Elliott Brown

Passion Points: 78K

Green travel
25 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Low Traffic Neighbourhood around Kings Heath

Various side roads in Kings Heath have been blocked off with flower planters and bollards. Called a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN). Only bikes and pedestrians will be able to enter these roads. Cars and other motor vehicles are banned (apart from residents living on these streets). Has been more traffic on the High Street, Vicarage Road and Howard Road as a result of the road closures.

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Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Kings Heath

In October 2020, various side roads that are connected to the High Street in Kings Heath, had flower planters installed and bollards by Birmingham City Council. In attempt to stop cars using these roads to get to the High Street, or Vicarage Road or from Howard Road. Now they have to take the long way around. Of course the only cars allowed in are residents who live on these streets. So only bicycles and pedestrians are allowed in the LTN areas.

It has been controversial, some people getting angry about it. Delivery drivers having to take different routes to get to the shops they are trying to take goods to. Some days there had been a lot of traffic on the main roads in the area, especially at the Vicarage Road traffic lights near The Red Lion pub (which joins onto Howard Road and Grove Road).

Double yellow lines have been painted where cars are no longer supposed to park. Kids can play in the road between the flower planters without getting run over.

 

On Halloween, 31st October 2020, Elliott made one last trip to Kings Heath before the 2nd lockdown was announced later that day by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

 

Starting with a drink at Coffee #1, crossing the lights over Alcester Road South, then going onto Vicarage Road. Then turning left onto All Saints Road.

All Saints Road to Howard Road

At the end of All Saints Road, there was additional red and white bollards, to stop cars cutting over the grass to get in or out of All Saints Road from Howard Road.

Kings Heath LTN

There was even some colourful benches for kids to sit on.

Kings Heath LTN

Hazelhurst Road from Howard Road

This road off Howard Road, locals with their cars parked outside of their houses, on their drives or on the road. The only way out of Hazelhurst Road now would be from Abbots Road. Which connects to Vicarage Road and All Saints Road.

Kings Heath LTN

Colmore Road from Howard Road

A slightly shorter road off Howard Road. Colmore Road links to Vicarage Road. Again residents now have only one way to enter this road.

Kings Heath LTN

Next Elliott went up Vicarage Road and Avenue Road. Then went up Grange Road. With the idea to get to Station Road.

Highbury Road from Grange Road

Heading up Grange Road from Avenue Road, the next set of flower planters was on Highbury Road. Only way out for residents here was from Vicarage Road. Unless they have a bike or are on foot.

Kings Heath LTN

On Station Road, Elliott didn't quite get as far as the High Street, when he got to York Road. This would be the main LTN road in the Kings Heath scheme.

York Road to High Street

Going down York Road from Station Road. This road turns at a right angle towards the High Street. At least four sets of flower planters here.

Kings Heath LTN

Double yellow lines near Top Bananas. Kids can play in this section if they want to. Cars parked in the next section towards the Hare & Hounds.

Kings Heath LTN

No bollard here, so cars can enter in the middle. Close to the Hare & Hounds and the Kings Heath High Street.

Kings Heath LTN

One more flower planter on York Road at the High Street where the Pedestrian and cycle Zone Ends.

Kings Heath LTN

A short walk to the left down the High Street, before crossing at the lights and walking up Poplar Road.

Poplar Road towards Cambridge Road Methodist Church

Heading up Poplar Road past the shops towards Kings Heath Primary School. One set of flower planters just before the zebra crossing.

Kings Heath LTN

Directly ahead is Cambridge Road Methodist Church.

Kings Heath LTN

Cambridge Road near Springfield Road

At the island near Springfield Road is one last set of flower planters I saw at the end of Cambridge Road. One more walk down Springfield Road to get the 11A bus home, with all the Halloween decorations out.

Kings Heath LTN

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

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40 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
24 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Christmas lights around the Retail BID past and present

The Christmas lights as seen after dark around Birmingham City Centre in the Retail BID area past and present. The last Frankfurt Christmas Market was in 2019. The 2020 market was cancelled due to the pandemic, but to brighten things up, the Council still had lights put up around New Street and other roads. Gone from blues of 10 years ago to the yellow and white lights now.

Related

A comparison of the Christmas lights in Birmingham City Centre over the last decade ago with now. Merry Covid Christmas. And enjoy! 

All around the Retail BID area. So the likes of New Street, High Street and Corporation Street etc. 

NEW STREET

The majority of the Christmas lights are up New Street. Most years seen above the Birmingham Frankfurt Christma Market. Starting from Corporation Street up towards Victoria Square.

November 2010

From the top end of New Street near Victoria Square, after the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market had closed for the night.

Christmas Lights New Street

Between Pret a Manger and the Piccadilly Arcade.

Christmas Lights New Street

They were reused from the year before, all blue and white.

Christmas Lights New Street

November 2020

Seen past the Piccadilly Arcade up to New Street.

Christmas Lights New Street

Not far from the Piccadilly Arcade and Bennetts Hill.

Christmas Lights New Street

Usually the Frankfurt Market would be here by now, but it's been cancelled due to the pandemic and the lockdown etc.

Christmas Lights New Street

Heading up Stephenson Place, past Apple towards Lloyds Bank, saw this Christmas lights on the left. Even got the Lloyds black horse in shot!

Christmas Lights New Street

CANNON STREET

January 2012

After Christmas 2011 was over, the lights were still on in early January 2012, as seen on Cannon Street.

Christmas lights Cannon Street

Was the usual blue and white lights that was used in the late '00s to the mid '10s.

Christmas lights Cannon Street

I think they went all the way down Cannon Street at the time.

Christmas lights Cannon Street

Seen outside of Slater Menswear and White Stuff, towards New Street.

Christmas lights Cannon Street

November 2020

Cannon St at Christmas from New Street. Only the bottom half of Cannon Street has the lights this time around.

Christmas lights Cannon Street

Reverse view of Cannon ST at Christmas towards New Street and the Burlington Arcade.

Christmas lights Cannon Street

The Christmas lights close to Slater Menswear and White Stuff.

Christmas lights Cannon Street

Brightens up the bottom half of Cannon Street towards New Street. All non essential shops down here are closed until the 2nd lockdown ends.

Christmas lights Cannon Street

 

HIGH STREET

November 2012

The Christmas lights on the High Street from near Marks & Spencer towards the Rotunda. The blue and white design towards Rotunda Square. They even had some over the bus stops outsid of DEICHMANN.

Christmas lights High Street

November 2020

The same yellow and white designed Christmas lights on the High Street, as they have now on New Street, seen outside of Marks & Spencer, from my bus stop. These lights have been put up from here towards Rotunda Square, but don't go over the bus routes.

Christmas lights High Street

UNION STREET

December 2012

The Christmas lights here seen at the bottom of Union Street towards Marks & Spencer on the High Street.

Christmas lights Union Street

November 2020

I was suprised to see three sets of Christmas lights on Union Street between Argos, Boots, Burger King and WH Smith.

Christmas lights Union Street

Heading to the bus stop it was nice to see them in the evening. But the lights are on all day.

Christmas lights Union Street

CHERRY STREET

January 2012

On Cherry Street at the time was these red and white Christmas lights. Near Cannon Street and Corporation Street.

Christmas lights Cherry Street

The GAP was at Martineau Place at the time (that's now Poundland). House of Fraser on the left, near Corporation Street.

Christmas lights Cherry Street

November 2020

Heading up Corporation Street, towards Union Street, saw this Christmas lights on Cherry Street between the EE shop and House of Fraser (which doesn't have the usual fancy lights up).

Christmas lights Cherry Street

BEST OF THE REST

In December 2009 they had the Merry Christmas lights at the bottom of Corporation Street near New Street.

Christmas lights Corporation Street

They used Merry Christmas again at the bottom of Corporation Street when I saw it back in November 2010.

Christmas lights Corporation Street

Seen on New Street near Corporation Street was Christmas in Birmingham during December 2014.

Christmas lights New Street

They also had Shopping in Birmingham.com on the other side. It was the last time they had Christmas lights on Corporation Street, before the first Midland Metro extension opened in 2015 and 2016.

Christmas lights New Street

Seen during November 2020 at the bottom of Lower Temple Street near Stephenson Street, between Caffe Nero and Ladbrokes was this Christmas lights.

Christmas lights Lower Temple Street

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

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50 passion points
Squares and public spaces
24 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Floozie from the fountain on in 2010, to the Floral Garden in 2015, to cleared in late 2020

Cofton Nursery removed the plants in November 2020 around the fountain and statues called River and Youth by Dhruva Mistry. We all know it as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi. The fountain leaked in 2008, but was fixed by 2010. Another leak in 2013, led to plants and soil going in by 2015. All stripped out by late 2020. Hopefully the fountain will be repaired going into 2021?

Related

Previous Floozie post here: Floozie in the Jacuzzi in Victoria Square over the years

During November 2020, Cofton Nursery returned to Victoria Square to remove the plants and soil that had been around River and Youth for 5 years. So for the first time in over 5 years you can now see the Floozie in the Jacuzzi without plants, but the fountain has not yet been switched on, as we are awaiting the leak to be repaired once and for all.

The last fix was in 2010 (after the first leak of 2008), then another leak in 2013 led to it being turned off again. Then in 2015 River and Youth was turned into a Floral Garden. Making it the Floozie in the Floral Garden.

With the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic / lockdown / restrictions etc, it meant that work could continue in Victoria Square with the paving, and also to start to fully restore the fountain in front of the Council House.

 

But first lets look back 10 years to when it was last working.

 

2010

It was near the beginning of November 2010 when I was first able to get photos of River and Youth (the Floozie in the Jacuzzi) with the fountains switched on, and the pools filled with water.

River and Youth

Around the rim of the upper pool is a poem by T.S. Eliot called Burnt Norton.:

"And the pool was filled with water of sunlight, and the lotos rose, quietly, quitely, the surface glittered out of heart of light, and they were behind us, reflected in a pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty."

River and Youth

The general view of River and Youth looking up towards the Council House, with a pair of poppies.

River and Youth

There was a Christmas tree on the Council House balcony between the pair of poppies, as the water went down the steps.

River and Youth

Looking up to the Floozie herself. With the Town Hall, Central Library (closed in 2013, demolished in 2016) and the Council House behind.

