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Green open spaces
Displaying until 01 Sep 2021 - FreeTimePays
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Love our parks - get involved!

As Lockdown rules start to enable more people to enjoy their parks and green spaces, we all want to ensure that these wonderful places of natural beauty are protected for all to enjoy.  This community collective will share some of the brilliant initiatives running across the UK and show just how, together, we can make a difference for the benefit of all.  Connect with us.

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Love our parks - get involved!





As Lockdown rules start to enable more people to enjoy their parks and green spaces, we all want to ensure that these wonderful places of natural beauty are protected for all to enjoy.  This community collective will share some of the brilliant initiatives running across the UK and show just how, together, we can make a difference for the benefit of all.  Connect with us.


Over the next month and for the remainder of 2020, we will be growing our reach and pull together information and details on all the great work being carried out across communities as they collectively protect their parks.  

This will grow into a massive 'community-led' resource for people with a shared interest and passion for their local parks and green spaces.  

Here's just a few of the ideas and initiatives we will be telling you more about so we can share and get more people actively involved.

Litter picking groups - they do a fantastic job.  We'll connect you with your local group.

Art & Culture Trail.  We'll help you set up your trail and showcase your parks.

Walking clubs. We'll connect you and bring in more friends.

Park angels.  Volunteering with a difference.  We'll tell you more.

Creativity and green spaces collide.  Let's look at how art, music, photography and creativity in all its forms can help promote and protect our parks. 

Parks and mental health.  A walk, ride or jog in the park can do so much for your mental health.

There's something for everyone.

Connect with us and help us protect our parks. 

 

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
11 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The rest of Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich

Last time was the fun fairs, this time everything else at Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich. There is a bandstand and a pavilion. Also a War Memorial. Gatehouses at two of the entrance gates. A footbridge that goes over a major road. Plus a Pleasure Pool (or boating lake). The visits from July 2017 and August 2019. Not expecting to go back any time soon though.

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The rest of Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich





Last time was the fun fairs, this time everything else at Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich. There is a bandstand and a pavilion. Also a War Memorial. Gatehouses at two of the entrance gates. A footbridge that goes over a major road. Plus a Pleasure Pool (or boating lake). The visits from July 2017 and August 2019. Not expecting to go back any time soon though.


Dartmouth Park, West Bromwich

Previous post: Fun fairs post at Dartmouth Park.

Welcome to Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich. The park is close to West Bromwich Town Centre and Sandwell Valley Country Park. Surrounded by the following roads: The Expressway, Reform Street, Lloyd Street, Devonshire Drive and Trinity Way. It is a Grade II listed park, with a bandstand, War Memorial, Gatehouses, and a Pleasure Pool (boating lake). You can also hire bikes from the park at Valley Cycles.

My visits were in July 2017 (heading to Sandwell Valley on the Big Sleuth bear hunt) and August 2019 (in the area again and noticed that there was a footbridge to cross).

2017

The visit at the end of July 2017. Approaching the entrance gates from Reform Street in West Bromwich. Was an Asian wedding party there at the time, hence the car on the drive.

Later heading back into West Bromwich Town Centre, and back to the gates at Reform Street.

The gatehouse at the Reform Street entrance.

Later on the way out of the park I took another photo of the Reform Street gatehouse.

Outside of the Reform Street entrance was the Crown & Cushion pub nearby.

The War Memorial was on the left of the main entrance path. It is Grade II listed.

It dates to circa 1920. In memory of the local men and women lost during the Great War of 1914-18 (WW1).

At the top is a bronze winged statue.

Close up details of the bronze winged statue.

This green box was an electric feeder. Pre-war it was used to service the trams in West Bromwich. Post-war it was re-sighted here to light up the war memorial, and from 1951 worked the floral clock.

View of the Bandstand and Pavilion.

This time the Pavilion is to the left and the Bandstand to the right.

There was also this drinking fountain in the park.

A look (below) at the Jubilee Sensory Garden 2012.

Outdoor wooden instruments that you can interact with.

Heading down to the Pleasure Pool as I made my way towards Sandwell Valley.

To the far left was swan paddling boats you could hire for a ride.

There was about four swan boats here, with room for about 4 people in each. Also an inflatable boat to the left. Would assume you have to wear a life jacket.

There was also a pond with Canada geese and swans.

