Elliott Brown

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History & heritage
15 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

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

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

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Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

These are the Holy Austin Rock Houses at Kinver Edge.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

Pots and pans in this small cave.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

The window of this Rock House was only slightly open.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

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Health & wellbeing
14 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

When the Air Ambulance flies patients to hospitals in Birmingham

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

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Midlands Air Ambulance

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

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

Midlands Air Ambulance car

 

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

Midlands Air Ambulance

 

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

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

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

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

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

 

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

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

 

Wales Air Ambulance

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

Wales Air Ambulance

 

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

Wales Air Ambulance

 

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

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

Introducing the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

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

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Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

 

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

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

 

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

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

 

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

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

QEHB

 

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

QEHB

QEHB

 

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

QEHB

 

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

QEHB

 

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

QEHB

 

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

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

QEHB Lickey Hills

 

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

QEHB Lickey Hills

 

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

QEHB Lickey Hills

 

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

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

Old Victorian letterboxes around the Jewellery Quarter

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

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Happy New Year 2021! 

Vittoria Street

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

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

Letterboxes Vittoria St

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

Letterboxes Vittoria St

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

Letterboxes Vittoria St

 

Caroline Street

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

JQ letterbox Caroline St

Vyse Street

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

JQ letterbox Vyse St

Spencer Street

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

JQ letterbox Spencer St

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

JQ letterbox Spencer St

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

JQ letterbox Spencer St

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

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

Return to Baddesley Clinton during July 2020

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

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

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

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

 

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

Locked gate to the Wildflower Meadow.

Baddesley Clinton

A grass path roped off, no entry.

Baddesley Clinton

Another view of the Wildflower Meadow.

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

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

Baddesley Clinton

 

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

 

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

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

Return to Packwood House during July 2020

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

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

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

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

 

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

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

Packwood House

 

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

 

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

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

Church Street Square in the Colmore Business District

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

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CHURCH STREET SQUARE

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

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

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

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

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

 

2012

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

Church Street Square

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

Church Street Square

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

Church Street Square

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

Church Street Square

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

Church Street Square

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

Church Street Square

 

2013

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

Church Street Square

Looking at the plants towards Edmund Street.

Church Street Square

Plants all around the benches here.

Church Street Square

 

2014

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

Folding Bicycle

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

Folding Bicycle

 

2015

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

War Horse

 

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

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

Big Hoot

A look at the back of the Natures Growth owl.

Big Hoot

 

2017

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

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

Big Sleuth

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

Big Sleuth

 

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

Big Sleuth

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

Big Sleuth

 

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

Christmas tree

 

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

Christmas tree snow

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

Christmas tree snow

 

2018

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

Bees in Birmingham

Bee to the right.

Bees in Birmingham

Bee to the left.

Bees in Birmingham

Both bees toward Smith Cooper.

Bees in Birmingham

2019

The Colmore Business District Christmas Tree during November 2019.

Christmas tree

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

Christmas arch

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

Christmas arch

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

Christmas arch

2020

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

Christmas tree

 

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

Christmas tree

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2nd January 2012

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

View of the AD 1902 sign.

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

There was red brick house to the right.

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

 

14th December 2014

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

 

2nd May 2017

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

Selly Oak Hospital

 

18th January 2018

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

Most the surviving buildings were hidden by trees.

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

 

12th October 2019

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

Selly Oak Hospital

 

14th December 2019

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

Selly Oak Hospital

 

3rd August 2020

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

 

29th December 2020

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

Selly Oak Hospital

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

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50 passion points
Transport
31 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street

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

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Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street

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

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

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

25th April 2015.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

5th April 2017.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

10th February 2018.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

15th February 2018.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

26th March 2018.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

21st December 2019.

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

Westside Metro Extension

3rd February 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

22nd February 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

14th July 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

25th July 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

29th August 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

12th September 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

16th September 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

19th October 2020.

Near Brindleyplace, Free Radio and Popworld.

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

25th October 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

The freshly laid road surface not far from Revolution.

Westside Metro Broad St

Autumn leaves on the tracks near Dil Bar Indian Restaurant.

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

19th December 2020.

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

24th December 2020. 

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

Towards the so called Broad Street Cluster.

Westside Metro Broad St

There is the usual shutdown over the Christmas holidays.

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

Looking back at the Black Sabbath Bridge.

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

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

Westside Metro Broad St

27th December 2020.

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

Broad St Metro Ext

Also check out my Hagley Road, Edgbaston post .

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

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110 passion points
Transport
31 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Westside Metro Extension on Hagley Road, Edgbaston

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

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Westside Metro Extension on Hagley Road

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

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

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

1st October 2017.

