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

James Watt's Heathfield Hall in Handsworth

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

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James Watt's Heathfield Hall in Handsworth





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


Heathfield Hall, Handsworth

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

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

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

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

The Lodge to Heathfield Hall

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

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

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

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

Heathfield Estate

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

List of previous Boulton & Watt related posts:

 

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

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

 

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50 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
02 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Rainbow stripes and roadside outdoor seating around Southside

The Southside BID was able to make a deal with Birmingham City Council, so they could close off roads on the remaining weekends of August 2020. As well as the painted rainbow crossings, they have also had rainbow stripes put up, such as on Hurst Walk and on Kent Street. Outdoor seating to encourage social distancing outside while enjoying a drink.

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Rainbow stripes and roadside outdoor seating around Southside





The Southside BID was able to make a deal with Birmingham City Council, so they could close off roads on the remaining weekends of August 2020. As well as the painted rainbow crossings, they have also had rainbow stripes put up, such as on Hurst Walk and on Kent Street. Outdoor seating to encourage social distancing outside while enjoying a drink.


The Southside BID was able to get Birmingham City Council to agree to road closures over the last couple of weekends of August 2020. So Hurst Street, Bromsgrove Street and Kent Street were closed (no cars allowed). Tables and chairs were set up, and barriers placed at both ends. You will also find recent installations of rainbow stripes. First was on Hurst Walk at The Arcadian (above the second rainbow crossing) and more recently above Kent Street.

Hippodrome Square

Thursday 20th August 2020 (not at the weekend). A few more views of the Cross with Pride rainbow crossing, and people sitting on the picnic benches on Ladywell Walk. Between the Mapstone Building and The Arcadian.

Hurst Walk, The Arcadian

On Saturday 22nd August 2020, in The Arcadian. There is now rainbow multicoloured stripes above Hurst Walk. Between Las Iguanas and The Dragon Inn. It was raining that day.

Bromsgrove Street

Seen on Sunday 30th August 2020. Heading up Bromsgrove Street from Pershore Street. Then onto Hurst Street near the Missing Bar.

I later got these views of Bromsgrove Street, while crossing from Essex Street to Lower Essex Street to get to Kent Street. Road closed, drivers had to find an alternative route.

Safety barriers for pedestrians on Bromsgrove Street, and in the car park on the right.

Hurst Street

Seen on Sunday 30th August 2020. The Missing Bar on Hurst Street.

Looking towards the (closed) Hippodrome past The Arcadian. Tables and chairs outside.

Later after checking out Kent Street, got this view towards Tesco Express and the Missing Bar.

Then down towards the Village Inn. With these security barriers.

Saw some new rainbow banners at The Village Inn near Skinner Lane.

Kent Street

Seen on Sunday 30th August 2020. Kent Street was closed between Lower Essex Street and Hurst Street. Seen near the Nightingale Club.

Rainbow ribbons / stripes had been installed over the last week, just in time for the Bank Holiday Weekend. Looks nice.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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50 passion points
Green open spaces
01 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Chinn Brook Nature Reserve in the Shire Country Park

Continuing on from the Chinn Brook Meadows, is the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve. It is a 17 acre site bound by Yardley Wood Road and Warstock Lane, with the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal to the south. The Chinn Brook flows through here. Beyond is the Cocks Moors Woods Golf Course. The area is quite small. Heading to the north you end up at Haunch Lane, and beyond is Billesley Common.

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Chinn Brook Nature Reserve in the Shire Country Park





Continuing on from the Chinn Brook Meadows, is the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve. It is a 17 acre site bound by Yardley Wood Road and Warstock Lane, with the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal to the south. The Chinn Brook flows through here. Beyond is the Cocks Moors Woods Golf Course. The area is quite small. Heading to the north you end up at Haunch Lane, and beyond is Billesley Common.


