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People who've helped build a great City!

People with Passion help us showcase the industrialists, the entrepreneurs, the innovators and the great people who have helped to build and grow a great City.

What we found out

What difference has it made

Passions

History & heritage, Civic pride, People & community

Project dates

01 Sep 2018 - On-going

Contact (for more details)

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ freetimepays.com

People & community
23 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Shakespeare's Celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon on the 23rd April 2016

On the 23rd April 2016 it was exactly 400 years since William Shakespeare died (and 452 years since he was born, not counting from the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar). There was a parade celebrating Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. Was many people there and representatives of the local and national media. In 2020 they will not be able to have a parade for obvious reasons.

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Shakespeare's Celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon on the 23rd April 2016





On the 23rd April 2016 it was exactly 400 years since William Shakespeare died (and 452 years since he was born, not counting from the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar). There was a parade celebrating Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. Was many people there and representatives of the local and national media. In 2020 they will not be able to have a parade for obvious reasons.


In 2016, it was the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. He was born on the 23rd April 1564 and died on the 23rd April 1616 (his 52 birthday). So this was also the 452nd anniversary of his birth. The annual parade took place around Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire (I had heard about it online weeks before, so booked train tickets and got there early on the day).

The parade started near the roundabout between Bridge Street and Wood Street. I stood on the same spot for over an hour (I recall it hurt to stand there for so long without moving). I eventually followed the tail end of the parade towards Holy Trinity Church (where members of the Shakespeare family are buried).

 

In honour of William Shakespeare man of Stratford

Carried by pupils of Shakespeare's School - King Edward VI

"So long as men can breathe and eyes can see"

The Bean Fit Theatre

Shakespeare's School pupil with quill

Everyone put on your Shakespeare masks!

Releasing the party poppers!

New Orleans Jazz Band

Actors as William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway

The Shakespeare Institute - University of Birmingham 'Simply the best place on earth to study Shakespeare'

I think that the parade is usually held annually, although I haven't heard about it taking place in other years (assuming that it does). 2016 was special though. The 2020 parade is cancelled for obvious reasons (due to the lockdown / pandemic).

Full album on my Flickr: Shakespeare Celebrations Stratford-upon-Avon.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,110 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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26 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Frederick G. Burnaby: a candidate for a Birmingham MP in 1880 who has an obelisk in Cathedral Square

Have you seen a large obelisk in Cathedral Square near Birmingham Cathedral? It is in memory of Frederick G. Burnaby, a one time Conservative Party candidate to be an MP in Birmingham (in 1880 but he lost). Who died in 1885 at the Battle of Abu Klea, Sudan. The obelisk is close to Temple Row. One side says Khiva 1875 and the other Abu Klea 1885.

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Frederick G. Burnaby: a candidate for a Birmingham MP in 1880 who has an obelisk in Cathedral Square





Have you seen a large obelisk in Cathedral Square near Birmingham Cathedral? It is in memory of Frederick G. Burnaby, a one time Conservative Party candidate to be an MP in Birmingham (in 1880 but he lost). Who died in 1885 at the Battle of Abu Klea, Sudan. The obelisk is close to Temple Row. One side says Khiva 1875 and the other Abu Klea 1885.


Have you ever seen this obelisk in Cathedral Square near Birmingham Cathedral (with the church grounds of St Philip's Cathedral Birmingham) and wondered who it is for? For a war that no one remembers from the late 19th century.

It is in memory of Frederick Burnaby. Born in Bedford on the 3rd March 1842. He died at Abu Klea, Sudan on the 17th January 1885 (aged 42). He had various military adventures overseas including in the Khanate of Khiva during March 1875. He unsuccessfully stood as a Conservative Party candidate to be an Member of Parliament for Birmingham in 1880. His second attempt in 1885 was also unsuccessful (he died in January 1885 and the election was between November and December 1885 so he couldn't had stood, but he must have hoped to be a candidate again in 1884 before he was killed in action). In the 1880 election, the Liberal Party won three seats including John Bright and Joseph Chamberlain. It was a Liberal hold.

The obelisk was unveiled by Lord Charles Beresford on the 13th November 1885. It is a tall Portland stone obelisk, and contins the inscriptions "Khiva 1875" and "Abu Klea 1885" as well as a portrait bust.

The Burnaby obelisk is Grade II lised. It has been listed since 1970.

 

My earliest photos of the Burnaby obelisk was taken during May 2009. This view towards Birmingham Cathedral, with the dome on the left.

Close up of the portrait bust of Frederick Burnaby. Most people just pass this and wouldn't even know who this Victorian man even was!

Not taken many recent photos of the obelisk over the years since, I mostly pass through without getting new photos of it. In May 2017 the flags were at half mast after the Manchester Terror Attack at the Manchester Arena (22nd May 2017). The Burnaby obelisk is seen here between the Union Jack and England flag. This was around a week after that attack.

Seen during Early November 2019 from Temple Row. There was leaves on the lawn in Cathedral Square. The Burnaby obelisk seen to the right while the Cathedral was to the left.

Some new photos of the Burnaby obelisk taken in February 2020, as I was thinking of doing this post. This view towards Temple Row. It says Burnaby on this side. There is now plants planted at the bottom on all sides of the obelisk.

Close up of Burnaby. Could do with a clean up at the bottom of the obelisk.

Khiva 1875. You can see the new 103 Colmore Row rising on the right.

Abu Klea 1885. This was where Frederick Burnaby died. Hence he never lived to stand for a second time as a Birmingham Conservative MP. Although the Liberal's won again near the end of 1885, there was more than one Birmingham seat. This view towards St Philip's Place.

In the end the obelisk was unveiled a few weeks before the 1885 General Election. And it's been on this spot for almost 135 years.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Civic pride
03 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Webster & Horsfall: 300 Years of Innovation at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

This exhibition is on at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Webster & Horsfall. Founded in 1720. They made wire products in Hay Mills. Including a set at the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace. And parts for BSA bicycles in Small Heath during World War 2. 

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Webster & Horsfall: 300 Years of Innovation at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery





This exhibition is on at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Webster & Horsfall. Founded in 1720. They made wire products in Hay Mills. Including a set at the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace. And parts for BSA bicycles in Small Heath during World War 2. 


An exhibition at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery started on the 30th January to 4th October 2020 called Webster & Horsfall: 300 Years of Innovation

They have been making steel wire and rope in Hay Mills, Birmingham since 1720.

Webster and Horsfall made the first transatlantic cable in 1866.

A bust of James Horsfall (1813 - 1887). He invented Patented Steel Wire in 1847. Marble bust made by George Slater Barkentin (1841 - 1906). It was exhibited at the Birmingham Society of Artists Annual Exhibition in 1860. It was from the earliest known likeness of James Horsfall at age of 47.

This is a BSA Airborne Bicycle from 1942 - 1945. Made by the Birmingham Small Arms in Small Heath during World War 2. Webster and Horsfall made the wire components and mechanisms for BSA. Sunbeam and Austin Rover were also clients of them. 

A mahogany display case containing samples of Patent Steel Wire that was exhibited by James Horsfall at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851. He was awarded a prize medal. 

This is a Pin Machine dated to 1888. 

The Webster and Horsfall heraldic crest, 2020. Made by Rupert Till. On loan from Webster and Horsfall Ltd. First thing you see as you enter the gallery. 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020. 

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Photography
05 Sep 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Marvellous Machines by Rowland Emett: Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (May 2014)

This exhibition was held by the Rowland Emett Society from the 10th May to 21st September 2014 in the Gas Hall at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Entry was for a £5 ticket either on the reception desk outside the Gas Hall or online (at the time 5 years ago).

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Marvellous Machines by Rowland Emett: Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (May 2014)





This exhibition was held by the Rowland Emett Society from the 10th May to 21st September 2014 in the Gas Hall at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Entry was for a £5 ticket either on the reception desk outside the Gas Hall or online (at the time 5 years ago).


Rowland Emett's connection to Birmingham was, while he was born in London, he went to schools in Birmingham, including at the Birmingham School of Arts and Crafts. A blue plaque in the Jewellery Quarter unveiled in 2014, marks the site where he worked in the 1920s.

The exhibition titled "Marvellous Machines - The Wonderful World of Rowland Emett" was held at the Gas Hall at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from the 10th May to the 21st September 2014. I visited on the 11th May 2014 (the second day that it was open to the public). The ticket was only £5 to enter from the Gas Hall reception desk (or online).

For my full gallery of photos on Flickr please visit this link Marvellous Machines by Rowland Emett. I also have video clips in that gallery as well.

A quiet afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley

'A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley' is the last and biggest of Emett's works completed in 1984. It brings together many of the themes that appeared in his works over his career. Emett died only six years later.

Wm Hake Lobsters Bathing & Swimming.

Two colliding trains.

One of the two colliding trains. This one was on the left.

The other colliding train on the right.

Cows and man on a harp!

Man on a bike.

Emett's World

Featherstone Kite made in 1962.

Maud Lunacycle made in 1970.

Fairway Birdie made in 1983

Machines from the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The Husha-Bye Hot-Air Rocking Chair.

The 'Hush-A-Bye Hot Air Rocking Chair' featured in the scene where Caractacus Potts, played by Dick Van Dyke, discovered the ability of the Humbug Major to produce musical 'Toot Sweets'.

The Humbug Major Sweet Machine

The Humbug Major was the sweet making machine that accidentally produced musical 'Toot Sweets'.

Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper

The Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper was used to demonstrate the impracticality of Potts' machines. Rather than clean the carpet it tended to suck it up whole.

Clockwork Lullabye Machine.

The Clockwork Lullabye Machine featured in the bedtime scene in the film when the twins Jeremy and Jemina are drifting off to sleep to its music.

Bonus photo taken at Millennium Point in June 2014. This Rowland Emett machine was seen in the foyer. Not far from Thinktank. It was there while the exhibition was on at the Gas Hall 5 years ago.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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29 Aug 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Watt in the World: The Life and Legacy of James Watt, 1736-1819

There is an exhibition on from the 12th July to 2nd November 2019 at the Library of Birmingham in The Gallery on Level 3 about James Watt (1736-1819). He died 200 years ago so it is the bicentenary of his death. Organised by The Lunar Society. It is 10 years since a Matthew Boulton exhibition in the Gas Hall (he died in 1809).

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Watt in the World: The Life and Legacy of James Watt, 1736-1819





There is an exhibition on from the 12th July to 2nd November 2019 at the Library of Birmingham in The Gallery on Level 3 about James Watt (1736-1819). He died 200 years ago so it is the bicentenary of his death. Organised by The Lunar Society. It is 10 years since a Matthew Boulton exhibition in the Gas Hall (he died in 1809).


