Elliott Brown

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Green open spaces
13 hours ago - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The rest of Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich

Last time was the fun fairs, this time everything else at Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich. There is a bandstand and a pavilion. Also a War Memorial. Gatehouses at two of the entrance gates. A footbridge that goes over a major road. Plus a Pleasure Pool (or boating lake). The visits from July 2017 and August 2019. Not expecting to go back any time soon though.

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Dartmouth Park, West Bromwich

Previous post: Fun fairs post at Dartmouth Park.

Welcome to Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich. The park is close to West Bromwich Town Centre and Sandwell Valley Country Park. Surrounded by the following roads: The Expressway, Reform Street, Lloyd Street, Devonshire Drive and Trinity Way. It is a Grade II listed park, with a bandstand, War Memorial, Gatehouses, and a Pleasure Pool (boating lake). You can also hire bikes from the park at Valley Cycles.

My visits were in July 2017 (heading to Sandwell Valley on the Big Sleuth bear hunt) and August 2019 (in the area again and noticed that there was a footbridge to cross).

2017

The visit at the end of July 2017. Approaching the entrance gates from Reform Street in West Bromwich. Was an Asian wedding party there at the time, hence the car on the drive.

Dartmouth Park

Later heading back into West Bromwich Town Centre, and back to the gates at Reform Street.

Dartmouth Park

The gatehouse at the Reform Street entrance.

Dartmouth Park

Later on the way out of the park I took another photo of the Reform Street gatehouse.

Dartmouth Park

Outside of the Reform Street entrance was the Crown & Cushion pub nearby.

Dartmouth Park

The War Memorial was on the left of the main entrance path. It is Grade II listed.

Dartmouth Park

It dates to circa 1920. In memory of the local men and women lost during the Great War of 1914-18 (WW1).

Dartmouth Park

At the top is a bronze winged statue.

Dartmouth Park

Close up details of the bronze winged statue.

Dartmouth Park

This green box was an electric feeder. Pre-war it was used to service the trams in West Bromwich. Post-war it was re-sighted here to light up the war memorial, and from 1951 worked the floral clock.

Dartmouth Park

View of the Bandstand and Pavilion.

Dartmouth Park

This time the Pavilion is to the left and the Bandstand to the right.

Dartmouth Park

There was also this drinking fountain in the park.

Dartmouth Park

A look (below) at the Jubilee Sensory Garden 2012.

Dartmouth Park

Outdoor wooden instruments that you can interact with.

Dartmouth Park

Heading down to the Pleasure Pool as I made my way towards Sandwell Valley.

Dartmouth Park

To the far left was swan paddling boats you could hire for a ride.

Dartmouth Park

There was about four swan boats here, with room for about 4 people in each. Also an inflatable boat to the left. Would assume you have to wear a life jacket.

Dartmouth Park

There was also a pond with Canada geese and swans.

Dartmouth Park

Be like the Chuckle Brothers and you could hire Surrey Bikes. Small £9 or Large £14. "To me ... to you!". Paul Chuckle is still alive, but his brother Barry passed away in August 2018.

Dartmouth Park

You could also hire regular bikes from Valley Cycles. Adult Bikes from £7.50 or Kids Bikes from £6. Even a tricycle with a passenger seat at the back!

Dartmouth Park

2019

After checking out the fun fair again, during the August 2019 visit, I made my way to the footbridge that I saw on Google Maps. Lots of trees on the walk along the path here.

Dartmouth Park

Heading on along the path towards those trees.

Dartmouth Park

More trees as I got close to the footbridge.

Dartmouth Park

View of the park beyond from the curved ramp of the footbridge, as I was about to cross over The Expressway. Beyond the trees is the M5, and on the other side of the motorway is the Priory Woods. Where you can find the Sandwell Priory Ruins (somewhere to visit in the future).

Dartmouth Park

First view of the curved ramp that leads to the footbridge I wanted to cross.

Dartmouth Park

It appears to all be made out of concrete.

Dartmouth Park

The start of the curved ramp from the park side.

Dartmouth Park

Dartmouth Park

Starting to walk up it.

Dartmouth Park

Now on the actual bridge that crosses The Expressway.

Dartmouth Park

About halfway over. Would be one more spiral ramp to go down.

Dartmouth Park

Onto the next spiral ramp.

Dartmouth Park

Going around in circles again. It takes you to the Beeches Road gate. Also directly opposite Herbert Street.

Dartmouth Park

Almost near the bottom of the spiral ramp.

Dartmouth Park

One last look at it.

Dartmouth Park

There was another gatehouse, similar of design at the Beeches Road entrance.

Dartmouth Park

View of the Beeches Road gates. Herbert Road is straight ahead.

Dartmouth Park

Beeches Road gatehouse on the right and the gates in front.

Dartmouth Park

The Beeches Road gatehouse also has a clock between the ground floor and first floor windows.

Dartmouth Park

Before I left Dartmouth Park, saw this notice board and map from Sandwell MBC. It is also an alcohol restricted area from the West Midlands Police.

Dartmouth Park

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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Rivers, lakes & canals
13 hours ago - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Brandwood Tunnel on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal

One of the oldest structures on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal is the Brandwood Tunnel near Brandwood and Brandwood End in South Birmingham. Located between Kings Heath and Kings Norton, it was built between 1793 and 1796 and opened by 1802. It is over 300 metres long. No towpath inside, so the towpaths go up to road level and you have to find the other end. But it's not signposted.

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Brandwood Tunnel

The Brandwood Tunnel is on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal in Birmingham. In September 2018 I had a walk of the canal, starting at Alcester Road South near Kings Heath and Alcester Lanes End, and walking towards Kings Norton Junction. It was Birmingham Heritage Week at the time, although my walk here was nothing to do with that.

There is no towpath in the tunnel, so you have to walk up the towpath ramp towards Brandwood Road. And make your way to Shelfield Road for the other end. It was not signposted, and had to check Google Maps at the time (at one point I walked up Monyhull Hall Road in the wrong direction before I turned back and consulted Google Maps).

 

East Portal of the Brandwood Tunnel

Located on the walk between Alcester Road South and Monyhull Hall Road, is the East Portal of the Brandwood Tunnel. It is a Grade II listed building. It was built from 1793 until 1796 of brick and stone. The canal engineer was probably Josiah Clowes. In an age before motorised narrowboats, the narrowboat would have been pulled by a horse. But the horse would have been taken up to road level, while a pair of men legged it through the tunnel. The towpath leads up to Monyhull Hall Road. You have to walk down Brandwood Park Road to Shelfield Road to get to the other part of the canal, and the West Portal.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

Was a nice reflection in the water of the tunnel entrance at the east end.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

Sign about the Brandwood Tunnel at the East Portal. Canoes can go through, but they must check that the tunnel is clear and have a forward facing white light on.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

From this point, the towpath starts to go up the hill.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

Both ends have a portrait, but the East Portal seems to be missing a portrait (maybe it eroded due to weather over 220 plus years?). There was unsightly tags at the top of the East Portal brickwork.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

The Brandwood Tunnel sign looked like it was in need of a repair.  It's hard to tell who this portrait was of.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

The Brandwood Tunnel is 322 metres in length.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

Steps down for someone in a narrowboat to use. Such as the person with the key to the locks.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

Last look at the East Portal before walking up to the road level. Some more graffiti tags on the right.

East Portal Brandwood Tunnel

West Portal of the Brandwood Tunnel

This portal is located near Shelfield Road in Brandwood End. Easy to miss as it was not signposted at road level, so had to check Google Maps to find the towpath. The West Portal is also a Grade II listed building and was built from 1793 to 1794. The north section of the Stratford-on-Avon Canal opened in 1802. This side has a portrait of William Shakespeare (as people in narrowboats will most likely be heading for Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon). Beyond here the canal leads to Kings Norton Junction where it meets the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Kings Norton (just after a guillotine lock).

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

Heading down the towpath next to the West Portal. More graffiti on the brickwork to the left.

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

First proper glimse at the West Portal of the Brandwood Tunnel, as I headed down the towpath.

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

A view of the portrait of William Shakespeare.

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

This portrait of Shakespeare has survived the centuries, but looks weathered around the edges.

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

Even this side mentions that the Brandwood Tunnel is 322 metres long.

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

One last look at the Shakespeare portrait.

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

A proper look at the West Portal before continuing the walk towards Kings Norton.

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

The Brandwood Tunnel sign at the West Portal at the time was heavily vandalised with graffiti tags. Hopefully the Canal & River Trust has cleaned it up since. But the canal down here always gets tagged, even at the guillotine lock at Kings Norton a bit further down.

West Portal Brandwood Tunnel

 

There are other tunnels that you can walk through. Such as the Edgbaston Tunnel and Broad Street Tunnel on the Worceser & Birmingham Canal, which I can cover in future posts.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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0 passion points
Transport
10 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

West Midlands Railway Class 196 section at Tyseley

West Midlands Railway will soon have a fleet of Class 196 Civity diesel multiple unit trains. There is a section of one at the Tyseley DMU depot of West Midlands Railway. I saw it behind the metal fences from the Warwick Road. They will replace the old Class 153's and Class 170's. It might be there for testing or driver training, as it's in the car park.

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West Midlands Railway Class 196

There is a section near the Warwick Road in Tyseley of a West Midlands Railway Class 196 train. Near the entrance to West Midlands Railway Birmingham Tyseley. Outside was a sign about VE Day 75 (which was in May 2020) and an NHS Rainbow. Thank you to our NHS staff and Key Workers.

Gallery below of five photos of a new Class 196 train (I couldn't see another one from Tyseley Station, but noticed one in July 2020 from a train).

It might be there to be used for training, as it is on a car park.

WMR Class 196

WMR Class 196

WMR Class 196

WMR Class 196

WMR Class 196

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
History & heritage
10 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Southside Theatres: The Alexandra

The Alexandra Theatre located in the Southside area of Birmingham. The main entrance is on Suffolk Street Queensway, running along Suffolk Place. The original building, opened in 1901 is on Station Street and John Bright Street. The main entrance was originally on John Bright Street, but was relocated to Suffolk Street Queensway in the late 1960s. This was rebuilt in 2018.

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The Alexandra Theatre

For another theatre post in Southside currently closed due to the pandemic go to the Birmingham Hippodrome.

The Alexandra Theatre is the second main theatre in Southside Birmingham. Located on Suffolk Street Queensway (the current main entrance is not too far from Holloway Circus). It is also on Suffolk Place, John Bright Street (formerly the main entrance) and up Station Street.

The theatre has gone by many names over the years. Either known as The Alexandra, The Alex or more recently the New Alexandra Theatre (before going back to just The Alexandra Theatre).

Construction of the theatre began in 1900 and it opened in 1901. The main entrance was originally on John Bright Street. The original architects was Owen & Ward and was built by William Coutts. It's original name was the Lyceum Theatre. After low ticket sales, it was sold in 1902 to Lester Collingwood and renamed to the Alexandra Theatre. Collingwood died in road traffic accident in 1910 and he was replaced by Leon Salberg, who died in his office at the theatre in 1938. In 1935 the theatre was rebuilt in the Art Deco style to a design by Roland Satchwell. After Leon Salberg's death, the running of the theatre was taken over by Derek Salberg. The Salberg family ran the theatre from 1911 until 1977.

The main entrance was relocated to Suffolk Street Queensway with a concrete bridge. This was built from 1967-69 from a design by the John Madin Design Group. The Art Deco interior of Satchwell was refurbished in 1992 by the Seymour Harris Partnership.

In the last 25 years the ownership of the theatre has changed hands a few times. In 1995 it was taken over by the Apollo Leisure Group. Who brought many West End productions to The Alex. In 1999 they were bought by SFX Entertainment. In 2001 they merged with Clear Channel Entertainment. In 2006 it was taken over by Live Nation, then in 2011 it was taken over by Ambassador Theatre Group who renamed the theatre New Alexandra Theatre after a minor refurbishment. The main entrance on Suffolk Street Queensway was rebuilt and modernised in 2018 and the theatre was renamed back to The Alexandra Theatre.

 

Live Nation: The Alexandra Theatre

My earliest photos of The Alexandra was taken from Suffolk Street Queensway during April 2009. Island Bar was next door to the right.

The Alexandra Theatre

The Alexandra Theatre

In February 2010, I got photos from Suffolk Place, John Bright Street and Station Street. Main entrance is on Suffolk Street Queensway. Then over the bridge. At the time the theatre was showing Porridge starring Shaun Williamson as Fletcher (originally played on TV by the late Ronnie Barker). You could see the former main entrance on John Bright Street (from 1901 until the late 1960s).

Alexandra Theatre

Alexandra Theatre

Alexandra Theatre

Alexandra Theatre

Alexandra Theatre

Alexandra Theatre

Alexandra Theatre

New Alexandra Theatre

Under new ownership. And now called New Alexandra Theatre as seen in January 2011. A World Class Theatre. At the time the theatre was being used by Britain's Got Talent for auditions. Main entrance building seen on Suffolk Place and opposite from Suffolk Street Queensway.

New Alex Theatre

New Alex Theatre

New Alex Theatre

New Alex Theatre

My only nightshot of the New Alexandra Theatre was taken during December 2012, when the theatre had 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton on at the time.

New Alex Theatre

In May 2017 the New Alexandra Theatre was advertising Arthur Miller's Crucible, from the 5th to 10th June 2017.

New Alex Theatre

The Birmingham Weekender was held during September 2017. And there was inflatable Sky Dancers on the roof of the New Alex. This was held over the weekend from the 22nd to 24th September 2017. Meanwhile the theatre was advertising Cilla The Musical and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

New Alex Theatre

New Alex Theatre

New Alex Theatre

New Alex Theatre

New Alex Theatre

New Alex Theatre

The Alexandra Theatre 2018 refurb to present

In August 2018, scaffolding went up on the main entrance building on Suffolk Street Queensway of what was then the New Alexandra Theatre. Boogie Nights The 70s Musical was to be shown in the theatre from the 22nd to the 25th August 2018. Scaffolding by Gorilla Scaffolding.

The Alex Theatre

By September 2018 they had stripped the old late 1960s concrete facade off. And was all these exposed wooden boards at the front.

