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YourPlaceYourSpace History & heritage
03 Sep 2020 - YourPlaceYourSpace
Did you know?

J.R.R. Tolkien in the Library of Birmingham

On Level 4 in the Archives & Collections section of the Library of Birmingham at Centenary Square you can find material related to Tolkien.

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J.R.R. Tolkien in the Library of Birmingham





On Level 4 in the Archives & Collections section of the Library of Birmingham at Centenary Square you can find material related to Tolkien.


So popular is the novelist that J R R Tolkien’s classic fantasy tale The Hobbit was chosen as the first book to grace the showpiece Centenary Square building in a poll carried out prior to the Library opening.

At Birmingham Repertory Theatre next door to the Library, a blue plaque commemorates Dr J. Sampson Gamgee, a local surgeon and founder of the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund.

‘Sam Gamgee’ was the name chosen by Tolkien for Frodo’s faithful companion in The Lord of the Rings.

The surgeon’s widow lived opposite Tolkien’s aunt in Stirling Road and therefore he would have been familiar with the name.

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Elliott Brown History & heritage
03 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

James Watt's Heathfield Hall in Handsworth

If you go to Handsworth and look for Heathfield Hall, the home of James Watt from 1790 until his death in 1819, you wont find it. Other than The Lodge, built in 1797. In 2019 on the bicentenary of his death, the Birmingham Civic Society placed a new blue plaque on the building. Sadly the hall was demolished in 1927, and the Heathfield Estate is now full of houses.

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James Watt's Heathfield Hall in Handsworth





If you go to Handsworth and look for Heathfield Hall, the home of James Watt from 1790 until his death in 1819, you wont find it. Other than The Lodge, built in 1797. In 2019 on the bicentenary of his death, the Birmingham Civic Society placed a new blue plaque on the building. Sadly the hall was demolished in 1927, and the Heathfield Estate is now full of houses.


Heathfield Hall, Handsworth

James Watt lived at Heathfield Hall from 1790, until his death there in 1819. The hall was erected sometime between 1787 and 1790. At the time Handsworth was located in the county of Staffordshire (it wouldn't become a part of Birmingham until 1911). The architect was Samuel Wyatt who was recommended to Watt by his business partner Matthew Boulton. He had designed Boulton's home of Soho House (still standing today and is a museum run by the Birmingham Museums Trust).

After Watt died in 1819, his workshop was sealed, and very few people saw it after that. His son James Watt Jr ended up living at Aston Hall in Aston. By 1876, the hall was eventually surrounded by semi-detached villas, such as up Radnor Road. The contents were later moved to The Science Museum in London in 1924 (to recreate the room) this included well over 8000 individual objects. The hall was later demolished in 1927.

The Heathfield Estate now contains houses around West Drive and North Drive (built during the 1930s). But The Lodge to the hall built in 1797 still survives on Radnor Road. In 2019 on the bicentenary of Watt's death, the Birmingham Civic Society unveiled a blue plaque on The Lodge.

dndimg alt="Heathfield Hall" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/1977V43 Heathfield Hall Handsworth.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

An 1853 painting of Heathfield Hall in Handsworth by Allen Edward Everitt. From the Public Domain. Taken from the Birmingham Museums Trust Digital Image Resource which you can find here: 1977V43 Heathfield Hall, Handsworth.

The Lodge to Heathfield Hall

Located at 33 Radnor Road in Handsworth, this is the only building that survived the bulldozers in the late 1920s. The Lodge is said to date to 1797, so is probably the oldest building on Radnor Road (the other buildings looked Victorian to me).

dndimg alt="The Lodge of Heathfield Hall" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Lodge Heathfield Hall (Sept 2020) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Lodge of Heathfield Hall" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Lodge Heathfield Hall (Sept 2020) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Blue plaque from the Birmingham Civic Society, placed on The Lodge in 2019. The Lodge was the gatehouse to Heathfield Hall, which was the home of James Watt (1736 - 1819).

dndimg alt="The Lodge of Heathfield Hall" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Lodge Heathfield Hall (Sept 2020) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

There was also a previous plaque here, about The Lodge being the Gate-keepers house to James Watt. Built 1797.

