Gallery

Transport
02 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown

The Shakespeare Express and The Polar Express

Most summers along the Shakespeare line, Vintage Trains used to run steam trains between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford-upon-Avon. They now also have a licence to run trains on the mainline from the Tyseley Locomotive Works to Birmingham Moor Street during the Christmas season. It is quite the sight to see a steam train going over the Bordesley Viaduct! Look out for it in Digbeth.

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The Shakespeare Express and The Polar Express




Most summers along the Shakespeare line, Vintage Trains used to run steam trains between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford-upon-Avon. They now also have a licence to run trains on the mainline from the Tyseley Locomotive Works to Birmingham Moor Street during the Christmas season. It is quite the sight to see a steam train going over the Bordesley Viaduct! Look out for it in Digbeth.


In September 2015, the Shakespeare Express was at Birmingham Snow Hill Station at platform 1. When I got to platform 3, saw the steam locomotive 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe decouple and head towards the Jewellery Quarter tunnels, before it returned and recoupled at the other end. Didn't have the best views from platform 3 to be honest!

The steam locomotive is seen puffing away towards the tunnels that leads to Jewellery Quarter Station.

The carriages at platform 1. They filled the length of the platform.

I didn't have the best view from platform 3. One of the carriages as passengers walk past!

Earlier that day I saw The Shakespeare Express passing through Hall Green Station. The front of the engine was attached to the carriages. So the back end was heading towards Stratford-upon-Avon. They would probably have to decouple it again at Stratford-upon-Avon, so the engine would be facing the front towards Birmingham Snow Hill!

The name plate of the special service is seen at the front.

Most of the stations on the Shakespeare line opened in 1908 and are of the Edwardian period.

 

The Polar Express run by Vintage Trains started in the last week of November 2018 and will run throughout the Christmas season until late December 2018. Should be every Thursday to Sunday.

Steam puffing away into platform 4 at Birmingham Moor Street Station.

There was photographers on both platforms. And probably on all the days that it is due in at Moor Street Station. As well as from the Moor Street Car Park view. The Poppy Appeal train from Chiltern Railways was at platform 3.

Rood Ashton Hall or as it is known during this Christmas season as the Polar Star slowly comes into the platform.

There is a view from the ramps down from the Bullring to Moor Street Queensway.

Into the concourse then down the steps to Moor Street. Before that a few views as the Polar Star comes to a stop.

Seen with Chiltern Railways 68012 at platform 3. Platform 5 is the only platform yet to be restored at the station.

I have also seen the Polar Express from a train I was on the next day passing through Bordesley Station. Was a bit awkward getting photos from the train as it passed. Later saw some views of the Polar Express returning to Tyseley over the Bordesley Viaduct through Digbeth. Quite a sight to see!

At the back was as diesel locomotive D1755 47 773.

I also noticed from my train that they have done up the Tyseley Locomotive Works around the Tyseley Warwick Road platform area for Christmas.

The Polar Express seen from the Bordesley Viaduct in Digbeth. The train was stationary on the viaduct, probably waiting for it's slot to go into Birmingham Moor Street Station. These views of 4965 Rood Ashton Hall / Polar Star from Oxford Street in Digbeth.

Was a bit difficult to see it from this side, heading from Bordesley Street. So walked under the viaduct for a look on the other side of Oxford Street.

On this side of Oxford Street, Rood Ashton Hall seen with a pub that the Peaky Blinder Pub was due to take over (used to be an Irish pub called O'Rourkes).

Had to walk further down Oxford Street and close to the Digbeth High Street.

These views of the back of the train. D1755 / 47 773 seen from Milk Street in Digbeth.

When you are up there, you don't realise how far down from the viaduct it is! The area is close to the Custard Factory, and various pieces of graffiti / street art.

Photos by Elliott Brown

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Inspiration

Transport
30 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Special liveries on Chiltern Railways and Virgin Trains seen in Birmingham

This is not a heritage trains post, more showing photos of the special liveries Chiltern Railways and Virgin Trains did to some of their trains around the Christmas period and at other times of the year. Chiltern Railways seen at Birmingham Moor Street Station. Virgin Trains seen at Birmingham New Street Station and at Coventry Station.

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Special liveries on Chiltern Railways and Virgin Trains seen in Birmingham




This is not a heritage trains post, more showing photos of the special liveries Chiltern Railways and Virgin Trains did to some of their trains around the Christmas period and at other times of the year. Chiltern Railways seen at Birmingham Moor Street Station. Virgin Trains seen at Birmingham New Street Station and at Coventry Station.


Chiltern Railways

Runs trains on the Chiltern Mainline between Birmingham Snow Hill and London Marylebone. There main fast trains are the Class 68's with the Mark 3 carriages and driving van trailer (numbered as 823xx). Here we will look at a pair of 823xx trains at Birmingham Moor Street Station.

The Chiltern Santa Train seen at Birmingham Moor Street during December 2017. The driving van trailer was numbered 82302. Titan 68009 was at the front (but it's livery was not changed at the time).

Seen from platform 3. It had arrived at platform 4.

Behind is Moor Street Car Park, Selfridges and the Rotunda.

Heard that there was some nice views from Moor Street Car Park. So headed up to see. This was several floors up but not high enough.

This view of the Santa Train from the top floor of the car park as a London Midland Class 172 arrived at platform 2 (West Midlands Railway would take over from London Midland a few days later).

In November 2018 driving van trailer 82303 was in the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal temporary livery. Seen at Birmingham Moor Street.

I noticed a Chiltern train arriving at Moor Street from a bus I was on in Digbeth, so after I got off the bus outside of Selfridges, went up to the top of Moor Street Car Park for these views. Lamppost in the way. It was at platform 3.

Headed right for a clearer view of the Poppy train. Derelict buildings in the background was used as a filming location for Ready Player One! (filmed in 2016 released in 2018).

Close up look at the Poppy train. As I headed over the parametric bridge into Selfridges, the train started to leave for London.

Virgin Trains

Runs trains on the West Coast Mainline between Birmingham New Street and London Euston (and also up to Scotland). They use Class 390 Pendolino's between Birmingham and London (and to other major cities along the West Coast Mainline such as Manchester and Liverpool).

Seen in late December 2014 at Birmingham New Street Station was the Traindeer. Virgin Trains Pendolino 390 112 (also known as Virgin Star). Was made to resemble a Christmas Reindeer! This livery was temporary. The train is currently unnamed.

Seen at Coventry Station during October 2017 was Virgin Trains Pendolino 390 040 in the Virgin Radio livery. This was temporary between April 2016 and November 2017.

We're Back Virgin Radio.

Seen at Birmingham New Street Station from the Moor Street link bridge during December 2016 was Virgin Trains Pendolino 390104. Alstom Pendolino. Formerly named "Virgin Scot". The co-branding between Alstom and Virgin was since September 2010.

Another Moor Street link bridge view. This time it was Virgin Trains Pendolino 390103 (Virgin Hero). It was carrying the Royal British Legion livery commemorating the centenary of World War 1. Seen during March 2018.

One more view from the Moor Street link bridge. Virgin Trains Pendolino 390151 (Virgin Ambassador), seen with the Business is Great livery during September 2017. Also known as the Virgin Trains Poppylino!

The reflection of Business is Great in the shiny panels at New Street Station.

 

Photos by Elliott Brown

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Gallery

Environment & green action
30 Nov 2018 - Christine Wright

A Sunday morning snapshot of Kings Heath.

I'd just bought a new lens for my camera, and was dying to try it out before the autumn colours faded! Sunday 18th November dawned bright and sunny, giving the perfect opportunity for a photo-walk around Kings Heath.

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A Sunday morning snapshot of Kings Heath.




I'd just bought a new lens for my camera, and was dying to try it out before the autumn colours faded! Sunday 18th November dawned bright and sunny, giving the perfect opportunity for a photo-walk around Kings Heath.


Many of the trees had already dropped their leaves, but the magnificent oak trees are always the last to put on a golden display. Wheelers Lane looked particularly splendid.

'Welcome to Kings Heath' says the sign. The cropped view through the 85mm lens was just right for capturing the line up of two of Kings Heath's vertical features: Sainsbury's multistorey car park and the elegant tower of All Saints Church.

Kings Heath High Street - shops and traffic.

Sunday morning, and many worshippers were at the services in 'All Saints' Victorian Anglican church and 'St Dunstan's'  1960s Roman Catholic Church 

Look up to see the interesting features of the Kings Heath shops and pubs.

Look up to see unexpected people standing out above the crowd!

The sun picks out a row of very handsome houses, and an independent hairdresser and foam shop in Heathfield Road.

Looking across the High Street from Heathfield to York Road. The Hare and Hounds pub plays a central role in Kings Heath life and entertainment, and is a central feature of the high street.

The sun lights up the pretty entrance to the Kitchen Garden Cafe in York Road.

Walking on down Waterloo Road, the telegraph poles with their tangle of wires catch my eye.

The Stained glass studio is an attractive feature on the corner of South Road and Grange Road.

