Squares and public spaces
16 hours ago - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Kings Heath Village Square at Vicarage Road and High Street near All Saints Church

The churchyard of All Saints Church in Kings Heath was refurbished into Kings Heath Village Square back in 2011. Located near Vicarage Road and the Kings Heath High Street. There is a regular Famers Market, once a month on the first Saturday of the month. Other events have taken place here over the years. Such as National Express West Midlands promoting the then new no 50 bus.

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KINGS HEATH VILLAGE SQUARE

The Village Square opened in Kings Heath back in October 2011. The land was originally the churchyard of All Saints Church (some graves and grave stones remain, plus a war memorial). It's like an old village green now but in the heart of Kings Heath. One of the main features is a Labyrinth that people can walk around for fun. The All Saints Centre was also built around the same time (it includes a cafe and pharmacy).

Many cultural events and markets have taken place here over the years (before the pandemic). Such as the Kings Heath Farmers Market, taking place on the first Saturday of each month. Sometimes even a small fun fair with rides. Or collections for charity at Christmas time.

Kings Heath Village Square is located at a site between Vicarage Road and the High Street in Kings Heath, with All Saints Church to the far end of the square.

Bus routes include the 11A, 11C, 35, 50 and 76.

 

Kings Heath Village Square over the years

One of my earliest photos of Kings Heath Village Square, taken during February 2012, of the Labyrinth. You can see some market stalls near the Kings Heath All Saints Centre. Taken during the Kings Heath Farmers Market on Saturday 4th February 2012.

Kings Heath Village Square

 

A day later on Sunday 5th February 2012, I returned to Kings Heath when there was a snowfall. This view of Kings Heath Village Square towards the All Saints Centre.

Kings Heath Village Square

 

A blue sky during the middle of January 2020 as seen in Kings Heath Village Square. The Platinum buses had been on the 50 for over a year by this point. All Saints Church seen to the left.

Kings Heath Village Square

 

Some snow in Kings  Heath Village Square, as seen from the no 11A bus on Vicarage Road. This was near the end of December 2020 (while still in Tier 3 restrictions at the time). View to All Saints Church.

Kings Heath Village Square

 

Markets and fairs in the Village Square over the years

 

Kings Heath Farmers Market

This was the Kings Heath Farmers Market as held on Saturday 7th December 2013. It was Christmas time, so there was also some rides there for kids, as well as Father Christmas.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

It was open from 9am until 2pm. The Christmas Gift & Craft Fayre was also being held by the Moseley & Kings Heath Lions Club.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

Plenty of market stalls all around the square that day.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

Bottles of a drink for sale.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

A Disney style teacups ride for kids to enjoy.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

Oh look, it's Father Christmas in his sleigh with a couple of reindeer! From the Moseley & Kings Heath Lions Club.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

 

Kings Heath Winter Fest

This took place on Saturday the 15th November 2014 in Kings Heath Village Square. Plenty of rides for kids to go on.

Kings Heath Winter Fest

A small ferris wheel.

Kings Heath Winter Fest

Hook A Duck

Kings Heath Winter Fest

Signs showing that the All Saints Centre had hall & rooms available for hire. Also the banner for this event.

Kings Heath Winter Fest

 

Brum Yum Yum Kings Heath

This event took place on the 9th April 2016. It was part of the KingshEATh Streetfood Market.

From this VW Campervan you could buy Mexican Street Food. Cafe Borchata.

Brum Yum Yum

The British Bus Bar, was next to something about Virgin Media.

Brum Yum Yum

The Food Yule Love trailer.

Brum Yum Yum

Drink Up.

Brum Yum Yum

Charlie Dumpling was outside of the All Saints Centre.

Brum Yum Yum

 

The 50 bus from National Express West Midlands

On Saturday the 18th April 2015, National Express West Midlands launched the (then) new bus to be used on the no 50 bus route between Birmingham City Centre and Druids Heath (via Balsall Heath, Kings Heath, Moseley and the Maypole).

The 50

It was 6132 Julie.

The 50

This fleet of buses was on the 50 from 2015 to 2018, before being transferred to the 11A and 11C, when the 50 went Platinum from December 2018.

The 50

These buses have since been rebranded from 50 to 11A or 11C, with hints of yellow over the red. So it's more likely that you might be on the 11 on Vicarage Road, than on a 50 on the High Street (as you'd be in Platinum bus instead).

The 50

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

The trail of painted owls wasn't only in the City Centre back in the summer of 2015, but you could find some in Kings Heath (as well as the little owls). One owl was here in Kings Heath Village Square, plus you could find another one in Kings Heath Park and outside of Kings Heath Library at the time. The trail ran for 10 weeks (after which the owls were auctioned off for charity).

In Kings Heath Village Square you could find: The Owl and the Pussycat Went to Sea by the artist Mik Richardson. It was sponsored by the Kings Heath BID. Seen during July 2015.

The Big Hoot

 

Classic Car Meet

Click here for the full Classic Car Meet post. This was held on the August Bank Holiday Monday, 26th August 2019 in Kings Heath Village Square. I was changing buses from the 50 to 11A when I spotted all these classic cars and I went to have a look before going home.

Classic Car Meet

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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0 passion points
Squares and public spaces
19 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A look round Colmore Square, between Colmore Row and Steelhouse Lane

If you are walking down Colmore Row or up Steelhouse Lane, you will get to Colmore Circus Queensway. In the middle of that is Colmore Square. Redeveloped in the early 2000s, from the subways and lowered areas that were filled in. The Wesleyan had already been there since 1991, while No 1 Colmore Square opened in 2004. The square was refurbished in 2014 with new benches and flower planters.

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COLMORE SQUARE

 

Colmore Square is in the centre of Colmore Circus Queensway. It is connected to Colmore Row, Bull Street, The Priory Queensway, Steelhouse Lane, Weaman Street and Snow Hill Queensway.

 

Colmore Circus Queensway was rebuilt in 2002, replacing the old roundabout of the Inner Ring Road with a square (this was around the same time when Masshouse Circus Queensway was demolished, breaking up the Concrete Collar, which had stopped development in Birmingham for decades). Out went the subways, and in came traffic lights and pelican crossings and road level. It is now safer to walk from Birmingham Snow Hill Station, on Colmore Row to Birmingham Children's Hospital on Steelhouse Lane, without having to go into subways (which you had to do from 1998 to sometime before 2002). It is also an alternate walking route to Aston University and the Magistrate and Law Courts, through the Steelhouse Conservation Area.

 

The Wesleyan was built from 1988 to 1991, so some changes had to be made to get the square to be level with the outside of the building, including a fountain.

No 1 Colmore Square was completed opposite The Wesleyan in 2004. No 2 Colmore Square is on the corner of The Priory Queensway and Steelhouse Lane, also known as Cannon House and Priory House (refurbished in 2006). There is a Matthew Boulton plaque, on the corner, as he was born nearby in the area (in 1728).

Colmore Plaza is on the opposite corner of Colmore Circus and Steelhouse Lane, this was completed in 2007 (replacing the Post & Mail Building of 1965-2006). It was renamed to The Colmore Building since 2016.

 

The original Midland Metro extension was built on the part of Colmore Circus near Colmore Row from 2012 to 2015. The first part opened to Bull Street Tram Stop in December 2016 (reaching Grand Central Tram Stop by 2016).

Minor refurbishment of Colmore Square in 2014 with new benches and flower planters, plus some chess table benches.

 

Every Christmas the Colmore BID places a Christmas tree here, and in the summer, Cofton Nursery places one of their Floral Trail pieces. The Big Hoot had 3 painted owls in summer 2015, and The Big Sleuth 3 painted bears in the summer of 2017. The trails were to help the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

 

Colmore Square as it was during May 2009. This view: The Wesleyan on the left, then the view down Steelhouse Lane with Colmore Plaza on the left and No 2 Colmore Square on the right (near the end of The Priory Queensway).

Colmore Square

A look down Steelhouse Lane from Colmore Square. Fountain Court and the back of the Victoria Law Courts are visible from here.

Colmore Square

In the other direction towards Colmore Gate and Colmore Row with Bull Street to the left. The old 103 Colmore Row (NatWest Tower) was just about visible to the right (behind Barclays Bank).

Colmore Square

Shadow near No 1 Colmore Square, which is the office building on the left.

Colmore Square

 

Colmore Square Then and Now

Spot the difference. The old NatWest Tower stood at 103 Colmore Row until 2015. After demolition, the new 103 Colmore Row was built during 2019 into 2020, and will open sometime later in 2021.

A July 2009 view of Colmore Square. Beyond Colmore Gate and The Wesleyan towards the NatWest Tower (the old 103 Colmore Row).

Colmore Square

 

This view of Colmore Square taken during July 2020. While the new 103 Colmore Square was under construction. Seen between Colmore Gate, Barclays Bank, 9 Colmore Row, 1 Colmore Row and The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square

 

2014 refurbishment of Colmore Square

This was during April 2014. This view from the construction site of the Midland Metro extension.

Colmore Square

New flower planters with trees and benches, close to The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square

They were also installed close to No 1 Colmore Square.

Colmore Square

There was also brand new bins installed at the time.

Colmore Square

More new trees close to The Priory Queensway.

Colmore Square

The chess table benches. Whether anyone played chess or checkers here, I'm not sure. More like people having their lunch on them!

Colmore Square

There was also new bike racks, near Colmore Plaza and The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square

The reverse view of Colmore Square back towards the Midland Metro extension. The Grand Hotel was under scaffolding, but was before the renovation works started.

Colmore Square

 

Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail

Cofton Nursery is responsible for placing the various floral trail pieces all over the City Centre, every summer. Some for special occasions.

 

Seen in early August 2012 in Colmore Square was this floral trail piece called Female Weightlifter. It was the year of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was based on Zoe Smith and Natasha Perdue. It was one of 23 features that you could see along the route that summer in 2012. The Colmore BID sponsored it, supporting Birmingham Bloom in celebrating Team GB.

Female Weightlifter

 

From July 2015, the Folding Bicyle was back in the City Centre, this time in Colmore Square. The summer before (2014) it was located in Church Street Square. In 2014 it was one of 12 WW1 features to commemorate Britain's entry into the First World War (1914-18). The commemorations continued into 2015.

Folding Bicycle

 

Wasn't so much of a Floral Trail by the summer of 2019, just the odd piece around the City Centre. From July 2019, was this Rock 'N' Roll Drums located in Colmore Square. Probably as it was Black Sabbath's 50th Anniversary, and they had an exhibition on at the Gas Hall that summer. Called Home of Metal Presents: Black Sabbath 50 Years.

Rock 'N' Roll Drums

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

Seen in Colmore Square during July 2015 was The Big Hoot, a trail of painted owls. This trail would be on for around 10 weeks before being auctioned for charity.

Leo by the artist Ruth Green. The sponsor was Pinsent Masons.

The Big Hoot

 

Tessellated Triangles was by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was Shoosmiths.

The Big Hoot

 

The Graduate by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was The Wesleyan.

The Big Hoot

 

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017

Seen in Colmore Square during July 2017 was The Big Sleuth, a trail of painted bears. Running for 10 weeks, before the painted bears were auctioned off for charity.

