History & heritage
01 Mar 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Newman Brothers Coffin Works

Did you know that when Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory closed down for good in 1998, they left all the tools and equipment as it was. The building now called the Coffin Works was opened as a museum in 2014 after a period of restoration work under taken by the Birmingham Conservation Trust. In the years since it opened, I've yet to pay a visit to go inside. Fleet Street in JQ.

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The Coffin Works

Located on Fleet Street in the Jewellery Quarter is this hiden gem. The Coffin Works is at 13-15 Fleet Street. Between Summer Row (at Parade) and Hotel ibis Styles (which is between Fleet Street and Lionel Street). Also near the head office of Mitchells & Butlers.

The Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory is a part of the Jewellery Quarter conservation area. Founded by the brothers Alfred and Edwin Newman. They moved to this site in 1894 (the building was built from 1892 to 1894 and designed by Roger Harley in 1892). Their company began life as a brass foundry company, before they changed to making coffin furniture (the handles, nameplates etc, all which would get buried with the deceased in the coffin underground).

Edwin ceased to be involved in the company during 1895, leaving his brother Alfred as the sole trader of the business until his death in 1933. He was succeeded by his two sons George and Horace. They ran the company until George Newman passed away in 1944, and his brother Horace Newman passed away in 1952. After that there was a variety of owners of the company. Although their sister Nina continued to hold shares until 1980.

The business passed to the Doggart and Whittington families. The last owner was Joyce Green, who acquired the company following the death of the companies two managing directors in 1976. Green first joined the company as a secretary in 1949. She moved up through the ranks until she bought the company in 1989, and was the sole trader until the business closed for good in 1998.

 

Restoration

During the 1990s, Joyce Green fought for the building to be restored. The factory received a Grade II* listed status in the year 2000 by English Heritage. In 2001 the Birmingham Conservation Trust carried out a study on the building about the threat of redevelopment and the loss of the building. The factory was one of three candidates in the first series of the BBC's Restoration programme in 2003, although it didn't receive enough votes to reach the final.

But it got enough interest for restoration in the future. In 2006 / 2007 the Birmingham Conservation Trust got a grant of £1.5 million. The credit crunch in 2009 caused a minor setback when Advantage West Midlands collapsed. But Birmingham City Council was able to buy the building from AWM in 2010. Restoration finally took place during 2013 to 2014. The museum opened in October 2014. Joyce Green was involved in the project throughout until her death in 2009.

 

Fleet Street, 2014

In June 2014, I was walking up Fleet Street, when I took my first photo of the building. Viet Moon was a restaurant at 5-11 Fleet Street. While the Coffin Works next door was coming to it's conclusion in terms of it's restoration.

Coffin Works

 

By September 2014, the Coffin Works restoration project was complete. Heading down some steps between Lionel Street and Fleet Street in the Jewellery Quarter, saw these painted signs on the wall to the left "to the Coffin Works Visit Newman Bros.".

Coffin Works

The side of the Coffin Works with at least three chimneys.

Coffin Works

There was another painted sign further down the steps closer to Fleet Street.

Coffin Works

Now a first proper look at Newman Brothers aka The Coffin Works. It would open as a museum in the following month.

Coffin Works

A zoom in to the painted Newman Brothers sign looking as good as new!

Coffin Works

This view below from the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. This view towards Fleet Street from near the Cable-Stay Footbridge and Farmers Bridge Lock No 6. Behind me was the Newhall Square development.

Coffin Works

 

Fleet Street, 2018

By April 2018, I saw this plaque on the Coffin Works. From The Birmingham Civic Society, who presented the Renaiisance Award to the Birmingham Conservation Trust for the Newman Brothers Coffin Works in 2014.

Coffin Works

A full look at the building with the plaque. In all the years since it opened as a museum, I never once thought of buying tickets in advance to pop in and take photos.

Coffin Works

 

Fleet Street, 2020

This was on the evening in December 2020, when I was walking towards Jewellery Quarter Station, to see the Christmas lights at St Paul's Square and The Golden Square, as well as surrounding streets. After passing the Library of Birmingham, via Parade, got onto Fleet Street, and saw the Newman Brothers sign lit up after dark! Bit hard to see in this photo.

Coffin Works

 

Maybe once museums can open again, I may think of buying a ticket on their website and pay them a visit. But this will be when I can travel on buses and trains again. After lockdown restrictions get eased again (hopefully for good this time).

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

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80 passion points
Green open spaces
22 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Sunset & Moonlit Parks at Park Central

I've only really been past Sunset & Moonlit Parks at Park Central during February 2012, and not been back since (but have walked near Park Central in the years since). So memory will be a bit hazy being that this was from 9 years ago. Sunset Park is between Alfred Knight Way and Mason Way. Moonlit Park is between Bell Barn Road and Mosedale Way. In the Lee Bank area of Birmingham.

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Both Sunset Park and Moonlit Park can be found between Lee Bank Middleway and Bath Row at the Park Central development in the Lee Bank area of Central Birmingham. They stretch as far as Bristol Street.

This explore of the buildings around Park Central was during February 2012, but I didn't actually go into the parks at the time, and have not been back since. But in the years since, have done walks down Lee Bank Middleway, Bristol Street and Bath Row. Plus got photos of the new corner development (Roosevelt Luxury Apartments) near the Belgrave Interchange (including the new cycle paths).

 

Sunset Park

These views of Sunset Park taken on a walk down Alfred Knight Way. Probably got here via Wheeleys Lane and Longleat Avenue.

Sunset Park

There is this metal ramp structure with metal steps in the park.

Sunset Park

Passing the railings on Alfred Knight Way, probably looking at the apartment buildings opposite.

Sunset Park

These apartments are certainly an improvement to what used to be here before.

Sunset Park

Again looking more at the apartments and less at the park. Next heading onto Bell Barn Road.

Sunset Park

 

Moonlit Park

Next up passing Moonlit Park on Bell Barn Road.

Moonlit Park

Looks like a metal sculpture on concrete pillars.

Moonlit Park

Moonlit Park seen over on Bell Barn Road to the far right.

Moonlit Park

Basketball Court near Bell Barn Road.

Moonlit Park

Children's Play Area seen from Bell Barn Road, with what looks like a climbing frame for kids.

Moonlit Park

Corner of the park near Mosedale Way.

Moonlit Park

 

Maybe once the 3rd lockdown ends, and I can go on the bus again, I might make an effort to travel to these parks and walk through them, never really thought about them in the past.

 

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

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60 passion points
History & heritage
22 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A visit to Dudmaston Estate during October 2020

The last National Trust property visit of 2020 was to Dudmaston Estate in October 2020. It's in Shropshire. A 17th Century country house (not open apart from a gallery inside). Near the village of Quatt. As before booked the tickets online for a slot. The grounds you could walk about and explore. Tea Room was open, but you had to have your tea or coffee at picnic tables outside.

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Dudmaston

The National Trust property of Dudmaston is located near the village of Quatt in Shropshire. The country house dates to the 17th century. There is former farm buildings, some of which have been converted into a tea room and second hand book shop. There was a gallery you could visit (sanitise your hands before going in), but no photography allowed inside for copyright reasons (I think the family still live in the house). Tickets and time slot as before booked via the National Trust website (with tickets on EventBrite). If there was a gift shop, I think it was closed.

This visit was on the 18th October 2020 (so was about half a month before the second lockdown began).

 

Outbuildings at Dudmaston

The Outbuildings from the lawn. Near here was picnic tables. A queue for the toilets, sanitise your hands, wer your mask if you go in.

Dudmaston

 

A courtyard near the Outbuildings. All the rooms here were closed. There was a one way system in place, so if you wanted, you could enter the gardens from this gate on the right.

Dudmaston

 

The Outbuildings from the garden. Due to the one way system in place, if you went out of the garden, then back in, you had to head this way to get out.

Dudmaston

 

This gate to the courtyard looked nice, but it was no entry this way (you could only walk through them from the other direction).

Dudmaston

 

Private garden seen over the fence from the Kitchen Garden. Far end of the Outbuildings.

Dudmaston
 

Dudmaston Hall

Round the back of Dudmaston Hall. A tent with National Trust volunteer, to register you before going into the exhibition / gallery. Sanitise your hands again, mask on. No photos allowed inside (tempting as it was).

Dudmaston

 

The back of Dudmaston Hall. It is a Grade II* listed building. A Queen Anne mansion. Built of red brick with stone dressings. Was also a 19th Century office and stable wing built in the Elizabethan style. Couldn't cross the rope on the left.

Dudmaston

 

Heading down the hill, a look at Dudmaston Hall, an impresive looking house.

Dudmaston

 

There was this Red Ivy going down the house. A bit like those poppy art installations around Remembrance time. Some old steps with urns.

Dudmaston

 

Another view of the house with the Red Ivy in the middle.

Dudmaston

 

The Red Ivy looked wonderful from any angle in the parkland.

Dudmaston

 

You could have a walk around the Dingle Walk. Eventually you would end up at the back of the Big Pool, with this wonderful picturesque view of Dudmaston Hall.

Dudmaston

 

Parkland and gardens

A look down to the Big Pool at Dudmaston Estate.

Dudmaston

 

Sculpture in the garden, part of a trail. Spaceframe sculpted by Anthony Twentyman during 1985.

Dudmaston

 

Seated bench area for relaxing and looking at the views of the picturesque parkland.

Dudmaston

 

Greylag geese flying and landing in the Big Pool.

Dudmaston

 

The Kitchen Garden. Pumpkins in the greenhouse before Halloween.

Dudmaston

 

Fingerpost on the Dingle Walk. Head right to the Garden, or left to the Dingle Walk.

Dudmaston

 

Kept spotting this brick boathouse near the Big Pool, although didn't see any boats in the lake.

Dudmaston

 

The South Lodge seen from the car as we left Dudmaston Estate. Now a private house. A Grade II listed building dating to the early 19th Century. Made of coursed sandstone rubble, with a tiled roof. The gate on exiting the estate was an automatic electric gate.

Dudmaston

 

Hope to visit more National Trust properties in 2021, after the 3rd lockdown ends, if we are allowed to travel far again. Especially in the Spring or Summer months.

 

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

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
22 Feb 2021 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

The refurbishment of the former Municipal Bank (now The Exchange) - February 2021

For much of the past year, Three Centenary Way (the former Municipal Bank) has been hidden behind protective coverings. With these now largely removed, we have been given the first glimpse of this immaculate building since it has been cleaned.  Now in University of Birmingham hands, we can see that considerable progress has been made.

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The following gallery takes a look at how things have progressed over the past 12 months.

 

March 2020

 

April 2020

 

September 2020

 

December 2020

 

February 2021

 

Photography courtesy Daniel Sturley (Birmingham We Are and It's Your Build communities)

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80 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
22 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Yellow O's at the Oaklands Recreation Ground

A lockdown walk to the Oaklands Recreation Ground in South Yardley on the 17th February 2021 (a distance I'd usually get the bus to in normal times). Saw all these yellow O sculptures plus purple I's. I would guess they were installed by the Yardley Arts Forum sometime during 2020. Nice to see. The walk was too long, next time I'm getting a bus there (after lockdown ends).

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A walk of over 12,000 steps and almost 6 miles (via Acocks Green). I walked on Wednesday 17th February 2021 to South Yardley. Not renewed my pass since before we entered this third lockdown (and not been on a bus in a month and half now). Mainly to see the skyline again from the Oaklands Recreation Ground.

While there found all these new yellow O sculptures and purple I sculptures. Plus they are starting to built wildlife friendly planting areas. So development of this park continues into 2021.

 

The first yellow O I saw on entering the Oaklands Recreation Ground was from the entrance on Church Road. Says I love Oaklands on all of them.

Yellow O Oaklands

 

The yellow O's were scattered all over the park.

Yellow O Oaklands

 

Some placed at different angles near the paths.

Yellow O Oaklands

 

This yellow O with a view to the Swan Shopping Centre (with Tesco Extra), Bakeman House and Equipoint.

Yellow O Oaklands

 

Towards Church Road with this yellow O. Some people have already tagged them sadly.

Yellow O Oaklands

 

Back on the semi circle Church Road and got this view of 103 Colmore Row and the BT Tower with a yellow O. Wondered if I could have lined it up with 103 Colmore Row inside of the O?

Yellow O Oaklands

 

Also when first entering from Church Road, saw these purple I's slanted in the soil.

Purple I's Oaklands

 

They are creating wildlife friendly planting areas here. Seen close to Equipoint and the Tesco Extra petrol station.

