Construction & regeneration
25 Jan 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - January 2019

Two Chamberlain Square is now structurally complete, the front collanade almost finished, work on the exterior next. Local people will be able to stop calling it the 'car park' soon. More photos in the full post.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

 

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The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - January 2019




Two Chamberlain Square is now structurally complete, the front collanade almost finished, work on the exterior next. Local people will be able to stop calling it the 'car park' soon. More photos in the full post.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

 


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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90 passion points
Construction & regeneration
24 Jan 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Bank Tower Two - January 2019

Bank Tower Two on Broad Street is now structurally complete with the cladding chasing up behind fast.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

 

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The Construction of Bank Tower Two - January 2019




Bank Tower Two on Broad Street is now structurally complete with the cladding chasing up behind fast.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

 


 

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
Civic pride
24 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

John Freeth: Landlord of Freeth's Coffee House

Our obsession with coffee shops / coffee houses didn't start in the early 21st century. You can go back to the late 18th century. Freeth's Coffee House was run by John Freeth, also known as the Celebrity Landlord and poet. His coffee house was on the corner of Bell Street and Lease Lane in Birmingham. A blue plaque at the Bullring marks the site near Bill's in the East Mall.

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John Freeth: Landlord of Freeth's Coffee House




Our obsession with coffee shops / coffee houses didn't start in the early 21st century. You can go back to the late 18th century. Freeth's Coffee House was run by John Freeth, also known as the Celebrity Landlord and poet. His coffee house was on the corner of Bell Street and Lease Lane in Birmingham. A blue plaque at the Bullring marks the site near Bill's in the East Mall.


John Freeth

Known as the Birmingham Poet, John Freeth was born in 1731 and died in 1808. He was also known as Poet Freeth. He was an innkeeper, poet and songwriter. He owned Freeth's Coffee House between 1768 and his death in 1808. Also known as the Celebrity Landlord, he sat for many portraits during his lifetime. This one seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, was painted by an unknown artist. He was one of the major figures in Birmingham during the Midlands Enlightenment.

The next picture seen in the Freeth's Coffee House exhibit at the Birmingham History Galleries is of John Freeth and his friends. They were members of a political society called the Jacobin Club. They commissioned Johannes Eckstein to paint their picture in 1792. Included in this picture was:
James Murray (Linen draper), John Wilkes (Cheese factor), John Freeth (Brassfounder), Richard Webster (Poet and publican), Jeremiah Vaux (Surgeon), John Collard (Hatter), John Miles (Lamp manufacturer), Samuel Toy (Steel toy manufacturer), James Bisset (Artist and owner of museum), Joseph Fearon (Tin merchant), James Sketchley (Auctioneer) and Joseph Blunt (Brazier).
It is more formerly known as John Freeth and His Circle.

Freeth's Coffee House

Time for a look around Freeth's Coffee House. It was the popular name of the Leicester Arms  which was located on the corner of Bell Street and Lease Lane in Birmingham. It was first a tavern and later a coffee house, operating from 1736 until 1832. John Freeth was the landlord during the second half of the 18th century, and he would regularly entertain his customers with songs and poetry. It was one of the most celebrated meeting places in Georgian England. Small businessmen and lawyers would conduct business here. Radical groups such as the Birmingham Book Club would regularly meet here.

This window exhibit at the Birmingham History Galleries shows a view out of the window to the Statue of Horatio Nelson which would place it sometime after 1809, or later in the 19th century (after John Freeth had passed away). The statue is still there today and has survived various incarnations of the Bullring.

Also in Freeth's Coffee House was this Grandfather Clock. Is it time for coffee? It was placed close to the window in the Birmingham History Galleries.

Heading over to the Bullring there is a blue plaque near Bill's from the Birmingham Civic Society, close to the East Mall (Selfridges is not that far away). The plaque reads: "John Freeth The Birmingham Poet of Bell Street 1731 - 1808". A shop called Mango was previously in the units now occupied by Bill's. At Bill's you can have Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Open from 8am 'til late.

This modern scene of th Horatio Nelson statue at the Bullring was from the summer of 2009. The closest coffee house / coffee shop to where Freeth's Coffee House was, is probably this Starbucks Coffee (still there in 2019). The statue has been Grade II* listed since 1952. The statue was moved in 1961, and later after the recent Bullring redevelopment was moved closer to St Martin's Church. In 2005 the railings were restored.

A bonus John Freeth site coming up.

If you are ever on a bus heading round Camp Hill Circus between Camp Hill and the Stratford Road, you might notice a plaque on the dual carriageway of Bordesley Middleway. I once went to check it out, and I found a plaque about the site of the Ship Inn. A pub on this site from about 1560 to 1972. Most famous for being Prince Rupert's headquarters in 1643, before he attacked Birmingham with a Royalist army during the Civil War. Is probably where the Camp Hill name came from.

It's hard to imagine now, but a pub used to be on this site until the 1970s. When John Freeth and his friends came here in the 18th century, it was known as The Anchor. The pub was at the corner of Sandy Lane and Camp Hill. The old inn was pulled down in 1867. A new pub was built on the foundations of it's site called the Ship Hotel. But it only survived until the road's around here were realigned in the 1970s. The Camp Hill Flyover was built, but it was only a temporary solution to the traffic problems around here. Camp Hill Circus was built in the 1980s. Today it is free flowing, sometimes has a lot of traffic during rush hour. Only traffic lights are for the pelican crossings. I think they should have permanent lights at all junctions there (Stratford Road from the south, Highgate Middleway to the west, Camp Hill to the north and Bordesley Middleway to the east).

The only surviving pub near here is the Brewer & Baker at the corner of Camp Hill and Bordesley Middleway (near Old Camp Hill). But it is quite derelict, been closed for years, and was a fire there in recent years. Could do with either A: restoring, or B: demolishing. Should never have been left in that state!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
23 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
News & Updates

Team at Greater Birmingham Developments latest to partner ItsyourBuild

People with Passion at ItsyourBuild are joined by the team of Greater Birmingham Developments to promote the valuable contribution of community to the built environment and developments as they continue to add to the urban landscape of the City.   

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40 passion points
Architecture
23 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

From Midland Bank to HSBC UK

HSBC UK have recently opened up their UK HQ right here in Birmingham at 1 Centenary Square at Arena Central, but did you know the bank originated as the Midland Bank founded right here in Birmingham! Former City Centre banks including one on New Street (used to later be Waterstone's is now Apple) and another one on Bennetts Hill (now the Cosy Club). HSBC bought the Midland in 1992.

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From Midland Bank to HSBC UK




HSBC UK have recently opened up their UK HQ right here in Birmingham at 1 Centenary Square at Arena Central, but did you know the bank originated as the Midland Bank founded right here in Birmingham! Former City Centre banks including one on New Street (used to later be Waterstone's is now Apple) and another one on Bennetts Hill (now the Cosy Club). HSBC bought the Midland in 1992.


The Midland Bank was founded in Birmingham in 1836 by Charles Geach, who used to have a branch on Union Street. Early international holdings included an early deal with the  The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1907 (there future owners). HSBC Holdings plc took over the bank in 1992, and phased the Midland Bank name out by 1999 in favour of HSBC Bank. Branches are now branded as HSBC UK.