dndimg alt="The Lodge of Heathfield Hall" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Lodge Heathfield Hall (Sept 2020) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Lodge of Heathfield Hall" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Lodge Heathfield Hall (Sept 2020) (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Was also this sign on the corner of Radnor Road and West Drive saying simply, The Lodge 1797.

dndimg alt="The Lodge of Heathfield Hall" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Lodge Heathfield Hall (Sept 2020) (6).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Heathfield Estate

Before I got to The Lodge, I saw Radnor House, which is a Residential Home at 31 Radnor Road in Handsworth. This was probably a semi-detached villa built around 1876.

dndimg alt="Radnor Road" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Radnor Rd Handsworth (Sep 2020).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Beyond The Lodge, a look down West Drive. It's a bit hard to imagine Heathfield Hall being somewhere down or around here. Many of these houses were built in the 1930s.

dndimg alt="West Drive" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/West Drive Handsworth (Sept 2020).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

On North Drive I saw this lion sculpture holding a shield outside of a house. I wonder if it is a survivor from the 18th century, or a more recent sculpture?

dndimg alt="North Drive" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/North Drive Handsworth (Sept 2020).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Heading back to Hamstead Road to catch the 16 back into the City Centre, I saw this building from Gibson Road. It's the Bethel United Church on the corner of Gibson Road and Beaudesert Road in Handsworth. I'm not sure if this was part of the Heathfield Estate, or just outside of it.

dndimg alt="Gibson Road" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Gibson Rd Handsworth (Sept 2020).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

You can catch the no 16 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus from Birmingham City Centre, and get off on Hamstead Road in Handsworth. I decided to not go to Handsworth Park or see St Mary's Church again this time around, as I just came for the blue plaque mainly. Bus stops in town on Upper Dean Street, Moor Street Queensway, Colmore Circus Queensway and Snow Hill Queensway.

 

You can old black and white photographs of Heathfield Hall here: Birmingham Images: Library of Birmingham.

For more on the blue plaque, click here: Blue Plaque to James Watt unveiled.

 

List of previous Boulton & Watt related posts:

 

Modern photos taken by Elliott Brown at the beginning of September 2020.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

 

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50 passion points
Elliott Brown History & heritage
26 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

Removal of the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter on the 22nd August 2020

On the 22nd August 2020, the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter, was carefully being dismantled with the clock faces removed, so that workmen could remove the clock tower. It is heading for Smith of Derby who are clock specialists. It is expected that it will return in full working order by early 2021 (fingers crossed). The clock dates to 1903 and was last restored in 1989.

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Removal of the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter on the 22nd August 2020





On the 22nd August 2020, the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter, was carefully being dismantled with the clock faces removed, so that workmen could remove the clock tower. It is heading for Smith of Derby who are clock specialists. It is expected that it will return in full working order by early 2021 (fingers crossed). The clock dates to 1903 and was last restored in 1989.


Removal of the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter, 22nd August 2020

On Saturday the 22nd August 2020, workmen were on site in the Jewellery Quarter to remove the Chamberlain Clock. It will be taken care of by Smith of Derby who are clock specialists. It is expected to be back on the roundabout at the junction of Frederick Street, Vyse Street and Warstone Lane in early 2021. There will also be a new information panel.

For my last post on the Chamberlain Clock follow this link: Jewellery Quarter Chamberlain Clock. It is over 117 years old, having been made originally back in 1903. The Grade II listed clock tower was last repaired and restored in 1989 (over 30 years ago).

Views below seen from Frederick Street:

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Views below seen from Warstone Lane:

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (6).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (7).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (10).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (11).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Views below seen from Vyse Street:

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (8).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="JQ Chamberlain Clock" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Removal JQ Chamberlain Clock 22082020 (9).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Elliott Brown Rivers, lakes & canals
24 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Edgbaston Tunnel on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

The Edgbaston Tunnel is located on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal below Church Road in Edgbaston. It is 105 yards long (or 96 metres long). The tunnel runs parallel with the railway tunnel on the Cross City Line. It takes boats about 2 minutes to get through the tunnel. In 2018, the tunnel was closed for months to allow for the towpath to be widened.

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The Edgbaston Tunnel on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal





The Edgbaston Tunnel is located on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal below Church Road in Edgbaston. It is 105 yards long (or 96 metres long). The tunnel runs parallel with the railway tunnel on the Cross City Line. It takes boats about 2 minutes to get through the tunnel. In 2018, the tunnel was closed for months to allow for the towpath to be widened.