Purple I's Oaklands

 

Some more purple I's on the path to the other end of Church Road.

Purple I's Oaklands

There was about 7 purple I's here around the path, and one yellow O. View to the Birmingham skyline. The Mercian was visible to the right of it, about 6 miles distance away.

Purple I's and an yellow O Oaklands

 

One of the yellow O sculptures was also visible with the Birmingham skyline from the Oaklands Recreation Ground.

Yellow O skyline Oaklands

 

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

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70 passion points
History & heritage
19 Feb 2021 - FreeTimePays
Inspiration

Birmingham (City centre) trail - Historic architecture

Enjoy with our complements this trail (walk, run or cycle) of some of the city's great historic architectural gems. We've even ensured a great start or finish at one of the city's oldest public houses, The Old Contemptibles. Duration of the trail if walking: 2-3 hours.   

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Start your trail HERE  (VIEW ON MAP)

 

Old Contemptibles Pub

No better place to start than the Old Contemptibles Pub, built in the late 18th Century which took its changed name from the brave men that fought in World War Two.  More HERE about The Old Contemptibles.

Old Contemptibles Pub.  Photography by Daniel Sturley.

BACK TO MAP. It is a 10 minute walk to your next classic build.

 

Victoria Law Courts.

A Grade I listed red brick and terracotta building designed by Aston Webb & Ingress Bell in 1886.  More HERE about The Victoria Law Courts.

Victoria Law Courts. Photography by Elliott Brown. 

 

etc etc etc

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30 passion points
Squares and public spaces
19 Feb 2021 - FreeTimePays
Inspiration

Birmingham (City centre) trail - Public squares

Enjoy with our complements this trail (walk, run or clycle) of Birmingham's public squares and spaces. The City's squares are connected with direct and pleasant pedestrian links and they portray a city that recognises the value and importance of its history and heritage whist maintain a vision of growth, creativity and innovation. Duration of the trail if walking: 3 hours.

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This trail takes in 14 wonderful public squares and spaces across Birmingham including:

Oozells Square

Central Square

Centenary Square

Chamberlain Square

Victoria Square

Cathedral Square

Old Square

Tony Hancock statue

Aston University Green

Eastside City Park

Eastside City Park - A Birmingham Gem!

Grand Central Square

St. Martin's Square

St Martin's Church

Thomas Garden Pagoda Island

St. Thomas Peace Garden

Five Ways Park

 

Start Trail

Oozells Square

Start your trail in the fantastic Oozells Square and home to the wonderful Ikon Gallery.  

Oozells Square.  Photography by Daniel Sturley

Go HERE for more about Oozells Square.

BACK TO MAP. It is just a skip and jump to the next square, Central Square and the heart of Brindleyplace. 

 

Central Square

Central Square is at the heart of Brindleyplace.  More HERE about Central Square.

Central Square. Photography by Daniel Sturley

Go HERE for more about Central Square.

BACK TO MAP.  The next square, Centenary Square and the Civic Centre of Birmingham is a short walk away. Enjoy the view down the canal and a walk through Symphony Hall along the way.

 

Centenary Square 

Passing out of the Symphony Hall, you will enter a quite amazing open space and a highlight of the City surrounded by stunning architecture. More HERE about Centenary Square.

Centenary Square. Photography by Daniel Sturley

Go HERE for more about Centenary Square.

BACK TO MAP. The next square, Chamberlain Square in the heart of an area known as Paradise is connected to Centenary Square via a walkway.

Chamberlain Square

Chamberlain Square is where a modern and thriving Birmingham connects with the City's amazing history and heritage. 

Chamberlain Square is home to Birmingham's Town Hall and to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.   

Between 2010 and 2020, the square was completely redeveloped.

Chamberlain Square is at the heart of the Paradise scheme with One Chamberlain Square and Two Chamberlain Square being the two flagship builds of the Paradise development.  

Chamberlain Square before the reopening. Photography by Daniel Sturley

Go HERE for more about Chamberlain Square.

BACK TO MAP.  The next square located alongside Chamberlain Square is Victoria Square and is home to Birmingham City Council House. 

 

Victoria Square

Victoria Square is a magnet for keen photographers.  

Two works of art that can be seen in Victoria Square are the statue of Queen Victoria and The Rivert Art, more commonly known as 'Floozie in the Jacuzzi', by Indian sculptor Dhruva Mistry.

Victoria Square.  Photography by Daniel Sturley

Go HERE for more about Victoria Square.

BACK TO MAP.  A short walk down Colmore Row and you will find Cathedral Square and home to St. Philip's Cathedral. 

 

Cathedral Square

Built in 1715 as St Philip’s Church in the Baroque style by Thomas Archer, the Cathedral celebrated its 300 year birthday in 2015. 

Cathedral Sqaure.  Photography by Daniel Sturley

Go HERE for more about Cathedral Square.

BACK TO MAP.  Continue down Colmore Row and head towards Corporation Street where you will find Old Square, one of the oldest in the City. 

 

Old Square

Old Square is the gateway to the Steelhouse Conservation Area located between Corporation Street and The Priory Queensway.

In the centre of Old Square is a memorial dedicated to Tony Hancock, who was born in the Hall Green area of the city in 1924.  There is also a Figure of Justice scupture on the pavement in Old Square with a map of Europe and Africa. 

Tony Hancock statue

The Tony Hancock Monument in Old Square.  Photography by Elliott Brown

Go HERE for more about Old Square.

BACK TO MAP.  Continue down Corporation Street and over to Aston University Green. 

 

Aston University Green

Nestled in the middle of the Aston University campus is a wonderful green space. 

Aston University Green.  Photography by Elliott Brown

Go HERE for more about Aston University Green.

BACK TO MAP. A short walk across Aston University and Birmingham City University campuses and you will reach Eastside City Park. . 

 

Eastside City Park

Eastside City Park is a 6.75 acre urban park located in the Eastside district of Birmingham City Centre.

With HS2, Curzon Street station and many related works planned for Eastside, this wonderful open space close to Millenium Point, Thanktank Science Museum and Birmingham City University will continue to be a major attraction for people visiting the City.

Eastside City Park - A Birmingham Gem!

Eastside City Park. Photography by Christine Wright

Go HERE for more about Eastside City Park.

BACK TO MAP.  Now head back into the City Centre to find Grand Central Square.

 

Grand Central Square

Grand Central Square is located outside the entrance to Grand Central and New Street.  A sculpture designed by local artist, Anuradha Patel was installed in 2018 in memory of those who lost their lives in the Birmingham pub bombings in November 1974. The sculpture's "leaves" bear the names of each of the 21 victims. 

The memorial to the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974. Photography by Daniel Sturley

Go HERE for more about Grand Central Square.

BACK TO MAP. A short walk through or around the Bullring shopping centre to St. Martin's Square, home to St.Martin's Church, a Grade II listed building.

 

St. Martin's Square

St. Martin's Square is at the gateway to Digbeth and close to the Selfidges building, one of Birmingham's architectural gems.

St. Martin's Church in the Bullring dates back to at least the 13th century and the history surrounding the church is absolutely fascinating. 

St Martin's Church

St Martin's Square. Photography by Elliott Brown

Go HERE for more about St. Martin's Square and St.Martin's Church..

BACK TO MAP.  Now head along Smallbrook Queensway till you reach Thomas Garden and Pagoda Island..

 

Thomas Garden Pagoda Island

Located on the edge of the Chinese Quarter is Pagoda island at the junction of Holloway Circus, Suffolk Street and Queensway. 

Pagoda Island gets its name from the seven storey granite pagoda that resides there. This is surrounded by chinese style gardens and sculpture. 

Granite Pagoda at Pagoda Island with Beetham Tower behind.  Photography by Elliott Brown

Go HERE for more about Thomas Garden.

BACK TO MAP.  From here take a walk up Holloway Head till you reach St. Thomas Peace Garden. . 

 

St Thomas Peace Garden

This is a small public park close to The Mailbox and The Cube that is designated to peace and is a memorial for all those killed in armed conflict.  What remains of St. Thomas' Church which was largely destroyed in the blitz can also be found there.

Peace Garden

The St Thomas Peace Garden Railings by Anuradha Patel. Photography by Elliott Brown

The park symbolises peace and is a memorial to all those killed in armed conflict. St Thomas Church was built in 1825 and much of it was destroyed in 1940. In 1955, the gardens around it were laid out to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1995, they were re-designed to commemorate 50 years since the end of World War 2.

Go HERE for more about St. Thomas Peace Garden.

BACK TO MAP.  From St. Thomas Peace Garden take a walk up Bath Row and Islington Row Middleway to find Five Ways Park at Five Ways Island. . 

 

Five Ways Island

At the busy Five Ways Island is a small public space with wonderful flower beds.  A lovely spot to relax and a freat spot to complete a trail of some of Birmingham's public squares and public spaces. 

Five Ways Island. Photography by Daniel Sturley

Go HERE for more about Five Ways Island.

You have reached the end of the trail.

From here you can explore Edgbaston Village and its bars and restaurants or head back to the city or Brindleyplace.   

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20 passion points
History & heritage
19 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

Birmingham (Outside City trail) - Tolkien experience between Perrott's Folly and Sarehole Mill

Take this trail (walk, cycle or bus) between Perrott's Folly and Sarehole Mill and enjoy many of the places connected with the world renowned author, J.R.R. Tolkien during his time in Birmingham between 1895 and 1911.  

Take the article, view digital map or download the pdf map.

Article and words credited to Chris Upton, Kristina Williamson & Chris Rice.

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Start your trail HERE. (VIEW ON MAP)

 

Perrotts Folly

Whilst living in Edgbaston the young J.R.R. Tolkien would have been very familiar with two distinctive local landmarks. The extraordinary 96ft (30m) Perrott’s Folly is named after John Perrott who had it built in 1758. The crenelated gothick tower was originally part of a hunting lodge. In the 19th century it became one of the first weather recording stations in the country.

Along the road at Edgbaston Waterworks stands a later Victorian chimney tower. The tower was part of a complex of buildings designed by J H Chamberlain and William Martin around 1870.

The pair are said to have suggested Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith, the Two Towers of Gondor, after which the second volume of The Lord of the Rings is named. The Tolkien brothers lived with their aunt in nearby Stirling Road between 1904 and 1908.

The Two Towers

See more on Perrott's Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower here.

BACK TO MAP.  A short walk to Newman's Oratory on the Hagley Road. 

 

Newman's Oratory

When Tolkien’s mother converted to Catholicism in 1900, the family worshipped at St Anne’s Church in Alcester Street, Digbeth. After moving to Edgbaston in 1902, Mabel and the boys attended Cardinal Newman’s Oratory on the Hagley Road. The family lived nearby in Oliver Road and, for a time, Ronald was enrolled at St Phillip’s School, at that time located in the same street. The friendship of Father Francis Xavier Morgan, who became the boys’ guardian, was a source of strength during Mabel’s illness and subsequent death.

Birmingham Oratory

See more on Newman's Oratory here.

BACK TO MAP. now take a short walk to the Plough & Harrow Hotel on Hagley Road.

 

Plough & Harrow Hotel

Whilst living in lodgings in Duchess Road, Tolkien had met and fallen in love with nineteen year old Edith Bratt. He was only sixteen at the time and his guardian Father Morgan attempted to put an end to the relationship by moving the two boys to Highfield Road. It was Tolkien’s last Birmingham address. In 1913, aged 21, and whilst still at Exeter College in Oxford, Tolkien re-established contact with Edith and their romance was rekindled. They were married in the Spring of 1916 in Warwick and in June of that year spent a night in Birmingham at the Plough & Harrow Hotel. Ronald was most likely on embarkation leave prior to his departing for France as an officer in the Lancashire Fusiliers. There is a blue plaque here, which was presented by the Tolkien Society in 1997.

Plough & Harrow

BACK TO MAP.  Now take a short walk to one of Tolkien's homes on Highfield Road. 

 

Highfield Road (One of Tolkien's homes)

From 1910 to 1911 Tolkien lived at 4 Highfield Road. It is now a nursery. The houses at 3 & 4 Highfield Road are a Grade II listed building and was built in 1830. It was a semi-detached late Regency stucco villa. There is a blue plaque here from the Birmingham Civic Society and the Tolkien Society. He previously lived from 1902 until 1910 at Duchess Place in Ladywood. On Teleperformance House which was on Hagley Road, there is another blue plaque marking near where he lived at the time.

4 Highfield Road

BACK TO MAP. Now walk or cycle to Moseley Bog (approx. 40 mins) or take the no 1 bus (Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston to Wake Green Road, Moseley). 