The row of Edwardian villas in Grange Road, leading up to Kings Heath Park. I've not thought about the road name before, but I guess that 'The Grange' must have been the original name for the house and grounds in what is now Kings Heath Park. 

Into the park, to be met by this sunlit blaze of autumn colour, autumn leaves on trailing branches hanging over the pond, and pretty collections of autumn leaves in the tree roots.

My new lens is particularly good for these dreamy close up shots.

It was lovely to see the number of parents in the park, helping their children to learn to ride bikes, or playing football together.

Don't forget the dog walkers too!

A final look across the park to the big Park House, before I set off home along Howard Road.

Back to Howard Road East, and more glorious oak trees.

The last stretch home, walking along the path that was a field boundary long before 'the King's Heath' was engulfed by the city.

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Gallery

Environment & green action
29 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Raining at Kings Heath Park in late November 2018

It's late November 2018 and we have a few days of wind and rain, probably due to Storm Diana. On a day when the rain wasn't too bad, I popped along for a walk around the wet Kings Heath Park. This time headed down to the bottom, then out via the Avenue Road exit. Started off from Vicarage Road.

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Raining at Kings Heath Park in late November 2018




It's late November 2018 and we have a few days of wind and rain, probably due to Storm Diana. On a day when the rain wasn't too bad, I popped along for a walk around the wet Kings Heath Park. This time headed down to the bottom, then out via the Avenue Road exit. Started off from Vicarage Road.


On a day with dull weather a quick walk around a wet Kings Heath Park. These walks normally take me around 10 minutes (am a fast walker). Weather was bad so after I finished the walk, walked back up the Vicarage Road towards the High Street and Alcester Road South. On a dry day, I might walk down Avenue Road and into Highbury Park, or towards Selly Park.

For me Kings Heath is easy to get to. On the 11C, or the 11A back home (the park is on the Outer Circle). The no 35 bus route also passes the park, as does the 27 and 76.

The path on the left from Vicarage Road heading towards the School of Horticulture Training. King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools are on the other side of the fence to the left. Trees have mostly shed their leaves here.

Approaching Kings Heath House. Now the School of Horticulture Training. With the bad weather, wasn't anybody sitting or standing outside of the building. It's Grade II listed and dates to the early 19th century. A previous building was burnt down in 1791 during riots in Birmingham. In the late 18th century the house and grounds belonged to John Harwood. The Birmingham Horticultural Training School opened here in 1952.

Main entrance to the house. Now a ramp for those with wheelchairs or pushchairs. The tea room is over to the right. Palm trees outside remind you of the summer gone and the summer to come.

Kings Heath Park Nursery. These look like palm trees to me outside (they are probably not - am not sure on tree species).

Christmas decorations inside. Plants for sale. An open greenhouse.

Heading down to the bottom end of the park close to the Camp Hill line, past this field. Lots of trees around, mostly leave-less now.

Saw this robin on the path. Zoomed in on it. If you get to close they tend to fly away!

Some steps down to the field at the bottom of the park. Trees still in leaf must be evergreen!

The leaves on this tree have gone blood red and has left a pile of leaves below it!

Field at the bottom of the park.

Up the path from the bottom of the park as the rain came down. The branches of the trees forming a canopy, but that wouldn't stop you getting wet in the rain! Leaves on the lawn remind you that it is still autumn as winter approaches.

More trees with leaves still to be shed. Quite yellowy brown now. Heading up to the Avenue Road exit.

Saw this empty basketball court. Normally if someone was playing in here, or in one of the tennis courts, I wouldn't take a photo. Puddles all over the court. Would probably get splashed if you jumped up to throw a basketball into the hoop!

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Gallery

Photography
29 Nov 2018 - Jay Mason-Burns

Everyday People, on the streets of Birmingham

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Architecture
28 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Castles within the West Midlands region

Lets take a look at some of the castles that remain in the West Midlands region. Dudley Castle (West Midlands county), Tamworth Castle (Staffordshire), Kenilworth Castle and Warwick Castle (Warwickshire). Dudley also includes a zoo. Warwick is now like a Merlin Entertainments place. Kenilworth is English Heritage ruins and gardens. Tamworth is small but intact.

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Castles within the West Midlands region




Lets take a look at some of the castles that remain in the West Midlands region. Dudley Castle (West Midlands county), Tamworth Castle (Staffordshire), Kenilworth Castle and Warwick Castle (Warwickshire). Dudley also includes a zoo. Warwick is now like a Merlin Entertainments place. Kenilworth is English Heritage ruins and gardens. Tamworth is small but intact.


Dudley Castle

Located in Dudley, West Midlands, these days it is a part of Dudley Zoo. It is on Castle Hill. A Grade I listed building.

A castle was built here soon after the Norman Conquest and was a wooden motte and bailey castle. The castle was rebuilt as a stone fortification in the 12th century, but was demolished in the orders of King Henry II. The castle was rebuilt during the 13th century. The tower we see today above the zoo was built in the 14th century. It was slighted by Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War. There is a pair of Russian cannons that were brought back from the Crimean War. They were brought to Dudley in 1857. You can see one below from the view above the track at the zoo.

One of the stone walls and corner turrets at Dudley Castle, seen within the grounds of Dudley Zoo. This dates from the 14th century.

Dudley Castle can be seen from many places in Dudley Town Centre. This is the view from close to Dudley Sixth Form College. You can see how badly slighted the tower was on the right from here.

This view was from Priory Park in Dudley. England flag flying proudly.

This view of Dudley Castle was from Trindle Road in Dudley. The turret from the wall is seen below. From this view taken in October 2016, you can see both of the Russian cannons. Dudley currently has no railway station, but there might be a future Midland Metro line through the town. At present you can get buses there from Birmingham (bus stops are close to outside of the zoo).

Tamworth Castle

Located in Tamworth, Staffordshire. While the castle is now in Staffordshire, before boundary changes in 1889 it used to be in Warwickshire.

You might enter the castle grounds via the Holloway Lodge. A Grade II listed building, it resembles a castle gatehouse. The lodge was built in 1810. Tamworth Castle itself can be seen from above and is a Grade I listed building. A Norman castle built in 1080. The site served as the residence of the Mercian kings during the Anglo Saxon period, but fell into disuse during the Viking invasions.

Within the Castle Grounds there is a statue of Ethelfleda (also known as Æthelflæd). She was the The Lady of the Mercians in 913. The statue dates to 1000 years later in 1913 and is Grade II listed. She was the daughter of Alfred the Great. She led the defence of Mercia against the Danes, fortified Tamworth and other towns.

Tamworth Castle seen on top of the hill. Was a motte and bailey castle. Rebuilt in the 12th century, with repairs and reconstruction during the 13th century. The castle is now a museum. In March 2012 I couldn't see if it was open or not.

Heading up the path, getting closer to Tamworth Castle for a walk around the perimeter. Was nice views of the River Anker from up here. The castle was continuously in use from the 11th and 12th centuries until the 17th century. From the 16th century it was adapted as a residence, but fell into disrepair by the 18th century. The castle was sold to the Tamworth Corporation in the late 19th century (now Tamworth Borough Council).

A look round the back of the castle close up. The council has regularly maintained the castle and turned it into a tourist attraction. The grounds have been landscaped. You can get a train to Tamworth Station from Birmingham New Street, if you wish to visit this castle.

Kenilworth Castle

Located in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. It is now managed by English Heritage. It's a Grade I listed building, and was built from the Norman period to the Tudor period. The castle was the subject of a six month long Siege of Kenilworth in 1266. The castle was founded in the 1120s around a Norman great tower.

From this view you can see the Leicester's Building and The Great Tower, as you enter the castle grounds. On the August 2017 bank holiday weekend was an event called the Clash of Knights (actors were in medieval costumes).

A view of the ruined  Leicester's Building. Below was tents and canopies for that medieval bank holiday weekend event that took place at the time. Recreating what it could have been like in the 12th, 13th or 14th centuries. This tower block was built between 1571 and 1572 by Queen Elizabeth I's favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was built to provide private lodgings for the queen and her close servants. She visited in 1572 and again in 1575.

This is The Great Tower. Kenilworth Castle was founded in the 1120s by Geoffrey de Clinton, Lord Chamberlain and treasurer to Henry I. The tower is one of the castles earliest surviving features. The Norman keep, or 'great tower' was always the most commanding building at the castle. Most of the base structure was built from 1124 until 1130. King John added an open fighting gallery around 1210 to 1215. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester altered it in the late 16th century. He enlarged the window openings and may have used the upper floors to display paintings. During the Civil War in the 1640s, it was slighted.

There are steps up to the Strong Tower. This view was from outside of the Great Tower. You can climb up to the top. There are views of the Outer Court from the window openings of the ruined tower. Underneath there was also cellars that you can have a look at. This tower, along with the Great Hall to the left was built between 1373 and 1380 by John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. These parts of the castle were slighted during the Civil War in the 1640s and 1650s.

