Elliott Brown

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Photography
17 hours ago - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The many outfits of the Birmingham Bullring Bull!

Everytime the Bullring posts a photo of the Bullring Bull's new outfit, I have to pop to the Bullring and get a photo or two of the new outfit! This gallery of the various outfits over the years that they have dressed the bull up. Usually for events such ad St Patrick's Day or Birmingham Pride or for Christmas time. Also known as The Guardian by Laurence Broderick in 2003.

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The Guardian was made by Laurence Broderick in 2003 for the opening of the new Bullring. Made of bronze. Over the years the bull has been dressed up in many outfits! One of the most photographed pieces of public art in Birmingham!

May 2009 - no outfit. One of my earliest photos of the bull, this was before I was aware that the Bullring regularly dressed it up!

Bullring Bull

June 2012 for the first outfit I noticed on the bull. This during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Dressed in a Union Jack outfit.

Bullring Bull

June 2013 - The Botanical Bull. This for Gardeners World Live. An event that comes every June to The NEC (usually after the Chelsea Flower Show has finished). Birmingham City Council enter's their display at both and they normally win Gold!

Bullring Bull

Santa's Little Helper for Christmas 2015. Seen in November 2015.

Bullring Bull

This red outfit seen during March 2017. Puzzle pieces and hearts. Created by LHM UK and BCU.

Bullring Bull

Wearing a red nose for Red Nose Day 2017. Seen during March 2017.

Bullring Bull

Onto Christmas 2017. The bull seen in this green outfit during November 2017.

Bullring Bull

Onto January 2018 and time to loose those pounds with Bullfit! Perhaps Mr Motivator was in town.

Bullring Bull

Chinese New Year 2018. 2018 was the Year of the Dog. Seen during February 2018.

Bullring Bull

A green hat for St Patrick's Day 2018, also co-insiding with the annual St Patrick's Day Parade in Digbeth. March 2018.

Bullring Bull

West Midlands Railway took over from London Midland during December 2017. And by April 2018 the bull was wearing an orange outfit inspired by the new West Midlands rail franchise operator! The other half of the former London Midland is now known as London Northwestern Railway (for services between London, Birmingham and Liverpool). Both are part of West Midlands Trains.

Bullring Bull

A multicoloured wig for Birmingham Pride 2018. Seen during May 2018. It was a rainy day at the time.

Bullring Bull

Onto Summer 2018 for this outfit seen in August 2018. A shirt with parrots all over and sunglasses (or shades as you will). Seen between a set of rain showers, but dry when I saw the bull like this.

Bullring Bull

It's now Christmas 2018 for this outfit on the bull. Hip Hop Santa. Seen during December 2018. Actually taken from the window near the railing down to Birmingham New Street Station. The bull normally draws a crowd and can sometimes get busy from the front, so I try and get him from the side or back!

Bullring Bull

Onto St Patrick's Day 2019. This was the day after the parade, so the green hat was gone, but the green outfit was still on!

Bullring Bull

This outfit was inspired by the birthday (and death day) of William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), which also co-insides with St George's Day! Happy 455th birthday Mr Shakespeare! (he passed away 403 years ago).

Bullring Bull

Now May 2019 and the bull was dressed up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show which was coming to Birmingham, which was on at The Alexandra Theatre. Also out in May 2019 at cinemas was the Elton John biopic Rocketman! But it was more for Rocky Horror.

Bullring Bull

One more for now. Birmingham Pride 2019 in May 2019. I expect more outfits to come over the months and years to come! If the Bullring tweets about it, I may again pop to the Bullring to try and get a shot! If there is bunch of people at the front, I usually try and get it from the side, like this.

Bullring Bull

 

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Transport
23 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Taking off or Coming into land at Birmingham Airport

I usually get the window seat on my planes in and out of Birmingham Airport, so I try to get photos out of the window, normally near the wing. During actual take off / landing I don't have my camera out (so may miss things I see from the window). But this is what I have got. I have just come back from Barcelona (May 2019). Photos also from the return from Lyon 2017.

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If I've been preoccupied by holidays and planes, it's due to my recent trip to Catalonia in Spain including Barcelona during May 2019. So not been thinking about Birmingham much. Usually go on Riviera Travel holidays (organised tours in France, Italy or Spain).

 

In June 2017 I went on a Riviera Travel holiday to Lyon and Burgundy in France. On the way back with Flybe, the plane headed over Sutton Park on the way down to runway 15 (near the Sheldon Country Park).

Heading over English fields somewhere.

Landing at BHX 2017

Am not sure but this might be Witton or Aston?

Landing at BHX 2017

Details hard to see from up here, but this maybe somewhere over Birmingham?

Landing at BHX 2017

Sutton Park

Landing at BHX 2017

Sutton Coldfield maybe.

Landing at BHX 2017

Sutton Park - it looks really massive from up here!

Landing at BHX 2017

Passing Erdington and Fort Dunlop.

Landing at BHX 2017

Closer look at Fort Dunlop. Bit hard figuring out the location on Google Maps!

Landing at BHX 2017

Probably the M6.

Landing at BHX 2017

Somewhere between Castle Bromwich and Marston Green before landing at runway 15.

Landing at BHX 2017

 

I have just come back from another Riviera Travel holiday to Barcelona and Catalonia in Spain, during May 2019 with Ryanair. Coming back it headed over the Warwickshire countryside down to runway 33 over the A45 Coventry Road. I had to miss the visit to the top of the Rotunda as it was the day before going to the airport! What I saw over in Spain was well worth missing the Rotunda views (a change from the same old Birmingham views).

On the first day shortly after taking off from Birmingham Airport for the 2 hour flight to Barcelona. I saw Resorts World on takeoff, but only got my camera out when we levelled up. Fields somewhere in Warwickshire (I think).

Ryanair BHX to BCN

Was thinking this could be Silverstone in Northamptonshire, but it isn't. It's the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire with their own race track. I saw it on the way back to BHX as well! Jaguar Land Rover are also based here (probably testing out new cars).

Ryanair BHX to BCN

Heading further south down England, more fields. Was a clear day on the day we flew down to Barcelona, not many clouds in the sky!

Ryanair BHX to BCN

It only took around 15 minutes before we got to the English Channel. More fields in the south of England somewhere.

Ryanair BHX to BCN

On the 7th day of the holiday it was time to fly home. The airport in Barcelona wasn't that far from the hotel so not far to go. After a 2 hour flight it was time to descend down to runway 33 at Birmingham Airport. Was cloudy most of the way so couldn't see much under the clouds until we went through the clouds.

Not entirely where this is below, but as a guess I could say Oxford? Before this was mostly just above the clouds.

Ryanair BCN to BHX

Heading down through the layers of clouds over England somewhere. The clouds look a bit weird from up here, and it always feels like going down on a rollercoaster ride (not that I've ever been on a scary rollercoaster!).

Ryanair BCN to BHX

Or maybe this is Oxford?

Ryanair BCN to BHX

English fields, probably in Warwickshire.

Ryanair BCN to BHX

More clear as we headed down to the runway. Flaps on the wings starting to open up.

Ryanair BCN to BHX

The flaps on the wings open out exposing the insides of the wing a bit. This helps as the plane lands on the runway and to help it to slow down before taxiing back to the terminal building. I noticed that we were heading over the semi circle part of the A45 Coventry Road. Would later travel on that road in the taxi home.

Ryanair BCN to BHX

 

If you want to see my French Chateaux post, it's not yet been approved, after I created it in March 2019 (but is visible to read on my page). My Italian Lakes post is up though.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Green travel
11 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Velo Birmingham at Victoria Square

On the 10th and 11th May 2019, Velo Birmingham & Midlands was at Victoria Square in Birmingham. For cyclists to register for the event, and there was also stands there with information and bikes there too. Velo Birmingham took place on Sunday 12th May 2019. Starting at Birmingham for a 100 mile ride around the Midlands. Including to Coventry and around Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

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Over the 10th and 11th May 2019, Velo Birmingham were set up in Victoria Square. So that cyclist could register for the event, pick up their number and get a goody bag! The main event itself was held on Sunday 12th May 2019 around Birmingham & the Midlands. That was effecting road closures and buses would have to be diverted. I wasn't expecting to get out to see the cyclists riding around the city and the West Midlands, but this gathering in Victoria Square will do (I'm not a cyclist, have never ridden a bike, or owned one!).

Riders can ride 100 miles or 42 miles.

A look around Victoria Square. No sooner had the Knife Angel been installed in the square, that they set up the Velo Birmingham event all around! This to the right of the Knife Angel and left of the Queen Victoria statue.

Velo Birmingham

Help Desk. Insturctions for registering for the event. Was a lot of people around.

Velo Birmingham

The Cycle Republic Mini will be the events crew car.

Velo Birmingham

The Cycle Republic Mini looking towards the Council House.

Velo Birmingham

Enjoy The Ride! This seen at the bottom of Victoria Square near New Street and the newly opened Nandos.

Velo Birmingham

Stands including West Midlands Cycle and West Midlands Network.

Velo Birmingham

West Midlands Railway were there too!

Velo Birmingham

Velo Birmingham & Midlands banners seen near the Knife Angel from Chamberlain Square, looking towards Victoria Square House.

Velo Birmingham

The view from Colmore Row towards the Town Hall.

Velo Birmingham

Good luck to all the riders taking part. (am assuming that this will go up after the Velo Birmingham event has finished).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Civic pride
10 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

If you visit Sarehole Mill, inside or out, you may see these signs (if they are still there) of a Bilbo Baggins / The Hobbit trail. The biopic Tolkien was released in UK cinemas in early May 2019. Featuring scenes set in Birmingham and near Sarehole Mill and around Edgbaston and the City Centre. This is a fun trail for Tolkien fans!

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These photos below were taken during a free open day at Sarehole Mill in October 2013. Couldn't help but notice these The Hobbit signs. Clearly part of a picture trail round the mill!

Seen in the tea room, when it also used to be the ticket office (that was later moved into a building close to the car park).

Bilbo Baggins - look for his pictures around the mill.

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

Gandalf the Grey - he is looking for young Bilbo Baggins.

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

Bilbo Baggins - a Hobbit.

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

Gandalf A grey wizard.

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

Thorin Leader of the Dwarves

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

Gollum A Stoor Hobbit of the River folk.

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

On the top floor of the mill, Bilbo's house!

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

When the leaves are gold before they fall, look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire

The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

During another visit to the gardens of Sarehole Mill (September 2016), I saw these four signs on stones with JRR Tolkien quotes from his books! Only had my (then) smartphone camera on me at the time. So not as detailed as would be on my main camera. I would guess that they were meant to be clues?

One Ring to rule them all One Ring to find them ...

JRR Tolkien LOTR quote

Tall ships and tall rings, Three times three what brought they from the foundered land ...

JRR Tolkien LOTR quote

For Bole and bougo Are burning a bit the furnace We go to War ...

JRR Tolkien LOTR quote

Reeds by the shady pond. Lillies on the water ...

JRR Tolkien LOTR quote

Bonus photos. It was the Summer of 2015. And The Big Hoot's Little Hoot trail was on around Birmingham, along with the bigger The Big Hoot trail. In Kings Heath they had several of them in shop windows. But if you popped into Lloyds Bank between July and August 2015 (may have still been there September 2015), you may have seen Frowldo Baggins!

Frowldo Baggins

This owlet was designed by Zac Iman and based on the character Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings. I saw it during August 2015 in the Lloyds Bank in Kings Heath (Alcester Road South next door to Sainsbury's).

Frowldo Baggins

There was little owl sculptures at Sarehole Mill, but they weren't really Tolkien related.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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People & community
09 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Knife Angel in Coventry and Birmingham

The Knife Angel by Alfie Bradley was in Coventry for around 2 months. During March and April 2019. It was located outside of Coventry Cathedral. It has now moved to Birmingham and is in Victoria Square for the duration of May 2019 until the beginning of June 2019.