Chinn Brook Nature Reserve

The walk around the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve continues on from the Chinn Brook Meadows in the Shire Country Park. Located in Yardley Wood. The main entrance is on the east side on Yardley Wood Road. Paths goes around it and over bridges that cross the Chinn Brook and Haunch Brook. Eventually you would get to Warstock Lane to the west, where there is access to the towpath onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal which is the southern boundary of the nature reserve. Use the steps and not the muddy hill (I once tried to climb up it but slipped down and got mud on my hands). Another way out is if you head up the path towards Haunch Lane. If you want to, you can continue your walk around Billesley Common.

The Chinn Brook Nature Reserve is a 17 acre site, with a variety of habitats. In the 1900s this area formed part of the area known as the "Happy Valley", the working mens picnic spot. On Sundays and Bank Holidays, boats could be hired, and there used to be a fairground on the open space. Yardley Wood Bus Garage was the location of the original Happy Valley Tea Gardens. Since the 1920s various parts of the site had been used as allotments and during WW2 parts were used to grow corn. There used to be a BMX track in what was known as Cocks Moors Wood in 1986-87. Site improvements in 2010 including new footbridges and fencing over the Chinn Brook.

2014

This was during the Christmas Day 2014 walk which started in the Chinn Brook Meadows and continued around the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve on the 25th December 2014.

Information sign at the Yardley Wood Road entrance.

Enter through the gate on Yardley Wood Road to get in.

Shire Country Park fingerpost. Head towards either Warstock Lane and the Stratford upon Avon Canal, or to the Chinn Brook Meadows and the River Cole.

Heading along the path, the trees were quite bare of leaves.

Trees on the left.

Seems like branches lower down had been cut off.

This footbridge goes over the Chinn Brook and the path leads to Haunch Lane.

A look at the Chinn Brook from the footbridge.

A lot of bright sunlight over the green area.

The bridge on Warstock Lane. Beyond here is the golf course.

View of the Chinn Brook from Warstock Lane.

Also the view of the Chinn Brook as it flows into Cocks Moors Woods Golf Course.

A fence from Warstock Lane. The golf course is on the other side (I think).

Looking up Warstock Lane.

Heading back into the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve, there was two paths you could walk on.

A large green lawn that you can walk past.

2020

This continues the April 2020 lockdown walk into the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve from the Chinn Brook Meadows. As before entered on Yardley Wood Road.

This time there was more green leaves on the trees, as I had a look at the Chinn Brook.

The Chinn Brook is not where you dump your wheel and tyre! Take it to a garage!

Onto the path, as this point, not all of the leaves had grown back onto the thin trees on the left.

A blue sky with the green open space.

Growing in the grass was yellow iris.

Continuing along the path towards Warstock Lane.

After Haunch Lane, we headed towards Haunch Lane, and when I saw people who stopped for a chat, we took a different path to be socially distant from them.

Then over the bridge that crosses the Chinn Brook, with a bike on the left.

So lush and green around the Chinn Brook on both sides.

Yes this is in Birmingham, but it could be in the countryside. But it's in Yardley Wood.

The path to Haunch Lane surrounded by all these trees.

It looks wonderful and natural here.

Flats on the right reminds you that you are still in an urbanised environment, as we got close to Haunch Lane.

With the lockdown, the only place to see bluebells was your local nature areas such as here.

The Shire Country Park fingerpost close to Haunch Lane. Head left to the Stratford upon Avon Canal and Warstock Lane. Or go right to Haunch Lane and Billesley Common.

After this headed up Chinn Brook Road back to the car, going past the Chinn Brook Meadows.

Future Shire Country Park posts will include:

  • Scribers Lane SINC
  • Hollybank Spinney
  • The fords on Slade Lane and Scribers Lane

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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

Broad Street Tunnel under the Black Sabbath Bridge

Near the end of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline is the Broad Street Tunnel, between Brindleyplace and Gas Street Basin. In 2019, the bridge above it was renamed as the Black Sabbath Bridge in honour of the famous metal group who had been rocking for 50 years. Inside the tunnel the roof is quite low, so if you are tall, you have to duck as you walk through it.