Watt in the World

Head up to Level 3 in the Library of Birmingham for Watt in the World: The Life and Legacy of James Watt, 1736-1819.

James Watt (1736-1819) Life and Legacy. The portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), 1812. Was commissioned by James Watt junior.

A quote by William Wordsworth on Watt: 'Considering both the magnitude and the universality of his genius .... perhaps the most extraordinary man this country has ever produced ...'

Marble bust of James Watt you would see as you walk into The Gallery. Perhaps the same one that is at Soho House? Behind the 1812 portrait of James Watt by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Model of the Soho Lap Engine by David Hulse. The Soho Lap Engine was built in 1788 to provide power to make coins at Matthew Boulton's Soho Manufactory.

The Soho Lap Engine - it was projected on the wall.

The Boulton & Watt Steam Engine. Here was some drawings of Boulton & Watts steam engine.

James Watt's Legacy. One of these pictures was a Japanese print. Also shows the statue of Boulton, Watt & Murdoch (which is still in storage until it eventually gets placed in the new look Centenary Square - when I don't know).

James Watt and Popular Culture. Various objects in the tables under the glass. Also History West Midlands: The Power to Change the World.

Portrait of Matthew Boulton by Sir William Beechey, 1810. Watt commissioned this version of Sir William Beechley's 1798 portrait of Boulton shortly after the death of his friend in 1809. It was originally displayed at Heathfield Hall, but after Watt's death James Watt junior moved it to Aston Hall where it was hung opposite Beechley's portrait of his father.

Portrait of James Watt by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), 1812. James Watt junior commissioned Sir Thomas Lawrence to paint this portrait of his father. Watt junior had never liked Sir William Beechley's early 1801 portrait, but in order not to offend Beechley he asked his friend George Lee to say that the new portrait was for him.

10 years ago was another exhibition but on Matthew Boulton at the Gas Hall. The exhibition was called: Matthew Boulton: Selling what all the world desires. It was in the Gas Hall at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from the 30th May to 27th September 2009. Matthew Boulton was born in 1728 and died in 1809, so 2009 was the bicentenary of his death (like 2019 is the bicentenary of Watt's death). I took this photo outside in August 2009 near Edmund Street (and under the BM & AG link bridge) from Chamberlain Square.

I took a couple of photos of this exhibition in the Gas Hall before I was told off. Was photo restrictions back then. I went in July 2009. Bust of Matthew Boulton, probably like in the window at Soho House. Even when I went to Soho House in July 2010 I had to sign a photo disclaimer (I think they no longer do this since the Birmingham Museums Trust took over in 2012 from Birmingham City Council).

A model of a Boulton & Watt steam engine. I was told off by a guard when I took this photo and took no more photos in this exhibition.

This is a Treadle Lathe dating to 1762. With 18th to 19th century blacksmith's anvil, bellows and weights, top and bottom swage, and hand tools. Took this photo before the steam engine model, so before the guard said "no photos allowed".

Since 2012 the museums photo policy has been relaxed since Birmingham Museums took over. And I've had no problems in the Gas Hall at other exhibitions in the years since.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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20 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The first object in the collection at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: a marble bust of David Cox

Did you know that the first object donated to the collection of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was a marble bust of the landscape artist David Cox (1783-1859). It was made in the early 1860s by Peter Hollins. Cox used to lived in Harborne from 1841 to his death in 1859. He is buried at Saint Peter's Church in Harborne where a window is dedicated to him in his honour.

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The first object in the collection at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: a marble bust of David Cox





Did you know that the first object donated to the collection of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was a marble bust of the landscape artist David Cox (1783-1859). It was made in the early 1860s by Peter Hollins. Cox used to lived in Harborne from 1841 to his death in 1859. He is buried at Saint Peter's Church in Harborne where a window is dedicated to him in his honour.


David Cox

The bust of David Cox and a small exhibition about him used to be at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, on the landing area of the museum, not far from the doors to the stairs that leads to the Great Charles Street Queensway entrance (and to the Staffordshire Hoard and other galleries). These photos below taken during March 2012.

David Cox was born in 1783 and died in 1859 in Birmingham. He was an English landscape artist. He painted in watercolour. Cox was born on the 29th April 1783 on Heath Mill Lane in Deritend. He was based in London from 1804 to 1814, then Hereford from 1814 to 1827, and London again from 1827 to 1841. He moved back to Birmingham in 1841. He moved to a house on Greenfield Road in Harborne where he lived until his death on the 7th June 1859, aged 76.

The bust was commissioned after his death in 1860 by the Birmingham Society of Artists as a memorial to David Cox. It was made by Peter Hollins from 1860 to 1862. It was later the first object to be donated to the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

The signature of David Cox that used to be on the wall above the bust in the museum.

There used to be two history boards on the wall near the bust, with the history of his life on the first board below.

The second board was above David Cox and Birmingham. After 37 years living away from Birmingham, he spent his last 18 years living in Birmingham in his Harborne home.

The last time I saw the marble bust of David Cox in the museum was during January 2016 on the museum link bridge (it is not there now). The sign below notes that it was Birmingham's first object. If it's no longer at BM & AG now, it might be at the Gallery of the RBSA in the Jewellery Quarter.

I was looking for the blue plaque of David Cox in Harborne during April 2012. It is on a house now known as David Cox Court at 116 and 118 Greenfield Road in Harborne. A Grade II listed building known as Greenfield House when Cox lived there. The house was built in the late 18th century and was remodelled in the early 19th century. David Cox lived here from 1841 until his death in 1859. His son David Cox Jr. did a painting of the house, which you can see here on Wikimedia Commons David Cox Jr - Greenfield House, Harborne.

Metchley Abbey seen on Metchley Lane in Harborne. Also on the same day as looking for the David Cox plaque. This time for the blue plaque of Sir Granville Bantock (1868 - 1946) a composer who lived here from 1926 to 1933. A Grade II* listed building at 93 Metchley Lane (now private property). A E Greeman historian of the Norman
Conquest visited here, and David Cox apparently frequently visited this property! It was built in the early 19th century in the Picturesque Gothic style.

Saint Peter's Church in Harborne. The East Window here is in memory of David Cox, and he is buried here in the churchyard. The church and churchyard are around Old Church Road. A Grade II listed building dating to the 15th century. It is the Parish Church of Harborne. In 1867 Yeoville Thomason was responsible for the designs of the Nave, aisles, transepts and apsidal chapel. The West Tower dates to the 15th century, and some lower details from the 14th century.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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13 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Tangye Brothers: Manufacturers and benefactors of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery / Birmingham School of Art

George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye donated funds for the construction of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as well as the Birmingham School of Art. Head up the stairs from the Chamberlain Square entrance of BM & AG to see the bronze sculpture in their honour. The Tangye's were also manufacturers making engines and various machines from the mid to late 19th century.

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The Tangye Brothers: Manufacturers and benefactors of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery / Birmingham School of Art





George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye donated funds for the construction of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as well as the Birmingham School of Art. Head up the stairs from the Chamberlain Square entrance of BM & AG to see the bronze sculpture in their honour. The Tangye's were also manufacturers making engines and various machines from the mid to late 19th century.


George Tangye and Sir Richard Tangye

If you are heading up the main staircase from the Chamberlain Square entrance of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, stop when you get to this bronze sculpture. It is made of bronze and marble and was unveiled in 1908. It was by William Robert Colton (1867-1921). They were engineering manufacturers and were generous patrons of the arts. They gave large sums towards the building of both the Museum & Art Gallery as well as the Birmingham School of Art. They presented their collection of fine Wedgwood ceramics to the Gallery as it's foundation.

Sir Richard Tangye was born in 1833 and died in 1906. His brother George died in 1920. Their company Tangye Ltd was founded in 1856. Where they manufactured engines and machines. Their Cornwall Works was in the Soho area of the West Midlands.

Memorial stone unveiled in 1884 by Richard Tangye at the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street. Architects William Martin and John Henry Chamberlain. The building opened in 1885. See my recent post on Edward Richard Taylor who was headmaster at the School of Art when the building opened on Margaret Street. Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor: Birmingham School of Art and Ruskin Pottery.

This Tangye vertical engine was seen at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley. Seen near a wall with a Walsall exhibit. Seen on a visit to the museum in August 2011. Seen in the Exhibition Hall in the Rolfe Street Baths building.

Tangye Manual Fire Pump seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I first visited this (then) new gallery in November 2012. In the section called Forward for the years 1830 to 1909. Above the Tangye sign was Webster & Horsfall's. To the right was Avery.

It was previously seen at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre in the garage area. Labelled as a Fire Engine. Made by Tangye Brothers in 1880. This visit was from May 2012, so was before the Birmingham History Galleries had opened over at BM & AG.

The Titford Pumphouse seen on the Titford Canal. It is close to Langley Green Station and also near Oldbury in Sandwell, West Midlands. The Pumphouse is a Grade II listed building. It was built shortly after the Oldbury Locks opened in 1837. Blue brick with a slate roof. The beam engines was replaced in about 1930 with a Tangye gas engine. That has since been superseded by electric pumps which are used occasionally. I got the train to Langley Green in March 2017.

Going back to my August 2011 visit to the Black Country Living Museum. Sidebotham's Trap Works seen a short walk away from the Dudley Canal. It was originally in Wednesfield near Wolverhampton and was built in 1913. It has a single cylinder gas engine of 1906, built by Tangye's of Smethwick. It is also known as The Trap Shop. Not far from here you can go on boat trips with the Dudley Canal Trust.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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12 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor: Birmingham School of Art and Ruskin Pottery

A pair of artists that lived on Highfield Road in Edgbaston, also had their hand in Ruskin Pottery in Smethwick. Edward Richard Taylor also helped to found the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street and was it's first headmaster. A collection of Ruskin Pottery is in the Industrial Galery at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I also recently found a portrait of E. R. Taylor.

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Edward Richard Taylor and William Howson Taylor: Birmingham School of Art and Ruskin Pottery





A pair of artists that lived on Highfield Road in Edgbaston, also had their hand in Ruskin Pottery in Smethwick. Edward Richard Taylor also helped to found the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street and was it's first headmaster. A collection of Ruskin Pottery is in the Industrial Galery at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I also recently found a portrait of E. R. Taylor.


Edward Richard Taylor was a potter and a painter. He was born in 1838 and died in 1912. He was the first headmaster of the Birmingham Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, from 1877 until about 1903. He also oversaw the opening of the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street in 1885. I saw this portrait of him in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The painting is dated 1905, but the artist is unknown. Although their is a possibility that the artist was Taylor himself!