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The Knife Angel by Alfie Bradley was made out of over 100,000 knives that were handed over in 2015/16. He made it at the British Ironworks Centre in Oswestry and is a memorial to those affected by knife crime. It is 27ft high. In 2018 it began it's tour of the UK outside of Liverpool Cathedral. It has also been shown in Hull.

Knife Angel in Coventry

Seen outside of Coventry Cathedral at the end of March 2019. I got the train down from Birmingham New Street to Coventry to see it. At the time, wasn't aware that it would be moving to Birmingham in May! There was a crowd of people in front of it, so I took these from a distance, close to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. On the left is Epstein's sculpture of St.Michael and Lucifer. It was in Coventry from the 14th March to the 7th May 2019.

Knife Angel Coventry

Zoom in's of the Knife Angel outside of Coventry Cathedral.

Knife Angel Coventry

It's position in Coventry meant you couldn't fully see the wings behind, but you can in Victoria Square, Birmingham!

Knife Angel Coventry

There was some kind of event on at the Coventry Cathedral ruins on the 30th March 2019, and I saw all these coaches and buses parked near the cathedral. I'm not sure if they were there for the Knife Angel, for some other event. I think I saw a VIP car parked close to Coventry University as well.

Coaches and buses at Coventry Cathedral

Knife Angel in Birmingham

The Knife Angel was moved to Victoria Square in Birmingham in front of the the Town Hall during early May 2019. First shown to the public on the 8th May 2019, it will be in Birmingham until at least the 5th June 2019. Details from Birmingham City Council here Birmingham welcomes the Knife Angel as city works to tackle knife crime.

As with Coventry, when I got to Victoria Square, found a crowd of people in front of the Knife Angel. So I took a zoom in from distance. I think it's better to take photos of it from a little bit far away!

Knife Angel Birmingham

A zoom in of the Knife Angel in front of the Town Hall.

Knife Angel Birmingham

A comparison of the Knife Angel with the statue of Queen Victoria and the Chamberlain Memorial in Chamberlain Square. Two and One Chamberlain Square to the right as well.

Knife Angel Birmingham

Looking to Chamberlain Square. The location in Victoria Square, means that you can now see the wings of the Knife Angel from behind (that wasn't possible in Coventry). One Chamberlain Square to the left and the Council House to the right.

Knife Angel Birmingham

View of the wings from the right side towards the Council House. Most people viewing the Knife Angel from the front.

Knife Angel Birmingham

The wings fully from the back of the Knife Angel. Statue of Queen Victoria to the right. Crane for 103 Colmore Row to the left.

Knife Angel Birmingham

The view from the bottom of the steps of the Knife Angel with the Chamberlain Memorial. Backed by the Town Hall, Two Chamberlain Square and One Chamberlain Square.

Knife Angel Birmingham

Seen with the Floozie in the Jacuzzi. And can you see Queen Victoria in the Floozie's lap?

Knife Angel Birmingham

Let's hope that Anthony Gormley's Iron:Man returns soon, although that's unlikely by the time the Knife Angel leaves Birmingham for it's next destination! This is just a mock up. The Iron:Man is still in storage, at least until the Westside Metro Extension near the Town Hall is completed!

Knife Angel Birmingham

 

If anyone wants their Knife Angel photos in a gallery, please send them to Daniel or Deb who I'm sure will produce a gallery of your photos! I recommend doing a Coventry and Birmingham gallery in one.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Transport
06 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Class 165 trains with Chiltern Railways, between Stratford-upon-Avon / Leamington Spa to Birmingham Moor Street

Here we will take a look at the slowest trains on the Chiltern Railways network, as seen in the West Midlands region. From Birmingham Moor Street to Leamington Spa, and also at Stratford-upon-Avon. They stop at stations such as Lapworth and Hatton, as well as Warwick, Solihull and Dorridge (not in that order).

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The Class 165 trains with Chiltern Railways are operated on their lines from London Marylebone towards Leamington Spa, Birmingham Moor Street and also Stratford-upon-Avon. They were built between 1990 and 1992 originally for Network SouthEast. They were refurbished between 2003 and 2005. With Chiltern they are known as Chiltern Turbos.

Seen at Stratford-upon-Avon Station during January 2013 was Chiltern Railways 165035. Passengers heading to or from London Marylebone can get the train from or to here. Tourists can come up from London to experience the tourist attractions in Stratford-upon-Avon, including Shakespeare's Birthplace, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre etc.

165035 at Stratford-upon-Avon

In October 2011 at Leamington Spa Station was Chiltern Railways 165018. It was heading towards Stratford-upon-Avon. This was one of my earliest photos of a Class 165 train, but I would take some more at London Marylebone Station during November 2011.

Chiltern Railways 165018 at Leamington Spa Station

Seen in May 2016 stopping at Warwick Station was Chiltern Railways 165023. It was heading to Leamington Spa from Birmingham Moor Street. I later got this train back to Solihull, and would ride it again a year latter when I went to Hatton. That weekend was the Wembley Special timetable, as the FA Cup Final was on that Sunday.

Chiltern Railways 165023 at Warwick Station

At Warwick Parkway Station after a walk up the Grand Union Canal, from Warwick Station, during April 2019. I found that the pair of Class 165's that pass this station don't stop here. such as Chiltern Railways 165005 heading up to Birmingham Moor Street. But the Class 168 Clubman's usually stop here between Birmingham Snow Hill and London Marylebone!

Chiltern Railways 165005 passing Warwick Parkway Station

For another Grand Union Canal walk during March 2017, up the Hatton Locks, I got Chiltern Railways 165023 from Solihull to Hatton Station. After a walk around the Hatton area, then heading up past the Hatton Locks of the Grand Union Canal, I returned to Hatton Station. After a wait of around an hour on a Sunday afternoon (having just missed the last train), I would get 165023 again back to Solihull.

Chiltern Railways 165023 at Hatton Station

My first visit to Dorridge by train was during January 2017. Seen at Dorridge Station was Chiltern Railways 165005. I was waiting for a London Midland train back to Acocks Green, but was more convenient to get this back to Solihull instead (and then get a bus from Solihull).

Chiltern Railways 165005 at Dorridge Station

Not stopping at Widney Manor Station during February 2013 was Chiltern Railways 165005. This station in Solihull is close to the M42 motorway, and near the number 5 bus route. Chiltern trains rarely stop here apart from rare evenings in the rush hour. Widney Manor Golf Club and the River Blythe are nearby to this station.

Chiltern Railways 165005 passing Widney Manor Station

I mostly get Chiltern Railways trains from Solihull Station, my local station on the line down to London Marylebone, but in recent years I have been going to the intermediate stops in the West Midlands and Warwickshire! Chiltern Railways 165007 seen during May 2013, stopping at Solihull before resuming it's journey to Leamington Spa. Is this James Bond 007's train of choice?

Chiltern Railways 165007 at Solihull Station

I saw Chiltern Railways 165005 passing Acocks Green Station during January 2017. It was heading from Leamington Spa to Birmingham Moor Street. I was waiting for my London Midland train down to Dorridge that day. I later caught this train from Dorridge back to Solihull, rather than wait for another Class 172 train back to Acocks Green!

Chiltern Railways 165005 passing Acocks Green Station

I saw Chiltern Railways 165020 passing Tyseley Station during December 2013. It was heading non-stop towards Leamington Spa, with it's next stop being Solihull. At the time I was doing the unusual journey from Hall Green to Solihull via Tyseley. I would normally get the bus down to Solihull. In terms of Tyseley I can get the 4 or 4A bus there on the Warwick Road (they were previously the no 37 bus). I saw this train again a few hours later at Solihull Station. Seen behind is the Tyseley Energy from Waste Plant at the Tyseley Tip (household and recycling centre for south east Birmingham). You normally see the chimney pumping out fumes!

Chiltern Railways 165005 passing Tyseley Station

Seen at platform 4 at Birmingham Moor Street Station during February 2014 was Chiltern Railways 165019. I had just got off this train, having ridden it from Solihull. The train headed over the Bordesley Viaduct quite slowly! These trains are small, but quite comfortable to ride.

Chiltern Railways 165019 at Birmingham Moor Street Station

I normally only see Class 168's or Class 172's over at Birmingham Snow Hill, so will stop here for now with the Class 165 trains.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Green travel
04 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Sky Ride Birmingham 2012 and 2013

While this event is no longer held in Birmingham, there used to be a Sky Ride event in the city back in 2012 and 2013. In 2012 it was around Edgbaston. In 2013 around Digbeth. Families could ride together along the route wearing a Sky Ride yellow bib! While we haven't had Sky Ride since 2013, a few years later was replaced by Lets Ride Birmingham sponsored by HSBC UK.

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Sky Ride Birmingham 2012: Edgbaston

This event was held on Sunday 19th August 2012.

Seen on the Edgbaston Park Road.

Sky Ride Birmingham 2012

Passing Edgbaston Park at The Vale (University of Birmingham).

Sky Ride Birmingham 2012

Passing a man with Union Jack balloons, looked like a clown with that wig on!

Sky Ride Birmingham 2012

Near the top of Edgbaston Park Road. I think it was bidirectional on this road.

Sky Ride Birmingham 2012

This bunch was turning from Church Road onto Edgbaston Park Road. Barriers round the corner blocked access to Arthur Road.

Sky Ride Birmingham 2012

Sky Ride Birmingham 2013: Digbeth

This event was held on Sunday the 13th September 2013. Around Highgate, Digbeth and Eastside.

Seen on Rea Street South in Highgate. Bidirectional on this road. Many side roads were closed at the time.

Sky Ride Birmingham 2013

Seen on Moseley Street in Highgate.

Sky Ride Birmingham 2013

Passing the Custard Factory on High Street Deritend in Digbeth.

Sky Ride Birmingham 2013

This was seen on River Street in Digbeth. Bidirectional on this section of the route.

Sky Ride Birmingham 2013

On Fazeley Street in Digbeth, heading for Eastside. Hotel La Tour is now the Clayton Hotel. Masshouse on the right. Bidirectional here too!

Sky Ride Birmingham 2013

On New Canal Street in Eastside, between The Woodman pub and Curzon Street Station. The route ended / started near Millennium Point in Eastside City Park.

Sky Ride Birmingham 2013

While there has been no more Sky Ride's in Birmingham since 2013, Birmingham has had Velo Birmingham in September 2017. But that is for professional cyclists. The next Velo will be held on Sunday 12th May 2019 throughout Birmingham and the West Midlands. But there is an event coming for amateur cyclists, Lets Ride Birmingham. Sponsored by HSBC UK. To be held on Sunday 9th June 2019.

I saw this in the window of the HSBC UK bank on Poplar Road in Solihull Town Centre, about Lets Ride. HSBC UK are a proud partner of British Cycling.

HSBC UK Lets Ride Solihull

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Transport
03 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

From the plane wing at Birmingham Airport

The view from the window on the planes I've been on at Birmingham Airport, usually close to the wing! Either heading off on holiday, or coming back! Airlines in the past included BMI Baby (now defunct), Thomson Airways (now TUI), Monarch (now defunct), Flybe and Jet2.

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BMI Baby

It was May 2011, and we were heading off to Provence in the South of France. The airport we were going to was Nice. First off after a delay, an Esso tanker stopped by to fill up the plane with fuel! We went to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Avignon and other places at the time.

BMI Baby

One week later and back from Provence and Nice Airport! Next to my BMI Baby plane was an Air France by Britair jet. We had a delay in Nice of around an hour, waiting for the plane to get fuel. May have been a strike on at the time in France.

BMI Baby

Air France by Britair seen pulling out. Aer Lingus and Thomson in the background.

