Elliott Brown

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Architecture
19 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Red brick Victorian buildings at the Colmore Estate

There might be new buildings going up in the Colmore Business District, but there are examples of red brick / terracotta / stone buildings still there from the Victorian period. Some are just facades with a modern building behind. Architects such as J. H. Chamberlain, William Martin & Frederick Martin left there mark in the area. Most examples from the late 19th century.

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Old Royal - Church Street / Cornwall Street

This public house is Grade II listed and dates to the late 19th century (around 1898). It's at 53 - 55 Church Street. Was a rebuilding of a previous pub on the same site called the Red Lion for Alfred Homer, by the architect A H Hamblin. Purple brick and terracotta in a vaguely Loire style. During the football World Cup or the Euros, they put bunting flags up of the countries that were playing at the tournament such as below in July 2018.

Old Royal - Church Street / Cornwall Street

Purnell's 55 Cornwall Street

This building is a bit hidden at the moment. Heading up New Market Street from Great Charles Street Queensway you find this building on the corner of Cornwall Street. A Victorian red brick and terracotta building. It is not listed. Purnell's one of Birmingham's Michelin starred restaurants is located here. There is hoardings on the building to the left, blocking off half Cornwall Street and half of New Market Street for something called The Lightwell. Back to 55 Cornwall Street, it has four storeys plus an attic level in the roof.

Purnell's - 55 Cornwall Street

Empire House - Edmund Street

This building is Grade II listed and dates to the late 19th century. You would find it opposite a bus stop and to the right of the Birmingham School of Art. Edmund Street used to continue beyond Margaret Street, but that's part of Chamberlain Square now (between the Council House and Council House extension). The building is of red brick and terracotta, with Corinthian style columns. The building is in a derelict state at the moment, and has a Danger sign on the door. Hopefully it could get restored and given a new use, such as a restaurant or bar?

Empire House - Edmund Street

Birmingham School of Art - Margaret Street

This building is a red Victorian Gothic structure by the architects Chamberlain and Martin. Started in 1884 and completed after the death of J. H. Chamberlain in 1885 by his partner William Martin and his son Frederick Martin. Their architect firm completed an extension down Cornwall Street in 1892 - 1893. Associated Architects refurbished it between 1992 and 1996. A Grade I listed building, at the time of it's listing in 1970, it was listed as Art And Design Annexe, Birmingham Polytechnic. It is now listed as School of Art, Birmingham City University. The College of Art used to be part of the former Birmingham Polytechnic, which became a University in 1992 as the University of Central England. It was rebranded as Birmingham City University in 2005. It is now part of BCU's Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. And to this day it remains part of the University's Department of Fine Art, but is commonly referred to it's original title.

Birmingham School of Art - Margaret Street

Birmingham and Midland Institute - Margaret Street

A Grade II* listed building dating to 1889 (or 1899) by the architects Jethro Cossins, F. B. Peacock, and Ernest Bewly. Originally the Birmingham Library, which from 1797 until 1899 had premises on Union Street before they moved to the site at the corner of Margaret Street and Cornwall Street. This library was established in 1779. It was a private library. The Birmingham and Midland Institute moved into this building in 1965 after their previous 19th century building was demolished, and they remain here to this day. The BMI was the pioneer of adult scientific and technical institution (General Industrial, Commercial and Music) and it today offers Arts and Sciences lectures.

Birmingham and Midland Institute - Margaret Street

All Bar One - Newhall Street

The Cornwall Buildings at 43 - 51 Newhall Street. It is on the corner with Cornwall Street and is Grade II listed. Built in the late 19th century is is built of brick and terracotta an has a slate roof. It was originally built for the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund (a low-cost medical insurance society). All Bar One is a chain bar, serving beers, wines and cocktails. The BT Tower is seen to the left in the Jewellery Quarter.

All Bar One - Newhall Street

Edmunds - Newhall Street

This is The Scottish Mutual Assurance Society Building, built in 1895. On the corner of Edmund Street and Newhall Street. Located at 29 Newhall Street and 106 to 110 Edmund Street. Used to be a pub here called The Hogshead. It's a Grade II listed building.  It was by the architect Frank Barlow Osborn for W M Smythe, and was originally Solicitors' offices with sets of doctors' consulting rooms on either side. Red brick with ashlar sandstone dressings; blue tile roof. The building is asymmetrical and was built in the simplified Flemish Revival style. Edmunds Bar & Brewhouse has recently closed down.

Edmunds - Newhall Street

Hotel Du Vin - Church Street

On the corner of Church Street and Edmund Street was the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital. This building was built in 1883, although the Eye Hospital was founded back in 1823. Founded by Joseph Hodgson, Eye Surgeon at The Eye Institution, Cannon Street (opening in 1824). It later moved to Steelhouse Lane (1853) then later to Temple Row (1862). They moved to Church Street in 1884. They were relocated again in 1996 when the Eye Hospital moved to City Hospital on the Dudley Road. The building was designed in the Franco-Italian style. A new wing was added to the hospital in 1895. The architects was  Payne and Talbot and the building was built in 1882 to 1883 in the modified Queen Anne style, of dark red brick with light-coloured stone dressings. Hotel Du Vin is a luxury hotel at 25 Church Street, stretching from Edmund Street to Barwick Street. Wards, operating theatres and laboratories have been converted into bedrooms, dining rooms and meeting rooms!

Hotel Du Vin - Church Street

The Birmingham and Midland Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital - Edmund Street

At 105 and 107 Edmund Street is this Grade II listed building, at the corner with Barwick Street. Originally built as The Birmingham and Midland Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital in 1890 to 1891 by the architect Jethro A Cossins and Peacock. In red brick and terracotta with a tile roof. On Barwick Street is at no 70 to 78. Now the offices of H B J Gateley Wareing Llp at 111 Edmund Street. Some sections on Barwick Street have modern inserts in-between the original Victorian architecture, a bit of an old and new mishmash! The foundation stone of the Ear & Throat Hospital was laid by the Marquess of Hertford in 1890.

Birmingham Ear and Throat Hospital - Edmund Street

Maddox House and Enterprise House - Edmund Street

This building was formerly the White Swan pub of around 1890 by the architect J.S. Davis, it was facaded in the 1990s. Located at 117 to 119 Edmund Street to the corner with Barwick Street. Hortons Estates owns the building, and Maddox House to the left was named after Conroy Ronald Maddox (1912 - 2005), a surrealist artist and Birmingham innovator. You would find a black plaque on the front of this building. My photo below was taken in 2013. Enterprise House has since been refurbished since around 2014 and that's at 115 Edmund Street. Now offices.

Maddox House and Enterprise House - Edmund Street

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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History & heritage
17 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries in the Jewellery Quarter

Did you know that there is two cemeteries within the boundaries of the Middle Ring Road? At the north east corner of the Jewellery Quarter (Hockley) is Key Hill Cemetery (Non-Conformist) and Warstone Lane Cemetery (Church of England). If you walk along Icknield Street (part of the Middle Ring Road) you can walk in and out of both.

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Key Hill Cemetery

The cemetery opened in 1836 and is the oldest of the two cemeteries. It's a nondenominational cemetery (nonconformist). The main entrance is on Icknield Street, while a side entrance is on Key Hill. The cemetery was laid out by the Birmingham General Cemetery Company by the architect Charles Edge. It is no longer used for burials. There is also Commonwealth war graves in the cemetery. A lot of famous names of Birmingham's past are buried here such as Joseph Chamberlain and George Dawson to name two.

Key Hill Cemetery seen in January 2018. Icknield Street entrance.

Key Hill Cemetery (Jan 2018)

Key Hill entrance.

Key Hill Cemetery (Jan 2018)

Key Hill Cemetery seen in November 2018. Starting again at the Icknield Street entrance towards the first WW1 war memorial.

Key Hill Cemetery (Nov 2018)

Path past the gravestone and momuments.

Key Hill Cemetery (Nov 2018)

Getting a little tricky to see the paths with all the leaves on the ground. This way towards the Key Hill exit / entrance.

Key Hill Cemetery (Nov 2018)

Leaves everywhere, gravestones and monuments all over. Is some catacombs nearby too.

Key Hill Cemetery (Nov 2018)

War memorials at Key Hill Cemetery.

This memorial is in memory of those who fell in the Great Wart 1914 - 1918 and who are buried in this cemetery. Poppy wreath from the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, the Council and the people of Birmingham.

Key Hill Cemetery war memorial

The original war memorial in the cemetery to those who fell in the Great War 1914 - 1918. It is inscribed with the fallen names.

Key Hill Cemetery war memorial

More recently a war memorial bench to those who fell in WW1 has been placed in the cemetery.

Key Hill Cemetery war memorial

Warstone Lane Cemetery

This cemetery dates to about 1847. There is an Entrance Lodge on Warstone Lane. It's a Church of England cemetery. In here can be found a set of catacombs. This cemetery also has Commonwealth war graves. Famous names of Birmingham's past here include John Baskerville and Harry Gem to name two. Other names for this cemetery include Brookfields Cemetery, Mint Cemetery or Church of England Cemetery. As well as Warstone Lane, other entrance's include Pitsford Street, Vyse Street and Icknield Street.

Views from November 2009.

Cemetery Lodge. Grade II listed building. Built in 1848 by J R Hamilton of Gloucester (Hamilton & Medland). It's at 161 Warstone Lane.

Warstone Lane Cemetery (November 2009)

The War Stone. It landed here in the last Ice Age by a glacier. It was called the Hoar Stone. It is a felsite boulder.

Warstone Lane Cemetery (November 2009)

Gravestones in Warstone Lane Cemetery seen close to the lodge and war memorial area.

Warstone Lane Cemetery (November 2009)

December 2012 view of Warstone Lane Cemetery from Pitsford Street.

Warstone Lane Cemetery (December 2012)

A November 2018 walk into Warstone Lane Cemetery towards the catacombs. Various gravestones on the way along the footpaths.

Warstone Lane Cemetery (November 2018)

A look at the catacombs at Warstone Lane Cemetery. It is double layered, and has a path that goes around it to the top. This is probably the most well known part of this cemetery.

Warstone Lane Cemetery (November 2018)

War memorial in Warstone Lane Cemetery close to the Cemetery Lodge.

November 2009 view of the war memorial cross with a few poppy wreaths below.

Warstone Lane Cemetery war memorial

The names on the memorial, as seen in November 2009. Bit similar to the design at Key Hill Cemetery. They make it look nice sometimes with the flowers planted in front of the memorial.

Warstone Lane Cemetery war memorial

The same war memorial seen in November 2018. This time just one poppy wreath. Was just after the Armistice 100 weekend commemorations. Cemetery lodge seen to the left. You can also see The War Stone from this vantage point.

Warstone Lane Cemetery war memorial

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Architecture
13 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Calthorpe Estates: Edgbaston - a selection of Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town houses

Edgbaston the picture perfect suburb of Birmingham has long been managed by the Calthorpe Estates. You would see around white houses dating back to the Georgian and Regency periods, as well as from the Victorian era. Mostly the area between the Hagley Road, Harborne Road, Calthorpe Road and Church Road (and the connecting roads in the area).

