History & heritage
Displaying until 26 Aug 2019 - FreeTimePays
Featuring

HistoryAndUs - a FreeTimePays Community of Passion and digital portal for people who want to make a difference!

With a combined reach of 100,000, FreeTimePays launches a unique digital space and portal for people to promote and share their passion for history and heritage.

Take the full post to find out more and see how you can get involved.

Connect with us and help promote the passion that is history and heritage!

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HistoryAndUs - a FreeTimePays Community of Passion and digital portal for people who want to make a difference!




With a combined reach of 100,000, FreeTimePays launches a unique digital space and portal for people to promote and share their passion for history and heritage.

Take the full post to find out more and see how you can get involved.

Connect with us and help promote the passion that is history and heritage!


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

HistoryAndUs is a digital space for people who are passionate about history and want to do whatever they can to help promote their great heritage. 

At HistoryAndUs, we help connect people where passions are shared; we give people FREE access to their very own digital space where they can promote their passion; and we recognise people for the contributions they make through the allocation of Passion Points. Interested? Connect with us HERE.

The reach of FreeTimePays is huge and is growing with Communities of Passion being rolled out across the UK. 

Companies and organisations keen to support People with Passion play an essential role and we have a range of partnership, sponsorship and advertising packages available.

We can even go as far as to set groups and networks up with their own portal so they can grow their own branded Community of Passion linked to their own website or social media account.

View our Partnership arrangements or connect with us HERE.

Now let's show you what you get with FreeTimePays. 

FreeTimePays

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

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

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

There are three components to FreeTimePays.

There’s Community Passport, Community Workspace and Community Matchmaker. Operating right across the platform in recognition of the valuable contribution being made by users is FreeTimePays gamification. This takes the form of points and rewards for passions shared.

FreeTimePays is here for people who really want to become involved in their community or with their particular passion and for those people who are really serious about making a difference. It’s our job at FreeTimePays to provide the tools and functionality that helps bring together those who create the great ideas with those who have the potential to turn an idea into something that really does make a difference.

Community Passport

Passport is a personal space which registered members can make their own. With a passport, members can choose to get involved with their passion and participate in many different ways.

They can view regular content and posts; sort and save this content by type or by passion; they can collect points for giving their views through polls and surveys, attend events or even join a discussion.

With a FreeTimePays Community Passport, members can follow inspiring people and they can learn more about their community and their passion by following regular ‘Did you Know’ features. And the more they decide to do and the more they get involved, the more points they collect and the greater the opportunity to take up offers and win prizes.

Community Workspace

With their unique Community Workspace, FreeTimePays is able to help those who are inspired and serious about taking things to the next level. FreeTimePays will give these people their own access rights environment where they can work on their idea or project.

In this digital space they can work alone, or bring in others to share in building evidence, acquiring knowledge and developing plans. This is the ideal space for working on the business; working on the idea; working on the initiative.

A range of facilities and tools can be found in workspace and users can effectively utilise this space for collating documents, photos, videos and web links, for opening up discussion and chat with others, or for running surveys and analysing results.

Community Matchmaker

The whole focus and rationale for FreeTimePays is MAKING A DIFFERENCE. It’s our job at FreeTimePays to provide the tools and functionality that helps bring together those who create the GREAT IDEAS with those who have the potential to turn an IDEA into something that really does MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Matchmaker is where the dreamers can join with the dream makers – with those who are more than happy to put their support, their resources, their connections, and their wealth of experience behind the idea and behind the passionate people responsible for coming up with the idea.

These are the community drivers, the investors, the philanthropists, the funders of great initiatives, the Lottery, and those from local government and the public sector who are responsible for the provision of public services.

These are the people and the organisations who are in positions of making things happen for those who are passionate and inspired to want to make a difference.

For more detail on what is provided by FreeTimePays connect HERE.

HistoryAndUs

HistoryAndUs will grow as a shared space for the many individuals, communities and businesses that will want to connect and share in their passion for history and heritage.

Their work, their ideas and their proposals can be pulled together in the one collaborative space giving them access to a huge resource bank for sharing images, documents and web links. 

In this space people can chat in a secure environment if they wish; they can set up and promote events; or they can communicate with any of the FreeTimePays Communities through creating and submitting posts. 

We would be delighted to tell you more.

Contact Jonathan Bostock at jonathan.bostock@freetimepays.com or connect HERE with FreeTimePays for more information on sharing your passion for history.

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50 passion points
History & heritage
Displaying until 25 Aug 2019 - FreeTimePays
Featuring

Are you passionate about History & Heritage? Join Us!

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

‘People with Passion’ are given the digital space and the digital tools so they can promote their passion for history & heritage and connect with people who share their passion.

Related

Are you passionate about History & Heritage? Join Us!




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

‘People with Passion’ are given the digital space and the digital tools so they can promote their passion for history & heritage and connect with people who share their passion.


HistoryAndUs is all about engaging people in the promotion of history and the recognition that our historical gems are there for us all to enjoy and protect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
15 May 2019 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

The Grand Hotel, Birmingham - Update on restoration work (May 2019)

Birmingham’s most iconic hotel is set to be restored to its former glory when it opens next year.

Map of the site

Greater Birmingham Developments Overview Map

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The Grand Hotel, Birmingham - Update on restoration work (May 2019)




Birmingham’s most iconic hotel is set to be restored to its former glory when it opens next year.

Map of the site

Greater Birmingham Developments Overview Map


Occupying a prominent position on the city’s grandest address of all, Colmore Row, The Grand Birmingham Hotel is scheduled to open its doors in May 2020.

It follows ten years of extensive renovation works throughout the building, which has seen Hortons’ Estate invest more than £25 million to give this Grade-II listed beauty a well deserved second chance at life.

Developed by the Horton Family themselves between 1879 and 1895, this opulent French Renaissance inspired building has played host to royalty, A-list Hollywood film stars and politicians over the years, as well as staging many dinners, concerts and dances in the picturesque Grosvenor Suite – a suite that will be returning to the public next year.

The Grand Hotel, 1894 - Photo by British Library

The Grand Ballroom - Photo by Birmingham Post

Plush new shops, upmarket restaurants and upgraded new offices now adorn the lower floors fronting onto Colmore Row, with more to come on Barwick Street.

This work has been supported by grants from Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), Birmingham City Council and Historic England.

Photo by 55ColmoreRow

Photo by Tom Grunt

HOTEL OPERATOR

The crowning glory for Hortons' Estate in all of this was securing a hotel operator, however, this has proved to be more difficult than anticipated.

The search for a builder to undergo works, in order to attract an operator, has been painstakingly frustrating at times, with builders put off by the antiquated nature of the interior, with modernising works seemingly too difficult to overcome.

However, a deal was reached and an announcement was duly made midway through 2017 when Principal Hotel Company announced plans to turn the upper floors into a luxury 180-room hotel.

The hotel will include extensive conference and banquet spaces, along with a restaurant, bar, and spa.

Initial plans for a rooftop infinity pool have since been scrapped in favour of five more spacious rooms. The hotel will now contain a total of 185 rooms, with a decision on the star rating yet to be made.

“We have always believed that the restoration of The Grand would not be complete if it did not include a luxury hotel.

After considerable time and effort we have chosen to work with Principal on the project because they share our commitment to creating the city’s finest hotel and because of their impressive track record working on similar buildings in other major cities.” - Tony Green, chief executive of Hortons’ Estate

With the hotel set to open in twelve months time, Graham Construction won the fit-out contract to deliver the hotel late last year, with work inside very much underway.

The Grand Hotel is well on its way to being reborn!

Artists Impressions by Berman Guedes Stretton

For more information on Birmingham's developments, follow @GtrBhamDev on Twitter

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70 passion points
Civic pride
10 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill

If you visit Sarehole Mill, inside or out, you may see these signs (if they are still there) of a Bilbo Baggins / The Hobbit trail. The biopic Tolkien was released in UK cinemas in early May 2019. Featuring scenes set in Birmingham and near Sarehole Mill and around Edgbaston and the City Centre. This is a fun trail for Tolkien fans!

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J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit at Sarehole Mill




If you visit Sarehole Mill, inside or out, you may see these signs (if they are still there) of a Bilbo Baggins / The Hobbit trail. The biopic Tolkien was released in UK cinemas in early May 2019. Featuring scenes set in Birmingham and near Sarehole Mill and around Edgbaston and the City Centre. This is a fun trail for Tolkien fans!


These photos below were taken during a free open day at Sarehole Mill in October 2013. Couldn't help but notice these The Hobbit signs. Clearly part of a picture trail round the mill!

Seen in the tea room, when it also used to be the ticket office (that was later moved into a building close to the car park).

Bilbo Baggins - look for his pictures around the mill.

Gandalf the Grey - he is looking for young Bilbo Baggins.

Bilbo Baggins - a Hobbit.

Gandalf A grey wizard.

Thorin Leader of the Dwarves

Gollum A Stoor Hobbit of the River folk.

On the top floor of the mill, Bilbo's house!

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit

When the leaves are gold before they fall, look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire

During another visit to the gardens of Sarehole Mill (September 2016), I saw these four signs on stones with JRR Tolkien quotes from his books! Only had my (then) smartphone camera on me at the time. So not as detailed as would be on my main camera. I would guess that they were meant to be clues?

One Ring to rule them all One Ring to find them ...

Tall ships and tall rings, Three times three what brought they from the foundered land ...

For Bole and bougo Are burning a bit the furnace We go to War ...

Reeds by the shady pond. Lillies on the water ...

Bonus photos. It was the Summer of 2015. And The Big Hoot's Little Hoot trail was on around Birmingham, along with the bigger The Big Hoot trail. In Kings Heath they had several of them in shop windows. But if you popped into Lloyds Bank between July and August 2015 (may have still been there September 2015), you may have seen Frowldo Baggins!

This owlet was designed by Zac Iman and based on the character Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings. I saw it during August 2015 in the Lloyds Bank in Kings Heath (Alcester Road South next door to Sainsbury's).

There was little owl sculptures at Sarehole Mill, but they weren't really Tolkien related.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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40 passion points
Architecture
27 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Aston Hall - April 2019

Here's a small gallery from Aston Hall including some interiors.

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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Aston Hall - April 2019




Here's a small gallery from Aston Hall including some interiors.

Photos by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points
Transport
24 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Vintage buses seen around the West Midlands

I first started to spot vintage buses around Birmingham and the West Midlands around 2011, and have kept seeing them ever since. Including the buses going between Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garage during the October 2013 open days. Sometimes the bus just randomly goes past me when I was least expecting it!

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Vintage buses seen around the West Midlands




I first started to spot vintage buses around Birmingham and the West Midlands around 2011, and have kept seeing them ever since. Including the buses going between Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garage during the October 2013 open days. Sometimes the bus just randomly goes past me when I was least expecting it!


