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Classic Architecture
14 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Before the Library of Birmingham there was Baskerville Basin

Before construction of the Library of Birmingham was begun by Carillion in 2010, archaeologists were on site in the summer of 2009 digging up the former car park, revealing the former Baskerville Basin. Part of the canal network used to stretch into what is now Centenary Square, but was filled in during the 1930s to make way for a proposed Civic Centre. I saw the remains in August 2009.

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Before the Library of Birmingham there was Baskerville Basin





Before construction of the Library of Birmingham was begun by Carillion in 2010, archaeologists were on site in the summer of 2009 digging up the former car park, revealing the former Baskerville Basin. Part of the canal network used to stretch into what is now Centenary Square, but was filled in during the 1930s to make way for a proposed Civic Centre. I saw the remains in August 2009.


For more on John Baskerville check out my post here: John Baskerville: creator of his own typeface.

 

Before Carillion could start building the Library of Birmingham in January 2010, archaeologists had to go on the site in the summer of 2009. For many years the land between Baskerville House and The REP had been used as a car park for the Council. Once the upper layers were dug up, they could start digging up the remains and see what was left below. Intact brick walls of Baskerville Basin were found on the site and many remains and finds. Towards the site of what is now Centenary Square used to be Gibson's Arm which was a private canal built during the 1810s. Baskerville Basin was filled in during 1938 before the proposed Civic Centre was to be built. While Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were built, the rest of the proposals weren't indirectly due to the outbreak of World War Two.

 

A map printed in 1880, this section showing Baskerville Wharf between Cambridge Street and Broad Street. Old Wharf is below (that was later filled in as well).

I would assume that the original scanner took it from the Library of Birmingham's maps area.

Map below in the Birmingham History Galleries, BM & AG, of the location of Old Wharf. In the 18th Century where John Baskerville's house on what was Easy Row. Baskerville Wharf was located a little further to the north west of here.

Also see my post on the model of the proposed square we never got: The Centenary Square we never got in the 1940s. Had the plans gone ahead there could have been formal gardens on this site.

This model (seen below) is at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre.

 

The following 8 photos were taken down the service road between Baskerville House and the site of the Library of Birmingham during August 2009. View towards the Hyatt Hotel and The REP.

View towards The REP.

Brick walls were sticking out of the ground. I wonder if they had to dig them up, so there would be room for the basement levels of the Library?

That side of The REP would get demolished during the construction of the Library.

At this point the only hoardings were in Centenary Square.

This would be the only time that I saw the remains of the brick walls in the ground.

This canal basin / arm used to link up to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. But now City Centre Gardens and the Civic Centre Towers are built over that end beyond Cambridge Street.

One more view including the Hyatt Hotel and Symphony Hall.

I've got hundreds to thousands of photos of the Library of Birmingham, so any future post will have to be a small highlight of them. Such as during the construction or when it was first opened in 2013.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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50 passion points
Green open spaces
13 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

From Barnt Green to the Lickey Hills Country Park Visitor Centre and back

In April 2017, I got the train to Barnt Green Station in Barnt Green, Worcestershire, and went into the Lickey Hills Country Park on the walk up the hill to the Visitor Centre. I was aware of the entrance near the station on a previous visit to Barnt Green during April 2015 (2 years earlier). And the other side from Rose Hill and Barnt Green Road in April 2013.

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From Barnt Green to the Lickey Hills Country Park Visitor Centre and back





In April 2017, I got the train to Barnt Green Station in Barnt Green, Worcestershire, and went into the Lickey Hills Country Park on the walk up the hill to the Visitor Centre. I was aware of the entrance near the station on a previous visit to Barnt Green during April 2015 (2 years earlier). And the other side from Rose Hill and Barnt Green Road in April 2013.


For my first Lickey Hills post click this link: Beacon Hill at the Lickey Hills Country Park.

In April 2017, I caught a Class 323 train on the Cross City Line to Barnt Green Station, for the walk up the Lickey Hills Country Park towards the Visitor Centre. After popping into the Visitor Centre, I passed an Orchard on the way to Rose Hill. The walk was so long and steep, I felt it was easier to return to the station by walking along Barnt Green Station. Back in April 2013 when I first want to go to Beacon Hill, I was close to the area, but ended up going to Cofton Park instead. On my first train trip to Barnt Green I found the entrance to the Country Park there in April 2015, and made a mental note to return one day. Took me two years before I came back.

