Environment & green action
12 Dec 2018 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

Air Quality across the City - Birmingham's on a mission!

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment at the Birmingham City Council talks of the "brave and bold leadership Birmingham has shown by introducing Clean Air Zone class D".

In this post, Laura Creaven, an award winning blogger in Birmingham, reviews the Q&A event held in Birmingham during December 2018. 

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Air Quality across the City - Birmingham's on a mission!




Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment at the Birmingham City Council talks of the "brave and bold leadership Birmingham has shown by introducing Clean Air Zone class D".

In this post, Laura Creaven, an award winning blogger in Birmingham, reviews the Q&A event held in Birmingham during December 2018. 


Climate change, traffic congestion and poor air quality have all been hot topics in the media, particularly in Birmingham where the Council’s announcement of a Clean Air Zone has brought some heated opinions from residents.  London Sustainability Exchange (LSx), who have been working with residents in some of East Birmingham’s wards, arranged a question and answer session for Birmingham residents to pose questions to academics, councillors and campaigners.

Opening the evening, Alice Vodden from London Sustainability Exchange gave some background to how the evening came about; working with residents of Birmingham’s Sparkbrook and Ward End, particularly looking at poor air quality around high servies areas, they realised that a co-ordinated collection action would create more change.  Realising that the residents they worked with grasped the problems, but also had a lot of questions, LSx convened a group of panellists who each have an interest in air quality in Birmingham.  Each speaker was given a few minutes to talk about the subject, with the rest of the time offered up to questions from the floor.

The first person to talk was Dr Zongbo Shi, Senior Lecturer in Atmospheric Biogeochemistry at the University of Birmingham.  Dr Shi talked about what exactly is air pollution and why a blue sky is not necessarily a clean sky, despite what people might think.  By studying the data it was clear to see that whilst Birmingham might not have the dangerously high levels of particle matter in the air that cities like Dehli have, air quality pollutants are fairly consistent in causing problems even at lower levels, so Birmingham needs to act – particularly at roadsides where it is a bigger problems than in urban backgrounds.

Dr Shi pointed out that a few percent of GDP is lost to air pollution, giving examples of people who become sick and then cannot work because of respiratory illness.  He and his team are working on WM Air, the West Midlands Air Quality Improvement Programme, which supports improvements to air quality in the area and the knock on benefits to health and education.

Next up was Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment at the Birmingham City Council who talked about the brave and bold leadership Birmingham showed by introducing Clean Air Zone class D, which means all vehicles (Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars) but motorbikes are included within the remit.  This is the toughest of the Clean Air Zones on offer but Councillor Zaffar pointed out that even this wasn’t enough, and that the council weren’t interested in merely being legally compliant, but that this would be the jumping off point, as good air quality is important to future generations and to reduce health inequalities within the city, especially as the Clean Air Zone encompasses some of the poorer communities with the city.  He was also careful to point out that the council are aware these communities will be impacted by the creation of the Clean Air Zone and that they have requested additional funds from central government to support these groups, and small businesses within the zone.

Sue Huyton from the British Lung Foundation was the third panelist and she spoke about the unsafe levels of air pollution around hospitals and GP surgeries, both nationally, but also in Birmingham, where three hospitals are in areas that are unsafe and 41% of GP surgeries in areas which exceed the safe levels for air pollution, higher than the national average.  Sue praised  the national leadership shown by Birmingham City Council class D, but would want to see WHO recommendations for better air quality included in the Environment Bill, believing the answer to clean air lies in legislating for it.

Stirchley resident Sandra Green joined the Clean Air Parents’ Network because she wanted to engage with how air pollution affected children.  Through the network she’s met with a number of interesting people, but talked about a sobering meeting with someone from UNICEF who she always thought of as working on child issues around the country, but found out that they have a campaign around UK children’s right to clean air.  Sandra believed that the way to change attitudes is through hearts and minds, and that things like the reusable cup example show it is possible, especially if we get people to think of air quality in the same way.

The final speaker of the evening was Chris Crean from Friends of the Earth West Midlands.  Chris expressed thanks to the organisers for arranging the evening, Birmingham City Council for persevering, even when faced with criticism from within their own party, but that the biggest thanks should go to Client Earth who have successfully taken the UK government to court three times over air pollution in the country.  Recognising reports which talked about having only 12 years to act on climate change, Chris talked about the need to change how we live so that we have a sustainable economy, but also that we leave a tolerable planet for future generations to live on, and that this can’t simply be things like cleaner and green cars but less cars on the road.  He also spoke about the concerns government is only interested in compliance, rather than challenging further and whether they will put their money where their mouth is by supporting local councils to make the necessary changes.

