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Squares and public spaces
27 Jan 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Victoria Square almost empty over the past decade

Apart from when major events such as the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is there, Victoria Square is empty. On certain Bank Holiday's, the square can look empty and deserted. There has been changes in recent years with the building of the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square (which is now open and more or less complete). So there is new paving and steps. It looks good.

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Victoria Square almost empty over the past decade





Apart from when major events such as the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is there, Victoria Square is empty. On certain Bank Holiday's, the square can look empty and deserted. There has been changes in recent years with the building of the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square (which is now open and more or less complete). So there is new paving and steps. It looks good.


Victoria Square

The square was formerly known as the Council House Square and was renamed on the 10th January 1901 to honour Queen Victoria who died just 12 days later. The marble statue of Queen Victoria was unveiled at the time and was designed by Thomas Brock, it was later cast in bronze by William Bloye in 1951. Other statues used to be in the square, such as the statue of King Edward VII which later moved to Highgate Park in 1951, but it was restored in 2010 and moved outside of Baskerville House in Centenary Square. The statue of Robert Peel moved to Calthorpe Park, but is now outside of Tally Ho! in Edgbaston on the Pershore Road (now the training HQ of the West Midlands Police). The Joseph Priestley statue was moved to Chamberlain Square, but it moved to storage in 2016. The George Dawson statue was moved to Edmund Street, but is now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre.

The most recent redevelopment of Victoria Square took place between 1992 and 1994. The River also known by Brummie's at the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, by Dhruva Mistry was unveiled in 1993. Antony Gormley's Iron: Man was also unveiled in 1993, but has been in storage since 2017 (due to the construction of the Westside Metro extension).

The Westside Metro extension was built in Victoria Square between 2017 and 2019 from Pinfold Street to Paradise Street, which included a tram stop on Paradise Street next to the Town Hall. This opened to Centenary Square during December 2019.

 

The following photos taken over the last decade or so. The square almost empty.

Victoria Square during the early May Bank Holiday weekend 2011 (May Day). Union Jack bunting left over from the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate (now the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge). Birmingham Central Library was still there at the time (it would close in 2013 and get demolished in 2016). Seen between the Town Hall and Council House. This was from the New Street end of Victoria Square.

View towards the Town Hall. Was plenty of bollards here at the time. The pair of red phone boxes near Victoria Square House and Pinfold Street had yet to be removed, as was all those trees.

This was during the snow of the middle of January 2013. Christmas tree still on the right. This was from the New Street end of the square.

A wet afternoon in Victoria Square on New Year's Day 2017 (1st January 2017). Raining in the morning, and the square still looked wet and empty when I passed through it. The square is always like this, days after the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market packs up and returns to Germany.

More snow in Victoria Square, but during March 2018. Some Council workers were laying salt grit in the square. It was around this period that the World Indoor Athletics Championships were being held over at Arena Birmingham. So was direction signs to the Arena. This view towards the Town Hall with the Council House to the right. By this point, construction of the Westside Metro extension was well under way, and the Iron:Man was now in storage.

One year on in March 2019, and I passed through Victoria Square during a hail storm. Saw white hail stones coming down. This view towards Victoria Square House. Was already new paving around the statue of Queen Victoria, which was done with the Metro extension.

Heading down the steps towards New Street, as the hail was getting heavier. The Metro extension behind fences, but you could still get to the pavement on Pinfold Street.

A complete contrast a month later! A stunning blue sky in Victoria Square during April 2019. It was very hot for that time of the year. This photo was taken 10 years to the day when I first started taking photos of Birmingham, including in Victoria Square. Council House on the left, the statue of Queen Victoria, with new paving, to the right.

Boxing Day during late December 2019. And this was several days after the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market had closed (again) and been dismantled. I approached the square this time from Hill Street. Here you can see the newly complete paving and steps that was built as part of the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square. View towards Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Council House. You can also see the core of 103 Colmore Row.

New Year's Day 2020 and heading up to Victoria Square on the very first day of January 2020 from New Street. Quite a contrast from my earlier photos, as the tram tracks curves around to the left from Pinfold Street towards Town Hall Tram Stop on Paradise Street. Most of the bollards to the right have survived. Was temporary tarmac to the left, where during the BFCM, there was security barriers. Another new view is to Paradise Birmingham with Two and One Chamberlain Square. Also compared to the earlier view, the Floozie is now in a flowerbed instead of a cascading fountain (although that could get repaired again in the future).

I originally created this post during early January 2020. So adding one more photo taken at the Council House on the 14th January 2020. Works on the Metro extension have resumed (finishing touches around Victoria Square). Would assume the Iron:Man will be installed in the area to the right near the Town Hall.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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53 passion points
Construction & regeneration
24 Jan 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Birmingham, Cranes Across the City - January 2020

Here's the latest gallery of crane photos across the city between November and January 2020. See the full gallery by clicking the 'Related' button on this post.