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

Westside Metro ext Hagley Rd

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

Westside Metro ext Hagley Rd

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

Westside Metro ext Hagley Rd

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

Westside Metro ext Hagley Rd

15th February 2018.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

29th June 2019.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

21st December 2019.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

23rd December 2019.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

4th January 2020.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

31st July 2020.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

25th October 2020.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

24th December 2020.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

Cross over tracks just beyond Starbucks. Bright sunshine.

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

27th December 2020.

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

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

Hagley Rd Metro Ext

See also my Broad Street post.

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

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

Babbs Mill Lake in the Kingfisher Country Park

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

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Babbs Mill Lake

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

 

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

Babbs Mill

 

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake geese

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

Babbs Mill Lake gulls

More of the morning sunburst off centre to the right.

Babbs Mill Lake

Then off centre to the left.

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

Can't get enough of that sunburst! Wow!

Babbs Mill Lake

Sunburst to the left of the lake.

Babbs Mill Lake

Sunburst to the right.

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

The lake from the muddy path.

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake

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

Babbs Mill Lake Domestic goose

 

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

Heron Kingfisher Country Park

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

Heron Kingfisher Country Park

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

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

Introducing the Beetham Tower, Birmingham

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Beetham Tower over the years ...

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Photos above courtesy of Elliott Brown.

 

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower

Photos above courtesy of Daniel Sturley.

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

Introducing The ICC Birmingham

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC Mall

The ICC Mall

The ICC Starbucks

The ICC

The ICC Hoot

Photos above courtesty of Elliott Brown.

 

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

The ICC

Photos courtesty of  Daniel Sturley

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

Introducing the Orion Building

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

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

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

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

 

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

Orion and Beetham Towers

Orion and Beetham Towers

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Photos above by Elliott Brown.

 

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Orion Building

Photos above by Daniel Sturley.

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Art; Culture & creativity
23 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Stars in Millennium Point's Eyes from Eastside City Park

For our last pre-Christmas post of 2020, we pop to Eastside to check out the Christmas lights at the front of Millennium Point as seen from Eastside City Park. Also at the end of New Canal Street near The Woodman pub (closed) and Curzon Street Station. Was hoping for some dry weather on the evening of the 22nd December 2020, but it was raining again. A nice display even in the rain!

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Millennium Point's Christmas Lights in Eastside

This will be the last pre-Christmas post of 2020. The only Christmas lights to see outside in Eastside is at the front of Millennium Point in Eastside City Park. There is no Christmas lights down Curzon Street (probably due to HS2). Just the regular lampposts. This was on the evening of the 22nd December 2020 around 5pm. Was hoping for dry weather for once (it was dry all day). But it started to rain after work in the evening, and was a bit heavy by the time I got to Eastside.

 

First view of Millennium Point with the stars all to the left, in front of Thinktank and above the Thinktank Science Garden.

Millennium Point

This view from in front of The Woodman pub (which is sadly still closed due to being in Tier 3).

Millennium Point

Millennium Point has put the fairy lights on the top of the building below their sign.

Millennium Point

The stars seen to the left above the Science Garden.

Millennium Point

From the bottom of New Canal Street between The Woodman and Curzon Street Station.

Millennium Point

Beyond here, New Canal Street is completely closed off to traffic and pedestrians by HS2. And an area behind The Woodman has fences up. Plus the part of the park where the water jets were is behind fences. So walked back to Moor Street Queensway for the bus.

 

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

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22 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Jewellery Quarter festive lights in St Paul's Square and The Golden Square

Christmas lights seen after dark seen around the Jewellery Quarter on the evening of the 17th December 2020. Mainly to see the festive lights around the Quarter as well as in St Paul's Square and The Golden Square. Was nice and dark. Although by the time he got to The Golden Square it started to rain. Never the less they looked nice. Plenty to see lit up around the Quarter.

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The Christmas lights in the Jewellery Quarter are always unique. As they look like jewellery (of course). More of the standard fairy lights to be found in St Paul's Square and The Golden Square. But the JQ's famous streets have their unique take on Christmas lights on lampposts.

 

St Paul's Square

This was the first time I've been able to see the Christmas tree up close in St Paul's Square after dark, as I usually walk around here in the daylight hours. St Paul's Church was just about visible with the street lights here.

St Paul's Square

The Christmas tree in St Paul's Square with a look down Ludgate Hill towards Snow Hill and the Colmore BID areas.

St Paul's Square

 

The Golden Square

Approaching The Golden Square from Warstone Lane, saw this tree covered in white fairy lights.

Golden Square

Jewellers on the right had this clock, that looks magical lit up after dark with it's own fairy lights!

Golden Square

Onto the actual Golden Square with multicoloured fairy lights above the square and on the Christmas tree.

Golden Square

Close up zoom in of the Christmas tree.

Golden Square

Zoomed out, and you can also see the lights on the ground of the square.

Golden Square

Next up was the Diamond Ring next to The Big Peg.

