Elliott Brown

Passion Points: 114K

Classic Architecture
21 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Roundhouse Birmingham: a timeline to reopening

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Finally Roundhouse Birmingham has reopened to the public. Located at Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street, it is on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline. Originally opened in 1874, to the designs of W. H. Ward as the Corporation Depot. Also used by the London and North Western Railway as a railway depot at the time. Now co-owned by the Canal & River Trust and National Trust.

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History of Roundhouse Birmingham

A crescent shaped Grade II* listed building, it was built for the Corporation of Birmingham from 1873 to 1874, to the designs of William Henry Ward (he also designed the Great Western Arcade). The two gatehouses facing the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street were completed in 1885. It was originally named Corporation Wharf, as it was near the Birmingham Canal. It was also used as a large railway depot for the London and North Western Railway, on the Stour Valley Line.

The site was arranged to create a highly secure internal storage environment, for open air storage, horses and maintenance.

Pevsner describes it having a pair of picturesque Gothic lodges. And that inside was more of a semicircular range with a cartway running under it's centre to the canal. With evocative cobbled pavements.

The building was used by the City of Birmingham Engineers Department until the 1980s, when it became redundant and was sold. It was bought by British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust) in 2001.

Unused for many years, other than part of it as a nursery school, the Canal & River Trust and the National Trust gained funding in 2017 for the restoration of the building, and to open it up to the public. It should have opened in 2020, but delays due to the pandemic, means it won't open now until at least late summer 2021.

Some of the earliest tours by narrowboat have started in late July 2021, during the summer heatwave.

 

2009

Some of my earliest photos of the Roundhouse, taken from the opposite towpath on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline, between the Sheepcote Street Bridge and St Vincent Street Bridge.

 

15th May 2009

At the time there was a lot of narrowboats moored up on both sides of the towpath next to the Roundhouse.

Roundhouse Birmingham

There was still a brick wall alongside the Roundhouse, part of it would be later removed when restoration works began years later.

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

2013

A look at the pair of gatehouses from the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street, and the first look at the inside of the horseshoe courtyard for the first time. A few months later, I saw the Roundhouse close up from the towpath.

 

23rd February 2013

At the time the Roundhouse for for sale or to let, and the junction here was a bit different.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Signs on the gate "Warning Kingdom Security".

Roundhouse Birmingham

This is what the horseshoe courtyard looked like at the time, years before the restoration began.

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

18th May 2013

A look through the railings to the back of the Roundhouse. The former Fiddle & Bone pub on the right was derelict at the time, but would be restored and reopen a few years later.

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

2015

The Fiddle & Bone pub was restored and reopened, so time to look at the Roundhouse again from the canalside towpath.

 

26th December 2015

It was nice to see the Fiddle & Bone restored. They put out painted picnic benches at the time, and they sealed off the arches in the Roundhouse behind.

Roundhouse Birmingham

This area was all part of the Fiddle & Bone beer garden, at the back of the Roundhouse.

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

2017

A few years later, the Fiddle & Bone was renamed to The Distillery.

 

26th October 2017

By now, the Roundhouse was co-owned by the National Trust and Canal & River Trust, and within a few years would begin work to restore the building. Meanwhile I was having a look at The Distillery from the opposite side of the canal.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Two years after seeing The Distillery, the Roundhouse next door would start to get restored.

Roundhouse Birmingham

There is an entrance to the pub from the canalside, there was formerly one from the first floor on Sheepcote Street.

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

2019

During the BCN 250 celebrations, I noticed that work to restored the Roundhouse had begun.

 

2nd November 2019

There was a parade of narrowboats up and down the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline at the time for BCN 250, while the Roundhouse was under scaffolding.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Scaffolding up the right hand side of the Roundhouse, they were also replacing the old windows.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Now called Roundhouse Birmingham. The area out front was still a beer garden for The Distillery, but the picnic benches were no longer painted.

Roundhouse Birmingham

It should have been completed and reopened by 2020, but the pandemic resulted in it being delayed until 2021.

Roundhouse Birmingham

While at the time this was the beer garden of The Distillery, in future it would (probably) also act as the public entrance to Roundhouse Birmingham.

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

27th December 2019

One last update before the end of 2019, and before I heard about the coming virus. The pair of lodges were under scaffolding. Road layout had changed on St Vincent Street, near Sheepcote Street.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Part of the Roundhouse already had new windows on one side.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Window view of another window.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Similar window shot as the last one.

Roundhouse Birmingham

This area (below) had a temporary wooden hoarding in place. They would later install a window here. Probably an area for people to view the canal out of the Roundhouse?

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

2021

My first major photo update of the Roundhouse since the pandemic began, and in time for it opening to the public to the first time.

 

14th July 2021

Views of the Roundhouse from the Sheepcote Street Bridge. Including the Annatomix rustic horse street art.

Roundhouse Birmingham

The Distillery is on the right. Entrance from the canalside, they make Roundhouse Gin here.

Roundhouse Birmingham

The pair of Victorian lodges fully restored, at the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street. Was a homeless man sitting close to the gate, so didn't want to get too close to him.

Roundhouse Birmingham

A zoom in beyond the gate to the horseshoe courtyard area.

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

20th July 2021

Views from the opposite side of the BCN Mainline canal, towards the Roundhouse. I walked past the Victoria narrowboat dropping off visitors, below the Sheepcote Street bridge.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Roundhouse Birmingham

Famed Birmingham street artist Annatomix was commissioned to paint this wall, she has painted a rustic horse.

Roundhouse Birmingham

Roundhouse Birmingham

Onto St Vincent Street, a view towards this gate, all fully restored, with new windows installed.

Roundhouse Birmingham

The horseshoe shaped courtyard, seen inside of the gate from the St Vincent Street corner with Sheepcote Street. Some of the bricks on the cobbled surface have been replaced.

Roundhouse Birmingham

 

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

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80 passion points
Green open spaces
19 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Chamberlain Gardens in Ladywood

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In 2020-21 Chamberlain Gardens had new gates and railings installed. Located in Ladywood at Monument Road and Ladywood Road. Towards Beaufort Road. The parkland also has a playground, outdoor gym area, tennis and basketball courts. A short walk to Perrott's Folly and Edgbaston Reservoir. Ladywood Middleway and Broadway Plaza are also nearby. 

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Chamberlain Gardens, Ladywood

During 2020 and 2021, Birmingham City Council has installed new railings and gates at Chamberlain Gardens in Ladywood. The parkland is at the heart of a Council housing estate, many of the tower blocks here have been reclad in recent years.

I found at least four new gates, from Beaufort Road, at the Calthorpe Entrance, at Cawdor Crescent, is the Winfield Entrance. Further up Cawdor Crescent to Monument Road is Perrotts Entrance, and at the Monument Road corner with Ladywood Road is the Osler Entrance.

Chamberlain Gardens was first developed in the 1960s, and was named after the former Mayor of Birmingham, Joseph Chamberlain (1836 - 1914), he served three terms from 1873 to 1876, before he resigned the office when he got elected to Parliament.

 

2014

I first briefly went into Chamberlain Gardens back in October 2014. I was close to the corner of Monument Road and Ladywood Road at the time. This sign for Chamberlain Gardens, A Barclays Space for Sports.

Chamberlain Gardens

It was very autumnal at the time, when I spotted this hut in the middle near the trees.

Chamberlain Gardens

The roof was missing some tiles at the time. What was it used for in the past, a ticket kiosk, or somewhere to buy ice cream? Anyone know?

Chamberlain Gardens

 

2021

Fast forward to July 2021, and it was time to check out Chamberlain Gardens. Last year I went to see Perrotts Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower again, but at the time decided to not pop into the park. There is now new gates that have been installed since I was last in the area.

Welcome to Chamberlain Gardens. This is the Calthorpe Entrance at Beaufort Road in Ladywood. It is near Kenrick House.

Chamberlain Gardens

Passing Kenrick House from the Beaufort Road entrance into the park.

Chamberlain Gardens

The Council has recently cut the grass here.

Chamberlain Gardens

A look to the Chamberlain Gardens Playground.

Chamberlain Gardens

Next to that was the Chamberlain Gardens Outdoor Gym Area.

Chamberlain Gardens

Heading to Cawdor Crescent, to check out the next gate.

Chamberlain Gardens

This is the Winfield Entrance at Cawdor Crescent.

Chamberlain Gardens

Heading along Cawdor Crescent, double yellow lines, so no cars parked here.

Chamberlain Gardens

View of the tennis and basketball courts from Cawdor Crescent.

Chamberlain Gardens

Between Cawdor Crescent and Monument Road is the next gate, this is Perrotts Entrance. It is close to Perrotts Folly (which is on Reservoir Road). Although Noel Road is closer at this point.

Chamberlain Gardens

Heading back into the park, there is a view here towards The Mercian.

Chamberlain Gardens

Another look at the hut I saw all those years ago. The roof is now repaired by the looks of it, but it is still unused.

Chamberlain Gardens

One of the paths seems to have been resurfaced here, maybe it is suitable for cyclists.

Chamberlain Gardens

Now heading along the path near Monument Road towards Ladywood Road.

Chamberlain Gardens

Nice reflection on the newly laid path of a tree.

Chamberlain Gardens

The path curves around past the trees near Ladywood Road.

Chamberlain Gardens

Out of the park one last time. This is the Osler Entrance at the corner of Ladywood Road and Monument Road.

Chamberlain Gardens

From here, it was a short walk to Ladywood Middleway along Monument Road. It was very hot and sunny.

 

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

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70 passion points
Squares and public spaces
14 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

It's Coming Home at Holloway Circus with the Chinese Pagoda

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The digital billboard from Suffolk Street Queensway towards the Chinese Pagoda at Holloway Circus and Thomas Garden. It's Coming Home, see on the 10th July 2021. The day later England played Italy at Wembley in the Euro 2020 final. A 1-1 draw after extra time. Usual penalties, and we lost 3-2. First time runners up. Better than semi finalists in 1996, 25 years ago. Well done England!

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40 passion points
Transport
13 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Midland Red Private Charter bus at Holloway Circus

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Just a quick post. On the 26th June 2021, walking past Holloway Circus from Smallbrook Queensway to Suffolk Street Queensway, saw this vintage Midland Red bus. It was a Private Charter and had white wedding strips at the front. Just the one photo, before it turned up Holloway Head. Hopefully they are exempt from the Clean Air Zone charges from the Council. Let's hope so.

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50 passion points
Classic Architecture
07 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Stratford House: a timber framed survivor dating to 1601

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Located in Highgate near Highgate Park is a remarkable survival. Stratford House is close to Highgate Middleway on the no 50 bus route. You can see it from the bus on Moseley Road and New Moseley Road. Built in 1601 for Ambrose Rotton and his wife Bridget, it was once surrounded by farmland. In recent years it's been offices and a swingers club. A fire in 2015, led to restoration 2016.

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On the trail between Digbeth and Kings Heath, if you are getting the no 50 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus (you can catch it from outside Selfridges on Moor Street in the City Centre). Heading past Highgate Park on Moseley Road, you will spot Stratford House. One of the oldest remaining buildings within the City Centre and within the middle ring road, dating to 1601 (last few years of Tudor and Elizabethan England).

 

Stratford House is located at 82 Stratford Place, Highgate, Birmingham B12 0HT. Since 2020 it has been the offices of Age UK Birmingham and Age UK Sandwell.

 

I personally think it could become a museum, run by the Birmingham Museums Trust, or the National Trust. With period furniture. The noise from the passing traffic on Highgate Middleway might causes issues though.

 

The history of Stratford House

The timber framed manor house was built in 1601 for Ambrose Rotton and his wife Bridget. It was originally part of a 20 acre farm that Ambrose owned. He farmed sheep, pigs, oxen and cows on the land.

In 1840, a goods yard was opened nearby at Camp Hill by the Midland Railway. The companies successor, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, in 1926 bought the house and wanted to demolish it. There was a public outcry and the house was saved.

There was further plans to demolish the house in the 1950s due to it dilapidated state. But it was bought by Ivor Adams in 1954 and it was saved. It has been a Grade II* listed building since 1952.

 

The following two images taken from the Birmingham Museums Trust Collection, Digital Image Resourse and are in the Public Domain and dates to the early 1950s. Under the Creative Commons Zero Licence (CCO).

Stratford HouseStratford House in 1950. Ink drawing by John L. Baker. Topographical view of Birmingham, from the Birmingham Museums Trust collection.

 

Stratford HouseOld houses, Stratford Place, Birmingham in 1951. Watercolour. By Allen Edward Everitt. Topographical view of Birmingham, from the Birmingham Museums Trust collection.

 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the house was home to Network Records, one of the UK's exponents of Techno music.

 

Stratford House, 2010

By the late 2000s and early 2010s it was occupied by Birmingham Centre for Art Therapies (BCAT).

Stratford HouseStratford House on Stratford Place in 2010.

 

Stratford House, 2016

In 2014 it was a swingers club called the Tudor Lounge (who signed a 10 year lease with Birmingham City Council). This opened in January 2015, but by December 2015 there was a major fire here. The building was extensively restored during 2016.

Stratford House

Stratford HouseRestoration of Stratford House during April 2016. Views from the no 50 bus.

 

Stratford House

Stratford HouseRestoration of Stratford House during May 2016. Seen from the Moseley Road in Highgate.

 

Stratford House, 2018

By 2018, Stratford House was fully restored, and was available to let.

