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History & heritage
26 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Tour of the Gay Village in Southside

It's Pride Month 2020, the annual Pride Parade can't take place in Birmingham for obvious reasons. Here we will look at the buildings / pubs of the Gay Village in Southside, taken over the years. Plus some of the sculptures and public art on display. Down the bottom of Hurst Street and some of the side streets. Welcome to the Chinese Gay Quarter Village! (overlap)

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Tour of the Gay Village in Southside





It's Pride Month 2020, the annual Pride Parade can't take place in Birmingham for obvious reasons. Here we will look at the buildings / pubs of the Gay Village in Southside, taken over the years. Plus some of the sculptures and public art on display. Down the bottom of Hurst Street and some of the side streets. Welcome to the Chinese Gay Quarter Village! (overlap)


Hurst Street

The Village Inn seen on Hurst Street in Southside during March 2011.

It dates to the early 19th century and the ground floor was rebuilt in 1887 by C.J. Hodson. The pub has been altered again in recent years.

The pub was proudly flying the rainbow gay flag on it's flagpoles.

The Village Inn was also on the corner of Hurst Street with Skinner Lane.

Next up was The Angel on the corner of Kent Street and Hurst Street. It was formerly a car showroom built in 1931 by Alfred J. Dunn. It's at 125 Hurst Street.

The Angel was a Cafe Bar at Wynner House.

In the same building was Amsterdam XXX. An Adult Shop and Cinema. Was also formerly part of the car showroom of the past.

Now onto January 2015. The Devils Kitchen was on Kent Street, not far from Hurst Street. It was next to a venue called Sidewalk. Which was a Coffee House. They also serve Cocktails, Ciders and Beers. As well as being a Music Bar. It replaced The Angel by 2012.

When open, you could have a take away Cheese Burger for £2.50. Cold drinks was £1.00.

In April 2018 a look at Sidewalk from Kent Street. The Devils Kitchen was to the left.

In July 2018 a first look at the Rhinestone Rhino sculpture. It was seen above The Urban Kitchen at the corner of Hurst Street and Bromsgrove Street. There was a red baseball cap on it's front horn. Was on the top of Wynner House.

Took it again in October 2018. As well as the red cap there was a multicoloured scarf around it's neck. Made in 2012 by the artists Emma Butler, Vikki Litton and Robbie Coleman. It was unveiled in time for Birmingham Pride 2012. It was made of a polystyrene mould, carved into a rhino shape and then coated in fibreglass.

Also seen on Hurst Street at Wynner House during October 2018 was Equator Bar. Decorated for Halloween. I called it Halloween Horrors at the time. It is to the right of Sidewalk and was formerly part of a car showroom.

A skeleton hanging from the Equator Bar sign.

Inside was a ghostly skeleton in red, white and black. They serve coffees and teas here.

Next up Hurst Street views from August 2015. On the side of Missing Bar. There is a statue of Marilyn Monroe on the top, and street art at the bottom.

I would assume that Marilyn Monroe was a gay icon. Sadly she died young in 1962 at the age of 36 (of an overdose).

The street at at the bottom looks like a pair of eagles firing lasers at a cube. With a dancing lady in the middle. The art was painted over in 2017.

To the left of that is a shop called CZ Birmingham. With clothes that LGBT people would like. It's at The Arcadian.

Essex Street and Lower Essex Street

In December 2017 a look at the street art at Nightingale. On the corner of Kent Street and Lower Essex Street. The artwork was by Inke, and says Love is Love.

This side of Nightingale on Kent Street. Clearly painted for Birmingham Pride.

On Essex Street in March 2011. A look at 23 Essex Street. Known at the time as the Queens Tavern.

It was built in 1894-95 by James & Lister Lea. They were famed all over Birmingham for designing and buildings pubs in the City.

At the time there was a pink pub sign for Queens Tavern.

An update in January 2013, as the pub had a make over with a new pub sign, andwas now called the Queen Elizabeth. The building is at the corner of Inge Street, so it was quite close to the Birmingham Hippodrome and the Back to Backs.

The new pub sign (at the time) resembled a postage stamp of Queen Elizabeth II.

Another rebrand by May 2014. The pub was now calling itself Priva. Probably a nightclube or strip club? It is still called Priva to this day, but they repainted the outside in red (but is still black at the top).

Sherlock Street

Eden seen on Sherlock Street during March 2011. It was formerly calledThe White Swan and located at 116 Sherlock Street, near Hurst Street.

