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Construction & regeneration
20 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Centenary Square we never got in the 1940s

Long before the 1991 Centenary Square, or the 2019 version coming to completion now, the City Council previously had plans for another Civic Square! During World War 2, William Haywood made a model of a proposed Civic Centre that was never to be. Only Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were built, but the War intervened! The model is now at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre.

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The Centenary Square we never got in the 1940s





Long before the 1991 Centenary Square, or the 2019 version coming to completion now, the City Council previously had plans for another Civic Square! During World War 2, William Haywood made a model of a proposed Civic Centre that was never to be. Only Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were built, but the War intervened! The model is now at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre.


During my first visit to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre on Dollman Street in Nechells, Birmingham, in May 2012, I saw this model of the Proposed Civic Centre in what I called the garage area of the collection (full of vintage cars, fire engines etc). Official website here Birmingham Museum Collection Centre. I've been on two free open days so far, mostly the same collection, from what I saw on both visits.

This is what Centenary Square could have looked like, had the design of this model have been built after the end of the War, but it was eventually shelved due to cost and other reasons.

It was made by William Haywood, at the Baker Studios in Erdington in 1941 (while World War 2 was on). The scale is 1" to 12ft. He was a special lecturer in town planning at the University of Birmingham, and it took him 12 months to complete. 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.

According to Pevsner Architectural Guides Birmingham, William Haywood was involved in schemes for the site since at least 1918!

On the left on what is now the site of Symphony Hall and The ICC (completed 1991), it was proposed to have the West Wing of a City Hall, but only Baskerville House on the East Wing was completed in 1938. The circular building in front of it would have been the Planetarium. We only ended up getting one of those in Millennium Point in Eastside by 2001, within Thinktank. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre (aka The REP) was built in 1971, on the left hand side of this model, probably where those formal laid gardens could have been.

At the centre would have been a 'Municipal Tower'. It would have had a nude male statue representing the Spirit of Birmingham. The Council approved the scheme in 1944 (for the City Council offices), and William Bloye made a maquette of the statue in 1948. But the project was abandoned in 1949 for being too expensive.

Formal gardens were proposed for the site that is now the Library of Birmingham, while the wings of the Council offices behind (that never got built), later became City Centre Gardens, and the Civic Centre Estate with the 1960s tower blocks of Cambridge Tower, Crescent Tower, Norton Tower and Galton Tower. Crescent Wharf blocks north of Cambridge Street. They were by the City Architect, Alan Maudsley in 1968. Baskerville House was the only part of this scheme to be built, along with the Hall of Memory. Before the Library of Birmingham was built between 2010 to 2013, the site was used as a car park.

Everything to the left of the Hall of Memory and Baskerville House was never built, due to the War, or for being too expensive. There was another proposal in 1958 by A.G. Sheppard Fidler, with a less formal layout, with water features with municpal office podium on the north side, but that too didn't get built.

A close up look at the Planetarium and the west wing of the City Council offices. It would have looked identical to Baskerville House. There was a Colonnade in the square for many years, which later got moved to the Peace Garden, and there used to be a fountain in the middle too (before my time).

Another view of the west side of the unbuilt City Council Offices. Had it been built, somewhere in this building could have been a Natural History Museum, War Museum and an Opera House. This is the site of The ICC and Symphony Hall. Until 1984, it was the site of Bingley Hall, a bit like an exhibition hall, but it burnt down in a fire.

One last look at the model at the Museum Collection Centre. The classical look may have been favoured in Victorian times, and in the Inter War period, but after the War architectural styles changed, and by the 1960s and '70s we got brutalist concrete buildings like Birmingham Central Library (1974-2013, demolished 2016). And now we have a mix of classical and modern buildings. The Municipal Bank was built on Broad Street in 1933, and that is now being converted for use by the Library of Birmingham. While HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square, stands on the site of Central TV / ATV, which was formerly a Masonic Hall in classical style (also now demolished).

In 2015, for a time the model was on display at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, a long with drawings on the walls of proposed Birmingham buildings, and those that got built. It was about Birmingham's past redevelopments. This was the last time I saw the model in the museum, but I think I may have seen it in there once before. So the last time I saw it again was at the Museum Collection Centre in 2018.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Green travel
17 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A look at the Grand Union Canal from Birmingham to Leamington Spa

The Grand Union Canal links Birmingham to London, but here we will just look at the areas from Birmingham towards Leamington Spa. Made up of smaller canals bought by the Regents Canal Company in the 1920s. Many locks were widened for double sized barges, although they ended up being used by pairs of narrowboats instead! Through Acocks Green, Olton, Hatton, Warwick and Leamington Spa.