Stratford House

Stratford House Stratford House fully restored as of April 2018

 

Stratford House, 2021

From 2020, the building is now home to Age UK Birmingham and Age UK Sandwell. In April 2021, Birmingham City Council approved plans for the road in front of Stratford House to be closed to create a Knott Garden. It lies within the Clean Air Zone. If you go onto Highgate Middleway, that is outside of the zone.

Stratford House

Stratford House

Stratford House

Stratford HouseStratford House at the end of June 2021.

 

Modern 21st Century photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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80 passion points
Classic Architecture
05 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Old Crown in Digbeth, dating back to 1368!

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The Old Crown in Digbeth claims to date back to 1368. The Grade II* listed building as it is now is more likely to have been built between 1450 and 1500, and could have been established as an inn from the 16th or 17th centuries. It has seen many changes over the centuries. Including road widening in the mid 20th century, and soon the Eastside Metro Extension (by the mid 2020s).

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One of the oldest buildings in Birmingham, including within what is now the City Centre (as far as the middle ring road), is The Old Crown. They claim to date back to about 1368. For instance they celebrated their 649th birthday in 2017 with a ribbon on one of the doors.

The Old Crown

So as of 2021 they are now 653 years old!

 

History of The Old Crown

The Old Crown was probably built sometime between the year 1450 and 1500 (in Medieval and early Tudor times). Some evidence dating back to 1492. A man visiting Birmingham in 1538 described the building as a "mansion house made of timber". It is thought that the building was originally built as the Guildhall and School of St. John, Deritend. In 1589 the building was bought by "John Dyckson, alias Bayleys". It remained in the Dixon family for the next 100 years. It may have began to be used as an inn from this time, especially in the years following the Spanish Armada, and gained the name "Crown".

Although later evidence suggests it was used as an inn by around 1626, and being called the Crowne by 1666. During 1643, the forces of Prince Rupert attacking Birmingham during the Civil War (on the way to fire his musket at the cockerel of the old St Martin's Church), there was some skirmishes near the inn.

The house was converted into two houses in 1684, and then into three by 1693. It remained three houses until the 19th century. Joshua Toulmin Smith saved the building in 1851, from demolition by the Corporation of Birmingham (who wanted to improve the street). The Corporation again proposed to knock it down in 1856 and 1862, but Smith saved it each time.

 

The following three Public Domain Dedication images taken from the Birmingham Museums Trust Collection.

An etching of the Old Crown Inn, Deritend, Birmingham, 1895-1900, by Samuel Henry Baker (d. 1909).

The Old Crown Digbeth

A watercolour painting by George Warren Blackham of the Old Crown Inn Deritend, Birmingham. Probably in the late 19th century.

The Old Crown Digbeth

An etching of the Old Crown Inn, Deritend, Birmingham by J. Alfred Swatkins. Possibly late 19th or early 20th century, with the old tram tracks.

The Old Crown Digbeth

 

High Street Deritend, outside of The Old Crown was widened and reopened by 1955. This included removing the old tram tracks, and the old cobbled road surface. Buildings opposite were demolished, and the Bull Ring Trading Estate was later built there (on the site of St. John's Church, Deritend, which was demolished in 1947, after suffering damage during the Second World War in 1940).

 

Two vintage photos taken by the late Phyllis Nicklin, who was a tutor in Geography in the former Department of Extramural Studies, University of Birmingham. They were originally digitised by BrumPic.

The Old Crown in Digbeth taken by Phyllis Nicklin (University of Birmingham). This was probably before the road was widened in the mid 1950s.

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown in Digbeth, taken in 1960 by Phyllis Nicklin (University of Birmingham). High Street Deritend had been widened in the 1950s.

The Old Crown Digbeth


The Old Crown was bought by the Brennan family in 1991. In the summer of 1994, they found an old well, while doing repairs, when they were clearing out the old sheds at the rear of the property, which at the time had been closed off for more than 100 years. The Brennan family reopened the pub in 1998.

The pub is a Grade II* listed building (since 1952) at 186, 187 and 188 High Street Deritend, and is on the corner of Heath Mill Lane. It is situated to the right of the Custard Factory.

As of the summer of 2021, roadworks are taking place down on the Digbeth High Street. This is to build the Eastside Metro Extension. Which will be starting properly from July 2021. The route will go past the HS2 Curzon Street Station. Work has also began to built a Sprint bus route towards Solihull and Coventry on the A45 (via the Small Heath Highway and Coventry Road). It could be ready in time for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

 

The Old Crown in the 21st Century

The following images of The Old Crown were taken during October 2009 by Elliott Brown. This was on the first day that I would take photos around the Digbeth area.

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown 1368.

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Old Crown Digbeth

The Beer Garden / car park at the back from Heath Mill Lane.

The Old Crown Digbeth

 

The Old Crown Coffee Club, seen from High Street Deritend during January 2014.

The Old Crown Digbeth

 

Irish flags and bunting up, at The Old Crown, during March 2014 for the St Patrick's Day Festival. The parade used to take place down the Digbeth High Street each March until 2019.

The Old Crown Digbeth

 

A red ribbon on The Old Crown during November 2016, getting ready for Christmas. This view taken from the bus.

The Old Crown Digbeth

 

The Old Crown during March 2017 for St Patrick's Day. Getting ready for The Father Ted's Lampa. The St Patrick's Fundraiser.

The Old Crown Digbeth

 

Seen in March 2018, with snow on the roof, was The Old Crown. Again getting ready for St Patrick's Day. The beer garden around the back, became the Guinness Village, to show the England vs Ireland Six Nations Rugby Union match on the TV. 

The Old Crown Digbeth

 

One year on, to March 2019. St Patrick's Day again at The Old Crown. This time it had signs on it for 13 Hop House Lager.

The Old Crown Digbeth

 

Passing The Old Crown in Digbeth on the no 4 bus during the middle of June 2021. This was during the Euro 2020 match between England and Croatia.

The Old Crown Digbeth

Modern 21st Century photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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80 passion points
Health & wellbeing
29 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The message from the residents of Springfield Road, Kings Heath is clear: "SLOW DOWN 20 IS PLENTY!"

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Since the introduction of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme to Kings Heath in 2020, it has resulted in heavy levels of traffic on the High Street and Vicarage Road. As a result, car drivers have been taking shortcuts down Springfield Road. The speed limit is 20 miles per hour, but many are exceeding this. Residents have yarn bombed lampposts and bollards all the way down the road.

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The problem with Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Kings Heath

While the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme in Kings Heath has been designed for pedestrians and cyclists. It has created issues for car drivers. Residents live on those streets, and how do they get their cars out? As a result, traffic is now always busy up and down the Kings Heath High Street, as well as Vicarage Road, due to so many streets being closed to motorists. Residents of Vicarage Road have signs in their windows, such as "We need clean air too!".

 

Yarn bombing on Springfield Road, Kings Heath

Over on Springfield Road (from Poplar Road, Valentine Road and Cambridge Road towards Brook Lane) the speed limit is 20 miles per hour. There is even speed bumps. But idiot car drivers continue to exceed this speed limit.

So local residents have been getting busy during the last lockdown, knitting, and yarn bombing lampposts and bollards up and down the road. As you will see in the examples below.

Photos taken on the afternoon of Sunday 27th June 2021. Starting from near Cambridge Road Methodist Church.

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Slow Down 20 Springfield Road Kings Heath

Instead of driving a car down here at 100 miles per hour, perhaps walk, or ride a bike? Or catch a bus? (note that riding private electronic scooters is illegal on roads or pavements, even in Kings Heath).

 

This is near the Outer Circle bus route 11. The 11A bus stop on Brook Lane near Moseley Golf Club, while the bus stop for the 11C is on Addison Road. The 35 and 50 are a short walk away on the High Street (walk via Valentine Road, Poplar Road, Heathfield Road, Institute Road or Addison Road).

 

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

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60 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
28 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Olton Reservoir: only viewable from the train between Solihull and Olton

https://www.youtube.com/embed/eLcVgjS1d9o

There is a reservoir in Olton, Solihull. It is private, so there is no way for members of the public to walk around it. But you can spot Olton Reservoir from the train between Olton and Solihull, on the bridge that goes over the Warwick Road. It is used by Olton Mere Sailing Club. It was built in 1799 to supply water to the Warwick and Birmingham Canal, later part of the Grand Union Canal.

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Olton Reservoir

Located near the Chiltern Mainline and the Warwick Road in Olton, Solihull is Olton Reservoir. From the road / pavement it is a bit hard to see. But if you catch a train with West Midlands Railway (or Chiltern Railways) between Olton and Solihull (or in the other direction), you might be able to see the reservoir through the railway bridge that crosses the Warwick Road.

 

History of Olton Reservoir

Olton Mere was constructed as a reservoir to act as a feeder for the Warwick and Birmingham Canal in 1799 (it became part of the Grand Union Canal from 1927 onwards, after being purchased by the Regents Canal Company). The Mere was formed from marshland fed by Folly Brook (now Hatchford Brook). The Mere was extended in 1834 to increase the capacity in order to supply up to 150 locks.

It is the largest of the few areas of open water in Solihull and supports a large number of waterfowl. The woodland surrounding the Mere has remained undisturbed for many years, providing an important habitat for plants and animals.

There is no public access to the Mere but there is a good view of the Mere from the trains travelling between Solihull and Olton. Sailing on the Mere started in 1899 when five residents of St Bernard’s Road leased the reservoir from the canal company. A club was formed for sailing, fishing and shooting, although shooting was suspended in 1926 owing to a shortage of wildfowl.

The reservoir is now privately owned by the Canal & River Trust, who in turn lease it to the Olton Mere Sailing Club.

 

Below is the satellite hybrid view of Olton Reservoir on Google Maps.

Olton Reservoir

 

On my YouTube video above (in the introduction), recorded in early February 2017 on a London Midland Class 172 train from Acocks Green to Solihull. We pass Olton Reservoir from 2:20 to about 2:43.

 

Three video screenshots from that video. First screenshot passing over the Warwick Road Railway Bridge.

Olton Reservoir

Second screenshot, a view of Olton Reservoir from the train.

Olton Reservoir

The view continues, although it was sunny, and the sun was on that side of the train.

Olton Reservoir

 

A more recent view of Olton Reservoir, taken from the train, back in April 2018 (over 3 years ago at the time of this post). Time time caught some yachts on the reservoir from the Olton Mere Sailing Club. This was taken from a Chiltern Railways Class 165 train (sitting in the Quiet Zone), on a train ride from Solihull to Birmingham Moor Street.

Olton Reservoir

 

Warwick Road railway bridge, Olton

This is the railway bridge on the Warwick Road in Olton, Solihull where you can see Olton Reservoir. This view from June 2010, as a Chiltern Railways Class 168 Clubman train passed over it. You can see the reservoir from the train window. If it's clear and not too bright that is (or raining).

Warwick Road railway bridge Olton

By October 2016, Network Rail had give the bridge a fresh lick of green paint, making it look as good as new.

Warwick Road railway bridge Olton

Another look at the Warwick Road railway bridge in Olton during February 2021. Taken during a lockdown 3 walk to the Grand Union Canal and back home. If you are in a car, sorry you won't be able to spot the reservoir from down there. I didn't get a train again until April 2021 (after restrictions were eased). But not got a train between Solihull and Olton since sometime in 2020.

Warwick Road railway bridge Olton

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

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80 passion points
Green travel
28 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

West Midlands Cycle Hire docking points all around the West Midlands

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So far I have found the docks for West Midlands Cycle Hire in Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and Walsall. I have yet to travel back to the boroughs of Dudley or Sandwell or the City of Wolverhampton to see them. But it's time for a post. Been gathering photos of the docks from April to June 2021, and will probably get more on my travels around the West Midlands in the months to come.

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Birmingham

Mostly in the City Centre and at the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston. Also in Sutton Coldfield.

 

Birmingham City Centre

Location: Digbeth, Birmingham, West Midlands. Opposite of Digbeth Police Station.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Park Street, Birmingham, West Midlands. Near Selfridges.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Moor Street Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands. Between Primark and Birmingham Moor Street Station.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Fore Street, Birmingham, West Midlands. Between Cannon Street and Corporation Street. Not far from Corporation Street Tram Stop.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Paradise Street, Birmingham, West Midlands. At Town Hall Tram Stop and near Birmingham Town Hall and Victoria Square.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Station Street, Birmingham, West Midlands. Below the Southside Steps of Birmingham New Street Station.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Summer Row, Birmingham, West Midlands. Next to University College Birmingham. Seen from Paradise Circus Queensway.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Bath Row, Birmingham, West Midlands. Opposite St Thomas' Peace Garden. Near Park Central and Lee Bank.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

University of Birmingham

Location: Bristol Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands. Near the University of Birmingham Sport & Fitness Centre. Close to Edgbaston Park Road (also the South and East Gate of the University of Birmingham).

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Ring Road South, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands. Near the University of Birmingham School of Chemistry.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: New Fosse Way, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands. Between the University of Birmingham  (West Gate) and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (and not far from University Station).

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Sutton Coldfield

Location: Monmouth Drive, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, West Midlands. Near the Boldmere Gate of Sutton Park.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Coventry

Location: Butts Road, Coventry, West Midlands. Near the Premier Inn Coventry City Centre (Earlsdon Park) and Albany Theatre.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Corporation Street, Coventry, West Midlands. outside of a Coffee Shop called Shakeout.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Solihull

Location: High Street, Solihull. Close to Hunters and the Masons Arms public house.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Station Approach, Solihull, West Midlands. Opposite of Solihull Station.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Station Road, Solihull, West Midlands. Close to Indian Brewery.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Location: Lode Lane, Solihull, West Midlands. Close to Solihull Hospital.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Walsall

Location: Broadway North, Walsall, West Midlands. Outside of Walsall Arboretum.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

Can riders remember to properly dock the bikes when they are finished. Don't just randomly leave them on a pavement nowhere near a dock. They have GPS trackers on them (I think).

