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06 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Memorials in Cannon Hill Park

There is at least three memorials now in Cannon Hill Park. Including the Boer War Memorial, also the Boy Scouts War Memorial (of 1924) near the Nature Centre. And more recently the memorial to the Sousse and Bardo Terrorist Attacks (which happened in 2015). This was unveiled by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex in March 2019.

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Memorials in Cannon Hill Park





There is at least three memorials now in Cannon Hill Park. Including the Boer War Memorial, also the Boy Scouts War Memorial (of 1924) near the Nature Centre. And more recently the memorial to the Sousse and Bardo Terrorist Attacks (which happened in 2015). This was unveiled by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex in March 2019.


Did you know that Cannon Hill Park has three memorials within the park?

The oldest of the three was the Boer War Memorial, which is now Grade II* listed. It was sculpted by Albert Toft. It was installed in 1906. The Boer War was fought in South Africa from 1899-1902 (Joseph Chamberlain was the Minister at the time that this war broke out).

The second oldest is the Boy Scouts War Memorial, on Queens Drive, on the footpath towards the Birmingham Nature Centre. It is Grade II listed and dates to 1924 in memory of local Boy Scouts who lost their lives in the First World War. The sculptor was William Haywood. It was later modified to remember those lives lost during the Second World War.

The most recent memorial sculpture is called Infinite Wave and was unveiled in March 2019 by HRH the Duke of Sussex (Prince Harry) in memory of the victims of the 2015 Sousse and Bardo Terrorist Attacks. It was designed by George King Architects.

 

Boer War Memorial

The Second Boer War was fought between 1899 and 1902 between the British Empire and two independent Boer states over the Empire's influence in South Africa. At the time Birmingham's own Joseph Chamberlain was the British Colonial Secretary. The Boer War Memorial was proposed to be in either Old Square or on Corporation Street in the City Centre but this was rejected in favour of Cannon Hill Park. This decision was taken in 1904. The memorial was designed by Albert Toft and unveiled in 1906. It was cleaned and repaired in 2012. It is now Grade II* listed.

The following photos below were taken in May 2009 on my then mobile phone camera, so the bronze was looking quite green at the time.

There was a cannon at the front.

Names of the soldiers around the sides.

And at the back of the plinth.

This side has a bronze plaque inscribed "TO  THE GLORIOUS MEMORY OF THE  SONS OF BIRMINGHAM  WHO FELL IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 1899-1902  AND TO PERPETUATE  THE EXAMPLE OF ALL WHO  SERVED IN THE WAR THIS MEMORIAL IS ERECTED BY THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS" .

By November 2009, I took my first bridge camera for a photo session around Cannon Hill Park, and that meant getting new photos of the Boer War Memorial (to try and improve on the mobile shots from the previous Spring). This was the approach from the back.

A close up of the statue. There is a large figure of a woman in the middle. Then a pair of male soldiers either side of a cannon.

Further back towards the Boer War Memorial. The flower beds didn't have much in them at this point.

The statue was surrounded by all these benches and bins. People who sit here, probably don't even realise what this memorial is for or represents. As not many people know about the Boer War (compared to WW1 and WW2).

The first of three plaques with the names of fallen Birmingham soldiers from the Boer War (1899-1902).

The second names plaque.

And the third names plaque.

I have been back to Cannon Hill Park many times over the years since, but not got new photos of the Boer War Memorial, even after it was restored (wasn't thinking about it).

Boy Scouts War Memorial

Queen's Ride is the road / path near Cannon Hill Park, and part of it is now the public car park of the park. Beyond the bollards is this war memorial on the walk towards the entrance of what was the Birmingham Nature Centre (now Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Centre). The Boy Scouts War Memorial has been Grade II listed since 2016. It was unveiled on the 27th July 1924 in memory of the local Boy Scouts who lost their lives during the First World War. The obelisk was designed by local Birmingham architect William Hayward (1877-1957). The memorial was conserved in 2012 by the Birmingham Museums Trust and Birmingham City Council.

The following photos were taken in December 2010 when there was a light dusting of snow on the ground.

Close up of the Boy Scouts War Memorial. Behind you can see the bollards on the Queen's Ride (car park behind). Queen's Ride was laid out in 1897 as a riding track, and later modified in 1920 when an avenue of trees was planted to commemorate the fallen Scouts.

This view of the Boy Scouts War Memorial towards the trees that line the path towards the Pershore Road.

In the late Victorian period, it is possible that people rode their horses and carts down here, but these days it's most likely to be cyclists on their bikes. The only cars at this end (or vans) from the Council groundsmen who maintain the park. This way to the entrance of the Nature Centre.