If you head up the stairs in the Industrial Gallery at BM & AG, be sure to make a look out for this Ruskin Pottery sign. These Ceramic letters were made at the Ruskin Pottery factory in about 1905. The factory was at 173 and 174 Oldbury Road in West Smethwick (at the time in Staffordshire, now in Sandwell, West Midlands). It was founded in 1898 by Edward Richard Taylor and his younger son William Howson Taylor. The company was named after the artist John Ruskin. The business was set up as the Birmingham Tile and Pottery Works before being renamed after Ruskin. Production ceased near the end of 1933, but firing and glazing of existing stock continued until 1935 (the year that Howson Taylor died).

The Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street. It is between Cornwall Street and Edmund Street in what is now the Colmore Business District. See my post on the Red brick Victorian buildings at the Colmore Estate. Edward Richard Taylor who from 1877 was the first headmaster of the Birmingham Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, oversaw the construction of the new School of Art which opened in 1885. The architects was William Martin and his partner J H Chamberlain. The building was completed after Chamberain's death by William Martin and his son Frederick Martin. The school helped lead the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is now part of the Birmingham City University as part of the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. The building was taken over by the Birmingham Polytechnic in 1971, becoming it's Faculty of Art and Design. The Polytechnic gained University status in 1992 as the University of Central England. It was renamed to the Birmingham City University in 2007.

Edward Richard Taylor (1838 - 1912) and his son William Howson Taylor (1876 - 1935) lived at this house at 26 Highfield Road in Edgbaston. There is a blue plaque there from the Birmingham Civic Society and the Calthorpe Residents Society. See my first Calthorpe Estates post in Edgbaston here Calthorpe Estates: Edgbaston - a selection of Georgian / Regency / Victorian villas / town houses. E R Taylor is mentioned on the plaque as being an art teacher, while W H Taylor is mentioned as being a potter.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

 

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05 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Joseph Gillott: manufacturer of steel pens

It was not just jewellery that was made in the Jewellery Quarter. Pens were made there too! Joseph Gillott made pens at his Victoria Works factory on the corner of Frederick Street and Graham Street. You can see a display of some of his pens at The Pen Museum on Frederick Street. There is also a marble bust of Joseph Gillott in the Council House.

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Joseph Gillott: manufacturer of steel pens





It was not just jewellery that was made in the Jewellery Quarter. Pens were made there too! Joseph Gillott made pens at his Victoria Works factory on the corner of Frederick Street and Graham Street. You can see a display of some of his pens at The Pen Museum on Frederick Street. There is also a marble bust of Joseph Gillott in the Council House.


Joseph Gillott

He was born in Sheffield in 1799, and he died in Birmingham in 1872 aged 72. He moved to Birmingham in 1821. He started manufacturing steel pens with machinery from about 1830. The Victoria Works on Frederick Street was opened in 1840. His home for many years was 'The Grove' on Westbourne Road in Edgbaston.

The marble bust (below) of Joseph Gillott is seen at the Council House and was made by the artist Peter Hollins (1800 - 1886). You can see it close to the main entrance on one of the sides near a wall.

The Pen Museum is a museum in the Jewellery Quarter, at the Argent Centre located on Frederick Street. The building itself used to be a pen factory and is a Grade II* listed building. A look at the Joseph Gillott display at the museum. I visited during Birmingham Heritage Week back in September 2016.

On the wall Joseph Gillott Pen Maker to the Queen. Showing various steel pen nibs.

This table cabinet display about the Victoria Works (more on that later in this post). It had various Joseph Gillott steel pens and steel pen nibs inside. As well as photos of his marble bust, his portrait and his grave at Key Hill Cemetery.

Close up look at one of Joseph Gillott's steel pens made in about 1845. His company has been making pens since 1827 and is now part of William Mitchell Ltd.

1001 Spring Ground Mammoth Quill Circa 1845 - The Largest Pen Made.

The Victoria Works is a Grade II listed building not far from The Argent Centre on the corner of Frederick Street and Graham Street in the Jewellery Quarter. I saw it after my visit to The Pen Museum during Birmingham Heritage Week in September 2016. It was formerly listed as the Flagstaff building. The main building seen on the corner was built from 1838 to 1845. Made of red brick with ashlar and stucco dressings. The steel pen factory of Joseph Gillott opened up here in 1840.

On the Graham Street side is a blue plaque for Joseph Gillott from English Heritage. The plaque reads: "These were the premises of JOSEPH GILLOTT 1799-1873 Steel Pen Manufacturer". This was probably the main entrance to the Victoria Works.

This next building, part of the Victoria Works on the corner of Graham Street and Vittoria Street was built in 1887. Other parts of the former factory were built in 1850. On the Graham Street side is medallion bust of Queen Victoria, probably installed for her Golden Jubilee. This building post dates the death of Joseph Gillott.

The view of the Victoria Works from the corner of Graham Street and Vittoria Street. There is a modern roof section closer to the Vittoria Street side. This building is also of red brick. No longer a factory, there are various different small companies occupying the building.

If you stop to look at the pavement on Frederick Street (or other nearby streets in the Jewellery Quarter), look out for these that are part of the Charm Bracelet Trail. I saw this one for Joseph Gillott in December 2012. It reads: "C 1840 Hi Nibs. Joseph Gillott opened Victoria Works".

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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24 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

John Freeth: Landlord of Freeth's Coffee House

Our obsession with coffee shops / coffee houses didn't start in the early 21st century. You can go back to the late 18th century. Freeth's Coffee House was run by John Freeth, also known as the Celebrity Landlord and poet. His coffee house was on the corner of Bell Street and Lease Lane in Birmingham. A blue plaque at the Bullring marks the site near Bill's in the East Mall.

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John Freeth: Landlord of Freeth's Coffee House





Our obsession with coffee shops / coffee houses didn't start in the early 21st century. You can go back to the late 18th century. Freeth's Coffee House was run by John Freeth, also known as the Celebrity Landlord and poet. His coffee house was on the corner of Bell Street and Lease Lane in Birmingham. A blue plaque at the Bullring marks the site near Bill's in the East Mall.


John Freeth

Known as the Birmingham Poet, John Freeth was born in 1731 and died in 1808. He was also known as Poet Freeth. He was an innkeeper, poet and songwriter. He owned Freeth's Coffee House between 1768 and his death in 1808. Also known as the Celebrity Landlord, he sat for many portraits during his lifetime. This one seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, was painted by an unknown artist. He was one of the major figures in Birmingham during the Midlands Enlightenment.

The next picture seen in the Freeth's Coffee House exhibit at the Birmingham History Galleries is of John Freeth and his friends. They were members of a political society called the Jacobin Club. They commissioned Johannes Eckstein to paint their picture in 1792. Included in this picture was:
James Murray (Linen draper), John Wilkes (Cheese factor), John Freeth (Brassfounder), Richard Webster (Poet and publican), Jeremiah Vaux (Surgeon), John Collard (Hatter), John Miles (Lamp manufacturer), Samuel Toy (Steel toy manufacturer), James Bisset (Artist and owner of museum), Joseph Fearon (Tin merchant), James Sketchley (Auctioneer) and Joseph Blunt (Brazier).
It is more formerly known as John Freeth and His Circle.

Freeth's Coffee House

Time for a look around Freeth's Coffee House. It was the popular name of the Leicester Arms  which was located on the corner of Bell Street and Lease Lane in Birmingham. It was first a tavern and later a coffee house, operating from 1736 until 1832. John Freeth was the landlord during the second half of the 18th century, and he would regularly entertain his customers with songs and poetry. It was one of the most celebrated meeting places in Georgian England. Small businessmen and lawyers would conduct business here. Radical groups such as the Birmingham Book Club would regularly meet here.

This window exhibit at the Birmingham History Galleries shows a view out of the window to the Statue of Horatio Nelson which would place it sometime after 1809, or later in the 19th century (after John Freeth had passed away). The statue is still there today and has survived various incarnations of the Bullring.

Also in Freeth's Coffee House was this Grandfather Clock. Is it time for coffee? It was placed close to the window in the Birmingham History Galleries.

Heading over to the Bullring there is a blue plaque near Bill's from the Birmingham Civic Society, close to the East Mall (Selfridges is not that far away). The plaque reads: "John Freeth The Birmingham Poet of Bell Street 1731 - 1808". A shop called Mango was previously in the units now occupied by Bill's. At Bill's you can have Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Open from 8am 'til late.

This modern scene of th Horatio Nelson statue at the Bullring was from the summer of 2009. The closest coffee house / coffee shop to where Freeth's Coffee House was, is probably this Starbucks Coffee (still there in 2019). The statue has been Grade II* listed since 1952. The statue was moved in 1961, and later after the recent Bullring redevelopment was moved closer to St Martin's Church. In 2005 the railings were restored.

A bonus John Freeth site coming up.

If you are ever on a bus heading round Camp Hill Circus between Camp Hill and the Stratford Road, you might notice a plaque on the dual carriageway of Bordesley Middleway. I once went to check it out, and I found a plaque about the site of the Ship Inn. A pub on this site from about 1560 to 1972. Most famous for being Prince Rupert's headquarters in 1643, before he attacked Birmingham with a Royalist army during the Civil War. Is probably where the Camp Hill name came from.

It's hard to imagine now, but a pub used to be on this site until the 1970s. When John Freeth and his friends came here in the 18th century, it was known as The Anchor. The pub was at the corner of Sandy Lane and Camp Hill. The old inn was pulled down in 1867. A new pub was built on the foundations of it's site called the Ship Hotel. But it only survived until the road's around here were realigned in the 1970s. The Camp Hill Flyover was built, but it was only a temporary solution to the traffic problems around here. Camp Hill Circus was built in the 1980s. Today it is free flowing, sometimes has a lot of traffic during rush hour. Only traffic lights are for the pelican crossings. I think they should have permanent lights at all junctions there (Stratford Road from the south, Highgate Middleway to the west, Camp Hill to the north and Bordesley Middleway to the east).

The only surviving pub near here is the Brewer & Baker at the corner of Camp Hill and Bordesley Middleway (near Old Camp Hill). But it is quite derelict, been closed for years, and was a fire there in recent years. Could do with either A: restoring, or B: demolishing. Should never have been left in that state!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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20 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Herbert Austin: making cars at Longbridge and the Austin Village

While car production at Longbridge has long since gone (apart from the small remaining factory for MG Motor), the site that is now Longbridge Town Centre used to house the Austin Works (later MG Rover until 2005). Herbert Austin founded the Austin Motor Company in 1905 (before Longbridge was in Birmingham). Also nearby is the Austin Village which was built to house workers from 1917.

