Civic pride
03 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

William McGregor: Director of Aston Villa and Founder of the Football League

There has been a statue outside of Villa Park in Aston. It is of William McGregor, who in the late 19th century was a Director of Aston Villa from the late 1870s. He later became the clubs Chairman from the late 1890s. He was also the Founder of the Football League in 1888. The statue can be found near the Trinity Road Stand. This post will also look at the 4 stands of Villa Park.

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William McGregor: Director of Aston Villa and Founder of the Football League




There has been a statue outside of Villa Park in Aston. It is of William McGregor, who in the late 19th century was a Director of Aston Villa from the late 1870s. He later became the clubs Chairman from the late 1890s. He was also the Founder of the Football League in 1888. The statue can be found near the Trinity Road Stand. This post will also look at the 4 stands of Villa Park.


William McGregor

A statue was unveiled outside of Villa Park, the home ground of Aston Villa F.C. in November 2009. It was of William McGregor, one of the earliest Directors of Aston Villa, and later the Chairman of the club. It was he who proposed the forming of a league in 1888 which became the first professionally organised football league in the world! At the time I took my photos in January 2010, and a few years later in September 2012, Villa were still in the Premier League (before they were relegated to the Championship in 2016). But this post is not about Aston Villa's form in the various leagues they have been in, more about William McGregor and the stadium Villa Park.

To find the statue of William McGregor first look for these gates with a pair of bronze lions on either side. The lions were there until at least 2016. Looking on Google Maps Street View the lions were missing in 2017. Anyway look through the gates, or the railings along Trinity Road and you will see the statue near the Trinity Road reception entrance of the Trinity Road stand.

William McGregor was born in Braco, Perthshire, Scotland in 1846. He died in Birmingham in 1911 aged only 65. When he moved to Birmingham from Perth, he set up a drapery business in Aston in about 1870. Aston Villa was formed in 1874, and he first became involved with the new club in 1877, at first to become a committee member of the club. He became a member of the club's board of directors, and Villa started winning cups in the 1880s. He became Vice-Chairman of the club in 1895 and finally Chairman by 1897. He was responsible for the club adopting the lion as their symbol, based on the lion of the Royal Standard of Scotland as their crest.

In 1888 William McGregor wrote to various other big clubs at the time proposing to form the first Football League in England. 10 clubs were the first members of the league, including West Bromwich Albion. Initially clubs in the south weren't interested in the league, but eventually 12 teams kicked off the first league in September 1888. McGregor proposed the name of "The Association Football Union", but it sounded to much like the Rugby Football Union, so they instead called it The Football League. McGregor became the first Chairman of the Football League and oversaw the creation of a Football League with two divisions. He stepped down, he was elected honorary President until he stepped down by 1894. He was the first ever life member of the League in 1895.

The bronze statue was unveiled in November 2009, and it was sculpted by Sam Holland. He took references from life photos and a portrait in the McGregor Suite. The statue is on a red brick plinth. McGregor is holding a cane (walking stick) and a pamphlet.

The following information about the stands was taken from Football Grounds Guide.

A look at the Trinity Road Stand on the approach past the houses on Trinity Road in Aston. This stand was first built in 1996 in time for Euro '96 (the European Football Championships 1996 which were held in England at the time). The stand was rebuilt to three tiers by 2001 including a row of executive boxes.

A close up of the Trinity Road Stand from Trinity Road in Aston. On the side it says ASTON VILLA FOOTBALL CLUB in big letters. In the middle was the club badge with the lion and a star. This side of the stadium is close to Aston Park. There is a nearby path entrance into the park that leads up to Aston Hall. The hall is normally closed on match days, and open on all other days.

Next up a look at The Holte End. It was opened in the 1994/95 season and is a two tiered structure. It holds about 13,500 supporters. The building near the car park appears to be much older. It has Aston Villa painted on the side with the clubs badge (it might be tiled).

There is steps leading up to the stand from the car park. Not too far away from the stand, at the other end of the car park is The Holte public house, at the corner of Trinity Road and Witton Lane. The Holte End and The Holte pub were named after Sir Thomas Holte, who lived at Aston Hall during the 17th century. The stadium was originally called The Aston Lower Grounds. Was formerly part of Aston Hall's grounds, and a Kitchen Garden used to be on the site of Villa Park.

Next we head up Witton Lane in Aston. The next stand is the Doug Ellis Stand. It was originally called the Witton Lane Stand. It was rebuilt in 1993 and it replaced an older structure. There was a minor refurbishment for the European Football Championships in 1996  (Euro '96). It was named after the former Chairman Doug Ellis (1924-2018). Seen here from Witton Lane Gardens during September 2012.

Sir Doug Ellis used to own Aston Villa and was Chairman in two stints. His first stint as Chairman was from 1968 to 1975. He was a major shareholder and on the board until he was ousted in 1979. He returned as Chairman in 1982 (in his absence Villa had won the Football League title in 1981 and the European Cup in 1982). He sold the club to Randy Lerner in 2006. This stand also has ASTON VILLA FOOTBALL CLUB in big letters. It is visible from the Aston Expressway A38(M) and from the M6 (if travelling in a car or on a coach).

The final stand is the oldest stand at Villa Park. The North Stand was built in the 1970s but still looks modern. It is two tiered and about the same height as the other stands. There is a double row of executive boxes running across the middle. This stand is usually used by away fans. It is also close to Witton Lane. It is a short distance walk from here to Witton Station.

The club had planning permission to rebuild the North Stand, but it hasn't happened yet. The owners of the club has changed several times in recent years and what with Villa's relegation, it probably wasn't a priority. If it was to be rebuilt it would increase capacity of the stadium to 51,000.

A bonus building, The Holte public house at the corner of Trinity Road and Witton Lane in Aston. A Victorian building dating to 1897. It was built as The Holte Hotel. It used to have 10 bedrooms, a 400 capacity music hall, billiard rooms and two bowling greens. It has the same name as The Holte End (see further up this post). See this article from 2007 for more information Aston Villa restores Holte Hotel.

Villa fans used the pub up until the 1970s. But it was boarded up and derelict for 28 years until Villa's owner from 2006 to 2016 Randy Lerner and his team agreed to a restoration. The pub reopened in 2007. For most fans approaching from Aston Station, or from the M6 motorway, it is the first building they see when they get to Villa Park. It's also visible from the Aston Expressway A38(M) when passing over Witton Lane.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown around the outskirts of Villa Park during January 2010 and September 2012.

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60 passion points
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02 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Old Yardley Village: a hidden gem not far from Blakesley Hall

It's not just Blakesley Hall that you can visit in Yardley. If you get the 11A or 11C to Stoney Lane, get off the bus, and take the short walk to Old Yardley Village. Here you will find St Edburgha's Church, the Parish Church of Yardley, as well as The Trust School, a timber framed building, with the school dating to medieval times. Various period houses surround the churchyard.

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Old Yardley Village: a hidden gem not far from Blakesley Hall




It's not just Blakesley Hall that you can visit in Yardley. If you get the 11A or 11C to Stoney Lane, get off the bus, and take the short walk to Old Yardley Village. Here you will find St Edburgha's Church, the Parish Church of Yardley, as well as The Trust School, a timber framed building, with the school dating to medieval times. Various period houses surround the churchyard.


Old Yardley Village is located in the east of Birmingham. It is to the north east of South Yardley and the Coventry Road. Stechford is to the north beyond the village. The heart of the village is St Edburgha's Church. These photos were taken in the winter of 2009 / 2010, and were taken in January 2010. I have been back to the area since, popping into Old Yardley Park. Just my snowy photos back then were so perfect, didn't feel the need to retake photos of the buildings in other seasons or without the snow.

The first view of St Edburgha's Church is usually from the walk up Church Road. It is a Grade I listed building and is part of the Old Yardley conservation area. One of the oldest churches in Birmingham, it dates back to at least the 13th century. Originally part of the Diocese of Lichfield it was built by Aston Church. It was named after King Alfred's granddaughter Edburgha. The majority of the building was built during the 14th and 15th centuries.

The church was made of sandstone. It has a nave, aisles, transepts and chancel. The pulpit dates to the 17th century. The west window was made by John Hardman and Company in 1892. Various monuments from the 15th to 19th centuries.

The church did look nice surrounded by snow, but it's not like that every winter, depending on if it snows or not. Would say it last got a covering of snow in March 2018 during the Beast from the East. There is a monument to Rev Dr Henry Greswolde from after 1700 in the chancel that is apparently unusual (not seen it myself).

Trees surround the church in the churchyard. The landscaped grounds of the church are grassed, I don't think that there is any graves around the church building. In spring / summer there are flower beds. Is also a selection of benches around to sit down on.

I originally did a post about the old Grammar Schools in Yardley and Kings Norton. Link to that post is here The Old Grammar Schools of Kings Norton and Yardley. But will repost those photos here with more details below.

I will expand the part about the Old Grammar School in Old Yardley here. Seen during the snow of January 2010. There is evidence of their being a school on this site since about 1260. The building probably dates to the 15th century. Originally built as a Guild Hall. The last school master was W Sutherns. The school closed in 1908 and it's now used as parish rooms. It belongs to the Yardley Parish Church.

It is a Grade II* listed building also known as The Trust School. It was formerly listed as The Old Grammar School. It is a timber-framed building with close studding. It has two storeys. Other sections have red bricks and the building has a tiled roof. As well as the Trust School, it also included no's 422 and 424 Church Road in Yardley.

This front view of the former school with a black plaque. You can also call it the Old Trust School now. Old Yardley Park has an entrance to the right of the building. The entrance to the churchyard of St Edburgha's Church is to the left.

The side view of the Trust School / Old Grammar School. Snow was covering the roof at the time. There is at least four chimneys on the roof. This view from the snow covered churchyard of St Edburgha's Church.

Seen from the churchyard of St Edburgha's Church is no's 422 and 424 Church Road. They are part of the same building as The Trust School (The Old Grammar School). No. 422 is on the far right. It's upper floors is timber framed and that was part of the school. The ground floor is painted brick. The rest of the house is to the left and dates to the 19th century, also painted brick.

No 424 is to the far left of the building. It has red brick and a tiled roof and dates to the 19th century. Two storeys. It is not as wide as no 422 to the right of it. Both 422 and 424 were the Schoolmasters House of the late 19th century. Yardley's churchyard was cleared of upright gravestones in 1959, only one remains. That of the schoolmaster James Chell in the south-east corner. Both houses are part of the same Grade II* listing as The Trust School.

The following information is taken from the Yardley Conservation Society.

First up is 390 Church Road. It was formerly a pub called The Talbot. The building is Grade II listed and dates to the 18th century. Behind the former pub is Old Yardley Park. It has painted brick with a tiled roof. Was probably used as a pub during the 19th century. It is now a private house.Since I took this in January 2010, the house has been repainted white all over. And it appears that the current owners have changed the front door. The Yardley Conservation Society (link above) says that the Trustees of the Charity Estates visited the pub to distribute dole money.

The former General Store was at 431 Church Road in Old Yardley Village until sometime during the 1960s. It's now just a private home. A Grade II listed building dating to the 18th century. Pebbledashed with an all tile roof. It is to the left of The Cottagers Institute.

Next up is a building dated to 1882. The Cottagers Institute is at 433 Church Road. It was set up by Ebenezer Hoskins of The Grange to teach gardening and industrial skills to local people. It was a meeting hall to encourage gardening and industrial work for the villagers. It was previously the site of The Ring of Bells public house. Now I think it is just a private home. When it was available to let back in 2010 it was described as Commercial Premises.

 

Penny Cottage is at 435 Church Road. Built in 1826 by the Yardley Charity Trust for a local blacksmith, John Leake. It was restored in 1980. It is a Grade II listed building. Red brick with a tiled roof. Two storeys.

Houses from 437 to 443 Church Road. These brick built houses were built in 1895 to replace six early 19th century cottages, which themselves had replaced an earlier farmhouse. Construction of them may have begun after 1894. Church Terrace is nearby.

A pair of white painted brick houses at 445 and 447 Church Road. Just beyond Church Terrace. They began life in the late 18th century as a malthouse but was converted into cottages by the 1850s. Also Grade II listed buildings. Painted brick with a tiled roof.

This barn is to the east of 451 Church Road. A Grade II listed building from the early 19th century. A reminder that this used to be a rural village surrounded by farms. It was the third barn. Red brick with a tiled roof. No 453 Church Road is phyically attached to this barn. The windows are boarded up, so I'm not sure if it's being used in a long time. All these buildings belong to the Old Yardley Village Conservation Area, so they are protected.

 

Photos taken in January 2010 by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
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29 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Alfred Bird & Sons: the inventor of eggless custard

You've all seen the Custard Factory building in Digbeth. It was the Devonshire Works and it was here that Alfred Bird the inventor of egg free custard made eggless custard in Birmingham. He invented it in 1837. He soon set up a company Alfred Bird & Sons Ltd which became Bird's Custard. The Bird's had a home in Solihull called Tudor Grange (now near Solihull College).

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Alfred Bird & Sons: the inventor of eggless custard




You've all seen the Custard Factory building in Digbeth. It was the Devonshire Works and it was here that Alfred Bird the inventor of egg free custard made eggless custard in Birmingham. He invented it in 1837. He soon set up a company Alfred Bird & Sons Ltd which became Bird's Custard. The Bird's had a home in Solihull called Tudor Grange (now near Solihull College).


Alfred Bird

He was born in Nympsfield, Gloucestershire in 1811 and died in 1878 in Kings Norton, Worcestershire. He was a pupil at King Edward's School, Birmingham. Alfred invented egg-free custard in 1837 at his chemist shop. It wasn't long before he set up his own company Alfred Bird & Sons Ltd to make the custard. The Custard Factory building we know today was actually built in 1902 by his son Sir Alfred Frederick Bird. The original factory (of the 19th century) no longer exists. Custard was made at the Custard Factory until 1963, when production was moved to Banbury.

Devonshire House seen in 2010 near the end of a renovation that turned the building into Zellig. It was built in 1902 and is a Grade II listed building. Red brick and terracotta with some stone dressings. There is an inscription in the middle that says 'Alfred Bird and Sons Limited', 'Devonshire Works', '1837' and '1902'. 1837 was when the first Alfred Bird invented eggless custard and 1902 when his son opened the Devonshire Works. It is on High Street Deritend, with one side down Floodgate Street. Gibb Street runs through the complex, and Heath Mill Lane is nearby.