The White Swan was built in the early 19th century, but was completely recast in 1937 by J.B. Surman.

At the time Eden had all of these Eden banners on the Sherlock Street facade.

On the side was painted a Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey advert. Old No 7 Brand.

Eden was lit up after dark in December 2018. Seen from the no 45 bus on Sherlock Street. by this point there was a Smirnoff advert painted onto the side of the gay pub. They also painted the bottom half of the pub green.

Another after dark shot of Eden from October 2019. This time seen from a no 35 bus. Both times lit up in rainbow colours. Was a bit too many reflections from the bus window on the top deck. Could see the Hurst Street side from here.

Sherlock Street gave it's name to Sherlock Holmes as author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was at one point based in Birmingham. He also got the Hound of the Baskervilles from the Baskerville typeface. But that's all for a different post.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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40 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
26 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Summer fun fair at Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich

Every summer there used to be a fun fair in Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich. The first time I saw it was in July 2017 on the way to Sandwell Valley on the Big Sleuth trail. Saw again last summer during August 2019, when I popped into the park to cross the footbridge over The Expressway. I expect it is cancelled for summer 2020. So enjoy this gallery from two of the previous summers.

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Summer fun fair at Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich





Every summer there used to be a fun fair in Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich. The first time I saw it was in July 2017 on the way to Sandwell Valley on the Big Sleuth trail. Saw again last summer during August 2019, when I popped into the park to cross the footbridge over The Expressway. I expect it is cancelled for summer 2020. So enjoy this gallery from two of the previous summers.


Fun Fair at Dartmouth Park

I first passed through Dartmouth Park in July 2017. Located near West Bromwich Town Centre and Sandwell Valley Country Park. The main entrance is on Reform Street through a set of gates near the gatehouse. There is also a footbridge that goes over The Expressway which takes you to Beeches Road. The park has a war memorial and a bandstand. There is also a boating lake and a children's play area.

For my post on Sandwell Valley Country Park, click on this link here: Summer fun fair and The Big Sleuth at the Sandwell Valley Country Park (July 2017).

2017

Pat Collin's Fun Fair was on from the 27th to 30th July 2017 in Dartmouth Park. The fun fair was established almost 150 years ago in 1875. They are based in Brownhills, Walsall.

I first saw the lorries from the fun fair on the main path into the park from the Reform Stret entrance.

The fun fair lorries from the back. They would have also had some caravans there.

Back of the Ghost Train.

A ride called Atmosphere, but was folded up at the back of this lorry.

Close up of Atmosphere.

Was also this Dodgems ride and teacup ride. But both were folded up during the day.

2019

Back in West Bromwich in early August 2019, I had another walk into Dartmouth Park after I left the Town Centre. And saw this fun fair there. I saw a sign outside the park that said "Sandwell Valley Children's Fun Fair - open weekends every day during holidays". I'm not sure if it referred to the fun fair in Dartmouth Park, or the one in Sandwell Valley Country Park.

But it was Pat Collins Fun Fair again. Rides here included Jumping Jack and Dodgem.

This ride was called Scream.

Ghost Train from the front this time around. The bouncy castle was deflated.

Dodgem and Freeway / Route 66.

A look towards the Freeway ride, not far from the bandstand. But they were setting it up at the time.

One of the caravans near Freeway.

After this I took the path the footbridge that crosses over The Expressway. It goes around in circles on both sides. My next Dartmouth Park post will include the rest of my previous visits to this park (excluding the fun fair which you can see above here).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
24 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Cofton Park in Rednal and near Longbridge

Cofton Park is close to Longbridge and Rednal as well as being not far from the Lickey Hills Country Park. Back in April 2013, when I first tried to get to Beacon Hill, I ended up going to Cofton Park instead. At the time it was close to the MG Motor factory on Lowhill Lane. The Council bought the land in 1933.

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Cofton Park in Rednal and near Longbridge





Cofton Park is close to Longbridge and Rednal as well as being not far from the Lickey Hills Country Park. Back in April 2013, when I first tried to get to Beacon Hill, I ended up going to Cofton Park instead. At the time it was close to the MG Motor factory on Lowhill Lane. The Council bought the land in 1933.


Cofton Park

Cofton Park is located close to Longbridge, and is also near Rednal and Cofton Hackett in South West Birmingham. The park is surrounded by Lowhill Lane, near what was the MG Motor factory (the Chinese owned SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre Ltd), Groveley Lane and Lickey Road. The Lickey Hills Country Park is nearby.