Get Your Bearings was designed by Tom Crotty and painted by G-Anders.The sponsor was Amey.

The Big Sleuth

 

Birminghamshire by the artist Rachel Blackwell. The sponsor was The Wesleyan.

The Big Sleuth

 

Captain Blue Bear by the artist Maria Burns. The sponsor was Vodafone.

The Big Sleuth

 

Christmas Tree's over the years in Colmore Square

The Colmore BID usually installs a variety of Christmas tree's in Colmore Square over the years, close to the part of Colmore Circus with Colmore Row. Sometimes artificial baubles, other years a real grown tree.

The Baubles Christmas Tree in Colmore Square seen during November 2011. Celebrate Christmas with Colmore Business District. The view towards No 1 Colmore Square.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

Early in January 2012, the same Christmas Tree was still up, and I caught it lit up after dark in Colmore Square.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

In December 2014, you could see a real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square. This view towards 9 and 1 Colmore Row.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

There was also a real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square during December 2015. This view towards Colmore Gate.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

Same again in November 2017 with this Christmas Tree. View towards The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

The last real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square, seen during November 2019. The view between 1 Colmore Row and The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

During the 2nd lockdown, close to the end of November 2020, I saw this artificial Christmas Tree in Colmore Square, as a West Midlands Metro tram passed by.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

Later that day, before I got the bus home, I saw it lit up after dark. The last time I went through Colmore Square during December 2020, it had been removed. Probably due to the Snow Hill Public Realm works taking place nearby on Colmore Row.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

Other events

A few more observations in Colmore Square over the years. Usually when I was heading to get some lunch from Colmore Row (and on the walk back to work).

 

The Microsoft Office 365 bench was in Colmore Square on the 29th March 2013. You could sit here and enjoy free WiFi while you work (outside).

Colmore Square bench

 

A band was playing some musical instruments in Colmore Square, and there was an audience watching from those deckchairs. This was on the 23rd July 2014. Lots of office workers out to buy their lunch that day.

Colmore Square band

 

Exercise bikes were being ridden in Colmore Square, as seen on the 15th July 2015. Quite close to the Folding Bike floral trail feature. They were riding for the Birmingham Children's Hospital charity. From "Lands End to John O'Groats". They were from The Wesleyan. Of course if they did this now, they would do it from home over Zoom.

Colmore Square exercise bikes

 

See also the post on Church Street Square in the Colmore BID.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
18 Jan 2021 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

Selly Oak Student Scheme: Amended Plans

REVISED plans have gone in for a 510-bed canalside student redevelopment on Elliott Road, Selly Oak.

With a new architect also on board, the scheme has been drastically improved to directly connect to arguably Birmingham's biggest asset - its canal system.

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Located at ‘Selly Oak Industrial Estate, Units 5-8, Elliott Road‘, the amended proposal - brought forward by Watkins Jones Group - will see the site reconnect with arguably Birmingham’s biggest asset - its canal, through the demolition of vacant industrial builds (as seen above) before redevelopment can deliver:

  • Part 5-8 storey accommodation;
  • 510 student beds (130 studios/380 clusters);
  • 11 contemporary townhouses along Elliott Road;
  • Central courtyard gardens;
  • Secure Indoor & outdoor amenity spaces;
  • Zero parking/ 128 cycles;
  • NEW fluid connections to the canal towpath and beyond.

With a new design team in place, Glenn Howells Architects & Layer Studio Landscape have set about delivering on three main principles in redesigning the scheme. These are:

  • Establishing a fluid connection to the Canal;
  • Creating a green campus;
  • Providing connected routes all around the site.

An expansive courtyard garden will become the beating heart of the scheme, providing students with sufficient space to study and relax - or simply to collect their bike before venturing out and about. 

Lively amenity spaces (gym, lounges and study spaces) will be located at ground floor level, with the area set to bring much-needed activity and interest to the canal system and its new area of public realm.

Eleven contemporary townhouses will be positioned along Elliott Road - these have been purposely designed in response to the scale and context of the neighbouring area.

Before & after:

With considerable demand for PBSA in Selly Oak and across the city, Fresh Student Living - formed in 2010 by Watkins Jones Group - will operate the scheme if/when the scheme gets the go-ahead in the coming months.

Certainly one to keep an eye on!

All images the property of Glenn Howells Architects

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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30 passion points
History & heritage
18 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A visit to Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses during September 2020

On the afternoon of the 6th September 2020, we booked to go to the National Trust property and grounds of Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses. Located in Staffordshire near the village of Kinver (and not too far from Stourbridge). The Holy Austin Rock Houses were still lived in until the 1960s. Due to the pandemic, you couldn't go into the houses, just peek into them.

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Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

 

A visit to Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses during September 2020. This was on the afternoon of the 6th September 2020. As before, we booked the tickets via the National Trust website (which goes onto the EventBrite app). Outside of the forest was a car park, and we passed an ice cream van. We booked in for 2:30pm. You head up to the gate, and get your ticket scanned, then proceed to walk up to the Rock Houses.

 

This National Trust site is near the village of Kinver in Staffordshire, and isn't too far from Stourbridge (around 4 miles away). There is caves in the hills, some that had houses built into them. Kinver Edge includes a heath and woodland. The National Trust was first given the estate in 1917 (around 198 acres) by the children of Thomas Grosvenor Lee (who was a Birmingham solicitor born in Kinver). The Trust acquired a further 85 acres between 1964 and 1980. In 2014 Worcestershire County Council approved the transfer of Kingsford Forest Park to the National Trust. By 2018 the parks signs were now reading National Trust Kinver Edge.

Kinver Edge was home to the last troglodyte homes in England. One of the rock houses was called Holy Austin (which you can visit). It was a hermitage until the Reformation. The Holy Austin Rock Houses were lived in until the 1960s. In normal times you can visit them, but during the summer and autumn of 2020, you could only peek into the rock houses.

Further up was a tearoom and caves. You could put your mask on, and order a coffee and cake and sit at the tables outside (this was when restrictions were eased, and before they were strengthened again).

Also located here was Nanny's Rock, which was a large cave, but it was never converted into a house. There was also Vale's Rock, which had also been known as Crow's Rock. It had been converted into houses and was last occupied in the 1960s. But due to it's dangerous condition it is out of bounds to visitors. Although you can see it from the tables and chairs of the Tearoom area.

From 1901 to 1930, it used to be possible for visitors to get the Kinver Light Railway, which connected to Birmingham's original tram network (operated from 1904 to 1953 by Birmingham Corporation Tramways). But it closed due to the popularity of the motorbus and motorcars. These days, only cars and coaches can get to Kinver Edge on Compton Road. Although I only remember parking spaces available for cars.

 

After you explore the rock houses and caves, you can head up into the Woodland and climb up to the Toposcope (if you want to).

 

After showing our tickets in the EventBrite app, we walked around to the Rock Houses. This was the first glimpse of one of them.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

These are the Holy Austin Rock Houses at Kinver Edge.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

Teas written on the wall of one of the Rock Houses. Probably Vale's Rock.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

There is at least three levels to the Rock Houses here at Kinver Edge, along with some caves.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

It wouldn't be long before I got to see this Rock House up and close, but first had to walk up some steps.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

A Keep Out sign near the rocks. Not all areas are safe for the public to go.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

I would get a better view of these Rock Houses once we went up the steps.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

Close up to the first Rock House at the corner. The Holy Austin Rock Houses on the Lower Level.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

You could peek into the Rock Houses, but a rope prevented you from entering.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

A look at the objects on the table in this Rock House.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

Pots and pans in this small cave.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

Some Rock Houses had open windows, and you could peek into them. Looks like a bedroom.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

The window of this Rock House was only slightly open.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

A path goes around the Rock Houses to view some more of them. These are the Holy Austin Rock Houses. Ghost sign above barely readable.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

Doors on the Rock Houses to the left were closed, so you couldn't see inside of these ones.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

A look at Nanny's Rock (I think). Caves that were never converted into Rock Houses. For many years it was known as Meg-o-Fox-Hole. Someone may have died here in 1617 known as Margaret of the fox earth. Visible from the Middle Level, near tables and chairs from the Tearoom (over a fence).

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

When you get to the Upper Level, there is a cave you can enter. The ground is covered in sand, plus I think graffiti had been scratched into the rocks over the years. This is near the Tearoom. These are the Martindale Caves and have a 1930s appearance.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

The Tearoom is on the Upper Level, to the left of the caves. Tables and chairs were outside to the right (in front of the caves). But if occupied, you had to stand up having your coffee or tea. Toilets were around to the left. This house has been restored to a Victorian appearance.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

After going through the gate, exiting the Rock Houses, saw a view of the Victorian style Tearoom house. Toilets on the left. From here you can follow the paths and steps up the hill to the summit of Kinver Edge.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

The Toposcope at the top of the hill on Kinver Edge. It has a map of the Midlands, which was restored by the Rotary Club of Kinver in 2014 (it was originally presented by them in 1990). Showing all the counties of the West Midlands region. Plus the major towns and cities (including Birmingham). Plus major hills such as the Lickey Hills and Clent Hills.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
Health & wellbeing
14 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

When the Air Ambulance flies patients to hospitals in Birmingham

At least three Air Ambulance services fly to the hospitals in Birmingham, over the last decade or so. The main one of course is the Midlands Air Ambulance (red helicopter). There is also the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (yellow helicopter). Plus sometimes the Wales Air Ambulance (red helicopter with green). They go to either Birmingham Children's Hospital or QEHB.

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Midlands Air Ambulance

It was during May 2011, when I got my first photo of the Midlands Air Ambulance. It was on the helipad near James Watt Queensway. On one of my many walks from work to get some lunch, saw it as I came off Aston Street (Aston University). Only had my then mobile on me. Police usually stop all traffic around the area. Including Corporation Street and at the Birmingham Children's Hospital on Steelhouse Lane.

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

The next time I saw it was around April 2013. Again mobile shots as I didn't want to take my then big camera to work with me at the time. This view of the Midlands Air Ambulance from Ryder Street.

Midlands Air Ambulance

Crossed over the lights on James Watt Queensway and got this view towards the Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Midlands Air Ambulance

Caught it taking off as I walked back to work via the Aston University grounds. Corporation Street to the left.

Midlands Air Ambulance

The Midlands Air Ambulance was on it's way as seen from James Watt Queensway. I think this was near a bus stop. The new Aston University student accommodation phase 2 was under construction at the time, and the old Stafford Tower would not get demolished until 2014.

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

In July 2014, I saw the Midlands Air Ambulance from the Aston Webb Boulevard in Selly Oak (the Selly Oak Bypass). It was heading towards the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

During April 2017, on a walk down the Merritt's Brook Greenway in Northfield. Saw the Midlands Air Ambulance fly overhead. I was near Meadow Brook at the time. This was not too far from Ley Hill Park.

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

In December 2017, I saw this Midlands Air Ambulance heading to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Midlands Air Ambulance

Would assume the Midlands Air Ambulance was heading to the helipad, although I've never seen it myself.

Midlands Air Ambulance

This one is G-OMAA. It is a Airbus Helicopters H135. It is operated by Babcock MCS Onshore.