Whilst Chris praised the leadership of the council for implementing the Clean Air Zone, he did also point out a number of inconsistencies including plans to widen the Dudley Rd to more traffic and the chaos over changes to buses in south Birmingham, and what this says to residents and businesses within the Clean Air Zone.  Councillor Zaffar agreed this was a fair point and that the council needs to reprioritise the road space, make a walkable city centre and connect the new cycle-ways to existing paths.  Chris ended his talk suggesting that the city is not an island and that it needs to work with others in the conurbation, by sharing ideas like Solihull School Streets campaign [a pilot project which aims to address such issues by limiting traffic in the streets surrounding schools at key times, creating a predominantly car free zone] and working together to make a real impact.

And with the talks done it was over to questions.  As usual, several questions weren’t actually questions but more comments, offering to install pilot air filters which have been successful in India, calls to extend the Skips Clean Air Cops from primary into secondary schools, and whether contact information for people in the room could be shared.

Questions about investment were asked, with Councillor Zaffar replying that a London-centric government does not fund transport fairly, and that the area has a long way to go in terms of charging points for electric vehicles and pushing for public transport not to move to the compliant Euro VI emissions but rely on hydrogen and electric vehicle fleets instead.  Questions around the joined up thinking around cycling were also raised, with Councillor Zaffar explaining how Manchester and the West Midlands authorities had spent transport money (WMCA spent it on the metro), and how Birmingham still needed to invest more but hopes that different ways of working, like the partnership with the Canals and River Trust, would be of use.

Gavin Passmore from sustainable transport charity Sustrans asked about how receptive schools had been to the ideas around reducing parents driving to school and it was a mixed response, with Sandra Green saying teachers are keen and are thinking of innovative ways to implement it into the curriculum through things like maths and physical educations, whereas Sue Huyton pointed out that some schools are initially hostile due to concerns about how it would negatively impact the school, but that going in on a reducing carbon footprint was a more positive spin on a similar topic.

Public transport was something that came up in both the panelist and audience questions, with one audience member posing the question as to whether Birmingham could take inspiration from numerous other cities around the world and introduce free public transport.  Councillor Zaffar said this was a great aspiration, and that there is certainly a need to make public transport cheaper, but that whilst the West Midlands Combined Authority Major has the right to franchise public transport, this isn’t something he seems to be looking at.  But that Birmingham City Council are trying to make changes where they can by introducing bus lanes and gates which prioritise buses on the roads.

The last question of the evening was around the response to the consultation for the Clean Air Zone, which has been controversial within Birmingham.  The audience member pointed out that two thirds of responses were negative, and how do we change this and get people to see what the issues are.  Sue pointed at the work Client Earth had done around their Poisoned Playground campaign, as well as the British Lung Foundation’s website, which used data to show the impact on areas.  She recognised the limits of the data, but said that this data has given vocal parents the ammunition to accelerate things and put pressure on bringing about change.  And finally Councillor Zaffar called for a bottom up approach which saw young people as vital to encourage parents to enact change.

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Laura Creaven is an award winning bogger in Birmingham. To view more of Laura's posts visit her blog HERE.

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90 passion points
Architecture
11 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston white Regency / Victorian villas / town houses Part 2

A second selection of the white Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town house in Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston. Mostly the posh looking area between the Hagley Road and Calthorpe Road. There is so many fine examples now. Mostly they are now offices. There are also examples on St James Road and George Road, which are towards the Islington Row Middleway and Wheeleys Road.

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Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston white Regency / Victorian villas / town houses Part 2




A second selection of the white Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town house in Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston. Mostly the posh looking area between the Hagley Road and Calthorpe Road. There is so many fine examples now. Mostly they are now offices. There are also examples on St James Road and George Road, which are towards the Islington Row Middleway and Wheeleys Road.


For my first post follow this link Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston Part 1.

Hagley Road

The Calthorpe Estates offices is located at 76 Hagley Road. On the corner with Highfield Road. The building dates to the early 19th century and is a Grade II listed building. White stucco with a slate roof. The Calthorpe Estates manages over 1600 acres of land across Edgbaston in Birmingham. Seen around November 2015 when they had Christmas reindeer on the Highfield Road side. You would normally find them around Edgbaston during the Christmas season each year.

One of the earliest buildings of the Calthorpe Estates. Regency House was built from 1819 until 1820 and was designed by Thomas and Joseph Bateman for John Harris. Only the regency façade is Grade II listed, as the building behind was demolished and rebuilt in 1971 by John Madin Design Group (JMDG) for Rentcroft Investments (and that is of no special historic interest). A terrace of six former houses, now offices. No 97 to 107 Hagley Road. It is built of brick covered in whitewashed stuco with a slate roof.

Praza an Indian Restaurant with Cocktail Bar & Dining at 94 and 96 Hagley Road. Grade II listed building. The building dates to the early 19th century and was built as a pair of semi detached houses. Stucco with a slate roof.