The park has 135 acres of rolling fields and trees, and is mainly open grassland. In the centre of the park is a small woodland. The park was once the boundary of Lowhill Farm. Birmingham City Council bought the land in 1933 from the Trustees for William Walter Hinde. He left the land in his will to be used by the people of Birmingham forever. There is an old farmhouse at the centre of the park.

Cofton Plant Nursery is also based here. Selling high quality bedding and shrubs to the public. They also make the public displays for the Chelsea Flower Show and Gardeners World Live (they later go on display around the City Centre or elsewhere in the City).

In September 2010 at Cofton Park, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass here for the beautification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. It was attended by a crowd of over 51,000 people. Cofton Park had a capacity of 80,000 people. Newman was later elevated to the Sainthood by Pope Francis in 2019 (but this took place in the Vatican City, Rome).

2013

In April 2013, I walked down Lickey Road heading towards the Lickey Hills Country Park. But at that time I didn't know which way to walk to Beacon Hill. I did go around some of the roads near the Lickey's in Cofton Hackett but ended up going to Cofton Park instead (I ended up returning and trying again for Beacon Hill two weeks later).

The walk down the Lickey Road past Cofton Park. Lowhill Lane is to the left.

At the time I was aiming to get to the Lickey Hills Country Park and not thinking about ending up in Cofton Park.

The entrance to Cofton Park Nursery from Lickey Road. At the time they had a Summer Plant Sale. And this was in April 2013.

I was on the other side of the road to Cofton Park, but you can see it lines down Lickey Road.

A closed gate from the Lickey Road.

One last look down the Lickey Road past Cofton Park, before I got close to the Lickey Hills.

After going up a bit of Rose Hill and part way up Barnt Green Road and back, I next headed up Groveley Lane past Cofton Park.

The entrance to Cofton Park from Groveley Lane which I took to go into the park.

I headed up the path from Groveley Lane in Cofton Hackett.

Apart from the main path, the park is mostly open fields with trees.

At the top of the hill from the path is a view of the trees at the Lickey Hills.

Panoramic of the Lickey Hills view.

The panoramic was stitched together using photos such as the one below.

The view towards MG Motor.

MG Motor had both British and Chinese flags outside.

Zoom in to the Lickey Hills. At this point I was wondering how I would get up there.

View of houses in Cofton Hackett village below. Including the Rednal Social Club on Barnt Green Road.

Another view of the MG Motor factory. Parts were made in China and assembled here. Sadly I've heard recently that this has been demolished and MG cars will no longer be made in Birmingham. The previous MG Rover factory at Longbridge went bust in 2005, and in the years since it was all demolished and replaced by a new Town Centre with shops, a retirement village and houses.

By the looks of it, I mainly stuck to the path at the time. One bench to the left.

Another panoramic towards the Lickey Hills. I wouldn't walk that section until I got the train to Barnt Green years later.

Getting close to the end of the path. One bench on the right. The path leads to Lickey Road (but exits at Elliot Gardens - and no it was not named after me!).

Before I left, saw this dog sign for dog walkers to pick up their dog's mess.

2016

In the years since, I've only really walked past Cofton Park and not gone back in. Such as in late January 2016 when I walked past the MG Motor factory (on left) and Cofton Park (on the right) while on Lowhill Lane, on a walk around Longbridge.

There was a lot of bright sunshine behind these trees from Lowhill Lane.

A road with bollards from Lowhill Lane while the sun shined brightly.

I didn't really think about going into the park at the time. Just to walk around Longbridge and end up back at Longbridge Station.

One of the Cofton Park signs from Birmingham City Council's Department of Recreation and Community Services.

The sign that says "This gate closes at dusk".

This is the entrance to the Lowhill Lane Car Park. There is also the Cofton Park Pavilion, although I've not seen it myself .

2019

Another Longbridge walk up Lowhill Lane during February 2019. As before walked down Lickey Road, then up Lowhill Lane past the park, before making my way back to Longbridge Lane. Again didn't go into the park at the time.

The Lowhill Lane Car Park entrance as a car drove down the road. There is a ramp ahead that cars have to go over.

I also spotted these football goalposts.

It would be nice to one day go back to this park and walk over the grass, as long as it isn't too wet from the recent rain we have been having.