Edgbaston Tunnel

The Worcester & Birmingham Canal was constructed between 1792 from the Birmingham end, reaching Worcester by 1815. The canal reached Selly Oak by about 1795, so it is fair to assume that the Edgbaston Tunnel was built sometime between 1792 and 1795. Probably dug out by navvies by picks and shovels. Built of red brick, the Edgbaston Tunnel is 96 metres long (105 yards long). It is well under Church Road. Today the closest exits with steps are on Islington Row Middleway (near Five Ways Station) and at The Vale (University of Birmingham student accommodation).

Running parallel with the canal is what is today the Cross City Line. This railway line was built as the Birmingham West Suburban Railway from 1876 until 1885. The Church Road Tunnel was built next to the Edgbaston Tunnel along with a Church Road Station which opened in 1876, not far from the North East Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. The station closed in 1925.

Located close to the South West Portal is Hallfield School and near the North East Portal is Sunrise of Edgbaston. When you are up on Church Road, it is a bit hard to see the canal and railway line from above (the brick wall is too high and there is a lot of tree coverage).

During 2018, the Canal & River Trust closed the tunnel, so that they could widen the towpath. This was completed by about May 2018. And now there is more space for cyclists and walkers alike, even with painted lines and "Slow" signs.

 

2016

First walk through of the Edgbaston Tunnel was during April 2016. I got onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Somerset Road in Edgbaston and walked up the towpath towards Five Ways.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Approaching the South West Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. To the left is the Cross City Line on the other side of the fence. Above behind all the trees and shrubs is Church Road.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Canal & River Trust sign for the Edgbaston Tunnel at the South West Portal. At the time it has space for two way traffic.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Nearing the South West Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. The towpath inside of the tunnel was quite narrow. So not enough room for both walkers and cyclists at the time.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

This sign states that the Edgbaston Tunnel is 96 Metres in length (which is quite short).

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The tunnel was lit up, so when you walk on the towpath, or have a ride on a narrowboat, it is not dark in there.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (6).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

But as you can see, the old tunnel towpath was really too narrow.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (7).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Up ahead was a couple of narrowboats that were about to enter the tunnel, as well as a person out for a run on the towpath.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (8).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Just as one narrowboat entered the tunnel, to the right you can see the site of the lost Church Road Station.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/W & B Canal Edgbaston Tunnel.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Old Georgian and Victorian buildings on Church Road at Hallfield School. The engineering brick on the railway, always seems to get tagged by graffiti vandals. You can also watch passing trains here.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Apr 2016) (9).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

2017

The next time I walked through the Edgbaston Tunnel was during November 2017. This walk started from Bath Row and I went as far as The Vale before getting off.

Approaching the North Eastern Portal was this cyclist in an orange jacket.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Nov 2017) (1).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

This time I had a better view of the white building above the canal. The building is now occupied by Robert Powell Estate Agents.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Nov 2017) (2).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

While the cyclist in orange was riding into the tunnel, saw a narrowboat with all these flat caps and beanies on. Peaky Blinders?

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Nov 2017) (3).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Before I entered the Edgbaston Tunnel, saw a London Midland Class 323 train on the Cross City Line entering the Church Road Tunnel.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Nov 2017) (4).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

One of the men on the narrowboat was standing on it's roof as it went through the tunnel.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Nov 2017) (5).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Now at the South Eastern Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel, the gatehouse to Hallfield School is above to the left.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Nov 2017) (6).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Then I saw another London Midland Class 323 entering the tunnel bound for Birmingham New Street and Lichfield Trent Valley.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Nov 2017) (7).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

2018

The Edgbaston Tunnel was closed to the public from January to March 2018, so that the Canal & River Trust could widen the towpath, resurface it, and install a new safety railing. There was towpath diversion at the time from Islington Row Middleway to The Vale. By May 2018 it was open again, and I went back to check it out.