Cadbury Brothers

For my post on the Cadbury Brothers follow this link Cadbury Brothers: George and Richard Cadbury.

17 Wheeleys Road was the former home of Richard Cadbury who lived here from 1861 until 1871. Blue plaque from English Heritage. The houses at 17 and 18 Wheeleys Road were built in 1829 and have first floor Ionic pilasters.

At 32 George Road near the corner of St James Road was the former home of George Cadbury. Who lived here from 1872 until 1881 according to the blue plaque from English Heritage. The house is a Grade II listed building and was built in 1820 as a detached 2 storey stucco villa. The house has fluted Tuscan columns to the doorcases.

St James Road and George Road

The Roundhouse at 16 and 17 St James Road. A Grade II listed building. It's a good example of a stucco cottage combining picturesque Italian rustic manner with gothic-Tudor details. Was originally built as a freestanding folly in 1810 in the grounds of 29 George Road. Wings added to garden front and wings to roadside added in 1830. Further additions of a service wing around 1860-70.

Over on George Road is St James Place. It's a Grade II listed building, now offices. Originally built as the Original House and Service Coach House Wings at the Skin Hospital. Was built between 1830 and 1840 as a substantial Grecian villa of 2 storeys with 5 bays and is stucco faced.

Back to St James Road with what is now Busy Bees Nursery. The building isn't listed but looks of the 19th century period of the other Calthorpe Estates buildings in the area. Is close to Calthorpe Road and the HSBC building is behind it.

Hallfield School

This is Hallfield School and it has a couple of white stucco buildings that you might see on the no 1 bus route. The school was founded in 1879, and they will be 140 years old in 2019! The white stucco school buildings are located near Church Road.

First up, this building used as a Day Nursery. Grade II listed building dating to about 1850. Listed as the Main Block to Hallfield School. It has a rusticated porch with round-arched entrance framed by coupled pilasters.

This is the main building of Hallfield School, if you are on a train on the Cross City line, or heading up or down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, you might be able to see the back of the school buildings from the playing field. While these buildings are not listed, it dates to about 1860 and was originally a large villa called Beech Lawn.

The view of Beech Lawn, now the main building of Hallfield School from the towpath of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Next to the canal is what is now known as the Cross City line. The Edgbaston Tunnel is a short distance away and it goes under Church Road. Normally from the train, you can normally just see the playing fields, as these Victorian brick railways walls get in the way of the view! You can't tell from here that the building is now part of a school!

Calthorpe Road

This is 20 Calthorpe Road, close to St James Road. Currently it is To Let but formerly it was occupied by DG Mutual. A Grade II listed building. It is an early Calthorpe Estates villa dating to about 1820 to 1830. Grecian stucco symmetrical 3 bay elevation on 2 storeys. There is a former coach house on the left.

Next up is Al Rayan Bank at 24 to 25 Calthorpe Road. A Grade II listed building. Built as a pair of semi-detached Calthorpe Estate stucco villas in the year 1840. There is a Roman Doric doorway at no 25.

The next building down is a Grade II listed building at 26 Calthorpe Road. Rubric Lois King Solicitors. A stucco villa built in 1840. A detached version of the villas at Nos 24 and 25. Doric column porch.

The RoSPA are at 27 and 28 Calthorpe Road, also a Grade II listed building.  These buildings date to about 1830 and is a pair of 3-storey semi-detached stucco Calthorpe Estate villas. No 27 was altered in 1850, but also has a former coach house absorbed into a modern wing. No 28 was unaltered with an original entrance porch of unfluted Tuscan columns.

Photos by Elliott Brown

 

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65 passion points
Environment & green action
11 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
News & Updates

Together We Can and Together We Will! Birmingham's target is to reduce emissions by 60%

Birmingham City Council has ambitious plans to meet a 60% emission reduction target by 2027. With everyone involved and with everyone playing their part, this target and more can be achieved - Together we can and Together we will!

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Together We Can and Together We Will! Birmingham's target is to reduce emissions by 60%




Birmingham City Council has ambitious plans to meet a 60% emission reduction target by 2027. With everyone involved and with everyone playing their part, this target and more can be achieved - Together we can and Together we will!


The following extract is taken from the Birmingham Energy Prospectus website viewable HERE.

"... Birmingham is on a journey. The City's journey is to lower carbon emission, decrease fuel poverty and increase global competitiveness as set out within the Birmingham Carbon Roadmap and the Regional Energy Strategy for the West Midlands...

The Birmingham Energy Prospectus will assist the Council to consider its capital investment plan for economic growth and the policy approach to support decarbonisation and fuel poverty ...

Birmingham City Council has engaged Perform Green to assist the City in identifying potential planned and envisaged low carbon energy and transport projects/initiativesacross the City and to assemble this in an Energy Prospectus ..... This will enable the Council to have productive dialogue with investors, companies, communities and householders."