To the top of the middle of the building from High Street Deritend is this sculpted part of the building with ships painted onto it. Sailing ships. At the time a gull was sitting on top!

A look down Gibb Street in Digbeth. A Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque for Alfred Bird is on the left. Zellig now occupy the buildings and they have continually been restoring the buildings during the Digbeth 2.0 or "Only in Digbeth" phase. Various different independent shops have occupied the retail units here. As of late 2018, 7 Sins is in the unit on the left. Building on the right used to be a bank. Now it is the Clean Kilo, previously was a hair salon, and before that a music shop. There is also a former library to the rear of the building.

There is an open gate on Floodgate Street under the Bordesley Viaduct that leads to the Custard Factory. A footbridge crosses the River Rea where you can see this view of the Custard Factory. There is a lot of graffiti street art around, this changes quite regularly.

This post is turning into more about the son of the original Alfred Bird. Also called Alfred Bird. Lets head over to Solihull where Alfred Bird Junior lived. Sir Alfred Frederick Bird was born in 1847 in Birmingham and died in 1922 (he was run over by a car in Piccadilly, London). He was also MP for Wolverhampton West. He was elected in 1910 and held the seat until his death. He took over control of his fathers company in 1878 on the death of the first Alfred Bird. He retired as chairman and managing director of the company in 1905.

There is a big manor house off Blossomfield Road in Solihull near Solihull College. It is Tudor Grange House and is a Grade II* listed building. Alfred Bird bought the property in 1901 and lived there until his death in 1922. His widow lived there until her death in 1943. It was being used as Red Cross auxiliary hospital both during and after the Second World War. Warwickshire County Council bought the house in 1946 and became a school for children with special needs until 1976 when it became part of the then Solihull Technical College (now the Solihull College and University Centre). The house was built in 1887 in the Jacobean style by Thomas Henry Mansell of Birmingham for the industrialist Alfred Lovekin. The Lovekin's lived there until Alfred Lovekin's wife died in 1900, and Alfred Bird bought it in 1901. Solihull College put the building up for sale in 2016, and their are plans to convert it into a care home (to secure it's future).

There is a gatehouse near the entrance to the Blossomfield Campus of Solihull College & University Centre. I'm not sure how old it is, but it probably dates to the late 19th century. Would assume it was once part of the Tudor Grange estate that the Bird family owned from 1901 to 1946. At the time I went past it, there was Christmas decorations in front, but were hard to see due to the brick wall, trees and the barrier on the road entrance to the college being in the way. It is a short walk from here to the Blossomfield Road entrance to Tudor Grange Park (also once part of the Bird's Tudor Grange estate).

Solihull College had a modern building built between around 2008 and 2009 turning it into a University Centre (apart from this there isn't an actual University in Solihull Borough). The Headquarters of the Solihull Chamber of Commerce is now based at the college. The car park, normally full of cars during term time was empty during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. They had one of the Big Sleuth bears outside of the college during the Summer of 2017. Called The Gas Street Bearsin (based on the Gas Street Basin).

A look at Tudor Grange Park in Solihull. It has pedestrian entrances via paths on Blossomfield Road, Homer Road (via a path that goes under the Chiltern Railways mainline) and Monkspath Hall Road. The park was formed after Solihull Council purchased the land from the Bird family in 1946. It was formerly farmland. The lands were formerly part of Garret's Green Farm.  Alfred Lovekin bought the farm and built Tudor Grange Hall in 1886. After his death in 1900, the hall and farmland was sold by auction to Alfred Frederick Bird (the then owner of the Bird's Custard company) in 1901. The park opened to the public in the early 1950s.

The land also included what would later become Tudor Grange School (now Tudor Grange Academy) and Alderbrook School. The Bird family gave the land to Solihull on the condition that a school was established on the site. A look at the centre of Tudor Grange Park. Solihull Council has landscaped it around 2008 with new paths, benches and lampposts. There is also a cycle track.

The lake at Tudor Grange Park. Looking towards Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, which was rebuilt in 2008. The original swimming baths in the park opened in 1965, replacing a lido in Malvern Park. There is also an athletics track, that is fenced off from the park, but is I think part of the leisure centre. You would find various geese and ducks in this pond. A stream called the Alder Brook also flows through the park, and the Chiltern Mainline railway passes the park on the east side. Solihull Station is not that far away, as is Solihull Town Centre.

The grounds of Tudor Grange Hall also contained a number of statues which were sold at auction following the death of Mrs Bird (the late wife of the late Alfred Frederick Bird) in 1944. 'The Horse Tamer Group" which was made in 1874 by Joseph Boehm was bought and donated to Solihull Council by Captain Oliver Bird in 1944. The statue was moved to Malvern Park in 1953 where it still stands and is known as 'The Prancing Horse' and is Grade II listed. This view of the statue in early 2010, when the bronze was looking quite green.

In early 2012 metal thieves vandalised the statue and cut off the feet. It was later restored later in 2012, and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has security marked the statue in an effort to protect it from future vandalism. After I read about the 2012 vandalism, I returned to Malvern Park in late 2012 to see the statue fully restored. The bronze was looking more black by then.

A winter wonderland scene in Malvern Park during the snow of December 2017. Looked very Christmasy back then. There has been no snow at Christmas 2018, and we haven't had snow since the Beast from the East during March 2018 (which meant we were more likely to have a White Easter than a White Christmas). Mr Horace Brueton had bought the land in 1916 including Malvern Hall. Warwickshire County Council bought Malvern Park from him in 1926, and he gave his remaining land to Solihull in 1944, in the same year that Captain Oliver Bird donated the statue to Solihull.

For more on Malvern Hall see my post on the Manor Houses of the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
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29 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
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Acocks Green Village on the Warwick Road, Shirley Road and Westley Road

Another village centre. This time Acocks Green Village. With the junction of the Warwick Road, Shirley Road and Westley Road. On the bus routes 11A and 11C. Also on the 1, 1A, 4 and 4A (the 4 used to be the 37). Acocks Green has a church called St Mary the Virgin. There is also Acocks Green Primary School, Acocks Green Bowl and Acocks Green Library.

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Acocks Green Village on the Warwick Road, Shirley Road and Westley Road




Another village centre. This time Acocks Green Village. With the junction of the Warwick Road, Shirley Road and Westley Road. On the bus routes 11A and 11C. Also on the 1, 1A, 4 and 4A (the 4 used to be the 37). Acocks Green has a church called St Mary the Virgin. There is also Acocks Green Primary School, Acocks Green Bowl and Acocks Green Library.


Starting with the Westley Road in Acocks Green. One one side is the Acocks Green Bowl next to the 11C bus stop. Opposite is Acocks Green Primary School (it is also on the Warwick Road).

A look at Acocks Green Bowl on the Westley Road. Now a bowling alley with a laser quest called Quasar Elite. Originally built as a cinema, it opened in 1929 as the Warwick Cinema, also known as the Warwick Super Cinema. It was operated by the Victoria Playhouse Group . The Warwick Cinema was closed in 1962 and it was converted into a 10-pin bowling alley, although the cinema remained and it reopened in 1964 as the Warwick Cinema. The cinema part closed in 1991 and was converted into a laser tag centre.

For many years they had Qusar Elite upstairs above the bowling alley, at least until 2017. As of 2018 it is now Laserquest. Laser Game & Escape Rooms. I spotted this while waiting on the 11C bus on the Westley Road (the driver usually has a 5 to 10 minute break here). Laserquest is "ultimtate sci-fi action adventure for all". It is suitable for children or adults of all ages. They have birthday packages. I think in my life I've only tried laserquest once or twice, but it was a very long time ago and I wasn't any good at it (was better at bowling - but I've not been bowling in years either!). In fact I've not bowled at Acocks Green since the late 1990s.

Acocks Green Primary School seen on the Westley Road in Acocks Green. I think this side was originally the Infants School.

The school was created in 2004 by the merger of Acocks Green Junior School with Acocks Green Infant School. The buildings date back to 1908 by the architect A.B. Rowe. It is locally listed Grade B.  Was opened in 1909 by Worcestershire County Council, transferring to Birmingham City Council in 1911. The school consisted of Boys, Girls and Infants departments, but in 1932 it was reorganised into Senior Mixed and Junior Mixed departments. The Senior Mixed department became a separate school in 1945 and the Junior Mixed department became a primary school at the same time. It currently has approximately 480 pupils.

The side of Acocks Green Primary School seen on the Warwick Road in Acocks Green. I believe that this part was probably the Junior School. This view from Dudley Park Road. The no 37 bus route used to be on the Warwick Road before it was renumbered by National Express West Midlands in 2018 to the 4 (the new 4A route also follows the same route apart from starting in Gospel Oak).

St Mary the Virgin Acocks Green is the Parish Church of Acocks Green and is on the Warwick Road opposite the primary school. It's been a Grade II listed building since 2009. It's an Anglican parish church designed by J G Bland dating to 1864-1882 in the 13th century style. Later extensions by J A Chatwin date to 1891-4. The church was made from local sandstone apart from red brick walls to the exterior of the transept arches marking the impact of WWII bombing. There is a churchyard around with gravestones and memorials.

It was originally built as a chapel of ease to St Edburgha's in Yardley, when Acocks Green was part of the same parish as Yardley. A stained glass window by Morris and Co to designs by Burne-Jones was added in 1895, in memory of Reverend Frederick Thomas Swinburn, late Vicar of Acock's Green. This view as you walk close up past the churchyard on the Warwick Road. Quite of a lot of crosses in the churchyard. Also the odd statue above graves as well.

Acocks Green Library is on the Shirley Road in Acocks Green. Locally listed Grade A, it was built in 1932. Architects Messrs. J.P. Osborne and Sons, builder Mr. J. Emlyn Williams of Aston, masonry work by Wragg Bros of Kings Heath, terrazzo by Lyne and Sons of Birmingham, and hand-made facing bricks by J.W.D. Pratt of Oldbury. Refurbished in 1994-95. On the left is a small war memorial garden (Garden of Remembrance), where each Remembrance Sunday, they hold a wreath laying ceremony at the war memorial. Above the main entrance is Birmingham's coat of arms, also known as Forward.

This Subway is at 1101 Warwick Road in Acocks Green. The building was formerly a Midland Bank. HSBC was probably there until they moved to the other side of the road. HSBC vacated their last Acocks Green premises between 2014 and 2015. A former Woolwich Bank used to be at 1105 Warwick Road (to the left of here). It is has been Exchange 4 Pounds for many years, but the shutter is always down for some reason?

The Inn on the Green is a pub at the corner of Shirley Road and Westley Road in Acocks Green. It is locally listed Grade B. Built in 1930 for Mitchells and Butlers by James and Lister Lea. Art Deco style. On the Shirley Road side is Birmingham Route 44 - The Road Inn. Birmingham's Premier Rock Venue. James and Lister Lea were known for doing Birmingham pubs at the turn of the century (19th to the 20th). The company existed from 1846 to 2001 when they merged with Bruton Knowles.

Christmas lights seen on Jeffries Hardware on the Shirley Road in Acocks Green. Seen during December 2012. I think they use the same Christmas lights above the store each year. The one in the middle says "Merry Christmas".

Christmas lights seen down Westley Road towards the village green in Acocks Green Village from the 11C bus stop outside of Acocks Green Bowl. The bus stop for the 11A is on the other side of the road. This view was seen in late November 2015. The Christmas lights here are usually green and yellow.

This more recent view of Christmas lights in Acocks Green Village was seen on the Warwick Road near Wilko looking towards Burton. This was during early December 2018. To the right of Burton used to be a Woolworths store until they went bust in 2009. The store was empty during 2010, until it was turned into a Furniture & Electrical  charity shop for the British Heart Foundation.

Bouncy castles and other stalls on the Warwick Road in Acocks Green, seen during Acocks Green Village Fun Day. It was held on Saturday 12th April 2014, and was held by the Acocks Green Village BID (one of many events they have had in the village). There was an entertainer there that day (a clown), who would blow up balloons and fold them into shapes / objects for families. The Post Office used to be on that side of the Warwick Road (next to Lloyds Bank), until 2014 or 2015. When the later moved into WH Smith Local which opened in 2015 (where Bon Marché used to be until about 2012) on the other side of the road (to the right of Iceland).

The new Acocks Green Village in Bloom sculpture was unveiled on the village green during 2017. It was unveiled on Thursday 4th May 2017. The designer was Veronica Treadwell. Made by the manufacturer Collins. Installed with the help of Fran Lee and the Bloom volunteers. The design was based on a tree as it was thought that the Acocks Green area has more trees than any other area in Birmingham. It's design is based on the transport links to and from the village. A canal built in the 18th century (what is now the Grand Union Canal). A railway built in the 19th century (later becoming part of the Chiltern Mainline) which was later surrounded by Victorian and Edwardian properties. The sculpture shows a horse-drawn narrowboat and a Great Western Railway locomotive. It is basically a "Welcome to Acocks Green" sign on the island. The shop seen behind was the Card Factory.

During the spring and summer each year, the Acocks Green Village in Bloom team plant colourful flowers on the green. Seen from near the Warwick Road zebra crossing during April 2014. At the time there was also daffodils in bloom. Shops seen behind going up the Shirley Road including Consol Walk-in-Spa, Shaw's Amusements, Kingman House (Cantonese & Chinese takeaway) and Cash Fall Amusements.

Seen in May 2015 was this wonderful flower display of yellow coloured flowers (I'm not very good on flower names so is easier for me to say what colour they are). This view to the Westley Road / Warwick Road corner. At the time there was also tulips on the village green. There is a Barclays Bank on that corner (to the right of a solicitors office).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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50 passion points
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27 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Chamberlain Brothers: Austen and Neville - from Birmingham to Westminster

Joseph Chamberlain had two sons, Austen Chamberlain and Neville Chamberlain. While all three became MP's, Old Joe never became leader of the Conservative Party like his sons did (was also a Liberal originally). Austen was Leader of the Conservative Party from 1921 to 1922. While Neville became Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 (stepping down when WW2 started).

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The Chamberlain Brothers: Austen and Neville - from Birmingham to Westminster




Joseph Chamberlain had two sons, Austen Chamberlain and Neville Chamberlain. While all three became MP's, Old Joe never became leader of the Conservative Party like his sons did (was also a Liberal originally). Austen was Leader of the Conservative Party from 1921 to 1922. While Neville became Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 (stepping down when WW2 started).