BMI Baby

Thomson Airways

In June 2012 we were heading for Sorrento and Naples in southern Italy. During the summer of 2012, the air traffic control tower had the Olympic rings on it for the London 2012 Olympic Games (it now has a Flybe sign on it). We came back a week later at night, but my camera at the time wasn't very good at taking night shots out of the plane window! So only daylight heading to Naples Airport! Went to the ruins of Pompeii on that holiday!

Thomson Airways

Monarch

In June 2014 coming back from Malaga in Spain, after a tour of "Classical Spain", which included stays and visits to Cordoba, Seville, Granada and other places. Here landed back at Birmingham Airport from Malaga Airport. SAS Airlines plane seen in the background.

Monarch

Air India plane seen from the Monarch plane I was on.

Monarch

The Monarch plane with yellow tip.

Monarch

Flybe

Been with Flybe in 2016 and 2017. In June 2016 headed to Lake Como and we went to Milan-Malpensa Airport. This holiday also included visits to Lake Maggiore and a ride on the world famous Bernina Express from Italy to Switzerland.

Flybe

Flybe wing on my plane, to the tail of the other Flybe plane.

Flybe

A week later back at Birmingham Airport at the beginning of July 2016. Another Flybe plane seen next to the one I was about to get off! A year later in early June 2017 we flew to Lyon with Flybe. The airport we went to at the time was Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport. That was for a holiday in Lyon and Burgundy, including a stay in Beaune. Including visits to a few abbeys and villages as well as wine tasting in a former convent in Beaune.

Flybe

Jet2.com

June 2018 and this holiday was to Florence and Tuscany. We went to Pisa Airport. A week later at the beginning of July 2018, landing back at Birmingham Airport. It was in the late evening when we got back (after a few delays at the Pisa end). That week we had also been to Volterra, Pisa, Lucca, Siena and San Gimignano.

Jet2.com

My Jet2 plane heading to a stop. Lights on at the terminal at Birmingham Airport.

Jet2.com

Another Jet2.com plane seen at Birmingham Airport, shortly before we got off. They have that annoying jingle on the plane, usually when you get on, an when you get off! You know, the one in the TV adverts!

Jet2.com

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Transport
27 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Air Rail Link: from Birmingham Airport to Birmingham International Station and vice versa!

Between Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International Station is the Air Rail Link, a free mono rail style car that gets passengers between the airport and railway station, or the other way around! It also means you have a convenient link from the Airport to the NEC as well! There is two cars that goes along the raised tracks. The airport end is on the first floor.

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The first photo I took of the Air Rail Link was from outside of Birmingham Airport during November 2015. At this point I had yet to have a ride of it between Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International Station, or in the other direction. I wasn't even sure where the station at the Birmingham Airport end was at that point!

Air Rail Link

Some clearer views from January 2017. Seen from Bickenhill Lane on my walk towards Birmingham International Station. The 966 bus from Solihull (now the X12) normally heads towards Birmingham International Station first before Birmingham Airport, so I got off the bus a stop or two before the station. The X1 bus (formerly the 900) always goes towards Birmingham Airport, before Birmingham International Station first.

Air Rail Link

Passing the car park at Birmingham International Station. The only windows that you can see out of are front and back. On the sides were Fly Emirates adverts for holidayds to Australia (not good for taking photos out of the windows, so can only do that at the front or back!).

Air Rail Link

I had a close up look at one of the Air Rail Link vehicles at Birmingham International Interchange Station during January 2017. At this point, wasn't sure if the Air Rail Link was free or if you had to pay. But I later found out that it is free to ride. So that time I ended up going down the escalators and catching an X1 bus back to Birmingham instead!

Air Rail Link - Birmingham International Interchange

On to February 2017, and I was back at Birmingham Airport. I still wasn't sure where the Birmingham Airport Station was at this point (later found out that it was on the first floor above the departures check in area). This view was close to the local bus stops. You can catch the X1 to Birmingham or Coventry. The X12 to Solihull or Birmingham. The occasional National Express coach also stops down here.

Air Rail Link - Birmingham Airport

The Air Rail Link heading past one of the multi-storey car parks at Birmingham Airport. This view was taken from the X1 bus back to Birmingham. I would later try and ride the Air Rail Link during July 2017 for the first time from Birmingham International Station towards Birmingham Airport, to see what it's like.

Air Rail Link - Birmingham Airport

In July 2017, I finally got a chance to ride the Air Rail Link, while the Big Sleuth trail was on. After getting the bears at Resorts World, I was aware of several little bears at the airport. This vehicle seen from Birmingham International Interchange Station.

Air Rail Link - Birmingham International Interchange

I somehow missed the little sleuth bears, as I went down the escalators , thinking that they were in departures near the various check in desks (they weren't). The trail of small bears across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country was officially called "The Big Sleuth presents the Little Bears Detective Club". They were not that far from Birmingham Airport Station near one of the bars. Eventually time to get the Air Rail Link back to Birmingham International, so I could catch a train to Birmingham New Street!

Air Rail Link at Birmingham Airport

The Air Rail Link car on the right heading from Birmingham Airport Station to Birmingham International Station. I was waiting for the one on the left to arrive!

Air Rail Link at Birmingham Airport

And here's the one that I caught to Birmingham International Station back in July 2017. There is two compartments, and the doors have to line up with the glass doors in the station. A bit like the Jubilee Line on the London Underground. The doors must line up so that people can get off, and people can get in!

Air Rail Link

The seats at the window ends, means if you want to look out, you have to turn around, or stand up. Taking photos out of the sides were obscured by the advertisments, so out of the front window was best. I was on the car heading back to Birmingham International Interchange Station. While the other car was heading back to Birmingham Airport Station!

Air Rail Link from the Air Rail Link I was on

After arriving at Birmingham International Interchange, I took this photo after the other passengers got off, and before I got off! It's usually full of passengers, and I wouldn't want to take it with them in there! So just a quick photo, before the next load of passengers boarded for Birmingham Airport! As you can see there is only benches at the front or back ends, or standing and holding onto the poles. Even inside was an advert for Emirates to Australia!

Air Raill Link interior

For more photos see my album on Flickr, including the photos of the tracks. Birmingham Air-Rail Link, Flickr.

My first YouTube video that I made in August 2018 is here Birmingham Air Rail Link, YouTube. That's mostly a slideshow with the video clip at the end!

My second YouTube video is here from November 2018. Air-Rail Link from Birmingham International Interchange to Birmingham Airport, YouTube. That's the full ride towards the Airport!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Transport
27 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

4651 a National Express West Midlands bus in classic Birmingham City Transport colours

Recently I've kept seeing a National Express West Midlands bus in classic Birmingham City Transport livery colours. 4651 based at Acocks Green usually goes on the 1, 1A, 4 or 4A bus routes. I had a ride of this bus finally in late April 2019 from Carrs Lane, near M & S in Birmingham City Centre to Warwick Road in Acocks Green Village. I've also seen it in Solihull!

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I first saw this National Express West Midlands bus 4651 in the classic Birmingham City Transport livery during March 2019. It was coming off the 1A bus route from the QE Hospital. I had gotten off the 4A bus and headed to the 11C bus stop on the Westley Road outside of Acocks Green Bowl. I quickly took this photo on my smartphone camera! I've been seeing it again ever since, usually as the 4 or 4A. Sometimes it's on the 1 or 1A bus routes as well. Based at Acocks Green Bus Garage.

4651 at Westley Road Acocks Green

I was able to get another photo of 4651 in Solihull. This is the roundabout between Prince's Way, Blossomfield Road, Streetsbrook Road, Lode Lane and Station Road. This was in the middle of April 2019. I think they may have done this livery to celebrate the end of Birmingham City Transport which ended 50 years ago in 1969 when it was taken over by the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive.

4651 at the roundabout in Solihull

Late April 2019, and I saw 4651 as the 4 at the bus stop on Carrs Lane in Birmingham City Centre, and I caught it towards Acocks Green Village. Didn't take a photo before getting on the bus, but took this from the other side of the Warwick Road, before it resumed it's journey to Solihull Town Centre! The bus stop is close to Wilko and a zebra crossing that I use when I get off the 4 or 4A (was the 37 until July 2018).

4651 at Wilko on Warwick Road Acocks Green

I went up to the top deck of 4651 when the bus was at Carrs Lane. I only get photos like this when the top deck is empty (would rather not take it if full of passengers behind me). Sat at the front. Just the standard NXWM interior. Although the seat coverings may have been changed. But they haven't made the interiors look like a classic BCT bus.

4651 interior at Carrs Lane

Sitting at the front of the bus while on Carrs Lane, above me was the number 4651. The bus windows were more or less dry on the journey to Acocks Green, apart from the odd rain drops, due to the strong winds and light rain outside the bus!

4651 interior at Carrs Lane

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Transport
24 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Vintage buses seen around the West Midlands

I first started to spot vintage buses around Birmingham and the West Midlands around 2011, and have kept seeing them ever since. Including the buses going between Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garage during the October 2013 open days. Sometimes the bus just randomly goes past me when I was least expecting it!

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Starting with this bus on Edmund Street in Birmingham, I saw it during May 2011, and I think it's the first old bus that I took a photo of in Birmingham! Now owned by what was the Aston Manor Transport Museum (now based in Aldridge). This bus celebrated 100 years of public transport in Walsall. Reg no: JOV 714P, WMPTE 4714, Bristol VRT/SL2/6LX with Metro-Cammell H43/33F body. Dates from 1976.

Walsall bus on Edmund Street

During my first train trip to Bromsgrove in April 2013, on my walk back from Bromsgrove Town Centre to the old Bromsgrove Station, saw this bus at the lights on the A38. I was crossing over New Road. Reg no: XDH 516G, 116, Walsall Corporation, Daimler Fleetline. Built in 1968, was taken over by WMPTE in 1969.

Walsall bus in Bromsgrove

Sarah's Diner spotted near Amber Way in Halesowen during January 2019. Reg no: TVP 875S, 6875, MCW bodied Leyland Fleetline, WM Travel. Formerly used on the 11 Outer Circle in Birmingham.

Sarahs Diner in Halesowen

Now a look at the former Birmingham City Transport buses used during the October 2013 open days between Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garages.

There was at least 3 vintage buses that you could catch a free ride between both bus garages on Saturday 5th October 2013. One of them was this former Birmingham City Transport bus, 3225, MOF 225. Seen at the Summer Road bus stop close to Acocks Green Bus Garage in the Fox Hollies area of Birmingham.

3225 Acocks Green

I was going to catch a free bus ride from Acocks Green to Yardley Wood. I think the bus in front with 90 Pheasey Estate via Kingstanding on it, was getting full, so I got on the blue Timesaver bus behind. See this post for more of that Timesaver 900 - vintage bus ride from Acocks Green to Yardley Wood Bus Garages, October 2013.

3225 Acocks Green

A bit more close up to both buses on Summer Road, Acocks Green.

3225 Acocks Green

One last look before I got on the old Timesaver blue bus behind. This car was parked near the road, so the bus had to park awkwardly next to it, to pick up passengers heading to Yardley Wood Bus Garage.

3225 Acocks Green

Later after I had visited my first Yardley Wood Bus Garage open day, I left via School Road in Yardley Wood and saw 3225 heading past me! Still taking bus passengers between both garages.

3225 Yardley Wood

Seen continuing on it's way towards Yardley Wood Bus Garage on School Road, Yardley Wood. Shortly after this, I would get a no 3 bus back towards Swanshurst Park.

3225 Yardley Wood

Here 3225 had just arrived on Yardley Wood Road outside of Yardley Wood Bus Garage. I myself had got off the blue Timesaver bus behind (before I went into the bus garage for the first time). The bus was already full.

3225 Yardley Wood

Sometimes 3225 goes past you unexpectedly like when I was walking up the Warwick Road in Acocks Green, around about the time when National Express West Midlands was going to renumber the 37 as the 4 and 4A, so seeing this old Birmingham City Transport bus going up here was not expected during July 2018!

