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Classic Architecture
26 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham Town Hall over the last decade or so

The Birmingham Town Hall has seen many changes around it in Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square over the decades and centuries since it was built. Originally built from 1832-34. Renovated from 1996 -2008. Chamberlain Square closed in 2015 when Paradise started, while the Iron:Man was removed from Victoria Square in 2017 for the Metro extension. Town Hall Tram Stop opened in late 2019.

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Birmingham Town Hall over the last decade or so





The Birmingham Town Hall has seen many changes around it in Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square over the decades and centuries since it was built. Originally built from 1832-34. Renovated from 1996 -2008. Chamberlain Square closed in 2015 when Paradise started, while the Iron:Man was removed from Victoria Square in 2017 for the Metro extension. Town Hall Tram Stop opened in late 2019.


Birmingham Town Hall

Click here for the official website for Town Hall Symphony Hall. Both venues are closed during the lockdown, until the Government says it is safe enough for venues like that to reopen.

Birmingham Town Hall was opened in 1834 as Concert venue and used for popular assemblies. Built between 1832 and 1834, the architects were Joseph Hansom & Edward Welch. The hall closed in 1996. And refurbishment works took place between 2002 and 2008. It reopened in 2007.

Originally built as the home of the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival (which was established in 1784), it was built on a site on Paradise Street. A design competition was held at the time. 67 designs were submitted including one by Charles Barry, whose King Edward's School on New Street was being built at the time. But the winners was Joseph Hansom (who created the Hansom cab) and Edward Welch. It was one of the first examples of 19th Century revival Roman Architecture. It's design was similar to the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum.

After it opened, Charles Dickens gave a reading of one of his books. It was also the home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1918 until they moved to Symphony Hall in 1991.

In 1902 for the Coronation of Edward VII and 1937 for the Coronation of George VI, the hall was decorated to celebrate both events.

Popular music bands in the 1960s and '70s have also performed here.

It closed in 1996 for a refurbishment programme under Wates Construction. It wouldn't reopen again until 2007. Being hidden by scaffolding and hoardings for most of that time. During the 2000s, the BBC Big Screen was in Chamberlain Square next to the Town Hall, until it was later moved into Victoria Square.

 

My first photos of the Town Hall was taken during April 2009 from Chamberlain Square. This was when I started to take photos around Birmingham. This view to the right of the Chamberlain Memorial. This was also where the BBC Big Screen used to be until abou 2007.

There used to be steps around Chamberlain Square near the Central Library, which was where I got this view from. People used to sit on the steps.

This view from Chamberlain Square looking into Victoria Square. It does look like it comes from Rome or even Athens!

Paradise Circus Queensway used to go past the Town Hall under a tunnel below the Central Library, joining up at Paradise Street. This view from the platform above the tunnel.

The following views were taken during June 2009 from Paradise Street and Paradise Circus Queensway. The view into Chamberlain Square with the Central Library and Chamberlain Memorial.

There used to be bus stops outside the Town Hall. The no 1 to Acocks Green via Five Ways, Edgbaston and Moseley used to stop here. But they moved it back to Broad Street. Today the no 1 bus starts on Calthorpe Road near Five Ways in Edgbaston.

A view slightly further back on Paradise Street. A few years after the refurbishment was completed it was looking as good as new. It really does look like a free-standing Corinthian temple.

In early May 2011, there was Union Jack bunting in Victoria Square around the time that the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge tied the knot. It has changed so much around here since there was a pair of red phone boxes, and all those bollards.

Prince William and Catherine Middleton got married at the end of April 2011. So into the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, there was still a lot of bunting around Victoria Square. We have also lost these trees that were removed for the Westside Metro extension (which opened in late 2019).

The Iron:Man by Anthony Gormley would remain in place until it was removed to storage for the building of the West Midlands Metro extension. Also to go in the years since was the bollards and trees.

The Town Hall looked amazing in the sunshine with the blue sky.

You can imagine it being in Rome.

The side of the Town Hall seen from Paradise Street. At the time, a man was putting up adverts for Smurfit Kappa. They were going to celebrate their 150th anniversary at the Town Hall. This was near the end of May 2012.

In December 2012, I got some nightshots of the Town Hall. This was before my works Xmas party, so had a walk around town before heading to the restaurant. This was the Paradise Street view.

The view down on Paradise Street and Paradise Circus Queensway. The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market was on at the time in Victoria Square. Next I walked down Suffolk Street Queensway towards The Arcadian.