2013

In April 2013, I made my first attempt to get to the Lickey Hills Country Park. With the desire to go to Beacon Hill, at the time I did not know how to get there. I walked along Rose Hill near Cofton Hackett, but the paths up to the Visitor Centre side were closed at the time.

Footbridge over a stream, you can get to the Lickey Hills Visitor Centre by heading up the path to the left.

The paths goes steep up the hill. But some were closed due to the diseased trees.

So at the time, this was as close as I would get to the Visitor Centre. There was a pedestrian diversion in place at the time. I only wanted to go to Beacon Hill at first (which I did a few weeks later).

I also headed down Barnt Green Road, so many trees down here, but at the time didn't walk all the way down. So wasn't until 4 years later that I spotted paths into the country park. On this side is Bilberry Hill.

So instead I went into Cofton Park, which is south of Longbridge (post coming soon once the project is set up).

2015

I first got a train to Barnt Green in April 2015, mainly for a look around the Barnt Green area (and not to go into the Lickey Hills Country Park). But I did see the entrance to the park from Fiery Hill Road. Cherry Hill Drive is to the right.

According to the Welcome sign, the Lickey Hills Country Park Visitor Centre was 1.25 miles away from here.

The dirt path from Barnt Green goes up the hill.

Horses and bicycles are now allowed up this section.

There was also this wooden shelter with maps of the park on both sides. At this end it is called the Pinfields Wood. It would be two years before I got the train back to Barnt Green.

2017

I next got a train to Barnt Green Station during April 2017, this time for the walk towards the Lickey Hills Country Park Visitor Centre. From the gate, view of the station near Fiery Hill Road.

Similar view to 2 years earlier near Cherry Hill Drive, except this time I would walk up the hill. It leads to Cherry Hill Road. This is the Pinfields Wood.

Approaching the end of the first section at Cherry Hill Road. Had to cross over the road and continue into the section known as Lickey Warren.

Heading into the Lickey Warren part of the Lickey Hills Country Park on the long walk to the visitor centre.

On the Bluebell Trail, a field of bluebells.

The path continues amongst the trees with the bluebells on both sides.

The Hope Hut with picnic benches underneath.

Still heading up as some kids have fun running about. Trees are quite tall here.

Approaching the Lickey Hills Country Park Visitor Centre for a drink and a sit down.

The car park on the other side of the Visitor Centre. After my break, I next walked down towards Rose Hill.

Now on Warren Lane, this brick building is the School Room. Would assume that this is the classroom used by visiting schools that come to the Country Park, before they go out and explore it for educational purposes.

Heading down Drovers Way, then a brief stop on the left at the Orchard.

It's the Lickey Hills Community Orchard. The trees were planted between 2012 and 2014 by the Lickey Hills Society and the Ranger Team.

A close up look at the new trees in the orchard. At this point, they had only been there for 3 to 5 years.

Back onto Drovers Way on the path down to Rose Hill. Some fallen trees in the wood.

Some small wooden bollards on the path. Not too far down to Rose Hill. A bit further on the path would get a bit muddy.

A while later on the walk back to Barnt Green Station, I was now on Barnt Green Road. At Kendal End was this wooden gate. A bit muddy here. Was near a quarry. All part of Bilberry Hill going this way.

At least two gates to the quarry at Kendal End. Some of the plants around here were still diseased so you had to stick to the footpaths and have clean footwear. Also don't remove plant material from the site.

Fingerposts to Barn Green Road Quarry and the other to the Visitor Centre.

I only briefly checked out this entrance before going back onto Barnt Green Road.

There was another path and gate to Kendal End a bit further down. Even from here was signs warning you about the diseased plants.

I will next for this area have to do a Cofton Park post. So watch this space. Coming soon.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Transport
13 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Airlines gone but not forgotten at Birmingham Airport: BMI Baby

In Part 2 of our look at airlines sadly gone from Birmingham Airport, we look at BMI Baby. This low cost airline operated from 2002 until 2012. Trading as Bmibaby Limited (styled as bmibaby.com). They had bases at Birmingham Airport and East Midlands Airport. I only got to fly with them in May 2011 to Nice and back. Sadly they went out of business in 2012.

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Airlines gone but not forgotten at Birmingham Airport: BMI Baby





In Part 2 of our look at airlines sadly gone from Birmingham Airport, we look at BMI Baby. This low cost airline operated from 2002 until 2012. Trading as Bmibaby Limited (styled as bmibaby.com). They had bases at Birmingham Airport and East Midlands Airport. I only got to fly with them in May 2011 to Nice and back. Sadly they went out of business in 2012.