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St George's School Edgbaston

Located at 31 Calthorpe Road. A Grade II listed building dates to 1835. Was formerly the Edgbaston College for Girls. Mainly includes a large formerly detached Grecio-Egyptian villa. Extended in 1883-86 on the foundation of the college. The school additions were by the architect J. A. Chatwin.

St George's School Edgbaston

27 and 28 Calthorpe Road

In 2015 this was occupied by the RoSPA. Grade II listed building, a pair of three storey semi-detached stucco Calthorpe Estate villas built in 1830. No 27 was altered in 1850.

27 and 29 Calthorpe Road Edgbaston

37 and 38 Calthorpe Road

A pair of semi-detached stucco 2 storey villas built in 1835, they are Grade II listed. Canted pilaster bay windows was added in 1860. Otto Robert Frisch and Rudolf Peierls lived at no 38 while they were working at the University of Birmingham on nuclear research which led to the first atomic bomb (this was from February to March 1940).

37 and 38 Calthorpe Road Edgbaston

41, 42 and 43 Calthorpe Road

This is a pair of semi-detached stucco faced Calthorpe Estate villas built in 1830, they are Grade II listed buildings. In 2015 WPR was at no 43. Canted bay windows were added in 1860.

41, 42 and 43 Calthorpe Road Edgbaston

3 and 4 Highfield Road

A pair of semi detached houses built in 1830. Stucco in the late Regency style. Some parts were later added in 1860. J. R. R. Tolkien lived at no 4 from 1910 until 1911. It is now the Highfield Day Nursery and Preschool

More more on J R R Tolkien see this post J.R.R. Tolkien's Birmingham (inspiration for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

3 - 4 Highfield Road

The Edgbaston - 18 Highfield Road

This is a Grade II listed building at 18 and 19 Highfield Road in Edgbaston. Built in 1840 it is a pair of symmetrical classical stucco villas. The right hand ground floor window of no 18 was replaced sometime between 1880 and 1890. There is coach house at no 18. The coach house at no 19 had been rebuilt. The Edgbaston is a Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge.

The Edgbaston Highfield Road Edgbaston

 

Simpsons Restaurant - 20 Highfield Road

This property dates to 1840 and is Grade II listed. A large detached stucco villa. It's front entrance is on Westbourne Crescent. The rear on Highfield Road dates to 1855. Simpsons Restaurant was founded in 1993 by two chefs and it is one of Birmingham's restaurans with a Michelin Star.

Simpsons Restaurant - Highfield Road, Edgbaston

The Highfield - 22 Highfield Road

The Highfield is a gastro pub that opened in recent years. Owned by the Peach family. The building is not listed, but it still retains an old sundial to the left! They modified the building removing two side doors that used to be there before.

The Highfield on Highfield Road, Edgbaston

26 Highfield Road

This property doesn't appear to be listed, but it has a blue plaque on it from the Birmingham Civic Society. Edward Richard Taylor (1838 - 1912) was an art teacher and William Howson Taylor (1876 - 1935) was a potter. They both lived here. The plaque was also presented by the Calthorpe Estates Residents Society.

26 Highfield Road

Boston Tea Party - 30 Harborne Road

Boston Tea Party had originally hoped to open a cafe in Moseley, but the site they wanted later went to Prezzo (which was later replaced by Sorrento Lounge). Edgbaston is probably a better location for them here anyway. This building is not listed.

Boston Tea Party - Harborne Road Edgbaston

The Physician - 36 Harborne Road

The original building is over 180 years old dating to the 1830s. The BMI (Birmingham Medical Institute) was in this building from 1954 until their lease ran out in 2013. Later turned into a pub The Physician opened in 2016. The building is believed to have housed the 'Sampson Gangee Library for the History of Medicine' possibly commissioned in 1863 by Calthorpe Estates. It's on the corner with Highfield Road.

The Physician - Harborne Road Edgbaston

38 Harborne Road

Every Christmas the Calthorpe Estates places these Christmas reindeers at various places around Edgbaston. This property dates to about 1835 and is close to the corner with Highfield Road. There is a coach house to the left. It's a Grade II listed building.

38 Harborne Road Edgbaston

105 Harborne Road

There is a blue plaque on this house for Francis Brett Young from the Birmingham Civic Society and the Francis Brett Young Society. A novelist, poet and physician, who lived here from 1905-6. The house itself is Grade II listed and dates to 1830. A pair of identical stucco houses. Both of the houses here have coach houses (now just garages).

105 Harborne Road Edgbaston

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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People & community
11 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Remembrance Sunday in Birmingham in past November's

Remembrance Sunday in Birmingham in past years. A parade down Broad Street in November 2012. The Remembrance service in Centenary Square in 2014, and in Victoria Square in 2017.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Broad Street - Remembrance parade - 11th November 2012

Remembrance parade 2012

Remembrance parade 2012

Remembrance parade 2012

Remembrance parade 2012

Remembrance parade 2012

Remembrance parade 2012

Remembrance Sunday service in Centenary Square on 9th November 2014

Remembrance Sunday Centenary Square 2014

Remembrance Sunday Centenary Square 2014

Remembrance Sunday Centenary Square 2014

Remembrance Sunday Centenary Square 2014

Remembrance Sunday Centenary Square 2014

Remembrance Sunday Centenary Square 2014

Remembrance Sunday service in Victoria Square on 12th November 2017

Remembrance Sunday in Victoria Square 2017

Remembrance Sunday in Victoria Square 2017

Remembrance Sunday in Victoria Square 2017

Remembrance Sunday in Victoria Square 2017

Remembrance Sunday in Victoria Square 2017

Remembrance Sunday in Victoria Square 2017

Photos taken by Elliott Brown in November 2012, 2014 and 2017.

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Architecture
09 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Birmingham Council House - the seat of local Government in Birmingham

After the recent Birmingham We Are event at the Council House, thought I'd do a post about the building itself! The original building was built from 1874 until 1879 from a design by Yeoville Thomason in the classical style. A Grade II* listed building where the Councillors meet.

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Birmingham Council House

Located in what is now Victoria Square (formerly the Council House Square until 1901). Seen below in 2009 when the previous 103 Colmore Row was still standing. It was built between 1874 and 1879. The first extension was later built from 1881 until 1885 (including the Museum & Art Gallery). Yeoville Thomason was the architect for that extension as well as the original building.

The second extension was built between 1911 and 1919 by the architects Ashley & Newman (including the Museum & Art Gallery extension and the Gas Hall). Here we are mostly concentrating on the original building.

Birmingham Council House

The seat of local government where the councillors of Birmingham City Council debate things, consider what buildings to be built or what needs to be demolished, and various other matters, including the waste service and local parks. View below from 2010.

Birmingham Council House

Seen in 2017 was French Nationals (that live in the West Midlands) queuing to vote in the French Presidential election (later won by Emmanuel Macron). The Council House can also be used as a polling station for British General or Local Elections.

Birmingham Council House

Every year from October to December, there are poppies placed below the balcony of the Council House, as well as the Happy Christmas Birmingham sign. The Remembrance service in 2017 was held in front of the Council House (in 2018 it's moved to Birmingham Cathedral). The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is usually in Victoria Square from November to December each year.

Birmingham Council House

The clock tower at the Council House is nicknamed Big Brum, and can be seen mainly from Chamberlain Square. It is close to the main entrance of the Museum & Art Gallery. It was built in 1885 as part of the first extension to the Council House. The clock was donated by A. Follett Osler. The name is similar to Big Ben (at the Palace of Westminster in London) which it alluded to.

Big Brum

When the 1974 - 2013 Birmingham Central Library stood, it wasn't possible to see Big Brum from Centenary Square and the Library of Birmingham. After the old library was demolished in 2016 the Museum and Council House was visible from this side for the first time in a long time. One and Two Chamberlain Square are currently being built at Paradise Birmingham, and Centenary Way was extended towards Chamberlain Square. It is now possible to see Big Brum from Centenary Square!

Big Brum between One and Two Chamberlain Square

The side of the Council House on Eden Place between 125 Colmore Row. There is four unused red phone boxes down here. At one point the box closest to Colmore Row was used by Jake's Coffee Box, but I think that closed down a while ago now. All the phone boxes are available to let. All four are of K6 type and are Grade II listed. Designed in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert
Scott.

Red phone boxes on Eden Place

This side of the Council House seen on what was once a part of Edmund Street that stretched as far as the old Victorian Central Library building. The Water Hall gallery is on this side. It is opposite the Gas Hall and Council House Extension (where the rest of the Museum & Art Gallery can be accessed). Entrance on this side of the Council House is for pass holders only. Signs direct you around to the Victoria Square entrance.

Council House on what was Edmund Street

While at the Birmingham We Are event, gave me an opportunity to have a quick look around at the interior. Sure that there is more to see, but this was what I got.

The ceiling and chandeliers in the Banqueting Suite. This was the main room that we were in for those 3 hours. The sculptures on the ceiling looked especially fascinating to me! So many columns in here. The balcony is outside of this room, where visitors could stand up there including winning sports teams.

Banqueting Suite

Sitting in the Drawing Room during the talks / videos, I noticed this mural behind the chandelier. In the middle looks like a person sitting on a chair / throne in a doric column temple.

Drawing Room

The Glass Corridor.

Glass Corridor

Another corridor on the 1st floor. Was a series of portraits down here.

Corridor

The dome and chandelier above the Grand Staircase. They don't build them like this any more!

Dome and chandelier

The Grand Staircase from the top. Halfway up was a statue of Prince Albert (left) and Queen Victoria (right).

Grand Staircase

The Grand Staircase heading back down to the Victoria Square entrance / exit. There was several busts down here and plaques.

Grand Staircase

 

Photos by Elliott Brown

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Civic pride
08 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

George Dawson a non-conformist preacher who called for Civic Reform

There used to be a statue for many years on Edmund Street close to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, but it went into storage. What happened to it? Well it was of George Dawson and it's now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. A non-conformist preacher who called for civic reform. Born in 1821 and died in 1876. There is also several busts of this Victorian gentleman!

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George Dawson

Born in London in 1821, he moved to Birmingham in 1844 to become minister of the Mount Zion Baptist Chapel. He left the Baptist Church in 1845 and he become minister of the theologically liberal Church of the Saviour. While there he developed the concept of the Civic Gospel.

Statue of George Dawson at BMCC

He gave sermons to the likes of Joseph Chamberlain and other local politicians of the day. He lectured for the city to be transformed and Joseph Chamberlain answered him as a visionary social reforming Mayor in the 1870s.

Statue of George Dawson at BMCC

The statue of George Dawson has moved about a quite a bit since it was made by Thomas Woolner in 1880. It's moved from Victoria Square to Chamberlain Square to eventually a spot on Edmund Street. I think under the link bridge of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It was eventually moved to storage and is now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. In the area full of classic cars, fire engines etc!

You can see a photo of the statues last location here George Dawson, Chamberlain Square on the Wikimedia Commons (from Geograph). As you can see it used to have railings around it.