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Broad Street Tunnel under the Black Sabbath Bridge





Near the end of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline is the Broad Street Tunnel, between Brindleyplace and Gas Street Basin. In 2019, the bridge above it was renamed as the Black Sabbath Bridge in honour of the famous metal group who had been rocking for 50 years. Inside the tunnel the roof is quite low, so if you are tall, you have to duck as you walk through it.


Broad Street Tunnel

The Broad Street Tunnel is located on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline between Brindleyplace and Gas Street Basin. Above it (from 2019) is the renamed Black Sabbath Bridge. Bars over the Gas Street Basin end include the Australian Bar Walkabout and the Indian O Bar. The BCN Main Line was built during the early 1770s with the canal engineer James Brindley. The canal reached Old Wharf through the tunnel by 1773. This was originally the Paradise Street Branch which left what is now Old Turn Junction towards Paradise Street. Today the canal ends at Gas Street Basin, and beyond what was Old Wharf is all filled in (the Arena Central development site).

At the side of the tunnel near Brindleyplace and The ICC, used to be a church, called the Church of the Messiah, this existed from the 1860s (when it was built above the tunnel), but was demolished in 1978.

In 2019 (for about 3 months), the tunnel was closed to allow the Midland Metro Alliance to strengthen the road above to enable the laying of tram tracks between Centenary Square and Hagley Road (just beyond Five Ways). After these works were complete, the bridge above the tunnel was renamed the Black Sabbath Bridge. Where the Black Sabbath Bench was placed (it has now gone into storage due to the Metro extension works). Instead there is temporary hoardings with images of the four members of Black Sabbath, so that fans can take selfies with them (Geezer, Ozzy, Tony and Bill).

2009

The Broad Street Tunnel seen from Gas Street Basin during June 2009. From the footbridge at the Worcester Bar. Today there is bars on all three sides including, the Tap & Spile, O Bar and Walkabout.

Narrowboats taking people through the tunnel below The O Bar.

On top of the Broad Street Tunnel during December 2009, with The O Bar and Walkabout on Broad Street. The O Bar is at the corner with Gas Street and is a Grade II listed building at 266 and 266X Broad Street. Build in 1875 of red brick and some stone by Martin & Chamberlain. Also at 2 Gas Street.

Next door to the left is Walkabout, The Australian Bar, which is in a Grade II listed building at 266A and 267 Broad Street. Built in 1860 of red brick with coloured tiles in Venetian Gothic Style.

2010

Heading through the Broad Street Tunnel during June 2010. Beware of the low headroom and the width of the tunnel varies. Towpaths on both sides.

Near the end of the tunnel, getting close to Brindleyplace (to the left) and The ICC and Symphony Hall (to the right).

From the other side of the Broad Street Tunnel. There is steps on the left up to Broad Street. That demolished church used to be located up above around this spot until the late '70s.

Through those bars on Broad Street used to be a good view of The NIA. There was also Ozzy Osbourne's Broad Street Walk of Fame star up there.

2017

In August 2017 heading over the Broad Street Bridge on the bus. Early stages of roadworks for the Midland Metro extension on Broad Street. The Crown / Reflex 80s Bar on the left, Walkabout on the right.

By December 2017, cars were having to turn right onto Gas Street, as construction of the first Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square was underway. Ony buses and taxies were allowed beyond this point.

2018

By November 2018 I was aware that the tunnel was due to be closed from January 2019 for 3 months, so got some photos before the closure.

As usual, had to duck as I walked through the tunnel.

If you stay on the towpath on this side, you walk around past Regency Wharf towards what was Old Wharf at Bridge Street. A couple of months later the tunnel would be closed for the Midland Metro Alliance works.

2019

On the Broad Street Bridge, above the tunnel in January 2019. By this point the tunnel below was closed. And was a lot of restrictions in place at road level as well. All of this for the Midland Metro Alliance works.

From January 2019 the Broad Street Tunnel was closed for a period of about 3 months. This view from Brindleyplace towards Walkabout and O Bar.

From the footbridge at Gas Street Basin, you could see that the towpath on both sides were closed.

Scaffolding had been placed over the towpaths and the canal.