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

Saw the Midlands Air Ambulance again, this time during July 2018. The view from near the Bourn Brook Walkway in Harborne and I was on Arosa Drive at the time. Was walking to Quinton Road. It was G-OMAA again.

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

In May 2019, near The Bull Ring Indoor Market, was a Midlands Air Ambulance car (7064), next to a West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust ambulance (4323). They were seen from Edgbaston Street and Gloucester Street, also near the Bull Ring Outdoor Market (the Rag Market is to the left off camera).

Midlands Air Ambulance car

 

A few months later, during August 2019, and I was in the Library of Birmingham, getting views from the Secret Garden. When I zoomed down to Bridge Street between Arena Central and the Hyatt Regency Birmingham, and saw the Midlands Air Ambulance car (7064) again. That was the year when the Westside Metro Extension to Centenary Square was getting completed. Library Tram Stop opened here by December 2019.

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

I first saw the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance in February 2012. I was on Moor Street Queensway, and had my then bridge camera on me, so got some decent views. It was near Hotel La Tour and the McLaren Building, heading to the helipad at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

Seen here passing the McLaren Building. Years before Exchange Square was built they could fly around here, but this route is no longer possible for Air Ambulances.

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

 

In August 2013 I saw the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance on the helipad from James Watt Queensway. Again a mobile shot, on one of my lunchtime walks from work to get lunch. As per usual, the Police sealed off all the surrounding roads, as the paramedics took the patient to the Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

 

Wales Air Ambulance

I first saw the Wales Air Ambulance landed on the helipad at Birmingham Children's Hospital from James Watt Queensway during November 2014. This one is a bit rare coming to Birmingham. The Teenage Cancer Trust building is behind.

Wales Air Ambulance

 

The last time I saw the Wales Air Ambulance was from Bournville during September 2019. I was on Oak Tree Lane, walking from Selly Manor to the Serbian Orthodox Church during Birmingham Heritage Week. I haven't seen this helicopter again since then.

Wales Air Ambulance

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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60 passion points
Health & wellbeing
13 Jan 2021 - FreeTimePays
Introducing

Message our World - 13 January 2021 update

In this, the first of our Message Our World posts, we explain the Covid challenges that we have set ourselves and invite you to help in addressing these challenges by becoming a contributor.

As a contributor, we would like you to share your Covid linked story, that of your community or that of someone or something that has inspired you to take up the challenge.

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Covid challenges

These challenges, as we now all too well aware, are huge and will be with us for some considerable time to come.

Community has rallied in many ways and we are looking to pool this hugely valuable community resource as we continue to fight the pandemic and then recover from the pandemic.

 

Challenge 1:

Stop the spread of mis-information

 

Challenge 2:

Tackle the impact of Covid on mind and body

 

Challenge 3:

Tackle the social, economic and educational impact of Covid

 

How we will help at Message Our World

(1)

Community engagement

Using existing social media channels and our own FreeTimePays online communities, we have connected with over 100,000 people.  Message our World will tap into that resource and the large and growing connections made by our communities. 

(2)

Accessible bank of resource

We have built a massive bank of imagery that can be used time and time again in messages we put out. More importantly we will open up and share this resource with others in a joint strategy aimed at re-inforcing those messages in order to achieve the desired changes in behaviour and beliefs.

(3)

A showcase of inspiration

With connections already made, we are in touch with so many people and so many communities that are doing amazing work as we all face up to the Covid challenge.  We will continue to showcase the fantastic work they do.

(4)

Community of contributors

The digital tools and solutions we have built are shared with community which allows us to come together to achieve so much more where engagement, action and change is time critical.

(5)

Community collaborations

Collaboration is central to the work we do across FreeTimePays communities and we will promote and create even more collaborative working.

(6) 

Recognition for a job well done 

People do what they do for many different reasons but it is still great to be recognised for a job well done.  Through gamification, community awards and through our constantly trending #PeopleWithPassion messaging, we recognise people for the time they put aside for a common cause.

 

Get in touch with us

Pick up the phone and let's chat.  0121 410 5520

Email:  jonathan.bostock@freetimepays.com

Connect HERE online.

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30 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
13 Jan 2021 - FreeTimePays
Introducing

'Forward in Unity' mural - Brilliant initiative in so many ways

The 'Forward In Unity’ mural was started on Friday 22nd May 2020. It was completed by artist Gent48 on Monday 1st June 2020. Not only has the project in Digbeth received some fantastic media coverage, it has helped raise awareness of the virus and its devasting impact on the community as well as raising a vast amount for local charities.

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'Forward in Unity' is a great example of how to bring people together in a massive shared effort against a common enemy, as the Covid-19 virus must continue to be regarded.

The project has helped raise awareness.

The 'Forward in Unity' initiative has raised awareness of the virus and brought people together in recognition of the front-line heroes fighting the virus for the protection of our community.

'Forward in Unity'.  Photography by Paul Cadman.

The project has helped bring people together.

The initiative and the significant coverage it has received has attracted the attention of people, not just in Birmingham but across the UK. 

This and other initiatives all have a vital role in tackling the views of those who, despite clear evidence of the devastation caused by the virus, still act and behave in a way that is not in the interests of their community. 

The project has enthused and inspired others to be creative.

During a time when people have been asked to make huge sacrifices and stay at home, the project and the media coverage received has inspired many to check out their own creativity.

Whether through photography, art, craft-making or the written word, such creativity has become hugely important for people's mental health.   

As an example, the Birmingham Gems Charity Calendar for 2021 dedicated a page on the mural in recognition of the city's amazing artists and creative talent. 

The project has raised much needed funds for local charities.

Prints of all sizes can be purchased in order to support local charities, 

In addition to the prints, a book in celebration of those behind the initiative and across community has also been produced.

Connect HERE and get hold of your very own print (signed, limited edition or unlimited) or your 'Forward in Unity' book.  Help support local Birmingham charities. 

'Forward in Unity' A0 Limited Edition Print

'Forward in Unity' Print (A1 or A2)

'Forward in Unity' Video/Book Folder

'Forward in Unity' Book (2nd edition)

Connect HERE to make a donation to Art4Charity and support local charities.

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70 passion points
Health & wellbeing
12 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

The Birmingham Super Hospital was built on a site in Edgbaston close to the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital from 2006 to 2010 by Balfour Beatty. It was opened in the summer of 2010. Built to replace the old QE and Selly Oak Hospital, it was given the name of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. It is linked to the University of Birmingham. The hospital is part of the UHB NHS Foundation Trust.

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Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham is located in Edgbaston, Birmingham on Mindelsohn Way. The Selly Oak Bypass, known as the Aston Webb Boulevard, along with New Fosse Way and Hospital Way was completed between 2010 to 2011. There is a roundabout nearby called Queen Elizabeth Island.

The nearby Cross City Line includes University Station, which can be used to get to the hospital and the University of Birmingham. As well as the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the nearby Ariel Aqueduct and railway viaduct are also close by.

Construction of the Birmingham Super Hospital took place by Balfour Beatty between 2006 and 2010. It was named Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, as the Royal title had to be before, and not after, so it could not be called Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The move to the QEHB started in June 2010, and this was completed by November 2011. At the same time, they were moving out of Selly Oak Hospital and the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital (parts of which are now the Medical School of the University of Birmingham).

The hospital is part of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

 

The Birmingham Super Hospital seen during May 2009 while it was still under construction. It had been about 6 months since my brother passed away from cancer, and we were at the old QE, to see an art exhibition. While there, I took these photos of the new hospital from the outside.

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

 

In December 2009 I saw these views of the Birmingham Super Hospital from Selly Oak Triangle. Near the Sainsbury's car park and the Battery Retail Park. Used to be a B & Q at the retail park at the time.

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

 

Next up, views taken during June 2010, the month the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was first opened. These views from Selly Oak, over the allotments.  Probably taken from the Harborne Lane Island.

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

 

Some April 2012 views of the QEHB. First up, a couple of views from the Aston Webb Boulevard (Selly Oak Bypass). Plus a couple of views from around Mindelsohn Way.

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

 

A couple of February 2013 views of the QEHB near the bus stops. The main entrance to the hospital is to the far right.

QEHB

QEHB

 

Some views in later years. This one of the QEHB taken from Mindelsohn Way during December 2017 (on Boxing Day). Many bus routes head around this road, with the bus stops on the right. Today you can get the 76 to Solihull, or the 1A towards Acocks Green. Other bus routes serve the bus stops behind.

QEHB

 

In December 2017, I saw this view of the QEHB from the footbridge at Selly Oak Station. This was two days after the previous time I saw the hospital. There was some snow in Selly Oak that day.

QEHB

 

This view taken from the bus stop during March 2018 of the QEHB. Taxi rank on the left, bus stops on the right. Was waiting for a no 76 bus back towards Yardley Wood and Hall Green.

QEHB

 

Now for some views of the QEHB seen over the years from Beacon Hill at the Lickey Hills Country Park.

The view from May 2013, of the QEHB and the BT Tower.

QEHB Lickey Hills

 

By January 2018, you could see the construction to the right of the QEHB of The Bank Tower 2.

QEHB Lickey Hills

 

A November 2020 Lickey Hills 2nd lockdown walk down Beacon Hill started with the skyline view first. The QEHB, was joined by the completed Bank towers, while The Mercian was shooting up Broad Street.

QEHB Lickey Hills

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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110 passion points
Construction & regeneration
11 Jan 2021 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

The Construction of The Mercian - Early January 2021 Update

The Mercian on Broad Street is nearing structural completion as the core is finished at floor 42, reaching its full height, the slip-form being removed over the weekend. The main structure is soon to rise again with final top-out not far away now. Above: The Mercian on the Westside city skyline on 10th January 2021.

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21st December - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

24th December - Photo by Elliott Brown

 

25th December - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

27th December - Photo by Elliott Brown

 

27th December - Photo by Elliott Brown

 

31st December - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

1st January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

1st January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

1st January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

1st January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

3rd January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

7th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

8th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

9th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

10th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

8th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

There are now nearly 1000 photos of the construction of this building and can be seen in reverse date order in the full gallery here: The Mercian Full Construction Gallery.

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30 passion points
Squares and public spaces
11 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Church Street Square in the Colmore Business District

Church Street Square is a relatively modern square located in the Colmore BID between Edmund Street and Cornwall Street, and on, of course Church Street. Developed by Birmingham City Council and the Colmore BID. Work on the square started in late 2011 and was completed and opened by the autumn of 2012. The Floral Trail, Big Hoot & Sleuth have all been here. Plus the Christmas tree.

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CHURCH STREET SQUARE

If you are walking down Church Street towards Great Charles Street Queensway, and the footbridge over to Ludgate Hill and the Jewellery Quarter, you might go past Church Street Square. It is a high quality public realm space in the heart of the Colmore Business District. Developed by Birmingham City Council and the Colmore BID from late 2011 into 2012. It pedestrianised part of Church Street.

There is benches, flower planters, even a large golden globe sculpture. It was the first project in this area for around 20 years.

Every summer, Cofton Nursery usually installs a Floral Trail piece. Between 2014 and 2018 they were commemorating 100 years since the First World War.