Statue of George Dawson at BMCC

The statue depicts Dawson in a full-length frock coat with his hands clapsed together. In the Francis Frith photo archive, they have a photo dated 1896 with the statue close to the Chamberlain Memorial. At the time it was under a canopy that resembled the Chamberlain Memorial. It featured the heads of Bunyan, Carlyle, Cromwell and Shakespeare, symoblising Religion, Letters, Governments and Poetry. The Thomas Woolner statue of 1880 was disliked so it kept getting moved around. Another statue was commissioned in 1881 from F J Williamson.

Statue of George Dawson at BMCC

This photo shows the unusual view of the George Dawson statue amongst all the machines that are surrounding it at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. Hopefully one day it will come out of storage and be put in a prominent location for all to see!

Statue of George Dawson at BMCC

Also in the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre was this bronze bust of George Dawson. The note next to it just says that he was A campaigner for civic reform. It was located in the warehouse. You can see the bust and the statue on the free open days that they have at the centre. Any other times you have to book.

Bust of George Dawson at BMCC

Next we head up to the Library of Birmingham and go up to Level 9. Just outside of the Shakespeare Memorial Room was this large marble bust on George Dawson. The area is the Skyline Viewpoint. Not far from this bust is a foundation stone from the old Victorian Birmingham Library. He gave an address at the first Birmingham Central Library in 1866. That library was partly damaged by a fire in 1879 was was rebuilt and enlarged by 1882. That time the second library was opened by John Bright MP. The library would survive until 1974 when it was demolished after the last Central Library opened (that to would close in 2013 and be demolished in 2016).

Bust of George Dawson at the Library of Birmingham

In 2016 there was an exhibition on at the Library of Birmingham in the Gallery on Level 3 called Our Shakespeare. They had a terracotta model of George Dawson in one of the glass cases. It was probably a study for the statue by the sculptor Thomas Wollner, which was completed in 1880. George Dawson died suddenly aged 55 at Kings Norton on the 30th November 1876.

Bust of George Dawson at the Library of Birmingham

The same terracotta model / bust of George Dawson was later seen in the Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham on Level 9 of the library. Apparently Dawson was the first President of the Birmingham Shakespeare Club, he was also a noted Birmingham philanthropist and politician. The sign next to it says the statue it was a study of was later on Great Charles Street.

Bust of George Dawson at the Library of Birmingham

Photos by Elliott Brown

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Civic pride
30 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Joseph Chamberlain: Birmingham's visionary Mayor in the late 19th Century

A look at Joseph Chamberlain who as well as later being an MP for Birmingham, before that served several years as the Mayor of the town (it didn't become a City until 1888). A member of the Liberal Party, he was elected Mayor of Birmingham in 1873, holding that title until 1876 when he was elected to Parliament. Various clocks and monuments are around the city in his name.

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Joseph Chamberlain

The Chamberlain Memorial is in Chamberlain Square in the centre of Birmingham (now the Paradise Birmingham construction site). It was erected in 1880 to commemorate the public service of Joseph Chamberlain. It was erected during Chamberlain's lifetime. By the time the memorial was installed, Chamberlain has been an MP for Birmingham since 1876.  Chamberlain was elected to the Town Council in November 1869. He was elected Mayor in November 1873 and resigned the office in June 1876 on being returned as a representative of the borough to Parliament. During his Mayoralty many great works were advanced. And his devotion to the Water & Gas undertakings. (there is halls at the Council House called Water Hall and Gas Hall that are now part of the Museum & Art Gallery).

Seen here with Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the vantage point with the statue of James Watt.

Chamberlain Memorial in Chamberlain Square

Seen with the now demolished Birmingham Central Library.

Chamberlain Memorial in Chamberlain Square

Medallion bus of Joseph Chamberlain on the memorial.

Chamberlain Memorial in Chamberlain Square

Birmingham's failed bid for UK City of Culture in 2010 for 2013.

Chamberlain Memorial in Chamberlain Square

A more recent photo of the Chamberlain Memorial with One and Two Chamberlain Square under construction during July 2018. Part of Paradise Birmingham. Apart from the Museum & Art Gallery and the Town Hall, it is the only thing to survive from the late 19th century period (the other buildings demolished and the statues gone into storage).

Chamberlain Memorial with One and Two Chamberlain Square

 

Seen at the University of Birmingham is the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, also known as Old Joe. It is the tallest free standing clock tower in the world. The tower was built to commemorate Joseph Chamberlain who was the first Chancellor of the University. Construction started in 1900 and finished in 1908. It held the record for the tallest building in Birmingham from 1908 until 1965 (when the BT Tower opened).

Please also have a look at my post comparing this tower to the campanile tower that inspired it in Italy here Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower inspired by the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy.

Seen with the Great Hall from Aston Webb Boulevard (Selly Oak New Road). Designed by Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell (built 1900 - 1909).

Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower at the University of Birmingham

Close up of the tower in 2009.

Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower at the University of Birmingham

The view from Mindelsohn Way, Selly Oak in 2017.

Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower at the University of Birmingham

For a period earlier during 2018 the clock was stuck at 12 o'clock, but after it was repaired the clock was once again seen to be ticking again!

Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower at the University of Birmingham

Welcome to University Station in Edgbaston, on the University of Birmingham's main Edgbaston campus. When you get off the train, take a look at this image of Joseph Chamberlain before heading up the steps. And read the message to the left. You may also notice the Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower on the steps as you go up.

Joseph Chamberlain at University Station

 

In the Jewellery Quarter there is a clock at the junction with Vyse Street, Warstone Lane and Frederick Street called the Chamberlain Clock. It commemorated the visit of Joseph Chamberlain to South Africa between 1902 and 1903 when he was the Secretary for State for the Colonies. It was erected by his constituents the electors of West Birmingham. Mr Chamberlain landed at Durban on the 26th December 1902 and sailed from Cape Town on the 25th February 1903. The clock was unveiled in 1904 during Chamberlain's lifetime.

There is also a clock like this one in Five Ways, but that one does not commemorate Joseph Chamberlain. And also another similar clock at Aston Cross.

Chamberlain Clock Jewellery Quarter

Seen with the Rose Villa Tavern in the Jewellery Quarter.

Chamberlain Jewellery Quarter clock

These views were from 2009, and was traffic constantly going past the clock, so got cars in some of these old photos.

Chamberlain Clock Jewellery Quarter

The clock is one of the main landmarks in the Jewellery Quarter. It's a short walk from Jewellery Quarter Station. It's also close to Warstone Lane Cemetery (also known as Brookfields Cemetery).

Chamberlain Clock Jewellery Quarter

Highbury Hall was the Birmingham residence of Joseph Chamberlain from 1880 until his death in 1914. Was commissioned in 1878 and built in 1879. Is now a Grade II* listed building and in the care of the Chamberlain Highbury Trust (formerly Birmingham City Council). It took it's name from the Highbury area of London that Chamberlain lived in as a child. There is extensive grounds that now includes Highbury Park. John Henry Chamberlain was the architect (he wasn't a relation of the Chamberlain family).

The main entrance with the car park. A blue plaque is on the left.

Highbury Hall

The garden to the hall. There is paths that leads out to Highbury Park and surviving parts of Highbury Hall's original gardens via an orchard.

Highbury Hall

The first floor landing at Highbury Hall.

Highbury Hall interior landing

Portrait of Joseph Chamberlain MP painted by Nestor Cambier at Highbury Hall.

Portrait of Joseph Chamberlain

Artefacts seen at the Birmingham History Galleries about Chamberlain's Birmingham.

Including a postcard of Corporation Street dated 1902. Home Rule and the Irish Question by Joseph Chamberlain, MP 1887.

A mug with the head of Joseph Chamberlain.

Joseph Chamberlain artifacts at the Birmingham History Galleries

Close up look at the mug that looks like Joseph Chamberlain.

Joseph Chamberlain artifacts at the Birmingham History Galleries

Souvenir from the 30th anniversary of Joseph Chamberlain being elected to Parliament for Birmingham in 1876, from 1906.

Joseph Chamberlain 30 years 1876 - 1906

Photos by Elliott Brown

 

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Transport
25 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Cadbury No 14 - the diesel locomotive at Cadbury World

Before you start your visit to Cadbury World, you can't help but notice the diesel locomotive near the car park. It's Cadbury No 14. And has been located where it is now since 2007. Built in 1957 it was at the Cadbury factory at Moreton. Moved to the Llangollen Railway Society in 1978. Was donated to Cadbury by Burton Foods who now operate from Moreton.

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It's a 20 ton diesel locomotive, but can be easily mistaken for a steam locomotive based on it's design!

Cadbury No 14

The front of the locomotive says Hudswell. It was made by Hudswell Clarke and has the number D1012. It was built in 1956.

Cadbury No 14

Moreton is in Merseyside. It had been at the Cadbury Schweppes, Moreton site, before it moved to Premier Brands UK Ltd in Moreton. After that it was moved to the car park of Cadbury World in 2007.

Cadbury No 14

There was another Cadbury No 14 that used to run on the Cadbury factory's private railway, but I don't think this one was ever used at Bournville, only at Moreton.

 

Cadbury No 14

After it left the Cadbury site at Moreton, Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0DM (D1012/1956) for a period was used at the heritage railway at Llangollen from 1978 until 2007.

 

Cadbury No 14

While the Cadbury private railway no longer exists, it is nice to see a locomotive from Cadbury's past, even if it wasn't originally based at factory at Bournville.

Cadbury No 14

Photos taken by Elliott Brown in November 2015 on a visit to Cadbury World.

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24 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

City of Birmingham 46235 at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum

A steam locomotive named the City of Birmingham has been preserved and is now in Thinktank (where it can't move). Previously it was housed in the old Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry on Newhall Street until it closed in 1997. The public could see it again at Thinktank from 2001 onwards. In British Rail green. A bit hard to photograph all in one go due to where they put it.

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City of Birmingham 46235

Built for the London Midland and Scottish Railway it was a Coronation Class steam locomotive originally with the number of 6235 and was built in 1939 at Crewe. It passed to British Railways in 1948 and was renamed to 46235. It's original colour was crimson lake, but during the Second World War it was given a black livery. The naming ceremony took place for the City of Birmingham at Birmingham New Street Station in March 1945, despite it having the name for years.

City of Birmingham 46235 Thinktank

After British Railways took it over in 1948, it was given a new short lived blue livery in 1950. It was repainted in Brunswick Green in April 1953. It was withdrawn from service in 1964 and kept the green livery through it's preservation.

City of Birmingham 46235 Thinktank

The Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry opened in 1951 at the former Elkington Works on Newhall Street. After a period at Nuneaton during preservation, the City of Birmingham locomotive was moved to the museum in 1966 which they built around it. It remained there until 1997 when the museum closed. This museum was free to enter.

City of Birmingham 46235 Thinktank

Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum opened to the public in 2001 at Millennium Point, where they again built the new building / museum around where they placed the locomotive. In a fixed position so it can't move, but they built a pathway to the side so visitors can get up and close to it. The museum has an entrance fee (but you can get a discount if you get a bus or train voucher online).