Was a couple of poppy wreaths at the base of the obelisk. From the Scouts. I would assume they were laid in early November 2010.

I have walked this route the odd time over the years. In the summer there is always colourful flowers planted around the Boy Scouts War Memorial. This was in July 2013.

More of the same in August 2014, red flowers, pink flowers and white flowers all the way around the obelisk.

In July 2018 there was mostly red flowers around the obelisk. You can tell that the memorial had been restored / cleaned up compared to my earlier photos. You can even see a smiley face on this side!

Infinite Wave

Birmingham's Cannon Hill Park was chosen to be the location of the Sousee and Bardo Memorial. It is a monument to the 31 British Nationals who lost their lives in two terrorists attacks in Tunisia in 2015. The project was commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It was unveiled in March 2019 by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex at a ceremony attended by over 300 guests. The architect was George King Architects.

I initially got photos of it in late February 2019, but was still barriers around it. I later came back for a proper look at it during late May 2019.

As you can see at the end of February 2019, Infinite Wave was almost complete but was barriers around it.

This was a few days before Prince Harry travelled to Birmingham to unveiled the memorial.

I couldn't get too close as the barriers were also near the main path in the park, but I would return near the end of the Spring for some updates.

I popped back to Cannon Hill Park near the end of May 2019 for a full look at the Sousse Memorial. Now known as Infinite Wave.

There is a path that leads up to the memorial sculpture.

Like with the other memorials in the park, there was this metal memorial plaque listing the naems of the victims of the Sousse and Bardo Terrorist Attacks.

Now time to walk around the wavey sculpture.

It meant going off the path and onto the grass.

It looks a bit like a spring, or one of those toys that you can push down the stairs, or between your hands.

It forms 31 individual streams, one for each victim who lost their lives in the attacks.

There is an area in the middle that visitors can stand in and admire the memorial.

Young children would probably run around in circles and have fun.

It pretty much looks the same on the other side.

I wonder if when the pandemic ends, if the Government would consider having a memorial here for those lost to the virus? What kind of memorial would you like to see in Cannon Hill Park for that?

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at over 1,130 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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70 passion points
History & heritage
05 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Birmingham over the Centuries from the Romans to the City Council

Did you know? A Birmingham post going over the centuries of Birmingham history and pre-history. Not just covering what is now the City Centre but areas of Birmingham's suburbs. The Romans had a fort at what is now the University of Birmingham. The town developed after the 1166 Charter for a market was granted. Timber framed houses popped up all over by the 16th and 17th centuries.

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Birmingham over the Centuries from the Romans to the City Council





Did you know? A Birmingham post going over the centuries of Birmingham history and pre-history. Not just covering what is now the City Centre but areas of Birmingham's suburbs. The Romans had a fort at what is now the University of Birmingham. The town developed after the 1166 Charter for a market was granted. Timber framed houses popped up all over by the 16th and 17th centuries.


Did you know Birmingham from the Romans to the City Council

Roman Birmingham at Metchley Roman Fort, AD 48

Although there is nothing to see above the ground, between the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston, it was discovered that the Romans had built a fort here called Metchley Fort. It was on the Roman road Icknield Street. The fort was built a few years after the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43. The fort was built in AD 48 and was made of timber. The fort was abandoned in AD 70, only to be reoccupied a few years later before being abandoned again in AD 120. The remains were first discovered in the 18th century. Further excavations took place in the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s. The most recent excavations took place in the 2000s.

For more on Metchley Roman Fort have a look at this post: Metchley Roman Fort between the University of Birmingham and the QEHB .

Beorma Ingas ham, 7th century

This sculpture is located on a bridge over the River Rea on Gooch Street in Highgate. The Beorma was the name given to a 7th century Anglo-Saxon tribe who settled in the future Birmingham area, on a site around the River Rea in what is now part of Highgate. This was before the first mention of Birmingham in the Domesday Book in 1086 by the Normans. They were an ancient Anglian tribe. Beorma Ingas ham means The home of the people of Beorma. And early origin name for what later became Birmingham. This tribe pre-dates the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia, which later had their capital at Tamworth. Throughout history there has been many different ways of spelling Birmingham (starting with Bearm, Berm, Beor, Bearma, Beorm and Breme). Think of Bromwicham, or Brumwicham. The nickname now for the people of Birmingham is Brummies! Beorma also gave their name to West Bromwich, Castle Bromwich, Bromsgrove and other local places in the Midlands. The sculpture was made in 2002 (or 2006). Beorma gives their name to the Beorma Quarter development in Digbeth.