Starting with this bus on Edmund Street in Birmingham, I saw it during May 2011, and I think it's the first old bus that I took a photo of in Birmingham! Now owned by what was the Aston Manor Transport Museum (now based in Aldridge). This bus celebrated 100 years of public transport in Walsall. Reg no: JOV 714P, WMPTE 4714, Bristol VRT/SL2/6LX with Metro-Cammell H43/33F body. Dates from 1976.

During my first train trip to Bromsgrove in April 2013, on my walk back from Bromsgrove Town Centre to the old Bromsgrove Station, saw this bus at the lights on the A38. I was crossing over New Road. Reg no: XDH 516G, 116, Walsall Corporation, Daimler Fleetline. Built in 1968, was taken over by WMPTE in 1969.

Sarah's Diner spotted near Amber Way in Halesowen during January 2019. Reg no: TVP 875S, 6875, MCW bodied Leyland Fleetline, WM Travel. Formerly used on the 11 Outer Circle in Birmingham.

Now a look at the former Birmingham City Transport buses used during the October 2013 open days between Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garages.

There was at least 3 vintage buses that you could catch a free ride between both bus garages on Saturday 5th October 2013. One of them was this former Birmingham City Transport bus, 3225, MOF 225. Seen at the Summer Road bus stop close to Acocks Green Bus Garage in the Fox Hollies area of Birmingham.

I was going to catch a free bus ride from Acocks Green to Yardley Wood. I think the bus in front with 90 Pheasey Estate via Kingstanding on it, was getting full, so I got on the blue Timesaver bus behind. See this post for more of that Timesaver 900 - vintage bus ride from Acocks Green to Yardley Wood Bus Garages, October 2013.

A bit more close up to both buses on Summer Road, Acocks Green.

One last look before I got on the old Timesaver blue bus behind. This car was parked near the road, so the bus had to park awkwardly next to it, to pick up passengers heading to Yardley Wood Bus Garage.

Later after I had visited my first Yardley Wood Bus Garage open day, I left via School Road in Yardley Wood and saw 3225 heading past me! Still taking bus passengers between both garages.

Seen continuing on it's way towards Yardley Wood Bus Garage on School Road, Yardley Wood. Shortly after this, I would get a no 3 bus back towards Swanshurst Park.

Here 3225 had just arrived on Yardley Wood Road outside of Yardley Wood Bus Garage. I myself had got off the blue Timesaver bus behind (before I went into the bus garage for the first time). The bus was already full.

Sometimes 3225 goes past you unexpectedly like when I was walking up the Warwick Road in Acocks Green, around about the time when National Express West Midlands was going to renumber the 37 as the 4 and 4A, so seeing this old Birmingham City Transport bus going up here was not expected during July 2018!

Forgive the quality of this photo, as it was a mobile phone photo taken on James Watt Queensway during November 2017 (I have also cropped it). 3225, MOF 225 seen passing Aston University and the Law Courts. Another random unexpected sight of this particular heritage bus!

This bus is used every year at the St Patrick's Day Parade in Digbeth. 3225, MOF 225 (I think) seen at the 2015 parade. As the 50 from West Midlands Travel. One of National Express West Midlands green electric hybrid buses was behind (then on the 23 and 24, now on the 61 and 63, repainted red outside).

Saw 3225, MOF 225 again at the 2018 St Patrick's Day Parade in Digbeth. Seen passing the Bull Ring Tavern, from this Moor Street Car Park view, zoomed in. Heading round Digbeth onto St Martin's Lane (one of the shortest roads in the city centre) and then going round onto Moat Lane. This is the reverse of the way buses normally go around Digbeth to the Bullring!

Getting back to the October 2013 open day, another vintage bus was taking passengers between Acocks Green and Yardley Wood bus garages. While I didn't see it at either bus garage, I did see it on the School Road in Yardley Wood. 3472, BON 472C, as the 4 to Pool Farm and Cotteridge, Birmingham City Transport.

Here it would pass over a bridge near the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. I think this was the only single decker bus that they were using that day!

In November 2018, I saw this old Birmingham City Transport bus heading off Highfield Road and onto Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green. Seen here crossing over the Stratford Road. Reg no: JOJ 548, 2548, Birmingham City Transport, built in 1950. It was a few days before the Yardley Wood Bus Garage open day that would be held on Saturday 10th November 2018, and I was wondering if it was heading towards Acocks Green Bus Garage?

Seen on the Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green. It's route number was the 9 to Quinton.

One last look at this bus passing me on the Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green. Advert at the back: "Avoid the race for car park space Take a Bus to any place".

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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50 passion points
History & heritage
23 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Objects that used to be at Centenary Square

Here we will look at some sculptures that used to be in Centenary Square, and also a strucuture that was removed before it opened in 1991! The Colonnade was moved to the Peace Garden in 1990. The Flame of Hope and the Spirit of Enterprise fountain were removed in 2009 before the Library of Birmingham was built. The Forward sculpture burnt in an arson attack during 2003.

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Objects that used to be at Centenary Square




Here we will look at some sculptures that used to be in Centenary Square, and also a strucuture that was removed before it opened in 1991! The Colonnade was moved to the Peace Garden in 1990. The Flame of Hope and the Spirit of Enterprise fountain were removed in 2009 before the Library of Birmingham was built. The Forward sculpture burnt in an arson attack during 2003.


The Colonnade at the Peace Garden

Seen at the Peace Garden in 2009, it is now near Ridley Street and Washington Street. Originally built near Broad Street in 1925, it was a Doric Loggia designed by S.N. Cooke and W.N. Twist. It was originally part of the Hall of Memory scheme. It was moved stone by stone to the site of the ruined St Thomas's Church in 1990. The Peace Garden opened in 1992. Work to layout the original Centenary Square started in 1989 and was completed by 1991.

Inside the Colonnade a plaques with messages from peace from different communities and faiths from around the world.

The leaders of the G8 came here during 1998, and a plaque commemorating them planting 8 trees to represent each of the 8 nations. The Birmingham Summit was held between the 15th to 17th May 1998.

The Peace Garden is somewhere to sit for a bit of peace and relaxation, to get away from the stresses of life. Is also flowers planted around.

This plaque on the ground recalls when it was built in Broad Street in 1925, and moved here in 1990.

The Forward statue

This maquette of Raymond Mason's lost Forward statue was seen during a September 2018 open day at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre. The original statue was installed around 1991, but was destroyed by a arson attack in 2003 (it's remains were removed).

The maquette is probably the only survival of the statue also known as the Lurpac statue. The full sized statue was made of fibreglass. I don't really recall seeing it myself.

Centenary Square in April 2009, with the Symphony Hall, The ICC and The REP. At this point the raised area of the square was still there, where once the Forward statue stood. But by 2010 the area in the middle was hoarded off for the construction of the Library of Birmingham. And when that opened, the paving was flattened, with grass around the new library amphitheatre (that grass is now gone with the new 2019 Centenary Square, still to be finished).

The Flame of Hope

Around the start of the new Millennium in 2000, Cliff Richard turned on the Flame of Hope. It was lit for about 2 years before it was turned off. It was still there in April 2009, before the Library of Birmingham was built. I would assume it went to storage where it probably remains today.

The Spirit of Enterprise Fountain

This was by the artist Tom Lomax, made in 1991. Seen here in April 2009. I went all the way around having a look at the Spirit of Enterprise fountain. What a sight to see!

There was three different sides with water coming out of the mouths. This side towards Symphony Hall. There used to be benches around this area too!

The fountain was removed to storage later in 2009, before construction started on the new Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013. It remains in storage to this day!

The first time I saw it again, was during a May 2012 free open day at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre and this was the condition that it was in!

The only water in it now was rain water! Looking a bit unloved left outside near the shipping containers and old statue plinths with graffiti nearby.

Doesn't seem likely that it will be returning to Centenary Square any time soon. While Industry & Genius and A Real Birmingham Family recently returned, it's doesn't look like this fountain will be coming back! Even the Boulton, Watt & Murdoch statue should be coming back soon!

Lighting grille

Seen in February 2018 was one of the lighting grilles installed in 1991. This one was outside of The REP. It was on of the items designed by Tess Jaray, with the City Architects Design Team and Tom Lomax. Similar items such as benches and railings have all now been removed. This Centenary Square lasted just over 25 years before the City Council decided to change it all over again!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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62 passion points
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

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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60 passion points
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
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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60 passion points
Transport
27 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Vintage bus ride from Snow Hill Queensway to the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, September 2018

A look back to my vintage bus ride in September 2018 when an open day was again held at the Birmingham Museums Collections Centre on Dollman Street. Was a long wait on Snow Hill Queensway before the bus came! But was well worth the wait. 2222 aka JOJ 222.

 

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Vintage bus ride from Snow Hill Queensway to the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, September 2018




A look back to my vintage bus ride in September 2018 when an open day was again held at the Birmingham Museums Collections Centre on Dollman Street. Was a long wait on Snow Hill Queensway before the bus came! But was well worth the wait. 2222 aka JOJ 222.

 


A long wait on the 16th September 2018 during Heritage Open Week in Birmingham. After a visit to Highbury Hall, next on the agenda was a return visit to the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, on Dollman Street. I heard about the free vintage bus ride, so I wanted to go. A 50 minute wait at bus stop SQ3 outside of Lloyd House, but it was worth it!

Seen arriving on Snow Hill Queensway was former Birmingham City Transport bus 222. JOJ 222. Made by Leyland. To "Saltley". Passing Three Snowhill.

It was approaching bus stop SQ3. Worth the wind and rain to see it and ride it!

Birmingham City Transport with Birmingham's Forward coat of arms.

Top deck. The seats are a bit different to modern buses and the ceiling is much lower! I sat on the left.

The steps are at the back of the bus, not near the front. Similar to old London buses!

Reflection in Lloyd House, the West Midlands Police Headquarters.

I believe this section is now a little exhibition with the history of the West Midlands Police.

"Spitting strictly prohibited offenders will be prosecuted". One of the signs I saw on the top deck! What was their litter policy back in the day?

"Any passenger leaving this omnibus without paying the fare and with intent to avoid payment is liable to prosecution". To be fare / fair, it was a free bus ride, so no ticket, and I don't think my Swift Card would have been accepted!

If you wanted to stop the bus to get off, press this button. I would think that the light would come on?

Close up look at the button. The metal has rusted a bit. You have modern equivalents of these on modern buses!

2222 the buses ID. Modern buses have ID numbers like this too.

After leaving Snow Hill Queensway, the bus went via Colmore Circus Queensway, Steelhouse Lane, Corporation Street (near the Aston Expressway), Dartmouth Circus, Dartmouth Middleway, then up Vauxhall Road, Great Francis Street, Duddeston Mill Road and down Dollman Street.

