (at the time in Staffordshire, now in Sandwell, West Midlands). It was founded in 1898 by Edward Richard Taylor and his younger son William Howson Taylor. The company was named after the artist John Ruskin. The business was set up as the Birmingham Tile and Pottery Works before being renamed after Ruskin. Production ceased near the end of 1933, but firing and glazing of existing stock continued until 1935 (the year that Howson Taylor died).

Ruskin Pottery sign in BMAG

The Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street. It is between Cornwall Street and Edmund Street in what is now the Colmore Business District. See my post on the Red brick Victorian buildings at the Colmore Estate. Edward Richard Taylor who from 1877 was the first headmaster of the Birmingham Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, oversaw the construction of the new School of Art which opened in 1885. The architects was William Martin and his partner J H Chamberlain. The building was completed after Chamberain's death by William Martin and his son Frederick Martin. The school helped lead the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is now part of the Birmingham City University as part of the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. The building was taken over by the Birmingham Polytechnic in 1971, becoming it's Faculty of Art and Design. The Polytechnic gained University status in 1992 as the University of Central England. It was renamed to the Birmingham City University in 2007.

Birmingham School of Art - Margaret Street

Edward Richard Taylor (1838 - 1912) and his son William Howson Taylor (1876 - 1935) lived at this house at 26 Highfield Road in Edgbaston. There is a blue plaque there from the Birmingham Civic Society and the Calthorpe Residents Society. See my first Calthorpe Estates post in Edgbaston here Calthorpe Estates: Edgbaston - a selection of Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town houses. E R Taylor is mentioned on the plaque as being an art teacher, while W H Taylor is mentioned as being a potter.

26 Highfield Road Edgbaston

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

 

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50 passion points
Transport
10 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Class 150's: Diesel trains formerly on the Snow Hill lines

The Class 150 diesel multiple unit trains used to be on the Snow Hill lines until around 2011. Most have since gone to other railway franchises such as Great Western Railway. When they were in the Midlands they were used by Regional Railways until 1997, Central Trains from 1997 to 2007 then London Midland from 2007 to 2011. A least one is still owned by West Midlands Railway now.

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Class 150

These Sprinter Diesel multiple units were built between 1984 and 1987. In the West Midlands, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, they were used on the Snow Hill lines from at least 1987 until they were replaced in 2011 by the then new Class 172 Turbostar DMU's. The then West Midlands franchise operator London Midland kept around 3 of the old Class 150's after 2011 (they are still in current franchise operator West Midlands Railway who took over in late 2017.

Seen at Shirley Station during late June 2010 was London Midland 150016. It was heading for Stourbridge Junction. This view was from the old Haslucks Green Road bridge. That bridge was replaced and rebuilt during 2017. The footbridge in this photo was also later replaced. The new footbridge was built at the other end of the station in 2014. Shirley Station is quite a way away from the Stratford Road in Shirley, and is reachable from there now with the no 49 bus.

London Midland 150016 at Shirley Station

My second photography trip to Stratford-upon-Avon was during September 2010. I had just got off London Midland 150013, a semi-fast train that skipped the minor stops between Whitlocks End and Stratford-upon-Avon Station. This view was from the Alcester Road bridge in the town. Now the end of the line, it used to go beyond here to Honeybourne, and it is hoped that the 9 mile stretch would one day be restored. For now, most services that start at Stratford go to at least Stourbridge Junction, or beyond towards Kidderminster or Worcester Foregate Street (via Birmingham Snow Hill).

London Midland 150013 at Stratford-upon-Avon Station

My first time up to the bridge near Livery Street and Northwood Street (in the Jewellery Quarter) was in August 2011. From here (at the time) you could see Two Snowhill beginning construction (after delays of several years). Seen heading past St Paul's Tram Stop was London Midland 150101 heading into Birmingham Snow Hill Station. After leaving London Midland later in 2011, this train and other 150/1's transferred up to Northern Rail. Around 4 years after the franchise had transferred from Central Trains to London Midland, most of the trains on the Snow Hill lines still had (at the time) the old Central Trains lime green livery.

