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Squares and public spaces
27 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Golden Square in the Jewellery Quarter

One of the newest public squares in Birmingham is located in the Jewellery Quarter between Vyse Street and Warstone Lane. The Golden Square was developed on land that used to be a car park in 2014. The Jewellery Quarter Festival has been held here regularly since 2015. At one corner is the Rose Villa Tavern. Both The Big Hoot and Sleuth were here in 2015 and 2017. Floral Ballerina as well.

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The Golden Square in the Jewellery Quarter





One of the newest public squares in Birmingham is located in the Jewellery Quarter between Vyse Street and Warstone Lane. The Golden Square was developed on land that used to be a car park in 2014. The Jewellery Quarter Festival has been held here regularly since 2015. At one corner is the Rose Villa Tavern. Both The Big Hoot and Sleuth were here in 2015 and 2017. Floral Ballerina as well.


THE GOLDEN SQUARE

In Birmingham's World Famous Jewellery Quarter is now The Golden Square. It is located between Vyse Street and along Warstone Lane in front of The Big Peg. Originally the space was parking for the office tenants, it was developed into a public square during 2014. At one corner is The Rose Villa Tavern, and until August 2020, the Chamberlain Clock stood at the roundabout near Frederick Street (it's been removed to be fully restored off site at Smith of Derby). See this post here. The square was one component of Birmingham's Big City Plan.

The square combines three spaces: the Orchard, the Promenade and the Plaza.

 

Jewellery Quarter Festival, July 2015

My first time visiting the Golden Square since it was completed was on Saturday 18th July 2015, while the Jewellery Quarter Festival was on.

There was this Lighthouse Helter-Skelter that kids could slide down.

Some excited kids probably climbed up it multiple times to ride it again and again!

New building on Warstone Lane. Part of the Diamond Quarter.

The Stage Bus, providing musical entertainment for the day. For more info about them, go to www.thestagebus.com

The bus had the licence plate no of D920 NDA. Was a former Metrobus last used by Travel West Midlands in 2004. It had previously been a West Midlands Travel Timesaver bus.

I mainly popped to the Golden Square to see The Big Hoot owl. Jewellery Owl, by the artist Sue Guthrie. Sponsor was Birmingham City University.

The Jewellery Owl was quite close to the railings up the steps.

There was also a Dalek from Doctor Who wondering about! Exterminate! Exterminate!

Kids and parents alike followed the Dalek around.

On the green was Circus Mash. With a juggler.

The square was full of people enjoying themselves at the time.

July 2017

Two years later, I was back in The Golden Square to find The Big Sleuth bear there. A look at the refurbished entrance to The Big Peg.

A Ballerina from Cofton Nursery. There used to be an annual Floral Trail around the City Centre, but once The Big Hoot and Sleuth were on, didn't feel like they had a trail any more. Non the less, they still put pieces out in the summer.

The reason for my visit. The Big Sleuth bear known as Gummy Bear, by the artist Deven Bhurke. Sponsor was Jewellery Quarter BID.

Gummy Bear was much further back and close to an ice cream shop called Scoop.

Davenports was going to open where Jewellery Quarter Police Station used to be, but don't think it ever happened. Instead the proposed Davenports space became the Diamond Factory in 2019.

A view towards The Big Peg from the path in the Golden Square to Warstone Lane.

2019

In January 2019, the side of the Rose Villa Tavern was painted with a You Are Birmingham advert from HSBC UK, who had recently opened their regional HQ over at 1 Centenary Square. This wall painting has since been removed / painted over.

Later that year in July 2019, the Ballerina Floral Trail feature had returned to The Golden Square.

As you can see below, the Diamond Factory was where Davenports would have been.

The view over to Lunchi and Urban Coffee.

August 2020

On Saturday 22nd August 2020, while I was in the Jewellery Quarter to see the Chamberlain Clock come down, took advantage to get some new photos of the Golden Square.

This view of the Rose Villa Tavern and The Big Peg from Warstone Lane. The Diamond Quarter is on the right.

The square was empty and a bit wet. Evidence of the earlier rain.

The Diamond Quarter from the other side.

The view back towards Vyse Street with the Rose Villa Tavern on the left and The Big Peg to the right.

