Elliott Brown

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16 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown

Old Northfield Village around St Laurence's Church and the Great Stone Inn

Another set of historic buildings, this time in Northfield. The old village centre is a short walk away from the Great Stone Road, heading down Church Road to St Laurence's Church and the Great Stone Inn, around Church Hill. The Great Stone can be found here as well as a former Village Pound (a small 17th century jail).

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Northfield

I first headed down to this part of Northfield in June 2010. So most of my photos of the church and the pub were taken back then. More recently, I returned in May 2018 when I was told about a pair of blue plaques for The Great Stone and the Village Pound.

 

St Laurence's Church, Northfield

This is the parish church of Northfield. Located around Church Hill, and near Church Road. The heart of the old village centre of Northfield. The church dates to the 12th century, and is one of the oldest buildings in Birmingham. It is a Grade I listed building. If you don't know where this is, if getting off the bus in Northfield Town Centre, or off the train at Northfield Station, then it is close to the Great Stone Road. You can either get there by walking down Church Road or Rectory Road. From Northfield Station, Church Hill is nearby, and you could walk up there.

St Laurence's Church, Northfield

The tower of St Laurence's Church. It also dates to the 12th century. Most of the church dates from the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The north aisle was built in 1900 by G F Bodley in the 14th century style.

St Laurence's Church, Northfield

There is a churchyard around the Church of St Laurence with many gravestones. There was a War Grave extension, containing the graves of service personnel from World War I and World War II.

St Laurence's Church, Northfield

This view is from close to Rectory Road with the tower behind close to Church Hill. There is a public footpath that starts from Rectory Road where you can see this view over the churchyard.

St Laurence's Church, Northfield

A more recent view of St Laurence's Church from May 2018, when I was heading to check out the Village Pound. This is the view from round the bend on Church Hill. The Lych gate is seen on the left. And the Village Pound itself is to be found nearby on Church Road (look out for an old gate, more on that below).

St Laurence's Church, Northfield

The Great Stone Inn

The pub seen in the old Northfield Village that is opposite of St Laurence's Church is The Great Stone Inn. A Grade II listed building dating to the 18th century. It is on the corner of Church Hill and Church Road in Northfield. The white paint stood out on this blue sky day back in June 2010.

Great Stone Inn Northfield

Full on view of The Great Stone public house. Takes you back 200 years if it wasn't for the car! At the time I wasn't aware of the Village Pound being so nearby (on Church Road to the right). The pub is at 158 Church Road and is now owned by the Stonegate Pub Company. They won an award in 2010 for the 'best managed house' and in 2011 for the 'best community pub in the East and West Midlands', in the Great British Pub Awards.

Great Stone Inn Northfield

Village Pound and the Great Stone

I was looking for a pair of blue plaques I was made aware of in Northfield. The Village Pound and the Great Stone. Thought I almost missed them when I saw this gate and looked in, during May 2018. It is on Church Road, and is to the right of the Great Stone Inn. Beyond are houses. Stop here to look inside of the gate. A pink sandstone wall near the road.

Village Pound Northfield

The Village Pound is a Grade II listed building and dates to the 17th century. A pound was for keeping stray animals, although I thought it was like a small jail. But just for animals if not people then! At the back is a wall to an outhouse of the Great Stone public house.

Village Pound Northfield

In the middle of small courtyard is the Great Stone. The listing describes it as a "central monolithic stone". The boulder was moved by Birmingham City Council to this site in 1954 for road safety reasons. A glacial erratic boulder formed in an explosive volcanic eruption during the Ordovician period, 450-460 million years ago. During the ice age possibly up to 400,000 years ago, it was carried by an ice sheet from the Snowdon area of North Wales and deposited with many others around Northfield when the area was a frozen wasteland. For generations it lay at the corner of Church Road and Church Hill where it protected the Inn wall.

Village Pound Northfield

In May 2018 and heading up Church Hill in Northfield. That day I got the train to Northfield Station, for the short walk up the hill to find the Village Pound, and it's pair of blue plaques. This is no 3 to 13 Church Hill. Not sure of the details, or how old these buildings are, but they look Victorian. A salon called Headways was on the right.

3 to 13 Church Hill Northfield

Off Church Hill in Northfield for this building on Norton Close. It was St Laurence Church of England Infant School. A Grade II listed building. Built in 1837, with 1870 exteriors. Red brick with a slate roof. This was the original school, it also had a Master's house. The school is now on a different site in Northfield, now near Heath Road South. The former school building has been converted into flats.

St Laurence's C of E Infant School Northfield

This is the back alley or path behind St Laurence's Church in Northfield. At the time in June 2010, I only went half way before turning back towards Rectory Road as I didn't want to get lost! Near the top of this path is that view of the church from near Rectory Road (see further up the post for that photo).

Back alley behind St Laurence's Church Northfield

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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14 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown

Kings Norton around The Green including Saint Nicholas Place

A look around the old village centre of Kings Norton. Including The Green and Saint Nicholas Place (which includes St Nicholas Church, the Tudor Merchants House and the Old Grammar School). This collection of buildings won TV's Restoration programme back in 2004 and are now fully restored. There is also occasionally a Farmers Market on the green.

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Kings Norton

First off, a look at the buildings at Saint Nicholas Place.

This is St Nicholas Church in Kings Norton. It is the Anglican Parish Church of Kings Norton. There has been a church on this site since at least the 11th century, although most of the current building dates to the early 13th century. The spire was built between 1446 and 1475. The church was restored in 1863 by Ewan Christian and again in 1871 by W J Hopkins. It is a Grade I listed building. This view from April 2009, with a bit of blossom on some of the trees.

St Nicholas Church Kings Norton

The spire of St Nicholas seen during April 2009. In this view is a Monument with an urn that is Grade II listed. Made of stone it dates to about 1770. The only inscriptions that are readable are that of Ann Middlemore (died in 1873) and Martha Middlemore (died in 1876). It is close to the entrance of the churchyard from The Green.

St Nicholas Church Kings Norton

I've been back to Kings Norton several times over the years. Got some more photos of the church during March 2012. This one of the spire. Kings Norton has railway links with the Rev W. V. Awdry who was the author of the Thomas the Tank Engine series. He was a curate here from 1940 to 1946. Kings Norton Station is up the hill in Cotteridge on the Pershore Road South (now part of the modern Cross City line).

St Nicholas Church Kings Norton

One more view of St Nicholas Church from March 2012. There is a churchyard all around the church that you can walk through on the paths, and it leads to the Old Grammar School. The Saracen's Head is nearby on The Green, and when it was restored was given the name of Saint Nicholas Place, probably after the church.

St Nicholas Church Kings Norton

I previously posted my photos of the Old Grammar School in Kings Norton in this post. The Old Grammar Schools of Kings Norton and Yardley.

I will add a bit more detail here, compared to my earlier post. Along with the Saracen's Head (the Tudor Merchants House), it won the BBC TV programme Restoration in 2004, and it was fully restored in the years that followed. A Grade II* listed building, it was probably built as a priest's house to St Nicholas Church. This view from April 2009. The spire of St Nicholas can be seen from behind.

The Old Grammar School Kings Norton

You can see the Old Grammar School from the Pershore Road South in Kings Norton. It looks pretty with blossom on the trees and daffodils on the lawn during spring. Seen here on St George's Day 2009. It became a school by the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Old Grammar School Kings Norton

The Birmingham Civic Society unveiled a rectangular green plaque here in 1982. It was for Thomas Hall B.D. Who was a Schoolmaster, Preacher and Biblophile. He taught here from 1629 to 1662. It was last used as a school in the early 1950s. Until the restoration was complete, it was on the Buildings at Risk Register. This view was from March 2012.

The Old Grammar School Kings Norton

There was an amendment to the listing text in 2018 during the Centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act. Two women (suffragettes) in 1913, who were members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), entered the school while it was empty. They forced opened a pair of windows in April 1913, but no fires was set. A message on the blackboard read ‘Two Suffragists have entered here, but charmed with this old-world room, have refrained from their design of destruction.’

The Old Grammar School Kings Norton

Next up is the Saracen's Head. Also known as the Tudor Merchant's House. Along with the Old Grammar School (see above) it won the 2004 BBC Restoration programme. It is now where the Saint Nicholas Place offices are located. It is at 81 and 83 The Green, and is close to the churchyard of St Nicholas Church. A Grade II* listed building. It has been a pub, a grocer's shop and a community meeting place. Dates to the late 15th century. These views from April 2009 unless stated.

Saracen's Head Kings Norton

Side view of the Tudor Merchant's House / The Saracen's Head. Both this building and the Old Grammar School re-opened to the public in June 2008. It was built in 1492 by a wealthy merchant called Humphrey Rotsey and is now known as the north range. The building was expanded in the early 16th century and that is now known as the east range.

Saracen's Head Kings Norton

In 1643 Queen Henrietta Maria of France stopped in Kings Norton with an army. It is assumed that she spent the night here in the house. But there is no evidence for this. She was on her way to rejoin King Charles I at his headquarters in York. During the English Civil War. There is a green plaque on the green that mentions her stay in Kings Norton. Saint Nicholas Place is also spelled Saint Nicolas Place. I assume either spelling is correct.

Saracen's Head Kings Norton

This view of the Saracen's Head / Tudor Merchant's House from March 2012. Seen from the churchyard of St Nicholas Church. The building has become a pub by the 18th century. In the 19th century a further wing was added known as the south wing. By the 20th century, Mitchells & Butlers had owned the Saracen's Head public house. But in 1930 they donated it to Kings Norton Parish to used as a Parish Hall.

Saracen's Head Kings Norton

Now a look around at some of the buildings around The Green.

The Bull's Head public house is to the left of the Sarcen's Head / Tudor Merchant's House. The first view during April 2009. Can you spot the cherry blossom on a tree? The pub is now run by Milton Pubs.

Bulls Head Kings Norton

The next view of the Bull's Head, from another angle, taken in March 2012. Back then it was run by Sizzling Pubs.

Bulls Head Kings Norton

One more view of the Bull's Head seen during December 2012 from The Green. The pub is at 77 The Green.

Bulls Head Kings Norton

A look at The Green in Kings Norton during April 2009. Many trees, and shops around. This is from the Saracen's Head end of The Green.

The Green Kings Norton

The Green plaque seen in Kings Norton during June 2011. Mentions that it has been part of the public centre of Kings Norton for over 500 years. For centuries it has been used for fairs, meetings and markets. The area around Kings Norton Parish is much smaller now than in the Middle Ages.

Kings Norton The Green plaque

The Village Barbers Shop seen on The Green during April 2009. As of 2019, it is still there / open.

The Village Barbershop - The Green Kings Norton

Molly's Cafe at the other end of The Green in April 2009. It was still open in 2017, but sadly seemed to have closed down in 2018, and is now for sale or to let.

Molly's Cafe - The Green Kings Norton

The Farmers Market on the Kings Norton Green on 8th December 2018. I wasn't expecting to see it on this visit to Kings Norton, but there it was during the build up to Christmas.

Kings Norton Farmers Market on The Green

Unexpectedly spotted an impersonator in the Co-operative Food car park as Kings Charles I! I don't think the real Charles ever visited Kings Norton during the Civil War, but as stated above, his Queen Henrietta Maria did in 1643. He was probably there for the Farmers Market.

King Charles I in Kings Norton

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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11 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown

Lloyds Bank founded in Birmingham by John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd

Did you know that one of the main banks in the UK was founded right here in Birmingham? The bankers was John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd based in Georgian Birmingham in the middle of the 18th century. There first bank was located in Dale End. Lloyd himself at one time lived in Old Square (when it was a Georgian square). A portrait of Sampson Lloyd is at the Birmingham History Galleries.

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Let's head to Georgian Birmingham town to about the 1760s. A bank was founded on Dale End by John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd. Taylor was a cabinet maker, who set up a factory on Union Street to make "Brummagem toys", such as buttons and buckles. Lloyd was an iron manufacturer. Originally from Wales. Together they opened a bank in 1765 called Taylors & Lloyds at 7 Dale End.

The modern building on the site now has a McDonald's to the right. There used to be a Lloyds TSB at the far left side near Albert Street, but it closed down years ago. Built by the Seymour Harris Partnership in 1989-90. Dale End is not a very pleasant area of the City Centre now. There is a blue plaque there about the banks founding from the City of Birmingham (who put up blue plaques before the Birmingham Civic Society).

Dale End where Lloyds Bank started

Heading over to Old Square. It used to be one of the grandest Georgian squares in the town centre (remember Birmingham didn't get City Status until 1889!) There is sculpture at one end of the square by Kenneth Budd, made in 1967. One section commemorates Sampson Lloyd who lived at No 13 Old Square in 1770. Calling him "Lloyd the Banker". The bank motif at the time was a beehive.

Lloyd the Banker - Old Square

Over to the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery where we find a portrait of Sampson Lloyd. His Iron Works was on Edgbaston Street (where the Bullring is now). He was actually Sampson Lloyd II. Born in 1699, he died in 1779. He also lived at the Farm in Bordesley, now within Sparkbrook. English Heritage have a blue plaque on the house. I've not been there myself. Lloyd bought it in 1742. It's now a Grade II* listed building. It's located on Sampson Road within Farm Park.

Sampson Lloyd portrait

Nearby is a map that shows John Taylor's Manufactory nearby on the High Street in Birmingham. Taylor was born in 1711 and died in 1775. He lived at Bordesley Hall, which was built for him in 1767. It was burnt down in 1791 during the Priestley Riots. It was near the Coventry Road in what is now part of Small Heath. The house was left as ruins well into the 19th century. The Union Street site of his manufactory was probably where Martineau Place is located now.

John Taylor's manufactory

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Architecture
09 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown

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

Currently the only National Trust property to visit in Birmingham is the Back to Backs on Hurst Street and Inge Street in the Chinese Quarter (near the Birmingham Hippodrome). Soon it might be possible to visit The Roundhouse near Sheepcote Street in Westside (and near the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline). I've not been in either (yet) but have exterior photos.

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Birmingham Back to Backs

The Back to Backs is located at 55 to 63 Hurst Street and 50 to 54 Inge Street in what is now Southside or the Chinese Quarter. The National Trust has run it as a museum since 2004. They are the only surviving back to backs of it's kind in Birmingham. The rest was long since demolished. Modern apartment buildings with shops now surrounds this block. I've not yet myself been inside of them, but hope to do so one day in the near future.

The Back to Backs was Grade II listed in 1988. Acording to the listing, the court of housing originally dated back to 1789, with alterations in the 19th and 20th centuries. Built of red brick with a Welsh slate roof. This block was Court 15. This is the general view from Hurst Street, with Inge Street being down the side.

Back to Backs

A look at the Back to Backs from Inge Street towards The Old Fox pub that is now part of The Arcadian complex in the Chinese Quarter. There is a Subway shop to the right in the modern apartment block. The Inge family owned the land in the late 18th century, who leased the land for the building of these blocks of houses. They owned the west side of the street. The Gooch family owned the east side of Inge Street. Over 500 families had lived in Court 15.

Back to Backs

Another view of the Inge Street side towards The Old Fox. Most residents still lived here until 1966 when they were requested to leave, as they were declared unfit for habitation. In 1995 Birmingham City Council commissioned the City of Hereford Archaeological Unit to survey and record the houses. The Birmingham Conservation Trust in collaboration with S. T. Walker & Duckham restored the buildings and it was opened to the public in 2004. Visits are pre-booked with a guided tour. So assume that you can't just show up and go in without pre-booking.

Back to Backs

A close up look at one of the houses on Inge Street, next to the modern building on the right. This was number 50. Also known as 1 Court 15.

Back to Backs

Those photos above were taken in June 2009, and I haven't really taken many new photos of the Back to Backs since then. During May 2018, the National Trust had altered the sign on the Hurst Street side for Birmingham Pride into the multicoloured gay colours. This was only temporary and when Pride was over, they eventually changed it back to the normal National Trust sign (which is in blue colours).

Back to Backs - National Trust Pride sign

The Roundhouse

For years, I've been wondering what was going to happen to The Roundhouse. I first saw it in 2009 from the Birmingham Canal Navigations when it was derelict. It is a horseshoe shaped building at the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street in Ladywood / Westside area of Birmingham City Centre. The National Trust in collaboration with owners the Canal & River Trust are restoring it, and hope to open the venue to the public sometime in 2019.

It is a Grade II* listed building dating to about 1840 (according to the listing). It was built for the London and North Western Railway as a mineral and coal wharf.  Red brick with slate roofs. The National Trust's information says that it was built in 1874, designed by local architect WH Ward, who won a competition organised by the Birmingham Corporation (am not sure which information is correct i.e.1840 or 1874).

The Roundhouse

The Fiddle & Bone pub seen on Sheepcote Street when it was closed for years due to noise complaints from local residents. This view from February 2013. It later reopened in 2015, but it wasn't successful and was replaced by The Distillery in 2017.

The Roundhouse

The corner of the site from St Vincent Street. Sheepcote Street is to the left. The main gate at the corner was usually closed. This view from February 2013, when The Roundhouse was at the time For Sale / To Let. I think at one point part of the site was used by a nursery. A house to the west of here is Grade II listed. Built in 1885 of red brick with some blue trim and slate roofs. The Storage Cottage is also Grade II listed from 1885, red brick and slate roof. That's a little bit further up St Vincent Street.

The Roundhouse

A look through the gates at the courtyard of The Roundhouse. You can clearly see that it looks like a horse shoe! There is a ramp going down with the speed limit at 10 mph. This view also seen from February 2013. The National Trust is spending £2.5 million to restore the 19th century gem from the roof to the cobbles. They are also installing a beautiful 'oriel' window onto the canalside.

The Roundhouse

The Distillery seen at The Roundhouse from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline during October 2017. The Sheepcote Street bridge is to the right. The pub was the first building to be restored, many years before the National Trust became involved with the building, when the Fiddle & Bone pub as it was reopened in 2015. I was hoping that a Canal Museum could open here, similar to the London Canal Museum (I went there back in August 2015). Perhaps they could have model narrowboats inside, or show how The Roundhouse worked back in it's 19th century heyday.