 

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

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70 passion points
Green open spaces
23 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Walsall Arboretum - a historic Victorian public park!

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A short walk away from Walsall Town Centre is Walsall Arboretum, which is Walsall's public park. First opened in 1874, originally as a paid for attraction, the local council bought it and reopened it as a free to enter public park in 1884. From 2010 to 2015 there was a refurbishment programme here, including opening a Visitor Centre. Hatherton Lake has a boat house and bandstand.

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Walsall Arboretum

 

I got the train back to Walsall from Birmingham New Street. Starting from platform 4c, the train went via the Soho Loop Line (meaning it bypasses Perry Barr and Aston, and doesn't stop at Hamstead or Bescot Stadium as it was the train to Rugeley Trent Valley). The only stop before Walsall was Tame Bridge Parkway. From the station, it was around a 15 minute walk, via the High Street and Council House in Walsall. Then you have to cross the traffic lights at the busy junction of Broadway North with Littleton Street East. Which was also near Queen Mary's High School. Your first sight of the arboretum is the Arboretum Lodge.

 

History of Walsall Arboretum

The Arboretum was built on the site of Reynolds Hall, which was the home of the Persehouse family from the 16th century. By the 18th century the estate had been inherited by the Littleton family, who developed lime quarries in Walsall. By the 1840s, one of the quarries had been flooded, and was used by local people for bathing and skiing. The then Mayor of Walsall during 1844 drowned in the lake, by then known as Hatherton Lake. By the 1850s, the quarries was being surrounded by villas and Queen Mary's Grammar School.

The Walsall Arboretum and Lake Company was formed in 1870, and plans started to turn the estate into a park. Plans included the building of two lodges, a boat house and bandstand by the county surveyor Robert Griffiths. The Arboretum was laid out from 1872 and opened to paying customers by 1874. In the following decade the Arboretum Company ran into financial difficulties, and it was sold to the Town Council, who opened it up as a free public park in 1884.

There was a major refurbishment programme in the park from 2010 until 2015, this included restoring the buildings, the lakes etc, and building a new Visitor Centre. 

A bronze bust of Jerome K. Jerome, an author born in Walsall was unveiled in 2016, while a bronze statue of a horse was relocated to the park in 2017.

 

West Midlands Cycle Hire

Before entering the park, I spotted a new West Midlands Cycle Hire docking point on Broadway North, so checked that out first. At least two bikes were not properly in the dock.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

Later after leaving the park, saw a man with a white van, loading some bikes into the van, and making sure the other bikes were properly in the dock. I did not find any other West Midlands Cycle Hire docks in Walsall on this visit.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

 

The Arboretum Lodge

This is the main entrance to the park at the corner of Lichfield Street and Broadway North. Built in 1872, it was originally the subscription paid for entrance to the park, but has been free to enter here since the local Council bought the park in 1884. It is now near the busy traffic junction on the Walsall ring road. It has a distinctive clock tower.

Walsall Arboretum

As I entered, I saw the bronze bust of Jerome K. Jerome and a man riding one of the new West Midlands Cycle Hire bikes out of the park.

Walsall Arboretum

 

Bronze bust of Jerome K. Jerome

The Walsall born author of Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome (1859 - 1927) was honoured with a bronze bust, close to The Arboretum Lodge. It was sculpted by local artist Phil Kelly, and was unveiled in June 2016. Jerome was a Freeman of the Borough of Walsall, and the Jerome K. Jerome Society lobbied for a sculpture to be made to recognise him, in the town of his birth.

Jerome K. Jerome

Jerome K. Jerome was born on the 2nd May 1859 at Belsize House on Bradford Street in Walsall. The Grade II listed house used to be a museum from the 1980s until 2007-08. The Jerome K. Jerome Society is hoping to find a new home for the exhibits that used to be in the museum.

Jerome K. Jerome

 

Hatherton Lake

Originally a quarry pit, it was later flooded, and by the middle of the 19th century it was a lake used for bathing and skiing. There is a boat house on one side (built 1874) and a Bandstand (built 1924) on the other side.

This view of Hatherton Lake towards the bandstand.

Hatherton Lake

This view of Hatherton Lake towards the boat house.

Hatherton Lake

Later found an upper path that led back to the lake, and got this view with a distinctive Victorian style lamppost.

Hatherton Lake

Another view towards the boat house on the opposite side of the lake. Hard to believe it used to be a quarry pit until the mid 19th Century.

Walsall Arboretum

One more view from the benches viewing area on Broadway North of the lake. Noticed that there is no steps or ramp down to the park from up here, you have to enter via the lodge, or anther gate.

Hatherton Lake

 

Boat House

The Boat House is the only Grade II listed building in the park, dating to 1874. Probably designed by the county surveyor Robert Griffiths. It is a timber-framed building with hipped tiled roofs and a raised lantern. It has cast-iron columns and a concrete base supports above the water level. It is on Hatherton Lake.

First saw the boat house going in a clockwise direction around the lake.

Boat House Walsall Arboretum

Later saw the boat house on the walk back to the lodge,  just after passing the poppy field, and from the opposite side of the lake. Hard to believe it was opened around 1874-75. Especially with all the modern alterations to it.

Boat House Walsall Arboretum

 

Bandstand

The present bandstand was erected in 1924, replacing a previous structure on the same site that was built in 1873, which was of the conventional octagonal form. It is near Hatherton Lake.

The first view of the bandstand from the opposite side of the lake, shortly after I first arrived in the park.

Bandstand Walsall Arboretum

The second view going off the upper path, was an area where you could look down at the bandstand and the lake below.

Bandstand Walsall Arboretum

 

Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre was opened in November 2015. The opening of the visitor centre was the culmination of the arboretum restoration programme, delivered 2010 - 2015. Within the new building is retained a former agricultural building that pre dates the park. The new centre was wrapped around this key historic feature.

On the left is the Industrial Garden featuring Fluffy the Oss.

Visitor Centre Walsall Arboretum

 

Bronze horse statue of Fluffy the Oss

This statue of a bronze horse was originally commissioned by Walsall Council in the 1990s, and used to be outside of the Civic Centre. But due to vandalism, it was removed to storage. Years later it was restored to the condition it is in now, and installed in the Industrial Garden near the Visitor Centre at the Arboretum in 2017. It was originally sculpted by Marjan Wouda. The garden celebrates Walsall's industrial heritage and is situated by the site of the old limestone workings.

Fluffy the Oss is a feature of the Industrial Garden at Walsall Arboretum.

Fluffy the Oss

 

The Leckie Building

This building was built from 1902, and opened in 1904 as the Pavillion Refreshment Room. It was designed by H. E. Lavender, and was the focal point of the park. It closed down in 1931, but reopened in 1936 as the  Joseph Leckie Sons of Rest Social Club for older adults which it remains to this day.

First view from the path to the centre of the park, but was a pair of trees in the way of the view.

The Leckie Building

Later walking back to the lake and lodge, got a pair of rear views.

The Leckie Building

There was a stone dated 1902 at the back of The Leckie Building.

The Leckie Building

 

Ladies Bowl Pavillion

This was originally a refreshment pavillion built in 1934. It was called the Richard B Sutton shelter. It was built of Cotswold Stone under a tiled hipped roof, with a locally supported by circular section rustic stone columns. In 2003 it became the club house for the Ladies Bowls Club.

This was near the halfway point of the park, saw a Welcome to Walsall Arboretum sign / map, and then followed another path back towards the lodge and lake.

Ladies Bowl Pavillion

 

The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden was quite close to The Leckie Building. This was an upper path view of it.

Walsall Arboretum

There was these steps with railings down the middle and a semi circlular arch above.

Walsall Arboretum

 

Summer Poppy Field

The poppy field is quite a sight to see at Walsall Arboretum each summer. It is close to Broadway North and Arboretum Road, and not far from the bandstand.

Poppy field

I wasn't the only one to stop and take photos of this poppy field, even dog walkers stopped to take a look!

Poppy field

A macro zoom in to one of the poppies.

Poppy field

After I left the park, a look at the poppy field over the wall from Broadway North.

Poppy field

 

The best of the rest of the park

Having just passed the Arboretum Lodge, and bust of Jerome K. Jerome, I saw these flower beds to the right of the path.

Walsall Arboretum

The paths around the Arboretum. This one (below) was between Hatherton Lake (right) and the Deep Pond (left).

Walsall Arboretum

While I was checking out the Hatherton Lake, I also saw the small pool to the left of the path. This is also called the Deep Pond. Behind is the villas on Victoria Terrace, which indirectly led to the quarry here closing, and the land being landscaped as a arboretum / park.

Walsall Arboretum

After the Visitor Centre, the long path that runs past The Leckie Building. A lot of tree coverage here.

Walsall Arboretum

A view of the Hoar Brook that flows through the Arboretum. Didn't see much of it, other than this view.

Walsall Arboretum

Near an area called The Lion's Den. Briefly went off the main path to the left. Then back over the area with picnic benches near the Ladies Bowls Pavillion (on the right).

Walsall Arboretum

This path was after the halfway point of the park, and the start of the walk back to the lake and lodge. Lots of trees, after all this is an arboretum!

Walsall Arboretum

Some hills as the path goes around a curve, and more trees. Perhaps this landscape was carved out as the quarry, then later grassed over from the 1870s.

Walsall Arboretum

Now on the path that follows the wall (on the left) near Arboretum Road. Down below (to the right) is Hatherton Lake and the Hoar Brook.

Walsall Arboretum

Eventually the path goes back down towards the lake, as you can see here.

Walsall Arboretum

 

After I left the park I saw WM bus 6600. It was on the National Express West Midlands, Black Country Bus Rally from Walsall to Wolverhampton. This was the only bus I saw. It was on Broadway North crossing the lights onto Littleton Street East (the Walsall ring road). Click the link above for the photos.

 

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

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80 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
21 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021

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After a delay, Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 finally began in May 2021, and will be on in the City of Coventry for the next year or so. Coventry won the bid to host it in late 2017. The City Centre is being redeveloped as arts and cultural activities get underway. Get the train down from Birmingham New Street with Avanti West Coast, a 20 minute journey. Then 10 minute walk.

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COVENTRY UK CITY OF CULTURE 2021

 

Transport to Coventry

If you are heading to Coventry from Birmingham, the fastest route is from Birmingham New Street Station to Coventry Station with Avanti West Coast. Their Class 390 Pendolino service towards London Euston only takes about 20 minutes (with one stop at Birmingham International). If you went with London Northwestern Railway in one of their Class 350 Desiro trains, the journey might be longer.

Avanti West Coast CoventryAvanti West Coast Pendolino 390 010 to Birmingham New Street. Welcome to Coventry. 12th June 2021.

 

If you go by bus, take the X1 on a National Express West Midlands Platinum bus. The journey would take at least an hour or more (depending on where you get on). The bus terminates at Pool Meadow Bus Station in Coventry (not far from the Coventry Transport Museum).

X1 CoventryThe X1 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus to Birmingham at Coventry Pool Meadow Bus Station, 29th February 2020.

 

Coventry's BID for UK City of Culture 2021

In 2017, the City of Coventry bid to be the 2021 UK City of Culture. Coventry won the bid in December 2017. The other bidders were: Swansea, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland.

"We weren't sent to Coventry, we chose to come. Coventry is a city of welcome, a city of stories, a city of innovation and invention, a City of Culture".

I saw the sign below at the Friargate development, not far from Coventry Station during October 2017.

Coventry 2021

 

Thre was also this sign about Coventry's bid for UK City of Culture 2021. Seen in Broadgate, Coventry, behind the Lady Godiva statue. Was in the window of Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre. This was in March 2018, so Coventry by this point had won the bid around 3 months earlier.

Coventry 2021

 

End of February 2020, and I saw this sign about Coventry 2021 at Friargate near Coventry Station.

"We are UK City of Culture 2021". This way to the City Centre. Several weeks before the 1st lockdown, and over a year before Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 would begin. It ended up getting delayed until May 2021 in the end. What with the 3rd lockdown, and having to wait for restrictions to be eased again.

Coventry 2021

 

Cultural activities in Coventry City Centre, March 2018

On the 24th March 2018, over 3 months since Coventry officially won the bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, there was various street entertainment taking place at the time around Coventry City Centre.

Men in kilts with a ladder near West Orchards Shopping Centre on Smithford Way.

Coventry 2021

"My City 2048". Also seen on Smithford Way in Coventry. Coventry (UK) is twinned with Volgograd (Russia). And this art was part of the Young Artists' Exchange. 50 young people in Coventry and in Volgograd, Russia were asked to imagine how their cities might look in the year 2084 (when Coventry and Volgograd will have been twin cities for 140 years). This is the exhibition that they came up with.

Coventry 2021

Canteen advert at West Orchards Shopping Centre, on a four wheeled slow vehicle. This was near a fountain and the Upper Precinct. There was also some people around in orange outfits at the time.

Coventry 2021

Colourful banners at the Upper Precinct. On my most recent visit to Upper Precinct on the 12th June 2021, I noticed that this footbridge above has been removed. As has the escalators behind with the glass windows.

Coventry 2021

Finally we had the Bureau of Silly Ideas, making sensible use of silly. There was a moving cone. This was at Broadgate.