 

Moseley Bog

Tolkien later lamented the encroachment of the suburbs upon his former home but there is one place that ‘civilisation’ missed: Moseley Bog. The Bog was an ideal place for Tolkien’s childhood adventures. It was once a storage pool for Sarehole Mill, and is also the site of two Bronze Age ‘burnt mounds’. The Bog is recalled in Tolkien’s description of the ‘Old Forest’, last of the primeval wild woods, where ‘Tom Bombadil’ lived. It is now preserved as a Local Nature Reserve managed by the Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust. 

Moseley Bog

See more on Moseley Bog here.

BACK TO MAP.  Then walk or cycle to another of Tolkien's homes at 264 Wake Green Road. 

 

Wake Green Road (Another of Tolkien's homes)

In 1896 the Tolkien family moved to 5 Gracewell Cottages (now 264 Wake Green Road) in the hamlet of Sarehole. At the time the area was completely rural and Tolkien said that the times he spent here were the happiest years of his youth. Sarehole is said to have been the model for “The Shire”, the home of the Hobbits, and memories of this country childhood were to colour much of his later writing. 

264 Wake Green Road

See more on the Sarehole area here.

BACK TO MAP. Then walk or cycle to Shire Country Park.  

 

Shire Country Park

The Shire Country Park follows the attractive and varied valley of the River Cole as a green ribbon for some four miles from Small Heath to Yardley Wood. It was named in 2005 to reflect Tolkien’s links with the local area. The park contains wetland, grassland, woodland and heath, and supports a wealth of animal, plant and insect life. Herons, mallards and moorhens are a common sight, and if you are lucky you may spot a kingfisher hunting for fish along the meandering river. The ford at Green Road (formerly Green Lane) is one of the few remaining fords along the Cole Valley and would have been very familiar to the young J.R.R. Tolkien.

Green Road ford

See more on Shire Country Park here.

BACK TO MAP.  Now on to the finish of the trail at Sarehole Mill in Hall Green. 

 

Sarehole Mill 

Ronald and his brother Hilary spent many hours exploring the grounds of Sarehole Mill and being chased off by the miller’s son, whom they nicknamed the ‘White Ogre’. In the 1960s Tolkien contributed to the public appeal to restore the Mill as a museum. Today Sarehole Mill is part of Birmingham Museums Trust. As well as being a working watermill, the museum features the Signposts to Middle Earth exhibition which tells the story of Tolkien’s connections with Sarehole and the surrounding area.

Sarehole Mill

See more on Sarehole Mill here.

We do hope you enjoyed this trail. 

 

Photos by Elliott Brown unless stated above.

Google MapsMap of Ladywood from Googles Maps

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20 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
18 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Floral Trail, The Big Hoot & Sleuth at St Martin's Square

There has been a couple of Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail pieces in St Martin's Square, but only in 2009 and 2013. In 2015 there was several Big Hoot owls around the Bullring, with at least one outside of St Martin's Church. Plus in 2017 there was one Big Sleuth bear outside of the church in the square (another bear was to be found inside Selfridges).

Related

Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail

Birmingham Parks & Nurseries (aka Cofton Nursery) have over the years been making floral trail pieces to go on display in the City Centre every summer. But first they take the main display to the Chelsea Flower Show and Gardeners World Live, where they usually win the Gold prize. These are the floral trail features spotted over the years in St Martin's Square.

 

Trafalgar Medal, Summer 2009

I didn't really start exploring the Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail until August or September 2009. One of the first pieces I found was Trafalgar, Oct 21 1805 near St Martin's Church in August 2009. It is based on a medal that Matthew Boulton made, following the death of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. He approached the Admiralty and offered to commemorate the famous victory by presenting sailors who fought in the battle with a medal. Birmingham was the first place in the country to erect a statue of Horatio Nelson in 1809.

Trafalgar St Martin's Square

 

The Best of Birmingham, Summer 2012

This is the second half of The Best of Birmingham. It won Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show, plus Gold and Best of Show at Gardeners World Live in 2012. Seen in St Martin's Square during August 2012. At the top is the Bullring Bull, then Selfridges in the middle and the Birmingham canals at the bottom with a narrowboat. The first half was in Centenary Square (with the Town Hall, Silver Spoon and a Mini).

Best of Birmingham part 2

A look at the bottom half with Selfridges and the Narrowboat in the canal with a lock.

Best of Birmingham part 2

View from the balcony near Selfridges looking down to St Martin's Square. It was very impressive looking. Must have been nice having the two halves together at Chelsea and at The NEC that year.

Best of Birmingham part 2

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

Now onto The Big Hoot. In St Martin's Square there was about 3 Big Hoot painted owls from July 2015, for around 10 weeks. Before they were auctioned off for the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

Beorma

This owl was located outside of St Martin's Church and was called Beorma (after the nearby Beorma Quarter in Digbeth). It was  painted by the artists Jodie Silverman from a design by Betty Underwood a pupil from Camp Hill School for Girls. The sponsor was The Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham. Seen during July 2015.

Big Hoot St Martin's Square

There was about 8 interlocking hands at the front.

Big Hoot St Martin's Square

Plus flags of the world on a wing at the back. More little owls could be found inside of St Martin's Church at the time.

Big Hoot St Martin's Square

 

Selfie

This Big Hoot owl resembled Selfridges (seen behind) and was called Selfie. The artist was Martin Band, and the sponsor was LDC. This was up the ramp around the back of the Spiceal Street development, not far from Jamie's Italian. Seen during July 2015. And yes I took a selfie with this one.

Big Hoot St Martin's Square

 

Skyline 2015

This Big Hoot owl was located at the bottom of St Martin's Walk at the Bullring, with the spire of St Martin's Church and the statue of Horatio Nelson behind. Skyline 2015 was by the artist Nick Murley. The sponsor was Bullring. Seen during July 2015.

Big Hoot St Martin's Square

The skyline was painted on the back of this owl as well.

Big Hoot St Martin's Square

 

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017

Now onto The Big Sleuth. There was several Big Sleuth bears around the Bullring starting from July 2017, for around 10 weeks. Before they were auctioned off for the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

Bearmingham

This Big Sleuth bear was located outside of St Martin's Church, and resembled the Birmingham Forward coat of arms. It was by the artist James Mustafa. The sponsor was The Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham. Seen during July 2017. There was more little bears inside of St Martin's to find at the time.

Big Sleuth St Martin's Square

 

Brummie Bear

This Big Sleuth bear was to be found inside of Selfridges (and not in St Martin's Square, but adding for completion). It was by the artist Slobodan Topolović. The sponsor was Selfridges Birmingham. It resembled Selfridges, Rotunda, St Martin's Church, Bullring Bull and Birmingham New Street Station.

Big Sleuth St Martin's Square

The famous Selfridges discs at the back of the bear. Lasting longer than the real discs that need some TLC.

Big Sleuth St Martin's Square

 

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

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60 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
17 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Floral Trail and The Big Hoot in Centenary Square

Taking Centenary Square back in time. The Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail pieces in the square in the summers from 2010 and 2016 (most of which won gold at Chelsea). Also the owls of The Big Hoot over the summer of 2015. The Big Sleuth didn't have any bears in the square during the summer of 2017 due to the renovation works in the square (which didn't finish until 2019).

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Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail

Birmingham Parks & Nurseries (aka Cofton Nursery) have over the years been making floral trail pieces to go on display in the City Centre every summer. But first they take the main display to the Chelsea Flower Show and Gardeners World Live, where they usually win the Gold prize. These are the floral trail features spotted over the years in Centenary Square.

Living Wall, Summer 2010

In the summer of 2010 there was the Living Wall on the hoardings of the Library of Birmingham construction site. Around July 2010, the wall was half complete at the time.

Floral Trail Centenary Square

 

Another look at the Living Wall in August 2010, towards the Hyatt Hotel. You can see the former Municipal Bank on the left.

Floral Trail Centenary Square

The Living Wall remained in place for the rest of summer 2010, before it was moved to a more permanent location (there is now permanent living walls at Aston University, Birmingham New Street Station and Birmingham Snow Hill Station, but not sure where it went).

Floral Trail Centenary Square

 

The Plight of the Gorilla, Summer 2011

Seen outside of the Library of Birmingham construction site hoardings was The Plight of the Gorilla. Seen during July 2011. It won Silver at the Chelsea Flower Show and Gold at Gardeners World Live in 2011.

Gorilla Centenary Square

At the top was a sculpture of a gorilla.

Gorilla Centenary Square

Below the gorilla was a waterfall over a rock garden.

Gorilla Centenary Square

The water was flowing down the waterfall below the gorilla.

Gorilla Centenary Square

It was very impressive to see, the flowers and plants around it looked nice as well.

Gorilla Centenary Square

 

The Best of Birmingham, Summer 2012

After winning Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show, and Gold and Best of Show at Gardeners World Live in 2012, this floral feature from Birmingham City Council called The Best of Birmingham, was split in two. One half in Centenary Square featured a Mini, a Silver Spoon and Birmingham Town Hall. The other half was in St Martin's Square at the Bullring and included the Bullring Bull, Selfridges and the Birmingham canals with a narrowboat. Seen here during August 2012 next to the Library of Birmingham (about a year before it opened to the public).

Best of Birmingham Centenary Square

A close up of the Mini, covered all over with a floral skin. It was later displayed at Longbridge Island over August 2013, for Birmingham's entry into the Entente Florale Europe 2013.

Best of Birmingham Centenary Square

The silver spoon acted as a fountain, and probably represented the Jewellery Quarter.

Best of Birmingham Centenary Square

Plenty of colourful flowers around this section. You can see why Birmingham win's Gold every year at Chelsea!

Best of Birmingham Centenary Square

 

Enlightenment, Summer 2013

As the Library of Birmingham got ready to open in September 2013, around August 2013, you could see pieces from a floral trail feature called Enlightenment. Which included models of The Two Towers (Perrott's Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower) plus a deckchair. As well as being part of Summer 2013's City Centre Floral Trail, it was also part of Birmingham's entry into the Entente Florale Europe 2013.

Here you could see the metal sculpture of the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower, as it looks like a man walking past Baskerville House was dressed as Spider-Man!

Enlightenment Centenary Square

This view of the model of the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower towards The Library of Birmingham.

Enlightenment Centenary Square

There was lots of summery flowers around in the landscaped garden in front of the new library.

Enlightenment Centenary Square

Also the model of Perrott's Folly towards The Library of Birmingham.

Enlightenment Centenary Square

View of the Two Towers in the garden outside of the new Library. These days you can find the models at Sarehole Mill. But in the late summer of 2013 you could see them with the Hyatt Hotel and Symphony Hall.

Enlightenment Centenary Square

Boulton, Watt & Murdoch could be seen with the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower. All this seen over fences, as the Library and the landscaped grounds wouldn't open until early September 2013.

Enlightenment Centenary Square

View of Perrott's Folly towards The ICC, The REP and the Library of Birmingham.

Enlightenment Centenary Square

The deckchair was covered in the same floral material as the Mini was the year before.

Enlightenment Centenary Square

 

City of Birmingham Ambulance Train, Summer 2014

August 2014 marked the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War, so Cofton Nursery that summer had a trailer of features around the City Centre commemorating Britain's entry into that war. Outside of the Library of Birmingham seen in July 2014 was this floral feature of a train. From the view below you can see the link from The REP to the Library of Birmingham.

City of Birmingham train Centenary Square

This view of the train towards the Library of Birmingham and Baskerville House.

City of Birmingham train Centenary Square

Behind the train was the landscaped garden in front of the Library. It lasted from 2013 to 2017 before being removed. The Hall of Memory to the left. The floral train was later placed outside Birmingham Snow Hill Station in the summer of 2015 (the public square near Colmore Row).

City of Birmingham train Centenary Square

 

Skull and a Book, Summer 2016

The last floral trail piece to be in Centenary Square was this outside of the Library of Birmingham. Resembled a skull with an open book in front of it. The grass behind hadn't faired to well between 2013 and 2017, and would be removed in the 2017 renovation works of the square.

Skull Book Centenary Square

This would be the last floral trail piece to be in the square before the square was revamped from 2017 to 2019. At least in a summer.

Skull Book Centenary Square

 

The Mo Bot, Winter 2018

This is a bonus one. When the World Indoor Athletics Championships came to Arena Birmingham in March 2018, Cofton Nursery got their wicker sculptures out (no flowers). Was strange seeing them in the winter with snow on them. The Mo Bot, based on Mo Farah, was seen in Centenary Square (closed to the Edward VII statue), while the square was in it's second year of renovation works. This February 2018 view as it was snowing.