For my Joseph Chamberlain post, follow this link Joseph Chamberlain: Birmingham's visionary Mayor in the late 19th Century.

Austen Chamberlain

His full name after he was knighted was Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, but he was best known as Austen (probably to distinguish from his more famous father Joseph Chamberlain). Born in 1863 he lived to 1937. His mother was Harriet Kenrick, who died in childbirth. Austen was born at Giles House at 83 Harborne Road in Edgbaston (there is a blue plaque here from the Birmingham Civic Society).

He stood to become an MP with the Liberal Unionist Party, which later merged with the Conservative Party. He later became Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons from 1921 to 1922. He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1903 to 1905, Secretary of State for India from 1915 to 1917, Leader of the House of Commons from 1921 to 1922, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1924 to 1929 and First Lord of the Admiralty during a period in 1931. Austen was the MP for Birmingham West and he had the seat from 1914 to 1937 (from the death of his father Joseph Chamberlain to his own death). The constituency was created in 1885 and abolished in 1950. He was the only Conservative Party leader of the 20th century to never become Prime Minister, and he never fought an election as leader.

In the Council House in Victoria Square are these marble boards called Freemen of the City of Birmingham. All three members of the Chamberlain family are on it. Joseph Chamberlain was the first in 1888 (having been Mayor of Birmingham and later an MP). Austen Chamberlain was in 1926 and his brother Neville Chamberlain in 1932

After Joseph Chamberlain died in 1914, Highbury Hall passed to Austen Chamberlain. During the First World War, the hall was described as "dark and gloomy". It was used as a hospital and home for disabled soldiers. Austen handed the hall to trustees in 1919, and it was passed to the Corporation of Birmingham in 1932, when it was used as a home for elderly women. Birmingham City Council restored it in 1984, and in the last few decades, it's been used as a conference venue, and also for functions such as weddings. More recently it's been taken over by the Chamberlain Highbury Trust in 2016. A fundraising campaign was launched in 2018 to help restore the building and parkland.

See this post when the last Highbury Hall open day was held during Birmingham Heritage Week in September 2018.

Neville Chamberlain

He was the half brother of Austin Chamberlain, and the son of Joseph Chamberlain and his second wife Florence Kenrick. He was born in 1869 and died in 1940. He went to school at Rugby School and was later a student at Mason College. He got elected to Birmingham City Council in 1911 for the Liberal Unionist Party for the All Saints' Ward which was located in his fathers Parliamentary Constituency of Birmingham West (later held by Austen from 1914 to 1937). Neville became Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1915. He first got elected to Parliament in 1918 for Birmingham Ladywood until 1929. He was later the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston which he held from 1929 until his death in 1940. He served as Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940. Like his brother before him, he never fought an election as leader of the Conservative Party.

Portrait below seen at Highbury Hall of Neville Chamberlain, while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1933. He held that role twice, first time from 1923 to 1924, and the second time from 1931 to 1937.

Heading back to Birmingham, to Edgbaston High School for Girls near Westbourne Road in Edgbaston. This building dates to 1960 and was by H. W. Hobbiss & Partners. Alterations in 1991 by S. T. Walker & Partners. This is quite close to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and it is near the entrance used by the Magical Lantern Festival. Neville Chamberlain lived near here from 1911 to 1940 when he was in his constituencies. You will find another blue plaque from the Birmingham Civic Society on the building. Am not sure when his former home was demolished, as the school is now on the lands (including the more modern school buildings to the left of here).

The Birmingham Municipal Bank seen at 301 Broad Street (will now be part of Centenary Square next to the Westside Metro extension). Seen in September 2013 from the Library of Birmingham, several years before Arena Central actually started.  Neville Chamberlain suggested the idea for the bank way back in 1915, originally for savings. This building was built in 1931 / 1932, and Neville Chamberlain while Chancellor of the Exchequer, laid the foundation stone in 1932. It was the Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters and is now a Grade II listed building. It was opened in 1933 by the Prince George. It became a TSB bank in 1976, until it was sold to the council in 2006. The bank later became part of Lloyds TSB, but the building has been closed for many years. It had been occasionally opened for Birmingham Hidden Spaces. The University of Birmingham will be taking it over and it will be fully restored. It will become an arts venue with exhibitions and performances. It is now to the right of 1 Centenary Square (HSBC UK, was 2 Arena Central). The Register Office used to be to the right of it (later House of Sport, now demolished). That will be the 5 Centenary Square site (was 1 Arena Central).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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50 passion points
Construction & regeneration
26 Dec 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Bank Tower Two - December 2018

Wates Group's Bank Tower Two is now completing the final floor, the top two stories being higher floors that are now clearly visible. Many photos in this update covering 16th and 22nd December.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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The Construction of Bank Tower Two - December 2018




Wates Group's Bank Tower Two is now completing the final floor, the top two stories being higher floors that are now clearly visible. Many photos in this update covering 16th and 22nd December.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

Check out this great map of Birmingham development and contruction projects:

Greater Birmingham Developments

Courtesy: @GtrBhamDev

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
24 Dec 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - December 2018

The construction of PwC's new building, One Chamberlain Square at Paradise Birmingham is almost complete externally with just a few details to finish off and the eventual removal of the external lifts. 12 more photos in this update.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

Related

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - December 2018




The construction of PwC's new building, One Chamberlain Square at Paradise Birmingham is almost complete externally with just a few details to finish off and the eventual removal of the external lifts. 12 more photos in this update.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

 

Check out this great map of Birmingham development and contruction projects:

Greater Birmingham Developments

Courtesy: @GtrBhamDev

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90 passion points
Sport & leisure
20 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
News & Updates

Site for Athletes Village at Perry Barr is approved

Site of Birmingham 2022 Athletes' Village is approved. Go to http://socsi.in/tSRhU 

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40 passion points
Environment & green action
20 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
Introducing

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

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

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

Connect with us and help promote the passion that is our environment!

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




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

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

Connect with us and help promote the passion that is our environment!


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

GreenActionwithYou is a digital space for people who want to make a difference of for those who want to do whatever they can to help maintain a clean and healthy environment.

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

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

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

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

View our Partnership arrangements or connect with us HERE.

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

FreeTimePays

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

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

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

There are three components to FreeTimePays.

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

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

Community Passport

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

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

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

Community Workspace

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

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

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

Community Matchmaker

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

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

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

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

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

GreenActionWithYou

GreenActionWithYou will grow as a shared space for the many individuals, communities and businesses that will want to connect and share in their passion for a clean and healthy environment.

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

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

We would be delighted to tell you more.

Contact Jonathan Bostock at jonathan.bostock@freetimepays.com or connect HERE with FreeTimePays for more information on sharing your passion for a clean and healthy environment.

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50 passion points
History & heritage
19 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Moseley Village around St Mary's Row and Alcester Road

A look around Moseley Village. Heading down St Mary's Row on the no 1 bus route. And up / down Alcester Road on the no 50 bus route (the no 35 turns down Salisbury Road). From St Mary's Church to The Fighting Cocks (a pub on the Alcester Road). Here you would find pubs and cafes. There is also a village green and the occasional Farmers Market on the last Saturday of each month.

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Moseley Village around St Mary's Row and Alcester Road




A look around Moseley Village. Heading down St Mary's Row on the no 1 bus route. And up / down Alcester Road on the no 50 bus route (the no 35 turns down Salisbury Road). From St Mary's Church to The Fighting Cocks (a pub on the Alcester Road). Here you would find pubs and cafes. There is also a village green and the occasional Farmers Market on the last Saturday of each month.


For me I can get the no 1, 35 or 50 bus routes to or through Moseley Village. The 1 goes up and down St Mary's Row then down Salisbury Road. The 35 goes from Alcester Road down Salisbury Road. The 50 heads up and down the Alcester Road between Kings Heath and Balsall Heath. One day in the future it will be possible once again to get a train to or from Moseley (the land is next to St Mary's Church between St Mary's Row and Woodbridge Road on the site of the original station). The original station closed in the early years of WW2.

 

In something that doesn't normally happen on the 50, my bus was about to turn down Salisbury Road, while the other 50 (in the photo below) was turning from Salisbury Road onto Alcester Road towards Kings Heath. This was during April 2018 (as Moseley Road in Balsall Heath was closed at the time for a street market).

The row of shops on St Mary's Row is where on the last Saturday of each month is a Farmers Market (they also have stalls on Alcester Road up from Boots). There is a small green with benches a that triangle near the no 1 bus stop.

Seen just as my bus turned onto Salisbury Road was The Fighting Cocks pub on the corner of Alcester Road (part of it runs onto St Mary's Row). It is on the corner of King Edward Road. Shops running north from William Hill up to the Co-operative Food.

We start on St Mary's Row. It runs from Wake Green Road down the hill towards Salisbury Road (which itself goes down the hill towards Edgbaston Road in Edgbaston).

The most prominent landmark in Moseley Village is of St Mary's Church, the parish church of Moseley, located on St Mary's Row. Seen here in 2009 from the site of Moseley Station (hopefully the station will be built on the land behind the church in the 2020's). The church is a Grade II listed building and dates to the 15th century. Originally built as a chapel in the parish of Kings Norton. The body of the church was rebuilt in 1780 and altered by Thomas Rickman from 1823 to 1824. J A Chatwin added a north aisle in 1886 and his son P B Chatwin rebuilt the nave and south in 1910. War memorial cross on the left not far from the lychgate.

The shops running down St Mary's Row in Moseley Village during August 2013, while Moseley in Bloom had potted many flowers around the village centre. Priya is an Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine restaurant on this side of the road. Next up is a barber shop called Fino and a newsagent called Village News. Pottery & Pieces was open at the time, but as of late 2018 it is being refitted as something else. A bit further down is a Wetherspoon Freehouse called The Elizabeth of York.

Beyond St Mary's Church on this side of St Mary's Row used to be a Barclays Bank and a pub called the Bulls Head. This view was in 2011 when both were still open at the time. The bank eventually closed down at Costa Coffee opened there in 2017. While the Bulls Head is now a Cuban bar called The Cuban Embassy (opened in 2015).

On the last Saturday of every month there is Farmers Market on St Mary's Row (the strip of road that leaves the main line and heads to Alcester Road). Normally when the road is open to traffic, vehicles can only leave Alcester Road for it and head onto St Mary's Row and not the other way round. If i'm on the no 1 bus on Saturday morning's I occasionally see the market. Seen here next to Sapori di Sole, Italian Food Specialists.

Another view from the no 1 bus on St Mary's Row of the Farmers Market. They also have a bunch of stalls on the pavement on Alcester Road heading north from Boots.

In July 2017, I saw this green bus on the village green from the no 1 bus on St Mary's Row. Off the Scale. It looks like they were selling clothes on the bus and also outside of it. Was a Leyland Leopard vintage bus. Being that it was summer, there was a nice display of flowers from Moseley in Bloom around the village centre.

A general look at the village green from the no 1 bus on St Mary's Row in Moseley Village. Various shops on that side of St Mary's Row leading to the Alcester Road. Atlantis Fish Bar is now Flakes Fish & Chips. That changed over in 2014. In the middle is shop called Lewis's. Further to the left near The Fighting Cocks is Zen.

We will next move onto Alcester Road. From St Mary's Row heading north towards Woodbridge Road. Or south towards Kings Heath. Mainly the shops, pubs and café's closest to the centre of the village. This is the A435, the main route up from the Maypole and Kings Heath towards Balsall Heath and Highgate.

We start with The Village at 179 Alcester Road in Moseley Village. A pub and restaurant in a house built in 1896. A red brick building, it's to the right of a Telephone Exchange. Parlour & Dining.

Next up is Moseley's Post Office building. Part of the building is also used by The Moseley Exchange (a community centre). The building probably dates to the early decades of the 20th century.

Seen just before the traffic lights on the no 50 bus is Damascena Coffee House. They recently had a new door installed on the former coach house entrance. There is many café's around Moseley Village up the Alcester Road, mostly independent. Although there is now a Costa Coffee in the former Barclays Bank on St Mary's Row (that I've been to a few times). There is also now a Damascena in Harborne on the High Street and in the City Centre on Temple Row West. This one is at 133 Alcester Road.

The most prominent pub landmark in Moseley Village has got to be The Fighting Cocks, on the corner of Alcester Road and King Edward Road, with part of the building going down St Mary's Row. It is a Grade II listed building. Built in 1903 by the architects T W F Newton and Cheatle. Made of ashlar and red brick. It has Arts and Crafts details and looks a bit like a Jacobean building. On the corner is a big compass showing the wind direction and a barometer showing whether it's going to be dry or wet! Is also a clock tower at the top.

From the no 50 bus on the Alcester Road, looking down St Mary's Row. Was a banner up for the Mostly Jazz Funk Soul Festival during April 2015. This was promoting the event in Moseley Park which took place during July 2015. This part of St Mary's Row is usually where the Farmers Market goes. Festivals and other events in the park usually have entrance on Salisbury Road and Alcester Road (the park is usually private for local residents and only open to the public on open days). The artists entrance I think is on Salisbury Road.

An Irish themed bar on the Alcester Road called O'Neills. Part of a chain that you would find other O'Neills around the West Midlands. This view was in February 2011. They were there until 2014 or 2015 when they were replaced by the One Trick Pony Club. Halfords autocentre used to be to the right until about 2014. At one point it was thought that Boston Tea Party would move into the former garage, but Prezzo did instead in 2016. They lasted there until 2017, and was replaced by Sorrento Lounge in 2018. To the left was Thistle Estates and Consol until 2015. Pizza Express moved in there in 2016.

Further up the Alcester Road is the Prince of Wales pub. It dates to the Victorian era. They are located at 118 Alcester Road. The Moseley Emporium is to the left. Was a derelict building site to the right for many years until Moseley Central was built there from 2017 to 2018.

The Moseley Emporium is an antiques shop to the left of the Prince of Wales pub on the Alcester Road in Moseley. They have three floors of antiques and quality reproduction furniture. It looks like they share the building with the Prince of Wales! They are at 116 Alcester Road. There website describes their building as a beautiful Victorian villa.

Photos by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
Reducing waste
18 Dec 2018 - Michael Addison
Did you know?

Refill Birmingham

We're launching Refill Birmingham. Refill is a national campaign set up by City to Sea. It aims to reduce plastic pollution at source by making it easier for people to reuse and refill their bottles with free tap water while out and about. Be part of the #refillrevolution in Birmingham.

