Elliott Brown

Passion Points: 61K

Green open spaces
03 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Bandstand and Drinking Fountains at Lightwoods Park

It wasn't just Lightwoods House that was restored in Lightwoods Park. Other historic monuments were restored including the bandstand and two drinking fountains. They look as good as new now. In this post we will look at them from before restoration, during restoration and what they are like after restoration. A new Rest House was built in 2016-17.

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Bandstand

The Bandstand at Lightwoods Park is Grade II listed and dates to the late 19th century. In an Octagonal plan. It was made of Cast Iron on a brick base with a sheet iron roof. The Bandstand was presented to the City of Birmingham by Rowland Mason Esq. J.P. of West Mount, Edgbaston. It was erected in April 1903. It is now in the care of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (since they took over the running of the park from Birmingham City Council in November 2010). The Bandstand was restored between 2016 and 2017.

The first time I saw the Bandstand in Lightwoods Park was in March 2011. So it was about 4 months after Sandwell took over the running of the park from Birmingham. It would be another 5 years before restoration work began on it (same time as Lightwoods House).

Lightwoods Park Bandstand

There was scaffolding all over the Bandstand at Lightwoods Park during January 2016. Also some hoardings, so couldn't get too close to it at the time.

Lightwoods Park Bandstand

In September 2016, restoration of the Bandstand in Lightwoods Park was almost complete. But was still barriers around it at the time.

Lightwoods Park Bandstand

The Bandstand in November 2017 after restoration was completed.

Lightwoods Park Bandstand

At the beginning of June 2020 I was back at Lightwoods Park for a lockdown walk around the park. Saw a man doing press ups to the left of the Bandstand.

Lightwoods Park Bandstand

Drinking Fountain

There is at least two drinking fountains in Lightwoods Park. There is one near Lightwoods House, that was given to the City of Birmingham, by Sydney Edwards of Moorfield Beech Lanes, on behalf of the Subscribers in December 1903. The other drinking fountain is near the entrance to the second half of the park from Galton Road. Both are of an identical design. There is a third drinking fountain of this design in Warley Woods.

I originally saw the first drinking fountain when I first visited Lightwoods Park in March 2011. And it was in a state of disrepair. It was about 4 months after Sandwell took over the running of the park from Birmingham. It would be another 5 years before Sandwell Council started to work on restoring it, and the other drinking fountains.

Lightwoods Park drinking fountain

Scaffolding around the drinking fountain close to Lightwoods House during January 2016. The old tiles on the roof had been removed. There was also hoardings around the area as Lightwoods House was also being fully restored at the time.

Lightwoods Park drinking fountain

I first found the second drinking fountain, near the Galton Road entrance during September 2016, when I walked around the rest of the park for the first time. You could see the tiles in the original colour, and it was missing the tip that was added after the restoration was completed.

Lightwoods Park drinking fountain

The second drinking fountain near the Galton Road entrance to the second half of Lightwoods Park, seen during early June 2020. We were heading to the Warley Woods from here. There is a quote on here (a bit unreadble) from William Shakespeare's Timon of Athens Act I, Scene II.

Those healths will make thee and thy state
look ill, Timon. Here's that which is too weak to
be a sinner, honest water, which ne'er left man i' the mire

Lightwoods Park drinking fountain

In comparison to the two Lightwoods Park drinking fountains, a look at the drinking fountain in the nearby Warley Woods. It was made in 1906-07, and was restored in 2009.

The first time I saw the Warley Woods drinking fountain was during July 2017, while I was on the Big Sleuth bear hunt. Bentley the Bearwood Bear was close by (it is now outside of Lightwoods House).

Warley Woods drinking fountain

The Warley Woods drinking fountain seen during early June 2020 on a full lockdown walk around the woods.

Warley Woods drinking fountain

Rest House

I first saw The Rest House in November 2017, not far from Bearwood Bus Station. It looks relatively new. But the roof looked like it was from the 1900s. It had benches around a central area with noticeboards. It's possible that they reused the roof from another building. It was a completely new build. 

Lightwoods Park Rest House

The Rest House seen in early June 2020, as I was looking towards a view towards Bearwood Bus Station. There used to be a section in the middle with benches and notice boards, but it seems to have been removed due to vandalism. 

Lightwoods Park Rest House

I'll probably next cover the Shakespeare Garden at Lightwoods House. So watch this space!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
History & heritage
03 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Outside the main entrance of the Black Country Living Museum

We continue our digital tour of the Black Country Living Museum through my photos taken on a visit from August 2011 (almost 9 years ago). With a look at the buildings outside of the main entrance. The Rolfe Street Baths from Smethwick. Also a building from Wednesbury. A replica Titanic anchor was outside the museum back then. Also a Chassis Press.

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In this second digital tour of the Black Country Living Museum, we look at the buildings that were rebuilt at the main entrance of the museum, and now used as exhibition rooms. There was also a Chassis Press outside of the museum that you can see from Tipton Road in Dudley. During my visit of August 2011, there was also a replica Titanic anchor, based on one originally made by Hingley at Netherton in the Black Country (this is no longer there). It was made in 2010 for a Channel 4 documentary and was on loan to Dudley Council at the time.

Rolfe Street Baths, Smethwick

A look at the Rolfe Street Baths. Originally built on Rolfe Street in Smethwick in 1888. The building was a striking example of the Arts and Crafts movement of the period. The building closed down and was dismantled brick by brick in 1989. Later to be rebuilt at the Black Country Living Museum in 1999. The original architects was Harris, Martin & Harris of Birmingham. The baths was originally built by the Smethwick Local Board of Health to provide washing and recreational facilities. These days the building at the museum houses the Museum's reception and exhibition galleries.

In 2011 you could see the replica Titanic anchor outside of the Rolfe Street Baths (more on that further down the post).

Rolfe Street Baths

What looks like a ghost sign painted on the side of the building reads:

ROLFE STREET

BATHS

FIRST BUILT IN SMETHWICK 1888

Rolfe Street Baths

First look at the façade of the Rolfe Street Baths. It is a striking example of late 19th century architecture. It has ornamental brickwork and terracotta panels.

Rolfe Street Baths

The terracotta panels has false gables on the façade depicting fish, herons and wildlife rarely seen in the industrial surroundings that the building was once in.

Rolfe Street Baths

The building has decorative cast iron arches and columns which support the roof in the pool hall (best seen from the inside).

Rolfe Street Baths

Remarkably the building had surviving being dismantled from Smethwick and re-erected here in Dudley. It's hard to tell that the building wasn't originally at this location.

Rolfe Street Baths

The former entrances to the Female and Male baths. The building used to have 2 swimming pools with 28 slip baths, 2 showers and a munipical laundry.

Rolfe Street Baths

These green doors are probablt no longer in use, but were retained for decorative use only. You can see some bricks that don't exactly match the originals. Perhaps some were broken or missing, and they had to use new bricks in the restoration at the museum.

Rolfe Street Baths

Façade from a factory in Wednesbury

This was a façade from a building originally built as a factory in Wednesbury. It was moved to the museum by the West Midlands County Council Task Force. It was opened at the museum by H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester on the 24th October 1985. Finance for the building was provided by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and the then West Midlands County Council (abolished in 1986). This is now the Pre-Paid Ticket Entrance. There is also a door for disabled or elderly people in wheelchairs to use. And they can get access to their coach nearby.

Wednesbury brick facade

In the middle of this building was an anchor.

Wednesbury brick facade

Inside was this plaque that was unveiled back in 1985 by the Duke of Gloucester.

Wednesbury brick facade

The Titanic Anchor

Something you won't see on your visit to the museum now is this replica of The Titanic Anchor. It was made in 2010 by Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd for a Channel 4 documentary. It was on loan at the time to the museum from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Titanic Anchor

The original anchor was made by N. Hingley & Sons Ltd in 1911 at their factory in Netheron, Dudley. The original anchor weighed 15.5 tons.

Titanic Anchor

In 2011 the Titanic anchor replica was seen outside of the Black Country Living Museum near the former Rolfe Street Baths building. But it was eventually moved to a more permenant location in Netherton where it remains today.

Titanic Anchor

One of the museum volunteers seen in period costume close to the main entrance of the museum, not far from the Titanic Anchor replica. The anchor is now lying face down in Netherton.

Titanic Anchor

Wilkins & Mitchell Chassis Press

Probably the first thing you would see when arriving at the museum on Tipton Road would be this Chassis Press. The  Wilkins & Mitchell Chassis Press was built in 1913 for Rubery Owen Ltd based in Darlaston at the time. It was erected and maintained by The Hulbert Group of Dudley. Wilkins and Mitchell Limited was established in 1904 in Darlaston. They produced machine tools and presses. Their machines could be found in factories all around the world. The Chassis Press here was in use until 1970. It's possible that it could have been installed at the museum site from 1978, or in the 1980s.

Chassis Press

A close up look at the Chassis Press. Four gear wheels at the back and two large gear wheels at the front.

Chassis Press

There was so many gear wheels here that used to turn when it use. You can also see a smaller gear wheel in front of the larger ones.

Chassis Press

It's now just a monument that you would see as you arrive or leave the Black Country Living Museum. A reminder of how successful it was when in use from 1913 to 1970 in Darlaston.

Chassis Press

Side view of the Chassis Press with the gear wheels.

Chassis Press

On this side you can see four gear wheels at the bottom.

Chassis Press

Clearly this wheel used to drive the gear wheels.

Chassis Press

One last look at the Chassis Press before getting back in our coach and returning to Birmingham,

Chassis Press

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Travel & tourism
01 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Thinktank Science Garden outside of Millennium Point

The Thinktank Science Garden opened in the new Eastside City Park in December 2012. I initially saw it after it opened. Then a few years later had a close up look at the Thinktank Science Garden during another visit to Thinktank in April 2014. You need your ticket to enter. It has been so hot of late, so cool off digitally with the fun water jets here.

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Thinktank Science Garden

I was first aware of the Thinktank Science Garden, while Eastside City Park was being built during 2012, outside of Millennium Point (not far from Curzon Street).

In February 2012, I saw signs on the hoardings for Eastside City Park which said:

 
Where scientastic things happen!
 
Thinktank will be taking science outdoors in 2012 with the opening of a new Science Garden. The whole family can get 'hands-on' and 'bodies-on' with our extraordinary outdoor exhibits, and explore the science and engineering that shape your world in our three themed areas - energise, mechanise and mobilise.
The Science Garden will be located directly in front of Thinktank and is part of the Eastside City Park.

 

It was originally supposed to open in the Summer of 2012. But wasn't really completed until early December 2012 when Eastside City Park was first opened to the public. You used to be able to enter the Science Garden using your Thinktank ticket, but according to the official website it is free to enter after 3pm. In the winter period it normally closes at 4pm. It is located in front of Level 0 of Thinktank in Eastside City Park.

There would have been similar hands on contraptions at the old Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry as I remember interacting with them at the Newhall Street site back in the 1990s. Sadly the old museum closed down in 1997, with the majority of the contents being moved to the new Millennium Point site, which opened in 2001. The old museum was free, but the new museum is a paid for attraction.

Most of what you see below was probably newly built in 2012 (unless they recycled parts from the previous museum).

 

2012

My first wonder around Eastside City Park was on the 9th December 2012. The park was opened by the then leader of Birmingham City Council on the evening of the 5th December 2012. While there I had a look at the Thinktank Science Garden from the outside. It was not open.

Thinktank Science Garden

Only a year earlier in 2011, this was part of the outdoor Millennium Point car park. But that got replaced with a multi-storey car park, enabling this land to be built into a park.

Thinktank Science Garden

Views of the scientific machines kids can interact with such as the Chain drive (the clock tower), and the wind turbines (on the left).

Thinktank Science Garden

The view towards the site of what is now the Curzon Building at Birmingham City University (before it was built). But at the time they were finishing off the Parkside Building. Also visible is the now demolish Curzon Gate student accommodation (to make way for HS2). It was demolished in 2019.

Thinktank Science Garden

2013

Views of the entrance to the Thinktank Science Garden seen during March 2013. This was around half a month before paid to go to Thinktank for the first time with my then camera.

Thinktank Science Garden

At the time was probably heading to work, so went via Eastside City Park for once. This was before 10am so wasn't open at the time. And when I did pay to go to Thinktank at the beginning of April 2013, I didn't go into the Science Garden at the time.

Thinktank Science Garden

2014

During the April 2014 visit to Thinktank, we popped into the Science Garden with our tickets. I had some free vouchers from the Birmingham Museums Trust which I could use at Thinktank, as I had a photo of the BT Tower at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery during 2013. So had to use them in 2014 before they expired.

This is called Water playscape.

Thinktank Science Garden

A close up look at one third of Water playscape. Water was coming out of the tap into the bucket. There was also plastic watering cans and hoses in the pool of water here.

Thinktank Science Garden

Here we have Elastic squirt. Fire up the wate piston. At the time I was thee I had a go but it didn't really work for me.

Thinktank Science Garden

Next up we have Effort. Looks like it was balancing wooden hands on it.

Thinktank Science Garden

Didn't get the name of this machine, but it is tall cylinder with a red arrow on the top.

Thinktank Science Garden

Then there was the Human hamster wheel.

Thinktank Science Garden

Then there was the Wind turbines.

Thinktank Science Garden

The main landmark of the Science Garden was the Chain drive. Looks like a clocktower.

Thinktank Science Garden

The next contraption was called Hang in the balance.

Thinktank Science Garden

Build a bridge. This was one thing I recall from the old Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry on Newhall Street. Although I don't know if it was saved from there, or completely a new build.

Thinktank Science Garden

Also saw this Car with square wheels. Two square wheels and two round wheels. Won't get very far.

Thinktank Science Garden

And finally we have this thing that was part of Mobilise. Maybe you have to move those rubber items around the steel tubes?