The Roundhouse

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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08 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown

Kings Heath Park blast from the past: Free Radio Walk for Kids Birmingham, Sunday 19th May 2013

A small gallery of photos of Kings Heath Park taken on the Vicarage Road, while the Free Radio Walk for Kids Birmingham took place on Sunday 19th May 2013. Free Radio used to have a Walkathon all the way around the Outer Circle (11A / 11C bus route). Included here is some photos from the top of Vicrage Road down to the park. Also some from Hall Green on the Fox Hollies Road.

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The Free Radio Walk for Kids Birmingham that took place on Sunday 19th May 2013. A charity walk that went all the way around the Outer Circle (11A / 11C bus routes). At Kings Heath Park it may have been a start or end, so many walkers ended up here, or started here. There used to be a Walkathon every year in the spring, once a year, but I don't think that there has been one for many years! It used to be the BRMB Walkathon in the past.

Welcome to the Free Radio Walk for Kids. Seen from the Vicarage Road at Kings Heath Park. Left to right.

Free Radio Walk for Kids past Kings Heath Park

Various banners on the Kings Heath Park railings on Vicarage Road, advertisting the tea room and plant sales etc.

Free Radio Walk for Kids Kings Heath Park

Big Free Radio banner.

Free Radio Walk for Kids Kings Heath Park

Was a lot of canopies and portacabins there at the time (temporary).

Free Radio Walk for Kids Kings Heath Park

Lots of volunteers on site. I think this was at the end of the walkathon.

Free Radio Walk for Kids Kings Heath Park

Spot the photographer! Energy Savers was the sponsor at the time.

Free Radio Walk for Kids Kings Heath Park

Park entrance near the gatehouse on the Vicarage Road.

Free Radio Walk for Kids Kings Heath Park

Birmingham City Council sign being used to advertise the Free Radio walkathon. It used to be the BRMB Walkathon in past years.

Free Radio Walk for Kids Kings Heath Park

Walkers heading down Vicarage Road in Kings Heath. Seen here passing the 11A bus stop close to Kings Heath Village Square.

Free Radio Walk for Kids - Vicarage Road, Kings Heath

Volunteers in green and officials in yellow jackets close to Park View Gallery on the Vicarage Road. Near the Avenue Road junction in Kings Heath near Kings Heath Park.

Free Radio Walk for Kids - Vicarage Road, Kings Heath

These walkers seen beyond Kings Heath Park. Walking past King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools. Many of them had green t-shirts on for the day.

Free Radio Walk for Kids - Vicarage Road, Kings Heath

On the day, the Big Brum Buz (Birmingham's then sightseeing tour bus) was parked on Vicarage Road opposite Kings Heath Park. It used to do sightseeing tours of the city starting from Colmore Row near Victoria Square.

Big Brum Buz - Vicarage Road, Kings Heath

Would assume that people doing the walk could get a ride on the bus, as there was people in green outfits on the day.

Big Brum Buz - Vicarage Road, Kings Heath

Probably also there to support all the walkers at whatever pace that they were able to do the course.

Big Brum Buz - Vicarage Road, Kings Heath

Bonus photos from the Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green. Walkers in green t-shirts, holding water bottles.

Free Radio Walk for Kids - Fox Hollies Road, Hall Green

Some of them also had green wigs! The buses were still running that day on the 11A and 11C, as the walkers were on the pavements.

Free Radio Walk for Kids - Fox Hollies Road, Hall Green

Photos taken by Elliott Brown on Sunday 19th May 2013.

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05 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown

Landmarks of Liverpool, Nottingham, Norwich and London

A look at a small selection of landmarks I've seen in Liverpool, Nottingham, Norwich and London. In the past have been on weekends to these cities. Although Norwich was during a couple of weeks holidays in April 2010 and July 2011. Liverpool was October 2013. Nottingham was November 2014. Various weekends to London between 2009 and 2016. Too much to see in one weekend.

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Liverpool

This is the Three Graces in Liverpool. They are near the Liverpool Waterfront at Pier Head. Seen during October 2013. From left to right: the Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building. Two of them are Grade II* listed buildings while one is Grade I listed. They are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City.

The Royal Liver Building was built from 1908 to 1910 by Aubrey Thomas. Has a concrete frame with granite cladding. 8 storeys and 2 storeys of attics. Was built as the head office of the Royal Liver Assurance Company. It is a Grade I listed building. There is a pair copper sculptures on top of the liver birds.

The Cunard Building was built from 1913 to 1916 by Willink and Thicknessse. Portland stone with 6 storeys. It is a Grade II* listed building

The Port of Liverpool Building was built in 1907 by Arnold Thornely. Made of Portland stone with 5 storeys and a basement. It is a Grade II* listed building

Three Graces Liverpool

A look at one corner of the Albert Dock in Liverpool.  Also known as The Royal Albert Dock. The dock was designed by Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick and opened in 1846. It is on the Liverpool Waterfront and part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Was the first structure in Britain to be built of cast iron, brick and stone with no wood. It gained it's Royal status in 2018. All parts of the dock are Grade I listed buildings. The dock was used for TV's This Morning from 1988 to 1996. In this photo is Warehouse D and E. The Merseyside Maritime Museum is in Warehouse D (on the left), while the Edward Pavilion is in Warehouse E (on the right).

Albert Dock Liverpool

Nottingham

The Nottingham Council House is located in the Old Market Square in Nottingham. Seen in November 2014 while A Nottingham Winter Wonderland was on (Nottingham's equivelant of a Christmas Market and ice rink). The Nottingham Express Transit (tram system) runs up and down the South Parade to Cheapside. There is a tram stop at Old Market Square. It is a Grade II* listed building and also includes a shopping arcade to the back. Built from 1924 to 1929, the architect was T. Cecil Howitt. It was built for Nottingham City Council. Built in the Baroque Revival style. It was built on the site of Nottingham's Exchange Hall (which was built there from 1724 to 1726).

Nottingham Council House

The Theatre Royal is on Upper Parliament Street in Nottingham. It is a Grade II listed building dating to 1865. The original architects was CJ Phipps for W & J Lambert. It was remodelled in 1897 to 1898 by Frank Matcham for Robert Arthur and Henry Moss. A later restoration and remodelling took place during 1976 to 1978 by the Renton Howard Wood Levin Partnership. The theatre closed in 1969 when the city council bought the theatre. It was reopened in 1978 after the restoration of the building. The theatre is near the Nottingham Express Transit, and Royal Centre tram stop is nearby. Seen below on a rainy day in November 2014.

Theatre Royal Nottingham

Norwich

A look at Norwich Castle. The castle was built in the early 12th century. But a castle was founded here in 1067 by William the Conquerer in the form of a motte and bailey castle. The castle is a Grade I listed building. It was refaced in the 1830s and converted to a museum in the 1880s. Now the home of the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery. It resembles a Tower Keep. Castle Mall is also nearby to the castle and museum. Norwich Castle is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument. This visit to the castle was during April 2010.

Norwich Castle

From the bottom of Elm Hill in Norwich. Seen during July 2011. It is a historic cobbled lane. Many buildings date back to the Tudor period. It is one of Norwich's famous landmarks. Elm Hill was almost demolished in 1926, but was saved in 1927 by the Norwich Society, who did a survey of the buildings and gave recommendations to the Norwich Corporation. Renovation works started that same year in 1927.

Seen here on the left is the Elm Hill Craft Shop near The Monastery. There is a plaque here for Father Ignatius who founded an independent Benedictine monastery here in 1864. After two difficult years it was dispersed. It is Grade II listed at 12 - 16 Elm Hill. A timber-framed building. Also rendered.

Elm Hill Norwich

London

A visit to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London during October 2012. A panoramic of the museum with both wings. The museum is on the site of the former Greenwich Royal Hospital School. It opened in 1937. The Royal Hospital School moved to Suffolk in 1933. The museum was founded in 1934. The museum was upgraded in 1999. A Grade I listed building. Built 1807 to 1816 by David Alexander. It is connected to The Queen's House. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site Maritime Greenwich.

National Maritime Museum - Greenwich, London

A visit to the British Museum during August 2015 on a rainy day outside (nice and dry inside). Panoramic of the museum exterior. It is on the Great Russell Street in Bloomsbury, London. The London Borough is Camden. The museum is massive, so many things to see, but eventually you would get tired, and it feels like there is too much to see in one go. The building is Grade I listed and was built from 1823 to 1847. The architect was Sir Robert Smirke and it was made of Portland stone. Built in the Greek Revival style.There is a East Wing (built 1823 to 1826), a West Wing (built 1831 to 1834), a North Wing (built 1833 to 1838) and a South Range (built 1842 to 1847). Montague House the original museum was demolished in 1840. The library was detached from the museum in 1973 to form the separate British Library. The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court opened in 2000.

British Museum - Bloomsbury, London

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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03 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown

William McGregor: Director of Aston Villa and Founder of the Football League

There has been a statue outside of Villa Park in Aston. It is of William McGregor, who in the late 19th century was a Director of Aston Villa from the late 1870s. He later became the clubs Chairman from the late 1890s. He was also the Founder of the Football League in 1888. The statue can be found near the Trinity Road Stand. This post will also look at the 4 stands of Villa Park.

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William McGregor

A statue was unveiled outside of Villa Park, the home ground of Aston Villa F.C. in November 2009. It was of William McGregor, one of the earliest Directors of Aston Villa, and later the Chairman of the club. It was he who proposed the forming of a league in 1888 which became the first professionally organised football league in the world! At the time I took my photos in January 2010, and a few years later in September 2012, Villa were still in the Premier League (before they were relegated to the Championship in 2016). But this post is not about Aston Villa's form in the various leagues they have been in, more about William McGregor and the stadium Villa Park.

To find the statue of William McGregor first look for these gates with a pair of bronze lions on either side. The lions were there until at least 2016. Looking on Google Maps Street View the lions were missing in 2017. Anyway look through the gates, or the railings along Trinity Road and you will see the statue near the Trinity Road reception entrance of the Trinity Road stand.

Villa Park - Trinity Road Stand - lion gates

William McGregor was born in Braco, Perthshire, Scotland in 1846. He died in Birmingham in 1911 aged only 65. When he moved to Birmingham from Perth, he set up a drapery business in Aston in about 1870. Aston Villa was formed in 1874, and he first became involved with the new club in 1877, at first to become a committee member of the club. He became a member of the club's board of directors, and Villa started winning cups in the 1880s. He became Vice-Chairman of the club in 1895 and finally Chairman by 1897. He was responsible for the club adopting the lion as their symbol, based on the lion of the Royal Standard of Scotland as their crest.

William McGregor statue at Villa Park

In 1888 William McGregor wrote to various other big clubs at the time proposing to form the first Football League in England. 10 clubs were the first members of the league, including West Bromwich Albion. Initially clubs in the south weren't interested in the league, but eventually 12 teams kicked off the first league in September 1888. McGregor proposed the name of "The Association Football Union", but it sounded to much like the Rugby Football Union, so they instead called it The Football League. McGregor became the first Chairman of the Football League and oversaw the creation of a Football League with two divisions. He stepped down, he was elected honorary President until he stepped down by 1894. He was the first ever life member of the League in 1895.

William McGregor statue at Villa Park

The bronze statue was unveiled in November 2009, and it was sculpted by Sam Holland. He took references from life photos and a portrait in the McGregor Suite. The statue is on a red brick plinth. McGregor is holding a cane (walking stick) and a pamphlet.

William McGregor statue at Villa Park

The following information about the stands was taken from Football Grounds Guide.

A look at the Trinity Road Stand on the approach past the houses on Trinity Road in Aston. This stand was first built in 1996 in time for Euro '96 (the European Football Championships 1996 which were held in England at the time). The stand was rebuilt to three tiers by 2001 including a row of executive boxes.

Trinity Road Stand Villa Park

A close up of the Trinity Road Stand from Trinity Road in Aston. On the side it says ASTON VILLA FOOTBALL CLUB in big letters. In the middle was the club badge with the lion and a star. This side of the stadium is close to Aston Park. There is a nearby path entrance into the park that leads up to Aston Hall. The hall is normally closed on match days, and open on all other days.

Trinity Road Stand Villa Park

Next up a look at The Holte End. It was opened in the 1994/95 season and is a two tiered structure. It holds about 13,500 supporters. The building near the car park appears to be much older. It has Aston Villa painted on the side with the clubs badge (it might be tiled).

The Holte End Villa Park

There is steps leading up to the stand from the car park. Not too far away from the stand, at the other end of the car park is The Holte public house, at the corner of Trinity Road and Witton Lane. The Holte End and The Holte pub were named after Sir Thomas Holte, who lived at Aston Hall during the 17th century. The stadium was originally called The Aston Lower Grounds. Was formerly part of Aston Hall's grounds, and a Kitchen Garden used to be on the site of Villa Park.

The Holte End Villa Park

Next we head up Witton Lane in Aston. The next stand is the Doug Ellis Stand. It was originally called the Witton Lane Stand. It was rebuilt in 1993 and it replaced an older structure. There was a minor refurbishment for the European Football Championships in 1996  (Euro '96). It was named after the former Chairman Doug Ellis (1924-2018). Seen here from Witton Lane Gardens during September 2012.

Doug Ellis Stand - Villa Park

Sir Doug Ellis used to own Aston Villa and was Chairman in two stints. His first stint as Chairman was from 1968 to 1975. He was a major shareholder and on the board until he was ousted in 1979. He returned as Chairman in 1982 (in his absence Villa had won the Football League title in 1981 and the European Cup in 1982). He sold the club to Randy Lerner in 2006. This stand also has ASTON VILLA FOOTBALL CLUB in big letters. It is visible from the Aston Expressway A38(M) and from the M6 (if travelling in a car or on a coach).

Doug Ellis Stand - Villa Park

The final stand is the oldest stand at Villa Park. The North Stand was built in the 1970s but still looks modern. It is two tiered and about the same height as the other stands. There is a double row of executive boxes running across the middle. This stand is usually used by away fans. It is also close to Witton Lane. It is a short distance walk from here to Witton Station.

North Stand - Villa Park

The club had planning permission to rebuild the North Stand, but it hasn't happened yet. The owners of the club has changed several times in recent years and what with Villa's relegation, it probably wasn't a priority. If it was to be rebuilt it would increase capacity of the stadium to 51,000.

North Stand - Villa Park

A bonus building, The Holte public house at the corner of Trinity Road and Witton Lane in Aston. A Victorian building dating to 1897. It was built as The Holte Hotel. It used to have 10 bedrooms, a 400 capacity music hall, billiard rooms and two bowling greens. It has the same name as The Holte End (see further up this post). See this article from 2007 for more information Aston Villa restores Holte Hotel.

The Holte pub at Villa Park

Villa fans used the pub up until the 1970s. But it was boarded up and derelict for 28 years until Villa's owner from 2006 to 2016 Randy Lerner and his team agreed to a restoration. The pub reopened in 2007. For most fans approaching from Aston Station, or from the M6 motorway, it is the first building they see when they get to Villa Park. It's also visible from the Aston Expressway A38(M) when passing over Witton Lane.

The Holte pub at Villa Park

Photos taken by Elliott Brown around the outskirts of Villa Park during January 2010 and September 2012.

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02 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown

Old Yardley Village: a hidden gem not far from Blakesley Hall

It's not just Blakesley Hall that you can visit in Yardley. If you get the 11A or 11C to Stoney Lane, get off the bus, and take the short walk to Old Yardley Village. Here you will find St Edburgha's Church, the Parish Church of Yardley, as well as The Trust School, a timber framed building, with the school dating to medieval times. Various period houses surround the churchyard.

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Old Yardley Village is located in the east of Birmingham. It is to the north east of South Yardley and the Coventry Road. Stechford is to the north beyond the village. The heart of the village is St Edburgha's Church. These photos were taken in the winter of 2009 / 2010, and were taken in January 2010. I have been back to the area since, popping into Old Yardley Park. Just my snowy photos back then were so perfect, didn't feel the need to retake photos of the buildings in other seasons or without the snow.

The first view of St Edburgha's Church is usually from the walk up Church Road. It is a Grade I listed building and is part of the Old Yardley conservation area. One of the oldest churches in Birmingham, it dates back to at least the 13th century. Originally part of the Diocese of Lichfield it was built by Aston Church. It was named after King Alfred's granddaughter Edburgha. The majority of the building was built during the 14th and 15th centuries.

St Edburgha's Church Old Yardley Village

The church was made of sandstone. It has a nave, aisles, transepts and chancel. The pulpit dates to the 17th century. The west window was made by John Hardman and Company in 1892. Various monuments from the 15th to 19th centuries.

St Edburgha's Church Old Yardley Village

The church did look nice surrounded by snow, but it's not like that every winter, depending on if it snows or not. Would say it last got a covering of snow in March 2018 during the Beast from the East. There is a monument to Rev Dr Henry Greswolde from after 1700 in the chancel that is apparently unusual (not seen it myself).

St Edburgha's Church Old Yardley Village

Trees surround the church in the churchyard. The landscaped grounds of the church are grassed, I don't think that there is any graves around the church building. In spring / summer there are flower beds. Is also a selection of benches around to sit down on.

St Edburgha's Church Old Yardley Village

I originally did a post about the old Grammar Schools in Yardley and Kings Norton. Link to that post is here The Old Grammar Schools of Kings Norton and Yardley. But will repost those photos here with more details below.

I will expand the part about the Old Grammar School in Old Yardley here. Seen during the snow of January 2010. There is evidence of their being a school on this site since about 1260. The building probably dates to the 15th century. Originally built as a Guild Hall. The last school master was W Sutherns. The school closed in 1908 and it's now used as parish rooms. It belongs to the Yardley Parish Church.