For many years, this building on the corner of New Street and Stephenson Place was a Waterstone's store, it is now an Apple store. Photo below from 2009. The first Midland Metro extension was built round the back of this former bank building, finally opening in 2016. The building was built in 1868 - 69 and it was originally the Head Offices of the Midland Bank. It was designed in the classical style by Edward Holmes and an extension was built in 1875. It's now a Grade II listed building. When it was listed in 1970 it was known as the Midland Bank International Division. The rear entrance was altered when the Midland Metro extension was built, but that is now closed since Apple took over the building.

While HSBC are not in the classical building that is now used by Apple, they are still at the other corner of New Street and Stephenson Place, close to the ramp up to Grand Central (previously the Pallasades). This branch seen in 2014, is now branded HSBC UK, like other HSBC banks around the country. Above it is a former office block, the Exchange Buildings, that was owned by Aviva. There is now a Premier Inn hotel up there, so not that far from Birmingham New Street Station. "Welcome to Birmingham New Street a branch of the world's local bank".

Another former Midland Bank located in Birmingham City Centre is on the corner of Bennetts Hill and Waterloo Street in the Colmore Business District. It is now the Cosy Club. In 2009 (photo below) the building was occupied by Webb Gray & Partners Ltd (an architectural practice). This building is also a Grade II listed building and is even older than the former bank on New Street! Built in 1830 by Rickman and Eutchinson, it was altered in 1868 by H R Yeoville Thomason. Made of stone. It has giant Giant Corinthian columns. It was fully restored and the stone cleaned when it was converted into the Cosy Club in 2015.

HSBC UK recently moved into their new UK HQ in late 2018. Construction of One Centenary Square began in 2015 and was completed in late 2018. Part of the Arena Central redevelopment opposite Centenary Square and on part of what was Broad Street. Historically, the site was previously where Central TV (ATV before that) had their studios in a former Masonic Hall. The hall was demolished in 2006, and the site lay empty until the mid 2010's. It's next to the Alpha Tower and the Municipal Bank (which is soon to be taken over by the University of Birmingham). This view from near the Amphitheatre of the Library of Birmingham. The redevelopment of the square might be completed by Spring or Summer 2019 (or later?).

A view zoomed down from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham. The view is up Newhall Hill and Frederick Street towards the Chamberlain Clock Tower. On the left is the Jewellery Quarter branch of HSBC UK. The 101 bus heads left onto Warstone Lane past the bank. There is a branch of Barclays Bank at the opposite corner.

Recently been seeing other peoples photos on social media of this new painted advert for HSBC UK, so had to check it out myself. HSBC UK currently have an advertising campaign, where they are using four cities as well as a general advert. Including Birmingham, London, Manchester and Leeds. This of course is the Birmingham variant. Behind the Rose Villa Tavern on Warstone Lane, it is close to Vyse Street in what is now called Golden Square.

Not just home of the Brummie.
You're home to Heavy Metal, Mr Egg, Bostin Cobs, The Shire and the First Stamp.

You are Birmingham.

You're not an island. You're a Workshop of the World that's part of something far, far bigger. And you're our home.

HSBC UK Together we thrive

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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60 passion points
Transport
22 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Not something you see every day: a steam locomotive on the back of a lorry!

I only popped to Tyseley to check out some trains heading past Tyseley Station. When I walked back down to the Warwick Road on the 13th December 2018, saw a steam locomotive on the back of a lorry. Sir Keith Park 34053 was probably getting near to the Tyseley Locomotive Works. The walk to Acocks Green, but Amey had barriers out for new lampposts!

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Not something you see every day: a steam locomotive on the back of a lorry!




I only popped to Tyseley to check out some trains heading past Tyseley Station. When I walked back down to the Warwick Road on the 13th December 2018, saw a steam locomotive on the back of a lorry. Sir Keith Park 34053 was probably getting near to the Tyseley Locomotive Works. The walk to Acocks Green, but Amey had barriers out for new lampposts!


Sir Keith Park 34053

Not something you expect to see on the road in Birmingham! A lorry with a steam locomotive on the back of it. Although I have in the past seen a Cross Country train on the back of a lorry once. It was the 13th December 2018, and this small convoy was approaching the Tyseley Locomotive Works on the Warwick Road in Tyseley. Seen here passing the Cousins furniture store (mostly selling sofas etc).

The locomotive is currently operated by the Swanage Railway. So it was probably coming to Tyseley for repairs or maintenance?

A little bit of history of the locomotive. It was built in 1947 at the Brighton Works. It's original number ID was 21C153. It was a SR Battle of Britain class (Southern Railway Battle of Britain class 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive). It gained the number 34053 in 1948 when British Railways was formed. In 1960 it was transfered to the Bournemouth Depot where it was on the Pines Express on the Somerset & Dorset Line. She remained in Bournemouth until being withdrawn from service in 1965.

After being withdrawn from service in 1965, she was towed to the Barry scrapyard in South Wales. But the locomotive wasn't scrapped. She was eventually towed to Barry Island where she remained for 18 years. A new owner bought her for preservation in 1979, but she didn't depart Barry Island until 1984. She was moved to Hull, but little was done to her. In 1992 she was sold to another owner and moved to Crewe. Again litte was done to her. By 1997 she was moved to the West Somerset Railway and was later purchased by Southern Locomotives Ltd in 2000. Restoration finally began in 2008. Returned to steam by 2012 not at the Swanage Railway as intended, but at the Severn Valley Railway. Naming ceremony took place in 2013 as Sir Keith Park at Bridgnorth. She can only run on heritage railways, but is not certified to run on National Rail railway lines. Probably why it was transferred by lorry!

Photos by Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
Construction & regeneration
21 Jan 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - January 2019

A super dull day for this update but interesting how metalic the building can look in certain light, some of the massive windows at street level have been installed. More photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

Related

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - January 2019




A super dull day for this update but interesting how metalic the building can look in certain light, some of the massive windows at street level have been installed. More photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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60 passion points
Environment & green action
21 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

Birmingham Trees For Life - planting in Kings Heath Park

Birmingham Trees For Life brought 500 saplings to be planted in Kings Heath Park, in liaison with the Park Rangers. Around 80 people attended the tree planting event (January 19th January 2019) including - Councillor Mike Leddy, & Councillor Mohammed Azim who also participated in the tree planting.

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Birmingham Trees For Life - planting in Kings Heath Park




Birmingham Trees For Life brought 500 saplings to be planted in Kings Heath Park, in liaison with the Park Rangers. Around 80 people attended the tree planting event (January 19th January 2019) including - Councillor Mike Leddy, & Councillor Mohammed Azim who also participated in the tree planting.


Friends of Kings Heath Park publicised the event

Let the tree planting begin............

Photo by Christine Wright 

Great support from the community

Photo by Christine Wright 

Photo by Christine Wright 

Working as a team

Photo by Christine Wright 

Photo by Christine Wright 

The new trees will extend the existing wood in the corner of Kings Heath Park

Photo by Christine Wright 

We can all enjoy seeing these saplings mature in decades to come!

Photo by Christine Wright 

Photo by Christine Wright 

Great education for our future generations

Photo by Christine Wright 

Photo by Christine Wright 

All ages enjoying the tree planting

Photo by Christine Wright 

Photo by Christine Wright 

Great job done all!!