Some of the The Big Peg was under scaffolding. Also appears that they had installed new wooden cladding in parts.

Further back, a view of The Golden Square from Warstone Lane. Most people were watching the Chamberlain Clock come down near the Rose Villa Tavern (to the left).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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50 passion points
History & heritage
26 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

Removal of the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter on the 22nd August 2020

On the 22nd August 2020, the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter, was carefully being dismantled with the clock faces removed, so that workmen could remove the clock tower. It is heading for Smith of Derby who are clock specialists. It is expected that it will return in full working order by early 2021 (fingers crossed). The clock dates to 1903 and was last restored in 1989.

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Removal of the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter on the 22nd August 2020





On the 22nd August 2020, the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter, was carefully being dismantled with the clock faces removed, so that workmen could remove the clock tower. It is heading for Smith of Derby who are clock specialists. It is expected that it will return in full working order by early 2021 (fingers crossed). The clock dates to 1903 and was last restored in 1989.


Removal of the Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter, 22nd August 2020

On Saturday the 22nd August 2020, workmen were on site in the Jewellery Quarter to remove the Chamberlain Clock. It will be taken care of by Smith of Derby who are clock specialists. It is expected to be back on the roundabout at the junction of Frederick Street, Vyse Street and Warstone Lane in early 2021. There will also be a new information panel.

For my last post on the Chamberlain Clock follow this link: Jewellery Quarter Chamberlain Clock. It is over 117 years old, having been made originally back in 1903. The Grade II listed clock tower was last repaired and restored in 1989 (over 30 years ago).

Views below seen from Frederick Street:

Views below seen from Warstone Lane:

Views below seen from Vyse Street:

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
26 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A walk around Edgbaston Reservoir back in June 2020

Back in June 2020, we had a walk around Edgbaston Reservoir (which was my first in about 4 months). Although this time went all the way around in an Anti-Clockwise direction. Social distancing measures were in force, and the car park was still closed off (even before the lockdown). The Tower Ballroom has been closed for some time now and covered in graffiti. People out getting exercise.

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A walk around Edgbaston Reservoir back in June 2020





Back in June 2020, we had a walk around Edgbaston Reservoir (which was my first in about 4 months). Although this time went all the way around in an Anti-Clockwise direction. Social distancing measures were in force, and the car park was still closed off (even before the lockdown). The Tower Ballroom has been closed for some time now and covered in graffiti. People out getting exercise.


Edgbaston Reservoir

Click here for my last post on Edgbaston Reservoir.

 

In June 2020, we headed for a Monday morning walk around Edgbaston Reservoir. It was the 15th June 2020. Back in February 2020, I'd only gone around half of the reservoir (in the middle of a long walk from Harborne to the City Centre). This time was just a walk around the Reservoir, and back to the car on Reservoir Road. Was a lot of people out for their daily exercise, either going for walk, taking the dog out for walk, riding the bike, or taking the kids out. Social distancing signs were around. We went in an anti-clockwise direction (not sure if we went the wrong way as when I left saw a sign saying follow the arrows, not that I remember seeing any). The walk took around 40 minutes or more. Was the closest I got to the City Centre in 3 months of lockdown (at the time). I wouldn't be able to travel back into the City Centre until the middle of July. Could also see the Port Loop development while there.

 

Heading down from the Reservoir Road entrance to the car park that hasn't been in use for ages (the gate is still locked).

There was the usual gulls and geese out on the Reservoir, including on this raised decking area.

Nice reflections of the clouds in the water.

Was heading in an anti-clockwise direction past The Tower.

Midland Sailing Club on the right. Yachts on the bank of the reservoir.

View towards the dam (left) and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower (middle).

View to The Tower Ballroom, which sadly closed down in the last few years and is covered in graffiti at the entrance.

The City Skyline is visible from here as well as the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower.

Some outdoor gym equipment coming up on the right. Although at the time (due to the pandemic / lockdown), I don't think people were allowed to use them.

Was lovely to get back out around the Reservoir again.

The new footpath was on the right.

Hard to believe that this is all man made.

The distant view over to the Midland Sailing Club.

Midland Sailing Club

Near the end of the dam, to the right you can see the Midland Sailing Club.