River and Youth

It looks quite impressive, like an artificial waterfall. This view towards 125 and 130 Colmore Row.

River and Youth

Looking up the steps towards John Madin's NatWest Tower (103 Colmore Row). It would be demolished from 2015 to 2018.

River and Youth

The water cascades down the steps from River (the Floozie in the Jacuzzi) down to the pair of statues called Youth. The BBC screen was still in Victoria Square at the time.

River and Youth

At the bottom was Youth, with two metal bowls with all the water coming out.

River and Youth

Near the end of November 2010 I saw the colourful lights around River and Youth in Victoria Square for the first time after dark. This was well after 10pm, so the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market had closed for the night.

This view below from heading down Christchurch Passage through the railing bars.

River and Youth

The lighting here was impressive, but it was also from the Frankfurt Christmas Market. View below probably taken through the railing bars on Christchurch Passage.

River and Youth

From the bottom of Victoria Square near the Christmas Tree. The Happy Christmas Birmingham message is on the Council House every year.

River and Youth

The Council House was all lit up, as River Routh was in a mix of blues and purples at this point.

River and Youth

One month on to late December 2010. View of the Floozie lit up in orange lights, just before 5pm, 2 days before the end of the year. London 2012 logo on the BBC Screen.

River and Youth

View of the Floozie in orange towards No 1 Victoria Square and the Town Hall. The fountain was off.

River and Youth

It looked like the fountain had been turned off again, and the pools looked empty.

River and Youth

A line of pink, blue, purple and red lights going down to the Youth statue.

River and Youth

Looking towards Victoria Square House and No 1 Victoria Square. Was still old red phone boxes at the top of Pinfold Street.

River and Youth

2015

5 years later, and a few years after the fountain was last turned on. By July 2015, Cofton Nursery had planted an impressive number of plants, to try and make the area look nice, as the leak couldn't be repaired at this time.

River and Youth

Only the steps didn't have plants on them. Still possible to see Birmingham Central Library at this time, before demolition would begin at the end of the year.

River and Youth

You could hardly see Youth amongst the plants at the bottom, of what by then looked like a tropical garden.

River and Youth

By the end of July 2015, The Big Hoot trail of owls was in the City which would last for 10 weeks. Alf the Penguin Owl was at the bottom in front of River and Youth (neither of which can be seen).

River and Youth

In Early August 2015, there was a group of Morris Dancers in Victoria Square, not far from the Floozie and the floral garden that was in place of the fountains. I'm not sure if they were dancing to hope that the fountain would get fixed, or for the post Summer Solstice?

Morris Dancers

2020

Onto the middle of November 2020. My first day back in the City Centre after about 2 weeks. So took my camera (while on my work lunchbreak) and checked out the Floozie, now that Cofton Nursery had removed all of the plants.

River and Youth

The only water in the pools was from rain water. No market, means that the pavin works around the Queen Victoria statue can continue without interruption by Christmas events.

River and Youth

Compared to the view of 10 years ago, the Central Library is now replaced by Two Chamberlain Square.

River and Youth

It was very quiet in Victoria Square due to the 2nd lockdown, and in town in general. At least Youth at the bottom can be seen again, without the plants.

River and Youth

Later that day after I left work, just before 5pm, had time before getting the bus home to pop to Centenary Square after dark. For the first time in 10 years saw River and Youth lit up with the colourful lights.

River and Youth

New to this view of River and Youth was the new (but unfinished) 103 Colmore Row. Victoria Square was completely empty and quiet.

River and Youth

If this was a normal year, the Frankfurt Market would be on by now. It still looks good all lit up towards 103 Colmore Row.

River and Youth

Hopefully the fountain will be fixed and the water flowing again in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. And I hope it stays fixed this time.

River and Youth

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

 

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40 passion points
Squares and public spaces
23 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

What to do with Selly Oak Triangle: new public square or a park?

I am strongly against the building of yet another unwanted student accommodation block in Selly Oak. The student population for the University of Birmingham in the area is high enough as it is, and the area does not need another student prison to be built. Selly Oak Triangle is currently having the bypass extension roadworks overrunning due to the pandemic. Traffic issues as well.

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SELLY OAK TRIANGLE

Ever since Sainsbury's moved out of their old Selly Oak supermarket building at the end of 2018, to the new Selly Oak Shopping Park, the old building has been boarded up and been a target for graffiti vandals. In 2020 there has been roadworks to extend the Selly Oak Bypass onto Harborne Lane (continuing on from the Aston Webb Boulevard which was completed in 2011). This was originally due to be completed in Summer 2020, but as of Autumn 2020 (due to the Pandemic and lockdowns) still has not been completed.

In late October 2020, Harborne Lane was turned into two way traffic, while Chapel Lane (near the Battery Retail Park) had way too many cars queuing up to the Bristol Road.

There is proposals to build yet another student accommodation block where the old Sainsbury's was. I say to Birmingham City Council to reject this proposal. Selly Oak does not need any more places to imprison students (especially right now during the Pandemic when they can't even go out anywhere).

Perhaps the Council could green light a new public square or park on the land. Or another supermarket.

It's the same with Shirley in Solihull, where idiot developers are planning to build more unwanted retirement villages (Shirley already has too many of them as it is).

 

SAINSBURYS'S

In 2012, I started to go to Sainsbury's Cafe at the Sainsbury's in Selly Oak, and continued to do so on and off until they closed down in 2018. Seen in June 2012, was this brick sculpture of an Oak tree. If demolished will this be saved or be a pile of bricks?

Selly Oak

The Sainsbury's logo on the Bristol Road side of the building.

Sainsbury's

6 years before they moved, Sainsbury's spent a lot of money refurbishing the dated supermarket building. It looked nice, but wouldn't last.

Sainsbury's

Harborne Lane

Selly Oak Triangle from the no 98 bus towards the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham during January 2014. This view towards the Bristol Road. This triangular island has now gone, used to be a pavement and some benches on it.

Selly Oak Triangle

The view towards Sainsbury's and it's car park. Beyond is the Battery Retail Park. When at the time Homebase, PC World & Curry's were over there.

Selly Oak Triangle

Sainsbury's closing down and moved out

By March 2018, signs went up saying that the Sainsbury's site was up for sale. At this point the supermarket was still open. They would move out once their new site was ready by November 2018.

Sainsbury's closing

Pigeon's flying over Sainsbury's. A park or public square would be better for them than say an unwanted student block.

Sainsbury's closing

In November 2018, I saw this "We're moving" sign outside of Sainsbury's from the Bristol Road in Selly Oak. The new Sainsbury's opened at the Selly Oak Shopping Park on Wednesday 21st November 2018. I've been a couple of times, but the cafe experience is a bit different to the old one. Plus it's a much larger supermarket.

Sainsbury's

By February 2019, Sainsbury's had moved out months before. And graffiti vandals had started to tag the abandoned building. The car park was empty. This view from no 63 bus on the Bristol Road. At this point there was no plans for the site at the time.

Sainsbury's

Selly Oak Bypass extension works

A sign I saw in August 2019 said that Selly Oak New Road Phase 1B would be completed by Summer 2020. But that was before the Virus Pandemic and lockdowns started.

Selly Oak Bypass

By early February 2020, more than a month before the first lockdown, the bypass extension works looked a far way off. This view from the no 63 bus on the Bristol Road near Harborne Lane. The triangular island had been dug up and removed. This was on the 2nd February 2020.

Selly Oak Bypass

One day later, I got this view from the top deck of the 11A bus on Harborne Lane, before it headed up Chapel Lane towards the Bristol Road. The bus stop was closed off, and the dead end section of road had been filled in and turned into a pavement. Seen on the 3rd February 2020.

Selly Oak Bypass

There was a raised wall around the former Sainsbury's car park. The pedestrian crossing here was closed off, also temporary traffic lights.

Selly Oak Bypass

There also used to be a small triangular tarmac island here that you could cross over, before these works, that's gone as well.

Selly Oak Bypass

By October 2020, the roadworks here were still not finished, as you can see from Harborne Lane. On the 10th October 2020, I again noticed that the former dead end section of road had been filled in and was now a pavement. Bus stop still closed off. Heavy traffic up Chapel Lane. View from the side window of the 11A bus (I rarely went upstairs on the bus between lockdown 1 and 2).

Selly Oak Bypass

There was big puddle outside of the closed bus stop. The traffic may have also been queuing to get into the Battery Retail Park, as well as waiting at the temporary lights on the Bristol Road junction with Chapel Lane.

Selly Oak Bypass

By the 26th October 2020, after leaving the Selly Oak Shopping Park, I was walking up to catch an 11A bus (or was hoping too). A sign mentioned that major night time works would be starting from 26/10/20 for 3 weeks.

Selly Oak Bypass

It also mentioned that Harborne Lane was now open to two way traffic from 25/10/20. Just look at that traffic up Chapel Lane. So bad.

Selly Oak Bypass

The view of Harborne Lane towards Oak Tree Lane. Most car drivers were still using Chapel Lane. Perhaps not aware that Harborne Lane was now open to two way traffic.

Selly Oak Bypass

Up Chapel Lane to the Bristol Road junction at Selly Oak Triangle. Temporary traffic lights on red. Barriers everywhere. Imagine how bad the traffic would be if developers got their greedy way and built a student accommodation eyesore to the right?

Selly Oak Bypass

I waited for an 11A on the Bristol Road, but I wasn't sure if one would come, then I caught a 63 to Longbridge, and a 45 from Longbridge to Cotteridge before I got an 11A home.

I would guess that the bypass extension will be completed now sometime in 2021. And from 2021, please can the Council listen to residents and reject the proposals for yet another student accommodation block. There is already loads up around the Aston Webb Boulevard, and those are closer to the University of Birmingham.

 

Update : Chapel Lane will be going to two way traffic from Monday 23rd November 2020. Speed limit will be at 20 mph. 

 

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

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40 passion points
Transport
23 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Car2Go all over Birmingham back in 2013 to 2014

Car2Go was a car hire scheme in Birmingham during 2013 to 2014. Using SmartCar's. With slogans on the doors such as "Brum Brummie" or "Free Parking" etc. Users could use an app which they would pay for the use. Use the GPS to locate one and drive around the City. Didn't last more than 12 months though. From May 2013 to May 2014. Was based on was on Fleet Street.