In January 2013, it was snowing all over Birmingham. As I headed into Victoria Square, found the whole square covered in snow. Council workers had cleared a path through the snow to the right. Was trying to get to Cineworld on Broad Street (ended up having to see the film I wanted to see in Solihull days later).

More snow in March 2018 in Victoria Square. This was during the weather event known as the Beast from the East. Was also during Storm Emma. Council workers were laying grit around the square. It was also when the World Indoor Athletics Championships was being held at Arena Birmingham. By this point, the Metro extension was under construction (to the far left).

Temporary tarmac on the site of the Westside Metro extension during May 2019. You can just about see the Victoria Square sign on the right saying that it was opened by the Princess of Wales on the 6th of May 1993. One Chamberlain Square was also visible to the right of the Town Hall (behind the statue of Queen Victoria).

By October 2019 it was all hands on deck to get the Metro extension completed by December 2019. The tracks and bricks were laid. They were also laying new steps around the Queen Victoria statue. Also to get things finished before the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market returned again in November 2019.

In November 2019, West Midlands Metro tram 35 on a test run, stops at the new Birmingham Town Hall Tram Stop. Before going down Pinfold Street towards Grand Central Tram Stop. Behind is the Alpha Tower.

Town Hall Tram Stop seen during December 2019, before it opened later that month. Behind the platform towards Centenary Square on Paradise Street.

You can now get the tram the Town Hall. Luckily they opened this exension while the Birmingham FCM was on.

A man looks up at the Town Hall. While hoardings block off the former route of Paradise Circus Queensway, towards Chamberlain Square.

A new view of Chamberlain Square towards Two and One Chamberlain Square, with the Chamberlain Memorial, BM & AG and the Town Hall all that survives from the 19th and 20th centuries.

For the first time in December 2019, you could see two trams (29 and 22) next to the Town Hall. Perhaps for the first time since the old tram network closed down in the 1950s. You can also see Big Brum at BM & AG from this view on Paradise Street.

West Midlands Metro tram 29 was seen heading towards Wolverhampton. This extension opened in the last few weeks of 2019, so people could use it to go to the Birmingham FCM at the time. These scenes remind me of the Nottingham Express Transit that goes past the Nottingham Council House (saw that back in 2014).

A few more views into early 2020. This was in Victoria Square during January 2020. All the new paving around the square was complete. Apart from what they would do in the months ahead. This was around halfway into the month. The view towards the Alpha Tower down Paradise Street.

Late January 2020 and West Midlands Metro tram 35 arrives at Town Hall Tram Stop, before heading to Library Tram Stop. This was something you couldn't have imagined 10 years ago! There was barriers in front of the Town Hall to the right in Victoria Square, so the new paving was far from finished.

My last tram photo outside of the Town Hall was taken during early March 2020. It was tram 19 (taken on my Smartphone camera). This was the last time I saw a tram at Town Hall Tram Stop before the lockdown.

 

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
22 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A variety of objects in the Warehouse at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre

I've been to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre twice in the past. During an open day in May 2012 and another open day during Birmingham Heritage Week back in September 2018. Here we will look at some of the objects stored in the warehouse. It reminds you of the big warehouse in the Indiana Jones movies (the 1st and 4th ones). But no swinging on Indy's whip in here!

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A variety of objects in the Warehouse at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre





I've been to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre twice in the past. During an open day in May 2012 and another open day during Birmingham Heritage Week back in September 2018. Here we will look at some of the objects stored in the warehouse. It reminds you of the big warehouse in the Indiana Jones movies (the 1st and 4th ones). But no swinging on Indy's whip in here!


Remember the scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark of the Covenant was placed in a warehouse in Area 51? (later revisited in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Well the warehouse at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre is a bit like that. Most objects are not in crates, but on shelves all over (there are some objects in crates though).

Located at 25 Dollman Street in Nechells (near Vauxhall). It is also near Duddeston Station (on the Cross City Line and Chase Line). Formerly run by Birmingham City Council, it is now run by the Birmingham Museums Trust.

I've been to two open days over the years. One during a Sunday in May 2012. And another in September 2018 during Birmingham Heritage Week.

 

Entering the warehouse at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre on the 13th May 2012. There was a pair of volunteers in yellow jackets at the open day.

There is many rows of shelves all through the warehouse. But on your visit you can only see the items on the bottom shelf.

Some rows were closed off to visitors.