Old Grammar School Yardley

It is a Grade II* listed building also known as The Trust School. It was formerly listed as The Old Grammar School. It is a timber-framed building with close studding. It has two storeys. Other sections have red bricks and the building has a tiled roof. As well as the Trust School, it also included no's 422 and 424 Church Road in Yardley.

Old Grammar School Yardley

This front view of the former school with a black plaque. You can also call it the Old Trust School now. Old Yardley Park has an entrance to the right of the building. The entrance to the churchyard of St Edburgha's Church is to the left.

Old Grammar School Yardley

The side view of the Trust School / Old Grammar School. Snow was covering the roof at the time. There is at least four chimneys on the roof. This view from the snow covered churchyard of St Edburgha's Church.

Old Grammar School Yardley

Seen from the churchyard of St Edburgha's Church is no's 422 and 424 Church Road. They are part of the same building as The Trust School (The Old Grammar School). No. 422 is on the far right. It's upper floors is timber framed and that was part of the school. The ground floor is painted brick. The rest of the house is to the left and dates to the 19th century, also painted brick.

422 and 424 Church Road, Old Yardley Village

No 424 is to the far left of the building. It has red brick and a tiled roof and dates to the 19th century. Two storeys. It is not as wide as no 422 to the right of it. Both 422 and 424 were the Schoolmasters House of the late 19th century. Yardley's churchyard was cleared of upright gravestones in 1959, only one remains. That of the schoolmaster James Chell in the south-east corner. Both houses are part of the same Grade II* listing as The Trust School.

422 and 424 Church Road, Old Yardley Village

The following information is taken from the Yardley Conservation Society.

First up is 390 Church Road. It was formerly a pub called The Talbot. The building is Grade II listed and dates to the 18th century. Behind the former pub is Old Yardley Park. It has painted brick with a tiled roof. Was probably used as a pub during the 19th century. It is now a private house.Since I took this in January 2010, the house has been repainted white all over. And it appears that the current owners have changed the front door. The Yardley Conservation Society (link above) says that the Trustees of the Charity Estates visited the pub to distribute dole money.

Former Talbot pub Old Yardley Village

The former General Store was at 431 Church Road in Old Yardley Village until sometime during the 1960s. It's now just a private home. A Grade II listed building dating to the 18th century. Pebbledashed with an all tile roof. It is to the left of The Cottagers Institute.

431 Church Road - Old Yardley Village

Next up is a building dated to 1882. The Cottagers Institute is at 433 Church Road. It was set up by Ebenezer Hoskins of The Grange to teach gardening and industrial skills to local people. It was a meeting hall to encourage gardening and industrial work for the villagers. It was previously the site of The Ring of Bells public house. Now I think it is just a private home. When it was available to let back in 2010 it was described as Commercial Premises.

 

The Cottagers Institute - Old Yardley Village

Penny Cottage is at 435 Church Road. Built in 1826 by the Yardley Charity Trust for a local blacksmith, John Leake. It was restored in 1980. It is a Grade II listed building. Red brick with a tiled roof. Two storeys.

Penny Cottage - Old Yardley Village

Houses from 437 to 443 Church Road. These brick built houses were built in 1895 to replace six early 19th century cottages, which themselves had replaced an earlier farmhouse. Construction of them may have begun after 1894. Church Terrace is nearby.

437 - 443 Church Road - Old Yardley Village

A pair of white painted brick houses at 445 and 447 Church Road. Just beyond Church Terrace. They began life in the late 18th century as a malthouse but was converted into cottages by the 1850s. Also Grade II listed buildings. Painted brick with a tiled roof.

445 and 447 Church Road - Old Yardley Village

This barn is to the east of 451 Church Road. A Grade II listed building from the early 19th century. A reminder that this used to be a rural village surrounded by farms. It was the third barn. Red brick with a tiled roof. No 453 Church Road is phyically attached to this barn. The windows are boarded up, so I'm not sure if it's being used in a long time. All these buildings belong to the Old Yardley Village Conservation Area, so they are protected.

Barn east of 451 Church Road - Old Yardley Village

 

Photos taken in January 2010 by Elliott Brown.

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29 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

Acocks Green Village on the Warwick Road, Shirley Road and Westley Road

Another village centre. This time Acocks Green Village. With the junction of the Warwick Road, Shirley Road and Westley Road. On the bus routes 11A and 11C. Also on the 1, 1A, 4 and 4A (the 4 used to be the 37). Acocks Green has a church called St Mary the Virgin. There is also Acocks Green Primary School, Acocks Green Bowl and Acocks Green Library.

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Starting with the Westley Road in Acocks Green. One one side is the Acocks Green Bowl next to the 11C bus stop. Opposite is Acocks Green Primary School (it is also on the Warwick Road).

A look at Acocks Green Bowl on the Westley Road. Now a bowling alley with a laser quest called Quasar Elite. Originally built as a cinema, it opened in 1929 as the Warwick Cinema, also known as the Warwick Super Cinema. It was operated by the Victoria Playhouse Group . The Warwick Cinema was closed in 1962 and it was converted into a 10-pin bowling alley, although the cinema remained and it reopened in 1964 as the Warwick Cinema. The cinema part closed in 1991 and was converted into a laser tag centre.

Acocks Green Bowl

For many years they had Qusar Elite upstairs above the bowling alley, at least until 2017. As of 2018 it is now Laserquest. Laser Game & Escape Rooms. I spotted this while waiting on the 11C bus on the Westley Road (the driver usually has a 5 to 10 minute break here). Laserquest is "ultimtate sci-fi action adventure for all". It is suitable for children or adults of all ages. They have birthday packages. I think in my life I've only tried laserquest once or twice, but it was a very long time ago and I wasn't any good at it (was better at bowling - but I've not been bowling in years either!). In fact I've not bowled at Acocks Green since the late 1990s.

Laserquest Acocks Green Bowl

Acocks Green Primary School seen on the Westley Road in Acocks Green. I think this side was originally the Infants School.

The school was created in 2004 by the merger of Acocks Green Junior School with Acocks Green Infant School. The buildings date back to 1908 by the architect A.B. Rowe. It is locally listed Grade B.  Was opened in 1909 by Worcestershire County Council, transferring to Birmingham City Council in 1911. The school consisted of Boys, Girls and Infants departments, but in 1932 it was reorganised into Senior Mixed and Junior Mixed departments. The Senior Mixed department became a separate school in 1945 and the Junior Mixed department became a primary school at the same time. It currently has approximately 480 pupils.

Acocks Green Primary School

The side of Acocks Green Primary School seen on the Warwick Road in Acocks Green. I believe that this part was probably the Junior School. This view from Dudley Park Road. The no 37 bus route used to be on the Warwick Road before it was renumbered by National Express West Midlands in 2018 to the 4 (the new 4A route also follows the same route apart from starting in Gospel Oak).

Acocks Green Primary School

St Mary the Virgin Acocks Green is the Parish Church of Acocks Green and is on the Warwick Road opposite the primary school. It's been a Grade II listed building since 2009. It's an Anglican parish church designed by J G Bland dating to 1864-1882 in the 13th century style. Later extensions by J A Chatwin date to 1891-4. The church was made from local sandstone apart from red brick walls to the exterior of the transept arches marking the impact of WWII bombing. There is a churchyard around with gravestones and memorials.

St Mary the Virgin Acocks Green

It was originally built as a chapel of ease to St Edburgha's in Yardley, when Acocks Green was part of the same parish as Yardley. A stained glass window by Morris and Co to designs by Burne-Jones was added in 1895, in memory of Reverend Frederick Thomas Swinburn, late Vicar of Acock's Green. This view as you walk close up past the churchyard on the Warwick Road. Quite of a lot of crosses in the churchyard. Also the odd statue above graves as well.

St Mary the Virgin Acocks Green

Acocks Green Library is on the Shirley Road in Acocks Green. Locally listed Grade A, it was built in 1932. Architects Messrs. J.P. Osborne and Sons, builder Mr. J. Emlyn Williams of Aston, masonry work by Wragg Bros of Kings Heath, terrazzo by Lyne and Sons of Birmingham, and hand-made facing bricks by J.W.D. Pratt of Oldbury. Refurbished in 1994-95. On the left is a small war memorial garden (Garden of Remembrance), where each Remembrance Sunday, they hold a wreath laying ceremony at the war memorial. Above the main entrance is Birmingham's coat of arms, also known as Forward.

Acocks Green Library

This Subway is at 1101 Warwick Road in Acocks Green. The building was formerly a Midland Bank. HSBC was probably there until they moved to the other side of the road. HSBC vacated their last Acocks Green premises between 2014 and 2015. A former Woolwich Bank used to be at 1105 Warwick Road (to the left of here). It is has been Exchange 4 Pounds for many years, but the shutter is always down for some reason?

Subway - Warwick Road, Acocks Green

The Inn on the Green is a pub at the corner of Shirley Road and Westley Road in Acocks Green. It is locally listed Grade B. Built in 1930 for Mitchells and Butlers by James and Lister Lea. Art Deco style. On the Shirley Road side is Birmingham Route 44 - The Road Inn. Birmingham's Premier Rock Venue. James and Lister Lea were known for doing Birmingham pubs at the turn of the century (19th to the 20th). The company existed from 1846 to 2001 when they merged with Bruton Knowles.

Inn on the Green - Shirley Road and Westley Road, Acocks Green

Christmas lights seen on Jeffries Hardware on the Shirley Road in Acocks Green. Seen during December 2012. I think they use the same Christmas lights above the store each year. The one in the middle says "Merry Christmas".

Jeffries Hardware - Shirley Road, Acocks Green - Xmas lights

Christmas lights seen down Westley Road towards the village green in Acocks Green Village from the 11C bus stop outside of Acocks Green Bowl. The bus stop for the 11A is on the other side of the road. This view was seen in late November 2015. The Christmas lights here are usually green and yellow.

Westley Road, Acocks Green Christmas lights

This more recent view of Christmas lights in Acocks Green Village was seen on the Warwick Road near Wilko looking towards Burton. This was during early December 2018. To the right of Burton used to be a Woolworths store until they went bust in 2009. The store was empty during 2010, until it was turned into a Furniture & Electrical  charity shop for the British Heart Foundation.

Warwick Road, Acocks Green Christmas lights

Bouncy castles and other stalls on the Warwick Road in Acocks Green, seen during Acocks Green Village Fun Day. It was held on Saturday 12th April 2014, and was held by the Acocks Green Village BID (one of many events they have had in the village). There was an entertainer there that day (a clown), who would blow up balloons and fold them into shapes / objects for families. The Post Office used to be on that side of the Warwick Road (next to Lloyds Bank), until 2014 or 2015. When the later moved into WH Smith Local which opened in 2015 (where Bon Marché used to be until about 2012) on the other side of the road (to the right of Iceland).

Acocks Green Fun Day April 2014

The new Acocks Green Village in Bloom sculpture was unveiled on the village green during 2017. It was unveiled on Thursday 4th May 2017. The designer was Veronica Treadwell. Made by the manufacturer Collins. Installed with the help of Fran Lee and the Bloom volunteers. The design was based on a tree as it was thought that the Acocks Green area has more trees than any other area in Birmingham. It's design is based on the transport links to and from the village. A canal built in the 18th century (what is now the Grand Union Canal). A railway built in the 19th century (later becoming part of the Chiltern Mainline) which was later surrounded by Victorian and Edwardian properties. The sculpture shows a horse-drawn narrowboat and a Great Western Railway locomotive. It is basically a "Welcome to Acocks Green" sign on the island. The shop seen behind was the Card Factory.

Acocks Green Village in Bloom sculpture

During the spring and summer each year, the Acocks Green Village in Bloom team plant colourful flowers on the green. Seen from near the Warwick Road zebra crossing during April 2014. At the time there was also daffodils in bloom. Shops seen behind going up the Shirley Road including Consol Walk-in-Spa, Shaw's Amusements, Kingman House (Cantonese & Chinese takeaway) and Cash Fall Amusements.

Acocks Green Village flowers on the green April 2014

Seen in May 2015 was this wonderful flower display of yellow coloured flowers (I'm not very good on flower names so is easier for me to say what colour they are). This view to the Westley Road / Warwick Road corner. At the time there was also tulips on the village green. There is a Barclays Bank on that corner (to the right of a solicitors office).

Acocks Green Village flowers on the green May 2015

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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29 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

Alfred Bird & Sons: the inventor of eggless custard

You've all seen the Custard Factory building in Digbeth. It was the Devonshire Works and it was here that Alfred Bird the inventor of egg free custard made eggless custard in Birmingham. He invented it in 1837. He soon set up a company Alfred Bird & Sons Ltd which became Bird's Custard. The Bird's had a home in Solihull called Tudor Grange (now near Solihull College).

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Alfred Bird

He was born in Nympsfield, Gloucestershire in 1811 and died in 1878 in Kings Norton, Worcestershire. He was a pupil at King Edward's School, Birmingham. Alfred invented egg-free custard in 1837 at his chemist shop. It wasn't long before he set up his own company Alfred Bird & Sons Ltd to make the custard. The Custard Factory building we know today was actually built in 1902 by his son Sir Alfred Frederick Bird. The original factory (of the 19th century) no longer exists. Custard was made at the Custard Factory until 1963, when production was moved to Banbury.

Devonshire House seen in 2010 near the end of a renovation that turned the building into Zellig. It was built in 1902 and is a Grade II listed building. Red brick and terracotta with some stone dressings. There is an inscription in the middle that says 'Alfred Bird and Sons Limited', 'Devonshire Works', '1837' and '1902'. 1837 was when the first Alfred Bird invented eggless custard and 1902 when his son opened the Devonshire Works. It is on High Street Deritend, with one side down Floodgate Street. Gibb Street runs through the complex, and Heath Mill Lane is nearby.

Devonshire House - Custard Factory

To the top of the middle of the building from High Street Deritend is this sculpted part of the building with ships painted onto it. Sailing ships. At the time a gull was sitting on top!

Devonshire House - Custard Factory

A look down Gibb Street in Digbeth. A Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque for Alfred Bird is on the left. Zellig now occupy the buildings and they have continually been restoring the buildings during the Digbeth 2.0 or "Only in Digbeth" phase. Various different independent shops have occupied the retail units here. As of late 2018, 7 Sins is in the unit on the left. Building on the right used to be a bank. Now it is the Clean Kilo, previously was a hair salon, and before that a music shop. There is also a former library to the rear of the building.

Devonshire House - Custard Factory

There is an open gate on Floodgate Street under the Bordesley Viaduct that leads to the Custard Factory. A footbridge crosses the River Rea where you can see this view of the Custard Factory. There is a lot of graffiti street art around, this changes quite regularly.

Devonshire House - Custard Factory

This post is turning into more about the son of the original Alfred Bird. Also called Alfred Bird. Lets head over to Solihull where Alfred Bird Junior lived. Sir Alfred Frederick Bird was born in 1847 in Birmingham and died in 1922 (he was run over by a car in Piccadilly, London). He was also MP for Wolverhampton West. He was elected in 1910 and held the seat until his death. He took over control of his fathers company in 1878 on the death of the first Alfred Bird. He retired as chairman and managing director of the company in 1905.

There is a big manor house off Blossomfield Road in Solihull near Solihull College. It is Tudor Grange House and is a Grade II* listed building. Alfred Bird bought the property in 1901 and lived there until his death in 1922. His widow lived there until her death in 1943. It was being used as Red Cross auxiliary hospital both during and after the Second World War. Warwickshire County Council bought the house in 1946 and became a school for children with special needs until 1976 when it became part of the then Solihull Technical College (now the Solihull College and University Centre). The house was built in 1887 in the Jacobean style by Thomas Henry Mansell of Birmingham for the industrialist Alfred Lovekin. The Lovekin's lived there until Alfred Lovekin's wife died in 1900, and Alfred Bird bought it in 1901. Solihull College put the building up for sale in 2016, and their are plans to convert it into a care home (to secure it's future).

Tudor Grange House Solihull

There is a gatehouse near the entrance to the Blossomfield Campus of Solihull College & University Centre. I'm not sure how old it is, but it probably dates to the late 19th century. Would assume it was once part of the Tudor Grange estate that the Bird family owned from 1901 to 1946. At the time I went past it, there was Christmas decorations in front, but were hard to see due to the brick wall, trees and the barrier on the road entrance to the college being in the way. It is a short walk from here to the Blossomfield Road entrance to Tudor Grange Park (also once part of the Bird's Tudor Grange estate).

Solihull College Gatehouse

Solihull College had a modern building built between around 2008 and 2009 turning it into a University Centre (apart from this there isn't an actual University in Solihull Borough). The Headquarters of the Solihull Chamber of Commerce is now based at the college. The car park, normally full of cars during term time was empty during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. They had one of the Big Sleuth bears outside of the college during the Summer of 2017. Called The Gas Street Bearsin (based on the Gas Street Basin).

Solihull College & University Centre

A look at Tudor Grange Park in Solihull. It has pedestrian entrances via paths on Blossomfield Road, Homer Road (via a path that goes under the Chiltern Railways mainline) and Monkspath Hall Road. The park was formed after Solihull Council purchased the land from the Bird family in 1946. It was formerly farmland. The lands were formerly part of Garret's Green Farm.  Alfred Lovekin bought the farm and built Tudor Grange Hall in 1886. After his death in 1900, the hall and farmland was sold by auction to Alfred Frederick Bird (the then owner of the Bird's Custard company) in 1901. The park opened to the public in the early 1950s.

Tudor Grange Park, Solihull

The land also included what would later become Tudor Grange School (now Tudor Grange Academy) and Alderbrook School. The Bird family gave the land to Solihull on the condition that a school was established on the site. A look at the centre of Tudor Grange Park. Solihull Council has landscaped it around 2008 with new paths, benches and lampposts. There is also a cycle track.