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Refill Birmingham




We're launching Refill Birmingham. Refill is a national campaign set up by City to Sea. It aims to reduce plastic pollution at source by making it easier for people to reuse and refill their bottles with free tap water while out and about. Be part of the #refillrevolution in Birmingham.


Refill Birmingham

We are the local champion for the campaign. We are working with a number of partners on Refill Birmingham which we hope will effect systemic change in the city. It should reduce the use of a large quantity of single use plastic bottles and improve the lives of many of the city’s citizens, engage businesses and residents in the environmental agenda, as well as preparing the city for the Commonwealth Games 2022 to be as green and plastic free as possible.

 

Timeline

Being such a sizeable city and with the task of engaging businesses and citizens, we have a large task on our hands, but the outcomes are really important and timely. Over the Winter 18/19 we are looking for support, building networks and partners and signing up a critical mass of organisations as Refill Stations on the Refill App as well as exploring ways to increase the number of public fountains in the city.

March/April 2019 we will work more closely with Severn Trent Water and other partners to deliver some Action Days across the city to engage more organisations, volunteers and people to use the Refill App as well as focusing on PR to raise the profile of the campaign.

 

Why Get Involved?

The three key benefits to becoming a Refill Station: Increase footfallProtect the Planet and Get Involved with your Community.

The three important ways to get involved are to: Download the appCarry a reusable bottle and Spread the Word!

 

Become a Refill Station

As a business or organisation you can commit to being a Refill Station if you have a publicly accessible tap that provides drinkable water:

Step 1: Sign up as a Refill Station on the Refill App or via the website.

Step 2: Let us know you are on board by emailing refill@ecobirmingham.com and we can get a sticker to you to put on the door/window of your premises.

Step 3: Spread the word! Let us know you’ve signed up. We’re on Twitter @RefillBrum on social media. We’re on Twitter so follow and tag @refillbrum and @ecobirmingham using the hashtag #RefillBirmingham

Step 4: If you are interested in having a pot to collect donations for ecobirmigham please let us know as it will help fund our work on the campaign.

If you have any queries, please read the Business FAQs or get in contact with us. Contact details below.

 

Other Ways to Get Involved

  • Start using a reusable bottle yourself. Sign up to the app to find out where to refill and track the impact you are making for the planet each time you refill.
  • Spread the word! Run an event at your workplace or in your community. Let us know what you are up to and tell us on social media. We’re on Twitter – @refillbrum and @ecobirmingham and using the hashtag #RefillBirmingham
  • Volunteer at one of our Action Days in Spring 2019.
  • Become a partner organisation. You could donate staff or volunteer support, financial support or maybe you can help us promote the campaign, use your networks and supply chains to effect change or help us gain publicity.

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110 passion points
Civic pride
17 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Sir Josiah Mason: Founder of Mason Science College

Before the University of Birmingham was founded in 1900, there was a college in Chamberlain Square that was founded by Sir Josiah Mason in 1875. It was called Mason Science College. There is a bronze bust in Erdington that was a cast of a now destroyed statue that used to be outside of the college. The college was demolished in 1964 making way for Birmingham Central Library.

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Sir Josiah Mason: Founder of Mason Science College




Before the University of Birmingham was founded in 1900, there was a college in Chamberlain Square that was founded by Sir Josiah Mason in 1875. It was called Mason Science College. There is a bronze bust in Erdington that was a cast of a now destroyed statue that used to be outside of the college. The college was demolished in 1964 making way for Birmingham Central Library.


Josiah Mason

Sir Josiah Mason was born in 1795 and died in 1881. He founded the Mason Science College in 1875 which later became part of the University of Birmingham (when it was founded in 1900). He was born in Kidderminster and moved to Birmingham in 1816. In 1824 he set up his own business as a manufacturer of split-rings by machinery, which later made steel pens. His business became a limited liability company in 1874. He set up an orphanage in Erdington around 1860. Mason College opened in 1880.

There used to be a marble statue outside of Mason College on Edmund Street (now part of Chamberlain Square) of Sir Josiah Mason. Made in 1885 Francis John Williamson. The statue was later destroyed, but not before William Bloye made a bronze cast of it in 1951. The bust is usually dressed for special occasions and seasonal holidays.

Below the bust seen in 2014 when the bronze was looking quite green. At the time there was a football scarf on the bust, probably of Manchester City (who won the Premier League in the 2013/14 season). This was seen in May 2014.

Full on front view of the Sir Josiah Mason bronze bust, during May 2014. It is located on a roundabout at the junction of Chester Road and Orphanage Road in Erdington. This view from the crossing in the middle of the Chester Road. The letters on the scarf seem to suggest that it was a Manchester City FC scarf!

This view of the bust towards some houses that have now been demolished and replaced by a care home. The view from the corner of Chester Road and Orphanage Road if you are heading to the Erdington High Street.

It is now December 2018 and I was expecting maybe a Christmas hat on the bust. Seen after the end of the walk up Orphanage Road and at the Chester Road junction. Nothing Christmas related here, just some England flag bunting. Asprey Court Care Home now stands on the site of those houses. Was built between 2016 and 2017.

The colour of the bust has changed in the 4 and a half years since I last saw it. This view from the Chester Road crossing between both sides of the Orphanage Road. Looks like the plinth has been cleaned of some recent graffiti.

Heading around to Chester Road, this side view you can see that they have cleaned the graffiti off the plinth, although it has left a bit of discolouration on it. Have to wonder why the original statue was destroyed, and why make a bust only to put it on a roundabout in Erdington? The only link would have been the orphanage that Josiah Mason had founded.

On what is now Orphanage Road in Erdington used to be Mason's Orphanage. Construction started near Bell Lane (now Orphanage Road) in 1860 and lasted until 1868. It was designed by J.R. Botham. Mason had a previous orphanage on Station Road, Erdington in 1858. Following a decline in the number of residents, the orphanage was demolished in 1964 to make way for a housing estate.

Walking up Orphanage Road I spotted Mason Cottages. They were first built in 1938. I assume they were near to the orphanage. The site is run by the Sir Josiah Mason Trust and it is private grounds, so no access to members of the public who aren't residents here. There are gates that lead to Mason Cottages. You probably need a pass to enter.

The sign I spotted on Orphanage Road on the walk up to Chester Road in Erdington. Private Grounds. No unauthorised access.

This red post box with the GR moniker is a short distance away from Mason Cottages on Orphanage Road in Erdington. It dates to the period of George V (1910 - 36).

We will next move to Chamberlain Square, where Mason College used to be until it was demolished in 1964. Birmingham Central Library was built between 1969 and 1974. It closed in 2013 and was demolished itself in 2016. I think the new building One Chamberlain Square stands on the site of what was Mason College.

Seen in late December 2010 near the start of Congreve Passage was a part of Birmingham Central Library called Art in a Window Gallery. There wasn't much to see in there apart from some plaques about Sir Josiah Mason and Mason College.

The plaques were from the Birmingham Civic Society, and even back in 2010 it seemed like they were in a temporary position, as at the time the new Library of Birmingham was under construction in Centenary Square (it would open in 2013). So these plaques were not in a permenant position. Hopefully Birmingham Civic Society will put these plaques on the side of One Chamberlain Square, so passers by on Centenary Way can see them (if any of them stop to look at them that is!).

Details of the bottom plaque with a picture showing what Mason College used to look like. In the 1960s this type of Victorian architecture had fell out of favour, especially in the years after the Second World War had ended. Although now we quite like this kind of architecture. I wonder if this building and the old Victorian Central Library could have been listed? But they never were as the sight was levelled for the 1970s Central Library. The plaque tells you that even after the founding of the University of Birmingham, the former Mason College building continued to be used until the 1960s as the Faculty of Arts and Law. Would assume that moved to the Edgbaston campus before the demolition.

Until the 1960s, Edmund Street stretched next to Chamberlain Square. After Mason College was knocked down, Birmingham Central Library was built from 1969 to 1974, while the previous Central Library remained alongside it. Once complete and opened, the 2nd Victorian library was itself demolished (and Adrian Boult Hall and the Birmingham Conseravatoire built on it's site, but that's another story). Seen below in 2010, this was the entrance to the library. Paradise Forum was to the left which led to Centenary Square. It was demolished in 2016. You can see Art in a Window Gallery to the far right on the corner with Congreve Passage.

One Chamberlain Square now stands on the site of what was Mason College from 1875 until it was demolished in 1964. Construction of this building started in 2017 and should be completed in 2019 by BAM. Earlier in 2018 Carillion went bust stalling construction for a few months until BAM took over. Centenary Way now runs alongside the new building all the way from Chamberlain Square to Centenary Square (a pedestrian walkway).

Photos by Elliott Brown

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60 passion points
Environment & green action
15 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
News & Updates

£1m invested at New Street Station to monitor air quality

Toxic fumes from trains is a major contribution to poor air quality. New Street station is taking serious steps to monitor toxic fumes from trains.

Take full post for more details.  Photo credit: George Daley.

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£1m invested at New Street Station to monitor air quality




Toxic fumes from trains is a major contribution to poor air quality. New Street station is taking serious steps to monitor toxic fumes from trains.

Take full post for more details.  Photo credit: George Daley.


This action follows a University of Birmingham study earlier this year.  The study found that on 26 days out of 68 days, Nitrogen Oxides exceeded the recommended 15-minute exposure limit.

As well as monitoring the emissions, the 98 fans at the station will also be adjusted to make them more reactive to harmful gases and platform supervisors will alert train drivers who leave their engines running for too long.

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50 passion points
Architecture
15 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

More Harborne Village architecture (Part 2)

Part 2 of my look around the architecture in Harborne. As with part 1 around the High Street and surrounding roads. Mostly built up here from the Victorian period onwards as Harborne became an affluent suburb next to Edgbaston. This time starting with a look at Harborne Library and some alternate views of buildings I posted in part 1 (or later on in the post).

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More Harborne Village architecture (Part 2)




Part 2 of my look around the architecture in Harborne. As with part 1 around the High Street and surrounding roads. Mostly built up here from the Victorian period onwards as Harborne became an affluent suburb next to Edgbaston. This time starting with a look at Harborne Library and some alternate views of buildings I posted in part 1 (or later on in the post).


Follow this link for Harborne Village architecture part 1. Well it seemed like my first post on Harborne was popular so lets continue shall we!

We first start with a pub that has had a few name changes over the years. Looking on Google Maps Street View, this pub was called Varsity from at least 2009 (or before) until 2011. From 2011 to 2015 it was called The Proverbial (seen below in 2014). From 2015 to present it has been a Slug & Lettuce. 186 - 196 High Street, Harborne. At the time of the photo Lloyds Pharmacy was opposite, but that is now Jhoots Pharmacy.

 

Rumours is a hair salon at the corner of North Road and the High Street in Harborne at 51 High Street. It has a distinctive corner turret.

Some views of Harborne Library. The following history was taken from this link Harborne Library history. The building was built as a Masonic Hall in 1879 by the architect A. E. Phipson (who lived in Harborne and designed several buildings around Harborne during the same period). It had originally housed the Harborne Lodge, Tudor 1792 of the Province of Staffordshire. The council as the Corporation of Birmingham bought the building in 1892 and some changes had to be made before it was opened as a Public Library. It also includes part of the next building to the right.

The close up view of the library. You can see that is still says "Masonic Hall" above the middle first floor windows. The public couldn't browse the shelves for books until 1925. Before that time they had to request books from the counter. There was major alterations to the library during the 1960s. It was during that time when the library expanded into the next building. The last major refurbishment took place from 2005 until 2006.

This is the better view of The Junction pub (built 1903) at the junction of Vivian Road (near Waitrose) and the Harborne High Street (on the right). There is a pedestrian crossing in the middle with a zebra crossing. 212 High Street. There website describes it as Victorian but with a 1903 date it is from the Edwardian period. It has distinctive red brick terracotta and stone detailing.

This pub is called the Harborne Stores and is a Traditional Free House. 109 High Street. It's now part of the Stonegate Pub Company. Near the corner of Station Road on the High Street in Harborne.

Near the end of the High Street is no's 20 to 26 High Street in Harborne. No's 20, 22 and 24 used to be for many years Fishers Surveyors and Property Managers (established in 1913), but it looks like they have moved out. Cafe Boutique & Cake Shop is at no 26. Looks very much like a Victorian set of terraced houses.

Harborne Market used to be in this building betwen the High Street and Vivian Road. It was open until around 2011, and was closed / derelict from 2012 until 2015 when Paradice Gelateria opened. Webster & Co Solicitors used to be on the floors above, but seems like it hasn't been there for years, I'm not sure if they were open in the later years of the market being open on the ground floor.

This view of Paradice Gelateria from Vivian Road in Harborne, was the rear side of the now former Harborne Market. The Harborne Market Cafe used to occupy the units on the left. From Google Maps Street View, the exterior of the cafe wasn't much to look at. Temporary wooden doors that looked like hoardings. But they had signs outside until 2011 saying that they were open. By 2012 it looks like they had closed down.

If you get off the 11C on Harborne Park Road you might see the modern spire of this church on Vivian Road. It's St Mary's Church, Harborne and was built between 1875 and 1877 (the Victorian church building not including the later 20th century buildings).  It was founded by the Passionists in 1875 and is currently served by the Augustinians.

Another look at The New Inn. In part 1 I posted a view of it from Greenfield Road, so I popped back to Harborne and took this new photo of the view of it on Vivian Road. A pub has been on this site since at least 1845 (or earlier). The pub has been refurbished in recent years and has had new pub signs installed.

The next pub is The White Horse on York Street in Harborne. Seen below in 2015. Ansells ran the pub back in the 1960s. By 2015 it was a Festival Ale House.

The second photo of The White Horse shows it during November 2018. By then it was under new ownership. Ostler's took over in 2017.

There is many ghost signs around Birmingham, and Harborne is no exception. This one can be found on War Lane for A.W. Reynolds & Son who did Building Repairs. They were based 262 High Street (assume on the Harborne High Street). It was on the side of a house. It's possible that they were based there at War Lane and at High Street as well.

Seen on Park Hill Road in Harborne is Elizabeth Bretherton. In a building on the corner called Acorn House. I'm not sure if it is an office or an art gallery, but is part of a set of terraced houses. One of which in the middle says Kingscote Place 1883. Close to Nursery Road.