Photo by Christine Wright 

 

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70 passion points
Civic pride
20 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Herbert Austin: making cars at Longbridge and the Austin Village

While car production at Longbridge has long since gone (apart from the small remaining factory for MG Motor), the site that is now Longbridge Town Centre used to house the Austin Works (later MG Rover until 2005). Herbert Austin founded the Austin Motor Company in 1905 (before Longbridge was in Birmingham). Also nearby is the Austin Village which was built to house workers from 1917.

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Herbert Austin: making cars at Longbridge and the Austin Village




While car production at Longbridge has long since gone (apart from the small remaining factory for MG Motor), the site that is now Longbridge Town Centre used to house the Austin Works (later MG Rover until 2005). Herbert Austin founded the Austin Motor Company in 1905 (before Longbridge was in Birmingham). Also nearby is the Austin Village which was built to house workers from 1917.


Herbert Austin

He was born in 1866 in Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire and he died in Birmingham aged 74 in 1941. He moved to Birmingham in the 1890s setting up his first motor company on Broad Street, but the Broad Street factory site was too small, so he bought bigger premises in Aston. He later took over an old print works site in Longbridge in 1905. At this time Longbridge was in Worcestershire, and didn't become part of the City of Birmingham until 1911. It was here that he set up the Austin car works becoming one of the greatest car manufacturers in the world. For a period from 1918 to 1924 he was a Conservative MP for Birmingham Kings Norton. He was knighted in 1917 and in 1936 he was created Baron Austin, of Longbridge in the City of Birmingham. Also known as Lord Austin of Longbridge.

After MG Rover collapsed in 2005, the site was developed by St Modwen over the years, including a new Town Centre, Bournville College moved there by 2012. A new park was developed and opened in 2013 called Austin Park. It runs from the Bristol Road South towards Longbridge Town Centre alongside the River Rea. A former railway line ran towards Halesowen, and the remains of the signal box and old railway station were eventually demolished. It's unlikely that this railway line will ever be restored, now that the park and town centre are here. The Town Centre includes a Sainsbury's supermarket, a Premier Inn hotel and a Marks & Spencer store. Further to the right of here, they built retirement homes and houses along the land up Lickey Road.

I first went to have a look around Longbridge in 2010. Back then many of the former factory buildings along Lickey Road had yet to be demolished. 5 years after MG Rover collapsed, they were very derelict. Once they were demolished, a retirement village was built by 2016 up the Lickey Road site. It opened in 2017. To think the motor works lasted on this site from 1905 to 2005, a period of 100 years! Now it is becoming a new town centre. There is also a business park nearby. Many plots of land yet to be built on.

While Rover ceased to exist, a Chinese company bought the rights to use the MG name. And there is a small presence on a site on Lowhill Lane in Longbridge. MG Motor is owned by SAIC Motor UK (who themselves are owned by SAIC Motor based in Shanghai, China). Not far from here is another park called Cofton Park, where Pope Benedict XVI held mass in 2010. I went to Cofton Park in 2013 trying to get to the Lickey Hills Country Park, and the MG Motor buildings were visible from up the hill in the park. It was announced in 2016 that all car production had ceased at Longbridge, and after that MG Motor cars would be imported into the UK.

Back to Herbert Austin, and a village that he built for his workers. Austin Village was built in 1917. It is built on a site between Northfield and Longbridge in Turves Green. More workers had to be taken on during the First World War and when his factory began building tanks and aircraft, he built a new estate for his workers. He imported 200 cedar-wood pre-fabricated bungalows from the Aladdin Company, Bay City, Michigan, USA. They were shipped across the Atlantic, and survived potental loss to U-boat attacks. Many trees were planted around the village. This view is of Central Avenue. At the top end is a pair of blue plaques. One for Sir Herbert Austin and the other for the Austin Village. A red post box is at this end. I visited in April 2012.

While having a look around the Austin Village during April 2012, it was possible at the time to see the remaining MG Rover / Austin motor works, before most of them were demolished. The view was from Coney Green Drive. Most of these buildings were demolished on the right of the chimney, and houses were later built on the site. The MG Motor factory that survives down to Lowhill Lane. What will the future of this site be, will the rest of the factory have to be demolished for even more housing, now that car production has stopped on the site?

Over in Northfield is the Northfield Bypass, called the Sir Herbert Austin Way. This end near Sainsbury's seen during May 2013. The road bypasses the Northfield High Street on the Bristol Road South (although all major bus routes still use it). Sainsbury's had an extension a few years later and the Sainsbury's Cafe is now on the first floor. A new Starbucks Drive Thru, the first in Birmingham, opened on the bypass in 2017 near Vineyard Road and Bellfield Infant School. The success of this Starbucks Drive Thru probably led to the one that opened in 2018 at the Maypole.

There are several vintage Austin motorcars on display at Thinktank at Millennium Point. I first visted with my camera in April 2013. In the Move It section on Level O (the ground floor) was various old cars and bikes.

As you enter, you see this old car on a rotating turntable. It's the Austin Seven Tourer built in 1923. It was economical but reliable. It was smaller and cheaper than other cars at the time, but was considered to be just as reliable and comfortable. Car ownership was no logner just for the wealthy. Watch as the car goes around and around! I assume it still does that, if it's in the same spot as it was then?

Yes this car was on the side on the glass wall! It's the Austin 10 'Lichfield' Motorcar and it was built in 1935. One of 27,000 made by the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge. You might have to tilt your head 90 degrees to the right to see it right up!

In July 2011, on a visit to the stately home that is Holkham Hall in Norfolk, saw this poster in the Stable Coach Block. The Austin Seven Garage Chart. It clearly says that the Austin Motor Co. Ltd was from Longbridge, Birmingham. Many museums all over the UK have Austin cars in their collection, and it's not just museums, stately homes sometimes have a collection of vintage cars on display!

Another museum well worth a visit in the West Midlands is the Coventry Transport Museum. This is a Austin Seven Swallow dating to about 1928. My first visit to this museum was during March 2015. This classic car was in the Jaguar Heritage Gallery. Many cars and motorbikes were built in Coventry, but they did also have a selection of Jaguar's and MG's on display here. It was probably made in Coventry.

My second visit to the Coventry Transport Museum was during April 2018. You can get the X1 bus all the way down the Coventry Road, via Birmingham Airport to the bus station in Coventry. The museum is nearby. A much shorter walk compared to getting a train from Birmingham New Street to Coventry and walking, like I've done in the past. Onto this car. It's an Austin 7 Swallow built in 1929. The chassis and engine of the car was made by the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge, Birmingham. The body built by the Swallow Coachbuilding Company of Holbrooks, Coventry, who changed their name to Jaguar. Jaguar later became known for making fast, sporty cars.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
Photography
18 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

'Digbeth Community 50' - Photography from Birmingham's People with Passion

Take the post for a great selection of 50 photographs from 'People with Passion'. The photography takes you on a non stop tour through the streets of Digbeth, sharing the fantastic street art, the historic buildings, thriving businesses, Custard Factory, art venues & a neighbourhood that has been named the 'coolest' of Birmingham's neighbourhoods! Enjoy!

