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Green open spaces
15 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Vale Village at the University of Birmingham off Edgbaston Park Road

Students who live in the University of Birmingham accommodation blocks in Edgbaston have their very own parkland to walk around at The Vale Village. Located near Edgbaston Park Road. The Vale is a Registered Park of Special Historic Interest. There is 8 residences here.

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The Vale Village at the University of Birmingham off Edgbaston Park Road





Students who live in the University of Birmingham accommodation blocks in Edgbaston have their very own parkland to walk around at The Vale Village. Located near Edgbaston Park Road. The Vale is a Registered Park of Special Historic Interest. There is 8 residences here.


The Vale Village

This area was originally called Strawberry Vale (according to Bill Dargue's A History of Birmingham & Place Names from A to & Y). It lay along the valley of the Chad Brook in Edgbaston, flowing from Harborne then north west to south east through the Chad Valley and the Vale, where it was dammed in a lake. These days the University of Birmingham student accommodation is at the modern Vale. It lies east of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. All of the land here is part of Calthorpe Estates. Edgbaston Hall was nearby (now Edgbaston Golf Club). Was only a few properties on the land in the 19th century.

The University of Birmingham negotiated with Calthorpe Estates after World War 2 as they were short of land for student accommodation (during 1947). The idea was for high rise towers. But the University appointed new architects in 1957. The plan was for a new open landscape similar to parks of the 18th century. The landscape was designed by Mary Mitchell. It involved the excavation of a new lake. 

The first hall opened in 1964. Three more open shortly after that. More halls were built in the late 20th century. New blocks were opened in 2008. More recently, some of the dated 1960s accommodation was demolished in 2014 and new blocks opened in 2016 at Chamberlain, close to Church Road.

I've been up and down Edgbaston Park Road many times in the past, but only went around it for a walk once in August 2019 (while the students were at home away from University and while it was quiet). I have got off the Worcester & Birmingham Canal a few times at The Vale, but usually walked up Mason Way to get the no 1 bus from Church Road to go home.

2012

In August 2012, the Sky Ride was on around Birmingham, and it passed The Vale Village on Edgbaston Park Road.

Families rode together, past all of the student accommodation. Some of which was being rebuilt at the time.

They were passing the student accommodation blocks called the Tennis Court. Although the parkland was to the left of here (I didn't enter it at the time as was following the Sky Ride).

2013

My earliest actual park photos of The Vale from Edgbaston Park Road was taken back in February 2013. But on my then mobile phone camera. Was probably during one of my many walks around the University of Birmingham's Edgbaston Campus, but I did not go into the parkland at the time.

To the left was Mason Halls.

Trees bare of leaves as it was still winter. Apart from the evergreen trees. The old Chamberlain Tower seen in the background (before it was demolished and rebuilt).

2019

My first proper visit around The Vale Village parkland was back in August 2019. Getting in from Edgbaston Park Road near Mason Halls.

One of the traditional black University of Birmingham signs with the Vale Village on it.

The path leading into The Vale parkland.

First look at the wonderful lake at The Vale. In the distance you can see the new Chamberlain Tower. The old one was demolished in 2014. And the new tower opened in 2016.

Saw this swan behind the Willowherbs.

The footbridge that links the Chad Brook into The Vale lake.

The Vale lake from the footbridge.

Saw this squirrel going around the parkland.

These paths leads to: Shackleton, Maple Bank, Elgar Court and Chamberlain.

The trees were looking lovely in the middle of August last year.

Another view of the lake.

A rare sight, a Barnacle goose.

The lake keeps getting better as I see a view towards Mason.

Mason Halls on the other side of the lake.

A view of the lake towards the footbridge I'd earlier crossed.

From this wall you have a good view of the lake towards Shackleton and Chamberlain.

Saw this map of the parkland and student accommodation. There is history and information about the wildlife on it. But in this photo it is a bit hard to read what it says (otherwise I would have extracted the historical information from it).

A lake view towards Shackleton. Seems like at the time the building was having work done to it.

Some outdoor gym equipment. Some kind of bars to lift yourself up.

Heading back to Edgbaston Park Road, one last proper look at this wonderful parkland. Aren't the students lucky!