Once the bus had parked near the Birmingham Museums Collections Centre, it was time to get off. On the way down the steps I saw theses signs. "Beware of approaching vehicles when leaving or passing behind this vehicle. Safety First".

Bus destinations used to be on rollable blinds like the one below (modern buses have digital ones). It was still like this until at least the 1990s! Bottom sign says "Passengers are requested not to alight except at authorised stopping places". These buses didn't have automatic doors, in fact they had no door at the back, but only a conductor to collect tickets!

View of the other side of JOJ 222 / 2222 from after I got off the bus, and before I went into the Birmingham Museums Collections Centre for my second time in over 6 years!

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

 

 

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50 passion points
History & heritage
24 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Birmingham more miles of canals than Venice

I went to Venice in July 2010 and had a ride on a gondola. We were also taken around the lagoon. A comparison of Birmingham's canals with those in Venice, Italy. Gondolas vs narrowboats. We have more miles of canals in Brum compared to Venice. 35 miles of canals with the City of Birmingham, with most of that navigable. Around 26 miles in Venice. Venice first then a look at Birmingham!

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Birmingham more miles of canals than Venice




I went to Venice in July 2010 and had a ride on a gondola. We were also taken around the lagoon. A comparison of Birmingham's canals with those in Venice, Italy. Gondolas vs narrowboats. We have more miles of canals in Brum compared to Venice. 35 miles of canals with the City of Birmingham, with most of that navigable. Around 26 miles in Venice. Venice first then a look at Birmingham!


This post will mostly be a comparison of the Dragon Boat race near Brindleyplace and the narrowboats within the city centre on the Birmingham Canal Navigations near Brindleyplace. With the world famous gondolas seen on the canals in Venice.

We start off with Venice. After the long boat ride to get to the city we got straight onto a gondola for a ride around the famous canals of Venice! The journey starts from the Bacino di San Marco.

I was on one gondola back in July 2010 and saw this gondola in front! This canal was the Rio di Palazzo. The gondolier's were having a chat with each other!

Both gondolas were heading for this footbridge. Many interesting looking buildings on the way!

A view of the Hard Rock Cafe in Venice. I can't even recall there being a Hard Rock Cafe in Birmingham! More recently saw a Hard Rock Cafe in Lyon, France and in Florence, Italy. Seen at the Orseolo basin (Bacino Orseolo). The canal might be the Rio del Cappello.

More tourists enjoying a ride on a gondola, like I did earlier that day (a roasting hot 12th July 2010 over 35°C!). This canal was the Rio del Scoa Camini. The Bacino Orseolo (Orseolo Basin) is around the corner.

The view from the same footbridge as above, so still the Rio del Scoa Camini. A footpath running alongside the shops. More tourists riding on gondolas. One gondolier on a brake (on the right).

Another Venetian canal. Several boats moored on the left. Seen from a footbridge on the Riva degli Schiavoni. This canal is the Rio di San Lorenzo. The bell tower on the right is of the Church of San Giorgio dei Greci (Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci in Italian).

If you want a taxi around Venice, then this is the way to travel, by a speedboat! Seen from another footbridge on the Riva degli Schiavoni. This canal was the Rio della Pieta. At this point we were heading to catch a boat for a Lagoon cruise! This might be almost 9 years ago but this day in Venice is still quite memorable!

OK enough with Venice, and back to Birmingham!

Flowers on the Brindleyplace Bridge over the Birmingham Canal Navigations in this view towards the Broad Street Tunnel. The ICC on the left, Brindleyplace to the right. Flowers out for the 4 Squares Weekender which was held in the city centre over the weekend of the 6th to 8th September 2013 (around when the new Library of Birmingham had opened). The red Waterbus seen behind. And the Sherborne Wharf tourist boat in front!

Not something you see on the Birmingham Canal Navigations every day. Canoeing on the canal. Saw this in May 2015 close to the Barclaycard Arena (now Arena Birmingham). This view the corner close to the Sealife Centre.

This view close to the Sheepcote Street Bridge. I also once saw canoes on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal from the Pershore Road Bridge in Stirchley!

What you are more likely to see around here is a service boat! Seen passing the Waterbus and the Sherborne Wharf tourist narrowboat. It was heading past the Brindleyplace Bridge towards the Broad Street Tunnel during early April 2018. Behind was Arena Birmingham, The Malt House and the Brewmasters House!

See my post on them here The Brasshouse, The Brewmasters House and The Malt House - historic canal buildings around the BCN and Brindleyplace.

About a week later (still April 2018), saw this man on a surfboard and a lady on one (might be a canoe)? Well they weren't surfing on the Birmingham Canal Navigations, as they headed under the Brewmasters Bridge. Probably rowing on their boards! This was round about when the BSAVA Congress was on at The ICC (probably not related).

OK here's the promised Dragon Boat Race photos. First one from June 2017 outside of the Sealife Centre Birmingham, close to the Brewmasters House and the Brewmasters Bridge. These boats are probably the closest thing we would have in Birmingham to the gondolas in Venice!

The Dragon Baot Race  seen during June 2018. Packed full of spectators around the Birmingham Canal Navigations. This was also close to the Sealife Centre Birmingham.

Now a building at Brindleyplace that wouldn't be out of place in Venice. Three Brindleyplace is seen to the left of the Sealife Centre. Teams at the race getting ready to race up and down from the Sealife Centre to the Broad Street Tunnel and back. I was only passing through, so didn't see much of the race in 2017 and 2018.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. The day trip to Venice was during July 2010.

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80 passion points
Civic pride
20 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The first object in the collection at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: a marble bust of David Cox

Did you know that the first object donated to the collection of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was a marble bust of the landscape artist David Cox (1783-1859). It was made in the early 1860s by Peter Hollins. Cox used to lived in Harborne from 1841 to his death in 1859. He is buried at Saint Peter's Church in Harborne where a window is dedicated to him in his honour.

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The first object in the collection at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: a marble bust of David Cox




Did you know that the first object donated to the collection of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was a marble bust of the landscape artist David Cox (1783-1859). It was made in the early 1860s by Peter Hollins. Cox used to lived in Harborne from 1841 to his death in 1859. He is buried at Saint Peter's Church in Harborne where a window is dedicated to him in his honour.


David Cox

The bust of David Cox and a small exhibition about him used to be at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, on the landing area of the museum, not far from the doors to the stairs that leads to the Great Charles Street Queensway entrance (and to the Staffordshire Hoard and other galleries). These photos below taken during March 2012.

David Cox was born in 1783 and died in 1859 in Birmingham. He was an English landscape artist. He painted in watercolour. Cox was born on the 29th April 1783 on Heath Mill Lane in Deritend. He was based in London from 1804 to 1814, then Hereford from 1814 to 1827, and London again from 1827 to 1841. He moved back to Birmingham in 1841. He moved to a house on Greenfield Road in Harborne where he lived until his death on the 7th June 1859, aged 76.

The bust was commissioned after his death in 1860 by the Birmingham Society of Artists as a memorial to David Cox. It was made by Peter Hollins from 1860 to 1862. It was later the first object to be donated to the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

The signature of David Cox that used to be on the wall above the bust in the museum.

There used to be two history boards on the wall near the bust, with the history of his life on the first board below.

The second board was above David Cox and Birmingham. After 37 years living away from Birmingham, he spent his last 18 years living in Birmingham in his Harborne home.

The last time I saw the marble bust of David Cox in the museum was during January 2016 on the museum link bridge (it is not there now). The sign below notes that it was Birmingham's first object. If it's no longer at BM & AG now, it might be at the Gallery of the RBSA in the Jewellery Quarter.

I was looking for the blue plaque of David Cox in Harborne during April 2012. It is on a house now known as David Cox Court at 116 and 118 Greenfield Road in Harborne. A Grade II listed building known as Greenfield House when Cox lived there. The house was built in the late 18th century and was remodelled in the early 19th century. David Cox lived here from 1841 until his death in 1859. His son David Cox Jr. did a painting of the house, which you can see here on Wikimedia Commons David Cox Jr - Greenfield House, Harborne.

Metchley Abbey seen on Metchley Lane in Harborne. Also on the same day as looking for the David Cox plaque. This time for the blue plaque of Sir Granville Bantock (1868 - 1946) a composer who lived here from 1926 to 1933. A Grade II* listed building at 93 Metchley Lane (now private property). A E Greeman historian of the Norman
Conquest visited here, and David Cox apparently frequently visited this property! It was built in the early 19th century in the Picturesque Gothic style.

Saint Peter's Church in Harborne. The East Window here is in memory of David Cox, and he is buried here in the churchyard. The church and churchyard are around Old Church Road. A Grade II listed building dating to the 15th century. It is the Parish Church of Harborne. In 1867 Yeoville Thomason was responsible for the designs of the Nave, aisles, transepts and apsidal chapel. The West Tower dates to the 15th century, and some lower details from the 14th century.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Architecture
15 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Round towers in Birmingham, UK and Pisa, Italy

I finally got to go to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa during a holiday to Florence and Tuscany in June 2018. While I didn't go up the tower (not worth paying for the short amount of time to go up). Was well worth seeing it and other landmarks in the area. A comparison with the Rotunda in Birmingham, UK. The Leaning Tower was stablised by 2008, while our Rotunda was renovated.

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Round towers in Birmingham, UK and Pisa, Italy




I finally got to go to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa during a holiday to Florence and Tuscany in June 2018. While I didn't go up the tower (not worth paying for the short amount of time to go up). Was well worth seeing it and other landmarks in the area. A comparison with the Rotunda in Birmingham, UK. The Leaning Tower was stablised by 2008, while our Rotunda was renovated.


Birmingham has direct flights to Pisa, from Birmingham Airport to Pisa Airport. When I went it was with Jet2.com (organised via Riviera Travel) during June 2018. We had around 3 days in Florence, before setting off for Tuscany. On one of the touring days, after a wet morning in the city of Lucca, our coach took us to the city of Pisa in the afternoon. I remember being in Pisa, and seeing Ryanair or Jet2 planes flying over head!

 

First up a look at the Rotunda in Birmingham, seen over many years in the city centre, from different views.

The Rotunda, Birmingham

The Rotunda was built from 1961 to 1965, it was by the architect James A. Roberts, and was built with the original 1960s Bull Ring Shopping Centre. It was a 12 storey office block. It was revised to 25 storeys and had an abandoned rotating restaurant on the top floor (that was never built). In the 1980s and 1990s it was used to advertise Coca Cola (and resembled a giant can of Coke!).  It was given Grade II listed building status in 2000. The building was rebuilt between 2005 and 2008 by the architects Glenn Howells Architects and was renovated by Urban Splash. There is now apartments and a hotel in the building.