London Midland 150101 approaching Birmingham Snow Hill Station

It was September 2011, and I was heading to Hall Green Station to get the train into Birmingham. And I was hoping to see or catch one of the (then) brand new Class 172 DMU's. But London Midland still had the Class 150's on the Shakespeare line. This was the 10:08 (which I missed). After a 20 minute wait, I caught the next train the 10:28 into Birmingham. It would be another 2 months (November 2011) before I would catch a new Class 172 for the first time to Birmingham Moor Street or Snow Hill.

London Midland Class 150 at Hall Green Station

The view from Kings Norton Station, on the Cross City line. I was standing at platform 4 during April 2012, waiting to go to Longbridge. While one of London Midland's Class 150 trains that they kept, 150109 was seen passing by the abandoned platform 2. Still in the old Central Trains livery. London Midland would later change it into their own green livery, and today it is still part of current franchise operator West Midlands Railways's fleet! This train was slowly heading south towards Hereford. An American man on the platform was chatting to me, and said that he had never seen a train like that before!

London Midland 150109 seen passing Kings Norton Station

Getting to the more recent years and December 2017, the last month of operation under London Midland. I went up to Lye Station near Stourbridge in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley for a photo walk of the town. When I got back to the station, was suprised to see a convoy of a mixture of London Midland DMU's heading towards Stourbridge Junction (or onto Worcester). By then, London Midland's 3 Class 150 DMU's was in their green livery. Seen here behind a Class 170. This convoy had one Class 172, two Class 170's and this one Class 150 (pictured).

London Midland Class 150 passing through Lye Station

My most recent sighting of a Class 150 in the West Midlands was when I caught a glimpse of it passing through Stechford Station during early January 2018. Now operated by West Midlands Railway, this was either 150107 or 150109. It was probably heading down towards the Bedford line (which is now operated by London Northwestern Railway). From here you expect to see the Class 350 EMU's on the West Coast Mainline or Virgin Trains Class 390 Pendolino's (those don't stop here). This view was from the Station Road bridge.

West Midlands Railway Class 150 passing through Stechford Station

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
People & community
07 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A look back at Chinese New Year 2018 the Year of the Dog

As Chinese New Year 2019 the Year of the Pig gets underway, a look back at the festivities in Birmingham a year ago in 2018. I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to get anything this year, so here's a look at my photos from last year! I mainly saw the yellow Chinese dancing dragon / lion around St Philip's Cathedral. By the weekend main event in the Chinese Quarter.

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The Bullring bull had a Chinese New Year mask in 2018 (from what I've seen online they reused the same mask for 2019).

This is the black and white filtered version with a splash of colour! Mostly the reds and yellows!

Bullring bull Chinese New Year bw filter splash colour

The colour versions back and front! These views were from the 15th February 2018.

Bullring Bull Chinese New Year 2018 outfit

Bullring Bull Chinese New Year 2018 outfit

Bullring Bull Chinese New Year 2018 outfit

One lunchtime on the 16th February 2018, saw a yellow dancing dragon or lion going around St Philip's Cathedral.

Chinese New Year 2018 yellow dancing dragon St Philip's Cathedral

Chinese New Year 2018 yellow dancing dragon St Philip's Cathedral

Chinese New Year 2018 yellow dancing dragon St Philip's Cathedral

Graham Young from the Birmingham Post & Mail was there, as well as Jas Sansi!

Chinese New Year 2018 St Philip's Cathedral yellow dragon lion

Chinese New Year 2018 St Philip's Cathedral yellow dragon lion

Was also some drumming.

Chinese New Year 2018 drumming St Philip's Cathedral

Drumming alternate angle - Chinese New Year 2018 St Philip's Cathedral

The festivities over in the Chinese Quarter over the weekend of the 17th and 18th February 2018.

"Happy Chinese New Year 2018 Year of the Dog". This sponsorship on a digitial billboard was seen on Ladywell Walk near Chung Ying Cantonese Restaurant.

Chinese New Year 2018 on Ladywell Walk

A small fun fair was set up along Ladywell Walk towards Hurst Street. Near the Mapstone building.

Chinese New Year 2018 on Ladywell Walk

This side of Ladywell Walk from near Hurst Street. Another look at the fun fair and market stalls that were on the street at the time.

