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Art; Culture & creativity
24 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Christmas lights around the Retail BID past and present

The Christmas lights as seen after dark around Birmingham City Centre in the Retail BID area past and present. The last Frankfurt Christmas Market was in 2019. The 2020 market was cancelled due to the pandemic, but to brighten things up, the Council still had lights put up around New Street and other roads. Gone from blues of 10 years ago to the yellow and white lights now.

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Christmas lights around the Retail BID past and present





The Christmas lights as seen after dark around Birmingham City Centre in the Retail BID area past and present. The last Frankfurt Christmas Market was in 2019. The 2020 market was cancelled due to the pandemic, but to brighten things up, the Council still had lights put up around New Street and other roads. Gone from blues of 10 years ago to the yellow and white lights now.


A comparison of the Christmas lights in Birmingham City Centre over the last decade ago with now. Merry Covid Christmas. And enjoy! 

All around the Retail BID area. So the likes of New Street, High Street and Corporation Street etc. 

NEW STREET

The majority of the Christmas lights are up New Street. Most years seen above the Birmingham Frankfurt Christma Market. Starting from Corporation Street up towards Victoria Square.

November 2010

From the top end of New Street near Victoria Square, after the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market had closed for the night.

Between Pret a Manger and the Piccadilly Arcade.

They were reused from the year before, all blue and white.

November 2020

Seen past the Piccadilly Arcade up to New Street.

Not far from the Piccadilly Arcade and Bennetts Hill.

Usually the Frankfurt Market would be here by now, but it's been cancelled due to the pandemic and the lockdown etc.

Heading up Stephenson Place, past Apple towards Lloyds Bank, saw this Christmas lights on the left. Even got the Lloyds black horse in shot!

CANNON STREET

January 2012

After Christmas 2011 was over, the lights were still on in early January 2012, as seen on Cannon Street.

Was the usual blue and white lights that was used in the late '00s to the mid '10s.

I think they went all the way down Cannon Street at the time.

Seen outside of Slater Menswear and White Stuff, towards New Street.

November 2020

Cannon St at Christmas from New Street. Only the bottom half of Cannon Street has the lights this time around.

Reverse view of Cannon ST at Christmas towards New Street and the Burlington Arcade.

The Christmas lights close to Slater Menswear and White Stuff.

Brightens up the bottom half of Cannon Street towards New Street. All non essential shops down here are closed until the 2nd lockdown ends.

 

HIGH STREET

November 2012

The Christmas lights on the High Street from near Marks & Spencer towards the Rotunda. The blue and white design towards Rotunda Square. They even had some over the bus stops outsid of DEICHMANN.

November 2020

The same yellow and white designed Christmas lights on the High Street, as they have now on New Street, seen outside of Marks & Spencer, from my bus stop. These lights have been put up from here towards Rotunda Square, but don't go over the bus routes.

UNION STREET

December 2012

The Christmas lights here seen at the bottom of Union Street towards Marks & Spencer on the High Street.

November 2020

I was suprised to see three sets of Christmas lights on Union Street between Argos, Boots, Burger King and WH Smith.

Heading to the bus stop it was nice to see them in the evening. But the lights are on all day.

CHERRY STREET

January 2012

On Cherry Street at the time was these red and white Christmas lights. Near Cannon Street and Corporation Street.

The GAP was at Martineau Place at the time (that's now Poundland). House of Fraser on the left, near Corporation Street.

November 2020

Heading up Corporation Street, towards Union Street, saw this Christmas lights on Cherry Street between the EE shop and House of Fraser (which doesn't have the usual fancy lights up).

BEST OF THE REST

In December 2009 they had the Merry Christmas lights at the bottom of Corporation Street near New Street.

They used Merry Christmas again at the bottom of Corporation Street when I saw it back in November 2010.

Seen on New Street near Corporation Street was Christmas in Birmingham during December 2014.

They also had Shopping in Birmingham.com on the other side. It was the last time they had Christmas lights on Corporation Street, before the first Midland Metro extension opened in 2015 and 2016.

Seen during November 2020 at the bottom of Lower Temple Street near Stephenson Street, between Caffe Nero and Ladbrokes was this Christmas lights.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown.

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50 passion points
Transport
23 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Car2Go all over Birmingham back in 2013 to 2014

Car2Go was a car hire scheme in Birmingham during 2013 to 2014. Using SmartCar's. With slogans on the doors such as "Brum Brummie" or "Free Parking" etc. Users could use an app which they would pay for the use. Use the GPS to locate one and drive around the City. Didn't last more than 12 months though. From May 2013 to May 2014. Was based on was on Fleet Street.