Golden Square

The only reflection was from the giant Diamond Ring!

Golden Square

One last look at the Diamond Ring and the coloured fairy lights before walking up Vyse Street to catch a train.

Golden Square

 

Christmas lights around the Jewellery Quarter

Fleet Street near Summer Row. With a view of the Library of Birmingham. Jewellery box.

JQ Xmas lights

 

Caroline Street on the walk up from St Paul's Square. Bow tie and bells.

JQ Xmas lights

 

This pair seen on Hall Street, just beyond Caroline Street. Christmas tree and earrings.

JQ Xmas lights

 

Turning onto Warstone Lane. Saw this Christmas tree.

JQ Xmas lights

Some more down Warstone Lane close to The Golden Square.

JQ Xmas lights

 

Turning onto Vyse Street as it started to rain. Pair of earrings near Newey's Jewellers.

JQ Xmas lights

A diamond ring on Vyse Street.

JQ Xmas lights

This necklace on Vyse Street opposite Jewellery Quarter Station.

JQ Xmas lights

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

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21 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Digbeth Custard Factory and Zellig festive lights

Every year you can see festive lights on Floodgate Street in Digbeth (although I think they are there all year round now). Plus at the Custard Factory on Gibb Street Christmas lights and Christmas trees go up every November and December. Popped into The Courtyard this year to find a bit more at Zellig. Comparisons between 2018 and 2020 mostly. In different weather conditions.

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CUSTARD FACTORY AND ZELLIG

DURING THE  CHRISTMAS PERIOD

It's not just Southside, the Bullring, or the Retail area in the City Centre that gets decked out in Christmas lights and trees every November and December. Head down to Digbeth and the Custard Factory. There is lights on Floodgate Street that stretches from under the Bordesley Viaduct towards River Street. Plus the Christmas lights on Gibb Street as well as in The Courtyard at Zellig.

 

Floodgate Street

On the 15th December 2018 around 4:30pm, I was walking from Eastside (after checking out Ice Skate Birmingham at the time). Then headed towards Floodgate Street in atrocious weather. It was freezing, sleeting and raining. This was close to Little Ann Street.

Floodgate St lights 2018

The rain made interesting affects with the lights. Entrance to the Custard Factory over the River Rea bridge to the right.

Floodgate St lights 2018

 

 

On the evening of the 12th December 2020. Approaching the lights on Floodgate Street in Digbeth under the Bordesley Viaduct. This was around 4:45pm, with the entrance to the Custard Factory on the right.

Floodgate St lights

The lights stretch past the Gent 48 street art on the left towards River Street. You can also see them from the bus in the evening on the Digbeth High Street, looking down Floodgate Street (just look left).

Floodgate St lights

Gibb Street

On the 15th December 2018 around 4:35pm on Gibb Street at the Custard Factory. Having crossed over the River Rea bridge and under the Bordesley Viaduct, it was still really cold and wet. But my first view of the Christmas lights on Gibb Street, despite the weather.

Gibb St Christmas lights 2018

"Oh the weather outside was frightful ...". Yes, but not festive weather, heavy rain and sleet. Christmas trees on Gibb Street outside of Besoke Framing.

Gibb St Christmas lights 2018

More Christmas trees on Gibb Street. At the time was a giant wall painting of (the now late) Sir Sean Connery.

Gibb St Christmas lights 2018

Heading to the end of Gibb Street near Clink. Zellig on the right. Was glad to get to the bus stop on High Street Deritend.

Gibb St Christmas lights 2018

 

Much better weather on Gibb Street on the 12th December 2020, around 4:45pm. A lady and her daughter near the Christmas tree.

Gibb St Christmas lights 2020

A close up look at the main Gibb Street Christmas tree near the yellow rimmed pool.

Gibb St Christmas lights 2020

It looks so much better in dry weather. NHS blue heart on the left by Fokawolf. The Custard Factory Digbeth Reception on the right.

Gibb St Christmas lights 2020

Another Christmas tree outside of The Old Library near the end of Gibb Street.

Gibb St Christmas lights 2020

 

Zellig and The Courtyard

Pair of Christmas trees at the entrance to Zellig seen on the 6th December 2019 around 4:10pm. The first one near the Matrix sign.

Zellig Xmas tree 2019

The second one as you head into Zellig.

Zellig Xmas tree 2019

Was a couple more Christmas trees inside of Zellig, near the Reception and Shops sign.

Zellig Christmas trees 2019

 

A quick look at The Courtyard at The Custard Factory. Entrance from Gibb Street. Seen on the 12th December 2020 around 4:45pm.

The Courtyard

The Christmas lights in The Courtyard during Blue Hour. Towards the Factory Works, NO64 and Chance & Counters.

The Courtyard

There was a Christmas tree to the right of the giant lion sculpture.