Chinese New Year 2018 Ladywell Walk fun fair

The stage on Hurst Street being set up. The next day it was full of people enjoying the entertainment!

Chinese New Year 2018 on Hurst Street

A day later and performances were taking place on the stage, and there was a crowd full of people there to enjoy the entertainment!

Chinese New Year 2018 Hurst Street stage

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

 

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30 passion points
Civic pride
05 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Joseph Gillott: manufacturer of steel pens

It was not just jewellery that was made in the Jewellery Quarter. Pens were made there too! Joseph Gillott made pens at his Victoria Works factory on the corner of Frederick Street and Graham Street. You can see a display of some of his pens at The Pen Museum on Frederick Street. There is also a marble bust of Joseph Gillott in the Council House.

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Joseph Gillott

He was born in Sheffield in 1799, and he died in Birmingham in 1872 aged 72. He moved to Birmingham in 1821. He started manufacturing steel pens with machinery from about 1830. The Victoria Works on Frederick Street was opened in 1840. His home for many years was 'The Grove' on Westbourne Road in Edgbaston.

The marble bust (below) of Joseph Gillott is seen at the Council House and was made by the artist Peter Hollins (1800 - 1886). You can see it close to the main entrance on one of the sides near a wall.

Joseph Gillott marble bust at the Council House

The Pen Museum is a museum in the Jewellery Quarter, at the Argent Centre located on Frederick Street. The building itself used to be a pen factory and is a Grade II* listed building. A look at the Joseph Gillott display at the museum. I visited during Birmingham Heritage Week back in September 2016.

On the wall Joseph Gillott Pen Maker to the Queen. Showing various steel pen nibs.

The Pen Museum Joseph Gillott

This table cabinet display about the Victoria Works (more on that later in this post). It had various Joseph Gillott steel pens and steel pen nibs inside. As well as photos of his marble bust, his portrait and his grave at Key Hill Cemetery.

The Pen Museum Joseph Gillott

Close up look at one of Joseph Gillott's steel pens made in about 1845. His company has been making pens since 1827 and is now part of William Mitchell Ltd.

1001 Spring Ground Mammoth Quill Circa 1845 - The Largest Pen Made.

The Pen Museum Joseph Gillott

The Victoria Works is a Grade II listed building not far from The Argent Centre on the corner of Frederick Street and Graham Street in the Jewellery Quarter. I saw it after my visit to The Pen Museum during Birmingham Heritage Week in September 2016. It was formerly listed as the Flagstaff building. The main building seen on the corner was built from 1838 to 1845. Made of red brick with ashlar and stucco dressings. The steel pen factory of Joseph Gillott opened up here in 1840.

Victoria Works former premises of Joseph Gillott

On the Graham Street side is a blue plaque for Joseph Gillott from English Heritage. The plaque reads: "These were the premises of JOSEPH GILLOTT 1799-1873 Steel Pen Manufacturer". This was probably the main entrance to the Victoria Works.

Victoria Works former premises of Joseph Gillott

This next building, part of the Victoria Works on the corner of Graham Street and Vittoria Street was built in 1887. Other parts of the former factory were built in 1850. On the Graham Street side is medallion bust of Queen Victoria, probably installed for her Golden Jubilee. This building post dates the death of Joseph Gillott.

Victoria Works former premises of Joseph Gillott

The view of the Victoria Works from the corner of Graham Street and Vittoria Street. There is a modern roof section closer to the Vittoria Street side. This building is also of red brick. No longer a factory, there are various different small companies occupying the building.

Victoria Works former premises of Joseph Gillott

If you stop to look at the pavement on Frederick Street (or other nearby streets in the Jewellery Quarter), look out for these that are part of the Charm Bracelet Trail. I saw this one for Joseph Gillott in December 2012. It reads: "C 1840 Hi Nibs. Joseph Gillott opened Victoria Works".

Joseph Gillott Victoria Works Charm Bracelet Trail

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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70 passion points
Photography
04 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Snow on Birmingham statues in previous years

Well, there has been no snow in Birmingham, while the rest of the country has had a dusting of the white stuff. Somehow Birmingham stayed mostly dry with blue skies! Looking back to previous years when it did snow in Birmingham. To our wonderful statues covered in snow! For instance see Victoria Square covered in snow in January 2013!