This view below was taken in August 2009 at the Bullring. Looking up from St Martin's Square on a very sunny day in Birmingham. This was around the time that I was getting photos of the Horatio Nelson statue with a blue sky.

This view of the Rotunda was taken during December 2009 from St Martin's Queensway. A no 63 bus waits not far from Birmingham New Street Station (the refurbishment of the station had yet to start, but was done from 2010 to 2015). One of the "bridges" links the Rotunda side to the 2003 Bullring. From here you can head up the ramp to Rotunda Square, or head under the dark part of St Martin's Queensway to Moor Street Queensway and Birmingham Moor Street Station. Some maps also show this as Swan Passage (probably one of the poorly designed part of the modern Bullring).

This view of the Rotunda was taken during August 2014 from Digbeth. Not far from Selfridges at the Bullring was a paint brush for the City of Colours Festival. They held a demonstation at the Bullring, and later had a day in Digbeth around the Custard Factory area painting street art on walls. Birmingham Coach Station and the BT Tower was also visible from here. Behind Digbeth Police Station is the Beorma Quarter. This was when the Adagio Aparthotel was under construction. St Martin's Church seen to the left.

A view from the Library of Birmingham of the Rotunda and Ladywood House (either seen from the Discovery Terrace or the Secret Garden) during October 2015. Visible from up here also was the Premier Inn hotel near Birmingham New Street Station and the Charters Building.

The Rotunda seen from Bordesley Street in Digbeth, during a sunny day in January 2018. Seen with the Bordesley Viaduct (with scaffolding) and Selfridges. Moor Street Car Park is usually a good place for roof top views of the city. You can also see the Rotunda if you are standing at platforms 3 or 4 at Birmingham Moor Street Station.

A Secret Garden view from the Library of Birmingham during January 2019. Seen to the left of the Rotunda was St Andrew's Stadium, the home of Birmingham City Football Club. It's also possible up there to see The Hawthorns (home of West Bromwich Albion) or Villa Park (home of Aston Villa) on a clear day.

Sit at the front of the no 50 bus on the top deck for this view of the Rotunda. Seen during February 2019 on Bradford Street in Digbeth. Heading up, you can see at the Bullring: St Martin's Church, Smithfield House and Selfridges. As well as the BT Tower. In Digbeth on the right is the Adagio Aparthotel (at the Beorma Quarter development) and Digbeth Police Station. I don't fancy going up that eyesore concrete car park on Moat Lane for views, so this bus view will do for now!

Another bus view, this one from the no 63 bus at the top of the Bristol Road near the Belgrave Interchange. Looking up the Bristol Road to Southside. The Rotunda seen with the McLaren Building and the tower of Exchange Square phase 1. At Belgrave Interchange you can see the on going roadworks of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution for the cycleway being built down the Bristol Road in Edgbaston. It goes as far as the University of Birmingham along sections of the Dual Carriageway. It's all change on Bristol Street too. Bristol Street Motors stands alone, while the Monaco House site awaits development for New Monaco House. A church used to be down here too, but that was demolished for new housing being built on the St Luke's land (towards Sherlock Street).

Now lets travel over 1000 miles to Italy. Fastest to fly from Birmingham Airport to Pisa Airport (the flight was around 3 hours with Jet2). As I said above we went to Florence first (where our first hotel was). The day after we went to Pisa. This was during late June 2018.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

In Italian the tower is called the Torre pendente di Pisa. It is the campanile or the freestanding bell tower of Pisa Cathedral. Work on the tower started in 1173 and was completed 200 years later in 1372. The tower began to lean during the 12th century. The tower is 55.86 metres high made of marble and stone. The tower was stabilised in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The tower has 294 or 296 steps. The tower lean has changed since the stabilisation work was completed by 2008.

It was well worth seeing, I was hoping to see it for years, before going on the Florence and Tuscany holiday. Could have paid in advance to go up, but for 30 minutes, the price wasn't worth it. So in the end, while there just explored the grounds of the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles).

This first view with the Cathedral. One of my first views after entering the tourist heavy area!

Slightly more close up and zoomed into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Tourists try to do a selfie pose of "pushing" the tower over! I tried it myself, not that the photos of me got the desired affect! Being the summer, there was loads of tourists about.

It realy is leaning! This view with the lawn and the tourists at the bottom. Can you see the people on the upper level balconies? There was other monuments about such as statues and sculptures.

This view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa seen with the Fontana dei putti. The monumental fountain that welcomes the entrance of the square from Via Santa Maria is by Giuseppe Vaccà (base and fountain) and by Giovanni Antonio Cybei (the marble group of putti holding the coats of arms of Pisa and the Opera).

I tried to head all the way around for different views. From this side to the right of the cathedral, it looks straight! Was also a Italian Army vehicle on site to keep tourists safe. I also saw them in Florence at different sites.

Even more closer looking up! I think this is near the entrance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Would guess that paying ticket holders would queue up around here?

This view from the steps of Pisa Cathedral. We sat down here for a period. I also noticed planes flying overhead such as Ryanair and Jet2. It's really leaning from this view!

It looks like here that the man on the left is leaning on the tower to push it over! While the man on the right is trying to push in left (for his own photo). Of course many tourists were trying the famous move for there holiday snaps! The tower also had a Republic of Pisa flag. That existed from the 10th to the 15th centuries. It was taken over by the Republic of Florence in 1402.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. My Twitter ellrbrown and Flickr ell brown.

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60 passion points
History & heritage
05 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Stirchley Village up and down the Pershore Road and Hazelwell Street

There is plenty of history in the Stirchley area of Birmingham. A big chunk of it is called Stirchley Village. Here we will be looking at buildings up and down the Pershore Road and Hazelwell Street. There was a big Co-operative Society presence in the village, and the Cadbury's were nearby in Bournville. Buildings include the Stirchley Baths, the British Oak pub and many more!

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Stirchley Village up and down the Pershore Road and Hazelwell Street




There is plenty of history in the Stirchley area of Birmingham. A big chunk of it is called Stirchley Village. Here we will be looking at buildings up and down the Pershore Road and Hazelwell Street. There was a big Co-operative Society presence in the village, and the Cadbury's were nearby in Bournville. Buildings include the Stirchley Baths, the British Oak pub and many more!


While there might be a lot of derelict shops on the Pershore Road in Stirchley, there are many historic buildings up and down the road in good condition. Some like the old swimming baths and the Friends Meeting House have been restored. Stirchley goes from Selly Park towards Cotteridge along the Pershore Road, and the road is used during the Great Birmingham Run every October and the Great Birmingham 10K in April or May. The village also has boundaries with Bournville and Kings Heath.

 

First up a look at the Sea Cadets building. It is not far from Cottteridge but it is in Stirchley. The Sea Cadet Corps Birmingham Sherbourne is located a 1667 Pershore Road. They were established in 1942. They help people learn the skills  to become a Sea Cadet and one day join the Royal Navy!

Stirchley Community Primary School shares their building with the Selly Oak Constituency Office on the Pershore Road. There may have been a school here since the late 19th century. The building was built in 1879 by William Hale, on what was Stirchley Street. It had room for 215 pupils. Extensions built in 1883 and 1893, both by Hale, and in 1896 by Edward Holmes. (these details taken from a book called Victorian Buildings of Birmingham by Roy Thornton, published in 2006 - very useful for details of Victorian buildings).

The British Oak is a public house on the Pershore Road in Stirchley. It is now near all that Seven Capital land awaiting development. The pub is a Grade II listed building. It was built from 1923 to 1924 by James and Lister Lea for the Mitchells and Butlers brewery. Red brick in Flemish bond, with diaperwork, brick mullion-transom windows and tile arches. It is a large public house in 17th century Domestic Revival Style. The pub also includes a garden loggia of the same date.

The Dog Pool Hotel, also known as The New Dog Pool Hotel & Restaurant. On the Pershore Road in Stirchley, close to Selly Park. The pub has been closed down for years. Built in the 1920s, it was formerly the Hibernan. It replaced another Dog Pool Inn that used to be opposite. A wedged building at the corner of St Stephen's Road and the Pershore Road. The nearby road opposite is called Dogpool Lane. That leads to Dads Lane and onto Kings Heath. Some people (as a joke) vandalise the road sign to read "Dogpoo Lane"!

Stirchley Public Baths was restored in 2015 and reopened in January 2016 as a Community Centre. It's on the corner of Bournville Lane and Hazelwell Street in Stirchley. It is a Grade II listed building. The swimming baths was built in 1910 by John P. Osborne. Red brick in Flemish bond and diaper pattern blue brick, and with stone dressings. Slate roofs. Built in the Edwardian Baroque style. For many years the building was closed before it was restored. Seen here a few days after it reopened to the public in January 2016.

Stirchley Library is on the Bournville Lane in Stirchley. A short walk away from Bournville Station. It was built in 1905 for the Kings Norton & Northfield Urban District Council (years before the area became part of the City of Birmingham). A Grade II listed building. The Public Library was built in 1905 by John P. Osborne. Red brick in Flemish bond, with stone dressings and a slate roof. Built in the Freestyle. It is next door to the former swimming baths (now community centre).

The Birmingham Civic Society had unveiled a blue plaque for Mary Cottrell (1868 - 1969) at the Stirchley Community Centre (the former public baths) during February 2019 - Mary Cottrell Blue Plaque unveiled. When I got off the no 47 bus early in the rain near the British Oak, I thought the plaque would be at the baths, but walking along in the torrential rain, saw it at this building, which was the former Central Bakery dated 1891. The building is now home to Em's Pet Food Store at 1395 Pershore Road and Isherwood & Co. at 1393 Pershore Road. DJF Bathrooms and Kitchens is to the right near the archway. It was formerly the site of a Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society Bakery. Mary Cottrell was the first woman Birmingham City Councillor for the Labour & Co-operative Party in 1917. She was also a board member of the Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society from 1909, and the Co-operative Wholesales Society in 1922.

Fun runners on the Birmingham International Marathon which was held on Sunday 15th October 2017. It was the 1st new marathon in Birmingham (26.2 miles) since the 1980s. Held on the same day as the Great Birmingham Run (which started a little bit later). There was no marathon in 2018  (due to roadworks along the route) but the normal Great Birmingham Run and Great Birmingham 10K were still held in the city.

Views below of the fun runners running past the Pershore Road in Stirchley towards Bournville. Between the community centre and the former bakery.

As usual the roads were closed to allow the run to take place.

I got the train to Bournville that day to check out the Birmingham International Marathon in the Bournville and Stirchley areas. Bus routes would have been diverted while it was on.