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Birmingham, Cranes Across the City - January 2020





Here's the latest gallery of crane photos across the city between November and January 2020. See the full gallery by clicking the 'Related' button on this post.


Photo by Tom Grunt

 

Photos by Stephen Giles

 

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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40 passion points
History & heritage
22 Jan 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Electric Cinema: A Brumtography photo meet (January 2020)

The Brumtography Facebook group had a photo meet on the 20th January 2020 at The Electric Cinema on Station Street (opposite Birmingham New Street Station). We were there for over an hour or so. Exploring screens 1 and 2, the remains of the old curtain of the Tatler News Theatre, old reels of film in the basement and the old projection room. Plenty to see in this small cinema. Opened 1909.

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The Electric Cinema: A Brumtography photo meet (January 2020)





The Brumtography Facebook group had a photo meet on the 20th January 2020 at The Electric Cinema on Station Street (opposite Birmingham New Street Station). We were there for over an hour or so. Exploring screens 1 and 2, the remains of the old curtain of the Tatler News Theatre, old reels of film in the basement and the old projection room. Plenty to see in this small cinema. Opened 1909.


On Monday 20th January 2020, about 10 members of the Brumtography Facebook group met at The Electric for a photo meet organised by Karl Newton (who contacted them and got permission from them). We did initially meet in the foyer thinking that a member of staff would take us around, but in the end, they let us go around on our own. Although Karl had been before so knew his way around.

The Electric Cinema

Some history. The Electric opened in 1909, and showed it's first silent film that year on the 27th December 1909. It is the oldest working cinema in the UK, predating it's namesake in Notting Hill, London (also called the Electric Cinema), by two months. Over the last century or so, the cinema has undergone several name changes, but reverted back t The Electric in October 1993.

In the 1920s the cinema was bought out and became known as The Select, showing silent movies. In the 1930s Joseph Cohen bought the cinema, and by the late 1930s it was renamed to the Tatler News Theatre, where they showed Pathe rolling news, along with short films and cartoons. Jacey Cinemas Ltd was the name of Joseph Cohen's company after his initials JC. 

Afte the War, TV started to become popular, and in the 1950s it's name was changed to The Jacey Cartoon Theatre. By the 1960s it was renamed to The Jacey Film Theatre. By the 1970s the cinema was in decline, showing adult films. In the 1980s it was taken over by Lord Grade's "Classic" chain and split into two screens. By the mid 1980s it was now known as the Tivoli.

It was only by 1993 when the new owners renamed it back to it's original name of The Electric. Restoration took place between 2003 and 2004. It's original Art Deco features were restored. The Electric celebrated it's Centenary in 2009. And received a history plate from the Birmingham Civic Society in 2016.


So a reminder of the cinemas names: The Electric Theatre, The Select, The Tatler News Theatre, The Jacey, The Classic and The Tivoli. Before reverting back to The Electric Cinema.

 

This view of The Electric, from near the taxi rank at Birmingham New Street Station. There is a glass balcony railing, and I headed right and down the Southside Steps.

The Box Office. Buy your tickets here. There is also a bar to the left where you can buy drinks and food, no popcorn here.

Screen 1 is downstairs. With red seats at the front, and black leather sofas at the back. Is a piano / organ on the stage.

Behind screen 1 is the remains of the Tatler News Theatre of the 1930s and 1940s. The old screen used to be here. You can see the old curtains and various old posters. Including a poster for Xmas cartoons. Probably classic Disney cartoons.

Back in screen 1 from the stage.

Down to the basement, where they have a large collection of old film reels. Probably dating back decades.

Ticket prices back in the day were quite cheap compared to today.  Some smaller films on these shelves.

Into the old projection room, first thing I saw was BB8 from the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, and a trophy.

The old projector. To the right is the modern additions of the newer digital technology. So they don't need to use the old reels of film any more.

Upstairs to screen 2. A bit darker in here, even after the lights were turned on.

This screen has black leather sofas at the top and bottom.

Outside screen 2 is a gallery of art, which is apparently for sale. Some of the prints were done by Milan Topalović, who you may recall also did art for The Big Hoot (at Birmingham New Street Station in 2015) and The Big Sleuth (at Resorts World Birmingham in 2017).

Back outside after the end of the meet, saw a reflection of The Electric in the shiny panels of Birmingham New Street Station. At the time the sign below said UNCUT GEMS.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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60 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
16 Jan 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Gloriana Historical Dance at the Council House for Birmingham We Are (14th January 2020)

For quite a lot of hours, Gloriana Historical Dance, performed Tudor or Elizabethan style dances in the Banqueting Suite at the Council House, during Birmingham We Are's annual event on Tuesday 14th January 2020. I only saw them in here. Didn't see them elsewhere in the Council House, or pop into BM & AG. Thank you for coming.