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Iron: Man by Antony Gormley (now in storage). To the right was the Town Hall and can you see the Alpha Tower? This was on the 18th January 2013. A very snowy day in the city! The statue was moved into storage in 2017 for the West Midlands Metro extension to Centenary Square. The extension from Victoria Square onto Paradise Street is far from finished! Gormley made it in 1993.

Iron Man snow

The Floozie in the Jacuzzi is looking freezing on that snowy day in January 2013. The fountain was still working at the time. The sculptures here made by Dhruva Mistry in 1993. This area is now full of plants like a landscaped garden as the council was finding it difficult to repair the fountain all the time! Victoria Square House behind.

Floozie snow

One of the Sphinx Guardians in Victoria Square facing the Council House. Covered in snow during January 2013. Also by Dhruva Mistry in 1993.

Guardian 1 snow

The other Sphinx Guardian in Victoria Square facing Christ Church Passage, also seen during that same snowy day in January 2013! Also by Dhruva Mistry in 1993.

Guardian 2 snow

The last major snow event in Birmingham was during the Beast from the East during early March 2018. It was freezing back then! It was snowing at the Bullring and you can see a light dusting on St Martin's Church and the statue of Horatio Nelson. There was more proper snow a few days after this, and a couple weeks later during the second Beast from the East event. Statue by Richard Westmacott in 1809. Probably one of the oldest statues in Birmingham! St Martin's Church seen behind.

Beast from the East - Nelson during a March 2018 snow shower

The bronze statue of William McGregor in the snow of January 2010 at Villa Park. Statue made in 2009 by Sam Holland. See my post on him here William McGregor: Director of Aston Villa and Founder of the Football League.

William McGregor statue at Villa Park in the snow

One of my earliest visits to the University of Birmingham was in December 2009 to see the statue of King George I outside the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Made in 1722 by John van Nost the Elder it was in Dublin, Ireland until it was moved to Birmingham in 1937.

George I outside the Barber Institute - snow of December 2009

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
Civic pride
02 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

City of Birmingham 130 years a City

On the 14th January 2019 the City of Birmingham celebrated being a city for 130 years. A visual display outside the Council House after dark from 4pm to 6pm that day. Brum 130 Beyond Bricks and Mortar was a film projected onto the side of the Council House by the graffiti artist Mohammed Ali (also known as Aerosol Ali). In this post is photo gallery from that evening as I passed through!

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The full title of this projected film was Brum 130 Beyond Bricks and Mortar .

Birmingham received City Status on the 14th January 1889. On the 14th January 2019 there was an event held in Victoria Square between 4pm and 6pm. It was still getting dark by 4.30pm to 5pm. I went to check it out briefly on the day after 5pm. The film was by Mohammed Ali also known as Aerosol Ali.

This digital billboard seen on the Council House balcony on the 13th January 2019 (a day before the anniversary).

Brum 130

I actually took these photos from the top of Victoria Square starting at Colmore Row, going down the steps. But it actually looks better seeing the photos in reverse!

Brum 130

Brum 130

Brum 130

Brum 130

Brum 130

Brum 130

Some bonus photos commemorating the last major anniversary of Birmingham's City Status which was back in 1989 (30 years ago).

City of Birmingham Centenary Festival 1889 1989

Saw this plaque in the Council House while I was at Birmingham We Are's event back in early November 2018. On Maundy Thursday 23rd March 1989 this plaque was unveiled to commemorate the visit of Her Majesty the Queen during the City of Birmingham's Centenary Year.

City of Birmingham Centenary Festival 1889 1989

I've had this medallion souvenir for around 30 years (so have had it since sometime in 1989). It was an Official Souvenir Medallion for the City of Birmingham Centenary. On this side showing a version of Birmingham's famous Forward coat of arms.

City of Birmingham Centenary 1889 1989 souvenir medallion

On the reverse it says City of Birmingham Centenary Festival 1889 1989. Has anyone thought of making a souvenir for 2019? City of Birmingham 130th Birthday 1889 2019!