 

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
History & heritage
02 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The escape of Charles II after he lost the Battle of Worcester in September 1651

During the Commonwealth period, The Civil War came to an end in 1651 with the Battle of Worcester. Charles II lost that battle and went around the country (in secret) to escape to France. In the Midlands he left Worcester on the 3rd September 1651, and by the 8th September 1651 he got to Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton. He continued his journey south before he escaped the country!

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The escape of Charles II after he lost the Battle of Worcester in September 1651




During the Commonwealth period, The Civil War came to an end in 1651 with the Battle of Worcester. Charles II lost that battle and went around the country (in secret) to escape to France. In the Midlands he left Worcester on the 3rd September 1651, and by the 8th September 1651 he got to Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton. He continued his journey south before he escaped the country!


There is a building on New Street in Worcester City Centre now named King Charles House. For many years it has been the King Charles II Restaurant. Photos below taken in September 2009, about 358 years after Charles II escaped Worcester after loosing the last battle of the Civil War in the city. King Charles House is Grade II* listed building. Including no 4 and 5 Cornmarket. And now 30 New Street. Built in 1577 for for Richard Durant and
William Blagden. Restored in 1956.

Restaurant sign of the King Charles II Restaurant.

This plaque details Charles II's escape from Worcester on the 3rd September 1651.

Close up view of the restaurant. The timber framed building was rebuilt in 1670.  This was also the site of a dungeon where Judge William Berkeley kept his victims who were awaiting trial (he was born in this building in 1684).

This building round the corner is also part of the same listing as King Charles House at 30 New Street and 4 Cornmarket. In 2009 it was a dry-cleaners. Now it is a Hearing Centre. Charles II escaped from here on his long route to get out of the country. Cromwell's soldiers would have been looking for him at the time. He disguised himself as a servant. This building was originally linked to 29 New Street. An engraving of 1799 by James Ross showed that it used to be a 3-storey building. A fire in 1800 partly destroyed the timber framed building and caused a rebuilding of 30 New Street with 5 Cornmarket.

After escaping Worcester, Charles II on the run from Parliamentary soldiers, rode to White Ladies in Staffordshire, where he was disguised as a woodsman by two of the loyal Penderel brothers. The River Severn crossing was guarded, so he headed to Boscobel where he took refuge in the house and later in the 'Boscobel Oak'. He made it to Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton on Monday 8th September 1651.

Now a National Trust property, the house is a Grade II* listed building. The house was built in the late 16th century, originally timber framed. Brown brick with blue dressings was later added by 1870. It is near the Fordhouses area of Wolverhampton and Featherstone in South Staffordshire. The busy M54 motorway goes past the farm and estate. The front garden is now walled off, but originally the front of the house would have been open to the main road outside. Charles II arrived at what is now the King's Door round the back of the house, and was taken upstairs.

A February 2019 visit to Moseley Old Hall, during the warm sunny spell we have been having!

The King's Room on the first floor of Moseley Old Hall. It is the darkest room in the house. It was Father Huddlestone's room, close to a hiding place with a priests hole. The bed is the one that Charles II slept on (not in). The bedspread dates to the middle of the 17th century and the curtains from the 18th century! He remained clothed that night that he slept here. After some rest Charles was taken to see Mr Thomas Whitgreave the owner of the house. Seen on the guided tour of the house.

The Priest's Hole is between the King's Room and the Dressing Room. Charles II himself went into it, but he was over 6 foot tall and there was not much room in there! A trap door would close to keep the priest (or the exiled King) hidden. Not much room to get food down there either!

Mr Whitgreave's Room. The lady on the left was out guide. And let's say that the man was Mr Thomas Whitgreave!  Charles II was brought into this room to meet Mr Whitgreave and was introduced to his mother Dame Alice. Charles watched from the window of the small study as the defeated Royalist army made their way back up to Scotland. Best not for Charles to look out the window, or someone outside might recognise him!

A portrait of King Charles II in the Entrance Hall. There was many portraits of him around the house. Probably placed there by the National Trust. Charles spent several hours in the priest hole when Parliamentary soldiers marched up to the front door accusing Thomas of fighting at Worcester for the Royalists. He told them he was too ill to travel, they accepted his story and left, never entering the house or finding Charles!

After he was moved again, he went to Bentley Hall near Walsall, the home of the Lane family. A portrait of Jane Lane hangs at Moseley Old Hall. He was then taken to Bristol disguised as a servant. But couldn't get a boat to France from there. He then headed south towards Bridport in Dorset.

Charles II arrived in Bridport, Dorset on the 23rd September 1651. He stayed at what was the Old George Inn on East Street in Bridport. Seen in May 2012. Now a Cancer Research UK charity shop. A Grade II* listed building. The former public house dates to the 16th and 17th centuries. Was altered in the early 19th century with Stucco. By 1788 it had become Dr Robert's Apothecary Shop. It was probably still a pharmacy by the 1950s to the 1970s. Not sure how long Cancer Research UK has been here, but must be more than a decade?

Dr Giles Roberts opened a pharmacy at 9 East Street in Bridport in 1804. The building was previously The George Inn. Closer detail of the sign near the top of the building about Charles II's stay here on the 23rd September 1651.

After the pharmacy closed, the contents was moved to the Bridport Museum. There is a display in one of the rooms of Dr Robert's Apothecary Shop with a dummy of Dr Roberts on the left. And a cabinet that says "Dispensing Department". This visit May 2012. All contents of the Bridport Museum remain their copyright. So no commercial use of the below photo allowed.

After leaving Bridport, Charles II continued his journey to escape to exile in France. He finally got a boat from Shoreham. He would have to wait until 1660 to be restored to the throne! After the death of Cromwell and the fall of the Commonwealth!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
Photography
23 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Italian Lakes

A selection of photos from the Italian Lakes (also going over into Switzerland). Lake Garda was an amazing lake to visit with many towns around it. Lake Como was also nice with many towns and places to visit. Lake Maggiore had a palace on an island that you can visit. Lake Lugano goes between Italy and Switzerland. Many of these lakes have ferries and boats that you can go on.

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Italian Lakes




A selection of photos from the Italian Lakes (also going over into Switzerland). Lake Garda was an amazing lake to visit with many towns around it. Lake Como was also nice with many towns and places to visit. Lake Maggiore had a palace on an island that you can visit. Lake Lugano goes between Italy and Switzerland. Many of these lakes have ferries and boats that you can go on.


Lake Garda

The following photos were taken during July 2010 in Northern Italy.

Boats seen from the town of Garda, this was where we were based during that week on Lake Garda. World flags.

Bardolino was not too far from Garda. More boats and more world flags. The visit to this town was on a free day.

Boats seen in the town of Castelletto. That day we went all the way around Lake Garda on the coach and we had certain stops at certain points, to have a look around.

You could get ferries across Lake Garda, and one day we went past Salo on a ferry. A few days later we headed to this town. Boats seen on the coastline. The day of this visit was during the coach tour of Lake Garda. We were following the holiday rep towards the main square in Salo.

The view from the Apponale Tower at Riva del Garda. This town is at the top tip of Lake Garda. The visit during the day of getting the coach all the way around the lake. The cost to go up the tower was €1. In Italian it is called La Torre Apponale. The tower dates to at least 1273 or earlier. It is 34 metres high.

Castello Scaligero is a 13th century castle in the town of Sirmione. It is at the bottom tip of Lake Garda. It was built by the Scaliger family. Construction started in 1277 by Martino della Scala. The town was an important military centre until the 16th century. Sirmione was a part of the Republic of Venice from 1405 until 1797 when the Austrians took over. Sirmione became a part of a unified Italy in 1888. The visit to Sirmione was by a car ferry, a journey which started at Garda, then went over to Salo, then down to Sirmione.

This is one of the views from Castello Scaligero di Malcesine in the town of Malcesine. You get amazing views of Lake Garda from up here. It was built by the Lombards during the middle of the first millennium, and destroyed by the Franks in 590. It was rebuilt by 806. It became property of the Scala family from 1277 until 1387. Over the centuries it has been occupied by various different powers such as the Republic of Venice, later the French and Austrian Empires. The Austrians had it until 1866 when it was handed to the Italians after reunification of Italy. The visit to Malcesine was also on a free day.

The car ferry called Brescia seen arriving at Garda. This was the boat that we travelled over one of the days on Lake Garda. This view below was during our final morning on the lake before we returned to Verona Airport. The usual thing with these holidays is that you have to wait around at the hotel for hours before your coach comes to pick up up to take you back to the airport.

This view from the car ferry we were on was of the hydrofoil boat named Goethe. The day we headed to Gardone Riviera to visit a garden. The boat was probably named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German writer and statesmen. Goethe was caught doing drawings in Malcesine and was arrested as a spy during his visit in 1786.

Lake Como

The following photos were taken during June 2016 in Northern Italy.

We arrived at Bellagio on a small boat (seen below) from Villa del Balbianello (after a tour of the villa). Was a wet day, but had stopped raining by the time we got to the wonderful town of Bellagio on Lake Como.

Bellagio's splendid architecture seen with Lake Como. Plenty of restaurants and shops here. We got the car ferry Adda later back to our hotel at Cadenabbia from near here.

View of Cadenabbia from the car ferry Adda we travelled on from Bellagio back to our hotel. You can see the dock where the boat will eventually stop. Plenty of hotels and bars along that coastline in Cadenabbia. Many mountains around too!

On our free day, we travelled down to the City of Como on a hydrofoil boat from Tremezzo (after a morning at Villa Carlotta). It was very fast. The boat was named Citta di Como.

Arriving at the City of Como on the hydrofoil boat. Not far from Piazza Cavour. Wonderful historic architecture here. Lots of fountains. Plenty of restaurants and shops. They also have a railway station here. We later left not by boat, but by bus (much slower journey) to return to the hotel at Cadenabbia.

Tremezzo was a short distance away on foot from the hotel in Cadenabbia. Plenty of bars down here. Plus lake side swimming pools! You can also visit Villa Carlotta down here, or get the ferry.

Kept seeing this road train around the towns of Lake Como. The Trombetta Express seen not far from outside of Villa Carlotta near Tremezzo. At this point it was outside of the Oratorio Sommariva (The Sommariva Oratory). While we didn't ride this road train, did days later on a visit to Lugano in Switzerland go on the road train there, while near Lake Lugano.

A visit to Villa Carlotta. It is between Cadenabbia and Tremezzo on Lake Como. It was built for the Milanese marquis Giorgio Clerici in 1690. It was completed in 1745 and remained in the hands of Marquis Clerici until 1795.

Stunning views of Lake Como and the mountains around it from the balcony at Villa Carlotta. Was also some nice gardens to explore during the visit here as well.