3225 on Warwick Road, Acocks Green

Forgive the quality of this photo, as it was a mobile phone photo taken on James Watt Queensway during November 2017 (I have also cropped it). 3225, MOF 225 seen passing Aston University and the Law Courts. Another random unexpected sight of this particular heritage bus!

3225 on James Watt Queensway

This bus is used every year at the St Patrick's Day Parade in Digbeth. 3225, MOF 225 (I think) seen at the 2015 parade. As the 50 from West Midlands Travel. One of National Express West Midlands green electric hybrid buses was behind (then on the 23 and 24, now on the 61 and 63, repainted red outside).

3225 Digbeth St Patrick's

Saw 3225, MOF 225 again at the 2018 St Patrick's Day Parade in Digbeth. Seen passing the Bull Ring Tavern, from this Moor Street Car Park view, zoomed in. Heading round Digbeth onto St Martin's Lane (one of the shortest roads in the city centre) and then going round onto Moat Lane. This is the reverse of the way buses normally go around Digbeth to the Bullring!

3225 Digbeth St Patrick's

Getting back to the October 2013 open day, another vintage bus was taking passengers between Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garages. While I didn't see it at either bus garage, I did see it on the School Road in Yardley Wood. 3472, BON 472C, as the 4 to Pool Farm and Cotteridge, Birmingham City Transport.

3472 Yardley Wood

Here it would pass over a bridge near the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. I think this was the only single decker bus that they were using that day!

3472 Yardley Wood

In November 2018, I saw this old Birmingham City Transport bus heading off Highfield Road and onto Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green. Seen here crossing over the Stratford Road. Reg no: JOJ 548, 2548, Birmingham City Transport, built in 1950. It was a few days before the Yardley Wood Bus Garage open day that would be held on Saturday 10th November 2018, and I was wondering if it was heading towards Acocks Green Bus Garage?

2548 Hall Green

Seen on the Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green. It's route number was the 9 to Quinton.

2548 Hall Green

One last look at this bus passing me on the Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green. Advert at the back: "Avoid the race for car park space Take a Bus to any place".

2548 Hall Green

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
History & heritage
23 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Objects that used to be at Centenary Square

Here we will look at some sculptures that used to be in Centenary Square, and also a strucuture that was removed before it opened in 1991! The Colonnade was moved to the Peace Garden in 1990. The Flame of Hope and the Spirit of Enterprise fountain were removed in 2009 before the Library of Birmingham was built. The Forward sculpture burnt in an arson attack during 2003.

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The Colonnade at the Peace Garden

Seen at the Peace Garden in 2009, it is now near Ridley Street and Washington Street. Originally built near Broad Street in 1925, it was a Doric Loggia designed by S.N. Cooke and W.N. Twist. It was originally part of the Hall of Memory scheme. It was moved stone by stone to the site of the ruined St Thomas's Church in 1990. The Peace Garden opened in 1992. Work to layout the original Centenary Square started in 1989 and was completed by 1991.

Colonnade at the Peace Garden

Inside the Colonnade a plaques with messages from peace from different communities and faiths from around the world.

Colonnade at the Peace Garden

The leaders of the G8 came here during 1998, and a plaque commemorating them planting 8 trees to represent each of the 8 nations. The Birmingham Summit was held between the 15th to 17th May 1998.

Colonnade at the Peace Garden

The Peace Garden is somewhere to sit for a bit of peace and relaxation, to get away from the stresses of life. Is also flowers planted around.

Colonnade at the Peace Garden

This plaque on the ground recalls when it was built in Broad Street in 1925, and moved here in 1990.

Colonnade at the Peace Garden

The Forward statue

This maquette of Raymond Mason's lost Forward statue was seen during a September 2018 open day at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre. The original statue was installed around 1991, but was destroyed by a arson attack in 2003 (it's remains were removed).

Forward maquette

The maquette is probably the only survival of the statue also known as the Lurpac statue. The full sized statue was made of fibreglass. I don't really recall seeing it myself.

Forward maquette

Centenary Square in April 2009, with the Symphony Hall, The ICC and The REP. At this point the raised area of the square was still there, where once the Forward statue stood. But by 2010 the area in the middle was hoarded off for the construction of the Library of Birmingham. And when that opened, the paving was flattened, with grass around the new library amphitheatre (that grass is now gone with the new 2019 Centenary Square, still to be finished).

Centenary Square April 2009

The Flame of Hope

Around the start of the new Millennium in 2000, Cliff Richard turned on the Flame of Hope. It was lit for about 2 years before it was turned off. It was still there in April 2009, before the Library of Birmingham was built. I would assume it went to storage where it probably remains today.

Flame of Hope

The Spirit of Enterprise Fountain

This was by the artist Tom Lomax, made in 1991. Seen here in April 2009. I went all the way around having a look at the Spirit of Enterprise fountain. What a sight to see!

Spirit of Enterprise

There was three different sides with water coming out of the mouths. This side towards Symphony Hall. There used to be benches around this area too!

Spirit of Enterprise

The fountain was removed to storage later in 2009, before construction started on the new Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013. It remains in storage to this day!

Spirit of Enterprise

The first time I saw it again, was during a May 2012 free open day at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre and this was the condition that it was in!

Spirit of Enterprise

The only water in it now was rain water! Looking a bit unloved left outside near the shipping containers and old statue plinths with graffiti nearby.

Spirit of Enterprise

Doesn't seem likely that it will be returning to Centenary Square any time soon. While Industry & Genius and A Real Birmingham Family recently returned, it's doesn't look like this fountain will be coming back! Even the Boulton, Watt & Murdoch statue should be coming back soon!

Spirit of Enterprise

Lighting grille

Seen in February 2018 was one of the lighting grilles installed in 1991. This one was outside of The REP. It was on of the items designed by Tess Jaray, with the City Architects Design Team and Tom Lomax. Similar items such as benches and railings have all now been removed. This Centenary Square lasted just over 25 years before the City Council decided to change it all over again!

Lighting grille outside the REP

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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62 passion points
Environment & green action
23 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Kings Heath Park over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend 2019

It's been a hot four days over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend in late April 2019. I popped along to Kings Heath Park on Easter Monday, the 22nd April 2019 to check out the bluebells, the pond and flowers around the park! A walk down Vicarage Road into the park, then when I left, headed up Cartland Road towards Pershore Road, Stirchley (instead of Avenue Road).

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Entering from the Vicrage Road entrance near the corner of Avenue Road, saw this yellow flower near the gatehouse.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

Heading up the path parallel to Avenue Road, having a look at the bluebells growing in the grass, with a few zoom ins.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

You don't have to go far to see bluebells it seems! Just catch the 11A or 11C to Kings Heath (or the 35 or 50). The High Street is in walking distance of the park.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

Not as far zoomed in with this group of bluebells. Was also buttercups growing in the grass near the Avenue Road side.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

Thought about leaving at Avenue Road, near one of the car park exits, but decided to check out the ponds instead! The trees around the pond was looking lush and green.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

Even more lush and green around the pond here. Noticed some barriers to the left of here (not in the photo). The water jets were not turned on.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

Lots of colour with the yellow and red flowers around the four pots and the flagpole.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

A zoom into the four pots in the middle.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

On the other side of the path heading back to the other Vicrage Road entrance / exit, saw these flowers planted on the left.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

More yellow and red flowers around this small tree on the right.

Kings Heath Park Easter Monday 2019

My usual 10 minute walk in and out of the park. Headed past King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools (closed for the Easter holidays). Wasn't going to wait 20 minutes for another 11C, so walked up Cartland Road towards the Pershore Road in Stirchley. And the wait for the no 45 bus was 10 minutes.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
20 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Centenary Square we never got in the 1940s

Long before the 1991 Centenary Square, or the 2019 version coming to completion now, the City Council previously had plans for another Civic Square! During World War 2, William Haywood made a model of a proposed Civic Centre that was never to be. Only Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were built, but the War intervened! The model is now at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre.

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During my first visit to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre on Dollman Street in Nechells, Birmingham, in May 2012, I saw this model of the Proposed Civic Centre in what I called the garage area of the collection (full of vintage cars, fire engines etc). Official website here Birmingham Museum Collection Centre. I've been on two free open days so far, mostly the same collection, from what I saw on both visits.

This is what Centenary Square could have looked like, had the design of this model have been built after the end of the War, but it was eventually shelved due to cost and other reasons.

It was made by William Haywood, at the Baker Studios in Erdington in 1941 (while World War 2 was on). The scale is 1" to 12ft. He was a special lecturer in town planning at the University of Birmingham, and it took him 12 months to complete. The model represents a variety of public buildings including a Planetarium, Natural History Museum, and City Hall, as well as extensive gardens and car parks.

According to Pevsner Architectural Guides Birmingham, William Haywood was involved in schemes for the site since at least 1918!

Civic Centre model

On the left on what is now the site of Symphony Hall and The ICC (completed 1991), it was proposed to have the West Wing of a City Hall, but only Baskerville House on the East Wing was completed in 1938. The circular building in front of it would have been the Planetarium. We only ended up getting one of those in Millennium Point in Eastside by 2001, within Thinktank. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre (aka The REP) was built in 1971, on the left hand side of this model, probably where those formal laid gardens could have been.

Civic Centre model

At the centre would have been a 'Municipal Tower'. It would have had a nude male statue representing the Spirit of Birmingham. The Council approved the scheme in 1944 (for the City Council offices), and William Bloye made a maquette of the statue in 1948. But the project was abandoned in 1949 for being too expensive.

Civic Centre model

Formal gardens were proposed for the site that is now the Library of Birmingham, while the wings of the Council offices behind (that never got built), later became City Centre Gardens, and the Civic Centre Estate with the 1960s tower blocks of Cambridge Tower, Crescent Tower, Norton Tower and Galton Tower. Crescent Wharf blocks north of Cambridge Street. They were by the City Architect, Alan Maudsley in 1968. Baskerville House was the only part of this scheme to be built, along with the Hall of Memory. Before the Library of Birmingham was built between 2010 to 2013, the site was used as a car park.

Civic Centre model

Everything to the left of the Hall of Memory and Baskerville House was never built, due to the War, or for being too expensive. There was another proposal in 1958 by A.G. Sheppard Fidler, with a less formal layout, with water features with municpal office podium on the north side, but that too didn't get built.

Civic Centre model

A close up look at the Planetarium and the west wing of the City Council offices. It would have looked identical to Baskerville House. There was a Colonnade in the square for many years, which later got moved to the Peace Garden, and there used to be a fountain in the middle too (before my time).

Civic Centre model

Another view of the west side of the unbuilt City Council Offices. Had it been built, somewhere in this building could have been a Natural History Museum, War Museum and an Opera House. This is the site of The ICC and Symphony Hall. Until 1984, it was the site of Bingley Hall, a bit like an exhibition hall, but it burnt down in a fire.

Civic Centre model

One last look at the model at the Museum Collection Centre. The classical look may have been favoured in Victorian times, and in the Inter War period, but after the War architectural styles changed, and by the 1960s and '70s we got brutalist concrete buildings like Birmingham Central Library (1974-2013, demolished 2016). And now we have a mix of classical and modern buildings. The Municipal Bank was built on Broad Street in 1933, and that is now being converted for use by the Library of Birmingham. While HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square, stands on the site of Central TV / ATV, which was formerly a Masonic Hall in classical style (also now demolished).

Civic Centre model

In 2015, for a time the model was on display at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, a long with drawings on the walls of proposed Birmingham buildings, and those that got built. It was about Birmingham's past redevelopments. This was the last time I saw the model in the museum, but I think I may have seen it in there once before. So the last time I saw it again was at the Museum Collection Centre in 2018.