Tudor Grange Park, Solihull

The lake at Tudor Grange Park. Looking towards Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, which was rebuilt in 2008. The original swimming baths in the park opened in 1965, replacing a lido in Malvern Park. There is also an athletics track, that is fenced off from the park, but is I think part of the leisure centre. You would find various geese and ducks in this pond. A stream called the Alder Brook also flows through the park, and the Chiltern Mainline railway passes the park on the east side. Solihull Station is not that far away, as is Solihull Town Centre.

Tudor Grange Park, Solihull

The grounds of Tudor Grange Hall also contained a number of statues which were sold at auction following the death of Mrs Bird (the late wife of the late Alfred Frederick Bird) in 1944. 'The Horse Tamer Group" which was made in 1874 by Joseph Boehm was bought and donated to Solihull Council by Captain Oliver Bird in 1944. The statue was moved to Malvern Park in 1953 where it still stands and is known as 'The Prancing Horse' and is Grade II listed. This view of the statue in early 2010, when the bronze was looking quite green.

Prancing Horse - Malvern Park, Solihull

In early 2012 metal thieves vandalised the statue and cut off the feet. It was later restored later in 2012, and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has security marked the statue in an effort to protect it from future vandalism. After I read about the 2012 vandalism, I returned to Malvern Park in late 2012 to see the statue fully restored. The bronze was looking more black by then.

Prancing Horse - Malvern Park, Solihull

A winter wonderland scene in Malvern Park during the snow of December 2017. Looked very Christmasy back then. There has been no snow at Christmas 2018, and we haven't had snow since the Beast from the East during March 2018 (which meant we were more likely to have a White Easter than a White Christmas). Mr Horace Brueton had bought the land in 1916 including Malvern Hall. Warwickshire County Council bought Malvern Park from him in 1926, and he gave his remaining land to Solihull in 1944, in the same year that Captain Oliver Bird donated the statue to Solihull.

Prancing Horse - Malvern Park, Solihull

For more on Malvern Hall see my post on the Manor Houses of the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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27 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

The Chamberlain Brothers: Austen and Neville - from Birmingham to Westminster

Joseph Chamberlain had two sons, Austen Chamberlain and Neville Chamberlain. While all three became MP's, Old Joe never became leader of the Conservative Party like his sons did (was also a Liberal originally). Austen was Leader of the Conservative Party from 1921 to 1922. While Neville became Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 (stepping down when WW2 started).

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For my Joseph Chamberlain post, follow this link Joseph Chamberlain: Birmingham's visionary Mayor in the late 19th Century.

Austen Chamberlain

His full name after he was knighted was Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, but he was best known as Austen (probably to distinguish from his more famous father Joseph Chamberlain). Born in 1863 he lived to 1937. His mother was Harriet Kenrick, who died in childbirth. Austen was born at Giles House at 83 Harborne Road in Edgbaston (there is a blue plaque here from the Birmingham Civic Society).

Giles House - Harborne Road, Edgbaston

He stood to become an MP with the Liberal Unionist Party, which later merged with the Conservative Party. He later became Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons from 1921 to 1922. He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1903 to 1905, Secretary of State for India from 1915 to 1917, Leader of the House of Commons from 1921 to 1922, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1924 to 1929 and First Lord of the Admiralty during a period in 1931. Austen was the MP for Birmingham West and he had the seat from 1914 to 1937 (from the death of his father Joseph Chamberlain to his own death). The constituency was created in 1885 and abolished in 1950. He was the only Conservative Party leader of the 20th century to never become Prime Minister, and he never fought an election as leader.

In the Council House in Victoria Square are these marble boards called Freemen of the City of Birmingham. All three members of the Chamberlain family are on it. Joseph Chamberlain was the first in 1888 (having been Mayor of Birmingham and later an MP). Austen Chamberlain was in 1926 and his brother Neville Chamberlain in 1932

Freemen of the City of Birmingham 1888 to 1932

After Joseph Chamberlain died in 1914, Highbury Hall passed to Austen Chamberlain. During the First World War, the hall was described as "dark and gloomy". It was used as a hospital and home for disabled soldiers. Austen handed the hall to trustees in 1919, and it was passed to the Corporation of Birmingham in 1932, when it was used as a home for elderly women. Birmingham City Council restored it in 1984, and in the last few decades, it's been used as a conference venue, and also for functions such as weddings. More recently it's been taken over by the Chamberlain Highbury Trust in 2016. A fundraising campaign was launched in 2018 to help restore the building and parkland.

Highbury Hall

See this post when the last Highbury Hall open day was held during Birmingham Heritage Week in September 2018.

Neville Chamberlain

He was the half brother of Austin Chamberlain, and the son of Joseph Chamberlain and his second wife Florence Kenrick. He was born in 1869 and died in 1940. He went to school at Rugby School and was later a student at Mason College. He got elected to Birmingham City Council in 1911 for the Liberal Unionist Party for the All Saints' Ward which was located in his fathers Parliamentary Constituency of Birmingham West (later held by Austen from 1914 to 1937). Neville became Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1915. He first got elected to Parliament in 1918 for Birmingham Ladywood until 1929. He was later the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston which he held from 1929 until his death in 1940. He served as Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940. Like his brother before him, he never fought an election as leader of the Conservative Party.

Portrait below seen at Highbury Hall of Neville Chamberlain, while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1933. He held that role twice, first time from 1923 to 1924, and the second time from 1931 to 1937.

Neville Chamberlain

Heading back to Birmingham, to Edgbaston High School for Girls near Westbourne Road in Edgbaston. This building dates to 1960 and was by H. W. Hobbiss & Partners. Alterations in 1991 by S. T. Walker & Partners. This is quite close to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and it is near the entrance used by the Magical Lantern Festival. Neville Chamberlain lived near here from 1911 to 1940 when he was in his constituencies. You will find another blue plaque from the Birmingham Civic Society on the building. Am not sure when his former home was demolished, as the school is now on the lands (including the more modern school buildings to the left of here).

Edgbaston High School for Girls - Westbourne Road, Edgbaston

The Birmingham Municipal Bank seen at 301 Broad Street (will now be part of Centenary Square next to the Westside Metro extension). Seen in September 2013 from the Library of Birmingham, several years before Arena Central actually started.  Neville Chamberlain suggested the idea for the bank way back in 1915, originally for savings. This building was built in 1931 / 1932, and Neville Chamberlain while Chancellor of the Exchequer, laid the foundation stone in 1932. It was the Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters and is now a Grade II listed building. It was opened in 1933 by the Prince George. It became a TSB bank in 1976, until it was sold to the council in 2006. The bank later became part of Lloyds TSB, but the building has been closed for many years. It had been occasionally opened for Birmingham Hidden Spaces. The University of Birmingham will be taking it over and it will be fully restored. It will become an arts venue with exhibitions and performances. It is now to the right of 1 Centenary Square (HSBC UK, was 2 Arena Central). The Register Office used to be to the right of it (later House of Sport, now demolished). That will be the 5 Centenary Square site (was 1 Arena Central).

Birmingham Municipal Bank

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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19 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

Moseley Village around St Mary's Row and Alcester Road

A look around Moseley Village. Heading down St Mary's Row on the no 1 bus route. And up / down Alcester Road on the no 50 bus route (the no 35 turns down Salisbury Road). From St Mary's Church to The Fighting Cocks (a pub on the Alcester Road). Here you would find pubs and cafes. There is also a village green and the occasional Farmers Market on the last Saturday of each month.

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For me I can get the no 1, 35 or 50 bus routes to or through Moseley Village. The 1 goes up and down St Mary's Row then down Salisbury Road. The 35 goes from Alcester Road down Salisbury Road. The 50 heads up and down the Alcester Road between Kings Heath and Balsall Heath. One day in the future it will be possible once again to get a train to or from Moseley (the land is next to St Mary's Church between St Mary's Row and Woodbridge Road on the site of the original station). The original station closed in the early years of WW2.

 

In something that doesn't normally happen on the 50, my bus was about to turn down Salisbury Road, while the other 50 (in the photo below) was turning from Salisbury Road onto Alcester Road towards Kings Heath. This was during April 2018 (as Moseley Road in Balsall Heath was closed at the time for a street market).

The row of shops on St Mary's Row is where on the last Saturday of each month is a Farmers Market (they also have stalls on Alcester Road up from Boots). There is a small green with benches a that triangle near the no 1 bus stop.

Alcester Road Moseley bus diversion

Seen just as my bus turned onto Salisbury Road was The Fighting Cocks pub on the corner of Alcester Road (part of it runs onto St Mary's Row). It is on the corner of King Edward Road. Shops running north from William Hill up to the Co-operative Food.

Alcester Road Moseley bus diversion

We start on St Mary's Row. It runs from Wake Green Road down the hill towards Salisbury Road (which itself goes down the hill towards Edgbaston Road in Edgbaston).

The most prominent landmark in Moseley Village is of St Mary's Church, the parish church of Moseley, located on St Mary's Row. Seen here in 2009 from the site of Moseley Station (hopefully the station will be built on the land behind the church in the 2020's). The church is a Grade II listed building and dates to the 15th century. Originally built as a chapel in the parish of Kings Norton. The body of the church was rebuilt in 1780 and altered by Thomas Rickman from 1823 to 1824. J A Chatwin added a north aisle in 1886 and his son P B Chatwin rebuilt the nave and south in 1910. War memorial cross on the left not far from the lychgate.

St Mary's Church - St Mary's Row, Moseley

The shops running down St Mary's Row in Moseley Village during August 2013, while Moseley in Bloom had potted many flowers around the village centre. Priya is an Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine restaurant on this side of the road. Next up is a barber shop called Fino and a newsagent called Village News. Pottery & Pieces was open at the time, but as of late 2018 it is being refitted as something else. A bit further down is a Wetherspoon Freehouse called The Elizabeth of York.

Shops on St Mary's Row, Moseley

Beyond St Mary's Church on this side of St Mary's Row used to be a Barclays Bank and a pub called the Bulls Head. This view was in 2011 when both were still open at the time. The bank eventually closed down at Costa Coffee opened there in 2017. While the Bulls Head is now a Cuban bar called The Cuban Embassy (opened in 2015).

Barclays and Bulls Head - St Mary's Row, Moseley

On the last Saturday of every month there is Farmers Market on St Mary's Row (the strip of road that leaves the main line and heads to Alcester Road). Normally when the road is open to traffic, vehicles can only leave Alcester Road for it and head onto St Mary's Row and not the other way round. If i'm on the no 1 bus on Saturday morning's I occasionally see the market. Seen here next to Sapori di Sole, Italian Food Specialists.

Moseley Farmers Market

Another view from the no 1 bus on St Mary's Row of the Farmers Market. They also have a bunch of stalls on the pavement on Alcester Road heading north from Boots.

Moseley Farmers Market

In July 2017, I saw this green bus on the village green from the no 1 bus on St Mary's Row. Off the Scale. It looks like they were selling clothes on the bus and also outside of it. Was a Leyland Leopard vintage bus. Being that it was summer, there was a nice display of flowers from Moseley in Bloom around the village centre.

Green bus on the village green - St Mary's Row, Moseley

A general look at the village green from the no 1 bus on St Mary's Row in Moseley Village. Various shops on that side of St Mary's Row leading to the Alcester Road. Atlantis Fish Bar is now Flakes Fish & Chips. That changed over in 2014. In the middle is shop called Lewis's. Further to the left near The Fighting Cocks is Zen.

Village Green - St Mary's Row, Moseley

We will next move onto Alcester Road. From St Mary's Row heading north towards Woodbridge Road. Or south towards Kings Heath. Mainly the shops, pubs and café's closest to the centre of the village. This is the A435, the main route up from the Maypole and Kings Heath towards Balsall Heath and Highgate.

We start with The Village at 179 Alcester Road in Moseley Village. A pub and restaurant in a house built in 1896. A red brick building, it's to the right of a Telephone Exchange. Parlour & Dining.

The Village - Alcester Road, Moseley

Next up is Moseley's Post Office building. Part of the building is also used by The Moseley Exchange (a community centre). The building probably dates to the early decades of the 20th century.

Post Office - Alcester Road, Moseley

Seen just before the traffic lights on the no 50 bus is Damascena Coffee House. They recently had a new door installed on the former coach house entrance. There is many café's around Moseley Village up the Alcester Road, mostly independent. Although there is now a Costa Coffee in the former Barclays Bank on St Mary's Row (that I've been to a few times). There is also now a Damascena in Harborne on the High Street and in the City Centre on Temple Row West. This one is at 133 Alcester Road.

Damascena - Alcester Road, Moseley

The most prominent pub landmark in Moseley Village has got to be The Fighting Cocks, on the corner of Alcester Road and King Edward Road, with part of the building going down St Mary's Row. It is a Grade II listed building. Built in 1903 by the architects T W F Newton and Cheatle. Made of ashlar and red brick. It has Arts and Crafts details and looks a bit like a Jacobean building. On the corner is a big compass showing the wind direction and a barometer showing whether it's going to be dry or wet! Is also a clock tower at the top.

The Fighting Cocks - Alcester Road, Moseley

From the no 50 bus on the Alcester Road, looking down St Mary's Row. Was a banner up for the Mostly Jazz Funk Soul Festival during April 2015. This was promoting the event in Moseley Park which took place during July 2015. This part of St Mary's Row is usually where the Farmers Market goes. Festivals and other events in the park usually have entrance on Salisbury Road and Alcester Road (the park is usually private for local residents and only open to the public on open days). The artists entrance I think is on Salisbury Road.

Mostly Jazz Funk Soul Festival

An Irish themed bar on the Alcester Road called O'Neills. Part of a chain that you would find other O'Neills around the West Midlands. This view was in February 2011. They were there until 2014 or 2015 when they were replaced by the One Trick Pony Club. Halfords autocentre used to be to the right until about 2014. At one point it was thought that Boston Tea Party would move into the former garage, but Prezzo did instead in 2016. They lasted there until 2017, and was replaced by Sorrento Lounge in 2018. To the left was Thistle Estates and Consol until 2015. Pizza Express moved in there in 2016.

O'Neills - Alcester Road, Moseley

Further up the Alcester Road is the Prince of Wales pub. It dates to the Victorian era. They are located at 118 Alcester Road. The Moseley Emporium is to the left. Was a derelict building site to the right for many years until Moseley Central was built there from 2017 to 2018.

Prince of Wales - Alcester Road, Moseley

The Moseley Emporium is an antiques shop to the left of the Prince of Wales pub on the Alcester Road in Moseley. They have three floors of antiques and quality reproduction furniture. It looks like they share the building with the Prince of Wales! They are at 116 Alcester Road. There website describes their building as a beautiful Victorian villa.

Moseley Emporium - Alcester Road, Moseley

Photos by Elliott Brown.

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17 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

Sir Josiah Mason: Founder of Mason Science College

Before the University of Birmingham was founded in 1900, there was a college in Chamberlain Square that was founded by Sir Josiah Mason in 1875. It was called Mason Science College. There is a bronze bust in Erdington that was a cast of a now destroyed statue that used to be outside of the college. The college was demolished in 1964 making way for Birmingham Central Library.

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Josiah Mason

Sir Josiah Mason was born in 1795 and died in 1881. He founded the Mason Science College in 1875 which later became part of the University of Birmingham (when it was founded in 1900). He was born in Kidderminster and moved to Birmingham in 1816. In 1824 he set up his own business as a manufacturer of split-rings by machinery, which later made steel pens. His business became a limited liability company in 1874. He set up an orphanage in Erdington around 1860. Mason College opened in 1880.

There used to be a marble statue outside of Mason College on Edmund Street (now part of Chamberlain Square) of Sir Josiah Mason. Made in 1885 Francis John Williamson. The statue was later destroyed, but not before William Bloye made a bronze cast of it in 1951. The bust is usually dressed for special occasions and seasonal holidays.

Below the bust seen in 2014 when the bronze was looking quite green. At the time there was a football scarf on the bust, probably of Manchester City (who won the Premier League in the 2013/14 season). This was seen in May 2014.

Sir Josiah Mason bust in Erdington

Full on front view of the Sir Josiah Mason bronze bust, during May 2014. It is located on a roundabout at the junction of Chester Road and Orphanage Road in Erdington. This view from the crossing in the middle of the Chester Road. The letters on the scarf seem to suggest that it was a Manchester City FC scarf!

Sir Josiah Mason bust in Erdington

This view of the bust towards some houses that have now been demolished and replaced by a care home. The view from the corner of Chester Road and Orphanage Road if you are heading to the Erdington High Street.

Sir Josiah Mason bust in Erdington

It is now December 2018 and I was expecting maybe a Christmas hat on the bust. Seen after the end of the walk up Orphanage Road and at the Chester Road junction. Nothing Christmas related here, just some England flag bunting. Asprey Court Care Home now stands on the site of those houses. Was built between 2016 and 2017.

Sir Josiah Mason bust in Erdington

The colour of the bust has changed in the 4 and a half years since I last saw it. This view from the Chester Road crossing between both sides of the Orphanage Road. Looks like the plinth has been cleaned of some recent graffiti.

Sir Josiah Mason bust in Erdington

Heading around to Chester Road, this side view you can see that they have cleaned the graffiti off the plinth, although it has left a bit of discolouration on it. Have to wonder why the original statue was destroyed, and why make a bust only to put it on a roundabout in Erdington? The only link would have been the orphanage that Josiah Mason had founded.

Sir Josiah Mason bust in Erdington

On what is now Orphanage Road in Erdington used to be Mason's Orphanage. Construction started near Bell Lane (now Orphanage Road) in 1860 and lasted until 1868. It was designed by J.R. Botham. Mason had a previous orphanage on Station Road, Erdington in 1858. Following a decline in the number of residents, the orphanage was demolished in 1964 to make way for a housing estate.

Walking up Orphanage Road I spotted Mason Cottages. They were first built in 1938. I assume they were near to the orphanage. The site is run by the Sir Josiah Mason Trust and it is private grounds, so no access to members of the public who aren't residents here. There are gates that lead to Mason Cottages. You probably need a pass to enter.