Thinktank Science Garden

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Green open spaces
01 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Sunday evening walk around Shirley Park on the 7th June 2020

On the evening of Sunday 7th June 2020 we went to Shirley in Solihull for a walk around Shirley Park and some of the surrounding roads such as Haslucks Green Road and Hurdis Road. Heading back into the park, found a field that led to a secret wooded walk. Also in the former putting green was daisies and carnations. Due to the pandemic the playground and dog agility area were both closed.

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Most days of lockdown, not been going out that much. And some weekends at home all day. We went in the car down to Shirley, parking on the Stratford Road (before the lay-bys were closed off), and had another walk around Shirley Park after 7pm in the evening. This was on the evening of Sunday 7th June 2020 (3 weeks ago at the time of writing this).

My previous Shirley Park post is here: Shirley Park over the years off the Stratford Road in Shirley.

 

Entering the main entrance on the Stratford Road in Shirley saw this War Memorial bench. It was part of the Fields in Trust commemorative war memorial benches, that have been placed all over the country marking the Centenary of the First World War (The Great War 1914-18). (during 2014-18).

Shirley Park

Not far from Shirley Parkgate was another War Memorial bench. This one commemorating those lost during the Second World War (1939-45). There is also a war memorial here.

Shirley Park

Looking to the Shirley Park Play Area / playground. Closed during lockdown / the pandemic. But saw a pair sitting on the swings.

Shirley Park

Near a bench heading to the Haslucks Green Road exit / entrance was this hopscotch board on the path. Probably drawn in chalk.

Shirley Park

Walked down Haslucks Green Road and re-entered the park from the Hurdis Road entrance / exit.

Shirley Park

Cyclists going past the Welcome to Shirley Park noticeboard.

Shirley Park

Turned right into this former football field. There was markings on the grass that showed that something used to be here. Also the edges of the field were raised up for some reason or other.

Shirley Park

This view was after briefly going down the secret wooded path. The main footpath in the park can be seen near that line of trees.

Shirley Park

The former football field had paths going into the wood, so we checked it out. Never been round this part before.

Shirley Park

It is part of a Wetland Walk. Trees cover the walk, while the path seemed to be covered in leaves and wood chippings.

Shirley Park

The path wasn't very long. Normally my Shirley Park walks would take me back into the park via Grenville Road.

Shirley Park

Near the end of the wooded walk, there is a barrier up ahead.

Shirley Park

Looking back into the former football field where the exit to the secret path was.

Shirley Park

A close up look at the Dog Agility Area while it is closed during the lockdown. Dogs can go up the ramp and jump through the hoop.

Shirley Park

Dog owners could sit on a bench. But instead with it closed, dog owners have to walk their dog around the park. It seems like they keep taking them off the leash a lot. Plus they bark a lot if another dog goes past (or a human they are not familiar with). I prefer cats.

Shirley Park

Final section through the former putting green. Now a wildflower meadow. Saw this Common Starling on the grass.

Shirley Park

The Wildflower Meadow had a lot of daisies and carnations. Which looked nice.

Shirley Park

Close up look at some daisies.

Shirley Park

Close up look at the carnations.

Shirley Park

On the way out near ALDI, saw this bin with the message: "If the bin is full, take your litter home. Think First!".

Shirley Park

Love Solihull and the Friends of Shirley Park.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
30 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Whatever happened to Antony Gormley's Iron:Man in Victoria Square?

Iron:Man by Anthony Gormley was originally located in Victoria Square from 1993 until it was moved to storage in 2017. Originally named Untitled but nicknamed as Iron:Man. The TSB used to be in Victoria Square House and it was their gift to the City (until their HQ moved to Bristol). When will it return and where will it go?

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Iron:Man by Antony Gormley

The statue of the Iron:Man used to be located in Victoria Square from March 1993 until it was removed to storage in September 2017, to make way for the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square. While this extension opened in December 2019, Antony Gormley's Iron:Man has yet to return. As new paving was being laid in Victoria Square. And as far as I am aware, it is not yet finished (I've not been back to the City Centre in 3 months of lockdown, but have seen other peoples recent photos of the square).

It was originally a gift to the city from the TSB whose headquarters used to be in Victoria Square House. Unveiled in 1993. It was originally named Untitled but gained the nickname Iron:Man from locals. It is made of iron. The TSB moved out of Victoria Square House when they merged with Lloyds Bank in 1995.

The statue was cast at the Firth Rixon Castings in Willenhall. It represented the traditional skills of Birmingham and the Black Country.

The statue remained in place for many years, it was suggested that it be relocate to Bristol which was the new headquarters location of Lloyds TSB. But as it was a gift to the City of Birmingham it remained here. But it was removed to storage in September 2017 ahead of the building of the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square (Grand Central Tram Stop to Library Tram Stop).

I would assume that it could return to Victoria Square later in 2020 if the paving is finished.

 

Iron:Man maquette at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre

During my September 2018 visit to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre, while I did not find the full sized Iron:Man, I did find this maquette.

Iron:Man maquette

This was Antony Gormley's preliminary model made out of painted plaster.

Iron:Man maquette

It apparently used to be located at the the Public Art Commissions Agency in the Jewellery Quarter, but for whatever reason, it ended up in storage here in the warehouse.

Iron:Man maquette

Iron:Man in Victoria Square until 2017

My first photo of the Iron:Man was taken during April 2009, when I started going around Birmingham with my camera. Here backed with the Town Hall.

Iron:Man

The next view of the Iron:Man was taken during May 2009 facing Victoria Square House.

Iron:Man

The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market was on during November 2009, with this Iron:Man view. You can also see the old 103 Colmore Row AKA National Westminster House by the late John Madin.

Iron:Man

The Iron:Man seen during May 2011. Union Jack bunting was up around Victoria Square near the Town Hall during the early May Bank Holiday weekend that followed the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Aston Villa fan Prince William and Catherine Middleton).

Iron:Man

It was Armed Forces Day in Victoria Square during June 2011. There was members of the British Armed Forces in uniform near the Iron:Man.

Iron:Man

Including members of the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and British Army. The Iron:Man had been in this slanted position since being installed back in 1993.

Iron:Man

The snow of January 2013 as I headed past the Iron:Man towards Broad Street. Probably the only timed I've caught the Iron:Man covered in snow!

Iron:Man

Back to Spring like weather in April 2013. And the Iron:Man was witness to the English Market at the St George's Day Celebrations that year.

Iron:Man

The Iron:Man in September 2013 with a British Red Cross tent during the 4 Squares Weekender.

Iron:Man

Caught a glimpse of the Iron:Man in Victoria Square during June 2014 when the Lord Mayors Show 2014 was being held. At the time there was some men doing bike tricks near the Council litter pickers!

Iron:Man

Some of my last views of the Iron:Man. The view below taken in August 2017. A month before being removed to storage.

Iron:Man

Last views in September 2017. A seagull was standing on Iron:Man's head. And left bird mess on top of it.

Iron:Man

Pink Midland Metro Alliance barriers and fences had gone around the statue, as workmen were preparing to remove the statue and take it to storage. About a week after this it was gone.

Iron:Man

Iron:Man had been in storage now for almost 3 years. When will he return? Where exactly in Victoria Square will he be placed? Perhaps in front of the Town Hall? Could he come back near the end of 2020?

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Classic Architecture
30 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

History of The Grand Hotel, Birmingham

The Grand Hotel, Birmingham was established in 1879 on a site on Colmore Row on land owned by Isaac Horton and the architect was Thomson Plevins. The Victorian hotel was near the original Victorian Snow Hill Station. Derelict for many years. Most of the 2010s was spent restoring the hotel. Also down Church Street.

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The Grand Hotel, Birmingham

Built between 1875 and 1879 The Grand Hotel was opened on the 1st February 1879. It was build on land opposite St Philip's Church (not a Cathedral at this time) on Colmore Row. Also down Church Street with the back end on Barwick Street. Until the 1870s there was Georgian terraces surrounding St Philip's Churchyard. The leases on these began to end in the 1860s and they were demolished. The site was acquired by Isaac Horton, a major Birmingham landowner. His architect was Thomson Plevins. The hotel opened at the time with 100 rooms. There was also a restaurant and two coffee rooms. The hotel was let to Arthur Field, a hotel operator from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The hotel was extended in 1880 when the corner on Church Street and Barwick Street was built. By 1890 the hotel operator was running into financial problems and it was handed back to Horton Estates Ltd. In the 1890s the architects Martin and Chamberlain was hired to reconstruct and redecorate the hotel. The hotel was built in the French Renaissance style, so it wouldn't look out of place in Paris. Was even a room in Louis XIV style decoration.

In the 20th century, the hotel was host to royalty, celebrities, politicians of the day, who would wine and dine in the Grosvenor Suites. The likes of King George VI, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Malcolm X etc attended functions or stayed in the hotel at the time. The hotel ran into problems and closed in 1969. Hickmet Hotels took over the lease of the hotel from 1972 until 1976. In 1977 Grand Metropolitan Hotels took it over. The architect Harper Sperring did some modernisation works in 1978. The lease passed to Queens' Moat Hotels in the 1980s and 1990s, but little was done to the hotel at that time.

The hotel closed down again in 2002. The owner wanted to knock it down in 2003, but The Victorian Society stepped into save it. In 2004 the hotel was given a Grade II* listing protecting it from demolition. Restoration works of the hotel began in 2012, with the hope that it would reopen sometime in 2020.

 

One of my earlist photos of the Grand Hotel taken in February 2010 from Cathedral Square (St Philip's Cathedral grounds). Under scaffolding, it wasn't clear what was going to happen to it at this point.

Grand Hotel

In October 2010, a look past Bagel Nation and some of the other shops that used to be down here.You can see columns with Corinthian capitals at what was the main entrance to the hotel. There used to be a Starbucks down here and Snappy Snaps.

Grand Hotel

Another look during December 2010 from Colmore Row. The scaffolding covered the top half of the hotel.

Grand Hotel

By February 2013 restoration work had began on the Grand Hotel. And from Colmore Row you could see even more scaffolding and hoardings at ground level. As well as down Church Street.

Grand Hotel

Now down on Church Street, with a look down Barwick Street. The architecture style changed here as this was the 1880 extension. The 1890s additions were by Martin & Chamberlain.

Grand Hotel

The buildings down on Barwick Street were built of red brick. The hotel ends where Barclays Bank is today.

Grand Hotel

This view was taken during March 2014 from Cathedral Square. There was still scaffolding wrapped all around the building at this time.

Grand Hotel

In April 2015 they were rebuilding the roof and installing steel girders underneath.

Grand Hotel

Many of the previous shops had to move out of the Grand Hotel, but the signs remained. In October 2015 there was banners on Colmore Row for the Rugley World Cup 2015 which was being held in England. The view from the 141 bus.

Grand Hotel

By December 2015 the scaffolding had come down and you could see the restored stonework on the hotel. Still a crane on site at the time, but the roof looked finished. Still hoardings on the ground floor. Cathedral Square view in the rain.

Grand Hotel

Ground floor hoardings were coming down by February 2016. And new shops, cafes and restaurants were ready to be fitted here.

Grand Hotel

By October 2016 many of the new shops, cafes and restaurants were open. Including 200 Degrees Coffee, Cycle Republic and The Alchemist.

Grand Hotel

An autumnal look during November 2016 from Cathedral Square. With buses on Colmore Row in front of the Grand Hotel. Leaves on the lawn around the St Philip's Cathedral chuchyard.

Grand Hotel

A nightshot taken during February 2017, near the corner of Church Street and Colmore Row. All the scaffolding had gone. All of the new venues on Colmore Row were open. The Alchemist is on the corner.

Grand Hotel

Onto April 2017 from Cathedral Square, where you can see Cycle Republic, Up & Running, Liquor Store, Crockett & Jones and 200 Degrees Coffee.

Grand Hotel

More of the same from September 2017. Some of the shops had blinds open. It really does feel like you are in Paris, or maybe even Birmingham's French Twin City of Lyon? What do you think?

Grand Hotel

In December 2017 a walk down Barwick Street. A new venue had opened called Primitivo, which was a Bar & Eatery.

Grand Hotel

I last went down Barwick Street at the back of the Grand Hotel during October 2019. The new venue here is called Tattu.

Grand Hotel

Plus a second look at Primitivo.

Grand Hotel

Hopefully the hotel will open soon. Was supposed to be in Summer 2020. But due to the pandemic / lockdown, will it be delayed even further?

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
29 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Summerfield Park at the end of the Harborne Walkway

The only time (so far) that I've been to Summerfield Park was back in February 2016, after completing the second half of my Harborne Walkway walk. The park opened in 1876 by the then Mayor of Birmingham, Joseph Chamberlain (in his last year of office before becoming an MP). The park goes up to the Dudley Road. There is remains of an outdoor theatre or bandstand dating to 1907.

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Summerfield Park

Welcome to Summerfield Park. It is one of the oldest parks in Birmingham having opened in 1876. Opened by the Mayor of Birmingham, Mr Joseph Chamberlain (in his last year of office before becoming an MP). The park was formerly the estate of the late Mr Joseph Chance, where he lived at Summerfield House (which was demolished in 1889). The Council purchased more land in 1892, reaching the current park size of 34 acres. The park features a magnificent brick bandstand (or outdoor theatre), built in 1907. The park lies at the end of the Harborne Walkway, which means that the former Harborne Walkway used to pass by from the south west to the north east corner of the park.

It is possible that the largest public gathering took place here in Summerfield Park back in 1906 to celebrate Joseph Chamberlain's 70th birthday. When 15,000 people turned out to greet him.

Surrounded by Dudley Road, City Road, Selwyn Road, Gillott Road and Icknield Port Road. The park is also close by to Edgbaston Reservoir.

 

Onto my visit from February 2016.

Entering Summerfield Park from the end of the Harborne Walkway. Although technically the Harborne Walkway continues a little bit further into the park. Tall trees and the path.

Summerfield Park

View of the play area near City Road. While gulls were on the lawn.

Summerfield Park

Nice shadows from the trees as the path from the Harborne Walkway joins into the park.

