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History And Us is a community of passion for people to engage with their history and heritage. Here we provide a space where people can contribute articles and share historical facts and thoughts with others. In this space people and organisations can showcase their own work and inspire others to explore history.

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20 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Shakespeare Garden at Lightwoods House & Park

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

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The Shakespeare Garden at Lightwoods House & Park





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


The Shakespeare Garden at Lightwoods Park & House

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

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

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

 

2011

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

Shakespeare Garden sign on the wall from the outside.

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

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

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

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

2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another part of the box hedges in the Knot Garden.

2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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

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

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

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





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


Earlswood Lakes

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

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

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

 

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

 

Earlswood Engine House

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

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

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

Engine Pool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terry's Pool

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another tree covered view.

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

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

Near the end of the Terry's Pool walk.

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

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

Windmill Pool

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Transport
07 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Classic Car Collection in the garage at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre

The last area of your visit to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre is in the large garage. Where they store many classic cars from various different eras. Many made all over the West Midlands. From Rover's to Austin's to the earliest cars from the beginning of the 20th century. Some of these cars might be in Thinktank now. I first saw them on an open day I went to in May 2012.

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Classic Car Collection in the garage at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre





The last area of your visit to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre is in the large garage. Where they store many classic cars from various different eras. Many made all over the West Midlands. From Rover's to Austin's to the earliest cars from the beginning of the 20th century. Some of these cars might be in Thinktank now. I first saw them on an open day I went to in May 2012.


Here we will look at the classic cars in the collection of the Birmingham Museums Trust (originally Birmingham City Council). The following photos were taken during a May 2012 open day I went to. So when I went again 6 years later in September 2018, I didn't take these cars again (apart from if I saw them at Thinktank in 2013 or 2014). These cars were seen in the large garage at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre on Dollman Street in Nechells.

The following vehicles below date from about 1900 until 1985.

Carriage

I had no details about this carriage. But assume it dates to before the 20th century, and probably needed horses to pull it.

Benz Voiturette

This Dogcart was built in 1900 to Karl Benz's system. It took part in the inaugural 'Brighton Run' and also again in 2003 despite the appalling weather. Benz first made a motorcar in 1883. He retired in 1903, but remained on the board, even after the company merged with DMG in 1926. He was still on the board at the time of his death in 1929 by which time the company was now called the Daimler-Benz corporation.

Clement Panhard

This Clément-Panhard automobile was built in 1901 or 1902, it was registered in 1904. This light car was marketed in England as the 'Stirling Dog Cart'. The automobile manufacturer started in 1898. The owner of the company was Adolphe Clément. Was probably made in France.

Jackson Motor Car

This car was built in 1909 by Jackson / De Dion. It was a single cylinder wagonette. The Jackson Automobile Company was an American Brass Era automobile manufacturer located and named for Jackson, Michigan, USA. They produced the Jackson from 1903 until 1923. The De Dion-Bouton was a French automobile manufacturer making cars from 1883 until 1953. It was founded by Jules-Albert de Dion, Georges Bouton and Charles Trépardoux. It was probably a Jackson automobile with a De Dion engine.

B.S.A. Open Tourer

This was a 4 seater car built by B.S.A. in 1912 at the Sparkbrook Works. The car had the legendary Knight Double Sleeve Valve engine. It was one of the earliest uses steel panels in motor cars. The Birmingham Small Arms Company started out in 1861 making machine guns in the Gun Quarter. By 1880 they started to make bicycles. They moved to Sparkbrook in 1906 and started making motorcycles in 1910. They started making cars from 1907. The company went out of business in 1973.

Castle Runabout (Prototype)

This prototype was made in 1919 and was the 4 wheeled version. It never reached full production. The Castle Motor Company of Kidderminster made about 350 3 wheeled 'Runabout' light cars known as the Castle Three from 1919 until 1922.

Singer 10 H.P. Coupe

Made in 1920 by Singer Motors. It was Model C. 1124cc. The company under George Singer originally made bicycles, before they started making motorcycles. They became the 3rd largest car builder behind Austin and Morris.

Ariel Convertible Car

Made in 1924 with an Ariel 4 cylinder engine. The Ariel works was based in Selly Oak and they built over 1000 cars from 1923 until 1925. When they switched to making motorcycles as they were priced out of the market by the Austin Seven. Ariel existed from 1902 until they were sold to BSA in 1970. They were based in the Bournbrook area. Today the name is remembered in Selly Oak with the Ariel Aqueduct, which was built in 2011 near the former site of the Battery works.

Bean 14HP Coupe

This car was built in Tipton in 1927. It was a 4 Cylinder, 2385cc, Coupe. The Beans Foundry survived to make engine blocks for other car manufacturers (but production ceased in 2005 and was closed in 6 months by the administrators). Bean made cars from 1919 until 1931 by A Harper Sons & Bean, Ltd at factories in Dudley and Coseley.