The Alex Theatre

The Alex Theatre

In October 2018 you could already see the new facade on the Suffolk Street Queensway entrance, and it had gone back to The Alexandra name. They also had a digital billboard advertising what they had one. Such as David Walliams Awful Auntie and Benidorm Live.

The Alex Theatre

The Alex Theatre

Another look in December 2018 from Suffolk Place and John Bright Street. They had recladded the late 1960's building by John Madin. So not as much exposed concrete as there had been for almost 50 years. There was also shiny new red steps at the Suffolk Street Queensway main entrance. Beetham Tower and one of The Sentinels towers behind.

The Alex Theatre

The Alex Theatre

One of my last photos of 103 Colmore Row before lockdown was above The Alexandra Theatre on Suffolk Street Queensway during early March 2020. I wouldn't see the theatre again until the beginning of August 2020.

The Alex Theatre

Closed since the lockdown began in late March 2020. As of August 2020, The Alexandra Theatre remains closed due to the pandemic. It is unknown when the theatre will be able to reopen, or even if they will be able to do social distancing with less seats available. The Shows Will Go On. Suffolk Street Queensway main entrance, then views a week later from Station Street, John Bright Street and Suffolk Place.

The Alex Theatre

The Alex Theatre

The Alex Theatre

The Alex Theatre

Follow The Alex Theatre on social media:

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
History & heritage
06 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Southside Theatres: Birmingham Hippodrome

The Birmingham Hippodrome is located on Hurst Street in Southside (part of the Chinese Quarter). It is also up Inge Street and near the Back to Backs. The theatre is home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet. There has been a theatre on this site since 1895. There has been several redevelopments since. The last one in 2001. The Birmingham Christmas Pantomine usually takes place here.

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BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME

Lets support Birmingham's theatres during this troubling time of closure. In Southside there is the Birmingham Hippodrome (on Hurst Street), The Alexandra Theatre (on Suffolk Street Queensway and John Bright Street) and The Old REP Theatre (on Station Street).

Here though we will take a look at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Home of the world famous Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Assembly rooms was the first venue to be built on the site of the Hippodrome in 1895. It was redesigned in 1899 by local architect F. W. Lloyd. A stage and a circus was added with a Moorish tower (removed in 1963). It had the name the "Tower of Varieties". After this failed, it was rebuilt as a normal variety theatre in 1900 as the "Tivoli".  It got the name "The Hippodrome" for the first time in October 1903 under the ownership of Thomas Barrasford (it has previously been named the "Tower Theatre"). The current neo-classical auditorium which was designed to seat 1,900 people, was built in 1924 by Burdwood and Mitchell. After Smallbrook Queensway was built, the entrance building and tower was demolished in 1963.

For a time it was renamed as the "Birmingham Theatre". The plain façade was refaced in the 1980s with mock-Victorian plasterwork. Central TV spent the '80s using the Hippodrome for the ITV Talent Show New Faces.

The exterior was last rebuilt in 2001 by Associated Architects with Law and Dunbar-Nasmith, with a new glass façade and accommodation for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.  There will be another redevelopment of the façade to be completed in 2021 by AHMM Architects.

The BRB has been based in Birmingham since 1990 at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Having been founded in 1946 as the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet in London. Every Christmas season, the BRB perform Swan Lake at the Hippodrome. A production of Sir Peter Wright, the Director Laurete of the BRB. Then there is the annual Christmas Pantomime, where a variety of celebrities come to Birmingham to perform them.

 

Some of my earliest photos of the Birmingham Hippodrome from Hurst Street were taken in June 2009.

Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Hippodrome

Seen during April 2012 on the main entrance doors from Hurst Street was these labels for the NEW STAGE APPEAL. At the time the Hippodrome was showing Oliver!

Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Hippodrome

In December 2012, I saw this pair in Angel Wings. It was when Cinderella was on (as performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet), and they welcomed theatre goers at the time.

Birmingham Hippodrome

Direct from the West End was Disney's The Lion King. Seen during August 2013. This touring West End show would be at the Hippodrome until the 28th September 2013.

Birmingham Hippodrome

"When in Rome do what the Romans do". Also in August 2013 was the annual Summer in Southside, which used to be held outside of the Hippodrome and down Hurst Street and in The Arcadian every summer. It was a free event held by Birmingham Hippodrome Outdoors.

Birmingham Hippodrome

Christmas decorations and Christmas trees lit up after dark at the Birmingham Hippodrome during December 2013. At the time the panto being held here was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs staring Gok Wan.

Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Hippodrome

Wicked was going to be at the Birmingham Hippodrome from the 9th July until the 6th September 2014. I saw this poster during July 2014. While I've not seen Wicked in Birmingham, I did once see it in London's West End at the Apollo Victoria during October 2012. It was amazing! (it was the last time I went to see a West End show).

Birmingham Hippodrome

Summer in Southside seen during August 2014. Members of the Team in the white t-shirts. With the pointy fingers and at the Info stalls.

Birmingham Hippodrome

Near the end of December 2018, saw some Chinese lantern style Christmas lights hanging from trees on Hurst Street, not far from the Hippodrome. It was nice to see. Southside always makes the area look pretty at night.

Birmingham Hippodrome

In July 2020, for my first walk around Southside since the lockdown began (4 to 5 months after I was last here). I took a few photos of the Hippodrome from Hurst Street. Obviously they have been closed since the end of March 2020. And it is not known when it will be safe for them to reopen. Social distancing in the theatre will be hard, and the theatre may have to make people redundant sadly. Meanwhile the Southside BID gives a huge THANK YOU to all keyworkers and to the NHS.

Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Hippodrome

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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40 passion points
Modern Architecture
05 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

From The NIA Birmingham to Utilita Arena Birmingham

The National Indoor Arena opened in Birmingham in 1991 on a site close to Old Turn Junction of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Rebuilt on the canalside from 2013-14, it was branded Barclaycard Arena from 2014-17. Then Arena Birmingham from 2017-20. It now has a new sponsor and is called Utilita Arena Birmingham. Still owned by the NEC Group.

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The National Indoor Arena Birmingham

The National Indoor Arena was opened in 1991. It was where Gladiators was recorded from 1992 to 1999. Located near King Edwards Road in Birmingham. It is on the Birmingham Canal Navigations at Old Turn Junction, where the Main Line meets the start of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. The arena was redeveloped during 2013 and 2014. Reopening in December 2014 at the Barclaycard Arena. This sponsorship ended at the end of August 2017. And it was then known as Arena Birmingham from September 2017. Securing a new sponsor in 2020, the arena was renamed again in April 2020 (during the lockdown while they were closed) to the current Utilita Arena Birmingham.

 

The NIA Birmingham (1991-2014)

Events that took place at the National Indoor Arena during this time include Gladiators (1992-99), the Eurovision Song Contest 1998, and the World Indoor Athletics Championships 2003.

My earliest photos of the NIA were taken during April 2009. By which time they were branding it as the nia birmingham. These views from the Brindleyplace Bridge towards The Malt House and the Brewmasters Bridge.

the nia birmingham

the nia birmingham

the nia birmingham

This view of the nia birmingham taken during June 2009, from the towpath outside of the National Sealife Centre.

the nia birmingham

NIA redevelopment (2013-14)

The redevelopment started around the summer of 2013 and was completed by the winter of 2014. The arena reopened as the Barclaycard Arena from December 2014.

Scaffolding going up around August 2013. The arena remained open throughout the works, but access to the public was limited.

NIA redevelopment

NIA redevelopment

More hoardings going up around September 2013. The old canalside facade was starting to be dismantled.

NIA redevelopment

NIA redevelopment

When the Library of Birmingham opened during September 2013 for the first time, I was able to get this photo of The NIA from the Secret Garden.

NIA redevelopment

By April 2014 the steel girders had gone up and the shape of the new canalside view of the Arena was already up.

NIA redevelopment

NIA redevelopment

Not long to go by September 2014. The golden fins were in place, as was the glass windows and the three sky needles in the middle.

NIA redevelopment

The Secret Garden view from the Library of Birmingham update taken during Sepember 2014 of the Arena. When the view is clear, you can see Edgbaston Reservoir from here.

NIA redevelopment

The November 2014 update from the Brindleyplace Bridge. Within a month the arena would reopen as the Barclaycard Arena, but was more or less complete by this point.

NIA redevelopment

Barclaycard Arena (2014-17)

The Arena reopened on the 2nd December 2014 as the Barclaycard Arena.

In the middle of December 2014, I took the following nightshots to see the Barclaycard Arena lit up after dark. This was around 5pm. It looked amazing. Including the digital display of the then City Skyline.

Barclaycard Arena

Barclaycard Arena

Barclaycard Arena

Barclaycard Arena

Barclaycard Arena

Barclaycard Arena

In January 2015 I took this digital display on the Barclaycard Arena. First view "lighting up Birmingham's skyline". The second view the Barclaycard Arena logo with the skyline.

Barclaycard Arena

Barclaycard Arena

In March 2015 I took this view of the Barclaycard Arena from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham.

Barclaycard Arena

A May 2015 view of the Barclaycard Arena with it's golden fins.

Barclaycard Arena

Arena Birmingham (2017-20)

Barclaycard ended there sponsorship of the arena at the end of August 2017. So from September 2017, the arena was now known simply as Arena Birmingham (but with no sponsor).

Took this view of Arena Birmingham from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham during October 2017.

Arena Birmingham

The Beast from the East and Storm Emma hit Birmingham during early March 2018. Which was when Arena Birmingham was hosting the World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018. But the surrounding canals and towpaths were covered in snow and ice! Athletes and officials could run around outside, but it would have been very cold.

Arena Birmingham

Arena Birmingham

In April 2018, I saw the then new Arena Birmingham logo heading up the steps from the King Edwards Road entrance. Canopies were also at the time going up around The Malt House for an event linking the Arena to The ICC.

Arena Birmingham

Arena Birmingham

My last views of Arena Birmingham before the lockdown and the new sponsor Utilita came into force were taken during January 2020. It would be another 6 to 7 months before I would see the arena again (due to the pandemic / lockdown).

Arena Birmingham

Arena Birmingham

Utilita Arena Birmingham (2020-?)

During the lockdown, the arena had to close (like other venues all around the world).  The name change took place during April 2020. And would now be called Utilita Arena Birmingham. That meant the signs had to be changed, and the old ones taken down.

My first photo of Utilita Arena Birmingham taken in the middle of July 2020 from the Brindleyplace Bridge. The rest near the end of the month.

Utilita Arena Birmingham

Utilita Arena Birmingham

Utilita Arena Birmingham

Hopefully it will one day be safe to reopen indoor arenas like this one. Even for sporting events without crowds. And they could be televised.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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80 passion points
Classic Architecture
05 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers: Perrott's Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Welcome to another Ladywood related post. This time looking at The Two Towers that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Perrott's Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower. Both are located on Waterworks Road in Ladywood, Birmingham. And are close to Edgbaston Reservoir. In the area that used to be called Rotton Park. Edgbaston Waterworks is managed by Severn Trent.

Related

Previous Tolkien posts here:

The Two Towers

Lets take a walk down Waterworks Road in Ladywood. If you leave Hagley Road, head up Plough & Harrow Road. Cross over Monument Road and you will get to Waterworks Road. One way to get back to Ladywood Middleway from Waterworks Road is via Harold Road and Noel Road, where there is some more views of the towers.

The first tower on your right will be Perrott's Folly. If you walk further down the road, you will get to the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower (which is within a Severn Trent faciliity so you can only see it from the road). If you are on Reservoir Road nearby, you might be able to spot the towers down the side roads, and it is even possible to see at least one of the towers from Edgbaston Reservoir. Further out in the City, there is views of The Two Towers from the top of Brindleyplace Car Park. Both of these towers (it has been suggested) may have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien for his book The Two Towers (the middle installment of the famous The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, later adapted into a movie trilogy by Peter Jackson, of which The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was released in 2002).

 

Side by side comparison of The Two Towers from my original photos taken during June 2011. For the gallery of these, have a look further down the post.

Two Towers

In July 2013, the models of The Two Towers was in Centenary Square, around 2 months before the Library of Birmingham was opened. With a backdrop of the Hyatt Hotel and Symphony Hall.

The Two Towers

Model of The Two Towers seen at Sarehole Mill during August 2015. They were moved here and is now their more permenant home (due to the Tolkien links).

The Two Towers

View (below) of The Two Towers as seen from the car park behind the Birmingham Oratory during September 2019. Clearly Perrott's Folly (to the right) is taller than the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower (to the left).

The Two Towers

In a June 2020 walk around Edgbaston Reservoir (below) I was able to get The Two Towers in one picture. But here, Perrott's Folly (on the left) looked shorter than the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower (on the right). Must be the different perspective.

The Two Towers

Went back to Waterworks Road on the last day of July 2020 during a heatwave. Got this view of The Two Towers. Then also one from Noel Road around the corner off Harold Road.

Two Towers

Two Towers

 

Perrott's Folly

Located on Waterworks Road in Ladywood not far from Monument Road. Perrott's Folly was also known as The Monument or The Observatory. It was built in what was then Rotton Park by John Perrott in 1758. The land at the time was open countryside. He built it either to view his wife's grave from afar or to entertain guests or survery his land. He actually lived in Belbroughton. The tower was used from 1884 until 1979 as a weather recording station for the Birmingham & Midland Institute. The Perrott's Folly Company was formed in 1984 to restore the tower and open it to the public. But the company eventually closed in 2009. There was periods in the late 2000s when they opened it to the public. It is a Grade II* listed building. Built of red brick. Octagonal on a square base with a round stair turret. It was listed in 1952, and the listing was last amended in 1982.

 

My earliest series of photos of Perrott's Folly was taken back in June 2011 from Waterworks Road, which you can see below.

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

In July 2013, you could see the model of Perrott's Folly in the garden outside of The Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square (around 2 months before it opened to the public). But the area was fenced off until the end of August 2013.

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

The model of Perrott's Folly (seen below) at Sarehole Mill during August 2015. Was moved to it's now permenant home.

Perrott's Folly

View of Perrott's Folly (below) seen during April 2018 from the top of Brindleyplace Car Park.

Perrott's Folly

The view taken during February 2020 (below) of Perrott's Folly as seen from Reservoir Road (leaving Edgbaston Reservoir). Could see it over the chimneys up Reservoir Retreat.