Summerfield Park

Houses on City Road behind the trees.

Summerfield Park

The path goes straight towards the Dudley Road, but will bend to the left before reaching Icknield Port Road.

Summerfield Park

This gate is the exit to West Gate before Gillott Road.

Summerfield Park

Continuing on the path further into Summerfield Park.

Summerfield Park

Rugby goal post.

Summerfield Park

The next gate leads to East Gate and Gillott Road.

Summerfield Park

The back of the brick bandstand (or outdoor theatre). It was built in 1907.

Summerfield Park

There is an entrance for performers at the back. Just go up the steps. Perhaps there used to be a door there now, but not now.

Summerfield Park

The bandstand was looking very derelict in 2016. I'm not sure if it's the same state now.

Summerfield Park

The Council could do with investing in the restoration of this bandstand. And when things go back to "normal" have performances take place here in the future?

Summerfield Park

The second playground / play area was close to Dudley Road.

Summerfield Park

Now onto one of The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015 owls I missed seeing in 2015.  This one was called Papa Winson. The artist was Colin Gabbidon working with Ladywood Arts Forum. It was funded by Birmingham City Council and the Big Lottery Fund. Seen from the back. It was located not too far from Winson Green.

Summerfield Park

Side viewof Papa Winson with a shadow to the right.

Summerfield Park

The front view of Papa Winson wasn't too great in the sunshine at this time of the day (just before 1pm on 25/02/2016).

Summerfield Park

Near the Dudley Road entrance was this Welcome to Summerfield Park sign and map, with some history.

Summerfield Park

The reverse side has a modern map of the park.

Summerfield Park

Next to the welcome sign was the former Dudley Road Police Station. Also known as Summerfield Police Station. It has been derelict since the West Midlands Police moved to a new police station on Icknield Port Road. This building has been threatened with demolition. But hopefully the Victorian Society can save it?

See this Tweet here on Summerfield Police Station by the Victorian Society. According to Birmingham City Council in the same thread it is not threatened with demolition.

Summerfield Park

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Environment & green action
29 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Greet Mill Meadow in the Shire Country Park

Another part of the Millstream Way in the Shire Country Park is the Greet Mill Meadow. It goes from Green Road to the Stratford Road in Hall Green (leading to Springfield / Sparkhill). Running alongside the River Cole. At certain points there is stepping stones with waterfalls. Named after the lost Greet Mill of the 13th century, of which no traces remain above ground. Near Sarehole Road.

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Greet Mill Meadow in the Shire Country Park

Beyond the ford on Green Road is the Greet Mill Meadow. The path in here runs towards the Stratford Road in Hall Green alongside the River Cole. Sarehole Road is to the east (where Druckers Vienna Patisserie used to be before they went out of business). Tenby Road is to the west. An exit / entrance halfway goes onto Bankside which leads to Tenby Road. Near the Stratford Road you will be able to see Mughal & Azam (had a recent fire so the roof was damaged). That is also near Colgreave Avenue. It was formerly the Sparkhill United Church. Was built as a Congregational church 1932-3 by W H Bidlake. It is Grade II listed.

The Greet Mill Meadow is part of the Millstream Way, which is part of the Cole Valley Walk. It was the site of a 13th century mill called Greet Mill, where the walkway here got it's name from, but it has vanished like it was never even here. The first reference to Greet Mill by name was in 1275. That date might not be when it was founded as that was when Roger Fullard was drowned near Greet Mill. The mill was the property of Greet Manor, which was near the Warwick Road, about three quarters of a mile away downstream. The first miller to be recorded was Henry Heath in 1587. The mill was sold to Matthew Boulton in 1762, who seems like he rebuilt both Sarehole Mill and Greet Mill. Greet Mill went out of use by 1843. It's last years was used for steel rolling. The last miller was John Biscoe, and the mill might have been demolished in the 1850s.

The River Cole was diverted in about 1860. The old bridge on the Stratford Road was replaced by a new stone bridge which opened in 1914. By then Birmingham City Council had taken over the running of the area from the former Yardley Rural District Council in 1911. Greet Mill used to be in the news whenever someone was drowned there a few times in the 1790s.

2009

I first popped into the Greet Mill Meadow in April 2009. The mosiac of a fish seen at the Green Road entrance. In the years since, I've noticed that it is missing a lot of tiles, and could do with repairing (either by the Canal & River Trust or Birmingham City Council).

Greet Mill Meadow

A damaged tree from the path. I didn't go too far as wanted to avoid the youths, so turned back and walked up Sarehole Road.

Greet Mill Meadow

Before I turned back I saw the first stepping stones for the first time. Too risky to cross at this time as the river level was quite high.

Greet Mill Meadow

I re-entered the Greet Mill Meadow at the Stratford Road, and saw this heart shaped mosaic. I think this one has faired better over the years since I first saw it.

Greet Mill Meadow

The fingerpost in the Greet Mill Meadow near the Stratford Road Bridge. To the left is the Burbury Brickworks (via the Blackberry Way). Sarehole Mill is to the right.

Greet Mill Meadow

The waterfall seen from the Stratford Road bridge which opened in 1914. The water in the River Cole was fast flowing that day.

Greet Mill Meadow

Another look at the waterfall. Would be years before I would return to the Greet Mill Meadow for a walk. After this I probably got a no 1 bus to Moseley Village, then a 50 up to Moseley Road Baths (for my first photos of the building).

Greet Mill Meadow

2015

In August 2015, I did a complete walk through of the Greet Mill Meadow, I think starting at the Stratford Road and ending at Green Road. Only got photos of the stepping stones at the time. The first stepping stones with a waterfall. I did not cross it. But much calmer than 6 years earlier.

Greet Mill Meadow

It is possible to cross over the stepping stones if you want to, just be careful, and don't slip into the River Cole! I think there must be paths in the woodland near Sarehole Road.

Greet Mill Meadow

Another look at the second set of stepping stones. Much calmer this time around. I wouldn't return to the Greet Mill Meadow until during the 2020 lockdown.

Greet Mill Meadow

2020

The lockdown daily walk in the Greet Mill Meadow was during May 2020, towards the Blackberry Way and Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve and back. Got more photos in here than ever before! The path was lined on the side by cow parsley and long grass. The route was so busy with families going on their daily walks.

Greet Mill Meadow

Part of the River Cole was quite shallow, and it looks like cyclists could ride their bikes through to the other side.

Greet Mill Meadow

Partway along the path was a path to the left. This leads to Bankside and Tenby Road.

Greet Mill Meadow

Another look at the stepping stones. While we didn't cross the stepping stones, I did see various families crossing them.

Greet Mill Meadow

May 2020 was without rain and the River Cole was quite shallow. So it would have been safe to cross the stepping stones, if you wanted to.

Greet Mill Meadow

The path continues towards the Stratford Road, as it's lined with all that cow parsley.

Greet Mill Meadow

An open field. The path to the left leads to Colgreave Avenue and the car park for Mughal & Azam. The building had a fire months ago, so the roof was covered in a material. They must be devestated by the fire. As it must cost a lot to repair the venue. And they would have to be closed for the duration of the lockdown. Sadly I don't think they will be ready to reopen in July 2020, at least not until the restaurant (ex church) is fully repaired.

Greet Mill Meadow

View of the Stratford Road Bridge. Opened in 1914, it allows traffic to go towards the College Arms up Shaftmoor Lane or the Stratford Road in Hall Green. Sparkhill is in the other direction. We were about to cross the road into the Blackberry Way. I even saw a rat here, so litter is a bit of an issue around here.

Greet Mill Meadow

Later on the walk back from the Burbury Brickworks and Blackberry Way. Back in the Greet Mill Meadow. View to one of the stepping stones with some ducks in the River Cole.

Greet Mill Meadow

One of the stepping stones had people on it earlier, so was able to get a new photo of it on the way back. The River Cole looks so calm and peaceful here. It's hard to tell that there even used to be a mill around here, what with all the trees all over the place. Was also a lost mill pool, that must now be part of the Cole here.

Greet Mill Meadow

Another view looking down the River Cole, before heading down the path and back into the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground.

Greet Mill Meadow

I will cover the Blackberry Way and Burbury Brickworks in a separate post.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Classic Architecture
29 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The ruins of Dudley Priory in Priory Park, Dudley

Did you know that there is ruins of a Priory in Dudley in what is now Priory Park? It was founded in circa 1160. And closed in the 1530s during the English Reformation. It fell into disrepair and ruins after the 1540s. In the 18th century part of the ruins were used as a tanner. Dudley Borough Council bought the ruins in 1926 and the land around it to develop Priory Park.

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Dudley Priory Ruins in Priory Park, Dudley

My first visit to Priory Park in Dudley was in January 2011, when there was snow on the ground. The park opened in 1932, covering a site of 19 acres. The park is the historic site of the Dudley Priory. The park was restored in 2013.

 

Historic details from Wikipedia (below).

The Dudley Priory is a former priory in Dudley, West Midlands (used to be in Worcestershire). The ruins is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is Grade I listed. The priory was founded in 1160 by Gervase Paganel, Lord of Dudley. It was dedicated to Saint James. It was built of local limestone, quarried from Wren's Nest. The priory was enlarged many times, including the addition of a Lady Chapel in the 14th century. The priory was closed down int he 1530s during the national Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was granted to Sir John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland in 1540, but after his execution it fell into disrepair and fell into ruins.

In the 18th century, part of the ruins were used by a tanner. The area around it became industrialised. Pools nearby were drained and Priory Hall was built nearby in 1825. In 1926 the Dudley County Borough bought Dudley Priory and the land around it, to create Priory Park and the Priory Estate. The ruins were brought into their current state in the 1930s, during clearance and restoration works, when Dudley Council took over the running of the parkland and ruins.

 

Now some details from the Grade I listing at British Listed Buildings. Priory Ruins.

It was founded in about 1160 as a dependant of Cluniac Priory of Much Wenlock. Was made of Limestone rubble. There are some remains of the church left, with tiled pavements exposed.

 

Now onto my visit from January 2011. There was snow in Dudley at the time, but more grass to see here. The approach to the ruins from the park entrance on The Broadway. It was the 4th January 2011.

Dudley Priory

There was signs on fences around part of the ruins saying No Ball Games in and around the Priory Ruins. To the right was Paganel Drive. The houses up there were built after 1929 in the Priory Estate.

Dudley Priory

Snow rests on the limestone blocks that have survived the centuries.

Dudley Priory

This might be the ruins of where the Church was.

Dudley Priory

There must have been a large stained glass window here at one point in time.

Dudley Priory

The ruins to the north looking up Paganet Drive.

Dudley Priory

A bit like a castle here. It's amazing that these walls have survived the 500 years since the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Dudley Priory

This was the West Front of Dudley Priory.

Dudley Priory

The ruins here are just about exposed above ground level. Archaeologists led by Rayleigh Radford dug here in 1939 (before WW2). Exposing the walls and tiles.

Dudley Priory

There would have been Cluniac monks based here. The Dormitory could have been around here.

Dudley Priory

Unlike other abbeys or monasteries, Dudley Priory wasn't fully demolished. It just fell into ruins. And wasn't rebuilt in the centuries after the 1530s to 1540s.

Dudley Priory

The view of the ruins towards Paganel Drive. Everything exposed above the ground would have been buried until the 1930s.

Dudley Priory

One last look at the snow covered ruins, before I checked out the rest of the park.

Dudley Priory

I'll do another Priory Park, Dudley post soon, covering the rest of the park, as well as my second visit during October 2016.

 

For another Dudley related ruins post go to: The remains of a fortified manor house at Weoley Castle.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Classic Architecture
26 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham Town Hall over the last decade or so

The Birmingham Town Hall has seen many changes around it in Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square over the decades and centuries since it was built. Originally built from 1832-34. Renovated from 1996 -2008. Chamberlain Square closed in 2015 when Paradise started, while the Iron:Man was removed from Victoria Square in 2017 for the Metro extension. Town Hall Tram Stop opened in late 2019.

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Birmingham Town Hall

Click here for the official website for Town Hall Symphony Hall. Both venues are closed during the lockdown, until the Government says it is safe enough for venues like that to reopen.

Birmingham Town Hall was opened in 1834 as Concert venue and used for popular assemblies. Built between 1832 and 1834, the architects were Joseph Hansom & Edward Welch. The hall closed in 1996. And refurbishment works took place between 2002 and 2008. It reopened in 2007.

Originally built as the home of the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival (which was established in 1784), it was built on a site on Paradise Street. A design competition was held at the time. 67 designs were submitted including one by Charles Barry, whose King Edward's School on New Street was being built at the time. But the winners was Joseph Hansom (who created the Hansom cab) and Edward Welch. It was one of the first examples of 19th Century revival Roman Architecture. It's design was similar to the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum.

After it opened, Charles Dickens gave a reading of one of his books. It was also the home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1918 until they moved to Symphony Hall in 1991.

In 1902 for the Coronation of Edward VII and 1937 for the Coronation of George VI, the hall was decorated to celebrate both events.

Popular music bands in the 1960s and '70s have also performed here.

It closed in 1996 for a refurbishment programme under Wates Construction. It wouldn't reopen again until 2007. Being hidden by scaffolding and hoardings for most of that time. During the 2000s, the BBC Big Screen was in Chamberlain Square next to the Town Hall, until it was later moved into Victoria Square.

 

My first photos of the Town Hall was taken during April 2009 from Chamberlain Square. This was when I started to take photos around Birmingham. This view to the right of the Chamberlain Memorial. This was also where the BBC Big Screen used to be until abou 2007.

Birmingham Town Hall

There used to be steps around Chamberlain Square near the Central Library, which was where I got this view from. People used to sit on the steps.

Birmingham Town Hall

This view from Chamberlain Square looking into Victoria Square. It does look like it comes from Rome or even Athens!

Birmingham Town Hall

Paradise Circus Queensway used to go past the Town Hall under a tunnel below the Central Library, joining up at Paradise Street. This view from the platform above the tunnel.