Heading on the path to get out of the parkland. Was at least one bench around here.

Next time on The Vale I could cover the area around the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the exit up Mason Way towards Church Road.

 

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
14 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Old Yardley Park near the Old Grammar School

I've only popped into Old Yardley Park twice in the past so far. I've got in from the Church Road entrance in the past.  Just a short walk off the Outer Circle (11A / 11C bus routes) from Stoney Lane, then up Blakesley Road. You can either head up Church Road or get in on Queens Road. The park has a play area and a small garden near the Old Grammar School.

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Old Yardley Park near the Old Grammar School





I've only popped into Old Yardley Park twice in the past so far. I've got in from the Church Road entrance in the past.  Just a short walk off the Outer Circle (11A / 11C bus routes) from Stoney Lane, then up Blakesley Road. You can either head up Church Road or get in on Queens Road. The park has a play area and a small garden near the Old Grammar School.


My previous post on Old Yardley is here (relating to the village) - Old Yardley Village: a hidden gem not far from Blakesley Hall.

The last time I mentioned Old Yardley Park in a post was in this one: Parks around the no 11 Outer Circle Bus Route: from Kings Heath Park to Swanshurst Park and beyond.

Old Yardley Park

The park is part of the Old Yardley Conservation Area. The village surrounds St Edburgha's Church. Next to the Old Grammar School on Church Road is the entrance to the park, via what is now a formal garden (this was restored in 2012). Old Yardley Park was laid out in 1898. Almshouses were built nearby on School Lane in 1904. There is a medieval moat in the park called Rents Moat. The Yardley Great Trust gave lane in 1900 between Church Road and Queens Road for the public to use as Old Yardley Park. It is a short walk away from Blakesley Hall.

More information here: Yardley - History of Birmingham.

2010

In January 2010, during my walk around Old Yardley Village, while it was covered in snow, I saw the Old Grammar School. Old Yardley Park was to the right, but at the time, I did not go into the park (or wasn't aware of it). The school dates to 1260, but this building probably from the 15th century.

Seen on the approach to Old Yardley Village from Church Road.

I didn't know it at the time. but the entrance to Old Yardley Park was to the right of the Old Grammar School. But at the time I was there to have a look around the village. The school was originally built as a Guildhall.

There is a garden in Old Yardley Park next to the Grammar School, but I wouldn't really go through there until 2014. The school closed in 1908, and was being used as a Parish Room with a youth club upstairs (back in 2010).

2014

In April 2014 I headed to Old Yardley Park to try out the camera on my then new Sony smartphone camera. Including testing out some of the filters (so left my then Fuji bridge camera at home).

In the garden close to the Old Grammar School was this memorial to Josiah Derrington (1835-1920) and Caroline Derrington (1830-1916). I would get another look at the Derrington Memorial in 2017. It looks like it was a drinking fountain. The Derrington family were brick makers based nearby in Hay Mills in the 19th century. The memorial fountain was restored in 2012, during the restoration works, which included laying out a Rose Garden and Herbaceous Border.

A view of the playground / play area from a distance.

On my then Sony smartphone camera (and my current one), in the camera, if you press Mode, then select Creative effect. Choose Kaleidoscope. I used this effect to get the spire of St Edburgha's Church mirror imaged.

I next used on Creative effect, Sepia, to make it look like an old photo (looks like my current phone doesn't have this mode). Again you can see the spire of St Edburgha's Church.

As I left, saw this Old Yardley Park sign. What was new at the time was the sign at the bottom for the Diamond Jubilee Gardens 2012 for the Yardley Conservation Society. The gardens was opened by the then Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor John Lines (with his wife the Lady Mayoress, Mrs Kathleen Lines) in October 2012.

2017

It took me until January 2017 before I would return to Old Yardley Park with my main camera (by them my current Panasonic). It was a late morning / midday walk. I would suspect that I entered the park from Church Road at the time.

The view towards the spire of St Edburgha's Church.

A couple of views of the playground / play area.

All the usual play equipment there for kids such as a couple of slides. The view of the play area towards Queens Road.

Some kind of tyre swing, around in circles? It's not a see-saw though.