In 2015 at least one Big Hoot owl was on display that summer, then two years later in 2017, there was two Big Sleuth bears.

Every Christmas time there is a Christmas tree at the top of the square near Edmund Street. In 2019 they even had a sparkly Christmas arch which looked nice after dark.

 

2012

My first look at Church Street Square was during September 2012.

Church Street Square

Here you can see all the (then) new benches, with the flower planters to the back.

Church Street Square

Vehicles can still drive down the left hand side of the road towards Great Charles Street Queensway.

Church Street Square

The square works well with the Victorian facades and the modern buildings to the left.

Church Street Square

The main feature is this giant golden globe in the middle of the square.

Church Street Square

Looking up towards Colmore Row, while the globe made a nice shadow.

Church Street Square

 

2013

A look in July 2013 at the flower planters near the bench.

Church Street Square

Looking at the plants towards Edmund Street.

Church Street Square

Plants all around the benches here.

Church Street Square

 

2014

The Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail during July 2014 with the Folding Bicycle.

Folding Bicycle

Cofton Nursery were marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

Folding Bicycle

 

2015

In July 2015 with War Horse in Church Street Square. This had been in Southside during the summer of 2014 at the Ladywell Walk junction with Dudley Street and Pershore Street. War Horse had been a successful film and stage show.

War Horse

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015 trail of painted owls was also in Church Street Square as seen during July 2015.

This one was called Nature's Growth, by the artist Goosensei. The sponsor was Irwin Mitchell Solicitors.

Big Hoot

A look at the back of the Natures Growth owl.

Big Hoot

 

2017

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017 trail of painted bears was in Church Street Square as seen here during July 2017.

First up we have, Hettie The Heritage Bear by the artist Alexandra Hatfield. The sponsor was MHA MacIntyre Hudson.

Big Sleuth

Hattie looking towards St Paul's Square down the rest of Church Street and up Ludgate Hill.

Big Sleuth

 

The second bear was called Bearjing by the artist Jessica Perrin. The sponsor was Squire Patton Boggs.

Big Sleuth

Bearjing was close to the top of the square near Edmund Street.

Big Sleuth

 

The Colmore BID Christmas tree in Church Street Square during November 2017.

Christmas tree

 

The Christmas tree looked even more festive in December 2017 after it had snowed!

Christmas tree snow

The snowy Christmasy scene in Church Street Square, as a 101 bus passed by on Edmund Street. Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas tree snow

 

2018

In July 2018, you could find Bees in Birmingham located in Church Street Square, a floral piece from the folk at Cofton Nursery.

Bees in Birmingham

Bee to the right.

Bees in Birmingham

Bee to the left.

Bees in Birmingham

Both bees toward Smith Cooper.

Bees in Birmingham

2019

The Colmore Business District Christmas Tree during November 2019.

Christmas tree

That year the Colmore BID had also installed a Christmas arch with stars. This view towards the Christmas tree.

Christmas arch

Beyond the golden globe towards Cornwall Street with the Christmas arch.

Christmas arch

I went back on evening after work in December 2019, to get the Christmas Arch lit up after dark. This view towards the Christmas tree and golden globe.

Christmas arch

2020

My first view of the 2020 Colmore BID Christmas Tree in Church Street Square seen on the 1st December 2020.

Christmas tree

 

Second view of the Christmas tree in Church Street Square as seen on the 19th December 2020. No Christmas Arch this time around though.

Christmas tree

 

The other public square in the Colmore BID is at Colmore Square. Expect a project and post coming in early 2021. It is located in the middle of Colmore Circus Queensway near The Wesleyan and One Colmore Square.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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50 passion points
History & heritage
11 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Old Victorian letterboxes around the Jewellery Quarter

There is quite a few unique letterboxes on the old buildings around the Jewellery Quarter. Mostly on buildings built in the Victorian period. Many are semi circles, with LETTERS written at the bottom. Most of these photos in the post below were taken by Elliott between 2009 and 2013, so nothing recent.

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Happy New Year 2021! 

Vittoria Street

A pair of letterboxes at 85, 87 and 87a Vittoria Street in the Jewellery Quarter. Seen in late November 2009.

This black one with LETTERS at the bottom is located to the right of the door at 85 and 87 Vittoria Street. It was a purpose built brickworks dating to 1870.

Letterboxes Vittoria St

Further to the left is this rectangular letterbox with LETTERS written in the middle. I'd say that this is at 89 Vittoria Street.

Letterboxes Vittoria St

The next one is at the Unity Works at 36 - 46 Vittoria Street. The letterbox was for Henry Jenkins & Sons Ltd (their registered offices). Also Masefield & Co and Beverley Hall Ltd. It was built in 1865 as a toolmaker works. The architect was J P Osborne for  Henry Jenkins and Son.

Letterboxes Vittoria St

 

Caroline Street

Seen on New Years Day, 1st January 2013 was this letterbox on Caroline Street at what was the Registered Offices of Pickering & Mayell Limited. At the Reliance Works at 42 Caroline Street. Was a Manufactory built in the early 19th Century. With workshops to the rear.

JQ letterbox Caroline St

Vyse Street

This letterbox was originally for H. Aston Ltd, but this building on Vyse Street is now the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter. Formerly two jewellery manufactories. 75 Vyse Street was built in 1909 by George E. Pepper for F. Moore. While 77 Vyse Street was built in 1914, also by Pepper. 79 Vyse Street was replaced in 1990. The site was converted into a museum in 1999.

JQ letterbox Vyse St

Spencer Street

Three letterboxes on Spencer Street in the Jewellery Quarter. The first one was originally for T. Hirschfeld.

JQ letterbox Spencer St

The next blue one, the name had been painted over.

JQ letterbox Spencer St

One more painted in black. If it had a name at the top, it was painted over so was unreadable.

JQ letterbox Spencer St

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
History & heritage
11 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Return to Baddesley Clinton during July 2020

It might seem like a while ago now, but way back in the summer of 2020, when lockdown restrictions were being eased. You could book to visit National Trust properties again. The first one we booked for was Baddesley Clinton in early July 2020. You choose a date and time in advance and a number of tickets. And you could go around the site in about 90 minutes. The house wasn't open.

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From March to June 2020, most National Trust properties were completely closed during the first lockdown. Then in the summer, as restrictions were being eased, they were able to reopen certain properties, but just the gardens and estate, but not the interior of the houses. The first one we booked to return to was Baddesley Clinton.

Tickets were usually released on the Friday, and were available to the Sunday, and they were going fast. We booked to go on the 6th July 2020, at around 11:30am in the morning.

There was a one way system in place. They scanned the QR code on the EventBrite app outside. The shop was reopened, but you had to wear your face mask inside. The cafe was only open to buy your coffee and anything else for takeaway, so you had to sit outside to have your drink.

 

Arriving in the car park, on the walk to the entrance. Saw these two signs. One about how to stay safe and enjoy your visit. The other about keeping 2 metres apart.

Baddesley Clinton

The Welcome to Baddesley Clinton sign. With (then) updated signs. Including one about the one way system.

Baddesley Clinton

After the tickets in the EventBrite app were scanned, could already see that part of the Courtyard was roped off.

Baddesley Clinton

To the back of the house in the garden, they had five pots blocking off access to that path.

Baddesley Clinton

This was the way to go in the garden. The box hedges were interesting to look at.

Baddesley Clinton

They only had maybe one or two gardeners during the first lockdown, but the plants looked impressive. This was the borders and the Glasshouse. To the left you pass through the Vegetable Garden.

Baddesley Clinton

View of the hall over the Wildflower Meadow. Some paths were closed to the public.

Baddesley Clinton

Going around The Great Pool with the usual water lilies. View to the familiar footbridge opposite.

Baddesley Clinton

Went around the long path. Benches were turned around. You could only turn left from here.

Baddesley Clinton

The bridge over the moat. The hall was closed to the public.

Baddesley Clinton

Nice to see Baddesley Clinton hall again. Had been inside there only once, back in June 2018.

Baddesley Clinton

Back through the courtyard. Another area roped off. Taped on the ground showing you which way to go.

Baddesley Clinton

Another lap around the grounds. Another look at the Walled Garden. Sundial in the middle.

Baddesley Clinton

No Entry Follow one-way system. Had to go around the lake twice.

Baddesley Clinton

Locked gate to the Wildflower Meadow.

Baddesley Clinton

A grass path roped off, no entry.

Baddesley Clinton

Another view of the Wildflower Meadow.

Baddesley Clinton

The Barn Restaurant was open for takeaway only. Payments by card or app only. All tables and chairs out of use. Socially distant queue. Had our drinks outside in the Courtyard.

Baddesley Clinton

The shop was open from 10am to 4:30pm. I think at this point it had only just reopened. During this time, the path to the gardens, coffee shop and toilets was the temporary way in.

Baddesley Clinton

A pair of hares. This used to be the Visitor Centre where you used to buy your tickets. Seen on the way out of the shop.

Baddesley Clinton

 

The next post will be on the Return to Packwood House. Near the end of July 2020.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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60 passion points
History & heritage
11 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Return to Packwood House during July 2020

The second National Trust we booked to go back to was Packwood House. This was near the end of July 2020. This time though, we were able to go inside of the house. But the entrance was moved to the back. And only a limited number of people inside at one time. Some parts of the garden wasn't open. But you could go all the way around the lake, and have a picnic on the lawn.

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This visit to Packwood House was booked for the 20th July 2020 for around 12pm. As before you go to the National Trust website, and book the tickets in the EventBrite app. The way into the grounds from the car park had changed. You still go through the Barnyard, but a different gate was opened near the house.

You could get in the queue to go into the house, which had only just reopened (many other National Trust properties around the country, the inside of properties were not open). Use the hand sanitiser and put your face mask on. Only the ground floor was open this time. The door at the back was the way in. And you exit via the Great Hall.

One reason to go back was to go all the way around the lake. As back in 2018 they were restoring a path. This time though the path was open, and you could go through gates to the field at the back.

 

Heading from the car park to the Barnyard, saw these social distancing signs. Please keep 2 metres apart.

Packwood House

In the Barnyard saw Fergie the tractor. It is over 70 years old.

Packwood House

The Yew Garden was closed. Saw this view from the back of the house.

Packwood House

Queuing to go into Packwood House. There was hand sanitiser and buckets to bin your paper towels.

Packwood House

Bit weird having the rooms to just your household bubble. This was the Drawing Room.

Packwood House

In the Long Gallery. Was the odd National Trust volunteer around.

Packwood House

Now in the Great Hall. The long table and chairs had been moved. The door to the far right was the way back outside.

Packwood House

Checking out the lake, was gulls taking off and landing all the time.

Packwood House

View of the back of the house. This was The West Front, and last summer it was the way to queue to go into the house. First up it was time to have a sandwich on the lawn to the right.

Packwood House

After having a sandwich, we continued the walk. Now heading around the lake.

Packwood House

Quite a lot of Canada geese and ducks around as you would expect with a lake like this.

Packwood House

The gate from the Packwood Causeway leads into the Pool Tail Copse.

Packwood House

A woodland to walk through. Tall trees, lush and green in the height of summer.

Packwood House

There was an Orchard on the way back towards the gardens with a view of the lake.