Peter de Birmingham, Lord of the Manor of Birmingham in 1166

In 1166, the Lord of the Manor, Peter de Birmingham got a Charter to hold a market from the King (Henry II). He lived in a moated manor house (which today would be on the Smithfield site). His market would become the Bull Ring which is still trading after 850 years. The market was so successful, that it led to his town of Birmingham expanding. That meant some of the land that was the deer park could be built on.

Weoley Castle built after 1264

These ruins are of Weoley Castle. Grade II listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is thought to date to about 1264 and built for Roger de Somery who was licenced to crenellate his manor house. He was probably the Lord of the Manor of Dudley, who was given permission by the King (Henry III) to build and fortify his castle in stone. In the Middle Ages the castle was at the heart of a large deer park covering nearly 1000 acres. The estate was bought by the Birmingham Corporation in the 1930s. And is now one of the properties of the Birmingham Museums Trust.

I'll expand a post on the Weoley Castle ruins soon.

William de Birmingham, Lord of the Manor in 1300

In this Moated Manor House around the year 1300 lived the Lord of the Manor, William de Birmingham. In the years since his ancestor Peter got a Charter for a market, it had been very successful and the town was growing. Not far from the moat was St Martin's Church. As early as the year 1300, the roads Edgbaston Street, New Street and Park Street existed. But William still had deer park surrounding his town. He taxed the inhabitants of the town, but later allowed houses to be built on parts of his deer park (there used to be a ditch near Park Street separating the town from the deer park). The moat was filled in by the 19th Century to make way for the Smithfield market (later the site of the Birmingham Wholesale Market and future Smithfield redevelopment site). This model is in the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

For more of 1086 to 1300 check out this post for more details: Birmingham from the Domesday Book in 1086 to 1300 when William de Birmingham was Lord of the Manor.

The Old Crown, Digbeth 1368

This old pub in Digbeth, claims to be one of the oldest surviving buildings in Birmingham. The Old Crown claims to date to the year 1368, although most of the timber framed building today probably dates to the 16th century. It is believed that the building was built between 1450 and 1500 with some evidence suggesting 1492. It is a Grade II* listed building. It was originally built as the Guildhall and School of St. John, Deritend. It might have first gained the name 'The Crown' in the late 16th century after the failed Armada invasion. Evidence shows that it was first used as an in during the early 17th century, around 1626. It was converted into houses in the late 17th century. The pub was saved in the mid 19th century from demolition. In the late 20th century and into the 21st the pub has had several restorations by the present owners.

Tudor Merchant's House, Kings Norton 1492

Probably the oldest building in Kings Norton is the Tudor Merchant's House, later known as the Saracen's Head. A Grade II* listed building. The house was built in 1492 by a wealthy merchant, Humphrey Rotsey (it is now the north range). The house faces the Church of St Nicholas. The range of buildings were expanded by 1510. In 1643 Queen Henrietta Maria of France stopped here on the way to join King Charles I at his headquarters in York. It had become a pub by the 18th century. Another wing was added in the 19th century. In 2004 it won the BBC's Restoration programme along with The Old Grammar School and both were fully restored and reopened by 2008 under the name of St Nicolas Place.

For more on Kings Norton follow the link to this post: Kings Norton around The Green including Saint Nicholas Place.

Blakesley Hall, Yardley 1590

This tudor hall was built in 1590 for Richard Smalbroke. Blakesley Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Birmingham. At the time Yardley was in Worcestershire and the timber-framed farmhouse was built for Smalbroke's farm. Many other buildings followed over the years. After 1685 the farmhouse passed to the Greswolde family and was a tenant farm for the next 200 years. Henry Donne acquired the hall in 1899. The hall became a museum after 1935. It is now a Grade II* listed building and is run by the Birmingham Museums Trust.

For more of Old Yardley check out this post about the nearby village: Old Yardley Village: a hidden gem not far from Blakesley Hall. I will have to do a detailed Blakesley Hall post soon.

Stratford House, Highgate 1601

Seen from the Moseley Road in Highgate (in front of the modern Highgate Middleway) is Stratford House. A Grade II* listed building. It was built in 1601 for Ambrose Rotton and his wife Bridget. It has survived over 400 years despite recent fires. There had been lead light replacements in the 18th century. Had internal alterations in the 1820s to 1830s. There was a restoration in the 1950s. In recent years it's been either offices or a night club, or just been vacant. There was a fire here in the mid 2010s, but that damage has since been restored.