Mo Bot Centenary Square

 

By March 2018, after the WIAC had ended, I saw workers removing The Mo Bot and putting it on the back of a lorry. They had two small lorries. One to take the soil away, the other to remove the wicker sculpture.

Mo Bot removal

The zoom ins from the Library of Birmingham. Already on the back of this lorry was the Usian Bolt wicker sculpture, originally made in 2012, for their London 2012 floral trail. It had been taken down from Victoria Square (was in front of the Town Hall at the time).

Mo Bot removal

Two Council workmen digging up the soil, while another prepares the Mo Farah sculpture for removal.

Mo Bot removal

Just a pair of red shorts, the purple t-shirt had already gone.

Mo Bot removal

 

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

Now onto The Big Hoot. In Centenary Square there was about 5 Big Hoot painted owls from July 2015, for around 10 weeks. Before they were auctioned off for the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

Jack

Located outside of the Hall of Memory was Jack. It was by the artist Martin Band. And was sponsored by JLT Specialty Limited. Seen during July 2015.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

Jack was designed by the Union Jack (the British National flag).

Big Hoot Centenary Square

He had the Union Jack on the back as well.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

 

Wise Old Owl

This Wise Old Owl was designed by the artists Kieron Reilly and Lynsey Brecknell. The sponsor was Gateley Plc. They designed it to look like the Library of Birmingham (which you can see behind). Seen during July 2015.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

It closely matches the golds and blues of the Library, plus the silvers and blacks of the circles.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

 

TropicOwl

The owl named TropicOwl was painted by the artist Jenny Leonard. The sponsor was Twycross Zoo. Resembles a jungle with chimpanzees. Seen during July 2015 outside of the Library of Birmingham.

 

Big Hoot Centenary Square

At the back was more features of a jungle, plus giraffes in a desert. This view to Baskerville House.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

 

Owlbert

The owl called Owlbert was painted by the artist Meghan Allbright. The sponsor was University College Birmingham. Seen outside the Library of Birmingham during July 2015.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

This view towards Symphony Hall, The ICC and The REP. It was a rainy day that I saw these owls.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

 

Welcome to Birmingham

Outside of Symphony Hall in Centenary Square was an owl called Welcome to Birmingham. Painted by the artist Laura Hallett. The sponsor was Pertemps Network. Seen during August 2015, with a reflection of the Library of Birmingham and The REP.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

The design featured, Selfridges, the Library of Birmingham, the canals and more.

Big Hoot Centenary Square

 

Bonus content on Centenary Way

Back in Febrauary 2013 there was a trail for one week called The Big Egg Hunt. These same eggs went from City to City. Two eggs were on Centenary Way at the time.

The first egg resembled the Rocket Ship from Wallace & Gromit's A Grand Day Out. Seen towards the Hall of Memory.

Big Egg Hunt Centenary Way

The charity at the time was Action for Children. The next egg was behind, on the way to the Hall of Memory.

Big Egg Hunt Centenary Way

The second egg on Centenary Way was of Ben 10 Omniverse, close to Chamberlain House (demolished in 2018).

Big Egg Hunt Centenary Way

 

The Big Sleuth did not come to Centenary Square, for obvious reasons in 2017, as that's when they began revamping the square, but there was one bear on Centenary Way near Paradise Birmingham.

 

Memoirs of Paradise

This Big Sleuth bear was on Centenary Way, close to the One Chamberlain Square construction site of Paradise Birmingham. Memoirs of Paradise was painted by the artist Gayani Ariyarante. The sponsor was Paradise. Seen during July 2017. Shows what a real paradise looks like! By August 2017, someone had knocked this one over, and they had to remove and repair it, before putting it back in it's place.

Big Sleuth Centenary Way

 

There was more to be found in the Library of Birmingham, 4 little owls in 2015 and 4 little bears in 2017. There was a Big Hoot owl inside of The ICC mall, and another outside at the canalside (in 2015). Plus a Big Sleuth bear at canalside (in 2017).

 

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

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80 passion points
Modern Architecture
10 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Almost 20 years of Millennium Point in Eastside

It is strange to think that it is almost 20 years since Millennium Point was completed and opened in Eastside near Curzon Street. A Millennium Commission project, it was built between 1997 and 2001 and designed by Grimshaw Architects. Home to Thinktank, as well as Birmingham City University and Birmingham Metropolitan College. There used to be an IMAX / Giant Screen cinema here.

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Millennium Point

It is hard to believe that Millennium Point has been open for almost 20 years (it opened in September 2001, and officially opened by HM The Queen in July 2002 during the Golden Jubilee). It was a Millennium Commission project and was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners. Built from 1997 to 2001 on land near Curzon Street. There was originally an open air car park outside (until it closed in 2011 for the building of Eastside City Park).

Millennium Point

Millennium Point in April 2009, with the car park near Curzon Street

 

Thinktank

The old Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry closed on Newhall Street in 1997 (that site got redeveloped into Newhall Square which was only completed by 2020), and most (but not all) of it's contents were moved over to Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum (which opened at the end of 2001).

Thinktank Millennium Point

Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum in a visit during April 2013

 

Educational Facilities

Millennium Point is also home to Birmingham City University (originally University of Central England until they changed their name in 2005) and Birmingham Metropolitan College.

Millennium Point

Birmingham City University at Millennium Point in February 2019

 

IMAX

There used to be an IMAX cinema at Millennium Point. This later changed to Giant Screen at Millennium Point in 2013, but it was closed down at the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015. It was later converted into PLATFORM in 2018.

IMAX at Millennium Point

The IMAX building at Millennium Point during April 2009

 

Car Park

Millennium Point Car Park was built on land near Cardigan Street from 2010 to 2011. This allowed the closure of the outdoor car park on Curzon Street, to make way for Eastside City Park to be built from 2011 into 2012. This included the Thinktank Science Garden located outside of Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum.

Millennium Point

Millennium Point in August 2011, before the building of Eastside City Park from Curzon Street

 

Millennium Point Time Capsule

The time capsule was commissioned by Birmingham City Council, as a historic memento of the buildings development. It contains artefacts from local schools, community groups and businesses. It resembles a rocket with Russian and USA flags. And can be seen if you are heading for a visit to Thinktank on the top floor.

Millennium Point

The Millennium Point Time Capsule seen in April 2014

 

Millennium Point exterior over the years

View of Millennium Point taken during April 2009 from Albert Street. Grosvenor Street is on the left.

Millennium Point

 

In this August 2009 view, you could still see Rosa's Cafe to the left of Millennium Point, it would be demolished by the year of the year, and would be rubble by the beginning of 2010.

Millennium Point

 

The snow of early January 2010. Rosa's Cafe and the other remaining buildings to the left had been demolished near Fox Street.

Millennium Point

 

In November 2010, a banner was going up about Tron: Legacy which would be shown at the IMAX at Millennium Point. Crane to the left for the building of the Birmingham Ormiston Academy on a site near Jennens Road and Grosvenor Street. This resulted in Nova Scotia Street disappearing forever from Eastside once BOA was completed and opened to students.

Millennium Point

 

In September 2011, the car park outside of Millennium Point was closed (after the multi-storey car park opened on Cardigan Street). This was to prepare for the building of Eastside City Park along Curzon Street. At the same time, Birmingham City University was about to begin construction of their Eastside Campus with the Parkside Building (to the far right).

Millennium Point

 

Eastside City Park was partially opened in December 2012 outside of Millennium Point. For the first time you could see the Thinktank Science Garden. Such as this view from over the wall on Grosvenor Street. The Parkside Building was well under construction for BCU at the time (it was completed in 2013).

Millennium Point

 

Eastside City Park was fully open to the public by April 2013. In this view, the lawn and sculptures were looking pretty new at the time. You can hardly tell that part of Albert Street used to be in the middle of this part of the park.

Millennium Point

 

A sunny day in Eastside City Park with this view towards Millennium Point during December 2016.

Millennium Point

 

View of Millennium Point and Eastside City Park from Curzon Street in April 2017. Cars still allowed to park down here, and drive up here. Several years before HS2 took over, and closed off New Canal Street.

Millennium Point

 

In May 2017, I got this view of Millennium Point from a train, catching the new sign that had been installed on the roof of the building. Overlooking the land that HS2 would take over a few years later for the building of the HS2 Curzon Street Station.

Millennium Point

 

The snow from the Beast from the East as seen during March 2018 in Eastside City Park. Millennium Point to the left, with the Thinktank Science Garden. Then at the BCU Eastside Campus was The Parkside Building, The Curzon Building and University Locks.

Millennium Point

 

Blue Hour at the Jennens Road entrance to Millennium Point, near the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, seen in January 2019.

Millennium Point

 

An October 2020 view of Millennium Point from Curzon Street in Eastside. Took a diversion walking route, as HS2 had blocked off New Canal Street and parts of Park Street. So wanted to find an alternate route to Eastside from Digbeth (via Great Barr Street, Montague Street and Lawley Middleway). Then again, there is still the tunnels on the Digbeth Branch Canal that you can walk through. Exchange Square Phase 1 is now complete as seen behind Millennium Point.

Millennium Point

 

Interiors at Millennium Point

My April 2013 shots from inside of Millennium Point came out quite dark. Was when I went to Thinktank with my camera for the first time. The Giant Screen cinema is to the right. Exit to Jennens Road up the stairs or escalators straight ahead.

Millennium Point

 

One of the Rowland Emett sculptures was in the foyer at Millennium Point during June 2014. There was an exhibition on at the Gas Hall at the time which I saw in May 2014 called Marvellous Machines by Rowland Emett.

Millennium Point

 

6/8 Kafe seen during July 2015 at Millennium Point. I've had coffee here a couple of times over the years since it opened. They used to have a cafe on Temple Row, but that closed down years ago. This is on the same level as the entrance to Thinktank.

Millennium Point

 

A photo exhibition in the Millennium Point foyer, seen during February 2018 of astronaut Tim Peake's photos, taken while he was stationed at the International Space Station.

Millennium Point

 

PLATFORM at Millennium Point seen during September 2018. This events space replaced the Giant Screen cinema (previously IMAX).

Millennium Point

 

Different levels inside of Millennium Point seen during April 2019. Ground floor is Level 0. With the lifts up to Levels, 1, 2, 3 and 4. Birmingham City University on the right.

Millennium Point

 

Giant Christmas tree in the Millennium Point foyer during November 2019. Plus impressive fairy lights on the balconies of all floors.

Millennium Point

 

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

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15 passion points
Green open spaces
10 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Curtis Gardens, once the estate of Fox Hollies Hall

If you head up and down the Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green and Acocks Green, you might spot a green space with trees. This is Curtis Gardens. It opened in 1965, on the site where Fox Hollies Hall used to be (until it was demolished in 1937). Three tower blocks called Coppice House, Hollypiece House and Homemeadow House went up in the early 1960s on the site of the hall itself.

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Curtis Gardens

This green space is located along the Fox Hollies Road between Hall Green and Acocks Green. Just north of York Road, and south of Olton Boulevard East. To the west is Pemerbley Road, where you will find Coppice House to the south, then Hollypiece House in the middle and Homemeadow House to the north.

Curits Gardens from the Fox Hollies Road, seen below during January 2010.

Curtis Gardens

 

Fox Hollies Childrens Centre is to the south east of the site on the Fox Hollies Road, while Hall Green Little Theatre is to the north west.

Hall Green Little Theatre, seen below during February 2014.

Hall Green Little Theatre

 

There is a Play Area in Curtis Gardens, paths and many trees.

Curtis Gardens Play Area seen below during May 2020.

Curtis Gardens

 

From Fox Hollies Hall to Curtis Gardens

Historically the site of a farm, records goes back to 1275 when a farm called Atte Hollies was recorded of being on this site in Acocks Green, but it was later in Hall Green. The Fox family bought the farm in 1626 and it became known as Foxholleys.

By the time Fox Hollies Hall was owned by Zaccheus Walker, he had renamed and rebuilt his grand mansion into The Hollies. The Hall was rebuilt in Italianate style around 1870 by the architect Yeoville Thomason (who also did the Council House). Walker sold the estate to the City in 1925. Fox Hollies Hall was later demolished in 1937. During WW2 the grounds were used as allotments.