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'Digbeth Community 50' - Photography from Birmingham's People with Passion




Take the post for a great selection of 50 photographs from 'People with Passion'. The photography takes you on a non stop tour through the streets of Digbeth, sharing the fantastic street art, the historic buildings, thriving businesses, Custard Factory, art venues & a neighbourhood that has been named the 'coolest' of Birmingham's neighbourhoods! Enjoy!


Shaw's Passage - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Bordesley Street - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

A  letterbox view of Digbeth

Photo by Jay Mason-Burns

The Old Crown Pub

Photo by Elliott Brown

Allison Street - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Digbeth Street Art

Photo by Chris Fletcher

Winter in Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

December in Digbeth

Photo by Tammie Naughton

St Patricks Day Parade

Photo by Barry Whitehead

Street Art in Digbeth

Photo by Elliott Brown

Well Lane - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Warwick Bar - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

St Patricks Day Parade

Photo by Barry Whitehead

Street Art in Digbeth

Photo by Chris Fletcher

Fazeley Street - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Curzon Street Station - Digbeth

Photo by Daniel Sturley

Peaky Blinders Eatery - Digbeth

Photo by Elliott Brown

Digbeth bike shop

Photo by Garry Morris

New Bartholomew Street - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Deretend - Digbeth

Photo by Chris Fletcher

Street Art in Digbeth

Photo by Damien Walmsley

Custard Factory - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Devonshire House, now Zellig - Digbeth

Photo by Elliott Brown

Custard Factory - Digbeth

Photo by Barry Whitehead

New Bartholomew Street - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

December in Digbeth

Photo by Chris Fletcher

Custard Factory - Digbeth

Photo by Mac MCreery

The Old Typhoo Building - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Digbeth

Photo by Jay Mason-Burns

Street Art in Digbeth

Photo by Barry Whitehead

Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Digbeth

Photo by Jay Mason-Burns

St Patricks Day Parade

Photo by Barry Whitehead

Street Art in Digbeth

Photo by Elliott Brown

Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

St Patricks Day Parade

Photo by Elliott Brown

Digbeth Catacombs

Photo by Mac McCreery

The Cut in Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

The Custard Factory - Digbeth

Photo by Jay Mason-Burns

Street Art in Digbeth

Photo by Barry Whitehead

Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

St Patricks Day Parade

Photo by Barry Whitehead

Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

The Institutue - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Bordesley Street - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

Street Art in Digbeth

Photo by Chris Fletcher

Digbeth

Photo by Andy Pilkington

Victorian Toilets - Digbeth

Photo by Mac McCreery

 

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50 passion points
History & heritage
16 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Old Northfield Village around St Laurence's Church and the Great Stone Inn

Another set of historic buildings, this time in Northfield. The old village centre is a short walk away from the Great Stone Road, heading down Church Road to St Laurence's Church and the Great Stone Inn, around Church Hill. The Great Stone can be found here as well as a former Village Pound (a small 17th century jail).

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Old Northfield Village around St Laurence's Church and the Great Stone Inn




Another set of historic buildings, this time in Northfield. The old village centre is a short walk away from the Great Stone Road, heading down Church Road to St Laurence's Church and the Great Stone Inn, around Church Hill. The Great Stone can be found here as well as a former Village Pound (a small 17th century jail).


Northfield

I first headed down to this part of Northfield in June 2010. So most of my photos of the church and the pub were taken back then. More recently, I returned in May 2018 when I was told about a pair of blue plaques for The Great Stone and the Village Pound.

 

St Laurence's Church, Northfield

This is the parish church of Northfield. Located around Church Hill, and near Church Road. The heart of the old village centre of Northfield. The church dates to the 12th century, and is one of the oldest buildings in Birmingham. It is a Grade I listed building. If you don't know where this is, if getting off the bus in Northfield Town Centre, or off the train at Northfield Station, then it is close to the Great Stone Road. You can either get there by walking down Church Road or Rectory Road. From Northfield Station, Church Hill is nearby, and you could walk up there.

The tower of St Laurence's Church. It also dates to the 12th century. Most of the church dates from the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The north aisle was built in 1900 by G F Bodley in the 14th century style.

There is a churchyard around the Church of St Laurence with many gravestones. There was a War Grave extension, containing the graves of service personnel from World War I and World War II.

This view is from close to Rectory Road with the tower behind close to Church Hill. There is a public footpath that starts from Rectory Road where you can see this view over the churchyard.

A more recent view of St Laurence's Church from May 2018, when I was heading to check out the Village Pound. This is the view from round the bend on Church Hill. The Lych gate is seen on the left. And the Village Pound itself is to be found nearby on Church Road (look out for an old gate, more on that below).

The Great Stone Inn

The pub seen in the old Northfield Village that is opposite of St Laurence's Church is The Great Stone Inn. A Grade II listed building dating to the 18th century. It is on the corner of Church Hill and Church Road in Northfield. The white paint stood out on this blue sky day back in June 2010.

Full on view of The Great Stone public house. Takes you back 200 years if it wasn't for the car! At the time I wasn't aware of the Village Pound being so nearby (on Church Road to the right). The pub is at 158 Church Road and is now owned by the Stonegate Pub Company. They won an award in 2010 for the 'best managed house' and in 2011 for the 'best community pub in the East and West Midlands', in the Great British Pub Awards.

Village Pound and the Great Stone

I was looking for a pair of blue plaques I was made aware of in Northfield. The Village Pound and the Great Stone. Thought I almost missed them when I saw this gate and looked in, during May 2018. It is on Church Road, and is to the right of the Great Stone Inn. Beyond are houses. Stop here to look inside of the gate. A pink sandstone wall near the road.

The Village Pound is a Grade II listed building and dates to the 17th century. A pound was for keeping stray animals, although I thought it was like a small jail. But just for animals if not people then! At the back is a wall to an outhouse of the Great Stone public house.

In the middle of small courtyard is the Great Stone. The listing describes it as a "central monolithic stone". The boulder was moved by Birmingham City Council to this site in 1954 for road safety reasons. A glacial erratic boulder formed in an explosive volcanic eruption during the Ordovician period, 450-460 million years ago. During the ice age possibly up to 400,000 years ago, it was carried by an ice sheet from the Snowdon area of North Wales and deposited with many others around Northfield when the area was a frozen wasteland. For generations it lay at the corner of Church Road and Church Hill where it protected the Inn wall.

In May 2018 and heading up Church Hill in Northfield. That day I got the train to Northfield Station, for the short walk up the hill to find the Village Pound, and it's pair of blue plaques. This is no 3 to 13 Church Hill. Not sure of the details, or how old these buildings are, but they look Victorian. A salon called Headways was on the right.

Off Church Hill in Northfield for this building on Norton Close. It was St Laurence Church of England Infant School. A Grade II listed building. Built in 1837, with 1870 exteriors. Red brick with a slate roof. This was the original school, it also had a Master's house. The school is now on a different site in Northfield, now near Heath Road South. The former school building has been converted into flats.

This is the back alley or path behind St Laurence's Church in Northfield. At the time in June 2010, I only went half way before turning back towards Rectory Road as I didn't want to get lost! Near the top of this path is that view of the church from near Rectory Road (see further up the post for that photo).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Green travel
15 Jan 2019 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

Charity to Deliver Family Cycling Project

Midland Mencap's 'Parkride' family cycling project will help low income families of children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) get active with their children.