Bmibaby

Bmibaby operated from 2002 until 2012 and was a low cost British airline, with bases at Birmingham Airport and East Midlands Airport. At the time that they went out of business, they were using Boeing 737-300 and Boeing 737-500 planes. They were quite small.

Only once went on holiday with them, heading to Nice Airport (for the Provence holiday in the South of France during May 2011). I did see them once more at Birmingham Airport in June 2012.

 

Billboard seen near Olton Station in June 2010 for bmibaby.com. It was near bridge no 208 on Ulverley Green Road in Olton, Solihull.

Scorchio, baby!

They had (at the time) loads of great summer flights from only £24.99. To places such as Faro, Nice or Alicante.

Another billboard, this one was seen on the Coventry Road in Sheldon (not far from the Sheldon Country Park). During January 2012.

BRIGHTEN UP YOUR JANUARY BABY!

At the time they were having a massive January Sale on flights & holidays. But they announced in May 2012 that they would be shutting down by September 2012. So it was a bit too late. (Hopefully Summer 2012 wasn't too badly affected by the eventual shut-down).

 

While at Birmingham Airport in June 2012 (before catching our Thomson Airways flight to Naples in Italy) saw these bmibaby.com planes. Boeing 737-300.

They had different images of babies on the tail fin at the back. This was a year after we flew with them to Nice in the South of France.

 

Some views from the May 2011 flight with bmibaby from Birmingham to Nice.

 

Some views of the plane wing on the flight back from Nice to Birmingham, May 2011. Was sitting near the window closest to the wing on the right.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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40 passion points
Classic Architecture
12 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A visit to Blakesley Hall in the summer of 2014

On the first Sunday of the month you can visit Blakesley Hall for free. At the time in 2014 entry was usually £4 each. This visit to Blakesley Hall was during early August 2014. The timber framed house is located in Yardley on Blakesley  Road and was originally a farmhouse. Built in 1590 for Richard Smalbroke, whose family later gave their name to Smallbrook Queensway.

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A visit to Blakesley Hall in the summer of 2014





On the first Sunday of the month you can visit Blakesley Hall for free. At the time in 2014 entry was usually £4 each. This visit to Blakesley Hall was during early August 2014. The timber framed house is located in Yardley on Blakesley  Road and was originally a farmhouse. Built in 1590 for Richard Smalbroke, whose family later gave their name to Smallbrook Queensway.


Blakesley Hall

Taking advantage of the first Sunday of the month for free, we went to Blakesley Hall on Sunday 3rd August 2014. Normally entry would be £4. I had a chance to look around the garden as well as explore the house and all the rooms. In this post we will look at the exterior and interior of the hall.

Now for some history. Blakesley Hall is located on Blakesley Road in Yardley, now in Birmingham. It is a Grade II* listed building. At the time when it was built in 1590, Yardley was in Worcestershire. Built for a local Yardley man called Richard Smalbroke, it was built as a farmhouse. In was passed to his descendants until it ended up in the Greswolde family from 1685. They used it as a tenant farm for the next 200 years. Henry Donne bought the hall in 1899 who restored the house before selling it to the Merry family, who was the last family to live in the hall. It became a museum from 1935 onwards. Bomb damage in WW2 in 1941 meant that the hall didn't reopen until 1957. After the 1970s and with research the hall was restored to an authentic appearance as it was in 1684.

The Birmingham Museums Trust took over the running of the hall from Birmingham City Council in 2012.

There was a nearby village (which is today called Old Yardley Village and has a park called Old Yardley Park). For more on Old Yardley Village I have a post here Old Yardley Village: a hidden gem not far from Blakesley Hall.

 

Watercolour painting below of Blakesley Hall c. 1840-60 by A.E. Everitt (from a private collection).

Black and white view below of Blakesley Hall in 1890, when a pond was created by clay extraction, which was in a field opposite the house.

Black and white photo below showing the Merry family in 1910, they were preparing for haymaking. Tom Merry is at the back.

The above photos were taken from the Blakesley Hall Guide Book published by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, 2003.

 

Before heading into Blakesley Hall I had a look all the way around the house from the gardens.

There was lavender growing on this side of the garden.

The right side of the house facing Blakesley Road. This was the entrance to the hall.

To the back of the house. The gardens were quite large and plenty to see in the summer.

The house has a few wings around the back. The kitchen dates to the mid 17th century. While there was an 18th century brick addition.

One more look around the back before heading inside.