Perrot's Folly

On the last day of July 2020 I travelled to Ladywood, and while there headed down Waterworks Road from Plough & Harrow Road for a blue sky update!

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

Perrott's Folly

 

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

The Edgbaston Waterworks is located at the bottom end of Waterworks Road in Ladywood. It was also called the Edgbaston Pumping Station.  The buildings were designed by John Henry Chamberlain and William Martin during 1870. The buildings are Grade II listed. The site is run by Severn Trent Water. While it is close to Edgbaston Reservoir, there is no current or historical connection to the water here. The listing includes, the Edgbaston Pumping Station, store room, generator room and the ornamented chimney stack. The water pumping station apparently dates to about 1862. The tower was built of red brick with blue brick details. You can see how the tower influenced Tolkien for The Two Towers. Especially in the details at the top. First listed in 1979, the listing was amended in 2015.

 

My earliest series of photos of the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower was taken during June 2011 from Waterworks Road, which you can see below.

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

In July 2013, there was a model of the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower in Centenary Square, in the garden in front of the Library of Birmingham (two months before it would open to the public).

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

By August 2015, the model of the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower was now at it's now permenant home of Sarehole Mill (due to it's link with Tolkien).

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

There was a view (below) from the top of the Brindleyplace Car Park on my visit during April 2018 of the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower.

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

During February 2020, after leaving Edgbaston Reservoir via Reservoir Road (seen below), I spotted the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower down Mostyn Road over the chimneys.

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

I saw the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower from my June 2020 walk around Edgbaston Reservoir (below). I was hoping to get an individual photo of Perrott's Folly, but only got the pair of them together earlier on (see the photo further up this post). You can see how it inspired Tolkien in it's design.

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Also got some last day of July 2020 photo updates of the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower. I noticed that one of the window shutters on the left hand side was damaged, and is in need of a repair. Also visible from Noel Road in Ladywood.

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Edgbaston Waterworks Tower

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Environment & green action
03 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Blackberry Way and the Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve in the Shire Country Park

Two sections of the Shire Country Park here. During a May 2020 lockdown walk. After leaving the Greet Mill Meadow at the Stratford Road, we continued on into the Blackberry Way. Then crossed into the Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve from Formans Road in Sparkhill. Both run alongside the River Cole towards the Cole Valley Business Park. A lot of history here. Also a litter issue.

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Blackberry Way and the

Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve

The Blackberry Way and the Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve are part of the Shire Country Park and are located in Sparkhill. My first walk in these areas was during a lockdown walk in May 2020, which started from the Sarehole Mill Car Park, and went via the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground and the Greet Mill Meadow.

For related posts click the links below:

 

Blackberry Way

The Blackberry Way is located between the Stratford Road and Formans Road in Sparkhill (near the Springfield and Hall Green border). It starts from the Stratford Road Bridge (which opened in 1914) and runs alongside the River Cole. In the 14th century the area was known as Foulemoreslone or as Fole- or Fullford (foul ford). But today is called the Blackberry Way. It was named after a consultation with local residents and thought to be highly suitable as it is one of the best blackberry picking sections of the Shire Country Park. This area has a litter problem, either in the River Cole or alongside the path.

Starting from the Stratford Road entrance, just head into the gate on the right.

Blackberry Way

The sign for the Blackberry Way in the Shire Country Park from Birmingham City Council. It says "Please help us to care for your local green spaces. No Dumping of Rubbish".

Blackberry Way

Sadly the first thing I saw was rubbish down in the River Cole, and along the path.

Blackberry Way

Saw a dumped trolley hanging up-side-down on the poles of the sign near the Stratford Road. This is not the place to dump your rubbish, and the trolley should be at the supermarket it came from!

Blackberry Way

During May 2020, there was cow parsley growing alongside the path.

Blackberry Way

The trees were lush and green, having grown back fast during the second full month of lockdown.

Blackberry Way

The path continues straight on past the trees and cow parsley.

Blackberry Way

Approaching the gate at Formans Road. Beyond here was the Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve.

Blackberry Way

Later coming back into the Blackberry Way. Headed down this grass path along the cow parsley.

Blackberry Way

A bit of a tree canopy here.

Blackberry Way

Getting back to the Stratford Road entrance, and soon about to go back into the Greet Mill Meadow.

Blackberry Way

Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve

The Burbury Brickworks is located between Formans Road in Sparkhill and the Cole Valley Business Park. Beyond this area you can walk around The Ackers (which is beyond Warwick Road, but I've not done The Ackers yet). It is a 13 acre site of a former brick making factory that existed here until the early 1960s. The River Cole runs alongside one part of the nature reserve. When the brickworks closed the area returned to it's natural state. It now has a marshland and young oak trees. This area also had a litter problem.

The Burbury Brickworks Nature Reserve sign at the Formans Road entrance. As with the Blackberry Way this Birmingham City Council sign says "Please help us to care for your local green spaces. No Dumping of Rubbish".

Burbury Brickworks

There was a pair of paths in the Burbury Brickworks. We too the right path.

Burbury Brickworks

The trees on this path were lush and green. Some cow parsley along the path as well.

Burbury Brickworks

First signs of rubbish alongside the path. Why can't people dispose of their rubbish properly and use the bin?

Burbury Brickworks

So much takeaway rubbish around the benches that it attracted hungry crows looking for some food. The bin was also slanted a bit.

Burbury Brickworks

Nearing the gate close to the Cole Valley Business Park. Turned back after this. But did briefly pop out of the gate, and back in.

Burbury Brickworks

Beyond here is the Cole Valley Business Park. I would think you would have to walk or cycle past towards the Warwick Road to find the entrance to The Ackers, but I've not been there yet.

Burbury Brickworks

On the walk back in the Burbury Brickworks found part of the River Cole.

Burbury Brickworks

A wooden footbridge over a stream (I don't think this crosses the River Cole).

Burbury Brickworks

On the Wetland Walkway saw this pond surrounded by trees. It's hard to believe that a brickworks was in this area until about 60 years ago.

Burbury Brickworks

One of the fingerposts of the Shire Country Park was in the water. I'm not sure if it's still in there 2 and a half months on, but Council officials or park rangers needs to fish it out, and repair it.

Burbury Brickworks

On the way out saw this NO DUMPING sign from Birmingham City Council. Your City Your Birmingham. Can locals and visitors please not dump their waste in the Shire Country Park. Dispose of your litter properly. Care for the environment.

Burbury Brickworks

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Modern Architecture
30 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Mailbox from Suffolk Street Queensway and from the Canalside over the years

Most of these photos of The Mailbox were taken in the years before the 2015 refurbishment. The main entrance to The Mailbox up the steps from Royal Mail Street can be seen from Suffolk Street Queensway. The Canalside with all the restaurants and bars is close to Gas Street Basin at the sharp turn of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The Cube joined it in 2010.

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The Mailbox

The Mailbox opened to the public in December 2000. Previously the original building had been used as Royal Mail's main sorting office for Birmingham. It was built in 1970. It replaced the old Victorian head post office in Victoria Square (now Victoria Square House). The building was designed by R. H. Ousman of the Ministry of Public Building and Works. Before that, it was the location of a railway goods yard, which had links to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and Gas Street Basin. There is also an underground tunnel which linked the building to New Street Station.

The first redevelopment took place from 1997 until 2000. The architect was Associated Architects who now have offices at The Mailbox at the corner of Severn Street and Commercial Street. BBC Birmingham moved from Pebble Mill to The Mailbox in 2004.

The second redevelopment took place from 2013 until 2015. This time the architects was Stanton Williams. The Mailbox was given a roof, as it was previously open air in the malls. Harvey Nichols moved the front of the building to units further inside. (I'll cover this regeneration in a future post apart from the photos posted below).

In this post, we will be looking at the exterior that you can see from Suffolk Street Queensway and from the Canalside. The buildings do also go up Severn Street and Commercial Street (but we won't be looking at that side).

Suffolk Street Queensway

Some of my earliest photos of The Mailbox taken during April 2009. The view below nea Brunel Street Car Park. Probably seen from Brunel Street and close to Navigation Street. The Orion Building to the left.

The Mailbox

The Mailbox in red seen from Suffolk Street Queensway, looking down Royal Mail Street. Designed to look like you can pop a letter in a postbox. Harvey Nichols was at the front. The Malmaison Hotel was also in the building by this point in time.

The Mailbox

With a change of camera by June 2009, I got a then new photo of The Mailbox from Suffolk Street Queensway. Severn Street is to the left.

The Mailbox

My earliest nightshots of The Mailbox were taken during December 2009. I was probably heading to a work Christmas Party at the time.

The Mailbox

All lit up in red with Christmas trees outside and this bus or coach ghosting as it went past towards the Queensway tunnels.

The Mailbox

Similar view in December 2012 at night. You normally have to walk under the Queensway through a square which is lit up.

The Mailbox

By July 2013, the redevelopment of The Mailbox would be starting soon. Around this time was one of the summers when the Queensway tunnels were closed for modernisation works. Was also a taxi rank at The Mailbox on Royal Mail Street.

The Mailbox

In this March 2014 view of The Mailbox, the redevelopment was underway. At the front it said "Still open, still luxurious as we build you a better Mailbox."

The Mailbox redevelopment

Harvey Nichols during July 2014. The main entrance was closed, so you had to either walk to the restaurants and bars via Severn Street. Or get to Harvey Nichols via the car park. Or straight ahead for the Malmaison Bar and Brasserie.

The Mailbox redevelopment

By April 2015 The Mailbox and Harvey Nichols was looking a bit like a wrapped present with a bow. Main entrance was still closed.

The Mailbox redevelopment

The Mailbox was open fully again by October 2015. There was now a lot of security guards inside, so you have to be careful carrying a big camera around inside (or put it away and use your smartphone camera instead). "Life Made Beautiful". Harvey Nichols had opened in there new store further inside.

The Mailbox redevelopment

A day later and got this view of The Mailbox from Suffolk Street Queensway.

The Mailbox redevelopment

Another nightshot taken of The Mailbox during November 2015. Always rushhour traffic on Suffolk Street Queensway coming out of the Queensway tunnels.

The Mailbox

Canalside

Got my earliest Canalside photos of The Mailbox during June 2009. This view to the entrance to The Mailbox (left). BBC Birmingham are in the offices above.

The Mailbox Canalside

Originally there used to be a narrowboat mooring area down there. And you used to be able to get the Waterbus from The Mailbox around the City Centre canals (never went on it myself). The original steps at the time led down to the restaurants and bars. Apparently this basin is called the Refuge Basin.

The Mailbox Canalside

There used to be space for two narrowboats to be moored here. Such as Away2Dine. These days they have to be moored around the Worcester Bar. They could also be hired for narrowboating holidays (at least the one on the right could).

Mailbox canalside

The route of the Salvage Turn Bridge was different at the time. It would be altered a year later in 2010.

The Mailbox Canalside

The Cube was under construction at the time to the right of The Mailbox.

The Mailbox Canalside

New steps were opened by May 2010.

Mailbox canalside

This gave access to an outdoor eating area for the restaurant down there. Also somewhere to sit on the new steps.

Mailbox canalside

Behind that living wall was the tunnel under the Mailbox that leads to New Street Station. It is now sealed off from the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. People have been on tours of the tunnel, but I never have (not even sure where the entrance is, must be a secret).

Mailbox canalside

With The Cube nearing completion and getting ready to open, in June 2010 the route of the Salvage Turn Bridge was rebuilt,

Mailbox canalside

The previous bases in the canal were still there, but they would be eventually removed. At the time Bar Epernay and Pennyblacks were at The Mailbox.

Mailbox canalside

Another route up to The Mailbox is up this path from Holliday Street. It follows on from Bridge Street. But there are steps at the bottom and top, and is quite steep. But there are lifts inside of The Mailbox for disabled and older people to use. Seen in July 2010. Go this way if you want to avoid going into The Mailbox from the main entrance.

Mailbox canalside

In December 2010 I got the two views below from the Salvage Turn Bridge. Snow and ice on the canal. Was also a Christmas tree installed on a base, usually where the narrowboats used to moor up.

Mailbox canalside

Looking down the metal steps from the Salvage Turn Bridge to Pennyblacks. Was still bases in the canal from the old location of the metal footbridge.

Mailbox canalside

The Waterbus seen moored at The Mailbox during April 2012. You can get it from here to Brindleyplace and Sherborne Wharf and it was called Ariel. At the time there was a Pizza Express and a bar restaurant called The Oriential down there. Never been on it myself.

Mailbox canalside

Some August 2014 canalside views. Red Peppers was to the left of the Canalside entrance to The Mailbox. Steps down to the path that leads to Holliday Street and Bridge Street on the left.

Mailbox canalside

Côte Brasserie had outdoor seating to the right of the new steps outside with at lleast one parasol to keep custoemrs dry.

Mailbox canalside

Only 5 years before, part of this area was part of the canal. But was now built over for restaurant and bar use. Must be pleasant to sit out there and eat a meal in the sunshine!

Mailbox canalside

An October 2015 view to the Canalside entrance of The Mailbox. This was after the last redevelopment was completed / opened. Everyman Cinema is to the right of here.

Mailbox canalside

In April 2016 AC Hotel Birmingham was being insalled in The Mailbox. Above was Cafe Rouge and Zizzi to the right.

Mailbox canalside

Snow and ice during March 2018 (the Beast from the East). The view seen under the Salvage Turn Bridge towards Aluna. A Canada goose was standing on one leg on the ice.

Mailbox canalside

In August 2018, I saw this Higher Access cherry picker / scissor lift outside of Bar Estilo and the Everyman Cinema. The footpath around it was closed at the time.

Mailbox canalside

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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40 passion points
Green open spaces
30 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Dorothy Round and Priory Park in Dudley

In the second Priory Park, Dudley post, we will look at other areas of the park other than the Priory Ruins (see my previous post). Priory Hall is also in the park and is used for weddings. Built in 1825 for the Earls of Dudley. There is a blue plaque here for Duncan Edwards (Manchester United player died in Munich crash of 1958). Also Dorothy Round bronze statue. Dudley born tennis player

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PRIORY PARK DUDLEY

Priory Park is located in Dudley, West Midlands. A 19 acre site it opened in 1932. The park includes the historic grounds of Dudley Priory. The park has a wood, playing fields and a lily pond. There is also tennis courts, basketball courts, a bowling green, a cricket area and a football pitch. The park was restored in 2013.