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Charity to Deliver Family Cycling Project




Midland Mencap's 'Parkride' family cycling project will help low income families of children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) get active with their children.


The charity was one of the first projects to receive investment from a National Lottery funding pot that Sport England has dedicated to helping families get active together.  The project received over £300,000 of funding from Sport England, which is part of a wider aim to help young people develop a positive attitude towards being active at an early age and continue being active in later life.

The project will be based at Midland Mencap's Outdoor Learning Centre in Sutton Park and will provide families access to a range of adapted and mainstreams bikes and specially designed routes.  The project will also aim to encourage the whole family to get active, by building up the confidence of parents too.

Edd Terrey, head of children, young people and community services, Midland Mencap, said: "We are thrilled to have received this National Lottery Funding to develop the 'parkride' cycling project. This funding will allow us to start breaking down some of the main barriers that can prohibit families of children with SEND from taking part in physical activities together.”

For more information, visit www.parkride.co.uk or email parkride@midlandmencap.co.uk

(Photo by Andrew Malone)

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50 passion points
Construction & regeneration
15 Jan 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Construction at Arena Central - January 2019

The construction of Three Arena Central, the new HQ for HMRC Midlands, is having more of the steel structure intalled. It's starting to look really dense in this part of the city. More photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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Construction at Arena Central - January 2019




The construction of Three Arena Central, the new HQ for HMRC Midlands, is having more of the steel structure intalled. It's starting to look really dense in this part of the city. More photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points
History & heritage
14 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Kings Norton around The Green including Saint Nicholas Place

A look around the old village centre of Kings Norton. Including The Green and Saint Nicholas Place (which includes St Nicholas Church, the Tudor Merchants House and the Old Grammar School). This collection of buildings won TV's Restoration programme back in 2004 and are now fully restored. There is also occasionally a Farmers Market on the green.

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Kings Norton around The Green including Saint Nicholas Place




A look around the old village centre of Kings Norton. Including The Green and Saint Nicholas Place (which includes St Nicholas Church, the Tudor Merchants House and the Old Grammar School). This collection of buildings won TV's Restoration programme back in 2004 and are now fully restored. There is also occasionally a Farmers Market on the green.


Kings Norton

First off, a look at the buildings at Saint Nicholas Place.

This is St Nicholas Church in Kings Norton. It is the Anglican Parish Church of Kings Norton. There has been a church on this site since at least the 11th century, although most of the current building dates to the early 13th century. The spire was built between 1446 and 1475. The church was restored in 1863 by Ewan Christian and again in 1871 by W J Hopkins. It is a Grade I listed building. This view from April 2009, with a bit of blossom on some of the trees.

The spire of St Nicholas seen during April 2009. In this view is a Monument with an urn that is Grade II listed. Made of stone it dates to about 1770. The only inscriptions that are readable are that of Ann Middlemore (died in 1873) and Martha Middlemore (died in 1876). It is close to the entrance of the churchyard from The Green.

I've been back to Kings Norton several times over the years. Got some more photos of the church during March 2012. This one of the spire. Kings Norton has railway links with the Rev W. V. Awdry who was the author of the Thomas the Tank Engine series. He was a curate here from 1940 to 1946. Kings Norton Station is up the hill in Cotteridge on the Pershore Road South (now part of the modern Cross City line).

One more view of St Nicholas Church from March 2012. There is a churchyard all around the church that you can walk through on the paths, and it leads to the Old Grammar School. The Saracen's Head is nearby on The Green, and when it was restored was given the name of Saint Nicholas Place, probably after the church.

I previously posted my photos of the Old Grammar School in Kings Norton in this post. The Old Grammar Schools of Kings Norton and Yardley.

I will add a bit more detail here, compared to my earlier post. Along with the Saracen's Head (the Tudor Merchants House), it won the BBC TV programme Restoration in 2004, and it was fully restored in the years that followed. A Grade II* listed building, it was probably built as a priest's house to St Nicholas Church. This view from April 2009. The spire of St Nicholas can be seen from behind.

You can see the Old Grammar School from the Pershore Road South in Kings Norton. It looks pretty with blossom on the trees and daffodils on the lawn during spring. Seen here on St George's Day 2009. It became a school by the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Birmingham Civic Society unveiled a rectangular green plaque here in 1982. It was for Thomas Hall B.D. Who was a Schoolmaster, Preacher and Biblophile. He taught here from 1629 to 1662. It was last used as a school in the early 1950s. Until the restoration was complete, it was on the Buildings at Risk Register. This view was from March 2012.

There was an amendment to the listing text in 2018 during the Centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act. Two women (suffragettes) in 1913, who were members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), entered the school while it was empty. They forced opened a pair of windows in April 1913, but no fires was set. A message on the blackboard read ‘Two Suffragists have entered here, but charmed with this old-world room, have refrained from their design of destruction.’

Next up is the Saracen's Head. Also known as the Tudor Merchant's House. Along with the Old Grammar School (see above) it won the 2004 BBC Restoration programme. It is now where the Saint Nicholas Place offices are located. It is at 81 and 83 The Green, and is close to the churchyard of St Nicholas Church. A Grade II* listed building. It has been a pub, a grocer's shop and a community meeting place. Dates to the late 15th century. These views from April 2009 unless stated.

Side view of the Tudor Merchant's House / The Saracen's Head. Both this building and the Old Grammar School re-opened to the public in June 2008. It was built in 1492 by a wealthy merchant called Humphrey Rotsey and is now known as the north range. The building was expanded in the early 16th century and that is now known as the east range.

In 1643 Queen Henrietta Maria of France stopped in Kings Norton with an army. It is assumed that she spent the night here in the house. But there is no evidence for this. She was on her way to rejoin King Charles I at his headquarters in York. During the English Civil War. There is a green plaque on the green that mentions her stay in Kings Norton. Saint Nicholas Place is also spelled Saint Nicolas Place. I assume either spelling is correct.

This view of the Saracen's Head / Tudor Merchant's House from March 2012. Seen from the churchyard of St Nicholas Church. The building has become a pub by the 18th century. In the 19th century a further wing was added known as the south wing. By the 20th century, Mitchells & Butlers had owned the Saracen's Head public house. But in 1930 they donated it to Kings Norton Parish to used as a Parish Hall.

Now a look around at some of the buildings around The Green.

The Bull's Head public house is to the left of the Sarcen's Head / Tudor Merchant's House. The first view during April 2009. Can you spot the cherry blossom on a tree? The pub is now run by Milton Pubs.

The next view of the Bull's Head, from another angle, taken in March 2012. Back then it was run by Sizzling Pubs.

One more view of the Bull's Head seen during December 2012 from The Green. The pub is at 77 The Green.

A look at The Green in Kings Norton during April 2009. Many trees, and shops around. This is from the Saracen's Head end of The Green.

The Green plaque seen in Kings Norton during June 2011. Mentions that it has been part of the public centre of Kings Norton for over 500 years. For centuries it has been used for fairs, meetings and markets. The area around Kings Norton Parish is much smaller now than in the Middle Ages.