Over on the corner of North Road and Park Hill Road used to be Sue Howells Art. This view was in 2016, but after being there for at least a decade or more (Google Maps Street View only goes to 2008), it was replaced in 2017 by Barberology. I saw this shop in March 2016 and by September 2016 it looks like Barberology were being fitted out in this shop.
Next door to Sue Howells on Park Hill Road was ToTo Hair until 2012. Comida took over in 2015 until 2017. Caffiened took over in 2018.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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60 passion points
Architecture
13 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Tour of the Harborne Village architecture

A look around the architecture in Harborne Village mostly from the Victorian, Edwardian and inter war eras. There are many red brick examples, schools and former and current schools. Some that used to be banks. Mostly the Harborne High Street and some of the surrounding roads.

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Tour of the Harborne Village architecture




A look around the architecture in Harborne Village mostly from the Victorian, Edwardian and inter war eras. There are many red brick examples, schools and former and current schools. Some that used to be banks. Mostly the Harborne High Street and some of the surrounding roads.


Harborne is the next suburb along close to Edgbaston and Selly Oak. You can get the no 11A, 11C or 23 or 24 NXWM buses here. The High Street in Harborne Village is a bit like Birmingham's version of London's Shoreditch. This is the modern Harborne Village which is around the High Street area now, while the original village was around St Peter's Church Harborne.

First up a look at this former Victorian bank building on the corner of the High Street in Harborne with Albany Road. For many years it has been a Zizzi Italian restaurant. May have once been a Lloyds Bank here. Not listed. A red brick building that slightly looks like it's in the Georgian style.

Former primary school on the High Street, now The School Yard. With Boston Tea Party on the left and Prezzo to the right. It is on the corner with York Street.  A Grade II listed building as The Clock Tower Community Education Centre, it dates to around 1885 by the architects Martin and Chamberlain. Red brick and terracotta with minimum stone dressings; tile roof with decorative ridge tiles. It was the Harborne High Street Junior School from the 1880s until 1960. See this Birmingham Post article from 2014. Before it was converted in 2014 it was an adult education centre known as The Clock Tower.

The Junction is a red brick and terracotta pub with stone details dating to 1903. On the corner of the High Street and Vivian Road. This view was from the High Street. The best view is probably from the juncton of Vivian Road and the High Street at the pelican crossing, than the view I got below in 2014. There is a set of Victorian urinals (no longer in use) to the right of here (not far from the no 23 and 24 bus stops).

The Vine is one of the pubs on the Harborne High Street. It's to the right of the Royalty. They are at 310 High Street and is part of the Sizzling Pubs chain.

The Royalty was a cinema built in 1930 by the architect Horace G. Bradley. It is a Grade II listed building, listed as the The Royalty (Gala Bingo).  A red brick structure. It became a bingo hall from 1930 and was still being used for bingo by the time it was listed in 2011. But by 2014 it had closed down and is now quite derelict. A recent fire didn't help, nor the threat of demolition (only 7 years after it was listed). Gala Bingo must have closed down before 2012, as the rear of the site was being used for a Hand Car Wash. The fire was in September 2018 and demolition started October 2018.

The Green Man is a pub near the end of the Harborne High Street, close to the Edgbaston border. The building was probably built in the 1930s. There is a pub sign with a man and his dog on the left hand side of the building.

Leaving the High Street behind and a look at buildings on other nearby roads.

Bell Tower seen on War Lane in Harborne. A red brick building, possibly from the Victorian era. I've not been able to find out any information on the building but think it is now used as residential flats.

These shops seen on the corner of Greenfield Road and Vivian Road in Harborne. R. O. Price, F.G.I and Provisions and Prelude Hair. A stone on the corner on the first floor names it Harborne Quadrant with the date of 1861. For me, this is on the walk from the High Street towards Harborne Park Road to catch the 11A (or after getting off the 11C and walking towards the High Street).

The New Inn is on the corner of Vivian Road and Greenfield Road in Harborne. This is the side on Greenfield Road. The pub may have been on this site as early as 1845. A traditional pub, they have had a recent refurbishment.

Seen on Serpentine Road in Harborne (not far from the High Street) is The Harborne Village Social Club and Institute. Mostly just known as The Harborne Village Social Club.

On Station Road is Harborne Primary School. Originally opened in 1902 as an Infant School during the Edwardian era. The Junior School followed in 1912. The two schools merged in September 2000 forming the Harborne Primary School it is today. A red brick building, it is on the corner of Emerson Road and Station Road.

Still on Station Road, we get to a building / house called The Library at no 71. I'm not sure if it ever was a library, but the current Harborne Library is on the High Street.

Next up the former Harborne Fire Station. At the junction of Gordon Road and Rose Road in Harborne. A Grade II listed building built in 1907. Now used as flats / apartments. Red brick with stone ashlar dressing; gabled and hipped plain tile roofs. There is a sculpture of a fireman on the right hand side of the building, where the former doors for the fire engines used to be.

On Gordon Road in Harborne is a new cafe called Caffiened, it opened in November 2017. They seem to have added a modern wooden look at the bottom complimenting the original red brick look on the upper floors.

I'd add Harborne Library, but the only view I've got of it is from the side / close up. So if I return to Harborne, I'll take a new view of it. So expect to see that in a Part 2.

Photos by Elliott Brown.

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80 passion points
Sport & leisure
12 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
News & Updates

Wow! Artists impression of new £60m aquatics centre for Commonwealth Games in 2022

Artists impression showing how the new £60 million Sandwell aquatics centre will look have been unveiled. The state of the art facility with Olympic-sized swimming pool, 25-metre diving pool and capacity for 1,000 spectators will be built in Smethwick on Londonderry Lane. At the end of the Games, it will become a leisure centre. 

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Wow! Artists impression of new £60m aquatics centre for Commonwealth Games in 2022




Artists impression showing how the new £60 million Sandwell aquatics centre will look have been unveiled. The state of the art facility with Olympic-sized swimming pool, 25-metre diving pool and capacity for 1,000 spectators will be built in Smethwick on Londonderry Lane. At the end of the Games, it will become a leisure centre. 


Members of the public now have a couple of weeks to comment on the plans for the swimming pool.

Sandwell Council has commented as follows: “We want your views on the design and facility mix. This will support the formal planning application which will be submitted after the consultation period has ended.”

In respect of sustainability, MP Dame Caroline Spelman, who was Environment Secretary during the 2012 Olympics, has said: "I had a responsibility as Environment Secretary for the sustainability of the Olympic Games in 2012, and one of the important questions you have to be able to answer when it comes to the sustainability of a sporting event is will those facilities be sustainable in the future,

Sustainability is a three-pronged concept. It’s economic, environmental and social. So I can see it’s always going to be difficult where you’ve got to break some new ground, but one of the new facilities would come to Sandwell, and it would be a lasting benefit for the community.

But in terms of sustainability, if you look at what is happening, the augmentation of seating capacity is mostly designed because we’ve learnt from the London Olympics that you can build temporary seating to bump up the capacity of your facility, that you can then take back down so that you’re not left with a white elephant.

And you won’t get a white elephant. You will get a great legacy in Sandwell."

Councillor Ian Ward has said that arrangements will need to be made between Sandwell Council and Sport England over the use of green belt land but still feels that 2022 will be the ‘Greenest Games’ to date and he adds "I think for Sandwell to have what I believe will be the best aquatics centre in the country, post games, is going to be a fantastic boost for Sandwell."

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40 passion points
Photography
12 Dec 2018 - Jay Mason-Burns
Inspiration

"A trip around my patch, Selly Oak" - a photo post from Jay's blog

One of Birmingham's People with Passion, Jay, shares with us his passion for his hometown suburb of Selly Oak in Birmingham where he has lived all his life. 

Take the full post for a great article and some wonderful photography.

Why not share your passion for where you live by selecting Connect with Us.

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"A trip around my patch, Selly Oak" - a photo post from Jay's blog




One of Birmingham's People with Passion, Jay, shares with us his passion for his hometown suburb of Selly Oak in Birmingham where he has lived all his life. 

Take the full post for a great article and some wonderful photography.

Why not share your passion for where you live by selecting Connect with Us.


Howdy. Welcome to my latest blog post during which I'd like to invite you on a whirlwind trip in pictures around my hometown suburb Selly Oak, in leafy South Birmingham. 

The Steeple of St Mary's CoE Church, built 1862 in the Gothic revival style.  This is the Parish church of Selly Oak, Birmingham.

Harborne Walkway, off Reservoir Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham.

Selly Oak is one of those places that people often pass through on their way into and out of the City without stopping to look around to get a feel for the place. I love the place, and I hope that by reading this I can demonstrate to you why.   

The 63 bus going towards Birmingham, down the High Street, Selly Oak, Birmingham

I was born at Selly Oak Hospital in 1968, I grew up in the area which, back in the late '60s / early '70s, had a large Irish population (indeed my family are Irish).  I still live and work in the area, it's amazes me how much it's changed, especially during the last 20 years as old industries and populations have given way in the face of the University's expansion and urban regeneration. 

Where I was born, the remains of Selly Oak Hospital, closed 2013, Raddlebarn Rd, Selly Oak, Birmingham

I invite you to look a little closer to see that there's beauty in them there hills, there's a bustling population and a rich fascinating history ready to be explored.  Selly Oak is on the up, despite the naysayers and years of planning mismanagement! 

Selly Oak High Street

"Edgbaston Pool" at Winterbourne House & Garden, Selly Oak, Birmingham. 

Selly Oak is three miles from Birmingham's City Centre.  It's bordered by the more famous neighbours Harborne, Bournville and Edgbaston.  The Birmingham to Worcester Canal cuts a gentle swathe through the area, with the Cross City railway running parallel alongside.  The River Bourn flows gently throughout Selly Oak's parks and beneath the bustling traffic of the A38 Bristol Road. 

Autumn on the Birmingham to Worcester Canal, Selly Oak, Birmingham

The 'High Street' of Selly Oak, stretches for close to a mile, winding up what was once called 'Selly Hill' near the University Campus at Bournbrook Road through to the top of Weoley Hill where the new University of Birmingham School sits on the corner of Weoley Park Road. 

Autumn jogging, Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham.

The High Street is a real mish-mash of old and new, shops, pubs, offices, ancient churches, meeting houses and halls.  There's even a pocket park behind the Aldi Store dedicated to street art and graffiti. 

Street art, Bournbrook Graffiti Park, Selly Oak, Birmingham

The Big Wall at Bournbrook Graffiti Park, Selly Oak, Birmingham

Mr Yummy, Selly Oak High Street, Birmingham

Selly Oak's history is rich and varied, having been traced back to Roman times, it was even mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1085, as 'Escelie or Eschelli'.  Theories abound about how Selly Oak received its name, ranging from corruptions of 'Salt ley' or 'Saltway' referencing the Salt trade that travelled Icknield Street from Droitwich (via the old Roman fort at Metchley) to the North Sea; to 'Sele leah' which meant a woodland clearing with a hall on it or arable land.  The fort's remains are preserved in-situ next to the University's Medical School on Vincent Drive :-)

Japanese Garden, Winterbourne, University of Birmingham, Selly Oak, Birmingham

A more scrullious story refers to Sarah's (or Sally's) Oak, named after a local witch who was apparently hanged and buried with an oak stake driven through her heart, which it was claimed then grew into a mighty oak tree.  In 1909 the ancient oak tree that had become known as the 'Selly Oak' was cut down, despite great public outcry, to enable the widening of Oak Tree Lane.  Today, the stump of this tree remains preserved (but half forgotten) beneath bushes in Selly Oak Park. 

Cyclists on Gibbins Road, by Selly Oak Park, Selly Oak, Birmingham (University clocktower in the distance)

In the late 18th / early 19th century Selly Oak was described in Francis Leonard's 'Story of Selly Oak' as "a small hamlet, part of the Parish of Northfield... when it consisted of about 50 houses, a Chapel and several outlying farms....where the High Street and Market Places were still country roads flanked with meadows and cornfields".  Back in those days "heavy traffic on the main road was represented by 20 stage coaches daily", there was no railway or tramway system, and the few inhabitants who visited 
the neighbouring town of Birmingham had to walk or pay for a ride to town on the old horse bus from the Gun Barrels Tavern, near Edgbaston Park Road. 

Looking up the High Street, by Dawlish Rd, Selly Oak, Birmingham

However things were about to change rapidly. The arrival of the Worcester and Dudley no. 2 canals brought with them a massive influx of industry and people.  The Industrial Revolution was in full swing, huge lime kilns lined the canals at 'Selly Port' where Quicklime was produced in vast quantities and distributed via barge to be used in construction.  Gravel and red clay was plentiful from pits and quarries in Selly Oak, supplying the local brickworks at Harborne and California (near Bartley Green). 

Selly Oak Cranes on the site of the Battery Park redevelopment, by B'ham to Worcester Canal, Selly Oak, Birmingham.

Prominent industrialists such as John Nettlefold, Thomas Gibbins and George Muntz established large premises in the area making bricks, volatile chemicals, screws, ammunition and metal 'hollow ware'.  These industrialists were also keen philanthropists, investing in their communities by donating land for public parks or investing in local schools and community buildings. Nettlefold built his family a beautiful house and garden at Winterbourne (later donated by the subsequent owners to the University) and oversaw the design and build of the community focused garden suburb of Moor Pool just up the road in Harborne. 

Winterbourne House, University of Birmingham, Birmingham

 Sunrise Silhouette, Muntz Park, Selly Oak, Birmingham

By the late 19th century, as Selly Oak's population expanded rapidly, housing was built on a vast scale for the workers in the local factories and a workhouse was established by Oak Tree Lane, this later became Selly Oak Hospital.  This expansion precipitated the need for clean drinking water, so a borehole three hundred feet deep was dug to extract water for public consumption.  A huge gothic style pumphouse (grade 1 listed) was built over the well to house a Boulton and Watt steam engine that pumped the water out for domestic use. 

The Pumphouse, Selly Oak, Birmingham

It was opened in 1879, to great acclaim, by Joseph Chamberlain (who later founded the University).  However with the subsequent opening of the Elan aqueduct, the Well became redundant and was capped and the Pumphouse deemed surplus to requirements.  It was later converted into an electricity sub-station, whilst the steam engine and pump were dismantled (now on display at Birmingham's Thinktank museum).  Despite the change of use I'm sure you'll agree it remains an impressive building. 