The barriers, scaffolding and the signs made for some nice reflections at the time.

There was also a line of yellow buoys in the canal. No boats could come this way for three months. Would be a long winter diversion.

Later in January 2019 for another look from Gas Street Basin. Now was some white sheets over the scaffolding.

Another look in early March 2019. The Broad Street Tunnel was still closed. View from the Brewmasters Bridge over the Brindleyplace Bridge.

Near the end of March 2019, the tunnel was open again for the first time in 3 months.

Saw a narrowboat go through for the first time since the end of 2018.

First this narrowboat was going through the tunnel, followed by the Waterbus.

From the Gas Street Basin end, caught the red Waterbus from Sherborne Wharf heading through the tunnel.

Hard to believe that the tunnel had been closed for three months. Was nice to see boats going through it again.

The Black Sabbath Bench seen during July 2019 on top of the Black Sabbath Bridge. Which is above the Broad Street Tunnel. It was later removed in October 2019 for the Metro extension works to take place up here.

Back in August 2019, I saw this red narrowboat coming out of the Broad Street Tunnel. Was raining at the time.

It was steaming away as I crossed over the Brindleyplace Footbridge.

From this September 2019 view (below), you could see that the bridge above the Broad Street Tunnel was now called the Black Sabbath Bridge. This was renamed over the summer of 2019. Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler came to Birmingham in June 2019 to unveil the Black Sabbath Bench and rename the bridge above the canal tunnel.

The Black Sabbath Bench was in place on the Black Sabbath Bench, above the Broad Street Tunnel.

Around October 2019 on the Black Sabbath Bridge, the Black Sabbath Bench had been removed to storage, as the Midland Metro Alliance prepared to build the next extension towards Five Ways.

Also in October 2019, I caught this tourist narrowboat emerging from the Broad Street Tunnel to Gas Street Basin. Was another Sherborne Wharf narrowboat called Bosworth Lady.

 During December 2019, a view of Black Sabbath Selfie with images of the four rockers, Geezer, Ozzy, Tony and Bill.

2020

The Black Sabbath Bridge seen during February 2020. My last shot of the Broad Street Tunnel before the lockdown.

It wouldn't be until July 2020 (due to months of the lockdown), before I would see the Black Sabbath Selfie hoardings again on Broad Street. This was the first time in about 4 months that I'd seen it again.

A lot of progress had taken place during lockdown to lay tracks along Broad Street, and that included above the Black Sabbath Bridge. At certain points is crossings with gates, but this changes from time to time. Expect trams to cross over here by the end of 2021.

At the beginning of August 2020, I followed the Victoria 2012 narrowboat from the Salvage Turn Bridge near The Cube and The Mailbox, towards the Brindleyplace Footbridge. Families once again getting trips on the canal like this.

Close to the end of August 2020, I got some more shots of the Broad Street Tunnel. Starting from Gas Street Basin. Much quieter due to the pandemic, even with lockdown restrictions eased.

Hardly anyone in the tunnel, at least until I had to wait for some people to walk past me, due to social distancing.

As usual, had to duck my head as I walked through both sections of the tunnel.

Before heading to Brindleyplace, one last look at the Broad Street Tunnel. With the Black Sabbath Bridge above. Still the Black Sabbath Selfie hoardings on Broad Street for the time being. A lot of the tracks have been laid above.

One more view days before the end of August 2020. Before heading up the steps to Broad Street. The Brasshouse and Celebrity Restaurant are to the right. The ICC Mall is still closed, so this is one of the routes to Centenary Square you can go.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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40 passion points
Construction & regeneration
28 Aug 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Birmingham, Cranes Across the City - Summer Update

Here's the latest crane photography gallery covering June, July and August, including the extension of the cranes at the Mercian and the installation of the crane at One Centenary Way amoungst others.

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Birmingham, Cranes Across the City - Summer Update





Here's the latest crane photography gallery covering June, July and August, including the extension of the cranes at the Mercian and the installation of the crane at One Centenary Way amoungst others.


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points

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