The view of the castle from the Elizabethan Garden. From here you can see the Great Tower on the left. The garden is a recreation of the The Queen's Privy Garden. There are car parks at the castle, but you can also park at car parks in Kenilworth Town Centre, and get a free bus to the castle from Johnsons (this was on the Bank Holiday visit, not sure if they do that when it's not a bank holiday). Since Spring 2018 when Kenilworth Station opened, that has given visitors from Birmingham an alternate route to get to the castle. Trains from Birmingham New Street to Coventry, then on the branch line to Leamington Spa (get off at Kenilworth). Or from Birmingham Snow Hill (or Solihull) towards Leamington Spa. Change trains towards Coventry. The castle is a 20 minute walk away from the station in Kenilworth.

Warwick Castle

Located in Warwick, Warwickshire. It is operated by Merlin Entertainments. It's a medieval castle that started after the Norman Conquest and was developed from 1068 onwards. It is next to the River Avon.

Seen from Castle Hill next to this roundabout is the Warwick Castle Lodge. It is a Grade II listed building and was built from 1796 until 1797 by Samuel Muddiman and John Williams. It has Neo-Gothic details. You can enter the castle grounds from this lodge. Tickets for the castle can be quite pricey, but it maybe possible to get an online discount.

The castle was bought by the Tussauds Group in 1978, hence why there are loads of waxwork figures around the castle. The castle started off as a motte and bailey castle. It was later rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. The facade opposite the town was refortified during the Hundred Years War in the 14th century. In 1604 it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I. The Greville family, who became Earls of Warwick in 1759 held it until Tussauds bought it in 1978.

This is a view of Guy's Tower. Probably named after Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick, during the 14th century.

This is a view of the Caesar's Tower. The view was from Banbury Road in Warwick. It also dates to the 14th century. The towers dominate the skyline of Warwick from the nearby houses in the area. The town centre isn't that far from the castle. It's well worth a look for it's mix of architecture.

Usually on my visits to Warwick, I'm just there to have a look around the town, so the earlier photos didn't get to see the castle from the river. In May 2016 I found a view of the castle from the Castle Bridge on Banbury Road. From here you can see people on paddle boats that look like swans or dragons. Boat hire is from St Nicholas Park. There is a weir at the far end of the river, so people in the boats have to turn back.

The castle really does look magnificent from here! Queen Elizabeth I visited the castle in 1566 and again in 1572. John Dudley was granted the castle in 1547 and was given the title Earl of Warwick. The title went extinct in 1590 on the death of Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick (an elder brother of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who owned Kenilworth Castle). There is almshouses in Warwick called Lord Leycester Hospital. Robert Dudley founded it in 1571. You can get trains on the Chiltern Mainline from Birmingham Snow Hill or Solihull to Warwick. The castle is a short walk away from there.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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55 passion points

Inspiration

Photography
27 Nov 2018 - Daniel Sturley

"Photography and Birmingham - They've become my medicine!" - As someone who is autistic, Daniel tells us why!

Daniel Sturley, autistic and an award winning photographer, is the first of our 'People with Passion' to share his story about how his ‘special interest’ has helped him with his mental health challenges,  He also gives some great tips for producing wonderful photography. 

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"Photography and Birmingham - They've become my medicine!" - As someone who is autistic, Daniel tells us why!




Daniel Sturley, autistic and an award winning photographer, is the first of our 'People with Passion' to share his story about how his ‘special interest’ has helped him with his mental health challenges,  He also gives some great tips for producing wonderful photography. 


'Bonnie', one of our family cats in 1988

From the age of about 7 I have been fascinated by photography, and had my first camera by the age of 10, an Halina 110 film format with two built-in lenses and a flash. I would take photos while on family holidays in Wales and I particularly enjoyed capturing the rally cross meetings when visiting the local motor racing circuit. I would send off the films for processing and had to endure an almost intolerable wait of a couple of weeks for the prints to arrive. When they did arrive it was better than birthdays and Christmas!

'Old Harry Rocks' near Tunbridge Wells, part of a college photography assignment in 1989

It was not until I went to college that I did any ‘serious’ photography, including developing and printing. I did several photography projects at college and with my first portfolio I was able to get a summer job doing baby and child portraiture in Mothercare, Boots, and BHS, taking and then selling photos to parents. I received very positive feedback about my photography but I was determined to seek a career in TV and Video Production, and taking photos was purely a hobby. I sold my camera in the third year of university for beer money and almost instantly regretted it.

The view from the top of the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago 1997

In 1997 I went to Chicago with my father and took a small 35mm snapper. I took many photos of the huge buildings there, I was obsessed with skyscrapers and still am. I wanted to capture the feeling of standing at the base of a massive skyscraper unlike anything I had ever seen.

I had found myself in Birmingham starting my first job in the television industry in 1994 and, although I had the typical south-east view of the place and had never been before, I very quickly fell in love with the city and felt moved to use my photography as a way of dispelling all the negative myths about it. Inspired by my trip to Chicago I started to photograph what has become my adopted home city.

Victoria Square in December 2003

In 1998 at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with autism (Asperger’s syndrome) and started to understand more about my challenges and how to manage my anxiety levels better. I also understood why I had ‘special interests’, photography of architecture was definitely one of my strongest, and I adore maps and have seventy two different atlases, I love skyscrapers and satelite photography, I can't get enough of Google Earth and I can't wait till I can afford a VR kit!

In November 2005 I went to New York and Chicago for ten days working but still came back with 39 rolls of 36 exposure film!

Looking up at the 450m Willis (Sears) Tower in November 2005

It was my birthday on this trip and I was feeling rebellious so I took this one on Fifth Avenue, November 2005

I bought my first digital SLR camera in 2008 and started to accumulate a large collection of photos of Birmingham. I showed some of them to friends and family and was overwhelmed by the positive feedback and encouragement I received.

Cambrian Wharf with the Flapper Canalside Pub in 2009

In 2010 I produced a set of ten Birmingham postcards, had 200 of each printed and managed to get a few small city shops to sell them. The venture didn't succeed very well and I lost interest in photography.

I was encouraged by a good friend to develop a distinctive style and I had already identified several things that I naturally did like framing with thirds, juxterpositions, high colour, because I liked the resulting photos. But I also realised that there was the 'no people' aspect of my photography and how it reflects how I see the world.

In 2011 I found myself alone for Christmas Day and whilst I was a bit down, I wasn't lonely. As an autistic person I have a base state of alone, so I took the opportunity to indulge my 'special interest' of city photography and to wander the streets of Birmingham city centre to get some shots. Serendipity intervened to gift this set of rare photos.

CHRISTMAS DAY 2011 GALLERY

In 2013 I whad been working as a freelance video editor for a large company consistently for 18-months. The 3-hours of driving every day and extremely difficult working conditions resulted in so much stress that I became ill with clinical depression and anxiety disorder and had to cease work as a freelancer.

As part of my recovery, I was encouraged to indulge my ’special interests’ and chose to further my Birmingham promotion project by publishing my photography through social media. I published some of my archive of photos of the city but also started to take many more on a regular basis. I had fantastic feedback, I have continued ever since, publishing over 2000 photos in four years, my Twitter account now has over 1200 followers and I have sold some of my prints.

In 2015 I became a regular contributor to the new @BirminghamWeAre Twitter account and have gone on to become a full development partner with the parent social medis platform FreeTimePays.com.

My photography has been considered as a large contributory factor in the success of their community engagement project which encourages others to send in their photography of the city.

I seem to be able to see photographs waiting to be taken, I can 'frame' a scene instantly in my mind so I just need to use the camera to capture it. I love to use the 'rule of thirds' with my compositions, I like to find great juxtapositions, colours, reflections and odd 'muddles' of things that are hard to work out what's going on at first glance.

The Birmingham Pyramids, April 2016

In 2016 I visited Edinburgh with my mother and came back with many great photos of the city.

Edinburgh, a Sea of Chimney Pots - April 2016

In  May 2016 I was honoured to win ’The Cube Photographer of the Year’, after submitting one of my photos of the iconic building.

My winning submission for the Cube Photographer of the Year 2016

Later in 2016 I was also contacted by a gentleman from Price Waterhouse Cooper in Birmingham inviting me to display my photos of the construction of their new headquarters at Paradise Birmingham, One Chamberlain Square, as a timeline gallery at their current base.

My photos on the wall at PwC with Matthew Hammond, Chairman, PwC Midlands in Jun 2018

The Demolition of the Central Library, June 2016

The Construction of PwC's One Chamberlain Square during May 2018

I have continued to photograph the construction of the building and have recently been invited by PwC to collaborate on a 'coffee table' book about the building using mainly my photos.

As part of my extra-curricular work with BirminghamWeAre I have produced three 'Birmingham Gems' charity calendars.

I have a great passion for city photography and love to go on photography visits. I have created many galleries of my photos from these trips, please click below to view.

CITY PHOTOGRAPHY

Below are some examples.