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Car2Go all over Birmingham back in 2013 to 2014





Car2Go was a car hire scheme in Birmingham during 2013 to 2014. Using SmartCar's. With slogans on the doors such as "Brum Brummie" or "Free Parking" etc. Users could use an app which they would pay for the use. Use the GPS to locate one and drive around the City. Didn't last more than 12 months though. From May 2013 to May 2014. Was based on was on Fleet Street.


Car2Go

Coming to Birmingham in May 2013, all of a sudden, there was these Car2Go SmartCar's parked all over the City. They were available all over the City. No fixed designation bays, just jump in and drive off. Free parking on any street pay and display bay (but sometimes parking wardens wouldn't know and would put yellow parking tickets on them). One off registration fee was £29.90 (at the time). Register once, drive anywhere. All inclusive price plans. There was different prices depending on how long you used them.

They were based in offices on Fleet Street, close to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. But this scheme wasn't to last, and by the late spring of 2014, Car2Go pulled out of Birmingham, never to return.

 

JUMP IN DRIVE OFF

Date: May 2013.

Location: Woodcock Street outside of Sir Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre at Aston University.

Date: August 2013.

Location: Gas Street.

Date: August 2013.

Location: Alcester Road, Moseley Village.

Date: February 2014.

Location: Reservoir Road, Ladywood, on the walk towards Edgbaston Reservoir.

 

BRUM BRUMMIE

Date: May 2013.

Location: Woodbrooke Road, Bournville near The Valley Parkway.

Date: June 2013.

Location: Fleet Street outside of the then Car2Go offices.

Date: September 2013.

Location: Floodgate Street, Digbeth. Note the yellow parking ticket. Was it really free parking then?

Date: May 2014.

Location: Edmund Street. The last ever photo of a Car2Go SmartCar that I would take before they left Birmingham for good.

 

FREE PARKING

Date: May 2013:

Location: Corporation Street, in the Steelhouse Conservation Area near the courts.

Date: June 2013.

Location: Hazelwell Fordrough, Stirchley.

Date: July 2013.

Location: Lionel Street, Jewellery Quarter. Near the Great Charles Street Queensway car park.

Date: August 2013.

Location: Brunel Street. Near Brunel Street Car Park (now called Town Hall Car Park).

Date: September 2013.

Location: Bissell Street, Highgate.

 

HELLO BIRMINGHAM

Date: May 2013.

Location: Aston Street on the Aston University Campus.

Date: July 2013.

Location: Newhall Street, Jewellery Quarter near Newhall Square and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

Date: September 2013.

Location: Bromsgrove Street, Southside. Was close to Bristol Street.

Date: October 2013.

Location: Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston at Five Ways.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Squares and public spaces
23 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

What to do with Selly Oak Triangle: new public square or a park?

I am strongly against the building of yet another unwanted student accommodation block in Selly Oak. The student population for the University of Birmingham in the area is high enough as it is, and the area does not need another student prison to be built. Selly Oak Triangle is currently having the bypass extension roadworks overrunning due to the pandemic. Traffic issues as well.

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What to do with Selly Oak Triangle: new public square or a park?





I am strongly against the building of yet another unwanted student accommodation block in Selly Oak. The student population for the University of Birmingham in the area is high enough as it is, and the area does not need another student prison to be built. Selly Oak Triangle is currently having the bypass extension roadworks overrunning due to the pandemic. Traffic issues as well.


SELLY OAK TRIANGLE

Ever since Sainsbury's moved out of their old Selly Oak supermarket building at the end of 2018, to the new Selly Oak Shopping Park, the old building has been boarded up and been a target for graffiti vandals. In 2020 there has been roadworks to extend the Selly Oak Bypass onto Harborne Lane (continuing on from the Aston Webb Boulevard which was completed in 2011). This was originally due to be completed in Summer 2020, but as of Autumn 2020 (due to the Pandemic and lockdowns) still has not been completed.

In late October 2020, Harborne Lane was turned into two way traffic, while Chapel Lane (near the Battery Retail Park) had way too many cars queuing up to the Bristol Road.

There is proposals to build yet another student accommodation block where the old Sainsbury's was. I say to Birmingham City Council to reject this proposal. Selly Oak does not need any more places to imprison students (especially right now during the Pandemic when they can't even go out anywhere).

Perhaps the Council could green light a new public square or park on the land. Or another supermarket.

It's the same with Shirley in Solihull, where idiot developers are planning to build more unwanted retirement villages (Shirley already has too many of them as it is).

 

SAINSBURYS'S

In 2012, I started to go to Sainsbury's Cafe at the Sainsbury's in Selly Oak, and continued to do so on and off until they closed down in 2018. Seen in June 2012, was this brick sculpture of an Oak tree. If demolished will this be saved or be a pile of bricks?