One of the slides in the play area,

This thing in the middle seems to have springs below it.

Saw this Old Yardley Park sign from Queens Road.

There was another Old Yardley Park sign further into the park near those trees.

A big open field in the park.

Heading over towards School Lane.

The path near School Lane.

The gate park into the park from School Lane.

Saw a blackbird enjoying a bath in a puddle of water on the grass.

Another blackbird on the grass. The grass was quite wet, so it must have rained around this time.

Saw this curved bench. Around this area is a Youth Shelter.

Back to the garden near the Old Grammar School and a proper look at the Derrington memorial. The side at the back.

The bronze plaque reads:

IN LOVEING MEMORY OF

JOSIAH

DERRINGTON

1835 - 1920

AND

CAROLINE

DERRINGTON

1830 - 1916

The memorial is now surrounded by these railings. This was a fountain, and it was restored in 2012 during the Diamond Jubilee Gardens project. Derrington & Sons was brick makers in Hay Mills in the late 19th century.

There used to be tennis courts around here, but they had become neglected. The 2012 restoration works replaces it with this garden. Facing the Old Grammar School. It is now the Rose Garden.

There is also a Herbaceous Border in the garden. I will need to one day go back in the summer to see what it is like now. As wasn't much to see in the winter of January 2017.

For photos of the restoration works, see Robert C Jones post here: Yardley Old Park - the Restoration 2012.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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

The Wootton Wawen Aqueduct and the Edstone Aqueduct on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal

Recently I've had the chance to go to the Edstone Aqueduct in Warwickshire for a walk up the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Didn't quite get to the Wootton Wawen Aqueduct this time around, but I popped over it several years ago. Wootton Wawen built in 1813 and Edstone in 1816. This canal links Kings Norton to Stratford-upon-Avon. The Edstone Aqueduct is the longest aqueduct in England.

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The Wootton Wawen Aqueduct and the Edstone Aqueduct on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal





Recently I've had the chance to go to the Edstone Aqueduct in Warwickshire for a walk up the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Didn't quite get to the Wootton Wawen Aqueduct this time around, but I popped over it several years ago. Wootton Wawen built in 1813 and Edstone in 1816. This canal links Kings Norton to Stratford-upon-Avon. The Edstone Aqueduct is the longest aqueduct in England.


Wootton Wawen Aqueduct

The Wootton Wawen Aqueduct is a Grade II* listed aqueduct dating to 1813. It crosses the A3400 Stratford Road in Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire near The Navigation Inn. It was restored in 1960. It was built by William Whitmore for the Stratford Canal Company. Made of a Cast-iron trough with integral towpath with cast-iron railings. The Southern Stratford Canal was built from 1793-1816. The canal was leased by the National Trust in 1960 from the British Waterways Board. They also acquired the freehold of the canal in 1964. The Wootton Wawen Aqueduct is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Seen from the Stratford Road in July 2014, near The Navigation Inn. There is a plaque in the middle with an 1813 date.

Seen during late April 2017, some time before 8pm in the evening before sunset to finally cross the Wootton Wawen Aqueduct for the first time.

This aqueduct is quite short, so it doesn't take long to cross it.

The Navigation Inn see to the left. Beyond was a garage.

To the right of the Wooton Wawen Aqueduct is Anglo Welsh Waterway Holidays. Where you can hire a narrowboat.

The steps takes you slightly below the level of the water.

This aqueduct has been here well over 200 years, and has had some modifications since then.

I'm not sure what this archway was for though.

Edstone Aqueduct

The Edstone Aqueduct is a Grade II* listed aqueduct dating to 1816. It is the longest canal aqueduct in England at a length of 475 feet (145 m). It crosses Salters Lane, the Shakespeare Line (between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon), a minor road and the trackbed of the former Alcester Railway. It was built from 1812-16. It was made of English bond grey brick piers, and regular coursed stone and brick abutments. With some late 19th century engineering brick. It carried what was formerly called the South Stratford Canal. It is between Wilmcote and Wootton Wawen, and is also near Bearley (sometimes also called the Bearley Aqueduct).