Pumping Station House, Selly Oak, Birmingham

Industry persisted long into the late 20th century with names like BSA motorcycles, Westley Richards Gunmakers and the Boxfoldia works, but those factories have long since made way for retail parks, student Halls of Residence, a road bypass and a new aqueduct and railway viaduct to straddle the bypass. 

The Ariel Viaduct with the University of Birmingham in the background, Selly Oak, Birmingham

Much of lower Selly Oak by the University has changed beyond recognition as industries, land and entire embankments have been cleared and re-landscaped.  

The Ariel Aqueduct crossing the Selly Oak bypass  (Aqueduct named after BSA Ariel motorcycles that were built in a factory on this site) Selly Oak, Birmingham

Between the Aqueduct and Viaduct, Selly Oak, Birmingham

Rich Bitch Studios, where bands like Black Sabbath, ELO, Slade, Roy Wood and Robert Plant have recorded music, was based in a converted engineering factory behind the High Street shops.  It was home for aspiring Brummie bands and musicians for over thirty years and hosted international greats such as Earth, Wind and Fire, Ruby Turner and US rockers Skid Row.  Sadly however they sold up and moved out in 2014 after which the studios were demolished to make way for new halls of residence for students, called the Recording Rooms.

Down the High Street, looking towards Edgbaston. Rich Bitch Studios was behind the shops on the left. 

Despite the prevailing change in it's encumbent population, Selly Oak retains a lot of it's old character.  Victorian housing dominate it's tight side streets, and in some places, beautiful buildings do remain. 

Lottie Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham

Selly Oak is very much a place in transition, it's changing all the time and it's my dearest hope that we can keep our oldest buildings. Many of Selly Oak's important buildings have been lost over the years, public houses have disappeared throughout the area following a wider national trend.  Thankfully, one of Selly Oak's finest buildings, The Goose at the Old Varsity Tavern, still remains.   

Cat's Eye View, The Goose at the O.V.T., Selly Oak, Birmingham.

This place has quite a wonderful history.  It was recorded in 1700 as a travellers inn; in 1839 the owner was James Kerby and it was called the Bell and Shovel Inn.  Kerby owned 43 acres of land, known locally as 'Kerby's Pools', it was a Victorian pleasure resort right in Selly Oak!  Its three pools were devoted to boating and fishing and there was also a leisure garden.  People came from all over Birmingham to enjoy the entertainment and facilities the resort offered.  Kerby staged a variety of seasonal attractions and events like fireworks displays. It was one of few spots for fishing within walking distance of Birmingham.

Later on there's a brilliant story about the first Australian test cricket team to visit England!  Mr Kerby and his partner Mr North further developed the site with a running track that enclosed a cricket pitch, adjacent to the Bournbrook Bridge.  A famous local team, the Pickwicks, defeated the Australians in a memorable game here.  It's recorded that "Mr Talboys", the Pickwick resident professional bowler, took five wickets for 37 runs, whilst the rest of the Australians were dismissed cheaply by a local cricketer, the late Mr. W. Boylin!  What a day that must have been!

Victorian Terraces on George Road, looking toward the Unversity, Selly Oak, Birmingham (these sit on the land once occupied by 'Kerby's Pools'. 

Arguably the 'Jewel in the Crown' at the heart of modern Selly Oak, is the campus of the University of Birmingham (which technically straddles the border with neighbouring Edgbaston).  Around the University Campus we have a surfeit of wonderful architecture, including the world's tallest free standing clocktower (at over 300 feet tall), the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clocktower, affectionally known as 'Old Joe'.  

'Old Joe' Clocktower, University of Birmingham, Selly Oak, Birmingham

The University of Birmingham received its royal charter in 1900, uniting Queen's College, Birmingham (founded in 1825 as the Birmingham School of Medicine and Surgery) and Mason Science College (established in 1875 by Sir Josiah Mason).  The founding of our University made it the first English 'red brick' university to receive its own royal charter.  The Campus, like the rest of Selly Oak, is a hive of construction and redevelopment as the University looks to it's future.. From the beautiful red brick heart of the Campus you can see the art deco styled Medical School and Hospital on Vincent Drive. 

University Medical School and QE Hospital Clocktower, Selly Oak, Birmingham.

In the heart of the Campus new buildings are springing up all the time; cutting edge laboratories, research facilities, aswell the sharp and sleek modern Library, designed by Associated Architects. 

University of Birmingham Library, Selly Oak, Birmingham.

More or less opposite to these new interlopers sits the brutalist masterpiece that is Muirhead Tower.  Home of the invaluable Cadbury Research Library and storage facility, Muirhead Tower sprang up in 1969 during a previous bout of University expansion.  It's my favourite building on campus :-)

In the heart of Selly Oak new buildings are springing up to host the huge influx of students from across the Globe.  The latest, and perhaps most impressive of these facilities, is the Unite Halls of Residence designed by Glenn Howells Architects. It sits on the site of the old Birmingham Battery Works beside the canal that once supplied the old factory with fuel, labour and materials.  When I was growing up there was a tiny "Greasy Spoon" type cafe beside the old works.  It was perched on a timber and concrete plinth that overhanged the canal on the edge of this bridge.  I used to wonder how it didn't fall into the canal, it looked so precarious, then one day it closed and demolished tout suite, and all those stories and history were gone! 

Selly Oak Canal Bridge and the Unite Halls of Residence, Selly Oak, Birmingham

Behind the Halls a huge retail park has recently opened after years of extensive land cleaning and reclamation.  It hosts an array of shops, eateries and will eventually be home to the University's new Life Sciences Park.  It caused a bit of an uproar when the demolitions were started to clear the sites.  The Battery offices that fronted onto the High Street had been modestly beautiful buildings, but sadly like many places, money talks and that past was swept aside. 

The Unite Halls of Residence atop the former site of the Birmingham Battery (empty land in foreground is proposed Life Sciences Park) Selly Oak, Birmingham

Battery Park, the new Selly Oak Shopping Centre

When the Sun goes down Selly Oak comes alive with the sound of bustling student night life.  The High Street is filled with chic little student-centric shops, Asian and Oriental eateries, pubs, a Shisha bar and even a Mr Egg Cafe!   

Mr Egg! High Street, Selly Oak, Birmingham

Night Life in Selly Oak, crossing the High Street, by Selly Oak Station, Selly Oak, Birmingham

It's hoped that, as part of the area's continuing regeneration, two of Selly Oak's most treasured buildings will be renovated - the Library and the Selly Oak Institute.  Both sit close to all the amenities on the High Street and yet they're sadly empty.  The Institute was built and opened in 1894 by the Cadbury family for the 'education and betterment of local people'.  It's a curious building, an odd melange of building styles, and yet it remained true to it's original purpose as a popular adult education facility until the early 2000s. 

Selly Oak Institute, High Street, Selly Oak, Birmingham

On the opposite side of the High Street, nestled in the shadow of the railway bridge, sits the empty yet very beautiful, grade 2 listed 'Carnegie' library.  Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American Steel magnate and philanthropist, donated £3000 for the building of Selly Oak's library on land donated by Thomas Gibbins, the owner of the Birmingham Battery.  The library was opened in 1906 by Gibbins himself and remained in use until 2015.  I love this place, I spent many hours here in my youth, it developed my love of reading and of local history.  I hope that a fitting purpose is found to keep it for all our futures. 

Selly Oak Library, beside Selly Oak Station, Birmingham

Perhaps Selly Oak's most beloved and famous building is no longer IN Selly Oak itself!  The Manor House of Selly Oak, or simply, Selly Manor, was originally located at the top of the hill on Bournbrook Road, near to the present day Catholic church of St Edward.  A beautiful timber, lime plaster and herringbone brick building, it dates back to the early 14th century as home to the Tithe lords of Selly Oak, the Jouette family.  Records show that luminaries such as Lord Catesby (of the Gunpowder Plot notoriety) and Oliver Cromwell himself lodged at the Manor during their country travels.  In 1907 George Cadbury bought the house and had it re-erected and restored on a beautiful garden site in Cadbury's new village at Bournville.  Today Selly Manor is a wonderful museum dedicated to the history and heritage of medieval Birmingham, if you have a chance do visit it. 

Selly Manor, originally located Bournbrook Road, Selly Oak, now Willow Road, Bournville, Birmingham

So that brings us to the end of our little tour of my Selly Oak.  I hope my text and photos have brought the area to life for you, and demonstrate why I love the area so.  As a street photographer I find a lot of inspiration just wandering the High Street and observing people going about their daily lives.  It's my place, my history, my family's heritage and I'm proud of it.  Thanks for reading!

Jay Mason-Burns a.k.a. jayjayjjetplane

 

Waiting for the last bus, Selly Oak, Birmingham

 

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50 passion points
Environment & green action
12 Dec 2018 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

Air Quality across the City - Birmingham's on a mission!

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment at the Birmingham City Council talks of the "brave and bold leadership Birmingham has shown by introducing Clean Air Zone class D".

In this post, Laura Creaven, an award winning blogger in Birmingham, reviews the Q&A event held in Birmingham during December 2018. 

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Air Quality across the City - Birmingham's on a mission!




Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment at the Birmingham City Council talks of the "brave and bold leadership Birmingham has shown by introducing Clean Air Zone class D".

In this post, Laura Creaven, an award winning blogger in Birmingham, reviews the Q&A event held in Birmingham during December 2018. 


Climate change, traffic congestion and poor air quality have all been hot topics in the media, particularly in Birmingham where the Council’s announcement of a Clean Air Zone has brought some heated opinions from residents.  London Sustainability Exchange (LSx), who have been working with residents in some of East Birmingham’s wards, arranged a question and answer session for Birmingham residents to pose questions to academics, councillors and campaigners.

Opening the evening, Alice Vodden from London Sustainability Exchange gave some background to how the evening came about; working with residents of Birmingham’s Sparkbrook and Ward End, particularly looking at poor air quality around high servies areas, they realised that a co-ordinated collection action would create more change.  Realising that the residents they worked with grasped the problems, but also had a lot of questions, LSx convened a group of panellists who each have an interest in air quality in Birmingham.  Each speaker was given a few minutes to talk about the subject, with the rest of the time offered up to questions from the floor.

The first person to talk was Dr Zongbo Shi, Senior Lecturer in Atmospheric Biogeochemistry at the University of Birmingham.  Dr Shi talked about what exactly is air pollution and why a blue sky is not necessarily a clean sky, despite what people might think.  By studying the data it was clear to see that whilst Birmingham might not have the dangerously high levels of particle matter in the air that cities like Dehli have, air quality pollutants are fairly consistent in causing problems even at lower levels, so Birmingham needs to act – particularly at roadsides where it is a bigger problems than in urban backgrounds.

Dr Shi pointed out that a few percent of GDP is lost to air pollution, giving examples of people who become sick and then cannot work because of respiratory illness.  He and his team are working on WM Air, the West Midlands Air Quality Improvement Programme, which supports improvements to air quality in the area and the knock on benefits to health and education.

Next up was Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment at the Birmingham City Council who talked about the brave and bold leadership Birmingham showed by introducing Clean Air Zone class D, which means all vehicles (Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars) but motorbikes are included within the remit.  This is the toughest of the Clean Air Zones on offer but Councillor Zaffar pointed out that even this wasn’t enough, and that the council weren’t interested in merely being legally compliant, but that this would be the jumping off point, as good air quality is important to future generations and to reduce health inequalities within the city, especially as the Clean Air Zone encompasses some of the poorer communities with the city.  He was also careful to point out that the council are aware these communities will be impacted by the creation of the Clean Air Zone and that they have requested additional funds from central government to support these groups, and small businesses within the zone.

Sue Huyton from the British Lung Foundation was the third panelist and she spoke about the unsafe levels of air pollution around hospitals and GP surgeries, both nationally, but also in Birmingham, where three hospitals are in areas that are unsafe and 41% of GP surgeries in areas which exceed the safe levels for air pollution, higher than the national average.  Sue praised  the national leadership shown by Birmingham City Council class D, but would want to see WHO recommendations for better air quality included in the Environment Bill, believing the answer to clean air lies in legislating for it.

Stirchley resident Sandra Green joined the Clean Air Parents’ Network because she wanted to engage with how air pollution affected children.  Through the network she’s met with a number of interesting people, but talked about a sobering meeting with someone from UNICEF who she always thought of as working on child issues around the country, but found out that they have a campaign around UK children’s right to clean air.  Sandra believed that the way to change attitudes is through hearts and minds, and that things like the reusable cup example show it is possible, especially if we get people to think of air quality in the same way.

The final speaker of the evening was Chris Crean from Friends of the Earth West Midlands.  Chris expressed thanks to the organisers for arranging the evening, Birmingham City Council for persevering, even when faced with criticism from within their own party, but that the biggest thanks should go to Client Earth who have successfully taken the UK government to court three times over air pollution in the country.  Recognising reports which talked about having only 12 years to act on climate change, Chris talked about the need to change how we live so that we have a sustainable economy, but also that we leave a tolerable planet for future generations to live on, and that this can’t simply be things like cleaner and green cars but less cars on the road.  He also spoke about the concerns government is only interested in compliance, rather than challenging further and whether they will put their money where their mouth is by supporting local councils to make the necessary changes.

Whilst Chris praised the leadership of the council for implementing the Clean Air Zone, he did also point out a number of inconsistencies including plans to widen the Dudley Rd to more traffic and the chaos over changes to buses in south Birmingham, and what this says to residents and businesses within the Clean Air Zone.  Councillor Zaffar agreed this was a fair point and that the council needs to reprioritise the road space, make a walkable city centre and connect the new cycle-ways to existing paths.  Chris ended his talk suggesting that the city is not an island and that it needs to work with others in the conurbation, by sharing ideas like Solihull School Streets campaign [a pilot project which aims to address such issues by limiting traffic in the streets surrounding schools at key times, creating a predominantly car free zone] and working together to make a real impact.

And with the talks done it was over to questions.  As usual, several questions weren’t actually questions but more comments, offering to install pilot air filters which have been successful in India, calls to extend the Skips Clean Air Cops from primary into secondary schools, and whether contact information for people in the room could be shared.

Questions about investment were asked, with Councillor Zaffar replying that a London-centric government does not fund transport fairly, and that the area has a long way to go in terms of charging points for electric vehicles and pushing for public transport not to move to the compliant Euro VI emissions but rely on hydrogen and electric vehicle fleets instead.  Questions around the joined up thinking around cycling were also raised, with Councillor Zaffar explaining how Manchester and the West Midlands authorities had spent transport money (WMCA spent it on the metro), and how Birmingham still needed to invest more but hopes that different ways of working, like the partnership with the Canals and River Trust, would be of use.