The Courtyard

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

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21 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Colmore BID Parklet art roadside

Back to the five Parklets again around the Colmore Business District. During December 2020, they had an artist paint the side facing the roadside. They can be found on Colmore Row and Barwick Street (Grand Hotel), two on Waterloo Street and the other one on Church Street (Hotel du Vin).

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Click this link for the original Colmore BID Parklet post.

 

All five of the Parklets around the Colmore Business District are still there as of December 2020. And to brighten things up, they have commissioned artwork to be on all five of them. As you will see below.

 

Colmore Row

Pigeons in front of the Grand Hotel Birmingham and opposite the Pigeon Park aka Cathedral Square (home of Birmingham Cathedral aka St Philip's Cathedral).

Colmore Row Parklet

 

Barwick Street

A mixtures of oranges, blues, greens and whites to the back of the Grand Hotel near Primitivo Bar & Eatery. To the right of Barclays Bank.

Colmore Parklet

 

Church Street

In front of the Hotel du Vin. With a flowery design in yellows, blues, blacks and oranges. Also some hands / gloves.

Colmore Parklet

Waterloo Street

Outside of Theatrix and opposite Victoria Square. Green leaves with some birds.

Colmore Parklet

 

Outside of Christchurch House and Brook Street is this abstract art in oranges, blues, greens and whites.

Colmore Parklet

 

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

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16 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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The Lucy McLauchlan Birmingham street art trail

Go on this street art trail around Birmingham of the street art of Lucy McLauchlan aka Beat 13. One piece is in Moseley Park, while the rest can be seen in Birmingham City Centre. Mostly in Digbeth and Eastside. A recent piece went up on Smallbrook Queensway on the hoardings of of what was Superfi. The 48Sheets billboard was there for a short time back in 2012, so is no longer there.

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LUCY MCLAUCHLAN aka BEAT 13

For the first Lucy McLauchlan post click here for Todo es Posible (2010-16).

Lucy's unique monochrome street art is in greys, blacks and whites and is in an abstract style. She has painted all around Digbeth. One piece is now in Eastside. More recently she has done a piece on Smallbrook Queensway in Southside.

 

Moseley

Location: Moseley Park & Pool, Moseley, B13 8DD.

Boathouse by Beat 13 (Lucy McLauchlan), 2016

Seen during a visit to Moseley Park during Birmingham Heritage Week. Usually you need a key to enter this park.

Date found: September 2016.

Moseley Park Lucy

Moseley Park Lucy

 

Digbeth

Location: Shaw's Passage, Digbeth, B5 5JG. Opposite Original Patty Men and below Birmingham Moor Street Station.

Shaw's Passage Car Park by Beat 13 (Lucy McLauchlan), 2015

In the five years since, this large car park mural has faded quite a bit. The surface where the cars are parked is the remains of a demolished building, so it is uneven to walk on. Shaw's Passage is between Park Street and Allison Street in Digbeth.

Date found: January 2015.

Shaw's Passage, Lucy

 

Location: Grand Union Canal (Digbeth Branch) near Warwick Bar, at Proof House Junction, B5 5RH.

Proof House Junction Bridge by Beat 13 (Lucy McLauchlan), 2018 

This is under the Proof House Junction Bridge No 96 and the Proof House Railway Bridge (Disused). It is where the end of the Digbeth Branch Canal joins the Grand Union Canal (formerly part of the Warwick & Birmingham Canal).

Date found: February 2018.

Grand Union Lucy

Grand Union Lucy

 

Eastside

Location: Belmont Row, Eastside. Near the Digbeth Branch Canal on the Lock Keepers Cottage. 7 Belmont Row, B4 7RQ. Close to the Birmingham City University Eastside Campus and Gopsal Street.

Lock Keepers Cottage by Beat 13 (Lucy McLauchlan), 2020.

It is close to the Digbeth Branch Canal at the Belmont Row Bridge and Ashted Lock No 3.

Date found: January 2020

Belmont Row Lucy

Belmont Row Lucy

 

Southside

Location: Pershore Street in Southside near Upper Dean Street. Near the Travelodge. Now the site of Tru Birmingham Student Accommodation, B5 4RW.

48Sheet: Cut Down Tree by Beat 13 (Lucy McLauchlan), 2012.

Back in 2012, various street artists were given the opportunity to put up their street art on billboards around the City Centre, such as this one owned by ClearChannel. This art was only there for a short time, and the billboard is no longer there.

Date found: April 2012.

48Sheet Lucy

 

Location: Superfi, Smallbrook Queensway. Not far from Snobs at B5 4HX.

Superfi by Beat 13 (Lucy McLauchlan), 2020.

One of the many hoardings on Smallbrook Queensway with street art. Most of it down here by the legend that is Gent 48 and recently one by Annatomix.