Packwood House

Glimpses of the Carolean Garden. Most of the garden was roped off, and you couldn't go any further. This was one of the brick Gazebos.

Packwood House

Another one of the Gazebos near the South Front of the house.

Packwood House

A wheelbarrow and rope. You couldn't go any further in the Carolean Garden.

Packwood House

The East Front of Packwood House used to be the main entrance to go into the house. But not during the pandemic. This door was closed. And now this garden was the way out. The Sundial Gift Shop in the outbuildings to the right was also closed.

Packwood House

Some of the flowers and plants in the garden near The East Front of Packwood House.

Packwood House

On the way out, saw that The Barnyard Cafe was closed. But instead, you could get a coffee in the Barnyard from a trailer. The Kitchen Garden was also closed (I think, might have missed the entrance to it this time). The extensive grounds were open for people to walk around if they wanted to.

Packwood House

 

See also my post on the return to Baddesley Clinton in July 2020.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
Health & wellbeing
11 Jan 2021 - Daniel Sturley
Inspiration

"Photography has become my mental health medicine!" - Daniel tells us why!

Daniel Sturley, autistic and an award winning photographer, is the first of our 'People with Passion' to share his story about how his ‘special interest’ has helped him with his mental health challenges,  He also gives some great tips for producing wonderful photography. 

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'Bonnie', one of our family cats in 1988

From the age of about 7 I have been fascinated by photography, and had my first camera by the age of 10, an Halina 110 film format with two built-in lenses and a flash. I would take photos while on family holidays in Wales and I particularly enjoyed capturing the rally cross meetings when visiting the local motor racing circuit.

1987, Lydden Hill rallycross circuit, Dimi Mavropoulus's crazy Audi S1

An equaly mad Metro 6R4

I would send off the films for processing and had to endure an almost intolerable wait of a couple of weeks for the prints to arrive. When they did arrive it was better than birthdays and Christmas!

'Old Harry Rocks' near Tunbridge Wells, part of a college photography assignment in 1989

It was not until I went to college that I did any ‘serious’ photography, including developing and printing. I did several photography projects at college and with my first portfolio I was able to get a summer job doing baby and child portraiture in Mothercare, Boots, and BHS, taking and then selling photos to parents. I received very positive feedback about my photography but I was determined to seek a career in TV and Video Production, and taking photos was purely a hobby. I sold my camera in the third year of university for beer money and almost instantly regretted it.

The view from the top of the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago 1997

In 1997 I went to Chicago with my father and took a small 35mm snapper. I took many photos of the huge buildings there, I was obsessed with skyscrapers and still am. I wanted to capture the feeling of standing at the base of a massive skyscraper unlike anything I had ever seen.

I had found myself in Birmingham starting my first job in the television industry in 1994 and, although I had the typical south-east view of the place and had never been before, I very quickly fell in love with the city and felt moved to use my photography as a way of dispelling all the negative myths about it. Inspired by my trip to Chicago I started to photograph what has become my adopted home city.

Victoria Square in December 2003

In 1998 at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with autism (Asperger’s syndrome) and started to understand more about my challenges and how to manage my anxiety levels better. I also understood why I had ‘special interests’, photography of architecture was definitely one of my strongest, and I adore maps and have seventy two different atlases, I love skyscrapers and satelite photography, I can't get enough of Google Earth and I can't wait till I can afford a VR kit!

In November 2005 I went to New York and Chicago for ten days working but still came back with 39 rolls of 36 exposure film!

Looking up at the 450m Willis (Sears) Tower in November 2005

It was my birthday on this trip and I was feeling rebellious so I took this one on Fifth Avenue, November 2005

I bought my first digital SLR camera in 2008 and started to accumulate a large collection of photos of Birmingham. I showed some of them to friends and family and was overwhelmed by the positive feedback and encouragement I received.

Cambrian Wharf with the Flapper Canalside Pub in 2009

In 2010 I produced a set of ten Birmingham postcards, had 200 of each printed and managed to get a few small city shops to sell them. The venture didn't succeed very well and I lost interest in photography.

I was encouraged by a good friend to develop a distinctive style and I had already identified several things that I naturally did like framing with thirds, juxterpositions, high colour, because I liked the resulting photos. But I also realised that there was the 'no people' aspect of my photography and how it reflects how I see the world.

In 2011 I found myself alone for Christmas Day and whilst I was a bit down, I wasn't lonely. As an autistic person I have a base state of alone, so I took the opportunity to indulge my 'special interest' of city photography and to wander the streets of Birmingham city centre to get some shots. Serendipity intervened to gift this set of rare photos.

CHRISTMAS DAY 2011 GALLERY

In 2013 I whad been working as a freelance video editor for a large company consistently for 18-months. The 3-hours of driving every day and extremely difficult working conditions resulted in so much stress that I became ill with clinical depression and anxiety disorder and had to cease work as a freelancer.

As part of my recovery, I was encouraged to indulge my ’special interests’ and chose to further my Birmingham promotion project by publishing my photography through social media. I published some of my archive of photos of the city but also started to take many more on a regular basis. I had fantastic feedback, I have continued ever since,  my Twitter account now has over 1400 followers and I have sold some of my photos as printsprints.

In 2015 I became a regular contributor to the new @BirminghamWeAre Twitter account and have gone on to become a full development partner with the parent social media platform FreeTimePays.com.

My photography has been considered as a large contributory factor in the success of their community engagement project which encourages others to send in their photography of the city.

 

I seem to be able to see photographs waiting to be taken, I can 'frame' a scene instantly in my mind so I just need to use the camera to capture it. I love to use the 'rule of thirds' with my compositions, I like to find great juxtapositions, colours, reflections and odd 'muddles' of things that are hard to work out what's going on at first glance.

The Birmingham Pyramids, April 2016

In 2016 I visited Edinburgh with my mother and came back with many great photos of the city.

Edinburgh, a Sea of Chimney Pots - April 2016

In  May 2016 I was honoured to win ’The Cube Photographer of the Year’, after submitting one of my photos of the iconic building.

My winning submission for the Cube Photographer of the Year 2016

Later in 2016 I was also contacted by a gentleman from Price Waterhouse Cooper in Birmingham inviting me to display my photos of the construction of their new headquarters at Paradise Birmingham, One Chamberlain Square, as a timeline gallery at their current base.

My photos on the wall at PwC with Matthew Hammond, Chairman, PwC Midlands in June 2018

The Demolition of the Central Library, June 2016

The Construction of PwC's One Chamberlain Square during May 2018

I continued to photograph the construction of the building and was invited by PwC to collaborate on a 'coffee table' book about the building using mainly my contruction photos photos.

This was completed in January 2020 and I went to the opening of the building where the book was distributed to lots of people and I got one to take home.

As part of my extra-curricular work with BirminghamWeAre I have produced five 'Birmingham Gems' charity calendars.

 

More recently, apart from publishing almost daily photography of Birmingham and especially since the pandemic restrictions, I have tried to develop several themes in my photography that have happened serendipitously over the year's. 'Reflections' is one that I have posted recently about, read more here: Reflections of Birmingham

Reflection of the Library in the part frozen pool in Centenary Square on 25th December 2020.

'Birmingham Lamps' is another, there are so many different types around the cityI

On or off, I like lamps, here one by the Arena Birmingham on the Canal.

I have also collected a lot of photos that show the architectural or general muddle that is the city of Birmingham I am calling 'Muddle Earth'

The view from Grand Central on 25th December 2020

In 2020 I uploaded a total of 3,378 photos of Birmingham taken in 2020.

I have a great passion for city photography and love to go on photography visits. I have created many galleries of my photos from these trips, please click below to view.

CITY PHOTOGRAPHY

Below are some examples.

Edinburgh, the Queen's Birthday Gun Salute, taken from Princes Street Gardens on a 300mm lens, April 2016  EDINBURGH GALLERY

Glasgow, September 2018, the view from the Necropolis, but what's a tomb and what's a building in the distance?  GLASGOW GALLERY

Cardiff, August 2017, one of the newly painted red dragons on the ornate obelisks outside City Hall.  CARDIFF GALLERY

Leeds, July 2017, one of the magnificent gold owls at the Civic Hall  LEEDS GALLERY

Paris, November 2011, the view Down the Champs Elysees  PARIS GALLERY

Amsterdam, August 2005, a tram jam in Leidseplein  AMSTERDAM GALLERY

Roma, April 2002, the Ruins of Il Tempio die Dioscuri ROMA GALLERY

Tivoli, April 2002, the Tivoli Gardens  TIVOLI GALLERY

New York City, November 2005, on my best ever birthday, the view north-west from the Empire State Building  NEW YORK CITY GALLERY

 

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110 passion points
Construction & regeneration
07 Jan 2021 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

APPROVED: Bradford Street/Moseley Road

A residential redevelopment comprising 78 apartments has today been approved for Digbeth.

Brought forward by Home Nation Ltd & designed by K4 Architects, the site is located at the junction of Bradford Street & Moseley Road - and within the Rea Valley Urban Quarter.

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Another residential scheme for Digbeth has been approved! Another grim, vacant plot set to be redeveloped!

Currently, home to a retail unit and a dwelling at 5 & 11 Moseley Street, Home Nation Ltd last year acquired the site off Rochda Ltd, and with committee overwhelmingly backing the proposals, the site is free to be demolished.

Although objections were raised by local residents and groups regarding scale, massing and materiality, committee considered the proposal a real positive addition to the city in a prominent corner location that badly needs reviving!

PLANS

The site will see a part 5, 6 & 8 storey apartment block, and the retention & restoration of a listed workshop at the rear - delivering 78 one, two and three bedroom units (40sqm to 88sqm) in a range of variants that will cater for one, two, three, four and five persons.

A central courtyard area will add external communal amenity space for residents’, alongside roof gardens/private external amenity space on the upper levels.

The two storey listed building on site will be fully restored (great news!) and will keep much, if not all, of its original features, where possible.

It’ll be converted into 2 two bed/four person apartments and will become a major focal point of the new courtyard.

CURRENT STATE
 
 
 
Images: Birmingham City Council/K4 Architects

The principal building will be constructed in a series of blue brick piers, setting out a grid of full height window bays. Louvres to the top of windows feature throughout the building with stone cast sills.

Zero on-site car parking spaces is provided, however, a cycle store with 78 cycle spaces will be incorporated instead.

An appraisal of the applicant’s viability report shows that eight (10.26%) apartments will be available for low-cost home ownership, subject to a s106 legal agreement.

The development was approved 6-2.  Watch this space for more updates on this project!

All drawings & renderings the property of K4 Architects.

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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20 passion points
Construction & regeneration
07 Jan 2021 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

APPROVED: 48-storey Irish Tower

Irish Tower has now been approved!

The developer is now free to replace an unattractive, vacant site by delivering 454 build to rent apartments within a 48 storey leaf-shaped skyscraper.

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This highly sustainable site, in dire need of investment, is now free - subject to a S106 legal agreement & safeguarding conditions - to deliver 181 one & 273 two bedroom apartments (1-4 persons) alongside around 10K of amenity spaces.