This was during a long walk starting at Selly Oak towards Five Ways, Already could see the new towpath extension and railings from the South West Portal.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (May 2018) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

It was mostly complete, but was still some temporary barriers to the left.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (May 2018) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

There was a sign for Cyclists Slow as there was a ramp onto the new towpath and it wasn't quite finished.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (May 2018) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Inside I could see that the towpath was much wider, compared to what it used to be like.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (May 2018) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

It seems like the tunnel is long, but it isn't, just a trick of the light.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/tunnel elliot.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

At the North East Portal, a cyclist waits at the Cyclists Slow sign.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (May 2018) (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Was also a man running through the tunnel, while a builder in yellow and orange overalls was at the other end.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (May 2018) (6).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Went back again in December 2018, after the white lines had been painted onto the towpath, and it had all been fully completed.

A cyclist in a yellow jacket heads towards the North East Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (May 2018) (7).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Another cyclist and on the right was a West Midlands Railway Class 323 train on the Cross City Line (passing the site of Church Road Station).

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (May 2018) (8).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Approaching the Edgbaston Tunnel with the new ramp.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Dec 2018) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Painted on both sides of the ramp was Slow. Pedestrians get priority in the tunnel.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Dec 2018) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Before entering the tunnel, Saw a West Midlands Railway Class 323 train go past, in the new orange and white livery (replacing the old London Midland green).

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Dec 2018) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The towpath is now much wider, and even the lighting seems to be brighter in here (not as dark).

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Dec 2018) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Slow sign on the ramp close to the South West Portal.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Dec 2018) (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

And another pair of painted Slow signs closer to the exit of the tunnel.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Dec 2018) (6).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

2020

In August 2020, I had my first walk down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in months (due to the pandemic / lockdown). Starting at The Mailbox and ending at The Vale (was thinking about Somerset Road but The Vale exit came first). Also my first time back in the Edgbaston Tunnel since the end of 2018.

A lady was running towards me, also had to let a couple pass me, due to social distancing.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Aug 2020) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

It was a bit hard to see the at white building on Church Road, due to the amount of leaves on the surrounding trees.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Aug 2020) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

A narrowboat was coming out of the tunnel.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Aug 2020) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Got this view from just inside of the tunnel as the narrowboat heading out.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Aug 2020) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Still the optical illusion of the tunnel being long (when it isn't).

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Aug 2020) (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

A zoom in from the far end of the tunnel as the narrowboat was still heading on it's way.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Aug 2020) (6).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

One last look at the Edgbaston Tunnel as I continued my walk towards The Vale.

dndimg alt="Edgbaston Tunnel" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Edgbaston Tunnel (Aug 2020) (7).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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70 passion points
Elliott Brown Travel & tourism
24 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

We Made It on The Balcony at Thinktank

On Level 1 at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum was from about 2013 an exhibition on the mezzanine floor called We Made It. "What's a Cow got to do with a Car?" asks the leaflet from 2013. You could see a dissected Riley Elf (a bit like a Mini). Birmingham was known as the Workshop of the World. Gadgets used at home. Nuts and bolts. Tins and things.

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We Made It on The Balcony at Thinktank





On Level 1 at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum was from about 2013 an exhibition on the mezzanine floor called We Made It. "What's a Cow got to do with a Car?" asks the leaflet from 2013. You could see a dissected Riley Elf (a bit like a Mini). Birmingham was known as the Workshop of the World. Gadgets used at home. Nuts and bolts. Tins and things.


We Made It

The official Thinktank Website has info on We Made It here. Located on Level 1 at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum (the mezzanine floor).

Information below courtesy of the Birmingham Museums Trust:

We Made It features more than 20 interactive exhibits that show just how and why Birmingham became known as ‘the workshop of the world’. Visitors are taken on a journey from raw materials to finished product, demonstrating how everyday goods are produced.
The journey is illustrated by around 1200 intriguing objects from Birmingham’s world-renowned manufacturing and natural science collections, and contemporary products made or designed in Birmingham. Find out what links a car and a cow, what makes treasure like jewellery valuable, why we use certain types of packaging, and how products are held together.
 
The gallery contains four distinct areas, each focussing on an area of manufacturing for which Birmingham is renowned: 
  •  Nuts and Bolts - Learn about Birmingham’s role in making iron and steel goods for the world.
  • Treasure - Precious possessions made from precious metals and gemstones.
  • Tins and Things - Discover why the West Midlands is the home of aluminium production and decorative glass.
  • Gadgets - Come and uncover inventions that have changed everyday life, from cameras to mobile phones; and find out why wood and plastic have been used to produce these items.