Aston Hall in Aston Park 1635

Aston Hall was built between 1618 and 1635 for Sir Thomas Holte (who moved in 1631). It was a leading example of a Jacobean house. The house is a Grade I listed building. It was built within a large parkland which included the land where Villa Park, home of Aston Villa is now. The remaining park now surrounding the hall is Aston Park. The house was severely damaged in 1643 when it was attacked by Parliamentary troops during the English Civil War. The house remained in the Holte family until 1817 when it was leased to James Watt Jr.. In 1858 the house was purchased by a private company who used the hall as a museum. It was later bought by the Birmingham Corporation (later Birmingham City Council) in 1864 becoming the first historic house to pass into municipal ownership. The Birmingham Museums Trust took over the running of the hall from the Council in 2012.

For my post on Aston Hall and Aston Park follow this link: Aston Hall and Park in autumn and winter. I've prepared another Aston Hall post (coming soon), where you can see what it looks like fromt the inside.

Soho House, Handsworth 1766

The home of Matthew Boulton, one of the members of The Lunar Society and business partner to James Watt, was his home from 1766 until his death in 1809. Soho House is a Grade II* listed building and now run as a museum by the Birmingham Museums Trust. Samuel Wyatt in 1789 and James Wyatt in 1796 built extensions to the house. After Boulton's death, it was inherited by his son in 1809 and his grandson who later sold it in 1850. It then had numerous owners and uses including as a hostel for police officers. Birmingham City Council acquired in in 1990 and turned it into a museum in 1995. The Lunar Society met here when their was a full moon, and their discussions contributed to the Industrial Revolution.

Soho House is covered slightly in this post along with Stratford House and Selly Manor: A selection of Birmingham's great Manor Houses. I have prepared a Soho House post and you can see it soon.

Sarehole Mill 1771

There has been a mill on a site in the Sarehole area of what is now part of Moseley (near the Hall Green border) since about 1542. Sarehole Mill is near the River Cole, and was used to grind corn. Previously it was known as Bedell's or Biddle's Mill. By 1727 it was known as High Wheel Mill. Matthew Boulton leased the previous mill  on this site in 1755 for use for metal working. The current building was built in 1771 and was used until 1919. It is known for it's association with J. R. R. Tolkien who lived nearby in the area as a child on Wake Green Road (from 1896 to 1900). These days the mill is a museum, having been restored in 1969. Another more recent restoration was in 2012-13. The Bakehouse was restored early in 2020, and during the lockdown they have opened up a shop selling food such as bread, pastries, pasta, flour and other items. Nearby is the Shire Country Park with various satellite parks (such as Moseley Bog), good for walks.

For my recent post on J. R. R. Tolkien in Sarehole, featuring the mill, have a look at my post here: J. R. R. Tolkien in Sarehole from 1896 - 1900.

Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square 1879

The Council House was built from 1874 to 1879 from designs by Yeoville Thomason. The first stone was laid by the then Mayor of Birmingham Joseph Chamberlain. The clock tower behind is known as Big Brum. The Council House was expanded in 1881-85 again by Yeoville Thomason. Birmingham gained City Status from Queen Victoria in 1889.  The second extension was built from 1911 to 1919 (by architects Ashley & Newman). Both buildings includes the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on the upper floors. They are a Grade II* building. In 2019, Birmingham celebrated it's 130th birthday as a City, but as you can see above, our history goes much further back.

For my Council House post follow this link: Birmingham Council House - the seat of local Government in Birmingham.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,130 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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70 passion points
Classic Architecture
04 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
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King Edward's School from New Street to Edgbaston

Did you know that one of the oldest schools in the country is in Birmingham? King Edward's School was founded by Edward VI in 1552. Taking over from the Guild of the Holy Cross. Located on New Street until 1936. They moved to a site in Edgbaston close to the University of Birmingham where they remain to this day. Former pupils include J. R. R. Tolkien, Sir Edward Burne-Jones and more.

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King Edward's School from New Street to Edgbaston





Did you know that one of the oldest schools in the country is in Birmingham? King Edward's School was founded by Edward VI in 1552. Taking over from the Guild of the Holy Cross. Located on New Street until 1936. They moved to a site in Edgbaston close to the University of Birmingham where they remain to this day. Former pupils include J. R. R. Tolkien, Sir Edward Burne-Jones and more.


King Edward's School

During the English Reformation which led to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, by 1547 all lands and religious buildings were confiscated by the state. This included the Guild of the Holy Cross in Birmingham. Which was located on New Street. It was founded in 1392 by three men: John Coleshill, John Goldsmith and William atte Slowe. The Guild was so important that by 1482, they placed the Master of the Guild higher than the High Sheriff of the borough.