A visit to Villa del Balbianello for a guided tour of the villa. I did not take any photos inside (not sure if that was allowed). The villa was built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery for the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini. There was wonderful gardens here. On our visit there was a torrential rain storm, so wasn't much chance to fully explore the garden before leaving on the boat to Bellagio.

A few days later on a day with beter sunny weather, got this view of the villa from the hydrofoil boat we got down to the City of Como. Plenty of mountains and trees on both sides of Lake Como.

Lake Maggiore

The following photos were taken during June 2016 in Northern Italy.

A couple of boats on Lake Maggiore seen from the town of Stresa. Earlier that day we had got a boat from Stresa to Isola Bella to visit Borromeo Palace. We didn't go onto Isola Madre like some people did, and instead returned for a look around Stresa in the afternoon.

A road train seen in Stresa.This one was called The TourisTic Tour. From DottoTrains. It was on the Corso Umberto I at the time near the Hotel Milan Au Lac.

A view of Lake Maggiore from the coach heading towards Stresa. Mountains around this lake too!

Isola dei Pescatori seen from the boat on Lake Maggiore. We were heading towards Isola Bella. It's name means Fishermen’s Island. We did not visit that island. There is restaurants on the island providing fish caught by the local fishermen.

Approaching Isola Bella for a visit to the Borromeo Palace. From this view the Teatro Massimo (Theatre Maximum) is seen to the left. The palace and the gardens was well worth a visit, at such a unique location!

Exterior of the Borromeo Palace on Isola Bella after our visit. The entrance was round to the right. It dates to the 17th century and was built by members of the House of Borromeo.

A view of the Teatro Massimo (Theatre Maximum) from the gardens of the palace.

Lake Lugano

The following photos were taken during June 2016 in Switzerland.

The coach journey from Italy into Switzerland along the coast of Lake Lugano. This lake is in both countries. Lots of tall mountains along the way. Was tunnels at the border control.

The approach to the city of Lugano on the coach, with Lake Lugano to the left. Architecture was very Italianette here.

One of the first things we did in Lugano was ride on the Lugano City Tour (road train). They accept Euros or Swiss Francs. A nice tour around this Swiss city. The tour starts near to the Piazza Manzoni. This view from the road train I was on, the Red Arrow. View of the starting point, also where it later ended.

Boats on Lake Lugano seen from the Lugano. Didn't go on a boat trip while we were here though. Went to an art gallery while we were there.

Would assume that you could hire these boats? The walk along the lake front towards a park. They have a lot of nice pieces of public artwork here too. Many of these lakes have small beaches. There was a beach here to the right of this view below.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
Architecture
22 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Brasshouse, The Brewmasters House and The Malt House - historic canal buildings around the BCN and Brindleyplace

There are three buildings around the Birmingham Canal Navigations near Brindleyplace that are historic. The first is The Brasshouse (now a pub) on Broad Street. The Brewmasters House is near The ICC. And a bit further down is The Malt House (also a pub) close to Arena Birmingham (was the NIA / Barclaycard Arena) and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Old Turn Junction.

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The Brasshouse, The Brewmasters House and The Malt House - historic canal buildings around the BCN and Brindleyplace




There are three buildings around the Birmingham Canal Navigations near Brindleyplace that are historic. The first is The Brasshouse (now a pub) on Broad Street. The Brewmasters House is near The ICC. And a bit further down is The Malt House (also a pub) close to Arena Birmingham (was the NIA / Barclaycard Arena) and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Old Turn Junction.


The Brasshouse

Now a pub and restaurant at Brindleyplace, this building was first built as the Birmingham Brasshouse in 1781 with alterations in 1870. Now a Grade II listed building a 44 Broad Street, Birmingham. The Brasshouse is a Traditional Free House and is also home to the Celebrity Restaurant (also known as the Celebrity Indian Restaurant). This view from Broad Street seen during late December 2009. Built of brick with stucco dressings and a slate roof.

This view also from December 2009. Now a service road for Brindleyplace, going off Broad Street is what used to be known as the Brasshouse Passage. There is an entrance to the bar and restaurant from this side. The Birmingham Metal Company founded the Brass House in 1781. Here they heated zinc and copper to produce brass. To make toys, buckles, buttons and badges. More information here Brass Founders and the Brass House.

I found a route from Brindleyplace along Brasshouse Passage leading back to Broad Street during early January 2019. And saw this view of the pub. It's amazing to think that this Georgian building has survived the centuries and has been restored in recent decades into the pub it is now (probably around the time that Brindleyplace was built in the 1990s).

One of my earliest photos of The Brasshouse taken in April 2009 when I started going around Birmingham with my fist digital camera. This view from the Canalside on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line, not far from the Broad Street Tunnel. The tower block behind is the Quayside Tower on Broad Street.

This February 2019 view of The Brasshouse from Brindleyplace. The view you would see if you leave Broad Street and are walking towards Central Square at Brindleyplace. Walked past this side before, but this is the first time I have got a close up view of it (not counting my canal view from 10 years earlier - see above photo). They are now calling the Celebrity Restaurant, the Celebrity Indian Restaurant! Quayside Tower again is visible even from up here! There is a stepped wall near the fence above the Broad Street Tunnel (the tunnel is closed for the Midland Metro Alliance works as of early 2019).

The Brewmasters House

A Grade II listed building, there are different dates from the early 19th century suggesting from when it was built. The 1978 listing, as 7 St Peter's Place, says it dates to circa 1800. The brown Birmingham Conservation Trust plaque says c. 1805. While Pevsner says 1816! The house is made of brick with a hipped slate roof with deep flat eaves. This view from April 2009 from Brindleyplace opposite (round about when I started taking photos around Birmingham).

This view also from April 2009 looking towards The Brewmasters House and The ICC Birmingham. The Birmingham Conservation Trust undertook a programme of restoration during 1983 to 1984 (this was well before the construction of The ICC or even Brindleyplace!). The building was glazed by the City Architect in 1989.

I went back in February 2010 for some more close up photos of The Brewmasters House. There is also a nearby bridge called the Brewmasters Bridge, which links behind the house and Brindleyplace (near the Sealife Centre). There is a brown plaque from the Birmingham Conservation Trust, dating the buildings erection to 1805 and it's restoration to 1984!

Another February 2010 view from Brindleyplace near the Waters Edge looking towards The Brewmasters House. It is now just offices. Could make a nice little canal museum about what the Brew Master did here in the 19th century! The steps behind up from The ICC go past the ICC Energy Centre and you can walk to Cambridge Street from here.

This February 2010 view I think from the Brindleyplace / ICC footbridge (it has steps down the canal side). The Brewmasters Bridge is seen on the left, and behind The NIA Birmingham (refurbished and renamed in 2014 as the Barclaycard Arena and in 2017 Arena Birmingham). Three Brindleyplace, a Venetian style office building is on the left.

 

The Malt House

This building was originally the Kingston Building, built in 1803. It is near Old Turn Junction where the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (Cambrian Wharf and Farmers Bridge Locks) meets the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line (the Oozells Loop is also nearby). It was built as a nail warehouse. This view from April 2009 when I started to take photos around Birmingham. The Malt House is remembered for those photos / videos of US President Bill Clinton drinking a pint of beer on the outdoor balcony in 1998 during the 19G8 summit held that summer in Birmingham.

This view in June 2009, by this point I had changed cameras. The NIA is seen to the left. The footbridge on the right leads to a Canal Garden that was installed in the summer of 2012 with a model narrowboat (I think it is still there). A remnant of the annual City Centre Floral Trail. Behind the pub is a Grade II listed warehouse at 79 Cambridge Street dated to 1820. The remains of the loading bays can be seen, there is still doors there, but there is now grills in the way, and some have been bricked up.

This view below was taken during May 2014. Behind The Malt House, the National Indoor Arena was been transformed into what was to be known as the Barclaycard Arena. It reopened in late 2014. And kept that name to sometime in 2017, when it was renamed again to just Arena Birmingham. In the years since my earlier photos, the pub had some new pub signs installed around the building.

In March 2016, the flags of the Six Nations were flying outside of The Malt House. Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and England. The Barclaycard Arena is seen (now completed) behind the pub. The bridge visible in this photo is the Brewmasters Bridge. The tourists that were around the city centre canals (at the time), were probably there also for the Badminton at the Barclaycard Arena. The view was taken from Brindleyplace.

It is now July 2018 at The Malt House, and the bunting was out for the World Cup 2018, being held that summer in Russia. A nice blue sky, and it was probably hot! Arena Birmingham seen to the left. The trees and flowers in full bloom! For the first time in 28 years England made it to the Semi Final, but they lost (again). In the 3rd Place Play-off they ended up in 4th, like in 1990. France won that years World Cup for the first time in 20 years (since they last won it in home in France in 1998).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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50 passion points
Transport
16 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Class 153 single carriage Sprinters

You might sometimes see the Class 153 single carriage Sprinter's around the West Midlands railway network attached to the back of the Class 170 Turbostar trains. Sometimes on the Birmingham to Hereford line or the Birmingham to Rugeley Trent Valley line. On there own they were also on the branch lines out of Coventry (to Nuneaton or Leamington Spa). Also been on the Snow Hill lines.

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The Class 153 single carriage Sprinters




You might sometimes see the Class 153 single carriage Sprinter's around the West Midlands railway network attached to the back of the Class 170 Turbostar trains. Sometimes on the Birmingham to Hereford line or the Birmingham to Rugeley Trent Valley line. On there own they were also on the branch lines out of Coventry (to Nuneaton or Leamington Spa). Also been on the Snow Hill lines.


Class 153

The Class 153 also known as the Super Sprinter are a single carriage diesel multiple unit train. They were built to be used on branch lines or rural lines were the number of passengers was not expected to be very high. They were built in 1987-88 and were converted in 1991-92. They have been used on many branch lines across the Midlands. These units could be attached to other DMU's such as the Class 150, and later with the Class 170. There is currently 10 Class 153's with West Midlands Railway (previously with London Midland and before that Central Trains).

 

Starting off with the Class 153's I saw attached to Class 170's. Some I even travelled on (although I may have got on board the Class 170 instead!).

 

I was at Shirley Station in April 2017 to check out the newly completed road bridge on Haslucks Green Road. When London Midland 153371 and 170633 arrived (was expecting the usual Class 172). There was about another 8 months before the old London Midland franchise would end and West Midlands Railway would start (around December 2017). This train was heading towards Worcester Foregate Street. I got on board the back carriage of 170633 and rode the train to Birmingham Moor Street.

I saw Arriva Trains Wales 153323 at Wolverhampton Station during October 2013 (I was on a train from Birmingham New Street to Liverpool Lime Street for a weekend). Arriva had the Wales franchise from 2003 to 2018. They used to run trains between Birmingham International and Holyhead in Wales via Wrexham Central. Transport for Wales took over the Wales franchise from October 2018.