My visits were during January 2011 and October 2016 (usually an hour long bus ride from Birmingham to Dudley). Hopefully in the future when the West Midlands Metro line opens here, journey times from Birmingham will be faster.

January 2011

For my last Priory Park post on the Ruins of Dudley Priory click this link: The ruins of Dudley Priory in Priory Park, Dudley.

Continuing on from my Priory Ruins post (above) with Priory Hall and it's gardens.

Priory Hall is a Grade II listed building, built in 1825 in the Tudor Style. It was formerly the seat of the Earls of Dudley. Built of Ashlar. The Earl never lived here but allowed it to be used as a residence and offices for his principle agent of his Dudley estates. This view from the snow covered lily pond.

Priory Park Dudley

These days, Priory Halll is used as a training and conference centre and is also used for weddings held by Dudley Register Office.

Priory Park Dudley

One last look at Priory Hall before I left the park and walked back into Dudley Town Centre.

Priory Park Dudley

The road in the park from Priory Hall towards the roundabout at The Broadway and Priory Road.

Priory Park Dudley

This is the lily pond surrounded by an old stone wall. Frozen over by the snowfall at the time. The walls have been built a little bit like a castle.

Priory Park Dudley

To the back of the gardens was this shelter. It was built in the 1950s and re-built in the 1990s after suffering from vandalism. The roof suffered badly and this was not re-built. Although it does reduce it's usefulness from sheltering from the rain.

Priory Park Dudley

Wooden sculpture in the Priory Hall gardens. It was designed by Jonathan Mulvaney in 1992 and stands close to the lily pond. It is called People Group.

Priory Park Dudley

Another view of the wooden People Group sculpture from the back, looking towards the lily pond.

Priory Park Dudley

October 2016

More than 5 years after my last visit. This time mainly to see the statue of Dorothy Round and to find the blue plaque of Duncan Edwards.

Since my last visit, the park had been restored and these new sculpted gates installed. This was near the entrance at Priory Road and The Broadway. The decorative gateway was designed by Steve Field and installed in 2013.

Priory Park Dudley

Another angle of the same gates. By the looks of it, they illustrate Dudley's medieval history.

Priory Park Dudley

Looking back through the gates to the roundabout. Directions to Dudley Zoo and Castle. Also to the Black Country Living Museum.

Priory Park Dudley

One more view of the Priory Park gates.

Priory Park Dudley

It was autumn, so there was a lot of leaves on the ground. Was a view from here towards Dudley Castle.

Priory Park Dudley

This was the zoomed in view of Dudley Castle from Priory Park. In ruins now, it was built from 1070 and in use until at least 1750. Built of limestone. Dudley Zoo is now located in those grounds. It's a Grade I listed building. For my West Midlands Castle post click here: Castles within the West Midlands region.

Dudley Castle

Trees in the park with the leaves all over the lawn. Priory Park is the start of the Limestone Walk.

Priory Park Dudley

That day, there was a wedding on at Priory Hall. And saw a pair of wedding cars.

Priory Park Dudley

The wedding cars look old, but are probably modern builds to look like they are decades old. Didn't stay around here long as the wedding group was having their photos taken and didn't want to disturb them.

Priory Park Dudley

Heading past the tennis courts as I started to look for the Dorothy Round statue.

Priory Park Dudley

And now to the Dorothy Round statue. It was called The Return of Dorothy Round and by the sculptor John McKenna, unveiled in 2013. She was a World Number 1 British female tennis player. She was born in Dudley. It is near the tennis courts.

Priory Park Dudley

Close up view of the statue. Born in 1909 in Dudley, she died in 1982 in Kidderminster, aged 73. She won the Women's singles title at Wimbledon in 1934 and 1937. She also won the Australian Championships in 1935.

Priory Park Dudley

Wide view of the Dorothy Round statue with the tennis courts.

Priory Park Dudley

This is The Pavilion. It is where you would find the blue plaque in memory of Duncan Edwards.

Priory Park Dudley

A front view of The Pavilion. There are public toilets to the left and right. It was originally built in the 1930s but was renovated around 2013. It now includes the rangers offices, toilets and an educational space.

Priory Park Dudley

Here's the blue plaque for Duncan Edwards. A Footballer of genius. Born in Dudley in 1936, died in the Munich air disaster of 1958. He played for Manchester United and England. He grew up on the Priory Estate and attended Priory Primary School. The plaque was from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Priory Park Dudley

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
29 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

Congreve Passage from Paradise Place in 2010 to Paradise Birmingham in 2020

As of July 2020, Congreve Passage has been reopened by Paradise Birmingham between Chamberlain Square and Great Charles Street Queensway. It runs between One Chamberlain Square and the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It was closed in late 2015 (or early 2016) to allow for the demolition of Birmingham Central Library and the construction of One Chamberlain Square (that is now complete)

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Congreve Passage links Chamberlain Square to Great Charles Street Queensway and Paradise Circus Queensway. It was once called Congreve Street before Birmingham Central Library was built from 1969 until it opened in 1974. When the new Library of Birmingham opened in Centenary Square in 2013, the old Central Library closed. It was demolished from late 2015 into 2016. This meant that Paradise Birmingham had to close off Congreve Passage. And it remained closed until they reopened it near the end of July 2020.

21st August 2010 on Congreve Passage

Heading out of Chamberlain Square I headed up Congreve Passage away from the crowds. There used to be trees here and flower beds. On the left of the Central Library was a poem by William Hutton from 1803.

Congreve Passage

There was also pieces of art on the wall of the library behind the trees.

Congreve Passage

This concrete footbridge linked the Central Library to the Museum & Art Gallery.

Congreve Passage

Looking back to Chamberlain Square and Victoria Square. Was overseas students in the square with orange backpacks and jackets.

Congreve Passage

Steps on the right go to Paradise Place. Which at the time was a side entrance into Paradise Forum.

Congreve Passage

Road sign for Congreve Passage, close to the Great Charles Street Queensway end.

Congreve Passage

5th August 2012 on Congreve Passage

Flower towers were along Congreve Passage in an attempt to make it look nice. There was also a Victorian style lamppost on the right.

Congreve Passage

Despite the flowers, the concrete bridge was still there (it wouldn't be demolished until 2016).

Congreve Passage

A nice red flower bed surrounded by a concrete base. While it looks nice, the concrete would have to go by 2016.

Congreve Passage

4th November 2012 on Congreve Passage

Pair of cherry pickers outside of the Central Library on Congreve Passage. In the last years of the libraries life, it had the Todo es Posible street art by Lucy McLaughlan. But it wouldn't survive the 2016 demolition.

Congreve Passage

20th February 2016 at Congreve Passage

Paradise Birmingham had closed off Congreve Passage to the public. No access to Centenary Square / Broad Street / Copthorne Hotel.

Congreve Passage

Pedestrians were diverted via what was Edmund Street and Margaret Street if they wanted to get to Great Charles Street Queensway. Maybe the last time to see the Todo es Possible art before the library was knocked down on this side during 2016.

Congreve Passage

8th February 2020 look at Congreve Passage

The view from Paradise Circus Queensway near Great Charles Street Queensway. There was now a gate / fence at the end of Congreve Passage to the right of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Congreve Passage

My first look at Congreve Passage in 4 years. It looks different. No Central Library or concrete footbridge. You can see the statue of Queen Victoria, Victoria Square House and the Town Hall from this vantage point.

Congreve Passage

21st July 2020 on Congreve Passage

I saw on Twitter that Congreve Passage was now open again, so I got the bus into town and walked up from the Bullring. Saw a PCSO on a bicycle near One Chamberlain Square.

Congreve Passage

It has changed a lot around here. Paving in Chamberlain Square is almost finished. One Chamberlain Square is complete, and The Dishroom is now open (delayed by the lockdown).

Congreve Passage

The old Congreve Passage road signs remains on BM & AG.

Congreve Passage

The museum exterior is looking much cleaner, especially since the concrete footbridge was demolished 4 years ago. The stonework was also restored.

Congreve Passage

Getting towards Great Charles Street Queensway. Site on the left is still behind hoardings.

Congreve Passage

Looking up Congreve Passage towards Chamberlain Square from Great Charles Street Queensway. It's good to be open again after so many years. Looks better and cleaner too!

Congreve Passage

From here you can either walk to the Jewellery Quarter, crossing at the lights. Or walk past Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on Great Charles Street Queensway (the museum remains closed sadly due to the pandemic).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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50 passion points
Travel & tourism
29 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Present at Thinktank

The first area you pass through at Thinktank would be The Present on Level 2. You enter the museum from the top floor of Millennium Point. Today it is called "Investigate the Present". Usually lots of families and children here having fun (back when they were open). Several galleries up here include: Things about me, Wild life, Medicine matters and The Street.

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The Present at Thinktank

Located on Level 2 of Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum at Millennium Point in Eastside is what is now called Investigate the Present. On my fist visit with my camera in April 2013, this area was quite busy with lots of families and their kids learning about all kinds of things up here. The second visit with my camera a year later in April 2014, it wasn't as busy so got to have a proper look this time.

 

Description below (from the official Thinktank website) of the 5 galleries in The Present:

 

Five fascinating galleries that uncover the science all around us. Here you can be a forensic detective, find out who bit the Jurassic crocodile, and explore your senses with a giant tongue.

The galleries are located on Level 2.

 

Things About Me Gallery

This unique gallery gives kids the chance to find out more about how our bodies work. Take an unusual journey into the human body and get to grips with your muscles, guts and taste buds in an amazing exploration of some basic bodily functions. Meet the TAM gang and go supermarket shopping or join them for an aerobics work out.

 

Wild Life Gallery

Explore the diversity of life and the range of habitats found on Earth. There are many animals including insects, birds and mammals, together with fossils and sensational creatures such as Giant Deer, a Jurassic Crocodile and Triceratops skull!



Family Packs

Borrow for free one of our 'Wildlife' activity packs, designed to help you explore our museums. Suitable for 3 - 8 year olds.



Medicine Matters Gallery

The Medicine Matters Gallery is all about modern medicine and medical breakthroughs. Learn about the role of Birmingham scientists in recent medical advances.

 

The Street Gallery

Uncover the astonishing science and technology underlying everyday life in a walk down The Street.

 

Things About Me

All about parts of the human body.

The googly sign of the Things About Me. Seen during the April 2013 visit.

The Present

Your mouth, tounge and teeth.

The Present

What happens to food when it goes down your throat. Twist to draw air into the body and watch what happens to the epiglottis.

The Present

Lungs and the rib cage.

The Present

Your intestines. Can you squeeze them back in, it's a tight fit.

The Present

A close up look at the small intestine. Also your liver.

The Present

How is your food digested? Seen in the Things About Me during the April 2014 visit.

The Present

All about your beating heart. Interactive displays. Press the buttons.

The Present

How do your brain and senses work? Showing the links from your hands, and your eyes and ears.

The Present

All about your digestive system. Interact with those levers and turn the displays in front of you.

The Present

Food on the table on your plate.

The Present

Wild Life

Technically the bones and stuffed animals were found years ago, but scientists using them to learn about animals in the natural world.

Triceratops skull seen during the April 2013 visit. It was found in Montana, USA in 1908. It came to Birmingham in 1958.

The Present

A Giant Deer skeleton. This is a skeleton of an extinct giant deer. Discovered beneath a peat bog in Ireland.

The Present

Various stuffed animals (taxidermy). Starting with this Polar Bear. Seen during the April 2014 visit. Ursus martimus from the Arctic.

The Present

The main one here was a Blackbuck. Antilope cervicapra from India.

The Present

And a Leopard. Panthera pardus.

The Present

 

Medicine Matters

Scientific discoveries in Birmingham in this gallery.

Pikachu from Pokemon. First seen in a Nintendo video game back in 1997 on the Game Boy or Game Boy Advance. This was the famous Pokemon with a shock. Was also some Pokemon cartoons around the turn of the century (late 1990s into the early 2000s). Seen during the April 2013 visit.

The Present

The language of the genes. Cracking the DNA code. Seen during the April 2014 visit.

The Present

The Immunity Maze in Medicine Matters.

The Present

The Street

Everyday things on The Street, from roadworks to recycling.

Entrance to The Street. Seen during the April 2014 visit.

The Present

Underground services. Water, gas and electricity roadworks. Danger site.

The Present

Looking down at the underground services. Gas, water or electricity.

The Present

Heading towards the Zebra crossing. This way towards Medicine Matters. Kids' City to the right.

The Present

From the Zebra crossing on The Street, you can head over to Medicine Matters or Kids's City.

The Present

Yellow digger with coloured balls to pick up. Seen during the April 2013 visit. A boy was on the other side at the controls.

The Present

Microwave energy in The Street.

The Present

Section about recycling. This machine recycles Aluminium cans.

The Present

This machine recycles plastic bottles.

The Present

Another view of the recycling machines.

The Present

Know your rubbish! Most things you throw away end up in landfill or buried by incinerators. Some items can be saved and recycled and turned into something else.

The Present

Kids' City

A mini city for kids and families to learn together. It is off The Street to the right.

The Present

Coloured squares and triangles with numbers 1 to 21.

The Present

Victorian style lamppost in Kids' City.

The Present

More colourful walls, and a "tree". Pictures of foxes on the right.

The Present

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
Transport
28 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Vintage red London Transport Routemaster spotted in Highgate, Birmingham

I was getting the no 50 bus into town, when I saw this vintage red ex London Transport Routemaster bus. I later had a long walk back to Highgate just to see it, before getting the 50 back to Kings Heath. Possibly last used as a Burrito Bus.

CUV 291C

RML2291

Route 64: Wivenhoe Park via the University of Essex.

 

 

 

Related

Spotted this bus from the no 50 bus heading into Birmingham City Centre while it was on Upper Conybere Street in Highgate. I stayed on the bus until the Bullring. And later had a long walk to Highgate via Westside and the Middleway's.

Located on a site near Highgate Middleway and Upper Conybere Street.