Edinburgh, the Queen's Birthday Gun Salute, taken from Princes Street Gardens on a 300mm lens, April 2016  EDINBURGH GALLERY

Glasgow, September 2018, the view from the Necropolis, but what's a tomb and what's a building in the distance?  GLASGOW GALLERY

Cardiff, August 2017, one of the newly painted red dragons on the ornate obelisks outside City Hall.  CARDIFF GALLERY

Leeds, July 2017, one of the magnificent gold owls at the Civic Hall  LEEDS GALLERY

Paris, November 2011, the view Down the Champs Elysees  PARIS GALLERY

Amsterdam, August 2005, a tram jam in Leidseplein  AMSTERDAM GALLERY

Roma, April 2002, the Ruins of Il Tempio die Dioscuri ROMA GALLERY

Tivoli, April 2002, the Tivoli Gardens  TIVOLI GALLERY

New York City, November 2005, on my best ever birthday, the view north-west from the Empire State Building  NEW YORK CITY GALLERY

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Architecture
26 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

National Trust properties in Warwickshire

Let's head out of Birmingham and into Shakespeare's County, Warwickshire with a look at four National Trust properties that you can visit. Coughton Court, Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton and Charlecote Park. The best time to go is usually in the spring or summer, although early autumn the weather would be fine to go. But you can visit them in any season!

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National Trust properties in Warwickshire




Let's head out of Birmingham and into Shakespeare's County, Warwickshire with a look at four National Trust properties that you can visit. Coughton Court, Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton and Charlecote Park. The best time to go is usually in the spring or summer, although early autumn the weather would be fine to go. But you can visit them in any season!


Coughton Court

It's a Grade I listed building, located between Studley and Alcester in Warwickshire. It is an English Tudor country house. The Coughton estate has been owned by the Throckmorton family since 1409. The gatehouse at Coughton was built as early as 1536. The courtyard was closed on all four sides until 1651, when Parliamentary soldiers burnt the fourth (east) wing during the English Civil War.

The West Front with two wings either side of it. The North Wing is on the left, while The South Wing is to the right. The Gatehouse is made of Limestone ashlar. The wings are timber framed with lath, plaster infill and brick.

This view of the courtyard seen with the Formal Garden from the other side of the River Arrow. The entrance is via the bottom of the Gatehouse. You can only go into the South Wing of the house. The North Wing is the private residence of the current members of the family. The East Wing must have survived until a fire in 1688. It was demolished in the 1780s.

You can head up a spiral staircase while on your visit to the house and get wonderful views of the estate from the roof. It is on the top of the Gatehouse. This view towards the Formal Garden, with the North Wing on the left and the South Wing on the right. The missing East Wing (burnt in the 17th century, demolished in the 18th) would have completed the courtyard.

The Dining Room. It was the Great Chamber in Elizabethan times. The principal first-floor reception room where the Throckmortons would have entertained important guests. It appears to have become a Dining Room in the early 19th century.

The Parlour. A bit like a lounge or living room. The room was off The Saloon Passage. It couldn't be The Yellow Drawing Room  as that room is in The Gatehouse to the left of the staircase.

Packwood House

It's a Grade I listed building, located near Lapworth in Warwickshire. The National Trust has owned it since 1941. It's a timber-framed Tudor manor house. The house was built for  John Fetherston between 1556 and 1560. The  last member of the Fetherston family died in 1876. In 1904 a Birmingham industrialist Alfred Ash purchased the house. It was inherited by Graham Baron Ash in 1925. The great barn of the farm was converted into a Tudor-style hall and was connected to the main house by the addition of a Long Gallery in 1931.

The West Front of Packwood House. There is sundial on this side. There is a drive around the lawn. There used to be an uninterrupted view of the house from this side. The 'Birmingham entrance' is how the owner Graham Baron Ash used to refer to this part of his estate. So when he requested a ride in his white Rolls Royce for business his chauffeur would know which entrance to park in readiness. But there has been a hedge in the way since the National Trust took over. They are hoping to reinstate the old carriageway to it's former glory.

The South Front seen from the Raised Terrace and Carolean Garden. The house is also known as Mr Ash's House. Baron Ash donated the house to the National Trust in 1941, but continued to live here until 1947, when he moved to Wingfield Castle.

The main entrance to the house and gardens is via the gate to the left. Seen from Packwood Lane to the right is the Outbuildings. Built in the mid 17th century, they were originally barns. Baron Ash converted them to rooms as part of the house, as if they were always like that (they weren't). Inside during your visit you will go into the Long Gallery and the Great Hall. Both are lined with old tapestries and period furniture. The Great Hall is a Tudor style hall with a sprung floor for dancing.

The Entrance Hall is the first room you would enter. If you have a large bag, then you can give it to a volunteer who would put it in trunk, and they would give you a token (which you would give back when coming back to collect your bag before going back outside). There is a portrait of King Henry VIII to the right. Above is a balcony / passageway that leads to the Fetherston Room (which has photos from the early 20th century showing Baron Ash's change to the house).

The Drawing Room. There is two rooms dedicated to Queen Mary (the wife of George V) as she visited the house in 1927. A chair she sat in the Great Hall is in this room, and a cup she drank tea from is now in a glass case. There is a piano to the right of the room.

Baddesley Clinton

A Grade I listed building, it is a moated manor house, located 8 miles north-west of Warwick in Warwickshire. The house originated in the 13th century. The manor was purchased in 1438 by John Brome, who passed it to his son, Nicholas Brome. The house ended up in the Ferrers family possession from the 16th century until they sold it to the National Trust in 1980.

The view of the moated manor house from the Forecourt. There is a bridge over the moat that leads to the inner courtyard.

The moat goes all the way around the house. This view is from the Walled Garden. There is coat of arms on all the windows around the house. There used to be a bridge on this side, if you notice the stonework to the bottom of the middle chimney breast. There is a room with a view on the first floor that was built in 1460, which is to the left of where the bridge used to be. It was probably removed when the current bridge was built along with the gatehouse in 1536.

After crossing the bridge over the moat, you enter the Inner Courtyard. It has a formal garden in the middle. One side of the garden you can see the moat and the path on the other side. Entrance to the house is this way.

The Great Hall. At this end is a fireplace in the middle of the room, and a pair of doors leading to the drawing room and a small dining room. Tapestry was on the wall to the left.

The Priest's Bedroom on the first floor. A bit of a small Catholic chapel. During Elizabethan times it was illegal to be Catholic, and houses like this had a priest hole (to hide the priest). You can find the priest hole from the kitchen (steps goes below a trapdoor). It would have been used in the 1590s.

Charlecote Park

A Grade I listed building surrounded by it's own deer park, on the banks of the River Avon near Wellesbourne, about 4 miles east of Stratford-upon-Avon and 5.5 miles south of Warwick. It is a grand 16th century country house. The National Trust has administered it since 1946. The Lucy family owned the land from 1247. Charlecote Park was built in 1558 by Sir Thomas Lucy.

As you approach the house from the entrance gate, you see the Gatehouse. Don't be surprised if you see deer crossing from one section of the lawn to the other (over the path), after all this is a deer park! The Gatehouse is a Grade I listed building and was built in 1560. Brick laid to English bond with limestone ashlar dressings. There is exhibition rooms on both sides of the gatehouse, although you can't go to the upper floors. One room had a bit of Lucy family history. The other room at the time of my visit was set up like a Red Cross World War One hospital room (with a bed). People with walking difficulties, can get a golf buggy to take them around the estate.

After passing the Gatehouse, you get your first view of the house. Once known as Charlecote Hall, today it is simply known as just Charlecote Park. A magnificent view, especially on a day with a blue sky (like this one in early September 2018). The house begun construction in 1558. It was expanded in the 19th century. The extensions were built for George and Mary Elizabeth Lucy. The house entrance is straight ahead.

This view of the house from the Parterre. A formal garden with colourful flowers. It is next to the River Avon on this side, with fine views of the Deer Park. The area to the right of the house is private.

The Dining Room at Charlecote Park. A long table laid out as it could have been like in the 19th century for the Lucy family. The house is now much more Victorian than Elizabethan, as George Hammond Lucy (who inherited in 1823), recreated the house in his own style (he was High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1831).

The Library. Table and chairs laid out for reading next to the fireplace. There is portraits around the room with Tudor and Stuart King's and Queen's as well as members of the Lucy family. Elizabeth I and Charles I are above the fireplace. Queen Elizabeth I actually once stayed at Charlecote in the room that is now the Drawing Room.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Civic pride
25 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

James Brindley: Canal Engineer of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Old Mainline

You maybe wondering who Brindleyplace is named after? That would be the canal engineer James Brindley who was approached in 1767 to propose a route for a canal from Birmingham to the Black Country. He died in 1772 a bit before the BCN Old Mainline was completed. He also started the Coventry Canal.

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James Brindley: Canal Engineer of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Old Mainline




You maybe wondering who Brindleyplace is named after? That would be the canal engineer James Brindley who was approached in 1767 to propose a route for a canal from Birmingham to the Black Country. He died in 1772 a bit before the BCN Old Mainline was completed. He also started the Coventry Canal.