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Herbert Austin: making cars at Longbridge and the Austin Village





While car production at Longbridge has long since gone (apart from the small remaining factory for MG Motor), the site that is now Longbridge Town Centre used to house the Austin Works (later MG Rover until 2005). Herbert Austin founded the Austin Motor Company in 1905 (before Longbridge was in Birmingham). Also nearby is the Austin Village which was built to house workers from 1917.


Herbert Austin

He was born in 1866 in Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire and he died in Birmingham aged 74 in 1941. He moved to Birmingham in the 1890s setting up his first motor company on Broad Street, but the Broad Street factory site was too small, so he bought bigger premises in Aston. He later took over an old print works site in Longbridge in 1905. At this time Longbridge was in Worcestershire, and didn't become part of the City of Birmingham until 1911. It was here that he set up the Austin car works becoming one of the greatest car manufacturers in the world. For a period from 1918 to 1924 he was a Conservative MP for Birmingham Kings Norton. He was knighted in 1917 and in 1936 he was created Baron Austin, of Longbridge in the City of Birmingham. Also known as Lord Austin of Longbridge.

After MG Rover collapsed in 2005, the site was developed by St Modwen over the years, including a new Town Centre, Bournville College moved there by 2012. A new park was developed and opened in 2013 called Austin Park. It runs from the Bristol Road South towards Longbridge Town Centre alongside the River Rea. A former railway line ran towards Halesowen, and the remains of the signal box and old railway station were eventually demolished. It's unlikely that this railway line will ever be restored, now that the park and town centre are here. The Town Centre includes a Sainsbury's supermarket, a Premier Inn hotel and a Marks & Spencer store. Further to the right of here, they built retirement homes and houses along the land up Lickey Road.

I first went to have a look around Longbridge in 2010. Back then many of the former factory buildings along Lickey Road had yet to be demolished. 5 years after MG Rover collapsed, they were very derelict. Once they were demolished, a retirement village was built by 2016 up the Lickey Road site. It opened in 2017. To think the motor works lasted on this site from 1905 to 2005, a period of 100 years! Now it is becoming a new town centre. There is also a business park nearby. Many plots of land yet to be built on.

While Rover ceased to exist, a Chinese company bought the rights to use the MG name. And there is a small presence on a site on Lowhill Lane in Longbridge. MG Motor is owned by SAIC Motor UK (who themselves are owned by SAIC Motor based in Shanghai, China). Not far from here is another park called Cofton Park, where Pope Benedict XVI held mass in 2010. I went to Cofton Park in 2013 trying to get to the Lickey Hills Country Park, and the MG Motor buildings were visible from up the hill in the park. It was announced in 2016 that all car production had ceased at Longbridge, and after that MG Motor cars would be imported into the UK.

Back to Herbert Austin, and a village that he built for his workers. Austin Village was built in 1917. It is built on a site between Northfield and Longbridge in Turves Green. More workers had to be taken on during the First World War and when his factory began building tanks and aircraft, he built a new estate for his workers. He imported 200 cedar-wood pre-fabricated bungalows from the Aladdin Company, Bay City, Michigan, USA. They were shipped across the Atlantic, and survived potental loss to U-boat attacks. Many trees were planted around the village. This view is of Central Avenue. At the top end is a pair of blue plaques. One for Sir Herbert Austin and the other for the Austin Village. A red post box is at this end. I visited in April 2012.

While having a look around the Austin Village during April 2012, it was possible at the time to see the remaining MG Rover / Austin motor works, before most of them were demolished. The view was from Coney Green Drive. Most of these buildings were demolished on the right of the chimney, and houses were later built on the site. The MG Motor factory that survives down to Lowhill Lane. What will the future of this site be, will the rest of the factory have to be demolished for even more housing, now that car production has stopped on the site?

Over in Northfield is the Northfield Bypass, called the Sir Herbert Austin Way. This end near Sainsbury's seen during May 2013. The road bypasses the Northfield High Street on the Bristol Road South (although all major bus routes still use it). Sainsbury's had an extension a few years later and the Sainsbury's Cafe is now on the first floor. A new Starbucks Drive Thru, the first in Birmingham, opened on the bypass in 2017 near Vineyard Road and Bellfield Infant School. The success of this Starbucks Drive Thru probably led to the one that opened in 2018 at the Maypole.

There are several vintage Austin motorcars on display at Thinktank at Millennium Point. I first visted with my camera in April 2013. In the Move It section on Level O (the ground floor) was various old cars and bikes.

As you enter, you see this old car on a rotating turntable. It's the Austin Seven Tourer built in 1923. It was economical but reliable. It was smaller and cheaper than other cars at the time, but was considered to be just as reliable and comfortable. Car ownership was no logner just for the wealthy. Watch as the car goes around and around! I assume it still does that, if it's in the same spot as it was then?

Yes this car was on the side on the glass wall! It's the Austin 10 'Lichfield' Motorcar and it was built in 1935. One of 27,000 made by the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge. You might have to tilt your head 90 degrees to the right to see it right up!

In July 2011, on a visit to the stately home that is Holkham Hall in Norfolk, saw this poster in the Stable Coach Block. The Austin Seven Garage Chart. It clearly says that the Austin Motor Co. Ltd was from Longbridge, Birmingham. Many museums all over the UK have Austin cars in their collection, and it's not just museums, stately homes sometimes have a collection of vintage cars on display!

Another museum well worth a visit in the West Midlands is the Coventry Transport Museum. This is a Austin Seven Swallow dating to about 1928. My first visit to this museum was during March 2015. This classic car was in the Jaguar Heritage Gallery. Many cars and motorbikes were built in Coventry, but they did also have a selection of Jaguar's and MG's on display here. It was probably made in Coventry.

My second visit to the Coventry Transport Museum was during April 2018. You can get the X1 bus all the way down the Coventry Road, via Birmingham Airport to the bus station in Coventry. The museum is nearby. A much shorter walk compared to getting a train from Birmingham New Street to Coventry and walking, like I've done in the past. Onto this car. It's an Austin 7 Swallow built in 1929. The chassis and engine of the car was made by the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge, Birmingham. The body built by the Swallow Coachbuilding Company of Holbrooks, Coventry, who changed their name to Jaguar. Jaguar later became known for making fast, sporty cars.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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11 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
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Lloyds Bank founded in Birmingham by John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd

Did you know that one of the main banks in the UK was founded right here in Birmingham? The bankers was John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd based in Georgian Birmingham in the middle of the 18th century. There first bank was located in Dale End. Lloyd himself at one time lived in Old Square (when it was a Georgian square). A portrait of Sampson Lloyd is at the Birmingham History Galleries.

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Lloyds Bank founded in Birmingham by John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd





Did you know that one of the main banks in the UK was founded right here in Birmingham? The bankers was John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd based in Georgian Birmingham in the middle of the 18th century. There first bank was located in Dale End. Lloyd himself at one time lived in Old Square (when it was a Georgian square). A portrait of Sampson Lloyd is at the Birmingham History Galleries.


Let's head to Georgian Birmingham town to about the 1760s. A bank was founded on Dale End by John Taylor and Sampson Lloyd. Taylor was a cabinet maker, who set up a factory on Union Street to make "Brummagem toys", such as buttons and buckles. Lloyd was an iron manufacturer. Originally from Wales. Together they opened a bank in 1765 called Taylors & Lloyds at 7 Dale End.

The modern building on the site now has a McDonald's to the right. There used to be a Lloyds TSB at the far left side near Albert Street, but it closed down years ago. Built by the Seymour Harris Partnership in 1989-90. Dale End is not a very pleasant area of the City Centre now. There is a blue plaque there about the banks founding from the City of Birmingham (who put up blue plaques before the Birmingham Civic Society).

Heading over to Old Square. It used to be one of the grandest Georgian squares in the town centre (remember Birmingham didn't get City Status until 1889!) There is sculpture at one end of the square by Kenneth Budd, made in 1967. One section commemorates Sampson Lloyd who lived at No 13 Old Square in 1770. Calling him "Lloyd the Banker". The bank motif at the time was a beehive.

Over to the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery where we find a portrait of Sampson Lloyd. His Iron Works was on Edgbaston Street (where the Bullring is now). He was actually Sampson Lloyd II. Born in 1699, he died in 1779. He also lived at the Farm in Bordesley, now within Sparkbrook. English Heritage have a blue plaque on the house. I've not been there myself. Lloyd bought it in 1742. It's now a Grade II* listed building. It's located on Sampson Road within Farm Park.

Nearby is a map that shows John Taylor's Manufactory nearby on the High Street in Birmingham. Taylor was born in 1711 and died in 1775. He lived at Bordesley Hall, which was built for him in 1767. It was burnt down in 1791 during the Priestley Riots. It was near the Coventry Road in what is now part of Small Heath. The house was left as ruins well into the 19th century. The Union Street site of his manufactory was probably where Martineau Place is located now.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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03 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

William McGregor: Director of Aston Villa and Founder of the Football League

There has been a statue outside of Villa Park in Aston. It is of William McGregor, who in the late 19th century was a Director of Aston Villa from the late 1870s. He later became the clubs Chairman from the late 1890s. He was also the Founder of the Football League in 1888. The statue can be found near the Trinity Road Stand. This post will also look at the 4 stands of Villa Park.

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William McGregor: Director of Aston Villa and Founder of the Football League





There has been a statue outside of Villa Park in Aston. It is of William McGregor, who in the late 19th century was a Director of Aston Villa from the late 1870s. He later became the clubs Chairman from the late 1890s. He was also the Founder of the Football League in 1888. The statue can be found near the Trinity Road Stand. This post will also look at the 4 stands of Villa Park.


William McGregor

A statue was unveiled outside of Villa Park, the home ground of Aston Villa F.C. in November 2009. It was of William McGregor, one of the earliest Directors of Aston Villa, and later the Chairman of the club. It was he who proposed the forming of a league in 1888 which became the first professionally organised football league in the world! At the time I took my photos in January 2010, and a few years later in September 2012, Villa were still in the Premier League (before they were relegated to the Championship in 2016). But this post is not about Aston Villa's form in the various leagues they have been in, more about William McGregor and the stadium Villa Park.

To find the statue of William McGregor first look for these gates with a pair of bronze lions on either side. The lions were there until at least 2016. Looking on Google Maps Street View the lions were missing in 2017. Anyway look through the gates, or the railings along Trinity Road and you will see the statue near the Trinity Road reception entrance of the Trinity Road stand.