Fox Hollies Hall

Fox Hollies Hall c. 1900. Public Domain. Taken from The Walker era

 

All that remained from Fox Hollies Hall was the original gateposts on Fox Hollies Road. Although one of them got knocked over by a Council vehicle and had to be rebuilt. New gates were installed in 2004 as well as a couple of benches.

The gates seen below during January 2010, a regular target for graffiti vandals. They have no respect for history.

Curtis Gardens

 

The three tower blocks were built during the early 1960s (1959 to 1960) and completed by about 1964. This was a result of Jack (or John) Curtis, a local Labour activist. Curtis Gardens was opened in his name in 1965. These were named Coppice House, Hollypiece House, Homemeadow House after three fields in the area at the time called Coppice, Hollypiece and Homemeadow.

The Hollies towers seen below during January 2010.

Curtis Gardens

 

This included the Fish Sculpture by the sculptor John Bridgeman. It was later recognised with a Grade II listing in 2015.

The Fish Sculpture seen below during January 2010.

Fish Sculpture

 

In 2016 the Acocks Green Heritage Trail went up, this was board 8 of 8 in Curtis Gardens, near the gate.

Seen below during August 2016.

Curtis Gardens

 

Curtis Gardens in 2010

My first photographic walk around Acocks Green was back in January 2010. At the time didn't know that this was called Curtis Gardens. View near a car park close to Fox Hollies Childrens Centre.

Curtis Gardens

There was light snow on the paths in Curtis Gardens. This view below toward the gates and benches on Fox Hollies Road.

Curtis Gardens

Plenty of paths and trees around here.

Curtis Gardens

This path leads back to the shops on Fox Hollies Road.

Curtis Gardens

On the right used to be the Fox Hollies Tenants Hall. But long since demolished. In fact, I don't think it's been built on since it was knocked down.

Curtis Gardens

View to the snow covered car park, which at the time looked like an empty tennis court with no nets.

Curtis Gardens

View towards Coppice and Hollypiece House.

Curtis Gardens

A Sainsbury's delivery van looks like it was heading into the car park.

Curtis Gardens

View towards the three tower blocks. Hard to believe that Fox Hollies Hall was there until 1937.

Curtis Gardens

Had the Council kept Fox Hollies Hall, could have made a nice tourist attraction, instead these three towers went up almost 30 years later.

Curtis Gardens

I used to take loads of views of Curtis Gardens back then.

Curtis Gardens

The car park entrance road seen from the Fox Hollies Road.

Curtis Gardens

 

The Gatepost and benches

Some more photos of the gates and benches from January 2010. They were restored in 2004, but by 2010 the gateposts were already covered in graffiti (I think the Council regularly cleans it up, but the taggers keep coming back).

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

View from the back of the gates. They are a recreation of the original ones which were probably removed during the demolition of the mansion.

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

This view towards Greenwood Avenue, which used to be the drive that Zaccheus Walker used to used to get to Fox Hollies Hall. The houses were probably built in the 1930s. Both Greenwood Avenue and Fox Hollies Road were turned into dual carriageways after the estate was sold to the Council.

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

Benches to the back of the gates, I've never once seen anyone sitting on them, on all the walks past here (even when on the 11A or in a car).

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

Also I've only ever seen these gates locked, so you have to walk around the side of the gateposts.

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

They probably used to open around 2004 or 2005 when the new gates were installed.

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

The gates and benches were made by William Hawkes Ltd Blacksmiths. Was  minor bit of paintwork at the time missing. Not sure how often the Council paints these gates.

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

There was also these flowery details on the gates.

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

Two quarter benches behind the gates, both with small plaques on them.

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

Local councillors and a member of the Acocks Green Historical Society was mentioned on them.

Gateposts Curtis Gardens

 

Fish Sculpture

Installed in the 1960 for local children to play on, it has become a local landmark, but is easy for most people to ignore it going past. Made by John Bridgeman, it was recognised with a Grade II listing in 2015. A few more views below from January 2010.

Fish Sculpture

It is a unique survivor in it's original position, but it has been tagged over the years. Bridgeman had done other play sculptures around Birmingham, but it is believed that this one is the only one left surviving. Made on a wire frame covered in concrete.

Fish Sculpture

 

Curtis Gardens from 2019 to 2021

In the years since my original photos, I have walked through Curtis Gardens a lot, sometimes as a shortcut to the number 1 bus on Shaftmoor Lane (more recently the 1A seems to come first). In the last year, getting some photos on the lockdowns.

In late February 2019, I saw crocuses growing in the grass from near the Fox Hollies Road at Curtis Gardens. Spring was on the way.

Curtis Gardens

Lots of white, purple and some yellow coloured crocuses here.

Curtis Gardens

The crocuses looked good close up.

Curtis Gardens

 

A March 2019 view of Curtis Gardens below, taken from near Ferris Grove. Pemberley Road is to the left.

Curtis Gardens

 

Over a month into the first lockdown, it is the end of April 2020, and we were having April Showers. The trees lush and green from the Fox Hollies Road.

Curtis Gardens

The grass in Curtis Gardens was looking long too, perhaps some cow parsley was growing there at the time.

Curtis Gardens

A closer look at the long grass in Curtis Gardens and the cow parsley.

Curtis Gardens

In the last Spring, everything seemed to grow long in the first lockdown.

Curtis Gardens

There was also bluebells growing here, when you can't go far in lockdown, you can only find bluebells in your local green spaces.

Curtis Gardens

One of the paths in Curtis Gardens. The leaves grew back fast in the first month of the original lockdown.

Curtis Gardens

One tree had purply red leaves as the rain was coming down.

Curtis Gardens

 

Another lockdown walk past Curtis Gardens in May 2020. This was near Hall Green Little Theatre on Pemberley Road.

Curtis Gardens

 

Early February 2021, and a 3rd lockdown walk towards Tyseley Station. I passed Curtis Gardens on the Fox Hollies Road. This view near the car park entrance.

Curtis Gardens

By now there was small fences around Curtis Gardens, as in the past travellers had illegally set up camp here. So this is to prevent them driving over the land. As you can see the gateposts have graffiti tags on them again. Fish sculpture seen to the far left.

Curtis Gardens

 

A few days later, a walk around Hall Green. Got these views of Curtis Gardens from York Road, looking up Grimshaw Road.

Curtis Gardens

You can see the three tower blocks to the left from Grimshaw Road.

Curtis Gardens

 

During this walk, got some more views of Homemeadow House, Hollypiece House and Coppice House. This view below taken on Shaftmoor Lane. On the bus route of the no 1 and 1A to Five Ways (via Moseley and Edgbaston).

The Hollies

The 1 and 1A bus route in the other direction on Shaftmoor Lane heading towards Acocks Green Village.

The Hollies

Heading down York Road in Hall Green, was a view of the three towers close to The Link.

The Hollies

Back onto Fox Hollies Road, this view close to The York pub (closed on lockdown of course). Hard to imagine what it looked like over a century ago apart from looking at old black and white photographs of the area.

The Hollies

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

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
10 Feb 2021 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

Selly Oak Student Scheme: Amended Plans

REVISED plans have gone in for a 523 bed canal-side student redevelopment on Elliott Road, Selly Oak.

With a new architect also on board, the scheme has been vastly improved to connect to arguably Birmingham’s greatest asset - its canal.

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Located at Selly Oak Industrial Estate, Units 5-8, Elliott Road, the revised proposal - brought forward by Watkins Jones Group - will see the site reconnect with arguably Birmingham’s biggest asset - its canal, through the demolition of vacant industrial builds (as seen above) before redevelopment can deliver:

  • Part 5-8 storey accommodation;
  • 523 student beds (135 studios/388 clusters);
  • 11 contemporary townhouses along Elliott Road;
  • Central courtyard gardens;
  • Secure indoor & outdoor amenity spaces;
  • Zero parking/ 128 cycles;
  • NEW fluid connections to the canal towpath and beyond.

With a new design team in place, Glenn Howells Architects & Layer Studio Landscape set about delivering on three fundamental principles as they redesigned the scheme. These are:

  • Establishing a fluid connection to the Canal

  • Creating a green campus

  • Providing connected routes all around the site

An expansive courtyard garden will become the beating heart of the scheme, providing students with ample space to study and relax, or simply to collect their bike before venturing out and about. 

Lively amenity spaces (gym, lounges and study spaces) will be at ground floor level, with the area set to bring much-needed activity and interest to the canal system and its new area of public realm.

Eleven contemporary townhouses will replace vacant warehouse units, and these will be positioned along Elliott Road - each purposely designed in response to the scale and context of the neighbouring area.

Before & after:

With the shock refusal of The Triangle (student development) site nearby, a student needs assessment document has been added to the application, fully outlining the significant demand for PBSA, not just in Selly Oak, but across the city.

Fresh Student Living - formed in 2010 by Watkins Jones Group - will operate the scheme if/when the scheme gets the go-ahead in the coming months. Certainly one to keep an eye on!

All images the property of Glenn Howells Architects

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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20 passion points
Construction & regeneration
04 Feb 2021 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

New Perry Barr Station Approved!

A new flagship Train Station for Perry Barr has today been approved (9-1) at Birmingham City Council's Planning Committee.

Forming part of a wider £500 million regeneration of Perry Barr, the station will replace the current 1960s building, a station deemed unfit for modern purposes.

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TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

The new Perry Barr Station will be a fully accessible, fit-for-purpose station with upgraded ticket offices, toilets & baby changing facilities, alongside new lifts and stairs to the platforms.

It'll replace the current 1960s building, a station deemed unfit for modern purposes.

Redevelopment - set to start in the spring - forms part of a wider £500 million regeneration of Perry Barr, with the new station set to benefit from 'strong links to north Birmingham’s road, bus and cycle networks'.

The redevelopment, however, is said to be £10 million over budget, and currently stands at approximately £30.98 million - raising some concerns over the scheme.

FULL STATION REDESIGN/ OUTLINE BUS INTERCHANGE

Original proposals in September 2020 were roundly criticised when first unveiled. This ultimately led to a redesign by Glancy Nicholls Architects late last year.

It now features more glazing, as well as perforated metal panels, incorporating sporting images, with the intention of providing Perry Barr with a visual landmark, both during the day and at night.

Landscaping of all public areas were also changed to reflect the redesign, with new paving, planters & provision for a minimum 21 cycle spaces.

As well as the railway station, outline planning permission was also granted for a bus interchange in front of the neighbouring One Stop Shopping Centre.

Indicative plans will see a sprint stop, three bus stops, signal controlled pedestrian crossings and pick-up/drop-off area for taxi’s and disabled users.

Further details will be the subject of a future reserved matters application.

CONSTRUCTION

Galliford Try were awarded the tender to build the station back in March 2020 - as revealed by Itsyourbuild back in March, and they will begin works in the spring, before opening to visitors ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

The project is being led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the West Midlands Rail Executive in partnership with Birmingham City Council, Network Rail and West Midlands Trains.

All images the property of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM)/Glancy Nicholls Architects

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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20 passion points
History & heritage
03 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham

If you miss seeing dinosaur skeletons and fossils at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, why not give the Lapworth Museum of Geology a try? It's free to enter and located at the University of Birmingham in the Aston Webb Building (Quadrant Range). The museum dates back to 1880 (when at Mason College), but has been on this site since the 1920s. Named after Charles Lapworth.

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Lapworth Museum of Geology

The Lapworth Museum of Geology is hidden away to the back of the Quadrant Range at the University of Birmingham. Located near Ring Road South.

 

History of the Lapworth Museum of Geology

The Lapworth Museum of Geology is a geological museum at the University of Birmingham. It was named after the Professor of Geology, Charles Lapworth, with origins dating back to 1880 (when the Geology Department was a Mason College, then located in Chamberlain Square). The museum has been located at the Grade II* listed Aston Webb Building (designed by Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell and built from 1900 to 1909) on the Edgbaston Campus of the University of Birmingham since the 1920s. The museum was redeveloped from 2014 and reopened in 2016.

I saw this history board below during my visit in June 2018. The image showing Mason College. Sadly the building was demolished in the 1960s to make way for Birmingham Central Library (which opened in 1974, closed in 2013 and was demolished itself in 2016).

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

In July 2017, I got my first photos of the Lapworth Museum of Geology, but didn't go in at the time. It is an impressive looking building to house the museum.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

There is a pair of blue plaques here from the University of Birmingham, one for Frederick Shotton, who furthered understanding of climate change 1949-1974.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

Also a blue plaque for Charles Lapworth, who undertook pioneering work into the formation of mountain belts 1882-1883.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

This is the modern door that welcomes you to the Lapworth Museum. At the time I was on the hunt for the Big Sleuth bears located around the University grounds, so didn't end up going into the museum until about a year later.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

About 11 months later in June 2018, I was inspired to visit the Lapworth Museum of Geology after seeing Dippy on Tour at the Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

A sign pointing the way on campus to the Lapworth Museum of Geology. Looks like it is being held in place by a tape with a key!