The Sainsbury's logo on the Bristol Road side of the building.

6 years before they moved, Sainsbury's spent a lot of money refurbishing the dated supermarket building. It looked nice, but wouldn't last.

Harborne Lane

Selly Oak Triangle from the no 98 bus towards the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham during January 2014. This view towards the Bristol Road. This triangular island has now gone, used to be a pavement and some benches on it.

The view towards Sainsbury's and it's car park. Beyond is the Battery Retail Park. When at the time Homebase, PC World & Curry's were over there.

Sainsbury's closing down and moved out

By March 2018, signs went up saying that the Sainsbury's site was up for sale. At this point the supermarket was still open. They would move out once their new site was ready by November 2018.

Pigeon's flying over Sainsbury's. A park or public square would be better for them than say an unwanted student block.

In November 2018, I saw this "We're moving" sign outside of Sainsbury's from the Bristol Road in Selly Oak. The new Sainsbury's opened at the Selly Oak Shopping Park on Wednesday 21st November 2018. I've been a couple of times, but the cafe experience is a bit different to the old one. Plus it's a much larger supermarket.

By February 2019, Sainsbury's had moved out months before. And graffiti vandals had started to tag the abandoned building. The car park was empty. This view from no 63 bus on the Bristol Road. At this point there was no plans for the site at the time.

Selly Oak Bypass extension works

A sign I saw in August 2019 said that Selly Oak New Road Phase 1B would be completed by Summer 2020. But that was before the Virus Pandemic and lockdowns started.

By early February 2020, more than a month before the first lockdown, the bypass extension works looked a far way off. This view from the no 63 bus on the Bristol Road near Harborne Lane. The triangular island had been dug up and removed. This was on the 2nd February 2020.

One day later, I got this view from the top deck of the 11A bus on Harborne Lane, before it headed up Chapel Lane towards the Bristol Road. The bus stop was closed off, and the dead end section of road had been filled in and turned into a pavement. Seen on the 3rd February 2020.

There was a raised wall around the former Sainsbury's car park. The pedestrian crossing here was closed off, also temporary traffic lights.

There also used to be a small triangular tarmac island here that you could cross over, before these works, that's gone as well.

By October 2020, the roadworks here were still not finished, as you can see from Harborne Lane. On the 10th October 2020, I again noticed that the former dead end section of road had been filled in and was now a pavement. Bus stop still closed off. Heavy traffic up Chapel Lane. View from the side window of the 11A bus (I rarely went upstairs on the bus between lockdown 1 and 2).

There was big puddle outside of the closed bus stop. The traffic may have also been queuing to get into the Battery Retail Park, as well as waiting at the temporary lights on the Bristol Road junction with Chapel Lane.

By the 26th October 2020, after leaving the Selly Oak Shopping Park, I was walking up to catch an 11A bus (or was hoping too). A sign mentioned that major night time works would be starting from 26/10/20 for 3 weeks.

It also mentioned that Harborne Lane was now open to two way traffic from 25/10/20. Just look at that traffic up Chapel Lane. So bad.

The view of Harborne Lane towards Oak Tree Lane. Most car drivers were still using Chapel Lane. Perhaps not aware that Harborne Lane was now open to two way traffic.

Up Chapel Lane to the Bristol Road junction at Selly Oak Triangle. Temporary traffic lights on red. Barriers everywhere. Imagine how bad the traffic would be if developers got their greedy way and built a student accommodation eyesore to the right?

I waited for an 11A on the Bristol Road, but I wasn't sure if one would come, then I caught a 63 to Longbridge, and a 45 from Longbridge to Cotteridge before I got an 11A home.

I would guess that the bypass extension will be completed now sometime in 2021. And from 2021, please can the Council listen to residents and reject the proposals for yet another student accommodation block. There is already loads up around the Aston Webb Boulevard, and those are closer to the University of Birmingham.

 

Update : Chapel Lane will be going to two way traffic from Monday 23rd November 2020. Speed limit will be at 20 mph. 

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown.

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40 passion points
Squares and public spaces
22 Nov 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

An Autumn Photowalk in St Paul's Square in the Jewellery Quarter - 22nd November 2020

Daniel took a stroll in and around the beautiful St Paul's Square in the heart Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter containing St Paul's Church and a haze of autumn colours from all the various plants and trees, great late afternoon sunlight too! See the full gallery...

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An Autumn Photowalk in St Paul's Square in the Jewellery Quarter - 22nd November 2020





Daniel took a stroll in and around the beautiful St Paul's Square in the heart Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter containing St Paul's Church and a haze of autumn colours from all the various plants and trees, great late afternoon sunlight too! See the full gallery...