Civic Centre model at BM & AG

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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60 passion points
Transport
18 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Timesaver 900 - vintage bus ride from Acocks Green to Yardley Wood Bus Garages, October 2013

We continue our look back to the bus garage open days of October 2013 with this vintage bus ride from Acocks Green to Yardley Wood Bus Garages on Saturday 5th October 2013. Starting at Summer Lane in Acocks Green ending at Yardley Wood Road outside the other bus garage! Timesaver 900 in blue livery. I would supect that the bus used to be used on the Coventry Road (the modern X1 bus route).

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This West Midlands Travel blue bus was one of three buses that was used to transport passengers (for free) between Acocks Green and Yardley Wood Bus Garages on Saturday 5th October 2013. On the occasions of both bus garages then 75th birthday. Open days were being held at the same time at both garages, and these bus rides was a convenient way of getting between both open days!

West Midlands Travel Timesaver was used on the former 900 route between Coventry and Birmingham, via Meriden, The NEC & Birmingham Airport and then up the Coventry Road via Sheldon, South Yardley, Hay Mills and Small Heath. The bus identification number was 2957. Licence plate number: D957 NDA.

 

Starting at the bus stop on Summer Lane (not too far from Acocks Green Bus Garage). This bus stop is sometimes used by the no 1 bus route (NXWM keeps changing the route). It was used recently for the 1 and 1A, but is now not in use again (since they changed the route back).

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

I sat somewhere near the back of the bus on the bottom deck. This is the interior of an 1980s bus!

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

Some of the old WM Travel adverts on the wall near the ceiling of the bottom deck. This one showing a map of the West Midlands with the locations of the WM Travelshop's across the county!

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

This one "Get Around for Less". About the Travelcard and Clubcard. The dates on it 1993, make it as it was in the 1990s!

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

I remember seeing these ones on the buses in the 1990s! "Something interesting to read on the journey. Your bus ticket.". I'm not sure anyone actually bothered to read it by the way! Garage code, bus number, service number, time, date, ticket serial number, stage number, fare and class of ticket. "Know Your Ticket". By the time people had bus passes or smartcards or apps, I don't think you'd be spending time staring at your pass (apart from when the inspector comes on board of course).

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

It's rare now for buses to have adverts about "new" cars but in the late 1980s, they had this for for the Ford Escort Cabriolet! A convertible "ideal for the British summer".

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

About 15 minutes later we were in Yardley Wood! The bus standing outside of Yardley Wood Bus Garage on the Yardley Wood Road. Many passengers getting off to start their visit to the bus garage open day in Yardley Wood.

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

One of the older vintage buses was also parked outside of the garage. Both buses ready to take passengers back to Acocks Green. That bus (on the left) had the route number  90 and destination Pheasey Estate via Kingstanding. That was MOF 225 / 3225.

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

I later saw the Timesaver 900 bus heading over this canal bridge on School Road in Yardley Wood.

Timesaver 900 Acocks Green to Yardley Wood

Another view of the bus on the School Road in Yardley Wood.

Timesaver 900

Bonus photos of the Timesaver bus at the Yardley Wood Bus Garage open day in November 2018, for the garages 80th birthday! This open day was held on Saturday 10th November 2018, was a bit of a wet day outside!

Timesaver seen from within Yardley Wood Bus Garage.

Timesaver 900 2018

Seen from outside the garage, as I started my walk to see other heritage buses towards the Maypole!

Timesaver 900 2018

They had cleared the route number and destination board at the front, but only had 2957 on the side where the route number would usually be!

Timesaver 900 2018

Later saw the Timesaver bus from the no 50 bus on Alcester Road South! Doing the loop around Kings Heath, Maypole, Yardley Wood and Billesley!

Timesaver 900

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Green travel
17 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A look at the Grand Union Canal from Birmingham to Leamington Spa

The Grand Union Canal links Birmingham to London, but here we will just look at the areas from Birmingham towards Leamington Spa. Made up of smaller canals bought by the Regents Canal Company in the 1920s. Many locks were widened for double sized barges, although they ended up being used by pairs of narrowboats instead! Through Acocks Green, Olton, Hatton, Warwick and Leamington Spa.

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Starting at Spaghetti Junction, below the M6 motorway is Salford Junction. This is where the Grand Union Canal starts in north Birmingham (unless you count Bordesley Junction as the start). At Salford Junction is the Salford Junction Bridge. The canals going left and right is the Tame Valley Canal and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Above is the concrete and graffiti carrying the M6 motorway at the Gravelley Hill Interchange aka Spaghetti Junction. The canal was formerly called the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal until it was bought in 1929 by the Regent's Canal company to form the Grand Union Canal. It goes down to Bordesley linking up with the Digbeth Branch of the Grand Union Canal.

Salford Junction Bridge

This April 2018 view of the Grand Union Canal from near the Bordesley Village. Near the Garrison Lane Bridge. Towards The Village Bridge. Graffiti street art for the Canal & River Trust and Phoenix Hall below Bordesley Village. Not far from here is St Andrew's home of Birmingham City FC.

Bordesley Village - Grand Union Canal

Near Bordesley Middleway the canal locks that leads onto the Grand Union Canal. The railway bridge of the Snow Hill lines and to the right was the Holy Trinity Church in this view from October 2009. The canal lock is labelled "Bordesley Middle Way no 1". This direction towards Small Heath. Digbeth is back around the loop to the right of here. Time to head off to the suburbs!

Bordesley Junction - Grand Union Canal

Seen near the Westley Vale Millennium Green in Acocks Green. A look at the Grand Union Canal during May 2015. So lush and green at this time of year! The canal down here was the Warwick & Birmingham Canal before becoming part of the Grand Union Canal. Seen from bridge no 86, dating to the late 18th century. Also known as the Woodcock Lane Bridge. This area is not that far from Acocks Green Station.

Acocks Green - Grand Union Canal

Now the canal heads through Solihull. First a look at the canal in Olton, not far from Olton Station. Seen from the Richmond Road Bridge during January 2013. There had been a bit of snow at this point of the year, but mostly melted. The towpaths can get quite muddy in Solihull!

Olton - Grand Union Canal

An April 2018 walk from Solihull to Catherine-de-Barnes started at the Damson Parkway Bridge and ended at the Hampton Lane Bridge in Catherine-de-Barnes, a village in Solihull Borough. The towpath was very muddy! Mud on my jeans and shoes! Later took a path back via some fields back to Solihull. A pair of narrowboats seen near the Hampton Lane Bridge, where I got off the muddy towpath to have a look at the village! Yes, it's possible to walk from Solihull Town Centre to Catherine-de-Barnes via the Grand Union Canal!

Catherine-de-Barnes - Grand Union Canal

Down to Warwickshire now, and the Hatton Locks. This was from a visit to Hatton during March 2017, getting the train from Solihull to Hatton. After exploring the area, I made it eventually to Hatton Locks, what a sight to see from the top! This photo was from around lock 42. The locks are known as the "Stairway to Heaven". This was close to the Hatton Wharf.  St Mary's Church in Warwick was visible from this point. I returned to the Hatton Locks two years later during April 2019 (during my Warwick Station to Warwick Parkway Station walk). That ended near the Hatton Bottom Lock. The canal here was still formerly part of the Warwick & Birmingham Canal, only ending at Budbrooke Junction, near the Saltisford Arm.

Hatton Locks Grand Union Canal

In Warwick from the Coventry Road Bridge. This view of the Grand Union Canal, Kate Boats in Warwick is on the right. Many narrowboats were moored here. My April 2019 walk along the Grand Union Canal in Warwick started from the Coventry Road Bridge, but first a look at the side that I didn't walk up. Got the train to Warwick Station with the intention of walking towards Warwick Parkway Station. The walk takes you past many bridges. The canal here was formerly the Warwick & Napton Canal. It leads to Budbrooke Junction. I got off the canal at the Birmingham Road Bridge and saw the Saltisford Arm, but had to get back on the other side, towards the Hatton Bottom Lock, before getting off again near Warwick Parkway Station!

Warwick - Grand Union Canal

The Grand Union Canal was looking lush and green during May 2016 in Leamington Spa. Train down from Solihull to Leamington Spa. I got onto the towpath at Old Warwick Road and got off at Tachbrook Road. I think at the time I was thinking of getting on at the road I got off, but plans never go to plan when you get to a location to take photos! Here a narrowboat was going at a leisurely pace along the canal, while a man was jogging along the towpath. The canal here is not that far from Leamington Spa Station. Both the canal and the Chiltern Mainline run quite close to each other in Warwickshire!

Leamington Spa - Grand Union Canal

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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70 passion points
History & heritage
17 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Châteaux in France

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

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Loire Valley

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

Château de Villandry

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

Château de Villandry

Château de Chenonceau

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

Château de Chenonceau

Château d'Anet

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

Château d'Anet

Château d'Ussé

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

Château d'Ussé

Château du Clos Lucé

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

Château du Clos Lucé

Château d'Amboise

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

Château d'Amboise

Château de Chinon

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

Château de Chinon

Île-de-France

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

Château de Fontainebleau

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

Château de Fontainebleau

Burgundy

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

Château de Cormatin

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

Château de Cormatin

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

Château de Sercy

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

Château de Sercy

Château de Châteauneuf

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

Château de Châteauneuf

Château de Brochon

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

Château de Brochon

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Architecture
15 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A Tale of Two Hampton Courts (don't confuse them!)

You've all heard of the world famous Hampton Court Palace in London, but have you heard of the other Hampton Court in Herefordshire! Hampton Court Castle is in the West Midlands Region, and is closer to Birmingham, than the former home of Henry VIII in the capital! Some people may even get sent to the wrong one on their SatNav! Both are well worth a visit. I visited both in 2016.

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Hampton Court Castle

A visit on the August Bank Holiday Weekend of 2016 to Hampton Court Castle in Herefordshire. This was only a month or so after my visit to the other more famous Hampton Court down in London! It is located in Hope under Dinmore, south of Leominster and is a Grade I listed building. It dates to 1427 and was built by Sir Rowland Lenthall, on land that was a gift of King Henry IV. It's been beside the River Lugg for 600 years. The Lenthall's stayed here for 300 years. In the 19th century it was bought by Richard Arkwright. His descendants lived here until 1912. In the 20th century it went through various owners until the American millionaire Robert Van Kampen bought it in the 1990s. It was sold again after his death. The postcode for your SatNav is . Distance from Birmingham around 58 to 61 miles, via the M5.

 

First up a look at the Gatehouse, this would be the first and last thing you would see if arriving by car (or coach if one would be able to fit through the archway). The gatehouse is a Grade I listed building, and it listed with the main castle building. Hampton Court, Hope under Dinmore. It dates to the 15th century, with 19th century remodelling. There is two small towers either side of the entranceway.

Hampton Court Castle gatehouse

First view of the castle itself at the end of the drive. This Hampton Court is a castellated country house built between 1427 and 1436. It was altered in the early 18th century by Colen Campbell for Lord Coningsby and remodelled and restored in the early 19th century by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville for Richard Arkwright.

Hampton Court Castle

On this side was the Orangery Tearoom, where we had some lunch. Some picnic tables outside.

Hampton Court Castle

The view of the castle from the lawn. It was from near here that you could watch the falconry display on the Bank Holiday Weekend in late August 2016. The grounds are also used for various other special events, such as outdoor theatre productions, small concerts and family days out.

Hampton Court Castle

A look at the castle round to the right side from the lawn. The Orangery Tearoom was to the far left. The building itself is much smaller than the other Hampton Court. There has been many owners of the building over the centuries. It was owned by the noble Coningsby family from 1510 until 1781. John Arkwright grandson of Richard Arkwright purchased it in 1810. John Stanhope Arkwright sold it in 1910. It was the seat of the Viscount Hereford from 1924 and 1972. American businessman Robert Van Kampen bought it in 1994, but he died in 1999. The Van Kampen family sold the castle and grounds in 2008. The house was last for sale in January 2016.

