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Green open spaces
29 minutes ago - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Witton Lakes Park: a pair of lakes north of the M6

Not far from Witton Cemetery is Witton Lakes Park. It's also quite close to the M6. On the Christmas Day morning of December 2019, we went on a walk around this park. There was also time to pop into Brookvale Park (post coming soon). The walk started at Perry Common Road and passed both lakes towards Marsh Hill and back. Was lucky that morning to have a blue sky and clear weather.

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Witton Lakes Park: a pair of lakes north of the M6





Not far from Witton Cemetery is Witton Lakes Park. It's also quite close to the M6. On the Christmas Day morning of December 2019, we went on a walk around this park. There was also time to pop into Brookvale Park (post coming soon). The walk started at Perry Common Road and passed both lakes towards Marsh Hill and back. Was lucky that morning to have a blue sky and clear weather.


Is it too late to say "Merry Christmas"? On the 25th December 2019 we headed up to Witton Lakes Park for a Christmas Day morning walk around this park with a pair of lakes. Such a lovely morning. Had blue skies and sunshine. Plenty of birds about such as geese, swans and ducks etc.

First some history from Wikipedia: Witton Lakes. They are a former pair of drinking reservoirs between Perry Common and Erdington. They are fed by two brooks from Kingstanding and from Bleak Hill in Erdington. They overspill into the Brookvale Park Lake before eventually reaching the River Tame. The brooks are natural. The lakes were created near the end of the 19th century to supply drinking water for Birmingham. At the time they were in the countryside but when Birmingham grew and got industrialised, the water was no longer fit for drinking. So the City turned to the Elan Valley in Wales for a supply. One lake is now used for model boating, the other for nature conservation. The North Birmingham Cycle route runs through the park.

 

Getting into the park from Perry Common Road and following this path towards the lakes.

As the path continues, the trees made some nice shadows in the sunshine.

Field to the right of the path, I was more interested in seeing the pair of lakes. I found this park a few months before looking on Google Maps when I was last in Erdington.

Crossing over this footbridge near a brook that feeds into the first lake I would see. This is part of the National Cycle Network route 535. Also known as the North Birmingham Cycle / Walk Route. You can follow a nearby sign to Stockland Green or to the City Centre.

A look at the brook in the direction of the lakes. This bridge with a grill was closed off (I don't think members of the public can walk over it).

First view of the first lake. Clouds were clearing, the sky already looking blue. And plenty of birds around.

Several low rise tower blocks in the distance from this view of the lake. Four towers called: Huntington House, Kingsbridge House, Lynton House and Greenford House.

Near the end of the first lake. There is a nearby school called Wilson Stuart School. And Perry Common is in this direction.

Between the two lakes is this path and benches to sit and admire the lakes and the wildlife. Some nice shadows from the benches on the left.

This Tufted Duck was in the first lake that I saw. Viewed from the path betwen both of the lakes.

This is a Eurasian Wigeon, also seen in the first lake.

On the other side of the path that splits the lake. Another path that leads towards the North Birmingham Academy. Next it was time to walk around the second lake in the park.

There was a large family of swans with their young on the second lake. I would soon walk down the straight that leads to a waterfall or weir.

View of the second lake. The sky was looking so blue from here, hardly any clouds. A perfect morning.

Could this be a palm tree on the Witton Lakes? Maybe it would more impressive in the Summer, but in the Winter it looked good.

This Coot was swimming in this direction, making an interesting ripple effect in the lake water, making a V shape. Various gulls were behind.

This view of the second lake from the bridge over the weir or waterfall.

Now heading on the path towards Marsh Hill (and on towards Brookvale Park), saw this weir on the brook that follows out of the second lake.

Bright sunshine on the path towards Marsh Hill. Hard to believe that this was on Christmas Day. But then on Christmas Day's on years gone past we've had sunshine and blue skies before (I think).

Later after the walk around Brookvale Park, headed back through Witton Lakes. And got some more views of the second lake on the way back to the car park on Perry Common Road.