City of Birmingham 46235 Thinktank

There is information panels on this side, close to where you can see the City of Birmingham name plate, plus the cities coat of arms.

City of Birmingham 46235 Thinktank

Light from the Millennium Point windows at the time made it a bit hard to get photos in decent light, but that may have changed since my visit. Although even with the bright light and the new Science Garden outside in Eastside City Park, may still make it a bit hard to see, unless it's a cloudy day.

City of Birmingham 46235 Thinktank

If you want to get a photo of the side of the locomotive all in one, then it's simply not possible. I had to take a series of photos and later stitch them together to make a panoramic, then alter the photo. My visit with these photos was in 2013.

City of Birmingham 46235 Thinktank

This is as close as you can get from the front. The locomotive has not steamed since it was preserved back in the 1960s, and anyone wishes to see it on the mainline or on heritage railways in the future, then they would have to remove the wall and windows in front of the locomotive. Having the Thinktank Science Garden in front from 2012 onwards also makes it difficult to remove. I remember seeing it in the old Science Museum on Newhall Street in the 1990s. Back then it may have been able to go back and forward on the rails, but it can't do that now at Thinktank, it's in a fixed position.

City of Birmingham 46235 Thinktank

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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18 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Joseph Sturge and the campaign to abolish slavery

Joseph Sturge was a Birmingham businessman who campaigned to abolish slavery in the 19th century. Slavery was abolished in the 1830s. There is a statue of Sturge in Five Ways outside of the Marriott Hotel. And he once lived in a property in a house that used to be on Wheeleys Road in Edgbaston (flats are now on that site).

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Joseph Sturge

was a Quaker and abolitionist, and founded the Anti-Slavery Society. He moved to Birmingham in 1822. The Reform Act 1832 in his opinion failed to address poverty and he campaigned for radical electoral reform. He was against the building of the Birmingham Town Hall and he was interested in the island of Jamaica and the condition of it's enslaved workers.

He was elected as an Alderman in Birmingham's first Borough Council of 1838.

Portrait of Joseph Sturge at BMAG

Joseph Sturge lived on a house on Wheeleys Road in Edgbaston from 1824 until 1859 (his death). That house is now long since demolished. Flats now stands on that site called Eden Croft. You can see a Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque on the side of the building, that was placed there in 2007.

Eden Croft Wheeleys Road Edgbaston

 

Joseph Sturge memorial

The statue of Joseph Sturge was unveiled in 1862 at Five Ways, close to his former home. It was at the boundary between Edgbaston and Birmingham, and was sculpted by John Thomas. Sometime around 1975 the left hand fell off. The statue was restored in 2007 on the 200th anniversary of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. The statue is Grade II listed.

Statue of Joseph Sturge

The statue was moved in 1925 to it's current position, now in front of the Marriott Hotel (formerly the Swallow Hotel). Beneath the statue, on four sides, are inscribed the words 'Joseph Sturge 1859', 'Peace', 'Charity', and 'Temperance'.

Statue of Joseph Sturge

Due to Five Ways Island, you can only really see it if you walk past it.But it is visible from Harborne Road if on the bus or in a car. From Five Ways Island, there are trees in the way and you can't see the statue from there. It's just a bit visible from the Hagley Road, although it is a bit far from there. So as I said, best to walk past the statue to admire it!

Statue of Joseph Sturge

The bronze plaque is there for passers by to know a bit more about him.

"He laboured to bring freedom to the Negro slave, the vote to British workmen, and the promise of peace to a war-torn world."

Bronze plaque on the Joseph Sturge statue

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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16 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Tram Stops in the Black Country from Wolverhampton to West Bromwich

A look at the tram stops in the Black Country of the West Midlands. Mainly in Wolverhampton, Bilston, Wednesbury and West Bromwich. They all originally opened back in 1999, but have since been altered to allow the new Urbos 3 trams to stop at them. Midland Metro line 1 goes from Wolverhampton St George's towards The Hawthorns before heading into Birmingham.

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A look at some of the main tram stops in the Black Country between Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, including stops in Bilston and Wednesbury.

Starting with some of the tram stops that are in Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton St George's Tram Stop

The tram stop opened on the 31st May 1999 and is the current terminus of line 1 on what is now known as the West Midlands Metro (formerly Midland Metro). T69 trams used to run between here and the former Snow Hill Tram Stop, until they were replaced by the Urbos 3 trams in 2014 - 2015. When the Birmingham City Centre extension opened in 2015 - 2016 to Grand Central, the T69's were retired, some were later scrapped.

Tram 20 at Wolverhampton St George's Tram Stop

It was built as an island platform with a crossover loop, but was changed in 2015 when one platform was removed and is now used by buses. They are currently building an extension loop around to Wolverhampton Station (a redevelopment project has just started there) with stops at Pipers Row and Wolverhampton Station.

Wolverhampton St George's Tram Stop

The Royal Tram Stop

The tram stop opened on the 31st May 1999. It was named after a nearby hospital called the Royal Hospital which closed in 1997.

Tram 33 at The Royal Tram Stop

The line from Priestfield to Wolverhampton St George's was closed for around 6 months in 2017 along the Bilston Road so that they could replace the tram tracks. This section reopened by the end of the year. The former Royal Hospital is Grade II listed and the former Tram & Bus Depot nearby was demolished for new housing. Tesco did acquire the hospital building in 2001 for a retail development but was sold to the Homes and Communities Agency in 2015 for residential development.

The Royal Tram Stop

Bilston Central Tram Stop

The tram stop opened on the 31st May 1999 along the brick lined former Great Western Railway cutting. The platforms are staggered.

Tram 36 at Bilston Central Tram Stop

There are entrances at both ends of the tram stop. One end has a lift with steps. The other end has steps. The tram stop is a short distance to the north from the original Bilston Station on the Birmingham Snow Hill-Wolverhampton Low Level Line that closed down in 1972.

Bilston Central Tram Stop

The tram stops below are all with Sandwell.

Wednesbury Parkway Tram Stop

This tram stop is in Wednesbury, and opened on the 31st May 1999.It has park and ride facilities. Get off here for walks along the Walsall Canal.

Tram 31 at Wednesbury Parkway Tram Stop

The tram stop also has a third platform with a track as tram start from the Wednesbury Tram Depot which is next to Wednesbury Great Western Street Tram Stop. That platform is for trams that terminate here.

Wednesbury Parkway Tram Stop

Wednesbury Great Western Street Tram Stop

The tram stop opened on the 31st May 1999 and it is near the Midland Metro tram depot (the base of the current and the former trams that used to be based there). The stop was built on the site of the former Wednesbury Central Station which closed in 1972.

Tram 31 at Wednesbury Great Western Street Tram Stop

Another former railway line runs close to underneath this tram stop. It was the South Staffordshire Line. The line towards Brierley Hill will be used to build a new extension. The overgrowth that has grown over the years has been cut down. The line could open by 2023. It will share trackbed with a heavy rail line to Walsall.

Wednesbury Great Western Street Tram Stop

Lodge Road West Bromwich Town Hall Tram Stop

The tram stop opened on the 31st May 1999 and is to the western side of West Bromwich Town Centre. The stop is in a deep cutting. Sometimes just known as Lodge Road Tram Stop. Has West Bromwich Town Hall in it's name as it is nearby.

Tram 33 at Lodge Road West Bromwich Town Hall Tram Stop

As with Bilston Central, this tram stop has a lift with stairs at one end, and a ramp / walkway at the other end. It was one of the least used tram stops in the year 2015 / 16.

Lodge Road West Bromwich Town Hall Tram Stop

West Bromwich Central Tram Stop

This is the tram stop to use if you want to go to West Bromwich Town Centre. It opened on the 31st May 1999 and is quite close to West Bromwich Bus Station, and the shops. Sandwell College was built close to the tram stop,

Tram 17 at West Bromwich Central Tram Stop

It was built on the site of the former West Bromwich Station on the Great Western Railway line from Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton Low Level. In 2015/16 it was the most heavily used intermediate tram stop on line 1.

West Bromwich Central Tram Stop

The Hawthorns Tram Stop

The railway station on the Jewellery line opened in 1995. While the tram stop opened on Midland Metro line 1 in 1999. The site was the location of The Hawthorns Halt from 1931 until 1968 opened by the Great Western Railway on their line from London Paddington via Birmingham Snow Hill to Birkenhead. The current station opened in 1995 when the Jewellery line was built connecting Birmingham Snow Hill to Smethwick and Stourbridge on the line to Worcester via Kidderminster.

T69 trams such as the one below were still being used late into 2014, as the Urbos 3 were introduced, but they were withdrawn from service in 2015. Many of them going to be scrapped.

Tram 10 at The Hawthorns Tram Stop

Football fans travel to this tram stop (or get the train) to watch the home matches of West Bromwich Albion FC play at The Hawthorns Stadium. There is separate paths for fans of different teams as they walk to the stadium. It is easy to interchange here between trams and trains (similar to Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham). So if you want to change between trams and trains do it here or at the Jewellery Quarter (at Birmingham Snow Hill, the new St Chad's Tram Stop you have to go down to road level then walk around under the Queensway tunnel or head towards the Colmore Row entrance, or use Bull Street Tram Stop).

The Hawthorns Tram Stop and Railway Station

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Architecture
14 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Manor Houses in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull

Let's leave Birmingham, and head over into the next borough. Solihull to be presise. On the High Street is the Manor House and nearby that is a timber framed building. Both now used as shops. Not far from there is Malvern Hall, now a school (Brueton Park open to the public). Over in Castle Bromwich is Castle Bromwich Hall, now a hotel (Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens open to the public).

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We start on the busy Solihull High Street. And head back to 15th and 16th centuries long before it was full of shops and the Touchwood Centre (built 2001).

The Manor House

It was built in 1495 by the Greswold family. Saved by public subscription in 1945. It is Grade II* listed. It had never been home to the Lords of the Manor so it isn't a manor house in the traditional sense. Greswold is also spelt Greswolde. By the 19th century it was known as Lime Tree House due to the 9 lime trees planted there in 1720. For many years it was the local doctor surgery of Ferdinand Page and his son Ericson.

The Manor House Solihull

A brewery purchsed it in 1938 with plans to turn it into a public house, but that was shelved due to the Second World War. It was the local headquarters during the war of the Home Guard. Sold in 1945, eventually used as a community, adult and social care centre. These days there is a shop on the High Street, and round the side is the Manor House Tearoom.

Manor House High Street Solihull

The Black Greyhound on the coat of arms of the borough was taken from the Greswold family.

Manor House High Street Solihull

116 - 120 High Street, Solihull

This timber framed building was built in 1571, with changes in 1845 and 1924. It is a Grade II listed building. A variety of shops have been in this building for many years now.

Timber framed building on the Solihull High Street

The Touchwood Shopping Centre opened nearby in 2001. In the late 2000s / early 2010s a shop called East was in this building. Joules has been there since at least the mid 2010s.

116-120 High Street Solihull

On the left looks like what was a coach entrance, now blocked off with a window with the shop!