I think only staff can go up the steps in here (not members of the public visiting on an open day).

Another view of the shelves during the Birmingham Heritage Week open day on the 16th September 2018. On the second visit was hard to find objects I'd not seen 6 years previously.

Now back to the May 2012 open day visit.

An old red telephone box. I think it is type K6. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Most phone boxes are now obsolete, or not as used as much as we all have smartphones  (or mobile phones) now. Some have been converted into small coffee shops or had defibrillator machines installed.

Next up was a Boiler Feed Pump. It was built by J. Evans & Sons of Wolverhampton circa 1920 and it was made for the Round Oak Steel Works. This type of Pump is also known as a Banjo Steam Feed Pump.

This was a Weighing Machine. It was a pendulum operated weighing machine made by W & T Avery of Birmingham in 1900.

Two objects here. On the left was a Tensile Testing Machine. Made in 1950 for Loughborough College. Colleges used machines like this to stretch materials. On the right was a Small Crank Operated Power Press. It was used over 50 years ago to stamp small metal components by Edwin Lowe, Bearing Manufacturers of Perry Barr, Birmingham

A pair of Clock Machines. These two clocking-in machines dated to 1920 were made by the International Time Reading Company. I'm used to modern clocking-in machines where you put a card into a machine and it prints the time you clocked in our out, but is digital, unlike these analogue ones.

I didn't make a note of what these machines were used for. I usually take a photo of the information sign, but didn't with these machines.

This was labelled as Cycle. It was a Railway track inspection cycle used by platelayers.

Finally we have a Press. This was a power press made by Taylor & Challen, Birmingham in 1888. From the factory of Gordon & Munro Ltd., Tipton.

Six years later. Some of the objects I found in the warehouse during the September 2018 open day during Birmingham Heritage Week.

First up was a Soda Water Plant. This machine was used at Military Staff College in Camberley for making and bottling Soda Water from the mid to late 19th century. Siphons were also refilled there. This was a machine I'd previously seen on my fist visit back in 2012.

Next up we have a Hotchkiss 47mm Naval Gun. The gun was captured from the Chinese torpedo boat destroyer 'Taku' during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.

This is The 'Netley' Carriage. It was made at R.A. Harding Limited in 1955. It was an aids works hand operated tricycle. It would have allowed wheelchair users greater mobility. This model was recommended for hilly districts.

Next up we have a Ariel 'Pixie' Motorcycle. It was made by Ariel Motors Ltd in Birmingham in 1965. I previously saw it here in 2012 as well. They don't seem to move the objects.

Another motorcycle. This one was a Douglas 4hp Motorcycle. Was made in 1918. The Douglas Engineering Company was formed in Bristol in 1882. They produced a large amount of motorcycles in 1914 for the war effort. Douglas Motors Limited ended production in 1957. I had also seen this one before in 2012.

Finally we have a Petrol Pump. Dating to 1932. It was a electrically operated petrol pump used by a Birmingham Company to refill delivery vehicles.

There is also bronze and marbles busts in here, but will leave thoese to a future post.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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50 passion points
Green open spaces
17 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Mary Stevens Park in Stourbridge, in what was the Studley Court estate

Back in July 2019 I wanted to ride the Stourbridge Shuttle again, and while in Stourbridge, I noticed on a map that htere was a park in walking distance from the Town Centre. This was Mary Stevens Park. The park opened to the public in 1931. It was named after the late Mary Stevens, wife of local businessman Ernest Stevens who donated the land for the creation of a park around 1929-30.

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Mary Stevens Park in Stourbridge, in what was the Studley Court estate





Back in July 2019 I wanted to ride the Stourbridge Shuttle again, and while in Stourbridge, I noticed on a map that htere was a park in walking distance from the Town Centre. This was Mary Stevens Park. The park opened to the public in 1931. It was named after the late Mary Stevens, wife of local businessman Ernest Stevens who donated the land for the creation of a park around 1929-30.


Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge

I found another park on Google Maps, while in Stourbridge, in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley (back in July 2019). This was Mary Stevens Park. I went to the Costa Coffee in the Ryemarket Shopping Centre, for the second time in 6 years. And was looking at somewhere to walk to before going back to Stourbridge Town Station. I noticed a park that wasn't that far away to walk to. Leaving the Ryemarket Shopping Centre, I headed along Worcester Street, until I got to the main gates on Heath Lane.