 

Another park in Longbridge to check out is the new Austin Park at the new Longbridge Town Centre. Post coming soon. Check the project for the photo gallery.

 

For my related Lickey Hills Country Park posts go to:

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
24 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Knowle Park in the spring of 2019

My second visit to Dorridge, and the walk up to Knowle in Solihull was during March 2019. While in Knowle, I popped into Knowle Park. While in the park it was nice and sunny, but after I left for the walk back to Dorridge Station, it started hailing! Also in this park is Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve and Purnells Brook.

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Knowle Park in the spring of 2019





My second visit to Dorridge, and the walk up to Knowle in Solihull was during March 2019. While in Knowle, I popped into Knowle Park. While in the park it was nice and sunny, but after I left for the walk back to Dorridge Station, it started hailing! Also in this park is Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve and Purnells Brook.


Knowle Park

My visit to the historic Knowle Village and Knowle Park was during March 2019. Having caught a train to Dorridge again, I wanted to walk further than 2 years before and get to Knowle. Like Dorridge Park, Knowle Park is a Green Flag Park. Home to Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve and Purnells Brook. They are reminders of the historical Forest of Arden from Knowle's past.

Jobs Close gets it's name from Jobs Close House which looks over the park. Built in 1904 as a private residence, before being bought by Solihull Council in the 1940's and used as Cedarhurst Primary School. In 1957 it was sold to a charitable trust, and used to this day as a retirement home.

There is a pond near Longdon Road. Which was formerly a series of three marl pits. The pond is reguarly visited by ducks, herons and moorhens. The park is home to a variety of tree species.

Purnells Brook that runs through the park from the north west corner. It was the boundary in Saxon times between Knowle and Longdon Manors. In the Nature Reserve you can see woodland flowers such as bluebells (when they are in flower).

The park also has an outdoor gym and a playground. There is a local community group here called the Friends of Knowle Park.

 

Onto my visit from the middle of March 2019. Entering from Longdon Road in Knowle. Saw this Solihull M.B.C. sign for Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve.

So first up is Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve. Steps near the pond.

A green fence around the pond.

View of the pond towards the car park.

Next I went up these steps.

Woodland walk in Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve.

Bit of a drop near the trees from here.

Now into Knowle Park proper. A pair of paths splitting in a Y shape.

March is daffodil season. These daffodils were quite white with yellow on the inside.

A close up look at the Knowle Park daffodils.

A map of Knowle Park welcomes you, it also has information of the park (which I've mentioned at the top of this post).

Dark clouds in front of the sun. Perhaps a sign of the coming hail storm I would be caught in on the way back to Dorridge Station at the time.

A footbridge back into Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve. Crossing Purnells Brook.

A look at Purnells Brook from the footbridge.

A stone in the middle of the nature reserve and a sign. Paths in a triangular shape. Information about the grassland and scrub. Also the tree lined brook.

Close up look at the artwork on the Jobs Close Local Nature Reserve stone.

Back into Knowle Park again and the clouds didn't look too bad at this point.

Another Knowle Park map and sign (same as the other one).

Those houses are Jobs Close, which is now a retirement home. But once a private home. It was used as Cedarhurst Primary School in the 1940s.

More daffodils, theses ones are the more traditional yellow ones.

Heading out of the park towards Lodge Road.

After this the walk back to Dorridge Station. But was a hail storm. Again instead of getting the train back to Acocks Green, I got the first one out to Solihull with Chiltern Railways. West Midlands Railway services terminate at Dorridge. But didn't want to wait in the waiting room for too long.

 

Coming soon will be other Solihull park posts for Olton Jubilee Park, Langley Hall Park and Mill Lodge Park. (Click these links to view the projects and view the photo galleries).

Click here for my Dorridge Park post.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Modern Architecture
23 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Tour of the inside of the Library of Birmingham during September 2013

Welcome to a tour of the Library of Birmingham from my visits back in September 2013. My first visits were on the 21st and 28th September 2013. It was very busy. Loads of people visiting the library for the first time. Heading up the escalators between the levels. At the time the glass lift still worked, so you could go in that if it wasn't too busy. 9 levels plus the basement levels.

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Tour of the inside of the Library of Birmingham during September 2013





Welcome to a tour of the Library of Birmingham from my visits back in September 2013. My first visits were on the 21st and 28th September 2013. It was very busy. Loads of people visiting the library for the first time. Heading up the escalators between the levels. At the time the glass lift still worked, so you could go in that if it wasn't too busy. 9 levels plus the basement levels.


