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09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
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The Discovery Terrace and the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham during September 2013

The Library of Birmingham opened to the public back in early September 2013. Elliott had his fist visit on the 21st September 2013 in the late afternoon, with just about time to visit the Discovery Terrace. With closing at 5pm, he returned a week later on the 28th September 2013 to head up to the Secret Garden for the first time. Since then he has been loads of times over the years.

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The Discovery Terrace and the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham during September 2013





The Library of Birmingham opened to the public back in early September 2013. Elliott had his fist visit on the 21st September 2013 in the late afternoon, with just about time to visit the Discovery Terrace. With closing at 5pm, he returned a week later on the 28th September 2013 to head up to the Secret Garden for the first time. Since then he has been loads of times over the years.


A digital tour of the Discovery Terrace and the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham. As they were during September 2013, within a few weeks of the Library opening to the public.

 

To see Elliott's previous Library of Birmingham posts from the September 2013 visits click the links below:

Discovery Terrace

Located on Level 3, the Discovery Terrace is accessed through the Revolving doors from the Discovery Floor (this was later replaced with automatic doors years later). Facing Centenary Square and the Arena Central site. Part of it goes around the side of the Library with a view of City Centre Gardens below.

On the 21st September 2013 you could see the old John Madin designed Birmingham Central Library and NatWest Tower (103 Colmore Row).

Was a bit of an animal art trail on the Discovery Terrace at the time.

Area at the back was not accessible at the time with all these barriers with something that was being finished off.

Looks like the only way to this section that day was via the side door from the library.

Some kind of bird house.

 

Secret Garden

Located on Level 7, you can get the travelator up from Level 3 to 4, then the lift or stairs up to Level 7. The Glass Lift initially worked in it's first year, but has not worked for many years or even been fixed. Press the disabled door button to open the door to the Secret Garden. It has views to the back of the Library, plus you can go around to the front for views of the City Centre.

On the 28th September 2013, there was a lot of people up on the Secret Garden. Views from up here are spectacular and change all the time. Although sometimes gets a bit boring on repeated visits over the years.

Some more colourful art installations for people to look out for at the time.

Wooden benches to sit down on and rest.

The view at the front over Centenary Square was quite busy that day.

Lots of colourful flowers up here. They regularly change them all the time.

Another bird house up here as well.

 

Over they years since, it does get a bit frustrating when the only thing to see is all of those construction sites, and I don't always want to take photos of them. Would be nice to somehow get access to the top of other tall buildings for photo views. Ran out of things to take up here. It's only those events that used to happen in Centenary Square down below that made a change from the usual views.

The Library has been closed since the first lockdown. Apart from people going for books, the terraces have yet to be reopened to the public, so I have no idea when I'll be going back up there. It wont be any time soon, that's for sure.

With a Second Lockdown (for at least a month), it means that there has been no access up to the terraces for 8 or 9 months and counting. The library had only reopened for people taking out or returning books only.

 

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

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70 passion points
Modern Architecture
09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing the Holiday Inn Express at Arena Central, Birmingham

Resembling the video game TETRIS during construction, the Holiday Inn Express hotel is located on Holliday Street and was part of the Arena Central redevelopment site (the first building to be completed). Construction started in the autumn of 2015. The hotel was opened in the spring of 2017. Located close to the Crowne Plaza hotel.

19 Holliday Street, Birmingham, B1 1HH.

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Introducing the Holiday Inn Express at Arena Central, Birmingham





Resembling the video game TETRIS during construction, the Holiday Inn Express hotel is located on Holliday Street and was part of the Arena Central redevelopment site (the first building to be completed). Construction started in the autumn of 2015. The hotel was opened in the spring of 2017. Located close to the Crowne Plaza hotel.

19 Holliday Street, Birmingham, B1 1HH.


Holiday Inn Express was built on a site on Holliday Street in Birmingham City Centre. Construction began in the Autumn of 2015 and was complete and open by the Spring of 2017. When going up, the building resembled a game of TETRIS (on the Nintendo Game Boy).

Each piece was pre-cast off site and lowered down by a crane. The windows in shapes of a right angle. Eventually the building was cladded in a white and black cladding.