Some of the boats behind the fence, not in use and covered up.

You can also see the club in zoom in from the other side of the Reservoir.

City Skyline

From the far end of the Reservoir, you can see the view of the City Skyline over the dam, including the rising 103 Colmore Row.

With 103 Colmore Row to the left, and The Mercian to the far right.

But when complete, neither building will be taller than the BT Tower, which is still the tallest building in Birmingham.

The Two Towers

Seen over The Tower (to the right of the dam) was The Two Towers. Perrott's Folly to the left and the Edgbaston Waterworks to the right. Click here for my post on The Two Towers.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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

The Edgbaston Tunnel on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

The Edgbaston Tunnel is located on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal below Church Road in Edgbaston. It is 105 yards long (or 96 metres long). The tunnel runs parallel with the railway tunnel on the Cross City Line. It takes boats about 2 minutes to get through the tunnel. In 2018, the tunnel was closed for months to allow for the towpath to be widened.

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The Edgbaston Tunnel on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal





The Edgbaston Tunnel is located on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal below Church Road in Edgbaston. It is 105 yards long (or 96 metres long). The tunnel runs parallel with the railway tunnel on the Cross City Line. It takes boats about 2 minutes to get through the tunnel. In 2018, the tunnel was closed for months to allow for the towpath to be widened.


Edgbaston Tunnel

The Worcester & Birmingham Canal was constructed between 1792 from the Birmingham end, reaching Worcester by 1815. The canal reached Selly Oak by about 1795, so it is fair to assume that the Edgbaston Tunnel was built sometime between 1792 and 1795. Probably dug out by navvies by picks and shovels. Built of red brick, the Edgbaston Tunnel is 96 metres long (105 yards long). It is well under Church Road. Today the closest exits with steps are on Islington Row Middleway (near Five Ways Station) and at The Vale (University of Birmingham student accommodation).

Running parallel with the canal is what is today the Cross City Line. This railway line was built as the Birmingham West Suburban Railway from 1876 until 1885. The Church Road Tunnel was built next to the Edgbaston Tunnel along with a Church Road Station which opened in 1876, not far from the North East Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. The station closed in 1925.

Located close to the South West Portal is Hallfield School and near the North East Portal is Sunrise of Edgbaston. When you are up on Church Road, it is a bit hard to see the canal and railway line from above (the brick wall is too high and there is a lot of tree coverage).

During 2018, the Canal & River Trust closed the tunnel, so that they could widen the towpath. This was completed by about May 2018. And now there is more space for cyclists and walkers alike, even with painted lines and "Slow" signs.

 

2016

First walk through of the Edgbaston Tunnel was during April 2016. I got onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Somerset Road in Edgbaston and walked up the towpath towards Five Ways.

Approaching the South West Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. To the left is the Cross City Line on the other side of the fence. Above behind all the trees and shrubs is Church Road.

Canal & River Trust sign for the Edgbaston Tunnel at the South West Portal. At the time it has space for two way traffic.

Nearing the South West Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. The towpath inside of the tunnel was quite narrow. So not enough room for both walkers and cyclists at the time.

This sign states that the Edgbaston Tunnel is 96 Metres in length (which is quite short).

The tunnel was lit up, so when you walk on the towpath, or have a ride on a narrowboat, it is not dark in there.

But as you can see, the old tunnel towpath was really too narrow.

Up ahead was a couple of narrowboats that were about to enter the tunnel, as well as a person out for a run on the towpath.

Just as one narrowboat entered the tunnel, to the right you can see the site of the lost Church Road Station.

Old Georgian and Victorian buildings on Church Road at Hallfield School. The engineering brick on the railway, always seems to get tagged by graffiti vandals. You can also watch passing trains here.

2017

The next time I walked through the Edgbaston Tunnel was during November 2017. This walk started from Bath Row and I went as far as The Vale before getting off.

Approaching the North Eastern Portal was this cyclist in an orange jacket.

This time I had a better view of the white building above the canal. The building is now occupied by Robert Powell Estate Agents.

While the cyclist in orange was riding into the tunnel, saw a narrowboat with all these flat caps and beanies on. Peaky Blinders?