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
18 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Westley Vale Millennium Green in Acocks Green

When a former allotment was turned into a green space at the turn of the Millennium in Acocks Green it was named the Westley Vale Millennium Green. Located on The Avenue, it runs alongside the Westley Brook towards the Grand Union Canal. The area is quite small. Visitors are expected to take their litter home with them. Street art by Hoakser was unveiled in 2015 at The Avenue entrance.

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Westley Vale Millennium Green in Acocks Green





When a former allotment was turned into a green space at the turn of the Millennium in Acocks Green it was named the Westley Vale Millennium Green. Located on The Avenue, it runs alongside the Westley Brook towards the Grand Union Canal. The area is quite small. Visitors are expected to take their litter home with them. Street art by Hoakser was unveiled in 2015 at The Avenue entrance.


Westley Vale Millennium Green

The Westley Vale Millennium Green was created as one of the Millennium Greens to provide Breathing Spaces in the early 21st Century. The New Labour Government in 1998 gave support for schemes like this, and this one opened in the year 2000. The area is leased to Birmingham City Council, and a group of Trustees supported by local volunteers manage the site, clean it up, plant and maintain the site as a conservation area.

In 2015, the Birmingham street artist Hoakser was hired to paint a wall at the entrance path from The Avenue. With various birds and animals on it.

Acocks Green Station is a short walk away from the site (as well as the shops on the Warwick Road high street).

2014

I first walked past the Westley Vale Millennium Green in February 2014. This was after a short walk from the Grand Union Canal at Lincoln Road North, I found this gate on The Avenue. I did not enter it at this time, but would a year later.

On the railings was this Millennium Greens Breathing Spaces sign. A Millennium Project. An initiative of The Countryside Agency.

2015

My first proper walk into the Westley Vale Millennium Green was during May 2015. Entering from The Avenue, the street art mural by Hoakser was on the right. With owls, foxes, badgers etc.

The far end of the mural had various birds painted onto it.

Many different paths to take around the Millennium Green.

Cow parsley near the footbridge over the Westley Brook.

An area with benches. It looked like the turf was newly laid at the time.

Following the path past the cow parsley on the left.

Another bench and another path to the left.

The path continues. Lots of tree and very green in the spring.

Now a dirt path through the trees.

Some steps to go up.

Railings on the left. The Grand Union Canal was nearby, but you can't get onto it from this side.

A gate with an exit to Woodcock Lane.

A look at the steps down from Woodcock Lane North onto the towpath of the Grand Union Canal.

Just a look at the steps, I don't think I went down to the canal towpath for a walk down there that time around.

This is a view of the Grand Union Canal from the Woodcock Lane Bridge. I've not walked that section. Sometimes the towpath can be muddy or wet. This is the direction towards Yardley Road, South Yardley and towards Tyseley.

Back into the Millennium Green, and heading around the paths towards Malvern Road.

The path leads to a closed gate at Malvern Road.

Another path from near Malvern Road leads back to The Avenue entrance / exit.

The gate is closed, so you have to use the latch to open the gate, then close it behind you. This was on Malvern Road.

The Millennium Greens Breathing Spaces, Westley Vale Millennium Green and Conservation Area signs at the Malvern Road entrance.

Close up of the Westley Vale Millennium Green signs. Don't dump your rubbish. Pick up and bag your dog waste.

Close up of the Conservation Area sign. Please respect the environment. Bin or take your litter home. Clean up after your pets. Do not damage trees or pick the flowers. No motorcycles or other unauthorised vehicles.

2020

Didn't get around to coming back to the Westley Vale Millennium Green until doing an afternoon walk around Acocks Green during July 2020. Weren't here for long, before walk a stretch of the Grand Union Canal as well.

The footbridge over the Westley Brook. Everything looking lush and green in the summer.

The grass near the path looked to be cut short near the bushes.

Straight on the path under the trees.

Google Lens says this flower is called Asian pigeonwings. But who knows, Google Lens might be wrong?

Up the steps on the path towards Woodcock Lane.

No sooner had we got here, we were almost out of the Millennium Green.

The area is quite small anyway.

A bag on the tree for litter (I think).

A look at the Grand Union Canal. You can not get onto it from this side.

Back to the Woodcock Lane gate. Next headed over the bridge then down onto the canal towpath.

Near the Woodcock Lane Bridge was these signs from the Canal & River Trust. This area is adopted by Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum.

A look at the Woodcock Lane Bridge from the towpath of the Grand Union Canal. Walked towards the Lincoln Road North Bridge. The Millennium Green is to the far left of here. It is Grade II listed, dating to the late 18th Century, and made of red brick. The canal was built as the Warwick and Birmingham Canal. It later became part of the Grand Union Canal from 1927 onwards.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown.

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