City of Birmingham Centenary 1889 1989 souvenir medallion

Photos taken by Elliott Brown in Victoria Square in mid January 2019.

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60 passion points
Photography
30 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Famous movie cars spotted in Birmingham

I'm a big fan of the Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Batman movie franchises. So when I heard that the famous movie cars were coming to Birmingham, I had to see them! The DeLorean from the Back to the Future Trilogy, Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters and Ecto 1A from Ghostbusters 2. Even the Batmobile from Batman (1989) has been to the city!

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The Back to the Future DeLorean

The Acocks Green Village BID held an event in the village on the 1st August 2015 called the Alien Invasion of Acocks Green. And this is when the Back to the Future DeLorean visited. Seen near some shops on the Warwick Road. This appears like the famous movie car as it was in the hit movie Back to the Future Part II (released in 1989). You also see it hover converting at the end of the classic 1985 movie!

BTTF DeLorean in Acocks Green

 A Marty McFly impersonator was on site dressed like Marty was in the second movie. With the colourful baseball hat and the self drying jacket! The movie went to 2015 with hoverboards, flying cars etc. But none of this technology happened by the time we were in 2015!

BTTF DeLorean in Acocks Green

BTTF DeLorean at MCM Birmingham Comic Con

The second DeLorean I saw from Back to the Future was at the MCM Birmingham Comic Con, held at the Birmingham NEC. I went to the comic book convention in November 2016. Don't usually go to things like this much, and this was the only MCM Comic Con I've been to. I've not been back since. This DeLorean also resembled the version from BTTF Part II. And this time was an man dressed as Doctor Emmett Brown, aka the Doc!

BTTF DeLorean MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Along side the car was various skateboards and hoverboards based on those used in the movie. Including the Pit Bull used by the bad guy Griff Tatten. While Marty McFly used a Mattel Hoverboard!

BTTF DeLorean MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Front view of the DeLorean at the MCM Comic Con at the NEC. Gull wing door open and and some of the hats from the second movie.

BTTF DeLorean MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Also seen behind was an image of Twin Pines Mall from the first movie. Doc used Plutonium to power the DeLorean and when it hit 88 miles per hour it went back or forward in time! By the end of the first movie and into the second, the Doc had replaced the power source with rubbish (or garbage as Americans like to call it, or trash!). In the Mr Fusion reactor at the back! The camcorder that Marty used to record the first time travel experiment on the 26th October 1985 at 1:21am.

BTTF DeLorean MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Ecto 1A - Ghostbusters II - Navigation Street

This one was completely random and unexpected. Seen on Navigation Street close to The Mailbox (on the 14th March 2015) was this wedding hire car that looked like the Ecto 1A from the movie Ghostbusters II (released in 1989). It was one of the first movies I saw a as child during the Christmas season of 1989 (Vigo the Carpathian was scary for an 7 year old). The car headed under the underpass below Suffolk Street Queensway, before turning back around. It had the distincitive two fingers Ghostbuster logo on the car.

Ecto 1A - Ghostbusters II on Navigation Street

If there's something strange, in the neighbourhood, who ya gunna call? Reports of a ghost on the loose at The Mailbox was a false alarm. They were now seen heading in the direction of Birmingham New Street Station. At the time a movie was in production for 2016, which turned out to be an all female reboot. Recently another movie in the original Ghostbusters movie timeline has been announced for summer 2020.

Ecto 1A - Ghostbusters II on Navigation Street

The car does look pretty cool don't you think? Seen here going past Sainsbury's Local near the Orion Building, stuck in traffic. Bustin' makes me feel good! Two in the box, ready to go, we be fast and they be slow!

Ecto 1A - Ghostbusters II on Navigation Street

Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters at Broadway Plaza

Another Ghostbusters car made an appearance at Broadway Plaza near Ladywood Middleway (outside the casino and what was the former entrance to the ex Children's Hospital) on the 23rd July 2016. I think this was while the Ghostbusters (2016) movie was in cinemas (also known as Ghosbusters: Answer the Call). The car is the Ecto 1 from the original Ghostbusters from 1984.

Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters at Broadway Plaza

This is obviously based on the car from the first Ghostbusters movie, as it has the original Ghostbusters no ghosts logo on it. Rumour of a ghost on the loose at the former Children's Hospital was a false alarm! Although maybe Broadway Plaza spotted Slimer flying around, and slimming people?

Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters at Broadway Plaza

From where the Ghostbusters car was, you can head up the path to the Odeon cinema. It used to be an AMC until 2012. Last year in 2018, Odeon turned it into an Odeon Luxe. In January 2019 it was announced that a new Ghostbusters movie will be made for a summer 2020 release set in the original Ghostbusters movie universe.

Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters at Broadway Plaza

Batmobile from Batman (1989) at Broadway Plaza

Just over a year later on the 26th August 2017, the Batmobile from the movie Batman (released in 1989) was seen in the same spot as the Ecto 1 the year before. A version of it was also used in Batman Returns from 1992. Like all the cars here, this is a replica and not a screen used car.

Batmobile from Batman (1989) at Broadway Plaza

It was Superhero Day at Broadway Plaza, although I didn't see Batman around, just his car!

Batmobile from Batman (1989) at Broadway Plaza

My first Batman movie at the cinema was Batman Forever in 1995. I was too young when the first two movies came out (later saw them on TV). I've seen all live action Batman movies (of all incarnations) at the big screen since.

Batmobile from Batman (1989) at Broadway Plaza

The most recent appearance for Batman was in Justice League that came out in 2017, and before that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. There was also the Lego Batman Movie which would have been more suitable for young kids. I wasn't aware of Broadway Plaza having a movie car like this there in 2018, as I didn't see anything on their social media accounts. Then again I stopped going to Odeon Broadway Plaza when they turned it into a Luxe. I prefer my cinemas to have normal seats, so I now go to either: Odeon New Street, Cineworld Broad Street or Empire Great Park Birmingham (Rubery).

Batmobile from Batman (1989) at Broadway Plaza

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Architecture
28 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham Cathedral: The Cathedral Church of St Philip

A group of Birmingham We Are photographers along with Jonathan Bostock visted Birmingham Cathedral on the 26th January 2019. This post will be about the history of the Cathedral. My older exterior photos taken over the years passing through the Cathedral Square. New interiors taken on the visit with the group. More details on the history in the post below.

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St Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham

Originally built as a Parish Church on a plot of land in what is now the Colmore Business District (it wasn't that back in the 1700s). First built in 1715. The cathedral celebrated their 300th birthday in 2015. It was designed in the Baroque style by Thomas Archer. It was granted Cathedral Status in 1905. Around 16 years after Birmingham was granted City Status! Located between Colmore Row, Temple Row, Temple Row West and St Philip's Place. A Grade I listed building. It is the third smallest cathedral in England.

This view below from June 2009. The rear side of the cathedral. Colmore Row is to the right, Temple Row to the left.

Birmingham Cathedral

The 2nd view also from June 2009, similar to the above view. It is easy to walk between the bus interchanges through the Cathedral Square. Some people call it the Pigeon Park (I don't). I prefer something like the St Philip's Churchyard or St Philip's Cathedral Grounds. Victoria Square is a short distance away from here. The Grand Hotel at the time was under scaffolding, and restoration had yet to begin at that time. Birmingham Snow Hill Station is over to the right of here.

Birmingham Cathedral

This view below was taken during April 2011. With a nice blue sky. The stone looks especially nice in that light. The cathedral was designed in 1709 and consecrated in 1715. But the tower wasn't completed until 1725. It was a major monument of the English Baroque. J A Chatwin refaced the church between 1864 to 1869. Was restored after World War 2 between 1947 to 1948. A more recent refurbishment took place in 2015 ahead of it's 300th anniversary.

Birmingham Cathedral

Another April 2011 view. If you are heading from Bull Street, then up Temple Row, you might go through the entrance and up this way towards Colmore Row / Temple Row West. Scaffolding still on the Grand Hotel. The BT Tower was also visible while it was nice and sunny that spring day! The Parish Church of St Martin was too small for the growing town in the early 18th century, and this land was found, to found a new church. As it was expected that the town would grow.