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A look at the Grand Union Canal from Birmingham to Leamington Spa





The Grand Union Canal links Birmingham to London, but here we will just look at the areas from Birmingham towards Leamington Spa. Made up of smaller canals bought by the Regents Canal Company in the 1920s. Many locks were widened for double sized barges, although they ended up being used by pairs of narrowboats instead! Through Acocks Green, Olton, Hatton, Warwick and Leamington Spa.


Starting at Spaghetti Junction, below the M6 motorway is Salford Junction. This is where the Grand Union Canal starts in north Birmingham (unless you count Bordesley Junction as the start). At Salford Junction is the Salford Junction Bridge. The canals going left and right is the Tame Valley Canal and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Above is the concrete and graffiti carrying the M6 motorway at the Gravelley Hill Interchange aka Spaghetti Junction. The canal was formerly called the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal until it was bought in 1929 by the Regent's Canal company to form the Grand Union Canal. It goes down to Bordesley linking up with the Digbeth Branch of the Grand Union Canal.

This April 2018 view of the Grand Union Canal from near the Bordesley Village. Near the Garrison Lane Bridge. Towards The Village Bridge. Graffiti street art for the Canal & River Trust and Phoenix Hall below Bordesley Village. Not far from here is St Andrew's home of Birmingham City FC.

Near Bordesley Middleway the canal locks that leads onto the Grand Union Canal. The railway bridge of the Snow Hill lines and to the right was the Holy Trinity Church in this view from October 2009. The canal lock is labelled "Bordesley Middle Way no 1". This direction towards Small Heath. Digbeth is back around the loop to the right of here. Time to head off to the suburbs!

Seen near the Westley Vale Millennium Green in Acocks Green. A look at the Grand Union Canal during May 2015. So lush and green at this time of year! The canal down here was the Warwick & Birmingham Canal before becoming part of the Grand Union Canal. Seen from bridge no 86, dating to the late 18th century. Also known as the Woodcock Lane Bridge. This area is not that far from Acocks Green Station.

Now the canal heads through Solihull. First a look at the canal in Olton, not far from Olton Station. Seen from the Richmond Road Bridge during January 2013. There had been a bit of snow at this point of the year, but mostly melted. The towpaths can get quite muddy in Solihull!

An April 2018 walk from Solihull to Catherine-de-Barnes started at the Damson Parkway Bridge and ended at the Hampton Lane Bridge in Catherine-de-Barnes, a village in Solihull Borough. The towpath was very muddy! Mud on my jeans and shoes! Later took a path back via some fields back to Solihull. A pair of narrowboats seen near the Hampton Lane Bridge, where I got off the muddy towpath to have a look at the village! Yes, it's possible to walk from Solihull Town Centre to Catherine-de-Barnes via the Grand Union Canal!

Down to Warwickshire now, and the Hatton Locks. This was from a visit to Hatton during March 2017, getting the train from Solihull to Hatton. After exploring the area, I made it eventually to Hatton Locks, what a sight to see from the top! This photo was from around lock 42. The locks are known as the "Stairway to Heaven". This was close to the Hatton Wharf.  St Mary's Church in Warwick was visible from this point. I returned to the Hatton Locks two years later during April 2019 (during my Warwick Station to Warwick Parkway Station walk). That ended near the Hatton Bottom Lock. The canal here was still formerly part of the Warwick & Birmingham Canal, only ending at Budbrooke Junction, near the Saltisford Arm.

In Warwick from the Coventry Road Bridge. This view of the Grand Union Canal, Kate Boats in Warwick is on the right. Many narrowboats were moored here. My April 2019 walk along the Grand Union Canal in Warwick started from the Coventry Road Bridge, but first a look at the side that I didn't walk up. Got the train to Warwick Station with the intention of walking towards Warwick Parkway Station. The walk takes you past many bridges. The canal here was formerly the Warwick & Napton Canal. It leads to Budbrooke Junction. I got off the canal at the Birmingham Road Bridge and saw the Saltisford Arm, but had to get back on the other side, towards the Hatton Bottom Lock, before getting off again near Warwick Parkway Station!