James Brindley

He was born in 1716 in Tunstead, Derbyshire, and lived most of his life in Leek, Staffordshire, becoming one of the major engineers of the 18th century. He died in 1772. The canals he is known as being engineer for in the Midlands include the: Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, the Coventry Canal, and the Birmingham Canal. These were mostly engineered in the 1760s and 1770s. Other engineers such as Thomas Telford later reworked his canals decades after his death (such as building a straightened canal from Birmingham to Wolverhampton). This left many of Brindley's canal sections as loops of the Mainline.

There used to be a pub at Gas Street Basin near Bridge Street called The James Brindley. I don't ever recall seeing it open, as from the late 2000s and into the 2010s it was derelict and closed. At least until it was refurbished as The Canal House. It was near what is now Regency Wharf, and area called Old Wharf of the Birmingham Canal. Which existed from 1772 until 1931. It lay beyond Bridge Street (so probably on the Arena Central site now, and what used to be the ATV / Central TV studios site). The Paradise Street offices of the BCN was near there to (until demolition in 1913). There is a black plaque with that information on it nearby here.

The Canal House was opened in 2017. The redevelopment of the former James Brindley pub / bar. Looks much better compared to what was there before! You can see the bridge to the left that has been blocked off since Old Wharf was filled in back in 1931. With all the Arena Central buildings going up, it's unlikely that Old Wharf would get restored and be part of that development.

A look at Brindleyplace. It was named after Brindley Place the name of the street around which the development was built (which in turn was named after James Brindley himself). Was built from 1993 onwards. The last building was completed in 2009. This view of The Water's Edge, which was the first part to be completed in 1994. The Brindleyplace Bridge links the development to The ICC (International Convention Centre). Steps lead up from the canal towpath, but there is a lift nearby for disabled people. From here, people can get narrowboat rides with Sherborne Wharf. There is also a Floating Coffee boat on the other side.

When the BCN New Mainline opened in 1827, it caused sections of the old line to become loops. The closest part in the City Centre or Ladywood, is the Oozells Loop (I've been calling it the Oozells Street Loop for years). There is now modern apartment buildings around most of the loop, and some parts are private. Seen here from the Browning Street Footbridge towards the Ladywood Junction Footbridge. Watermarque is on one side and King Edward's Wharf on the other. There is usually many narrowboats moored down there.

You can see the Icknield Port Loop from Edgbaston Reservoir. This view below was taken in 2011 from the dam. It was originally called the Rotton Park Loop. The land around it has been derelict for years, and had been no pedestrian or vehicle access. But this site will get redeveloped soon with new apartment buildings, bringing it back to life similar to at the Oozells Loop and Brindleyplace areas. The skyline has changed quite a bit since then!

A look at some parts of the Birmingham Canal towards Wolverhampton, this is just a look at Brindley's old line, not Telford's new line, so the canal is quite curvy or bendy!

Seen in Smethwick, Sandwell the BCN Old Mainline seen heading towards Wolverhampton from Spon Lane South. Above the canal is the M5 motorway. Telford's New Mainline is a little bit further to the left of this area (and that is a straight cutting compared to this curved one). Volunteers from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society are seen to be picking up litter out of the canal, during March 2017.

At Oldbury in Sandwell, the BCN Old Mainline now seen under the M5 Motorway. This was close to the Manchester Street Bridge, and looking in the direction of Oldbury Junction (with the Titford Canal).

Seen on a nice sunny day in Tipton in late November 2017, on the BCN Old Mainline at Tipton Junction. To the left is the Dudley Tunnel via the Dudley No. 1 Canal, it also leads to the Stourbridge Canal. Wolverhampton is to the right on the old Birmingham Canal. The old and new Birmingham canals merge at Factory Junction in Tipton.

The Birmingham Canal (Wolverhampton Level), seen between Cable Street and Bilston Road in Wolverhampton. A pair of cyclists are seen passing the old warehouses ahead. The twisting and turning of the canal up here shows that Thomas Telford did not alter James Brindley's original line north of Deepfields (that is where the Wednesbury Oak Loop leaves the Mainline). The Midland Metro line is close to here on the Bilston Road.

Close to Wolverhampton Station and near the end of the BCN Mainline is this section of the canal. To the left is Broad Street Basin. The original Broad Street Bridge is now at the Black Country Living Museum, so the bridge we see there today is a replica. This is close to Wednesfield Road in Wolverhampton.

Next we take a look at the Coventry Canal Basin where you would find a statue of James Brindley.

James Brindley was engineer on the Coventry Canal from 1768 until 1769. The canal had reached Atherstone in 1769 by the time the canal company had run out of money and he had been replaced. Still he completed the canal basin in 1769.

The bronze statue of James Brindley (leaning over his desk) is by the sculptor James Butler and was made in 1998. This view near a finger post point to Birmingham, Fradley and Braunston.

A close up look at the James Brindley statue in Coventry. The canal basin is close to Leicester Row in Coventry.

This view of the Coventry Canal Basin is at the start or end of the canal. Warehouses to the right next to Leicester Row. The statue of Brindley is to the left. Valley Cruises Coventry Canal have hire boats from here.

These warehouses (in this view to the left) of the Coventry Canal Basin mostly post date James Brindley's time on the Coventry Canal, and date from 1787, the 19th century and 1914. They are Grade II listed buildings. The Coventry Canal Basin Trust are based around here.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points

Gallery

Construction & regeneration
22 Nov 2018 - Daniel Sturley

The Construction of Bank Tower Two

The main structure of Bank Tower Two on Broad Street is just a floor short of topping out, it looks great on the skyline at the moment all lit up with temporary lighting. A big gallery of photos in this update.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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The Construction of Bank Tower Two




The main structure of Bank Tower Two on Broad Street is just a floor short of topping out, it looks great on the skyline at the moment all lit up with temporary lighting. A big gallery of photos in this update.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points

Introducing

Photography
21 Nov 2018 - Mac McCreery

Introducing Simon 'Mac' McCreery - one of Birmingham's People with Passion

"The challenge for me is to capture the present, the past and the future as it is happening."

Here we introduce Mac and his amazing photography of Birmingham. 

Take the full post to see why Mac is one of Birmingham's 'people with passion'.

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Introducing Simon 'Mac' McCreery - one of Birmingham's People with Passion




"The challenge for me is to capture the present, the past and the future as it is happening."

Here we introduce Mac and his amazing photography of Birmingham. 

Take the full post to see why Mac is one of Birmingham's 'people with passion'.


"I started taking photography as a child in the 70s. My first camera was a 110 format kodak and I loved it. I am 50 now and I have always photographed for the same reason .... what am I looking at and why do I want to photograph it. I have owned many cameras and have never truly felt that my photographs mirror my thoughts until I moved to Digbeth, Birmingham nearly 8 years ago. Surrounded by regeneration is fascinating. Black and white has always been a natural fit as light is at the front of my mind when I trip the shutter."

Looking down the canal to Gas Street Basin, Birmingham (February 2018)

Skyline over Digbeth, Birmingham (November 2018)

Well Lane, Digbeth, Birmingham (November 2018)

Fazeley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham (October 2018)

Bordesley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham (October 2018)

Gas Street Basin, Birmingham (August 2018)

For more of Mac's photography go here.

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105 passion points

Gallery

Construction & regeneration
19 Nov 2018 - Daniel Sturley

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square

One Chamberlain Square is looking great in the winter sun and is looking almost like a completed building now, more photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square




One Chamberlain Square is looking great in the winter sun and is looking almost like a completed building now, more photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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Architecture
19 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Red brick Victorian buildings at the Colmore Estate

There might be new buildings going up in the Colmore Business District, but there are examples of red brick / terracotta / stone buildings still there from the Victorian period. Some are just facades with a modern building behind. Architects such as J. H. Chamberlain, William Martin & Frederick Martin left there mark in the area. Most examples from the late 19th century.

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Red brick Victorian buildings at the Colmore Estate




There might be new buildings going up in the Colmore Business District, but there are examples of red brick / terracotta / stone buildings still there from the Victorian period. Some are just facades with a modern building behind. Architects such as J. H. Chamberlain, William Martin & Frederick Martin left there mark in the area. Most examples from the late 19th century.


Old Royal - Church Street / Cornwall Street

This public house is Grade II listed and dates to the late 19th century (around 1898). It's at 53 - 55 Church Street. Was a rebuilding of a previous pub on the same site called the Red Lion for Alfred Homer, by the architect A H Hamblin. Purple brick and terracotta in a vaguely Loire style. During the football World Cup or the Euros, they put bunting flags up of the countries that were playing at the tournament such as below in July 2018.

Purnell's 55 Cornwall Street

This building is a bit hidden at the moment. Heading up New Market Street from Great Charles Street Queensway you find this building on the corner of Cornwall Street. A Victorian red brick and terracotta building. It is not listed. Purnell's one of Birmingham's Michelin starred restaurants is located here. There is hoardings on the building to the left, blocking off half Cornwall Street and half of New Market Street for something called The Lightwell. Back to 55 Cornwall Street, it has four storeys plus an attic level in the roof.