Coventry 2021

 

Return visit to Coventry, June 2021

I got the train down to Coventry to see a bit of Coventry 2021 on the 12th June 2021. After checking out new station building, took a long walk around until I got back into the City Centre via Spon Street. Got to see the ribbons at Broadgate and the rainbow arcade on Hertford Street. I may have missed other areas I wasn't aware of. Was my first time travelling back to Coventry since the pandemic began.

This banner on the Friargate hoardings, I later saw on the walk back towards Coventry Station. There is a Coventry 2021 app apparently.

Coventry 2021

 

Earlier I saw this Coventry 2021 sign in the windows of a former BHS store, I was heading from the Upper Precinct to the Lower Precinct for a stop at Caffe Nero.

Coventry 2021

 

While landscaping of the City Centre streets continues in Coventry, at the Upper Precinct is this new water jet fountains for kids to play in.

Coventry 2021

The previous footbridge and escalators that was here has been removed, as you can see in this view towards the Lower Precinct. There is still a lot to do in regards to the new paving.

Coventry 2021

The view from the other side, it's not just Centenary Square, Birmingham where kids can have fun in water in a public space, such as here in Coventry!

Coventry 2021

 

Hertford Street rainbow arcade

I'd previously seen photos by Damien Walmsley taken in here. You can see his post on his blog here: Coventry looking good in the sun. The rainbow arcade is on Hertford Street.

Coventry 2021

I kept looking up at the many colours on the roof.

Coventry 2021

I missed spotting the Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 shop (on the left). I wasn't aware of it when I was there.

Coventry 2021

I popped up some steps that led to a car park, after some views I headed back the way I came.

Coventry 2021

One more view of the rainbow arcade before returning to Broadgate.

Coventry 2021

 

Ribbons at Broadgate

Approaching Broadgate from the Upper Precinct for my first view of the ribbons.

Coventry 2021

The sun was shing as cyclist rode past, and people sitting on the benches below the ribbons.

Coventry 2021

The ribbons with messages above the infamous Lady Godiva statue.

Coventry 2021

There was also Coventry 2021 sky blue banners around the square.

Coventry 2021

View from the back of the Lady Godiva statue. The Upper and Lower Precinct were to the right.

Coventry 2021

More shadows with a view of the ribbons towards the Upper and Lower Precinct. After this I headed to Hertford Street (see above).

Coventry 2021

Coming back from Hertford Street, now back in Broadgate towards Primark, and retracing my steps down the Upper Precinct.

Coventry 2021

 

I would have looked for more after leaving the Lower Precinct, but ended up walking back to Coventry Station to return to Birmingham. That and get a few more shots of the new red station building.

 

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

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80 passion points
Transport
21 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

WM 6600 bus in Walsall

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On Saturday 19th June 2021, National Express West Midlands had a vintage bus rally around the Black Country. From Walsall to Wolverhampton. I travelled up to Walsall by train and went to Walsall Arboretum. After leaving, I only saw the WM 6600 bus on Broadway North, before it went up Littleton Street East. I did not spot any other heritage buses around.

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WM Travel bus 6600

I was aware of National Express West Midlands having a vintage bus rally in the Black Country. This included their modern buses in the heritage liveries. This was on Saturday 19th June 2021.

Got the train up to Walsall Station, and walked to Walsall Arboretum. After a walk around the park, I exited from the Arboretum Lodge that I entered earier, I saw a vintage bus on Broadway North.

 

I quickly got some photos of it while it was at the traffic lights, but was a car in the way.

WM 6600 bus

There was no time to wait for the car to move out of the way.

WM 6600 bus

Was able to get one more shot of the bus with licence plate no: NOC 600R as it passed the lights. With route 39 on the rear. It was heading onto Littleton Street East. These roads are part of the Walsall ring road.

WM 6600 bus

 

I'd previously seen the same bus (WM Travel 6600, NOC 600R) at the Yardley Wood Bus Garage open day, back in November 2018. When it was displaying as route 74 to Wednesbury via Wednesbury (The modern 74 bus route goes from Birmingham to Dudley via West Bromwich).

Yardley Wood bus garage 2018

 

Look out for a Walsall Arboretum post coming soon!

 

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

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70 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
15 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The distinctive street art of Mohammed "Aerosol" Ali around Birmingham

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Mohammed "Aerosol" Ali is known in Birmingham for his stencil sprayed on artwork around the City. Such as in Kings Heath, Moseley or Digbeth. Most famous for doing pieces on the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali (who died in 2016). More recently he has done a Malcolm X piece outside The Art Rooms Kings Heath. Plus "I Can't Breathe" Black Lives Matter pieces in 2020.

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The art of Mohammed Ali aka Aerosol Ali seen around Birmingham from 2016 until 2021. Note that not all of his pieces displayed here are still visible to see. Some of his art is politcal. Connect with Mohammed on Twitter (click the link above).

 

Digbeth

Location: Bradford Street

Date: June 2018

"The fish, even in the fishermans net, still carries the smell of the sea."

This piece has been painted over, and part of the hoarding is missing as of June 2021.

Aerosol Ali Digbeth

 

Location: Bradford Street

Date: August 2020

"I Can't Breathe" - Black Lives Matter.

These posters have probably been removed, and other taggers kept writing over it.

Aerosol Ali Digbeth

 

Moseley

Location: Moseley Central - Alcester Road

Date: February 2017.

Deaths in 2016, including Muhammad Ali, Alex Keogh, USA  (Trump election) and Jo Cox.

These hoardings have gone, and Moseley Central was completed in 2018.

Aerosol Ali Moseley

 

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016). Famous boxer. His namesake Mohammed Ali (no relation), sprayed pieces like this all around the City after Ali died aged 74.

Aerosol Ali Moseley

 

USA (1776-2016). The election of Donald Trump in November 2016. Served one term as the 45th President of the United States (20th January 2017 to 20th January 2021). Succeeded by Joe Biden (as 46th President of the United States), after Trump lost the 2020 election. Trump was banned from all social media platforms early in 2021.

Aerosol Ali Moseley

 

Alex Keogh (1988-2016). Not sure about him, other than a young man that died young, at 28. He was a teaching assistant according to the Birmingham Mail. He died of a alcohol and drug overdose at Christmas Eve 2016.

Aerosol Ali Moseley

 

Jo Cox (1974-2016). She was MP for Batley and Spen from the 7th May 2015, until she was murdered on the 16th June 2016, in Birstall, West Yorkshire of gun shot wounds, and she was stabbed. She was 41 years old.

Aerosol Ali Moseley

 

Kings Heath

Location: Acorns - Silver Street

Date: June 2016

Muhammad Ali (1942 - 2016). This was one of the first pieces I found of Mohammed Ali. He also did similar pieces in Sparkbrook and elsewhere in the City at the time.

Aerosol Ali Kings Heath

 

Location: Acorns - Silver Street

Date: October 2019

Greta Thunberg. A teenage environmental activist. She was born in Sweden in 2003. She is now 18 years old. But was 16 when Mohammed Ali sprayed this on the wall.

Aerosol Ali Kings Heath

 

Location: Acorns - Silver Street

Date: July 2020

"I Can't Breathe" - Black Lives Matter. This piece had perspex put over it by the Council.

Aerosol Ali Kings Heath

 

Location: Acorns - Silver Street

Date: January 2021

2021 - Coronavirus Pandemic, the new year after the disaster that was 2020. The year of vaccines in 2021. This piece is still on the wall.

Aerosol Ali Kings Heath

 

Location: The Art Rooms - High Street

Date: June 2021

Malcolm X on Marshall Street, Smethwick, early February 1965. A few weeks after his return to the US, he was shot dead in New York. Mohammed Ali also painted a Palestine flag on it, during the "Free Palestine" movement. After the bombings in Israel and continuing issues with the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Aerosol Ali Kings Heath

 

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

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90 passion points
Classic Architecture
14 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

Look no clock hands on Old Joe (at the University of Birmingham)!

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The Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower at the University of Birmingham, known more famously by his nickname of 'Old Joe' has been stuck at 12 for ages now. On Tuesday 8th June 2021, mobile cranes / cherry pickers went up to remove the hands from the clock faces. This is the start of work to repair the clock mechanisms. Before long you'll be able to read the time again!

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See this Twitter thread from the University of Birmingham for more.

Having noticed some posts on Twitter about the clock tower at lunchtime, Tuesday 8th June 2021, I travelled down to the University of Birmingham, catching a no 61 bus from Bristol Street to the Bristol Road in Edgbaston (getting off near Edgbaston Park Road).

I walked up to the East Gate, and headed towards the Chancellor's Court via University Road East. This is between the Guild of Students and Barber Institute of Fine Arts (and opposite King Edward's School).

East Gate University of Birmingham

 

Heading towards University Square, I could already see the missing clock hands on one of the clock faces of Old Joe over the Watson Building (School of Mathematics).

Old Joe University of Birmingham

This building is linked to the Poynting Building (Physics Department). Heading under the bridge and turning left into the Chancellor's Court.

Old Joe University of Birmingham

There was barriers around the lawn, but you could still walk around the paths near the Aston Webb Building (in a semi circle).

Old Joe University of Birmingham

A zoom up to one of the clock faces, looks so weird without any clock hands. Also the brickwork could do with a clean, so much bird muck to wash off.

Old Joe University of Birmingham

I arrived in the afternoon, so missed the mobile cranes going up. Although they were still around the clock tower.

Old Joe University of Birmingham

Better lighting from this angle, two clock faces without hands!

Old Joe University of Birmingham

Not all hands had been taken down, the hand pointing to 6.

Old Joe University of Birmingham

Heading out past the Law Building, then down some steps towards the West Gate. The Aston Webb Building seen to the right of here.

Old Joe University of Birmingham

 

Now on University Road West, a look at the Faraday statue and Old Joe. The statue was a gift from the artist, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, in the Centenary Year of the University of Birmingham (2000).

Old Joe Faraday

 

Towards the West Gate and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, I initially got this rear view of the bronze Faraday statue. The University recently celebrated their 121st birthday, since their inception by a Royal Charter issued by Queen Victoria in 1900.

Faraday QEHB

 

Heading past University Station, and crossing over New Fosse Way, followed the path towards the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, to catch my next bus, the 76. I initially waited at the next stop, but realised the 76 was extended from the QE to Northfield, and I wanted the 76 to Solihull. Other buses I saw included the 48 and 25. This was the closest I've got to the QE since the pandemic began in 2020.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

 

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

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80 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
14 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Boating Lake at Cannon Hill Park: before and after de-silting the lake

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In 2021, the Boating Lake and Breeding Pool was completely emptied of water around January 2021. By February 2021, you could see the surface of the lake, and all the debris on the surface. In the months that followed, workmen would have removed what was down there and de-silted it. By June 2021, the water is back in, and the swan boats can be used again. Lets hope it stays clean.

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For the first time in 35 years, the Breeding Pool and the Boating Lake were drained of water, to de-silt them. Over the decades, people have thrown things into the lakes that have never been taken out.  This was work that was much needed to be done. Before the lakes were drained, the fish were safely removed, and care for the waterfowl that use the lakes.

The work was funded by the Council's Parks Pools Safety Programme. Work started around the weir area in January 2021, to repair the gate, and get it working, so that the pools could be emptied of water. Repairing the weir will ensure that water levels are controlled in future, if there was a risk of flooding.

The plan was to empty the pool before the waterfowl started breeding and nesting. When the silt was dry enough, it was to be dug out and spread on the existing grass areas above ground, above the pool and re-seeded.

 

The Boating Lake, February 2021

This was the views of the Breeding Pool and Boating Lake at Cannon Hill Park on the 19th February 2021.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

It was so weird at the time to see it without water.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

First evidence of the debris in the lake that needed to be removed. Metal objects and bricks.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

This view towards the MAC (far left).

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

There was still gulls on their landing railing in the middle of the lake.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

It looks like scaffolding in the water where the gulls were perched on.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

Some geese and pigeons were still around, where there was water, the waterfowl were in the lake. But a lot of debris revealed to the side of the lake.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

Hopefully all of this mess was removed in the winter or early spring.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

Fences stopping people getting too close to the lake, plus the pumping machine on the left which was used to pump out the water.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

Canada geese around all the rubbish, rain water in the lake, or water that hadn't been removed.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

During this time it was the early weeks of the third lockdown, and the swan boats were stored away.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

 

The Boating Lake, June 2021

Almost four months later and back at Cannon Hill Park, and I was suprised to see water back in the Boating Lake. Even the Breeding Pool had water again, and the Canada Geese had had their gosling. This visit was on the 6th June 2021, which was bit of a wet morning.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

The view towards the MAC. Bins overflowing with rubbish. The day before would have been nice and sunny, and people left litter all over the field.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

First view of the swan boats in a while, nice to see them back.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

While rainy weather is not the best kind of weather to go on in the swan boats, there has been more sunny blue sky days so far in June, than the non-stop rain in May 2021.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

On the walk back towards the Rea Valley Route, a look at the MAC and swan boats to the far right.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

But the light rain was getting heavier. Canada geese on the left. Some parts of the grass was patchy, probably after having the silt on it during the winter months.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

More patches of grass, but nice to see the lake full of water again.

Boating Lake Cannon Hill Park

Please can people on dry sunny days, take your litter home, don't overfill the bins, and don't leave your rubbish around the outside of the bins. As the litter pickers from the park have a lot of rubbish to pick up after you, on rainy days like this. Maybe the Council could provide much bigger bins, and empty them more frequently, to keep the premier park of the City nice and clean every day?