The Grand Union Canal was looking lush and green during May 2016 in Leamington Spa. Train down from Solihull to Leamington Spa. I got onto the towpath at Old Warwick Road and got off at Tachbrook Road. I think at the time I was thinking of getting on at the road I got off, but plans never go to plan when you get to a location to take photos! Here a narrowboat was going at a leisurely pace along the canal, while a man was jogging along the towpath. The canal here is not that far from Leamington Spa Station. Both the canal and the Chiltern Mainline run quite close to each other in Warwickshire!

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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70 passion points
Modern Architecture
15 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A Tale of Two Hampton Courts (don't confuse them!)

You've all heard of the world famous Hampton Court Palace in London, but have you heard of the other Hampton Court in Herefordshire! Hampton Court Castle is in the West Midlands Region, and is closer to Birmingham, than the former home of Henry VIII in the capital! Some people may even get sent to the wrong one on their SatNav! Both are well worth a visit. I visited both in 2016.

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A Tale of Two Hampton Courts (don't confuse them!)





You've all heard of the world famous Hampton Court Palace in London, but have you heard of the other Hampton Court in Herefordshire! Hampton Court Castle is in the West Midlands Region, and is closer to Birmingham, than the former home of Henry VIII in the capital! Some people may even get sent to the wrong one on their SatNav! Both are well worth a visit. I visited both in 2016.


Hampton Court Castle

A visit on the August Bank Holiday Weekend of 2016 to Hampton Court Castle in Herefordshire. This was only a month or so after my visit to the other more famous Hampton Court down in London! It is located in Hope under Dinmore, south of Leominster and is a Grade I listed building. It dates to 1427 and was built by Sir Rowland Lenthall, on land that was a gift of King Henry IV. It's been beside the River Lugg for 600 years. The Lenthall's stayed here for 300 years. In the 19th century it was bought by Richard Arkwright. His descendants lived here until 1912. In the 20th century it went through various owners until the American millionaire Robert Van Kampen bought it in the 1990s. It was sold again after his death. The postcode for your SatNav is . Distance from Birmingham around 58 to 61 miles, via the M5.

 

First up a look at the Gatehouse, this would be the first and last thing you would see if arriving by car (or coach if one would be able to fit through the archway). The gatehouse is a Grade I listed building, and it listed with the main castle building. Hampton Court, Hope under Dinmore. It dates to the 15th century, with 19th century remodelling. There is two small towers either side of the entranceway.

First view of the castle itself at the end of the drive. This Hampton Court is a castellated country house built between 1427 and 1436. It was altered in the early 18th century by Colen Campbell for Lord Coningsby and remodelled and restored in the early 19th century by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville for Richard Arkwright.

On this side was the Orangery Tearoom, where we had some lunch. Some picnic tables outside.

The view of the castle from the lawn. It was from near here that you could watch the falconry display on the Bank Holiday Weekend in late August 2016. The grounds are also used for various other special events, such as outdoor theatre productions, small concerts and family days out.

A look at the castle round to the right side from the lawn. The Orangery Tearoom was to the far left. The building itself is much smaller than the other Hampton Court. There has been many owners of the building over the centuries. It was owned by the noble Coningsby family from 1510 until 1781. John Arkwright grandson of Richard Arkwright purchased it in 1810. John Stanhope Arkwright sold it in 1910. It was the seat of the Viscount Hereford from 1924 and 1972. American businessman Robert Van Kampen bought it in 1994, but he died in 1999. The Van Kampen family sold the castle and grounds in 2008. The house was last for sale in January 2016.

Now a look inside. There was not a problem with taking photos inside of the castle (as long as you don't use flash).

In this corridor was suits of armour and deer heads. Saw lots of suits of armour on the ground floor over various corridors / rooms.

Suits of armour and a chandelier in this room. Also on the wall was an armoured horse with a suit of armour (on the left). And half a deer on the right side!

Another corridor with more suits of armour (on the left) and deer heads (on the right). A tapestry at the far end.

Shields and more suits of armour around this staircase. Also heraldic flags. A chandelier hanging on the ceiling.

This dining room with a long dining table and chairs, looks like to be from the 19th century. Was a dress on a dummy to the far left. Paintings of flowers on the wall either side of the mirror.

For more photos, please check out my album on Flickr: Hampton Court Castle - the castle.

Hampton Court Palace

This was a group visit during July 2016 (went on a mini coach). A nice day out, where you could see the Tudor palace of King Henry VIII and the late 17th century palace of King William III & Mary II. As well as watch jousting displays and explore the vast gardens. It's next to the River Thames, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Postcode for your SatNav is . Distance from Birmingham approximately 130 miles, if you go via the M40 and M25.