Before I entered the Edgbaston Tunnel, saw a London Midland Class 323 train on the Cross City Line entering the Church Road Tunnel.

One of the men on the narrowboat was standing on it's roof as it went through the tunnel.

Now at the South Eastern Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel, the gatehouse to Hallfield School is above to the left.

Then I saw another London Midland Class 323 entering the tunnel bound for Birmingham New Street and Lichfield Trent Valley.

2018

The Edgbaston Tunnel was closed to the public from January to March 2018, so that the Canal & River Trust could widen the towpath, resurface it, and install a new safety railing. There was towpath diversion at the time from Islington Row Middleway to The Vale. By May 2018 it was open again, and I went back to check it out.

This was during a long walk starting at Selly Oak towards Five Ways, Already could see the new towpath extension and railings from the South West Portal.

It was mostly complete, but was still some temporary barriers to the left.

There was a sign for Cyclists Slow as there was a ramp onto the new towpath and it wasn't quite finished.

Inside I could see that the towpath was much wider, compared to what it used to be like.

It seems like the tunnel is long, but it isn't, just a trick of the light.

At the North East Portal, a cyclist waits at the Cyclists Slow sign.

Was also a man running through the tunnel, while a builder in yellow and orange overalls was at the other end.

Went back again in December 2018, after the white lines had been painted onto the towpath, and it had all been fully completed.

A cyclist in a yellow jacket heads towards the North East Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel.

Another cyclist and on the right was a West Midlands Railway Class 323 train on the Cross City Line (passing the site of Church Road Station).

Approaching the Edgbaston Tunnel with the new ramp.

Painted on both sides of the ramp was Slow. Pedestrians get priority in the tunnel.

Before entering the tunnel, Saw a West Midlands Railway Class 323 train go past, in the new orange and white livery (replacing the old London Midland green).

The towpath is now much wider, and even the lighting seems to be brighter in here (not as dark).

Slow sign on the ramp close to the South West Portal.

And another pair of painted Slow signs closer to the exit of the tunnel.

2020

In August 2020, I had my first walk down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in months (due to the pandemic / lockdown). Starting at The Mailbox and ending at The Vale (was thinking about Somerset Road but The Vale exit came first). Also my first time back in the Edgbaston Tunnel since the end of 2018.

A lady was running towards me, also had to let a couple pass me, due to social distancing.

It was a bit hard to see the at white building on Church Road, due to the amount of leaves on the surrounding trees.

A narrowboat was coming out of the tunnel.

Got this view from just inside of the tunnel as the narrowboat heading out.

Still the optical illusion of the tunnel being long (when it isn't).

A zoom in from the far end of the tunnel as the narrowboat was still heading on it's way.

One last look at the Edgbaston Tunnel as I continued my walk towards The Vale.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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70 passion points
Travel & tourism
24 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

We Made It on The Balcony at Thinktank

On Level 1 at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum was from about 2013 an exhibition on the mezzanine floor called We Made It. "What's a Cow got to do with a Car?" asks the leaflet from 2013. You could see a dissected Riley Elf (a bit like a Mini). Birmingham was known as the Workshop of the World. Gadgets used at home. Nuts and bolts. Tins and things.

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We Made It on The Balcony at Thinktank





On Level 1 at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum was from about 2013 an exhibition on the mezzanine floor called We Made It. "What's a Cow got to do with a Car?" asks the leaflet from 2013. You could see a dissected Riley Elf (a bit like a Mini). Birmingham was known as the Workshop of the World. Gadgets used at home. Nuts and bolts. Tins and things.


We Made It

The official Thinktank Website has info on We Made It here. Located on Level 1 at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum (the mezzanine floor).

Information below courtesy of the Birmingham Museums Trust:

We Made It features more than 20 interactive exhibits that show just how and why Birmingham became known as ‘the workshop of the world’. Visitors are taken on a journey from raw materials to finished product, demonstrating how everyday goods are produced.
The journey is illustrated by around 1200 intriguing objects from Birmingham’s world-renowned manufacturing and natural science collections, and contemporary products made or designed in Birmingham. Find out what links a car and a cow, what makes treasure like jewellery valuable, why we use certain types of packaging, and how products are held together.
 