Be like the Chuckle Brothers and you could hire Surrey Bikes. Small £9 or Large £14. "To me ... to you!". Paul Chuckle is still alive, but his brother Barry passed away in August 2018.

You could also hire regular bikes from Valley Cycles. Adult Bikes from £7.50 or Kids Bikes from £6. Even a tricycle with a passenger seat at the back!

2019

After checking out the fun fair again, during the August 2019 visit, I made my way to the footbridge that I saw on Google Maps. Lots of trees on the walk along the path here.

Heading on along the path towards those trees.

More trees as I got close to the footbridge.

View of the park beyond from the curved ramp of the footbridge, as I was about to cross over The Expressway. Beyond the trees is the M5, and on the other side of the motorway is the Priory Woods. Where you can find the Sandwell Priory Ruins (somewhere to visit in the future).

First view of the curved ramp that leads to the footbridge I wanted to cross.

It appears to all be made out of concrete.

The start of the curved ramp from the park side.

Starting to walk up it.

Now on the actual bridge that crosses The Expressway.

About halfway over. Would be one more spiral ramp to go down.

Onto the next spiral ramp.

Going around in circles again. It takes you to the Beeches Road gate. Also directly opposite Herbert Street.

Almost near the bottom of the spiral ramp.

One last look at it.

There was another gatehouse, similar of design at the Beeches Road entrance.

View of the Beeches Road gates. Herbert Road is straight ahead.

Beeches Road gatehouse on the right and the gates in front.

The Beeches Road gatehouse also has a clock between the ground floor and first floor windows.

Before I left Dartmouth Park, saw this notice board and map from Sandwell MBC. It is also an alcohol restricted area from the West Midlands Police.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
History & heritage
10 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Southside Theatres: The Alexandra

The Alexandra Theatre located in the Southside area of Birmingham. The main entrance is on Suffolk Street Queensway, running along Suffolk Place. The original building, opened in 1901 is on Station Street and John Bright Street. The main entrance was originally on John Bright Street, but was relocated to Suffolk Street Queensway in the late 1960s. This was rebuilt in 2018.

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Southside Theatres: The Alexandra





The Alexandra Theatre located in the Southside area of Birmingham. The main entrance is on Suffolk Street Queensway, running along Suffolk Place. The original building, opened in 1901 is on Station Street and John Bright Street. The main entrance was originally on John Bright Street, but was relocated to Suffolk Street Queensway in the late 1960s. This was rebuilt in 2018.


The Alexandra Theatre

For another theatre post in Southside currently closed due to the pandemic go to the Birmingham Hippodrome.

The Alexandra Theatre is the second main theatre in Southside Birmingham. Located on Suffolk Street Queensway (the current main entrance is not too far from Holloway Circus). It is also on Suffolk Place, John Bright Street (formerly the main entrance) and up Station Street.

The theatre has gone by many names over the years. Either known as The Alexandra, The Alex or more recently the New Alexandra Theatre (before going back to just The Alexandra Theatre).

Construction of the theatre began in 1900 and it opened in 1901. The main entrance was originally on John Bright Street. The original architects was Owen & Ward and was built by William Coutts. It's original name was the Lyceum Theatre. After low ticket sales, it was sold in 1902 to Lester Collingwood and renamed to the Alexandra Theatre. Collingwood died in road traffic accident in 1910 and he was replaced by Leon Salberg, who died in his office at the theatre in 1938. In 1935 the theatre was rebuilt in the Art Deco style to a design by Roland Satchwell. After Leon Salberg's death, the running of the theatre was taken over by Derek Salberg. The Salberg family ran the theatre from 1911 until 1977.

The main entrance was relocated to Suffolk Street Queensway with a concrete bridge. This was built from 1967-69 from a design by the John Madin Design Group. The Art Deco interior of Satchwell was refurbished in 1992 by the Seymour Harris Partnership.

In the last 25 years the ownership of the theatre has changed hands a few times. In 1995 it was taken over by the Apollo Leisure Group. Who brought many West End productions to The Alex. In 1999 they were bought by SFX Entertainment. In 2001 they merged with Clear Channel Entertainment. In 2006 it was taken over by Live Nation, then in 2011 it was taken over by Ambassador Theatre Group who renamed the theatre New Alexandra Theatre after a minor refurbishment. The main entrance on Suffolk Street Queensway was rebuilt and modernised in 2018 and the theatre was renamed back to The Alexandra Theatre.