Date found: August 2020.

Lucy Smallbrook Queensway

Date found: November 2020

Lucy Smallbrook Queensway

Street art by Lucy McLauchlan. Click the link on the left to visit her website.

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

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14 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Brindleyplace festive lights in Westside (2013 and 2020)

For 2020, Brindleyplace has put blue festive lights in Central Square as well as a blue baubles lit Christmas tree. It looks nice after dark. I saw it on a heavy rain Friday evening, so I got a bit soaked. We will also show you what the Christmas lights was like back in December 2013 at Brindleyplace in the early evening.

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If you go to Central Square in Brindleyplace during November and December, there is always usually something nice to see in terms of the Christmas tree and Christmas lights. Especially after dark. They really try to make an effort. Most years they have had a real Christmas tree. But their 2020 effort is a blue and white baubles Christmas tree that looks pretty at night.

 

December 2013

This was on the 14th December 2013, sometime after 4pm. Heading up Brunswick Street from Brunswick Square towards Central Square. The Brindleyplace Car Park is on the left. Christmas lights above.

Brindleyplace Xmas lights 2013

This route takes you past the car park and Four Brindleyplace and into Central Square.

Brindleyplace Xmas lights 2013

A real Christmas tree with fairy lights and a Christmas star located in Central Square at the time.

Brindleyplace Xmas lights 2013

Then the Christmas lights near Cafe Rouge as I left Central Square towards the Water's Edge at Brindleyplace.

Brindleyplace Xmas lights 2013

 

December 2020

Heading towards Brindleyplace and into Central Square on a rainy Friday evening on the 4th December 2020, around 5pm from Atlas Way. Could already see all the blue lights between Five and Four Brindleyplace.

Festive lights Brindleyplace 2020

It was very blue to the right, but was raining a lot, so was a lot of puddles and all paths were wet.

Festive lights Brindleyplace 2020

Turning to the white and blue baubles Christmas tree between Three and Two Brindleyplace, it made a nice wet reflection in the puddle.

Festive lights Brindleyplace 2020

Getting a close up view of the Baubles Christmas tree, my lens was getting wet, no time to wipe it in this weather!

Festive lights Brindleyplace 2020

Noticed that the water jet fountains down the steps were turn on.

Festive lights Brindleyplace 2020

Not many people around in this weather, but the lights still madea nice wet reflection from this angle as well.

Festive lights Brindleyplace 2020

One last view, before I headed towards Oozells Square and Broad Street.

Festive lights Brindleyplace 2020

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

 

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14 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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The Bullring Bull's many outfits during 2020 (plus the best of the rest from 2019)

While the pandemic and lockdowns meant the Bullring Bull didn't have as many outfits as in previous years, it didn't stop the costume designer at the Bullring from giving him an outfit. From Chinese New Year to St Patricks Day. From Back to School to Christmas, and some others in between.

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Not as many outfits on the world famous Bullring Bull in 2020 due to the Pandemic and the two lockdowns. Plus the tier system. But there has been a few, a couple before the first lockdown. And several outfits when restrictions were eased. Plus one in time for Christmas. Plus a look back at the other 2019 outfits after my original May 2019 post on the Bullring Bull. Enjoy!

 

January 2020

It was Chinese New Year, and it was the Year of the Rat. Little did we know that a few months later a pandemic would be declared and we would enter lockdown.

Bullring Bull Chinese NY 2020

Bullring Bull Chinese NY 2020

Bullring Bull Chinese NY 2020

 

March 2020

Dressed up for St Patrick's Day, but the Annual St Patrick's Day Parade was sadly cancelled, and has yet to be rearranged. As many other events at the time got cancelled. Then at the end of the month we entered a long period of lockdown.

Bullring Bull St Patricks 2020

Bullring Bull St Patricks 2020

Bullring Bull St Patricks 2020

 

August 2020

The first lockdown was pretty much over by the summer as restrictions were being eased. And the Bull got it's first outfit in around 5 months, just in time for kids to go Back to School. As they hadn't been at school since the lockdown in March.

Bullring Bull Back to School 2020

Bullring Bull Back to School 2020

Bullring Bull Back to School 2020

Bullring Bull Back to School 2020

 

October 2020

Bit of a controversial outfit here. With a pink bra and knickers, but the bull is male not female! It was for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Bullring Bull pink 2020

Bullring Bull pink 2020

Bullring Bull pink 2020

 

December 2020

Ending the year of the pandemic and lockdowns with Christmas pyjamas with penguins on them. And a Christmas hat.

Bullring Bull Christmas 2020

Bullring Bull Christmas 2020

 

 

Previous post here Bullring Bull outfits. Which takes you to about May 2019.

 

In June 2019, the Bullring Bull was dressed up for the Cricket World Cup 2019.