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50 passion points
Environment & green action
10 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
Introducing

Do you want to help protect the environment? You can!

GreenActionWithYou is a FreeTimePays Community of Passion that helps people who want to make a difference, deliver real change and contribute towards positive social impact.

We give people who want to make a difference the digital space and the digital tools so they can engage with others, promote what they are doing and use the space to take their passion to the next level.

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Do you want to help protect the environment? You can!




GreenActionWithYou is a FreeTimePays Community of Passion that helps people who want to make a difference, deliver real change and contribute towards positive social impact.

We give people who want to make a difference the digital space and the digital tools so they can engage with others, promote what they are doing and use the space to take their passion to the next level.


GreenActionWithYou is all about engaging people in the promotion and of a healthy and clean environment and the recognition that our environment and the space around us is there for us all to enjoy and look after.

GreenActionWithYou is a Community of Passion that utilises FreeTimePays digital engagement and social media to deliver real change and positive social impact.

FreeTimePays is an impact focused digital platform and social media channel specifically for people who want to make a difference and create a positive social and economic impact.

FreeTimePays is the social media of choice for 'People with Passion'.

With FreeTimePays, we help people take their passion to the next level by giving them access to a suite of digital tools and applications.

With Passion Points and with the support of our FreeTimePays partners, we recognise people for the difference and contribution they make and the positive impact they collectively deliver. 

Connect with us HERE and take your passion to the next level.

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
09 Dec 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Bank Tower Two - December 2018

Some nice festive tones in the lighting conditions for this update with the tower just shy of topping out. See more photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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The Construction of Bank Tower Two - December 2018




Some nice festive tones in the lighting conditions for this update with the tower just shy of topping out. See more photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points
History & heritage
08 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Victorian and Edwardian shopping Arcades still in Birmingham City Centre

While Great Western Arcade is the most well known Victorian shopping Arcade in Birmingham City Centre, others do survive, although not as well known. The Burlington Arcade and Piccadilly Arcade both go from Stephenson Street to New Street. The City Arcade goes from Union Street towards Union Passage. Great Western Arcade goes from Temple Row to Colmore Row.

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Victorian and Edwardian shopping Arcades still in Birmingham City Centre




While Great Western Arcade is the most well known Victorian shopping Arcade in Birmingham City Centre, others do survive, although not as well known. The Burlington Arcade and Piccadilly Arcade both go from Stephenson Street to New Street. The City Arcade goes from Union Street towards Union Passage. Great Western Arcade goes from Temple Row to Colmore Row.


Piccadilly Arcade

Built as a cinema in 1910, it was called the Picture House and showed silent films. The architects was Nichol & Nichol of Birmingham. The cinema closed in 1926 and was converted into an arcade of shops. It's original name was the West End Arcade due to it's links to the West End Cinema.

The bronze fascia and shop fronts dates to 1926 and was by J R Shaw. A previous refurbishment in 1989 was done by Douglas Hickman of the John Madin Design Group with trompe l'ceil ceiling paintings by Paul Maxfield.

The entrance to the Piccadilly Arcade on Stephenson Street seen in February 2010. Even from this view you can tell that it looked like a cinema. That year, it had been 100 years since the building had first been built!

The most recent refurbishment of the Piccadilly Arcade was completed during November 2018. They had repainted the lower half of the building in a black paint. Perhaps to make it look a bit more traditional. The overhead wires are from the West Midlands Metro line, which at present doesn't go beyond Grand Central Tram Stop, as they are building the next extension to Centenary Square. And they closed off this end of Stephenson Street to add the new tracks to the existing tracks.

The interior of the Piccadilly Arcade during October 2010. It slants up from the Stephenson Street entrance towards New Street. When you walk up the arcade, you can't help but look up at the amazing artwork on the ceiling. As of 2018 it is 29 years old (1989). The BT phone box with the old style BT logo dates it to the late 1980s.

This view from December 2018 with Christmas decorations after the most recent refurbishment. Previously the shop fronts had been painted white, now they are painted black. Although the ceiling around the paintings is still painted white.

This interior view of the Piccadilly Arcade was taken in October 2010. Heading down from New Street towards Stephenson Street. You can head this way down to Birmingham New Street Station. At the time it was around then when the redevelopment of the station had begun, and would take 5 long years to complete!

Summer 2017 in the Piccadilly Arcade, and they had one of the Big Sleugh bears inside, this one was called Wild City by the artist Kathleen Smith. I think it was half way near the top close to New Street.

View of the Piccadilly Arcade from New Street. This view was taken in August 2010. From here you can see Wren style turrets on the top of the building. Details you wouldn't notice if you walk past.

