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History & heritage
20 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The remains of a fortified manor house at Weoley Castle

Did you know that Weoley Castle was once a fortified manor house for the Lords of the Manor of Dudley? Dating to 1264, it was built for Roger de Somery. There is evidence of the site dating back to Norman times and being surrounded by a moat. Now owned by Birmingham City Council and run by the Birmingham Museums Trust. I saw it in December 2015 from outside of the gate / fence.

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The remains of a fortified manor house at Weoley Castle





Did you know that Weoley Castle was once a fortified manor house for the Lords of the Manor of Dudley? Dating to 1264, it was built for Roger de Somery. There is evidence of the site dating back to Norman times and being surrounded by a moat. Now owned by Birmingham City Council and run by the Birmingham Museums Trust. I saw it in December 2015 from outside of the gate / fence.


Weoley Castle

I went to check out Weoley Castle during December 2015. At the time the site was closed, so was only able to get my photos through the green gate and fence. It is located off Alwold Road in Weoley Castle (the suburb that was named after the castle / manor house).

Now run by Birmingham Museums Trust and owned by the Birmingham City Council. The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II listed building. There is more details on the offical Birmingham Museums website About Weoley Castle. The ruins are well over 750 years old. The fortified manor house was built for the Lords of Dudley. The castle used to be surrounded by a large deer park which stretched for 1000 acres.

The castle had arrow slits, a moat, a curtain wall, towers and battlements. But all of that is gone now, apart from the stone remains visible above ground.

In 1264, Roger de Somery was licenced to crenellate his manor house. Fragments of a 13th century wooden buildings have been found here. There was also a detailed survey of the site in 1422. Most of the ruins we see today dates to the 1270s. The King at the time (Henry III) gave the Lords of Dudley permission to fortify his castle in stone.

Although described as a castle, it was just a fortified manor house, surrounded by a large moat. Moated sites were common across Birmingham, but none remain today.

 

On this sign below is drawing of what Weoley Castle could have looked like in it's heyday. The Bourn Brook flows under the castle site, it used to feed the water into the moat. It's now in a culvert. There had been a farmhouse on this site for many centuries, but was described by the 17th century as a ruined castle. The Birmingham Corporation bought the estate in 1930.

The nearby road Alwold Road was named after a Saxon chieftain in the local area. After the Norman Conquest the land was given to William Fitz Ansulf who became the Lord of Dudley and lived at Dudley Castle. What you see today was built for Roger de Somery, who was the Lord of Dudley at the end of the 1200s. By 1485 the castle was owned by William Berkeley, who lost the castle when he fought for Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The Dudleys sold the land in 1531 to Richard Jervoise a wealthy cloth merchant. He didn't live here. A farmhouse was built nearby in the 18th century. It remained rural land until 1930 when Mr Ledsam the then owner of the land sold it to the Council. The archaeological digs took place here between the 1930s and 1950s.

It would have been nice to walk around the grounds, but when I went in December 2015 the gate was locked, so could only see it from the outside. I've yet to go here on an open day, but was probably best when it was closed to get it without any other people.

The ruins of the stonework to the left.

This was one of the oldest remaining buildings in Birmingham.

The moat would have gone all the way around the castle, where the lower grass levels are now.

There used to be an imposing gatehouse and a great hall, but you can't really see that now.

There would have also been private rooms for the lords and ladies of the manor, and there used to be a kitchen with a large fireplace for cooking. Bit hard to tell now where that was though.

It's remarkable that any of the stonework has survived. I suspect that it must have been destroyed by the mid 17th century (or in the 16th century?).

Probably buried for centuries until archaeologists dug up the remains. Then later the grass layers were changed to keep the stonework above ground.

More stonework details.

By this point I was running out of things to take, so was retaking the same stone wall again.

I also took a panoramic, of which a crop is seen below (was only grass to the right anyway).

More stonework details.

The ruins here reminds me a bit of the Priory Ruins in Dudley.

There also used to be a family chapel and stables on the site back in the 13th century onwards.

Also missing from Weoley Castle was a brewhouse that used to be somewhere on the site.

The ruins can be views from a Viewing Platform which is open every day. There is also tours of the site once a month from January to November each year (for a fee). Direct access to the ruins is on open days with a pre-booked guided tour. The viewing platform is free, but there is usually a charge for events.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Green open spaces
19 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

West Smethwick Park a memorial to the Chance Brothers

Some of my earliest visits to Smethwick was in June 2012. I returned to Smethwick to find the Malcolm X blue plaque in West Smethwick. While there, I popped into West Smethwick Park where there is a pair of memorials for the Chance Brothers. One for James T Chance, the other for John H Chance. I didn't really explore that park at the time, so after seeing the memorials, I headed on.