116-120 High Street Solihull

Malvern Hall

The Greswold family built another property in Solihull. The Rector of Solihull, Henry Greswold bought the site of Malvern Farm in 1690 for his son Humphry Greswold. The hall passed to various members of the Greswold family until 1772 when Henry Greswold Lewis inherited the hall. When he died in 1829 it passed to a cousin who took the Greswold name. After years of neglect by 1896 it was bought by a Birmingham industrialist who reduced the house to it's present size. Horace Brueton bought it in 1915, but made few changes to the hall.  He sold it to Solihull Rural District Council in 1926, and by 1931 a school opened here. Mr Brueton also gave the parklands of the hall to the council and it was opened to the public as Brueton Park (later linked to Malvern Park).

It is now a Grade II* listed building and is part of Saint Martin's School. A girls school that started here during the Second World War started by two ladies as a boarding school. That school moved to another site in 1989 and Saint Martin's purchased the hall.

Malvern Hall

Brueton Park was formerly part of the grounds to Malvern Hall (the gardens). Horace Brueton gave the park to Solihull Council in 1944. The park was joined to the nearby Malvern Park in 1963. Walking through them both you can't really tell wehn you are leaving one park for the other! The park received Local Nature Reserve status in 2002.

Brueton Park

Brueton Park Lake. The famous artist John Constable visited Malvern Hall and the lake in the 19th century. His painting of the scene is now at Tate Britain. John Constable Malvern Hall, Warwickshire 1809. The view Constable saw is now not possible due to the line of trees separating the park from the school grounds.

Brueton Park Lake

Castle Bromwich Hall

It was built between 1557 and 1585 by Sir Edward Devereux, the first MP for Tamworth, and can be described as an Jacobean Mansion (similar to Aston Hall but much older). But was from the Elizabethan period. Sir Orlando Bridgeman bought the Hall and Gardens for his son Sir John Bridgeman I in 1657 (during the Commonwealth period). Sir John Bridgeman II inherited the hall and gardens in 1710 and made changes to the hall and gardens. The gardens were further developed over the following centuries by other members of the Bridgeman family later to become Earls of Bradford. The last member of the family to live here was Lady Ida Bridgeman who died here in 1936. During World War II it was used for storage, after that an apprentice training centre, and later used as offices by various small companies. From 2007 to 2009 it was used as a furniture showroom, before being sold again and becoming the hotel it is today.

The hall is a Grade I listed building. The Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust was formed in the 1980s to protect and preserve the gardens. The hall is now used as a hotel. And visitors can come to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. Access to the part of the garden near the hall is for guided tours only.

Castle Bromwich Hall

Seen beyond the gardens of Castle Bromwich Hall (from Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens) is the Dovecote (or the Bakehouse), a Grade I listed building dating to the late 16th century. It is now a part of the hotel.

Dovecote or Bakehouse at Castle Bromwich Hall

The Mirror Pond seen at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. It is on the other side of the garden walls. On this side you can find an orchard, a wildflower meadow, and various other areas for nature. There is a view of Castle Bromwich Hall beyond the railings in the middle of the wall. The view is separated by the Lower Wilderness (garden area closest to the wall), and the Upper Wilderness (closer to the entrance to the gardens). You can walk up the Archery Lawn in the middle to get close to the view of the hall.

The Mirror Pond at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Photos by Elliott Brown

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10 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Shakespeare in Birmingham

While William Shakespeare lived in Stratford-upon-Avon or London, and didn't live in Birmingham, you can still find objects of Shakespeare here in our city! Including pubs called The Shakespeare. The Shakespeare Memorial Room in the Library of Birmingham, and various busts of the bard!

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The Shakespeare Memorial Room opened up at the top of the Library of Birmingham in 2013. But it was originally part of the much loved Victorian library. Created in 1882 to house the Shakespeare Library, it was designed by John Henry Chamberlain, who was responsible for rebuilding the old Central Library after the original was gutted by a fire.

When the Central Library was demolished in 1974, the room was dismantled and stored, and eventually re-erected as part of the School of Music Complex.

The same happened again when construction of the new Library of Birmingham started in 2010.

 

Library Theatre Birmingham seen in 2011. Close to Adrian Boult Hall and the Birmingham Central Library. The location of the Shakespeare Memorial Room was close to here back then.

Library Theatre Birmingham

Entrance to the William Shakespeare Memorial Library and the Library Exhibition Hall. I never did get around to going in and seeing it at the time. So only saw it for myself when the Library of Birmingham opened in 2013.

William Shakespeare Memorial Library

In 2013 the Shakespeare Memorial Room was installed at Level 9 of the Library of Birmingham inside this golden cylinder. The space next to it is the Skyline Viewpoint. There is also some busts and foundation stones saved from the demolished old libraries up there.

Golden cylinder new location of the Shakespeare Memorial Room

A look around the walls of the Shakespeare Memorial Room. Inside are books and folios of Shakespeares famous plays.

The roof has been reconstructed in plaster by A E Edwards & Co, a Birmingham based company dating to the 1870s.

Shakespeare Memorial Room

Shakespeare Memorial Room

Shakespeare Memorial Room

Shakespeare Memorial Room

Images of Shakespeare to be found in the Shakespeare Memorial Room.

Shakespeare bust in the Shakespeare Memorial Room

Shakespeare in the Shakespeare Memorial Room

Shakespeare in the Shakespeare Memorial Room

Shakespeare in the Shakespeare Memorial Room

Much ado about Shakespeare

Much ado about Shakespeare

Our Shakespeare was an exhibition at the Library of Birmingham, from April to September 2016 in the Exhibition Gallery on Level 3.

This bust is normally at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Shakespeare bust Our Shakespeare

Our Shakespeare

Our Shakespeare

Was several old books around in glass cases. Shakespeare's Folios.

Shakespeares Folio

The Actors Names

Actors Names

The Tempest

The Tempest

There is one bust of Shakespeare at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre in the warehouse.

Shakespeare bust at BMCC

Over to the pubs in the City Centre named after William Shakespeare.

First off we have a look at The Shakespeare on Lower Temple Street.

Before refurbishment in 2010. It used to be a Mitchells & Butlers pub.

The Shakespeare Lower Temple Street

This building dates to 1911.

The Shakespeare Lower Temple Street in 2010

After refurbishment in 2011 with a new pub sign.

The Shakespeare Lower Temple Street

Nicholson's was established in 1873.

The Shakespeare Lower Temple Street in 2011

The other pub called The Shakespeare is on Summer Row near the Jewellery Quarter.

The Shakespeare Summer Row

The Shakespeare Summer Row

Pub sign has changed over the years. This one from 2012. Nicholsons also runs this pub.

The Shakespeare Summer Row

Built in the Victorian period, also known as the Shakespeare Tavern.

The Shakespeare Summer Row

Here's a bonus The Shakespeare pub that no longer exists in Birmingham City Centre.

The Shakespeare used to be in Birmingham New Street Station but closed in 2013 during the redevelopment of the station.

The Shakespeare Birmingham New Street Station

 

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06 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Cadbury Brothers: George and Richard Cadbury

You may have heard about Bournville, and Cadbury chocolate, but do you know about the Brothers behind the company? We take a look at George Cadbury and his brother Richard Cadbury. They were the sons of John Cadbury who founded the original Cadbury company. They aquired land south west of Birmingham in 1878, in what is now Bournville.

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George Cadbury lived from 1839 until 1922.

With his brother Richard, they acquired land to the south west of Birmingham in 1878 and built their factory there in 1879. He helped start the development of the Bournville Village from around 1900 onwards. There is no pubs as the Cadbury's were Quakers.

George Cadbury

George lived at 32 George Road in Edgbaston from 1872 until 1881. There is an English Heritage blue plaque on this house

George Cadbury's house in Edgbaston

The Bournville Village Trust was established in 1900 by George Cadbury.  We take a look at some of the buildings built during George Cadbury's lifetime in the early part of the 20th century.

The Bournville Carillon was built in 1906 by W Alexander Harvey. It is now part of Bournville Junior School. You can sometimes hear the bells ringing if you are in Bournville, it is quite a unique sound!

Bournville Carillon

A bust of George Cadbury is outside of the Quaker Meeting House. That was built in 1905 by W Alexander Harvey. The Cadbury's were Quaker's.

Bournville Meeting House

The Rest House in Bournville Village Green. Built in 1914 by W Alexander Harvey to mark the silver wedding of George Cadbury and his then wife. It is now a visitor centre for the Carillon.

The Rest House Bournville

If you enter Bournville from the Cotteridge end or the Selly Oak end, you might see this sign. It has a photo of George Cadbury at the top welcoming you to Bournville!

Welcome to Bournville Village

Richard Cadbury lived from 1835 until 1899 and was and elder brother of George.

With his brother George, he took over the family business in 1861, and they eventually acquired land four miles to the south west of Birmingham by 1878 and built the Cadbury chocolate factory a year later. He dontated Moseley Hall to the City of Birmingham, and it is now a hospital.

Richard Cadbury

Richard lived at 17 Wheeleys Road in Edgbaston from 1861 until 1871. There is a English Heritage blue plaque on this house.

Richard Cadbury's house in Edgbaston

Richard Cadbury bought the Moseley Hall estate in 1889. He then gave it as a children's home. It was built in 1795. Is now known as Moseley Hall Hospital.

Moseley Hall

Another property in Moseley, this one on the Queensbridge Road is the Uffculme Centre (not far from the Highbury Estate). Built for Richard Cadbury in 1890. It was his last home from 1891 until his death in 1899. His family lived there until the death of his widow in 1906. The house was later gifted to the City of Birmingham in 1916 when it became a hospital until around 1999. Now used as a conference centre.

Uffculme Centre

Almshouses built in Bournville by Richard Cadbury for the benefit of the Cadbury workers. The railings were removed during the Second World War, but new ones were installed in 2008 by the Bournville Village Trust.

Bournville Almshouses

 

You might be familiar with this building if you pass through Bournville, either on the train or walking along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The Cadbury Factory building, on this site from 1879 onwards. Cadbury World has been inside part of the site since the early 1990s.

Cadbury Factory

Cadbury Factory

View from the Worcester & Birmingham Canal over looking the Cross City Line South.

Cadbury Factory

The famous Bournville sign.

Bournville - Cadbury Factory

The famous Cadbury sign.

Cadbury Factory

Photos by Elliott Brown.

 

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05 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Tram Stops in Birmingham City Centre

A look at the Tram Stops in Birmingham City Centre, from Jewellery Quarter to Grand Central. Originally the old terminus from 1999 until 2015 was at Snow Hill on the former platform 4 of the railway station, before the first extension opened to Birmingham New Street Station by 2016.

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Jewellery Quarter Tram Stop

The tram stop opened on the 31st May 1999 and is between Soho Benson Road and St Paul's. Jewellery Quarter Station itself opened in 1995. The station is near the mouth of the Hockley No 2 Tunnel. Interchange between trams and trains is quite easy here as there is a gate you can walk through.

Jewellery Quarter Tram Stop

Tram seen from the train at Jewellery Quarter Station.