William McGregor was born in Braco, Perthshire, Scotland in 1846. He died in Birmingham in 1911 aged only 65. When he moved to Birmingham from Perth, he set up a drapery business in Aston in about 1870. Aston Villa was formed in 1874, and he first became involved with the new club in 1877, at first to become a committee member of the club. He became a member of the club's board of directors, and Villa started winning cups in the 1880s. He became Vice-Chairman of the club in 1895 and finally Chairman by 1897. He was responsible for the club adopting the lion as their symbol, based on the lion of the Royal Standard of Scotland as their crest.

In 1888 William McGregor wrote to various other big clubs at the time proposing to form the first Football League in England. 10 clubs were the first members of the league, including West Bromwich Albion. Initially clubs in the south weren't interested in the league, but eventually 12 teams kicked off the first league in September 1888. McGregor proposed the name of "The Association Football Union", but it sounded to much like the Rugby Football Union, so they instead called it The Football League. McGregor became the first Chairman of the Football League and oversaw the creation of a Football League with two divisions. He stepped down, he was elected honorary President until he stepped down by 1894. He was the first ever life member of the League in 1895.

The bronze statue was unveiled in November 2009, and it was sculpted by Sam Holland. He took references from life photos and a portrait in the McGregor Suite. The statue is on a red brick plinth. McGregor is holding a cane (walking stick) and a pamphlet.

The following information about the stands was taken from Football Grounds Guide.

A look at the Trinity Road Stand on the approach past the houses on Trinity Road in Aston. This stand was first built in 1996 in time for Euro '96 (the European Football Championships 1996 which were held in England at the time). The stand was rebuilt to three tiers by 2001 including a row of executive boxes.

A close up of the Trinity Road Stand from Trinity Road in Aston. On the side it says ASTON VILLA FOOTBALL CLUB in big letters. In the middle was the club badge with the lion and a star. This side of the stadium is close to Aston Park. There is a nearby path entrance into the park that leads up to Aston Hall. The hall is normally closed on match days, and open on all other days.

Next up a look at The Holte End. It was opened in the 1994/95 season and is a two tiered structure. It holds about 13,500 supporters. The building near the car park appears to be much older. It has Aston Villa painted on the side with the clubs badge (it might be tiled).

There is steps leading up to the stand from the car park. Not too far away from the stand, at the other end of the car park is The Holte public house, at the corner of Trinity Road and Witton Lane. The Holte End and The Holte pub were named after Sir Thomas Holte, who lived at Aston Hall during the 17th century. The stadium was originally called The Aston Lower Grounds. Was formerly part of Aston Hall's grounds, and a Kitchen Garden used to be on the site of Villa Park.

Next we head up Witton Lane in Aston. The next stand is the Doug Ellis Stand. It was originally called the Witton Lane Stand. It was rebuilt in 1993 and it replaced an older structure. There was a minor refurbishment for the European Football Championships in 1996  (Euro '96). It was named after the former Chairman Doug Ellis (1924-2018). Seen here from Witton Lane Gardens during September 2012.

Sir Doug Ellis used to own Aston Villa and was Chairman in two stints. His first stint as Chairman was from 1968 to 1975. He was a major shareholder and on the board until he was ousted in 1979. He returned as Chairman in 1982 (in his absence Villa had won the Football League title in 1981 and the European Cup in 1982). He sold the club to Randy Lerner in 2006. This stand also has ASTON VILLA FOOTBALL CLUB in big letters. It is visible from the Aston Expressway A38(M) and from the M6 (if travelling in a car or on a coach).

The final stand is the oldest stand at Villa Park. The North Stand was built in the 1970s but still looks modern. It is two tiered and about the same height as the other stands. There is a double row of executive boxes running across the middle. This stand is usually used by away fans. It is also close to Witton Lane. It is a short distance walk from here to Witton Station.

The club had planning permission to rebuild the North Stand, but it hasn't happened yet. The owners of the club has changed several times in recent years and what with Villa's relegation, it probably wasn't a priority. If it was to be rebuilt it would increase capacity of the stadium to 51,000.

A bonus building, The Holte public house at the corner of Trinity Road and Witton Lane in Aston. A Victorian building dating to 1897. It was built as The Holte Hotel. It used to have 10 bedrooms, a 400 capacity music hall, billiard rooms and two bowling greens. It has the same name as The Holte End (see further up this post). See this article from 2007 for more information Aston Villa restores Holte Hotel.

Villa fans used the pub up until the 1970s. But it was boarded up and derelict for 28 years until Villa's owner from 2006 to 2016 Randy Lerner and his team agreed to a restoration. The pub reopened in 2007. For most fans approaching from Aston Station, or from the M6 motorway, it is the first building they see when they get to Villa Park. It's also visible from the Aston Expressway A38(M) when passing over Witton Lane.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown around the outskirts of Villa Park during January 2010 and September 2012.

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29 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Alfred Bird & Sons: the inventor of eggless custard

You've all seen the Custard Factory building in Digbeth. It was the Devonshire Works and it was here that Alfred Bird the inventor of egg free custard made eggless custard in Birmingham. He invented it in 1837. He soon set up a company Alfred Bird & Sons Ltd which became Bird's Custard. The Bird's had a home in Solihull called Tudor Grange (now near Solihull College).

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Alfred Bird & Sons: the inventor of eggless custard





You've all seen the Custard Factory building in Digbeth. It was the Devonshire Works and it was here that Alfred Bird the inventor of egg free custard made eggless custard in Birmingham. He invented it in 1837. He soon set up a company Alfred Bird & Sons Ltd which became Bird's Custard. The Bird's had a home in Solihull called Tudor Grange (now near Solihull College).


Alfred Bird

He was born in Nympsfield, Gloucestershire in 1811 and died in 1878 in Kings Norton, Worcestershire. He was a pupil at King Edward's School, Birmingham. Alfred invented egg-free custard in 1837 at his chemist shop. It wasn't long before he set up his own company Alfred Bird & Sons Ltd to make the custard. The Custard Factory building we know today was actually built in 1902 by his son Sir Alfred Frederick Bird. The original factory (of the 19th century) no longer exists. Custard was made at the Custard Factory until 1963, when production was moved to Banbury.

Devonshire House seen in 2010 near the end of a renovation that turned the building into Zellig. It was built in 1902 and is a Grade II listed building. Red brick and terracotta with some stone dressings. There is an inscription in the middle that says 'Alfred Bird and Sons Limited', 'Devonshire Works', '1837' and '1902'. 1837 was when the first Alfred Bird invented eggless custard and 1902 when his son opened the Devonshire Works. It is on High Street Deritend, with one side down Floodgate Street. Gibb Street runs through the complex, and Heath Mill Lane is nearby.

To the top of the middle of the building from High Street Deritend is this sculpted part of the building with ships painted onto it. Sailing ships. At the time a gull was sitting on top!

A look down Gibb Street in Digbeth. A Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque for Alfred Bird is on the left. Zellig now occupy the buildings and they have continually been restoring the buildings during the Digbeth 2.0 or "Only in Digbeth" phase. Various different independent shops have occupied the retail units here. As of late 2018, 7 Sins is in the unit on the left. Building on the right used to be a bank. Now it is the Clean Kilo, previously was a hair salon, and before that a music shop. There is also a former library to the rear of the building.

There is an open gate on Floodgate Street under the Bordesley Viaduct that leads to the Custard Factory. A footbridge crosses the River Rea where you can see this view of the Custard Factory. There is a lot of graffiti street art around, this changes quite regularly.

This post is turning into more about the son of the original Alfred Bird. Also called Alfred Bird. Lets head over to Solihull where Alfred Bird Junior lived. Sir Alfred Frederick Bird was born in 1847 in Birmingham and died in 1922 (he was run over by a car in Piccadilly, London). He was also MP for Wolverhampton West. He was elected in 1910 and held the seat until his death. He took over control of his fathers company in 1878 on the death of the first Alfred Bird. He retired as chairman and managing director of the company in 1905.

There is a big manor house off Blossomfield Road in Solihull near Solihull College. It is Tudor Grange House and is a Grade II* listed building. Alfred Bird bought the property in 1901 and lived there until his death in 1922. His widow lived there until her death in 1943. It was being used as Red Cross auxiliary hospital both during and after the Second World War. Warwickshire County Council bought the house in 1946 and became a school for children with special needs until 1976 when it became part of the then Solihull Technical College (now the Solihull College and University Centre). The house was built in 1887 in the Jacobean style by Thomas Henry Mansell of Birmingham for the industrialist Alfred Lovekin. The Lovekin's lived there until Alfred Lovekin's wife died in 1900, and Alfred Bird bought it in 1901. Solihull College put the building up for sale in 2016, and their are plans to convert it into a care home (to secure it's future).

There is a gatehouse near the entrance to the Blossomfield Campus of Solihull College & University Centre. I'm not sure how old it is, but it probably dates to the late 19th century. Would assume it was once part of the Tudor Grange estate that the Bird family owned from 1901 to 1946. At the time I went past it, there was Christmas decorations in front, but were hard to see due to the brick wall, trees and the barrier on the road entrance to the college being in the way. It is a short walk from here to the Blossomfield Road entrance to Tudor Grange Park (also once part of the Bird's Tudor Grange estate).

Solihull College had a modern building built between around 2008 and 2009 turning it into a University Centre (apart from this there isn't an actual University in Solihull Borough). The Headquarters of the Solihull Chamber of Commerce is now based at the college. The car park, normally full of cars during term time was empty during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. They had one of the Big Sleuth bears outside of the college during the Summer of 2017. Called The Gas Street Bearsin (based on the Gas Street Basin).

A look at Tudor Grange Park in Solihull. It has pedestrian entrances via paths on Blossomfield Road, Homer Road (via a path that goes under the Chiltern Railways mainline) and Monkspath Hall Road. The park was formed after Solihull Council purchased the land from the Bird family in 1946. It was formerly farmland. The lands were formerly part of Garret's Green Farm.  Alfred Lovekin bought the farm and built Tudor Grange Hall in 1886. After his death in 1900, the hall and farmland was sold by auction to Alfred Frederick Bird (the then owner of the Bird's Custard company) in 1901. The park opened to the public in the early 1950s.

The land also included what would later become Tudor Grange School (now Tudor Grange Academy) and Alderbrook School. The Bird family gave the land to Solihull on the condition that a school was established on the site. A look at the centre of Tudor Grange Park. Solihull Council has landscaped it around 2008 with new paths, benches and lampposts. There is also a cycle track.