Bullring Bull Cricket 2019

 

Back in August 2019 for the launch of Peaky Blinders series 5. It might be a long wait for series 6 due to delays caused by the pandemic in 2020.

Bullring Bull Peaky 2019

Bullring Bull Peaky 2019

Bullring Bull Peaky 2019

 

By October 2019, the Bullring Bull was ready for Halloween dressed as a skeleton!

Bullring Bull Halloween 2019

 

Poppy Day at the Bulling during early November 2019. Soldiers collecting for the Poppy Appeal.

Bullring Bull Poppy 2019

 

Near the end of November 2019, the Bull was dressed up a Pantomime dame as it was soon to be Panto season at the Birmingham Hippodrome again!

Panto Bull 2019

Panto Bull 2019

Panto Bull 2019

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

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14 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Bullring Christmas Lights: Then and Now

Over the last decade or so, the Christmas Lights at the Bullring outside have changed quiet a bit like the rest of the City Centre. Here we will look at the lights without any market on after dark. During the 2nd lockdown of November 2020, it was pretty quiet down St Martin's Walk and into St Martin's Square. Might be a bit different now under Tier 3 restrictions.

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There has been a few changes to the Christmas lights and Christmas trees at the Bullring over the years. Compare St Martin's Square from 2013 to 2020. And St Martin's Walk from 2010 to 2020. If you want to see more photos from the Bullring over the years, the links to the posts is at the bottom of this post.

 

St Martin's Square

Then: December 2013. A real Christmas Tree lit up. Also red lights as all the shops and restaurants were open.

St Martin's Square

A close up of the Bullring Christmas Tree 2013.

St Martin's Square

 

Now: November 2020. During the 2nd Lockdown. The reused artificial Christmas tree. Lights behind turned off as non essential retail was closed. Not many people around.

St Martin's Square

The Bullring Christmas Tree 2020 seen from the balcony looking towards St Martin's Church.

St Martin's Square

At the top was this Christmas circle, which was quite close to one of the clocks of St Martin's Church.

St Martin's Square

 

St Martin's Walk

 

Then: December 2010. Blue and white Christmas lights between the West and East Malls, with Next on the left.

St Martin's Walk

The view from the bottom in front of the Statue of Nelson towards the Rotunda.

St Martin's Walk

 

Now: November 2020. Early evening with some rain heading down St Martin's Walk. These white and yellow Christmas lights have been used at the Bullring for several years now.

St Martin's Walk

They looks the same as before, apart from there wasn't any Christmas market stalls during the 2nd lockdown period.

St Martin's Walk

The view from the Nelson statue up towards the Rotunda. That was either the moon above, plus bright yellow lights from the Christmas lights on the ramped path.

St Martin's Walk

The view to the left of the Nelson statue. Reminds me a bit of the Festival of Light from January 2020.

St Martin's Walk

 

Click this link for the previous Bullring Christmas lights post. Covering 2015 to 2019.

Click here for the Festival of Light post of January 2020.

 

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

 

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11 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Old Joe at the University of Birmingham from 2018 to 2020

While during the lockdown / pandemic you are not allowed to go onto the University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston you can see Old Joe for miles around the campus. Views here taken between 2018 and 2020. Up until early March 2020 I could still go onto the campus (now it's not possible without an ID). Named after Joseph Chamberlain who was the First Chancellor of the University.

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OLD JOE:

JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN MEMORIAL CLOCK TOWER

 

Find my old post comparing the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower here to the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy.

Old Joe on Twitter.

Some history about the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower aka Old Joe. Built from 1900 until 1908, it was the tallest building in Birmingham until 1965, when the BT Tower opened. Designed by Aston Webb and Ingress Bell who were responsible for the initial phase of building the University in the Edwardian period. The tower was based on the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy (see the link above to my old comparison post).

The tower commemorated Joseph Chamberlain who was the First Chancellor of the University of Birmingham. It is the tallest free standing clock tower in the world. It is over 100 metres tall (possibly as high as 110 metres). The tower is Grade II listed and it can be seen for miles around the campus. As far away as the Lickey Hills and Waseley Hills (for instance). Even from nearby parks and suburbs. It is thought that Old Joe was the inspiration for the Eye of Sauron in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

2018

January 2018 from Beacon Hill at the Lickey Hills Country Park. Old Joe on the City Skyline

Old Joe

March 2018: From Vincent Drive overlooking the Cross City Line. The new University of Birmingham Library with Old Joe.

Old Joe

May 2018: Seen from the Bristol Road in Edgbaston, when they got the clock working again!

Old Joe

June 2018: View from Winnie Road in Selly Oak around the time that Old Joe won the World Cup of Birmingham's Best Buildings! on Twitter (held by I Choose Birmingham).

Old Joe

July 2018: Visible from the Bourn Brook Way not far from Harborne Lane in Selly Oak.