Lapworth Museum of Geology

Another Lapworth Museum of Geology sign in the window.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

The main reason for this visit was to see the replica skeleton of an Allosaurus.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

There was also a Pteranodon hanging from the ceiling behind.

Pteranodon Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

To the back of the museum, was all these fossils and rocks in the tables and on the shelves, behind glass windows. The Pteranodon and Allosaurus seen near the front of the museum.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

A Portrait of Charles Lapworth, the founder of the museum. Charles Lapworth, LL. D.M. Sc. F.R.S. was the Professor of Geology at Mason College (later University of Birmingham) from 1881-1913. He became Emeritus Professor in 1913. His portrait was presented to the museum by Mr. W. Waters Butler.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

Death at the end of the Cretaceous


Skull of the dinosaur Deinonychus.

Lapworth Museum of Geology


Skull of the dinosaur Velociraptor.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

Foot of the tyrannosaurid dinosaur Albertosaurus.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

Parapuzosia sp. (ammonite).

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 


Skull of the carnivorous dinosaur Allosaurus fragilis. From the Late Jurassic.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

Skull and jaws of Dimetrodon (synapsid). From the Permian period (before the Triassic).

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

Smilodon (sabre-toothed cat) from the Quaternary (Ice Age).

Lapworth Museum of Geology

 

Active Earth

Globe - Earth's Palaeogeography. These maps show how Earth may have appeared over the last 600 million years.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

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

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60 passion points
History & heritage
01 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham

Did you know that there is an art gallery at the University of Birmingham? This is the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Founded in 1932, it's first director was called Thomas Bodkin, who was responsible for purchasing the Equestrian Statue of King George I from the City of Dublin, Ireland in 1937. The gallery is close to Edgbaston Park Road in an Art Deco building completed in 1939.

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The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

If you go to the University of Birmingham's main campus in Edgbaston, and head up Edgbaston Park Road from the Bristol Road, you might see the Barber Institute of Fine Arts on the left. It is opposite King Edward's School and King Edward VI High School for Girls. Also near by is the University of Birmingham Guild of Students (BUGS).

 

Some history of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts

The building was built from 1935 to 1939, it was designed by the architect Robert Atkinson. It is now a Grade II listed building. It is an art gallery and concert hall, and is an Art Deco building. It was opened by Queen Mary (the Queen Consort and later widow of King George V of the United Kingdom). It was set up by Martha Constance Hattie Barber, in memory of her late husband Henry Barber. Who was a wealthy property developer in Birmingham's suburbs. He became a baron in 1924. He died three years later. Lady Barber decided to make a permanent contribution to the city in his memory. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts was founded in 1932. The founding director was Thomas Bodkin.

 

I've only been inside once back in 2008, but at the time wasn't allowed to take photos inside the gallery, and I've never been back. But I did get photos of the exterior of the gallery in the snow of December 2009.

First view of the Art Deco building with the Statue of George I in the snow.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

There was a light dusting of snow on the grass around the statue.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

At the time cars were allowed to park outside of the Barber Institute.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

It's lucky that this building was completed before the start of World War 2.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

The building curves around, with unique Art Deco detailing of the 1930s.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Steps leads to a rear entrance at the back.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

To shields on the building. A Latin motto "Esto Quod Esse Videris". This means in English "Suppose that you are".

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Including the crest of the University of Birmingham.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Snow on the steps to the main entrance, but at the time this could also have been grit salt.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

The main entrance steps and doorway. Above the doors it says "UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM BARBER INSTITUTE OF FINE ARTS AD MCMXXXV". This stone would have been laid in 1935, the year that construction of the gallery began (it would be completed by 1939).

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

 

In my subsequent walks around the Edgbaston Campus at the University of Birmingham, I rarely take new photos of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, but took this pair during one walk in November 2018, heading off the campus via the East Gate.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

There was a sculpture on the wall of a harp. A sign that they also cover music here.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

 

 

Equestrian Statue of King George I of Great Britain

George I of Great Britain was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1714 until his death in 1727. He had come from Hanover in what is now part of Germany, with the title Elector of Hanover. It is unlikely that he would have ever travelled up to the Town of Birmingham at the time.

The statue was bought by the first director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Thomas Bodkin in 1937. It was originally commissioned by the City of Dublin in 1717, and was unveiled in the City in 1722. It was sculpted by the Dutch sculptor John van Nost the Elder. When in the early part of the 20th Century when Ireland was becoming Independent of the UK, and on it's way to form a Republic, the statue could have been destroyed by the Republicans, but thankfully Mr Bodkin bought it and took it to Birmingham. Today it stands just outside of the gallery on the lawn between University Road East, Ring Road North and Edgbaston Park Road.

 

One of the main reasons for coming to the University of Birmingham on a snowy day in December 2009 was to see the Equestrian Statue of George I.

George I of Great Britain

It is quite impressive, probably the only statue of Birmingham with a King on a horse.

George I of Great Britain

It is similar to a later statue of George IV that I previously saw in Trafalfar Square, London.

George I of Great Britain

There is raser sharp spikes all the way around the plinth, to prevent someone climbing up onto the statue.

George I of Great Britain

It isn't worth trying unless you want to harm yourself.

George I of Great Britain

George I is looking towards King Edward's School, which moved here in 1936. All of this land was part of the Calthorpe Estates.

George I of Great Britain

The equestrian statue was in silhouette on this side.

George I of Great Britain

Back then, I tended to get loads of photos of statues and buildings, when I was new to Birmingham photography.

George I of Great Britain

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

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70 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
01 Feb 2021 - FreeTimePays
Introducing

'Forward in Unity' mural - Brilliant initiative in so many ways

The 'Forward In Unity’ mural was started on Friday 22nd May 2020. It was completed by artist Gent48 on Monday 1st June 2020. Not only has the project in Digbeth received some fantastic media coverage, it has helped raise awareness of the virus and its devasting impact on the community as well as raising a vast amount for local charities.

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'Forward in Unity' is a great example of how to bring people together in a massive shared effort against a common enemy, as the Covid-19 virus must continue to be regarded.

The project has helped raise awareness.

The 'Forward in Unity' initiative has raised awareness of the virus and brought people together in recognition of the front-line heroes fighting the virus for the protection of our community.

'Forward in Unity'.  Photography by Paul Cadman.

The project has helped bring people together.

The initiative and the significant coverage it has received has attracted the attention of people, not just in Birmingham but across the UK. 

This and other initiatives all have a vital role in tackling the views of those who, despite clear evidence of the devastation caused by the virus, still act and behave in a way that is not in the interests of their community. 

The project has enthused and inspired others to be creative.

During a time when people have been asked to make huge sacrifices and stay at home, the project and the media coverage received has inspired many to check out their own creativity.

Whether through photography, art, craft-making or the written word, such creativity has become hugely important for people's mental health.   

As an example, the Birmingham Gems Charity Calendar for 2021 dedicated a page on the mural in recognition of the city's amazing artists and creative talent. 

The project has raised much needed funds for local charities.

Prints of all sizes can be purchased in order to support local charities, 

In addition to the prints, a book in celebration of those behind the initiative and across community has also been produced.

Connect HERE and get hold of your very own print (signed, limited edition or unlimited) or your 'Forward in Unity' book.  Help support local Birmingham charities. 

'Forward in Unity' A0 Limited Edition Print

'Forward in Unity' Print (A1 or A2)

'Forward in Unity' Video/Book Folder

'Forward in Unity' Book (2nd edition)

Connect HERE to make a donation to Art4Charity and support local charities.

Paul Cadman, one of the founders of Art4Charity, was the inspiration behind the 'Forward in Unity' mural. Paul is active across the City and involves himself in many charities that need our help during these challenging times.

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75 passion points
Environment & green action
28 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Exploring the Birmingham Botanical Gardens over the years from multiple visits

I've been to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens several times over the last 5 or more years. Usually to attend something like the Magical Lantern Festival, Jurassic Kingdom or Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom events. More recently attended a free open day during Birmingham Heritage Week back in 2019. You can see various birds in cages, a roaming peacock, and butterflies in a greenhouse and more

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Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is located on Westbourne Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The Birmingham Botanical and Horticultural Society was founded in 1829 with the intent to found a botanical garden. It opened in 1832. The gardens are Grade II listed and was designed by J. C. Loudon. The Tropical House was built in 1852, followed by the Subtropical House in 1871. The Terrace glasshouses were built in 1884.

The gardens features a Bandstand and Aviary, four glasshouses (Tropical, Subtropical, Mediterranean and Arid glasshouses), plus a Alpine House and Butterfly House. There is a sunken Rose Garden, a cast iron Gazebo built in 1850. A rock garden and pool dating to 1895. Various walks that were laid out in 1862. Three period gardens (Tudor, Roman and Medieval) was created in 1994.

The gardens has a gift shop, plant sale centre, tea room, meeting and conference rooms. Famously the leaders of the G8 had a dinner party in the Pavilion Restaurant here in 1998.

 

2012

One of my earliest photos of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens taken during August 2012, walked past on Westbourne Road. I have been here as a child back in the 1980s, but didn't start taking photos here until this point.

 

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

2016

The first event I paid to go to the Botanical Gardens was at the Magical Lantern Festival during December 2016. Hung around the City Centre until it got dark and arrived for my time just before 5pm, but it was heavily raining.

Go here for the Magical Lantern Festival 2016 post.

Magical Lantern Festival

While there (in the heavy rain) I got some photos of the Glasshouses. Bit hard to see in the dark, but was lit up inside.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

View to the Pavilion Restaurant. That was where in 1998, the leaders of the G8 had a dinner party. Including the Clinton's and Blair's.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

2017

In May 2017 I booked to see the Jurassic Kingdom event at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Better weather this time and was in the daytime. Animatronic dinosaurs. Plus while there got general photos of the gardens.

Got a post here for both Jurassic Kingdom 2017 and Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom 2019.

Jurassic Kingdom

 

The Bandstand was installed here in 1873. It was renovated on it's centenary in 1973.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Bird Cages also known as the Aviary.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Red-crowned parakeet in the Aviary (Bird Cage).

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

One of the peacocks that roams around the Botanical Gardens.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The fountain was built in 1850. It ceased to flow in 1940 but was restored to working order in 1982.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Gazebo dates to 1850 and was originally located at 32 Church Road, Edgbaston and was made of Cast Iron. Donated by the Lord Chancellor's Department in 1993. Restored in 1994.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Heading through The Tropical House.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

It is very warm in The Tropical House. A bench to sit down on.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Heading out of the Botanical Gardens, saw the blue plaque of Ernest Henry Wilson (1876 - 1930). Placed here by the Birmingham Civic Society in 2010.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

A few months later in August 2017, I was walking past the Botanical Gardens, and saw a view with Old Joe (the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower) at the University of Birmingham.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

By December 2017, there was a Christmas Lights Trail on at the Botanical Gardens, although I didn't go to it myself. But at the time I could see this Helter Skelter and a Carousel from the Westbourne Road. Taken from the no 24 bus. It looks like a fun fair was close to the car park.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

2018

In July 2018, I got off the no 24 bus on Westbourne Road in Edgbaston to see a new blue plaque at Birmingham City University. Got these photos of the Welcome signs on the walk up the road. This car park is usually full during events, and is best for people to park their cars elsewhere in Edgbaston and walk there.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

This Welcome sign on the main entrance building.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

During the open day at the Tyseley Locomotive Works in September 2018, West Midlands Railway was showing off 172 339 with it's purple livery. On the side was 2 for 1 offers, including at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This livery has since been replaced with the standard orange one on all of their Class 172 trains on the Snow Hill Lines. I previously caught this at Birmingham Moor Street Station back in April 2018.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

The Magical Lantern Festival returned to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in December 2018 (it was at Kings Heath Park in 2017). That year I didn't pay to go to it, just saw from either the no 23 or 24 buses. Santa was outside.

Magical Lantern Festival

Was better to get off the bus to see Santa and the presents from Westbourne Road.

Magical Lantern Festival

They had unicorns with wings at the main entrance. Can you spot Old Joe on the right?

Magical Lantern Festival

A few days later, tried to get some more shots from the top of a bus. Christmas tree near the main entrance.