The lake at Tudor Grange Park. Looking towards Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, which was rebuilt in 2008. The original swimming baths in the park opened in 1965, replacing a lido in Malvern Park. There is also an athletics track, that is fenced off from the park, but is I think part of the leisure centre. You would find various geese and ducks in this pond. A stream called the Alder Brook also flows through the park, and the Chiltern Mainline railway passes the park on the east side. Solihull Station is not that far away, as is Solihull Town Centre.

The grounds of Tudor Grange Hall also contained a number of statues which were sold at auction following the death of Mrs Bird (the late wife of the late Alfred Frederick Bird) in 1944. 'The Horse Tamer Group" which was made in 1874 by Joseph Boehm was bought and donated to Solihull Council by Captain Oliver Bird in 1944. The statue was moved to Malvern Park in 1953 where it still stands and is known as 'The Prancing Horse' and is Grade II listed. This view of the statue in early 2010, when the bronze was looking quite green.

In early 2012 metal thieves vandalised the statue and cut off the feet. It was later restored later in 2012, and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has security marked the statue in an effort to protect it from future vandalism. After I read about the 2012 vandalism, I returned to Malvern Park in late 2012 to see the statue fully restored. The bronze was looking more black by then.

A winter wonderland scene in Malvern Park during the snow of December 2017. Looked very Christmasy back then. There has been no snow at Christmas 2018, and we haven't had snow since the Beast from the East during March 2018 (which meant we were more likely to have a White Easter than a White Christmas). Mr Horace Brueton had bought the land in 1916 including Malvern Hall. Warwickshire County Council bought Malvern Park from him in 1926, and he gave his remaining land to Solihull in 1944, in the same year that Captain Oliver Bird donated the statue to Solihull.

For more on Malvern Hall see my post on the Manor Houses of the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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27 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Chamberlain Brothers: Austen and Neville - from Birmingham to Westminster

Joseph Chamberlain had two sons, Austen Chamberlain and Neville Chamberlain. While all three became MP's, Old Joe never became leader of the Conservative Party like his sons did (was also a Liberal originally). Austen was Leader of the Conservative Party from 1921 to 1922. While Neville became Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 (stepping down when WW2 started).

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The Chamberlain Brothers: Austen and Neville - from Birmingham to Westminster





Joseph Chamberlain had two sons, Austen Chamberlain and Neville Chamberlain. While all three became MP's, Old Joe never became leader of the Conservative Party like his sons did (was also a Liberal originally). Austen was Leader of the Conservative Party from 1921 to 1922. While Neville became Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 (stepping down when WW2 started).


For my Joseph Chamberlain post, follow this link Joseph Chamberlain: Birmingham's visionary Mayor in the late 19th Century.

Austen Chamberlain

His full name after he was knighted was Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, but he was best known as Austen (probably to distinguish from his more famous father Joseph Chamberlain). Born in 1863 he lived to 1937. His mother was Harriet Kenrick, who died in childbirth. Austen was born at Giles House at 83 Harborne Road in Edgbaston (there is a blue plaque here from the Birmingham Civic Society).

He stood to become an MP with the Liberal Unionist Party, which later merged with the Conservative Party. He later became Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons from 1921 to 1922. He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1903 to 1905, Secretary of State for India from 1915 to 1917, Leader of the House of Commons from 1921 to 1922, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1924 to 1929 and First Lord of the Admiralty during a period in 1931. Austen was the MP for Birmingham West and he had the seat from 1914 to 1937 (from the death of his father Joseph Chamberlain to his own death). The constituency was created in 1885 and abolished in 1950. He was the only Conservative Party leader of the 20th century to never become Prime Minister, and he never fought an election as leader.

In the Council House in Victoria Square are these marble boards called Freemen of the City of Birmingham. All three members of the Chamberlain family are on it. Joseph Chamberlain was the first in 1888 (having been Mayor of Birmingham and later an MP). Austen Chamberlain was in 1926 and his brother Neville Chamberlain in 1932

After Joseph Chamberlain died in 1914, Highbury Hall passed to Austen Chamberlain. During the First World War, the hall was described as "dark and gloomy". It was used as a hospital and home for disabled soldiers. Austen handed the hall to trustees in 1919, and it was passed to the Corporation of Birmingham in 1932, when it was used as a home for elderly women. Birmingham City Council restored it in 1984, and in the last few decades, it's been used as a conference venue, and also for functions such as weddings. More recently it's been taken over by the Chamberlain Highbury Trust in 2016. A fundraising campaign was launched in 2018 to help restore the building and parkland.

See this post when the last Highbury Hall open day was held during Birmingham Heritage Week in September 2018.

Neville Chamberlain

He was the half brother of Austin Chamberlain, and the son of Joseph Chamberlain and his second wife Florence Kenrick. He was born in 1869 and died in 1940. He went to school at Rugby School and was later a student at Mason College. He got elected to Birmingham City Council in 1911 for the Liberal Unionist Party for the All Saints' Ward which was located in his fathers Parliamentary Constituency of Birmingham West (later held by Austen from 1914 to 1937). Neville became Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1915. He first got elected to Parliament in 1918 for Birmingham Ladywood until 1929. He was later the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston which he held from 1929 until his death in 1940. He served as Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940. Like his brother before him, he never fought an election as leader of the Conservative Party.

Portrait below seen at Highbury Hall of Neville Chamberlain, while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1933. He held that role twice, first time from 1923 to 1924, and the second time from 1931 to 1937.

Heading back to Birmingham, to Edgbaston High School for Girls near Westbourne Road in Edgbaston. This building dates to 1960 and was by H. W. Hobbiss & Partners. Alterations in 1991 by S. T. Walker & Partners. This is quite close to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and it is near the entrance used by the Magical Lantern Festival. Neville Chamberlain lived near here from 1911 to 1940 when he was in his constituencies. You will find another blue plaque from the Birmingham Civic Society on the building. Am not sure when his former home was demolished, as the school is now on the lands (including the more modern school buildings to the left of here).

The Birmingham Municipal Bank seen at 301 Broad Street (will now be part of Centenary Square next to the Westside Metro extension). Seen in September 2013 from the Library of Birmingham, several years before Arena Central actually started.  Neville Chamberlain suggested the idea for the bank way back in 1915, originally for savings. This building was built in 1931 / 1932, and Neville Chamberlain while Chancellor of the Exchequer, laid the foundation stone in 1932. It was the Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters and is now a Grade II listed building. It was opened in 1933 by the Prince George. It became a TSB bank in 1976, until it was sold to the council in 2006. The bank later became part of Lloyds TSB, but the building has been closed for many years. It had been occasionally opened for Birmingham Hidden Spaces. The University of Birmingham will be taking it over and it will be fully restored. It will become an arts venue with exhibitions and performances. It is now to the right of 1 Centenary Square (HSBC UK, was 2 Arena Central). The Register Office used to be to the right of it (later House of Sport, now demolished). That will be the 5 Centenary Square site (was 1 Arena Central).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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17 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
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Sir Josiah Mason: Founder of Mason Science College

Before the University of Birmingham was founded in 1900, there was a college in Chamberlain Square that was founded by Sir Josiah Mason in 1875. It was called Mason Science College. There is a bronze bust in Erdington that was a cast of a now destroyed statue that used to be outside of the college. The college was demolished in 1964 making way for Birmingham Central Library.

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Sir Josiah Mason: Founder of Mason Science College





Before the University of Birmingham was founded in 1900, there was a college in Chamberlain Square that was founded by Sir Josiah Mason in 1875. It was called Mason Science College. There is a bronze bust in Erdington that was a cast of a now destroyed statue that used to be outside of the college. The college was demolished in 1964 making way for Birmingham Central Library.


Josiah Mason

Sir Josiah Mason was born in 1795 and died in 1881. He founded the Mason Science College in 1875 which later became part of the University of Birmingham (when it was founded in 1900). He was born in Kidderminster and moved to Birmingham in 1816. In 1824 he set up his own business as a manufacturer of split-rings by machinery, which later made steel pens. His business became a limited liability company in 1874. He set up an orphanage in Erdington around 1860. Mason College opened in 1880.

There used to be a marble statue outside of Mason College on Edmund Street (now part of Chamberlain Square) of Sir Josiah Mason. Made in 1885 Francis John Williamson. The statue was later destroyed, but not before William Bloye made a bronze cast of it in 1951. The bust is usually dressed for special occasions and seasonal holidays.

Below the bust seen in 2014 when the bronze was looking quite green. At the time there was a football scarf on the bust, probably of Manchester City (who won the Premier League in the 2013/14 season). This was seen in May 2014.

Full on front view of the Sir Josiah Mason bronze bust, during May 2014. It is located on a roundabout at the junction of Chester Road and Orphanage Road in Erdington. This view from the crossing in the middle of the Chester Road. The letters on the scarf seem to suggest that it was a Manchester City FC scarf!

This view of the bust towards some houses that have now been demolished and replaced by a care home. The view from the corner of Chester Road and Orphanage Road if you are heading to the Erdington High Street.

It is now December 2018 and I was expecting maybe a Christmas hat on the bust. Seen after the end of the walk up Orphanage Road and at the Chester Road junction. Nothing Christmas related here, just some England flag bunting. Asprey Court Care Home now stands on the site of those houses. Was built between 2016 and 2017.

The colour of the bust has changed in the 4 and a half years since I last saw it. This view from the Chester Road crossing between both sides of the Orphanage Road. Looks like the plinth has been cleaned of some recent graffiti.

Heading around to Chester Road, this side view you can see that they have cleaned the graffiti off the plinth, although it has left a bit of discolouration on it. Have to wonder why the original statue was destroyed, and why make a bust only to put it on a roundabout in Erdington? The only link would have been the orphanage that Josiah Mason had founded.

On what is now Orphanage Road in Erdington used to be Mason's Orphanage. Construction started near Bell Lane (now Orphanage Road) in 1860 and lasted until 1868. It was designed by J.R. Botham. Mason had a previous orphanage on Station Road, Erdington in 1858. Following a decline in the number of residents, the orphanage was demolished in 1964 to make way for a housing estate.

Walking up Orphanage Road I spotted Mason Cottages. They were first built in 1938. I assume they were near to the orphanage. The site is run by the Sir Josiah Mason Trust and it is private grounds, so no access to members of the public who aren't residents here. There are gates that lead to Mason Cottages. You probably need a pass to enter.

The sign I spotted on Orphanage Road on the walk up to Chester Road in Erdington. Private Grounds. No unauthorised access.

This red post box with the GR moniker is a short distance away from Mason Cottages on Orphanage Road in Erdington. It dates to the period of George V (1910 - 36).