Old Joe

November 2018: A close up view from the Chancellors Court at the University of Birmingham.

Old Joe

2019

January 2019: From the Green Heart at the University of Birmingham (before it was completed later that year).

Old Joe

February 2019: In this view from the Bristol Road, Selly Oak, before the Selly Oak Railway Bridge of 1931.

Old Joe

April 2019: Heading down Cartland Road in Stirchley, could see Old Joe between the roofs of houses.

Old Joe

August 2019: Not far from the Bramall Music Building. The clock was once again stuck at 12 on all sides.

Old Joe

October 2019: The view from Bournbrook Road in Selly Park, heading towards Selly Oak.

Old Joe

December 2019: Old Joe was visible on the skyline from Sir Herbert Austin Way in Northfield.

Old Joe

2020

January 2020: Heading towards the Poynting Building from the Guild of Students over a footbridge with this view.

Old Joe

March 2020: One of my last shots of Old Joe before the lockdown began earlier in the month. Clocks stuck at 12 again.

Old Joe

May 2020: The first time I'd seen Old Joe in two months due to the lockdown. This view from Cannon Hill Park.

Old Joe

May 2020: Also saw Old Joe from Highbury Park, not far from Joseph Chamberlain's former home Highbury Hall.

Old Joe

May 2020: Walking back from Weoley Castle past Selly Oak Park down Gibbins Road saw this view of Old Joe.

Old Joe

June 2020: Saw this view of Old Joe from the Waseley Hills Country Park, before I zoomed in on the skyline.

Old Joe

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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10 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Handsworth Park the park near where Boulton and Watt are buried

Went to Handsworth to check out St Mary's Church and Handsworth Park. The church was closed for renovation works so couldn't go inside. The park has a boating lake and an arts trail. Found two of The Big Sleuth 2017 bears in one half of the park. I got the tram but no 16 bus route is nearby if I go again! 

Related

See also my Handsworth heritage buildings post. Find all my my Handsworth Park photos over on my Flickr.

The main entrance gates to Handsworth Park from Hamstead Road. I continued on to get close to St Mary's Church, until I noticed that their was renovation works. I then crossed over the road for some more views of the church, before heading into the park. The gate on the right was open on my visit.

Handsworth Park gates

Before I got to St Mary's Church on Hamstead Road in Handsworth, I had a look at the lodge house in Handsworth Park. Dated 1897. Not listed.

Handsworth Park lodge house

I had a walk around the boating lake, walking anti-clockwise. The lodge / gate house of 1897 with it's distinctive clock tower and turreted roof.

Handsworth Park lodge house

The Victorian Drinking Fountain Canopy, now part of the Handsworth Park Arts Trail. Probably dating to the late 19th century. Originally called The Austin Lines Fountain. The drinking fountain itself has long since been removed. This view from the Hamstead Road, through the metal fence above the brick wall (on the walk to St Mary's Church, noticed a part of the wall that is broken and in urgent need of repair).

Handsworth Park Victorian Drinking Fountain

The boating lake from the Hamstead Road end of Handsworth Park. Plenty of Canada geese and gulls in this lake. Saw some boats at the other end of the lake.

Handsworth Park boating lake

Several boats near the island in the middle of the lake. They were up-side-down!

Handsworth Park boating lake

A relatively new sculpture unveiled in 2017, called SS Journey, made by the sculptor Luke Perry. Seen from the path I took on the walk around the lake.

Handsworth Park SS Journey

It is dedicated to the brave individuals who have left their homes around the world and made the journey to Handsworth and other parts of the UK, seeking a new life for themselves and their families. The sculpture is cast in bronze. I think the ship part looks like it was made of steel. It faces one corner of the boating lake.

Handsworth Park SS Journey

Saw this squirrel on top of a bench. As per usual, when you get close to a squirrel they run away! It's already looking autumnal in his park with leaves on the lawn.

Handsworth Park bench squirrel

What looks like an old drinking fountain. It's called Umbrello and it is Grade II listed. It was presented to the park in 1888 by Austin B Lines. Octagonal in plan. Had two shields with inscriptions on them. One of them had a pelican on it.

Handsworth Park Umbrello

I eventually headed back to the Hamstead Road entrance / exit. And then headed down Holly Road. I was aware of the Soho railway line running through the park, but missed using any of the footbridges here. I re-entered the other half of the park when I saw one of The Big Sleuth bears from summer 2017.

In the summer of 2017, I didn't get around to travelling to Handsworth, so missed seeing The Big Sleuth bears. Although around late July 2017 came back on the bus through Handsworth after doing Bearwood, Dudley and West Bromwich. These bears are now part of the Handsworth Park Arts Trail, and were installed in October 2017.

This is Sun Guardian created by Goosensi working with Friends of Handsworth Park and the Handsworth Community.