If you get a window seat at Pret a Manger on New Street, like I did in January 2018, you get this view of the Piccadilly Arcade. From there I noticed details when zooming in from my camera. There is a shield on top. Just above the Piccadilly sign is what looks like a pair of babies sitting on a duck! Most people would just walk past and not even look up at the details of any of the buildings on New Street.

 

Burlington Arcade

Originally built as the Midland Hotel between 1867 and 1875 for Isaac Horton and designed by Thomson Plevins. Later became the Burlington Hotel from the then owners Macdonalds Hotels & Resorts. The hotel entrance turned into Burlington Passage (or the Burlington Arcade) around 1994.

Starting from Stephenson Street. This view was from January 2011 before the road was dug up to lay the Midland Metro extension tracks. May have also been when traffic stopped going on Stephenson Street. Although I seem to recall that buses last used the road in 2012 (when routes were changed when the bus interchanges were built).

I have cropped this photo of a Midland Metro Urbos 3 tram at Grand Central Tram Stop to show the Burlington Hotel. This was in May 2016 when tram drivers were training and doing tests on the 1st extension before the line opened to the public. The new Birmingham New Street Station fully opened in 2015, although the Stephenson Street section was completed in time for Half Time Switch Over during 2013 (when half of the new station opened and the other half closed to create the new concourse). Entrance to the Burlington Arcade is on the left, slightly after the tram stop.

I don't often take photos when I pass through the Burlington Arcade, but this caught my eye on the left (as I walked from the Stephenson Street entrance towards New Street). Steps down to an underground bar called the Bacchus Bar. The wall paintings and columns reminds me of either Ancient Greek art or Ancient Roman art. Maybe even like something you would find at the ruins of Pompeii!

The only photos of the interior of this arcade I have were with Christmas lights during late December 2009, looking up towards the ceiling. You can see all the red brick work from Victorian times. Plus a modern glass ceiling from the mid 1990s. This was coming from the New Street entrance heading down towards Stephenson Street.

Christmas lights on this side looking down towards the Stephenson Street entrance (also December 2009).

As far as I recall, I haven't taken a full on shot of the Burlington Hotel from New Street, mostly indirect shots like this one. Christmas lights seen at night on New Street during November 2010. The entrance to the Burlington Arcade from New Street is to the right between the shops. On the New Street side it is two blocks either side of the entrance to the Burlington Arcade. Italianate in white brick, now painted.

A new view of the Burlington Arcade entrance on New Street, as seen from Cannon Street during December 2018, while the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market was on.

The modern entrance canopy between the two blocks. Also the entrance to the Burlington Hotel.

Great Western Arcade

The Great Western Arcade was originally built around 1876 to 1877 by the Great Western Company above the Snow Hill railway tunnel between Moor Street and Snow Hill stations. The architect was W H Ward, who was influenced by Joseph Paxton's Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851. The arcade is a Grade II listed building.

The arcade suffered heavy bomb damage during World War 2 and the Colmore Row entrance had to be rebuilt. The arcade was restored in 1984.

The Temple Row entrance retains it's historic Victorian facade, and looks amazing after it was restored. If you headed up the North Western Arcade from Corporation Street, you might enter the Great Western Arcade if you are walking towards Birmingham Snow Hill Station.

Stop for a minute on Temple Row and look up above the entrance. There is a sculpture called Allegories of Science and Art, also by the architect W H Ward, who made it in 1875. The male figure on the left represents science, holds attributes including dividers and compasses. The female figure on the right represents the arts, holds an painter's palette and has an easel by her side. It used to be visible from the first floor of Coffee Republic opposite, although they closed down early in 2017. The arcade is in the Italian-French Renaissance architecture style.

One of my first views of the interior of the Great Western Arcade seen during September 2009, this view from Temple Row towards Colmore Row, looking up at the ceiling. Probably a replacement, as the original was bombed out during WW2. Many shops lines both sides of the arcade.

It was June 2012, and Union Jack bunting lined the Great Western Arcade. This direction from the Colmore Row entrance towards Temple Row. Again looking up at the ceiling. This was during the Queens's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Christmas decorations in the Great Western Arcade. These went up during November 2018. Again Colmore Row towards Temple Row.

During February 2013, the Big Egg Hunt was on in Birmingham City Centre. Was many easter eggs up and down the Great Western Arcade. Close to the Temple Row exit was this easter egg with a bunny rabbit on it!

The Big Hoot 2015 was a trail of owls around Birmingham during the summer of 2015. Long after the trail ended, they made one more owl for Christmas 2015. Seen during December 2015 was Christmas Owl designed by Jane Anderson. These owls were nice to see around Birmingham.