For more photos of this park, please check out my album on Flickr here: Witton Lakes Park.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Green open spaces
23 hours ago - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Hazelwell Park: a small park near the River Rea Valley Route

This park you are most likely to be walking along the River Rea in Stirchley than actually going around the park. In the past I've got onto the path from either Fordhouse Lane or Hazelwell Fordrough and walked towards either Cartland Road, or crossed the footbridge over the River Rea towards Hazelwell Lane (near the ex Tesco now Seven Capital land). Path good for walks / cycling etc.

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Hazelwell Park: a small park near the River Rea Valley Route





This park you are most likely to be walking along the River Rea in Stirchley than actually going around the park. In the past I've got onto the path from either Fordhouse Lane or Hazelwell Fordrough and walked towards either Cartland Road, or crossed the footbridge over the River Rea towards Hazelwell Lane (near the ex Tesco now Seven Capital land). Path good for walks / cycling etc.


As I continue to go through the Birmingham parks I've passed through on many walks in the past. This time we take a look at Hazelwell Park in Stirchley. If you get off the 11A or 11C buses on Fordhouse Lane, head up the path alongside the River Rea. Then head right onto Hazelwell Road, then up the next path. The park will be straight ahead. By this point, the river would now be on the left.

You could also get off the 11A or 11C buses at the bottom of Vicarage Road, then walk down Hazelwell Fordrough, and enter the path towards the park. The path is right at the bottom of the hill, just head right.

I wouldn't spend long in the park, as I see the footbridge over the River Rea, this would continue my walk into Stirchley around what was the unbuilt Tesco land, now owned by Seven Capital (and still awaiting development). The footbridge exits you onto Ripple Road and Hunts Road, with Hazelwell Lane straight ahead (but that is now blocked off by Seven Capital hoardings). So you have to take one of the many side roads to get to the Pershore Road or Hazelwell Street (A441).

The final exit from the park is on Cartland Road that I've used. I've not really been around the field in Hazelwell Park, but there are entrances / exits on Edwin Road and from Newlands Road.

 

January 2011

Some of my earliest photos of the River Rea in Stichley, I took from the bridge on Fordhouse Lane in Stirchley. This is near the path that leads to Hazelwell Park. At the time was one my first photo walks around Stirchley, including checking out the Worcester & Birmingham Canal from the Pershore Road for the first time on my then camera. The burnt out ruins of a former pub called The Lifford Curve were to the right of here. A few years later the rubble was removed and it is now Thrifty Car and Van Rental Stirchley. The pub had been on fire sometime before 2011, but the pub had been To Let since 2008. Demolished in 2012, Thrifty didn't open until about 2016.

The path towards Hazelwell Road is to the left of the River Rea. The derelict land on the left, has recently had housing built on it, after being unused for such a long time. That is called The Hazelwells (from Taylor Wimpey).

Looks like at least one of the trees at the time had been cut down, or came down in a storm. It would several years before I ended up walking up that path from Fordhouse Lane towards Hazelwell Road.

June 2013

In the summer of 2013, heading along the path on the Rea Valley Route. On Hazelwell Road walking towards the bridge that crosses the River Rea. I had probably walked down from the Pershore Road if I was at this point, and may not have come from the path from Fordhouse Lane.

This path is part of the National Cycle Network route 5. The grass on both sides was left to grow wild, apart from the grass that was mown. This is the path towards Fordhouse Lane.

The bridge on Hazelwell Road that leads to the Hazelwell Trading Estate, as well as a path into Hazelwell Park.

One of the sides of the bridge, with a look at the River Rea.

Passing the graffiti wall near the Stirchley Trading Estate. This is the path that started from Hazelwell Road. On the right is the path towards Hazelwell Fordrough.

A look at the field in Hazelwell Park. In the distance are some goalposts. There is a path on the right that keeps you off the grass, but I have still yet to walk around there. Instead I crossed the bridge over the River Rea.

First time crossing the bridge over the River Rea. At this point the land for development beyond was still owned by Tesco, and you could walk up Hazelwell Lane towards the Pershore Road (but that is not possible now, at least until Seven Capital does something with the land).

A look at the River Rea, looking lush and green in the summer.

Welcome to Hazelwell Park. This sign was opposite the footbridge if you entered the park from this way in. The graffiti on here has been cleaned off, but I suspect that the vandals keep tagging it from time to time.