 

Handsworth Park The Big Sleuth Sun Guardian

Seen outside of the Handsworth Wellbeing Centre (Handsworth Leisure Centre) was Well Active Bear. Created by Mark Copplestone and Jennie Saunders working with Birmingham Wellbeing Service.

Handsworth Park - The Big Sleuth - Wellbeing Bear

Seen on this cylinder outside of the Handsworth Wellbeing Centre was this piece of graffiti street art, part of the Arts Trail in the park. Handsworth Revolution - Steel Pulse.

Handsworth Park - Handsworth Revolution

The Handsworth Playcentre is to the left of the Steel Pulse piece. Mostly painted in sky blue paint, with a variety of other colours. Part of the Handsworth Leisure / Wellbeing Centre.

Handsworth Park - Handsworth Wellbeing Centre - Handsworth Playcentre

After this, I left the park via Grove Lane and then headed towards Winson Green Outer Circle Tram Stop. Which was about a 20 minute walk away. Maybe one day a new railway station could be built in the middle of the park. Apparently Handsworth Wood Station was here from 1896 to 1941. Passengers found the no 16 bus to be more convenient. Maybe a new staton could be built there on the line from Birmingham New Street towards Walsall on the Chase Line. Similiar to the proposals to rebuild the stations on the Camp Hill Line (Hazelwell, Kings Heath and Moseley).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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10 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Selly Oak Park: the gem of a park off the Selly Oak Bypass

Selly Oak Park is located on Harborne Lane in Selly Oak. Sections of the Lapal Canal goes through the north east corner of the park (still to be fully restored). The Selly Oak Bypass (Aston Webb Boulevard) opened in 2011 and the Selly Oak Shopping Park in 2018. They are now building a new section of the bypass near the former Sainsbury's site at Selly Oak Triangle. Also on Gibbins Rd.

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Selly Oak Park

This park is located on Harborne Lane and Gibbins Road in Selly Oak. It was developed under the Kings Norton and Northfield Urban District Council. Land was donated in February 1899 by members of the Gibbins family. The park was opened in April 1899 on Easter Monday. In 1911 the park was taken over by Birmingham City Council when Selly Oak became part of the city. More land was donated over the years. In 1913 and 1919 by the owners of the Birmingham Battery and Metal Company (also Gibbins family members), in 1935 to give access to the Weoley Park Farm Estate. More land in 1950 by the Birmingham Battery & Metal Company (again). In 1958 some land was transferred to the City’s Public Works Committee. More recent land donations in 1980 and 1982.

The shelter built in 1899, the bandstand built in 1908 and the Daughters of Rest Pavilion built in 1953 have all since been demolished.

The park is now maintained by The Friends of Selly Oak Park. That includes all the wooden sculptures found around the park.

2012

My first walk around Selly Oak Park was during June 2012, testing out my then new camera (which I had until about December 2015). I probably entered from Harborne Lane and headed up the main path.

Selly Oak Park

One of the main squirrels in the park, with a nut.

Selly Oak Park

Saw this red wind funnel thing. There is similar funnels in other nearby parks.

Selly Oak Park

A council lawnmower going around the park cutting the grass.

Selly Oak Park

The trees were so lush and green in the summer, the path curving round to the right.

Selly Oak Park

Another squirrel behind a tree.

Selly Oak Park

Two paths amongst the trees.

Selly Oak Park

Distant view of the red funnel.

Selly Oak Park

2017

The next visit to Selly Oak Park was during January 2017. The Friends of Selly Oak Park had commissioned all of these new wooden sculptures which were worth checking out. On this side it says Lapal.

Selly Oak Park

To the side Welcome. So probably "Welcome to Selly Oak Park". This is near Gibbins Road.

Selly Oak Park

A carved wooden bench. In memory of Geoff Bartlett, Founder of Friends of Selly Oak Park.

Selly Oak Park

Part of the playground. A climbing frame, and a ride along a rope with a tyre (I think).

Selly Oak Park

Another wooden sculpture. Of deer or a kangeroo (probably a deer and it's cub).

Selly Oak Park

A new Welcome to Selly Oak Park sign. It's near the car park off Harborne Lane and close to the corner with Gibbins Road.

Selly Oak Park

2018

This visit during March 2018. View of the new outdoor gym.

Selly Oak Park

Daffodils alongside a path.

Selly Oak Park

Selly Oak Park Play Area. One of the many Birmingham City Council elephant signs that you would find in this and other City parks. Behind was a slide.

Selly Oak Park

Daffodils around a tree.

Selly Oak Park

Daffodils and crocuses. From here I headed up Gibbins Road towards Lodge Hill Cemetery. Weoley Castle is also nearby.

Selly Oak Park

Happy New Year 2020. More park posts to come during 2020.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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