Empire House - Edmund Street

This building is Grade II listed and dates to the late 19th century. You would find it opposite a bus stop and to the right of the Birmingham School of Art. Edmund Street used to continue beyond Margaret Street, but that's part of Chamberlain Square now (between the Council House and Council House extension). The building is of red brick and terracotta, with Corinthian style columns. The building is in a derelict state at the moment, and has a Danger sign on the door. Hopefully it could get restored and given a new use, such as a restaurant or bar?

Birmingham School of Art - Margaret Street

This building is a red Victorian Gothic structure by the architects Chamberlain and Martin. Started in 1884 and completed after the death of J. H. Chamberlain in 1885 by his partner William Martin and his son Frederick Martin. Their architect firm completed an extension down Cornwall Street in 1892 - 1893. Associated Architects refurbished it between 1992 and 1996. A Grade I listed building, at the time of it's listing in 1970, it was listed as Art And Design Annexe, Birmingham Polytechnic. It is now listed as School of Art, Birmingham City University. The College of Art used to be part of the former Birmingham Polytechnic, which became a University in 1992 as the University of Central England. It was rebranded as Birmingham City University in 2005. It is now part of BCU's Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. And to this day it remains part of the University's Department of Fine Art, but is commonly referred to it's original title.

Birmingham and Midland Institute - Margaret Street

A Grade II* listed building dating to 1889 (or 1899) by the architects Jethro Cossins, F. B. Peacock, and Ernest Bewly. Originally the Birmingham Library, which from 1797 until 1899 had premises on Union Street before they moved to the site at the corner of Margaret Street and Cornwall Street. This library was established in 1779. It was a private library. The Birmingham and Midland Institute moved into this building in 1965 after their previous 19th century building was demolished, and they remain here to this day. The BMI was the pioneer of adult scientific and technical institution (General Industrial, Commercial and Music) and it today offers Arts and Sciences lectures.

All Bar One - Newhall Street

The Cornwall Buildings at 43 - 51 Newhall Street. It is on the corner with Cornwall Street and is Grade II listed. Built in the late 19th century is is built of brick and terracotta an has a slate roof. It was originally built for the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund (a low-cost medical insurance society). All Bar One is a chain bar, serving beers, wines and cocktails. The BT Tower is seen to the left in the Jewellery Quarter.

Edmunds - Newhall Street

This is The Scottish Mutual Assurance Society Building, built in 1895. On the corner of Edmund Street and Newhall Street. Located at 29 Newhall Street and 106 to 110 Edmund Street. Used to be a pub here called The Hogshead. It's a Grade II listed building.  It was by the architect Frank Barlow Osborn for W M Smythe, and was originally Solicitors' offices with sets of doctors' consulting rooms on either side. Red brick with ashlar sandstone dressings; blue tile roof. The building is asymmetrical and was built in the simplified Flemish Revival style. Edmunds Bar & Brewhouse has recently closed down.

Hotel Du Vin - Church Street

On the corner of Church Street and Edmund Street was the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital. This building was built in 1883, although the Eye Hospital was founded back in 1823. Founded by Joseph Hodgson, Eye Surgeon at The Eye Institution, Cannon Street (opening in 1824). It later moved to Steelhouse Lane (1853) then later to Temple Row (1862). They moved to Church Street in 1884. They were relocated again in 1996 when the Eye Hospital moved to City Hospital on the Dudley Road. The building was designed in the Franco-Italian style. A new wing was added to the hospital in 1895. The architects was  Payne and Talbot and the building was built in 1882 to 1883 in the modified Queen Anne style, of dark red brick with light-coloured stone dressings. Hotel Du Vin is a luxury hotel at 25 Church Street, stretching from Edmund Street to Barwick Street. Wards, operating theatres and laboratories have been converted into bedrooms, dining rooms and meeting rooms!

The Birmingham and Midland Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital - Edmund Street

At 105 and 107 Edmund Street is this Grade II listed building, at the corner with Barwick Street. Originally built as The Birmingham and Midland Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital in 1890 to 1891 by the architect Jethro A Cossins and Peacock. In red brick and terracotta with a tile roof. On Barwick Street is at no 70 to 78. Now the offices of H B J Gateley Wareing Llp at 111 Edmund Street. Some sections on Barwick Street have modern inserts in-between the original Victorian architecture, a bit of an old and new mishmash! The foundation stone of the Ear & Throat Hospital was laid by the Marquess of Hertford in 1890.

Maddox House and Enterprise House - Edmund Street

This building was formerly the White Swan pub of around 1890 by the architect J.S. Davis, it was facaded in the 1990s. Located at 117 to 119 Edmund Street to the corner with Barwick Street. Hortons Estates owns the building, and Maddox House to the left was named after Conroy Ronald Maddox (1912 - 2005), a surrealist artist and Birmingham innovator. You would find a black plaque on the front of this building. My photo below was taken in 2013. Enterprise House has since been refurbished since around 2014 and that's at 115 Edmund Street. Now offices.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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45 passion points

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History & heritage
17 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries in the Jewellery Quarter

Did you know that there is two cemeteries within the boundaries of the Middle Ring Road? At the north east corner of the Jewellery Quarter (Hockley) is Key Hill Cemetery (Non-Conformist) and Warstone Lane Cemetery (Church of England). If you walk along Icknield Street (part of the Middle Ring Road) you can walk in and out of both.

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Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries in the Jewellery Quarter




Did you know that there is two cemeteries within the boundaries of the Middle Ring Road? At the north east corner of the Jewellery Quarter (Hockley) is Key Hill Cemetery (Non-Conformist) and Warstone Lane Cemetery (Church of England). If you walk along Icknield Street (part of the Middle Ring Road) you can walk in and out of both.


Key Hill Cemetery

The cemetery opened in 1836 and is the oldest of the two cemeteries. It's a nondenominational cemetery (nonconformist). The main entrance is on Icknield Street, while a side entrance is on Key Hill. The cemetery was laid out by the Birmingham General Cemetery Company by the architect Charles Edge. It is no longer used for burials. There is also Commonwealth war graves in the cemetery. A lot of famous names of Birmingham's past are buried here such as Joseph Chamberlain and George Dawson to name two.

Key Hill Cemetery seen in January 2018. Icknield Street entrance.

Key Hill entrance.

Key Hill Cemetery seen in November 2018. Starting again at the Icknield Street entrance towards the first WW1 war memorial.

Path past the gravestone and momuments.

Getting a little tricky to see the paths with all the leaves on the ground. This way towards the Key Hill exit / entrance.

Leaves everywhere, gravestones and monuments all over. Is some catacombs nearby too.

War memorials at Key Hill Cemetery.

This memorial is in memory of those who fell in the Great Wart 1914 - 1918 and who are buried in this cemetery. Poppy wreath from the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, the Council and the people of Birmingham.

The original war memorial in the cemetery to those who fell in the Great War 1914 - 1918. It is inscribed with the fallen names.

More recently a war memorial bench to those who fell in WW1 has been placed in the cemetery.

Warstone Lane Cemetery

This cemetery dates to about 1847. There is an Entrance Lodge on Warstone Lane. It's a Church of England cemetery. In here can be found a set of catacombs. This cemetery also has Commonwealth war graves. Famous names of Birmingham's past here include John Baskerville and Harry Gem to name two. Other names for this cemetery include Brookfields Cemetery, Mint Cemetery or Church of England Cemetery. As well as Warstone Lane, other entrance's include Pitsford Street, Vyse Street and Icknield Street.

Views from November 2009.

Cemetery Lodge. Grade II listed building. Built in 1848 by J R Hamilton of Gloucester (Hamilton & Medland). It's at 161 Warstone Lane.

The War Stone. It landed here in the last Ice Age by a glacier. It was called the Hoar Stone. It is a felsite boulder.

Gravestones in Warstone Lane Cemetery seen close to the lodge and war memorial area.

December 2012 view of Warstone Lane Cemetery from Pitsford Street.

A November 2018 walk into Warstone Lane Cemetery towards the catacombs. Various gravestones on the way along the footpaths.

A look at the catacombs at Warstone Lane Cemetery. It is double layered, and has a path that goes around it to the top. This is probably the most well known part of this cemetery.

War memorial in Warstone Lane Cemetery close to the Cemetery Lodge.

November 2009 view of the war memorial cross with a few poppy wreaths below.

The names on the memorial, as seen in November 2009. Bit similar to the design at Key Hill Cemetery. They make it look nice sometimes with the flowers planted in front of the memorial.

The same war memorial seen in November 2018. This time just one poppy wreath. Was just after the Armistice 100 weekend commemorations. Cemetery lodge seen to the left. You can also see The War Stone from this vantage point.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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65 passion points

Did you know?