Birmingham had no Grammar School, so John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland (who was the Lord of the Manor of Birmingham by 1552, having replaced the last Norman descended member of the de Birmingham family) gave permission to turn the Guild into a School in it's former hall on New Street. John Dudley gained the ownership of the Manor of Birmingham in 1536 (after falsely accusing Edward Birmyncham, the last of the line of Norman barons of highway robbery). 

King Edward VI granted a Royal Charter early in 1552 to found a school in his name. By the 1680s there was nearly 200 boys at the school and a foundation was set up. A Georgian building was built on the New Street site between 1731 and 1734.

The old image below shows the Free Grammar School as it was in the Georgian period. It was from an engraving published by W. Emans, 1829. It was demolished in the early 1830s. It suggests the building was built in 1706 (and not the 1730s dates).

Public domain image taken from Wikimedia here KES Free Grammar School original without tower. The original uploader to the Wikimedia Commons took it from a book called The Making of Birmingham: Being a History of the Rise and Growth of the Midland Metropolis, Published by J. L. Allday. By Robert Kirkup Dent in 1894.

This was replaced by the Victorian building designed by Charles Barry which was built from 1833 to 1837. He employed Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin for the interiors. Together they later designed the current Palace of Westminster (after the fire destroyed the old one in the 1830s).

This image below was from a photograph by Whitlock on New Street. It shows the spire of Christ Church in the distance (demolished in 1899).

Public domain image taken from Wikimedia here KES Free Grammar School Charles Barry. The original uploader to the Wikimedia Commons took it from a book called The Making of Birmingham: Being a History of the Rise and Growth of the Midland Metropolis, Published by J. L. Allday. By Robert Kirkup Dent in 1894.

The old building had become a fire risk by 1936, and they acquired a site in Edgbaston from Calthorpe Estates. Between Edgbaston Park Road and the Bristol Road (close to the University of Birmingham). The new school was finally completed by 1948, although there was some expansion in the 1950s.

Barry's school was demolished and replaced by the current office building called King Edward House at 135A New Street, built from 1936 to 1937. It includes restaurants and shops on the ground floor. The architects was Essex & Goodman. Pevsner refers to it as bland classical. The Odeon Cinema was built at the same time (1936-37) replacing the girls school. It was by Frank Verity & Samuel Beverley for Paramount Pictures. The Paramount Theatre opened in 1937. It didn't become an Odeon until 1942, months after the death of Oscar Deutsch. 

This view of King Edward House on New Street during January 2011. As you can see it is to the right of the Odeon Cinema.

I got a new photo of King Edward House back in January 2020. Hard to believe that we lost both a Georgian and Victorian building here. Yet alone the Tudor building that preceded both of them.

New Street in January 2013 while it was snowing. The cramped site of the old school didn't have it's own sports field at the back. And with Birmingham New Street Station behind, there wouldn't have been room for expansion on this site anyway.

Early morning on New Street in February 2020. Hard to believe a pandemic and lockdown would be declared at the end of March 2020. King Edward House seen to the left. Britannia Hotel on the right. Imagine the Houses of Parliament in Birmingham, well it would have been down here as King Edward VI Grammar School. Sadly after 100 years in 1936 the old building was in a bad condition and the school moved to the Edgbaston site, and the old building sadly demolished.

In early November 2008, a cousin from Australia came to visit us (several weeks before I lost my brother to cancer). And we took him to King Edward's School in Edgbaston (we thought his father went to this school, but it later turned out he went to King Edward VI Five Ways School instead).

The only building to survive from New Street was the school chapel. It was originally built as the upper corridor of the 1838 New Street School (by Charles Barry) and it was moved to Edgbaston in pieces (1938-40) by Holland W Hobbis, and was renovated and rebuilt in the 1950s.

The Chapel is a Grade II* listed building. It used to link the Grammar School to the Library ranges of Barry's school in New Street (built from 1833-38). Built of brick with stone dressings. The Chapel is used for services every Wednesday morning, when the Eucharist is celebrated by the school Chaplain.

Some more views of the exterior of King Edward's School. We did take my cousin inside, but I only took photos outside.

The Royal Coat of Arms above the main entrance to the school.

More buildings to the left, dating to the post war era of the late 1940s or into the 1950s.

On this site they had more land to build the school compared to the old New Street site.

In January 2018, on one of my many walks around the University of Birmingham's Edgbaston Campus I got some new photos of King Edward's School from Edgbaston Park Road. I've not been in the grounds of the school since we had my cousin with us 10 years earlier.