Birmingham Town Hall

The following views were taken during June 2009 from Paradise Street and Paradise Circus Queensway. The view into Chamberlain Square with the Central Library and Chamberlain Memorial.

Birmingham Town Hall

There used to be bus stops outside the Town Hall. The no 1 to Acocks Green via Five Ways, Edgbaston and Moseley used to stop here. But they moved it back to Broad Street. Today the no 1 bus starts on Calthorpe Road near Five Ways in Edgbaston.

Birmingham Town Hall

A view slightly further back on Paradise Street. A few years after the refurbishment was completed it was looking as good as new. It really does look like a free-standing Corinthian temple.

Birmingham Town Hall

In early May 2011, there was Union Jack bunting in Victoria Square around the time that the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge tied the knot. It has changed so much around here since there was a pair of red phone boxes, and all those bollards.

Birmingham Town Hall

Prince William and Catherine Middleton got married at the end of April 2011. So into the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, there was still a lot of bunting around Victoria Square. We have also lost these trees that were removed for the Westside Metro extension (which opened in late 2019).

Birmingham Town Hall

The Iron:Man by Anthony Gormley would remain in place until it was removed to storage for the building of the West Midlands Metro extension. Also to go in the years since was the bollards and trees.

Birmingham Town Hall

The Town Hall looked amazing in the sunshine with the blue sky.

Birmingham Town Hall

You can imagine it being in Rome.

Birmingham Town Hall

The side of the Town Hall seen from Paradise Street. At the time, a man was putting up adverts for Smurfit Kappa. They were going to celebrate their 150th anniversary at the Town Hall. This was near the end of May 2012.

Birmingham Town Hall

In December 2012, I got some nightshots of the Town Hall. This was before my works Xmas party, so had a walk around town before heading to the restaurant. This was the Paradise Street view.

Birmingham Town Hall

The view down on Paradise Street and Paradise Circus Queensway. The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market was on at the time in Victoria Square. Next I walked down Suffolk Street Queensway towards The Arcadian.

Birmingham Town Hall

In January 2013, it was snowing all over Birmingham. As I headed into Victoria Square, found the whole square covered in snow. Council workers had cleared a path through the snow to the right. Was trying to get to Cineworld on Broad Street (ended up having to see the film I wanted to see in Solihull days later).

Birmingham Town Hall

More snow in March 2018 in Victoria Square. This was during the weather event known as the Beast from the East. Was also during Storm Emma. Council workers were laying grit around the square. It was also when the World Indoor Athletics Championships was being held at Arena Birmingham. By this point, the Metro extension was under construction (to the far left).

Birmingham Town Hall

Temporary tarmac on the site of the Westside Metro extension during May 2019. You can just about see the Victoria Square sign on the right saying that it was opened by the Princess of Wales on the 6th of May 1993. One Chamberlain Square was also visible to the right of the Town Hall (behind the statue of Queen Victoria).

Birmingham Town Hall

By October 2019 it was all hands on deck to get the Metro extension completed by December 2019. The tracks and bricks were laid. They were also laying new steps around the Queen Victoria statue. Also to get things finished before the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market returned again in November 2019.

Birmingham Town Hall

In November 2019, West Midlands Metro tram 35 on a test run, stops at the new Birmingham Town Hall Tram Stop. Before going down Pinfold Street towards Grand Central Tram Stop. Behind is the Alpha Tower.

Birmingham Town Hall

Town Hall Tram Stop seen during December 2019, before it opened later that month. Behind the platform towards Centenary Square on Paradise Street.

Birmingham Town Hall

You can now get the tram the Town Hall. Luckily they opened this exension while the Birmingham FCM was on.

Birmingham Town Hall

A man looks up at the Town Hall. While hoardings block off the former route of Paradise Circus Queensway, towards Chamberlain Square.

Birmingham Town Hall

A new view of Chamberlain Square towards Two and One Chamberlain Square, with the Chamberlain Memorial, BM & AG and the Town Hall all that survives from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Birmingham Town Hall

For the first time in December 2019, you could see two trams (29 and 22) next to the Town Hall. Perhaps for the first time since the old tram network closed down in the 1950s. You can also see Big Brum at BM & AG from this view on Paradise Street.

Birmingham Town Hall

West Midlands Metro tram 29 was seen heading towards Wolverhampton. This extension opened in the last few weeks of 2019, so people could use it to go to the Birmingham FCM at the time. These scenes remind me of the Nottingham Express Transit that goes past the Nottingham Council House (saw that back in 2014).

Birmingham Town Hall

A few more views into early 2020. This was in Victoria Square during January 2020. All the new paving around the square was complete. Apart from what they would do in the months ahead. This was around halfway into the month. The view towards the Alpha Tower down Paradise Street.

Birmingham Town Hall

Late January 2020 and West Midlands Metro tram 35 arrives at Town Hall Tram Stop, before heading to Library Tram Stop. This was something you couldn't have imagined 10 years ago! There was barriers in front of the Town Hall to the right in Victoria Square, so the new paving was far from finished.

Birmingham Town Hall

My last tram photo outside of the Town Hall was taken during early March 2020. It was tram 19 (taken on my Smartphone camera). This was the last time I saw a tram at Town Hall Tram Stop before the lockdown.

Birmingham Town Hall

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
26 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Summer fun fair at Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich

Every summer there used to be a fun fair in Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich. The first time I saw it was in July 2017 on the way to Sandwell Valley on the Big Sleuth trail. Saw again last summer during August 2019, when I popped into the park to cross the footbridge over The Expressway. I expect it is cancelled for summer 2020. So enjoy this gallery from two of the previous summers.

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Fun Fair at Dartmouth Park

I first passed through Dartmouth Park in July 2017. Located near West Bromwich Town Centre and Sandwell Valley Country Park. The main entrance is on Reform Street through a set of gates near the gatehouse. There is also a footbridge that goes over The Expressway which takes you to Beeches Road. The park has a war memorial and a bandstand. There is also a boating lake and a children's play area.

For my post on Sandwell Valley Country Park, click on this link here: Summer fun fair and The Big Sleuth at the Sandwell Valley Country Park (July 2017).

2017

Pat Collin's Fun Fair was on from the 27th to 30th July 2017 in Dartmouth Park. The fun fair was established almost 150 years ago in 1875. They are based in Brownhills, Walsall.

I first saw the lorries from the fun fair on the main path into the park from the Reform Stret entrance.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

The fun fair lorries from the back. They would have also had some caravans there.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

Back of the Ghost Train.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

A ride called Atmosphere, but was folded up at the back of this lorry.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

Close up of Atmosphere.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

Was also this Dodgems ride and teacup ride. But both were folded up during the day.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

2019

Back in West Bromwich in early August 2019, I had another walk into Dartmouth Park after I left the Town Centre. And saw this fun fair there. I saw a sign outside the park that said "Sandwell Valley Children's Fun Fair - open weekends every day during holidays". I'm not sure if it referred to the fun fair in Dartmouth Park, or the one in Sandwell Valley Country Park.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

But it was Pat Collins Fun Fair again. Rides here included Jumping Jack and Dodgem.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

This ride was called Scream.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

Ghost Train from the front this time around. The bouncy castle was deflated.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

Dodgem and Freeway / Route 66.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

A look towards the Freeway ride, not far from the bandstand. But they were setting it up at the time.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

One of the caravans near Freeway.

Dartmouth Park fun fair

After this I took the path the footbridge that crosses over The Expressway. It goes around in circles on both sides. My next Dartmouth Park post will include the rest of my previous visits to this park (excluding the fun fair which you can see above here).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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60 passion points
History & heritage
26 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Tour of the Gay Village in Southside

It's Pride Month 2020, the annual Pride Parade can't take place in Birmingham for obvious reasons. Here we will look at the buildings / pubs of the Gay Village in Southside, taken over the years. Plus some of the sculptures and public art on display. Down the bottom of Hurst Street and some of the side streets. Welcome to the Chinese Gay Quarter Village! (overlap)

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Hurst Street

The Village Inn seen on Hurst Street in Southside during March 2011.

The Village Inn

It dates to the early 19th century and the ground floor was rebuilt in 1887 by C.J. Hodson. The pub has been altered again in recent years.

The Village Inn

The pub was proudly flying the rainbow gay flag on it's flagpoles.

The Village Inn

The Village Inn was also on the corner of Hurst Street with Skinner Lane.

The Village Inn

Next up was The Angel on the corner of Kent Street and Hurst Street. It was formerly a car showroom built in 1931 by Alfred J. Dunn. It's at 125 Hurst Street.

The Angel

The Angel was a Cafe Bar at Wynner House.

The Angel

In the same building was Amsterdam XXX. An Adult Shop and Cinema. Was also formerly part of the car showroom of the past.

Amsterdam XXX

Now onto January 2015. The Devils Kitchen was on Kent Street, not far from Hurst Street. It was next to a venue called Sidewalk. Which was a Coffee House. They also serve Cocktails, Ciders and Beers. As well as being a Music Bar. It replaced The Angel by 2012.

The Devils Kitchen

When open, you could have a take away Cheese Burger for £2.50. Cold drinks was £1.00.

The Devils Kitchen

In April 2018 a look at Sidewalk from Kent Street. The Devils Kitchen was to the left.

Sidewalk

In July 2018 a first look at the Rhinestone Rhino sculpture. It was seen above The Urban Kitchen at the corner of Hurst Street and Bromsgrove Street. There was a red baseball cap on it's front horn. Was on the top of Wynner House.

Rhinestone Rhino

Took it again in October 2018. As well as the red cap there was a multicoloured scarf around it's neck. Made in 2012 by the artists Emma Butler, Vikki Litton and Robbie Coleman. It was unveiled in time for Birmingham Pride 2012. It was made of a polystyrene mould, carved into a rhino shape and then coated in fibreglass.

Rhinestone Rhino

Also seen on Hurst Street at Wynner House during October 2018 was Equator Bar. Decorated for Halloween. I called it Halloween Horrors at the time. It is to the right of Sidewalk and was formerly part of a car showroom.

Equator Bar

A skeleton hanging from the Equator Bar sign.

Equator Bar

Inside was a ghostly skeleton in red, white and black. They serve coffees and teas here.

Equator Bar

Next up Hurst Street views from August 2015. On the side of Missing Bar. There is a statue of Marilyn Monroe on the top, and street art at the bottom.

Missing Bar

I would assume that Marilyn Monroe was a gay icon. Sadly she died young in 1962 at the age of 36 (of an overdose).

Missing Bar

The street at at the bottom looks like a pair of eagles firing lasers at a cube. With a dancing lady in the middle. The art was painted over in 2017.

Missing Bar

To the left of that is a shop called CZ Birmingham. With clothes that LGBT people would like. It's at The Arcadian.

CZ Birmingham

Essex Street and Lower Essex Street

In December 2017 a look at the street art at Nightingale. On the corner of Kent Street and Lower Essex Street. The artwork was by Inke, and says Love is Love.

Nightingale

This side of Nightingale on Kent Street. Clearly painted for Birmingham Pride.

Nightingale

On Essex Street in March 2011. A look at 23 Essex Street. Known at the time as the Queens Tavern.

Queens Tavern

It was built in 1894-95 by James & Lister Lea. They were famed all over Birmingham for designing and buildings pubs in the City.

Queens Tavern

At the time there was a pink pub sign for Queens Tavern.

Queens Tavern

An update in January 2013, as the pub had a make over with a new pub sign, andwas now called the Queen Elizabeth. The building is at the corner of Inge Street, so it was quite close to the Birmingham Hippodrome and the Back to Backs.

Queens Tavern

The new pub sign (at the time) resembled a postage stamp of Queen Elizabeth II.

Queens Tavern

Another rebrand by May 2014. The pub was now calling itself Priva. Probably a nightclube or strip club? It is still called Priva to this day, but they repainted the outside in red (but is still black at the top).

Queens Tavern

Sherlock Street

Eden seen on Sherlock Street during March 2011. It was formerly calledThe White Swan and located at 116 Sherlock Street, near Hurst Street.

Eden

The White Swan was built in the early 19th century, but was completely recast in 1937 by J.B. Surman.

Eden

At the time Eden had all of these Eden banners on the Sherlock Street facade.

Eden

On the side was painted a Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey advert. Old No 7 Brand.

Eden

Eden was lit up after dark in December 2018. Seen from the no 45 bus on Sherlock Street. by this point there was a Smirnoff advert painted onto the side of the gay pub. They also painted the bottom half of the pub green.

Eden

Another after dark shot of Eden from October 2019. This time seen from a no 35 bus. Both times lit up in rainbow colours. Was a bit too many reflections from the bus window on the top deck. Could see the Hurst Street side from here.

Eden

Sherlock Street gave it's name to Sherlock Holmes as author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was at one point based in Birmingham. He also got the Hound of the Baskervilles from the Baskerville typeface. But that's all for a different post.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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40 passion points
Green open spaces
24 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Knowle Park in the spring of 2019

My second visit to Dorridge, and the walk up to Knowle in Solihull was during March 2019. While in Knowle, I popped into Knowle Park. While in the park it was nice and sunny, but after I left for the walk back to Dorridge Station, it started hailing! Also in this park is Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve and Purnells Brook.

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Knowle Park

My visit to the historic Knowle Village and Knowle Park was during March 2019. Having caught a train to Dorridge again, I wanted to walk further than 2 years before and get to Knowle. Like Dorridge Park, Knowle Park is a Green Flag Park. Home to Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve and Purnells Brook. They are reminders of the historical Forest of Arden from Knowle's past.

Jobs Close gets it's name from Jobs Close House which looks over the park. Built in 1904 as a private residence, before being bought by Solihull Council in the 1940's and used as Cedarhurst Primary School. In 1957 it was sold to a charitable trust, and used to this day as a retirement home.

There is a pond near Longdon Road. Which was formerly a series of three marl pits. The pond is reguarly visited by ducks, herons and moorhens. The park is home to a variety of tree species.