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Gloriana Historical Dance at the Council House for Birmingham We Are (14th January 2020)





For quite a lot of hours, Gloriana Historical Dance, performed Tudor or Elizabethan style dances in the Banqueting Suite at the Council House, during Birmingham We Are's annual event on Tuesday 14th January 2020. I only saw them in here. Didn't see them elsewhere in the Council House, or pop into BM & AG. Thank you for coming.


They have a public Facebook group here Gloriana Living History and Historical Dance.

First dance in Venetian style masks.

Masks off. Partnering up.

Going up those sticks with leaves on them.

Jonathan Bostock introduces the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Mohammed Azim to Gloriana.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham (for 2019-20) poses for photos with Gloriana.

I got Jonathan in shot as well.

Thank you very much for coming. After this they went to other parts of the Council House and into the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I didn't head to BM & AG as I needed to have a late lunch. And to sit down after standing around for over 4 hours.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are award winner 2020.

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60 passion points
History & heritage
16 Jan 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Eagle & Tun: HS2 calls it time to sadly knock this historic pub down

The Eagle & Tun in the current building has been on the corner site of New Canal Street and Banbury Street for 120 years. Built to a design from James & Lister Lea in 1900. In 2020 the current licence comes to an end, as HS2 wants to knock this historic pub down to make way for the proposed station. Had a few hours there with the Brumtography Facebook group created by Karl Newton.

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The Eagle & Tun: HS2 calls it time to sadly knock this historic pub down





The Eagle & Tun in the current building has been on the corner site of New Canal Street and Banbury Street for 120 years. Built to a design from James & Lister Lea in 1900. In 2020 the current licence comes to an end, as HS2 wants to knock this historic pub down to make way for the proposed station. Had a few hours there with the Brumtography Facebook group created by Karl Newton.


Out of the blue, Birmingham We Are person with passion Karl Newton, over on Facebook set up a new group called Brumtography. And he invited members to go to The Eagle & Tun on Saturday 11th January 2020 from about 3pm to 6pm. I got there by 2:30pm, and we left by 5:30pm. We had plenty of time to take photos of the inside of this historic pub.

The pub was designed and built in 1900 (had been another pub on this site) by James & Lister Lea. The pub was made famous in the 1980s, as UB40 shot a music video here for their single Red Red Wine.  It was also used as the cover of the UB40 Best Of album. More recently Ed Sheeran popped by the pub.

It was closed and boarded up from about 2008 until the new landlords bought and reopened it in 2016. A nice Indian couple and their son.

 

I met up with Karl around here. Lots of old looking tables and chairs. Bar to the left. Window on the right was smashed and had a wooden board covering the damage.

Near the entrance. The bar to the left. Lots of musical instruments were near the top of the walls but below the ceiling.

I wonder where they got all of these musical instruments from?

View of the bar from near where we were sitting / met up.

Into the Pool Room. The pool table, the landlord later lit up the fire.

Saw lots of old looking Roman or Greek pictures on the walls around here.

A pair of gaming machines. The tiles looked quite interesting, they could be saved and go to an interested museum?

Bottles behind the bar. Many drinks to be had here.

Beer pumps from Red Fang, 3D Beer Cisco Steam, Twisted Wheel Brew Co and Pitchfork.

Another look at the bar curving round close to the way in. Door to the back leads to the pool room.

If you left the pool room from this side, this would be the view, near the bar.

Mint Julep and Dixie Beer. Wine glasses and bottles, instruments all around.

Behind the bar. The landlord had a box of really old cameras that he needed to sell.

Another view of what was behind the bar.

Back of the beer pumps. The landlord and landlady pour your beer or lager here.

Was getting dark outside, final curtains on this historic bar. What can be saved?

After we left, we took several photos of the exterior of The Eagle & Tun, after dark. It was also raining. This from Banbury Street. HS2 have put barriers up, so the opposite pavement was closed.

They have coloured lights that change colours on the first floor. Was a lot of passing traffic on New Canal Street.

Could see passing trains go past behind the pub. It will be sad to see this 120 year old pub knocked down. Is there no way to move it brick by brick to somewhere else in the city? Don't go the way of the doomed Fox & Grapes on Park Street. Only The Woodman will remain open, and probably survive the possible building of the HS2 Birmingham terminus station at Curzon Street.

The pub sign of The Eagle & Tun is one thing that hasn't changed. Although at one point a previous landlord renamed the pub as The Cauliflower Ear! But thankfully it was later changed back.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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