At Aston Station I expected to see / catch the usual Class 323 trains from this station. Heading to Perry Barr in August 2012, I got off my Cross City line train here, and waited for a train on the Chase Line. 153366 arrived with a Class 170 at the back. London Midland (and now West Midlands Railway) regularly have combinations of Class 153's with Class 170's. In the north of Birmingham, usually on the Chase Line to Walsall and beyond to Rugeley Trent Valley. The line was only electrified as far as Walsall. But for many years Network Rail has been electrifying the line towards Rugeley. So it meant that only diesel trains could go beyond Walsall. It's possible that electric trains could run on the line to Rugeley from about May 2019.

In April 2018 I headed up on the train to Staffordshire, and got off at Hednesford. I walked down to Cannock. Later when I went back to Cannock Station I got this train back to Birmingham New Street. West Midlands Railway 153364 and 170513 arrived from Rugeley Trent Valley. It took the normal route via Perry Barr and Aston. My earlier train that day went the alternate route on the line that goes from Winson Green via Handsworth to rejoin the line at Perry Barr. Electrification of the Chase line was well under way at the time.

The 11th December 2017 was the launch day of the new West Midlands Railway, and the city was full of snow! After a walk up to the Jewellery Quarter through the white stuff, I went to Jewellery Quarter Station to catch a train home. But West Midlands Railway 170634 and 153334 was only going as far as Birmingham Snow Hill Station due to various delays due to the weather! I had only seen 153334 a few days early at Bedworth Station (which was my last journey under London Midland). That day was dry, but it had snowed on the 10th December 2017! Chiltern Railways 168106 was seen at platform 2.

 

Now to the branch lines. Starting with the Nuneaton to Coventry Branch line that goes via Bedworth. And second the branch line from Coventry to Leamington Spa via Kenilworth (that opened in 2018 after a few delays).

I visited Nuneaton during May 2015, having arrived there on the Cross Country line that goes through the town from Birmingham New Street and onto the likes of Leicester etc. Coming back to Birmingham, I thought I'd try a ride on the Nuneaton to Coventry branch line. At Nuneaton Station was London Midland 153354. The train would pass the new stations under construction (at the time) as well as Bedworth (I would go there in late 2017 when the London Midland franchise ended).

On the last ever day that London Midland operated their franchise in the West Midlands, on the 9th December 2017, I headed to Bedworth. I got London Midland 153334 and 153354 from Coventry to Bedworth Station. Later after I explored the town centre, I got the same train back on the opposite platform. Here (in the below photo), I had just got off the train from Coventry, and it was heading onto Nuneaton. By then all the new stations on the line including Coventry Arena were open. I was thinking ahead to the opening of Kenilworth Station, which should have opened the next day, but was delayed until May 2018!

I had previously got a Class 153 from Nuneaton to Coventry Station back in May 2015. I saw another Class 153 at Coventry during October 2017, when I headed to the city to walk to the Coventry Canal Basin. London Midland 153375 was waiting at one of the platforms waiting to return to Nuneaton. That day I did observe Cross Country Voyager's heading on the branch line to Leamington Spa. In fact I tried the branch line early in March 2018, to see a glimpse of the new Kenilworth Station. The Cross Country Super Voyager I travelled on was packed, but I got a window seat, and I caught glimpses of the new Kenilworth Station. I would have to wait until May 2018 before travelling to Kenilworth by train!

The new Kenilworth Station opened at the end of April 2018. I visited the station and the town on the 3rd May 2018. I caught West Midlands Railway 153364 from Leamington Spa (having earlier got a train from Solihull to Leamington Spa with Chiltern Railways). The station should have opened on the 10th December 2017 (the first day of operation for West Midlands Railway), but a series of delays meant it didn't open until the spring. There is only one platform at the new station. I later got the same train back towards Leamington Spa from the same platform. You can use this station if you want to visit Kenilworth Castle.

Having got off my Chiltern Railways train from Solihull at Leamington Spa Station platform 3, I only had to walk a short distance to platform 4, to await a train on the Leamington Spa to Coventry branch line that had opened to the public for service days earlier. My visit was on the 3rd May 2018. West Midlands Railway 153364 would take me to Kenilworth. And I would later get it back to Leamington Spa on the way back to the West Midlands. The only difference between getting a train from Coventry to Leamington Spa with Cross Country, and West Midlands Railway, is that Cross Country would stop at platform 3 (and continue on south), while West Midlands Railway would terminate at platform 4. On both occasions, I had to walk down the steps to the subway, and head to the platform to get my Chiltern Railways train back to Solihull.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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70 passion points
History & heritage
15 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Steelhouse Conservation Area: From Corporation Street to Steelhouse Lane

The Steelhouse Conservation Area is between Corporation Street and Steelhouse Lane. Starting approximately from Old Square towards James Watt Queensway. Buildings include the Victoria Law Courts, Methodist Central Hall, the former Steelhouse Lane Police Station and Birmingham Children's Hospital. The Old Fire Station near Aston University is part of the area too!

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Steelhouse Conservation Area: From Corporation Street to Steelhouse Lane




The Steelhouse Conservation Area is between Corporation Street and Steelhouse Lane. Starting approximately from Old Square towards James Watt Queensway. Buildings include the Victoria Law Courts, Methodist Central Hall, the former Steelhouse Lane Police Station and Birmingham Children's Hospital. The Old Fire Station near Aston University is part of the area too!


Corporation Street

The Victoria Law Courts on Corporation Street. Designed by Aston Webb & Ingress Bell who won a competition in 1886. It was built from 1887 to 1891. It is now the Birmingham Magistrates' Court. A Grade I listed building made of Red brick and terracotta. There is a statue of Queen Victoria by Harry Bates above the main entrance of the building. This view below seen in May 2009. You would see it if you walk between Aston University and the city centre shops. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone during her Golden Jubilee year of 1887 and it was opened in 1891 by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The County Court on Corporation Street seen with a brilliant blue sky in May 2009. On the corner of Newton Street (which leads to Steelhouse Lane). A Grade II listed building built in 1882, by James Williamson Stone. It is in Italiante palazzo style  It has a Roman Doric porch on the left.

One of Birmingham's derelict terracotta buildings is near the bottom of Corporation Street. The Methodist Central Hall runs down to Ryder Street (a pedestrianised cul-de-sac to James Watt Queensway). And the back is on Dalton Street. It is a Grade II* listed building. From 196 to 224 Corporation Street including 1, 3 and 5 Ryder Street. Built from 1903 to 1904 by E and J A Harper (Ewan Harper & James A. Harper) of Red brick and terracotta. There is many empty shop units down here, some have been let, and some of the units have been closed down by the landlord. The buildings future may include getting converted into a hotel. See this 2017 article on he Methodist Central Hall in the Birmingham Mail. This view from May 2009.

The Pitman Building also known as the Murdoch Chambers and Pitman Chambers. Was originally a Vegetarian Restaurant. There is a plaque here for James Henry Cook who opened the very first Health Food Store in the UK on this site in 1898! A Grade II* Listed Building built from 1896 to 1897 by J Crouch and E Butler, partly for A.R Dean. Purple bricks and buff terracotta; tile roof. In an Arts and Crafts style.  Today there is lawyer or solicitor offices on the upper floors and fast food take away places on the ground floor including Dixy Chicken and Pepe's Piri Piri. Previous places here include Min Zu until 2008 / 2009. Angel's Cafe from 2011, and Zaytuna'z Diner from a period from 2015 to 2016. This view from August 2017.

Today Boston Tea Party is in the Court Restaurant building at 184 Corporation Street (from at least 2014 onwards). On the corner with James Watt Street. The architect was G. H. Rayner and was built after 1882. For many years it was vacant. Was previously Yate's Wine Lodge. Made of brick and stone. Boston Tea Party are also in part of The Citadel building to the left at 190 Corporation Street. That was by W. H. Ward and built in 1891. A short lived period as a Vietnamese Restaurant called Viet An Restaurant from 2010 to 2011. This view from June 2016. Pizza Express is to the left at 4 The Citadel (not in this photo).

Steelhouse Lane

Steelhouse Lane Police Station was to the far left of the rear side of the Victoria Law Courts. This building opened in 1933 as the Central Police Station, replacing a Victorian police station that was on the same site. West Midlands Police used it until it closed down for good in 2017. This view was from November 2009 when the police station was still in use. It was built in the neo-Georgian style but is not a listed building. The only part that is Grade II listed is the corner building on Coleridge Passage which dates to the late 19th century. That was the Cell Block built of Brick and terracotta.

The Birmingham Children's Hospital opened here in 1998 in the building that was formerly the Birmingham General Hospital which had closed down in 1995. It was opened as the Diana, Princess of Wales Children's Hospital after the late Princess Diana who had died the year before in 1997. The General Hospital was built from 1894 to 1897 by William Henman. Was built in the Romanesque style of th Natural History Museum in London.  The rebuilt central entrance porch was built from 1995 to 1998. Various modern extensions have been built in the year since it became the Children's Hospitall. The building has never been listed. This view also from November 2009.

This building also seen in November 2009 is a bit more recent than the others in this post as it dates to the 1960s. Fountain Court on Steelhouse Lane, has the four badges of the Inns of Court on the front above the entrance. They represent: Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray's Inn. The Fountain Court barristers' chambers was built between 1963 and 1964 by Holland W Hobbiss & Partners. A conservative brick classical block, with a majestic Bath stone cornice. It's between Printing House Street and Whittall Street on Steelhouse Lane.

Seen on the corner of Newton Street and Steelhouse Lane is the Juvenile Court. As with photos above this view taken in November 2009. Following the Children's Court Act of 1908, it led to children's courts being established across the country. Dame Geraline Cadbury campaigned for such a court to be built in Birmingham, which her family donated to the city. This court was established by 1928 and opened in 1930. It was by Peacock & Bewlay, built of brick with stone dressings.

Next door to the Juvenile Court is The Jekyll & Hyde pub at 28 Steelhouse Lane. The building was built in the 1960s. Was the site of The Queen's Head pub, which used to be ran by Mitchells & Butlers. A plain, tall four storey building. The pub was renamed from The Queen's Head to The Jekyll & Hyde in 2009, and it remains with that name today.  Island Bar group who owns the pub also owns The Victoria on Station Street near the Alexandra Theatre. This view was from February 2010.