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Car2Go

Coming to Birmingham in May 2013, all of a sudden, there was these Car2Go SmartCar's parked all over the City. They were available all over the City. No fixed designation bays, just jump in and drive off. Free parking on any street pay and display bay (but sometimes parking wardens wouldn't know and would put yellow parking tickets on them). One off registration fee was £29.90 (at the time). Register once, drive anywhere. All inclusive price plans. There was different prices depending on how long you used them.

They were based in offices on Fleet Street, close to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. But this scheme wasn't to last, and by the late spring of 2014, Car2Go pulled out of Birmingham, never to return.

 

JUMP IN DRIVE OFF

Date: May 2013.

Location: Woodcock Street outside of Sir Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre at Aston University.

Car2Go

Date: August 2013.

Location: Gas Street.

Car2Go

Date: August 2013.

Location: Alcester Road, Moseley Village.

Car2Go

Date: February 2014.

Location: Reservoir Road, Ladywood, on the walk towards Edgbaston Reservoir.

Car2Go

 

BRUM BRUMMIE

Date: May 2013.

Location: Woodbrooke Road, Bournville near The Valley Parkway.

Car2Go

Date: June 2013.

Location: Fleet Street outside of the then Car2Go offices.

Car2Go

Date: September 2013.

Location: Floodgate Street, Digbeth. Note the yellow parking ticket. Was it really free parking then?

Car2Go

Date: May 2014.

Location: Edmund Street. The last ever photo of a Car2Go SmartCar that I would take before they left Birmingham for good.

Car2Go

 

FREE PARKING

Date: May 2013:

Location: Corporation Street, in the Steelhouse Conservation Area near the courts.

Car2Go

Date: June 2013.

Location: Hazelwell Fordrough, Stirchley.

Car2Go

Date: July 2013.

Location: Lionel Street, Jewellery Quarter. Near the Great Charles Street Queensway car park.

Car2Go

Date: August 2013.

Location: Brunel Street. Near Brunel Street Car Park (now called Town Hall Car Park).

Car2Go

Date: September 2013.

Location: Bissell Street, Highgate.

Car2Go

 

HELLO BIRMINGHAM

Date: May 2013.

Location: Aston Street on the Aston University Campus.

Car2Go

Date: July 2013.

Location: Newhall Street, Jewellery Quarter near Newhall Square and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

Car2Go

Date: September 2013.

Location: Bromsgrove Street, Southside. Was close to Bristol Street.

Car2Go

Date: October 2013.

Location: Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston at Five Ways.

Car2Go

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
18 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Westley Vale Millennium Green in Acocks Green

When a former allotment was turned into a green space at the turn of the Millennium in Acocks Green it was named the Westley Vale Millennium Green. Located on The Avenue, it runs alongside the Westley Brook towards the Grand Union Canal. The area is quite small. Visitors are expected to take their litter home with them. Street art by Hoakser was unveiled in 2015 at The Avenue entrance.

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Westley Vale Millennium Green

The Westley Vale Millennium Green was created as one of the Millennium Greens to provide Breathing Spaces in the early 21st Century. The New Labour Government in 1998 gave support for schemes like this, and this one opened in the year 2000. The area is leased to Birmingham City Council, and a group of Trustees supported by local volunteers manage the site, clean it up, plant and maintain the site as a conservation area.

In 2015, the Birmingham street artist Hoakser was hired to paint a wall at the entrance path from The Avenue. With various birds and animals on it.

Acocks Green Station is a short walk away from the site (as well as the shops on the Warwick Road high street).

2014

I first walked past the Westley Vale Millennium Green in February 2014. This was after a short walk from the Grand Union Canal at Lincoln Road North, I found this gate on The Avenue. I did not enter it at this time, but would a year later.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

On the railings was this Millennium Greens Breathing Spaces sign. A Millennium Project. An initiative of The Countryside Agency.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

2015

My first proper walk into the Westley Vale Millennium Green was during May 2015. Entering from The Avenue, the street art mural by Hoakser was on the right. With owls, foxes, badgers etc.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

The far end of the mural had various birds painted onto it.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Many different paths to take around the Millennium Green.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Cow parsley near the footbridge over the Westley Brook.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

An area with benches. It looked like the turf was newly laid at the time.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Following the path past the cow parsley on the left.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Another bench and another path to the left.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

The path continues. Lots of tree and very green in the spring.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Now a dirt path through the trees.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Some steps to go up.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Railings on the left. The Grand Union Canal was nearby, but you can't get onto it from this side.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

A gate with an exit to Woodcock Lane.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

A look at the steps down from Woodcock Lane North onto the towpath of the Grand Union Canal.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Just a look at the steps, I don't think I went down to the canal towpath for a walk down there that time around.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

This is a view of the Grand Union Canal from the Woodcock Lane Bridge. I've not walked that section. Sometimes the towpath can be muddy or wet. This is the direction towards Yardley Road, South Yardley and towards Tyseley.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Back into the Millennium Green, and heading around the paths towards Malvern Road.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

The path leads to a closed gate at Malvern Road.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Another path from near Malvern Road leads back to The Avenue entrance / exit.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

The gate is closed, so you have to use the latch to open the gate, then close it behind you. This was on Malvern Road.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

The Millennium Greens Breathing Spaces, Westley Vale Millennium Green and Conservation Area signs at the Malvern Road entrance.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Close up of the Westley Vale Millennium Green signs. Don't dump your rubbish. Pick up and bag your dog waste.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Close up of the Conservation Area sign. Please respect the environment. Bin or take your litter home. Clean up after your pets. Do not damage trees or pick the flowers. No motorcycles or other unauthorised vehicles.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

2020

Didn't get around to coming back to the Westley Vale Millennium Green until doing an afternoon walk around Acocks Green during July 2020. Weren't here for long, before walk a stretch of the Grand Union Canal as well.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

The footbridge over the Westley Brook. Everything looking lush and green in the summer.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

The grass near the path looked to be cut short near the bushes.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Straight on the path under the trees.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Google Lens says this flower is called Asian pigeonwings. But who knows, Google Lens might be wrong?

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Up the steps on the path towards Woodcock Lane.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

No sooner had we got here, we were almost out of the Millennium Green.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

The area is quite small anyway.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

A bag on the tree for litter (I think).

Westley Vale Millennium Green

A look at the Grand Union Canal. You can not get onto it from this side.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Back to the Woodcock Lane gate. Next headed over the bridge then down onto the canal towpath.

Westley Vale Millennium Green

Near the Woodcock Lane Bridge was these signs from the Canal & River Trust. This area is adopted by Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum.

Grand Union Canal

A look at the Woodcock Lane Bridge from the towpath of the Grand Union Canal. Walked towards the Lincoln Road North Bridge. The Millennium Green is to the far left of here. It is Grade II listed, dating to the late 18th Century, and made of red brick. The canal was built as the Warwick and Birmingham Canal. It later became part of the Grand Union Canal from 1927 onwards.

Grand Union Canal

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

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60 passion points
Green travel
17 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A walk on the Harborne Walkway back in 2016

A former railway line in Birmingham had been turned years ago into the Harborne Walkway. Starting from Harborne close to Park Hill Road, the route passes several bridges via the Hagley Road before heading towards Summerfield Park. I'd say it ends just after the Selwyn Road Bridge in the park. Although the paths continues towards Northbrook Street in Summerfield.

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HARBORNE WALKWAY

The Harborne Walkway forms part of the route of the former Harborne Railway, which had trains going from Birmingham New Street, leaving the branch line at Harborne Junction with the Stour Valley Line (Birmingham to Wolverhampton). The railway opened in 1874, with four railway stations at Harborne, Hagley Road, Rotton Park Road and Icknield Port Road. The line closed to passengers in 1934. The line remained open for coal to be carried until it closed for good in 1963.

Today the line is now of course the Harborne Walkway. It starts in Harborne at Forest Drive. It then crosses over Park Hill Road on a bridge. All other bridges, you can walk, run or cycle under them. Following along the Chad Brook (although you can't see it). The first bridge you walk under is at Woodbourne Road, then Hagley Road.

There is an exit / entrance to Station Avenue and Percival Drive. Which lead to Stanmore Road. Passing through Ladywood, the next bridge to go under is at Portland Road, followed by Rotton Park Road. The final bridge to pass through is at Selwyn Road, before entering Summerfield Park.

The paths split off in many directions in the park, but the route of the former railway line continues towards Icknield Port Road, then Barford Road, before ending at Coplow Street and Northbrook Street.

There used to be a railway bridge over the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline and the Birmingham to Wolverhampton railway line. But all that remains now is the brick buttresses.

 

Forest Drive / Park Hill Road

I did my first half walk on the Harborne Walkway from Harborne towards Hagley Road on the 5th February 2016. As I felt it was too far for me to walk all the way in one go to the end of the line.

First up a look at the Park Hill Road Bridge in Harborne.

Harborne Walkway

Heading around to a cul-de-sac called Forest Drive, I followed the public footpath onto the Harborne Walkway.

Harborne Walkway

The Park Hill Road Bridge is the only bridge you walk over. The other bridges you walk under them.

Harborne Walkway

The views from the bridge looking down at both sides of Park Hill Road in Harborne. The Harborne High Street in this direction.

Harborne Walkway

Beyond Park Hill Road, it leads onto Moor Pool Avenue.

Harborne Walkway

The other side of the Park Hill Road Bridge in Harborne, as seen on the 13th March 2016.

Harborne Walkway

There is an entrance path on the right from Park Hill Road.

Harborne Walkway

Turning around, you can head down to or up from Park Hill Road from the path on the left.

Harborne Walkway

Woodbourne Road

Coming up to the Woodbourne Road Bridge.

Harborne Walkway

The Woodbourne Road Bridge from the other side.

Harborne Walkway

Hagley Road

Coming up was the Hagley Road Bridge.

Harborne Walkway

I exited here at Hagley Road, but would resume the walk 3 weeks later to complete it. Was a man running under the bridge, looks a bit like a tunnel.

Harborne Walkway

20 days later on the 25th February 2016, I headed back to the Hagley Road, to resume my walk on the Harborne Walkway. First up on the left was the exit / entrance to Station Drive and Percival Road. It leads to Stanmore Road.