Last used as a "Burrito Bus".

 

HOP ON-BOARD THE BURRITO BUS

 

Route 64: Wivenhoe Park via the University of Essex

CUV 291C

RML2291

London Transport

Burrito Bus

Burrito Bus

Burrito Bus

Burrito Bus

Burrito Bus

Burrito Bus

Remember to wear a face covering on a bus (or train or tram). I usually find that I get warm air under mine, and my glasses or sunglasses steam up. Also remember to use hand sanitser (and take some with you in your bag).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
History & heritage
28 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham

Since September 2013, the Shakespeare Memorial Room has been located on Level 9 at the Library of Birmingham (near the Skyline Viewpoint). Did you know that it was orginally built in 1882 to house the Shakespeare Library and was designed by John Henry Chamberlain. It was later dismantled and placed in the 1974 Central Library in the School of Music Complex, before it was moved again.

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The Shakespeare Memorial Room

On the 28th September 2013, I returned to the Library of Birmingham for my second visit. Also to go up to the floors that I had no time for the first time around. I went up the lift. Some lifts only go has far as Level 7, so you need the lift to Level 9. This would take you to the Skyline Viewpoint and to the Shakespeare Memorial Room. Or you can walk up the stairs.

In the first month of being open, the library was very busy and full of tourists, including many from overseas, so it was packed! There was a lot of people in the Shakespeare Memorial Room on my first visit. Although in the years since, I've had the room to myself.

Click here for my last post on the Library of Birmingham for an interior tour.

Now located inside of the Golden Cylinder at the top of the Library (looks like a Nescafe Gold Blend coffee jar lid).

The Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library was founded by George Dawson and some of his closest friends, as they decided that Birmingham should be the home of the greatest collection of Shakespeare's books in the world. They insisted that a room be built for them, and that it should be free and open to everyone.

It was originally created for the much loved (and missed) Victorian Central Library (opened in 1882 and demolished in 1974). The first Central Library of the Victorian era was built in 1866 but was partially destroyed by a fire in 1879. John Henry Chamberlain was given the task to re-build the Library and this included a room to house Birmingham's Shakespeare Library.

Sir Barry Jackson, the founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1913, later became a Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon during the late 1940s. There is a gavel given to him in 1936 in the room.

The next Central Library was designed by John Madin and was built from 1969 until 1974. The Shakespeare Memorial Room was dismantled from the old Victorian library and put back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Being placed in what was the School of Music complex. Which included Adrian Boult Hall and the Birmingham Conservatoire. This included the Library Theatre Birmingham and the William Shakespeare Memorial Library and the Library Exhibition Hall.

It remained there until it was moved to the new Library of Birmingham in 2013 (built from 2010 until 2013).

The roof was reconstructed by in plaster by A E Edwards & Co, a Birmingham based company dating to the 1870s.

I'd only ever got close to the outside of the old complex (during 2011), so never stepped foot in the room until it reopened at the Library of Birmingham in 2013.

 

View of the Library Theatre Birmingham on the 2nd January 2011. This concrete bridge was in front of Woktastic. There was also an entrance to Adrian Boult Hall at the time.

Library Theatre Birmingham

What was the entrance to the William Shakespeare Memorial Library and Library Exhibition Hall. I never went in. Wasn't sure if I could open the doors as they were self locking doors. After the last Central Library closed down for good in 2013, I had to wait for the new Library to open before I could see the room for myself for the first time.

William Shakespeare Memorial Library

On the 31st August 2013, I was getting my last views of the Library of Birmingham before it opened to the public in Centenary Square 3 days later on the 3rd September 2013. This view of the golden cylinder seen from Suffolk Street Queensway. The windows at the front is the Skyline Viewpoint and the Shakespeare Memorial Room is behind that.

Library of Birmingham

On the 21st September 2013 during my first visit to the inside of the Library of Birmingham I took the photo below. At the top of the library on Level 9 is the Shakespeare Memorial Room inside of the Golden Cylinder. Below on Level 7 is the Secret Garden. The view was from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line (near the Turnover Bridge No. 2 close to what was at that point called the National Indoor Arena). Overlooking the ICC Energy Centre.

Library of Birmingham

On the 28th September 2013, arriving at the Shakespeare Memorial Room on Level 9 for the first time. There was a lot of people in there.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

Looking up at the ceiling. It is remarkable that this has survived since the late 19th century (unless it is a recreation).

Shakspeare Memorial Room

Looking to the wooden panelling on one side of the room.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

It more or less looks the same to the right.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

And to the left near the door.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

One of the corners with the bookcases.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

Looking down at the doors of the lower cabinets.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

Looking up to the ceiling to the ornate detailing at the top.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

Out of the door, and there was comfy red sofas at the Skyline Viewpoint.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

Ornate glass windows in the upper cabinet doors.

Shakspeare Memorial Room

The views outside the room are spectacular. There is also a couple of busts and plaques / tablets, including ones saved from the old Central Libraries. If the lifts are busy walk down the stairs (if you can).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Green open spaces
27 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Billesley Common and the Haunch Brook Pathways in the Shire Country Park

The home of Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club is at Billesley Common in the Shire Country Park. There is paths in the woods called the Haunch Brook Pathways. The area is classed as a SLINC (Site of Local Importance to Nature Conservation). There was also a new Wetland area developed in 2010. Billesley Common was first mentioned in 1774 as common land. With a big open field used for rugby.

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Billesley Common

 

Billesley Common is located on Yardley Wood Road and Haunch Lane in Billesley, and is a satellite park of the Shire Country Park. There is also an entrance off Hollybank Road if you walk down Chessetts Grove alongside the Haunch Brook. The Haunch Brook Pathways are located to the south of the common with entrances on Haunch Lane and on Yardley Wood Road. To the north of the common is the current home of Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club. (since 2005). Also nearby there is the Billesley Indoor Tennis Centre. Between them is the City of Birmingham Indoor Bowls Club. If you walk past these places, you end up on Wheelers Lane. Going past the new home of the Irish Centre (in what used to be the West Midlands Travel Birmingham Sports & Social Club). There is also a Friends of Billesley Common that cleans the parkland, gets the footpaths resurfaced and the footbridge repaired.

 

You can park your car on the layby on Yardley Wood Road near Billesley Common. Although whenever I've been down there, I've seen a lot of litter and flytipping (hopefully the Council or the Community Group can clean it up now that lockdown is eased even more).

History of Billesley Common

Billesley Common was first mentioned in the history books back in 1774 as common land. Billesley was a typical Anglo-Saxon name, possibly a corruption of Bills Leah and the Anglo-Saxon word for Bill's clearing. Leah means a woodland clearing and a woodland clearing is known to have existed in Billesley north of the Chinn Brook. It is thought that their used to be an Anglo-Saxon settlement on the higher ground near the present day Wold Walk.

A new Wetland area was developed in 2010, which was created so that flood water could be received from the Haunch Brook. A variety of wildlife is known to be around here.

Your main walk around Billesley Common would be around the Haunch Brook Pathways. Follow the Perimeter Walk around and over the Haunch Brook. There is also a path that leads up to Moseley Rugby Football Club, which has an entrance off Yardley Wood Road on Woodroofe Way.

South of Billesley Common is the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve (near Cocks Moors Wood Golf Club), and also the Chinn Brook Meadows (also called the Chinn Brook Recreation Ground). I will cover those areas in two future posts (so watch this space).

October 2016

My first walk around Billesley Common, on the Perimeter Walk and the Haunch Brook Pathways was in October 2016. I had kept seeing it over the years from the no 76 bus when it stops on Haunch Lane.

The entrance from Haunch Lane into Billesley Common. The noticeboard and information sign were on the right.

Billesley Common

Heading up the Haunch Brook Pathways into Billesley Common.

Billesley Common

A look at the Haunch Brook. Behind that fence is Yardley Wood Road.

Billesley Common

The path continues amongst the trees

Billesley Common

At this point you have the entrance to Yardley Wood Road to the right and the Perimeter Walk to the left.

Billesley Common

Heading onto the Perimeter Walk.

Billesley Common

First view of the field, or the common. Various rugby goalposts up the hill and floodlights.

Billesley Common

A pair of rugby goalposts.

Billesley Common

Was a blue sky with clouds that afternoon (it was just before 1pm on the 2nd October 2016).

Billesley Common

Saw this sign about Bird Life on Billesley Common around the Haunch Brook Pathways.

Billesley Common

Footbridge over the Haunch Brook.

Billesley Common

You can leave the Perimeter Walk and the Haunch Brook Pathways for the Hollybank Spinney. Just head towards Hollybank Road up Chessetts Grove (I've yet to check out the Hollybank Spinney).

Billesley Common

Later back on Yardley Wood Road. Park your car up there for your walks around Billesley Common. It is up here though that I keep spotting rubbish and flytipping which is not nice to see.

Billesley Common

March 2020

A few days before the lockdown kicked in in March 2020, we headed for a walk around Billesley Common. Parking on Yardley Wood Road, we had a walk around the Perimeter Walk, before getting the car up to Swanshurst Park next.

Starting from the Yardley Wood Road entrance, the trees were looking a bit bare at the time.

Billesley Common

Heading up the path, the trees had yet to grow their leaves back.

Billesley Common

View of the Haunch Brook behind the trees

Billesley Common

Heading up the path near the common. The rugby field beyond towards Moseley Rugby Club.

Billesley Common

Again I decided to do the Perimeter Walk this time so turned left at this fingerpost.

Billesley Common

This rugby goalpost was looking quite rusted.

Billesley Common

Zoomed up to the play area / playground. When lockdown came in properly, all play areas and playgrounds had to be closed down.

Billesley Common

Another pair of rugby goalposts, probably the same ones as I saw 4 years ago. Was crows on the common.

Billesley Common

A look at the trees from the Perimeter Walk. Strong sunlight.

Billesley Common

The footbridge again over the Haunch Brook.

Billesley Common

One of the views of the Haunch Brook from the footbridge.

Billesley Common

If you head this way you go to the Wetland area. The last time I saw that footbridge (July 2020), it looked broken, but was OK to cross when I went on the 20th March 2020.

Billesley Common

Pair of wooden footbridges over the Haunch Brook. The one on the left doesn't have a handrail to hold onto, so be careful.

Billesley Common

July 2020

More recently went for an evening walk around Billesley Common. Again starting at the Yardley Wood Road entrance. But this time walking past Moseley Rugby Club and heading to the Wheelers Lane exit. Before going back in via Hollybank Road and Chessetts Grove. The walk was after 7pm in the evening on the 11th July 2020.

Heading up the Perimeter Path from the Yardley Wood Road entrance, there was bright sunshine in the evening, and the resulting photos of the common here came out a bit dark.

Billesley Common

Like other City parks, the grass here had been cut for social distancing walks, with some long grass kept.

Billesley Common

A long cloud on the left hides the sun which was behind it in the evening. Imagine the history here.

Billesley Common

This time walking up the path towards Birmingham Moseley Rugby, past the rugby goalposts and floodlights.

Billesley Common

The view towards Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club.

Billesley Common

Now on the path towards Wheelers Lane. The road into Moseley Rugby Club was called Woodroofe Way.

Billesley Common

The only part of the common not built on was to the right of the Rugby Club, Indoor Bowls Club and Indoor Tennis Centre.

Billesley Common

After the walk up Wheelers Lane and down Hollybank Road, I got to the Haunch Brook near Chessetts Grove, and saw this banner. Thank you NHS. Thank you key workers. In this together. Stay safe.

Billesley Common

The view of the Haunch Brook from the bridge on Hollybank Road. I will leave going into the Hollybank Spinney for a future time.

Billesley Common

Back onto the Haunch Brook Pathways around the Perimeter Walk and I saw this Little Egret landing on this tree branch!

Billesley Common

There had been a lot of growth of the bushes and the trees in the 4 months since my last visit here. This was on the Wetland area side.

Billesley Common

Beyond the Wetland towards the common.

Billesley Common

Heading out of the Haunch Brook Pathways up the path towards Haunch Lane. Leaves on the trees fully grown back.

Billesley Common

Getting back to the Haunch Lane exit / entrance. The bus stop there is for the 18 and 76 bus routes. Drivers of the 76 usually change here. Just had to walk around to Yardley Wood Road for the car ride home.

Billesley Common

I went to Hollybank Spinney on the 23rd July 2020. Look out for a post on it in the future in the Shire Country Park project (it's part of the Haunch Brook Pathways and is very short).

But first I will need to do posts on the Chinn Brook Meadows and the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
27 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Newhall Square: From the Elkington Electroplating Works and Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry to The Whitmore Collection

It has been over 20 years since the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry on Newhall Street closed for good. Since then the site has been the development site called Newhall Square. With hotels and apartments around a square, near the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Heritage buildings have been fully restored and incorporated into the development.

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Newhall Square

Newhall Square is located on Newhall Street in the Jewellery Quarter. Between Fleet Street and Charlotte Street. On one side is the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. It was historically the site of the Elkington Silver Electroplating Works from 1838. Built opposite of the Birmingham Assay Office, it was the 19th century silver electroplating factory of George Elkington. The much larger premises was mostly demolished in the mid 1960s. To the back was the Whitmore Arm (also known as Miss Colmore's Arm) (this is now filled in) and the Whitmore Warehouse (which survives to this day).

The Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry was located in the buildings at 144 Newhall Street from 1951 until it closed for good in 1997 (most but not all of the contents moved to Thinktank which opened at Millennium Point in Eastside during 2001). It was the home for the last 50 years of the 20th Century of the 1797 Smethwick Engine, and the City of Birmingham locomotive (which was moved out in the year 2000).

144 Newhall Street has been a Grade II listed building since 2004. Today it is addressed as 2 Newhall Square, and is now home to Glancy Nicholls Architects, who are based in The Engine Room to the rear.

Whitmore Warehouse to the back of Newhall Square was also given a Grade II listed building status in 2004. It dates to the mid 19th century. It was formerly part of the museum complex, and before that part of the Elkington Works.

The mid to late 20th century museum buildings were demolished in 2006 for a project called the Jewellery Box. This was probably later renamed to Newhall Square.