Corporation Street and Steelhouse Lane leads to the helipad built for the Birmingham Children's Hospital. On the other side of James Watt Queensway, running between Lancaster Circus and Aston Street is The Old Fire Station. Corporation Street continues beyond Lancaster Circus and the Lancaster Flyover, but that is now considered part of the Aston Expressway. The Old Fire Station is a Grade II listed building. Originally built in 1935 by Herbert Humphries and Herbert J. Manzoni. Red Flemish bond with Portland stone and concrete dressings with a pantile roof. After the Fire Station HQ closed in the 2000s, in lay empty for a few years before being converted into student accommodation. It opened in 2015. This view from April 2014 when the crane went up.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

 

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60 passion points
Civic pride
13 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Tangye Brothers: Manufacturers and benefactors of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery / Birmingham School of Art

George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye donated funds for the construction of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as well as the Birmingham School of Art. Head up the stairs from the Chamberlain Square entrance of BM & AG to see the bronze sculpture in their honour. The Tangye's were also manufacturers making engines and various machines from the mid to late 19th century.

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The Tangye Brothers: Manufacturers and benefactors of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery / Birmingham School of Art




George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye donated funds for the construction of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as well as the Birmingham School of Art. Head up the stairs from the Chamberlain Square entrance of BM & AG to see the bronze sculpture in their honour. The Tangye's were also manufacturers making engines and various machines from the mid to late 19th century.


George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye

If you are heading up the main staircase from the Chamberlain Square entrance of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, stop when you get to this bronze sculpture. It is made of bronze and marble and was unveiled in 1908. It was by William Robert Colton (1867-1921). They were engineering manufacturers and were generous patrons of the arts. They gave large sums towards the building of both the Museum & Art Gallery as well as the Birmingham School of Art. They presented their collection of fine Wedgwood ceramics to the Gallery as it's foundation.

Sir Richard Tangye was born in 1833 and died in 1906. His brother George died in 1920. Their company Tangye Ltd was founded in 1856. Where they manufactured engines and machines. Their Cornwall Works was in the Soho area of the West Midlands.

Memorial stone unveiled in 1884 by Richard Tangye at the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street. Architects William Martin and John Henry Chamberlain. The building opened in 1885. See my recent post on Edward Richard Taylor who was headmaster at the School of Art when the building opened on Margaret Street. Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor: Birmingham School of Art and Ruskin Pottery.

This Tangye vertical engine was seen at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley. Seen near a wall with a Walsall exhibit. Seen on a visit to the museum in August 2011. Seen in the Exhibition Hall in the Rolfe Street Baths building.

Tangye Manual Fire Pump seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I first visited this (then) new gallery in November 2012. In the section called Forward for the years 1830 to 1909. Above the Tangye sign was Webster & Horsfall's. To the right was Avery.

It was previously seen at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre in the garage area. Labelled as a Fire Engine. Made by Tangye Brothers in 1880. This visit was from May 2012, so was before the Birmingham History Galleries had opened over at BM & AG.

The Titford Pumphouse seen on the Titford Canal. It is close to Langley Green Station and also near Oldbury in Sandwell, West Midlands. The Pumphouse is a Grade II listed building. It was built shortly after the Oldbury Locks opened in 1837. Blue brick with a slate roof. The beam engines was replaced in about 1930 with a Tangye gas engine. That has since been superseded by electric pumps which are used occasionally. I got the train to Langley Green in March 2017.

Going back to my August 2011 visit to the Black Country Living Museum. Sidebotham's Trap Works seen a short walk away from the Dudley Canal. It was originally in Wednesfield near Wolverhampton and was built in 1913. It has a single cylinder gas engine of 1906, built by Tangye's of Smethwick. It is also known as The Trap Shop. Not far from here you can go on boat trips with the Dudley Canal Trust.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
Civic pride
12 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor: Birmingham School of Art and Ruskin Pottery

A pair of artists that lived on Highfield Road in Edgbaston, also had their hand in Ruskin Pottery in Smethwick. Edward Richard Taylor also helped to found the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street and was it's first headmaster. A collection of Ruskin Pottery is in the Industrial Galery at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I also recently found a portrait of E. R. Taylor.

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Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor: Birmingham School of Art and Ruskin Pottery




A pair of artists that lived on Highfield Road in Edgbaston, also had their hand in Ruskin Pottery in Smethwick. Edward Richard Taylor also helped to found the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street and was it's first headmaster. A collection of Ruskin Pottery is in the Industrial Galery at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I also recently found a portrait of E. R. Taylor.


Edward Richard Taylor was a potter and a painter. He was born in 1838 and died in 1912. He was the first headmaster of the Birmingham Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, from 1877 until about 1903. He also oversaw the opening of the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street in 1885. I saw this portrait of him in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The painting is dated 1905, but the artist is unknown. Although their is a possibility that the artist was Taylor himself!

If you head up the stairs in the Industrial Gallery at BM & AG, be sure to make a look out for this Ruskin Pottery sign. These Ceramic letters were made at the Ruskin Pottery factory in about 1905. The factory was at 173 and 174 Oldbury Road in West Smethwick (at the time in Staffordshire, now in Sandwell, West Midlands). It was founded in 1898 by Edward Richard Taylor and his younger son William Howson Taylor. The company was named after the artist John Ruskin. The business was set up as the Birmingham Tile and Pottery Works before being renamed after Ruskin. Production ceased near the end of 1933, but firing and glazing of existing stock continued until 1935 (the year that Howson Taylor died).

The Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street. It is between Cornwall Street and Edmund Street in what is now the Colmore Business District. See my post on the Red brick Victorian buildings at the Colmore Estate. Edward Richard Taylor who from 1877 was the first headmaster of the Birmingham Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, oversaw the construction of the new School of Art which opened in 1885. The architects was William Martin and his partner J H Chamberlain. The building was completed after Chamberain's death by William Martin and his son Frederick Martin. The school helped lead the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is now part of the Birmingham City University as part of the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. The building was taken over by the Birmingham Polytechnic in 1971, becoming it's Faculty of Art and Design. The Polytechnic gained University status in 1992 as the University of Central England. It was renamed to the Birmingham City University in 2007.

Edward Richard Taylor (1838 - 1912) and his son William Howson Taylor (1876 - 1935) lived at this house at 26 Highfield Road in Edgbaston. There is a blue plaque there from the Birmingham Civic Society and the Calthorpe Residents Society. See my first Calthorpe Estates post in Edgbaston here Calthorpe Estates: Edgbaston - a selection of Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town houses. E R Taylor is mentioned on the plaque as being an art teacher, while W H Taylor is mentioned as being a potter.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

 

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50 passion points
Transport
10 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Class 150's: Diesel trains formerly on the Snow Hill lines

The Class 150 diesel multiple unit trains used to be on the Snow Hill lines until around 2011. Most have since gone to other railway franchises such as Great Western Railway. When they were in the Midlands they were used by Regional Railways until 1997, Central Trains from 1997 to 2007 then London Midland from 2007 to 2011. A least one is still owned by West Midlands Railway now.

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Class 150's: Diesel trains formerly on the Snow Hill lines




The Class 150 diesel multiple unit trains used to be on the Snow Hill lines until around 2011. Most have since gone to other railway franchises such as Great Western Railway. When they were in the Midlands they were used by Regional Railways until 1997, Central Trains from 1997 to 2007 then London Midland from 2007 to 2011. A least one is still owned by West Midlands Railway now.


Class 150

These Sprinter Diesel multiple units were built between 1984 and 1987. In the West Midlands, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, they were used on the Snow Hill lines from at least 1987 until they were replaced in 2011 by the then new Class 172 Turbostar DMU's. The then West Midlands franchise operator London Midland kept around 3 of the old Class 150's after 2011 (they are still in current franchise operator West Midlands Railway who took over in late 2017.

Seen at Shirley Station during late June 2010 was London Midland 150016. It was heading for Stourbridge Junction. This view was from the old Haslucks Green Road bridge. That bridge was replaced and rebuilt during 2017. The footbridge in this photo was also later replaced. The new footbridge was built at the other end of the station in 2014. Shirley Station is quite a way away from the Stratford Road in Shirley, and is reachable from there now with the no 49 bus.

My second photography trip to Stratford-upon-Avon was during September 2010. I had just got off London Midland 150013, a semi-fast train that skipped the minor stops between Whitlocks End and Stratford-upon-Avon Station. This view was from the Alcester Road bridge in the town. Now the end of the line, it used to go beyond here to Honeybourne, and it is hoped that the 9 mile stretch would one day be restored. For now, most services that start at Stratford go to at least Stourbridge Junction, or beyond towards Kidderminster or Worcester Foregate Street (via Birmingham Snow Hill).

My first time up to the bridge near Livery Street and Northwood Street (in the Jewellery Quarter) was in August 2011. From here (at the time) you could see Two Snowhill beginning construction (after delays of several years). Seen heading past St Paul's Tram Stop was London Midland 150101 heading into Birmingham Snow Hill Station. After leaving London Midland later in 2011, this train and other 150/1's transferred up to Northern Rail. Around 4 years after the franchise had transferred from Central Trains to London Midland, most of the trains on the Snow Hill lines still had (at the time) the old Central Trains lime green livery.

It was September 2011, and I was heading to Hall Green Station to get the train into Birmingham. And I was hoping to see or catch one of the (then) brand new Class 172 DMU's. But London Midland still had the Class 150's on the Shakespeare line. This was the 10:08 (which I missed). After a 20 minute wait, I caught the next train the 10:28 into Birmingham. It would be another 2 months (November 2011) before I would catch a new Class 172 for the first time to Birmingham Moor Street or Snow Hill.

The view from Kings Norton Station, on the Cross City line. I was standing at platform 4 during April 2012, waiting to go to Longbridge. While one of London Midland's Class 150 trains that they kept, 150109 was seen passing by the abandoned platform 2. Still in the old Central Trains livery. London Midland would later change it into their own green livery, and today it is still part of current franchise operator West Midlands Railways's fleet! This train was slowly heading south towards Hereford. An American man on the platform was chatting to me, and said that he had never seen a train like that before!

Getting to the more recent years and December 2017, the last month of operation under London Midland. I went up to Lye Station near Stourbridge in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley for a photo walk of the town. When I got back to the station, was suprised to see a convoy of a mixture of London Midland DMU's heading towards Stourbridge Junction (or onto Worcester). By then, London Midland's 3 Class 150 DMU's was in their green livery. Seen here behind a Class 170. This convoy had one Class 172, two Class 170's and this one Class 150 (pictured).

My most recent sighting of a Class 150 in the West Midlands was when I caught a glimpse of it passing through Stechford Station during early January 2018. Now operated by West Midlands Railway, this was either 150107 or 150109. It was probably heading down towards the Bedford line (which is now operated by London Northwestern Railway). From here you expect to see the Class 350 EMU's on the West Coast Mainline or Virgin Trains Class 390 Pendolino's (those don't stop here). This view was from the Station Road bridge.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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