Purnells Brook that runs through the park from the north west corner. It was the boundary in Saxon times between Knowle and Longdon Manors. In the Nature Reserve you can see woodland flowers such as bluebells (when they are in flower).

The park also has an outdoor gym and a playground. There is a local community group here called the Friends of Knowle Park.

 

Onto my visit from the middle of March 2019. Entering from Longdon Road in Knowle. Saw this Solihull M.B.C. sign for Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve.

Knowle Park

So first up is Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve. Steps near the pond.

Knowle Park

A green fence around the pond.

Knowle Park

View of the pond towards the car park.

Knowle Park

Next I went up these steps.

Knowle Park

Woodland walk in Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve.

Knowle Park

Bit of a drop near the trees from here.

Knowle Park

Now into Knowle Park proper. A pair of paths splitting in a Y shape.

Knowle Park

March is daffodil season. These daffodils were quite white with yellow on the inside.

Knowle Park

A close up look at the Knowle Park daffodils.

Knowle Park

A map of Knowle Park welcomes you, it also has information of the park (which I've mentioned at the top of this post).

Knowle Park

Dark clouds in front of the sun. Perhaps a sign of the coming hail storm I would be caught in on the way back to Dorridge Station at the time.

Knowle Park

A footbridge back into Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve. Crossing Purnells Brook.

Knowle Park

A look at Purnells Brook from the footbridge.

Knowle Park

A stone in the middle of the nature reserve and a sign. Paths in a triangular shape. Information about the grassland and scrub. Also the tree lined brook.

Knowle Park

Close up look at the artwork on the Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve stone.

Knowle Park

Back into Knowle Park again and the clouds didn't look too bad at this point.

Knowle Park

Another Knowle Park map and sign (same as the other one).

Knowle Park

Those houses are Jobs Close, which is now a retirement home. But once a private home. It was used as Cedarhurst Primary School in the 1940s.

Knowle Park

More daffodils, theses ones are the more traditional yellow ones.

Knowle Park

Heading out of the park towards Lodge Road.

Knowle Park

After this the walk back to Dorridge Station. But was a hail storm. Again instead of getting the train back to Acocks Green, I got the first one out to Solihull with Chiltern Railways. West Midlands Railway services terminate at Dorridge. But didn't want to wait in the waiting room for too long.

 

Coming soon will be other Solihull park posts for Olton Jubilee Park, Langley Hall Park and Mill Lodge Park. (Click these links to view the projects and view the photo galleries).

Click here for my Dorridge Park post.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
24 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Cofton Park in Rednal and near Longbridge

Cofton Park is close to Longbridge and Rednal as well as being not far from the Lickey Hills Country Park. Back in April 2013, when I first tried to get to Beacon Hill, I ended up going to Cofton Park instead. At the time it was close to the MG Motor factory on Lowhill Lane. The Council bought the land in 1933.

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Cofton Park

Cofton Park is located close to Longbridge, and is also near Rednal and Cofton Hackett in South West Birmingham. The park is surrounded by Lowhill Lane, near what was the MG Motor factory (the Chinese owned SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre Ltd), Groveley Lane and Lickey Road. The Lickey Hills Country Park is nearby.

The park has 135 acres of rolling fields and trees, and is mainly open grassland. In the centre of the park is a small woodland. The park was once the boundary of Lowhill Farm. Birmingham City Council bought the land in 1933 from the Trustees for William Walter Hinde. He left the land in his will to be used by the people of Birmingham forever. There is an old farmhouse at the centre of the park.

Cofton Plant Nursery is also based here. Selling high quality bedding and shrubs to the public. They also make the public displays for the Chelsea Flower Show and Gardeners World Live (they later go on display around the City Centre or elsewhere in the City).

In September 2010 at Cofton Park, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass here for the beautification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. It was attended by a crowd of over 51,000 people. Cofton Park had a capacity of 80,000 people. Newman was later elevated to the Sainthood by Pope Francis in 2019 (but this took place in the Vatican City, Rome).

2013

In April 2013, I walked down Lickey Road heading towards the Lickey Hills Country Park. But at that time I didn't know which way to walk to Beacon Hill. I did go around some of the roads near the Lickey's in Cofton Hackett but ended up going to Cofton Park instead (I ended up returning and trying again for Beacon Hill two weeks later).

The walk down the Lickey Road past Cofton Park. Lowhill Lane is to the left.

Cofton Park

At the time I was aiming to get to the Lickey Hills Country Park and not thinking about ending up in Cofton Park.

Cofton Park

The entrance to Cofton Park Nursery from Lickey Road. At the time they had a Summer Plant Sale. And this was in April 2013.

Cofton Park

I was on the other side of the road to Cofton Park, but you can see it lines down Lickey Road.

Cofton Park

A closed gate from the Lickey Road.

Cofton Park

One last look down the Lickey Road past Cofton Park, before I got close to the Lickey Hills.

Cofton Park

After going up a bit of Rose Hill and part way up Barnt Green Road and back, I next headed up Groveley Lane past Cofton Park.

Cofton Park

The entrance to Cofton Park from Groveley Lane which I took to go into the park.

Cofton Park

I headed up the path from Groveley Lane in Cofton Hackett.

Cofton Park

Apart from the main path, the park is mostly open fields with trees.

Cofton Park

At the top of the hill from the path is a view of the trees at the Lickey Hills.

Cofton Park

Panoramic of the Lickey Hills view.

Cofton Park

The panoramic was stitched together using photos such as the one below.

Cofton Park

The view towards MG Motor.

Cofton Park

MG Motor had both British and Chinese flags outside.

Cofton Park

Zoom in to the Lickey Hills. At this point I was wondering how I would get up there.

Cofton Park

View of houses in Cofton Hackett village below. Including the Rednal Social Club on Barnt Green Road.

Cofton Park

Another view of the MG Motor factory. Parts were made in China and assembled here. Sadly I've heard recently that this has been demolished and MG cars will no longer be made in Birmingham. The previous MG Rover factory at Longbridge went bust in 2005, and in the years since it was all demolished and replaced by a new Town Centre with shops, a retirement village and houses.

Cofton Park

By the looks of it, I mainly stuck to the path at the time. One bench to the left.

Cofton Park

Another panoramic towards the Lickey Hills. I wouldn't walk that section until I got the train to Barnt Green years later.

Cofton Park

Getting close to the end of the path. One bench on the right. The path leads to Lickey Road (but exits at Elliot Gardens - and no it was not named after me!).

Cofton Park

Before I left, saw this dog sign for dog walkers to pick up their dog's mess.

Cofton Park

2016

In the years since, I've only really walked past Cofton Park and not gone back in. Such as in late January 2016 when I walked past the MG Motor factory (on left) and Cofton Park (on the right) while on Lowhill Lane, on a walk around Longbridge.

Cofton Park

There was a lot of bright sunshine behind these trees from Lowhill Lane.

Cofton Park

A road with bollards from Lowhill Lane while the sun shined brightly.

Cofton Park

I didn't really think about going into the park at the time. Just to walk around Longbridge and end up back at Longbridge Station.

Cofton Park

One of the Cofton Park signs from Birmingham City Council's Department of Recreation and Community Services.

Cofton Park

The sign that says "This gate closes at dusk".

Cofton Park

This is the entrance to the Lowhill Lane Car Park. There is also the Cofton Park Pavilion, although I've not seen it myself .

Cofton Park

2019

Another Longbridge walk up Lowhill Lane during February 2019. As before walked down Lickey Road, then up Lowhill Lane past the park, before making my way back to Longbridge Lane. Again didn't go into the park at the time.

Cofton Park

The Lowhill Lane Car Park entrance as a car drove down the road. There is a ramp ahead that cars have to go over.

Cofton Park

I also spotted these football goalposts.

Cofton Park

It would be nice to one day go back to this park and walk over the grass, as long as it isn't too wet from the recent rain we have been having.

 

Another park in Longbridge to check out is the new Austin Park at the new Longbridge Town Centre. Post coming soon. Check the project for the photo gallery.

 

For my related Lickey Hills Country Park posts go to:

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Transport
23 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Airlines gone but not forgotten at Birmingham Airport: Thomas Cook Airlines

Another airline popular for holiday destinations was Thomas Cook Airlines. Sadly they went out of business back in September 2019, along with all of their High Street travel shops. Founded in 2007 from a merger with Thomas Cook Group and MyTravel Group. It operated services from Birmingham Airport and other UK based airports. They were known for the yellow heart symbol.

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Thomas Cook at Birmingham Airport

Thomas Cook Airlines operated flights from Birmingham Airport for many years. Founded in 2007 from a merger between Thomas Cook Group and MyTravel Group. There main bases was at Manchester Airport and Gatwick Airport . In 2013, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia and Condor all merged under the name of Thomas Cook Group Airlines.

The airline collapsed in September 2019. Over 165,000 passengers were stranded overseas (more than the 65,000 of Monarch), that had to be flown back to the UK.

While I've seen Thomas Cook at Birmingham Airport, we had never flown with them.

 

One of my first Thomas Cook plane photos was taken while I was on a walk around Erdington. I was on the Chester Road during May 2014. It was probably an Airbus A321-200.

Thomas Cook

Not a great photo of a Thomas Cook plane, as it was behind trees as it came into land at Birmingham Airport, back in March 2016. But this was on the day of the first Emirates Airbus A380 landing. And I went to the Sheldon Country Park to see it. After I left I went to Marston Green Station, and got this view from the second footbridge before I got to the platform.

Thomas Cook

The first up and close photo I got of a Thomas Cook plane was at the departures at Birmingham Airport during June 2016. The windows to the gates can be a bit fuzzy to look through. A Shell tanker was near the Airbus A321-200 plane. We were on the way to get a Flybe flight to Milan for the Lake Como holiday.

Thomas Cook

In December 2016, I saw this Thomas Cook plane taking off from Birmingham Airport, while I was in Car Park 5. There is a plane spotting area there, but if you go further back, you won't have the perimeter fence in the way.

Thomas Cook

Back in August 2017 I was in Sutton Coldfield on the Big Sleuth bear hunt. While in Boldmere (after leaving Sutton Park) I saw this Thomas Cook Airbus A321-200 plane.

Thomas Cook

Later back at Sutton Coldfield Station (August 2017), I saw this Thomas Cook plane coming into land at Birmingham Airport. Sutton Coldfield is on the flight path into the airport. Was also an Airbus A321-200.

Thomas Cook

A close up view of this Thomas Cook plane during June 2018 at Birmingham Airport. In departures, heading to the gate to get a Jet2 flight to Pisa in Italy, for the Florence and Tuscany holiday. Another Airbus A321-200. Behind was several Flybe planes.

Thomas Cook

Another good station for seeing planes taking off or landing from Birmingham Airport was Stechford Station. I saw this Thomas Cook plane from Stechford during October 2018. Also an Airbus A321-200. This one was taking off.

Thomas Cook

Also in October 2018 was the visit to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, where I saw several planes coming into land at Birmingham Airport. This one was an Airbus A320-200.

Thomas Cook

It may have also been with Condor at the time. It left the UK Thomas Cook fleet during 2018 (the Airbus A320-200's).

Thomas Cook

Back in August 2019 was when I last saw Thomas Cook planes at Birmingham Airport. This view was from the X1 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus I'd caught from South Yardley to the airport. At the time there was also a pair of TUI planes to the left.

Thomas Cook

I popped into Car Park 5 where I saw this Thomas Cook Airbus A321-200. The last time I would see it there before the airline went bust in the following month.

Thomas Cook

Now for a bonus photo.

In May 2011 having just landed at Nice Airport in Frane with BMI Baby, I saw this pair of Thomas Cook Belgium planes (before I got off the BMI Baby plane). This airline was founded in 2001, started operating from 2002 and ceased operating in 2017. These were Airbus A320-200's. The planes were later transferred to other airlines, including one to the UK based Thomas Cook Airlines.

Thomas Cook Nice

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
Modern Architecture
23 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Tour of the inside of the Library of Birmingham during September 2013

Welcome to a tour of the Library of Birmingham from my visits back in September 2013. My first visits were on the 21st and 28th September 2013. It was very busy. Loads of people visiting the library for the first time. Heading up the escalators between the levels. At the time the glass lift still worked, so you could go in that if it wasn't too busy. 9 levels plus the basement levels.

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For this post we are only looking at the inside of the Library of Birmingham. So not the Shakespeare Memorial Room, Discovery Terrace or the Secret Garden (I'll leave those for future posts).

 

Originally the Library had revolving doors from Centenary Square (and also to the Discovery Terrace on Level 3). There is also a disabled door you can use by the press of a button. The revolving doors were replaced years later by automatic doors, as the revolving doors kept getting stuck. Also the glass lift from Level 4 to Level 7 stopped working after a year. Meaning you have to use the other lifts, or the stairs (if you can). There are escalators from Level G (the ground floor) to Level 3. Then a travelator up to Level 4. Access to Level 7 and 9 is by the lifts or stairs. Level 5 and Level 8 is for staff only. There is also the Library Cafe on the ground floor, and you can take you coffee up to the Mezzanine floor (also called Level MZ).

 

21st September 2013

Starting on the ground floor Level G, a look towards the entrance to the REP. On the left is the Library Shop. Where you can buy Birmingham souvenirs. I got in after 4pm that day.

Library of Birmingham

The escalators from Level G to Level 1 was busy that day. On the left was a temporary exhibition, called The Pavilion

Library of Birmingham

When it opened, Level 1 was originally called Business Learning & Health (this was before Brasshouse Languages took it over in 2016).

Library of Birmingham

There used to be desks where you could work on your laptop or tablet on. WiFi early on was weak, but years later the free WiFi got better (well at least after I kept upgrading my smartphone every couple of years).

Library of Birmingham

The escalators from Level 1 up to Level 2.

Library of Birmingham

Next up was Level 2, which was originally called the Knowledge Floor. Around the core of this floor and the floor above is the Book Rotunda. There is a lot of old historic books around there.