December 2015

Heading down Hazelwell Lane near the end of 2015, towards the footbridge that crosses the River Rea. Hunts Road to the right and Ripple Road was to the left. I probably got onto Hazelwell Lane from the Pershore Road, but this road is now blocked off by Seven Capital hoardings (was open when Tesco owned the land). From here, you can see that Welcome to Hazelwell Park sign on the other side of the bridge.

A close up look at the footbridge into Hazelwell Park. This particular walk took be towards Fordhouse Lane via the Rea Valley Route. So exited the park before I was in it for too long this time around.

After passing the graffiti wall again on the path towards Hazelwell Road, a look at the bridge near the Hazelwell Trading Estate, as a man was seen crossing the bridge on a bike. I would next get onto the path towards Fordhouse Lane again.

Near the end of the path to Fordhouse Lane on the Rea Valley Route. An NXWM bus on the 11A Outer Circle just passed me. I would have to wait for the next 11A. I usually use the bus stop close to the Pershore Road on Fordhouse Lane, or I may have walked to the left up to the next bus stop. The path continues beyond here on the other side of the road towards the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

January 2016

Another visit during the Winter of 2016. This time looking closely at the playground. The Hazelwell Park Play Area. You can see the houses on Newlands Road from here.

A big slide and a little slide.

A rainbow sign for the Hazelwell Park Play Area.

There is these stones that kids can climb up on, using the netted rope.

Like all Birmingham parks, Hazelwell Park has the yellow elephant sign for the Welcome to Hazelwell Park Play Area. No dogs are allowed in this area though.

Yellow swings to the left. Path in the background to the left, leads to Newlands Road.

This time heading towards Cartland Road. A noticeboard for the Friends of Hazelwell Park. Looks a bit damaged, I hope that in the 4 years that have passed, that they have repaired it, and made it more safe.

The path in Hazelwell Park that runs towards Cartland Road. The River Rea is on the left.

June 2016

The path from the Fordhouse Lane looking lush and green in the summer of 2016. This was from one of my many walks around Stirchley over the years. Probably got off the 11C bus on Fordhouse Lane, then walked towards Hazelwell Street, where I then waited for a 45 or 47 bus to town. Tesco had some old buildings knocked down for a potential petrol station that never got built (this was before they sold the land to Seven Capital).

 

I will do posts on Witton Lakes Park, Brookvale Park and Hillfield Park as soon as the projects are set up for me. Until then I will continue the backlog of parks that I have already been given access to.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Photography
17 Feb 2020 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

Photographers capture Storm Dennis as it hits Wales (February 2020)

Photo above Courtesy  Rose Voon - Aberystwyth showing the power of the sea

Take the post for a quite amazing selection of photography from our brilliant and talented people with real passion for Wales. 

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Photographers capture Storm Dennis as it hits Wales (February 2020)





Photo above Courtesy  Rose Voon - Aberystwyth showing the power of the sea

Take the post for a quite amazing selection of photography from our brilliant and talented people with real passion for Wales. 


High waves at Porthcawl with Storm Dennis.......

Photo Courtesy Karl McCarthy

 

The power of these storms in Anglesey......

Photo Courtesy Anthony Ward

 

Storm Dennis as it hits Tenby.....

Photo Courtesy Gareth Davies

 

A swell in Trearddur Bay.....

Photo Courtey SC Photography

 

Storm Dennis, Traeth Llyfn beach, near Porthgain, Pembrokeshire....

Photo Courtesy Ynys Barry

 

High waves at Porthcawl......

Photo Courtesy Duane Evans

 

Anglesey as a ferry takes on the heavy seas......

Photo Courtesy Anthony Ward

 

Stormy seas at Pembrokeshire.....

Photo Courtesy Nicky Mallen

 

High waves at Aberystwyth.......

Photo Courtesy Rose Voon

 

Storm Dennis, Ynys Cwyfan, Isle of Anglesey....

Photo Courtesy Edward Wyn Roberts

 

Amazing waves seen at Porthcawl......

Photo Courtesy James Darby

 

Storm Dennis as it hits Anglesey....

Photo Courtesy Anthony Ward

 

Afon Llugwy River running along side the A5 at Capel Curig in full flow......