The Village Barbers Shop seen on The Green during April 2009. As of 2019, it is still there / open.

Molly's Cafe at the other end of The Green in April 2009. It was still open in 2017, but sadly seemed to have closed down in 2018, and is now for sale or to let.

The Farmers Market on the Kings Norton Green on 8th December 2018. I wasn't expecting to see it on this visit to Kings Norton, but there it was during the build up to Christmas.

Unexpectedly spotted an impersonator in the Co-operative Food car park as Kings Charles I! I don't think the real Charles ever visited Kings Norton during the Civil War, but as stated above, his Queen Henrietta Maria did in 1643. He was probably there for the Farmers Market.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
History & heritage
11 Jan 2019 - Luke Harris
Did you know?

National Olympian Games held in Birmingham in 1867 - Did you Know?

In June 1867, Birmingham hosted the National Olympian Games, an event partially organised by Dr William Penny Brookes of Much Wenlock, a figure who inspired Pierre de Coubertin to form the International Olympic Committee. It took place over three days and featured contests in sports including athletics, swimming and cricket.

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National Olympian Games held in Birmingham in 1867 - Did you Know?




In June 1867, Birmingham hosted the National Olympian Games, an event partially organised by Dr William Penny Brookes of Much Wenlock, a figure who inspired Pierre de Coubertin to form the International Olympic Committee. It took place over three days and featured contests in sports including athletics, swimming and cricket.


In the summer of 2022, Birmingham will be at the centre of the sporting world when it hosts the 22nd Commonwealth Games. For many, this represents England’s second city finally getting its chance to join those British cities who have recently hosted a multi-sport event. Following the disappointment of losing out to Barcelona in the bidding for the 1992 Olympic Games, and then being forced to watch on enviously as Manchester then Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games and London the Olympic Games, there was a belief that Birmingham might never get such an opportunity. Those making such a claim are perhaps unaware that Birmingham had previously hosted one of the pioneering Multi-Sport festivals; the 1867 National Olympian Games (NOA).

The NOA are today accepted as one of the forefathers of the Modern Olympic Games. The Association was formed on 7 November 1865 at the Mechanics Institution, Manchester, by a group which amongst others included Dr William Penny Brookes. Brookes was throughout his life an advocate of physical exercise and founder of the Wenlock Olympian Association in 1850, was a friend and inspiration to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Brookes importance and role was acknowledged by the Frenchmen in 1890, when he wrote; ‘‘The fact that the Olympic Games, which Modern Greece has been unable to restore, are being revived today is due not to a Hellene (a Greek), but to Dr W P Brookes’.

Dr William Penny Brookes

The NOA had many comparisons to the Much Wenlock Games, and were established ‘for the encouragement and reward of skill and strength in manly exercises, by the award of Medals or other Prizes, money excepted’. Professional athletes were to be ‘excluded’ and the desire was to encourage physical activity amongst the population, a legacy which the Olympic Games continued.

Less than a year after its formation, the NOA’s first games took place at Crystal Palace in 1866, with events in athletics, boxing, fencing, gymnastics, swimming and wrestling. These Games were a considerable success, with over 10,000 spectators in attendance and more than 200 athletes competing.

Following this success, a second Games were held in Birmingham between 25 and 27 June 1867. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Birmingham was a thriving industrial city, described by Edmund Burke as ‘the city of a thousand trades’. The accuracy of this statement is debatable, but there can be no doubt that it produced a wide diversity of products and provided 230 exhibitors at the 1851 Great Exhibition. The growth of the city ensured the founding of multiple sporting and leisure organisations, one of which was the Birmingham Athletic Club (BAC). Formed in 1866, one of the first major events the club organised were the 1867 NOA Games, held upon its grounds.

The Games begun with a procession from the home of the BAC at Bingley Hall in Gib Heath in the North-West of the city, to it’s athletic facilities; the ‘Birmingham Festival grounds’ on Portland Road, Edgbaston, a middle-class suburb with picturesque open spaces.  At the beginning of the procession Penny-Brookes gave a speech in which he said he;

"rejoiced that a National Association has been formed which, by diffusing useful information on this subject, and by the encouragement it will give to practice and competition in gymnastic and athletic exercises, will confer a great benefit on the country."

He continued by complimenting the physical culture that was developing in Birmingham and pleaded for support across the social classes for further developments:

"You have set a noble example, which I hope will be followed by all the large towns of the surrounding midland counties. I trust that henceforth men shows will become as popular as cattle shows, and that a great interest will be taken in the physical development of a human being as in that of a horse, a cow, a sheep, or a pig. I trust that, ere long, you will have a gymnasium that will rival those of London and Liverpool-a building worthy of its great object, viz, the bodily training of the nobles of God’s creatures upon earth; a building, handsome and appropriate in its design spacious in its accommodation, convenient in its internal arrangements a building, too, erected not by shares, but by donations. I trust, too, that it will be well supported by all classes in this neighbourhood, since all classes will benefit by it, directly or indirectly."

Bingley Hall in the 1850s

Much can be made of such a comment by Brookes, a figure who throughout his life desired to advance physical exercise and was concerned with the impact Industrial life was having upon the general population. Birmingham, through its industrialisation was certainly the type of place that Brookes was concerned about and potentially might explain why Birmingham was chosen as the location for the Games.

Following the parade and Brookes speech, the first events were in athletics, with contests for boys in the Under 14 and Under 17 Categories. The majority of winners were listed as coming from primarily ‘Birmingham’ or from the cities distinguished public school ‘King Edward’s’, although placings were achieved by boys from as far afield as Manchester, London and Norwich.

For men, the focus of the first day’s competition was ‘Tilting of the ring’. This event had become an integral part of the Wenlock Games and is described as being where “two small rings were suspended from a cross-bar, and at these the competitors rode at full gallop with pointed lances, the reward being his who could carry one of these rings away the most time out of a given number”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a Much Wenlock man; T.E. Jukes who won here after hitting the rings three times and took home the ‘substantial’ sum of £20.

The second day primarily featured athletic contests for men, with short and middle distance running events. The ‘Birmingham Journal’ described that the ‘sky was cloudless’ and amongst the spectators ‘there was a large attendance of ladies’. The stars of the day were M.E. Jobling of the Northumberland Cricket Club, who took the one-mile race and half-mile steeplechase, while John Duckworth of Athletic Club Haslingden, won the High Standing Leap, Hurdle race and 100-yard flat race.

Also, part of the days programme was a wrestling match between two members of the German Gymnastic Society of London. The ‘Birmingham Journal’, described it as “one of the most marvellous performances of the day”:

"For nearly twenty minutes they tugged and bent, now separating for an instant, and watching each other like cats, to close in another fruitless attempt to gain the mastery. Lansbeger was repeatedly laid on his face, but a fall was never obtained by his opponent. It was announced amid cheers that the contest was a drawn one."

The third and final day of competition featured contests in athletics, cricket, gymnastics and swimming. The gymnastics was described in the Birmingham Journal as an ‘exhibition of skill and science in gymnastic exercises’ by the members of the London German Gymnastic Society, who won every event. The cricket match featured teams from King Edwards’s Grammar School and Birmingham Gymnastic Club, with the schoolboys coming out on top by 3 runs. The final activity of the Games was swimming, held at the Kent Street Swimming Baths with races across 116, 290 and 870 yards, which were all won by members of the London German Gymnastic Society.