Gavin Passmore from sustainable transport charity Sustrans asked about how receptive schools had been to the ideas around reducing parents driving to school and it was a mixed response, with Sandra Green saying teachers are keen and are thinking of innovative ways to implement it into the curriculum through things like maths and physical educations, whereas Sue Huyton pointed out that some schools are initially hostile due to concerns about how it would negatively impact the school, but that going in on a reducing carbon footprint was a more positive spin on a similar topic.

Public transport was something that came up in both the panelist and audience questions, with one audience member posing the question as to whether Birmingham could take inspiration from numerous other cities around the world and introduce free public transport.  Councillor Zaffar said this was a great aspiration, and that there is certainly a need to make public transport cheaper, but that whilst the West Midlands Combined Authority Major has the right to franchise public transport, this isn’t something he seems to be looking at.  But that Birmingham City Council are trying to make changes where they can by introducing bus lanes and gates which prioritise buses on the roads.

The last question of the evening was around the response to the consultation for the Clean Air Zone, which has been controversial within Birmingham.  The audience member pointed out that two thirds of responses were negative, and how do we change this and get people to see what the issues are.  Sue pointed at the work Client Earth had done around their Poisoned Playground campaign, as well as the British Lung Foundation’s website, which used data to show the impact on areas.  She recognised the limits of the data, but said that this data has given vocal parents the ammunition to accelerate things and put pressure on bringing about change.  And finally Councillor Zaffar called for a bottom up approach which saw young people as vital to encourage parents to enact change.

Links

Laura Creaven is an award winning bogger in Birmingham. To view more of Laura's posts visit her blog HERE.

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90 passion points
Architecture
11 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston white Regency / Victorian villas / town houses Part 2

A second selection of the white Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town house in Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston. Mostly the posh looking area between the Hagley Road and Calthorpe Road. There is so many fine examples now. Mostly they are now offices. There are also examples on St James Road and George Road, which are towards the Islington Row Middleway and Wheeleys Road.

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Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston white Regency / Victorian villas / town houses Part 2




A second selection of the white Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town house in Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston. Mostly the posh looking area between the Hagley Road and Calthorpe Road. There is so many fine examples now. Mostly they are now offices. There are also examples on St James Road and George Road, which are towards the Islington Row Middleway and Wheeleys Road.


For my first post follow this link Calthorpe Estates Edgbaston Part 1.

Hagley Road

The Calthorpe Estates offices is located at 76 Hagley Road. On the corner with Highfield Road. The building dates to the early 19th century and is a Grade II listed building. White stucco with a slate roof. The Calthorpe Estates manages over 1600 acres of land across Edgbaston in Birmingham. Seen around November 2015 when they had Christmas reindeer on the Highfield Road side. You would normally find them around Edgbaston during the Christmas season each year.

One of the earliest buildings of the Calthorpe Estates. Regency House was built from 1819 until 1820 and was designed by Thomas and Joseph Bateman for John Harris. Only the regency façade is Grade II listed, as the building behind was demolished and rebuilt in 1971 by John Madin Design Group (JMDG) for Rentcroft Investments (and that is of no special historic interest). A terrace of six former houses, now offices. No 97 to 107 Hagley Road. It is built of brick covered in whitewashed stuco with a slate roof.

Praza an Indian Restaurant with Cocktail Bar & Dining at 94 and 96 Hagley Road. Grade II listed building. The building dates to the early 19th century and was built as a pair of semi detached houses. Stucco with a slate roof.

Cadbury Brothers

For my post on the Cadbury Brothers follow this link Cadbury Brothers: George and Richard Cadbury.

17 Wheeleys Road was the former home of Richard Cadbury who lived here from 1861 until 1871. Blue plaque from English Heritage. The houses at 17 and 18 Wheeleys Road were built in 1829 and have first floor Ionic pilasters.

At 32 George Road near the corner of St James Road was the former home of George Cadbury. Who lived here from 1872 until 1881 according to the blue plaque from English Heritage. The house is a Grade II listed building and was built in 1820 as a detached 2 storey stucco villa. The house has fluted Tuscan columns to the doorcases.

St James Road and George Road

The Roundhouse at 16 and 17 St James Road. A Grade II listed building. It's a good example of a stucco cottage combining picturesque Italian rustic manner with gothic-Tudor details. Was originally built as a freestanding folly in 1810 in the grounds of 29 George Road. Wings added to garden front and wings to roadside added in 1830. Further additions of a service wing around 1860-70.

Over on George Road is St James Place. It's a Grade II listed building, now offices. Originally built as the Original House and Service Coach House Wings at the Skin Hospital. Was built between 1830 and 1840 as a substantial Grecian villa of 2 storeys with 5 bays and is stucco faced.

Back to St James Road with what is now Busy Bees Nursery. The building isn't listed but looks of the 19th century period of the other Calthorpe Estates buildings in the area. Is close to Calthorpe Road and the HSBC building is behind it.

Hallfield School

This is Hallfield School and it has a couple of white stucco buildings that you might see on the no 1 bus route. The school was founded in 1879, and they will be 140 years old in 2019! The white stucco school buildings are located near Church Road.

First up, this building used as a Day Nursery. Grade II listed building dating to about 1850. Listed as the Main Block to Hallfield School. It has a rusticated porch with round-arched entrance framed by coupled pilasters.

This is the main building of Hallfield School, if you are on a train on the Cross City line, or heading up or down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, you might be able to see the back of the school buildings from the playing field. While these buildings are not listed, it dates to about 1860 and was originally a large villa called Beech Lawn.

The view of Beech Lawn, now the main building of Hallfield School from the towpath of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Next to the canal is what is now known as the Cross City line. The Edgbaston Tunnel is a short distance away and it goes under Church Road. Normally from the train, you can normally just see the playing fields, as these Victorian brick railways walls get in the way of the view! You can't tell from here that the building is now part of a school!

Calthorpe Road

This is 20 Calthorpe Road, close to St James Road. Currently it is To Let but formerly it was occupied by DG Mutual. A Grade II listed building. It is an early Calthorpe Estates villa dating to about 1820 to 1830. Grecian stucco symmetrical 3 bay elevation on 2 storeys. There is a former coach house on the left.

Next up is Al Rayan Bank at 24 to 25 Calthorpe Road. A Grade II listed building. Built as a pair of semi-detached Calthorpe Estate stucco villas in the year 1840. There is a Roman Doric doorway at no 25.

The next building down is a Grade II listed building at 26 Calthorpe Road. Rubric Lois King Solicitors. A stucco villa built in 1840. A detached version of the villas at Nos 24 and 25. Doric column porch.

The RoSPA are at 27 and 28 Calthorpe Road, also a Grade II listed building.  These buildings date to about 1830 and is a pair of 3-storey semi-detached stucco Calthorpe Estate villas. No 27 was altered in 1850, but also has a former coach house absorbed into a modern wing. No 28 was unaltered with an original entrance porch of unfluted Tuscan columns.

Photos by Elliott Brown

 

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65 passion points
Environment & green action
11 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
News & Updates

Together We Can and Together We Will! Birmingham's target is to reduce emissions by 60%

Birmingham City Council has ambitious plans to meet a 60% emission reduction target by 2027. With everyone involved and with everyone playing their part, this target and more can be achieved - Together we can and Together we will!

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Together We Can and Together We Will! Birmingham's target is to reduce emissions by 60%




Birmingham City Council has ambitious plans to meet a 60% emission reduction target by 2027. With everyone involved and with everyone playing their part, this target and more can be achieved - Together we can and Together we will!


The following extract is taken from the Birmingham Energy Prospectus website viewable HERE.

"... Birmingham is on a journey. The City's journey is to lower carbon emission, decrease fuel poverty and increase global competitiveness as set out within the Birmingham Carbon Roadmap and the Regional Energy Strategy for the West Midlands...

The Birmingham Energy Prospectus will assist the Council to consider its capital investment plan for economic growth and the policy approach to support decarbonisation and fuel poverty ...

Birmingham City Council has engaged Perform Green to assist the City in identifying potential planned and envisaged low carbon energy and transport projects/initiativesacross the City and to assemble this in an Energy Prospectus ..... This will enable the Council to have productive dialogue with investors, companies, communities and householders."

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50 passion points
Environment & green action
10 Dec 2018 - FreeTimePays
Introducing

Do you want to help protect the environment? You can!

GreenActionWithYou is a FreeTimePays Community of Passion that helps people who want to make a difference, deliver real change and contribute towards positive social impact.

We give people who want to make a difference the digital space and the digital tools so they can engage with others, promote what they are doing and use the space to take their passion to the next level.

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Do you want to help protect the environment? You can!




GreenActionWithYou is a FreeTimePays Community of Passion that helps people who want to make a difference, deliver real change and contribute towards positive social impact.

We give people who want to make a difference the digital space and the digital tools so they can engage with others, promote what they are doing and use the space to take their passion to the next level.


GreenActionWithYou is all about engaging people in the promotion and of a healthy and clean environment and the recognition that our environment and the space around us is there for us all to enjoy and look after.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
09 Dec 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Bank Tower Two - December 2018

Some nice festive tones in the lighting conditions for this update with the tower just shy of topping out. See more photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley

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The Construction of Bank Tower Two - December 2018




Some nice festive tones in the lighting conditions for this update with the tower just shy of topping out. See more photos in the full post.

Photo by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points
History & heritage
08 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Victorian and Edwardian shopping Arcades still in Birmingham City Centre

While Great Western Arcade is the most well known Victorian shopping Arcade in Birmingham City Centre, others do survive, although not as well known. The Burlington Arcade and Piccadilly Arcade both go from Stephenson Street to New Street. The City Arcade goes from Union Street towards Union Passage. Great Western Arcade goes from Temple Row to Colmore Row.

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Victorian and Edwardian shopping Arcades still in Birmingham City Centre




While Great Western Arcade is the most well known Victorian shopping Arcade in Birmingham City Centre, others do survive, although not as well known. The Burlington Arcade and Piccadilly Arcade both go from Stephenson Street to New Street. The City Arcade goes from Union Street towards Union Passage. Great Western Arcade goes from Temple Row to Colmore Row.


Piccadilly Arcade

Built as a cinema in 1910, it was called the Picture House and showed silent films. The architects was Nichol & Nichol of Birmingham. The cinema closed in 1926 and was converted into an arcade of shops. It's original name was the West End Arcade due to it's links to the West End Cinema.

The bronze fascia and shop fronts dates to 1926 and was by J R Shaw. A previous refurbishment in 1989 was done by Douglas Hickman of the John Madin Design Group with trompe l'ceil ceiling paintings by Paul Maxfield.

The entrance to the Piccadilly Arcade on Stephenson Street seen in February 2010. Even from this view you can tell that it looked like a cinema. That year, it had been 100 years since the building had first been built!

The most recent refurbishment of the Piccadilly Arcade was completed during November 2018. They had repainted the lower half of the building in a black paint. Perhaps to make it look a bit more traditional. The overhead wires are from the West Midlands Metro line, which at present doesn't go beyond Grand Central Tram Stop, as they are building the next extension to Centenary Square. And they closed off this end of Stephenson Street to add the new tracks to the existing tracks.

The interior of the Piccadilly Arcade during October 2010. It slants up from the Stephenson Street entrance towards New Street. When you walk up the arcade, you can't help but look up at the amazing artwork on the ceiling. As of 2018 it is 29 years old (1989). The BT phone box with the old style BT logo dates it to the late 1980s.

This view from December 2018 with Christmas decorations after the most recent refurbishment. Previously the shop fronts had been painted white, now they are painted black. Although the ceiling around the paintings is still painted white.

This interior view of the Piccadilly Arcade was taken in October 2010. Heading down from New Street towards Stephenson Street. You can head this way down to Birmingham New Street Station. At the time it was around then when the redevelopment of the station had begun, and would take 5 long years to complete!

Summer 2017 in the Piccadilly Arcade, and they had one of the Big Sleugh bears inside, this one was called Wild City by the artist Kathleen Smith. I think it was half way near the top close to New Street.

View of the Piccadilly Arcade from New Street. This view was taken in August 2010. From here you can see Wren style turrets on the top of the building. Details you wouldn't notice if you walk past.

If you get a window seat at Pret a Manger on New Street, like I did in January 2018, you get this view of the Piccadilly Arcade. From there I noticed details when zooming in from my camera. There is a shield on top. Just above the Piccadilly sign is what looks like a pair of babies sitting on a duck! Most people would just walk past and not even look up at the details of any of the buildings on New Street.

 

Burlington Arcade

Originally built as the Midland Hotel between 1867 and 1875 for Isaac Horton and designed by Thomson Plevins. Later became the Burlington Hotel from the then owners Macdonalds Hotels & Resorts. The hotel entrance turned into Burlington Passage (or the Burlington Arcade) around 1994.

Starting from Stephenson Street. This view was from January 2011 before the road was dug up to lay the Midland Metro extension tracks. May have also been when traffic stopped going on Stephenson Street. Although I seem to recall that buses last used the road in 2012 (when routes were changed when the bus interchanges were built).

I have cropped this photo of a Midland Metro Urbos 3 tram at Grand Central Tram Stop to show the Burlington Hotel. This was in May 2016 when tram drivers were training and doing tests on the 1st extension before the line opened to the public. The new Birmingham New Street Station fully opened in 2015, although the Stephenson Street section was completed in time for Half Time Switch Over during 2013 (when half of the new station opened and the other half closed to create the new concourse). Entrance to the Burlington Arcade is on the left, slightly after the tram stop.

I don't often take photos when I pass through the Burlington Arcade, but this caught my eye on the left (as I walked from the Stephenson Street entrance towards New Street). Steps down to an underground bar called the Bacchus Bar. The wall paintings and columns reminds me of either Ancient Greek art or Ancient Roman art. Maybe even like something you would find at the ruins of Pompeii!

The only photos of the interior of this arcade I have were with Christmas lights during late December 2009, looking up towards the ceiling. You can see all the red brick work from Victorian times. Plus a modern glass ceiling from the mid 1990s. This was coming from the New Street entrance heading down towards Stephenson Street.

Christmas lights on this side looking down towards the Stephenson Street entrance (also December 2009).