The gallery contains four distinct areas, each focussing on an area of manufacturing for which Birmingham is renowned: 
  •  Nuts and Bolts - Learn about Birmingham’s role in making iron and steel goods for the world.
  • Treasure - Precious possessions made from precious metals and gemstones.
  • Tins and Things - Discover why the West Midlands is the home of aluminium production and decorative glass.
  • Gadgets - Come and uncover inventions that have changed everyday life, from cameras to mobile phones; and find out why wood and plastic have been used to produce these items.

 

The following photos taken from a visit to Thinktank during April 2013.

The pink we made it logo with a subtitle of nuts, bolts, gadgets and gizmos on a yellow background.

What has cow got to do with a car? You could also see this cow on the leaflet back in 2013.

This is a dissected Riley Elf (a bit like a Mini). I had previously seen it at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre.

Build a Mini. Showing you how to build a Mini. The wheels off and the doors off. Think Michael Caine in The Italian Job: "You only had to blow the bloody doors off!".

Licence plate at the front and back of the Mini read: TH1NK T4NK.

Another Mini, this one at least was fully entact and not cut up like the other ones. Licence plate was XFW 583.

Bike art. Made out of a Honda 750cc motorbike engine. Exhaust pipes used as tubes and the sculpture features them bent into extravagant shapes. Custom Chrome, Nuneaton, 1994.

Making silver goods. In a typical Silversmith workshop in the Jewellery Quarter.

Electricity for silver plating. Made in Birmingham. Was the first industrial electrical machine in the world. Even Michael Faraday was delighted when he first saw it (putting his discoveries into practical use).

Etch. Here was a machine that was used to etch glass. You could even press a green button to operate it in the museum.

A machine used for Bending wire. Curtain hooks used to be made of metal, but are now made of plastic. Wire in, cut and bend, bend and shape, curtain hooks out.

A variety of old cameras made during the 20th Century. Included here in this collection was: Camera by Polaroid, late 1960s, Brown camera by Kodak, about 1905, Cine camera by Kodak, 1950s, Cine Camera by Pathe, 1920s and Cine Camera by Bell and Howell, about 1930.

Next up we have a Magic lantern projector. It looks like it could be used in a cinema to show films, but it actually projects magic lanterns.

This violin was made in France by Thibouville Lamy. Some people who emigrated to the UK in the Inter War period, might have taken a violin over with them. Like a family heirloom.

Glass sculpture. Possibly made out of recycled materials. Looks like it could go in a lighthouse. You could step inside of it on the other side.

One of the Lightweight Bicycles hanging from the ceiling. This bike was made from steel. There was other bikes hanging up as well.

Slinky childrens toys. The one below like the Slinky dog toy from the Toy Story movies.

A typical Slinky walking spring toy. You can play with them in your hands, or push them down the stairs. Still got one myself (but is multicoloured).

 

More of We Made it from the next visit to Thinktank during April 2014.

This is an aluminium sail. It is an extruded aluminium yacht mast. Made in the Midlands by Sapa Profiles, Derbyshire, for Selden Masts, 2012. Lent by Sapa Profiles. It was next to the Bike Sculpture (which was to the right).

A colourfully designed area with green hearts, blue and pink plastic flowers. Thinktank was now calling this floor, The Balcony. Not sure of the purpose of this area, other than for children to play, and adults to sit down.

A collection of old mobile phones. From 'brick' to pocket-sized. Mobile telephones left to right: Sendo, designed in Birmingham in 2002, NEC, United Kingdom, 1995 and for British Telecom, from about the late 1980s.

The Chad Valley Co. Ltd was a toy manufacturer that was based in Harborne. Founded in the early 19th century. When they moved to Harborne, they named their company after the nearby Chad Brook. Which in turn gave it's name to the nearby Chad Valley. Was bought by Woolworths in 1988, but is now owned by Sainsbury's.

A Chad Valley classic car toy. Of an open topped car with a spare wheel at the back.

Guinness Stout. Toy of a classic green car. With people painted onto the side.

A toy of a Midland Red bus. Also a sign for The Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd Builders Smethwick, England 1924.

A Chad Valley toy of a red Fire Engine.

Another Chad Valley toy car, of a clockwork model of a racing car.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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