Since opening in April 2017, the hotel has officially been called Holiday Inn Express Birmingham - City Centre. Located at 19 Holliday Street, Birmingham, B1 1HH.

 

Regular contributors Elliott thinks of it as the TETRIS building, while Daniel as the Minecraft building.

Gallery of photos taken from 2015 to present:

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Photos courtesty of Elliott Brown

2017

2018

2019

2020

Photos courtesty of  Daniel Sturley

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60 passion points
History & heritage
09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Island House, demolished after standing for 99 years

Island House was located at a site on Moor Street Queensway with Albert Street and Fazeley Street. Built during 1912 to 1913. It was demolished in 2012. Neighbour Hotel La Tour was built from 2010 to 2012. The land was for a time a temporary car park for the hotel, now called the Clayton Hotel. The land is now part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station building site.

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Island House, demolished after standing for 99 years





Island House was located at a site on Moor Street Queensway with Albert Street and Fazeley Street. Built during 1912 to 1913. It was demolished in 2012. Neighbour Hotel La Tour was built from 2010 to 2012. The land was for a time a temporary car park for the hotel, now called the Clayton Hotel. The land is now part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station building site.


Island House

Island House initially survived the demolition of Masshouse Circus in the early 2000s, and was originally going to be part of the proposed City Park Gate scheme, on the land running down Moor Street Queensway. The building was on a site on Moor Street Queensway, Albert Street and Fazeley Street. The address was 2 Fazeley Street.

Built during 1912 to 1913 by G. E. Pepper, in the Mannerist style. The entrance had columns in the Ionic style at the bottom, Doric in the middle and Tuscan at the top. It was built as offices and a warehouse for Churchill & Co. Birmingham City Council had locally listed the building at the time as Grade B. It may have been Grade II listed, but I was never able to find any listing text for it. The building was refurbished in 2005, when it was acquired by a design firm.

Everything changed when HS2 was announced, and City Park Gate was quietly cancelled.

Hotel La Tour was built on what was City Park Gate Plot 4, from 2010 until early 2012. Island House was demolished by February 2012. After that, hoardings went up around the site, and was for a time used as a car park for the hotel. Now the land is part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station site, and is behind hoardings and fences on Moor Street Queensway.

The hotel was renamed to Clayton Hotel in 2017 after getting new owners, and was having extra floors built during 2020.

 

 

Earliest views of Island House taken during April 2009. This was at the time a convenient route to get to Eastside from the City Centre. Masshouse to the left.

The snow of January 2010, and got some close up details of Island House. There was an art installation outside, but it looks like the design company had long since moved out by then. Last view of Masshouse before the site to the left was taken over by Hotel La Tour.

By December 2010, the Hotel La Tour site to the left was hoarded, ready to be built in 2011. Island House on the right had the lower windows boarded off. It's future looked bleak.

The view of Island House from Park Street during March 2011, as the crane was behind for the building of Hotel La Tour. This was the end of Fazeley Street to Moor Street Queensway.

By June 2011, Hotel La Tour was up to the first floor, as seen from Moor Street Queensway. Less than a year left for Island House.

Walking down Moor Street Queensway during September 2011, towards Hotel La Tour, Masshouse and Island House. They were building the 2nd and 3rd floor on the hotel at this point, and was already higher than the doomed Island House.

In February 2012, scaffolding went up on Island House to prepare for it's demolition, as Hotel La Tour next door was almost complete.

Later that month, Island House was under white wrappings, while the Bus Interchange works were being built on Moor Street Queensway. Hotel La Tour was almost finished and ready to open.

By March 2013 there was nothing left of Island House. Just a brownfield site next to Hotel La Tour.

Skipping ahead to January 2020, this view from Moor Street Car Park. There is nothing left of the Island House site, even the Fox & Grapes had gone (in 2018). While the Clayton Hotel (renamed from Hotel La Tour in 2017), was preparing to build some additional floors. All the land here now is part of the HS2 Curzon Street Station. That part of Park Street would later be permanently closed off by HS2 as well. Masshouse was joined by Exchange Square on the left.