Library of Birmingham

Another area for studying and using your laptop or tablet with a view out to Centenary Square.

Library of Birmingham

Now it was time to leave Level 2 for Level 3. Just had to go up the escalator to the next floor.

Library of Birmingham

Now a look around Level 3, which was called the Discovery Floor at the time. This area was called the Mediatheque. Where you can watch films from a library collection (I think).

Library of Birmingham

The Travelator that goes from Level 3 up to Level 4. That time it was set to go up on the right. Usually you go up on the left.

Library of Birmingham

On the ride up, you can see the glass lift. And there was a queue for it waiting to go up to Level 7.

Library of Birmingham

Level 4 was called Archives & Heritage. You can go through glass doors when you get to the top, or at the time use the glass lift (it wouldn't remain in service for long before it broke down - in fact it's not worked for years!).

Library of Birmingham

I would have gone higher that day, but it was almost 5pm and that was the time that the Library of Birmingham closed for the evening. So heading back down the escalators through the Book Rotunda. At this point heading down from Level 3 to Level 2. Next up would be the escalator down to Level 1.

Library of Birmingham

Heading down the escalator from Level 1 back to Level G, where you can see The Pavilion temporary exhibition on the right.

Library of Birmingham

A look at the Children's Library which is on Level LG (Lower Ground Floor).

Library of Birmingham

Back on Level G, and heading from the Library of Birmingham into the foyer of the REP.

Library of Birmingham

28th September 2013

One week later, I returned to the Library of Birmingham to go all the way up to the top to Level 9 for the Shakespeare Memorial Room and Skyline Viewpoint. Got in much earlier this time, just before 1pm that day. This wall welcomes you to the Library of Birmingham. Was also a screen showing information about the exhibition on at the time called Dozens & Trails. This was on Level G.

Library of Birmingham

This time I was able to get the glass lift up from Level 4 to Level 7.

Library of Birmingham

Now on Level 7 after going up the glass lift. Here you can see the comfy red chairs in a staff only area of the Library. On Level 7 is the Secret Garden.

Library of Birmingham

Views from Level 7 near the Glass Lift down to the floors below. You can see the travelator and the escalators down to about Level 2.

Library of Birmingham

If you don't like heights don't look down! On this day the travelator was operating in the correct directions. Left side to take you down from Level 7 to 4. The right side to take you up from Level 4 to 7.

Library of Birmingham

The escalators on Level 2 takes you to and from Level 1 (on the left) and to and from Level 3 (on the right).

Library of Birmingham

There was also some comfy red chairs on Level 7. I used to sit on some of them on Level 3 to get onto the WiFi on my then smartphone.

Library of Birmingham

On Level 7 you can see a staff office through the window from the corridor from the regular lifts and stairs. So you might see this if going to or from the Secret Garden (unless they have the blinds down).

Library of Birmingham

That day I used the stairs to go down. Went a bit too far down to Level LG, and saw these desks with PC's on them. So had to go back up the stairs to Level G to exit.

Library of Birmingham

That's it folks for this tour of the Library of Birmingham. It's changed a lot since it first opened 7 years ago.

For the next Library of Birmingham post, I could show you around the Shakespeare Memorial Room. It's on Level 9 near the Skyline Viewpoint.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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70 passion points
History & heritage
22 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A variety of objects in the Warehouse at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre

I've been to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre twice in the past. During an open day in May 2012 and another open day during Birmingham Heritage Week back in September 2018. Here we will look at some of the objects stored in the warehouse. It reminds you of the big warehouse in the Indiana Jones movies (the 1st and 4th ones). But no swinging on Indy's whip in here!

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Remember the scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark of the Covenant was placed in a warehouse in Area 51? (later revisited in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Well the warehouse at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre is a bit like that. Most objects are not in crates, but on shelves all over (there are some objects in crates though).

Located at 25 Dollman Street in Nechells (near Vauxhall). It is also near Duddeston Station (on the Cross City Line and Chase Line). Formerly run by Birmingham City Council, it is now run by the Birmingham Museums Trust.

I've been to two open days over the years. One during a Sunday in May 2012. And another in September 2018 during Birmingham Heritage Week.

 

Entering the warehouse at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre on the 13th May 2012. There was a pair of volunteers in yellow jackets at the open day.

BMCC

There is many rows of shelves all through the warehouse. But on your visit you can only see the items on the bottom shelf.

BMCC

Some rows were closed off to visitors.

BMCC

I think only staff can go up the steps in here (not members of the public visiting on an open day).

BMCC

Another view of the shelves during the Birmingham Heritage Week open day on the 16th September 2018. On the second visit was hard to find objects I'd not seen 6 years previously.

BMCC

Now back to the May 2012 open day visit.

An old red telephone box. I think it is type K6. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Most phone boxes are now obsolete, or not as used as much as we all have smartphones  (or mobile phones) now. Some have been converted into small coffee shops or had defibrillator machines installed.

BMCC

Next up was a Boiler Feed Pump. It was built by J. Evans & Sons of Wolverhampton circa 1920 and it was made for the Round Oak Steel Works. This type of Pump is also known as a Banjo Steam Feed Pump.

BMCC

This was a Weighing Machine. It was a pendulum operated weighing machine made by W & T Avery of Birmingham in 1900.

BMCC

Two objects here. On the left was a Tensile Testing Machine. Made in 1950 for Loughborough College. Colleges used machines like this to stretch materials. On the right was a Small Crank Operated Power Press. It was used over 50 years ago to stamp small metal components by Edwin Lowe, Bearing Manufacturers of Perry Barr, Birmingham

BMCC

A pair of Clock Machines. These two clocking-in machines dated to 1920 were made by the International Time Reading Company. I'm used to modern clocking-in machines where you put a card into a machine and it prints the time you clocked in our out, but is digital, unlike these analogue ones.

BMCC

I didn't make a note of what these machines were used for. I usually take a photo of the information sign, but didn't with these machines.

BMCC

This was labelled as Cycle. It was a Railway track inspection cycle used by platelayers.

BMCC

Finally we have a Press. This was a power press made by Taylor & Challen, Birmingham in 1888. From the factory of Gordon & Munro Ltd., Tipton.

BMCC

Six years later. Some of the objects I found in the warehouse during the September 2018 open day during Birmingham Heritage Week.

First up was a Soda Water Plant. This machine was used at Military Staff College in Camberley for making and bottling Soda Water from the mid to late 19th century. Siphons were also refilled there. This was a machine I'd previously seen on my fist visit back in 2012.

BMCC

Next up we have a Hotchkiss 47mm Naval Gun. The gun was captured from the Chinese torpedo boat destroyer 'Taku' during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.

BMCC

This is The 'Netley' Carriage. It was made at R.A. Harding Limited in 1955. It was an aids works hand operated tricycle. It would have allowed wheelchair users greater mobility. This model was recommended for hilly districts.

BMCC

Next up we have a Ariel 'Pixie' Motorcycle. It was made by Ariel Motors Ltd in Birmingham in 1965. I previously saw it here in 2012 as well. They don't seem to move the objects.

BMCC

Another motorcycle. This one was a Douglas 4hp Motorcycle. Was made in 1918. The Douglas Engineering Company was formed in Bristol in 1882. They produced a large amount of motorcycles in 1914 for the war effort. Douglas Motors Limited ended production in 1957. I had also seen this one before in 2012.

BMCC

Finally we have a Petrol Pump. Dating to 1932. It was a electrically operated petrol pump used by a Birmingham Company to refill delivery vehicles.

BMCC

There is also bronze and marbles busts in here, but will leave thoese to a future post.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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50 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
22 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Rainbow doors around the Warley Woods

We went back to the Warley Woods on the 2nd June 2020 for a daily walk. This time a full walk around. While there, I noticed these painted doors at the bottom of trees all around the woods. Of course I didn't take all of them as there was too many to see. So here is a gallery of the ones that I did see. Painted by local children. Like those NHS rainbows in the windows of peoples homes.

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If you go to the woods today your sure of a big surprise! (from the Teddy Bears Picnic).

No you wont find teddy bears in the Warley Woods, but you might find these painted doors around the woods. My walk on the 2nd June 2020 around the Warley Woods, and while there noticed these doors painted on wood by school children (at home). To help and thank the NHS & Key Workers.

Go find them out yourselves (if they are still there). There was more than just these ones (below). So take your kids out rainbow door hunting!

Rainbow doors

Rainbow doors

Rainbow doors

Rainbow doors

Rainbow doors

Rainbow doors

Rainbow doors

Rainbow doors

Rainbow doors

I might next cover the full walk around the Warley Woods from the beginning of June 2020 next. So watch this space!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Environment & green action
22 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The John Morris Jones Walkway in the Shire Country Park

In the Shire Country Park, there is a walk from Cole Bank Road (opposite Sarehole Mill) towards Robin Hood Lane in Hall Green called the John Morris Jones Walkway. The path runs alongside the River Cole. There is also a large open field, that gets used during Tolkien weekends. John Morris Jones was the headmaster of George Dixon Junior School from 1960-80. He wrote about the area.

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JOHN MORRIS JONES WALKWAY

In our next walking post in the Shire Country Park we will be entering the John Morris Jones Walkway. There is entrances on Cole Bank Road in the Sarehole area (the modern Moseley / Hall Green border). This entrance is opposite of Sarehole Mill. There is traffic lights near the Sarehole Mill Car Park that you can cross at. The walk takes you along the Millstream Way, following the route of the River Cole towards Robin Hood Lane (near Brook Lane). So you won't be too far from Billesley. After the John Morris Jones Walkway is The Dingles.

The John Morris Jones Walkway was named after John Morris Jones, who was the headmaster of George Dixon Junior School from 1960 until 1980. He wrote many books about South Birmingham, including about the areas such as Sarehole, Hall Green and Yardley Wood.

The field close to Cole Bank Road was originally called the Cotterills Meadow. But has been known for the last century as the Colebank Playing Field. There had also been a ford at Robin Hood Lane, but there is now a road bridge at this site.

2011

I first walked up a bit of the John Morris Jones Walkway during January 2011. Starting at the Robin Hood Lane end, a look at the River Cole from the bridge. This would have been the site of a ford. While it is bridged now, you can see remaining fords at Slade Lane, Scribers Lane and Green Road. There was some snow on the ground at the time.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Entering the John Morris Jones Walkway from Robin Hood Lane. Brook Lane is to the left of here.

John Morris Jones Walkway

The Shire Country Park post, missing the directions to the other areas of the country park.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Now onto the path heading to Cole Bank Road.

John Morris Jones Walkway

The path was a bit of a dirt path at the time, so had not yet been resurfaced.

John Morris Jones Walkway

I got to a puddle and mud halfway, and decided to turn back.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Instead I left the John Morris Jones Walkway at Robin Hood Lane and walked up Wake Green Road instead. Would be another 5 years before I would do a full walk of this walkway.

John Morris Jones Walkway

2012

In March 2012, I was heading into The Dingles for the first time, when I saw the new wooden fence and gateway entrance to the John Morris Jones Walkway. I was walking from Billesley to Yardley Wood at the time, on a nice warm Spring afternoon.

John Morris Jones Walkway

2016

A May Day Bank Holiday walk in the Shire Country Park. Starting at the Sarehole Mill Car Park. Going through the John Morris Jones Walkway to get to The Dingles, Trittiford Mill Pool, Scribers Lane SINC and back. Saw some bluebells on the way.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Near the River Cole, not far from the Cole Bank Road end, was this back garden with a fence and gate to the river. I would see it again 4 years later on one of my lockdown walks up here.

John Morris Jones Walkway

A lock at the Colebank Playing Field. You don't just have to stick your walk to the main path, but you can walk through here, if the grass is dry. In the distance you can see the chimney of Sarehole Mill.

John Morris Jones Walkway

I also saw growing at the time, Dandelions.

John Morris Jones Walkway

2020

At least three walks through the John Morris Jones Walkway on lockdown, during March, April and May 2020. Changes every month.

The first lockdown walk was on the 26th March 2020, several days into it. I had come from the Trittiford Mill Pool and The Dingles, just had to go through the John Morris Jones Walkway. Getting in from Robin Hood Lane.

John Morris Jones Walkway

The path was now more suitable for walking on. The trees had yet to grow their leaves back.

John Morris Jones Walkway

All the plants along the path were quite low down at the time.

John Morris Jones Walkway

First lockdown look at the River Cole, just off the John Morris Jones Walkway.

John Morris Jones Walkway

A look in the Colebank Playing Field, as a dog runs after it's owner. View of the chimney of Sarehole Mill.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Back onto the path as I got closer to Cole Bank Road.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Houses on Sarehole Road have gardens that end a bit short of the river. But some have gates at the back. Maybe they have access to the other side of the river?

John Morris Jones Walkway

Getting near Cole Bank Road and the end of this Shire Country Park walk.

John Morris Jones Walkway

On month on in April 2020. Now the 25th April 2020. And what a change in a month on lockdown! Leaves had grown back on the trees, and the growth on both sides of the path was a bit higher up.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Bright sunshine on the walk through the Colebank Playing Field.

John Morris Jones Walkway

At the far end of the Colebank Playing Field, before returning to the main path. Sarehole Mill is in the distance.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Another look at the River Cole.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Back on the path to Robin Hood Lane.

John Morris Jones Walkway

The canopy of trees do make the wooden gated entrance look nice at Robin Hood Lane.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Bluebells were growing on the left side.

John Morris Jones Walkway

A look at the River Cole from the bridge on Robin Hood Lane. Saw a heron, but it flew away before I could zoom into it.

John Morris Jones Walkway

The third and most recent lockdown walk in here was during May 2020. Was on the 22nd May 2020. By now the River Cole was looking quite shallow, due to a month long drought. The walk started at the Sarehole Mill Car Park, and headed to The Dingles and back.

John Morris Jones Walkway

The fence along the path. There was now cow parsley growing along the walkway.