In 1929 after the death of his wife Mary, local industrialist and philanthropist Ernest Stevens gave land to the town of Stourbridge to develop a park. He purchased the Studley Court estate and house from the nuns of the St. Andrews Convent, with the intentions of creating a park. It would be named Mary Stevens Park and opened to the public in 1931. The park has a lake called the Heath Pool, there is also a Bandstand, tennis courts, bowling green, outdoor gym, a cafe and a children's play area.

Mr Stevens donated the gates at the entrance to the park.

One plaque dating 1929 reads:

This park was given by
Ernest Stevens
in Memory of his wife
Mary Stevens
a noble woman
who went about doing good,
to be for all time a place
of rest for the weary.
of happiness for children,
and of beauty for everyone.

The second plaque reads:

The entrances were
constructed and given by
the donor of the park
Ernest Stevens, Esq., J.P.
of Prescot House
Stourbridge.

The gates seen from the main entrance on Heath Lane. Just beyond a roundabout and at the end of Worcester Street. The Gates, Piers and Railings are Grade II listed. They date to 1930. They are made of fine ashlar piers with wrought-iron gates and railings in Neo-Georgian style.

There is bollards around the entrance. Cars can drive to the car park, but cant go onto the main path into the park. the roundabout ahead has a big tree in the middle.

Heading into the park, trees line the main path beyond the bollards. Was also flower beds on the right. The main path is called the Queen's Drive. It was opened on the 23rd April 1957 by HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Who toured around in an open top Land Rover at the time.

The Mary Stevens Park noticeboard and map from the main path, The car park is behind. Also has a bit of history on it to the left. The sign mentions that Ernest Stevens legacy was not just to leave a park for local people, but to preserve open green space for all to enjoy. Queen Elizabeth II also made a visit to the park in 1957.

The wonderful flower beds to the right of the main path.

The Stourbridge War Memorial was to the left of the main path. It was erected in memory of the lives lost during the First World War. It was originally set up outside of the public library in Stourbridge in 1923. It was designed by Ernest Pickford and unveiled by the Earl of Coventry on the 16th February 1923. It is Grade II* listed.

It was later moved to it's current location in Mary Stevens Park in 1960. There is a bronze statue on top of a woman. The listing says it dates to 1920 and was moved here in 1966. Made of fine ashlar with metal, probably bronze, plaques and a figure, in severe classical style. It was moved as a result of a road scheme.

This would the people of Stourbridge would gather each November to lay poppy wreaths. It also commemorates those lost during World War 2.

Here you can get coffee and ice cream at the Coffee Lounge in Mary Stevens Park. To the right was some public toilets. Behind the cafe is the Stourbridge Council House (more details further down the post).

Red flowers on the flower bed near the gates that surrounds the Coffee Lounge.

You could also get some ice cream from this ice cream van.

This was the Mary Stevens Park Children's Play Area. Was a a few hoses firing water in the middle, and kids running into the water jets.

A look at the Bandstand. It was made of cast iron and was made by Hill & Smith Ltd. It was funded by Ernest Stevens. Meaning it dates to the late 1920s or early 1930s. It has been an important central feature to the park ever since it opened to the public. Summer band concerts have always been popular.

Outside the Stourbridge Council House in the gardens, is a bronze statue of Major Frank Foley (sitting on a bench). It was formerly known as Heath House and later Studley Court. During WW1 it was used as Studley Court Hospital. Studley Court was originally called Heath House. It was associated with Glassworks. The first reference on the site dates from 1691. Was a number of different owners of Heath House in the 19th century. It was run as a V.A.D. Military Hospital during the World War 1. And was a Convent School during the 1920s. It became the offices for what was then the Stourbridge District Council in the 1930s. It was used until Stourbridge merged with Dudley Borough in 1974. Since 1974, Studley Court has been home to parts of Dudley MBC.

The bronze statue of Major Frank Foley was unveiled on the 18th September 2018 by HRH The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William).

The sculptor was Andy De Comyn. Major Foley was a Black Country war hero. He saved thousands of Jews from Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. 60 years after his death, his deeds have not been forgotten. More information here from the Express and Star.

There is a plaque on the bench which reads:

Major Frank Edward Foley CMG (1884 - 1958)
who lived in quiet retirement near this park
but in the 1930s helped over 10,000 Jewish people 
escape from the Holocaust, whilst working as 
British Passport Control Officer in Berlin.
He who saves one, saves the world.