Photo Courtesy W J Jones

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30 passion points
History & heritage
17 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Bakehouse reopened at Sarehole Mill during Storm Dennis

Sarehole Mill have had the Bakehouse restored during the early part of 2020. And they scheduled a free open day on Saturday 15th February 2020. Storm Dennis didn't stop people visiting the mill or the Bakehouse despite the weather. This is the first time in almost 150 years that they have been able to bake loafs of bread and other things in the oven.

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The Bakehouse reopened at Sarehole Mill during Storm Dennis





Sarehole Mill have had the Bakehouse restored during the early part of 2020. And they scheduled a free open day on Saturday 15th February 2020. Storm Dennis didn't stop people visiting the mill or the Bakehouse despite the weather. This is the first time in almost 150 years that they have been able to bake loafs of bread and other things in the oven.


I've been to Sarehole Mill many times over the years, so wasn't going to stay around here too long during Storm Dennis. Saw something on their Twitter about the mill being open on Saturday 15th February 2020 from about 11am to 4pm, for free. As I didn't want to go too far in the storm, I headed down the 11 Outer Circle bus route and popped into the mill for a bit.

 

The Bakehouse has been out of use for almost 150 years. Early in 2020 it was fully refurbished and is baking for the people of Birmingham again. The last baker was William Anderton, who retired in 1872, after baking here for almost 20 years.

One of the smaller baking ovens on the left. Last time I saw this, there was either a Big Hoot little owl up here (in 2015) or a Big Sleuth little bear (in 2017).

Looking up to the ceiling, with the wooden roof supports.

The Bakehouse was probably built in the 1840s. The oven was never allowed to go cold as it was too expensive to heat it back up from scratch.

One of the Sarehole Mill Bakehouse volunteers places a loaf of bread in the oven, then quickly shuts the oven door.

I didn't stick around too long to see the finished result, but they have also baked other things in here such as pizza and pastries. They have an Instagram account here Sarehole Bakehouse. It might just be the Sarehole Mill account renamed.

The outside of the Bakehouse to the left, still stormy outside. I popped over the the Mill Pool and briefly into the mill again before leaving.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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50 passion points
Squares and public spaces
14 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Model of St Martin's Square at St Martin in the Bullring

I did not know that this model of St Martin's Square was inside of St Martin in the Bullring. After meeting King Charles I Return for the first time for coffee (Aka Daniel Williams) we headed into St Martin's Church for a quick look around. First thing I spotted was this model. I'd say it was made around 2000 for the Bullring that opened in 2003. Also shows Selfridges.

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Model of St Martin's Square at St Martin in the Bullring





I did not know that this model of St Martin's Square was inside of St Martin in the Bullring. After meeting King Charles I Return for the first time for coffee (Aka Daniel Williams) we headed into St Martin's Church for a quick look around. First thing I spotted was this model. I'd say it was made around 2000 for the Bullring that opened in 2003. Also shows Selfridges.


In this post, first we will look at the model that I found inside of St Martin in the Bullring. Then comparison photos I took around St Martin's Square between Spring 2009 and early 2011 (before it all changed for the Spiceal Street development).

 

This model is between the exit from St Martin in the Bullring Cafe on the corridor to an entrance inside of the Church of St Martin. Didn't know it was there. Not even from a previous photo I took of the corridor to the cafe. I met King Charles I Return (aka Daniel Williams) on Friday 7th February 2020 for coffee. After that we popped into the church for a quick look around.

This view from Digbeth towards St Martin's Church with Selfridges on the right with the East Mall. The West Mall is to the left. The square as it was from 2003 until the 2011 Spiceal Street development added several new restaurants.

It was in a glass dome, so bit hard to get views without reflections. Birds-eye view down on St Martin's Square. Used to be a stepped sitting area on the left. That is where Chaophraya Thai Restaurant is now. Hand Made Burger Co was later built to the left of Selfridges down the right hand side of the path down to the road.

The view between St Martin's Church and Selfridges towards the main entrance to the Bullring. You can see the statue of Nelson in the middle.

This is the view from the markets side of the Bullring. Which is close to where buses drop off passengers (buses do not pick up passengers from this stop).

Another view of the path into St Martin's Square. Those steps on the right is where Handmade Burger Co is now. Sadly the Birmingham based chain has closed down (including their Bullring and Brindleyplace restaurants).