Mason Cottages

The sign I spotted on Orphanage Road on the walk up to Chester Road in Erdington. Private Grounds. No unauthorised access.

Mason Cottages

This red post box with the GR moniker is a short distance away from Mason Cottages on Orphanage Road in Erdington. It dates to the period of George V (1910 - 36).

Mason Cottages

We will next move to Chamberlain Square, where Mason College used to be until it was demolished in 1964. Birmingham Central Library was built between 1969 and 1974. It closed in 2013 and was demolished itself in 2016. I think the new building One Chamberlain Square stands on the site of what was Mason College.

Seen in late December 2010 near the start of Congreve Passage was a part of Birmingham Central Library called Art in a Window Gallery. There wasn't much to see in there apart from some plaques about Sir Josiah Mason and Mason College.

Birmingham Central Library - Mason College plaques

The plaques were from the Birmingham Civic Society, and even back in 2010 it seemed like they were in a temporary position, as at the time the new Library of Birmingham was under construction in Centenary Square (it would open in 2013). So these plaques were not in a permenant position. Hopefully Birmingham Civic Society will put these plaques on the side of One Chamberlain Square, so passers by on Centenary Way can see them (if any of them stop to look at them that is!).

Birmingham Central Library - Mason College plaques

Details of the bottom plaque with a picture showing what Mason College used to look like. In the 1960s this type of Victorian architecture had fell out of favour, especially in the years after the Second World War had ended. Although now we quite like this kind of architecture. I wonder if this building and the old Victorian Central Library could have been listed? But they never were as the sight was levelled for the 1970s Central Library. The plaque tells you that even after the founding of the University of Birmingham, the former Mason College building continued to be used until the 1960s as the Faculty of Arts and Law. Would assume that moved to the Edgbaston campus before the demolition.

Birmingham Central Library - Mason College plaques

Until the 1960s, Edmund Street stretched next to Chamberlain Square. After Mason College was knocked down, Birmingham Central Library was built from 1969 to 1974, while the previous Central Library remained alongside it. Once complete and opened, the 2nd Victorian library was itself demolished (and Adrian Boult Hall and the Birmingham Conseravatoire built on it's site, but that's another story). Seen below in 2010, this was the entrance to the library. Paradise Forum was to the left which led to Centenary Square. It was demolished in 2016. You can see Art in a Window Gallery to the far right on the corner with Congreve Passage.

Birmingham Central Library

One Chamberlain Square now stands on the site of what was Mason College from 1875 until it was demolished in 1964. Construction of this building started in 2017 and should be completed in 2019 by BAM. Earlier in 2018 Carillion went bust stalling construction for a few months until BAM took over. Centenary Way now runs alongside the new building all the way from Chamberlain Square to Centenary Square (a pedestrian walkway).

One Chamberlain Square

Photos by Elliott Brown

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15 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

More Harborne Village architecture (Part 2)

Part 2 of my look around the architecture in Harborne. As with part 1 around the High Street and surrounding roads. Mostly built up here from the Victorian period onwards as Harborne became an affluent suburb next to Edgbaston. This time starting with a look at Harborne Library and some alternate views of buildings I posted in part 1 (or later on in the post).

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Follow this link for Harborne Village architecture part 1. Well it seemed like my first post on Harborne was popular so lets continue shall we!

We first start with a pub that has had a few name changes over the years. Looking on Google Maps Street View, this pub was called Varsity from at least 2009 (or before) until 2011. From 2011 to 2015 it was called The Proverbial (seen below in 2014). From 2015 to present it has been a Slug & Lettuce. 186 - 196 High Street, Harborne. At the time of the photo Lloyds Pharmacy was opposite, but that is now Jhoots Pharmacy.

 

The Proverbial - High Street, Harborne

Rumours is a hair salon at the corner of North Road and the High Street in Harborne at 51 High Street. It has a distinctive corner turret.

Rumours - High Street, Harborne

Some views of Harborne Library. The following history was taken from this link Harborne Library history. The building was built as a Masonic Hall in 1879 by the architect A. E. Phipson (who lived in Harborne and designed several buildings around Harborne during the same period). It had originally housed the Harborne Lodge, Tudor 1792 of the Province of Staffordshire. The council as the Corporation of Birmingham bought the building in 1892 and some changes had to be made before it was opened as a Public Library. It also includes part of the next building to the right.

Harborne Library

The close up view of the library. You can see that is still says "Masonic Hall" above the middle first floor windows. The public couldn't browse the shelves for books until 1925. Before that time they had to request books from the counter. There was major alterations to the library during the 1960s. It was during that time when the library expanded into the next building. The last major refurbishment took place from 2005 until 2006.

Harborne Library

This is the better view of The Junction pub (built 1903) at the junction of Vivian Road (near Waitrose) and the Harborne High Street (on the right). There is a pedestrian crossing in the middle with a zebra crossing. 212 High Street. There website describes it as Victorian but with a 1903 date it is from the Edwardian period. It has distinctive red brick terracotta and stone detailing.

The Junction - Vivian Road and High Street, Harborne

This pub is called the Harborne Stores and is a Traditional Free House. 109 High Street. It's now part of the Stonegate Pub Company. Near the corner of Station Road on the High Street in Harborne.

Harborne Stores - High Street, Harborne

Near the end of the High Street is no's 20 to 26 High Street in Harborne. No's 20, 22 and 24 used to be for many years Fishers Surveyors and Property Managers (established in 1913), but it looks like they have moved out. Cafe Boutique & Cake Shop is at no 26. Looks very much like a Victorian set of terraced houses.

20 - 26 High Street, Harborne

Harborne Market used to be in this building betwen the High Street and Vivian Road. It was open until around 2011, and was closed / derelict from 2012 until 2015 when Paradice Gelateria opened. Webster & Co Solicitors used to be on the floors above, but seems like it hasn't been there for years, I'm not sure if they were open in the later years of the market being open on the ground floor.

Paradice Gelateria - High Street, Harborne

This view of Paradice Gelateria from Vivian Road in Harborne, was the rear side of the now former Harborne Market. The Harborne Market Cafe used to occupy the units on the left. From Google Maps Street View, the exterior of the cafe wasn't much to look at. Temporary wooden doors that looked like hoardings. But they had signs outside until 2011 saying that they were open. By 2012 it looks like they had closed down.

Paradice Gelateria  - Vivian Road, Harborne

If you get off the 11C on Harborne Park Road you might see the modern spire of this church on Vivian Road. It's St Mary's Church, Harborne and was built between 1875 and 1877 (the Victorian church building not including the later 20th century buildings).  It was founded by the Passionists in 1875 and is currently served by the Augustinians.

St Mary's RC Church - Vivian Road, Harborne

Another look at The New Inn. In part 1 I posted a view of it from Greenfield Road, so I popped back to Harborne and took this new photo of the view of it on Vivian Road. A pub has been on this site since at least 1845 (or earlier). The pub has been refurbished in recent years and has had new pub signs installed.

The New Inn - Vivian Road, Harborne

The next pub is The White Horse on York Street in Harborne. Seen below in 2015. Ansells ran the pub back in the 1960s. By 2015 it was a Festival Ale House.

The White Horse - York Street, Harborne

The second photo of The White Horse shows it during November 2018. By then it was under new ownership. Ostler's took over in 2017.

The White Horse - York Street, Harborne

There is many ghost signs around Birmingham, and Harborne is no exception. This one can be found on War Lane for A.W. Reynolds & Son who did Building Repairs. They were based 262 High Street (assume on the Harborne High Street). It was on the side of a house. It's possible that they were based there at War Lane and at High Street as well.

Reynolds ghost sign - War Lane, Harborne

Seen on Park Hill Road in Harborne is Elizabeth Bretherton. In a building on the corner called Acorn House. I'm not sure if it is an office or an art gallery, but is part of a set of terraced houses. One of which in the middle says Kingscote Place 1883. Close to Nursery Road.

Elizabeth Bretherton - Park Hill Road, Harborne

Over on the corner of North Road and Park Hill Road used to be Sue Howells Art. This view was in 2016, but after being there for at least a decade or more (Google Maps Street View only goes to 2008), it was replaced in 2017 by Barberology. I saw this shop in March 2016 and by September 2016 it looks like Barberology were being fitted out in this shop.
Next door to Sue Howells on Park Hill Road was ToTo Hair until 2012. Comida took over in 2015 until 2017. Caffiened took over in 2018.

Sue Howells Art - North Road, Harborne

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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13 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

Tour of the Harborne Village architecture

A look around the architecture in Harborne Village mostly from the Victorian, Edwardian and inter war eras. There are many red brick examples, schools and former and current schools. Some that used to be banks. Mostly the Harborne High Street and some of the surrounding roads.

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Harborne is the next suburb along close to Edgbaston and Selly Oak. You can get the no 11A, 11C or 23 or 24 NXWM buses here. The High Street in Harborne Village is a bit like Birmingham's version of London's Shoreditch. This is the modern Harborne Village which is around the High Street area now, while the original village was around St Peter's Church Harborne.

First up a look at this former Victorian bank building on the corner of the High Street in Harborne with Albany Road. For many years it has been a Zizzi Italian restaurant. May have once been a Lloyds Bank here. Not listed. A red brick building that slightly looks like it's in the Georgian style.

Zizzi on the Harborne High Street

Former primary school on the High Street, now The School Yard. With Boston Tea Party on the left and Prezzo to the right. It is on the corner with York Street.  A Grade II listed building as The Clock Tower Community Education Centre, it dates to around 1885 by the architects Martin and Chamberlain. Red brick and terracotta with minimum stone dressings; tile roof with decorative ridge tiles. It was the Harborne High Street Junior School from the 1880s until 1960. See this Birmingham Post article from 2014. Before it was converted in 2014 it was an adult education centre known as The Clock Tower.

Former Girls School - High Street, Harborne

The Junction is a red brick and terracotta pub with stone details dating to 1903. On the corner of the High Street and Vivian Road. This view was from the High Street. The best view is probably from the juncton of Vivian Road and the High Street at the pelican crossing, than the view I got below in 2014. There is a set of Victorian urinals (no longer in use) to the right of here (not far from the no 23 and 24 bus stops).

The Junction - High Street, Harborne

The Vine is one of the pubs on the Harborne High Street. It's to the right of the Royalty. They are at 310 High Street and is part of the Sizzling Pubs chain.

The Vine - High Street, Harborne

The Royalty was a cinema built in 1930 by the architect Horace G. Bradley. It is a Grade II listed building, listed as the The Royalty (Gala Bingo).  A red brick structure. It became a bingo hall from 1930 and was still being used for bingo by the time it was listed in 2011. But by 2014 it had closed down and is now quite derelict. A recent fire didn't help, nor the threat of demolition (only 7 years after it was listed). Gala Bingo must have closed down before 2012, as the rear of the site was being used for a Hand Car Wash. The fire was in September 2018 and demolition started October 2018.

Royalty  - High Street, Harborne

The Green Man is a pub near the end of the Harborne High Street, close to the Edgbaston border. The building was probably built in the 1930s. There is a pub sign with a man and his dog on the left hand side of the building.

Green Man - High Street, Harborne

Leaving the High Street behind and a look at buildings on other nearby roads.

Bell Tower seen on War Lane in Harborne. A red brick building, possibly from the Victorian era. I've not been able to find out any information on the building but think it is now used as residential flats.

Bell Tower - War Lane, Harborne

These shops seen on the corner of Greenfield Road and Vivian Road in Harborne. R. O. Price, F.G.I and Provisions and Prelude Hair. A stone on the corner on the first floor names it Harborne Quadrant with the date of 1861. For me, this is on the walk from the High Street towards Harborne Park Road to catch the 11A (or after getting off the 11C and walking towards the High Street).

Greenfield Road and Vivian Road, Harborne

The New Inn is on the corner of Vivian Road and Greenfield Road in Harborne. This is the side on Greenfield Road. The pub may have been on this site as early as 1845. A traditional pub, they have had a recent refurbishment.

The New Inn Harborne

Seen on Serpentine Road in Harborne (not far from the High Street) is The Harborne Village Social Club and Institute. Mostly just known as The Harborne Village Social Club.

The Harborne Village Social Club and Institute - Serpentine Road, Harborne

On Station Road is Harborne Primary School. Originally opened in 1902 as an Infant School during the Edwardian era. The Junior School followed in 1912. The two schools merged in September 2000 forming the Harborne Primary School it is today. A red brick building, it is on the corner of Emerson Road and Station Road.

Harborne Primary School

Still on Station Road, we get to a building / house called The Library at no 71. I'm not sure if it ever was a library, but the current Harborne Library is on the High Street.

The Library - Station Road, Harborne

Next up the former Harborne Fire Station. At the junction of Gordon Road and Rose Road in Harborne. A Grade II listed building built in 1907. Now used as flats / apartments. Red brick with stone ashlar dressing; gabled and hipped plain tile roofs. There is a sculpture of a fireman on the right hand side of the building, where the former doors for the fire engines used to be.

Harborne Fire Station

On Gordon Road in Harborne is a new cafe called Caffiened, it opened in November 2017. They seem to have added a modern wooden look at the bottom complimenting the original red brick look on the upper floors.

Caffiened - Gordon Road, Harborne

I'd add Harborne Library, but the only view I've got of it is from the side / close up. So if I return to Harborne, I'll take a new view of it. So expect to see that in a Part 2.

Photos by Elliott Brown.

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Architecture
11 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston white Regency / Victorian villas / town houses Part 2

A second selection of the white Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town house in Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston. Mostly the posh looking area between the Hagley Road and Calthorpe Road. There is so many fine examples now. Mostly they are now offices. There are also examples on St James Road and George Road, which are towards the Islington Row Middleway and Wheeleys Road.

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For my first post follow this link Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston Part 1.

Hagley Road

The Calthorpe Estates offices is located at 76 Hagley Road. On the corner with Highfield Road. The building dates to the early 19th century and is a Grade II listed building. White stucco with a slate roof. The Calthorpe Estates manages over 1600 acres of land across Edgbaston in Birmingham. Seen around November 2015 when they had Christmas reindeer on the Highfield Road side. You would normally find them around Edgbaston during the Christmas season each year.

Calthorpe Estates - 76 Hagley Road, Edgbaston

One of the earliest buildings of the Calthorpe Estates. Regency House was built from 1819 until 1820 and was designed by Thomas and Joseph Bateman for John Harris. Only the regency façade is Grade II listed, as the building behind was demolished and rebuilt in 1971 by John Madin Design Group (JMDG) for Rentcroft Investments (and that is of no special historic interest). A terrace of six former houses, now offices. No 97 to 107 Hagley Road. It is built of brick covered in whitewashed stuco with a slate roof.

Regency House - Hagley Road

Praza an Indian Restaurant with Cocktail Bar & Dining at 94 and 96 Hagley Road. Grade II listed building. The building dates to the early 19th century and was built as a pair of semi detached houses. Stucco with a slate roof.

Praza - 94 and 96 Hagley Road, Edgbaston

Cadbury Brothers

For my post on the Cadbury Brothers follow this link Cadbury Brothers: George and Richard Cadbury.

17 Wheeleys Road was the former home of Richard Cadbury who lived here from 1861 until 1871. Blue plaque from English Heritage. The houses at 17 and 18 Wheeleys Road were built in 1829 and have first floor Ionic pilasters.

17 Wheeleys Road former home of Richard Cadbury

At 32 George Road near the corner of St James Road was the former home of George Cadbury. Who lived here from 1872 until 1881 according to the blue plaque from English Heritage. The house is a Grade II listed building and was built in 1820 as a detached 2 storey stucco villa. The house has fluted Tuscan columns to the doorcases.

32 George Road Edgbaston former home of George Cadbury

St James Road and George Road

The Roundhouse at 16 and 17 St James Road. A Grade II listed building. It's a good example of a stucco cottage combining picturesque Italian rustic manner with gothic-Tudor details. Was originally built as a freestanding folly in 1810 in the grounds of 29 George Road. Wings added to garden front and wings to roadside added in 1830. Further additions of a service wing around 1860-70.

The Roundhouse - 16 and 17 St James Road

Over on George Road is St James Place. It's a Grade II listed building, now offices. Originally built as the Original House and Service Coach House Wings at the Skin Hospital. Was built between 1830 and 1840 as a substantial Grecian villa of 2 storeys with 5 bays and is stucco faced.

St James Place - George Road

Back to St James Road with what is now Busy Bees Nursery. The building isn't listed but looks of the 19th century period of the other Calthorpe Estates buildings in the area. Is close to Calthorpe Road and the HSBC building is behind it.

Busy Bee Day Nursery - St James Road

Hallfield School

This is Hallfield School and it has a couple of white stucco buildings that you might see on the no 1 bus route. The school was founded in 1879, and they will be 140 years old in 2019! The white stucco school buildings are located near Church Road.

First up, this building used as a Day Nursery. Grade II listed building dating to about 1850. Listed as the Main Block to Hallfield School. It has a rusticated porch with round-arched entrance framed by coupled pilasters.

Hallfield School - Church Road, Edgbaston

This is the main building of Hallfield School, if you are on a train on the Cross City line, or heading up or down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, you might be able to see the back of the school buildings from the playing field. While these buildings are not listed, it dates to about 1860 and was originally a large villa called Beech Lawn.

Hallfield School - Church Road, Edgbaston

The view of Beech Lawn, now the main building of Hallfield School from the towpath of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Next to the canal is what is now known as the Cross City line. The Edgbaston Tunnel is a short distance away and it goes under Church Road. Normally from the train, you can normally just see the playing fields, as these Victorian brick railways walls get in the way of the view! You can't tell from here that the building is now part of a school!

Hallfield School from the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

Calthorpe Road

This is 20 Calthorpe Road, close to St James Road. Currently it is To Let but formerly it was occupied by DG Mutual. A Grade II listed building. It is an early Calthorpe Estates villa dating to about 1820 to 1830. Grecian stucco symmetrical 3 bay elevation on 2 storeys. There is a former coach house on the left.