Jewellery Quarter Tram Stop from the train

 

St Pauls Tram Stop

The tram stop opened on the 31st May 1999 between Jewellery Quarter and Snow Hill. Pedestrians can access the tram stop from Constitution Hill. From the bridge above you have views of Birmingham Snow Hill Station plus the Snowhill development. Photo below was when Two Snowhill was just a pair of cores (was a delay of several years before it got going again). These days you can watch Three Snowhill being built!

St Paul's Tram Stop

The platforms were altered on all stations from St Paul's to Wolverhampton St George's to allow room for the new Urbos 3 trams.

St Paul's Tram Stop

 

St Chad's Tram Stop (formerly Snow Hill Tram Stop)

This tram stop opened on the 2nd June 2016 replacing the old Snow Hill Tram Stop. Originally named Snow Hill, but the stop is a bit far from the entrances of Birmingham Snow Hill, so it was renamed to St Chad's in January 2017. Took a while before the new lift and stairs around it opened to the public. Interchange between tram and train is best done at Jewellery Quarter or The Hawthorns. Here you would have to get the lift down or walk down the stairs. Then walk past the Queensway and turn onto Livery Street to get into the Livery Street entrance of Birmingham Snow Hill Station.

The former tram stop terminus was open from 1999 to 2015 at what was platform 4 of Birmingham Snow Hill Station, just finishing close to the Snow Hill Tunnel. It opened on 31st May 1999 and closed on 24th October 2015. The approach line was disconnected.

St Chad's Tram Stop

Snow Hill Tram Stop - the former terminus used from 1999 until 2015.

Snow Hill Tram Stop

Bull Street Tram Stop

The tram stop was the first to open on the first city centre extension on 6th December 2015. And was initially the new terminus due to the delay of opening Corporation Street and Grand Central. There was a visit of the Queen to officially open the line where she named tram 35 "Angus Adams".

Bull Street Tram Stop

Pair of trams seen in 2016 around the time that the terminus moved from Bull Street to Grand Central (or was about to).

Bull Street Tram Stop

Corporation Street Tram Stop

The tram stop opened on the 30th May 2016 after being delayed from December 2015. There is only a shelter on the side towards Wolverhampton. Currently no shelter on the platform towards Grand Central, although that could change once the second extension to Centenary Square opens in the future. Ozzy Osbourne came to name a tram after himself, no 37 at this stop in late May 2016.

Corporation Street Tram Stop

Tram 37 Ozzy Osbourne departs from Corporation Street Tram Stop bound for Wolverhampton.

Corporation Street Tram Stop - Ozzy 37

Grand Central Tram Stop

The last tram stop on the first city centre extension opened on the 30th May 2016 next to Birmingham New Street Station. It is on Stephenson Street. Trams normally go beyond the stop to the top of Stephenson Street, before heading onto a spur to get to the other side. But this will change from late September 2018 to allow the extension to Westside to be added to the existing tracks. The next stop will be Town Hall (for Victoria Square) followed by Centenary Square. Eventually the line will go as far as the bottom of Hagley Road at Five Ways.

Grand Central Tram Stop

Pair of trams seen at Grand Central Tram Stop.

Pair of trams at Grand Central Tram Stop

 

Photos by Elliott Brown.

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Transport
04 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Diesel locomotives at the Tyseley Locomotive Works

It's not just steam locomotives to be found at a Tyseley Locomotive Works open day. They also have diesel engines in their collection, plus other diesel engines come to visit, or are there for maintenance / restoration as well.

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In this post, we will show you what diesel locomotives are in Tyseley's collection, or which ones have visited on open days. Most of them were in service between the 1950s and 1980s before they were retired. Many were scrapped, some were preserved.

 

Their only operational Class 47 is 47773. Built 1964. BR Co-Co Class 47. Also known as D1755 The Queen Mother. Seen below in the engine shed at Tyseley. You can also see it from the walkway above. Although the best views of it was from both ends of the train.

D1755 47 773 at Tyseley Locomotive Works

Seen below in September 2016 was 47760 owned by West Coast Railways. It is now located at Carnforth.

47760 close to the turntable at Tyseley LW in 2016

37263 seen at the September 2016 open day. BR Co-Co Class 37. Built in 1965. It is currently located at the Telford Steam Railway.

37263 at Tyseley Locomotive Works

40 118 seen at the September 2018 open day. BR 1Co-Co1 Class 40. Built 1961. Undergoing a major restoration.

40 118 at Tyseley Locomotive Works

50 033 seen at the September 2016 open day. It is named "Glorious". BR Co-Co Class 50. Built 1968. Glorious 'Hoover' is now undergoing a restoration at Kidderminster. It arrived at the Severn Valley Railway in late May 2018. They are hoping to get it ready for the gala marking 50 years of Class 50s.

50 033 at Tyseley Locomotive Works in Sept 2016

A visitor to the Tyseley Locomotive Works in April 2018 was 56301. Class 56. Now owned by the Class 56 Group. Built sometime between 1976 and 1984. It was delivered to Tyseley by lorry propably for an open day that spring.

56301 seen at Tyseley Locomotive Works

13029 (08021) from the area where you can watch steam trains going up the line nearby. BR 0-6-0 Class 08. Built 1953.

13029 (08021) at Tyseley Locomotive Works

On open days they have one train at Tyseley Warwick Road with a Buffet Car. In September 2016 that was behind The Flying Scotsman. This time in September 2018 the Buffet Car was close to the buffer. There was about four Class 50 trains behind.

Buffet Car at Tyseley Warwick Road

Now a look at the four visiting Class 50 diesel locomotives that were at Tyseley Warwick Road behind the buffet car.

 

50 006 Neptune. D406. Built 1968. Named in 1978. The first Class 50 to be refurbished. The original Neptune was scrapped in 1988. It is actually 50 007 Hercules (that number / name pair could be seen on from the other platform).

50 006 Neptune at Tyseley Warwick Road

50 007 Hercules. D407. Built 1968. Named 1978. Renamed to Sir Edward Elgar in 1984. Renamed back to Hercules in 2014. Now owned by the Class 50 Alliance. 50 006 Neptune is on the other side of the train.

50 007 Hercules at Tyseley Warwick Road

50 011 Centurion.  D411. Built 1968. Named 1978. First Class 50 to be withdrawn. The original Centurion was scrapped in 1992. It is actually 50 049 Defiance (that number / name pair could be seen from the other platform).

50 011 Centurion at Tyseley Warwick Road

50 049 Defiance.  D449. Built 1968. Named 1978. Now owned by the Class 50 Alliance. 50 011 Centurion is on the other side of the train.

50 049 Defiance at Tyseley Warwick Road

Photos taken by Elliott Brown at the September 2016 and September 2018 open days at the Tyseley Locomotive Works.

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01 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown

Tyseley Locomotive Works 50th Anniversary

The 50th Anniversary of the Tyseley Locomotive Works was in late September 2018. There are regular open days held at Tyseley ever year. The site is run by Vintage Trains who restores old steam locomotives, and sometimes has them on the national network such as the Shakespeare Express.

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Originally built in 1908 as the Great Western Railway's Tyseley depot, Vintage Trains has been operating here since the mid to late 1960s restoring old steam locomotives. At one point the Tyseley Locomotive Works was known as the Birmingham Railway Museum, but the site is now only open to the public on certain open days during each year. They also attract vintage cars, traction engines and model railway clubs to the site. In September 2016, the famous Flying Scotsman paid a visit to Tyseley and Birmingham.

GWR Tyseley Locomotive Works

Part of the site is now the West Midlands Railway Diesel Multiple-Unit Depot (formerly London Midland / Central Trains / British Rail), but here we are focussing on the vintage trains part of the site.

You will find that a lot of the trains are giving off steam (especially the steam locomotives on site). Most of the main loco's are positioned around the turntable in the middle.

Tyseley Locomotive Works open day Sept 2016

The turntable seen in 2016.

Tyseley Locomotive Works Turntable

Tyseley Locomotive Works Turntable

No 1. Called Percy. Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST. Lined Maroon. Built 1942.

Tyseley Locomotive Works Turntable No 1

5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. GWR 4-6-0 4073 Castle Class. BR Green, Early Emblem. Built 1936.

5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe on the TLW turntable

Seen on the turntable in September 2018 the recently restored 7029 Clun Castle. GWR 4-6-0 4073 Castle Class. BR Green, Late Crest. Built 1950.

7029 Clun Castle at Tyseley Locomotive Works

Seen in September 2016. 4965 Rood Ashton Hall. GWR 4-6-0 49xx Hall Class. GWR Green. Built 1931.

4965 Rood Ashton Hall Tyseley LW

Seen during September 2016 around the turntable. 5593 Kolhapur. 5XP Jubilee. Built in 1934. Now on display waiting a restoration.

5593 Kolhapur at Tyseley Locomotive Works

Seen on the open day of September 2018. 45596 Bahamas. LMS 4-6-0 5XP Jubilee. Built 1935. Used to be at the National Railway Museum in York. Moved to the Tyseley Locomotive Works in 2013 for restoration. Bahamas Locomotive Society have owned it since 1967.

45596 Bahamas at Tyseley Locomotive Works

9600 is used on open days to pull the carriages so visitors can enjoy a train ride. It was not used in September 2018 (but was in September 2016). GWR 0-6-0PT 57xx Class. Built 1945.

9600 at Tyseley Locomotive Works

L94 London Transport seen pulling carriages with visitors enjoying a train ride up and down the line. You get on at Tyseley Warwick Road if you have tickets. Seen September 2018. GWR 0-6-0PT 57xx Class.Built 1930. Used on the London Underground from 1959 to 1971.

Train ride with L94 London Transport at Tyseley Locomotive Works

Something you don't normally see much at Tyseley is 60103 The Flying Scotsman. It visited Birmingham and the Midlands in September 2016, and was at Tyseley Warwick Road for the open day. It also went on the Severn Valley Railway at the time, and you could also see it on the Snow Hill lines. It had come down from the National Railway Museum in York, and was making a nationwide tour after a decade long restoration of the famous engine!

60103 The Flying Scotsman visits Tyseley Locomotive Works, Sept 2016

During the open day visits, you get a chance to see what locomotives that are undergoing restoration, or what they are building here.

In September 2016, 7029 Clun Castle was undergoing a full restoration. It was completed by October 2017. See the photo above of it on the turntable during the September 2018 open day.

Restoration of 7029 Clun Castle in 2016 at Tyseley Locomotive Works

Another engine was seen in the same spot in September 2018 undergoing a restoration / rebuild. 4936 Kinlet Hall can be seen having an overhaul to the left. It was bought in 1981 by the Kinlet Hall Locomotive Company. It had operated on various heritage railways, first restoration completed at Tyseley in 1996. It needed a second restoration from summer 2016, and is now undergoing a complete overhaul. While 71000 The Impossible Dream was still to the right. More on that engine below.

Restoration shed at Tyseley Locomotive Works, Sept 2018

No 670 seen in September 2016. This was a completely new steam locomotive. They started to build it in 1986! But as of 2018 it has never been finished! It is a LNWR Bloomer Class 2-2-2 replica. Was 90% completed by 1990.