Another look at the Stourbridge Council House from the second half of the garden. The Dudley Children Services Adoption Team uses part of the building now. Hard to believe that until 1929 this was a nunnery! It served as the Council House until Stourbridge became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley in 1974.

Now for a look around the lake, called the Heath Pool. It is to the south west corner of the park.

All the usual gulls and geese here. Plus there was a fountain in the middle of the lake.

Black-headed gulls perched on the top of these wooden poles.

The Heath Pool covers about less than one quarter of the park.

There was Canada geese all over. Some Coot as well.

Something I've not seen before this visit was this Muscovy duck. There was quite a few of them here.

This sign had a lot of information about the Heath Pool. Was close to the exit / entrance from Stanley Road and Norton Road.

This gate is the entrance and exit to Stanley Road.

After I left the park, heading back into town, I also saw this gate on Love Lane, from Heath Lane.

While I could have walked to Stourbridge Junction, I wanted one more ride of the Stourbridge Shuttle so walked back to the Stourbridge Interchange. See my post on my last ride here: West Midlands Railway Stourbridge Shuttle (July 2019).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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80 passion points
History & heritage
09 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A wonder round the Village at the Black Country Living Museum

In the first of my Black Country Living Museum posts, from my August 2011 visit, we take a look around the recreated Canal Village. A collection of buildings taken from all over the Black Country and rebuilt at the open air museum in Dudley, West Midlands. If Dudley can do this, why not Birmingham (rebuild old buildings on a museum site)?

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A wonder round the Village at the Black Country Living Museum





In the first of my Black Country Living Museum posts, from my August 2011 visit, we take a look around the recreated Canal Village. A collection of buildings taken from all over the Black Country and rebuilt at the open air museum in Dudley, West Midlands. If Dudley can do this, why not Birmingham (rebuild old buildings on a museum site)?


Black Country Living Museum

The museum was founded in 1975 on a site off Tipton Road in Dudley.  The first buildings moved here in 1976. A 26 acre site has since developed. With the unique conditions of living and working conditions of the mid 19th century to the early 20th century. The museum needs your help now more than ever, while they are closed during lockdown (with no income). Visit their website (link above) buy a ticket  (and use it when they reopen) or donate to help them.

 

For now, have a look back to the past with my August 2011 visit to the Black Country Living Museum.

Take the tram ride to the village: Trams at the Black Country Living Museum, then get off and explore the village with me.

 

Welcome to Old Birmingham Road. On the left is Hobbs & Sons Restaurant, where you can queue for some traditional fish & chips. There are further shops to the right.

Also known as Hobbs Fish & Chips Shop. It was originally at 41-42 Hall Street, Dudley, being moved and rebuilt here brick by brick where it forms the centrepiece of a 1930's High Street.

Next up is H. Morrall. MensWear Specialist. Harry Morrall’s shop used to be on Hall Street, Dudley, where he traded from 1928 to 1935. He stocked traditional men's clothes such as shirts, collars, hats, ties, socks and more. The shop reflects the fashion of the time.

Next up was Humphrey Bros. and A. Harthill Motorcycles. Humphrey Brothers was a builders’ merchants dating back to 1921 when brothers Joseph and William first traded at no 12 Birmingham Street, Oldbury. By the 1930s the business grew to include no. 14 and by the 1940s out of no 16. as well. Passageway in the middle to the Show Room.

Now a close up look at A. Harthill Motorcycles. In the late 1930s this shop was formerly part of the Humphrey brothers’ business (now recreated next door). At the Museum it has been fitted out as Hartills motor cycle shop, which was located in Mount Pleasant, Bilston. The shop was opened in 1937 by Abraham Hartill, who moved from a smaller unit in the same block. He mostly sold second hand motorcycles.

Now in The Village Centre. We find Gregory’s General Store on the left. It stands next to the Canal Street Bridge. The shop was built as a pair of houses, and Mrs Gregory started selling goods from one of the front rooms. Were major alterations in 1923. Almost everything that the local community needed was stocked in and around Lawrence Lane at the shop. The shop was originally built as a pair of houses in 1883 at Lawrence Lane, Oldhill by Charles Gregory, an ironworker. The house in the middle was The Chainmaker's House and H. Emile Doo Chemist & Druggist was at the far end to the right.

We are now inside of The Chainmaker’s House. It used to be next to Gregory’s Stores in Lawrence Lane, Old Hill. It was the first house to be rebuilt at the museum. It was built in 1886 as a washhouse, known locally as a coalhouse. The interior has been displayed to reflect the home of a late Victorian chainmaker of 1914. In the kitchen to the back of the house was a cast iron cooker / stove.