20 Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston

Next up is Al Rayan Bank at 24 to 25 Calthorpe Road. A Grade II listed building. Built as a pair of semi-detached Calthorpe Estate stucco villas in the year 1840. There is a Roman Doric doorway at no 25.

Al Rayan Bank - 24 - 25 Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston

The next building down is a Grade II listed building at 26 Calthorpe Road. Rubric Lois King Solicitors. A stucco villa built in 1840. A detached version of the villas at Nos 24 and 25. Doric column porch.

Rubric Lois King Solicitors - 26 Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston

The RoSPA are at 27 and 28 Calthorpe Road, also a Grade II listed building.  These buildings date to about 1830 and is a pair of 3-storey semi-detached stucco Calthorpe Estate villas. No 27 was altered in 1850, but also has a former coach house absorbed into a modern wing. No 28 was unaltered with an original entrance porch of unfluted Tuscan columns.

RoSPA - 27 and 28 Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston

Photos by Elliott Brown

 

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History & heritage
08 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

Victorian and Edwardian shopping Arcades still in Birmingham City Centre

While Great Western Arcade is the most well known Victorian shopping Arcade in Birmingham City Centre, others do survive, although not as well known. The Burlington Arcade and Piccadilly Arcade both go from Stephenson Street to New Street. The City Arcade goes from Union Street towards Union Passage. Great Western Arcade goes from Temple Row to Colmore Row.

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Piccadilly Arcade

Built as a cinema in 1910, it was called the Picture House and showed silent films. The architects was Nichol & Nichol of Birmingham. The cinema closed in 1926 and was converted into an arcade of shops. It's original name was the West End Arcade due to it's links to the West End Cinema.

The bronze fascia and shop fronts dates to 1926 and was by J R Shaw. A previous refurbishment in 1989 was done by Douglas Hickman of the John Madin Design Group with trompe l'ceil ceiling paintings by Paul Maxfield.

The entrance to the Piccadilly Arcade on Stephenson Street seen in February 2010. Even from this view you can tell that it looked like a cinema. That year, it had been 100 years since the building had first been built!

Piccadilly Arcade on Stephenson Street

The most recent refurbishment of the Piccadilly Arcade was completed during November 2018. They had repainted the lower half of the building in a black paint. Perhaps to make it look a bit more traditional. The overhead wires are from the West Midlands Metro line, which at present doesn't go beyond Grand Central Tram Stop, as they are building the next extension to Centenary Square. And they closed off this end of Stephenson Street to add the new tracks to the existing tracks.

Piccadilly Arcade on Stephenson Street

The interior of the Piccadilly Arcade during October 2010. It slants up from the Stephenson Street entrance towards New Street. When you walk up the arcade, you can't help but look up at the amazing artwork on the ceiling. As of 2018 it is 29 years old (1989). The BT phone box with the old style BT logo dates it to the late 1980s.

Piccadilly Arcade

This view from December 2018 with Christmas decorations after the most recent refurbishment. Previously the shop fronts had been painted white, now they are painted black. Although the ceiling around the paintings is still painted white.

Piccadilly Arcade

This interior view of the Piccadilly Arcade was taken in October 2010. Heading down from New Street towards Stephenson Street. You can head this way down to Birmingham New Street Station. At the time it was around then when the redevelopment of the station had begun, and would take 5 long years to complete!

Piccadilly Arcade

Summer 2017 in the Piccadilly Arcade, and they had one of the Big Sleugh bears inside, this one was called Wild City by the artist Kathleen Smith. I think it was half way near the top close to New Street.

Piccadilly Arcade Big Sleuth Wild City

View of the Piccadilly Arcade from New Street. This view was taken in August 2010. From here you can see Wren style turrets on the top of the building. Details you wouldn't notice if you walk past.

Piccadilly Arcade from New Street

If you get a window seat at Pret a Manger on New Street, like I did in January 2018, you get this view of the Piccadilly Arcade. From there I noticed details when zooming in from my camera. There is a shield on top. Just above the Piccadilly sign is what looks like a pair of babies sitting on a duck! Most people would just walk past and not even look up at the details of any of the buildings on New Street.

Piccadilly Arcade from New Street

 

Burlington Arcade

Originally built as the Midland Hotel between 1867 and 1875 for Isaac Horton and designed by Thomson Plevins. Later became the Burlington Hotel from the then owners Macdonalds Hotels & Resorts. The hotel entrance turned into Burlington Passage (or the Burlington Arcade) around 1994.

Starting from Stephenson Street. This view was from January 2011 before the road was dug up to lay the Midland Metro extension tracks. May have also been when traffic stopped going on Stephenson Street. Although I seem to recall that buses last used the road in 2012 (when routes were changed when the bus interchanges were built).

Burlington Arcade entrance on Stephenson Street

I have cropped this photo of a Midland Metro Urbos 3 tram at Grand Central Tram Stop to show the Burlington Hotel. This was in May 2016 when tram drivers were training and doing tests on the 1st extension before the line opened to the public. The new Birmingham New Street Station fully opened in 2015, although the Stephenson Street section was completed in time for Half Time Switch Over during 2013 (when half of the new station opened and the other half closed to create the new concourse). Entrance to the Burlington Arcade is on the left, slightly after the tram stop.

Burlington Hotel and Grand Central Tram Stop

I don't often take photos when I pass through the Burlington Arcade, but this caught my eye on the left (as I walked from the Stephenson Street entrance towards New Street). Steps down to an underground bar called the Bacchus Bar. The wall paintings and columns reminds me of either Ancient Greek art or Ancient Roman art. Maybe even like something you would find at the ruins of Pompeii!

Burlington Arcade Bacchus Bar

The only photos of the interior of this arcade I have were with Christmas lights during late December 2009, looking up towards the ceiling. You can see all the red brick work from Victorian times. Plus a modern glass ceiling from the mid 1990s. This was coming from the New Street entrance heading down towards Stephenson Street.

Burlington Arcade Christmas lights

Christmas lights on this side looking down towards the Stephenson Street entrance (also December 2009).

Burlington Arcade Christmas lights

As far as I recall, I haven't taken a full on shot of the Burlington Hotel from New Street, mostly indirect shots like this one. Christmas lights seen at night on New Street during November 2010. The entrance to the Burlington Arcade from New Street is to the right between the shops. On the New Street side it is two blocks either side of the entrance to the Burlington Arcade. Italianate in white brick, now painted.

Burlington Hotel on New Street with Christmas lights

A new view of the Burlington Arcade entrance on New Street, as seen from Cannon Street during December 2018, while the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market was on.

Burlington Arcade on New Street

The modern entrance canopy between the two blocks. Also the entrance to the Burlington Hotel.

Burlington Arcade on New Street

Great Western Arcade

The Great Western Arcade was originally built around 1876 to 1877 by the Great Western Company above the Snow Hill railway tunnel between Moor Street and Snow Hill stations. The architect was W H Ward, who was influenced by Joseph Paxton's Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851. The arcade is a Grade II listed building.

The arcade suffered heavy bomb damage during World War 2 and the Colmore Row entrance had to be rebuilt. The arcade was restored in 1984.

The Temple Row entrance retains it's historic Victorian facade, and looks amazing after it was restored. If you headed up the North Western Arcade from Corporation Street, you might enter the Great Western Arcade if you are walking towards Birmingham Snow Hill Station.

Great Western Arcade Temple Row entrance

Stop for a minute on Temple Row and look up above the entrance. There is a sculpture called Allegories of Science and Art, also by the architect W H Ward, who made it in 1875. The male figure on the left represents science, holds attributes including dividers and compasses. The female figure on the right represents the arts, holds an painter's palette and has an easel by her side. It used to be visible from the first floor of Coffee Republic opposite, although they closed down early in 2017. The arcade is in the Italian-French Renaissance architecture style.

Great Western Arcade Temple Row entrance - Allegories of Science and Art

One of my first views of the interior of the Great Western Arcade seen during September 2009, this view from Temple Row towards Colmore Row, looking up at the ceiling. Probably a replacement, as the original was bombed out during WW2. Many shops lines both sides of the arcade.

Great Western Arcade interior

It was June 2012, and Union Jack bunting lined the Great Western Arcade. This direction from the Colmore Row entrance towards Temple Row. Again looking up at the ceiling. This was during the Queens's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Great Western Arcade interior

Christmas decorations in the Great Western Arcade. These went up during November 2018. Again Colmore Row towards Temple Row.

Great Western Arcade interior

During February 2013, the Big Egg Hunt was on in Birmingham City Centre. Was many easter eggs up and down the Great Western Arcade. Close to the Temple Row exit was this easter egg with a bunny rabbit on it!

Great Western Arcade Big Egg Hunt

The Big Hoot 2015 was a trail of owls around Birmingham during the summer of 2015. Long after the trail ended, they made one more owl for Christmas 2015. Seen during December 2015 was Christmas Owl designed by Jane Anderson. These owls were nice to see around Birmingham.

Great Western Arcade The Big Hoot

The Colmore Row entrance of the Great Western Arcade. It matches the design of the office block on the left called Colmore Gate which was built between 1990 and 1992 by the Seymour Harris Partnership. Built in the style of Cass-Gilbert-period New York. Offices above the arcade, shops below. You would see this entrance if you are leaving Birmingham Snow Hill Station the Colmore Row entrance. The last major refurbishment to the arcade was in 2009.

Great Western Arcade Colmore Row entrance

City Arcade

This arcade was built from 1898 until 1901, by T.W.F Newton and Cheattle, the decorative terracotta and green faience by Doulton and Co and other detailing by W J Neatby. The arcade is a Grade II* listed building.

We start off looking at the entrance from Union Passage, you might come up here from New Street (past the Britannia Hotel). Or from up Warwick Passage that leads from Corporation Street. Most of these photos were taken during November 2009.

City Arcade - Union Passage

Another view of the Union Passage entrance looking at the upper floors. Most of the time this arcade isn't too busy, and it is usually just a shortcut from Union Street to Union Passage. Since the former Big Top centre closed for refurbishment (near where WH Smith used to be) this area has gotten even quieter. The listing for this building describes the Union Passage side as "ulilitarian".

City Arcade - Union Passage

Don't often take new photos of City Arcade these days when I pass through or around here. This was November 2015 shortly after a cafe called Tilt opened. You can see Corporation Street over to the left down Warwick Passage.

City Arcade - Union Passage - Tilt

A look up at the ceiling in City Arcade. You would only be in here for a short period as this arcade isn't that long. It is a coffered ceiling. You would notice the green and red details in the ceiling as well as the intermittent cupolas. There is red window frames at both ends.

City Arcade interior

There is nothing much else to say about the interior ceiling of City Arcade, although there used to be a net below the ceiling. But it looks like that was removed sometime between 2016 and 2017. The light fittings inside are certainly unique, a bit like chandeliers!

City Arcade interior

The Union Street side of City Arcade. There is three storeys on this side of the building. At the top is polygonal turrets with little cupolas. Santander is in the City Arcade units on the left on the corner with Union Passage. Back in 2009 it was still Abbey. Christmas lights seen on Union Street during November 2009.

WH Smith was in the building next door, although they moved out of those units earlier in 2018, to some of the former BHS units on Union Street a bit further down. City Centre House is an office block to the left. This road is between High Street (to the left) and Corporation Street (over to the right). Martineau Place is opposite of City Arcade on Union Street.

City Arcade - Union Street

Looking up to the turrets and domes on the Union Street façade of City Arcade. Most people just pass by without noticing the details. Such as the portrait faces, can you see them?

City Arcade on Union Street

You can tell the difference between a building from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, to the building next to it built a century later. Doesn't have as much details, although they did try there best! Superdrug occupies the ground floor of the building at the corner of Union Street and Corporation Street. It is called Victoria House. It does have some domes at the top of it's own corner turrets.

City Arcade on Union Street

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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06 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

Sir Barry Jackson founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Sir Barry Jackson

He was born in 1879 in Kings Norton, living until 1961. He founded the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1913. Before founding the REP, he formed a company with his friends called The Pilgrim Players in 1907. This was the foundation of the future Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company. In the early years of the 20th century, they performed plays to family and friends. By 1912, Barry Jackson began to develop plans to build a permanent theatre building on Station Street. Barry was knighted in 1925.

Below is a bronze bust of Sir Barry Jackson seen at the REP in Centenary Square during September 2013 (after the new Library of Birmingham had opened). At the time, the REP was celebrating their 100th anniversary.

Sir Barry Jackson

Also seen in the modern REP building in 2013 was this portrait of Sir Barry Jackson made up of many other smaller photos. A bit like a mosaic.

Sir Barry Jackson

Seen in the Shakesepare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham was this Gavel. It was presented to Sir Barry Jackson in 1936. As a pioneer of modern Shakespeare at The REP during the 1920s. By the 1940s he later became Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 next door the the new REP which originally opened in 1971 (10 years after Sir Barry Jackson passed away).

Gavel for Sir Barry Jackson

Before we get onto the old and new REP's in Birmingham, first a look at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The building opened in 1932, on the site adjacent to the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (opened in 1879), which had been destroyed by a fire in 1926. It took the name of Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961, following the founding of the Royal Shakespeare Company the year before (1960).

Sir Barry Jackson was Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre from 1945 until 1948 (when he retired).

This view below was from 2009 during the redevelopment of the theatre.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

This view from 2013 after the redevelopment had finished. The theatre reopened in 2010, and was officially opened by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 2011. Seen here with the River Avon.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

This River Avon view of the RST was from 2014.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Back to Birmingham and first we go to Station Street with what is now known as The Old REP.

It was the first ever purpose built repertory theatre in the UK, it opened in February 1913. The main entrance is on Station Street, opposite Birmingham New Street Station. There is a blue plaque here for Sir Barry Jackson. The architect was S. N. Cooke.

In this view with the hotel Comfort Inn and The Electric Cinema. There is various Chinese restaurants down there on Station Street as well. The view is from was what used to be Queen's Drive at New Street Station. Station Bar also known as Platform 13 is to the left (I think the bar is getting a refit when I last walked past it).

The Old REP

The front view of The Old Rep Theatre on Station Street. When The REP moved to a new building in 1971 near Broad Street (now in Centenary Square), Birmingham City Council took over the building. During renovations of their Centenary Square building, The New REP temporarily moved back into the Old REP from 2011 until 2013. From 2014, Birmingham Ormiston Academy, (also known as BOA), too over the use of the old theatre building.

The Old REP

The view round the back of The Old REP on Hinckley Street. This is the Stage Door entrance. There is a taxi rank on this side.

The Old REP

A close up look at the rear entrances of the Old REP on Hinckley Street.

The Old REP

Now a look at The New REP first built in 1971. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company moved to the site near Broad Street in a building by Graham Winteringham and Keith Williams Architects. This was around 10 years after Sir Barry Jackson had died. The area would not become Centenary Square for another 20 years (1991). This view from 2010, before the Library of Birmingham has been built and before the theatre renovations had started. Sir Barry Jackson had supported the building of a modern theatre but he died before it became a reality.

The New REP

This view from 2009. There used to be steps outside, but that was removed during the 2011 to 2013 renovation works of the theatre. There is another Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque on this building to Sir Barry Jackson. For some years it was missing but it was returned here in 2013 when the theatre renovations were complete. The other blue plaque is for J. Sampson Gamgee, surgeon and founder of the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund, who lived in a house on this site. J. R. R. Tolkien later used his name for the character of Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

The New REP

Nightshot view from 2017. By then the theatre had been open again from 2013 after the new Library of Birmingham had opened. Marmalade Bistro had opened by then. This was slightly before the square had been hoarded off for the redevelopment of Centenary Square (there is still hoardings in front of the theatre).

The New REP

Close up view in late 2017. Due to the renovations works of the square, this is currently the pedestrian walking route past the theatre, so the bar can't have it's tables and chairs outside at the moment.

The New REP

Rear views of The REP on Cambridge Street near the roundabout close to City Centre Gardens. This view from 2010 from before the theatre was closed for a few years during the renovations while the Library of Birmingham was also being built next door.

The New REP

The rear of the theatre seen in 2013. The Library of Birmingham is now complete and would open in September 2013. A complete different look to it's brutal predessor of 1971 to about 2011. There is regularly flower displays on that island on Cambridge Street.

The New REP

 

Photos by Elliott Brown

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05 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

John Baskerville: creator of his own typeface

Baskerville House is in Centenary Square on the site of the former home of John Baskerville. He lived and worked here between 1748 and 1775. There used to be an artwork made in 1990 called Industry and Genius (that has now gone into storage due to the Centenary Square redevelopment). It spelt out Virgil (but the characters in reverse).

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John Baskerville

Born in 1706 or 1707, he lived until 1775. Baskerville was best known for being a printer and type designer. He was born in the village of Wolverley, near Kidderminster in Worcestershire. He lived in a house on Easy Row, which is now where Baskerville House is in Centenary Square. His home was also known as Easy Hill.

Below is an exhibit seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The top item shows a plaque that reads:

"Grave stones.
Cut in any of the hands.

John Baskerville"

At the bottom is what looks like a snuff box with a portrait of John Baskerville.

John Baskerville exhibit at the Birmingham History Galleries

A map of the location of John Baskerville's home at Easy Row. He was buried he vertically, but his body later had to be moved to Christ Church in 1821, as a canal basin was built on the land. Christ Church was demolished in 1897 and his remains was moved again to a crypt at the Catacombs Warstone Lane Cemetery.

Baskerville's Easy Row home

I would assume that somewhere around here at Warstone Lane Cemetery, at the catacombs lies the remains of John Baskerville. He only wanted to be buried on his own land, but the constant redevelopment of Birmingham in the 19th century resulted in him being moved twice! John Baskerville was not a fan of consecrated grounds!

Catacombs at Warstone Lane Cemetery

The model of the Proposed Civic Centre was seen at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2015. It is normally to be found at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre, so if you go to BM & AG today, you wont see it there now.