Hampton Court Castle

Now a look inside. There was not a problem with taking photos inside of the castle (as long as you don't use flash).

In this corridor was suits of armour and deer heads. Saw lots of suits of armour on the ground floor over various corridors / rooms.

Hampton Court Castle

Suits of armour and a chandelier in this room. Also on the wall was an armoured horse with a suit of armour (on the left). And half a deer on the right side!

Hampton Court Castle

Another corridor with more suits of armour (on the left) and deer heads (on the right). A tapestry at the far end.

Hampton Court Castle

Shields and more suits of armour around this staircase. Also heraldic flags. A chandelier hanging on the ceiling.

Hampton Court Castle

This dining room with a long dining table and chairs, looks like to be from the 19th century. Was a dress on a dummy to the far left. Paintings of flowers on the wall either side of the mirror.

Hampton Court Castle

For more photos, please check out my album on Flickr: Hampton Court Castle - the castle.

Hampton Court Palace

This was a group visit during July 2016 (went on a mini coach). A nice day out, where you could see the Tudor palace of King Henry VIII and the late 17th century palace of King William III & Mary II. As well as watch jousting displays and explore the vast gardens. It's next to the River Thames, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Postcode for your SatNav is . Distance from Birmingham approximately 130 miles, if you go via the M40 and M25.

The palace is a Grade I listed building Hampton Court Palace. This view from the main entrance looking up to the Tudor Palace. Built from 1514 onwards, originally by Cardinal Wolsey. King Henry VIII  took it over from the Cardinal, and became one of his main palaces. He made alterations from 1529 to 1540 including the building of the Great Hall. Lots of tourists about in a busy hot summer!

Hampton Court Palace

Entering into the next courtyard. This is The Base Court. It's the entrance to Henry VIII's Apartments. The palace is now managed by Historic Royal Palaces. No Monarch has lived here since George II. From here you can visit Henry VIII's Kitchens. There was busts of Roman Emperor's around this court.

Hampton Court Palace

The Baroque palace was built from 1689 until about 1694 for King William III by the architect Sir Christopher Wren. This are is the Fountain Court. From here you can access The Georgian Story and William III's Apartments. But I think that you couldn't take photos inside of those galleries unfortunately. I think there was a tea room around here somewhere!

Hampton Court Palace

Heading out to the palace's gardens. This view was taken from The Wilderness (near the Rose Garden) and is a view of the Great Hall. That was rebuilt from 1532 and the Chapel was remodelled in 1536, including the building of the Chapel Court. We were heading to the River Thames.

Hampton Court Palace

View of the palace from the River Thames. There is a park on the other side of the Thames called Cigarette Island Park, and it has nice views of the palace, the further you go down the path! The boat was called Connaught and was at Hampton Court Landing Stage, Pier No 3. Tudor Palace seen on the left. Baroque Palace to the right!

Hampton Court Palace

Kitchen's - seving place. There wasn't many interiors where you could take photos, but it was ok in the Henry VIII's Kitchens

Hampton Court Palace

The Queen's Staircase.  Decorated in 1734 for Queen Caroline by the architect and designer William Kent. Nice looking Royal ceiling! Taking photos in the King William III apartments was not allowed, so I had to respect that, so was not much that I could take up here! That led to the The Georgian Story, but wasn't much to take photo wise when I got there (at the time).

Hampton Court Palace

The Great Hall - stained glass window - Henry VIII. Not as much restrictions in King Henry VIII's Apartments though (for taking photos). This stained glass window has the Royal Tudor Coat of Arms, with an image of King Henry VIII in the middle of it.

Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII and Katherine Parr married in her Privy Closet at Hampton Court on the morning of 12th July 1543. This was seen in a room off a corridor. Nearby was a portrait of Henry VIII on the wall.

Hampton Court Palace

The Clock Court. Part of the Tudor Palace. Some benches here for people to sit down. At this point we were on our way to have a quick look at the Young Henry VIII's Story exhibition. The entrance to the Henry VIII Apartments was further to the left. This was just after exiting those apartments (probably from the door behind me).

Hampton Court Palace

For more photos, please check out my album on Flickr: Hampton Court Palace.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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70 passion points
Green travel
12 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

New blue cycleway open up the A34 towards Perry Barr

Starting from James Watt Queensway, opposite Aston University, this new blue cycleway has opened during April 2019. Going past Lancaster Circus, it then goes up Lancaster Street, then up New Town Row. Continuing on towards Perry Barr on the Birchfield Road. My most recent photos of the route are only the sections close to the city centre, so James Watt Queensway to New Town Row!

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Seen during August 2018, on James Watt Queensway, this was my first glimpse of the new blue cycling surface, close to Birmingham Children's Hospital and opposite Aston University. The helipad used by the Midlands Air Ambulance is to the left. Quite close to the Steelhouse Conservation Area (where Dalton Street, Ryder Street and Corporation Street meet at the end of the Methodist Central Hall).The route continues down the ramps to the subways of Lancaster Circus, as a no 51 bus was waiting to turn left. This is one of the buses that you can catch up to Perry Barr or Walsall.

Blue cycleway James Watt Queensway August 2018

I heard via Twitter from Birmingham Cycle Revolution that the A34 Cycle Route had opened the week starting 9th April 2019. They were posting various photos on their Twitter feed, so I wanted to take some myself. I'm just a walker, not a cyclist, but like to see cycle routes around the city! The last time I walked down to Lancaster Circus, I did notice that the cycle route down to the subways hasn't been painted blue (just the old white lines painted on the pavement).

Blue cycleway James Watt Queenway April 2019

For a lunchtime walk, I left the Aston University Campus and headed over towards Lancaster Circus, and got onto Lancaster Street to see a section of the newly opened blue cycleway on the A34. This section is opposite the student accommodation blocks of Staniforth House, Bagot Street 1 and Bagot Street 2. The only cyclist I saw was from Uber Eats. I headed up towards the Shazam! billboard where I would get off the road at the Lancaster Street Bridge, so I could get onto the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (where most cyclists would currently ride their bikes!).

Blue cycleway - Lancaster Street / New Town Row (April 2019)

The bus stop is placed on the right and the blue cycleway curves around it. Bagot Street 1 and 2 opposite. You would see many National Express West Midlands Platinum buses along the A34 corridor towards Perry Barr and Walsall.

Blue cycleway - Lancaster Street / New Town Row (April 2019)

The blue cycleway continues to curve around up New Town Row towards the Birchfield Road. Just about enough room here for a bus lane! Beyond here, the route would head up the Newtown High Street, then past Six Ways Aston, and up the Birchfield Road.

Blue cycleway - Lancaster Street / New Town Row (April 2019)

I have yet to check out the section beyond Newtown Middleway / New John Street since the full route was completed! Reckon that I'll need to catch a bus up to Perry Barr, and get photos out of the window at the front of the top deck (on the left), as long as it doesn't rain, and is dry. Previous attempts from a bus window, weren't too great when the window of the bus was covered in condensation from the rain, so best to go up on a dry, sunny spring day!

Check out this video on Facebook, posted by George Everett! The A34 route to Perry Barr is finally open!. A time lapse of the entire route.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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80 passion points
Transport
10 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A selection of vintage buses at the Acocks Green Bus Garage Open Day, October 2013

I missed the last open day at Acocks Green Bus Garage for their 80th birthday in June 2018, but I did go to the previous open day, 5 years earlier in October 2013. A selection of some of the historic buses on show at the time. Was the 75th anniversary of the bus garage. They also had vintage bus rides to Yardley Wood bus garage (but will leave that to another post!)

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Acocks Green Bus Garage - Open Day - Saturday 5th October 2013

The bus garage is home of the World Famous Outer Circle (the 11A and 11C bus routes). Also known now as National Express West Midlands Acocks Green. This open day was to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the opening of this bus garage on the Fox Hollies Road in Acocks Green. That day there was also an open day over at Yardley Wood Bus Garage, and you could catch a free ride on a selection of vintage buses between both bus garages.

This post will just look at some of the vintage buses that were inside of the bus garage that day!

_______________________________________________________________________

Towing - Sandy Lane Garage
105
722 DU
XVC 290

Coventry Corporation Transport

Dated to 1959.

Acocks Green vintage bus

Corley - City Pool Meadow
334
334 CRW

Coventry Corporation Transport

Dated to 1963.

Acocks Green vintage bus

Circular 28
FEA 156
156

West Bromwich Corporation

Dated to 1952.
Daimler CVG5
Metro-Cammell B38R

Acocks Green vintage bus

32 - Gospel Lane Loop via Lakey Lane
LOG 302
3002

Birmingham City Transport

Dated to 1954.

Daimler CLG5LW

MCCW H30/25R

Acocks Green vintage bus

79 - West Bromwich via Bilston
XON 41J
4041

WM Travel

Dated to 1971.
Daimler Fleetline

Acocks Green vintage bus

159 - Coventry via Airport N.E.C. and Meriden
NOA 462X
2462
WM Travel
MCW (Metrobus)

Acocks Green vintage bus

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
Environment & green action
09 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Jurassic Kingdom 2017 and Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom 2019 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Two events with animated creatures at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Westbourne Road in Edgbaston. Jurassic Kingdom was held during May 2017, while Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom was held during April 2019. A gallery of 10 photos of the dinosaurs from 2017. And 10 photos of the extinct ice age animals from 2019. They make noises with sound (see my YouTube links for examples).

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Jurassic Kingdom

This event was on at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens from the 20th May to the 4th June 2017. There was loads of life sized animated dinosaurs here to see! A selection of 10 photos below.

T-Rex in the car park near the entrance!

T-Rex

Carnotaurus

Carnotaurus

Small Triceratops.

Small Triceratops

 Pterosaur

 Pterosaur

Tyrannosaurus Vs Spinosaurus!

Tyrannosaurus Vs Spinosaurus!

Velociraptor Vs Apatosaurus!

Velociraptor Vs Apatosaurus!

Brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus

Spinosaurus

Spinosaurus

Parasaurolophus

Parasaurolophus

Euoplocephalus

Euoplocephalus

Video here on my YouTube Channel. Jurassic Kingdom, YouTube.

Full album of Jurassic photos over on my Flickr (with some video clips) Jurassic Kingdom, Flickr.

Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom

This event was held at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens from the 6th to 28th April 2019. I think from the same organisers as Jurassic Kingdom from 2 years before. I got in on the first morning on a 40% off early bird ticket! A selection of 10 photos below.

Smilodon populator (Sabre-Toothed Cat)

Smilodon populator (Sabre-Toothed Cat)

Coelodonta antiquitatis (Woolly Rhinoceros)

Coelodonta antiquitatis (Woolly Rhinoceros)

Mammuthus (mammoth)

Mammuthus (mammoth)

Mastodon (being hunted by cavemen)

Mastodon

Miracinonyx (American Cheetah) and Elasmotherium (Siberian Unicorn)

Miracinonyx (American Cheetah) and Elasmotherium (Siberian Unicorn)

Daeodon. Meaning 'dreadful tooth' also known by Dinohyus ('terrible pig')

Daeodon.

Marcrauchenia patachonica

Marcrauchenia patachonica

Doedicurus clavicaudatus

Doedicurus clavicaudatus

Teratornis merriami

Teratornis merriami

Glyptodon

Glyptodon

Video here on my YouTube Channel Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom, YouTube.

Full album of Ice Age photos over on my Flickr (with some video clips) Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom, Flickr.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
Photography
04 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Circuses in Birmingham

Occasionally a circus might come to down and pitch up in one of the cities parks, or in a nearby field. Here we will look at some of the circuses that have been in Birmingham in recent years. Such as the Chinese State Circus at the Sheldon Country Park, Uncle Sam's American Circus to a field in Hollywood near the Maypole, and a some others! Zippos have been around multiple locations!