Kent Street Baths and Interior

The Games concluded with an “Olympian Ball”, held in the Town Hall. The ‘Birmingham Journal’s final remarks upon the games as a ‘very successful festival, which has given a new impetus to the cultivation of manly and athletic accomplishments in the town.’

Birmingham Town Hall

Following the successful completion of the Games, Manchester was chosen to host the third edition of the Games in 1868. Problems with the venue ensured that the 1868 Festival was moved to Wellington, Shropshire. Conflict with the Amateur Athletic Club prevented many top athletes from competing in these ‘Olympics’ and despite later attempts at revival, this spelled the beginning of the end for the NOA. The Birmingham Olympics are perhaps the most successful Games it hosted and the organisation should be remembered for its attempts to bring together a number of sports in organised competition, a pioneering event that have paved the way for the events organised by the IOC and Commonwealth Games Federation.

Article prepared by Luke Harris.  Connect for more of Luke's articles. 

 

 

 

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50 passion points
Civic pride
11 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Lloyds Bank founded in Birmingham by John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd

Did you know that one of the main banks in the UK was founded right here in Birmingham? The bankers was John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd based in Georgian Birmingham in the middle of the 18th century. There first bank was located in Dale End. Lloyd himself at one time lived in Old Square (when it was a Georgian square). A portrait of Sampson Lloyd is at the Birmingham History Galleries.

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Lloyds Bank founded in Birmingham by John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd




Did you know that one of the main banks in the UK was founded right here in Birmingham? The bankers was John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd based in Georgian Birmingham in the middle of the 18th century. There first bank was located in Dale End. Lloyd himself at one time lived in Old Square (when it was a Georgian square). A portrait of Sampson Lloyd is at the Birmingham History Galleries.


Let's head to Georgian Birmingham town to about the 1760s. A bank was founded on Dale End by John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd. Taylor was a cabinet maker, who set up a factory on Union Street to make "Brummagem toys", such as buttons and buckles. Lloyd was an iron manufacturer. Originally from Wales. Together they opened a bank in 1765 called Taylors & Lloyds at 7 Dale End.

The modern building on the site now has a McDonald's to the right. There used to be a Lloyds TSB at the far left side near Albert Street, but it closed down years ago. Built by the Seymour Harris Partnership in 1989-90. Dale End is not a very pleasant area of the City Centre now. There is a blue plaque there about the banks founding from the City of Birmingham (who put up blue plaques before the Birmingham Civic Society).

Heading over to Old Square. It used to be one of the grandest Georgian squares in the town centre (remember Birmingham didn't get City Status until 1889!) There is sculpture at one end of the square by Kenneth Budd, made in 1967. One section commemorates Sampson Lloyd who lived at No 13 Old Square in 1770. Calling him "Lloyd the Banker". The bank motif at the time was a beehive.

Over to the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery where we find a portrait of Sampson Lloyd. His Iron Works was on Edgbaston Street (where the Bullring is now). He was actually Sampson Lloyd II. Born in 1699, he died in 1779. He also lived at the Farm in Bordesley, now within Sparkbrook. English Heritage have a blue plaque on the house. I've not been there myself. Lloyd bought it in 1742. It's now a Grade II* listed building. It's located on Sampson Road within Farm Park.

Nearby is a map that shows John Taylor's Manufactory nearby on the High Street in Birmingham. Taylor was born in 1711 and died in 1775. He lived at Bordesley Hall, which was built for him in 1767. It was burnt down in 1791 during the Priestley Riots. It was near the Coventry Road in what is now part of Small Heath. The house was left as ruins well into the 19th century. The Union Street site of his manufactory was probably where Martineau Place is located now.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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60 passion points
Environment & green action
09 Jan 2019 - The Friends of Kings Heath Park
Activity for you

Park Woodland Days in Kings Heath Park

Go and join the Rangers and The Fiends of Kings Heath Park in enhancing the park using traditional methods to improve and maintain the woodland.
16 Feb 2019 to 16 Feb 2019
10.30am - 12.30pm
Kings Heath Park - Birmingham

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70 passion points
Environment & green action
09 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

Great green spaces around Birmingham - this at Warley Woods

Warley Woods amongst Birmingham's great green spaces - Elliott's been out hunting for Big Sleuth bears.

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50 passion points
Environment & green action
09 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

Birmingham 'city of trees' in West Midlands great green spaces feature

Birmingham, the City of Trees in photography from Elliott and others covering great green spaces across the West Midlands - here Highbury Park near Moseley & Kings Heath. 

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50 passion points
Environment & green action
09 Jan 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

City of Trees in green spaces feature

Daniel with his City of Trees pic taken from Dudley Castle a couple of years back - we feature great green spaces across the West Midlands.

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53 passion points
Environment & green action
09 Jan 2019 - The Friends of Kings Heath Park
Activity for you

Tree Planting Event - Kings Heath Park

Join Birmingham Trees for Life and The Friends of Kings Heath Park to plant trees in Kings Heath Park. People need to bring/wear suitable warm outdoor clothing, boots/wellies and gloves for planting trees. Generally, stuff they don't mind getting muddy. Spades and trees supplied! Children are welcome - accompanied by a responsible adult. Meet outside the cafe in Kings Heath Park.
19 Jan 2019 to 19 Jan 2019
10.30am to 12.00noon
Kings Heath Park - Birmingham

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60 passion points
Architecture
09 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

National Trust properties in Birmingham: Back to Backs and The Roundhouse

Currently the only National Trust property to visit in Birmingham is the Back to Backs on Hurst Street and Inge Street in the Chinese Quarter (near the Birmingham Hippodrome). Soon it might be possible to visit The Roundhouse near Sheepcote Street in Westside (and near the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline). I've not been in either (yet) but have exterior photos.

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National Trust properties in Birmingham: Back to Backs and The Roundhouse




Currently the only National Trust property to visit in Birmingham is the Back to Backs on Hurst Street and Inge Street in the Chinese Quarter (near the Birmingham Hippodrome). Soon it might be possible to visit The Roundhouse near Sheepcote Street in Westside (and near the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline). I've not been in either (yet) but have exterior photos.


Birmingham Back to Backs

The Back to Backs is located at 55 to 63 Hurst Street and 50 to 54 Inge Street in what is now Southside or the Chinese Quarter. The National Trust has run it as a museum since 2004. They are the only surviving back to backs of it's kind in Birmingham. The rest was long since demolished. Modern apartment buildings with shops now surrounds this block. I've not yet myself been inside of them, but hope to do so one day in the near future.

The Back to Backs was Grade II listed in 1988. Acording to the listing, the court of housing originally dated back to 1789, with alterations in the 19th and 20th centuries. Built of red brick with a Welsh slate roof. This block was Court 15. This is the general view from Hurst Street, with Inge Street being down the side.

A look at the Back to Backs from Inge Street towards The Old Fox pub that is now part of The Arcadian complex in the Chinese Quarter. There is a Subway shop to the right in the modern apartment block. The Inge family owned the land in the late 18th century, who leased the land for the building of these blocks of houses. They owned the west side of the street. The Gooch family owned the east side of Inge Street. Over 500 families had lived in Court 15.