For this post we are only looking at the inside of the Library of Birmingham. So not the Shakespeare Memorial Room, Discovery Terrace or the Secret Garden (I'll leave those for future posts).

 

Originally the Library had revolving doors from Centenary Square (and also to the Discovery Terrace on Level 3). There is also a disabled door you can use by the press of a button. The revolving doors were replaced years later by automatic doors, as the revolving doors kept getting stuck. Also the glass lift from Level 4 to Level 7 stopped working after a year. Meaning you have to use the other lifts, or the stairs (if you can). There are escalators from Level G (the ground floor) to Level 3. Then a travelator up to Level 4. Access to Level 7 and 9 is by the lifts or stairs. Level 5 and Level 8 is for staff only. There is also the Library Cafe on the ground floor, and you can take you coffee up to the Mezzanine floor (also called Level MZ).

 

21st September 2013

Starting on the ground floor Level G, a look towards the entrance to the REP. On the left is the Library Shop. Where you can buy Birmingham souvenirs. I got in after 4pm that day.

The escalators from Level G to Level 1 was busy that day. On the left was a temporary exhibition, called The Pavilion

When it opened, Level 1 was originally called Business Learning & Health (this was before Brasshouse Languages took it over in 2016).

There used to be desks where you could work on your laptop or tablet on. WiFi early on was weak, but years later the free WiFi got better (well at least after I kept upgrading my smartphone every couple of years).

The escalators from Level 1 up to Level 2.

Next up was Level 2, which was originally called the Knowledge Floor. Around the core of this floor and the floor above is the Book Rotunda. There is a lot of old historic books around there.

Another area for studying and using your laptop or tablet with a view out to Centenary Square.

Now it was time to leave Level 2 for Level 3. Just had to go up the escalator to the next floor.

Now a look around Level 3, which was called the Discovery Floor at the time. This area was called the Mediatheque. Where you can watch films from a library collection (I think).

The Travelator that goes from Level 3 up to Level 4. That time it was set to go up on the right. Usually you go up on the left.

On the ride up, you can see the glass lift. And there was a queue for it waiting to go up to Level 7.

Level 4 was called Archives & Heritage. You can go through glass doors when you get to the top, or at the time use the glass lift (it wouldn't remain in service for long before it broke down - in fact it's not worked for years!).

I would have gone higher that day, but it was almost 5pm and that was the time that the Library of Birmingham closed for the evening. So heading back down the escalators through the Book Rotunda. At this point heading down from Level 3 to Level 2. Next up would be the escalator down to Level 1.

Heading down the escalator from Level 1 back to Level G, where you can see The Pavilion temporary exhibition on the right.

A look at the Children's Library which is on Level LG (Lower Ground Floor).

Back on Level G, and heading from the Library of Birmingham into the foyer of the REP.

28th September 2013

One week later, I returned to the Library of Birmingham to go all the way up to the top to Level 9 for the Shakespeare Memorial Room and Skyline Viewpoint. Got in much earlier this time, just before 1pm that day. This wall welcomes you to the Library of Birmingham. Was also a screen showing information about the exhibition on at the time called Dozens & Trails. This was on Level G.

This time I was able to get the glass lift up from Level 4 to Level 7.

Now on Level 7 after going up the glass lift. Here you can see the comfy red chairs in a staff only area of the Library. On Level 7 is the Secret Garden.

Views from Level 7 near the Glass Lift down to the floors below. You can see the travelator and the escalators down to about Level 2.

If you don't like heights don't look down! On this day the travelator was operating in the correct directions. Left side to take you down from Level 7 to 4. The right side to take you up from Level 4 to 7.

The escalators on Level 2 takes you to and from Level 1 (on the left) and to and from Level 3 (on the right).

There was also some comfy red chairs on Level 7. I used to sit on some of them on Level 3 to get onto the WiFi on my then smartphone.

On Level 7 you can see a staff office through the window from the corridor from the regular lifts and stairs. So you might see this if going to or from the Secret Garden (unless they have the blinds down).

That day I used the stairs to go down. Went a bit too far down to Level LG, and saw these desks with PC's on them. So had to go back up the stairs to Level G to exit.

That's it folks for this tour of the Library of Birmingham. It's changed a lot since it first opened 7 years ago.

For the next Library of Birmingham post, I could show you around the Shakespeare Memorial Room. It's on Level 9 near the Skyline Viewpoint.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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