 

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

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80 passion points
Classic Architecture
09 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The original Curzon Street Station (1838 to 1893 / 1966)

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Did you know that the first railway passenger station in Birmingham was opened at Curzon Street in 1838? Built by the London & Birmingham Railway, engineered by Robert Stephenson. The building was designed by the architect Philip Hardwick. It's time as the Birmingham terminus was shortlived after New Street opened in 1854. But continued for excursions to 1893 / goods to 1966.

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Curzon Street Station

(1838 - passengers 1893 / goods 1966)

The first passenger railway linking London to Birmingham was opened in 1838. From London Euston to Birmingham Curzon Street. The station was originally called simply Birmingham Station (it was renamed Birmingham Curzon Street Station in 1852 after Birmingham New Street Station was being built and opened in 1854).

It was the terminus for both the London & Birmingham Railway and the Grand Junction Railway, with lines from London, Manchester and Liverpool.

The station located at New Canal Street and Curzon Street in what we now call Eastside, was first opened in June 1838, and the first passenger train arrived from London on the 17th September 1838. The station also had platforms for parcels, but there was no through trains.

The architect of the station was Philip Hardwick, while Robert Stephenson was the engineer in charge of building the line from London to Birmingham. The building was inspired by classical Roman architecture, following Hardwick's trip to Italy in 1818-19.

 

The following image shows Curzon Street Station as it was in 1838. It was published by E C & W Osborne and printed by E Y Moody Bros.

Curzon Street Station

 

The next sketch shows Curzon Street from New Canal Street in 1839. It was an Engraving from Topographical Views  in Wilkinson Collection Vol iii.

Curzon Street Station

 

A more recent drawing of Curzon Street Station dated 1950. It was an ink drawing by John L. Baker. Topographical view of Birmingham. By then the station was only being used for goods. It closed in 1966.

Curzon Street Station Images above are free to download from the Birmingham Museums Trust collection, Public Domain. Digital Image Resource. Creative Commons Zero Licence (CCO).

 

The coming of New Street Station to the closure of Curzon Street Station

The problem was that Curzon Street was not centrally located to the centre of town. So the railway companies decided to build a new station in the heard of the town centre. This would become Birmingham New Street Station, and it's first incarnation opened in 1854. Many services were transferred away from Curzon Street at the time. The station was modified at Banbury Street and New Canal Street by 1874, and was used from Easter that year for passenger excursion trips. Which it continued to do so, until it closed by Easter 1893. Such as on public bank holidays to Sutton Coldfield. The old 1838 platforms were not used as much by then.

Going into the 20th Century, the station continued to be used for goods until it closed for good in 1966. The platforms and original good sheds were demolished in the same year. The site was then used as a Parcelforce depot until that closed in 2006.

In the years before HS2 the land behind the station building was used as a public surface car park, and at one point could have been a redevelopment site called Curzone (which never happened in the end). The HS2 announcement in 2009 changed everything.

The surviving building became a Grade I listed building in 1952. At one point it was modified in 1839 to become a hotel called the Victoria. In 1841 a hotel extension was built and this was the Queen's Hotel. It was on Curzon Street. It was later renamed to The Railway Hotel, when another Queen's Hotel opened at New Street. The hotel at Curzon Street closed in 1900 and was demolished by 1980.

The council purchased the station building from British Rail in 1979 and was used by a University of Birmingham student group called 'Three Bugs Fringe Theatre'.

 

Plaques

Inside of Curzon Street Station is this plaque installed during 1947, which was the Centenary Year of the founding of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers on this site on the 27th January 1847. Photo taken in June 2014, during a visit to Birmingham's Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station.

Curzon Street Station

 

The building also received a Civic Trust Award in 1983. This was probably after Curzon Street Station was restored in the late 1970s and early 1980s (after it had fell into disrepair by 1979). Also seen at Birmingham's Hidden Spaces.

Curzon Street Station

 

There is a plaque on the front of the building that was placed on the New Canal Street side of the building in 1988, on the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first train from London to Birmingham on Monday 17th September 1838. Photo below taken in April 2009. It is now longer possible to see this plaque while HS2 build their new station.

Curzon Street Station

 

Curzon Street Station - exterior of the building 2009 to 2021

Now a gallery of photos of Curzon Street Station taken over the last 12 years or so.

 

View of Curzon Street Station from New Canal Street, taken April 2009. Millennium Point can be seen to the left.

Curzon Street Station

 

A view taken during August 2009 of Curzon Street Station from a now lost road called Bartholomew Street. By then it had long since been closed off. And would disappear by 2011-12 when Eastside City Park was built.

Curzon Street Station

 

It is now January 2010, and Curzon Street Station can again be seen from Bartholomew Street, but in the snow. The Woodman public house seen on the left.

Curzon Street Station

 

By February 2011, I was having a look at Curzon Street Station from the public car park on Curzon Street. All the windows and doors were boarded up. The Rotunda and Pavilions shopping centre were visible to the left of here. Sometimes this car park had been used for the odd fun fair over the years.

Curzon Street Station

 

The hoardings on the left have not gone up for HS2, but for the building of Eastside City Park. Curzon Street Station seen from New Canal Street during September 2011.

Curzon Street Station

 

As late as March 2014, the site behind the old Curzon Street Station building was still being used as a public car park. Selfridges, Beetham Tower, Centre City Tower and the Rotunda were visible on the skyline at the time.

Curzon Street Station

 

By March 2017, it was clear that HS2 would soon take over the building. Hoarding artwork and banners had gone up. It was planned that Curzon Street would become a new cultural hub. The art was from a HS2 / BCU competition, which was won by Sarina Kaur, called Curzon Railway 1838 - 1966.

Curzon Street Station

 

By March 2020, and before the first lockdown, one last walk down New Canal Street before HS2 closed it off, it was also one last chance to see the Eagle & Tun pub before it was demolished. By then the Curzon Railway BCU art banners had been taken down, but the hoardings were still there.

Curzon Street Station

 

A view from the train of Curzon Street Station during August 2020. After the first lockdown restrictions were being eased, I got a train from Stechford to Birmingham New Street. New Canal Street is now closed off, you can also see Millennium Point and The Woodman.

Curzon Street Station

 

October 2020 from Curzon Street. The road beyond was closed by HS2. Was taking a pedestrian diversion from Digbeth to Eastside the long way around (via Lawley Middleway). As HS2 had cut off my old routes. This was before the second lockdown began.

Curzon Street Station

 

By April 2021, the third lockdown restrictions were being eased, and got the train to Birmingham Moor Street for a walk around Eastside and Digbeth. This time via the Digbeth Branch Canal (which was faster than the route I took the autumn before). Took this view of Curzon Street Station from the canal.  The land all being prepared by HS2. The view might be lost in the future once the station is built, and it might bridge over the canal as well (not like the original brick Curzon Street Tunnel that crosses the canal towards New Street in Eastside).

Curzon Street Station

 

Early June 2021, and a view of Curzon Street Station taken from the Cross City Line, I caught the train at Birmingham New Street and got it to Sutton Coldfield. It looks like the turntable (to the far right of here) has been filled in. It's hard to imagine the other buildings that was here over 180 years ago. Millennium Point seen behind from the train. HS2 is a hive of activity.

Curzon Street Station

 

For more photos and the feature, go here for the full gallery of Curzon Street Station in Birmingham Gems.

 

Birmingham's Hidden Spaces, June 2014

From the 21st to 29th June 2014, Birmingham's Hidden Spaces opened up Curzon Street Station to the public. It was an exhibition by Associated Architects, and in association with the Birmingham Post. I saw it on the 28th June 2014. This banner was on the outside of the building.

Curzon Street Station

Inside the main foyer and a look up the staircase to the ceiling. Unfortunately it was too unsafe to go upstairs, so you could only see the ground floor and basement of the building.

Curzon Street Station

Zooming up to the ceiling window.

Curzon Street Station

This sign shows A Brief History of Curzon Street Station. Similar to the information I have presented above.

Curzon Street Station

Another sign about Curzon Street Station built 1838. Philip Hardwick, architect, Robert Stephenson, engineer. Plus the restoration task force in 1983.

Curzon Street Station

Going down the steps to the basement, would have been an exhibition on down here.

Curzon Street Station

The rear door was open, so you could have a look outside. There wasn't much to see out there.

Curzon Street Station

 

Modern 21st Century photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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90 passion points
Green open spaces
07 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Sutton Park Town Gate to Boldmere Gate

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I got the train to Sutton Coldfield on the 5th June 2021, on a nice and warm sunny morning in The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. I headed for the Town Gate for a bit of a walk in Sutton Park. Followed Google Maps to Keepers Pool and Keepers Well. Before changing direction for Powell's Pool and the Boldmere Gate. Much more to explore on a future visit, can't do it all in one go.

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This was more of a proper walk into Sutton Park. As back in August 2017 I only popped into the Boldmere Gate to find the Big Sleuth bear nearby. See this post here: The outer fringes of Sutton Park.

Got the train to Sutton Coldfield Station on the morning of Saturday 5th June 2021 (Cross City Line, now operated by West Midlands Railway). I walked around Railway Road, Tudor Road and Upper Clifton Road, before I got to a roundabout at Park Road. This leads to the Town Gate.

 

Town Gate

On the island was a thatched sculpture of what I think is a Cello.

Sutton Park

Heading up Park Road to the Sutton Park Town Gate. Either side is a pair of gatehouses (looked boarded up). There is a Toby Carvery this way. Tudor Hill to the right had a pair of old gateposts.

Sutton Park

The main road in from the Town Gate. Was a play area on the left, the car park up ahead.

Sutton Park

Heading around the back of the play area, over a footbridge that crosses over the Plants Brook.

Sutton Park

I could see the Visitor Centre to the far left of my then position in the park.

Sutton Park

Crossing over the lawn back onto the main path. I wanted to find the Keepers Pool, so checked Google Maps, and left this road for the route to where I wanted to go.

Sutton Park

Crossing over to the path I needed, saw this tree stump and cut tree log on the ground.

Sutton Park

 

Keepers Pool and Keepers Well

The Keepers Pool looked nice and peaceful in the early summer sunshine. It dates to the 15th Century. In 1887, a lido was built here, an open-air swimming pool. It survived until 2003 when it was burnt by arsonists, another fire in 2004 meant it was lost for good. But the area has returned to woodland and wetland.

Sutton Park

Further up was the Keepers Well. Despite the grass being dry saw a bit of mud, so didn't want to get too close. Would assume it also dates back to the same period as Keepers Pool.

Sutton Park

 

Deer Park Subdivision

Not far from Keepers Pool and Well was this marker for Deer Park Subdivision. The land had been a Norman deer park from the early 12th century. There used to be banks and ditches. But over time they subsided and were filled in, so is nothing much to see now. Although I did cross over some raised bits of earth near the paths and roads.

Sutton Park

This is the path close to the Deer Park Subdivision marker.

Sutton Park

The road continues on towards Streetly. But it was near here that I left the path to make my way towards the Boldmere Gate and Sutton Coldfield Town Centre. Didn't want to go too far in the park.

Sutton Park

Going off the path over the field, so many people walking or cycling over the land had left a trail towards the next path.

Sutton Park

Now back onto a path / road that leads back to the Boldmere Gate.

Sutton Park

But first a diversion into an open field I found. Was wooden markers with yellow warning signs. Apparently this is where people fly their model aeroplanes, but not on the day of my visit to the park.

Sutton Park

Into the heathland, and another path well troden by many other people over the years.

Sutton Park

Saw this weird looking tree, leaning to the left. I was getting close to Powell's Pool and the Boldmere Gate.

Sutton Park

 

Powell's Pool

Back to the path leading to the Boldmere Gate, then one last detour to see Powell's Pool again. Saw this boat with gulls perched on it.

Sutton Park

A perfect morning with a blue sky and little clouds above the pool.

Sutton Park

Taking the gate exit near Miller & Carter. Saw this view of the pool from the car park area on the left.

Sutton Park

Couldn't resist getting a couple more shots from Stonehouse Road of the pool. Yachts as usual to the far left.

Sutton Park

 

Boldmere Gate

Leaving at the park at the Boldmere Gate, via Stonehouse Road, saw another thatched sculpture on an island resembling a harp.

Sutton Park

Not far from the Boldmere Gate on Monmouth Drive was a new West Midlands Cycle Hire point with bikes.

Sutton Park

Down on Monmouth Drive was a football field, was kids taking part in an activity here, was a van near the road, but I didn't get a shot of it, so didn't remember the name of it.

Sutton Park

Leaving via Monmouth Drive, Digby Road, Driffold, Bishops Road and Birmingham Road. Walking back into Sutton Coldfield Town Centre. With a stop for a coffee and a toastie at Caffe Nero at the Gracechurch Shopping Centre.

By the time I walked back to Sutton Coldfield Station, I'd managed 10,000 steps.

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

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80 passion points
Green open spaces
07 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Cannon Hill Park - a green space trail

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This trail takes you through this wonderful park to some great landmarks and includes the option (which we most certainly recommend) of a visit to the Nature Centre and the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park. 

Explore a few places on the trail over an hour or two or spend a full day at Cannon Hill Park.  

Enjoy!   

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Can we recommend you start the trail at The Midlands Art Centre (The MAC).

 

The Midlands Art Centre (The MAC).

Grab a coffee and a bite to eat at the cafe.  Explore this wonderful arts complex which hosts a mix of theatre, dance, and music, complete with its own cinema and workshops. 