Ground floor, mezzanine, first floor, and a landmark 48th floor Sky Lounge will provide the amenity for residents; although not confirmed, these are likely to contain lounges, co-working space, dining areas, a cinema room, and an exclusive bar for inhabitants.

STONE YARD (WEST) CLOSED TO VEHICULAR TRAFFIC

Developer Court Collaboration and Birmingham City Council have also agreed, via a TRO process, that Stone Yard (West) be closed to vehicular traffic, thus allowing for £526,422 of all-important improvements to be made to the public realm.

The space will be open for pedestrians and cyclists and will tie in with future developments and the imminent Midland Metro Tram expansion along High Street–all set to kick off this year.

So, for those reasons above, Irish Tower will be a car-free affair; however, a minimum 122 cycle parking spaces will be provided - amounting to 35% provision.

'48 STOREY DEEMED ACCEPTABLE'

The principle of a 48 storey development was deemed acceptable from the outset.

It's also accepted that it will cause less than substantial harm to the setting of both conservation areas and several designated and non-designated heritage assets in the area. 

With additional information submitted to address concerns raised, councillors too accepted that the public benefits outweigh the harm identified. Those benefits include:

  • A recognisable landmark building that will contribute to the legibility of the city in an area set to undergo transformational change in the near future;
  • Enhancing the street scene with the removal of run-down buildings;
  • Introduction of a new area of public realm - one that adheres to the aspirations of the Rea Valley Urban Quarter SPD.
  • Green roofs to help biodiversity;
  • 454 much needed new homes;
  • Resident spending by helping to sustain shops and businesses in the area;
  • Increased jobs within the industry offering apprenticeships and training opportunities.

BUT WHY BUILD TALL HERE?

Since the High Places document was first adopted in 2003, more advice on talls has been provided in the Big City Plan (2011), Birmingham Development Plan (2017) and the Rea Valley Urban Quarter SPD (2019). These policy documents advise that tall buildings beyond the designated zone may be permitted. 

It is highlighted that High Street Deritend "presents the opportunity to create a street of city scale with a strong identity and character”, with good quality design and connectivity. 

As part of this vision, the Council's BDP includes this area in city centre policies & stipulates that existing buildings that detract from the quality of the place should be replaced - reflected here in the demolition of the former Irish Centre.

As we already know, several tall buildings have already been permitted along the route of this street - think Connaught Square, Lunar Rise, etc.

It's also widely acknowledged that the adjacent Digbeth Quarter is a separate quarter, with its own distinct character.

AFFORDABILITY FACTOR

Perhaps a slight disappointmenthere is that Irish Tower cannot sustain the preferred 35% affordable housing contribution without rendering the development unviable to proceed with.

However, 14 units (3%) WILL be made available for 'affordable private rent' at 80% of market rent in perpetuity.

Given the public realm improvements also factored in and costing over half a million, this reflects an equivalent financial provision of 6%.

If the public realm works costs well below the total above, then the remaining monies will be used towards off-site affordable housing.

All images are the property of Glancy Nicholls Architects.

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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20 passion points
History & heritage
05 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Remaining buildings of Kings Norton Workhouse at the former site of Selly Oak Hospital

You'd be surprised to know that there are several surviving Victorian (and Edwardian) red brick buildings at the site of Selly Oak Hospital, despite all the new houses that have been built at The Oaks. Originally built as the Kings Norton Union Workhouse around 1870. The site became Selly Oak Hospital from 1897. But it closed in 2011 after the QEHB opened in Edgbaston in 2010.

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If you go to Selly Oak now, you will find a housing development called The Oaks, from MIA Property Group. The houses are built on (and more are still being built) at the former site of Selly Oak Hospital. Located between Oak Tree Lane and Raddlebarn Road in Selly Oak. You will find that many Victorian red brick buildings have survived (some dating to the early Edwardian period).

The site was originally opened in 1870 as the Kings Norton Union Workhouse, which was designed by Edward Holmes. It was to be a place to care for the the poor. In 1897 a new Workhouse Infirmary was built (this was the start of Selly Oak Hospital). At the time it was known as Kings Norton Union Infirmary at Selly Oak.

An entrance block was opened on Raddlebarn Road in 1902, plus a large nurses home in 1908 (known as Woodlands). The workhouse became a home for the sick known as Selly Oak House. When the NHS was formed in 1948, the whole site was renamed to Selly Oak Hospital.

In later years there was an Outpatients building near Oak Tree Lane (probably dating to the 1960s or 1970s).

In the years before the Birmingham Super Hospital opened in Edgbaston (now Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham), many injured soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan were treated here (in the 2000s).

Selly Oak Hospital began transferring over to the QEHB in 2010, and this process was completed in 2011.

The site lay derelict for years, until the hospital Trust exchanged contracts with developers to build houses on the site in 2015.

But many of the red brick buildings have survived, while many others were demolished to make room for the houses.

 

2nd January 2012

I first got photos of the red brick buildings from Raddlebarn Road back in 2012. By this point was a green fence around the site.

Selly Oak Hospital

A first look at the red brick entrance block dated AD 1902.

Selly Oak Hospital

View of the AD 1902 sign.

Selly Oak Hospital

The ornate gates were closed. Private Property signs on both sides.

Selly Oak Hospital

There was red brick house to the right.

Selly Oak Hospital

It was demolished by 2018 to make way for a new road called Arkell Way.

Selly Oak Hospital

Raddlebarn Road was lined with these ornate railings, probably dating back to the late 19th century I would guess.

Selly Oak Hospital

These modern extensions to the older red brick block were demolished in 2018. Used to be Therapy Services there.

Selly Oak Hospital

There was quite a lot of old red brick blocks on site. Many of the NHS signs were still around at the time.

Selly Oak Hospital

They were advising, "Don't go to Selly Oak if you have had an Accident, go to the QE!". Or something along those lines.

Selly Oak Hospital

 

14th December 2014

By this point, there was already signs of demolition having taken place on site from this view on Raddlebarn Road in Selly Oak. This was from Elm Road near Bournville. The view today is of a line of houses (built in 2016). Most of these buildings have been demolished, apart from the tower in the middle.

Selly Oak Hospital

First view of the tower to the back. I think the red brick buildings at the front were demolished in 2015.

Selly Oak Hospital

 

2nd May 2017

View from the 11A bus on Oak Tree Lane of the red brick building behind the fence. While new houses were going up behind it at the time, it wasn't clear what would happen to this building. It would later be restored and opened as nursery in 2020.

Selly Oak Hospital

 

18th January 2018

An early 2018 update from Raddlebarn Road in the sunshine. The 1902 entrance block was looking good, was some cars parked in front of the gates. By this point many new houses had been built around The Oaks.

Selly Oak Hospital

Surprised to see many of the old red brick buildings here, plus the old Victorian railings were still in place.

Selly Oak Hospital

Most the surviving buildings were hidden by trees.

Selly Oak Hospital

The building with the fire escape (on the left) was still there a couple of years later.

Selly Oak Hospital

I saw this building again on my last walk past (with the octagonal roof).

Selly Oak Hospital

One of the main Victorian landmarks is this tall red brick tower. Possibly a water tower (although I'm not sure of it's use in the past).

Selly Oak Hospital

One last look at this 20th century extensions to the Victorian or Edwardian blocks.

Selly Oak Hospital

The Therapy Services extension blocks would be knocked down later in 2018.

Selly Oak Hospital

Close up zoom in of the tall red brick tower. Is it water tower, or what was it used for at the Workhouse?

Selly Oak Hospital

I can imagine that the surviving workhouse buildings will be converted into flats and apartments.

Selly Oak Hospital

There was another building being restored. This was probably the Woodlands nurses home originally. It's near Willow Road in Bournville. Woodlands Drive on the right leads to a new housing development. There is also a green to the far right.

Selly Oak Hospital

 

12th October 2019

Work was finally under way to restore the red brick building on Oak Tree Lane. Scaffolding going up. When finished it would get occupied by Busy Bees as the Selly Oak Nursery by the following summer. This view from 11C bus.

Selly Oak Hospital

 

14th December 2019

Another view of the red brick tower, this time seen behind the new houses from Elliott Road in Selly Oak.

Selly Oak Hospital

 

3rd August 2020

One of my first visits back to Selly Oak while restrictions were eased, I'd gotten off the 11C on Oak Tree Lane. Saw the fully restored red brick building now as a nursery. Was heading for bit of a walk on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

Selly Oak Hospital

It is being operated by Busy Bees as the Selly Oak Nursery.

Selly Oak Hospital

 

29th December 2020

When Birmingham was still in Tier 3 restrictions (Tier 4 wouldn't start until 31/12/2020), and when it was snowing that day, I headed to Bournville for a short walk. I ended up on Willow Road and saw the Woodlands again.

Selly Oak Hospital

The old house in the middle was surrounded by scaffolding, as seen from Raddlebarn Road. It wa surrounded by new housing all around, plus the old red brick tower was behind.

Selly Oak Hospital

The Oaks sign and a MIA Property Group banner on the remaining workhouse building. Hopefully they will restore it for use in 2021. The 20th Century extension blocks had been knocked down a few years before.

Selly Oak Hospital

One building remaining but without windows was the one with the fire escape.

Selly Oak Hospital

On a closer look, it looked a bit derelict. All windows had been removed. Hoardings next to the old brick wall.

Selly Oak Hospital

The octagonal building to the right. After this the snow started to get a bit heavier. So by the time I got back to Oak Tree Lane, got the 11A home.

Selly Oak Hospital

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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50 passion points
Transport
31 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Westside Metro Extension on Hagley Road, Edgbaston

The tail end of the Westside Metro extension is being built at Hagley Road in Edgbaston, just beyond Five Ways. It goes past the Morrisons supermarket and Starbucks Coffee and will end outside of the refurbished Fifty4 Hagley Road. As of late December 2020, they have laid the tracks but yet to build up the road or pavement surface around most of it. Photo gallery from 2017 - 2020.

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Westside Metro Extension on Hagley Road

One day from the end of 2021 onwards, West Midlands Metro trams will emerge from the Five Ways underpass, coming from Broad Street. Then will come to the end of the extension on Hagley Road in Edgbaston, this takes it past the Morrisons supermarket, with Starbucks Coffee at the end. But will end at the tram stop that will be built outside of Fifty4 Hagley Road.

The Five Ways underpass has been closed to all traffic since 2019, and they have to go on a diversion around Five Ways Island.

Beyond the end of the line, it was proposed that Sprint would continue down Hagley Road, but not sure what has happened to that. It would take a very long time to extend the line even further (as far as Bearwood and Quinton), but that seems unlikely for now.

1st October 2017.

The view from the wide pavement outside of Tricorn House. I thought they could built the line here (at the time). View towards Morrisons and Fifty4 Hagley Road, near where the line would eventually be built in 2020.

Westside Metro ext Hagley Rd

But they would eventually build the extension outside of Morrisons towards Starbucks Coffee.

Westside Metro ext Hagley Rd

You can see how wide the pavement was at the time at this side of Hagley Road back in 2017. The bus stops, lampposts, etc would all have to go.

Westside Metro ext Hagley Rd

A view towards the offices at Fifty4 Hagley Road. Just some barriers on the pavement. Trees and grass that would have to go.