No 670 the unfinished new locomotive at Tyseley Locomotive Works

A close up look at The Impossible Dream 71000 The Duke of Gloucester. Built in 1954. BR Standard Class 8 4-6-2. Seen at the September 2018 open day, it is still under going restoration. They need donations to help restore it. A long way to go.

71000 The Impossible Dream (Duke of Gloucester) at Tyseley Locomotive Works

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27 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown

Thomas Attwood: Birmingham's first Member of Parliament

Did you know that Birmingham's first MP was Thomas Attwood from 1832 to 1840. There has been two statues honouring him in Birmingham, one dated 1859 and the other more recently in 1993. He lobbied for a Reform Bill and he founded the Birmingham Politcal Union at the end of 1829.

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Before 1832, Birmingham didn't have any represenation in Parliament. A Birmingham Banker called Thomas Attwood founded the Birmingham Political Union in 1829.

Portrait of Thomas Attwood seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Thomas Attwood at Birmingham History Galleries

It called for extending voting to the working class and redistributing suffrage rights. A Reform Bill of this kind went to Parliament in 1831, before the passing of the 1832 Reform Act.

In May 1832, The Birmingham Political Union met at New Hall Hill where about 200,000 people gathered calling for political reform.

Painting below seen at the Birmingham History Galleries painted by Benjamin Haydon.

Birmingham Political Union

After the Reform Act was passed in 1832, Attwood was elected to Parliament in December 1832, one of two Birmingham Members of Parliament (MPs) with Joshua Scholefield. He was an MP until around 1839. Only one in six men could vote at the time the act was passed.

There has been two statues made of Thomas Attwood.

The first was made in 1859 (around 3 years after his death in 1856) by the sculptor Peter Hollins. At one point the statue stood in Calthorpe Park in Edgbaston before later being moved to a park in Larches Green, Sparkbrook. It was there from 1974 until 2008. But it was regularly a target for graffiti and vandalism. It was removed from the park and was sent into storage at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. Where it still remains unrestored.

The plinth is now outside with some other plinths at the Museum Collections Centre.

Seen here in 2012 with the graffiti tags still present.

Thomas Attwood statue plinth

Under the graffiti tags it reads "Thomas Attwood Founder of the Birmingham Political Union".

Thomas Attwood statue plinth

As of 2018 the statue itself is encased in a wooden crate, just outside of the Warehouse.

Thomas Attwood statue BMCC

As you can see, the statue is in the same condition as it was when it was removed from the park in Sparkbrook in 2008. Graffiti tags all over, and one of the arms is missing.

Thomas Attwood statue BMCC full

Closer look at the head, and the condition of the statue looks worse for wear. Hopefully it will be restored one day and placed somewhere where the public could see it. Such as on the Harborne High Street?

Thomas Attwood statue BMCC head

The second statue was made more recently in 1993 and was placed on the steps of Chamberlain Square, not far from the Birmingham Town Hall and the now demolished Birmingham Central Library. It was removed to storage in November 2015 ahead of the demolition of the old library for the Paradise Birmingham redevelopment. The sculptors were Sioban Coppinger and Fiona Peever.

Thomas Attwood in Chamberlain Square

Thomas Attwood in Chamberlain Square

There also used to be a soapbox and pages on the steps with the words "Prosperity", "The Vote" and "Reform"

"Prosperity", "Reform" and "The Vote".

"Votes for All" and "Demand for Change"

Soapbox

"Full Employment" and "Free Trade".

Attwood pages

You can find a blue plaque to Thomas Attwood at Crescent Tower. He lived on a house on that site on what is now the Civic Centre Estate (not far from Cambridge Street). The Birmingham Civic Society unveiled it in 1983.

 

About 30 plus years later another Birmingham MP, this time John Bright called for further political reform. He was famous for his battles to abolish the Corn Laws. He served as MP for Birmingham from 1858 until 1889. During this time he called for Parliamentary reform, and this led to the Reform Act 1867 (or the Second Reform Act).

The statue seen below is now at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and was by Albert Joy and was made in 1888. John Bright Street near the Alexandrea Theatre was named in his honour.

John Bright

All photos taken by Elliott Brown.

 

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History & heritage
21 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown

J.R.R. Tolkien's Birmingham (inspiration for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings)

J. R. R. Tolkien lived in the Birmingham area from when he was a child until he left for Oxford. Famous for writing The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings he lived in Sarehole, a hamlet now in Moseley, and later Edgbaston.

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Sarehole 1896 - 1900

Tolkien lived with his mother Mabel and his younger brother Hilary from about 1896 to 1900 in house near the bottom of Wake Green Road in the hamlet of Sarehole (now part of Moseley). Nearby was Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog which inspired him to create The Shire in The Hobbit. There is now a nearby country park that runs alongside the River Cole called The Shire Country Park.

Sarehole Mill

Moseley Bog where JRR Tolkien and his younger brother would play as children. Inspiration for woods in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Moseley Bog

Tolkien lived in a property on Wake Green Road close to Moseley Bog and opposite Sarehole Mill. It is now Gracewell Cottages and is home to retired people. The Tolkien family lived at 264 Wake Green Road. Also known as No 5 Gracewell Cottages.

Wake Green Road home of Tolkien in Sarehole

Originally made for Birmingham's 2013 display at the Chelsea Flower Show, these models of The Two Towers (Perrott's Folly and Edgbaston Waterworks Tower) were later moved to the garden area in front of the Library of Birmingham (before it opened in September 2013). A few years later in 2015, they were moved to an area close to Sarehole Mill where they are on permenant display.

The Two Towers at Sarehole Mill

Edgbaston 1900 - 1911

The Tolkien's later moved to Edgbaston. His mother placed the Tolkien boys in the guardianship of Father Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory before her death. Inspiration for The Two Towers came from Perrott's Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower.

Perrott's Folly and Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

The Birmingham Oratory seen on the Hagley Road in Edgbaston near Ladywood. JRR Tolkien was a parishioner and altar boy here from about 1902 to 1911. Not far from his homes at the time.

Birmingham Oratory

This was the home on Highfield Road in Edgbaston of Tolkien. He lived at No. 4 from 1910-11. He previously lived at Duchess Place in Ladywood from 1902 to about 1910. A modern building called Teleperformance House is on that site from the Hagley Road.

Highfield Road Edgbaston home of JRR Tolkien

The Plough and Harrow pub on the Hagley Road in Edgbaston. Tolkien stayed here in June 1916 according to a blue plaque on the side of the building.

The Plough and Harrow - Hagley Road, Edgbaston

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12 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown

Thomas Telford: A Tale of Three Bridges (including Galton Bridge in Smethwick)

Here we take a look at the 18th century engineer Thomas Telford and some of the bridges that he designed. Along the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Main Line, he designed the Galton Bridge in Smethwick. In North Wales two suspension bridges at Conwy and Menai on the road to Holyhead.

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Galton Bridge

The bridge was built in Smethwick on the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Main Line carrying the Roebuck Lane in 1829, and was named after Samuel Galton a member of the Lunar Society. . When it was built, it's single span of 151 feet (46 metres) was the highest in the world. It used to be a road bridge, but it now only carries pedestrians. It is now a Grade I listed building. Smethwick Galton Bridge Station nearby (opened in 1995) was named after it.

This view is seen shortly after getting off a train on the Snow Hill lines from Birmingham on the High Level of Smethwick Galton Bridge Station.

Galton Bridge from Smethwick Galton Bridge Station

Down on the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Main Line (Birmingham Level), this view of the Galton Bridge is towards the Galton Tunnel.

Galton Bridge Smethwick

The best views from canal level normally have the 1829 bridge with the 1995 railway station behind it.

Galton Bridge in Smethwick

Quite an impressive view. But with all of Telford's bridges covered here, railway bridges were later built beside. The station only came when the Jewellery Line opened in 1995. The nearby Smethwick West Station closed in 1996 (platforms are still visible if you are on a train to or from Stourbridge Junction).

Galton Bridge in Smethwick

A look at Roebuck Lane both directions on the Galton Bridge in Smethwick.

Roebuck Lane, Smethwick - Galton Bridge

Roebuck Lane, Smethwick - Galton Bridge

It's time to see what Thomas Telford was up to in North Wales. He built two suspension bridges on the A5 road from Chester to Holyhead. It allowed road traffic from 1826 to get from London to Holyhead (on Anglesey) then to get a ferry to Dublin in Ireland.

The problem was crossing the River Conwy in Conwy and the Menai Strait between Gwynedd (near Bangor) and Anglesey (near what is now Menai Bridge Town).

Conwy Suspension Bridge

The bridge was built to cross the River Conwy in Conwy County Borough, and was built close to Conwy Castle. The bridge designed by Thomas Telford was built from 1822 to 1826. The bridge is 99.5 metres long (326 ft). Road traffic used it from 1826 to 1958 when it was replaced by the nearby Conwy Bridge. A Toll House was at one end where tolls were collected. The bridge was designed to match the castle with castellated towers. It closed to road traffic in 1958, and the National Trust owned it from 1965. The bridge is Grade I listed.

Conwy Suspension Bridge

The bridge has been closed to road traffic since 1958, only pedestrians cross it now. Got it to myself at one point during my visit!

Conwy Suspension Bridge

The towers were built in a castellated form to match with Conwy Castle.

Conwy Suspension Bridge

The Toll House at the other end of the Conwy Suspension Bridge. It has been laid out as if it was 1891 by the National Trust. Vehicles would have to stop here and pay their tolls (usually horse and cart, people with mules, bicylcles etc). By the mid 20th century this caused traffic jams into Conwy, and a new bridge was built and opened nearby in 1958.

Toll House - Conwy Suspension Bridge

Alongside Telford's bridge is the 1848 Conwy Tubular Bridge by Robert Stephenson. Also castallated. This view to Conwy Castle.

Conwy Tubular and Suspension Bridges to the CastleIt carries the North Wales Coast Line railway, on this section between Llandudno Junction and Conwy Station. Then onto Anglesey via the Britannia Bridge and onto Holyhead.

Conwy Tubular and Suspension Bridges

 

Menai Suspension Bridge

The bridge crosses the Menai Strait from the Gwynedd side (close to Bangor) to the Isle of Anglesey (near Menai Bridge Town known in Welsh as Porthaethwy). The bridge spans 176 metres (577 ft). It was completed in 1826 and is still used by road traffic. Construction of the bridge began in 1819. The deck of the bridge was later strengthed in 1840 by W. A. Provis. And the wooden surface replaced by a steel surface in 1893 by Sir Benjamin Baker. In 1999 the bridge was closed for a month to allow for resurfacing and strenghen the structure. There is pedestrian walkways on both sides of the bridge. Buses both single and double decker are able to cross the bridge, but have to slow down under the arched towers.

Menai Suspension Bridge

Crossing the bridge towards Anglesey. It's on the A5 to Holyhead. But you can also use the A55 North Wales Expressway over the Britannia Bridge instead (faster).

Crossing the Menai Suspension Bridge

The bridge is ok for small buses like this one.

Bus on the Menai Suspension Bridge

Bigger buses, single or double deckers normally struggle when they head under the towers.