History & heritage
16 Nov 2018 - Luke Harris

W.W. Alexander's

'One of the worst cases of fouling I've ever seen': W.W. Alexander's reflections on the 1908 Olympics'

 

Article link:

http://www.playingpasts.co.uk/articles/one-of-the-worst-cases-of-fouling-that-i-have-ever-seen-w-w-alexanders-reflections-on-the-1908-olympics/

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W.W. Alexander's




'One of the worst cases of fouling I've ever seen': W.W. Alexander's reflections on the 1908 Olympics'

 

Article link:

http://www.playingpasts.co.uk/articles/one-of-the-worst-cases-of-fouling-that-i-have-ever-seen-w-w-alexanders-reflections-on-the-1908-olympics/


 

W.W. Alexander was a pivotal figure in the history of Midlands athletics. Along with his adminstrative duties, he was a prominent writer within 'The Sporting Mail'. This paper examines his reflections on the 1908 Olympics held in London

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20 passion points

Introducing

People & community
13 Nov 2018 - FreeTimePays

BirminghamWeAre - a FreeTimePays Community of Passion making all the difference!

Two years ago the idea of a digital space for people who want to make a difference and create social and economic impact was first conceived as a created here in Birmingham digital product. Two years later and major scale is on the cards with a huge roll out planned. 

See the full post for why it offers so much for neighbourhoods as well as the West Midlands region.

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BirminghamWeAre - a FreeTimePays Community of Passion making all the difference!




Two years ago the idea of a digital space for people who want to make a difference and create social and economic impact was first conceived as a created here in Birmingham digital product. Two years later and major scale is on the cards with a huge roll out planned. 

See the full post for why it offers so much for neighbourhoods as well as the West Midlands region.


 

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30 passion points

Gallery

Construction & regeneration
13 Nov 2018 - Daniel Sturley

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square

One Chamberlain Square is having the last of the sills at the top and bottom of the main tier, the stipes on the back are now on the full height of the building. More photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square




One Chamberlain Square is having the last of the sills at the top and bottom of the main tier, the stipes on the back are now on the full height of the building. More photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


 

Photos by Daniel Sturley

Full Gallery of the Construction of One Chamberlain Square

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90 passion points

Did you know?

Architecture
13 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Calthorpe Estates: Edgbaston - a selection of Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town houses

Edgbaston the picture perfect suburb of Birmingham has long been managed by the Calthorpe Estates. You would see around white houses dating back to the Georgian and Regency periods, as well as from the Victorian era. Mostly the area between the Hagley Road, Harborne Road, Calthorpe Road and Church Road (and the connecting roads in the area).

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Calthorpe Estates: Edgbaston - a selection of Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town houses




Edgbaston the picture perfect suburb of Birmingham has long been managed by the Calthorpe Estates. You would see around white houses dating back to the Georgian and Regency periods, as well as from the Victorian era. Mostly the area between the Hagley Road, Harborne Road, Calthorpe Road and Church Road (and the connecting roads in the area).


St George's School Edgbaston

Located at 31 Calthorpe Road. A Grade II listed building dates to 1835. Was formerly the Edgbaston College for Girls. Mainly includes a large formerly detached Grecio-Egyptian villa. Extended in 1883-86 on the foundation of the college. The school additions were by the architect J. A. Chatwin.

27 and 28 Calthorpe Road

In 2015 this was occupied by the RoSPA. Grade II listed building, a pair of three storey semi-detached stucco Calthorpe Estate villas built in 1830. No 27 was altered in 1850.

37 and 38 Calthorpe Road

A pair of semi-detached stucco 2 storey villas built in 1835, they are Grade II listed. Canted pilaster bay windows was added in 1860. Otto Robert Frisch and Rudolf Peierls lived at no 38 while they were working at the University of Birmingham on nuclear research which led to the first atomic bomb (this was from February to March 1940).

41, 42 and 43 Calthorpe Road

This is a pair of semi-detached stucco faced Calthorpe Estate villas built in 1830, they are Grade II listed buildings. In 2015 WPR was at no 43. Canted bay windows were added in 1860.

3 and 4 Highfield Road

A pair of semi detached houses built in 1830. Stucco in the late Regency style. Some parts were later added in 1860. J. R. R. Tolkien lived at no 4 from 1910 until 1911. It is now the Highfield Day Nursery and Preschool

More more on J R R Tolkien see this post J.R.R. Tolkien's Birmingham (inspiration for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

The Edgbaston - 18 Highfield Road

This is a Grade II listed building at 18 and 19 Highfield Road in Edgbaston. Built in 1840 it is a pair of symmetrical classical stucco villas. The right hand ground floor window of no 18 was replaced sometime between 1880 and 1890. There is coach house at no 18. The coach house at no 19 had been rebuilt. The Edgbaston is a Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge.

 

Simpsons Restaurant - 20 Highfield Road

This property dates to 1840 and is Grade II listed. A large detached stucco villa. It's front entrance is on Westbourne Crescent. The rear on Highfield Road dates to 1855. Simpsons Restaurant was founded in 1993 by two chefs and it is one of Birmingham's restaurans with a Michelin Star.

The Highfield - 22 Highfield Road

The Highfield is a gastro pub that opened in recent years. Owned by the Peach family. The building is not listed, but it still retains an old sundial to the left! They modified the building removing two side doors that used to be there before.

26 Highfield Road

This property doesn't appear to be listed, but it has a blue plaque on it from the Birmingham Civic Society. Edward Richard Taylor (1838 - 1912) was an art teacher and William Howson Taylor (1876 - 1935) was a potter. They both lived here. The plaque was also presented by the Calthorpe Estates Residents Society.

Boston Tea Party - 30 Harborne Road

Boston Tea Party had originally hoped to open a cafe in Moseley, but the site they wanted later went to Prezzo (which was later replaced by Sorrento Lounge). Edgbaston is probably a better location for them here anyway. This building is not listed.

The Physician - 36 Harborne Road

The original building is over 180 years old dating to the 1830s. The BMI (Birmingham Medical Institute) was in this building from 1954 until their lease ran out in 2013. Later turned into a pub The Physician opened in 2016. The building is believed to have housed the 'Sampson Gangee Library for the History of Medicine' possibly commissioned in 1863 by Calthorpe Estates. It's on the corner with Highfield Road.

38 Harborne Road

Every Christmas the Calthorpe Estates places these Christmas reindeers at various places around Edgbaston. This property dates to about 1835 and is close to the corner with Highfield Road. There is a coach house to the left. It's a Grade II listed building.

105 Harborne Road

There is a blue plaque on this house for Francis Brett Young from the Birmingham Civic Society and the Francis Brett Young Society. A novelist, poet and physician, who lived here from 1905-6. The house itself is Grade II listed and dates to 1830. A pair of identical stucco houses. Both of the houses here have coach houses (now just garages).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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50 passion points

Inspiration

People & community
11 Nov 2018 - FreeTimePays

We will never forget them!

Selection of wonderful photography taken by Daniel Sturley as Birmingham remembers all its heroes on Remembrance Day in Cathedral Square, Colmore Row. 

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We will never forget them!




Selection of wonderful photography taken by Daniel Sturley as Birmingham remembers all its heroes on Remembrance Day in Cathedral Square, Colmore Row. 


Courtesy Daniel Sturley

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Gallery

Environment & green action
11 Nov 2018 - Christine Wright

Enjoying the Autumn in Kings Heath Park.

Take the full post to view the lovely Autumn colours captured at Kings Heath Park, Birmingham.

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Enjoying the Autumn in Kings Heath Park.




Take the full post to view the lovely Autumn colours captured at Kings Heath Park, Birmingham.


The glorious autumn colours in Kings Heath Park this year have been enjoyed by young and old, in sunshine and in rain. We are so lucky to have such a beautiful greenspace in Kings Heath!

Enjoy this gallery of photography taken in Autumn 2018 in the park.

Photography by Christine Wright

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Did you know?

History & heritage
11 Nov 2018 - Luke Harris

Perry Barr Greyhound Racing Track was originally Birmingham’s athletics venue

Birmingham’s only remaining greyhound Stadium in Perry Barr was firstly the home of Birchfield Harriers Athletic Club.This was opened as the ‘Alexander Sports Ground’ and was named after W.W. Alexander, an instrumental figure in the clubs history.In 1977, Birchfield Harriers left and moved to the Alexander Stadium, one of the key venues for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

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Gallery

People & community
11 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Remembrance Sunday in Birmingham in past November's

Remembrance Sunday in Birmingham in past years. A parade down Broad Street in November 2012. The Remembrance service in Centenary Square in 2014, and in Victoria Square in 2017.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Remembrance Sunday in Birmingham in past November's




Remembrance Sunday in Birmingham in past years. A parade down Broad Street in November 2012. The Remembrance service in Centenary Square in 2014, and in Victoria Square in 2017.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.


Broad Street - Remembrance parade - 11th November 2012

Remembrance Sunday service in Centenary Square on 9th November 2014

Remembrance Sunday service in Victoria Square on 12th November 2017

Photos taken by Elliott Brown in November 2012, 2014 and 2017.

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Gallery

Architecture
09 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

Birmingham Council House - the seat of local Government in Birmingham

After the recent Birmingham We Are event at the Council House, thought I'd do a post about the building itself! The original building was built from 1874 until 1879 from a design by Yeoville Thomason in the classical style. A Grade II* listed building where the Councillors meet.