Harborne Walkway

Portland Road

Passing through the Portland Road Bridge.

Harborne Walkway

It looks like exiting a tunnel under the Portland Road Bridge.

Harborne Walkway

Rotton Park Road

Not too far from the end of the Harborne Walkway now. Passing the Rotton Park Road Bridge. From here it is a short walk towards the Edgbaston Reservoir.

Harborne Walkway

Selwyn Road

The final bridge to pass under is the Selwyn Road Bridge, before entering Summerfield Park. I'm not sure why this section is fenced off, unless there is still railway sleepers here.

Harborne Walkway

The open gate seen from under the Selwyn Road Bridge, the entrance to Summerfield Park.

Harborne Walkway

A look back at the Selwyn Road Bridge from Summerfield Park.

Harborne Walkway

Beyond Summerfield Park there is no more bridges to walk under. But there is a bridge on Icknield Port Road, but the exit gates are at road level so you don't go under that. The only time I went into Summerfield Park, I exited at Dudley Road.

The path towards Barford Road, now runs alongside the Barford Primary School football pitch. There is also a housing estate on the other side of that road, but no bridge.

The footpath ends at Coplow Street which leads onto Northbrook Street. There is the remains of a bridge on one side of Northbrook Street near the canal.

Northbrook Street

That day I did end up on Northbrook Street, so got to see the remains of the railway buttresses over the existing canal and railway line.

Harborne Junction

While the viaduct that used to cross the railway and canal is long gone, there is a lot of old brick walls that remains, but covered in graffiti near the towpath. Can see the BT Tower and Library of Birmingham from here.

Harborne Junction

First look at the massive red brick buttress that used to carry the Harborne Railway over the Birmingham Canal.

Harborne Junction

A Cross Country Voyager (Class 220) heads towards Birmingham New Street, it's last stop was probably Wolverhampton.

Harborne Junction

Of course the trains that would have gone on the Harborne Railway a century ago would have been steam engines, and not the modern diesel or electric trains we have today.

Harborne Junction

One last look at the large brick buttress in the middle of the canal from Northbrook Street. A relic of a lost railway line.

Harborne Junction

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

 

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70 passion points
Green travel
16 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Voi eScooters around the City Centre

In the months before the 2nd lockdown, I was able to travel to the City Centre (when it was allowed), and occasionally saw the new Voi eScooters around. They are road legal, although some users did seem to ride them on pavements, or on pedestrianised roads. It's not just the official orange ones I've seen. Personal owned black eScooters have been seen all over the City as well.

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Voi eScooter's

Voi Scooters users can download an app, and pay for the use of them. They are located all over Birmingham City Centre. Apparently anyone can use the, either a man in a suit or a student in jeans. They reduce noise and air pollution. They enable people to move freely in an urban environment.

There is a 6 month trial in Birmingham City Centre. I think they were to have a trial in Coventry but that was halted. I also found some none Voi eScooter's over in Redditch, Worcestershire.

After about a month, Voi put these pads on the handles, so that they can be cleaned after each use (due to the Pandemic and hand sanitising etc).

I wouldn't want to ride them myself, prefer to get the bus or train and walk.

 

12th September 2020 on the High Street (near lower Bull Street). Got my first photo of a Voi eScooter from my bus stop. Buses on the Stratford Road routes including the 2, 3, 5 and 6.

Voi eScooter

Earlier that day, I got a photo of a masked man riding an Voi eScooter through Centenary Square, outside of the Library of Birmingham.

Voi eScooter

16th September 2020 in Victoria Square. Graham Young of the Birmingham Mail on a test ride, stop as another guy passes him. He later wrote an article for the Birmingham Live, which you can read here: What happened when we tried to ride a VOI scooter in Birmingham city centre

Voi eScooter

You can find him on Twitter: Graham Young.

Voi eScooter

9th October 2020, heading down Hill Street, I spotted this eScooter. Close to Hinckley Street, and not far from Smallbrook Queensway. I was heading down to Southside to check out the latest B-Side Hip Hop street art.

Voi eScooter

On the 10th October 2020, saw this pair of Voi eScooter's near the bike racks on Eden Place. Close to Colmore Row and the Council House.

Voi eScooters

11th October 2020 from Navigation Street outside of Birmingham New Street Station, saw this trio of three Voi eScooter's. Not far from the Stephenson Street entrance to the station. The day I was going to see Van Gogh Alive at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Had just come down from Grand Central Birmingham.

Voi eScooter's

25th October 2020 from the Bullring near St Martin's Church. This Voi eScooter at the corner of Edgbaston Street and St Martin's Lane.

Voi eScooter

2nd November 2020 in The Golden Square near Vyse Street in the Jewellery Quarter. Three Voi eScooter's, not far from the site of where the Jewellery Quarter Clock was until August 2020.

Voi eScooters

Bonus eScooter's in Redditch, Worcestershire

14th October 2020 a train trip to Redditch to see the John Bonham statue, when I saw some BIRD eScooter's in Redditch on Alcester Street. Similar in design to Voi, but a little different.

Redditch eScooters

There was three BIRD eScooter's outside of the Redditch Town Hall.

Redditch eScooters

 

It will probably not be until the 2nd lockdown is over that I will see more eScooter's around Birmingham. Unless I got out for a local walk, and see someone riding a black eScooter on the pavement (which is illegal, they should be ridden on the road).

I might be back in the City Centre week commencing 16th November 2020, for the first time in 2 weeks, so might see move Voi eScooter's when I'm in town.

 

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

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50 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
12 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The River Cole at the Scribers Lane ford

There is a few fords that pass through the River Cole. Scribers Lane in Hall Green near Yardley Wood is one of them. Located in the Shire Country Park between the Trittiford Mill Pool and the Scribers Lane SINC. This road is no longer in use, as there is bollards at both ends. There is a footbridge for pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers. The river level changes here during the year.

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River Cole at the Scribers Lane ford

This ford is located on Scribers Lane between Yardley Wood and Hall Green in Birmingham. The River Cole flows through the road on the Cole Valley. Nearby is the Trittiford Mill Pool and the Scribers Lane SINC. Visitors on walks can use a footbridge to cross the river on Scribers Lane. There is bollards at both ends of the river, as it is no longer suitable for cars or other motor vehicles to cross over. One set of bollards on Scribers Lane is near Riverside Crescent. Pedestrians can walk through the middle in the gap.

For my Shire Country Park posts relevant to this area:

2014-16

After a walk down to The Baldwin during February 2014, I walked down Baldwins Lane and then onto Scribers Lane. I got to this Ford sign just before the railway bridge on the Shakespeare Line.

Scribers Lane Ford

The road is liable to flooding. Only cycles can go past here. At the time I thought that you couldn't walk up the road, so I turned back. Beyond here is the Scribers Lane Allotments.

Scribers Lane Ford

The May Day Bank Holiday during May 2016. After leaving the Trittiford Mill Pool, saw the River Cole on the Scribers Lane ford for the first time.

The back of the tree near the River Cole. From a footbridge at the far end of the Trittiford Mill Pool. Can just about see the road surface to the right.

Scribers Lane ford

There's the bridge that pedestrians and cyclists can use to cross the river.

Scribers Lane Ford

At this point in the Spring, the river level was quite low.

Scribers Lane Ford

Scribers Lane sign near the bridge.

Scribers Lane Ford

Discarded barrier in the River Cole near the Scribers Lane ford.

Scribers Lane Ford

The other side of the River Cole into the Scribers Lane SINC.

Scribers Lane Ford

These views of the River Cole at the Scribers Lane ford taken during December 2016. The river level is always higher in late autumn and early winter. This was after a period of heavy rain.

Scribers Lane Ford

You can see why this road is closed off to cars or other motor vehicles, it is just too unsafe for them to pass without them getting stuck.

Scribers Lane Ford

2020

The first National Lockdown at the end of March 2020, and a walk down Scribers Lane to get onto the Trittiford Mill Pool. First up the railway bridge on the Shakespeare Line between Yardley Wood and Shirley.

Scribers Lane Ford

It seems that you can walk down Scribers Lane. Trees yet to get their leaves grown back.

Scribers Lane Ford

Bollards just before the footbridge. The River Cole is to the right on Scribers Lane.

Scribers Lane Ford

Crossing the footbridge over the River Cole.

Scribers Lane Ford

The view of the River Cole from the footbridge on Scribers Lane.

Scribers Lane Ford

The River Cole from the other side. Within months all of the natural growth would grow back during the first lockdown.

Scribers Lane Ford

The River Cole looked shallow enough to go into from Scribers Lane.

Scribers Lane Ford

The main tree near the River Cole on Scribers Lane. Water surrounds it when the river level is higher.

Scribers Lane Ford

Still in lockdown during May 2020. The trees are now lush and green. A month long drought, and the River Cole was quite shallow.

Scribers Lane Ford

Even the main tree was looking dry as the leaves were green, and the river was low.

Scribers Lane Ford

It was so nice and warm in May, and the Shire Country Park was looking green near the River Cole on Scribers Lane.

Scribers Lane Ford

The 2nd lockdown began on the 5th November 2020. After a walk down to Yardley Wood and into the Trittiford Mill Pool. Got some Autumnal views of the River Cole on Scribers Lane. The river level now looks higher.

Scribers Lane Ford

There's that tree again, the River Cole going behind it, but the land around it was not flooded at this point.

Scribers Lane Ford

Heading to the footbridge over the River Cole. The closest cars can get now is behind the bollards and close to the Allotments.

Scribers Lane Ford

I think the river level is too high for cyclists to ride through. Then again, I expect that they use the bridge as it's safer to cross.

Scribers Lane Ford

The walk up Scribers Lane towards the railway bridge. Vehicles that do drive down here must be under 12'6".

Scribers Lane Ford

There is also the ford on Slade Lane. I think I'll do a separate post on that ford at a later date.

The other ford in the Shire Country Park, but one that cars can drive through is on Green Road near the Greet Mill Meadow and Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground.

 

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

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60 passion points
History & heritage
10 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Lickey Monument

If you are walking to or from Beacon Hill at the Lickey Hills Country Park on Monument Lane, you might spot an obelisk in a field. This is The Monument. Erected in memory of Other Archer Windsor, 6th Earl of Plymouth by the Worcestershire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry in 1834. He was their Colonel Commandant. From a distance the monument is visible from far and wide.