This building is the King Edward's Schools' Foundation Office. You can also access the King Edward VI High School for Girls from here (more on that further below).

Another Royal Coat of Arms above the Foundation building. Clearly the arms of King Edward VI.

There was also a Royal Coat of Arms on the school gate from Edgbaston Park Road.

Another walk around the Edgbaston Campus of the University of Birmingham, this time in February 2019, and I tried to get a couple of photos of King Edward VI High School for Girls. The sunlight was a bit bright from Pritchatts Road. The school was founded in 1883 and was sharing the boys school on New Street. They moved to Congreve Street in 1887 (the former Liberal Club building). In 1896 they moved to a new school building on the site of the Hen & Chickens pub on New Street. They moved to their present location on Edgbaston Park Road in 1940 to new buildings designed by Holland W. Hobbiss. The New Street site was bought by the Prudential Assurance Company and leased for the Odeon cinema.

Royal Coat of Arms on the Girls school building. Same one as the Boys school.

In February 2019, I was able to get this photo from the no 63 bus on the Bristol Road of King Edward's School. The long hedge that was here was cut down and replaced by a fence. You can see the large Rugby field from here. A new sports hall was built in 2018 near Vince House (it was complete by 2019). Not far from here is the Park Vale Gate. I think we drove up here back during the 2008 Sunday morning visit. The Chapel was visible from here to the right.

The modern 21st Century photos were taken by Elliott Brown between 2008 and 2019.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,120 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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

The restoration of Lightwoods House in Lightwoods Park

Over the years from 2011 to 2017, I travelled to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood, Sandwell to check on the progress of the restoration of Lightwoods House. In the early years it was covered in scaffolding. The house was built in the late 18th century and re-fronted in the mid 19th century. Birmingham City Council handed the park over to Sandwell MBC in November 2010.The house reopened in 2017.

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The restoration of Lightwoods House in Lightwoods Park





Over the years from 2011 to 2017, I travelled to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood, Sandwell to check on the progress of the restoration of Lightwoods House. In the early years it was covered in scaffolding. The house was built in the late 18th century and re-fronted in the mid 19th century. Birmingham City Council handed the park over to Sandwell MBC in November 2010.The house reopened in 2017.


Lightwoods Park and House

This will be the first of several posts relating to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood. In this post we will be looking at Lightwoods House.

First off some history from the Wikipedia page (link above). Lightwoods House was built in the late 18th century and was altered in the 19th century. It is a Grade II listed building. The house was built for Jonathan Grundy in 1780 who lived in the house until his death in 1803. The house was later bought by soap manufacturer George Adkins in 1865 who passed it to his son Caleb. In 1902 the grounds and the house were up for sale after the death of Caleb Adkins. A committee purchased the estate and handed it to the Birmingham Corporation who opened the grounds as a park. More land was purchased in 1905 for the park. In 1971 Lightwoods House was converted into studios for Hardman company who vacated the building in 2008. In 2010, Birmingham City Council handed Lightwoods Park over to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.

In the following years Lightwoods House was decaying, and it was only announced in 2015 that the house would be restored. Restoration work was completed in 2016, including the restored Shakespeare Garden, and also includes and Edwardian Tea Room. Other structures around the park were also restored.

2011

My first views of Lightwoods House from my first ever visit to Lightwoods Park back in March 2011.

Scaffolding was all over the house, and all the windows were boarded up.

Close up it looked like there was a P & M Demolition sign around the house. I didn't look very safe or good at this point in time. And was only months after Sandwell Council took over the running of the park.

The side view of the house close to the Shakespeare Garden.

In December 2011 I went back to Lightwoods Park. When there was an event on at the time called Bearwood on Ice. Which was the only outdoor ice rink in the West Midlands that Christmas. So only passed the park to see this event, and not really Lightwoods House (which you can see in the background on the right).

There was artwork in the boarded up windows of Lightwoods House. Which aren't too visible from this distance.

On these ice rink zoom ins you can see the pictures on the windows. They look like old photos or drawings of what the rooms in Lightwoods House used to look like.

Would assume that Lightwoods House was stabalised by this point and no longer in danger of being demolished. After all it is Grade II listed (not that that stops other old listed buildings getting knocked down. There was a small Christmas market here and an inflatable bear.

2014

Another visit to Lightwoods Park in July 2014. Nothing much to update about it at this point other than the fences around it, and the Lottery Funded sign (with the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund).

Saw this view of Lightwoods House from the back on Adkins Lane through this gate.