Cyclist and a bus on the Menai Suspension Bridge

Some buses go to the nearby City of Bangor (to the right of this location)

Bus to Bangor on the Menai Suspension Bridge

It's a long way down to the Menai Strait. Walking on either side of the bridge, you certainly feel a bit of vertigo. Best to not be scared of heights.

Menai Strait and the Menai Suspension Bridge

All photos taken by Elliott Brown

 

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10 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown

Boulton & Watt - the founding fathers of Birmingham!

James Watt came down from Scotland at the invitation of Matthew Boulton in the late 18th century after Watt had made improvement's to Thomas Newcomen's steam engine. Boulton who owned the Soho Manufactory obtained a patent from 1775 onwards.

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You can see one of Boulton & Watt's engines at Dartmouth Circus. Easier to see if you enter the subways and walk past it. But is visible from the road in cars or buses etc. It was built in 1817 and was used at the Netherton Ironworks.

Boulton & Watt engine at Dartmouth Circus

The Smethwick Engine is now located at the Thinktank science museum, it was made in 1779. It's the oldest working steam engine and the oldest working engine in the world. Originally located in Smethwick close to the Soho Foundry. It was previously at the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry at the Newhall Street site in the Jewellery Quarter (now Newhall Square). Was moved to Thinktank from 2001.

Smethwick Engine at Thinktank

The gold leaf covered statue of Boulton, Watt and Murdoch was by William Bloye. Unveiled at this site in 1956. But was planned from 1939 (before the Second World War). It was removed to storage in 2017, and will return to the other side of Broad Street at a new site in Centenary Square.

Boulton, Watt & Murdoch on Broad Street

The statue of James Watt used to be in Chamberlain Square outside the now demolished Birmingham Central Library until it was removed to storage in 2015.

James Watt statue Chamberlain Square

Close up view of the James Watt statue. He seemed to have more sculptures of him than Mr Boulton did!

James Watt statue in front of Birmingham Central Library

Boulton and Watt - there is a pair of busts of the pair in the Drawing Room at Soho House in Handsworth. It was the home of Boulton during the late 18th century.

Matthew Boulton

Matthew Boulton bust at Soho House

James Watt

James Watt bust at Soho House

Portaits at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Matthew Boulton by Carl Frederick von Breda in 1792.

Matthew Boulton portrait BMAG

James Watt by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1812.

James Watt portrait BMAG

This bust of James Watt was found at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. It is similar to the one found at Soho House (see above).

James Watt bust at BMCC

All photos taken by Elliott Brown

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06 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown

Joseph Priestley the discoverer of oxygen

Joseph Priestley was an 18th century theologian, natural philosopher, chemist etc, who discovered oxygen. He was in Birmingham from 1780 to 1791, when he had to leave due to the Priestley Riots.

View this great post by Elliott Brown, one of Birmingham's People with Passion.

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Joseph Priestley statue in Chamberlain Square

Priestley was born in 1733 and died in 1804. He was based in Birmingham from 1780 to 1791. While there he made friends with the Lunar Society including Matthew Boulton. He was the minister of New Meeting which was located close to what is Moor Street Queensway and New Meeting Street.

Joseph Priestley statue in Chamberlain Square

The statue that used to be in Chamberlain Square until 2016 was by Francis John Williamson and was made in 1874.

Joseph Priestley statue in Chamberlain Square

Maquette of Priestley in the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre

Williamson probably made this maquette before making the full sized statue.

Priestley maquette at BMCC

Saint Michael's Catholic Church built on the site of Priestley's New Meeting

In 1791 riots erupted in Birmingham, known now as the Priestley Riots. On the 2nd anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille that started the French Revolution in France. Rioters attacked Priestley's families home at Fairhill in Sparkbrook. They also burnt down the New Meeting Chapel followed by the Old Meeting Chapel.

New Meeting now Saint Michael's

Today Saint Michael's Catholic Church stands on the site and there is a blue plaque on New Meeting Street about Priestley. It is now a Polish church.

New Meeting now Saint Michael's

New Meeting now Saint Michael's

Photography and article by Elliott Brown.

For more great posts and a great gallery of people who helped build this City, connect here.

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02 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown

The Old Grammar Schools of Kings Norton and Yardley

Did you know that there are buildings in Kings Norton and Yardley both called The Old Grammar School (no relation).

The Old School in Kings Norton is in the churchyard of St Nicholas's Church. The one in Yardley is close to St Edburgha's Church.

This post and all photography courtesy Elliott Brown. 

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The Old Grammar School Kings Norton

Old Grammar School, Kings Norton was probably built as a priest's house to St Nicholas's Church, and it dates to the early 15th century. The building was expanded in the early 16th century. Along with the Saracen's Head it won the BBC Restoration programme in 2004, and was restored and reopened by 2008.

Old Grammar School Kings Norton

Old Grammar School Kings Norton

Old Grammar School Kings Norton

Old Grammar School Kings Norton

 

The Old Grammar School Yardley

Known as The Trust School. There is evidence of a school in Yardley by 1260 AD. The Masters were Monks from Maxstoke Priory. The present building dates to around the 15th century. It was originally a guild hall. The school closed in 1908. Now used as Parish Rooms with a Youth Club upstairs and a lounge downstairs.

The Old Grammar School Yardley

The Old Grammar School Yardley

The Old Grammar School Yardley

The Old Grammar School Yardley

All photos by Elliott Brown

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23 Aug 2018 - Elliott Brown

Birmingham's architectural gems - we go back in time!

Every month with the help of our People with Passion, FreeTimePays will feature great historic architecture of Birmingham.

In this article we feature Highbury Hall, Aston Hall, Sarehole Mill and Blakesley Hall, 4 of Birmingham's magnificent buildings.

Take the full post and view more for more great historic gems and 'Did you know' facts.

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Highbury Hall - a historic gem in Moseley, Birmingham

Photo courtesy Christine Wright

Highbury Hall is a wonderful Grade II listed building that nestles in Highbury Park. It was built in 1879 by J H Chamberlain for Joseph Chamberlain (no relation). Joseph Chamberlain lived here from 1880 until 1914.

Photo courtesy Elliott Brown

Highbury Hall (August 2018)

Photo courtesy Elliott Brown

Aston Hall - a historic gem in Aston, Birmingham

Photo courtesy Elliott Brown

Aston Hall was built between 1618 and 1635 for Sir Thomas Holte. It was then leased by James Watt Jr from 1817. It became a museum from 1858 with ownership passing to Birmingham Corporation soon after.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust

The Great Parlour at Aston Hall was the Holte family's principal living room. Around 1700 it was converted into a chapel.

The Great Parlour at Aston Hall

Photo courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Sarehole Mill - a historic gem in Hall Green, Birmingham 

Photo courtesy Elliott Brown

The original Sarehole Mill was built in 1542. The Mill standing now was built in 1771. JRR Tolkien lived in the area as a child and got much of his inspiration from the Sarehole Mill.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust

Here is Mill machinery as seen inside Sarehole Mill.

Mill Machinery at Sarehole Mill

Photo courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Blakesley Hall - historic gem in Yardley, Birmingham.

Photo courtesy Elliott Brown

Blakesley Hall is a timber framed farmhouse in Yardley which was built for Richard Smallbroke towards the end of the 16th century.

Blakesley Hall is now owned and run as a museum by the Birmingham Museums Trust.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust

The Great Parlour at Blakesley Hall was used for private dining, sitting and entertaining. Had a door to the garden so people could come and go without passing through the main Hall.

The Great Parlour at Blakesley Hall

Photo courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Follow us for more great history and 'Did you Know' facts as we build a gallery and catalogue of wonderful architecture to be found across Birmingham.

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Transport
21 Aug 2018 - Elliott Brown

Birmingham Corporation Tramways

Birmingham used to have an old tram network that ended around 1953. From 1904 to 1953 it was run by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_Corporation_Tramways Although trams first ran in Birmingham from 1872. Today all that is left is a tram at Thinktank, several old depots, and other objects at museums.

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In Birmingham you can visit Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum where you can see the only surviving intact tram left from the era.

It was the no 78 tram to Small Heath. Number 395 of the Birmingham Corporation Tramways. It had previously been in the old Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry until 1997. And at Thinktank from around 2001 onwards.

Tram at Thinktank

There is a tram museum in Derbyshire at Crich, called the National Tramway Museum. While they don't have any full size Birmingham trams there, due to the fact that the track gauge was different, they do have a couple of models.

This was a model of Birmingham Corporation Tramways No 700, on the 70 to Rednal. The actual tram it was based on was built by Brush Electrical Engineering Co Ltd in 1925. No. 700 was one of the last cars to be withdrawn from Miller Street Depot in August 1953.

Birmingham Corporation Tramways 700

This tram model at Crich was of the Birmingham Corporation Tramsways service from Aston Cross to Steelhouse Lane.

Birmingham tram Aston Cross to Steelhouse Lane

They also have this sign at the museum. Acocks Green and Dale End 44, which probably was removed from a tram that got scrapped?

Acocks Green and Dale End 44

Also at the National Tramway Museum was a set of gates from the original Birmingham Wholesale Market. They were moved to the museum and installed in 1975.

The Blackpool Boat Car No 236 gives you an idea of what a tramline in Birmingham might have been like a century ago. Although Birmingham didn't have trams that looked like that! The gates are now used as an entrance to the museums tram depot.

Blackpool Boat Car 236 and Birmingham Wholesale Market gates

Birmingham Wholesale Market gates alternate view

After the old tram network closed down in 1953, many of the old tram depot buildings survived as the tracks were removed and the old trams were scrapped.

In Aston is this building not far from Villa Park. It was used as the Aston Manor Transport Museum until they had to close in 2011. Before that it was originally the Borough of Aston Manor Tramways Depot. It was built in 1882 for the Borough of Aston Manor. Also known as the Witton Lane Tramway Depot it is a Grade II listed building. Originally a steam tram depot from 1882, by 1904-06 it was converted to electric tram use. The City of Birmingham took it over from 1911 when Aston became part of the city. It was used as a tram depot until 1949. It was used to store and dismantle trams until 1953. By the 1980s the building was used as a car showroom, before it was a museum. Also known as the Witton Depot.

Aston Manor Transport Museum

Another old tram depot building that you can see is over in Selly Oak, now used by Access Storage. The depot opened in 1927. It was converted for motorbus used in 1952. You can see it on the 11C and 11A bus routes on Harborne Lane in Selly Oak, close to Selly Oak Triangle.

Selly Oak Tram Depot

On the Moseley Road in Balsall Heath was the Moseley Road Depot. It opened in 1907 and was converted for motorbus use in 1949. The building is quite derelict now, although parts of the building to the back are in use, the building at the front is not. It's a Grade II listed building, built by Lowe & Son in 1906. Designed by FB Osborn for Birmingham Corporation

 

Balsall Heath Tram Depot

 

There is a section of track near the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on what was Edmund Street close to the Water Hall that is still there. It was the only section preserved in the city centre after rest of the tracks were lifted after the network closed in 1953.

Tram track

 

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