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The Lickey Monument

I first saw the obelisk behind some gates off Monument Lane in Lickey back in May 2013. I took some zoom ins over the fence at the bottom, but didn't enter the field at the time. I've seen it again close up at least one more time since, but didn't take more close up photos.

 

Some history.

The monument was erected by the Worcestershire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry in memory of their late Colonel Commandant, Other Archer Windsor, 6th Earl of Plymouth (1789-1833). He lived in a house in nearby Barnt Green for some time.

 

It is Grade II listed. It dates to about 1834. It was made of Anglesey marble.

Located in a field off Monument Lane, it is also close to Old Birmingham Road. Beacon Hill is to the north west, while Bilberry Hill is to the east.

Lickey Monument

Lickey Monument

Lickey Monument

 

In October 2020, I was walking down the Bristol Road South in Northfield, when I zoomed into this view of the Lickey Hills. The Monument was clearly visible from here. At the bottom of the picture is Longbridge.

Lickey Hills

I unexpectedly went down to Longbridge again at the end of October 2020, after getting a bus down Bristol Road South from Selly Oak Triangle. Got off the bus and got this view. The Lickey Hills seen in the distance, but not zoomed in far enough to see The Monument. Bournville College on the corner of Longbridge Lane and Bristol Road South is now part of South & City College Birmingham (either the Bournville or Longbridge Campus).

Lickey Hills Longbridge

 

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

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70 passion points
History & heritage
09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Island House, demolished after standing for 99 years

Island House was located at a site on Moor Street Queensway with Albert Street and Fazeley Street. Built during 1912 to 1913. It was demolished in 2012. Neighbour Hotel La Tour was built from 2010 to 2012. The land was for a time a temporary car park for the hotel, now called the Clayton Hotel. The land is now part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station building site.

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Island House

Island House initially survived the demolition of Masshouse Circus in the early 2000s, and was originally going to be part of the proposed City Park Gate scheme, on the land running down Moor Street Queensway. The building was on a site on Moor Street Queensway, Albert Street and Fazeley Street. The address was 2 Fazeley Street.

Built during 1912 to 1913 by G. E. Pepper, in the Mannerist style. The entrance had columns in the Ionic style at the bottom, Doric in the middle and Tuscan at the top. It was built as offices and a warehouse for Churchill & Co. Birmingham City Council had locally listed the building at the time as Grade B. It may have been Grade II listed, but I was never able to find any listing text for it. The building was refurbished in 2005, when it was acquired by a design firm.

Everything changed when HS2 was announced, and City Park Gate was quietly cancelled.

Hotel La Tour was built on what was City Park Gate Plot 4, from 2010 until early 2012. Island House was demolished by February 2012. After that, hoardings went up around the site, and was for a time used as a car park for the hotel. Now the land is part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station site, and is behind hoardings and fences on Moor Street Queensway.

The hotel was renamed to Clayton Hotel in 2017 after getting new owners, and was having extra floors built during 2020.

 

 

Earliest views of Island House taken during April 2009. This was at the time a convenient route to get to Eastside from the City Centre. Masshouse to the left.

Island House

Island House

The snow of January 2010, and got some close up details of Island House. There was an art installation outside, but it looks like the design company had long since moved out by then. Last view of Masshouse before the site to the left was taken over by Hotel La Tour.

Island House

Island House

Island House

Island House

Island House

By December 2010, the Hotel La Tour site to the left was hoarded, ready to be built in 2011. Island House on the right had the lower windows boarded off. It's future looked bleak.

Island House

Island House

The view of Island House from Park Street during March 2011, as the crane was behind for the building of Hotel La Tour. This was the end of Fazeley Street to Moor Street Queensway.

Island House

By June 2011, Hotel La Tour was up to the first floor, as seen from Moor Street Queensway. Less than a year left for Island House.

Island House

Walking down Moor Street Queensway during September 2011, towards Hotel La Tour, Masshouse and Island House. They were building the 2nd and 3rd floor on the hotel at this point, and was already higher than the doomed Island House.

Island House

Island House

In February 2012, scaffolding went up on Island House to prepare for it's demolition, as Hotel La Tour next door was almost complete.

Island House

Later that month, Island House was under white wrappings, while the Bus Interchange works were being built on Moor Street Queensway. Hotel La Tour was almost finished and ready to open.

Island House

Island House

By March 2013 there was nothing left of Island House. Just a brownfield site next to Hotel La Tour.

Island House

Skipping ahead to January 2020, this view from Moor Street Car Park. There is nothing left of the Island House site, even the Fox & Grapes had gone (in 2018). While the Clayton Hotel (renamed from Hotel La Tour in 2017), was preparing to build some additional floors. All the land here now is part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station. That part of Park Street would later be permanently closed off by HS2 as well. Masshouse was joined by Exchange Square on the left.

Island House

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Discovery Terrace and the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham during September 2013

The Library of Birmingham opened to the public back in early September 2013. Elliott had his fist visit on the 21st September 2013 in the late afternoon, with just about time to visit the Discovery Terrace. With closing at 5pm, he returned a week later on the 28th September 2013 to head up to the Secret Garden for the first time. Since then he has been loads of times over the years.

Related

A digital tour of the Discovery Terrace and the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham. As they were during September 2013, within a few weeks of the Library opening to the public.

 

To see Elliott's previous Library of Birmingham posts from the September 2013 visits click the links below:

Discovery Terrace

Located on Level 3, the Discovery Terrace is accessed through the Revolving doors from the Discovery Floor (this was later replaced with automatic doors years later). Facing Centenary Square and the Arena Central site. Part of it goes around the side of the Library with a view of City Centre Gardens below.

On the 21st September 2013 you could see the old John Madin designed Birmingham Central Library and NatWest Tower (103 Colmore Row).

Discovery Terrace

Discovery Terrace

Discovery Terrace

Was a bit of an animal art trail on the Discovery Terrace at the time.

Discovery Terrace

Discovery Terrace

Area at the back was not accessible at the time with all these barriers with something that was being finished off.

Discovery Terrace

Looks like the only way to this section that day was via the side door from the library.

Discovery Terrace

Discovery Terrace

Discovery Terrace

Some kind of bird house.

Discovery Terrace

 

Secret Garden

Located on Level 7, you can get the travelator up from Level 3 to 4, then the lift or stairs up to Level 7. The Glass Lift initially worked in it's first year, but has not worked for many years or even been fixed. Press the disabled door button to open the door to the Secret Garden. It has views to the back of the Library, plus you can go around to the front for views of the City Centre.

On the 28th September 2013, there was a lot of people up on the Secret Garden. Views from up here are spectacular and change all the time. Although sometimes gets a bit boring on repeated visits over the years.

Secret Garden

Secret Garden

Some more colourful art installations for people to look out for at the time.

Secret Garden

Wooden benches to sit down on and rest.

Secret Garden

Secret Garden

Secret Garden

The view at the front over Centenary Square was quite busy that day.

Secret Garden

Secret Garden

Lots of colourful flowers up here. They regularly change them all the time.

Secret Garden

Secret Garden

Another bird house up here as well.

Secret Garden

 

Over they years since, it does get a bit frustrating when the only thing to see is all of those construction sites, and I don't always want to take photos of them. Would be nice to somehow get access to the top of other tall buildings for photo views. Ran out of things to take up here. It's only those events that used to happen in Centenary Square down below that made a change from the usual views.

The Library has been closed since the first lockdown. Apart from people going for books, the terraces have yet to be reopened to the public, so I have no idea when I'll be going back up there. It wont be any time soon, that's for sure.

With a Second Lockdown (for at least a month), it means that there has been no access up to the terraces for 8 or 9 months and counting. The library had only reopened for people taking out or returning books only.

 

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

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70 passion points
History & heritage
09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Five Ways Clocktower

There is a clock at Five Ways that is several decades older than the one that used to be in the Jewellery Quarter. Dated to 1878, this Clocktower is in front of what is now the Costa Coffee Drive Thru at 60 Calthorpe Road. Grade II listed. Erected to commmemorate the First Coroner of the Borough, John Birt Davies who had served 36 years. Gothic Style with an Iron Square Box on top.

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FIVE WAYS CLOCKTOWER

The Five Ways Clocktower is Grade II listed and dates to the late 19th Century. It resembles the Clocktower that used to be in the Jewellery Quarter until the Summer of 2020 (which was erected in honour of Joseph Chamberlain). But the clock over at Five Ways was erected for John Birt Davies, who was the First Coroner of the Borough for 36 years until 1878 (this was about a decade before Birmingham became a City, so was still a Town at this point in time).

Located outside of 60 Calthorpe Road. This is now a Costa Coffee Drive Thru, but when I first took photos of it, it was Solace Spa. Which was an Approved Beauty Day Spa. Costa had an extension built and opened in 2014.

Made of iron, the clock tower has a square box at the top with the four clock faces, and was made in the Gothic style. It has a Finial at the top.

 

2009

The Five Ways Clock seen during May 2009 in a view towards Auchinleck House and the Five Ways Shopping Centre. Lloyds TSB was on the corner of Islington Row Middleway and Calthorpe Road, it is just Lloyds Bank now.

Five Ways Clock

The following five views below taken in June 2009, by which time I had my first Fuji bridge camera.

This view towards No 1 Hagley Road (Metropolitan House).

Five Ways Clock

This is the inscription about John Birt Davies. Dated 1878.

Five Ways Clock

Close up look at the square box and one of the clock faces.

Five Ways Clock

Close up of the details of the clocktower. The Victorians certainly knew how to build impressive clocks!

Five Ways Clock

View towards Lloyds TSB and Royal Mail House on Calthorpe Road.

Five Ways Clock

This evening view of the Five Ways Clocktower during September 2009, towards the Marriott Hotel. I would have been heading to get the no 1 bus.

Five Ways Clock

This view below taken during December 2009 of the Five Ways Clock, towards Royal Mail House and Cropthorne Court.

Five Ways Clock

2014 - 2020

Some indirect views years later of the Five Ways Clock. This nightshot of the clock taken with the Marriott Hotel during January 2014. Can just about see the Joseph Sturge statue.