The palace is a Grade I listed building Hampton Court Palace. This view from the main entrance looking up to the Tudor Palace. Built from 1514 onwards, originally by Cardinal Wolsey. King Henry VIII  took it over from the Cardinal, and became one of his main palaces. He made alterations from 1529 to 1540 including the building of the Great Hall. Lots of tourists about in a busy hot summer!

Entering into the next courtyard. This is The Base Court. It's the entrance to Henry VIII's Apartments. The palace is now managed by Historic Royal Palaces. No Monarch has lived here since George II. From here you can visit Henry VIII's Kitchens. There was busts of Roman Emperor's around this court.

The Baroque palace was built from 1689 until about 1694 for King William III by the architect Sir Christopher Wren. This are is the Fountain Court. From here you can access The Georgian Story and William III's Apartments. But I think that you couldn't take photos inside of those galleries unfortunately. I think there was a tea room around here somewhere!

Heading out to the palace's gardens. This view was taken from The Wilderness (near the Rose Garden) and is a view of the Great Hall. That was rebuilt from 1532 and the Chapel was remodelled in 1536, including the building of the Chapel Court. We were heading to the River Thames.

View of the palace from the River Thames. There is a park on the other side of the Thames called Cigarette Island Park, and it has nice views of the palace, the further you go down the path! The boat was called Connaught and was at Hampton Court Landing Stage, Pier No 3. Tudor Palace seen on the left. Baroque Palace to the right!

Kitchen's - seving place. There wasn't many interiors where you could take photos, but it was ok in the Henry VIII's Kitchens

The Queen's Staircase.  Decorated in 1734 for Queen Caroline by the architect and designer William Kent. Nice looking Royal ceiling! Taking photos in the King William III apartments was not allowed, so I had to respect that, so was not much that I could take up here! That led to the The Georgian Story, but wasn't much to take photo wise when I got there (at the time).

The Great Hall - stained glass window - Henry VIII. Not as much restrictions in King Henry VIII's Apartments though (for taking photos). This stained glass window has the Royal Tudor Coat of Arms, with an image of King Henry VIII in the middle of it.

Henry VIII and Katherine Parr married in her Privy Closet at Hampton Court on the morning of 12th July 1543. This was seen in a room off a corridor. Nearby was a portrait of Henry VIII on the wall.

The Clock Court. Part of the Tudor Palace. Some benches here for people to sit down. At this point we were on our way to have a quick look at the Young Henry VIII's Story exhibition. The entrance to the Henry VIII Apartments was further to the left. This was just after exiting those apartments (probably from the door behind me).

For more photos, please check out my album on Flickr: Hampton Court Palace.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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70 passion points
Transport
10 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A selection of vintage buses at the Acocks Green Bus Garage Open Day, October 2013

I missed the last open day at Acocks Green Bus Garage for their 80th birthday in June 2018, but I did go to the previous open day, 5 years earlier in October 2013. A selection of some of the historic buses on show at the time. Was the 75th anniversary of the bus garage. They also had vintage bus rides to Yardley Wood bus garage (but will leave that to another post!)

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A selection of vintage buses at the Acocks Green Bus Garage Open Day, October 2013





I missed the last open day at Acocks Green Bus Garage for their 80th birthday in June 2018, but I did go to the previous open day, 5 years earlier in October 2013. A selection of some of the historic buses on show at the time. Was the 75th anniversary of the bus garage. They also had vintage bus rides to Yardley Wood bus garage (but will leave that to another post!)


Acocks Green Bus Garage - Open Day - Saturday 5th October 2013

The bus garage is home of the World Famous Outer Circle (the 11A and 11C bus routes). Also known now as National Express West Midlands Acocks Green. This open day was to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the opening of this bus garage on the Fox Hollies Road in Acocks Green. That day there was also an open day over at Yardley Wood Bus Garage, and you could catch a free ride on a selection of vintage buses between both bus garages.

This post will just look at some of the vintage buses that were inside of the bus garage that day!

_______________________________________________________________________

Towing - Sandy Lane Garage
105
722 DU
XVC 290

Coventry Corporation Transport

Dated to 1959.

Corley - City Pool Meadow
334
334 CRW

Coventry Corporation Transport

Dated to 1963.