Magical Lantern Festival

Could see this shoe from the bus window.

Magical Lantern Festival

 

2019

Returned in April 2019 for the Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom event. Link to that post is further up this post. It was another opportunity to get general shots of the Botanical Gardens, as well as the animatronic wild beasts! Due to going to the previous event I attended, got an early bird ticket and went quite early on it's run!

Ice Age The Lost Kingdom

 

Saw the peacock on the path near the ice age beasts.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

A close up look at the Bandstand.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Into the Historic Gardens. On the right was The Tudor Knott Garden.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

At the far end was the statue of Proserpina.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The garden to the far left is The Medieval Garden.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The garden in the middle is The Roman Garden.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

A view of the Alpine Yard redevelopment.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

By September 2019, it was Birmingham Heritage Week, and the gardens was packed! But on the Sunday it was free to visit, so had a full walk around this time. Go here for the Birmingham Heritage Week post of the weekend 14th and 15th September 2019. 5 photos in the original post (plus three other venues I visited that weekend).

More views below.

The entrance to the Botanical Gardens, with the stone dated 1832 above the Welcome canopy and Heritage Open Day bunting.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Arid House, full of cactuses in here.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

It was nice and warm in here for the cactuses.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Outside to the Loudon Terrace. The border looked very colourful. Was also a lot of people around. Probably the last time it was this busy before the pandemic started in 2020.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

This was the Garden of Tomorrow.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The pond at the Garden of Memory.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

A look at the Rock Garden and Pool. Lots of water lilies in the pool.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Was on the path from Farrer Walk to Wilson Walk. Saw this unique looking flower called Impatiens niamiamensis. Red, yellow and green.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

In the Butterfly House, was several butterflies, the rest were hibernating.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Saw these Rosy-faced lovebirds in one of the bird cages. There was a lot of them in there.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

On the Perennial borders saw a lot of Yellow coneflowers.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

There was also this flower called Tagetes patula. Had red and yellow petals.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

There was a parrot in the Aviary (Bird House). Saw plenty of other birds in there as well.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

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

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100 passion points
Environment & green action
26 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

An Edwardian gem that is Winterbourne House & Garden

I've only visited the garden at Winterbourne once, way back in August 2008, so was before I picked up Birmingham photography. One of the last places we went to with my late brother (passed November 2008). In the years since, I took some exteriors of the house fro Edgbaston Park Road when it was being restored, and another time for the blue plaque of John Nettlefold, who lived here.

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Winterbourne House & Garden

Winterbourne House and Winterbourne Botanic Garden is located on Edgbaston Park Road in Edgbaston and belongs to the University of Birmingham. It has been on the site since 1903, and been part of the University since 1944.

 

History of Winterbourne

Winterbourne House was built between 1903 and 1904 as the family home of John & Margaret Nettlefold. They commissioned the local architect Joseph Lancaster Bell to design and build the house. It was made of brick and tiles. The original garden was designed by Margaret Nettlefold herself. They lived here with their children until 1919, when John was getting a bit unwell.

The property was sold to the Wheelock family, who had 9 children. They lived here until 1925. It was then purchased by John Nicholson, who was a local businessman, and a keen gardener. He made improvements to the garden, adding a rock garden and alpine area. He was here until his death in 1944.

Winterbourne was then passed onto the University of Birmingham. Initially the house was used as student halls. The house has had a variety of uses since 1944. During 2009 to 2010, the house was fully restored. During this time the Birmingham Civic Society placed a blue plaque on the house for John Nettlefold.

The garden has many plants from around the world. The house now has a gift shop and tearoom. Plus an Art Gallery. During the Pandemic, the garden has only been open to members.

 

2008

So far the visit of August 2008 was the only time I've been to Winterbourne House & Garden, so is a bit hard to remember this visit (from 12 to 13 years ago). Other than it was one of the places we went to that year before my brother passed away of cancer in November 2008.

View from the garden of Winterbourne House.

Winterbourne Garden

Below, one of my late brothers photos of a small boggy pond.

Winterbourne Garden

A pond with water lilies (my late brothers photo below). Not sure if this is the Chad Brook or not.

Winterbourne Garden

Large leaves over the pond (or Chad Brook). (One of my late brothers photos below).

Winterbourne Garden

Looking at my archive photos from that visit, I didn't take much, so only had a handle of photos like this. The pond / Chad Brook with water lilies.

Winterbourne Garden

One of my late brothers photos towards the house.

Winterbourne Garden

He also took this one in the garden.

Winterbourne Garden

Yes this was one of his photos as well (I Photoshopped myself out of it).

Winterbourne Garden

What looks a ships deck.

Winterbourne Garden

The ships deck from the front.

Winterbourne Garden

 

2009

About a year or so after loosing my brother, during December 2009,  I was walking past Winterbourne House on Edgbaston Park Road, while there was so on the ground at the University of Birmingham. Work was underway to restore the house. Was the same day as I got the statue of George I outside of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts (another place we visited back in 2008, but couldn't take photos inside unfortunately).

Winterbourne House

A University of Birmingham sign says this is part of the Green Zone. G.11 is Winterbourne House and G.12 is Winterbourne Botanic Garden.

Winterbourne House

Looked like at the time they were also doing work on the grounds outside near the car park entrance.

Winterbourne House

Details of the first and second floor with the roof covered in snow.

Winterbourne House

A sign welcomes you to Winterbourne. Garden Entrance to the left.

Winterbourne House

It was a blue sky day, snow everywhere but settled. The front drive was quite big. Public car park is also on this side.

Winterbourne House

 

2013

The last time I got photos of Winterbourne House & Garden from Edgbaston Park Road was during February 2013, to see the blue plaque that had been installed there. Although I have walked up Edgbaston Park Road in the years since, just not taken any more photos of Winterbourne since then.

Saw this sign as I got close to Winterbourne House & Garden. Tearoom * Gifts * Gallery * Plants. University of Birmingham.

Winterbourne House & Garden

The house was looking as good as new, cars in the car park to the right.

Winterbourne House & Garden

The drive on the left is the entrance to cars going to the car park.

Winterbourne House & Garden

Heading to the blue plaque on the right.

Winterbourne House & Garden

The Birmingham Civic Society unveiled this blue plaque in 2010 in memory of John Sutton Nettlefold (1866 - 1930). He lived in this house from 1903 until 1919.

Winterbourne House & Garden

 

Winterbourne during the pandemic

During the pandemic, Winterbourne Garden is open, but the house, shop and tearoom remain closed until further notice. But you can order gifts online and click & collect only (they don't offer a postal service). You can also get a Winterbourne Membership if you want to.

They are not operating a pre-booked system. They have reduced the number of visitors they can have at one time. Only University members or students with ID's can visit at the moment. So it looks like if you are not a member, or don't belong to the University you can't visit right now.

Would be nice to go again one day in the future when things get better.

 

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

 

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100 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
26 Jan 2021 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Weekend snow in Birmingham enjoyed by our creatives

The snow overnight on Saturday the 24th January gave a great opportunity for some families and other socially 'bubbled' people to come out for a while and create some great snow sculptures in Centenary Square, as well as all over the city we reckon. Daniel was out to grab some photos later in the day to record some for posterity and inspiration.

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Creativity in Centenary Square

 

Creativity by the canals at Old Turn Junction

 

Creativity at Victoria Square

 

Creativity in Central Square, Brindleyplace

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90 passion points
Construction & regeneration
21 Jan 2021 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

Stirchley: Affordable Housing & Retail Units

Stirchley Co-operative, in collaboration with Accord Housing, has today secured approval to reinvigorate a dormant site by delivering new affordable housing & ground floor retail units for local businesses.

Click the link for more.

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Stirchley Co-operative Development (SCD) is a local community group comprising five housing and worker co-operatives intending to build affordable and eco-friendly residential and retail premises in the heart of Stirchley.

This mixed-use redevelopment, located at 1386-1392 Pershore Road, will contribute to the regeneration of the area by delivering much needed affordable housing & providing local Co-op businesses with prominent ground floor retail space.

39 one, two and three bedroom apartments (1-4 persons) will be created alongside 3 ground floor retail units - all within a sustainable timber framed, cream cladded three-storey new build.

All apartments will be for affordable rent, subject to a s106 agreement - thanks to funding from Homes England - with homes made available through Accord Housing.

A communal lounge, laundry room and a kitchen diner will supplement these homes; alongside a 670sqm rooftop garden & a 660sqm communal courtyard space.

Stirchley-based businesses that form part of the Co-operative will take up residence on the ground floor (738sqm). These will include:

  1. Artefact (artist-led gallery & community space);

  2. Birmingham Bike Foundry (bicycle repairs, refurbishment and training);

  3. Loaf (loaf social enterprise is a bakery and cookery school).

NOISE MITIGATION MEASURES

Given that the site is next to a major road & the Grade II listed, British Oak Public House - who have a substantial beer garden, many issues raised were understandably noise related.

Noise surveys were undertaken in recent months to nullify any potential issues that may crop up in the future. Measures implemented will see residents’ supplied with enhanced glazing & mechanical ventilation systems that can be used should their windows be closed.

PARKING

Given the sustainable location, with a new train station set to arrive soon, and with ample bus links on offer, zero car parking has been allocated here; however, 128 cycle spaces will be provided within the courtyard area.

All images are the property of Indesign, Accord Group's in-house architectural firm.

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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25 passion points
Squares and public spaces
20 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Kings Heath Village Square at Vicarage Road and High Street near All Saints Church

The churchyard of All Saints Church in Kings Heath was refurbished into Kings Heath Village Square back in 2011. Located near Vicarage Road and the Kings Heath High Street. There is a regular Famers Market, once a month on the first Saturday of the month. Other events have taken place here over the years. Such as National Express West Midlands promoting the then new no 50 bus.

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KINGS HEATH VILLAGE SQUARE

The Village Square opened in Kings Heath back in October 2011. The land was originally the churchyard of All Saints Church (some graves and grave stones remain, plus a war memorial). It's like an old village green now but in the heart of Kings Heath. One of the main features is a Labyrinth that people can walk around for fun. The All Saints Centre was also built around the same time (it includes a cafe and pharmacy).

Many cultural events and markets have taken place here over the years (before the pandemic). Such as the Kings Heath Farmers Market, taking place on the first Saturday of each month. Sometimes even a small fun fair with rides. Or collections for charity at Christmas time.

Kings Heath Village Square is located at a site between Vicarage Road and the High Street in Kings Heath, with All Saints Church to the far end of the square.

Bus routes include the 11A, 11C, 35, 50 and 76.

 

Kings Heath Village Square over the years

One of my earliest photos of Kings Heath Village Square, taken during February 2012, of the Labyrinth. You can see some market stalls near the Kings Heath All Saints Centre. Taken during the Kings Heath Farmers Market on Saturday 4th February 2012.

Kings Heath Village Square

 

A day later on Sunday 5th February 2012, I returned to Kings Heath when there was a snowfall. This view of Kings Heath Village Square towards the All Saints Centre.

Kings Heath Village Square

 

A blue sky during the middle of January 2020 as seen in Kings Heath Village Square. The Platinum buses had been on the 50 for over a year by this point. All Saints Church seen to the left.

Kings Heath Village Square

 

Some snow in Kings  Heath Village Square, as seen from the no 11A bus on Vicarage Road. This was near the end of December 2020 (while still in Tier 3 restrictions at the time). View to All Saints Church.

Kings Heath Village Square

 

Markets and fairs in the Village Square over the years

 

Kings Heath Farmers Market

This was the Kings Heath Farmers Market as held on Saturday 7th December 2013. It was Christmas time, so there was also some rides there for kids, as well as Father Christmas.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

It was open from 9am until 2pm. The Christmas Gift & Craft Fayre was also being held by the Moseley & Kings Heath Lions Club.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

Plenty of market stalls all around the square that day.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

Bottles of a drink for sale.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

A Disney style teacups ride for kids to enjoy.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

Oh look, it's Father Christmas in his sleigh with a couple of reindeer! From the Moseley & Kings Heath Lions Club.

Kings Heath Farmers Market

 

Kings Heath Winter Fest

This took place on Saturday the 15th November 2014 in Kings Heath Village Square. Plenty of rides for kids to go on.

Kings Heath Winter Fest

A small ferris wheel.

Kings Heath Winter Fest

Hook A Duck

Kings Heath Winter Fest

Signs showing that the All Saints Centre had hall & rooms available for hire. Also the banner for this event.

Kings Heath Winter Fest

 

Brum Yum Yum Kings Heath

This event took place on the 9th April 2016. It was part of the KingshEATh Streetfood Market.