This visit was on the last day of May 2020, as lockdown restrictions were eased. It was warm but not too warm in the morning. Arriving near the car park on Salters Lane. Was a brilliant blue sky that morning in Warwickshire.

It is the longest canal aqueduct in England.

Got some brilliant shadows from the railings onto the towpath here.

It didn't even feel scary or nervous to walk over this aqueduct compared to some other ones I've been on. Then again it wasn't too high.

The Shakespeare Line crossed underneath. Also known as the North Warwickshire Railway. Or the Birmingham and North Warwickshire railway. I kept hearing trains, but didn't get to this spot on the aqueduct in time to see them.

The view of the Edstone Aqueduct from Bearley Lock No. 39. From here it looks quite small.

Later on the walk back down the Stratford-on-Avon Canal, saw the rare sight of a narrowboat (on the move during lockdown). Behind was an inflatable dinghy. Then again this was my first canal walk in more than 3 months.

Due to social distancing, we had to wait for other people to cross the aqueduct before us.

I found a hill with a wooden banister and popped down for this view. Wasn't really a path, so had to drag myself back up to the canal along the banister.

Time to cross the Edstone Aqueduct again.

One last look before we returned to Birmingham. The car park is to the left. Good point to start walks, take your dog for a walk, or bike rides.

There is at least one or two other aqueducts on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal that I've yet to walk over. But waiting until the late Spring to go over the Edstone Aqueduct (even under lockdown) was worth it. And was best to wait till now, as in the winter, it might have been muddy on the canal. Some of the towpath was really dry, and the mud or soil was cracked (and hard to walk over).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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70 passion points
Transport
11 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Airlines gone but not forgotten at Birmingham Airport: Flybe with their Embraer E-Jet's

Flybe went out of business in early March 2020 as the pandemic took hold on the world. They were founded in 1970 (as Jersey European Airways). They had routes all over Europe and connected England to Scotland and to Northern Ireland by plane. To Europe they used the Embraer E175 and E195 jets. 

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Airlines gone but not forgotten at Birmingham Airport: Flybe with their Embraer E-Jet's





Flybe went out of business in early March 2020 as the pandemic took hold on the world. They were founded in 1970 (as Jersey European Airways). They had routes all over Europe and connected England to Scotland and to Northern Ireland by plane. To Europe they used the Embraer E175 and E195 jets. 


flybe

I previously covered the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 in this post here: Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Q400: The fastest way from A to Flybe - Faster than Road or Rail.

This time we are going to cover the Embraer E-Jet planes that Flybe used in their last decade of operation.

The Embraer E-Jet is a narrow-body short to medium range twin engines jet airliners, carrying 66 to 12 passengers commercially. Made by Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer. Flybe had the Embraer 175 from 2010. And the Embraer 195 from 2005 until 2020.

 

Seen at Birmingham Airport during June 2012 was this Flybe Embraer E-195 plane. We were at the airport waiting to catch our flight to Naples with Thomson Airways at the time.

I saw this Flybe plane take off from Birmingham Airport from the Sheldon Country Park during February 2015. It was an Embraer E-195.

This Flybe plane was seen from Stechford Station taking off from Birmingham Airport, during September 2015. Another Embraer E-195.

In March 2016 from the Sheldon Country Park. After I saw the Emirates Airbus A380 landing at Birmingham Airport for the first time, saw this Flybe plane taxiing to the runway ready to take off.

As before it was an Embraer E-195. Shortly after this it took off from runway 15.

Another Flybe Embraer E-195 had just landed and was taxiing back to the terminal building.

I was walking back to Marston Green Station. There is a good view from the path, if you can see planes on the taxiiway.

At Birmingham Airport in June 2016. In the terminal building heading to the gate to get our Flybe flight to Milan Malpensa Airport on an Embraer 175 for the Lake Como holiday in Italy. The window was a bit obscured if you want to take photos of the planes.

Having boarded our flight to Milan, saw another Flybe Embraer 175 next to our plane.

The plane wing of our Flybe plane, and the tail end of the one next to it.

One week later back at Birmingham Airport at the beginning of July 2016. Our plane had just arrived back at the terminal building. Meanwhile luggage was heading to the other Flybe plane next to ours, as we waited to get off this one.