Windows at the time were still all boarded up. This is the area that would later become the car park for Lightwoods House. The Shakespeare Garden to the left. The old gates and fences would be replaced. The metal railings on the left was later replaced with a period style brick wall. The old surface of this area was also replaced for the car park that was later built here.

2016

In January 2016 there was fences and hoarding all around Lightwoods House and green sheets around the scaffolding. Evidence that the restoration had begun.

The fences outside of the house at the time meant that visitors to the park couldn't walk past it, but at least the restoration was under way.

So you had to walk near the wall close to Hagley Road West for views like this.

Was a bit hard to see what was going on behind the scaffolding. Looks like they were doing the roof and tiles.

This view from Hagley Road West. They were also restoring the Bandstand.

An update from September 2016. The scaffolding had come down and the house was looking as good as new.

The fences was still in front of the house and path, so saw again from the same views as earlier in 2016.

I also got this view through the fence of the left side of Lightwoods House. Into 2017 and it would be fully restored.

2017

By November 2017, Lightwoods House and all the other old structures in Lightwoods Park were fully restored and reopened. This is the best the house has looked in more than a decade. The Drinking Fountain is close to the entrance of the Shakespeare Garden.

The footpath has been re-tarmaced and the brickwork looking fresh and clean.

Close up of Lightwoods House. Compared to my old March 2011 views, this looks much better. Taking it back to 1780.

There is a new Edwardian Tea Room on the left. Although I didn't go in there. It is called Jonathan's in the Park.

Further back from Lightwoods House, they installed some picnic benches. Car park entrance to the left.

The Big Sleuth bear that was in Warley Woods in the summer of 2017 is now directly in front of the Edwardian Tea Room. Bentley the Bearwood Bear by the artist Rebecca Cresswell working with PAID (Positive Activities Innovative Development) and it was funded by PAID and Sandwell Council. It wasn't part of The Big Sleuth charity auction, it was paid for independently.

The back of Bentley the Bearwood Bear as he observes his new surroundings after the summer spent in the Warley Woods.

More Lightswoods Park posts coming soon, including one on the Shakespeare Garden.

Follow Lightwoods House on Twitter.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,120 followers. Thank you.

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History & heritage
28 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

J. R. R. Tolkien in Sarehole from 1896 - 1900

Did you know that J. R. R. Tolkien as a small boy moved to the Sarehole area in 1896, which at the time was a small hamlet outside of Birmingham. He would live here with his mother Mabel and his younger brother Hilary until 1900. They lived in a house on the Wake Green Road, which was close to Moseley Bog and Sarehole Mill. The area would later be the basis for the Shire in The Hobbit.

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J. R. R. Tolkien in Sarehole from 1896 - 1900





Did you know that J. R. R. Tolkien as a small boy moved to the Sarehole area in 1896, which at the time was a small hamlet outside of Birmingham. He would live here with his mother Mabel and his younger brother Hilary until 1900. They lived in a house on the Wake Green Road, which was close to Moseley Bog and Sarehole Mill. The area would later be the basis for the Shire in The Hobbit.


For my original Tolkien post follow this link: J.R.R. Tolkien's Birmingham (inspiration for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings). This Did you know post will be an expansion of J. R. R. Tolkien's time in the Sarehole area (now in Moseley, Birmingham).

264 Wake Green Road / 5 Gracewell Cottages

The Tolkien family moved from South Africa to outside of Birmingham in 1896, after his father died. They moved to a house in Sarehole, which at the time was a hamlet in Worcestershire (it is now in Moseley, Birmingham and close to Hall Green). John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, known as Ronald, lived with his mother Mabel and younger brother Hilary at 264 Wake Green Road (also known as 5 Gracewell Cottages). Ronald's mother taught the children at home. He enjoyed exploring the nearby Moseley Bog and Sarehole Mill.

The above photo taken from the BM & AG Sarehole Mill Guide Book published in 2002.

This view of the cottages on Wake Green Road during December 2012. They are now homes of retired people and are private residences.

My dentist is around the corner of Swanshurst Lane, and I usually walk around the corner to the no 5 bus stop on Wake Green Road. This view was from about April 2013. Although it's closer to 260 Wake Green Road. No 264 would be further to the left of here.

After another visit to the dentist, I got this view on my smartphone camera in early March 2020. So no 264 would be further down to the left of the no 5 bus stop. Sometimes the ladies that live here would use the bus stop to go to town.