The Colmore Row entrance of the Great Western Arcade. It matches the design of the office block on the left called Colmore Gate which was built between 1990 and 1992 by the Seymour Harris Partnership. Built in the style of Cass-Gilbert-period New York. Offices above the arcade, shops below. You would see this entrance if you are leaving Birmingham Snow Hill Station the Colmore Row entrance. The last major refurbishment to the arcade was in 2009.

City Arcade

This arcade was built from 1898 until 1901, by T.W.F Newton and Cheattle, the decorative terracotta and green faience by Doulton and Co and other detailing by W J Neatby. The arcade is a Grade II* listed building.

We start off looking at the entrance from Union Passage, you might come up here from New Street (past the Britannia Hotel). Or from up Warwick Passage that leads from Corporation Street. Most of these photos were taken during November 2009.

Another view of the Union Passage entrance looking at the upper floors. Most of the time this arcade isn't too busy, and it is usually just a shortcut from Union Street to Union Passage. Since the former Big Top centre closed for refurbishment (near where WH Smith used to be) this area has gotten even quieter. The listing for this building describes the Union Passage side as "ulilitarian".

Don't often take new photos of City Arcade these days when I pass through or around here. This was November 2015 shortly after a cafe called Tilt opened. You can see Corporation Street over to the left down Warwick Passage.

A look up at the ceiling in City Arcade. You would only be in here for a short period as this arcade isn't that long. It is a coffered ceiling. You would notice the green and red details in the ceiling as well as the intermittent cupolas. There is red window frames at both ends.

There is nothing much else to say about the interior ceiling of City Arcade, although there used to be a net below the ceiling. But it looks like that was removed sometime between 2016 and 2017. The light fittings inside are certainly unique, a bit like chandeliers!

The Union Street side of City Arcade. There is three storeys on this side of the building. At the top is polygonal turrets with little cupolas. Santander is in the City Arcade units on the left on the corner with Union Passage. Back in 2009 it was still Abbey. Christmas lights seen on Union Street during November 2009.

WH Smith was in the building next door, although they moved out of those units earlier in 2018, to some of the former BHS units on Union Street a bit further down. City Centre House is an office block to the left. This road is between High Street (to the left) and Corporation Street (over to the right). Martineau Place is opposite of City Arcade on Union Street.

Looking up to the turrets and domes on the Union Street façade of City Arcade. Most people just pass by without noticing the details. Such as the portrait faces, can you see them?

You can tell the difference between a building from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, to the building next to it built a century later. Doesn't have as much details, although they did try there best! Superdrug occupies the ground floor of the building at the corner of Union Street and Corporation Street. It is called Victoria House. It does have some domes at the top of it's own corner turrets.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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70 passion points
Civic pride
06 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Sir Barry Jackson founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Sir Barry Jackson founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre




The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.


Sir Barry Jackson

He was born in 1879 in Kings Norton, living until 1961. He founded the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1913. Before founding the REP, he formed a company with his friends called The Pilgrim Players in 1907. This was the foundation of the future Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company. In the early years of the 20th century, they performed plays to family and friends. By 1912, Barry Jackson began to develop plans to build a permanent theatre building on Station Street. Barry was knighted in 1925.

Below is a bronze bust of Sir Barry Jackson seen at the REP in Centenary Square during September 2013 (after the new Library of Birmingham had opened). At the time, the REP was celebrating their 100th anniversary.

Also seen in the modern REP building in 2013 was this portrait of Sir Barry Jackson made up of many other smaller photos. A bit like a mosaic.

Seen in the Shakesepare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham was this Gavel. It was presented to Sir Barry Jackson in 1936. As a pioneer of modern Shakespeare at The REP during the 1920s. By the 1940s he later became Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 next door the the new REP which originally opened in 1971 (10 years after Sir Barry Jackson passed away).

Before we get onto the old and new REP's in Birmingham, first a look at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The building opened in 1932, on the site adjacent to the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (opened in 1879), which had been destroyed by a fire in 1926. It took the name of Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961, following the founding of the Royal Shakespeare Company the year before (1960).

Sir Barry Jackson was Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre from 1945 until 1948 (when he retired).

This view below was from 2009 during the redevelopment of the theatre.

This view from 2013 after the redevelopment had finished. The theatre reopened in 2010, and was officially opened by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 2011. Seen here with the River Avon.

This River Avon view of the RST was from 2014.

Back to Birmingham and first we go to Station Street with what is now known as The Old REP.

It was the first ever purpose built repertory theatre in the UK, it opened in February 1913. The main entrance is on Station Street, opposite Birmingham New Street Station. There is a blue plaque here for Sir Barry Jackson. The architect was S. N. Cooke.

In this view with the hotel Comfort Inn and The Electric Cinema. There is various Chinese restaurants down there on Station Street as well. The view is from was what used to be Queen's Drive at New Street Station. Station Bar also known as Platform 13 is to the left (I think the bar is getting a refit when I last walked past it).