From this VW Campervan you could buy Mexican Street Food. Cafe Borchata.

Brum Yum Yum

The British Bus Bar, was next to something about Virgin Media.

Brum Yum Yum

The Food Yule Love trailer.

Brum Yum Yum

Drink Up.

Brum Yum Yum

Charlie Dumpling was outside of the All Saints Centre.

Brum Yum Yum

 

The 50 bus from National Express West Midlands

On Saturday the 18th April 2015, National Express West Midlands launched the (then) new bus to be used on the no 50 bus route between Birmingham City Centre and Druids Heath (via Balsall Heath, Kings Heath, Moseley and the Maypole).

The 50

It was 6132 Julie.

The 50

This fleet of buses was on the 50 from 2015 to 2018, before being transferred to the 11A and 11C, when the 50 went Platinum from December 2018.

The 50

These buses have since been rebranded from 50 to 11A or 11C, with hints of yellow over the red. So it's more likely that you might be on the 11 on Vicarage Road, than on a 50 on the High Street (as you'd be in Platinum bus instead).

The 50

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

The trail of painted owls wasn't only in the City Centre back in the summer of 2015, but you could find some in Kings Heath (as well as the little owls). One owl was here in Kings Heath Village Square, plus you could find another one in Kings Heath Park and outside of Kings Heath Library at the time. The trail ran for 10 weeks (after which the owls were auctioned off for charity).

In Kings Heath Village Square you could find: The Owl and the Pussycat Went to Sea by the artist Mik Richardson. It was sponsored by the Kings Heath BID. Seen during July 2015.

The Big Hoot

 

Classic Car Meet

Click here for the full Classic Car Meet post. This was held on the August Bank Holiday Monday, 26th August 2019 in Kings Heath Village Square. I was changing buses from the 50 to 11A when I spotted all these classic cars and I went to have a look before going home.

Classic Car Meet

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

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90 passion points
Squares and public spaces
19 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A look round Colmore Square, between Colmore Row and Steelhouse Lane

If you are walking down Colmore Row or up Steelhouse Lane, you will get to Colmore Circus Queensway. In the middle of that is Colmore Square. Redeveloped in the early 2000s, from the subways and lowered areas that were filled in. The Wesleyan had already been there since 1991, while No 1 Colmore Square opened in 2004. The square was refurbished in 2014 with new benches and flower planters.

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COLMORE SQUARE

 

Colmore Square is in the centre of Colmore Circus Queensway. It is connected to Colmore Row, Bull Street, The Priory Queensway, Steelhouse Lane, Weaman Street and Snow Hill Queensway.

 

Colmore Circus Queensway was rebuilt in 2002, replacing the old roundabout of the Inner Ring Road with a square (this was around the same time when Masshouse Circus Queensway was demolished, breaking up the Concrete Collar, which had stopped development in Birmingham for decades). Out went the subways, and in came traffic lights and pelican crossings and road level. It is now safer to walk from Birmingham Snow Hill Station, on Colmore Row to Birmingham Children's Hospital on Steelhouse Lane, without having to go into subways (which you had to do from 1998 to sometime before 2002). It is also an alternate walking route to Aston University and the Magistrate and Law Courts, through the Steelhouse Conservation Area.

 

The Wesleyan was built from 1988 to 1991, so some changes had to be made to get the square to be level with the outside of the building, including a fountain.

No 1 Colmore Square was completed opposite The Wesleyan in 2004. No 2 Colmore Square is on the corner of The Priory Queensway and Steelhouse Lane, also known as Cannon House and Priory House (refurbished in 2006). There is a Matthew Boulton plaque, on the corner, as he was born nearby in the area (in 1728).

Colmore Plaza is on the opposite corner of Colmore Circus and Steelhouse Lane, this was completed in 2007 (replacing the Post & Mail Building of 1965-2006). It was renamed to The Colmore Building since 2016.

 

The original Midland Metro extension was built on the part of Colmore Circus near Colmore Row from 2012 to 2015. The first part opened to Bull Street Tram Stop in December 2016 (reaching Grand Central Tram Stop by 2016).

Minor refurbishment of Colmore Square in 2014 with new benches and flower planters, plus some chess table benches.

 

Every Christmas the Colmore BID places a Christmas tree here, and in the summer, Cofton Nursery places one of their Floral Trail pieces. The Big Hoot had 3 painted owls in summer 2015, and The Big Sleuth 3 painted bears in the summer of 2017. The trails were to help the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

 

Colmore Square as it was during May 2009. This view: The Wesleyan on the left, then the view down Steelhouse Lane with Colmore Plaza on the left and No 2 Colmore Square on the right (near the end of The Priory Queensway).

Colmore Square

A look down Steelhouse Lane from Colmore Square. Fountain Court and the back of the Victoria Law Courts are visible from here.

Colmore Square

In the other direction towards Colmore Gate and Colmore Row with Bull Street to the left. The old 103 Colmore Row (NatWest Tower) was just about visible to the right (behind Barclays Bank).

Colmore Square

Shadow near No 1 Colmore Square, which is the office building on the left.

Colmore Square

 

Colmore Square Then and Now

Spot the difference. The old NatWest Tower stood at 103 Colmore Row until 2015. After demolition, the new 103 Colmore Row was built during 2019 into 2020, and will open sometime later in 2021.

A July 2009 view of Colmore Square. Beyond Colmore Gate and The Wesleyan towards the NatWest Tower (the old 103 Colmore Row).

Colmore Square

 

This view of Colmore Square taken during July 2020. While the new 103 Colmore Square was under construction. Seen between Colmore Gate, Barclays Bank, 9 Colmore Row, 1 Colmore Row and The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square

 

2014 refurbishment of Colmore Square

This was during April 2014. This view from the construction site of the Midland Metro extension.

Colmore Square

New flower planters with trees and benches, close to The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square

They were also installed close to No 1 Colmore Square.

Colmore Square

There was also brand new bins installed at the time.

Colmore Square

More new trees close to The Priory Queensway.

Colmore Square

The chess table benches. Whether anyone played chess or checkers here, I'm not sure. More like people having their lunch on them!

Colmore Square

There was also new bike racks, near Colmore Plaza and The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square

The reverse view of Colmore Square back towards the Midland Metro extension. The Grand Hotel was under scaffolding, but was before the renovation works started.

Colmore Square

 

Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail

Cofton Nursery is responsible for placing the various floral trail pieces all over the City Centre, every summer. Some for special occasions.

 

Seen in early August 2012 in Colmore Square was this floral trail piece called Female Weightlifter. It was the year of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was based on Zoe Smith and Natasha Perdue. It was one of 23 features that you could see along the route that summer in 2012. The Colmore BID sponsored it, supporting Birmingham Bloom in celebrating Team GB.

Female Weightlifter

 

From July 2015, the Folding Bicyle was back in the City Centre, this time in Colmore Square. The summer before (2014) it was located in Church Street Square. In 2014 it was one of 12 WW1 features to commemorate Britain's entry into the First World War (1914-18). The commemorations continued into 2015.

Folding Bicycle

 

Wasn't so much of a Floral Trail by the summer of 2019, just the odd piece around the City Centre. From July 2019, was this Rock 'N' Roll Drums located in Colmore Square. Probably as it was Black Sabbath's 50th Anniversary, and they had an exhibition on at the Gas Hall that summer. Called Home of Metal Presents: Black Sabbath 50 Years.

Rock 'N' Roll Drums

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

Seen in Colmore Square during July 2015 was The Big Hoot, a trail of painted owls. This trail would be on for around 10 weeks before being auctioned for charity.

Leo by the artist Ruth Green. The sponsor was Pinsent Masons.

The Big Hoot

 

Tessellated Triangles was by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was Shoosmiths.

The Big Hoot

 

The Graduate by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was The Wesleyan.

The Big Hoot

 

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017

Seen in Colmore Square during July 2017 was The Big Sleuth, a trail of painted bears. Running for 10 weeks, before the painted bears were auctioned off for charity.

Get Your Bearings was designed by Tom Crotty and painted by G-Anders.The sponsor was Amey.

The Big Sleuth

 

Birminghamshire by the artist Rachel Blackwell. The sponsor was The Wesleyan.

The Big Sleuth

 

Captain Blue Bear by the artist Maria Burns. The sponsor was Vodafone.

The Big Sleuth

 

Christmas Tree's over the years in Colmore Square

The Colmore BID usually installs a variety of Christmas tree's in Colmore Square over the years, close to the part of Colmore Circus with Colmore Row. Sometimes artificial baubles, other years a real grown tree.

The Baubles Christmas Tree in Colmore Square seen during November 2011. Celebrate Christmas with Colmore Business District. The view towards No 1 Colmore Square.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

Early in January 2012, the same Christmas Tree was still up, and I caught it lit up after dark in Colmore Square.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

In December 2014, you could see a real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square. This view towards 9 and 1 Colmore Row.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

There was also a real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square during December 2015. This view towards Colmore Gate.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

Same again in November 2017 with this Christmas Tree. View towards The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

The last real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square, seen during November 2019. The view between 1 Colmore Row and The Wesleyan.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

During the 2nd lockdown, close to the end of November 2020, I saw this artificial Christmas Tree in Colmore Square, as a West Midlands Metro tram passed by.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

Later that day, before I got the bus home, I saw it lit up after dark. The last time I went through Colmore Square during December 2020, it had been removed. Probably due to the Snow Hill Public Realm works taking place nearby on Colmore Row.

Colmore Square Xmas Tree

 

Other events

A few more observations in Colmore Square over the years. Usually when I was heading to get some lunch from Colmore Row (and on the walk back to work).

 

The Microsoft Office 365 bench was in Colmore Square on the 29th March 2013. You could sit here and enjoy free WiFi while you work (outside).

Colmore Square bench

 

A band was playing some musical instruments in Colmore Square, and there was an audience watching from those deckchairs. This was on the 23rd July 2014. Lots of office workers out to buy their lunch that day.

Colmore Square band

 

Exercise bikes were being ridden in Colmore Square, as seen on the 15th July 2015. Quite close to the Folding Bike floral trail feature. They were riding for the Birmingham Children's Hospital charity. From "Lands End to John O'Groats". They were from The Wesleyan. Of course if they did this now, they would do it from home over Zoom.

Colmore Square exercise bikes

 

See also the post on Church Street Square in the Colmore BID.

 

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

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80 passion points
History & heritage
18 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

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

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

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Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

These are the Holy Austin Rock Houses at Kinver Edge.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

Pots and pans in this small cave.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

The window of this Rock House was only slightly open.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

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

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90 passion points
Construction & regeneration
18 Jan 2021 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

Selly Oak Student Scheme: Amended Plans

REVISED plans have gone in for a 510-bed canalside student redevelopment on Elliott Road, Selly Oak.

With a new architect also on board, the scheme has been drastically improved to directly connect to arguably Birmingham's biggest asset - its canal system.

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Located at ‘Selly Oak Industrial Estate, Units 5-8, Elliott Road‘, the amended proposal - brought forward by Watkins Jones Group - will see the site reconnect with arguably Birmingham’s biggest asset - its canal, through the demolition of vacant industrial builds (as seen above) before redevelopment can deliver:

  • Part 5-8 storey accommodation;
  • 510 student beds (130 studios/380 clusters);
  • 11 contemporary townhouses along Elliott Road;
  • Central courtyard gardens;
  • Secure Indoor & outdoor amenity spaces;
  • Zero parking/ 128 cycles;
  • NEW fluid connections to the canal towpath and beyond.

With a new design team in place, Glenn Howells Architects & Layer Studio Landscape have set about delivering on three main principles in redesigning the scheme. These are:

  • Establishing a fluid connection to the Canal;
  • Creating a green campus;
  • Providing connected routes all around the site.

An expansive courtyard garden will become the beating heart of the scheme, providing students with sufficient space to study and relax - or simply to collect their bike before venturing out and about. 

Lively amenity spaces (gym, lounges and study spaces) will be located at ground floor level, with the area set to bring much-needed activity and interest to the canal system and its new area of public realm.

Eleven contemporary townhouses will be positioned along Elliott Road - these have been purposely designed in response to the scale and context of the neighbouring area.

Before & after:

With considerable demand for PBSA in Selly Oak and across the city, Fresh Student Living - formed in 2010 by Watkins Jones Group - will operate the scheme if/when the scheme gets the go-ahead in the coming months.

Certainly one to keep an eye on!

All images the property of Glenn Howells Architects

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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