We will next move to Chamberlain Square, where Mason College used to be until it was demolished in 1964. Birmingham Central Library was built between 1969 and 1974. It closed in 2013 and was demolished itself in 2016. I think the new building One Chamberlain Square stands on the site of what was Mason College.

Seen in late December 2010 near the start of Congreve Passage was a part of Birmingham Central Library called Art in a Window Gallery. There wasn't much to see in there apart from some plaques about Sir Josiah Mason and Mason College.

The plaques were from the Birmingham Civic Society, and even back in 2010 it seemed like they were in a temporary position, as at the time the new Library of Birmingham was under construction in Centenary Square (it would open in 2013). So these plaques were not in a permenant position. Hopefully Birmingham Civic Society will put these plaques on the side of One Chamberlain Square, so passers by on Centenary Way can see them (if any of them stop to look at them that is!).

Details of the bottom plaque with a picture showing what Mason College used to look like. In the 1960s this type of Victorian architecture had fell out of favour, especially in the years after the Second World War had ended. Although now we quite like this kind of architecture. I wonder if this building and the old Victorian Central Library could have been listed? But they never were as the sight was levelled for the 1970s Central Library. The plaque tells you that even after the founding of the University of Birmingham, the former Mason College building continued to be used until the 1960s as the Faculty of Arts and Law. Would assume that moved to the Edgbaston campus before the demolition.

Until the 1960s, Edmund Street stretched next to Chamberlain Square. After Mason College was knocked down, Birmingham Central Library was built from 1969 to 1974, while the previous Central Library remained alongside it. Once complete and opened, the 2nd Victorian library was itself demolished (and Adrian Boult Hall and the Birmingham Conseravatoire built on it's site, but that's another story). Seen below in 2010, this was the entrance to the library. Paradise Forum was to the left which led to Centenary Square. It was demolished in 2016. You can see Art in a Window Gallery to the far right on the corner with Congreve Passage.

One Chamberlain Square now stands on the site of what was Mason College from 1875 until it was demolished in 1964. Construction of this building started in 2017 and should be completed in 2019 by BAM. Earlier in 2018 Carillion went bust stalling construction for a few months until BAM took over. Centenary Way now runs alongside the new building all the way from Chamberlain Square to Centenary Square (a pedestrian walkway).

Photos by Elliott Brown

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06 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
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Sir Barry Jackson founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Sir Barry Jackson founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre





The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.


Sir Barry Jackson

He was born in 1879 in Kings Norton, living until 1961. He founded the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1913. Before founding the REP, he formed a company with his friends called The Pilgrim Players in 1907. This was the foundation of the future Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company. In the early years of the 20th century, they performed plays to family and friends. By 1912, Barry Jackson began to develop plans to build a permanent theatre building on Station Street. Barry was knighted in 1925.

Below is a bronze bust of Sir Barry Jackson seen at the REP in Centenary Square during September 2013 (after the new Library of Birmingham had opened). At the time, the REP was celebrating their 100th anniversary.

Also seen in the modern REP building in 2013 was this portrait of Sir Barry Jackson made up of many other smaller photos. A bit like a mosaic.

Seen in the Shakesepare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham was this Gavel. It was presented to Sir Barry Jackson in 1936. As a pioneer of modern Shakespeare at The REP during the 1920s. By the 1940s he later became Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 next door the the new REP which originally opened in 1971 (10 years after Sir Barry Jackson passed away).

Before we get onto the old and new REP's in Birmingham, first a look at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The building opened in 1932, on the site adjacent to the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (opened in 1879), which had been destroyed by a fire in 1926. It took the name of Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961, following the founding of the Royal Shakespeare Company the year before (1960).

Sir Barry Jackson was Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre from 1945 until 1948 (when he retired).

This view below was from 2009 during the redevelopment of the theatre.

This view from 2013 after the redevelopment had finished. The theatre reopened in 2010, and was officially opened by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 2011. Seen here with the River Avon.

This River Avon view of the RST was from 2014.

Back to Birmingham and first we go to Station Street with what is now known as The Old REP.

It was the first ever purpose built repertory theatre in the UK, it opened in February 1913. The main entrance is on Station Street, opposite Birmingham New Street Station. There is a blue plaque here for Sir Barry Jackson. The architect was S. N. Cooke.

In this view with the hotel Comfort Inn and The Electric Cinema. There is various Chinese restaurants down there on Station Street as well. The view is from was what used to be Queen's Drive at New Street Station. Station Bar also known as Platform 13 is to the left (I think the bar is getting a refit when I last walked past it).

The front view of The Old Rep Theatre on Station Street. When The REP moved to a new building in 1971 near Broad Street (now in Centenary Square), Birmingham City Council took over the building. During renovations of their Centenary Square building, The New REP temporarily moved back into the Old REP from 2011 until 2013. From 2014, Birmingham Ormiston Academy, (also known as BOA), too over the use of the old theatre building.

The view round the back of The Old REP on Hinckley Street. This is the Stage Door entrance. There is a taxi rank on this side.

A close up look at the rear entrances of the Old REP on Hinckley Street.

Now a look at The New REP first built in 1971. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company moved to the site near Broad Street in a building by Graham Winteringham and Keith Williams Architects. This was around 10 years after Sir Barry Jackson had died. The area would not become Centenary Square for another 20 years (1991). This view from 2010, before the Library of Birmingham has been built and before the theatre renovations had started. Sir Barry Jackson had supported the building of a modern theatre but he died before it became a reality.

This view from 2009. There used to be steps outside, but that was removed during the 2011 to 2013 renovation works of the theatre. There is another Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque on this building to Sir Barry Jackson. For some years it was missing but it was returned here in 2013 when the theatre renovations were complete. The other blue plaque is for J. Sampson Gamgee, surgeon and founder of the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund, who lived in a house on this site. J. R. R. Tolkien later used his name for the character of Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Nightshot view from 2017. By then the theatre had been open again from 2013 after the new Library of Birmingham had opened. Marmalade Bistro had opened by then. This was slightly before the square had been hoarded off for the redevelopment of Centenary Square (there is still hoardings in front of the theatre).

Close up view in late 2017. Due to the renovations works of the square, this is currently the pedestrian walking route past the theatre, so the bar can't have it's tables and chairs outside at the moment.

Rear views of The REP on Cambridge Street near the roundabout close to City Centre Gardens. This view from 2010 from before the theatre was closed for a few years during the renovations while the Library of Birmingham was also being built next door.

The rear of the theatre seen in 2013. The Library of Birmingham is now complete and would open in September 2013. A complete different look to it's brutal predessor of 1971 to about 2011. There is regularly flower displays on that island on Cambridge Street.

 

Photos by Elliott Brown

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05 Dec 2018 - Elliott Brown
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John Baskerville: creator of his own typeface

Baskerville House is in Centenary Square on the site of the former home of John Baskerville. He lived and worked here between 1748 and 1775. There used to be an artwork made in 1990 called Industry and Genius (that has now gone into storage due to the Centenary Square redevelopment). It spelt out Virgil (but the characters in reverse).

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John Baskerville: creator of his own typeface





Baskerville House is in Centenary Square on the site of the former home of John Baskerville. He lived and worked here between 1748 and 1775. There used to be an artwork made in 1990 called Industry and Genius (that has now gone into storage due to the Centenary Square redevelopment). It spelt out Virgil (but the characters in reverse).


John Baskerville

Born in 1706 or 1707, he lived until 1775. Baskerville was best known for being a printer and type designer. He was born in the village of Wolverley, near Kidderminster in Worcestershire. He lived in a house on Easy Row, which is now where Baskerville House is in Centenary Square. His home was also known as Easy Hill.

Below is an exhibit seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The top item shows a plaque that reads:

"Grave stones.
Cut in any of the hands.

John Baskerville"

At the bottom is what looks like a snuff box with a portrait of John Baskerville.

A map of the location of John Baskerville's home at Easy Row. He was buried he vertically, but his body later had to be moved to Christ Church in 1821, as a canal basin was built on the land. Christ Church was demolished in 1897 and his remains was moved again to a crypt at the Catacombs Warstone Lane Cemetery.

I would assume that somewhere around here at Warstone Lane Cemetery, at the catacombs lies the remains of John Baskerville. He only wanted to be buried on his own land, but the constant redevelopment of Birmingham in the 19th century resulted in him being moved twice! John Baskerville was not a fan of consecrated grounds!

The model of the Proposed Civic Centre was seen at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2015. It is normally to be found at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre, so if you go to BM & AG today, you wont see it there now.

Below are the details about the model.

William Haywood, Baker Studios, Erdington (made by)
Model of Proposed Civic Centre (Scale 1" to 12ft),
1941

This model was designed by William Haywood, a special lecturer in town planning at Birmingham University. He supervised its construction by Baker Studios in Erdington over a 12 month period completed in 1941.
The model represents a variety of public buildings including a Planetarium, Natural History Museum, and City Hall, as well as extensive gardens and car parks.

The Hall of Memory and Baskerville House can be seen at the front and middle of the model.

In August 2009 opposite Baskerville House, archaeologists were digging up the car park where from 2013 onwards would stand the Library of Birmingham. It was the remains of the Baskerville Basin. Gibson's Arm was a private canal that was built during the 1810s. John Baskerville's house was burnt down during the Priestley Riots of 1791. Baskerville Basin was filled in during 1938 to make way for the Civic Centre. Thomas Gibson was the one who acquired the land and property in 1812.

Baskerville House seen during April 2009.

It was originally completed in 1938. Before WW2 started, there was plans for the area that is now Centenary Square, for a Civic Centre. But Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were the only buildings to be completed as part of that scheme. It is built on the site of John Baskerville's home of Easy Hill. Which itself was replaced by a canal basin, known as Baskerville Basin. Was also another basin there called Gibson's Basin. They would have both existed there from the 1820s until about 1919 (or later as the Birmingham City Council had purchased the land for their Civic Centre scheme). T. Cecil Howitt of Nottingham was asked to design Baskerville House in 1936.

The war halted construction of Baskerville House, and after WW2 ended, Roman Imperial imagery on public buildings went out of fashion. The building is now Grade II listed, and was renovated from 2003 until 2007. Used to be offices for the City Council, until they moved out in 1998.

In 2010, the statue of King Edward VII was restored after spending many years in Highgate Park. You can see it to the right of Baskerville House (it is currently behind the hoardings of the Centenary Square renovation works). This view from November 2010 shortly after the statue was installed at this spot. In fact it is the only statue to remain in the square while Centenary Square is getting done up (which wont be finished until sometime in 2019). The original Centenary Square was completed in 1991.