The MAC Cannon Hill Park

Explore more about the MAC HERE

From the Mac you pass the Outdoor Arena and The Children's Adventure Playground.

The Outdoor Arena and The Adventure Playground.

450-seater open-air performance space with an exciting series of outdoor events planned. Next to this, there's a great open space for the youngsters to enjoy at the park's Adventure Playground. 

Now walk on past the Fishing Lake on your left.

Fishing Lake.

Go and enjoy a range of recreational activities on the lake including boating and fishing,

Maybe the swans have tempted you.

Cannon Hill Park

From here you could take a small detour out of the park to enjoy an hour or two at Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park.

Boy Scouts War Memorial.

On your way to what was formerly called the Nature Centre is the Boy Scouts War Memorial, Grade II listed. Unveiled in July 1924, in the form of an obelisk. In memory of the lives of the Boy Scouts lost during the First World War. Designed by local architect William Hayward.

Boy Scouts War Memorial

Continue along the path towards the Pershore Road.

Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park.

The Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park is home to a unique collection of animals including Red Pandas, Lemurs, Reptiles, Wallabies, Meerkats, Otters, Birds and a large collection of Monkeys. Some of the animals at this park are endangered and the park plays an important role in protecting and preserving many species.

Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park

Explore more about the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park HERE.

Now on to explore the wonderful woodlands at Cannon Hill Park.

Woodlands at Cannon Hill Park.

Cannon Hill Park is made up of 80 acres of formal parkland and 120 acres of conservation area and woodland plantation. Enjoy a wonderful stroll through the woodland! 

Centenary Woodland Cannon Hill Park

From here on to the Sons of Rest.

Sons of Rest.  

Sons of Rest was a movement established by a group of retired working men in 1927. They met to play cards, dominoes and enjoy each others company. The Cannon Hill Sons of Rest was built in 1937.

Sons of Rest Cannon Hill Park

From here on to The Golden Lion.

The Golden Lion.

The Golden Lion was originally built in 1520 in Deritend.  The original site is believed to have been a clergy house and a school before becoming an Inn.  It was moved to Cannon Hill Park in 1911.  Sadly over the last couple of decades, the pub has been behind scaffolding, and is in a poor statue of disrepair. Campaigners are hoping to get it restored, or moved back to Digbeth?

The Golden Lion Cannon Hill Park

The Friends of the Golden Lion have a Facebook page HERE.

From here on to The Bandstand.

The Bandstand.

This is a Grade II listed Victorian bandstand built in the 19th century with a blue-brick and stone base, cast iron columns and a curved pavilion roof.  It dates to circa 1880 to 1890.

Bandstand Cannon Hill Park

Now go and see a fascinating sculpture and Sousse memorial.

"Infinite Wave".

Prince Harry unveiled this memorial dedicated to those killed and affected by the two terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015.  Infinite Wave was designed by George King Architects.

How about a bit of fun at the Park's International Mini-Golf course.

Mini Golf at Cannon Hill Park.

36 holes of fantastic mini golf fun complete with water hazards.  An 18 hole mini golf course previously opened in 2012. It is now Golden Putter Mini Golf.

Golden Putter Mini Golf Cannon Hill Park

More information on Golden Putter Mini Golf HERE.

Now for something a little different.

Train Station.

Fancy a ride on the park's train. You can pick it up at the park's train station. 

Cannon Hill Park Station

Now for a detour to the Boer War Memorial.

Boer War Memorial.

This statue is in memory of the British lives lost during the Second Boer War (1899 - 1902) in South Africa. When Joseph Chamberlain was the British Colonial Secretary. The bronze memorial was sculpted by Albert Toft and unveiled in Cannon Hill Park in 1906. It was cleaned and restored in 2012, now Grade II* listed. Surrounded with benches where you can sit down and relax.

Boer War Memorial

Time for a cup of tea or a sandwich?

The Garden Tea Room.

After exploring so much of what's available at this wonderful park, take a break at the tea rooms.

The Garden Tea Room

Now onto remembering a lady who was instrumental to the park's existence as a fantastic open space for us all to enjoy.

Louisa Ryland Monument.

Louisa Ann Ryland (1814 - 1889) gifted the park to the city in 1873.  The blue plaque from the Birmingham Civic Society unveiled at the gatehouse / lodge at 143 Edgbaston Road in 1990. The Rea Valley Cycle Route was officially opened here in 1991.

Louisa Ryland blue plaque

On now to a model of the Elan Valley Project in Wales.

Elan Valley Project Model.

Explore the city's connection with Elan Valley in Wales which supplied much of the city's water for more than 100 years.

Now onto the Canoe Pool.

The Canoe Pool.

More great wildlife to enjoy as we near the end of the trail around the park.

A short walk back to the Mac.

We hope you have enjoyed our trail. 

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40 passion points
History & heritage
04 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A visit to Winterbourne House and Garden during May 2021

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It's been a long time coming, but we went to Winterbourne House and Garden on Wednesday 26th May 2021. You enter via the house. Tickets can be bought inside the house, £7.20 for adults or £6.20 for seniors. You can also choose to have time to go around the house. We went in the house at 3pm. The Tearoom is also open, but you can have your tea and coffee on the terrace.

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Winterbourne House and Garden

It's been a long time coming. But after almost 13 years, we went back to Winterbourne House and Garden. In 2008 only the garden was open to visitors. Since then, the Arts and Crafts style house was fully restored and given full museum status by 2017. Some things had changed with the garden as well. Plus this time I remembered to go down to the Edgbaston Pool. The ground floor and first floor of the house are open to visitors, but only a limited number of people at each time, on timed slots. The Tearoom was open as well. Only one household bubble can go up to the counter to order their drinks, card or app payment only. Have your drinks and cakes out on the terrace outside (tables and chairs). I think the indoor tearoom was open, but wasn't sure as everyone went to have their drinks outside.

 

Recap of the History of Winterbourne

The house was built in 1904 for John and Margaret Nettlefold. They were a wealthy Edwardian couple, who lived and raised their children here. Built in the Arts and Crafts style, John Nettlefold commissioned the architect Joseph Lancaster Ball to design the house. An unusual feature of Winterbourne is the wavy roof line, making the house look older than it actually is. The Nettlefold's were insistent that all the main rooms faced south, including the nursery, to get the maximum amount of sunlight and the best views. The house was built by Isaac Langley of Tyburn, Birmingham. The plaster work was undertaken by local craftsperson G P Bankart. It had all the mod cons of the time including electric lighting and gas fires in several rooms. Many people were moving to Edgbaston in the early 1900s, so it was the perfect place to built their family home. Winterbourne was also close to the new University of Birmingham which was founded by Margaret's uncle Joseph Chamberlain in 1900.

The Nettlefold's lived here from 1904 until 1919 (when John got ill). They were followed by the Wheelock family who lived here from 1919 until 1925. A gardener called John Nicholson bought the house in 1925. When he passed away in 1944, he bequeathed the house to the University of Birmingham.  The house at 58 Edgbaston Park Road has been a Grade II listed building since 1982. The house was fully restored in 2010. It gained full museum status in 2017, with the ground and first floor open to visitors to have a look around at.

 

 

This visit of May 2021, was by chance a couple of days after the 121st anniversary of the founding of the University of Birmingham by a Royal Charter.

 

View of Winterbourne House from the terrace. To the left is the entrance to the house, and also the area for having your teas and coffees outside.

 

 

Winterbourne

The house seen from the Lower Lawn, in the middle is the Pergola.

Winterbourne

The house seen from the Top Lawn. The terrace in front, parasols mostly closed as it was a dry day.

Winterbourne

The house seen from near the exit. The former garden entrance on the left. You now enter the house via  the door to the far right.

Winterbourne

 

A tour of the house inside

Starting your tour (without a guide) at The Drawing Room. It was a place for the family to relax and for entertaining guests. The plasterwork on the walls and ceilings are typical of Arts and Crafts design.

Winterbourne

We next to into The Hallway. It was inspired by 17th century long galleries.

Winterbourne

On the left is a portrait of John Nettlefold (1866 - 1930). The family lived in the house until 1919, when John got ill. It is a photograph of a portrait of John Nettlefold by John Byam Liston Shaw in 1904.

Winterbourne

At the far end of the Hallway is a portrait of Margaret Nettlefold (nee Chamberlain) (1871 - 1949). Born into the Chamberlain family, she was the niece of Joseph Chamberlain (1836 - 1914) and first cousin of Neville Chamberlain (1869 - 1940). The painting was also by John Byam Liston Shaw and done in 1904 (this is a photograph reproduction of the original).

Winterbourne

The next room on the ground floor was The Study. This room is dedicated to John Nettlefold and his work. On his desk lies the plans for the Moorpool estate. The wallpaper is 'Brier Rabbit' by William Morris.

Winterbourne

Up to the first foor and we are now in the Nurses' Room. It is the room on the left of the top of the stairs. It's the kind of room where the servants would have lived in the house.

Winterbourne

That is followed by The Nursery. It was a large and airy room for the children and faced the garden. The children would have played and slept in the room, and even had their lessons here from the Nurse before they were old enough to attend local schools.

Winterbourne

The next room is Nina's Room. It has been styled for a 16 year old girl from the period. The outfit near the window is an example of Edwardian summer dress worn by young girls of Nina's social standing.

Winterbourne

The final bedroom you can view is Ken's Room. Named after John Kenrick Nettlefold, he was the Nettlefold's only surviving son. It represents what the room could have looked like before he left the family home.

Winterbourne

In The Exhibition Room near the door was this sculpture. Standing Lovers, 1974. Made of Terracotta by John Tonks (1927-2012). It was originally exhibited at Winterbourne House in 1974, as part of a restrospective of John Tonks' work.

Winterbourne

 

The Winterbourne Press

This building was originally the garage, to house the Nettlefold's first motor car which they bought in 1906. Today the building houses the Winterbourne Press, which shows the early printing techniques of those used in Arts and Crafts design, with a collection of working 19th and early 20th century printing presses.

Winterbourne

When you go in, only one person is allowed at one time. Beyond this gate is staff only. There was several old printing presses inside, plus examples of prints that they had produced.

Winterbourne

 

Former farm buildings at Winterbourne

There is several former farm buildings and stables at Winterbourne. From the Walled Garden you can see The Old Hayloft houses, which is now the Winterbourne Shop. It is also now the exit from the garden. Various items can be bought here, such as the Guide Book for £5 (card or app payment only at present).

Winterbourne

Exiting the shop, you see the Coach House Gallery, which is now home to the Second-hand Bookshop.

Winterbourne

 

Garden tour at Winterbourne

First up is The Walled Garden. Through here is the shop, second-hand bookshop, the toilets, Winterbourne Press, and  Edwardian Kitchen. In the centre is the Dipping Pool. It was restored after a leak in 2008. To the far end is the Lean-to Glasshouse which was restored in 2005.

Winterbourne

The next area is the Glasshouse and Alpine Garden. Here you can visit The Gilbert Orchid House (pictured below). Also the Arid House and Alpine House. The Glasshouses were first included in this area as early as the 1930s. The Gilbert Orchid House was built in the 1960s.

Winterbourne

The Nut Walk is near the Geographic collections. It is an original feature of the garden, and provides a focal point for this area. It is in a tunnel shape. The hazelnut trees growing here are the same ones planted by Margaret Nettlefold over 100 years ago. By the 1980s the original structure had decayed, and was replaced with a new, longer lasting iron frame, domed in shape.

Winterbourne

The Rhododendron Walk runs straight towards the stream. There is also a gate on one side that leads to the Edgbaston Pool. It is the first part of the garden to burst into colour in the spring. There is the remains of an Oak Tree here, that has been left as a memorial to it.

Winterbourne

Taking a detour of the garden, down a path (from the unlocked gate) to the Edgbaston Pool. It belongs to Edgbaston Golf Club. Visitors to Winterbourne can walk along the path, and sit at the benches. The gate beyond is private property of the golf club. Visitors must leave the pool by 4:45pm, when the gate at Winterbourne is padlocked for the evening. The pool was part of the Edgbaston Estate of the Gough family, later members of the Calthorpe's, whose Calthorpe Estates owns much of the land in Edgbaston.

Winterbourne

Back in Winterbourne Garden, and now walking past the stream. This is the Japanese Bridge and Sandstone Rock Garden. On the day of our visit, the bridge was closed for maintenance, so couldn't do the Woodland Walk.

Winterbourne

The furthest part of the garden you can go to. The Stream Lawn, Streamside Borders and Magnolia Border. It's hard to believe that you are two miles away from the city centre. It was originally used in 1904 to grow vegetables. Later in the 1970s it was home to a small nursery, before it was removed to make way for the present day lawn and flowering shrub borders.

Winterbourne

Next up is the Lower Lawn. In this view you can see the Pergola (view towards the house). The Herb Circle is to the right. The Pergola is a true Arts and Crafts feature, added by John Nicolson. It was restored in 2005. Currently there is no access to it, while you are walking around the lawn.

Winterbourne

The Old Meadow is a part of the Winter Garden. It is alongside Winterbourne's western boundary. Originally pastureland during the Edwardian period, it was tamed by gardening staff in 1969, when it was used to house a series of plant family beds. Later it became a commemorative garden to celebrate the centenary of the City of Birmingham in 1989. The Old Meadow contains The White Border, The Mediterranean Bed and the Winter Border.

Winterbourne

The Top Lawn can be seen from the terrace in front of the house. The Lime Walk is to the right of here. This is the lawn where the Nettlefold's would have played boules and croquet. The Wheelocks, who followed them, used it for family games and tennis.