The front view of The Old Rep Theatre on Station Street. When The REP moved to a new building in 1971 near Broad Street (now in Centenary Square), Birmingham City Council took over the building. During renovations of their Centenary Square building, The New REP temporarily moved back into the Old REP from 2011 until 2013. From 2014, Birmingham Ormiston Academy, (also known as BOA), too over the use of the old theatre building.

The view round the back of The Old REP on Hinckley Street. This is the Stage Door entrance. There is a taxi rank on this side.

A close up look at the rear entrances of the Old REP on Hinckley Street.

Now a look at The New REP first built in 1971. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company moved to the site near Broad Street in a building by Graham Winteringham and Keith Williams Architects. This was around 10 years after Sir Barry Jackson had died. The area would not become Centenary Square for another 20 years (1991). This view from 2010, before the Library of Birmingham has been built and before the theatre renovations had started. Sir Barry Jackson had supported the building of a modern theatre but he died before it became a reality.

This view from 2009. There used to be steps outside, but that was removed during the 2011 to 2013 renovation works of the theatre. There is another Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque on this building to Sir Barry Jackson. For some years it was missing but it was returned here in 2013 when the theatre renovations were complete. The other blue plaque is for J. Sampson Gamgee, surgeon and founder of the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund, who lived in a house on this site. J. R. R. Tolkien later used his name for the character of Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Nightshot view from 2017. By then the theatre had been open again from 2013 after the new Library of Birmingham had opened. Marmalade Bistro had opened by then. This was slightly before the square had been hoarded off for the redevelopment of Centenary Square (there is still hoardings in front of the theatre).

Close up view in late 2017. Due to the renovations works of the square, this is currently the pedestrian walking route past the theatre, so the bar can't have it's tables and chairs outside at the moment.

Rear views of The REP on Cambridge Street near the roundabout close to City Centre Gardens. This view from 2010 from before the theatre was closed for a few years during the renovations while the Library of Birmingham was also being built next door.

The rear of the theatre seen in 2013. The Library of Birmingham is now complete and would open in September 2013. A complete different look to it's brutal predessor of 1971 to about 2011. There is regularly flower displays on that island on Cambridge Street.

 

Photos by Elliott Brown

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60 passion points
Civic pride
05 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

John Baskerville: creator of his own typeface

Baskerville House is in Centenary Square on the site of the former home of John Baskerville. He lived and worked here between 1748 and 1775. There used to be an artwork made in 1990 called Industry and Genius (that has now gone into storage due to the Centenary Square redevelopment). It spelt out Virgil (but the characters in reverse).

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John Baskerville: creator of his own typeface




Baskerville House is in Centenary Square on the site of the former home of John Baskerville. He lived and worked here between 1748 and 1775. There used to be an artwork made in 1990 called Industry and Genius (that has now gone into storage due to the Centenary Square redevelopment). It spelt out Virgil (but the characters in reverse).


John Baskerville

Born in 1706 or 1707, he lived until 1775. Baskerville was best known for being a printer and type designer. He was born in the village of Wolverley, near Kidderminster in Worcestershire. He lived in a house on Easy Row, which is now where Baskerville House is in Centenary Square. His home was also known as Easy Hill.

Below is an exhibit seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The top item shows a plaque that reads:

"Grave stones.
Cut in any of the hands.

John Baskerville"

At the bottom is what looks like a snuff box with a portrait of John Baskerville.

A map of the location of John Baskerville's home at Easy Row. He was buried he vertically, but his body later had to be moved to Christ Church in 1821, as a canal basin was built on the land. Christ Church was demolished in 1897 and his remains was moved again to a crypt at the Catacombs Warstone Lane Cemetery.

I would assume that somewhere around here at Warstone Lane Cemetery, at the catacombs lies the remains of John Baskerville. He only wanted to be buried on his own land, but the constant redevelopment of Birmingham in the 19th century resulted in him being moved twice! John Baskerville was not a fan of consecrated grounds!

The model of the Proposed Civic Centre was seen at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2015. It is normally to be found at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre, so if you go to BM & AG today, you wont see it there now.

Below are the details about the model.

William Haywood, Baker Studios, Erdington (made by)
Model of Proposed Civic Centre (Scale 1" to 12ft),
1941

This model was designed by William Haywood, a special lecturer in town planning at Birmingham University. He supervised its construction by Baker Studios in Erdington over a 12 month period completed in 1941.
The model represents a variety of public buildings including a Planetarium, Natural History Museum, and City Hall, as well as extensive gardens and car parks.

The Hall of Memory and Baskerville House can be seen at the front and middle of the model.

In August 2009 opposite Baskerville House, archaeologists were digging up the car park where from 2013 onwards would stand the Library of Birmingham. It was the remains of the Baskerville Basin. Gibson's Arm was a private canal that was built during the 1810s. John Baskerville's house was burnt down during the Priestley Riots of 1791. Baskerville Basin was filled in during 1938 to make way for the Civic Centre. Thomas Gibson was the one who acquired the land and property in 1812.