Five Ways Clock

A February 2016 view below of the Five Ways Clocktower with the recently completed Park Regis Birmingham hotel. Which was a rebuild out of Auchinleck House. The old Five Ways Shopping Centre has been demolished. Sign about the Paradise Circus roadworks which started in January 2015.

Five Ways Clock

The view from inside of the Costa Coffee Drive Thru during August 2018. There was seating areas inside the house part of 60 Calthorpe Road. Behind the Five Ways Clock was the construction site of The Bank Tower 2.

Five Ways Clock

From the table I sat in at Costa at the time, I could see the Five Ways Clocktower and Park Regis Birmingham outside. To think, that this used to be a beauty spa only a decade earlier! While I have been back to this Costa since, don't think I've sat in this part again.

Five Ways Clock

In November 2018, I'd probably just got off the no 1 bus on Harborne Road. And saw this Ellisons Corporate Hospitality coach parked outside of the Costa Drive Thru. The Five Ways Clock seen to the left.

Five Ways Clock

Over to January 2019, and I was waiting for a no 1 bus on Calthorpe Road, when I saw The Green Bus on the 881 to Handsworth pass the Costa Drive Thru and the Five Ways Clock. From here you can see the Marriott Hotel, No 1 Hagley Road and Broadway Residences.

Five Ways Clock

A wet and miserable day during October 2020 as I got to Five Ways. Was raining heavily on the walk from The Mailbox via Gas Street Basin and Broad Street. Heading to catch a no 1 bus. Apexhouse, the Costa Drive Thru (which I've not got around to going back to since the pandemic started) and the Marriott Hotel. Not forgetting the Five Ways Clock.

Five Ways Clock

 

Update: Site of the Jewellery Quarter Clock

The Jewellery Quarter Clock was removed for repairs on the 22nd August 2020. Click this link to view the post.

On the 2nd November 2020, several days before the 2nd Lockdown began, I got the train up to the Jewellery Quarter, and saw the site of where the clock used to be on Warstone Lane. I meant to go up there the day I first found the pop up cycle lane. At least this time, I saw the site, then saw the rest of the pop up cycle lane from Carver Street. The clock should return here in 2021, fingers crossed.

Site of the JQ Clock

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

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50 passion points
Modern Architecture
09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing the Holiday Inn Express at Arena Central, Birmingham

Resembling the video game TETRIS during construction, the Holiday Inn Express hotel is located on Holliday Street and was part of the Arena Central redevelopment site (the first building to be completed). Construction started in the autumn of 2015. The hotel was opened in the spring of 2017. Located close to the Crowne Plaza hotel.

19 Holliday Street, Birmingham, B1 1HH.

Related

Holiday Inn Express was built on a site on Holliday Street in Birmingham City Centre. Construction began in the Autumn of 2015 and was complete and open by the Spring of 2017. When going up, the building resembled a game of TETRIS (on the Nintendo Game Boy).

Each piece was pre-cast off site and lowered down by a crane. The windows in shapes of a right angle. Eventually the building was cladded in a white and black cladding.

Since opening in April 2017, the hotel has officially been called Holiday Inn Express Birmingham - City Centre. Located at 19 Holliday Street, Birmingham, B1 1HH.

 

Regular contributors Elliott thinks of it as the TETRIS building, while Daniel as the Minecraft building.

Gallery of photos taken from 2015 to present:

2015

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

2016

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

2017

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

2018

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

2019

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

2020

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Photos courtesty of Elliott Brown

2017

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

2018

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

2019

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

2020

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express

Photos courtesty of  Daniel Sturley

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60 passion points
Modern Architecture
05 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing The BT Tower, Birmingham: The tallest building in the City!

The BT Tower in Birmingham is located on Lionel Street in the Jewellery Quarter and still holds the record for the tallest building in the City. Built between 1963 and 1965, it was in operation by late 1966. Formerly known as the Post Office Tower or the GPO Tower. It is 152 metres high (499 ft). In recent years many of the dishes have been removed, as has the old BT logo.

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BT TOWER, BIRMINGHAM

 

The BT Tower in Birmingham. It has been the tallest building in the City since it opened in 1966, taking the record from the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower (Old Joe). Other tall buildings have gone up and down in the last 55 years, but so far none of them have been higher than the BT Tower. There is also the issue with the flight paths in and out of Birmingham Airport.

Seen from various places within the City Centre, the BT Tower is also visible from the suburbs on the skyline.

The tower (having the equivalent of 24 floors) is not open to the public, so only BT staff are allowed to go up it.

At one point the tower was painted light brown, but this was changed in the early 2000s, and looks more white now. The BT logo on the top of the tower has changed over time. As of September 2020, the old BT logo has been taken down, but we are not sure when BT are going to put up their current logo.

The last of the satellite dishes were removed by 2012. Also during 2012, during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, they had a London 2012 banner on two sides of the tower.

Hopefully something will be done to the tower for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (if it goes ahead and isn't delayed by the 2020 pandemic).

 

Below gallery of photos taken over the years by Elliott Brown. 2009 to present.

2009

Earliest views from the Jewellery Quarter, and Great Charles Street Queensway.

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

2011

Zoom ins to the BT Tower as many of the dishes had been or were being removed from the top.

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

2012

Official logos for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralmpic Games.

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

2013

Views from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham.

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

2016

Was looking to see if I could see where the Peregrine falcon nests, but couldn't see it. Discovery Terrace views from the Library of Birmingham.

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

2018

Got this view below of the BT Tower and the red weather vane of the former Skin Hospital (on John Bright Street) from Holloway Circus near Suffolk Street Queensway during February 2018.

BT Tower and Skin Hospital

The view from Stoneleigh Road in Perry Barr during early November 2018. Was close to the Birmingham City University demolition site (of what was supposed to be the Athletets Village for Birmingham 2022).

BT Tower

2020

One of the last times seeing the old BT logo on the BT Tower. This was a month before lockdown. As seen from Ladywood.

BT Tower

The old BT logo is removed during August 2020.

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

BT Tower

Nothing left of the old BT logo by September 2020, other than a scar or ghost sign of what was left underneath.

BT Tower

BT Tower

On the weekend of the 17th and 18th October 2020, a helicopter lowered the new BT logos into place onto Three Snowhill, on the Snow Hill Queensway and Livery Street sides. But as you can see on the 19th October 2020, the BT Tower still was without new logos (apprently they have them inside ready to go up). This view from St Chad's Queensway.

Three Snowhill and BT Tower

From 2nd November 2020. Perhaps my last views of the BT Tower before Lockdown 2 for a month or so. Great Charles Street Queensway view from the train leaving Snow Hill Station and another view from Legge Lane.

BT Tower

BT Tower

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the wonderful gallery of BT Tower photos above!

One day it will be nice to get permission from BT to go up to the top for photos, but at the moment that seems very unlikely for members of the public.

And while we are at it, can BT give us permission to go up to the top of Three Snowhill?

 

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

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60 passion points
Squares and public spaces
05 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Rediscover Brindleyplace from The Water's Edge to Central Square

Recently around Brindleyplace, these colourful signs and banners have gone up. Rediscover Brindleyplace. We have missed you. Come back. It's been quiet during the pandemic, even after restrictions were eased in the summer. But with new restrictions will people still book a table in restaurants? Obviously you can just show up for Costa, Caffe Nero or Pret. Scan the NHS QR code.

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Rediscover Brindleyplace

Brindleyplace is now sponsoring West Midlands Metro tram 32. As seen here on Pinfold Street and Stephenson Street (on the 29th October 2020). The yellow advert works better than the previous lime green OLA advert. By late 2021 it will be possible to get a tram to Brindleyplace. Until then get a tram to Library Tram Stop, or walk via Victoria Square, Chamberlain Square and Centenary Square.

Rediscover Brindleyplace

Rediscover Brindleyplace

The Water's Edge

One route to Brindleyplace on foot is from Centenary Square, then down Bridge Street. Get onto Gas Street Basin and walk past Regency Wharf (gates are locked to Worcester Bar).

Then head through the Broad Street Tunnel (duck your head if you are tall). Then cross over the Brindleyplace Footbridge to The Water's Edge (the route I took on the 29th October 2020).

It was a bit quiet when I was last around here. Maybe due to the pandemic, the latest restrictions or as The ICC Mall is still closed. As well as the Westside Metro extension works down Broad Street.

But buses are diverted down Cambridge Street and King Edward's Road at the back.

The Water's Edge

The Water's Edge

The Water's Edge

Central Square

A previous time heading into Central Square (on the 19th October 2020), I headed over the Brewmaster's Bridge, then headed down the steps to the right. Then headed up past Three Brindleyplace. There was these colourful blue and green sleeves on the trees in the square.

This route was named Atlas Way. After the Atlas Works that was on the site of the Sea Life Centre from the mid 1880s until 1958. It was demolished in 1986 to make way for the Sea Life Centre.

Central Square

Central Square

Central Square

Central Square

Near the water jets fountain feature was this sky blue direction signs on the path in the middle. With directions to the Sea Life Centre and IKON Gallery.

Central Square

Over a week later (on the 29th October 2020) I got the other side in wet weather. With directions to more restaurants and to the Sea Life Centre. Looked very quiet.

Central Square

 

There will be a second lockdown during November 2020. So all restaurants and cafes will be closed again. 

 

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

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40 passion points
Green open spaces
04 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Acocks Green Recreation Ground in the Fox Hollies area

Not far from Acocks Green Bus Garage is the Acocks Green Recreation Ground. Located on Westley Road, Fox Hollies Road and Broad Road. Sometimes used for fun fairs. In the last year or so, new railings have been installed. There is a playground close to Westley Road. Other than that there is a large open field and some paths. Nothing much else.

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Acocks Green Recreation Ground

For some history of the Acocks Green Recreation Ground, there is some information over at the AGHS website.

The land was donated to the Yardley Rural District Council by the Yardley Charity Estates in 1898. The grounds opened in 1902 on the Coronation of King Edward VII. Birmingham took over Yardley in 1911. The grounds has since been used by travelling carnivals and fun fairs. The Recreation Ground used to have a Sons of Rest pavilion (but this has long since disappeared).