Westside Metro ext Hagley Rd

15th February 2018.

A bus ride from the top deck of the X10 NXWM Platinum bus, as it passed Morrisons and the Marriott Hotel (on the right).

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

Cones in the middle of the road. Opposite was also a Pizza Hut Delivery place for take away.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

The bus leaves Hagley Road, heading down the Five Ways Underpass towards Broad Street.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

There was a digital billboard that you can see as you head under Five Ways Island.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

View from the bus in the Five Ways Underpass. A view runners of the Great Birmingham Run used to have until a few years ago. Broad Street is at the end of the white light!

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

29th June 2019.

The view from the top of Hagley Road. The Five Ways Underpass to the left. It would be hard to get views of the Metro extension around the tunnel if you were on the pavement, especially with traffic going past.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

21st December 2019.

One way to see a view of the tram tracks being laid was from the top deck of a bus going around Five Ways Island. This view towards Hagley Road past The Lansdowne, early track laying progress. This was taken from the top deck of the no 24 NXWM Platinum bus. By now going on a diversion to the City Centre.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

23rd December 2019.

Saw these pink Midland Metro Alliance barriers just beyond Morrisons on the Hagley Road.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

There was also some pink Midland Metro Alliance barriers in front of Fifty4 Hagley Road. All of that grass and young trees have been removed for the extension in the year since.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

4th January 2020.

A view of the Five Ways Underpass with the tracks that had been laid. This was the view zoomed in from the window at Morrisons Cafe. This was my last photo of the extension on Hagley Road before the pandemic was declared, and we had those lockdowns and restrictions.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

31st July 2020.

With restrictions eased by the summer, I was back to work in the middle of July. On a day off I headed towards the Hagley Road on a warm day to see The Two Towers again. Was lots of cones and barriers on the right.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

There was also a lot of traffic trying to get past Fifty4 Hagley Road. As only one lane was open.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

25th October 2020.

I heard that the crossing on the Hagley Road near Starbucks was closed, so that day I went to have a drink and toastie inside of Starbucks. Then got these photos of the tracks that had been laid. A bit awkward with the fences in the way.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

Completed tracks emerging from the Five Ways underpass onto the Hagley Road, in from of Tricorn House and Cobalt Square.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

There was a bus stop in use on the left, but all other traffic had to go to the right.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

24th December 2020.

Christmas Eve, and I got off the no 1 bus on Highfield Road, and walked to Hagley Road to see the latest progress of the extension.  Starting from Fifty4 Hagley Road. This was near the old Birmingham 1 mile sign.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

Bit of a mess outside of Fifty4 Hagley Road, but there is tracks laid just up ahead.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

The tracks that have been installed in front of Barclays, towards Morrisons.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

Cross over tracks just beyond Starbucks. Bright sunshine.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

A path has been built towards Starbucks Coffee, with bricks in the middle. I'm not sure if they were open for takeaway or not.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

Tracks in the direction of Fifty4 Hagley Road, past Barclays. You can see the cross over tracks. A lot of litter needs to be picked up when they resume in January 2021.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

The tracks towards Morrisons. This was the wide pavement. Trees on the right survive next to the dry cleaning place.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

Last photo, of water logged tracks that come out of the Five Ways underpass. With traffic waiting on the Hagley Road, having just come on from Five Ways Island.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

27th December 2020.

The day after Boxing Day, I got the bus to Harborne, then caught a no 24 NXWM Platinum bus from Harborne Road, Edgbaston. Got the updated view of the tram tracks going in and out of the Five Ways underpass from Five Ways Island.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

The bus stopped at traffic lights, so was able to get a second view. The tracks heading towards Morrisons and Fifty4 Hagley Road. Seems to be concrete barriers in the middle for some reason.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

See also my Broad Street post.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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110 passion points
Transport
31 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street

Despite the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, there has been a lot ot progress on the Westside Metro Extension from Centenary Square towards the Hagley Road, just beyond Five Ways in Edgbaston. Here we will look at the building of it from April 2015 to December 2020 on Broad Street with gaps from Feb to July 2020 and Nov 2020 due to the lockdowns.

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Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street

Most progress was done during the various lockdowns in 2020. Especially in the months where I was unable to travel to the City Centre (until I had to go back to work in July). I also missed November (2nd lockdown, until I went back to work). Didn't really get around to checking the extension out again until late December 2020.

They have started to install Brindleyplace Tram Stop. I had a walk down on Broad Street on Christmas Eve to see it.

Enjoy this photo gallery from April 2015 to December 2020. Track laying began at the end of 2019, and they made a lot of progress during 2020, while Westside was quiet.

25th April 2015.

In April 2015, early signs on Broad Street of utility works between the future site of The Bank and The Mercian.

Westside Metro Broad St

A lorry and van from the National Grid were on site in front of Zara's starting to move the undeground pipes and cables.

Westside Metro Broad St

5th April 2017.

Just under the link bridge from the Hyatt to Symphony Hall. More utility diverence works. This time by Pier (UK) Ltd.

Westside Metro Broad St

10th February 2018.

This view of Broad Street zoomed in from the Library of Birmingham's Secret Garden. Buses were still going up and down Broad Street at the time. This was close to Lee Longlands and Novotel.

Westside Metro Broad St

15th February 2018.

Views from the top deck of the X10 NXWM Platinum bus, emerging from the Five Ways Underpass near the Five Ways Complex.

Westside Metro Broad St

Was a lot of traffic here due to the roadworks close to Pryzm.

Westside Metro Broad St

Traffic was diverted around to the right, with temporary traffic lights. Welcome to the City Centre.

Westside Metro Broad St

It's hard to imagine Broad Street like this now, as it's been closed to traffic since 2019.

Westside Metro Broad St

There was even a big hole in the road near Uber, at the corner of Ryland Street.

Westside Metro Broad St

26th March 2018.

I was on a no 23 NXWM Platinum bus on the top deck, while the 24 was in front. Cones in the middle of the road, while more utilities were diverted near the O Bar.

Westside Metro Broad St

Near the end of Broad Street approaching Centenary Square, and about to go under the link bridge from Symphony Hall to the Hyatt Regency Birmingham. This view would change a lot in the follow two years.

Westside Metro Broad St

21st December 2019.

View from the no 24 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus from the top deck, looking towards Broad Street from Five Ways Island. Tracks had already been laid in the Five Ways underpass from Hagley Road to Broad Street.

Westside Metro Extension

3rd February 2020.

The road had been dug up and was gates at certain sections, near where pedestrians could cross the road. This was near the Bierkeller Entertainment Complex towards the Five Ways Complex.

Westside Metro Broad St

22nd February 2020.

The footpath near Symphony Hall was closed, you had to cross through the temporary path towards the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

Westside Metro Broad St

Between Regency Wharf and Symphony Hall, it looked like a warzone! No road surface.

Westside Metro Broad St

Towards Centenary Square, you can see Library Tram Stop in the distance.

Westside Metro Broad St

14th July 2020.

First time back on Broad Street for about 4 months due to the first lockdown (I'd gone back to work). Tram tracks had been laid near Reflex '80s Bar (The Crown), Walkabout and towards The Brasshouse.

Westside Metro Broad St

25th July 2020.

Tracks going all the way past Cineworld on Broad Street, down into the underpass below Five Ways Island.

Westside Metro Broad St

The other side of the fence up Broad Street past the Five Ways Complex, towards The Bank, The Mercian and the Hampton by Hilton Hotel (Cumberland House).

Westside Metro Broad St

29th August 2020.

Near Regency Wharf and the Solomon Cutler Wetherspoon. The road surface had yet to be filled up.

Westside Metro Broad St

12th September 2020.

You could now walk down the middle of Broad Street. They were now doing the paving in front of the O Bar and Walkabout. As well as the paving on the Black Sabbath Bridge.

Westside Metro Broad St

Near the Solomon Cutler Wetherspoon at Regency Wharf. You could walk over part of the track that goes towards Five Ways.

Westside Metro Broad St

16th September 2020.

Now you can see the track that was installed to connect to the end of the current line at Library Tram Stop.

Westside Metro Broad St

From Centenary Square at Library Tram Stop, where the tracks are connected to the existing line.

Westside Metro Broad St

19th October 2020.

Near Brindleyplace, Free Radio and Popworld.

Westside Metro Broad St

The tracks and the road surface were more or less complete near the Five Ways Complex.

Westside Metro Broad St

25th October 2020.

My last major walk of the Westside Metro extension before the 2nd lockdown was announced. Seen here near Cineworld (which had closed down again) and Pryzm at the Five Ways Complex.

Westside Metro Broad St

The freshly laid road surface not far from Revolution.

Westside Metro Broad St

Autumn leaves on the tracks near Dil Bar Indian Restaurant.

Westside Metro Broad St

Paving works between Symphony Hall and the Solomon Cutler at Regency Wharf. You could walk down the tracks.

Westside Metro Broad St

They had already started to lay bricks on the new tracks near Centenary Square, with this view of the Library of Birmingham.

Westside Metro Broad St

They had made a lot of progress since my previous update of this view, looked almost finished.

Westside Metro Broad St

19th December 2020.

Headed to the Black Sabbath Bridge, as the Black Sabbath Bench is now back in place. Brickwork towards Walkabout and O Bar is now complete.

Westside Metro Broad St

Looking towards The Brasshouse and Three Brindleyplace. All it needs now is the four Broad Street Walk of Stars of the Black Sabbath members to be laid, but that would mean removing the newly laid bricks!

Westside Metro Broad St

24th December 2020. 

The view on Broad Street towards Five Ways. Cineworld has been closed since the middle of October. Buses have to divert down Ryland Street.

Westside Metro Broad St

Similar to the October view, but all the autumn leaves have long since been cleared up.

Westside Metro Broad St

Towards the so called Broad Street Cluster.

Westside Metro Broad St

There is the usual shutdown over the Christmas holidays.

Westside Metro Broad St

Can walk down the middle of the tracks past Novotel and Travelodge.

Westside Metro Broad St

First view of Brindleyplace Tram Stop near Free Radio and Popworld.

Westside Metro Broad St

The start of the building of the tram platforms near Brindleyplace.

Westside Metro Broad St

Towards the Black Sabbath Bridge with what was The Crown ('80s Reflex Bar) and The ICC.

Westside Metro Broad St

A lot of strong winter sunshine on Broad Street, was close to Walkabout here.

Westside Metro Broad St

Looking back at the Black Sabbath Bridge.

Westside Metro Broad St

Towards Centenary Square, the link bridge from Symphony Hall to the Hyatt.

Westside Metro Broad St

From just in front of Library Tram Stop, the Westside Metro extension to Five Ways starts here.

Westside Metro Broad St

27th December 2020.

View of Broad Street from Five Ways Island on the no 24 NXWM Platinum bus towards the so called Broad Street Cluster. Tracks below emerging from the Five Ways underpass. I expect they will build a tram stop near Cineworld sometime in 2021.

Broad St Metro Ext

Also check out my Hagley Road, Edgbaston post .