 

Live Nation: The Alexandra Theatre

My earliest photos of The Alexandra was taken from Suffolk Street Queensway during April 2009. Island Bar was next door to the right.

In February 2010, I got photos from Suffolk Place, John Bright Street and Station Street. Main entrance is on Suffolk Street Queensway. Then over the bridge. At the time the theatre was showing Porridge starring Shaun Williamson as Fletcher (originally played on TV by the late Ronnie Barker). You could see the former main entrance on John Bright Street (from 1901 until the late 1960s).

New Alexandra Theatre

Under new ownership. And now called New Alexandra Theatre as seen in January 2011. A World Class Theatre. At the time the theatre was being used by Britain's Got Talent for auditions. Main entrance building seen on Suffolk Place and opposite from Suffolk Street Queensway.

My only nightshot of the New Alexandra Theatre was taken during December 2012, when the theatre had 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton on at the time.

In May 2017 the New Alexandra Theatre was advertising Arthur Miller's Crucible, from the 5th to 10th June 2017.

The Birmingham Weekender was held during September 2017. And there was inflatable Sky Dancers on the roof of the New Alex. This was held over the weekend from the 22nd to 24th September 2017. Meanwhile the theatre was advertising Cilla The Musical and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Alexandra Theatre 2018 refurb to present

In August 2018, scaffolding went up on the main entrance building on Suffolk Street Queensway of what was then the New Alexandra Theatre. Boogie Nights The 70s Musical was to be shown in the theatre from the 22nd to the 25th August 2018. Scaffolding by Gorilla Scaffolding.

By September 2018 they had stripped the old late 1960s concrete facade off. And was all these exposed wooden boards at the front.

In October 2018 you could already see the new facade on the Suffolk Street Queensway entrance, and it had gone back to The Alexandra name. They also had a digital billboard advertising what they had one. Such as David Walliams Awful Auntie and Benidorm Live.

Another look in December 2018 from Suffolk Place and John Bright Street. They had recladded the late 1960's building by John Madin. So not as much exposed concrete as there had been for almost 50 years. There was also shiny new red steps at the Suffolk Street Queensway main entrance. Beetham Tower and one of The Sentinels towers behind.

One of my last photos of 103 Colmore Row before lockdown was above The Alexandra Theatre on Suffolk Street Queensway during early March 2020. I wouldn't see the theatre again until the beginning of August 2020.

Closed since the lockdown began in late March 2020. As of August 2020, The Alexandra Theatre remains closed due to the pandemic. It is unknown when the theatre will be able to reopen, or even if they will be able to do social distancing with less seats available. The Shows Will Go On. Suffolk Street Queensway main entrance, then views a week later from Station Street, John Bright Street and Suffolk Place.

Follow The Alex Theatre on social media:

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Transport
10 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

West Midlands Railway Class 196 section at Tyseley

West Midlands Railway will soon have a fleet of Class 196 Civity diesel multiple unit trains. There is a section of one at the Tyseley DMU depot of West Midlands Railway. I saw it behind the metal fences from the Warwick Road. They will replace the old Class 153's and Class 170's. It might be there for testing or driver training, as it's in the car park.

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West Midlands Railway Class 196 section at Tyseley





West Midlands Railway will soon have a fleet of Class 196 Civity diesel multiple unit trains. There is a section of one at the Tyseley DMU depot of West Midlands Railway. I saw it behind the metal fences from the Warwick Road. They will replace the old Class 153's and Class 170's. It might be there for testing or driver training, as it's in the car park.


West Midlands Railway Class 196

There is a section near the Warwick Road in Tyseley of a West Midlands Railway Class 196 train. Near the entrance to West Midlands Railway Birmingham Tyseley. Outside was a sign about VE Day 75 (which was in May 2020) and an NHS Rainbow. Thank you to our NHS staff and Key Workers.

Gallery below of five photos of a new Class 196 train (I couldn't see another one from Tyseley Station, but noticed one in July 2020 from a train).