John Morris Jones Walkway

There's that garden with the wooden fence and gate on the riverside. I hope they don't get flooded.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Back at the Robin Hood Lane end of the walkway before going into The Dingles again. The entrance to that part is up Coleside Avenue.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Later coming back from The Dingles, and re-entering the John Morris Jones Walkway from Robin Hood Lane.

John Morris Jones Walkway

This time walked back through the field. Part of the grass had been mown for social distancing.

John Morris Jones Walkway

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
22 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Dorridge Park in wet weather

I first got the train to Dorridge in Solihull back at the end of January 2017. At the time it was raining on my walk around the park. It was a wet and miserable afternoon. Dorridge Park is also home to Dorridge Wood. Which is a local nature reserve. The part was first set up in 1969 after a land donation. Woodland here was first documented in 1556. The park has a play area.

 

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Dorridge Park

Dorridge Park is located in Dorridge, Solihull.  Just a short walk away from Dorridge Station. Leave the station via Station Approach, then walk down Grange Road. Dorridge Park and Dorridge Wood is a local nature reserve. The park also has the Green Flag Park status. Land was donated in 1969 to form a park. It is now run by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. In the history records, there was a mention of the woods way back in 1556. The park is home to a variety of trees. Various animals might be found in the park such as a fox.

My first visit to Dorridge was at the end of January 2017. And by the time I got to the park it was raining.

 

Entering the park from near Grange Road and Beconsfield Close, I saw this Solihull M.B.C. Dorridge Park sign.

Dorridge Park

The path off of Grange Road as it was raining.

Dorridge Park

The path splits into a Y shape here.

Dorridge Park

A large tree near Beconsfield Close.

Dorridge Park

Saw a small blackbird on the grass which was covered by leaves.

Dorridge Park

The path continues as the rain kept coming down.

Dorridge Park

About to cross this footbridge over a stream.

Dorridge Park

There was a bollard on this side of the footbridge.

Dorridge Park

The stream, but I don't know it's name (if it has a name). It might be a brook.

Dorridge Park

Near the Dorridge Park Play Area.

Dorridge Park

Slide in the playground.

Dorridge Park

Some kind of climbing frame made out of ropes.

Dorridge Park

The rain wasn't stopping as I had a look at the wide open field.

Dorridge Park

The path with benches near a Green Flag.

Dorridge Park

A noticeboard with information.

Dorridge Park

Dog walkers take their dogs for walk through the woods. This path was a bit muddy and the rain didn't help that afternoon.

Dorridge Park

Bollards near a public footpath fingerpost.

Dorridge Park

New trees barely visible in this weather.

Dorridge Park

Back on the path towards Grange Road. There is a car park near here close to Arden Road. It didn't have a pavement, so I walked back to Grange Road to get back to the station.

Dorridge Park

Wooden posts with wood on the top. Perhaps somewhere for birds to land.

Dorridge Park

Another Y split in the path. The grass covered with leaves as I made my way back to Grange Road, and eventually Dorridge Station.

Dorridge Park

I ended up catching the train back to Solihull, rather than wait for one back to Acocks Green.

A few years later I got the train back to Dorridge with the intension of walking to Knowle. While there during March 2019 I popped into Knowle Park. Slightly better weather at the time, but had a hail storm on the walk back to Dorridge Station!

Knowle Park will be my next Solihull park post. Also look out for Olton Jubilee Park, Langley Hall Park and Mill Lodge Park. Coming soon. (Click these links to view the projects and view the photo galleries).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
17 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Mary Stevens Park in Stourbridge, in what was the Studley Court estate

Back in July 2019 I wanted to ride the Stourbridge Shuttle again, and while in Stourbridge, I noticed on a map that htere was a park in walking distance from the Town Centre. This was Mary Stevens Park. The park opened to the public in 1931. It was named after the late Mary Stevens, wife of local businessman Ernest Stevens who donated the land for the creation of a park around 1929-30.

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Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge

I found another park on Google Maps, while in Stourbridge, in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley (back in July 2019). This was Mary Stevens Park. I went to the Costa Coffee in the Ryemarket Shopping Centre, for the second time in 6 years. And was looking at somewhere to walk to before going back to Stourbridge Town Station. I noticed a park that wasn't that far away to walk to. Leaving the Ryemarket Shopping Centre, I headed along Worcester Street, until I got to the main gates on Heath Lane.

In 1929 after the death of his wife Mary, local industrialist and philanthropist Ernest Stevens gave land to the town of Stourbridge to develop a park. He purchased the Studley Court estate and house from the nuns of the St. Andrews Convent, with the intentions of creating a park. It would be named Mary Stevens Park and opened to the public in 1931. The park has a lake called the Heath Pool, there is also a Bandstand, tennis courts, bowling green, outdoor gym, a cafe and a children's play area.

Mr Stevens donated the gates at the entrance to the park.

One plaque dating 1929 reads:

This park was given by
Ernest Stevens
in Memory of his wife
Mary Stevens
a noble woman
who went about doing good,
to be for all time a place
of rest for the weary.
of happiness for children,
and of beauty for everyone.

The second plaque reads:

The entrances were
constructed and given by
the donor of the park
Ernest Stevens, Esq., J.P.
of Prescot House
Stourbridge.

The gates seen from the main entrance on Heath Lane. Just beyond a roundabout and at the end of Worcester Street. The Gates, Piers and Railings are Grade II listed. They date to 1930. They are made of fine ashlar piers with wrought-iron gates and railings in Neo-Georgian style.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

There is bollards around the entrance. Cars can drive to the car park, but cant go onto the main path into the park. the roundabout ahead has a big tree in the middle.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

Heading into the park, trees line the main path beyond the bollards. Was also flower beds on the right. The main path is called the Queen's Drive. It was opened on the 23rd April 1957 by HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Who toured around in an open top Land Rover at the time.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

The Mary Stevens Park noticeboard and map from the main path, The car park is behind. Also has a bit of history on it to the left. The sign mentions that Ernest Stevens legacy was not just to leave a park for local people, but to preserve open green space for all to enjoy. Queen Elizabeth II also made a visit to the park in 1957.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

The wonderful flower beds to the right of the main path.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

The Stourbridge War Memorial was to the left of the main path. It was erected in memory of the lives lost during the First World War. It was originally set up outside of the public library in Stourbridge in 1923. It was designed by Ernest Pickford and unveiled by the Earl of Coventry on the 16th February 1923. It is Grade II* listed.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

It was later moved to it's current location in Mary Stevens Park in 1960. There is a bronze statue on top of a woman. The listing says it dates to 1920 and was moved here in 1966. Made of fine ashlar with metal, probably bronze, plaques and a figure, in severe classical style. It was moved as a result of a road scheme.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

This would the people of Stourbridge would gather each November to lay poppy wreaths. It also commemorates those lost during World War 2.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

Here you can get coffee and ice cream at the Coffee Lounge in Mary Stevens Park. To the right was some public toilets. Behind the cafe is the Stourbridge Council House (more details further down the post).

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

Red flowers on the flower bed near the gates that surrounds the Coffee Lounge.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

You could also get some ice cream from this ice cream van.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

This was the Mary Stevens Park Children's Play Area. Was a a few hoses firing water in the middle, and kids running into the water jets.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

A look at the Bandstand. It was made of cast iron and was made by Hill & Smith Ltd. It was funded by Ernest Stevens. Meaning it dates to the late 1920s or early 1930s. It has been an important central feature to the park ever since it opened to the public. Summer band concerts have always been popular.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

Outside the Stourbridge Council House in the gardens, is a bronze statue of Major Frank Foley (sitting on a bench). It was formerly known as Heath House and later Studley Court. During WW1 it was used as Studley Court Hospital. Studley Court was originally called Heath House. It was associated with Glassworks. The first reference on the site dates from 1691. Was a number of different owners of Heath House in the 19th century. It was run as a V.A.D. Military Hospital during the World War 1. And was a Convent School during the 1920s. It became the offices for what was then the Stourbridge District Council in the 1930s. It was used until Stourbridge merged with Dudley Borough in 1974. Since 1974, Studley Court has been home to parts of Dudley MBC.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

The bronze statue of Major Frank Foley was unveiled on the 18th September 2018 by HRH The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William).

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

The sculptor was Andy De Comyn. Major Foley was a Black Country war hero. He saved thousands of Jews from Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. 60 years after his death, his deeds have not been forgotten. More information here from the Express and Star.

There is a plaque on the bench which reads:

Major Frank Edward Foley CMG (1884 - 1958)
who lived in quiet retirement near this park
but in the 1930s helped over 10,000 Jewish people 
escape from the Holocaust, whilst working as 
British Passport Control Officer in Berlin.
He who saves one, saves the world.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

Another look at the Stourbridge Council House from the second half of the garden. The Dudley Children Services Adoption Team uses part of the building now. Hard to believe that until 1929 this was a nunnery! It served as the Council House until Stourbridge became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley in 1974.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

Now for a look around the lake, called the Heath Pool. It is to the south west corner of the park.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

All the usual gulls and geese here. Plus there was a fountain in the middle of the lake.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

Black-headed gulls perched on the top of these wooden poles.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

The Heath Pool covers about less than one quarter of the park.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

There was Canada geese all over. Some Coot as well.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

Something I've not seen before this visit was this Muscovy duck. There was quite a few of them here.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

This sign had a lot of information about the Heath Pool. Was close to the exit / entrance from Stanley Road and Norton Road.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

This gate is the entrance and exit to Stanley Road.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

After I left the park, heading back into town, I also saw this gate on Love Lane, from Heath Lane.

Mary Stevens Park Stourbridge

While I could have walked to Stourbridge Junction, I wanted one more ride of the Stourbridge Shuttle so walked back to the Stourbridge Interchange. See my post on my last ride here: West Midlands Railway Stourbridge Shuttle (July 2019).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Green open spaces
17 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

West Park in Wolverhampton, a Victorian gem!

Back in March 2019, I noticed on Google Maps while in Wolverhampton, there was a park nearby called West Park. So I went to check it out before getting the train back to Birmingham. Opened as the People's Park in 1881. It is surrounded by Park Road West and Park Road East. There is a statue of Charles Pelham Villiers in the park. He was the local MP at the time (he served 63 years).

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West Park, Wolverhampton

My visit to West Park, Wolverhampton was on the 24th March 2019. At the time I got the train from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. Initially to see the orange West Midlands Railway signs at Wolverhampton Station, then for another walk around the City. I ended up at the Costa Coffee on Dudley Street, when I was looking at Google Maps for somewhere to walk, and take photos, when I noticed West Park on the map. I went for a walk around West Park, then when I left, I passed the Molineux home of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, where I saw the statue of Sir Jack Hayward. I also passed the University of Wolverhampton campus on the walk back to the station (saw one of the Wolves in Wolverhampton sculptures from the 2017 trail).

Now for some history of the park taken from the Wikipedia page (link above). The park opened on the 6th June 1881 as the People's Park. The site that was chosen was formerly the Wolverhampton Race Course, or Broad Meadows, owned by the Duke of Cleveland. In March 1879, Alderman Samuel Dickonson invited landscape gardeners to complete the layout of the park. The winner was Richard Hartland Vertegans of Chad Valley Nurseries, Edgbaston, Birmingham. The park includes ornamental lakes, a Bandstand, which was presented by the towns long-standing MP, Rt. Hon. Charles Pelham Villiers in May 1882 (his statue was moved to the park in 1931). It is now Grade II listed. A conservatory opened was opened in July 1896 by the widow of former Mayor Alderman Samuel Dickinson. Commemorative flower beds were laid out in 1911 for the Coronation of King George V, and the same was done in 1937 for King George VI. The park was added to the Heritage National Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in 1986. A team room was refurbished in 2005 with help from a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

 

And now onto my visit from March 2019. Approaching the Gates between Park Road West and Park Road East. They are Grade II listed. They were installed in 1880. All the walls and gates that surround the park are part of this listing. The architects were Bayliss, Jones and Bayliss. Made of Ashlar on a brick base with cast-iron railings and gates. Park Road West is to the left and Park Road East to the right.

West Park Wolverhampton

The entrance path from the Park Road East gates, heading into the park.

West Park Wolverhampton

On the left was the gatehouse, which is now the Ranger Station.

West Park Wolverhampton

A large open field of grass not far from the Park Road East entrance.

West Park Wolverhampton

Not far from there was this brick sculpture of a Victorian Sewer. It was built for the Wolverhampton Fiesta of the 1970s. Made of brick.

West Park Wolverhampton

The West Park Tea Rooms were to the right.

West Park Wolverhampton

The Bandstand. It is Grade II listed dating from 1882. It was made by McDowell Stevens & Co of Glasgow. Originally made of a Cast-iron on brick base. It used to have a cast-iron roof, but this was replaced with fibreglass in 1976.

West Park Wolverhampton

At the time the bandstand had fences around it (I think it has since been restored and reopened since I was there). The bandstand is in an Octagonal structure on brick base.

West Park Wolverhampton

Seen on the other side of the West Park Boating Lake was the Conservatory. It is a Grade II listed building. It dates to 1896 and was designed by Dan Gibson. It was made of Brick with terracotta dressings. It also had a timber superstructure on iron stanchions.

West Park Wolverhampton

Another view of the Conservatory over the boating lake, as families walked past it. I did not go on that side of the lake, and wasn't sure if it was open or not.

West Park Wolverhampton

This view from the West Park Boating Lake towards the Conservatory.

West Park Wolverhampton

Several views of the West Park Boating Lake. All the usual Canada geese and ducks in here.

West Park Wolverhampton

There was an island in the middle of the lake, where I assume that all the birds would go.

West Park Wolverhampton

This side of the lake towards the Pavilion.

West Park Wolverhampton

A close up look at the Pavilion from the other side of the lake.

West Park Wolverhampton

There was some Greylag geese in the lake at the time.

West Park Wolverhampton

Now for a look at the Statue of Charles Pelham Villiers. It was looking quite weathered at the time of my visit.

West Park Wolverhampton

Years of rain, wind and snow have done this to the statue.