Winterbourne

 

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

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80 passion points
Education
02 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools - from Camp Hill in 1883 to Kings Heath in 1956-58

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King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools is two Grammar schools on one site. The boys and the girls school. Founded in 1883, they were at a site at Camp Hill until they moved to Vicarage Road in Kings Heath (boys in 1956, girls in 1958). The old building survives at Camp Hill Circus near Bordesley Middleway and Stratford Road as The Bordesley Centre. The current school is next to Kings Heath Park.

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King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

In this third post on the King Edward VI schools founded in 1883, we look at King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys and King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls. Originally located at the top of the Stratford Road, near Sparkbrook and Bordesley. They relocated to a site at Vicarage Road and Cartland Road between 1956 and 1958. Unlike Five Ways, the old building at Camp Hill Circus still stands today, as The Bordesley Centre.

 

History of King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

Today you can see the old building at the corner of Bordesley Middleway and the Stratford Road, if you are getting the bus around Camp Hill Circus (or travelling in other forms of transport). It was designed by Martin and Chamberlain, and first opened in 1883 for the King Edward VI Foundation. The building is now a Grade II* listed building. The builder was James Moffat. There was later additions to the building during the 20th century, with more alterations in the early 21st century.

The school of 1883 was the boys school, later the girls school was built by 1890. The school was built in the Gothic style. After the school moved to Kings Heath, the buildings was first used as a Teachers Training College, then by the City of Birmingham Polytechnic (later University of Central England, now Birmingham City University). It is now The Bordesley Centre, a religious, educational and advisory centre for Birmingham's Yemeni community, and run by the Muath Trust. The building was remodelled and refurbished in 2004-06.

Photos below taken during March 2012. First photo taken from Camp Hill near Camp Hill Circus. Bordesley Middleway on the left.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

Second photo taken from Bordesley Middleway near Camp Hill Circus. At the time went to see a plaque about The Ship Inn, the site of a pub that used to stand here. Was used by Prince Rupert, before his Royalist army attacked Birmingham at Easter 1643. The Ship Inn stood here from 1560 until 1972. It was rebuilt in the late 19th Century.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

 

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools today in Kings Heath

The boys school relocated to a site in Kings Heath at Vicarage Road and Cartland Road during 1956. This is next to Kings Heath Park. While the house of the former estate here is now within Kings Heath Park, the gatehouse is in the grounds of the school near the Vicarage Road. Formerly owned by the Cartland family from 1880 until the 1900s (ancestors of the late Romance novel author Barbara Cartland). The girls school relocated to the site in 1958, and both the boys and girls schools share buildings. They also have playing fields at Kings Heath, which they would have had no room for at Camp Hill.

 

During October 2017 from the Vicarage Road in Kings Heath. Pupils can get off the 11C, 11A or 35 bus routes down here. Main entrance to the school is on the right. Just cross at the lights.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

This is the pedestrian entrance for pupils and visitors to the schools. Looked very autumnal that day.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

 

In April 2019, a walk past King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools. Starting at Vicarage Road in Kings Heath near this sign (gatehouse behind).

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

Sign seen on Cartland Road. Reception for both schools on Vicarage Road.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

The sports field with rugby goalpost, modern buildings behind. Seen behind the fence on Cartland Road.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

Modern buildings shared by both the boys and girls school. I think they also share the sports field. Barbed wire on the fence at Cartland Road.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

 

A December 2019 view up the main drive to King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools. Looks like they built modern extensions to the 1950s buildings here. Lined by trees. At the time, the gate on Vicarage Road was open. There is ramps, so vehicles will have to drive slowly towards the schools.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

 

A more recent view of King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools, taken from Kings Heath Park during March 2021. The Cartland family formed the Priory Trust Co Ltd to manage the grounds. They wanted to develop houses, but ended up selling the land to the local council (Kings Norton and Northfield Urban District Council). The council opened the land as a park. Birmingham City Council took over the park and Kings Heath in 1911. The remaining land was sold to the council in 1914. The rest of the land of what is now King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools would have been purchased by the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham in the mid 1950s.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

 

The Lodge to King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

This is the Lodge to King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools. One of the oldest buildings at the school, it dates to the early 19th Century, and is a Grade II listed building. It is rendered, and Battlemented according to the Historic England listing, at 142 Vicarage Road. The lodge was formerly part of the estate of Kings Heath House, and was separated when a fence was erected between the schools and Kings Heath Park (probably in the late 1950s).

First view (below) taken from the 11A bus on Vicarage Road in Kings Heath during April 2017.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

The next view was taken from Kings Heath Park during Febraury 2018. You can see the modern fence separating the park and school grounds here.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

Another bus view, this time taken from the 11C during April 2018. You can see the lodge on the left, and the vehicle entrance driveway on the right to the schools.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

 

School bus

In May 2017, I was on an 11A bus, when I passed this school bus for both King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys and King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, seen on the Vicarage Road. Bus ID 112.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

On this side advertising the girls school and their outstanding results! Co-education for all.

King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools

 

My own history with King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys. I would have done the 11+ here during 1993-94, but I didn't pass it. I recall putting King Edward VI Five Ways School as my first choice, and King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys as my second. I ended up at my local Comprehensive school (which was in walking distance). Years later got the 11C on the way to my Sixth Form College (1999 - 2001). I now think I should have put Camp Hill as my number one. My late brother later got into Camp Hill. Of course I pass it now whenever I get the 11C or 11A past the school. Or go to Kings Heath Park.

 

Previous posts:

 

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

 

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70 passion points
Health & wellbeing
25 May 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Getting vaccinated at Millennium Point

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My turn to be vaccinated came around in mid May 2021. I booked both at Millennium Point. And I had my first jab on the 19th May 2021. You go in from the ground floor, and get checked. Lift up to 2nd floor, and get directed to chairs to sit down at. After the jab, you go to another chair to sit and wait 15 minutes before leaving. I'll be back in August 2021.

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My experience of going to Millennium Point for my 1st vaccination. When my time came for my age range, the NHS posted me a letter with a link to go to. So I booked both vaccinations for Millennium Point. The first one a few days after the letter came, the second for August 2021.

The text from the GP surgery came a day later, by which time I'd already booked for Millennium Point had had to let them know I wasn't going to the local health centres.

 

My first appointment was on the morning of 19th May 2021. When you get in, you show your reference number and they ask you various questions. You are then directed to the right, then to the lift. Press 2 to go up to the 2nd floor.

Once up, they direct you to a seat to wait to be called. You then get called, same questions again, and the nurse talks to you while injecting the vaccine into your arm.

After this you are directed to another seat, to wait for about 15 minutes, resting after your jab. There maybe side effects within the 24 hours after having it, but should be fine after two days.

Plus you get a card, which you will need to take for the 2nd vaccine appointment. Put it in your wallet or purse.

 

April 2021

Photos below, taken during a walk into Eastside during mid April 2021. Passing Millennium Point. This would be the same route I took going to my vaccine a month later. HS2 works on the right.

Millennium Point

Millennium Point seen on the left from Eastside City Park. Thinktank is due to reopen at the end of May 2021.

Millennium Point

The Millennium Point Covid-19 Vaccination Centre sign from Eastside City Park. I would be back in May.

Millennium Point

That day got the train to and from the City Centre. But you can also get the bus, and walk to Millennium Point.

Millennium Point

 

May 2021

Leaving Millennium Point towards the Jennens Road exit. I noticed that Six/Eight Kafe was gone, and was now another cafe. This exit takes you past the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, towards Aston University.

Millennium Point

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

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60 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
23 May 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Centenary Square - places to visit mapped for you

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Here we have mapped a selection of places that we would recommend you visit in Centenary Square.

This includes: 

The Library of Birmingham, The Hall of Memory, Symphony Hall, The Birmingham Rep, and many other places of interest.

 

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Centenary Square is located in a prime central location in Birmingham. It is host to many of the City's civic and cultural attractions. It first opened in 1991 and reopened in 2019.

Here we have mapped some of the highlights in Centenary Square.  Enjoy with our complements our map of this amazing public space.

Centenary Square 

Centenary Square was named in 1989 to commemorate the centenary of Birmingham achieving City Status.  It opened in 1991 to a carpet brick design by the artist Tess Jaray. It looked like a Persian rug. This was changed from 2010 to 2013 when the Library of Birmingham was built, but still had a grassed area. But the Council had a bright idea to rip this all up and it was redeveloped between 2017 and 2019. This included a reflective pool with fountains / water jets. The old London Plain trees were cut down in 2017, but new trees were planted by 2019.

Centenary SquareCentenary Square (April 2021). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Hall of Memory

This war memorial building was built from 1922 to 1925 and designed by S. N. Cooke and W. N. Twist. It commemorates the citizens of Birmingham who died during WW1. Made of Portland stone. There is four bronze statues outside dedicated to the Air Force, Army, Navy and Women's Services. It was promoted to Grade I listed status in 2014 (from the previous Grade II). There used to be a Colonnade outside of the Hall of Memory, and a fountain as part of the Broad Street Garden of Remembrance (also opened in 1925). But the Colonnade was moved in 1990, to what is now called the Peace Garden to the grounds of St Thomas's Church which was destroyed in the Birmingham Blitz of 1940.

Hall of Memory Centenary Square

Hall of Memory in Centenary Square (April 2020). Photography by Daniel Sturley

For more on the Hall of Memory, CONNECT HERE.

 

Baskerville House 

This was previously called the Civic Centre, it was the only building built for the proposed Civic Centre from 1938. WW2 halted construction, but after the war, Roman Imperial imagery went out of fashion, and the other proposed buildings were not built. The building was renovated from 2003 to 2007. Baskerville House was built on the site where the home of John Baskerville used to be.

Baskerville House

Baskerville House from Centenary Way (April 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

For more on Baskerville House, CONNECT HERE.

 

The Library of Birmingham

The Library of Birmingham was built from 2010 to 2013, between The REP and Baskerville House. It opened in September 2013. There is nine levels above ground, plus a couple of basement floors (Children's Library). Only Level 0, MG, 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 9 are accessible to the public. Levels 5, 6 and 8 are staff only. Discovery Terrace on Level 3, Secret Garden on Level 7 and the Shakespeare Memorial Room on Level 9. Brasshouse Language's moved onto Level 1 in September 2016.

Library of Birmingham

Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square (September 2019). Photography by Daniel Sturley

For more on the Library of Birmingham, CONNECT HERE.

 

The Birmingham REP

The Birmingham Reperatory Theatre moved to what is now called Centenary Square in 1971. Closed during the building of the Library of Birmingham from 2010 to 2013, they reopened at the same time as the Library. Founded by Sir Barry Jackson at what is now called The Old REP on Station Street in 1913. There is a pair of blue plaques here from the Birmingham Civic Society, including the founder Sir Barry Jackson, and J. Sampson Gamgee, a surgeon, who lived on the site that The REP is now standing. His name was later used by J. R. R. Tolkien for the character of Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2021, the REP is celebrating their 50th Anniversary at this site.

The REP

The REP in Centenary Square (September 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

For more on THE REP, CONNECT HERE. (note it is not yet on Birmingham Gems - need edting rights please Jonathan)

 

The ICC and The Symphony Hall 

These buildings opened in 1991, built from 1986 to 1991. Opened by the Queen in June 1991. Host venue of the G8 in 1998. The foyer of Symphony Hall was rebuilt during 2020. It is due to reopen in 2021. An empty plinth has been reserved outside for the statue of Boulton, Watt & Murdoch, which has been in storage since 2017.

The ICC and Symphony HallThe ICC and Symphony Hall (April 2021). Photography by Elliott Brown

For more on The ICC, CONNECT HERE.

For Symphony Hall, CONNECT HERE.

 

One Centenary Square

Built as the home of HSBC UK. It was originally going to be called Two Arena Central. Built between 2017 and 2018. There is a pair of bronze lions outside the main entrance. Built on the former site of Central TV (and ATV before that). It was a former Masonic Building.

HSBC UK One Centenary SquareHSBC UK, One Centenary Square (July 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

For One Centenary Square, CONNECT HERE.

 

The Exchange (formerly Birmingham Municipal Bank)

The Birmingham Municipal Bank originally opened in 1933. A year before in 1932, Neville Chamberlain, at the time Chancellor of the Exchequer, laid the foundation stone of the building. It was his idea to have a municipal bank. In the decades that followed, it later became a part of the TSB, and was a Lloyds TSB when it closed for good in 2006. However in 2017, the University of Birmingham took it over, and it was being renovated during 2020 into 2021. It was formerly addressed as 301 Broad Street, but it is now addresed as Three Centenary Square.

The Exchange BMBThe Exchange (former Birmingham Municipal Bank) (April 2021). Photography by Elliott Brown

For The Exchange (former Birmingham Municipal Bank), CONNECT HERE.

 

Library Tram Stop

In 2017, the Boulton, Watt & Murdoch statue was moved into storage near Arena Central, and this end of Broad Street was built as the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square from 2017 to 2019. Library Tram Stop opened to the public as the temporary terminus of the line during December 2019. The line is currently being extended down Broad Street, and should be open as far as 54 Hagley Road in Edgbaston by the end of 2021. The West Midlands Metro Urbos 3 trams are powered by battery packs from Stephenson Street (Grand Central Tram Stop) to Centenary Square (Library Tram Stop).