Next up was H. Emile Doo Chemist & Druggist. The shop was a replica of Mr Harold Emile Doo’s shop in Halesowen Road, Netherton. The shop front was original, acquired when the premises was modernised in 1979. The fittings are of the 1920's, were donated by the Doo family (no they are not related to Scooby Doo!). There was a photographers studio inside.

A look inside of the chemist shop. There was a fascinating range of early twentieth century cosmetics, displayed in the original mahogany cabinets. There was a demonstrator who told you all about the equipment and strange ingredients used by the chemists' to treat all sorts of complaints.

At the end of the street was this pub the Bottle & Glass Inn. The inn was originally located at Brierley Hill Road, Brockmore, close to the canal with the Stourbridge Flight of 16 locks. In the 1820s the pub was known as the Bush public house, but by the 1840s it was known as the Bottle and Glass. Phillip Hamish MacDonald Wood was the Licenced Victualler.

Down here was the Station Road Cottages and the Ironmonger's Shop. The cottages were displayed as they may have been around 1910, when two branches of the Newton family lived in them. The two cottages are replicas of a pair that stood on Station Road, Oldhill, probably built in 1848. And are typical workers houses of the late 18th and early 19th century in the Black Country. Nash’s ironmongery opened in 1860 in Oldbury, supplying both domestic ironmongery and works trade. The shop had been recreated as it would have been in the 1930s on Pipers Row. It is now on the right hand corner of Canal Street.

A closer look at the Station Road Cottages. The left hand cottage was expanded in the 1860s. And the right hand cottage at the turn of the 19th century. Edward Newton lived in the cottage to the left with his wife and family. He was described as a ‘coal heaver’. His brother Thomas was a nail maker and lived in the cottage to the right. His wife ran a sweetshop from the front room, which is now part of the Cobbler's Shop. The Canalside Cafe was to the left of here.

Next up was the Back to Back Houses on Brook Street. The three Brook Street houses were originally built in  Sedgley. The cottages are in the period of 1924. At no. 11 was WW1 veteran, who was a an employee of the adjacent brass foundry. No. 12 was occupied by a couple whose children had grown up and moved into their own homes elsewhere. The final house was occupied by a man described as an art metal worker. Was much better off financially. Brook Street had gas installed in the houses with gas cookers in the kitchens, and gas lights.

St James's School was on Old Birmingham Road. The school was originally built on Salop Street in Dudley in 1842 near St James Church. The architect was William Bourne of Dudley. It could accommodate 300 children. It was moved to the museum in 1991, with funds provided by the Charles Hayward Trust. Today it is displayed as is it was in 1912. Despite the conditions of the building, it continued to be used as a school until 1980. The head teacher was Mrs. T. Griffiths. Built in 1842, an extension was built in 1845. Hot water and heating installed by the 1890's. The school was renovated in the 1930's. American forces stationed in Dudley from 1940 - 45 were based in this building during WW2. The school was converted into a community centre in 1980, but by 1989 it was structurally unsafe. All this changed when it moved to the museum in 1991.

Finally we have The Workers' Institute. It originally came from Cradley Heath. It was a landmark of the achievments of British labour history. The interior is set as it was in 1935. Upstairs was a memorial to Mary Macarthur, one of Britain’s greatest union leaders. She stood as the first Labour Party candidate for Stourbridge in 1918. Inside was a 300 seat auditorium which hosts costumed performances, living history theatre, education and entertainment activities.

A look in one of the rooms in The Workers' Institute. A woman staff member talks to a lady on the other desk. Also has the old style telephone. Their was a Royal typewriter on this desk.

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the village at the Black Country Living Museum.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
Civic pride
08 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The statue of Queen Victoria in Victoria Square

The original marble statue of Queen Victoria was unveiled in Victoria Square on the 10th January 1901 (12 days before her death). It was sculpted by Thomas Brock. The statue had to be replaced with a bronze casting in 1951 by the sculptor William Bloye. In 2011 a new bronze sceptre was installed. And the statue was conserved in 2018 by the Birmingham Civic Society.