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

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60 passion points
History & heritage
09 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Five Ways Clocktower

There is a clock at Five Ways that is several decades older than the one that used to be in the Jewellery Quarter. Dated to 1878, this Clocktower is in front of what is now the Costa Coffee Drive Thru at 60 Calthorpe Road. Grade II listed. Erected to commmemorate the First Coroner of the Borough, John Birt Davies who had served 36 years. Gothic Style with an Iron Square Box on top.

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The Five Ways Clocktower





There is a clock at Five Ways that is several decades older than the one that used to be in the Jewellery Quarter. Dated to 1878, this Clocktower is in front of what is now the Costa Coffee Drive Thru at 60 Calthorpe Road. Grade II listed. Erected to commmemorate the First Coroner of the Borough, John Birt Davies who had served 36 years. Gothic Style with an Iron Square Box on top.


FIVE WAYS CLOCKTOWER

The Five Ways Clocktower is Grade II listed and dates to the late 19th Century. It resembles the Clocktower that used to be in the Jewellery Quarter until the Summer of 2020 (which was erected in honour of Joseph Chamberlain). But the clock over at Five Ways was erected for John Birt Davies, who was the First Coroner of the Borough for 36 years until 1878 (this was about a decade before Birmingham became a City, so was still a Town at this point in time).

Located outside of 60 Calthorpe Road. This is now a Costa Coffee Drive Thru, but when I first took photos of it, it was Solace Spa. Which was an Approved Beauty Day Spa. Costa had an extension built and opened in 2014.

Made of iron, the clock tower has a square box at the top with the four clock faces, and was made in the Gothic style. It has a Finial at the top.

 

2009

The Five Ways Clock seen during May 2009 in a view towards Auchinleck House and the Five Ways Shopping Centre. Lloyds TSB was on the corner of Islington Row Middleway and Calthorpe Road, it is just Lloyds Bank now.

The following five views below taken in June 2009, by which time I had my first Fuji bridge camera.

This view towards No 1 Hagley Road (Metropolitan House).

This is the inscription about John Birt Davies. Dated 1878.

Close up look at the square box and one of the clock faces.

Close up of the details of the clocktower. The Victorians certainly knew how to build impressive clocks!

View towards Lloyds TSB and Royal Mail House on Calthorpe Road.

This evening view of the Five Ways Clocktower during September 2009, towards the Marriott Hotel. I would have been heading to get the no 1 bus.

This view below taken during December 2009 of the Five Ways Clock, towards Royal Mail House and Cropthorne Court.

2014 - 2020

Some indirect views years later of the Five Ways Clock. This nightshot of the clock taken with the Marriott Hotel during January 2014. Can just about see the Joseph Sturge statue.

A February 2016 view below of the Five Ways Clocktower with the recently completed Park Regis Birmingham hotel. Which was a rebuild out of Auchinleck House. The old Five Ways Shopping Centre has been demolished. Sign about the Paradise Circus roadworks which started in January 2015.

The view from inside of the Costa Coffee Drive Thru during August 2018. There was seating areas inside the house part of 60 Calthorpe Road. Behind the Five Ways Clock was the construction site of The Bank Tower 2.

From the table I sat in at Costa at the time, I could see the Five Ways Clocktower and Park Regis Birmingham outside. To think, that this used to be a beauty spa only a decade earlier! While I have been back to this Costa since, don't think I've sat in this part again.

In November 2018, I'd probably just got off the no 1 bus on Harborne Road. And saw this Ellisons Corporate Hospitality coach parked outside of the Costa Drive Thru. The Five Ways Clock seen to the left.

Over to January 2019, and I was waiting for a no 1 bus on Calthorpe Road, when I saw The Green Bus on the 881 to Handsworth pass the Costa Drive Thru and the Five Ways Clock. From here you can see the Marriott Hotel, No 1 Hagley Road and Broadway Residences.

A wet and miserable day during October 2020 as I got to Five Ways. Was raining heavily on the walk from The Mailbox via Gas Street Basin and Broad Street. Heading to catch a no 1 bus. Apexhouse, the Costa Drive Thru (which I've not got around to going back to since the pandemic started) and the Marriott Hotel. Not forgetting the Five Ways Clock.