The ground to the back was a football and cricket ground. And there used to be tennis courts alongside Broad Road (these no longer exist).

All that remains today is a children's playground near the Westley Road entrance.

In 2019 new railings and an entrance gate was installed on Westley Road. There is even a Friends of Acocks Green Recreation Ground.

2014

Robert Wilkinson's Fun Fair was held at the Acocks Green Recreation Ground seen during May 2014. It took place from Thursday 15th May until Sunday 18th May 2014.

American Circus

Uncle Sam regularly popped over from the USA for American Circuses!

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

The Big Top

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

Large Prizes

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

Flying Chairs Carousel

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

Rock City

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

< < < Slide

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

Robert Wilkinson's Fun Fair was back in October 2014. These were taken from the no 11C bus stop on Fox Hollies Road after dark.

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

Taken at the time on my then Sony smartphone, so the zoom in wasn't too great with the bright lights.

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

2019

In September 2019, I was on the 11C bus on Westley Road when I spotted the new entrance gate and railings, near the play area.

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

The fun fair was also back again. It was Robert Wilkinson's Fun Fair again.

Fun Fair Acocks Green RG

2020

First of two lockdown walks into the Acocks Green Recreation Ground during May 2020. The new railings and bollards on Fox Hollies Road.

Acocks Green RG

The green open field, no path alongside Fox Hollies Road, unless you walk on the pavement, like I used to do.

Acocks Green RG

The odd piece of litter on the field.

Acocks Green RG

Getting close to the playground near Westley Road.

Acocks Green RG

Looking back at the field. Clear signs of tyre marks of vehicles that have driven onto the recreation ground in the past (such as all those fun fairs).

Acocks Green RG

About to exit the new gate onto Westley Road. Bus stop on the left for the 11A. Acocks Green Village is to the left.

Acocks Green RG

Went through again in June 2020. This time walking back from Tyseley. Got in via the path on Broad Road. The bollards here are much older.

Acocks Green RG

The path follows Broad Road towards Westley Road.

Acocks Green RG

Grass a bit longer, trees full of green leaves in the height of summer.

Acocks Green RG

Shadows from the trees on the field.

Acocks Green RG

Not far until the end of the path.

Acocks Green RG

There was a few more entrances from Broad Road and you could dip in and out.

Acocks Green RG

Now back on Westley Road, the new railings near the play area.

Acocks Green RG

Another look at the new main entrance to the recreation ground. Looks good.

Acocks Green RG

Post and photos by Elliott Brown. On Twitter ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Environment & green action
03 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Herons, Egrets and Cormorants around Birmingham and the West Midlands

Various unique bird species to be found in Birmingham's many parks and lakes. Canals and rivers. From herons, to egrets to cormorants. Not just the usual ducks, geese, swans and gulls that I'm always seeing around. There is also coot and moorhens too. But will leave those to another post.

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Little Egret

Little Egret seen at the Trittiford Mill Pool, Shire Country Park, Yardley Wood. Taken during December 2016.

Little Egret

A Snowy Egret seen on the Plants Brook near Pype Hayes Park. Taken during December 2018.

Snowy Egret

This Little Egret was seen at the Trittiford Mill Pool as well but during March 2020.

Little Egret

A Little Egret in the pool at Langley Hall Park near Kineton Green and Olton in Solihull. March 2020.

Little Egret

This Little Egret hiding in the trees at Billesley Common, Shire Country Park, Billesley. Taken during July 2020.

Little Egret

Great Cormorant

A Great Cormorant perched on a tree branch at the Trittiford Mill Pool, Shire Country Park, Yardley Wood. Taken during May 2016.

Great Cormorant

This Great Cormorant perched on the metal bar with the gulls at Cannon Hill Park between Moseley and Edgbaston. Taken during February 2020.

Great Cormorant

Another Great Cormorant was on this branch at the Edgbaston Reservoir near Ladywood. Taken during February 2020.

Great Cormorant

And this Great Cormorant was on this branch at the Trittiford Mill Pool, Shire Country Park, Yardley Wood. Taken during May 2020.

Great Cormorant

Heron

This Heron was spotted on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Stirchley on the Rea Valley Route. Taken during April 2016.

Heron

A blurry image of Heron seen on the River Cole at the Scribers Lane SINC, Shire Country Park, Yardley Wood. Taken during May 2016.

Heron

This Heron during the summer heatwave was at Edgbaston Reservoir near Ladywood. Taken during July 2018.

Heron

Heron perched on a branch in the pond at Highbury Park near Kings Heath and Moseley. Taken during August 2018.

Heron

Grey Heron at Witton Lakes Park, Witton. Taken during December 2019.

Grey Heron

This Heron was on the towpath of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near a railway bridge on the Cross City Line in Selly Oak. Taken during October 2020.

Heron

 

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

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60 passion points
Transport
02 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Advert changes to West Midlands Metro trams 19 and 32

A few advert changes on the West Midlands Metro trams. Tram 19 now has Marks Electrical (this was previously the 20 Years 1999 - 2019 livery). Tram 32 now carries a yellow livery for Brindleyplace (was one of the lime green OLA trams). It is almost a year since the first Westside extension opened, and you can usually see one or two trams at Library Tram Stop.

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West Midlands Metro tram 19

Seen during September 2020 from Caffe Nero was West Midlands Metro tram 19 heading up Stephenson Street past Costa Coffee with it's new Marks Electrical adverts. Saw another photographer stop with his bike. Anyone recognise him?

West Midlands Metro tram 19

West Midlands Metro tram 32

Seen heading down Pinfold Street and onto Stephenson Street was West Midlands Metro tram 32 with it's new yellow Rediscover Brindleyplace adverts. Of course you can't yet get a tram to Brindleyplace. At least not until sometime in late 2021 onwards. They should be building the new Brindleyplace Tram Stop soon on Broad Street. Passing Ethel Street at this point.

West Midlands Metro tram 32

West Midlands Metro tram 32

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

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50 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
28 Oct 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Over the Moon Lantern Installation at The Arcadian

Over the Moon is a Netflix film (with a limited cinema release), and to promote it, they are having a Lantern Installation at The Arcadian in the Chinese Quarter / Southside. I popped by on Sunday lunchtime, but these can also be seen lit up after dark. A bit like those Magical Lantern displays in years gone by. It is free. I believe they will be up until the middle of November 2020.

Related

Over the Moon appears to be a new Netflix film. And to promote it, there is a Lantern Installation at The Arcadian in Southside / Chinese Quarter. It is viewable from the central circular area. It has been on display from the last few weeks of October 2020, and I think it will still be there until the middle of November 2020.

 

More details on Over the Moon. The film was released in select cinemas on the 16th October 2020 and on Netflix on the 23rd October 2020. It is a computer animated film.

 

Gallery below of the laterns in the daylight. But you could see them after dark to get the full effect. Now we are back in Greenwich Mean Time, it might be dark enough after 5pm or 6pm GMT.

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

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

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50 passion points
Transport
28 Oct 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

West Midlands Railway 196 101 and 104 at Tyseley TMD

There is now at least two new Class 196 trains based at Tyseley TMD, the home of West Midlands Railway Birmingham Tyseley. WMR 196 104 was visible on the sidings close to Tyseley Station, while 196 101 was sticking out of the modern engine shed. More will be arriving in the next year or so.

Related

I noticed from the no 4 bus last week that you could see a Class 196 train from West Midlands Railway in Tyseley, as I was heading down to Acocks Green. So a few days later, I walked up from Acocks Green Village to see if I could spot them. There was two of them. Hard to see the numbers with your eyes, but got them from the photos. It started raining just after I got them, before I caught the no 4 bus to Solihull.

West Midlands Railway 196 101

This train was visible from near the entrance of the Tyseley Locomotive Works, and also near the entrance of West Midlands Railway Birmingham Tyseley (through the fences).

WMR 196 101

WMR 196 101

West Midlands Railway 196 104

This train could be seen from the Wharfdale Road Bridge near Tyseley Station. You could also see it from the Warwick Road. If you are lucky, you might see it from a train in passing (if it's still there of course).

WMR 196 104

WMR 196 104

WMR 196 104

If not getting a train to or from Tyseley Station, you can get the no 4 or 4A buses here on the Warwick Road. Also in walking distance of Acocks Green Village.

 

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

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50 passion points
Squares and public spaces
28 Oct 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Dayus Square a little known gem in the Jewellery Quarter

Most people would be aware of St Paul's Square and The Golden Square in the Jewellery Quarter. But there is one more little known square in the area called Dayus Square. Developed in 2011 to 2012 from what was previously called Albion Square. Named after a late local author Kathleen Dayus, who wrote about the area in her books. The Old Fire Station and The George & Dragon are here.

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DAYUS SQUARE

There is a square in the Jewellery Quarter that is little known. Located at the junction of Legge Lane, Albion Street and Carver Street. It was formerly called Albion Square. It was redeveloped between 2011 and 2012, reopening as Dayus Square in the Spring of 2012. Named after the late local author Kathleen Dayus (born in 1903, she died in January 2003 a few days short of her 100th birthday).

Notable buildings located at Dayus Square include a pub formerly called The George & Dragon (later renamed The Pig & Tail after it was restored). There is also The Old Fire Station Children's Nursery.

 

Back in December 2012, Elliott took a series of photos around Dayus Square after hearing in the news about it. Despite going around the Jewellery Quarter many times over the years with his camera, he only popped back to this area in January 2018, when The George & Dragon reopened as The Pig & Tail. He's not been back to Dayus Square since.

 

The Dayus Square sculpture unveiled in 2012, was sculpted by Peter Walker. It contains extracts from Kathleen Dayus's book "The Girl from Hockley".

Dayus Square

Dayus Square

Dayus Square

General view below of Dayus Square, with The Old Fire Station on the left. At the time the white building on the right was occupied by One 2 One. But the use of it has changed over the years. In 2019 it was Ultra Hair Clinic.

Dayus Square

Below was the Dayus Square road sign.

Dayus Square

To the other corner with The Old Fire Station on the right. Modern offices on the left. The Orb at 15A Albion Street. The sculpted book quote is on that side.

Dayus Square

Then the general view from the square of The Old Fire Station.

Dayus Square

Panoramic of the two photos as it was at the end of 2012. Still looks like this now.