Another view of the Inge Street side towards The Old Fox. Most residents still lived here until 1966 when they were requested to leave, as they were declared unfit for habitation. In 1995 Birmingham City Council commissioned the City of Hereford Archaeological Unit to survey and record the houses. The Birmingham Conservation Trust in collaboration with S. T. Walker & Duckham restored the buildings and it was opened to the public in 2004. Visits are pre-booked with a guided tour. So assume that you can't just show up and go in without pre-booking.

A close up look at one of the houses on Inge Street, next to the modern building on the right. This was number 50. Also known as 1 Court 15.

Those photos above were taken in June 2009, and I haven't really taken many new photos of the Back to Backs since then. During May 2018, the National Trust had altered the sign on the Hurst Street side for Birmingham Pride into the multicoloured gay colours. This was only temporary and when Pride was over, they eventually changed it back to the normal National Trust sign (which is in blue colours).

The Roundhouse

For years, I've been wondering what was going to happen to The Roundhouse. I first saw it in 2009 from the Birmingham Canal Navigations when it was derelict. It is a horseshoe shaped building at the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street in Ladywood / Westside area of Birmingham City Centre. The National Trust in collaboration with owners the Canal & River Trust are restoring it, and hope to open the venue to the public sometime in 2019.

It is a Grade II* listed building dating to about 1840 (according to the listing). It was built for the London and North Western Railway as a mineral and coal wharf.  Red brick with slate roofs. The National Trust's information says that it was built in 1874, designed by local architect WH Ward, who won a competition organised by the Birmingham Corporation (am not sure which information is correct i.e.1840 or 1874).

The Fiddle & Bone pub seen on Sheepcote Street when it was closed for years due to noise complaints from local residents. This view from February 2013. It later reopened in 2015, but it wasn't successful and was replaced by The Distillery in 2017.

The corner of the site from St Vincent Street. Sheepcote Street is to the left. The main gate at the corner was usually closed. This view from February 2013, when The Roundhouse was at the time For Sale / To Let. I think at one point part of the site was used by a nursery. A house to the west of here is Grade II listed. Built in 1885 of red brick with some blue trim and slate roofs. The Storage Cottage is also Grade II listed from 1885, red brick and slate roof. That's a little bit further up St Vincent Street.

A look through the gates at the courtyard of The Roundhouse. You can clearly see that it looks like a horse shoe! There is a ramp going down with the speed limit at 10 mph. This view also seen from February 2013. The National Trust is spending £2.5 million to restore the 19th century gem from the roof to the cobbles. They are also installing a beautiful 'oriel' window onto the canalside.

The Distillery seen at The Roundhouse from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline during October 2017. The Sheepcote Street bridge is to the right. The pub was the first building to be restored, many years before the National Trust became involved with the building, when the Fiddle & Bone pub as it was reopened in 2015. I was hoping that a Canal Museum could open here, similar to the London Canal Museum (I went there back in August 2015). Perhaps they could have model narrowboats inside, or show how The Roundhouse worked back in it's 19th century heyday.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
Environment & green action
08 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Kings Heath Park blast from the past: Free Radio Walk for Kids Birmingham, Sunday 19th May 2013

A small gallery of photos of Kings Heath Park taken on the Vicarage Road, while the Free Radio Walk for Kids Birmingham took place on Sunday 19th May 2013. Free Radio used to have a Walkathon all the way around the Outer Circle (11A / 11C bus route). Included here is some photos from the top of Vicrage Road down to the park. Also some from Hall Green on the Fox Hollies Road.

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Kings Heath Park blast from the past: Free Radio Walk for Kids Birmingham, Sunday 19th May 2013




A small gallery of photos of Kings Heath Park taken on the Vicarage Road, while the Free Radio Walk for Kids Birmingham took place on Sunday 19th May 2013. Free Radio used to have a Walkathon all the way around the Outer Circle (11A / 11C bus route). Included here is some photos from the top of Vicrage Road down to the park. Also some from Hall Green on the Fox Hollies Road.


The Free Radio Walk for Kids Birmingham that took place on Sunday 19th May 2013. A charity walk that went all the way around the Outer Circle (11A / 11C bus routes). At Kings Heath Park it may have been a start or end, so many walkers ended up here, or started here. There used to be a Walkathon every year in the spring, once a year, but I don't think that there has been one for many years! It used to be the BRMB Walkathon in the past.

Welcome to the Free Radio Walk for Kids. Seen from the Vicarage Road at Kings Heath Park. Left to right.

Various banners on the Kings Heath Park railings on Vicarage Road, advertisting the tea room and plant sales etc.

Big Free Radio banner.

Was a lot of canopies and portacabins there at the time (temporary).

Lots of volunteers on site. I think this was at the end of the walkathon.

Spot the photographer! Energy Savers was the sponsor at the time.

Park entrance near the gatehouse on the Vicarage Road.

Birmingham City Council sign being used to advertise the Free Radio walkathon. It used to be the BRMB Walkathon in past years.

Walkers heading down Vicarage Road in Kings Heath. Seen here passing the 11A bus stop close to Kings Heath Village Square.

Volunteers in green and officials in yellow jackets close to Park View Gallery on the Vicarage Road. Near the Avenue Road junction in Kings Heath near Kings Heath Park.

These walkers seen beyond Kings Heath Park. Walking past King Edward VI Camp Hill Schools. Many of them had green t-shirts on for the day.

On the day, the Big Brum Buz (Birmingham's then sightseeing tour bus) was parked on Vicarage Road opposite Kings Heath Park. It used to do sightseeing tours of the city starting from Colmore Row near Victoria Square.

Would assume that people doing the walk could get a ride on the bus, as there was people in green outfits on the day.

Probably also there to support all the walkers at whatever pace that they were able to do the course.

Bonus photos from the Fox Hollies Road in Hall Green. Walkers in green t-shirts, holding water bottles.

Some of them also had green wigs! The buses were still running that day on the 11A and 11C, as the walkers were on the pavements.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown on Sunday 19th May 2013.

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Environment & green action
07 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
Inspiration

The wonderful litter picker volunteers from Kings Heath & Moseley Parks

The Friends of Kings Heath Park working together with Moseley Litter Busters. Great communities working together to keep our neighbourhoods litter free! Whatever the weather, these great volunteers are out there keeping our parks and open spaces litter free, Great work by great volunteers!!

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The wonderful litter picker volunteers from Kings Heath & Moseley Parks




The Friends of Kings Heath Park working together with Moseley Litter Busters. Great communities working together to keep our neighbourhoods litter free! Whatever the weather, these great volunteers are out there keeping our parks and open spaces litter free, Great work by great volunteers!!


Newest and youngest volunteer helping at the park with litter-picking. Only 4 years of age and he did a sterling job. 

Friends of Kings Heath Park working with neighbours Moseley Litter Busters.

 

The wonderful volunteers who came and helped with the litter pick in Kings Heath Park.

All photos courtesy @kingsheathpark 

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History & heritage
04 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
Activity for you

Photography tour of St Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham - Sat 26th Jan 2019 - limited numbers!

This is a restricted tour with limited numbers, so please email event organiser for more details and to register.
26 Jan 2019
11am

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