The Travelodge hotel along Charlotte Street was open by the late 2000s. It wouldn't be until 2014 before construction would begin on what would become Staycity ApartHotels. This is also on Charlotte Street and faces the canal as well. It opened in 2016. The final phase to complete Newhall Square didn't start until 2018. This would be The Whitmore Collection, including the restoration of the old Whitmore Warehouse. Finally being complete during 2020. Some 23 years after the museum closed down. But some 14 years since the land clearance began.

 

2009

I started taking photos of Newhall Square in April 2009. And continued getting the occasional update for the next 11 years. First views over the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal where there is a viewpoint area from Newhall Street. Islington Gates which is to the left of the canal was already built by this point. View to the remains of the Whitmore Warehouse.

Newhall Square

To the right you can see the Travelodge hotel and the back of The Engine Room at 144 Newhall Street.

Newhall Square

The locks on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal near Newhall Street. There used to be steps that went down to the canal from here. The Islington Gates development seen to the left of the canal.

Newhall Square

In November 2009 I got my first photos of 144 Newhall Street. Which was the former Elkington Electroplating Works. On this building was a blue plaque from the Birmingham City Society (unveiled in 2004) about Alexander Parkes (1813-1890), who was the inventor of the first plastic. He worked for the Elkington, Mason & Company Electroplaters here from about 1840 until 1850.

Newhall Square

This building on the left used to be the former entrance to the Museum of Science & Industry. It too has a blue plaque. This one from English Heritage about George Elkington who was a promotor of Electro-plating at his works on this site.

Newhall Square

View of both buildings that used be the main entrance to the Elkington Electroplating Works. To the far right on the corner of Newhall Street and Charlotte Street is The Queens Arms public house.

Newhall Square

2011

Not too many changes during July 2011, other than Newhall Square had hoardings up and offices To Let or For Sale.

Newhall Square

The wasteland was being used as a car park at this point.

Newhall Square

Would be years before another development began at Newhall Square.

Newhall Square

Gates to the Newhall Square site from Newhall Street. Probably for staff only.

Newhall Square

For some reason they had painted this building yellow. Even the hoardings covering the door.

Newhall Square

2013

Now onto June 2013. Some demolition rubble spotted from the towpath of the canal not far from the Travelodge hotel.

Newhall Square

They had now tarmaced the wasteland.

Newhall Square

2014

By September 2014, construction was finally under way for the next phase, which would become the  Staycity ApartHotels.

Newhall Square

By December 2014 the hotel construction was going on behind Whitmore Warehouse.

Newhall Square

You could also see it from Newhall Street. The canal and Islington Gates are to the left. Travelodge to the far right.

Newhall Square

2015

Just a couple of updates during 2015. In January 2015 the hotel was still under scaffolding.

Newhall Square

By November 2015 it was nearing completion.

Newhall Square

2016

In January 2016 the new Staycity ApartHotels building was complete. As seen from this canal view from the footbridge close to Fleet Street.

Newhall Square

By April 2016 the Staycity ApartHotels was open. View down on Charlotte Street.

Newhall Square

Some of the yellow signs of the Staycity ApartHotels on Charlotte Street.

Newhall Square

Next to the Staycity ApartHotels on Charlotte Street ws a temporary car park.

Newhall Square

You could also see it down the canal from the Saturday Bridge on Parade.

Newhall Square

2017

A tempoary car park was at Newhall Square during January 2017. Behind is Glancy Nicholls Architects at The Engine Room. At the time the Ormiston Academies Trust was using 144 Newhall Street as Ormiston House.

Newhall Square

View from the canal towpath towards the Travelodge hotel.

Newhall Square

This would be the last year without construction activity on this site.

Newhall Square

2018

Signs of activity at Newhall Square during January 2018. Associated Architects had designed a mixed-use development of purpose-built apartments for private rent.

Newhall Square

This space would be built on and would complete the square within 2 and a half years.

Newhall Square

By April 2018 construction had started on what would be called The Whitmore Collection. The view from the canal footbridge near Fleet Street.

Newhall Square

Digging the foundations. The Newhall Street canal entrance / exit would be sealed off, meaning you would have to get onto the canal from other entrances. Also this old wall would eventually be replaced / go.

Newhall Square

By June 2018 the steel girders were flying up.

Newhall Square

In July 2018 the steel girders were visible from the Library of Birmingham at the Secret Garden.

Newhall Square

2019

My last update before the lockdown was back in November 2019. View over the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal from Fleet Street. Staycity ApartHotels is to the left and The Whitmore Collection to the right.

Newhall Square

On Newhall Street the building was at full height under scaffolding. It was being built by Winvic.

Newhall Square

You can see The Whitmore Collection surrounding what used to be 144 Newhall Street (now 2 Newhall Square). The building with the George Elkington blue plaque was still painted yellow at the time. The building would have a Residents' Clubhouse, Free coffee and WiFi when complete.

Newhall Square

2020

During the 4 long months of lockdown, Newhall Square was completed. And I was aware of it being complete and open by the summer. I was only able to travel into town in July 2020. I walked down Newhall Street and headed onto the new path alongside the canal.

Newhall Square

This is the new entrance to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal from Newhall Street. Much more appealing than the dark steps that used to be there before.

Newhall Square

Could already see that the Whitmore Warehouse was finally restored, probably into apartments.

Newhall Square

There is two sets of water features here with water jet fountains. Approximately near where the old Whitmore Canal Arm used to be in the 19th century.

Newhall Square

Whitmore Warehouse hasn't looked this good since it was last used as part of the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry. I think it was in here that the working Smethwick Engine used to be (now working at Thinktank).

Newhall Square

First proper look into the square. Glancy Nicholls Architects are in The Engine House. To think 25 years ago this was part of the museum complex. Travelodge to the left.

Newhall Square

I have memories of visiting the museum back in the 1990s and could not imagine it looking like this now. Wish I had a camera with me back then (if only a film one).

Newhall Square

Heading out of Newhall Square past The Engine Room.

Newhall Square

The exit to Newhall Street. Directly opposite is 141 Newhall Street.

Newhall Square

Back onto Newhall Street, you can see how The Whitmore Collection was built onto Islington Gates at 110 Newhall Street. It makes a pleasing entrance to the canal. Lets hope the area is kept clean and litter free.

Newhall Square

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
22 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Forward in Unity by Gent 48 on Meriden Street, Digbeth

While I've been aware of this Gent 48 street art in Digbeth, I wasn't able to travel into the City Centre until I could go on the bus again. With my pass sorted for a 4 week period, I got the bus up to Digbeth, and made my way to Meriden Street. Initally thought it was on Allison Street but couldn't see it there. Behind an old snooker club. Gates locked so took from pavement.

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Forward in Unity by Gent 48

It has been around 4 months since I was last able to travel to Digbeth. And many things have changed since then. The street art is mostly the same.

Foka Wolf has done a Love NHS heart at the Custard Factory.

Love NHS

Meanwhile famed Birmingham street artist Gent 48 (known for his murals all over Digbeth and Southside) was commissioned to paint Forward in Unity.

It is located on Meriden Street, and an open area just behind a snooker club. Never noticed it before as there used to be billboards on this side.

The gates were locked on Saturday 18th July 2020, so I got these 7 photos (below) from the pavement. I will leave the photos to do the talking.

Thank you NHS and thank you to all keyworkers. Stay alert. Wear a face covering on public transport (and shops from the 24th July 2020).

Forward in Unity

Forward in Unity

Forward in Unity

Forward in Unity

Forward in Unity

Forward in Unity

Forward in Unity

Also check out Gent 48's murals around the Chinese Quarter and Southside including a recent one in Bath Passage.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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50 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
21 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Famed Brummie street artist Gent 48 spruces up Bath Passage for the Southside BID

During the Great Lockdown of 2020, the Southside Business Improvement District had commissioned famous local Birmingham street artist known as Gent 48 to spruce up Bath Passage. A little known hidden area between Dudley Street and Ladywell Walk in the Chinese Quarter. It looks nice now. It looks like the Southside BID might be turning this area into some kind of stage or square?

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GENT 48'S

BATH PASSAGE

SOUTHSIDE

STREET ART

I'd like to thank the Enjoy Southside Twitter for letting me know months in advance about this, and for also welcoming me back to the City Centre, after not being able to get there during 4 months in lockdown.

After popping to the Caffe Nero on the Bullring link bridge for the first time in months (and since they reopened), I headed towards Southside. During a walk around town on Saturday 18th July 2020, I'd earlier walked around Digbeth. Almost went down Hurst Street from Smallbrook Queensway, but spotted this from the bridge, so went down the spiral staircase from the Bullring (near Debenhams) and got it from Dudley Street.

I will leave the photos to do the talking from Bath Row. The art is by Gent 48.

Gent 48 Bath Passage

Gent 48 Bath Passage

Gent 48 Bath Passage

Gent 48 Bath Passage

Gent 48 Bath Passage

Gent 48 Bath Passage

Gent 48 Bath Passage

Gent 48 Bath Passage

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
Environment & green action
20 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

From Moor Green Lane into Holders Lane Woods

Did you know that you can get into some woods from Moor Green Lane in Selly Park and walk all the way into Cannon Hill Park? This is the Holders Lane Woods. Also here is the Holders Lane & Pebble Mill Fields, which runs alongside the River Rea. You can go for a pleasant walk around Holders Lane Woods. There is also an entrance on Holders Lane in Moseley itself.

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Holders Lane Woods

I used to wonder how you would get into the back entrance of Cannon Hill Park. Before I figured it out, I used to walk down to the Russell Road entrance. But I later found a way in from Moor Green Lane in Selly Park. There is also an entrance into Holders Lane Woods from Holders Lane in Moseley. Either entrance are a good start for a walk into Cannon Hill Park, joining onto the Rea Valley Route. If you wanted to, you could walk all the way from Kings Heath Park, then into Highbury Park, then into Cannon Hill Park, but only if you went down Moor Green Lane.

Not far from the woods is the Holders Lane Playing Fields (Pebble Mill Playing Fields is on the other side of the River Rea and isn't very visible from the woods). There is a car park in the woods called Cannon Hill Park, Holders Lane South Carpark. But if the gate was closed (as it was during lockdown) you can park outside the woods on Holders Lane itself. The Moor Green Allotments is also quite close to the Holders Lane entrance.

You can find a Conservation Group on Twitter about the Holders Woods.

2018

My first walk into Holders Lane Woods was during April 2018. Getting in from Moor Green Lane in Selly Park. Days earlier I had walked the Rea Valley Route getting on from Second Avenue in Selly Park and crossing a footbridge over the River Rea. Later exiting at Holders Lane. A couple of days later I returned, but this time got in from Moor Green Lane and exited at Holders Lane.

From Moor Green Lane I went up Brockley Grove to the entrance of the woods just beyond that gate. A man running ahead of me. It is close to the Moor Green Lane Medical Centre.

Holders Lane Woods

This sign welcomes you to the Holders Lane & Pebble Mill Fields. Dog owners are being told to keep their dog beheaved, pick up their mess etc.

Holders Lane Woods

The path going straight ahead. The trees were a bit bare at this point.

Holders Lane Woods

The path curving around the trees.

Holders Lane Woods

Then you get to a sign saying Welcome to Cannon Hill Park & Holders Lane Woods.

Holders Lane Woods

View of one of the Holders Lane Playing Fields. There is views of Old Joe from around here.

Holders Lane Woods

Into the woods itself. Trees seem to have had surgery at the time. But would be in leaf within a month.

Holders Lane Woods

Was a bit of a dirt path going through the woods here.

Holders Lane Woods

The paths splitting in two directions.

Holders Lane Woods

In the car park saw this Evergreen container.

Holders Lane Woods

2019

Second walk through the woods in August 2019. This time walked all the way from Moor Green Lane and into Cannon Hill Park for the first time via a slightly different route to the year before.

In high summer the trees were lush and green.

Holders Lane Woods

Heading past the same sign as before, go this way into Cannon Hill Park via Holders Lane Woods.

Holders Lane Woods

Looks so different in here with all the leaves fully on the trees. Hard to believe that this is within Birmingham!

Holders Lane Woods

The same woods that I passed before but the leaves were fully grown back.

Holders Lane Woods

Heading up a leafy avenue of trees up this path.

Holders Lane Woods

One of the small footbridges to cross over.

Holders Lane Woods

You can tell that lower down branches have been cut off by tree surgeons in the past.

Holders Lane Woods

There was a second footbridge to cross over. Looks suitable to ride your bike over it.

Holders Lane Woods

Nearing the end of the woods.

Holders Lane Woods

Last view of the woods before going onto the Rea Valley Route and into Cannon Hill Park.

Holders Lane Woods

2020

The most recent walk around Holders Lane Woods was as the lockdown was eased during May 2020. Parking on Holders Lane and a walk around Cannon Hill Park. Later walking back via the Rea Valley Route, we had a walk around the woods, down a side path.

First up, a look at the empty Holders Lane Playing Fields as we walk towards Cannon Hill Park.

Holders Lane Woods

The Council had cut the grass into strips for social distancing (for the 2 metre rule) in the Holders Lane Playing Fields.

Holders Lane Woods

Could see a man in the distance trying it out.

Holders Lane Woods

Later heading back into the woods after going up the Rea Valley Route.

Holders Lane Woods

A lot of tree coverage above these paths.

Holders Lane Woods

Saw some cow parsley growing along this dirt path.

Holders Lane Woods

Another view of the Holders Lane Playing Fields with the field mown into stripes.

Holders Lane Woods

Now heading into the woods proper.

Holders Lane Woods

Somewhere to sit in the woods. But remember to keep your social distance!

Holders Lane Woods

Was some bluebells growing in the long grass.

Holders Lane Woods

It looks so peaceful in the woods here. As the sunlight comes through and the shadows all around.

Holders Lane Woods

After going as far as Moor Green Lane / Brockley Grove we turned back. Another view of the Holders Lane Playing Fields. The Muirhead Tower at the University of Birmingham was visible from here.

Holders Lane Woods

More trees looking lush and green as we headed back through the woods.

Holders Lane Woods

You can take the main path, but there is side paths. And dog walkers are welcome. Although I've seen them off the leash in here!

Holders Lane Woods

Before we left, I noticed this boggy water area. After this headed back to Holders Lane to end the walk and go home.