Gracewell Homes Foster Trust

Seen on a walk down Wake Green Road on lockdown (earlier in April 2020) is what is now the Gracewell Homes Foster Trust. It is possible that these brick homes could have been there in Tolkien's time. The first two views on the walk to Moseley Bog via Thirlmere Drive and Pensby Close.

The house on the right looks a bit like a Mock Tudor house. Although I've not found any details about how old it actually is.

Three cyclists socially distancing on the ride down Wake Green Road past the Gracewell Homes Foster Trust. The entrance to the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground is a bit further down on the left. This was on the walk down from Moseley Bog (leaving it at the playing field at Windermere Road).

The Chalet

One of the oldest houses in the Sarehole area, this cottage was called The Chalet, and is on Green Road. It is possible that the Tolkien boys could have walked past it as it would have been around there at the time. Just up from the Green Road ford (where the River Cole crosses it). It is a Grade II listed building dating to the early 19th century. Seen earlier in April 2020 on the lockdown walk from the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground via the Green Road ford to Sarehole Mill and back.

Sarehole Mill

One of my Sarehole Mill photos was in this post: Birmingham's architectural gems - we go back in time!. Always room for some expansion.

From the October 2013 free open day at Sarehole Mill which was after the 2012-13 restoration (the previous major restoration was in 1969). This open day was part of the Hall Green Arts Festival. The mill is a Grade II listed water mill on the River Cole. Originally the area was called Sarehole, but it is now on the Hall Green / Moseley border near Cole Bank Road (and close to Tolkien's childhood home on Wake Green Road). It is one of two working water mills in Birmingham (the other mill is at New Hall Mill). On the Open Day was various tables selling things. The Bakehouse is to the right (but wouldn't be fully restored until early 2020).

Ronald and Hilary Tolkien would have sneaked into the mill like they always do while the miller was covered in white dust from grinding the bones for fertiliser. View of the north waterwheel mill gears, which drove three pairs of milestones on the first floor. They are only in working order on demonstration days now. Also called The Flour Bins.

The children nicknamed him 'The White Ogre' and they would run away when he shouted at them to leave. More gears that drives the waterwheel.

The back of Sarehole Mill near the Mill Pool. There is a gate from the main courtyard to the right of here that you have to close. Then there is another gate to the short walk around the mill pool that also needs to be closed behind you. Have been around here several times over the years.

The view of Sarehole Mill from the Mill Pool, while it was clear. There is decking to stand on to the right. The mill made a nice reflection in the mill pool water. In later years it kept getting full of algae. Especially in the winter.

Moseley Bog

My original Moseley Bog post is here: Moseley Bog from my December 2012 and September 2016 visits.

A walk around Moseley Bog earlier in April 2020 on lockdown. Getting in again via Thirlmere Road and Pensby Close again. Had hoped to make it to the Yardley Wood Road entrance / exit, but we ended up passing through the playing field near Windermere Road, so instead left via there and walked down Wake Green Road.

For Tolkien as a child, he treasured his memories of exploring it with his younger brother. It was the inspiration for 'the Forest' in The Lord of the Rings.

The Bog is the site of two Bronze Age 'burnt mounds' which are a Scheduled Ancient Monument. These days there is a wooden planked path that you can walk around on. But you can still see how boggy the area was. It was dry and sunny on my last walk here.

The wooden planks take you safely over the Bog. I expect the Tolkien brothers didn't have this in their day as children, so they probably got quite a bit muddy!

A body of water between the fallen tree branches. So much inspiration for the young Tolkien for his later Middle Earth novels.

And look at the trees. This would have provided inspiration as well. In the books and the movies was giant talking walking trees (that could carry the small Hobbits).

The Hungry Hobbit

There is a cafe / sandwich bar near the roundabout on Wake Green Road. It used to be called The Hungry Hobbit. Seen here in January 2011. But when the Tolkien estate found out about this name they were not happy. They were threatened with legal action.

Second view from January 2011 when it was still called the Hungry Hobbit (at the time). The sign below says Sandwich Bar. Visitors to Moseley Bog and / or Sarehole Mill can go here (although Sarehole Mill has it's own small tea room).

This view of the Hungry Hobbit Sandwich Bar during March 2011 (when it was closed).

By the time I took a photo update in March 2017, they removed two letters "it" to rename the cafe as Hungry Hobb (closed when I saw it like this). Hopefully the issues with the Tolkien estate have been settled by now.

One of the signs you would find around the island, either on Cole Bank Road, Wake Green Road or the bottom of Swanshurst Lane. For the Hungry Hobb Cafe. They have clearly changed the sign over the years (this view also from March 2017).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,120 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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