Below are the details about the model.

William Haywood, Baker Studios, Erdington (made by)
Model of Proposed Civic Centre (Scale 1" to 12ft),
1941

This model was designed by William Haywood, a special lecturer in town planning at Birmingham University. He supervised its construction by Baker Studios in Erdington over a 12 month period completed in 1941.
The model represents a variety of public buildings including a Planetarium, Natural History Museum, and City Hall, as well as extensive gardens and car parks.

The Hall of Memory and Baskerville House can be seen at the front and middle of the model.

Proposed Civic Centre model at BMAG

In August 2009 opposite Baskerville House, archaeologists were digging up the car park where from 2013 onwards would stand the Library of Birmingham. It was the remains of the Baskerville Basin. Gibson's Arm was a private canal that was built during the 1810s. John Baskerville's house was burnt down during the Priestley Riots of 1791. Baskerville Basin was filled in during 1938 to make way for the Civic Centre. Thomas Gibson was the one who acquired the land and property in 1812.

Baskerville Basin

Baskerville House seen during April 2009.

It was originally completed in 1938. Before WW2 started, there was plans for the area that is now Centenary Square, for a Civic Centre. But Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were the only buildings to be completed as part of that scheme. It is built on the site of John Baskerville's home of Easy Hill. Which itself was replaced by a canal basin, known as Baskerville Basin. Was also another basin there called Gibson's Basin. They would have both existed there from the 1820s until about 1919 (or later as the Birmingham City Council had purchased the land for their Civic Centre scheme). T. Cecil Howitt of Nottingham was asked to design Baskerville House in 1936.

Virgil typeface of Baskerville. Industry and Genius 1990 was a public artwork in Centenary Square. Now in storage.

The war halted construction of Baskerville House, and after WW2 ended, Roman Imperial imagery on public buildings went out of fashion. The building is now Grade II listed, and was renovated from 2003 until 2007. Used to be offices for the City Council, until they moved out in 1998.

Baskerville House

In 2010, the statue of King Edward VII was restored after spending many years in Highgate Park. You can see it to the right of Baskerville House (it is currently behind the hoardings of the Centenary Square renovation works). This view from November 2010 shortly after the statue was installed at this spot. In fact it is the only statue to remain in the square while Centenary Square is getting done up (which wont be finished until sometime in 2019). The original Centenary Square was completed in 1991.

Baskerville House

In 2013 the Library of Birmingham opened on the site of what was a car park between The REP and Baskerville House. Seen below in December 2017 after it was announced that Birmingham had won the bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The refurbishment of Centenary Square started in 2017 and should have been completed by the end of 2018, but a series of delays means it will probably not be completed until sometime in 2019. You wouldn't know from the way it is now that canal basins used to be here. Although archeologists examined the land under the Library of Birmingham in the summer of 2009 before the library was built.

Baskerville House and the Library of Birmingham at night

There used to be a typeface sculpture outside of Baskerville House called Industry and Genius. It was made in 1990 by local artist David Patten. It is a Portland stone sculpture of the Baskerville typeface.

Virgil Baskerville typeface

I took invidual photos of each letters and flipped them. Together it reads "Virgil". The standing stones represents the letter punches which Baskerville cut to make his type, and the world virgil was Baskerville's first book, published in 1757, as a re-print of the Roman author's poems. The sculpture went into storage a few years ago when the redevelopment of Centenary Square was about to start.

Virgil Baskerville typeface

Photos by Elliott Brown

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Transport
02 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

The Shakespeare Express and The Polar Express

Most summers along the Shakespeare line, Vintage Trains used to run steam trains between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford-upon-Avon. They now also have a licence to run trains on the mainline from the Tyseley Locomotive Works to Birmingham Moor Street during the Christmas season. It is quite the sight to see a steam train going over the Bordesley Viaduct! Look out for it in Digbeth.

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In September 2015, the Shakespeare Express was at Birmingham Snow Hill Station at platform 1. When I got to platform 3, saw the steam locomotive 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe decouple and head towards the Jewellery Quarter tunnels, before it returned and recoupled at the other end. Didn't have the best views from platform 3 to be honest!

Shakespeare Express at Birmingham Snow Hill

The steam locomotive is seen puffing away towards the tunnels that leads to Jewellery Quarter Station.

Shakespeare Express at Birmingham Snow Hill

Shakespeare Express at Birmingham Snow Hill

The carriages at platform 1. They filled the length of the platform.

Shakespeare Express at Birmingham Snow Hill

I didn't have the best view from platform 3. One of the carriages as passengers walk past!

Shakespeare Express at Birmingham Snow Hill

Earlier that day I saw The Shakespeare Express passing through Hall Green Station. The front of the engine was attached to the carriages. So the back end was heading towards Stratford-upon-Avon. They would probably have to decouple it again at Stratford-upon-Avon, so the engine would be facing the front towards Birmingham Snow Hill!

Shakespeare Express passing Hall Green Station

The name plate of the special service is seen at the front.

Shakespeare Express passing Hall Green Station

Most of the stations on the Shakespeare line opened in 1908 and are of the Edwardian period.

Shakespeare Express passing Hall Green Station

 

The Polar Express run by Vintage Trains started in the last week of November 2018 and will run throughout the Christmas season until late December 2018. Should be every Thursday to Sunday.

Steam puffing away into platform 4 at Birmingham Moor Street Station.

Polar Express

There was photographers on both platforms. And probably on all the days that it is due in at Moor Street Station. As well as from the Moor Street Car Park view. The Poppy Appeal train from Chiltern Railways was at platform 3.

Polar Express

Rood Ashton Hall or as it is known during this Christmas season as the Polar Star slowly comes into the platform.

Polar Express

There is a view from the ramps down from the Bullring to Moor Street Queensway.

Polar Express

Into the concourse then down the steps to Moor Street. Before that a few views as the Polar Star comes to a stop.

Polar Express

Seen with Chiltern Railways 68012 at platform 3. Platform 5 is the only platform yet to be restored at the station.

Polar Express

I have also seen the Polar Express from a train I was on the next day passing through Bordesley Station. Was a bit awkward getting photos from the train as it passed. Later saw some views of the Polar Express returning to Tyseley over the Bordesley Viaduct through Digbeth. Quite a sight to see!

At the back was as diesel locomotive D1755 47 773.

Bordesley Station D1755

I also noticed from my train that they have done up the Tyseley Locomotive Works around the Tyseley Warwick Road platform area for Christmas.

The Polar Express seen from the Bordesley Viaduct in Digbeth. The train was stationary on the viaduct, probably waiting for it's slot to go into Birmingham Moor Street Station. These views of 4965 Rood Ashton Hall / Polar Star from Oxford Street in Digbeth.

Polar Express on the Bordesley Viaduct

Was a bit difficult to see it from this side, heading from Bordesley Street. So walked under the viaduct for a look on the other side of Oxford Street.

Polar Express on the Bordesley Viaduct

On this side of Oxford Street, Rood Ashton Hall seen with a pub that the Peaky Blinder Pub was due to take over (used to be an Irish pub called O'Rourkes).

Polar Express on the Bordesley Viaduct

Had to walk further down Oxford Street and close to the Digbeth High Street.

Polar Express on the Bordesley Viaduct

These views of the back of the train. D1755 / 47 773 seen from Milk Street in Digbeth.

Polar Express on the Bordesley Viaduct

When you are up there, you don't realise how far down from the viaduct it is! The area is close to the Custard Factory, and various pieces of graffiti / street art.

Polar Express on the Bordesley Viaduct

Photos by Elliott Brown

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63 passion points

Inspiration

Transport
30 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Special liveries on Chiltern Railways and Virgin Trains seen in Birmingham

This is not a heritage trains post, more showing photos of the special liveries Chiltern Railways and Virgin Trains did to some of their trains around the Christmas period and at other times of the year. Chiltern Railways seen at Birmingham Moor Street Station. Virgin Trains seen at Birmingham New Street Station and at Coventry Station.

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Chiltern Railways

Runs trains on the Chiltern Mainline between Birmingham Snow Hill and London Marylebone. There main fast trains are the Class 68's with the Mark 3 carriages and driving van trailer (numbered as 823xx). Here we will look at a pair of 823xx trains at Birmingham Moor Street Station.

The Chiltern Santa Train seen at Birmingham Moor Street during December 2017. The driving van trailer was numbered 82302. Titan 68009 was at the front (but it's livery was not changed at the time).

Seen from platform 3. It had arrived at platform 4.

Chiltern Santa Train

Behind is Moor Street Car Park, Selfridges and the Rotunda.

Chiltern Santa Train

Heard that there was some nice views from Moor Street Car Park. So headed up to see. This was several floors up but not high enough.

Chiltern Santa Train

This view of the Santa Train from the top floor of the car park as a London Midland Class 172 arrived at platform 2 (West Midlands Railway would take over from London Midland a few days later).

Chiltern Santa Train

In November 2018 driving van trailer 82303 was in the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal temporary livery. Seen at Birmingham Moor Street.

I noticed a Chiltern train arriving at Moor Street from a bus I was on in Digbeth, so after I got off the bus outside of Selfridges, went up to the top of Moor Street Car Park for these views. Lamppost in the way. It was at platform 3.

Chiltern Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal

Headed right for a clearer view of the Poppy train. Derelict buildings in the background was used as a filming location for Ready Player One! (filmed in 2016 released in 2018).

Chiltern Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal

Close up look at the Poppy train. As I headed over the parametric bridge into Selfridges, the train started to leave for London.

Chiltern Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal

Virgin Trains

Runs trains on the West Coast Mainline between Birmingham New Street and London Euston (and also up to Scotland). They use Class 390 Pendolino's between Birmingham and London (and to other major cities along the West Coast Mainline such as Manchester and Liverpool).

Seen in late December 2014 at Birmingham New Street Station was the Traindeer. Virgin Trains Pendolino 390 112 (also known as Virgin Star). Was made to resemble a Christmas Reindeer! This livery was temporary. The train is currently unnamed.

Virgin Trains Traindeer

Seen at Coventry Station during October 2017 was Virgin Trains Pendolino 390 040 in the Virgin Radio livery. This was temporary between April 2016 and November 2017.

Virgin Trains Virgin Radio

We're Back Virgin Radio.

Virgin Trains Virgin Radio

Seen at Birmingham New Street Station from the Moor Street link bridge during December 2016 was Virgin Trains Pendolino 390104. Alstom Pendolino. Formerly named "Virgin Scot". The co-branding between Alstom and Virgin was since September 2010.

Virgin Trains Alstom Pendolino

Another Moor Street link bridge view. This time it was Virgin Trains Pendolino 390103 (Virgin Hero). It was carrying the Royal British Legion livery commemorating the centenary of World War 1. Seen during March 2018.

Virgin Trains Royal British Legion

One more view from the Moor Street link bridge. Virgin Trains Pendolino 390151 (Virgin Ambassador), seen with the Business is Great livery during September 2017. Also known as the Virgin Trains Poppylino!

Virgin Trains Business is Great

The reflection of Business is Great in the shiny panels at New Street Station.

Virgin Trains Business is Great

 

Photos by Elliott Brown

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65 passion points

Gallery

Environment & green action
29 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Raining at Kings Heath Park in late November 2018

It's late November 2018 and we have a few days of wind and rain, probably due to Storm Diana. On a day when the rain wasn't too bad, I popped along for a walk around the wet Kings Heath Park. This time headed down to the bottom, then out via the Avenue Road exit. Started off from Vicarage Road.

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On a day with dull weather a quick walk around a wet Kings Heath Park. These walks normally take me around 10 minutes (am a fast walker). Weather was bad so after I finished the walk, walked back up the Vicarage Road towards the High Street and Alcester Road South. On a dry day, I might walk down Avenue Road and into Highbury Park, or towards Selly Park.

For me Kings Heath is easy to get to. On the 11C, or the 11A back home (the park is on the Outer Circle). The no 35 bus route also passes the park, as does the 27 and 76.

The path on the left from Vicarage Road heading towards the School of Horticulture Training. King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools are on the other side of the fence to the left. Trees have mostly shed their leaves here.

Kings Heath Park rain

Approaching Kings Heath House. Now the School of Horticulture Training. With the bad weather, wasn't anybody sitting or standing outside of the building. It's Grade II listed and dates to the early 19th century. A previous building was burnt down in 1791 during riots in Birmingham. In the late 18th century the house and grounds belonged to John Harwood. The Birmingham Horticultural Training School opened here in 1952.

Kings Heath Park rain

Main entrance to the house. Now a ramp for those with wheelchairs or pushchairs. The tea room is over to the right. Palm trees outside remind you of the summer gone and the summer to come.

Kings Heath Park rain

Kings Heath Park Nursery. These look like palm trees to me outside (they are probably not - am not sure on tree species).

Kings Heath Park rain

Christmas decorations inside. Plants for sale. An open greenhouse.

Kings Heath Park rain

Heading down to the bottom end of the park close to the Camp Hill line, past this field. Lots of trees around, mostly leave-less now.

Kings Heath Park rain

Saw this robin on the path. Zoomed in on it. If you get to close they tend to fly away!

Robin in Kings Heath Park

Some steps down to the field at the bottom of the park. Trees still in leaf must be evergreen!

Raining in Kings Heath Park

The leaves on this tree have gone blood red and has left a pile of leaves below it!

Rain in Kings Heath Park

Field at the bottom of the park.

Rain at Kings Heath Park

Up the path from the bottom of the park as the rain came down. The branches of the trees forming a canopy, but that wouldn't stop you getting wet in the rain! Leaves on the lawn remind you that it is still autumn as winter approaches.

Rain at Kings Heath Park

More trees with leaves still to be shed. Quite yellowy brown now. Heading up to the Avenue Road exit.

Rain at Kings Heath Park

Saw this empty basketball court. Normally if someone was playing in here, or in one of the tennis courts, I wouldn't take a photo. Puddles all over the court. Would probably get splashed if you jumped up to throw a basketball into the hoop!

Rain at Kings Heath Park

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Architecture
28 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Castles within the West Midlands region

Lets take a look at some of the castles that remain in the West Midlands region. Dudley Castle (West Midlands county), Tamworth Castle (Staffordshire), Kenilworth Castle and Warwick Castle (Warwickshire). Dudley also includes a zoo. Warwick is now like a Merlin Entertainments place. Kenilworth is English Heritage ruins and gardens. Tamworth is small but intact.

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Dudley Castle

Located in Dudley, West Midlands, these days it is a part of Dudley Zoo. It is on Castle Hill. A Grade I listed building.

A castle was built here soon after the Norman Conquest and was a wooden motte and bailey castle. The castle was rebuilt as a stone fortification in the 12th century, but was demolished in the orders of King Henry II. The castle was rebuilt during the 13th century. The tower we see today above the zoo was built in the 14th century. It was slighted by Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War. There is a pair of Russian cannons that were brought back from the Crimean War. They were brought to Dudley in 1857. You can see one below from the view above the track at the zoo.

Dudley Castle

One of the stone walls and corner turrets at Dudley Castle, seen within the grounds of Dudley Zoo. This dates from the 14th century.

Dudley Castle

Dudley Castle can be seen from many places in Dudley Town Centre. This is the view from close to Dudley Sixth Form College. You can see how badly slighted the tower was on the right from here.

Dudley Castle

This view was from Priory Park in Dudley. England flag flying proudly.

Dudley Castle

This view of Dudley Castle was from Trindle Road in Dudley. The turret from the wall is seen below. From this view taken in October 2016, you can see both of the Russian cannons. Dudley currently has no railway station, but there might be a future Midland Metro line through the town. At present you can get buses there from Birmingham (bus stops are close to outside of the zoo).

Dudley Castle

Tamworth Castle

Located in Tamworth, Staffordshire. While the castle is now in Staffordshire, before boundary changes in 1889 it used to be in Warwickshire.

You might enter the castle grounds via the Holloway Lodge. A Grade II listed building, it resembles a castle gatehouse. The lodge was built in 1810. Tamworth Castle itself can be seen from above and is a Grade I listed building. A Norman castle built in 1080. The site served as the residence of the Mercian kings during the Anglo Saxon period, but fell into disuse during the Viking invasions.

Tamworth Castle - Holloway Lodge

Within the Castle Grounds there is a statue of Ethelfleda (also known as Æthelflæd). She was the The Lady of the Mercians in 913. The statue dates to 1000 years later in 1913 and is Grade II listed. She was the daughter of Alfred the Great. She led the defence of Mercia against the Danes, fortified Tamworth and other towns.

Tamworth Castle - Statue of Ethelfleda

Tamworth Castle seen on top of the hill. Was a motte and bailey castle. Rebuilt in the 12th century, with repairs and reconstruction during the 13th century. The castle is now a museum. In March 2012 I couldn't see if it was open or not.

Tamworth Castle

Heading up the path, getting closer to Tamworth Castle for a walk around the perimeter. Was nice views of the River Anker from up here. The castle was continuously in use from the 11th and 12th centuries until the 17th century. From the 16th century it was adapted as a residence, but fell into disrepair by the 18th century. The castle was sold to the Tamworth Corporation in the late 19th century (now Tamworth Borough Council).

Tamworth Castle

A look round the back of the castle close up. The council has regularly maintained the castle and turned it into a tourist attraction. The grounds have been landscaped. You can get a train to Tamworth Station from Birmingham New Street, if you wish to visit this castle.

Tamworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle

Located in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. It is now managed by English Heritage. It's a Grade I listed building, and was built from the Norman period to the Tudor period. The castle was the subject of a six month long Siege of Kenilworth in 1266. The castle was founded in the 1120s around a Norman great tower.

From this view you can see the Leicester's Building and The Great Tower, as you enter the castle grounds. On the August 2017 bank holiday weekend was an event called the Clash of Knights (actors were in medieval costumes).