Circular 28
FEA 156
156

West Bromwich Corporation

Dated to 1952.
Daimler CVG5
Metro-Cammell B38R

32 - Gospel Lane Loop via Lakey Lane
LOG 302
3002

Birmingham City Transport

Dated to 1954.

Daimler CLG5LW

MCCW H30/25R

79 - West Bromwich via Bilston
XON 41J
4041

WM Travel

Dated to 1971.
Daimler Fleetline

159 - Coventry via Airport N.E.C. and Meriden
NOA 462X
2462
WM Travel
MCW (Metrobus)

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
Transport
28 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Wythall Transport Museum heritage buses between Hollywood and The Alexandra Theatre

On Bank Holiday weekends, up and down the Alcester Road, between the Wythall Transport Museum and Birmingham, you may see the odd vintage bus going up and down, taking passengers on rides from the museum to various nearby locations. From Hollywood, south of the Maypole, then up Kings Heath, towards Bristol Street and last stop at The Alexandra Theatre on Suffolk Street Queensway!

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Wythall Transport Museum heritage buses between Hollywood and The Alexandra Theatre





On Bank Holiday weekends, up and down the Alcester Road, between the Wythall Transport Museum and Birmingham, you may see the odd vintage bus going up and down, taking passengers on rides from the museum to various nearby locations. From Hollywood, south of the Maypole, then up Kings Heath, towards Bristol Street and last stop at The Alexandra Theatre on Suffolk Street Queensway!


You may be suprised that there is an area near Birmingham, called Hollywood! Just south of the Maypole, down the Alcester Road South towards Wythall is Worcestershire's very own Hollywood! On the Easter Monday Bank Holiday in 2017 I had a walk from The Maypole towards Whitlocks End Station, when I spotted three heritage buses on special journeys from the Wythall Transport Museum!

You can find out when the next event is on at this link Event Days.

Metrobus on the 48 - 2462 - NOA 462X - returning to Wythall from the Maypole. Easter Monday 2017.

Sea Front Service on the 48 - Southern Vectis - 314 PFM - Carters - returning to Wythall from the Maypole. Easter Monday 2017.

Carisbrooke Castle on the 48 - 570 - Bristol Lodekka - Southern Vectis - YDL 315 - returning to Wythall from the Maypole. Easter Monday 2017.

The 48 - 322 - Midland General FRB 211 H Bristol Rear-Engined Double-Decker Bus -  FRB 211H - seen here heading to the Maypole. Late May Bank Holiday Weekend 2017. Not wanting to walk back to Whitlocks End again, I turned back to the Maypole (hoping to see another bus). The 750 to Birmingham I did see but missed getting a shot of it (see the photo at the end of this post from Suffolk Street Queensway).

Yardley Wood Bus Garage celebrated it's 80th birthday during November 2018, and they had bus rides around the local area. On other Bank Holidays I did try and go to Kings Heath, to see if I could spot one of the vintage buses but I kept missing them, or didn't have my camera ready. These photos below were taken from the top deck of the no 50 bus I was on to town. These buses are not part of the Wythall collection.

I have previously been on rides on this pair of vintage buses!

Timesaver - 2957 - WM Travel - MCW - D957 NDA - Seen November 2018

Previously rode on this bus during the pair of open days at Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garages in early October 2013, on the occasion of the bus garages 75th birthday.

JOJ 222 - 2222 - Leyland - Birmingham - Bearwood via Dudley Road - B82 - Seen November 2018

Saw this bus again only 2 months after I had ridden on it from Snow Hill Queensway to the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre!

If seeing the vintage Wythall buses on Bank Holiday's was hit and miss in the Maypole, Kings Heath or Moseley, the next option was to check them out in the city centre! I checked their timetables, so I had a fair idea approximately where they would be.

750 to Birmingham - GREEN LINE AEC RCL CUV 219C - CUV 219C - London Transport - AEC Routemaster - seen on the Easter Monday 2018 Bank Holiday. I had walked up to the Alexandra Theatre, but didn't see the expected bus, then walked down Bristol Street, before this one went past me!

Route 750 to Birmingham (Alexandra Theatre) - 1256 - FRC 956 - Trent FRC 956 Leyland PD2/12 with Leyland body - seen the late May Bank Holiday Monday 2017. I had previously tried to see this bus the day before in Kings Heath but I missed getting a decent shot of it (or I saw it being towed back to Wythall). So seeing it arriving at the Alexandra Theatre was my best chance of seeing it! At this point heading onto Suffolk Street Queensway from Holloway Circus and Bristol Street.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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