Holders Lane Woods

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
20 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Shakespeare Garden at Lightwoods House & Park

I've only managed to go into the Shakespeare Garden once at Lightwoods House & Park. That was during November 2017, after the house and other structures in the park were fully restored. It was usually open daily from 10am until 4pm. But on my last visit to the park in June 2020 it was closed (probably due to the pandemic and lockdown). Would be nice to go into it again soon

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The Shakespeare Garden at Lightwoods Park & House

Some history about The Shakespeare Garden from the official Lightwoods Park & House website.

The garden was established in 1915 within the house's former walled gardens. The restored gardens was named after the bard William Shakespeare, and the shrubs were named after the playwrights works. The garden was designed on an Elizabethan theme. The garden is open to the public and is a fantastic venue for a variety of events. The idea for a Shakespeare Garden was conceived by Councillor G. Johnson, who was then Chairman of the Parks Committee, and was opened by the Lord Mayor, Alderman W. Bowater on the 22nd July 1915. The Elizabethan themed garden has a "knot garden", herb and fruit garden, containing many of the plants mentioned in Shakespeare's plays.

The garden was formerly the kitchen garden to Lightwoods Hall which at one point was the residence of Sir Francis Galton.

 

2011

My first glimpse of the Shakespeare Garden was from outside the gate during March 2011. It was not open on the day of my visit, and was before it was restored. So could only have a look through the locked gate at the time.

Shakespeare Garden sign on the wall from the outside.

Shakespeare Garden

The ornate gate to the garden was padlocked, so couldn't go in (might have been the weekend so would have been closed any way).

Shakespeare Garden

Flower bed outside the Shakespeare Garden to the left of the gate. Lots of yellows and some pinks and reds here.

Shakespeare Garden

A look through the gate. Was some daffodils growing on the left near the big tree.

Shakespeare Garden

Trying to get the view of the garden to the left of the big tree.

Shakespeare Garden

2017

A visit to Lightwoods Park in November 2017. The house was restored, and the Shakespeare Garden was open, so I went in and had a look (was probably a weekday).

Being that it was late autumn, and almost winter at the time, the trees were mostly bare of leaves.

Shakespeare Garden

A main path down the middle of the garden towards those trellises.

Shakespeare Garden

In the middle was the Knot Garden with the box hedges. You can see Lightwoods House from here which is to the left.

Shakespeare Garden

In 2012 during the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II this green plaque was unveiled about John Tradescant (1608 - 1662) who was a Royal Gardener. There was also a stone sculpture of him to the left of the plaque. From the Smethwick Local History Society.

Shakespeare Garden

A lot of bright sunshine under the trellises towards the fountain in the centre.

Shakespeare Garden

A close up look at the fountain. Was some benches around it to sit on.

Shakespeare Garden

The far end of the garden down the main path. Lightwoods House to the right.

Shakespeare Garden

Another part of the box hedges in the Knot Garden.

Shakespeare Garden

2020

Early June 2020, and my first time back in Lightwoods Park for almost 3 years. While there, went past Lightwoods House and the Shakespeare Garden. But the gate was locked. Probably due to the pandemic / lockdown (I would assume that it has since reopened since my last visit).

Looks like they had installed a new gate here. I must have walked through it in 2017, so what happened to the old gate?

Shakespeare Garden

With the new gate being locked, I again had to look at the garden through it. The grass was looking a bit long.

Shakespeare Garden

Long grass on the border to the right. Flowers of pink and red colours.

Shakespeare Garden

I couldn't see many more flowers to the left, just all looking green towards the box hedges to the far left.

Shakespeare Garden

Outside was this sign with the opening hours of 10am to 4pm daily. No dogs are allowed in the garden, nor is bikes, scooters or skateboards. Children must be supervised.

Shakespeare Garden

Hopefully the garden was allowed to reopen as of July 2020. I look forward to going into it again in the future.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Environment & green action
16 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

An Autumn and Summer comparison at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Had two visits to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. First time back in October 2018 during the autumn, when there was pumpkins around for Halloween. Second time more recently during July 2020 in the summer as they reopened. For that one you had to book your tickets online before you went. A walled garden split into the Upper and Lower Wilderness. Was also a maze here and a vegetable garden.

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CASTLE BROMWICH HALL GARDENS

Welcome to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. Located in Castle Bromwich in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull. If approaching from Birmingham in a car or on the bus, you might pass through Hodge Hill. The gardens were originally developed here in the late 17th century. They were done in the Dutch style that was popular during the reign of William III. The Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust was formed in 1985. At the time the walled gardens were derelict, but in the years that followed the gardeners restored the garden to how it could of once been in the past. The gardens is only 5 miles from Birmingham City Centre.

Castle Bromwich Hall was built in the 16th century for Sir Edward Devereux, who was the first MP for Tamworth. In the late 1650s the hall and gardens was sold to Sir Orlando Bridgeman who bought it for his son Sir John Bridgeman I. The gardens were developed by 1700. John Bridgeman II took over from his father after his death in 1710. The last member of the family, Lady Ida Bridgeman lived in the hall until her death in 1936. The gardens were looked after by her while she was still alive.

The hall and gardens are in separate ownership. The hall is now a hotel, but can be viewed from the gardens, and it is possible to have guided tours of the hall. The Trust owns the gardens, while the Parkland by Birmingham City Council (it is protected from development).

The gardens feature an Orangery and directly opposite that down the Holly Walk is the Summer House. There is a pair of sphinxs on two corners of the wall. It is usually possible to do walks on the outside of the wall, where you can go past the Mirror Pond, orchard, Wildflower meadow and the Children's mud kitchen.

Within the Walled Garden is the Upper Wilderness (which is close to the Hall) and the Lower Wilderness (which has a Maze in the middle of it). And further north of that is a Vegetable Garden.

The gardens is near the M6 motorway and you can hear the passing traffic. Entrance to the gardens is off Chester Road. 

2018

A visit during October 2018 in the weeks leading up to Halloween. First up a look at the Upper Wilderness. This was the Formal Box Hedges.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Looking up Holly Walk towards the Summer House. At this end (behind me) was the Orangery.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

A zoom in of the Summer House. That day the doors were closed so couldn't go into it.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

The flower borders not far from the Lower Wilderness, although the North Orchard was to the left of here. In the distance was one of the pair of stone sphinxes.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

A close up look at the wonderful flowers they had here. Yellows and reds. Even in the middle of the autumn!

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Now gone outside of the Walled Garden. Saw a pond with algae in it.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Another view of the algae covered pond.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

This bit around the tree was called Jutta's Wild Weaving.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

A look at the autumnal trees with yellow leaves.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Over the footbridge to another pond with algae. This is the Children's Mud Kitchen area I think.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Back into the Walled Garden. A look down Holly Walk towards the Orangery. At the time there was lots of pumpkins inside of it. As well as potted plants.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Into the Maze with this Globe sculpture on a stone plinth.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

In aother of the mazes "rooms" was these flowers and bushes. As well as the trellis holding up a plant.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

The view of the outside of the Maze from the Lower Wilderness.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Over to the Upper Wilderness, the side of garden closest to Castle Bromwich Hall.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

At the time it was possible to go into the part of the garden closest to the hall. There was greenhouses down here.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

There was also this Hedged Garden that you could go into.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Back into the Walled Garden was the Melon Ground. At the time there was a lot of pumpkins around here. Behind on the left outside of the wall was a rather old tree.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Some pumpkins and yellow and orang flowers around some spooky plants.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Outside of the Visitor Centre and shop was this collection of pumpkins. Probably for sale at the time.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

2020

A July 2020 visit. Checking their website I noticed that you could book tickets, now that the gardens are open again. Booked the tickets for the same day. There is now a shop in the Orangery where you can buy a drink and a snack and sit at the tables and chairs on Holly Walk. View from the main gates entrance into the Walled Garden of the Upper Wilderness. There is a one way system in and out.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

More green and colourful flowers in the Summer down the Boxed Hedges in the Upper Wilderness.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

I thought this tent on the Archery Green was new. But I'd previous seen it there on the last visit. Families can have picnics here, or do some fun activities, while staying dry. The Summer House was seen to the right.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

A look up the hedges in the Lower Wilderness. Benches here haven't been taped over, so you can still sit down on them.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

This time around, you couldn't go through the doors to the area behind the Walled Garden, as a large tree had dropped a branch overnight and it was not safe to enter. Instead saw the Mirror Pond for the second time through the bars in the Walled Garden.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

The long green that goes up from the Mirror Pond towards Castle Bromwich Hall. If you turn around you can see 103 Colmore Row in the distance (better views from the top of the hill). Almost like a co-incidence that they line up like that.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Various flower beds in the Vegetable Garden. There is a small greenhouse in the distance, and the other stone sphinx is up there as well.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Saw this A frame of wooden sticks over this part of the Vegetable Gaden. Around those orange flowers.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

The lawn in the Upper Wilderness towards the main entrance of the gardens.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Some more boxed hedges in the north west corner of the Upper Wilderness, towards the Summer House.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

View zoomed in from the Upper Wilderness to the main entrance gate. Behind is the portacabins that is the offices of the gardens. Also nearby was plant sales.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Another part of the Upper Wilderness, around this curved lawn path.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Found this view of Castle Bromwich Hall from the Upper Wilderness. The closest you can get to the hall is the fence and wall in the garden to have a look at it.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

The back of the boxed hedges in the Upper Wilderness close to the main entrance and the Melon Ground. There was a pair of pyramid structures at the middle of both of the flower beds.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

A wonderful summery view from the garden towards the Orangery. Now used as a shop / cafe. But only one person / family can go into it at a time during the pandemic, with social distancing regulations. They have hand sanitiser outside.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

One more walk around the garden before we got a drink from the Orangery. The hedges in the Lower Wilderness, towards that bench.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

The central area of the Lower Wilderness is in a circle around those stones. On a closer look at the stones I could see a face on one of them.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Towards the Maze from the Lower Wilderness. This time didn't go into the maze (forgot about it). That and we went on the routes around it from the outside,

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

After exiting via the Melon Ground (and spraying some hand sanitiser onto my hands), saw some lavender and more tables and chairs that you could sit on to have your coffee or tea (bought from the Orangery). Behind was an old style table and chairs where you could have your picture taken, and share with Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens on social media.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Turned around to the door from the Melon Ground. Lavender either side of the path. Plus that table and chairs for the picture was on the left of here. This is one way to exit the gardens.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

If you would want to make your own visit to the gardens, the link is at the top of the post (click on The Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust). They are now open Wednesday to Sunday every week. Tickets were around £5 each.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
15 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Waseley Hills Country Park and the Source of the River Rea

Went for a morning walk at the end of June 2020 around the Waseley Hills Country Park. It was quite windy that day. The country park is near Rubery in the Bromsgrove District of Worcestershire. And over the border from New Frankley in Birmingham. You would find the source of the River Rea here. Also it is possible to see views of Birmingham and Worcestershire from here.

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Waseley Hills Country Park

The Waseley Hills Country Park is located close to Rubery in the Bromsgrove District of Worcestershire. The M5 motorway is not too far away from the country park to the west. The main entrance to the North Car Park is from Gannow Green Lane. Which can be reached in a car if you drive up from New Frankley in Birmingham. The park has a Visitor Centre, and public toilets (which is near to the North Car Park).  Also offices and a meeting room. A playground was also nearby.

There is two main hills, Windmill Hill and Waseley Hill. The views here are stunning. You would also be able to find the Source of the River Rea (it is signposted).

We visited on the 29th June 2020, and I noticed that the Visitor Centre was open. Or rather they were selling takeaway coffee and ice cream over a table. This was probably the Windmill Cafe. For the car park, you can pay £2 for up to 2 hours, or £2.50 for all day. An annual pass will cost you £35. Blue badge holders are free.

The name Waseley comes from the Anglo Saxon word 'waer' meaning sheep and 'ley' meaning field. Hence waer-ley or sheep field. This shows that the site has been grazed for hundreds of years. On my visit, one of the fields had cattle grazing and you had to close the gate behind you when entering it.

Waseley Hills Country Park Visitor Centre

As seen from the North Car Park was the Visitor Centre. It was only open for takeaway coffee and ice cream, which could be had at the picnic benches to the right. I would think that the Windmill Cafe was in here. The website describes it as an ancient barn.

Waseley Hills Country Park Visitor Centre

Side view of the Visitor Centre coming back from our walk around the hills.  Was some more picnic tables to the right.

Waseley Hills Country Park Visitor Centre

To the left of the Visitor Centre was these Offices and Meeting Rooms. Plus another picnic table outside.

Waseley Hills Country Park Visitor Centre

The public toilets for the gents (right) and ladies (left) seemed to be open.

Waseley Hills Country Park Visitor Centre

It had street art by famous Birmingham graffiti artist Newso. There was also a point here for dog owners to fill up a bowl of water for their dog to drink out of.

Waseley Hills Country Park Visitor Centre

Source of the River Rea

If you are wondering where the River Rea starts on it's journey into Birmingham, it starts here at the Waseley Hills!

Source of the River Rea

This sign explains it all. The River Rea starts from the source and flows for some 15 miles north east until it joins the River Tame near Spaghetti Junction.

Source of the River Rea

Only a trickle of water at this point, but over 20 miles from here there used to mills all along the Rea Valley. Many used to grind corn and the earliest dated to the 13th century.

Source of the River Rea

In the English Civil War, the mills along the Rea were used to make sword blades for the Parliamentary army.

Source of the River Rea

The same mills in the 19th century provided water power for the expansion of Birmingham's metal working industry during the Industrial Revolution. Sadly none of these mills survive today. Many were demolished in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Source of the River Rea

Windmill Hill and Waseley Hill

These hills can be easily confused so I will combine them both in this section.

First up a look up Windmill Hill towards the electricity pylon.

Waseley Hills Country Park

After ending the gate on Windmill Hill, a look up to where the cows were grazing at the top of the hill.

Waseley Hills Country Park

After seeing the Source of the River Rea went to the top of Windmill Hill for the views of the Birmingham skyline. It was very windy up here.

Waseley Hills Country Park

This was the view from the Waseley Hills towards Birmingham. Old Joe was visible (at the University of Birmingham). But the rest of the skyline would be more visible on zooming in. The City Centre was to the far left of this view.