The Hall

The table in the hall dates to around 1620. It was laid out like it could have been during the 1680s.

On this table in The Hall was some old newspapers, probably dating to the First World War, as one mentions British Soldier casualties in France. There was also an old inkwell and desk lamp and a framed black and white photo. Would have to assume of the Merry family who were living here during the 1914-18 War.

Spinning wheel in The Hall. Before mass production in factories, women would sew their own clothes at home for the family. This might be a modern one called an Ashford Spinning Wheel (made in New Zealand). Obviously a spinning wheel in the 17th Century would have been made in England!

The Great Parlour

This room was used for private dining, sitting and entertaining. There was a door from the garden so people could come and go without passing through the main Hall. Their is a set of replica panelled painted hangings on the wall. These depict the story of Joseph and his brothers in the Old Testament. Fireplace to the right of the table and chairs.

The Little Parlour

According to a 1684 inventory this room was a private family dining room. The most comfortable room in the house. Apparently their used to be a fireplace in here but where it is now is a mystery. Hangings were very fashionable in the 17th century, and their were reproductions in the room dyed in similar colours to what may have been used in the 17th century.

The Painted Chamber

One of the main bedrooms in the house. The tester bed dates to the 17th century. The bed curtains are replicas. Wall paintings in this room date from when the house was built and had been covered over, as at one point they were thought to be old fashioned. They were hidden until the 1950s when repairs to the house after WW2 took place.

The Servant's Chamber

Just a simple bed for the servant of the house in this room. While this room is displayed as the Servant's Chamber, the servant's would have actually slept in the attic on the second floor.

The servant had her own Spinning Wheel and bobbin in her room. Like the one on display here.

The Far-Bed Chamber

This room is furnished with replica items and reproduction wall hangings. The tester bed and other furniture in the room are accurate replicas of late 16th and 17th century pieces.

This chest has objects on top of it. They had something to do with the handmaiden cleaning the room.

Another view of the test bed in the Far Chamber. The door out to the first floor corridor.

One more view of the bed in the Far Chamber.

Heading down the stairs to the floor below.

Kitchen

This brick built kitchen was added to the back of the house in 1650. Before it was built, it is likely the Hall's original kitchen would have been in a separate building to reduce the risk of fire. The beams in the kitchen dates to 1350 suggesting that they may have been reused from the house that was previously on this site.

Typical objects in a late 17th century kitchen. Objects on the tables for preparing food. Also some early equipment for cleaning the floor, or washing the clothes.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
People & community
12 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Union Jack flags and bunting around suburban Shirley for VE Day 75

While the VE Day 75 Bank Holiday Weekend was never supposed to be like this (on lockdown during a pandemic), locals have still decorated the outside of their homes with Union Jack flags and bunting. Such as in Shirley, Solihull (just over the Metropolitan Borough border from Birmingham in Hall Green). Saw these on my Saturday afternoon daily walk in the warm weather on the 9th May 2020.

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Union Jack flags and bunting around suburban Shirley for VE Day 75





While the VE Day 75 Bank Holiday Weekend was never supposed to be like this (on lockdown during a pandemic), locals have still decorated the outside of their homes with Union Jack flags and bunting. Such as in Shirley, Solihull (just over the Metropolitan Borough border from Birmingham in Hall Green). Saw these on my Saturday afternoon daily walk in the warm weather on the 9th May 2020.


It has been 75 years since World War 2 ended in Europe. Victory in Europe Day was held on the 8th May 1945 (when Germany surrendered). While WW2 in the Far East didn't end until August 1945, when Japan surrendered (VJ Day). While the 75th anniversary commemorations are a bit more muted then they were supposed to be, households all over the country have decorated the front of their houses with Union Jack bunting and flags. Some may have even had tea on their front drives on the 8th May 2020. This daily walk the day later on the 9th May 2020.

 

For my Saturday afternoon daily walk, in the warm weather, walked down Solihull Lane from Robin Hood Island in Hall Green, Birmingham. Crossed the border into Solihull on Streetsbrook Road in Shirley, Solihull. Saw these Union Jack bunting and flags on the way.

We left Streetsbrook Road at Olton Road and walked towards the Stratford Road in Shirley. Then back towards the Robin Hood Island. Saw a Union Jack flag, and one house with Lest We Forget.

 

Earlier saw this Union Jack flag on Shirley Road in Hall Green.

At Robin Hood Island on Solihull Lane was this Union Jack flag and a hat outside of Keith Emery Butchers (while customers were socially distanced 2 Metres apart from each other).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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