Ford Model A Saloon

The Ford Model A was probably made in Manchester in 1928. It had a 1626cc 4 cylinder engine. Most of it's 'working' life was spent in the London area. It was also known as a Tudor sedan (in the US) or a Tudor saloon (in the UK).

Daimler 20 Saloon

Was built in Coventry in 1931. It had a 20 HP engine, with a six cylinder sleeve valve engine, pre-selector gearbox and a fluid flywheel. At the time it would have cost more than £750.

M.G. Midget (J Series)

M.G. built this J2 sports car in 1933. It had an 847cc Engine. It was developed from the Morris Minor. It was restored to working order my museum staff and has been seen on the roads. I saw it a year later in April 2013 at Thinktank in the Move It section. M.G. began producing cars in 1924 by William Morris in Oxford. It has had many owners over the years. Including: British Leyland, Austin Rover, Rover Group, MG Rover Group and more recently the Nanjing Automobile Group until 2011. The current company MG Motor had been producing cars at Longbridge since 2012 and is owned by SAIC Motor UK.

Armstrong Siddeley - 'Foursome'

The chassis of this car was made in Coventry in 1935 but the car was finished in Birmingham. It had a 17HP, 6 cylinder engine.

Rover 12 Sports

It was built in Coventry in 1936 and was a 12HP Sports Saloon typical of later designs available with three different engine capacity engines, the 10, 12 and 14HP.

Austin A90 Atlantic

The A90 'Atlantic' Coupe was made in 1949 by Austin at Longbridge. It drove continuously for 7 days and nights, taking 63 American stock car records. It was the first British car to attempt the American National Stock Car Record at the Indianapolis Speedway. It was owned by the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry. So probably been in storage at BMCC since 1997 (as no room at Thinktank).

Heinkel 'Cabin Cruiser'

Also called Heinkel Kabine. This was a 3 Wheeled Bubble Car built in 1958. The door of the vehicle opens at the front. It owes much to aircraft technology. The company started in Germany making aircraft. After the war they were prohibited from making planes, so had to make cars. It is possible that this one was made in Ireland under licence to the Dundalk Engineering Company.

Riley 'Elf' (sectioned)

Similar to a Mini. It dates to 1961. The boot in the Riley 'Elf' was slightly larger than a Mini. It had a walnut veneered fascia. It was sectioned by Austin Apprentices. Saw it again displayed at Thinktank in the area called We Made It during April 2013.

Rover 2000

Built in Solihull in 1964. It has a 2 Litre engine and was a Manual car. It was one of the new style 'Rovers'. Triumph almost built a similar model to this one.

Rover P5B Automatic

This car was built by Rover in Solihull in 1971. It has a 3.5 Litre engine. It was restored to it's concours by it's former owner.  The P5B has a 3528cc V8 engine (which was in production from 1967 until 1973). The mileage at the time it was donated to the museum's collection was at 45,462.

Rover SD1 Automatic

Built in Solihull during 1981. It has a 3.5 litre engine. It was returned to concours condition by it's former owner.

It was the last model made by Rover before they linked up with Honda. I later saw it again a year later at Thinktank in an area called Move It, during April 2013.

Sinclair C5 Tricycle

Technically not a car. The Sinclair C5 was built in 1985 by Hoover Washing Machines, in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. It was a 12 volt electric vehicle and was considered a novelty and unsafe by the majority of other motorists. It could be bought from Woolworths for £399 with a £29 delivery fee. It was capable of 15 miles per hour, the maximum speed allowed without a licence. Designed by Sir Clive Sinclair, he was known for the ZX Spectrum computer. He was ahead of time with an electric vehicle. Sadly it wasn't very successful and only being available by mail order was a mistake. As customers couldn't inspect it in shops before purchasing it.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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

Outside the main entrance of the Black Country Living Museum

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

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Outside the main entrance of the Black Country Living Museum





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


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

Rolfe Street Baths, Smethwick

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

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

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

ROLFE STREET

BATHS

FIRST BUILT IN SMETHWICK 1888

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

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

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

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

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

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

Façade from a factory in Wednesbury

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

In the middle of this building was an anchor.

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

The Titanic Anchor

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

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

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

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

Wilkins & Mitchell Chassis Press

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

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

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

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

Side view of the Chassis Press with the gear wheels.

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

Clearly this wheel used to drive the gear wheels.

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

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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

History of The Grand Hotel, Birmingham

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

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History of The Grand Hotel, Birmingham





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


The Grand Hotel, Birmingham

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plus a second look at Primitivo.

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

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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