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Birmingham Council House - the seat of local Government in Birmingham




After the recent Birmingham We Are event at the Council House, thought I'd do a post about the building itself! The original building was built from 1874 until 1879 from a design by Yeoville Thomason in the classical style. A Grade II* listed building where the Councillors meet.


Birmingham Council House

Located in what is now Victoria Square (formerly the Council House Square until 1901). Seen below in 2009 when the previous 103 Colmore Row was still standing. It was built between 1874 and 1879. The first extension was later built from 1881 until 1885 (including the Museum & Art Gallery). Yeoville Thomason was the architect for that extension as well as the original building.

The second extension was built between 1911 and 1919 by the architects Ashley & Newman (including the Museum & Art Gallery extension and the Gas Hall). Here we are mostly concentrating on the original building.

The seat of local government where the councillors of Birmingham City Council debate things, consider what buildings to be built or what needs to be demolished, and various other matters, including the waste service and local parks. View below from 2010.

Seen in 2017 was French Nationals (that live in the West Midlands) queuing to vote in the French Presidential election (later won by Emmanuel Macron). The Council House can also be used as a polling station for British General or Local Elections.

Every year from October to December, there are poppies placed below the balcony of the Council House, as well as the Happy Christmas Birmingham sign. The Remembrance service in 2017 was held in front of the Council House (in 2018 it's moved to Birmingham Cathedral). The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is usually in Victoria Square from November to December each year.

The clock tower at the Council House is nicknamed Big Brum, and can be seen mainly from Chamberlain Square. It is close to the main entrance of the Museum & Art Gallery. It was built in 1885 as part of the first extension to the Council House. The clock was donated by A. Follett Osler. The name is similar to Big Ben (at the Palace of Westminster in London) which it alluded to.

When the 1974 - 2013 Birmingham Central Library stood, it wasn't possible to see Big Brum from Centenary Square and the Library of Birmingham. After the old library was demolished in 2016 the Museum and Council House was visible from this side for the first time in a long time. One and Two Chamberlain Square are currently being built at Paradise Birmingham, and Centenary Way was extended towards Chamberlain Square. It is now possible to see Big Brum from Centenary Square!

The side of the Council House on Eden Place between 125 Colmore Row. There is four unused red phone boxes down here. At one point the box closest to Colmore Row was used by Jake's Coffee Box, but I think that closed down a while ago now. All the phone boxes are available to let. All four are of K6 type and are Grade II listed. Designed in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert
Scott.

This side of the Council House seen on what was once a part of Edmund Street that stretched as far as the old Victorian Central Library building. The Water Hall gallery is on this side. It is opposite the Gas Hall and Council House Extension (where the rest of the Museum & Art Gallery can be accessed). Entrance on this side of the Council House is for pass holders only. Signs direct you around to the Victoria Square entrance.

While at the Birmingham We Are event, gave me an opportunity to have a quick look around at the interior. Sure that there is more to see, but this was what I got.

The ceiling and chandeliers in the Banqueting Suite. This was the main room that we were in for those 3 hours. The sculptures on the ceiling looked especially fascinating to me! So many columns in here. The balcony is outside of this room, where visitors could stand up there including winning sports teams.

Sitting in the Drawing Room during the talks / videos, I noticed this mural behind the chandelier. In the middle looks like a person sitting on a chair / throne in a doric column temple.

The Glass Corridor.

Another corridor on the 1st floor. Was a series of portraits down here.

The dome and chandelier above the Grand Staircase. They don't build them like this any more!

The Grand Staircase from the top. Halfway up was a statue of Prince Albert (left) and Queen Victoria (right).

The Grand Staircase heading back down to the Victoria Square entrance / exit. There was several busts down here and plaques.

 

Photos by Elliott Brown

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Civic pride
08 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown

George Dawson a non-conformist preacher who called for Civic Reform

There used to be a statue for many years on Edmund Street close to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, but it went into storage. What happened to it? Well it was of George Dawson and it's now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. A non-conformist preacher who called for civic reform. Born in 1821 and died in 1876. There is also several busts of this Victorian gentleman!

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George Dawson a non-conformist preacher who called for Civic Reform




There used to be a statue for many years on Edmund Street close to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, but it went into storage. What happened to it? Well it was of George Dawson and it's now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. A non-conformist preacher who called for civic reform. Born in 1821 and died in 1876. There is also several busts of this Victorian gentleman!


George Dawson

Born in London in 1821, he moved to Birmingham in 1844 to become minister of the Mount Zion Baptist Chapel. He left the Baptist Church in 1845 and he become minister of the theologically liberal Church of the Saviour. While there he developed the concept of the Civic Gospel.

He gave sermons to the likes of Joseph Chamberlain and other local politicians of the day. He lectured for the city to be transformed and Joseph Chamberlain answered him as a visionary social reforming Mayor in the 1870s.

The statue of George Dawson has moved about a quite a bit since it was made by Thomas Woolner in 1880. It's moved from Victoria Square to Chamberlain Square to eventually a spot on Edmund Street. I think under the link bridge of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It was eventually moved to storage and is now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. In the area full of classic cars, fire engines etc!

You can see a photo of the statues last location here George Dawson, Chamberlain Square on the Wikimedia Commons (from Geograph). As you can see it used to have railings around it.

The statue depicts Dawson in a full-length frock coat with his hands clapsed together. In the Francis Frith photo archive, they have a photo dated 1896 with the statue close to the Chamberlain Memorial. At the time it was under a canopy that resembled the Chamberlain Memorial. It featured the heads of Bunyan, Carlyle, Cromwell and Shakespeare, symoblising Religion, Letters, Governments and Poetry. The Thomas Woolner statue of 1880 was disliked so it kept getting moved around. Another statue was commissioned in 1881 from F J Williamson.

This photo shows the unusual view of the George Dawson statue amongst all the machines that are surrounding it at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. Hopefully one day it will come out of storage and be put in a prominent location for all to see!

Also in the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre was this bronze bust of George Dawson. The note next to it just says that he was A campaigner for civic reform. It was located in the warehouse. You can see the bust and the statue on the free open days that they have at the centre. Any other times you have to book.

Next we head up to the Library of Birmingham and go up to Level 9. Just outside of the Shakespeare Memorial Room was this large marble bust on George Dawson. The area is the Skyline Viewpoint. Not far from this bust is a foundation stone from the old Victorian Birmingham Library. He gave an address at the first Birmingham Central Library in 1866. That library was partly damaged by a fire in 1879 was was rebuilt and enlarged by 1882. That time the second library was opened by John Bright MP. The library would survive until 1974 when it was demolished after the last Central Library opened (that to would close in 2013 and be demolished in 2016).

In 2016 there was an exhibition on at the Library of Birmingham in the Gallery on Level 3 called Our Shakespeare. They had a terracotta model of George Dawson in one of the glass cases. It was probably a study for the statue by the sculptor Thomas Wollner, which was completed in 1880. George Dawson died suddenly aged 55 at Kings Norton on the 30th November 1876.

The same terracotta model / bust of George Dawson was later seen in the Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham on Level 9 of the library. Apparently Dawson was the first President of the Birmingham Shakespeare Club, he was also a noted Birmingham philanthropist and politician. The sign next to it says the statue it was a study of was later on Great Charles Street.

Photos by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points

Inspiration

People & community
07 Nov 2018 - FreeTimePays

Wow! A wonderful celebration of Birmingham passion by Birmingham's people with passion

Such a great event held at Birmingham's Council House with a wonderful welcome by the Lord Mayor celebrates Birmingham culture, creativity, history and heritage.  From organisers of the annual Celebration of a City, BirminghamWeAre, a big thank you to all involved!  Take the full post to view a selection of great photography of an amazing showcase. 

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Wow! A wonderful celebration of Birmingham passion by Birmingham's people with passion




Such a great event held at Birmingham's Council House with a wonderful welcome by the Lord Mayor celebrates Birmingham culture, creativity, history and heritage.  From organisers of the annual Celebration of a City, BirminghamWeAre, a big thank you to all involved!  Take the full post to view a selection of great photography of an amazing showcase. 


Opening of the Celebration of a City. Courtesy Dan Ricardo

Welcoming words from Lord Mayor of Birmingham. Courtesy Karen Cross

Great performane from Access Creative College. Courtesy Dan Ricardo

Showcase at the Celebration of a City. Courtesy Kevin Maslin

Lord Mayor with Amrit Singh. Courtesy Amrit Singh

Tammie Naughton, contributor to the Birmingham Gems calendar. Courtesy Tammie Naughton

Kevin Maslin, contributor to the Birmingham Gems calendar. Courtesy Kevin Maslin

Christine Wright, contributor to the Birmingham Gems calendar. Courtesy Tammie Naughton

Imran Ali-Bashir, contributor to the Birmingham Gems calendar.  Courtesy Tammie Naughton.

Live Art at the Celebration of a City. Courtesy Victoria Ball

Matt 'man' Windle - poet and boxer. Courtesy Daniel Ricardo.

Great speeches at Celebration of a City. Courtesy Daniel Sturley. 

The magnificent Birmingham Gems calendar. Courtesy Victoria Ball. 

 

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