West Park Wolverhampton

The statue is Grade II listed as the Villiers Statue. It was made in 1878 and was of the town's long standing Member of Parliament, Rt.Hon. Charles Pelham Villiers. It was sculpted by W.Theed the younger.

West Park Wolverhampton

The statue was made of Ashlar. It was placed on a high plinth which supports a figure in 19th century dress and was holding scroll, against draped stand.

West Park Wolverhampton

The statue was moved from it's original position in Snow Hill, Wolverhampton in 1931, to this site in West Park. Villiers was born in 1802 and died in 1898 at the age of 96 years. He was MP for Wolverhampton for a record 63 years! He had the seat of Wolverhampton from 1835 until 1885, then Wolverhampton South from 1885 until his death in 1898.

West Park Wolverhampton

Heading out of the park, saw this Bridge over the lake. It is Grade II listed and dates from 1880. It was made with Cast-iron with ashlar abutments and piers. I did not cross it, as I wanted to get more views of the Villiers statue (see above).

West Park Wolverhampton

Saw this fingerpost on the way out of the park. It had directions to the Devon Road exit to the left and the Connaught Road exit to the right. Also to the playground and bandstand. Tennis court and boating lake.

West Park Wolverhampton

The path near the Lansdowne Road exit / entrance, which I would take to leave the park.

West Park Wolverhampton

The noticeboard at the Lansdowne Road entrance. Also with the parks opening hours.

West Park Wolverhampton

The gates at Lansdowne Road. This was the exit that I took to Park Road East. I then headed down to Park Crescent, and back to the Wolverhampton Ring Road.

West Park Wolverhampton

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
16 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Daisy Farm Park near the Maypole

A short walk away from the Maypole down Maypole Lane is Daisy Farm Park. It is quite small. It is also known as Daisy Farm Recreation Ground. Surrounded by houses on Highters Heath Lane, Gorleston Road and Prince of Wales Lane. The main path in the middle leads to Daisy Farm Road. Close to the Highters Heath and Warstock areas of south Birmingham. And not far from Yardley Wood and Shirley.

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Daisy Farm Park

If you pop down to the Maypole for a coffee (back when it was OK to go to coffee shops), if you go to the Starbucks Drive Thru or Sainsbury's Cafe at the Maypole, when you leave and you want to walk somewhere, head along Maypole Lane until you get to Daisy Farm Park. It's quite small, so you may either walk past it, continuing on towards Solihull Lodge. If you head in up the path, and stick to the path, you will only be in there for a few minutes. Unless you have a walk around the fields here.

Daisy Farm Park, also known as Daisy Farm Recreation Ground is on the edge of the Billesley Ward in south Birmingham. There is a playground to the right of the main entrance. The car park is to the left.

 

2016

I first walked past Daisy Farm Park in December 2016, from Maypole Lane. I was walking towards Solihull Lodge.

Daisy Farm Park

The trees line down Maypole Lane just in front of the fence.

Daisy Farm Park

And old Birmingham City Council sign for Daisy Farm Park from the Department of Recreation and Community Services.

Daisy Farm Park

A brief look at the Daisy Farm Park Play Area.

Daisy Farm Park

The pavement on Maypole Lane that goes straight past Daisy Farm Park.

Daisy Farm Park

A gap in the fence before I passed the park, then went past the houses in Maypole Lane.

Daisy Farm Park

2019

In August 2019, after another one of my Maypole coffee stops (Starbucks), I walked down Maypole Lane, and this time headed through the gate into Daisy Farm Park.

Daisy Farm Park

The Daisy Farm Park Play Area on the right.

Daisy Farm Park

One of the elephant signs that all the parks in Birmingham has for their play areas. Such as here at Daisy Farm Park.

Daisy Farm Park

The entrance to the play area has this nice blue and orange gate with the Daisy Farm Park name at the top.

Daisy Farm Park

The car park and the field beyond to the left.

Daisy Farm Park

A basketball court and an area for teenagers to hang about.

Daisy Farm Park

So are teenage boys and girls just supposed to sit in this thing?

Daisy Farm Park

The path continues onto Daisy Farm Road and Gorleston Road.

Daisy Farm Park

There is another gate to the right which leads towards the estate at Prince of Wales Lane. Also near Maypole Grove.

Daisy Farm Park

Big open field to the left.

Daisy Farm Park

Some long grass, almost like hay to the right.

Daisy Farm Park

Was the odd blue bench along the path.

Daisy Farm Park

Looking back along the path towards Maypole Lane.

Daisy Farm Park

The gate at Daisy Farm Road.

Daisy Farm Park

After this I walked around the area until I caught a bus to Highgate Park. Some of my photos from that visit to Highgate Park are in this post here: Highgate Park: inner city park where the statue of Edward VII used to be.

I probably walked along Warstock Lane back to Alcester Road South and caught the no 50 bus at the time to Highgate.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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Transport
16 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Class 168 on the Chiltern Mainline from Birmingham Snow Hill to Leamington Spa

Chiltern Railways operates the Chiltern Mainline from Birmingham Snow Hill (or Moor Street) towards London Marylebone. Their main diesel multiple unit trains are the Class 168 Clubman. They do also use Class 68 with Mark 3 carriages, but here we will be looking at the Class 168 from Birmingham Snow Hill towards Leamington Spa. Stopping at Solihull and Warwick Parkway.

Related

I've not been on a train since lockdown came into force during late March 2020. Before then I went on the Chiltern Mainline from Solihull to Leamington Spa at the end of February 2020 (to go on the branch line to Coventry). The last time I went to Solihull Station in the middle of March 2020 was get some trains to Aston (to see the turnable in Eastside).

The photos below were taken between 2009 and early 2020.

Chiltern Railways have been running the Chiltern Railways franchise since 1996. The mainline is between Birmingham Snow Hill and London Marylebone. In late 2010, the terminus platforms 3 and 4 were restored to Birmingham Moor Street Station, and many Chiltern trains now terminate there.

The Class 168 Clubman DMU trains were built between 1998 and 2004. They were refurbished in 2007-8 and from 2013 onwards. There is 4 types of Class 168. The

  • 168/0 (built in 1998)
  • 168/1 (built in 2000)
  • 168/2 (built in 2004)
  • 168/3 (built in 2000 as Class 170 for TransPennine Express)

Birmingham Snow Hill Station

Seen at platform 2 during September 2013 was Chiltern Railways 168216. It would form a service to London Marylebone. Seen in it's new livery at Birmingham Snow Hill Station, while I was at platform 3.

Chiltern Snow Hill 168

Chiltern Railways 168002 had just arrived at platform 2 at Snow Hill Station during November 2014, having come from London Marylebone. One of the oldest trains in the fleet, in it's new livery.

Chiltern Snow Hill 168

Chiltern Railways 168217 was seen at platform 2 at Birmingham Snow Hill Station during May 2016. From my usual view from platform 3. In the new standard grey livery.

Chiltern Snow Hill 168

Seen inside of Birmingham Snow Hill Station at platform 2, during December 2017 was Chiltern Railways 168 329. It would form the Chiltern Mainline service to London Marylebone. This was one of the trains that Chiltern inherited from TransPennine Express, which used to be a Class 170, before it was converted.

Chiltern Snow Hill 168

Birmingham Moor Street Station

Seen at platform 4 at Birmingham Moor Street Station during November 2011, was Chiltern Railways 168108. Behind was Selfridges, the Rotunda and what used to be the Pavilions (which it was at the time). The old blue livery would last a few more years after this. These restored platforms opened at the end of 2010. Part of Chiltern's Evergreen 3 project (during Phase 1).

Chiltern Moor Street 168

Chiltern Railways 168110 was seen at platform 4 during April 2015 in the new grey livery. The inside of these trains had been refurbished as well. Can just about see Selfridges from here.

Chiltern Moor Street 168

Arriving at platform 3 at Birmingham Moor Street during December 2017 was Chiltern Railways 168004. In the new grey livery, but was looking a bit dirty at the time.

Chiltern Moor Street 168

In January 2020 from platform 1 at Birmingham Moor Street. Chiltern Railways 168106 had just left Birmingham Snow Hill. And after a stop at Moor Street, was heading on it's way to it's next stop at Solihull, on it's way towards London Marylebone.

Chiltern Moor Street 168

Solihull Station

Departing Solihull Station during May 2013 was Chiltern Railways 168216. At the front was also Chiltern Railways 172 103. It was heading to London Marylebone. In the old blue livery.

Chiltern Solihull 168

In December 2013, I was at Solihull Station when I saw Chiltern Railways 168108. It was heading for Birmingham Moor Street (which would be it's final stop and terminus).

Chiltern Solihull 168

In May 2016 at Solihull, I saw Chiltern Railways 168218 heading towards London Marylebone. It was a wet weekend, and this might have been a Wembley Special weekend (the FA Cup Final was that weekend at the time). I've been on a Chiltern train when it's been packed full of football fans going down to Wembley.

Chiltern Solihull 168

In July 2019 an unidentified Chiltern Railways Class 168 is seen crossing the Low Bridge on Blossomfield Road in Solihull. While a pair of buses cross under it towards Solihull Town Centre. I had just got off the no 6 bus, which was the red single decker bus on the right. The bus with NXWM was 1914. Landflight bus on the left was on the 8W.

Chiltern Solihull 168

Warwick Parkway Station

I got the train down from Solihull to Warwick in April 2019, and walked up the Grand Union Canal. Getting off near Warwick Parkway Station. This was my first time using the station, although I've passed through it many times in the past. Seen departing from Warwick Parkway for London Marylebone was Chiltern Railways 168 323 and 168 321.

Chiltern Warwick Parkway 168

Both Chiltern Railways 168 323 and 168 321 had been part of the former TransPennine Express fleet (it ended in 2016) that used to be Class 170, before they were refurbished and change to a Class 168/3.

Chiltern Warwick Parkway 168

After a wait at Warwick Parkway, Chiltern Railways 168 326 arrived at the station.

Chiltern Warwick Parkway 168

Chiltern Railways 168 326 would be my ride back to Solihull from Warwick Parkway. Sit in the Quiet Zone. It is so comfortable on these trains.

Chiltern Warwick Parkway 168

Leamington Spa Station

Back in October 2011, I got the train down to Leamington Spa Station for the first time for a photo walk around the town. Seen at the opposite platform was Chiltern Railways 168112. After stopping at Leamington Spa, it would resume it's journey down to London Marylebone.

Chiltern Leamington Spa 168

In March 2018 on another visit to Leamington Spa Station, I saw Chiltern Railways 168108. This was the first time I had got a train from Coventry to Leamington, going past Kenilworth (which hadn't opened at the time). I would go back when Kenilworth Station opened for the first time. Meanwhile this Chiltern train was heading down to London Marylebone after a stop at Leamington Spa.

Chiltern Leamington Spa 168

On Leap Year Day at the end of February 2020, I caught a packed Chiltern Railways train down to Leamington Spa from Solihull (heading to Coventry on the branch line). Got off before the train got too busy with football fans. Chiltern Railways 168215 seen heading on it's way down to London Marylebone. That day, Chiltern should have put two trains on of 8 carriages. But was only a crowded four carriages.

Chiltern Leamington Spa 168

After I got back to Leamington Spa from Coventry (with Cross Country, as would have been a long wait for West Midlands Railway), Chiltern Railways 168003 arrived, and it would take me back to Solihull. Much quieter and less busier. This was the last time I travelled with Chiltern Railways before lockdown and the current restrictions.

Chiltern Leamington Spa 168

From the 15th June 2020, if you travel on the train (or bus) you have to wear a mask over your mouth and nose. But travel is still "essential travel only". So I don't know when I'll be going on a train, or even a bus again (any time soon). Not been on either in 3 months now (since March 2020).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
Squares and public spaces
15 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Classic Car Meet at Kings Heath Village Square on the August Bank Holiday Monday 2019

On Monday 26th August 2019, I was changing buses from the 50 to 11A, when I spotted a Classic Car Meet at Kings Heath Village Square near All Saints Church, so went to check it out, before walking to the next 11A bus stop on the Vicarage Road. Was a variety of classic cars there that day. It was the August Bank Holiday Monday.

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Classic Car Meet at Kings Heath Village Square

Kings Heath Village Square opened in October 2011, and is suitable for any kind of event. During normal times, the square was available for hire. The square is at the corner of Vicarage Road and High Street in Kings Heath near All Saints Church.

On Monday the 26th August 2019, it was the August Bank Holiday Monday, and one such event was using the square. There was a Classic Car Meet on that day.

I had got off the no 50 bus and was going to switch to an 11A when I spotted this car meet and went to check it out before getting my bus home that day.

This view was taken from the 11A bus as it waited at the lights. Wythall Transport Museum were also having their usual Bank Holiday Weekend heritage bus rides up and down the Alcester Road. There was an old Metrobus to the right. Which I didn't notice until I first saw this photo on my computer.

Classic Car Meet

When I first arrived I saw this Ford F 150 pick up truck, made in 1977. It originally came from Texas.

Classic Car Meet

Another view of the Ford F150 from the 11A bus.

Classic Car Meet

This is a Austin Six from 1929.

Classic Car Meet

This Riley Elf was near the bushes close to Vicarage Road.

Classic Car Meet

This old car was either a Rover 2000 or the Rover P6.

Classic Car Meet

Various old cars near the All Saints Centre including the T48 Corsa Spyder.

Classic Car Meet

A line of about 5 classic cars. The red car to the left was a 1977 Triumph Stag Mk II.

Classic Car Meet

On the Labyrinth in the middle of the square at the time was this live band. With a drum kit and a guitar.

Classic Car Meet

Close to All Saints Church was a 1966 Volvo Amazon.

Classic Car Meet

The orange car with the boot open was a 1972 MGB GT.

Classic Car Meet

Next up was this Volkswagen Type 2.

Classic Car Meet

A classic Volkswagen Beetle

Classic Car Meet

For a similar post click: Austin Seven's in Victoria Square (April 2012).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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