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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110 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
30 Dec 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Reflections of Birmingham

Since April 2014 I have been taking lots of Birmingham photos and over the years I have developed some themes that I now look for additions too. The first to become apparent was my attraction to reflections, particularly in the glass of city buildings. Here is a gallery of my favorite 50 'Reflection' photos. More themes to come soon including 'Lamps' next.

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11th April 2014

On a visit to the 'Secret Garden' atop the Library I noticed this great reflection in the shear tinted glass facade of the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Later that day I saw this crazy visual mash-up including a reflection of the Library, it started me thinking about the pure asthetic quality of distorted reflections, something I have tried to develop since.

11th April 2014

18th April 2014

20th February 2015

I've always been pleased with this reflection in the Hyatt Regency Hotel of the urbanscape to the north of the city centre.

30th January 2016

Of course the stainless steel of Grand Central has become a favorite canvas for amazing distorted reflections.

30th January 2016

22nd July 2016

I like how the seemingly rigid structure of many 'glass boxes' actually breaks up reflections and offers perspectives otherwise unseen.

6th August 2016

15th October 2016

Modern architecture can provide great opprtunities to showcase classic examples.

12th November 2016

Sometimes it is simply the reflection of the sky that catches my eye.

28th January 2017

Flat glass on a curved building can produce crazy effects like this isolation of the reflection of the Library in the Arena.

20th May 2017

21st May 2017

Sometimes I just love the visual muddle.

3rd June 2017

I have developed a liking for using reflections to confuse the eye initially.

11th June 2017

18th June 2017

Reflected sunsets are a must in many modern buildings.

7th October 2017

22nd October 2017

More visual muddle and confusion.

16th December 2017

This is as close to a selfie as I get.

1st January 2018

Oh, of course cranes, another one of my themes, but also great when smashed up in a good reflection.

14th January 2018

24th February 2018

Some opportunities just can't be passed by.

21st July 2018

More visual confusion.

25th August 2018

The glass of the old Sympony Hall facace actually gave some great reflection opportunities.

27th August 2018

3rd February 2019

New buildings such as One Chamberlain Square are a feast of great reflection opportunities.

3rd March 2019

Two Chamberlain Square.

10th March 2019

17th March 2019

21st April 2019

A curved window! awesome.

20th July 2020

Flat glass on a curve producing tall thin reflections of the Library, the Hyatt, One Centenary Square (HSBC) and Alpha Tower.

12 August 2019

From the Hyatt, the Library in the Centenary Square pool.

24th August 2019

Confusing symmetry. 

8th September 2019

Reversed perpectives.

7th December 2019

From the Library, it just jumped out as I walked along the 'Secret Garden' and was great to get the Jamia Masjid Anwar-Ul-Uloom and Dudley Castle in the shot too.

7th December 2019

Wrong way round! At first glace the BT tower is on the wrong side of the 103 Colmore Row construction.

27th December 2019

I just liked the symmetry of the wheel and the skating tent.

22nd March 2020

Sometimes the focus point can make all the difference.

24th March 2020

19th May 2020

14th June 2020

I love this mash-up of reflections in the REP Theatre.

29th August 2020

4th November 2020

Visit to The Cube roof for sunrise.

5th November 2020

15th November 2020

15th November 2020

1st December 2020

19th Decembr 2020

25th December 2020

25th December 2020

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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40 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
30 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Babbs Mill Lake in the Kingfisher Country Park

A Christmas Day morning walk on Friday 25th December 2020 around Babbs Mill Lake. Located in Kingshurst, Solihull within Babbs Mill Jubilee Park. Which is now a satellite park of the Kingfisher Country Park, which stretches from East Birmingham into North Solihull. The lake and park was named after the nearby Babbs Mill, which dates to the 18th Century.

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Babbs Mill Lake

Heading towards Kingshurst in Solihull on Christmas Day, 25th December 2020, for a walk past Babbs Mill Lake. The lake is man-made and is near the River Cole. It is located within the Kingfisher Country Park. But the local park it is within is now called the Babbs Mill Jubilee Park, which was formed in 1977 during the Queen's Silver Jubilee year. It was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2002. The Kingfisher Country Park was declared in 2004, and was a joint venture between Birmingham and Solihull.

 

Babbs Mill Lake is named after Babbs Mill, which still survives to this day. It is a Grade II listed building dating to the 18th Century. It was named after the miller, John Babb, who died in 1651.

Babbs Mill

 

First views of Babbs Mill Lake. We started the walk from the car park near Fordbridge Road.

Babbs Mill Lake

Island in the middle of the lake, seems like a lot of birds goes there.

Babbs Mill Lake

First view of the morning winter sun. This was not a sunrise or sunset, but the sun was pretty low in the sky.

Babbs Mill Lake

A ramp going off into the lake towards the geese and swans.

Babbs Mill Lake

At the end of the ramp was quite a lot of Canada geese. With the bright morning sunshine making it a bit dark here.

Babbs Mill Lake geese

Too the right was a lot of gulls on the railing. This was close to some picnic benches, where I saw pigeons on them as well.

Babbs Mill Lake gulls

More of the morning sunburst off centre to the right.

Babbs Mill Lake

Then off centre to the left.

Babbs Mill Lake

A line of four trees making nice shadows with the sun behind to the left.

Babbs Mill Lake

A newly laid footpath curves around the lake to the right.

Babbs Mill Lake

The path doesn't seem quite finished. Plus was another section with unfinished tarmac. But saw the odd graffiti tag that will need removing by the local Council.

Babbs Mill Lake

Can't get enough of that sunburst! Wow!

Babbs Mill Lake

Sunburst to the left of the lake.

Babbs Mill Lake

Sunburst to the right.

Babbs Mill Lake

We only went around two sides of the lake. Was a muddy path after this.

Babbs Mill Lake

The lake from the muddy path.

Babbs Mill Lake

We turned back, and instead headed up the path towards Shard End (leading to Packington Avenue). The Birmingham / Solihull border is somewhere to the left of here.

Babbs Mill Lake

Later walking back to the car park, got a few more shots, including the sunburst again.

Babbs Mill Lake

The sun was now directly behind that line of trees, making incredible shadows!

Babbs Mill Lake

Coming back saw a couple of Domestic geese near the lake, got this shot of one on the grass.

Babbs Mill Lake Domestic goose

 

I didn't see any herons around Babbs Mill Lake, but later saw one coming into land near the Cole Valley Route in the Kingfisher Country Park. Not far from Packington Avenue in Shard End. This area is probably part of the Norman Chamberlain Local Nature Reserve.

Heron Kingfisher Country Park

I only managed to get two photos of it, this second zoom in came out a bit better. But would have been nice to see it near the lake.

Heron Kingfisher Country Park

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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60 passion points
Modern Architecture
28 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing the Beetham Tower, Birmingham

The Beetham Tower is located at 10 Holloway Circus between Smallbrook Queensway and Suffolk Street Queensway. Built from 2003 until 2006.

It is now the home of the Radisson Blu hotel. It's 122 metres tall. The 2nd tallest building in the City, but is currently the tallest occupied building (at least until The Mercian is completed in 2022).

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The Beetham Tower is located at Holloway Circus in the Southside District of Central Birmingham, between Smallbrook Queensway and Smallbrook Queensway. It's not too far from the Chinese Pagoda. The tower was built between 2003 and 2006.

It is part residential and part a hotel (occupied by the Radisson Blu chain). It's 400 feet tall (or 122 metres high). Owned by the Beetham Organisation who the building is named after.

It is currently the second tallest building in Birmingham (with the BT Tower still the tallest), but it is still the tallest occupied building in the City (well at least until The Mercian is completed and opened in 2022).

 

The Beetham Tower over the years ...

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Photos above courtesy of Elliott Brown.

 

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Photos above courtesy of Daniel Sturley.

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10 passion points
Modern Architecture
28 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing The ICC Birmingham

The International Convention Centre opened in Birmingham in June 1991 by HM The Queen. It has hosted the G8 in 1998. Also the Conservative Party Conference every two years from 2010 (2020 is cancelled and is going virtual). The public mall links Centenary Square to the Canalside and Brindleyplace. Otherwise you have to go up Broad St or Cambridge St.

 

 

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The International Convention Centre is located in Centenary Square and the venue includes Symphony Hall. Built on the site of the Bingley Hall (which was built in 1850), it sadly burnt down around 1984. Construction of The ICC Birmingham would last around 4 to 5 years. It was opened on the 2nd April 1991, then a formal ceremony on the 12th June 1991 by HM The Queen. There is a public mall that stretches down to the canalside (with a footbridge linking it to Brindleyplace).

Famously used in 1998 for the meeting of the World Leaders of the G8. Once every two years from 2010, the venue was host to the Conservative Party Conference. It was scheduled to take place in 2020, but this conference will be going online instead (hopefully returning in 2022).

Inside there used to be a place called The Oak Kitchen, but this was later replaced by a much larger Starbucks Coffee. On the lower level towards the Canalside is Castle Fine Art.

More recently Craft Dining Rooms opened in the Canalside Bar space, that was previously occupied by Strada.

 

The ICC Birmingham over the last decade or so ...

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC Mall

The ICC Mall

The ICC Starbucks

The ICC

The ICC Hoot

Photos above courtesty of Elliott Brown.

 

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

Photos courtesty of  Daniel Sturley

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10 passion points
Modern Architecture
28 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing the Orion Building

The Orion Building was built from 2004 until 2006. Located on John Bright Street, Navigation Street and Suffolk Street Queensway. It is 90 metres tall. There is a Sainsbury's Local on Navigation Street. The building is opposite The Mailbox and is visible from the flyover on Suffolk Street Queensway.

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The Orion Building is usually seen in a pair with the Beetham Tower. Especially in the views up and down Suffolk Street Queensway. Built from 2004 to 2006, the architects was BBLB Architects.

Some history of the site. A building by Frederick W. Lloyd was built on John Bright Street in 1901. This was demolished in 2002. The facade of a hotel built from 1899 to 1900 by A. B. Phipson was retained when the Orion Building was built from 2003 to 2005.

Located on Navigation Street is a Sainsbury's Local. The Stable, a pizza and cider restaurant / bar opened on John Bright Street in late 2015 or early 2016. An Indian Restaurant later open nearby on Navigation Street by 2017 called Tamatanga.

 

Gallery below of the Orion Building over the years ...

Orion and Beetham Towers

Orion and Beetham Towers

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Photos above by Elliott Brown.

 

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Photos above by Daniel Sturley.

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0 passion points
Photography
28 Dec 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Daniel Sturley - My Favourite 75 Birmingham 2020 Photos

Having just published my 3,300th photo taken of, or in Birmingham in 2020 to my main gallery, I felt like making a post of my 75 favourites!

Above is my most popular of the year, a perfect rainbow over the city centre on 13th June.

Thanks so much for your interest in my Birmingham photography.

I hope you all have a positive 2021!

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18th January 2020:

8th Feb:

25th Feb:

14th Mar:

22nd Mar:

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28th Mar:

4th Apr:

11th Apr:

11th Apr:

Experimental laser pen and quartz macro photography during lockdown.

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27th Dec:

It's the Planet Saturn!

I hope you all have a positive 2021.

My full gallery is here: https://www.freetimepays.com/gallery/DanielSturley

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80 passion points
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