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The statue of Queen Victoria in Victoria Square





The original marble statue of Queen Victoria was unveiled in Victoria Square on the 10th January 1901 (12 days before her death). It was sculpted by Thomas Brock. The statue had to be replaced with a bronze casting in 1951 by the sculptor William Bloye. In 2011 a new bronze sceptre was installed. And the statue was conserved in 2018 by the Birmingham Civic Society.


The Statue of Queen Victoria, Victoria Square, Birmingham

In 2018 the Birmingham Civic Society gave the statue of Queen Victoria a deep clean, which saw scaffolding go up around April 2018. By May 2018 it was looking as good as new. Back in 2011 a new bronze sceptre was installed to replace the long missing one.

The PMSA has a detailed description of the history of the statue, now preserved on the Web Archive.

Mr W. H. Barber who was a Birmingham solicitor and benefactor of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, offered to present the first outdoor statue of Queen Victoria to Birmingham in 1897, during the Diamond Jubilee year. He considered Thomas Brock to be the most suitable sculptor. Barber insisted that it be an enlarged replica of Brock's statue at Worcester Hall. The City accepted the offer on the 27th July 1897 and the completed work was unveiled 12 days before the death of Queen Victoria, on the 10th January 1901. It was in an outside space original named Council House Square, renamed to Victoria Square.

The original statue was made of white marble standing on a pedestal of dark Cornish granite. The figure of the Queen made more monumental with long state robes. The statue remained here, at one point statues of John Skirrow Wright and Joseph Priestley were here until 1913. Only to be replaced by the statue of King Edward VII.

During the VE Day celebrations on the 8th May 1945, there were men sitting on top of the statue, and the orb was badly damaged. The statue remained in place until 1950.

The square was redesigned in 1950 as a permanent work marking the Festival of Britain in 1951. The statue of King Edward VII was moved to Highgate Park, and as the marble original of Queen Victoria had weathered badly, Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Civic Society provided a grant towards reproducing it in bronze.

The old statue was removed from Victoria Square on the 13th March 1950, and it was renovated by William Bloye who cast it in bronze. It returned on the 25th May 1951 and erected on a pedestal of light coloured Cornish granite. It was unveiled on the 9th June 1951 by the Princess Elizabeth (now our current Queen from 6th February 1952 to present).

In 1993 Victoria Square was pedestrianised and included new sculptures by Dhruva Mistry and Antony Gormley. The statue of Queen Victoria was moved slightly at the time. The square was re-opened by the Princess of Wales on the 6th May 1993.

More recently, the Birmingham Civic Society had a new bronze Sceptre made, to replace the one long since missing, this was done in February 2011. Scaffolding went up around the statue in late April 2018 for a deep clean. By the following month it was looking as good as new. New paving continues to be installed around Victoria Square, this started in 2019 as Town Hall Tram Stop was opened on Paradise Street, and continues well into 2020.

 

2009

My first photos of the statue of Queen Victoria were taken in April 2009, when I started going around Birmingham with my then Fujifilm compact camera. The brilliant blue sky going into Chamberain Square behind.

As you can see the tip of the Sceptre was missing. It would be replaced for another two years.

Some views of the statue taken during August 2009. By then I had my first Fujifilm bridge camera. So got some new photos of Queen Victoria.

Close up and you still see that the tip of the Sceptre was missing.

The statue always works quite well with the late 19th Century Council House architecture.

During the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, in November 2009, you could see the statue of Queen Victoria to the left of a Helter Skelter ride.

In this view of the statue you can see the original 103 Colmore Row which was designed by John Madin (now being replaced). It was built from 1973 and opened in 1976. It was demolished in 2016. Was known as National Westminster House.

There was also a carrousel to the right, which returns to Victoria Square every Christmas season with the BFCM.

2011

The tip of the Sceptre was replaced by February 2011, completing the statue as it was originally meant to look.

But the bronze was looking a bit weathered even back in 2011.

The Forward flag was flying on the top of the Town Hall, as you can see Queen Victoria holding her Orb.

From the back you can hardly tell that the tip of the Sceptre was brand new!

2013

Probably the only time I've seen the statue of Queen Victoria covered in snow was back in January 2013. This was the snowfall on the 18th January 2013. It was so cold and the snow was falling!

In September 2013 was 4 Squares Weekender. This was held over the weekend of the 6th to 8th September 2013. Members of Nofit State Circus were standing on the roof of a caravan. There was flags and buntings all over the square at the time.

I wonder if the Queen was amused or not? It was the weekend celebrating the opening of the Library of Birmingham.