Kenilworth Castle

A view of the ruined  Leicester's Building. Below was tents and canopies for that medieval bank holiday weekend event that took place at the time. Recreating what it could have been like in the 12th, 13th or 14th centuries. This tower block was built between 1571 and 1572 by Queen Elizabeth I's favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was built to provide private lodgings for the queen and her close servants. She visited in 1572 and again in 1575.

Kenilworth Castle

This is The Great Tower. Kenilworth Castle was founded in the 1120s by Geoffrey de Clinton, Lord Chamberlain and treasurer to Henry I. The tower is one of the castles earliest surviving features. The Norman keep, or 'great tower' was always the most commanding building at the castle. Most of the base structure was built from 1124 until 1130. King John added an open fighting gallery around 1210 to 1215. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester altered it in the late 16th century. He enlarged the window openings and may have used the upper floors to display paintings. During the Civil War in the 1640s, it was slighted.

Kenilworth Castle

There are steps up to the Strong Tower. This view was from outside of the Great Tower. You can climb up to the top. There are views of the Outer Court from the window openings of the ruined tower. Underneath there was also cellars that you can have a look at. This tower, along with the Great Hall to the left was built between 1373 and 1380 by John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. These parts of the castle were slighted during the Civil War in the 1640s and 1650s.

Kenilworth Castle

The view of the castle from the Elizabethan Garden. From here you can see the Great Tower on the left. The garden is a recreation of the The Queen's Privy Garden. There are car parks at the castle, but you can also park at car parks in Kenilworth Town Centre, and get a free bus to the castle from Johnsons (this was on the Bank Holiday visit, not sure if they do that when it's not a bank holiday). Since Spring 2018 when Kenilworth Station opened, that has given visitors from Birmingham an alternate route to get to the castle. Trains from Birmingham New Street to Coventry, then on the branch line to Leamington Spa (get off at Kenilworth). Or from Birmingham Snow Hill (or Solihull) towards Leamington Spa. Change trains towards Coventry. The castle is a 20 minute walk away from the station in Kenilworth.

Kenilworth Castle

Warwick Castle

Located in Warwick, Warwickshire. It is operated by Merlin Entertainments. It's a medieval castle that started after the Norman Conquest and was developed from 1068 onwards. It is next to the River Avon.

Seen from Castle Hill next to this roundabout is the Warwick Castle Lodge. It is a Grade II listed building and was built from 1796 until 1797 by Samuel Muddiman and John Williams. It has Neo-Gothic details. You can enter the castle grounds from this lodge. Tickets for the castle can be quite pricey, but it maybe possible to get an online discount.

Warwick Castle Lodge

The castle was bought by the Tussauds Group in 1978, hence why there are loads of waxwork figures around the castle. The castle started off as a motte and bailey castle. It was later rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. The facade opposite the town was refortified during the Hundred Years War in the 14th century. In 1604 it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I. The Greville family, who became Earls of Warwick in 1759 held it until Tussauds bought it in 1978.

This is a view of Guy's Tower. Probably named after Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick, during the 14th century.

Warwick Castle

This is a view of the Caesar's Tower. The view was from Banbury Road in Warwick. It also dates to the 14th century. The towers dominate the skyline of Warwick from the nearby houses in the area. The town centre isn't that far from the castle. It's well worth a look for it's mix of architecture.

Warwick Castle

Usually on my visits to Warwick, I'm just there to have a look around the town, so the earlier photos didn't get to see the castle from the river. In May 2016 I found a view of the castle from the Castle Bridge on Banbury Road. From here you can see people on paddle boats that look like swans or dragons. Boat hire is from St Nicholas Park. There is a weir at the far end of the river, so people in the boats have to turn back.

Warwick Castle

The castle really does look magnificent from here! Queen Elizabeth I visited the castle in 1566 and again in 1572. John Dudley was granted the castle in 1547 and was given the title Earl of Warwick. The title went extinct in 1590 on the death of Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick (an elder brother of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who owned Kenilworth Castle). There is almshouses in Warwick called Lord Leycester Hospital. Robert Dudley founded it in 1571. You can get trains on the Chiltern Mainline from Birmingham Snow Hill or Solihull to Warwick. The castle is a short walk away from there.

Warwick Castle

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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55 passion points

Did you know?

Architecture
26 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

National Trust properties in Warwickshire

Let's head out of Birmingham and into Shakespeare's County, Warwickshire with a look at four National Trust properties that you can visit. Coughton Court, Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton and Charlecote Park. The best time to go is usually in the spring or summer, although early autumn the weather would be fine to go. But you can visit them in any season!

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Coughton Court

It's a Grade I listed building, located between Studley and Alcester in Warwickshire. It is an English Tudor country house. The Coughton estate has been owned by the Throckmorton family since 1409. The gatehouse at Coughton was built as early as 1536. The courtyard was closed on all four sides until 1651, when Parliamentary soldiers burnt the fourth (east) wing during the English Civil War.

The West Front with two wings either side of it. The North Wing is on the left, while The South Wing is to the right. The Gatehouse is made of Limestone ashlar. The wings are timber framed with lath, plaster infill and brick.

Coughton Court - West Front

This view of the courtyard seen with the Formal Garden from the other side of the River Arrow. The entrance is via the bottom of the Gatehouse. You can only go into the South Wing of the house. The North Wing is the private residence of the current members of the family. The East Wing must have survived until a fire in 1688. It was demolished in the 1780s.

Coughton Court - court yard view

You can head up a spiral staircase while on your visit to the house and get wonderful views of the estate from the roof. It is on the top of the Gatehouse. This view towards the Formal Garden, with the North Wing on the left and the South Wing on the right. The missing East Wing (burnt in the 17th century, demolished in the 18th) would have completed the courtyard.

Coughton Court - roof top view

The Dining Room. It was the Great Chamber in Elizabethan times. The principal first-floor reception room where the Throckmortons would have entertained important guests. It appears to have become a Dining Room in the early 19th century.

Coughton Court - Dining Room

The Parlour. A bit like a lounge or living room. The room was off The Saloon Passage. It couldn't be The Yellow Drawing Room  as that room is in The Gatehouse to the left of the staircase.

Coughton Court - Parlour

Packwood House

It's a Grade I listed building, located near Lapworth in Warwickshire. The National Trust has owned it since 1941. It's a timber-framed Tudor manor house. The house was built for  John Fetherston between 1556 and 1560. The  last member of the Fetherston family died in 1876. In 1904 a Birmingham industrialist Alfred Ash purchased the house. It was inherited by Graham Baron Ash in 1925. The great barn of the farm was converted into a Tudor-style hall and was connected to the main house by the addition of a Long Gallery in 1931.

The West Front of Packwood House. There is sundial on this side. There is a drive around the lawn. There used to be an uninterrupted view of the house from this side. The 'Birmingham entrance' is how the owner Graham Baron Ash used to refer to this part of his estate. So when he requested a ride in his white Rolls Royce for business his chauffeur would know which entrance to park in readiness. But there has been a hedge in the way since the National Trust took over. They are hoping to reinstate the old carriageway to it's former glory.

Packwood House - West Front

The South Front seen from the Raised Terrace and Carolean Garden. The house is also known as Mr Ash's House. Baron Ash donated the house to the National Trust in 1941, but continued to live here until 1947, when he moved to Wingfield Castle.

Packwood House - South Front

The main entrance to the house and gardens is via the gate to the left. Seen from Packwood Lane to the right is the Outbuildings. Built in the mid 17th century, they were originally barns. Baron Ash converted them to rooms as part of the house, as if they were always like that (they weren't). Inside during your visit you will go into the Long Gallery and the Great Hall. Both are lined with old tapestries and period furniture. The Great Hall is a Tudor style hall with a sprung floor for dancing.

Packwood House - Outbuildings

The Entrance Hall is the first room you would enter. If you have a large bag, then you can give it to a volunteer who would put it in trunk, and they would give you a token (which you would give back when coming back to collect your bag before going back outside). There is a portrait of King Henry VIII to the right. Above is a balcony / passageway that leads to the Fetherston Room (which has photos from the early 20th century showing Baron Ash's change to the house).

Packwood House - Entrance Hall

The Drawing Room. There is two rooms dedicated to Queen Mary (the wife of George V) as she visited the house in 1927. A chair she sat in the Great Hall is in this room, and a cup she drank tea from is now in a glass case. There is a piano to the right of the room.

Packwood House - Drawing Room

Baddesley Clinton

A Grade I listed building, it is a moated manor house, located 8 miles north-west of Warwick in Warwickshire. The house originated in the 13th century. The manor was purchased in 1438 by John Brome, who passed it to his son, Nicholas Brome. The house ended up in the Ferrers family possession from the 16th century until they sold it to the National Trust in 1980.

The view of the moated manor house from the Forecourt. There is a bridge over the moat that leads to the inner courtyard.

Baddesley Clinton - from the Forecourt

The moat goes all the way around the house. This view is from the Walled Garden. There is coat of arms on all the windows around the house. There used to be a bridge on this side, if you notice the stonework to the bottom of the middle chimney breast. There is a room with a view on the first floor that was built in 1460, which is to the left of where the bridge used to be. It was probably removed when the current bridge was built along with the gatehouse in 1536.

Baddesley Clinton - from the Walled Garden

After crossing the bridge over the moat, you enter the Inner Courtyard. It has a formal garden in the middle. One side of the garden you can see the moat and the path on the other side. Entrance to the house is this way.

Baddesley Clinton - Inner Courtyard

The Great Hall. At this end is a fireplace in the middle of the room, and a pair of doors leading to the drawing room and a small dining room. Tapestry was on the wall to the left.

Baddesley Clinton - Great Hall

The Priest's Bedroom on the first floor. A bit of a small Catholic chapel. During Elizabethan times it was illegal to be Catholic, and houses like this had a priest hole (to hide the priest). You can find the priest hole from the kitchen (steps goes below a trapdoor). It would have been used in the 1590s.

Baddesley Clinton - Priest's Bedroom

Charlecote Park

A Grade I listed building surrounded by it's own deer park, on the banks of the River Avon near Wellesbourne, about 4 miles east of Stratford-upon-Avon and 5.5 miles south of Warwick. It is a grand 16th century country house. The National Trust has administered it since 1946. The Lucy family owned the land from 1247. Charlecote Park was built in 1558 by Sir Thomas Lucy.

As you approach the house from the entrance gate, you see the Gatehouse. Don't be surprised if you see deer crossing from one section of the lawn to the other (over the path), after all this is a deer park! The Gatehouse is a Grade I listed building and was built in 1560. Brick laid to English bond with limestone ashlar dressings. There is exhibition rooms on both sides of the gatehouse, although you can't go to the upper floors. One room had a bit of Lucy family history. The other room at the time of my visit was set up like a Red Cross World War One hospital room (with a bed). People with walking difficulties, can get a golf buggy to take them around the estate.

Charlecote Park - Gatehouse

After passing the Gatehouse, you get your first view of the house. Once known as Charlecote Hall, today it is simply known as just Charlecote Park. A magnificent view, especially on a day with a blue sky (like this one in early September 2018). The house begun construction in 1558. It was expanded in the 19th century. The extensions were built for George and Mary Elizabeth Lucy. The house entrance is straight ahead.

Charlecote Park - The House

This view of the house from the Parterre. A formal garden with colourful flowers. It is next to the River Avon on this side, with fine views of the Deer Park. The area to the right of the house is private.

Charlecote Park - from the Parterre

The Dining Room at Charlecote Park. A long table laid out as it could have been like in the 19th century for the Lucy family. The house is now much more Victorian than Elizabethan, as George Hammond Lucy (who inherited in 1823), recreated the house in his own style (he was High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1831).

Charlecote Park - Dining Room

The Library. Table and chairs laid out for reading next to the fireplace. There is portraits around the room with Tudor and Stuart King's and Queen's as well as members of the Lucy family. Elizabeth I and Charles I are above the fireplace. Queen Elizabeth I actually once stayed at Charlecote in the room that is now the Drawing Room.

Charlecote Park - The Library

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Civic pride
25 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

James Brindley: Canal Engineer of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Old Mainline

You maybe wondering who Brindleyplace is named after? That would be the canal engineer James Brindley who was approached in 1767 to propose a route for a canal from Birmingham to the Black Country. He died in 1772 a bit before the BCN Old Mainline was completed. He also started the Coventry Canal.

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James Brindley

He was born in 1716 in Tunstead, Derbyshire, and lived most of his life in Leek, Staffordshire, becoming one of the major engineers of the 18th century. He died in 1772. The canals he is known as being engineer for in the Midlands include the: Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, the Coventry Canal, and the Birmingham Canal. These were mostly engineered in the 1760s and 1770s. Other engineers such as Thomas Telford later reworked his canals decades after his death (such as building a straightened canal from Birmingham to Wolverhampton). This left many of Brindley's canal sections as loops of the Mainline.

James Brindley

There used to be a pub at Gas Street Basin near Bridge Street called The James Brindley. I don't ever recall seeing it open, as from the late 2000s and into the 2010s it was derelict and closed. At least until it was refurbished as The Canal House. It was near what is now Regency Wharf, and area called Old Wharf of the Birmingham Canal. Which existed from 1772 until 1931. It lay beyond Bridge Street (so probably on the Arena Central site now, and what used to be the ATV / Central TV studios site). The Paradise Street offices of the BCN was near there to (until demolition in 1913). There is a black plaque with that information on it nearby here.

The James Brindley

The Canal House was opened in 2017. The redevelopment of the former James Brindley pub / bar. Looks much better compared to what was there before! You can see the bridge to the left that has been blocked off since Old Wharf was filled in back in 1931. With all the Arena Central buildings going up, it's unlikely that Old Wharf would get restored and be part of that development.

The Canal House near Old Wharf

A look at Brindleyplace. It was named after Brindley Place the name of the street around which the development was built (which in turn was named after James Brindley himself). Was built from 1993 onwards. The last building was completed in 2009. This view of The Water's Edge, which was the first part to be completed in 1994. The Brindleyplace Bridge links the development to The ICC (International Convention Centre). Steps lead up from the canal towpath, but there is a lift nearby for disabled people. From here, people can get narrowboat rides with Sherborne Wharf. There is also a Floating Coffee boat on the other side.

Brindleyplace - The Water's Edge

When the BCN New Mainline opened in 1827, it caused sections of the old line to become loops. The closest part in the City Centre or Ladywood, is the Oozells Loop (I've been calling it the Oozells Street Loop for years). There is now modern apartment buildings around most of the loop, and some parts are private. Seen here from the Browning Street Footbridge towards the Ladywood Junction Footbridge. Watermarque is on one side and King Edward's Wharf on the other. There is usually many narrowboats moored down there.

Oozells Loop

You can see the Icknield Port Loop from Edgbaston Reservoir. This view below was taken in 2011 from the dam. It was originally called the Rotton Park Loop. The land around it has been derelict for years, and had been no pedestrian or vehicle access. But this site will get redeveloped soon with new apartment buildings, bringing it back to life similar to at the Oozells Loop and Brindleyplace areas. The skyline has changed quite a bit since then!

Icknield Port Loop

A look at some parts of the Birmingham Canal towards Wolverhampton, this is just a look at Brindley's old line, not Telford's new line, so the canal is quite curvy or bendy!

Seen in Smethwick, Sandwell the BCN Old Mainline seen heading towards Wolverhampton from Spon Lane South. Above the canal is the M5 motorway. Telford's New Mainline is a little bit further to the left of this area (and that is a straight cutting compared to this curved one). Volunteers from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society are seen to be picking up litter out of the canal, during March 2017.

BCN Old Mainline in Smethwick

At Oldbury in Sandwell, the BCN Old Mainline now seen under the M5 Motorway. This was close to the Manchester Street Bridge, and looking in the direction of Oldbury Junction (with the Titford Canal).

BCN Old Mainline - Oldbury

Seen on a nice sunny day in Tipton in late November 2017, on the BCN Old Mainline at Tipton Junction. To the left is the Dudley Tunnel via the Dudley No. 1 Canal, it also leads to the Stourbridge Canal. Wolverhampton is to the right on the old Birmingham Canal. The old and new Birmingham canals merge at Factory Junction in Tipton.

BCN Old Mainline - Tipton

The Birmingham Canal (Wolverhampton Level), seen between Cable Street and Bilston Road in Wolverhampton. A pair of cyclists are seen passing the old warehouses ahead. The twisting and turning of the canal up here shows that Thomas Telford did not alter James Brindley's original line north of Deepfields (that is where the Wednesbury Oak Loop leaves the Mainline). The Midland Metro line is close to here on the Bilston Road.

Birmingham Canal Wolverhampton Level

Close to Wolverhampton Station and near the end of the BCN Mainline is this section of the canal. To the left is Broad Street Basin. The original Broad Street Bridge is now at the Black Country Living Museum, so the bridge we see there today is a replica. This is close to Wednesfield Road in Wolverhampton.

BCN Mainline in Wolverhampton close to Broad Street Basin

Next we take a look at the Coventry Canal Basin where you would find a statue of James Brindley.

James Brindley was engineer on the Coventry Canal from 1768 until 1769. The canal had reached Atherstone in 1769 by the time the canal company had run out of money and he had been replaced. Still he completed the canal basin in 1769.

The bronze statue of James Brindley (leaning over his desk) is by the sculptor James Butler and was made in 1998. This view near a finger post point to Birmingham, Fradley and Braunston.

James Brindley statue at the Coventry Canal Basin

A close up look at the James Brindley statue in Coventry. The canal basin is close to Leicester Row in Coventry.

James Brindley statue at the Coventry Canal Basin

This view of the Coventry Canal Basin is at the start or end of the canal. Warehouses to the right next to Leicester Row. The statue of Brindley is to the left. Valley Cruises Coventry Canal have hire boats from here.

Coventry Canal Basin

These warehouses (in this view to the left) of the Coventry Canal Basin mostly post date James Brindley's time on the Coventry Canal, and date from 1787, the 19th century and 1914. They are Grade II listed buildings. The Coventry Canal Basin Trust are based around here.

Coventry Canal Basin

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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