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Zippo's Special Christmas Circus - Star City Birmingham, 2010

Held in the car park at Star City near the M6, Junction 6 (Spaghetti Junction) (also near Nechells) from the 16th December 2010 to the 2nd January 2011.

Zippo's Circus

Zippo's Circus

Zippo's Circus

Zippo's Circus

Zippo's Circus

Zippo's Circus - Swanshurst Park, 2011

This circus was held at Swanshurst Park in Moseley / Billesley from the 17th to 22nd March 2011. They return every year. Is usually nice views from the other side of the Moseley New Pool (the parks lake).

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park

While Swanshurst Park is near Kings Heath, it is not in Kings Heath. It's located between Moseley and Billesley (Swanshurst Lane, Yardley Wood Road and Brook Lane).

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park

Zippos Circus - Swanshurst Park, 2017

I last saw Zippos at Swanshurst Park during April 2017. This time it was held from the 20th to the 25th April 2017. Had a better camera than the time I previously saw the circus there in 2011!

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park 2017

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park 2017

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park 2017

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park 2017

Again they were still calling Moseley as Kings Heath! Billesley was fine though! Although you do head up the Swanshurst Lane / Yardley Wood Road towards Kings Heath!

Zippos Circus Swanshurst Park 2017

Chinese State Circus - Sheldon Country Park, 2017

This circus was held from the 9th to 14th May 2017. Close to the Coventry Road entrance in Sheldon.

Chinese State Circus Sheldon Country Park

Chinese State Circus Sheldon Country Park

Chinese State Circus Sheldon Country Park

Chinese State Circus Sheldon Country Park

Chinese State Circus Sheldon Country Park

Uncle Sam's American Circus - The Maypole, 2018

It was held in Hollywood near Sainsbury's Maypole from the 10th to 14th October 2018. In a field that usually has horses in it! Also not far from Druids Heath.

Uncle Sam's American Circus near the Maypole

Uncle Sam's American Circus near the Maypole

Uncle Sam's American Circus near the Maypole

Uncle Sam's American Circus near the Maypole

Uncle Sam's American Circus near the Maypole

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
Environment & green action
02 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

From Birmingham to Worcester on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

A look at the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Starting near the Mailbox, heading down Edgbaston, Selly Oak, Bournville, Stirchley to Kings Norton. Also at look at the other end of the canal down in Worcester. Between Five Ways and Bournville, the canal and railway run almost parallel. There is also the Ariel Aqueduct in Selly Oak! At Kings Norton you can leave this canal for Stratford!

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We start at The Cube. In this August 2013 view near The Mailbox. Directly ahead is Gas Street Basin, where the Worcester & Birmingham Canal ends at Worcester Bar, and near the start of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline (through the Broad Street Tunnel). I normally do the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in small sections. I usually see cyclists on the towpath, and occasionally dog walkers. The Salvage Turn Bridge (as it is called) aka the Love Lock Bridge. It was recently repaired.

W & B Canal at The Cube

In this January 2011 view from the Granville Street Bridge. Head down the steps, and you can walk towards Bath Row, then onto Islington Row Middleway. Student halls on the left are for University College Birmingham (UCB). You may also see an abandoned railway line on the right (usually full of litter). Could do with restoring somehow!

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Granville Street

View from April 2014 near the IQ student accommodation. From Bath Row towards Islington Row Middleway. The exit near here is on the other side of the Bath Row Bridge. In recent years, a new exit to Islington Row Middleway and Five Ways Station was installed. As that is the last exit for a while before The Vale at the University of Birmingham!

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Bath Row to Islington Row Middleway

In this view from February 2012, from the Islington Row Middleway Bridge, you can see a pair of narrowboats, including the Sherborne Wharf tourist trip boat, on the left. While Five Ways Station with a London Midland Class 170 passing (it does not stop there on the way to Hereford). Abandoned railway line in the middle, that used to go to about where the AXIS building is now (the tunnels are still there, but are blocked off). The St James Road Bridge does not have steps, so if you are on the towpath and want to get off, you have to walk towards The Vale! Beyond here it is very leafy and tree lined, to keep the Calthorpe Estates of Edgbaston looking pretty!

Worcester & Birmingham Canal and Five Ways Station

The Edgbaston Tunnel seen from near the north portal, during April 2016. Running on the right is what is now the Cross City Line. The lost Church Road Station used to be around here. A narrowboat is seen going through the tunnel. In 2018, the towpath in the tunnel was widened, so this section was closed for a few months (it is now open again). I regularly see cyclists down here when I walk this section. Hallfield School is on the other side of the tunnel.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Edgbaston Tunnel

Also April 2016. If you want to get off after a walk from The Mailbox, take this bridge at The Vale, near new student accommodation blocks for the University of Birmingham. The road / path leads to Church Road in Edgbaston, near the number 1 bus route! The bridges around here normally get tagged!

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - The Vale

Another set of steps at Somerset Road in Edgbaston to get onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal towpath. Near the University of Birmingham. On the Cross City line during January 2018, West Midlands Railway 323203, is seen cruising towards Longbridge and Redditch (is always nice to be sat on the train, when passing the canal down here). The totem pole was heavily vandalised at the time.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Somerset Road

Next up is this February 2013 view from the Pritchatts Road Bridge in Edgbaston, around the University of Birmingham. On the Cross City line around to the right is University Station. No towpath access here, the next one up is next to University Station at the Westgate (or University Road West).

Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Pritchatts Road

The Selly Oak New Road opened in 2011 and that including building an aqueduct for the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and a railway viaduct for the Cross City Line. This view from February 2013. The road below is called the Aston Webb Boulevard, after the architect of the original University of Birmingham buildings. From the canal you can see the railway. You can also see th aqueduct from a train passing over the railway viaduct! Beyond here is the Battery Park redevelopment site, where the new Selly Oak Shopping Park opened in late 2018. While the Life Sciences Park for the University of Birmingham has yet to be built!

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Selly Oak Bypass - Ariel Aqueduct

The Worcester & Birmingham Canal switches sides with the Cross City line between the Bristol Road and Raddlebarn Road bridges in Selly Oak. In this March 2018 view, a West Midlands Railway Class 323 train is seen heading towards Selly Oak Station. The Bristol Road entrance to the canal is via The Dingle. But is also access near some of the new housing developments.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Selly Oak - West Midlands Railway Class 323

March 2018 between Bournville Station, Mary Vale Road towards Raddlebarn Road in Bournville. As a West Midlands Railway Class 323 train headed south towards Longbridge, I was approaching the Cadbury Railway Wharf Bridge. It is no longer used. Was the former Cadbury private railway that led to the chocolate factory! But the bridge remains!

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Bournville - Cadbury Railway Wharf Bridge

An October 2011 view of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal from near Mary Vale Road in Bournville. London Midland 323215 was at Bournville Station, while a cyclist and some joggers were heading up the towpath! On a nice autumnal day! I hadn't started to use the Cross City line at that point! If you get on the canal in Stirchley (on the Pershore Road near Lifford Lane), you can get off here, and head down Mary Vale Road to the Pershore Road. Or head in the other direction to Cadbury World and Bournville Village.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Bournville Station

An unexpected site during March 2015 from the Pershore Road Bridge in Stirchley. A club of canoeists on the canal! The road on the left, is another section of a lost railway line. Lots of industrial units up this way.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Stirchley Pershore Road canoes

The Camp Hill Line railway bridge seen during April 2016 in Stirchley. This part of the towpath is part of the Rea Valley Route. There is various paths along the River Rea that goes through Stirchley, then joins the canal near here, and goes down to Kings Norton and beyond.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Camp Hill Line Bridge in Stirchley

The view from March 2012 in Kings Norton. This part of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Kings Norton Junction, near the start of the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Not far from here is the Guillotine Lock on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. This building was the Lock Keepers Cottage, also known as Junction House, a Grade II listed building. It has been empty for a long time, and was sadly a victim of an arson attack. It was built in 1802. Hopefully the Canal & River Trust / Birmingham City Council can restore it, and give it a use. Maybe a canalside cafe / tea room. It can't be left empty forever (and hopefully it won't be demolished!). It might even date to as early as 1796!

Kings Norton Junction where the Worcester & Birmingham meets the Stratford-on-Avon Canal

The furthest south in Birmingham on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal that I have explored was from Parsons Hill in Kings Norton, near Wharf Road. From here in March 2012, I would have walked up to Kings Norton Junction. I have yet to cover the section south of here. Anything further south in Worcestershire, I covered by getting a train to Alvechurch or Worcester!

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Kings Norton Parsons Hill

A February 2016 train trip to Alvechurch in Worcestershire. Near Alvechurch Station is the Alvechurch Marina on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. A useful place to start a boating holiday. Seen from Scarfield Hill

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Alvechurch Marina

Now a look at some parts of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in the City of Worcester!

My last visit to Worcester by train was during August 2018 to check out their Giraffe sculpture trail, Worcester Stands Tall (similar to the Big Hoot / Big Sleuth in Birmingham). This view from the bridge on Lowesmoor Place in Worcester.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal - Lowesmoor Place, Worcester

November 2011 in Worcester. Converted factories and Albion Mill in the Diglis area of Worcester. New buildings and old being converted into flats / apartments, like in Birmingham.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal, Worcester - Converted Factories - Albion Mill

Diglis Basin and the Dry Dock during November 2011 in Worcester. Like with Birmingham, they have converted old factories into apartments, and built new buildings up the canal. Many narrowboats here.

Worcester & Birmingham Canal, Worcester - Diglis Basin and dry dock

The end of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at the River Severn in Worcester. Seen November 2011 at the Diglis Bottom Lock. I acutally walked down the River Severn path, then up the towpath from here towards Worcester Shrub Hill Station! The lock here is Grade II listed Barge Lock No 1 Adjacent to River Severn, Worcester.

Diglis Bottom Lock - Worcester & Birmingham Canal, Worcester

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Transport
01 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Class 323 EMU's on the Cross City Line: Lichfield via Birmingham New Street to Redditch or Bromsgrove

The Class 323 is one of my favourite trains to ride on in Birmingham. Here we will look at this Electrical Multiple Unit from Lichfield Trent Valley, via Birmingham New Street, down to Redditch. And now a newly opened extension to Bromsgrove! The Cross City South includes the line down beyond Longbridge. Cross City North beyond Sutton Coldfield. Staffordshire to Worcestershire.

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Cross City Line

The Cross City Line opened in 1978. It was extended to Redditch in 1980 and to Lichfield Trent Valley in 1988. The service was extended to Bromsgrove by 2018. The route was electrified in the 1990s, being completed by 1993. The Class 323 Electric Multiple Units first introduced on the service around 1994. After the creation of the Franchising system, Central Trains ran the Cross City line from 1997 to 2007, then London Midland from 2007 to 2017. And now West Midlands Railway from late 2017 to present.

 

Lichfield Trent Valley Station

One of my first rides on the Cross City Line was to Lichfield Trent Valley during early January 2012. The redevelopment of Birmingham New Street Station was in it's earliest years, and I got a train up from Kings Norton. London Midland 323214 was my ride to Lichfield that day. The current northern end of the line / terminus, on the High Level. The Low Level is on the West Coast Main Line, between London Euston and Crewe (back then London Midland, now London Northwestern Railway). You would see non-stopping Virgin Trains services passing there! In Staffordshire.

Lichfield Trent Valley - London Midland 323214

Lichfield City Station

I have visited Lichfield City Station twice. The first time in January 2012 coming back from my day out in Lichfield. The second time for a return visit during April 2016. The only Class 323 exterior I took there was in 2012. London Midland 323207 was my train back to Kings Norton.

Lichfield City Station - London Midland 323207

We will next skip a few stations until Four Oaks (I have not got off at the stations in between).