 

Update: Site of the Jewellery Quarter Clock

The Jewellery Quarter Clock was removed for repairs on the 22nd August 2020. Click this link to view the post.

On the 2nd November 2020, several days before the 2nd Lockdown began, I got the train up to the Jewellery Quarter, and saw the site of where the clock used to be on Warstone Lane. I meant to go up there the day I first found the pop up cycle lane. At least this time, I saw the site, then saw the rest of the pop up cycle lane from Carver Street. The clock should return here in 2021, fingers crossed.

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

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50 passion points
Modern Architecture
05 Nov 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Introducing The BT Tower, Birmingham: The tallest building in the City!

The BT Tower in Birmingham is located on Lionel Street in the Jewellery Quarter and still holds the record for the tallest building in the City. Built between 1963 and 1965, it was in operation by late 1966. Formerly known as the Post Office Tower or the GPO Tower. It is 152 metres high (499 ft). In recent years many of the dishes have been removed, as has the old BT logo.

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Introducing The BT Tower, Birmingham: The tallest building in the City!





The BT Tower in Birmingham is located on Lionel Street in the Jewellery Quarter and still holds the record for the tallest building in the City. Built between 1963 and 1965, it was in operation by late 1966. Formerly known as the Post Office Tower or the GPO Tower. It is 152 metres high (499 ft). In recent years many of the dishes have been removed, as has the old BT logo.


BT TOWER, BIRMINGHAM

 

The BT Tower in Birmingham. It has been the tallest building in the City since it opened in 1966, taking the record from the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower (Old Joe). Other tall buildings have gone up and down in the last 55 years, but so far none of them have been higher than the BT Tower. There is also the issue with the flight paths in and out of Birmingham Airport.

Seen from various places within the City Centre, the BT Tower is also visible from the suburbs on the skyline.

The tower (having the equivalent of 24 floors) is not open to the public, so only BT staff are allowed to go up it.

At one point the tower was painted light brown, but this was changed in the early 2000s, and looks more white now. The BT logo on the top of the tower has changed over time. As of September 2020, the old BT logo has been taken down, but we are not sure when BT are going to put up their current logo.

The last of the satellite dishes were removed by 2012. Also during 2012, during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, they had a London 2012 banner on two sides of the tower.

Hopefully something will be done to the tower for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (if it goes ahead and isn't delayed by the 2020 pandemic).

 

Below gallery of photos taken over the years by Elliott Brown. 2009 to present.

2009

Earliest views from the Jewellery Quarter, and Great Charles Street Queensway.

2011

Zoom ins to the BT Tower as many of the dishes had been or were being removed from the top.

2012

Official logos for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralmpic Games.

2013

Views from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham.

2016

Was looking to see if I could see where the Peregrine falcon nests, but couldn't see it. Discovery Terrace views from the Library of Birmingham.

2018

Got this view below of the BT Tower and the red weather vane of the former Skin Hospital (on John Bright Street) from Holloway Circus near Suffolk Street Queensway during February 2018.

The view from Stoneleigh Road in Perry Barr during early November 2018. Was close to the Birmingham City University demolition site (of what was supposed to be the Athletets Village for Birmingham 2022).

2020

One of the last times seeing the old BT logo on the BT Tower. This was a month before lockdown. As seen from Ladywood.

The old BT logo is removed during August 2020.

Nothing left of the old BT logo by September 2020, other than a scar or ghost sign of what was left underneath.

On the weekend of the 17th and 18th October 2020, a helicopter lowered the new BT logos into place onto Three Snowhill, on the Snow Hill Queensway and Livery Street sides. But as you can see on the 19th October 2020, the BT Tower still was without new logos (apprently they have them inside ready to go up). This view from St Chad's Queensway.

From 2nd November 2020. Perhaps my last views of the BT Tower before Lockdown 2 for a month or so. Great Charles Street Queensway view from the train leaving Snow Hill Station and another view from Legge Lane.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the wonderful gallery of BT Tower photos above!

One day it will be nice to get permission from BT to go up to the top for photos, but at the moment that seems very unlikely for members of the public.

And while we are at it, can BT give us permission to go up to the top of Three Snowhill?

 

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

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