2015

Now onto December 2015 with the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market again. To the right of the statue of Queen Victoria was a pair of portacabins, with the top one saying Merry Christmas! Heart 100.7.

Behind all the huts of the BFCM was the annual Happy Christmas Birmingham lit up on the Council House. With it's line of lions above.

2017

Seen on Remembrance Sunday in Victoria Square during November 2017. It was on the 12th November 2017 as a crowd gathered around Birmingham's Cenotaph at the time in front of the Council House. As the then Lord Mayor of Birmingham led the Service of Remembrance (this was moved to Colmore Row / Cathedral Square in 2018 and 2019).

2018

The view from January 2018, as Queen Victoria has a new backing into Chamberlain Square with the then being built One Chamberlain Square. It was heavily raining at the time. This was around the time that Carillion went into liquidation (and would be months before BAM took over).

In April 2018, Birmingham was celebrating the end of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia, while looking forward to the games in Birmingham in 2022. Birmingham was being broadcast live to the world at the time, as big performance took place in the square. A couple of 2022 flags to the right of the statue of Queen Victoria.

A few weeks later, scaffolding went up around the statue for it's deep clean. The statue goes well with the columns of the Town Hall, and you can see One Chamberlain Square to the right through the columns.

A few days after the scaffolding got a bit of a roof. The Birmingham Civic Society had the statue given a deep clean. It would look as good as new the next time I saw it.

Wow! What a result! By May 2018 the statue of Queen Victoria was looking amazing after the conservation work that took place the month before. Crane to the left at Paradise Birmingham. BAM had taken over One Chamberlain Square and started Two Chamberlain Square by this point in time.

It is now July 2018. New steps had been built around the base of the statue of Queen Victoria, while the hoardings of the West Midlands Metro extension were in front of her.

I also saw this view down Pinfold Street at the time towards Birmingham New Street Station. A contrast between modern architecture and Victorian architecture. With Victoria Square House to the right.

During August 2018, I got this view of the Town Hall, One Chamberlain Square, the Queen Victoria statue and the Council House in one shot.

Now pink and blue adverts on the West Midlands Metro extension hoardings in October 2018. Was temporary tarmac around the new steps. Victoria Square House directly in front of the Queen and No. 1 Victoria Square to the right. The Beetham Tower is seen down Hill Street.

In November 2018, I was in the Banqueting Suite at the Council House for the first Annual Birmingham We Are event that I attended. And got this view of the statue of Queen Victoria, facing the construction site of the West Midlands Metro extension. Lots of temporary tarmac around, as the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market would soon be back again.

2019

I got this view in February 2019 of the Queen Victoria statue. With the Town Hall, Chamberlain Memorial and One Chamberlain Square behind. The view behind has changed quite a lot in 10 years!

There was a temporary guest in Victoria Square during May 2019, the Knife Angel. Queen Victoria shining to the left. While you can also see the Town Hall, Two Chamberlain Square, the Chamberlain Memorial and One Chamberlain Square. I'd previously seen the Knife Angel in Coventry in March 2019. It was by Alfie Bradley. It was still on a Nationwide tour when the pandemic and lockdown hit in 2020. (Click the link above to check out my Knife Angel post).

2020

The Birmingham We Are annual event took place once again at the Banqueting Suite in the Council House in January 2020 (delayed from December 2019 due to the General Election). Here you can see West Midlands Metro tram 20 passing the statue of Queen Victoria.

Town Hall Tram Stop opened in December 2019 and there was now regular tram services to Library Tram Stop in Centenary Square. Meanwhile some of the paving around Victoria Square was complete, but was a lot left to do. This is unique with a blue tram going past the statue.

In early February 2020, I was walking around Paradise Circus Queensway, when I saw this view towards Victoria Square House down what used to be Congreve Passage, and would could be Congreve Street again in the future.

Zooming in through the gate, I got this view of the Queen Victoria statue between Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery / The Council House and Victoria Square House. The shiny new Birmingham New Street Station is just about visible between the two Victorian buildings. Hopefully one day in the future it will be possible to walk from this direction into Chamberlain Square and Victoria Square. It's been blocked off since 2015.

About 5 days later in Victoria Square, and the new steps with rails, which was completed by the end of 2019, when Town Hall Tram Stop opened. A safer way to head up to the statue of Queen Victoria. This was my last close up photo of the statue before the pandemic / lockdown was declared in late March 2020. I have got one photo of the Council House from early March 2020, but it's not directly at the statue.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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