Four Oaks Station

A visit to Four Oaks in Sutton Coldfield during October 2018. By then many of the Class 323 trains under West Midlands Railway were in a orange and white livery. I caught this train West Midlands Railway 323 204 from Birmingham New Street. Mere Green was in walking distance of the station with a new shopping centre. This was platform 3 where the service terminated, it would have waited a while before heading back to Birmingham.

Four Oaks Station - West Midlands Railway 323204

Sutton Coldfield Station

My first visit to Sutton Coldfield by train was during January 2017. Seen arriving at the station was London Midland 323211 on it's way to Lichfield Trent Valley (the destination display doesn't come out too well in photos). I got the train to Sutton Coldfield again during August 2017 while on the Big Sleuth hunt (I didn't go up for the Big Hoot in 2015, as I hadn't visited Sutton Coldfield with my camera at that time). It's also now possible to get the X4 or X5 buses up to Sutton Coldfield instead (much longer journey though). You can see planes coming into land at Birmingham Airport from here.

Sutton Coldfield Station - London Midland 323211

While I've seen Wylde Green Station, I've not waited to catch a train from there. I almost went down there on my second rail visit to Sutton Coldfield, but ended up getting a bus back to Sutton Coldfield Town Centre, after finding some more Big Sleuth bears in August 2017. Chester Road in Erdington next.

Chester Road Station

My first visit to Erdington by train was during May 2014, mainly to check out the Josiah Mason bust for the first time. So I got the Cross City line up to Chester Road. My more recent second visit was in December 2018. I had got the 11A Outer Circle bus to Erdington, then walked up the High Street, then up Orphanage Road towards the Josiah Mason bust (to see it for a second time). After that I walked up Chester Road to the station. I caught West Midlands Railway 323221 back to Birmingham New Street.

Chester Road Station - West Midlands Railway 323221

Erdington Station

My May 2014 visit to Erdington that started at Chester Road ended up at Erdington Station. Seen here was London Midland 323207 on it's way to Lichfield Trent Valley. This station is a good place to see planes taking off from Birmingham Airport! Something else other than trains while waiting for my train back to Birmingham New Street.

Erdington Station - London Midland 323207

Gravelly Hill Station

Headed to Gravelly Hill during April 2015, to walk under Spaghetti Junction. My train back to Birmingham New Street had London Midland 323212 at the front (seen below in the photo) and 323243 (which I got on). It's always nice to ride on the train between Gravelly Hill and Aston, below the concrete lanes of Spaghetti Junction, more unique than going in a car! Salford Junction is also nearby, a junction of several canals.

Gravelly Hill Station - London Midland 323212

Aston Station

I've been to Aston Station several times over the years. First got off there in 2012. I've also been there in 2016 and 2017. The line to Walsall on the Chase Line diverts to the left, while the line to Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield goes to the right. On New Years Day 2016, I got London Midland 323208 from Birmingham New Street to Aston. This train was going to Lichfield Trent Valley.

Aston Station - London Midland 323208

Duddeston Station

My first visit to the Birmingham Museums Collections Centre included a stop off at Duddeston on London Midland 323218, which I caught from Kings Norton, in May 2012. Back then I wasn't comfortable with starting at Birmingham New Street, and I used to get the 11C bus to Kings Norton (it was also before I figured out you could buy a ticket on the Snow Hill lines to a destination on another line). Dollman Street is just round the corner from here. Before I left the station, I checked out the face art sculptures on the platform.

Duddeston Station - London Midland 323218

Cross City North is done above, now for Birmingham New Street, before we explore Cross City South!

Birmingham New Street Station

Many trips on the Cross City line normally start for me from Birmingham New Street, so I don't always take photos of the Class 323 there! I've been taking photos of these trains there since about 2010. I've watched the station transform from 2010 to 2015, and have continued to use it since it's been completed! I first saw a Class 323 in West Midlands Railway orange and white at Bournville, where I caught this train. West Midlands Railway 323204 seen at Birmingham New Street during August 2018. It stopped at platform 8a.

Birmingham New Street Station - West Midlands Railway 323204

Five Ways Station

Not a brilliant photo, but a London Midland Class 323 seen at Five Ways station during January 2015 from Bath Row. It is also possible to see the station from Islington Row Middleway, or from the steps down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. I did once try out using this staiton during April 2015. But didn't get any photos of any Class 323's while I was there. I did get a Class 170, but the only Class 323 I took was going into the tunnel and I had just missed it!

Five Ways Station - London Midland Class 323

University Station

Went to University Station during July 2017 while on the Big Sleuth hunt. Was several bears to be found around the University of Birmingham. Seen at the station was London Midland 323208. I travelled from Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street to University that day! Was also bears at Resorts World. I previously tried to use the station in March 2012 to go to Tamworth, but ended up catching another Cross City train to New Street, and catching a Cross Country train from New Street to Tamworth (back then). Cross Country do stop at University though!

University Station - London Midland 323208

Selly Oak Station

The West Midlands railway franchise transferred over from London Midland to West Midlands Railway during December 2017. Here was West Midlands Railway 323204 at a snowy Selly Oak. The first time I've used the station. I mostly get the bus to and from Selly Oak! 323221 was at the other end. Loads of delays that day, probably due to the snow! Some trains were cancelled due to the weather. Not really the best day to try out Selly Oak Station!

Selly Oak Station - West Midlands Railway 323204

Bournville Station

This station is next to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and is your stop for Cadbury World. Seen in October 2011 was London Midland 323215. This was before I started using the Cross City Line (from 2012 onwards). This ramp leads from the Mary Vale Road bridge, and goes down to the towpath of the canal, as well as to the station. I later actually used the station in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Bournville Station - London Midland 323215

Kings Norton Station

Before I was comfortable with getting trains from Birmingham New Street, I used to get them from Kings Norton. Seen arriving here was London Midland 323212 during April 2012. Which I got to Longbridge. Platform 4, as platforms 2 and 3 are abandoned. Platform 1 is for trains to Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. Other fast trains pass through here too!

Kings Norton Station - London Midland 323212

Northfield Station

I have used Northfield Station a few times in my travels, but not really taken a photo of a Class 323 from the platform. This one of a West Midlands Railway Class 323 in orange and white was seen from another train during November 2018.

Northfield Station - West Midlands Railway Class 323

Longbridge Station

An ideal station to get to, to explore the new Longbridge Town Centre. I've been to this station many times. Seen opposite was London Midland 323212 during April 2012, which I'd earlier got down to Longbridge. Before the extension to Bromsgrove this was a terminus for most trains, with at least one an hour going to Redditch. The station building here is now being redeveloped. It's the last station in Birmingham on the line to the south. The last four below are all in Worcestershire.

Longbridge Station - London Midland 323212

Barnt Green Station

At Barnt Green the lines splits. One to Redditch, the other to Bromsgrove and Worcester. On the Cross City line, the trains stop at Barnt Green for Redditch, as it curves to the left.  I got London Midland 323217 from Birmingham New Street. I got off here, but the train was going to Redditch. On my second visit during April 2017 I went to the Lickey Hills Country Park. A long hard walk up the hill (I walked back to the station via the roads nearby).

Barnt Green Station - London Midland 323217

Alvechurch Station

A visit to Alvechurch in Worcestershire during February 2016. The station now has two platforms where as before it used to have one. London Midland 323219. My train back to Birmingham New Street,

Alvechurch Station - London Midland 323219

Redditch Station

I first got a train to Redditch during January 2013. I arrived on London Midland 323210. A single platform station it is the current end of the line. There is an old railway tunnel nearby with street art. My second visit in November 2017 was before the end of the London Midland franchise.

Redditch Station - London Midland 323210

Bromsgrove Station

I've been to Bromsgrove 3 times. First in 2013 to the old station, second in 2016 to the new station. In November 2018 I returned again after electrification to Bromsgrove was complete and the Cross City line extended services from Longbridge. Seen here was West Midlands Railway 323216. In orange and white, my ride back to Birmingham New Street. It did not stop at Barnt Green.

Bromsgrove Station - West Midlands Railway 323216

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Transport
28 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Wythall Transport Museum heritage buses between Hollywood and The Alexandra Theatre

On Bank Holiday weekends, up and down the Alcester Road, between the Wythall Transport Museum and Birmingham, you may see the odd vintage bus going up and down, taking passengers on rides from the museum to various nearby locations. From Hollywood, south of the Maypole, then up Kings Heath, towards Bristol Street and last stop at The Alexandra Theatre on Suffolk Street Queensway!

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You may be suprised that there is an area near Birmingham, called Hollywood! Just south of the Maypole, down the Alcester Road South towards Wythall is Worcestershire's very own Hollywood! On the Easter Monday Bank Holiday in 2017 I had a walk from The Maypole towards Whitlocks End Station, when I spotted three heritage buses on special journeys from the Wythall Transport Museum!

You can find out when the next event is on at this link Event Days.

Metrobus on the 48 - 2462 - NOA 462X - returning to Wythall from the Maypole. Easter Monday 2017.

Vintage bus Alcester Road Hollywood

Sea Front Service on the 48 - Southern Vectis - 314 PFM - Carters - returning to Wythall from the Maypole. Easter Monday 2017.

Vintage bus Alcester Road Hollywood

Carisbrooke Castle on the 48 - 570 - Bristol Lodekka - Southern Vectis - YDL 315 - returning to Wythall from the Maypole. Easter Monday 2017.

Vintage bus Alcester Road Hollywood

The 48 - 322 - Midland General FRB 211 H Bristol Rear-Engined Double-Decker Bus -  FRB 211H - seen here heading to the Maypole. Late May Bank Holiday Weekend 2017. Not wanting to walk back to Whitlocks End again, I turned back to the Maypole (hoping to see another bus). The 750 to Birmingham I did see but missed getting a shot of it (see the photo at the end of this post from Suffolk Street Queensway).

Vintage bus Alcester Road Hollywood

Yardley Wood Bus Garage celebrated it's 80th birthday during November 2018, and they had bus rides around the local area. On other Bank Holidays I did try and go to Kings Heath, to see if I could spot one of the vintage buses but I kept missing them, or didn't have my camera ready. These photos below were taken from the top deck of the no 50 bus I was on to town. These buses are not part of the Wythall collection.

I have previously been on rides on this pair of vintage buses!

Timesaver - 2957 - WM Travel - MCW - D957 NDA - Seen November 2018

Previously rode on this bus during the pair of open days at Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garages in early October 2013, on the occasion of the bus garages 75th birthday.

Alcester Road South Kings Heath vintage bus

JOJ 222 - 2222 - Leyland - Birmingham - Bearwood via Dudley Road - B82 - Seen November 2018

Saw this bus again only 2 months after I had ridden on it from Snow Hill Queensway to the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre!

Alcester Road South Kings Heath vintage bus

If seeing the vintage Wythall buses on Bank Holiday's was hit and miss in the Maypole, Kings Heath or Moseley, the next option was to check them out in the city centre! I checked their timetables, so I had a fair idea approximately where they would be.

750 to Birmingham - GREEN LINE AEC RCL CUV 219C - CUV 219C - London Transport - AEC Routemaster - seen on the Easter Monday 2018 Bank Holiday. I had walked up to the Alexandra Theatre, but didn't see the expected bus, then walked down Bristol Street, before this one went past me!

Bristol Street, Birmingham vintage bus

Route 750 to Birmingham (Alexandra Theatre) - 1256 - FRC 956 - Trent FRC 956 Leyland PD2/12 with Leyland body - seen the late May Bank Holiday Monday 2017. I had previously tried to see this bus the day before in Kings Heath but I missed getting a decent shot of it (or I saw it being towed back to Wythall). So seeing it arriving at the Alexandra Theatre was my best chance of seeing it! At this point heading onto Suffolk Street Queensway from Holloway Circus and Bristol Street.

Suffolk Street Queensway vintage bus

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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