 

The following photos taken from a visit to Thinktank during April 2013.

The pink we made it logo with a subtitle of nuts, bolts, gadgets and gizmos on a yellow background.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (1).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

What has cow got to do with a car? You could also see this cow on the leaflet back in 2013.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (3).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

This is a dissected Riley Elf (a bit like a Mini). I had previously seen it at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (2).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Build a Mini. Showing you how to build a Mini. The wheels off and the doors off. Think Michael Caine in The Italian Job: "You only had to blow the bloody doors off!".

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (7).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Licence plate at the front and back of the Mini read: TH1NK T4NK.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (8).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Another Mini, this one at least was fully entact and not cut up like the other ones. Licence plate was XFW 583.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (10).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Bike art. Made out of a Honda 750cc motorbike engine. Exhaust pipes used as tubes and the sculpture features them bent into extravagant shapes. Custom Chrome, Nuneaton, 1994.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (9).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Making silver goods. In a typical Silversmith workshop in the Jewellery Quarter.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (4).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Electricity for silver plating. Made in Birmingham. Was the first industrial electrical machine in the world. Even Michael Faraday was delighted when he first saw it (putting his discoveries into practical use).

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (5).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Etch. Here was a machine that was used to etch glass. You could even press a green button to operate it in the museum.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Balcony (Apr 2013) (6).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

A machine used for Bending wire. Curtain hooks used to be made of metal, but are now made of plastic. Wire in, cut and bend, bend and shape, curtain hooks out.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/We Made It Thinktank (Apr 2013) (8).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

A variety of old cameras made during the 20th Century. Included here in this collection was: Camera by Polaroid, late 1960s, Brown camera by Kodak, about 1905, Cine camera by Kodak, 1950s, Cine Camera by Pathe, 1920s and Cine Camera by Bell and Howell, about 1930.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/We Made It Thinktank (Apr 2013) (1).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Next up we have a Magic lantern projector. It looks like it could be used in a cinema to show films, but it actually projects magic lanterns.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/We Made It Thinktank (Apr 2013) (2).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

This violin was made in France by Thibouville Lamy. Some people who emigrated to the UK in the Inter War period, might have taken a violin over with them. Like a family heirloom.

dndimg alt="We Made It" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/We Made It Thinktank (Apr 2013) (3).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Glass sculpture. Possibly made out of recycled materials. Looks like it could go in a lighthouse. You could step inside of it on the other side.

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One of the Lightweight Bicycles hanging from the ceiling. This bike was made from steel. There was other bikes hanging up as well.

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Slinky childrens toys. The one below like the Slinky dog toy from the Toy Story movies.

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A typical Slinky walking spring toy. You can play with them in your hands, or push them down the stairs. Still got one myself (but is multicoloured).

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More of We Made it from the next visit to Thinktank during April 2014.

This is an aluminium sail. It is an extruded aluminium yacht mast. Made in the Midlands by Sapa Profiles, Derbyshire, for Selden Masts, 2012. Lent by Sapa Profiles. It was next to the Bike Sculpture (which was to the right).

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A colourfully designed area with green hearts, blue and pink plastic flowers. Thinktank was now calling this floor, The Balcony. Not sure of the purpose of this area, other than for children to play, and adults to sit down.

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A collection of old mobile phones. From 'brick' to pocket-sized. Mobile telephones left to right: Sendo, designed in Birmingham in 2002, NEC, United Kingdom, 1995 and for British Telecom, from about the late 1980s.

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The Chad Valley Co. Ltd was a toy manufacturer that was based in Harborne. Founded in the early 19th century. When they moved to Harborne, they named their company after the nearby Chad Brook. Which in turn gave it's name to the nearby Chad Valley. Was bought by Woolworths in 1988, but is now owned by Sainsbury's.

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A Chad Valley classic car toy. Of an open topped car with a spare wheel at the back.

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Guinness Stout. Toy of a classic green car. With people painted onto the side.

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A toy of a Midland Red bus. Also a sign for The Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd Builders Smethwick, England 1924.

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A Chad Valley toy of a red Fire Engine.

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Another Chad Valley toy car, of a clockwork model of a racing car.

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Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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