Baskerville House seen during April 2009.

It was originally completed in 1938. Before WW2 started, there was plans for the area that is now Centenary Square, for a Civic Centre. But Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were the only buildings to be completed as part of that scheme. It is built on the site of John Baskerville's home of Easy Hill. Which itself was replaced by a canal basin, known as Baskerville Basin. Was also another basin there called Gibson's Basin. They would have both existed there from the 1820s until about 1919 (or later as the Birmingham City Council had purchased the land for their Civic Centre scheme). T. Cecil Howitt of Nottingham was asked to design Baskerville House in 1936.

The war halted construction of Baskerville House, and after WW2 ended, Roman Imperial imagery on public buildings went out of fashion. The building is now Grade II listed, and was renovated from 2003 until 2007. Used to be offices for the City Council, until they moved out in 1998.

In 2010, the statue of King Edward VII was restored after spending many years in Highgate Park. You can see it to the right of Baskerville House (it is currently behind the hoardings of the Centenary Square renovation works). This view from November 2010 shortly after the statue was installed at this spot. In fact it is the only statue to remain in the square while Centenary Square is getting done up (which wont be finished until sometime in 2019). The original Centenary Square was completed in 1991.

In 2013 the Library of Birmingham opened on the site of what was a car park between The REP and Baskerville House. Seen below in December 2017 after it was announced that Birmingham had won the bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The refurbishment of Centenary Square started in 2017 and should have been completed by the end of 2018, but a series of delays means it will probably not be completed until sometime in 2019. You wouldn't know from the way it is now that canal basins used to be here. Although archeologists examined the land under the Library of Birmingham in the summer of 2009 before the library was built.

There used to be a typeface sculpture outside of Baskerville House called Industry and Genius. It was made in 1990 by local artist David Patten. It is a Portland stone sculpture of the Baskerville typeface.

I took invidual photos of each letters and flipped them. Together it reads "Virgil". The standing stones represents the letter punches which Baskerville cut to make his type, and the world virgil was Baskerville's first book, published in 1757, as a re-print of the Roman author's poems. The sculpture went into storage a few years ago when the redevelopment of Centenary Square was about to start.

Photos by Elliott Brown

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65 passion points
People & community
04 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
Introducing

Introducing Jonathan Jaffa - a great Champion of Community in Kings Heath

https://www.youtube.com/embed//eTSt24jWbuE

An initiative to honour people within the community who go that extra mile to help out has been launched in Kings Heath -  We feature Jonathan Jaffa, a life long resident and proprietor of the oldest business (York Supplies established in 1947) in Kings Heath.

Take the YouTube link above for the interview with Jon who does some great work in the community.

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50 passion points
People & community
04 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
Activity for you

Nominate your Community Champion in Kings Heath

Survey logo

Kings Heath is a neighbourhood full of great people and great organisations that go that extra mile to help out in the Community. Whether it's a person, a team or an organisation, take the link and make your community nomination and in a few words tell us why you feel they are worthy of such an honour.

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30 passion points
Construction & regeneration
03 Dec 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - December 2018

A bit of a grey day for this December construction update, mainly photos from the Library of Birmingham's 'Secret Garden' over looking the site and some new perspectives.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - December 2018




A bit of a grey day for this December construction update, mainly photos from the Library of Birmingham's 'Secret Garden' over looking the site and some new perspectives.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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83 passion points
Construction & regeneration
02 Dec 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Construction at Arena Central - December 2018

Construction at Arena Central continues with the main structure for Three Centenary Square (HMRC Midlands) going up quickly now. Dandara is essentially complete. Many photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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Construction at Arena Central - December 2018




Construction at Arena Central continues with the main structure for Three Centenary Square (HMRC Midlands) going up quickly now. Dandara is essentially complete. Many photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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83 passion points
Transport
02 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

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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63 passion points
Transport
30 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

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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65 passion points
Environment & green action
30 Nov 2018 - Christine Wright
Gallery

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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60 passion points
Environment & green action
29 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

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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76 passion points
Photography
29 Nov 2018 - Jay Mason-Burns
Gallery

Everyday People, on the streets of Birmingham

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46 passion points
Architecture
28 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

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
Photography
27 Nov 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Inspiration

"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. 

Related

"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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70 passion points
Architecture
26 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

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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55 passion points
Civic pride
25 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

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
Construction & regeneration
22 Nov 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

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

Related

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
Photography
21 Nov 2018 - Mac McCreery
Introducing

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'.

Related

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
Construction & regeneration
19 Nov 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

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

Related

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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103 passion points
Architecture
19 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

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.

Related

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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