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West Smethwick Park a memorial to the Chance Brothers





Some of my earliest visits to Smethwick was in June 2012. I returned to Smethwick to find the Malcolm X blue plaque in West Smethwick. While there, I popped into West Smethwick Park where there is a pair of memorials for the Chance Brothers. One for James T Chance, the other for John H Chance. I didn't really explore that park at the time, so after seeing the memorials, I headed on.


West Smethwick Park

I went to West Smethwick Park in Smethwick back in June 2012. At the time it was my second trip to Smethwick within a month (within 5 days actually), as I wanted to find the Malcolm X blue plaque on Marshall Street. While there I headed to the nearby park.

The park is located in the St Paul's ward of Smethwick. It opened on the 7th September 1895. The park features memorials to the Chance Brothers. The park was founded by Sir James Timmins Chance who donated the land as a park to the public forever. The park has memorials to both James T Chance and his brother John Homer Chance.

 

The park is located on Victoria Road in Smethwick. With Holly Lane to the east, West Park Road to the north and St Paul's Road to the west.

 

The main entrance gates from West Park Road.

On one of the terracotta gateposts it reads:

The Gift of 
James T. 
Chance 
for the 
use of the 
Public

Welcome to West Smethwick Park in Smethwick. Noticeboard with a map of all the park locations all over Sandwell.

Approaching the Memorial to James T. Chance.

The memorial is Grade II listed. It dates to abouyt 1900. Made of red brick and terracotta. In the centre is a bronze bust of James T. Chance (1814 - 1902).

Zoom in to the bronze bust of James T. Chance.

Below is this plaque which reads:

James T. Chance
M.A J.P. D.L.
For fifty years a partner in the firm 
of Chance Brothers & Co. 
at the Glass Works Smethwick 
and the Alkali Works, Oldbury
He purchased the land for the park, 
laid it out and endowed it 
and on September 7th 1895 opened it
A gift to the public for ever.
He also made the roads on its East and West boundaries.

A view slightly back of the central section of the James T. Chance memorial.

There is a fence / railings that goes all the way around the memorial.

Apart from the memorials to the Chance Brothers I also saw this outdoor gym exercise machine. A bit like rowing a boat.

Next up is the Memorial to John Home Chance. It was a stone drinking fountain. Dated to 1905.

John Homer Chance died in 1900. He joined the family firm in 1850. A ceremony took place here in June 1905 to unveil the drinking fountain.

At the top of the drinking fountain on this side it says John Homer.

On this side is says Chance A.D. 1900.

As far as I am aware the drinking fountain is no longer in use, and wasn't anything inside of it. Behind a view of the park and the trees.

The only other thing I took in West Smethwich Park was this sign, warning that there is no unauthorised access to water. And children must be supervised by their parents at all times.

I didn't have a full look around the park at the time, so I missed a large lake. Which is the Boating Lake. One day I will need to go back for a proper walk around.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Green open spaces
18 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The other Victoria Park in Tipton

At the end of November 2017, I caught the train up to Tipton for a walk around the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Getting off one section and heading to the other, I briefly passed through Victoria Park in Tipton. It opened in 1901 and was named after Queen Victoria who had died earlier that year. The small park has a pond, also a war memorial obelisk.

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The other Victoria Park in Tipton





At the end of November 2017, I caught the train up to Tipton for a walk around the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Getting off one section and heading to the other, I briefly passed through Victoria Park in Tipton. It opened in 1901 and was named after Queen Victoria who had died earlier that year. The small park has a pond, also a war memorial obelisk.


For Victoria Park, Smethwick (November 2018), check out my post here Victoria Park in Smethwick. One year before my visit to the park in Smethwick, I went to the other Victoria Park in Tipton (November 2017).

 

Victoria Park, Tipton

In November 2017, during a walk around Tipton in Sandwell, after getting off the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Mainline, I headed through Victoria Park, Tipton towards the Birmingham Canal Navigations Old Mainline. So wasn't in the park for long.

When the park opened in July 1901, Tipton was in Staffordshire (now the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell in the West Midlands). The park was named after Queen Victoria, who had died some 7 months earlier in January 1901. There had been plans for a park in the area since the 1890s.

Surrounded by the roads Victoria Road (formerly called Randalls Lane), Mayfair Gardens, Boscobel Avenue, Park Lane West, Hill Street, Manor Road and Queens Road.

The park includes a large lake, tennis courts, children's play areas. Also a Cenotaph which was installed in 1921. For the Tipton men who fell in WW1. Later the names of the fallen in WW2 were added after 1945.

Their was a park keepers bungalow which was built in the 1930s, but was derelict by the 1990s and demolished in 2005.