It might be there to be used for training, as it is on a car park.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
History & heritage
06 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Southside Theatres: Birmingham Hippodrome

The Birmingham Hippodrome is located on Hurst Street in Southside (part of the Chinese Quarter). It is also up Inge Street and near the Back to Backs. The theatre is home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet. There has been a theatre on this site since 1895. There has been several redevelopments since. The last one in 2001. The Birmingham Christmas Pantomine usually takes place here.

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Southside Theatres: Birmingham Hippodrome





The Birmingham Hippodrome is located on Hurst Street in Southside (part of the Chinese Quarter). It is also up Inge Street and near the Back to Backs. The theatre is home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet. There has been a theatre on this site since 1895. There has been several redevelopments since. The last one in 2001. The Birmingham Christmas Pantomine usually takes place here.


BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME

Lets support Birmingham's theatres during this troubling time of closure. In Southside there is the Birmingham Hippodrome (on Hurst Street), The Alexandra Theatre (on Suffolk Street Queensway and John Bright Street) and The Old REP Theatre (on Station Street).

Here though we will take a look at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Home of the world famous Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Assembly rooms was the first venue to be built on the site of the Hippodrome in 1895. It was redesigned in 1899 by local architect F. W. Lloyd. A stage and a circus was added with a Moorish tower (removed in 1963). It had the name the "Tower of Varieties". After this failed, it was rebuilt as a normal variety theatre in 1900 as the "Tivoli".  It got the name "The Hippodrome" for the first time in October 1903 under the ownership of Thomas Barrasford (it has previously been named the "Tower Theatre"). The current neo-classical auditorium which was designed to seat 1,900 people, was built in 1924 by Burdwood and Mitchell. After Smallbrook Queensway was built, the entrance building and tower was demolished in 1963.

For a time it was renamed as the "Birmingham Theatre". The plain façade was refaced in the 1980s with mock-Victorian plasterwork. Central TV spent the '80s using the Hippodrome for the ITV Talent Show New Faces.

The exterior was last rebuilt in 2001 by Associated Architects with Law and Dunbar-Nasmith, with a new glass façade and accommodation for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.  There will be another redevelopment of the façade to be completed in 2021 by AHMM Architects.

The BRB has been based in Birmingham since 1990 at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Having been founded in 1946 as the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet in London. Every Christmas season, the BRB perform Swan Lake at the Hippodrome. A production of Sir Peter Wright, the Director Laurete of the BRB. Then there is the annual Christmas Pantomime, where a variety of celebrities come to Birmingham to perform them.

 

Some of my earliest photos of the Birmingham Hippodrome from Hurst Street were taken in June 2009.

Seen during April 2012 on the main entrance doors from Hurst Street was these labels for the NEW STAGE APPEAL. At the time the Hippodrome was showing Oliver!

In December 2012, I saw this pair in Angel Wings. It was when Cinderella was on (as performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet), and they welcomed theatre goers at the time.

Direct from the West End was Disney's The Lion King. Seen during August 2013. This touring West End show would be at the Hippodrome until the 28th September 2013.

"When in Rome do what the Romans do". Also in August 2013 was the annual Summer in Southside, which used to be held outside of the Hippodrome and down Hurst Street and in The Arcadian every summer. It was a free event held by Birmingham Hippodrome Outdoors.

Christmas decorations and Christmas trees lit up after dark at the Birmingham Hippodrome during December 2013. At the time the panto being held here was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs staring Gok Wan.

Wicked was going to be at the Birmingham Hippodrome from the 9th July until the 6th September 2014. I saw this poster during July 2014. While I've not seen Wicked in Birmingham, I did once see it in London's West End at the Apollo Victoria during October 2012. It was amazing! (it was the last time I went to see a West End show).

Summer in Southside seen during August 2014. Members of the Team in the white t-shirts. With the pointy fingers and at the Info stalls.

Near the end of December 2018, saw some Chinese lantern style Christmas lights hanging from trees on Hurst Street, not far from the Hippodrome. It was nice to see. Southside always makes the area look pretty at night.

In July 2020, for my first walk around Southside since the lockdown began (4 to 5 months after I was last here). I took a few photos of the Hippodrome from Hurst Street. Obviously they have been closed since the end of March 2020. And it is not known when it will be safe for them to reopen. Social distancing in the theatre will be hard, and the theatre may have to make people redundant sadly. Meanwhile the Southside BID gives a huge THANK YOU to all keyworkers and to the NHS.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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