Waseley Hills Country Park

There was also views towards Rubery. Including the tower blocks. They were Dowry House, Hillside House and Quarry House. A view from Beacon Hill I saw years ago that I thought was the Waseley Hills was in face the Rubery Hill Public Open Space on Cock Hill Lane.

Waseley Hills Country Park

After getting the views of Birmingham, was time to head back down the hill. This was on the Skylark Trail.

Waseley Hills Country Park

Back out to the part of Windmill Hill close to the car park and Visitor Centre. Next up to go to the other part of Windmill Hill.

Waseley Hills Country Park

On the next part of Windmill Hill, you could go around a path in a circle, and go under a line of electricity pylons.

Waseley Hills Country Park

I saw this TV antenna or mobile phone mast from Windmill Hill in the distance.

Waseley Hills Country Park

A short time later checking out Waseley Hill and the stunning views of Worcestershire. Getting quite windy up here.

Waseley Hills Country Park

There was an even better view of the electricity pylons going into Worcestershire in the distance. Some many trees here!

Waseley Hills Country Park

The main path if you wanted to walk further onto Waseley Hill. You might see rabbit holes around here or gorse. Although I didn't spot any rabbits or gorse growing at the time of my visit.

Waseley Hills Country Park

There was more of the Waseley Hills Country Park to walk from here, for instance as far as the South Car Park.

Waseley Hills Country Park

But we turned back from here and walked back to the North Car Park. It was just too windy. But saw enough.

Waseley Hills Country Park

Heading back past Windmill Hill and saw this line of electricity pylons heading into the distance in Worcestershire. It was quite cloudy and misty that day.

Waseley Hills Country Park

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
15 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Ariel Aqueduct on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Selly Oak

The Ariel Aqueduct was built alongside a railway viaduct on the Cross City Line in Selly Oak when the Selly Oak Bypass was built, which opened in 2011. It carries the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The towpath is suitable for walking, cycling and taking your dog for a walk, as well as going for a run. You can also see trains going past. Below is the Aston Webb Boulevard.

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Ariel Aqueduct

When the Selly Oak Bypass (later to be named as the Aston Webb Boulevard) was built in Selly Oak during 2010 to 2011, it meant that an aqueduct had to built on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, as well as a railway viaduct on the Cross City Line. The nearby wasteland used to be where the Battery Works used to be. With the completion of the first phase of the bypass, it meant that the University of Birmingham could build new student accommodation nearby to the aqueduct. Further up the bypass, the land had to be decontaminated, as there used to be a landfill there. Eventually the Selly Oak Shopping Park and a student accommodation block was opened in late 2018. And the rest of the land (still to be built on) will be for the Life Sciences Park of the University of Birmingham. Meanwhile since Sainsbury's moved to the new shopping park, it meant that work could start on extending the bypass to Selly Oak Triangle (started in 2019 but is not yet complete).

I used to be able to get onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal down a road off the Bristol Road near a car showroom. But there is now new steps closed to the Unite student accommodation (as well as a shortcut to Sainsbury's and the new shopping park). Then walk as far as the University of Birmingham before getting off the canal.

 

View below of the Ariel Aqueduct from the Aston Webb Boulevard (Selly Oak Bypass) during September 2012. Leading towards Queen Elizabeth Island and New Fosse Way. The new Birmingham Super Hospital opened in 2010, so these new roads helped give access to it (the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham).

Ariel Aqueduct

The views of the Ariel Aqueduct taken during February 2013. This was during a walk along the canal from Selly Oak to the University of Birmingham.

Ariel Aqueduct

The towpath turns slightly to the right as you head onto the aqueduct.

Ariel Aqueduct

Saw a man in green running past me. Best to stop and let them pass you.

Ariel Aqueduct

From here you can see the railway viaduct on the right. If you are lucky you could see some trains passing by!

Ariel Aqueduct

Some nice reflections from the railings. You can only get to the other side in a narrowboat.

Ariel Aqueduct

In January 2014, could see the completed Victoria Hall from the Ariel Aqueduct next to Old Joe.

Ariel Aqueduct

Within a few years of the completion of the bypass several student accommodation blocks got built down there.

Ariel Aqueduct

Jarratt Hall is seen to the right of the aqueduct.

Ariel Aqueduct

The view of the bypass. The University of Birmingham is on the left. The Bournbrook area of Selly Oak is on the right.

Ariel Aqueduct

The view below taken during August 2017. It always feels weird walking over the aqueduct. It's so high up above the bypass.

Ariel Aqueduct

In this February 2019 view, I caught a view of the Ariel Aqueduct from a train passing over the railway viaduct.

Ariel Aqueduct

In August 2019 on another walk over the Ariel Aqueduct, saw a cyclist going past me. The grass and trees more grown by this point.

Ariel Aqueduct

Went over it again during January 2020. This time a cyclist in orange was coming towards me.

Ariel Aqueduct

From the other side, caught a Class 323 West Midlands Railway train passing over that railway bridge. Touch Base Pears seen behind.

Ariel Aqueduct

For another post on aqueducts in the West Midlands region go to this post on the Wootton Wawen & Edstone Aqueducts on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal in Warwickshire.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
14 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Engine Pool, Terry's Pool and Windmill Pool at Earlswood Lakes

A visit to Earlswood Lakes near Solihull in June 2020. Built as canal feeder reservoirs for the Stratford-on-Avon Canal, they are within the Stratford-on-Avon District of Warwickshire. Three pools including the Engine Pool, Terry's Pool and Windmill Pool. Built in the 1820s. Also here is the Earlswood Engine House built in 1821 to pump water to the canal. Good for walks.

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Earlswood Lakes

A visit to Earlswood Lakes for a morning walk on the 8th June 2020. I'd never been here before as The Lakes Station on the Shakespeare Line is a request stop, so hadn't got around to going here (I had previous got a train to Earlswood Station and gone to Earlswood Garden & Landscape Centre but no further). Ended up going in the car. The car park on Wood Lane were open again and is a good starting point for a walk around the lakes.

The Earlswood Lakes are three man made reservoirs built in the 1820s in Earlswood, Warwickshire to supply water to the nearby Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Which goes from Kings Norton Junction (from the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Kings Norton) to Bancroft Basin in Stratford-upon-Avon. Construction took 5 years and some of the labour force included prisoners of war from the Napoleonic Wars. Being that it was so close to Birmingham, the lakes was popular from visitors from the city from the early 1900s. The Lakes Station nearby would get visitors on the Shakespeare Line from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon (although today it is a request stop). Is about a 15 minute walk away. The car park at Earlswood Lakes is free.

There is three pools here, the Engine Pool, Terry's Pool and the Windmill Pool. There is also the Grade II listed Engine House next to the Engine Pool. The lakes are good for walking, fishing and sailing. You would find a variety of wildlife here, plus there is also a nearby Craft Centre.

 

The walk we did was started around the Engine Pool. Then went around Terry's Pool. Completed the second part of the Engine Pool. Then passed the Windmill Pool (but didn't go around it). Cycling around Earlswood Lakes is not currently allowed. So cyclists must stick to the main roads only.

 

Earlswood Engine House

The Engine House was built in 1821 and is a Grade II listed building. It is near the car park on Wood Lane and can also be seen from Valley Road and from the Engine Pool. It had a steam engine which pumped water from Earlswood Lakes to the nearby Stratford-on-Avon Canal. This view was over the fence from the car park.

Earlswood Engine House

There was also views of the Engine House from the other side of the Engine Pool. Built of red brick, it also has a low pitched Welsh slate roof.

Earlswood Engine House

This close up view of the Engine House from the Engine Pool, not far from Valley Road. I think it is no longer in use. But there is also a white plaque to the left hand side of the building.

Earlswood Engine House

Engine Pool

First up a walk around the Engine Pool at Earlswood Lakes. We headed to the right, starting from the car park.

Engine Pool

There is a metal footbridge with a dam between the Engine Pool and Terry's Pool.

Engine Pool

The water in the lake had receeded quite a bit. This was only a week or so after the May heatwave had ended.

Engine Pool

Some parts of the Engine Pool had these old wooden decking. Some could do with repairing.

Engine Pool

Crossing the metal footbridge between the Engine Pool (left) and Terry's Pool (right).

Engine Pool

These wooden steps to the Engine Pool look broken. In need of repair.

Engine Pool

With the water so low at the time, people could walk on the banks of the reservoir. After the walk around Terry's Pool, we resumed the walk around the Engine Pool towards Malthouse Lane.

Engine Pool

Later on was crossing Malthouse Lane between the Windmill Pool (left) and the Engine Pool (right). At certain points there was bays to avoid the traffic. Also good for views of the lakes.

Engine Pool

The only place cyclists are allowed to ride on was on the main roads. Currently cyclists can not ride their bikes around the paths around the lakes. But on Malthouse Lane it is fine as that is a road. Also has a pair of double yellow lines. On the right was a viewing area of the Engine Pool with a bench.

Engine Pool

From the section along Valley Road, looking back at the side of the Engine Pool alongside Malthouse Lane.

Engine Pool

It was all so peaceful going around the lakes. Other than the traffic on the roads.

Engine Pool

Near the end of the Engine Pool walk and back to the car park.

Engine Pool

Terry's Pool

The walk around Terry's Pool was more covered by trees, so harder to see the lake. Also the path would be rougher than around the Engine Pool. Here was the view just before the metal bridge that splits the Engine Pool from Terry's Pool.

Terry's Pool

With trees covering most of the Terry's Pool walk it was hard to see the pool, but there was some spots. And you could see some of the birds flying around here.

Terry's Pool

We went around Terry's Pool in a clockwise direction.

Terry's Pool

More of the same with the trees making reflections in the pool.

Terry's Pool

When going around you hardly realise that you have gone around it.

Terry's Pool

Some trees like this one was growing out of the pool!

Terry's Pool

Another tree covered view.

Terry's Pool

Here a tree branch slightly blocks the view of the pool here.

Terry's Pool

That could be the same tree in the pool, but seen from the other side.

Terry's Pool

Near the end of the Terry's Pool walk.

Terry's Pool

And with the metal bridge in view it would soon be time to cross it again to walk around the second half of the Engine Pool.

Terry's Pool

It was even possible to see Malthouse Lane in the distance beyond the metal bridge.

Terry's Pool

Windmill Pool

No walk around the Windmill Pool, just saw it from the road and bays on Malthouse Lane (opposite the Engine Pool).

Windmill Pool

Windmill Pool

Saw this red / white buoy / ball in the Windmill Pool. Made a nice reflection in the water.

Windmill Pool

This lake stretches quite far. Wasn't sure about walking around this one, as saw a sign on the gate from when the lockdown restrictions were tougher.

Windmill Pool

I would assume that the paths goes all the way around it. There are trees around at least three sides of this pool.

Windmill Pool

From Malthouse Lane could see that there was another bay for observing the pool on Valley Road.

Windmill Pool

This side of Malthouse Lane also had a big bay for watching the pool with benches as well. After this back around the last leg of the Engine Pool and back to the car park.

Windmill Pool

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Green open spaces
13 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

From Moseley Bog towards Windermere Park

Back in April 2020, earlier in the lockdown, we had a walk around Moseley Bog. Starting from the Sarehole Mill Car Park via the Recreation Ground and Green Road ford. We entered the bog as usual from Pensby Close (off Wake Green Road). Around the usual decking. Ending up in Windermere Park, before the walk back down Wake Green Road to the starting point.

Related

Moseley Bog

Welcome to my second post on Moseley Bog. Almost forgot about this one. Then saw a piece on BBC Midlands Today on the 8th July 2020, reminding me of the last walk around the Bog back in early April 2020. During the first few weeks of the lockdown.

You can find my original post on Moseley Bog here: Moseley Bog from my 2012 and 2016 visits.

I previously posted some of my April 2020 photos in this post here: J. R. R. Tolkien in Sarehole from 1896 - 1900.

 

Making our way to the Pensby Close entrance of Moseley Bog, the walk took us up the wooden decking amongst the woods of trees. Before ending up walking through the Windermere Park or Windermere Playing Field. Exiting at Windermere Road. Before walking back down Wake Green Road past Moseley School. The walk had started from the Sarehole Mill Car Park, then via the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground. Crossing over the Green Road ford, then heading up Green Road to Wake Green Road. Was hoping to find a route to the Yardley Wood Road entrance / exit, but ended up finding the Windermere Park / Playing Field instead.

 

Entering Moseley Bog from Pensby Close, saw this stream. Possibly the Coldbath Brook that goes from Moseley Golf Club to Sarehole Mill.

Moseley Bog

Heading onto the decking for a safe walk around the Bog without getting your shoes muddy (hopefully).

Moseley Bog

Another view of the stream (Coldbath Brook). Why would someone litter a can in it. It's not a bin! Dispose of your waste correctly, or take it home and bin it.

Moseley Bog

Another view of the Coldbath Brook.

Moseley Bog

The decking here is just three planks of wood bolted together on the ground.

Moseley Bog

Blue building behind the trees. It's Saint Bernard's Catholic Primary School on Wake Green Road.

Moseley Bog

No decking here. Just a dirt path with exposed tree roots. And the odd stone brick above the ground.

Moseley Bog

Back to cross over the decking. Wouldn't want to go into the bog there!

Moseley Bog

There is what looks like exposed staples as you go around the decking. Hopefully to enable people walking over it to keep a grip and not fall into the bog!

Moseley Bog

Another section of the wooden decking, with exposed stables on the surface.

Moseley Bog

Fallen trees around the bog and a body of water.

Moseley Bog

Onto another section of decking here.

Moseley Bog

This decking turns left at a right angle. Had some nice shadows in the sunshine.

Moseley Bog

Near the end of this decking.

Moseley Bog

A nice looking tree in the wood. The ground was all soil here. This leads up the hill to the Windermere Park.

Moseley Bog

One last look at the wood near the Windermere Park / Playing Field.

Moseley Bog

First look at the Windermere Park or Playing Field. Saw that goalpost.

Moseley Bog

And finally the walk through the Windermere Park (or Playing Field). Exiting onto Windermere Road. Would go past the Pickwick Cricket Club before going back onto the Wake Green Road.

Moseley Bog

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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