 

Welcome to Victoria Park Tipton. I entered the park from Victoria Road in Tipton on the 30th November 2017.

The path heading into the park from Victoria Road.

View of the playground / Tipton Park Play Area.

Continuing on the path, you can start to see the lake to the left.

Views of the lake. All the usual gulls were in there.

Continuing on past the lake. I didn't stop to go all the way around.

The skate park area.

Another Welcome to Victoria Park Tipton sign. Getting close to Park Lane West as I headed to the next section of the canal. Tennis courts were behind.

Pair of paths near the Park Lane West exit.

Close to the Mayfair Gardens entrance of the park.

The War Memorial Obelisk / Cenotaph. It is Grade II listed. Made in 1921. Inscribed on both sides with names from the First World War and Second World War.

Near the lake and benches was this Teenage Shelter. Probably where teenage boys sit with their mates in the park.

Beyond the trees was another playground / play area, and behind that was the lake.

This play area was recommended for kids aged 8 to 14 years old.

The tennis courts were also close to the lake.

After my look around the park, next in Tipton I headed to the Pitchfork Bridge on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Old Main Line, and then walked up to Tipton Junction. I then followed the canal, and got off walking back to Tipton Station, getting a train back to Birmingham New Street (remember this was at the end of November 2017). Back at New Street, I popped into Pret a Manger where I had a coffee and sandwich (couldn't find a cafe in Tipton).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
17 May 2020 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

The Refurbishment of Chamberlain Square - May 2020

The refurbisment of Chamberlain Square has continued during lockdown and is really getting close to being finished. We hope it won't be long before Brummies and visitors can enjoy this particulary beautiful spot and it is back to the bustle, and chilling out, from 5 years ago! Lots of photos in this update of 7th and 10th May.

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The Refurbishment of Chamberlain Square - May 2020





The refurbisment of Chamberlain Square has continued during lockdown and is really getting close to being finished. We hope it won't be long before Brummies and visitors can enjoy this particulary beautiful spot and it is back to the bustle, and chilling out, from 5 years ago! Lots of photos in this update of 7th and 10th May.


7th May 2020

 

10th May 2020

 

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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90 passion points
Transport
14 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

RAF A400M and C17 flights over the skies of Birmingham in May 2020

There has been several test flights by the RAF A400M and C17 over the skies of Birmingham, and the rest of the country since British Airspace went quite since lockdown came into force. So the RAF have been having test flights. During April 2020 I kept missing seeing the planes, although saw it once but not camera ready. 7th May for A400M and 11th May for the C17.

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RAF A400M and C17 flights over the skies of Birmingham in May 2020





There has been several test flights by the RAF A400M and C17 over the skies of Birmingham, and the rest of the country since British Airspace went quite since lockdown came into force. So the RAF have been having test flights. During April 2020 I kept missing seeing the planes, although saw it once but not camera ready. 7th May for A400M and 11th May for the C17.


On Thursday 7th May 2020, I was made aware that the RAF A400M was scheduled to fly over the skies of Birmingham, just didn't know when. Sometime after 7pm that evening, I could here it coming, so rushed up to get my camera and take some zoom ins as it circled over Birmingham. I've got Super Zoom, but it was going beyond optical zoom on my bridge camera to digital zoom. And was a bit hard to lock onto the plane as it flew around, but tried my best. Gallery below of the nine photos I got.

 

Monday 11th May 2020 update: saw it again, accept it was an RAF C17. See the photos further down the post. Actually rushed up the stairs twice to get my camera, the C17 went around about twice.

 

The Airbus A400M is a four engine turboprop military transport aircraft. In the UK, it has been in service with the Royal Air Force since 2014. They had an order of 25, but that was reduced to 22.

 

With a clear blue sky that evening, also caught some shadows on the military plane as it flew overhead. This after 7pm in the evening.

The A400M has four sets of propellers.

 

Before that, the only none commercial plane I've seen while on a daily walk on lockdown was this Embraer Phenom 300 - G-CKAZ. On Friday 24th April 2020. It was going on a round trip from Birmingham Airport and back. Then it went up again and back to BHX.

 

Update on the 11th May 2020. Saw another military plane flying over the skies of Birmingham, thought it was the A400M, but no, it was the C17 Globemaster.

It was originally developed for the United States Air Force in the 1980s to the early 1990s. Also known as: McDonnell Douglas/Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. The Royal Air Force started receiving them in the late 1990s. They received several of them in the 2000s and 2010s.

 

Saw it twice around 1pm at lunchtime. The C17 has four sets of jets.

The second return so I up I went to get some more photo zoom ins.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks to all my followers.

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