Back to the Sheldon Country Park in November 2016. A bit of lunchtime plane spotting. Saw this Flybe Embraer E-175 take off.

Turning around as I saw the Flybe Embraer E-175 go on it's way.

In March 2017, I was walking down Church Road in Sheldon, when I saw this Flybe Embraer 175 taking off from Birmingham Airport.

Back at Birmingham Airport in June 2017 for another holiday. This time flying to Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport for Burgundy in France. Passengers seen boarding this  Embraer 175, going up the steps at the front. Seen through one of those fuzzy windows in the terminal building, as we headed for the gate.

Saw another Flybe Embraer 175 as I waited in the area near the departure gates.

It was raining that morning at Birmingham Airport. As I saw another Flybe Embraer 175 come in.

In October 2017, I was on a train heading for Coventry, seeing the last of the Monarch planes (after they went bust). I also saw this purple Welcome to Yorkshire livery on this Flybe Embraer 195.

There was also a Qatar Airways plane to the left. Was steps at the front of the Welcome to Yorkshire plane, but I don't think it was set up for passengers to get on board. Maybe just the airline staff.

During August 2018 I headed for the plane spotting area near the Coventry Road, on the A45. The walk from the Holiday Inn, crossing at the traffic lights, then walking around the semi circle, until you are on the path over where the planes take off from runway 33.  One of the planes to take off at the time was this Flybe Embraer 175.

There area is called the Birmingham Airport Viewing Area South End. I've only been to it once. And it is possible to walk beyond here to Catherine-de-Barnes. The Flybe plane goes on it's way to it's destination after leaving Birmingham Airport.

I was back at Stechford Station in October 2018, as the clocks went back to GMT. While waiting for my train, saw planes taking off from Birmingham Airport. Saw the purple Welcome to Yorkshire Flybe plane again. Was an Embraer 195. Probably the same plane I'd seen from the train in October 2017.

Was also this Flybe plane in their normal sky blue and white colours taking off. This one was a Embraer 175.

A Flybe plane takes off from Birmingham Airport in August 2019. Seen from the local bus stops, I was waiting for an X1 to Birmingham, but ended up getting an X12 to Solihull Town Centre instead. This is a sight you will no longer see sadly from Birmingham Airport (a Flybe plane taking off).

The last time I saw the purple Welcome to Yorkshire Flybe plane landing at Birmingham Airport was from Stechford Station in December 2019. The airline would go out of business 3 months later. It was the same plane that I saw before in previous years. Was at Stechford to see the last of Virgin Trains before they handed over the West Coast Mainline franchise to Avanti West Coast. Was also delays with the trains on London Northwestern Railway, so was at the station for about an hour.

Next time we will cover Thomas Cook Airlines, who also recently ceased to exist.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
10 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

NHS Angel by Luke Perry at Lightwoods Park

Recently had a chance to return to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood (in the car, not allowed to travel on the bus at the moment). And while on my walk I found Luke Perry's temporary NHS Angel sculpture. It is near Hagley Road West. It has a message "Thank You NHS & Care Workers". It is called Wings and Scrubs.

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NHS Angel by Luke Perry at Lightwoods Park





Recently had a chance to return to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood (in the car, not allowed to travel on the bus at the moment). And while on my walk I found Luke Perry's temporary NHS Angel sculpture. It is near Hagley Road West. It has a message "Thank You NHS & Care Workers". It is called Wings and Scrubs.


The Winged sculpture was unveiled early in May 2020. It was a tribute to the NHS and Care Workers 'angels' who have been treated people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Country sculptor Luke Perry created it using steel and other metals in his factory in Cradley Heath.

He worked with Sandwell Council and it was installed at Lightwoods Park near the Hagley Road West in Bearwood. It is a temporary installation called Wings and Scrubs. It has the inscription THANK YOU NHS & CARE WORKERS.

More details at the link above from Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.

You can see it on your daily walk around Lightwoods Park and the Warley Woods.

Saw it myself on the 2nd June 2020.

I will do a proper Lightwoods Park post soon, from my various visits over the years from 2011 to 2020.

My post on Lightwoods House is here: The restoration of Lightwoods House in Lightwoods Park.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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