Birmingham Cathedral

This view was taken in March 2014, on anther sunny early spring day. The main entrance to the Cathedral is through the big doors on the right. The bell tower seen above. The weather vane and orb seen high above the clock was restored later in 2014. The restoration was funded by the Calthorpe Estates. As the heirs of Sir Richard Gough, who originally asked King George I for funds to finish of the tower.

Birmingham Cathedral

Seen in the snow of December 2017, as I walked from St Philip's Cathedral towards St Paul's Church in the Jewellery Quarter. St Philip's used to be surrounded by a Georgian square, but most of the buildings have changed over the years. Many of the buildings on Colmore Row and Temple Row West are from the Victorian era. The buildings on Temple Row are mostly from the 20th century. Really looks like a picture postcard with snow, perfect for a Christmas card style image!

Birmingham Cathedral

My most recent exterior photo was taken in January 2019. I was heading to Victoria Square to check out the projections celebrating Birmingham's 130th birthday as a City. This is the side facing Colmore Row. It looks quite nice lit up after dark.

Birmingham Cathedral

Some memorials seen outside of the Cathedral.

Charles Gore (1853–1932) was the First Bishop of Birmingham. He was bishop from 1905 until 1911. Previously he was also Bishop of Worcester from 1901 until he helped create the Diocse of Birmingham. He was later Bishop of Oxford from 1911 until 1919. The bronze statue seen outside of the cathedral was made by Stirling Lee in 1914 and is Grade II listed. This view from May 2009.

Bishop Gore statue

Also seen in May 2009 was this obelisk. The Burnaby Obelisk. Grade II listed. It was in memory of Frederick G. Burnaby (1842 - 1885). He stood as a Conservative Party candidate for Birmingham in 1880 (as an MP). He died at Battle of Abu Klea, Sudan on January 16th 1885. It was made by Robert Bridgeman of Lichfield. He also fought at Khiva in 1875, a well as Abu Klea in 1885. There is an oval portrait medallion on one side of the obelisk. It is made of Portland stone and was unveiled by Lord Charles Beresford on the 13th November 1885.

Burnaby obelisk

This banner was seen in the entrance hall during 2015. Welcome Come & See. December 2015 was near the end of the tri-centenary year. 1715 - 2015 (300 years since the Cathedral was built as a Church). The banner is not there now.

Welcome Come & See

Interior views taken during the Birmingham We Are morning visit. This end from close to the entrance as I waited for other members of the group to arrive. The trio of Burne-Jones windows are at the far end near the High Alter.

Birmingham Cathedral interior

This side, with the High Alter behind me. Looking towards the fourth Burne-Jones window below the bell tower. We only had access to the ground floor, so were unable to go upstairs or up the tower.

Birmingham Cathedral interior

Now closer to the end below the bell tower, and again looking towards the High Alter end. Plenty of columns along the aisle and memorials to those who are buried in the cathedral.

Birmingham Cathedral interior

Now a look at the four Edward Burne-Jones windows. They were made between 1885 and 1897. Burne-Jones designed them while William Morris made them.

This one is the stained glass window below the bell tower. A winged angel with a horn, similar to the Shofar used at Rosh Hashanah.

Burne-Jones windows

The main central window at the High Alter end.

Burne-Jones windows

High alter window on the right, a crucifixion scene.

Burne-Jones windows

The final window at the high alter end on the left. They look better from the inside. From the outside you can't really see the colours.

Burne-Jones windows

Organ. The organ dates to 1715 and has been restored and re-gilded. It's sound replicates that of an orchestra.

Organ

The Bishops Seat. This is where the Bishop of Birmingham sits during a service. Look above and see the Bishop's hat or mitre. The seat is also known as a Cathedra.

The Bishops Seat

High Alter Cross. It was made in the Jewellery Quarter by a jeweller and artist called John Donald. It is a stunning cross with a piece of quartz at the centre. It is seen below the trio of Burne-Jones windows.

High Alter Cross

Birmingham Bell. It came from the HMS Birmingham and is dated 1976. Was used as a font for baptisms aboard the ship. There has been at least three Navy ships called HMS Birmingham. The first from 1913 - 1931, the second from 1936 - 1960, and the third from 1976 - 1999. The bell is rung for baptisms today.

Birmingham Bell

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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