Dayus Square

THE OLD FIRE STATION CHILDREN'S NURSERY

These buildings are on the corner of Albion Street and Legge Lane.

First up is 62-65 Albion Street (not actually in Dayus Square but adding for completion). A Grade II listed building. Built in 1833. The architect was W Tadman Foulkes. Jewellery Quarter works built of red brick in Italianate style with hints of Queen Anne revival. In 2012 it was occupied by Saunders and Shepherd Ltd. It was the Albion Street Works. In 2019 the building was up for sale.

The Old Fire Station

The Old Fire Station starts from here from James House at 66 Albion Street.

The Old Fire Station

But The Old Fire Station was listed from 67, 68 and 69 Albion Street. A Grade II listed building, now a Children's Nursery. It was built as the Corporation Fire Station from 1909 to 1910. The architect was T G Price. It combines the Edwardian Wrenaissance with Birmingham Arts and Crafts. Built of red brick with stone detailing.

The Old Fire Station

Panoramic of the last two photos on Albion Street.

The Old Fire Station

The former fire engine doors. Now with children's toys inside.

The Old Fire Station

The Old Fire Station

The Birmingham Forward coat of arms.

The Old Fire Station

The corner view of The Old Fire Station at Albion Street and Legge Lane.

The Old Fire Station

 

THE GEORGE & DRAGON / THE PIG & TAIL

Seen under scaffolding at the end of 2012 was The George & Dragon pub. Now called The Pig & Tail, this pub is at the corner of Carver Street and Albion Street, with Pope Street. The George & Dragon is a Grade II listed building. It dates as far back as perhaps 1820, with a rebuild of around 1860 to 1870. There was a one storey extension of 1922 by local Birmingham pub building legends James and Lister Lea. It was quite derelict when Dayus Square was redeveloped.

The George & Dragon

The George & Dragon

The George & Dragon

The George & Dragon was restored in 2016 and reopened as The Pig & Tail. Seen below in January 2018. It was originally a Mitchells & Butlers pub, it also inspired the novels of the late Kathleen Dayus.

The Pig & Tail

The Pig & Tail

It would be nice on future Jewellery Quarter walks, to perhaps pass through here again, if I can head in the general direction, as I'm always ending up at St Paul's Square, then heading back into the City Core. The last JQ walk took me along the pop up cycle lane down Graham Street towards Newhall Street.

Whether the Council had plans for a Kathleen Dayus heritage trail or not I'm not sure. And plans may have changed when the Con-Dem Coalition went out of power to the current Labour council. Or maybe one of the local Jewellery Quarter groups would do one.

 

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

 

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70 passion points
Food & drink
26 Oct 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Parklets around the Colmore Business District

In these troubling times, the Colmore BID with Cofton Nursery have installed Parklets outside of various bars and restaurants, so that people can eat and drink outside, but sticking to the current restrictions. Households are not allowed to mix inside and there is the Rule of Six and the 10pm curfew to think about. They are on Colmore Row, Waterloo Street, Church Street and Barwick Street.

Related

These Parklets were out and about around the Colmore BID from late August until at least early October 2020. I'm not sure if they are still there now, what with the weather getting colder. They were located on Colmore Row, Waterloo Street, Church Street and Barwick Street (that I found of them).

 

COLMORE ROW

Located on Colmore Row in front of the Grand Hotel and opposite Birmingham Cathedral. It was outside of the Liquor Store, Crockett & Jones and 200 Degrees Coffee. Seen on the 29th September 2020.

Parklet Colmore Row

Parklet Colmore Row

Parklet Colmore Row

BARWICK STREET

To the back of the Grand Hotel on Barwick Street was this Parklet. It was on a car parking spot outside of Primitivo Bar & Eatery. Also close to Barclays Bank. You can approach it from Livery Street. Seen on the 9th October 2020.

Parklet Barwick Street

Parklet Barwick Street

Parklet Barwick Street

Parklet Barwick Street

CHURCH STREET

This Parklet was located on Church Street outside of the Hotel du Vin & Bistro. It was opposite Urban Coffee and Home Cafe Deli. Seen on the 18th September 2020.

Parklet Church Street

Parklet Church Street

Parklet Church Street

WATERLOO STREET

The first Parklet to be installed on Waterloo Street was close to Victoria Square and outside of Christchurch House near Purecraft Bar & Kitchen. Also opposite Adam's Restaurant. Seen on the 22nd August 2020.

Parklet Waterloo Street A

Parklet Waterloo Street A

Parklet Waterloo Street A

Parklet Waterloo Street A

 

The second Parklet on Waterloo Street was located outside of Theatrix at 130 Colmore Row, close to Victoria Square. Seen on the 29th September 2020.

Parklet Waterloo Street B

Parklet Waterloo Street B

Parklet Waterloo Street B

 

There might be a sixth Parklet somewhere in the Colmore BID, but I've not seen or found it yet. So I apologise in advance.

 

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

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60 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
26 Oct 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Star Wars cosplay and costumes at the November 2016 MCM Birmingham Comic Con at The NEC

I've only been to MCM Birmingham Comic Con once at The NEC. This was back in November 2016. Many Star Wars fans turning up in costume. Stormtroopers, some with lightsabers etc. Plus was stationary displays about the convention hall. While I never got around to booking a ticket again for the later conventions at The NEC, it sounds like all the 2020 cons are cancelled. 2021 cons?

Related

STAR WARS AT THE NEC

I attended the MCM BIRMINGHAM COMIC CON on Sunday 20th November 2016 on a General Admission ticket. It was in Hall 5. But you had to queue up in Hall 1, to get checked in, get your ticket scanned, and get your hand stamped.

 

On the way in saw all of these Stormtroopers from Star Wars in the queue in Hall 1. They were probably members of the 501st Legion.

Star Wars

They liked to pose with their blasters.

Star Wars

Star Wars

Later spotted them again in Hall 5.

Star Wars

Later saw a parade of Stormtroopers heading out of Hall 5.

Star Wars

 

A Clone Trooper.

Star Wars

 

At least one lady as a Jedi, and two Sith lords. Plus the lady in the middle as Padmé Amidala.

Star Wars

Star Wars

 

A Jedi Knight and a Rebel X-Wing pilot, near the Emperor.

Star Wars

 

The back of: Rey, a Stormtrooper and Kylo Ren from the Sequel Trilogy era.

Star Wars

 

Not sure about this cosplayer below, but probably a Sith lord with two lightsabers. With a Spider-Man style mask.

Star Wars

 

Another Stormtrooper (below), but just a statue.

Star Wars

 

The Emperor and an Imperial Officer.

Star Wars

 

A rebel pilot costume. Near the Rebel Legion stand.

Star Wars

 

At static display with Stormtroopers standing either side of Luke Skywalker's landspeeder. Probably on Tattooine.

Star Wars

Star Wars

Star Wars

One dead Stormtrooper lying in the sand.

Star Wars

Watto from The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.

Star Wars

 

STAR WARS is © Lucasfilm Ltd and Disney.

 

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

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50 passion points
History & heritage
23 Oct 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Fox & Grapes, another Eastside pub demolished by HS2 back in 2018

Of the three pubs on the site of the HS2 Curzon Street Station only The Woodman survives and is open. The Eagle & Tun was demolished in October 2020. We have to go back to about September 2018 for the demolition of the Fox & Grapes. This former Mitchells & Butlers pub had been left derelict for a long time, on the Freeman Street corner with Park Street. Was also a fire in 2014.

Related

The Fox & Grapes was a Grade II listed building. It's origins might have gone back to the late 17th or early 18th centuries. So there had been a pub on this site for well over 200 years or more. The pub had alterations in the mid 19th century. It was originally listed back in 1982. I'm not sure if Historic England is aware that it was demolished back in 2018.

Before HS2 was even thought of, the pub was originally saved for the now cancelled City Park Gate scheme (which would have been on the land of the now future HS2 Curzon Street Station). But by the early 2010s the pub was boarded up and derelict. Then in 2014 arsonists targeted the pub and burnt it down, leaving it in ruins, and there was no effort at all to restore this historic building.

Sadly the decision was taken by HS2 to knock this listed building down, and it was reduced to rubble in September 2018.

The Eagle & Tun would survive for another 2 years until it to was demolished in October 2020. But it was able to reopen as a pub between 2016 and early 2020.

 

 

The views below of the Fox & Grapes from June 2010 as seen on the corner of Freeman Street and Park Street. It was near the entrance to the surface car park that was on the land between Moor Street Queensway and Park Street. Showing all the signs of it being a Mitchells & Butlers pub in the past.

Fox & Grapes

Fox & Grapes

Fox & Grapes

 

A bit of sunshine on the Fox & Grapes during March 2011, as seen from Park Street. Hotel La Tour was under construction to the far right. Island House was still standing, but would itself be demolished by 2012.

Fox & Grapes

 

A March 2013 view of this Thomas Caffrey's Irish Ale sign. Perhaps the Fox & Grapes later years was as an Irish pub until it closed down?

Fox & Grapes

 

After a series of fires / arson attacks to the Fox & Grapes in 2014, the pub was in ruins, and the roof was exposed, as I saw in April 2015. No effort by any organisation to fully repair the pub, not even by the Council or HS2.

Fox & Grapes

Fox & Grapes

Fox & Grapes

 

The Journey Starts Here. HS2. Sadly that didn't include the Fox & Grapes, still visible (below) in January 2018. This view from Eastside Green. The trees would be cut down as well to make way for the station.

Fox & Grapes

 

Perhaps my last indirect photo of the Fox & Grapes during March 2018. In this view of Millennium Point and Curzon Street Station, with The Woodman. It was the day that Prince Harry and Meghan visited Millennium Point (before they tied the knot and became the Duke & Duchess of Sussex). View from a train.

Fox & Grapes

 

In September 2018, HS2 performed an act of cultural vandalism by demolishing the Grade II listed Fox & Grapes pub. I was walking back from the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre at the time from another open day. 200 years of history down the toilet.

Fox & Grapes

Fox & Grapes

Fox & Grapes

 

The view from a bus of the HS2 site from Moor Street Queensway. The car park had been closed down by this point. But you could still kind of see the site of the Fox & Grapes at the corner of Park Street and Freeman Street during November 2018.

Fox & Grapes

 

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

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