Library Tram StopWest Midlands Metro tram 31 at Library Tram Stop (August 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
22 May 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Street art across Birmingham - mapped for you

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In and around Birmingham, there is some great street art to enjoy. 

Explore this map and our feature for just a selection of the wonderful street art on offer.  Use the map to plan where to go or enjoy it with us here.

Note: Street art can get painted over and replaced and there is no guarantee that it will be there if you visit.

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Street art in Digbeth

Digbeth is renowned for its street art and has attracted a number of extremely talented artists to showcase their art and creativity. Digbeth is home to the High Viz Street Culture Festival and the City of Colours Festival.

 

Black Sabbath

Location: In the short stay car park of Birmingham Coach Station, Rea Street, Digbeth.

Artist: N4T4 and Wingy.

Description: Painted in 2019 during the 50th Anniversary of Black Sabbath, during the High Viz Street Culture Festival.

Photography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Rea St   

Co-ordinates: 52.47471036278989, -1.8885750864166637

 

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Location: The Paper Mill, Allison Street, Digbeth (inside a car park).

Artist: Unknown

Description: Depicts Dr Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, a pair of US Civil Rights leaders during the 1960s, who were both assassinated. Possibly painted in 2019 for the High Viz Street Culture Festival. This was before the Black Lives Matter movement that started in 2020, after a Police officer killed George Floyd in the USA. There is other political street art in here including former US President Donald Trump, plus former UK PM's David Cameron and Theresa May.

Martin Luther King and Malcolm XPhotography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Allison St

Co-ordinates: 52.477078142706745, -1.8897963145198369

 

Forward in Unity

Location: Nortons beer garden on Meriden Street, Digbeth.

Artist: Gent 48.

Description: Painted during the first year of the Coronavirus Pandemic by Gent 48 in 2020. It was commissioned by Paul Cadman for Art 4 Charity. It resembles the Coronavirus being fought by the NHS, the Police, firemen, who are all real superheroes. The mural has since been turned into a book with signatures, including Gent 48 himself!

Forward in UnityPhotography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Meriden St

Co-ordinates: 52.47710679118819, -1.88945191507358

 

Bird's Custard

Location: Side wall of Fazeley Studios, Floodgate Street, Digbeth.

Artist: Seven 9 Signs

Description: Looks like a tin of Bird's Custard Powder. Points the direction to the Custard Factory, where eggless custard was manufactured on that site until 1963, by Alfred Bird & Sons.

Bird's Custard

Photography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Floodgate St

Co-ordinates: 52.477306844642136, -1.882268268892536

 

Marvel Spider-Man

Location: Custard Factory Car Park (near Heath Mill Lane and Lower Trinity Street), Digbeth.

Artist: Jim Vision

Description: Painted in 2018 around the time that the Marvel Spider-Man game was being launched on the Sony Playstation 4. The game was later remastered in 2020 for the new Sony Playstation 5. Painted for the HiViz Festival.

Marvel Spider-Man PS4Photography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Custard Factory Car Park

Co-ordinates: 52.47540435700964, -1.881377469303182

 

Abstract Semi Circle

Location: Proof House Junction of the Grand Union Canal (Digbeth Branch) and the Digbeth Branch Canal.

Artist: Lucy McLauchlan.

Description: It is under the disused Proof House Railway Bridge. In Lucy McLauchlan's distinctive art style of grey, white and black swirls in a semi circle, opposite the canal towpath. The canal here was formerly the Warwick & Birmingham Canal, but is now part of the Grand Union Canal.

Grand Union LucyPhotography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Proof House Junction

Co-ordinates: 52.48011990320871, -1.8839594857713575

 

Street art in Southside 

 

Bowie

Location: Dudley Street, Southside (opposite Edgbaston Street). Close to being under the Smallbrook Queensway Bridge.

Artist: Annatomix.

Description: Famed popstar David Bowie passed away in 2016. Annatomix painted her original Bowie artwork here shortly after that. But it kept getting vandalised. She repainted Bowie in a different design in 2019. More vandalism in 2020, led to her making a repair with a blindfold over Bowie's eyes.

Annatomix BowiePhotography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Dudley St

Co-ordinates: 52.476333395707464, -1.8966260612490133

 

Love is Love

Location: Nightingale Bar, corner of Kent Street and Lower Essex Street.

Artist: Inkie

Description: A woman with long flowing rainbow hair in the Gay Village, part of Southside. There is more street art to the right on Kent Street. Painted here in 2017.

NightingalePhotography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Kent St

Co-ordinates: 52.4725526555764, -1.896230195888382

 

Street art in Bordesley

 

Captain "Terminator" America 

Location: On wasteland, High Street, Bordesley.

Artist: The Forty Eights.

Description: It resembles Marvel's Captain America as a Terminator T-800 Endoskelton, or pehaps a zombie.

Captain Terminator AmericaPhotography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - High St Bordesley

Co-ordinates: 52.473196117439805, -1.8792848641522124

 

Street art in the Jewellery Quarter

 

Christmas Reindeer

Location: On the railway wall on Vyse Street, Jewellery Quarter (to the right of Jewellery Quarter Station).

Artist: Banksy.

Description: A Christmas reindeer highlighting the issue of homelessness, some people would pose on the bench on the left, as a sleigh. Painted in December 2019. Network Rail protected the piece with perspex. Someone shortly afterwards painted red noses onto it, or splashed paint onto the perspex, but Network Rail regularly cleans it up.

Banksy reindeerPhotography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Vyse St

Co-ordinates: 52.48962435687972, -1.912765177922335

 

 

Street art in Westside

 

Pissing on Banksy

Location: Wall of Bistro Pierre at Gas Street Basin.

Artist: unknown.

Description: A small boy urinating on Banksy. It has been protected by the Canal & River Trust with a sheet of perspex. It's been here since about March 2021.

Not a Banksy

Photography by Elliott Brown

Google Maps Street View - Gas St Basin

Co-ordinates: 52.47698624880546, -1.9095415509215925

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40 passion points
Education
22 May 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

King Edward VI Five Ways School - from Five Ways in 1883 to Bartley Green in 1958

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In the second of our posts on the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham (that was founded in 1883). This time we take a look at King Edward VI Five Ways School. Originally located at the junction of Ladywood Road and Hagley Road at Five Ways. They moved to a site on Scotland Lane in Bartley Green in 1958, near Bartley Reservoir. Was a boys only Grammar School until girls joined in 1988.

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King Edward VI Five Ways School

Today at Five Ways Island there is little evidence other than a plaque to tell you that a Grammar School used to be located at this busy traffic island. That school was King Edward VI Five Ways School, and it still exists today, although they have spent the last 63 years based in Bartley Green, on a site on Scotland Lane (next to Bartley Reservoir). The school is about 5 to 7 miles away from where they were originally located.

 

History of King Edward VI Five Ways School

The school was founded in 1883 as part of the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham. The school building was originally the former Edgbaston Proprietary School, at the junction of Ladywood Road and Hagley Road at Five Ways, Birmingham. The building was designed by J.A. Chatwin and opened in January 1883 by A. J. Mundella. At first the school had room for 350 boys. The first headmaster was E.H.F. MacCarthy, who remained in the post until his retirement in 1916. A building at the Bartley Green site was later named after him in his honour.

Public domain photo below dated to 1888 of the old King King Edward VI Five Ways School.

King Edward VI Five Ways School

During the Second World War, the school evacuated to Monmouth, and the boys attended Monmouth School. After the war, the school was getting a bit too overcrowded, due to the development of land around Five Ways, and there was no room to expand. So the decision was taken to relocate the school to Bartley Green. The land was formerly Bartley Farm next to Bartley Reservoir, and the Foundation purchased it. The school opened there at Scotland Lane in April 1958.

After the school moved away from Five Ways, eventually the old building was demolished, and Five Ways Island was developed during the 1960s. Ladywood Road was renamed to Ladywood Middleway. Meanwhile an underpass was built under the island from Broad Street to Hagley Road in Edgbaston. Islington Row became Islington Row Middleway, while Calthorpe Road and Harborne Road remained with the same road names.

In January 1983, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the opening of the school, this plaque (photo below below taken in 2009) was unveiled by Councillor P. Hollingworth (when Lord Mayor of Birmingham). It records King Edward VI Grammar School Five Ways from 16-1-1883 to 2-4-1958. The plaque was unveiled on 16-1-1983. It is below the Tubular Steel sculpture in the middle of Five Ways Island.

King Edward VI Five Ways School

When the Westside Metro extension to Hagley Road opens at the end of 2021, passengers will have little idea that they are travelling under the site of a former grammar school!

The site of Five Ways Island today in May 2021, as seen from the top of Calthorpe Road. The school would have been approximately where the Stainless steel sculpture is today, although I suspect part of it could have been where Metropolitan House is now (built 1972 to 1974, refurbished 2015-16).

Five Ways Island

 

King Edward VI Five Ways School today in Bartley Green

The site at Bartley Green has been developed ever since they moved from Five Ways in 1958. This includes the Eyles and Chowen Centres, the former and current home of the Sixth Form Centre. A music block and technology block have been added, as well as a Sports Hall and the MacCarthy Block. The Science Wing was also expanded. In recent years, a sports pavilion was built, as well as an astro turf playing field, a mobile classroom and an Observatory was built. The Eyles building was renovated into the Eyles-Music Block, as the old Music block had become too small.

It was one of the first schools to get computer technology in 1978. This was achieved with links to Aston University. Girls have been admitted to the school since 1988. The school today is the largest co-educational grammar schools in the West Midlands and one of the top five co-ed grammar schools nationally.

 

I took these photos (below) of King Edward VI Five Ways School, back in early March 2021, during a return visit to Bartley Reservoir. The views of the school all taken from Scotland Lane in Bartley Green.

King Edward VI Five Ways School

The view of the modern school buildings taken through the gate on Scotland Lane.

King Edward VI Five Ways School

This road is the exit from the school. The entrance road is to the left.

King Edward VI Five Ways School

This sign welcomes you to King Edward VI Five Ways School.

King Edward VI Five Ways School

An old King Edward's Royal Coat of Arms. I suspect they saved it from the old building at Five Ways in 1958. I'm not sure what else survived from the 1883 to 1958 building.

King Edward VI Five Ways School

Zooming in to a modern Royal Coat of Arms sign of the school. Probably the Royal arms of King Edward VI?

King Edward VI Five Ways School

There is plenty of signs here you let you know that this is King Edward VI Five Ways School.

King Edward VI Five Ways School

Later saw a tractor on the walk back fro Bartley Reservoir (before walking to Senneleys Park).

King Edward VI Five Ways School

Walking past the school, was my first time back since around 1993-94 when I was looking at Secondary Schools to go to. I even put it at as my number one choice for a Grammar School to go to in Birmingham (ahead of Camp Hill). Unfortunately I failed the 11+, and ended up at my local Comprehensive school (which was in walking distance). Then again King Edward VI Five Ways was too far to travel on two buses each day. And I now think I should have put Camp Hill as number one (too late now 28 years later of course). King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys was much closer to get to on the 11C (my late brother went there). The journey to Bartley Green would have taken well over an hour (including the no 18 bus). I only ever did that journey once in 2015 when I first went to Bartley Reservoir.

 

Go here for the post on King Edward VI Aston School.

 

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

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70 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
22 May 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Victoria Square - places of interest mapped for you

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Here we have mapped a selection of places that we would recommend as of real cultural interest in Victoria Square.

This includes: 

Birmingham Council House, The Town Hall, Victoria Square House; The River and Youth ('Floozie in the Jacuzzi'), and the Statue of Queen Victoria.

Enjoy!.

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Victoria Square is home to Birmingham's historic Council House.

Victoria Square was originally called Council House Square, but was re-named to Victoria Square after Queen Victoria in 1901, just 12 days before she passed away.

Here we have mapped some of the highlights in Victoria Square.  Enjoy with our compliments our map of this amazing public space.

 

Historic architecture

First let's introduce you to some magificent architecture and historic builds that are on display in Victoria Square. 

The Birmingham Council House

The Council House was built between 1874 to 1879, and was designed by architect Yeoville Thomason. It is a Grade II* listed building and is home to Birmingham City Council.

Photography by Daniel Sturley.

For more on the Council House, CONNECT HERE.

 

Birmingham Town Hall

The Town Hall is the oldest building in the square was built between 1832 and 1834. It was designed by architects Joseph Hansom and Edward Welch. The Grade I listed building was refurbished between 2002 and 2007. It was the first example of the 19th Century revival of Roman Architecture in Birmingham.

Photography by Elliott Brown.

For more on the Town Hall, CONNECT HERE.

 

Victoria Square House

Victoria Square House was built from 1899 to 1901, and operated as the General Post Office until 1972 when the Royal Mail moved to larger premises. this building was saved from demolition by the Victorian Society.

Victoria Square

Photography by Elliott Brown.

For more on Victoria Square House, CONNECT HERE.

 

Public Art

There are two great examples of public art that can be enjoyed in Victoria Square.

River and Youth ('Floozie in the Jacuzzi')

River and Youth was unveiled in 1993 and was sculpted by Dhruva Mistry. It is known locally by 'Brummies' by her nickname of the "Floozie in the Jacuzzi". There is also a a pair of Sphinx Guardians.

Photography by Daniel Sturley

For more on the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, CONNECT HERE.

 

The Statue of Queen Victoria

The Queen Victoria statue was originally designed in marble by Thomas Brock in 1901, and was later cast in bronze by William Bloye in 1951.

Photography by Daniel Sturley.

For more on the statue of Queen Victoria, CONNECT HERE.

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