As far as I recall, I haven't taken a full on shot of the Burlington Hotel from New Street, mostly indirect shots like this one. Christmas lights seen at night on New Street during November 2010. The entrance to the Burlington Arcade from New Street is to the right between the shops. On the New Street side it is two blocks either side of the entrance to the Burlington Arcade. Italianate in white brick, now painted.

A new view of the Burlington Arcade entrance on New Street, as seen from Cannon Street during December 2018, while the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market was on.

The modern entrance canopy between the two blocks. Also the entrance to the Burlington Hotel.

Great Western Arcade

The Great Western Arcade was originally built around 1876 to 1877 by the Great Western Company above the Snow Hill railway tunnel between Moor Street and Snow Hill stations. The architect was W H Ward, who was influenced by Joseph Paxton's Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851. The arcade is a Grade II listed building.

The arcade suffered heavy bomb damage during World War 2 and the Colmore Row entrance had to be rebuilt. The arcade was restored in 1984.

The Temple Row entrance retains it's historic Victorian facade, and looks amazing after it was restored. If you headed up the North Western Arcade from Corporation Street, you might enter the Great Western Arcade if you are walking towards Birmingham Snow Hill Station.

Stop for a minute on Temple Row and look up above the entrance. There is a sculpture called Allegories of Science and Art, also by the architect W H Ward, who made it in 1875. The male figure on the left represents science, holds attributes including dividers and compasses. The female figure on the right represents the arts, holds an painter's palette and has an easel by her side. It used to be visible from the first floor of Coffee Republic opposite, although they closed down early in 2017. The arcade is in the Italian-French Renaissance architecture style.

One of my first views of the interior of the Great Western Arcade seen during September 2009, this view from Temple Row towards Colmore Row, looking up at the ceiling. Probably a replacement, as the original was bombed out during WW2. Many shops lines both sides of the arcade.

It was June 2012, and Union Jack bunting lined the Great Western Arcade. This direction from the Colmore Row entrance towards Temple Row. Again looking up at the ceiling. This was during the Queens's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Christmas decorations in the Great Western Arcade. These went up during November 2018. Again Colmore Row towards Temple Row.

During February 2013, the Big Egg Hunt was on in Birmingham City Centre. Was many easter eggs up and down the Great Western Arcade. Close to the Temple Row exit was this easter egg with a bunny rabbit on it!

The Big Hoot 2015 was a trail of owls around Birmingham during the summer of 2015. Long after the trail ended, they made one more owl for Christmas 2015. Seen during December 2015 was Christmas Owl designed by Jane Anderson. These owls were nice to see around Birmingham.

The Colmore Row entrance of the Great Western Arcade. It matches the design of the office block on the left called Colmore Gate which was built between 1990 and 1992 by the Seymour Harris Partnership. Built in the style of Cass-Gilbert-period New York. Offices above the arcade, shops below. You would see this entrance if you are leaving Birmingham Snow Hill Station the Colmore Row entrance. The last major refurbishment to the arcade was in 2009.

City Arcade

This arcade was built from 1898 until 1901, by T.W.F Newton and Cheattle, the decorative terracotta and green faience by Doulton and Co and other detailing by W J Neatby. The arcade is a Grade II* listed building.

We start off looking at the entrance from Union Passage, you might come up here from New Street (past the Britannia Hotel). Or from up Warwick Passage that leads from Corporation Street. Most of these photos were taken during November 2009.

Another view of the Union Passage entrance looking at the upper floors. Most of the time this arcade isn't too busy, and it is usually just a shortcut from Union Street to Union Passage. Since the former Big Top centre closed for refurbishment (near where WH Smith used to be) this area has gotten even quieter. The listing for this building describes the Union Passage side as "ulilitarian".

Don't often take new photos of City Arcade these days when I pass through or around here. This was November 2015 shortly after a cafe called Tilt opened. You can see Corporation Street over to the left down Warwick Passage.

A look up at the ceiling in City Arcade. You would only be in here for a short period as this arcade isn't that long. It is a coffered ceiling. You would notice the green and red details in the ceiling as well as the intermittent cupolas. There is red window frames at both ends.

There is nothing much else to say about the interior ceiling of City Arcade, although there used to be a net below the ceiling. But it looks like that was removed sometime between 2016 and 2017. The light fittings inside are certainly unique, a bit like chandeliers!

The Union Street side of City Arcade. There is three storeys on this side of the building. At the top is polygonal turrets with little cupolas. Santander is in the City Arcade units on the left on the corner with Union Passage. Back in 2009 it was still Abbey. Christmas lights seen on Union Street during November 2009.

WH Smith was in the building next door, although they moved out of those units earlier in 2018, to some of the former BHS units on Union Street a bit further down. City Centre House is an office block to the left. This road is between High Street (to the left) and Corporation Street (over to the right). Martineau Place is opposite of City Arcade on Union Street.

Looking up to the turrets and domes on the Union Street façade of City Arcade. Most people just pass by without noticing the details. Such as the portrait faces, can you see them?

You can tell the difference between a building from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, to the building next to it built a century later. Doesn't have as much details, although they did try there best! Superdrug occupies the ground floor of the building at the corner of Union Street and Corporation Street. It is called Victoria House. It does have some domes at the top of it's own corner turrets.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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70 passion points
Civic pride
06 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Sir Barry Jackson founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Sir Barry Jackson founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre




The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.


Sir Barry Jackson

He was born in 1879 in Kings Norton, living until 1961. He founded the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1913. Before founding the REP, he formed a company with his friends called The Pilgrim Players in 1907. This was the foundation of the future Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company. In the early years of the 20th century, they performed plays to family and friends. By 1912, Barry Jackson began to develop plans to build a permanent theatre building on Station Street. Barry was knighted in 1925.

Below is a bronze bust of Sir Barry Jackson seen at the REP in Centenary Square during September 2013 (after the new Library of Birmingham had opened). At the time, the REP was celebrating their 100th anniversary.

Also seen in the modern REP building in 2013 was this portrait of Sir Barry Jackson made up of many other smaller photos. A bit like a mosaic.

Seen in the Shakesepare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham was this Gavel. It was presented to Sir Barry Jackson in 1936. As a pioneer of modern Shakespeare at The REP during the 1920s. By the 1940s he later became Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 next door the the new REP which originally opened in 1971 (10 years after Sir Barry Jackson passed away).

Before we get onto the old and new REP's in Birmingham, first a look at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The building opened in 1932, on the site adjacent to the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (opened in 1879), which had been destroyed by a fire in 1926. It took the name of Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961, following the founding of the Royal Shakespeare Company the year before (1960).

Sir Barry Jackson was Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre from 1945 until 1948 (when he retired).

This view below was from 2009 during the redevelopment of the theatre.

This view from 2013 after the redevelopment had finished. The theatre reopened in 2010, and was officially opened by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 2011. Seen here with the River Avon.

This River Avon view of the RST was from 2014.

Back to Birmingham and first we go to Station Street with what is now known as The Old REP.

It was the first ever purpose built repertory theatre in the UK, it opened in February 1913. The main entrance is on Station Street, opposite Birmingham New Street Station. There is a blue plaque here for Sir Barry Jackson. The architect was S. N. Cooke.

In this view with the hotel Comfort Inn and The Electric Cinema. There is various Chinese restaurants down there on Station Street as well. The view is from was what used to be Queen's Drive at New Street Station. Station Bar also known as Platform 13 is to the left (I think the bar is getting a refit when I last walked past it).

The front view of The Old Rep Theatre on Station Street. When The REP moved to a new building in 1971 near Broad Street (now in Centenary Square), Birmingham City Council took over the building. During renovations of their Centenary Square building, The New REP temporarily moved back into the Old REP from 2011 until 2013. From 2014, Birmingham Ormiston Academy, (also known as BOA), too over the use of the old theatre building.

The view round the back of The Old REP on Hinckley Street. This is the Stage Door entrance. There is a taxi rank on this side.

A close up look at the rear entrances of the Old REP on Hinckley Street.

Now a look at The New REP first built in 1971. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company moved to the site near Broad Street in a building by Graham Winteringham and Keith Williams Architects. This was around 10 years after Sir Barry Jackson had died. The area would not become Centenary Square for another 20 years (1991). This view from 2010, before the Library of Birmingham has been built and before the theatre renovations had started. Sir Barry Jackson had supported the building of a modern theatre but he died before it became a reality.

This view from 2009. There used to be steps outside, but that was removed during the 2011 to 2013 renovation works of the theatre. There is another Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque on this building to Sir Barry Jackson. For some years it was missing but it was returned here in 2013 when the theatre renovations were complete. The other blue plaque is for J. Sampson Gamgee, surgeon and founder of the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund, who lived in a house on this site. J. R. R. Tolkien later used his name for the character of Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Nightshot view from 2017. By then the theatre had been open again from 2013 after the new Library of Birmingham had opened. Marmalade Bistro had opened by then. This was slightly before the square had been hoarded off for the redevelopment of Centenary Square (there is still hoardings in front of the theatre).

Close up view in late 2017. Due to the renovations works of the square, this is currently the pedestrian walking route past the theatre, so the bar can't have it's tables and chairs outside at the moment.

Rear views of The REP on Cambridge Street near the roundabout close to City Centre Gardens. This view from 2010 from before the theatre was closed for a few years during the renovations while the Library of Birmingham was also being built next door.

The rear of the theatre seen in 2013. The Library of Birmingham is now complete and would open in September 2013. A complete different look to it's brutal predessor of 1971 to about 2011. There is regularly flower displays on that island on Cambridge Street.

 

Photos by Elliott Brown

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Civic pride
05 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

John Baskerville: creator of his own typeface

Baskerville House is in Centenary Square on the site of the former home of John Baskerville. He lived and worked here between 1748 and 1775. There used to be an artwork made in 1990 called Industry and Genius (that has now gone into storage due to the Centenary Square redevelopment). It spelt out Virgil (but the characters in reverse).

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John Baskerville: creator of his own typeface




Baskerville House is in Centenary Square on the site of the former home of John Baskerville. He lived and worked here between 1748 and 1775. There used to be an artwork made in 1990 called Industry and Genius (that has now gone into storage due to the Centenary Square redevelopment). It spelt out Virgil (but the characters in reverse).


John Baskerville

Born in 1706 or 1707, he lived until 1775. Baskerville was best known for being a printer and type designer. He was born in the village of Wolverley, near Kidderminster in Worcestershire. He lived in a house on Easy Row, which is now where Baskerville House is in Centenary Square. His home was also known as Easy Hill.

Below is an exhibit seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The top item shows a plaque that reads:

"Grave stones.
Cut in any of the hands.

John Baskerville"

At the bottom is what looks like a snuff box with a portrait of John Baskerville.

A map of the location of John Baskerville's home at Easy Row. He was buried he vertically, but his body later had to be moved to Christ Church in 1821, as a canal basin was built on the land. Christ Church was demolished in 1897 and his remains was moved again to a crypt at the Catacombs Warstone Lane Cemetery.

I would assume that somewhere around here at Warstone Lane Cemetery, at the catacombs lies the remains of John Baskerville. He only wanted to be buried on his own land, but the constant redevelopment of Birmingham in the 19th century resulted in him being moved twice! John Baskerville was not a fan of consecrated grounds!

The model of the Proposed Civic Centre was seen at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2015. It is normally to be found at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre, so if you go to BM & AG today, you wont see it there now.

Below are the details about the model.

William Haywood, Baker Studios, Erdington (made by)
Model of Proposed Civic Centre (Scale 1" to 12ft),
1941

This model was designed by William Haywood, a special lecturer in town planning at Birmingham University. He supervised its construction by Baker Studios in Erdington over a 12 month period completed in 1941.
The model represents a variety of public buildings including a Planetarium, Natural History Museum, and City Hall, as well as extensive gardens and car parks.

The Hall of Memory and Baskerville House can be seen at the front and middle of the model.

In August 2009 opposite Baskerville House, archaeologists were digging up the car park where from 2013 onwards would stand the Library of Birmingham. It was the remains of the Baskerville Basin. Gibson's Arm was a private canal that was built during the 1810s. John Baskerville's house was burnt down during the Priestley Riots of 1791. Baskerville Basin was filled in during 1938 to make way for the Civic Centre. Thomas Gibson was the one who acquired the land and property in 1812.

Baskerville House seen during April 2009.

It was originally completed in 1938. Before WW2 started, there was plans for the area that is now Centenary Square, for a Civic Centre. But Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were the only buildings to be completed as part of that scheme. It is built on the site of John Baskerville's home of Easy Hill. Which itself was replaced by a canal basin, known as Baskerville Basin. Was also another basin there called Gibson's Basin. They would have both existed there from the 1820s until about 1919 (or later as the Birmingham City Council had purchased the land for their Civic Centre scheme). T. Cecil Howitt of Nottingham was asked to design Baskerville House in 1936.

The war halted construction of Baskerville House, and after WW2 ended, Roman Imperial imagery on public buildings went out of fashion. The building is now Grade II listed, and was renovated from 2003 until 2007. Used to be offices for the City Council, until they moved out in 1998.

In 2010, the statue of King Edward VII was restored after spending many years in Highgate Park. You can see it to the right of Baskerville House (it is currently behind the hoardings of the Centenary Square renovation works). This view from November 2010 shortly after the statue was installed at this spot. In fact it is the only statue to remain in the square while Centenary Square is getting done up (which wont be finished until sometime in 2019). The original Centenary Square was completed in 1991.

In 2013 the Library of Birmingham opened on the site of what was a car park between The REP and Baskerville House. Seen below in December 2017 after it was announced that Birmingham had won the bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The refurbishment of Centenary Square started in 2017 and should have been completed by the end of 2018, but a series of delays means it will probably not be completed until sometime in 2019. You wouldn't know from the way it is now that canal basins used to be here. Although archeologists examined the land under the Library of Birmingham in the summer of 2009 before the library was built.

There used to be a typeface sculpture outside of Baskerville House called Industry and Genius. It was made in 1990 by local artist David Patten. It is a Portland stone sculpture of the Baskerville typeface.

I took invidual photos of each letters and flipped them. Together it reads "Virgil". The standing stones represents the letter punches which Baskerville cut to make his type, and the world virgil was Baskerville's first book, published in 1757, as a re-print of the Roman author's poems. The sculpture went into storage a few years ago when the redevelopment of Centenary Square was about to start.

Photos by Elliott Brown

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