 

Now to compare the model to the real St Martin's Square from 2009 to early 2011 (before the Spiceal Street development got underway).

From the spring of 2009 when I started taking photos of Birmingham, that included the Bullring area. Got this view of St Martin's Church from near the steps during May 2009. The Three Cubes fountains were still there on the left. Little did I know that this area would all change about 2 years later.

These views from Digbeth, look quite similar to the model. Taken in October 2009, on the first day that I ever took photos around Digbeth (and not the last). This view past the Bull Ring Tavern towards the crossing between St Martin's Church and Selfridges.

Digbeth ends here, then the Bullring starts on the other side of the lights. There is a really short section of road called St Martin's Lane between Moat Lane and Park Street. Usually the buses wait at the lights here.

This view from near the Bull Ring Open Markets on Moat Lane. There was bunting on the lampposts. A sign on the right pointed directions to Digbeth Temporary Coach Station, as National Express was having their old coach station rebuilt into Birmingham Coach Station (which opened at the end of 2009 by the then England Football Manager, Fabio Capello).

Some of my earliest photos of St Martin's Square from April 2009. This from the balcony not far from the statue of Horatio Nelson. This view towards Borders, the Three Cubes fountain sculpture and Gloria Jeans Coffee. Neither of those were on the model (the sculpture and coffee shop).

This view also from April 2009, looking up to the balcony with the statue of Nelson. The stepped seating area was on the left, next to that was the Three Cubes fountain sculpture. St Martin in the Bullring to the right (still there now of course).

On month on, now May 2009. The curved semi circle section of the West Mall above Borders, the Three Cubes fountain sculpture and Gloria Jeans Coffee.

At the time in May 2009, the stepped seating area was closed off. Perhaps for a deep clean. But they would be dug up 2 years later in 2011 for the Spiceal Street development. This view towards Selfridges.

Side view of Gloria Jean's Coffee. This cafe building would be open until the end of 2010 (and into January 2011). The metal panels were later recycled into the tree sculpture that is in St Martin's Square today.

Aware that the building occupied at the time by Gloria Jean's Coffee would be dismantled for the Spiceal Street development, I took these early evening shots around 5pm at the end of December 2010.

There was already some barriers around here, but people could still go up and down the steps. Oh and Forever 21 had opened up above Jamie's Italian by then (where Borders used to be until that closed down).

A few days later and a couple of days into the new year of 2011. So now January 2011 for some last daylight shots of this building before they took it down.

There was a planning application here from Birmingham City Council detailing the plans for what was going to happen at Spiceal Street.

I did not go in. I didn't really start to go to coffee shops until 2012, starting off with Costa Coffee. Before trying Caffe Nero and Starbucks in 2014. I also discovered Coffee#1 in 2015 in South Wales before they opened some stores in the West Midlands.

In August 2009 a view from the upper balcony near Selfridges towards Digbeth. At this point in time, I had yet to have a photo walk around Digbeth. I didn't start to do that until October 2009. The steps below on the left, were demolished in 2009, and this is where Handmade Burger Co was built. The model of St Martin's Square shows tables and chairs outside of Selfridges on the lower balcony. There used to be a Starbucks in Selfridges at this corner (that has now gone).

A nice sunny view heading into St Martin's Square during August 2009. I had changed camera's by this point.

This view of Selfridges from Digbeth during December 2009. They were selling (at the time) Real Christmas Trees at Selfridges. The steps were still there at the time (seen on the left).

St Martin's Square in late December 2010. Slightly blurry at about 5pm near the Christmas tree. This was a few months before the Spiceal Street development which took all of 2011 to complete adding several new restaurants, and new steps up to St Martin's Walk with a replacement water feature.

The Three Cubes fountain sculpture seen during April 2009. Behind them was the former stepped seating area. Borders Books used to have many of the units there, including a Starbucks Coffee. That later became Jamies Italian and Forever 21 (which at one point had a Costa Coffee). Sadly both have recently closed down. But there is a Starbucks in the West Mall just as you enter the doors.

As you can see by December 2010, Jamie's Italian had moved in. They would last until 2018 (going into administration and closing down). The cubes were removed in early 2011 when construction of the Spiceal Street development started.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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