In 2013 the Library of Birmingham opened on the site of what was a car park between The REP and Baskerville House. Seen below in December 2017 after it was announced that Birmingham had won the bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The refurbishment of Centenary Square started in 2017 and should have been completed by the end of 2018, but a series of delays means it will probably not be completed until sometime in 2019. You wouldn't know from the way it is now that canal basins used to be here. Although archeologists examined the land under the Library of Birmingham in the summer of 2009 before the library was built.

There used to be a typeface sculpture outside of Baskerville House called Industry and Genius. It was made in 1990 by local artist David Patten. It is a Portland stone sculpture of the Baskerville typeface.

I took invidual photos of each letters and flipped them. Together it reads "Virgil". The standing stones represents the letter punches which Baskerville cut to make his type, and the world virgil was Baskerville's first book, published in 1757, as a re-print of the Roman author's poems. The sculpture went into storage a few years ago when the redevelopment of Centenary Square was about to start.

Photos by Elliott Brown

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25 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown
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James Brindley: Canal Engineer of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Old Mainline

You maybe wondering who Brindleyplace is named after? That would be the canal engineer James Brindley who was approached in 1767 to propose a route for a canal from Birmingham to the Black Country. He died in 1772 a bit before the BCN Old Mainline was completed. He also started the Coventry Canal.

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James Brindley: Canal Engineer of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Old Mainline





You maybe wondering who Brindleyplace is named after? That would be the canal engineer James Brindley who was approached in 1767 to propose a route for a canal from Birmingham to the Black Country. He died in 1772 a bit before the BCN Old Mainline was completed. He also started the Coventry Canal.


James Brindley

He was born in 1716 in Tunstead, Derbyshire, and lived most of his life in Leek, Staffordshire, becoming one of the major engineers of the 18th century. He died in 1772. The canals he is known as being engineer for in the Midlands include the: Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, the Coventry Canal, and the Birmingham Canal. These were mostly engineered in the 1760s and 1770s. Other engineers such as Thomas Telford later reworked his canals decades after his death (such as building a straightened canal from Birmingham to Wolverhampton). This left many of Brindley's canal sections as loops of the Mainline.

There used to be a pub at Gas Street Basin near Bridge Street called The James Brindley. I don't ever recall seeing it open, as from the late 2000s and into the 2010s it was derelict and closed. At least until it was refurbished as The Canal House. It was near what is now Regency Wharf, and area called Old Wharf of the Birmingham Canal. Which existed from 1772 until 1931. It lay beyond Bridge Street (so probably on the Arena Central site now, and what used to be the ATV / Central TV studios site). The Paradise Street offices of the BCN was near there to (until demolition in 1913). There is a black plaque with that information on it nearby here.

The Canal House was opened in 2017. The redevelopment of the former James Brindley pub / bar. Looks much better compared to what was there before! You can see the bridge to the left that has been blocked off since Old Wharf was filled in back in 1931. With all the Arena Central buildings going up, it's unlikely that Old Wharf would get restored and be part of that development.

A look at Brindleyplace. It was named after Brindley Place the name of the street around which the development was built (which in turn was named after James Brindley himself). Was built from 1993 onwards. The last building was completed in 2009. This view of The Water's Edge, which was the first part to be completed in 1994. The Brindleyplace Bridge links the development to The ICC (International Convention Centre). Steps lead up from the canal towpath, but there is a lift nearby for disabled people. From here, people can get narrowboat rides with Sherborne Wharf. There is also a Floating Coffee boat on the other side.

When the BCN New Mainline opened in 1827, it caused sections of the old line to become loops. The closest part in the City Centre or Ladywood, is the Oozells Loop (I've been calling it the Oozells Street Loop for years). There is now modern apartment buildings around most of the loop, and some parts are private. Seen here from the Browning Street Footbridge towards the Ladywood Junction Footbridge. Watermarque is on one side and King Edward's Wharf on the other. There is usually many narrowboats moored down there.

You can see the Icknield Port Loop from Edgbaston Reservoir. This view below was taken in 2011 from the dam. It was originally called the Rotton Park Loop. The land around it has been derelict for years, and had been no pedestrian or vehicle access. But this site will get redeveloped soon with new apartment buildings, bringing it back to life similar to at the Oozells Loop and Brindleyplace areas. The skyline has changed quite a bit since then!

A look at some parts of the Birmingham Canal towards Wolverhampton, this is just a look at Brindley's old line, not Telford's new line, so the canal is quite curvy or bendy!

Seen in Smethwick, Sandwell the BCN Old Mainline seen heading towards Wolverhampton from Spon Lane South. Above the canal is the M5 motorway. Telford's New Mainline is a little bit further to the left of this area (and that is a straight cutting compared to this curved one). Volunteers from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society are seen to be picking up litter out of the canal, during March 2017.

At Oldbury in Sandwell, the BCN Old Mainline now seen under the M5 Motorway. This was close to the Manchester Street Bridge, and looking in the direction of Oldbury Junction (with the Titford Canal).

Seen on a nice sunny day in Tipton in late November 2017, on the BCN Old Mainline at Tipton Junction. To the left is the Dudley Tunnel via the Dudley No. 1 Canal, it also leads to the Stourbridge Canal. Wolverhampton is to the right on the old Birmingham Canal. The old and new Birmingham canals merge at Factory Junction in Tipton.

The Birmingham Canal (Wolverhampton Level), seen between Cable Street and Bilston Road in Wolverhampton. A pair of cyclists are seen passing the old warehouses ahead. The twisting and turning of the canal up here shows that Thomas Telford did not alter James Brindley's original line north of Deepfields (that is where the Wednesbury Oak Loop leaves the Mainline). The Midland Metro line is close to here on the Bilston Road.

Close to Wolverhampton Station and near the end of the BCN Mainline is this section of the canal. To the left is Broad Street Basin. The original Broad Street Bridge is now at the Black Country Living Museum, so the bridge we see there today is a replica. This is close to Wednesfield Road in Wolverhampton.

Next we take a look at the Coventry Canal Basin where you would find a statue of James Brindley.

James Brindley was engineer on the Coventry Canal from 1768 until 1769. The canal had reached Atherstone in 1769 by the time the canal company had run out of money and he had been replaced. Still he completed the canal basin in 1769.

The bronze statue of James Brindley (leaning over his desk) is by the sculptor James Butler and was made in 1998. This view near a finger post point to Birmingham, Fradley and Braunston.

A close up look at the James Brindley statue in Coventry. The canal basin is close to Leicester Row in Coventry.

This view of the Coventry Canal Basin is at the start or end of the canal. Warehouses to the right next to Leicester Row. The statue of Brindley is to the left. Valley Cruises Coventry Canal have hire boats from here.

These warehouses (in this view to the left) of the Coventry Canal Basin mostly post date James Brindley's time on the Coventry Canal, and date from 1787, the 19th century and 1914. They are Grade II listed buildings. The Coventry Canal Basin Trust are based around here.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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08 Nov 2018 - Elliott Brown
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George Dawson a non-conformist preacher who called for Civic Reform

There used to be a statue for many years on Edmund Street close to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, but it went into storage. What happened to it? Well it was of George Dawson and it's now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. A non-conformist preacher who called for civic reform. Born in 1821 and died in 1876. There is also several busts of this Victorian gentleman!

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George Dawson a non-conformist preacher who called for Civic Reform





There used to be a statue for many years on Edmund Street close to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, but it went into storage. What happened to it? Well it was of George Dawson and it's now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. A non-conformist preacher who called for civic reform. Born in 1821 and died in 1876. There is also several busts of this Victorian gentleman!


George Dawson

Born in London in 1821, he moved to Birmingham in 1844 to become minister of the Mount Zion Baptist Chapel. He left the Baptist Church in 1845 and he become minister of the theologically liberal Church of the Saviour. While there he developed the concept of the Civic Gospel.

He gave sermons to the likes of Joseph Chamberlain and other local politicians of the day. He lectured for the city to be transformed and Joseph Chamberlain answered him as a visionary social reforming Mayor in the 1870s.

The statue of George Dawson has moved about a quite a bit since it was made by Thomas Woolner in 1880. It's moved from Victoria Square to Chamberlain Square to eventually a spot on Edmund Street. I think under the link bridge of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It was eventually moved to storage and is now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. In the area full of classic cars, fire engines etc!

You can see a photo of the statues last location here George Dawson, Chamberlain Square on the Wikimedia Commons (from Geograph). As you can see it used to have railings around it.

The statue depicts Dawson in a full-length frock coat with his hands clapsed together. In the Francis Frith photo archive, they have a photo dated 1896 with the statue close to the Chamberlain Memorial. At the time it was under a canopy that resembled the Chamberlain Memorial. It featured the heads of Bunyan, Carlyle, Cromwell and Shakespeare, symoblising Religion, Letters, Governments and Poetry. The Thomas Woolner statue of 1880 was disliked so it kept getting moved around. Another statue was commissioned in 1881 from F J Williamson.

This photo shows the unusual view of the George Dawson statue amongst all the machines that are surrounding it at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. Hopefully one day it will come out of storage and be put in a prominent location for all to see!

Also in the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre was this bronze bust of George Dawson. The note next to it just says that he was A campaigner for civic reform. It was located in the warehouse. You can see the bust and the statue on the free open days that they have at the centre. Any other times you have to book.

Next we head up to the Library of Birmingham and go up to Level 9. Just outside of the Shakespeare Memorial Room was this large marble bust on George Dawson. The area is the Skyline Viewpoint. Not far from this bust is a foundation stone from the old Victorian Birmingham Library. He gave an address at the first Birmingham Central Library in 1866. That library was partly damaged by a fire in 1879 was was rebuilt and enlarged by 1882. That time the second library was opened by John Bright MP. The library would survive until 1974 when it was demolished after the last Central Library opened (that to would close in 2013 and be demolished in 2016).

In 2016 there was an exhibition on at the Library of Birmingham in the Gallery on Level 3 called Our Shakespeare. They had a terracotta model of George Dawson in one of the glass cases. It was probably a study for the statue by the sculptor Thomas Wollner, which was completed in 1880. George Dawson died suddenly aged 55 at Kings Norton on the 30th November 1876.

The same terracotta model / bust of George Dawson was later seen in the Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham on Level 9 of the library. Apparently Dawson was the first President of the Birmingham Shakespeare Club, he was also a noted Birmingham philanthropist and politician. The sign next to it says the statue it was a study of was later on Great Charles Street.

Photos by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Civic pride
30 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Joseph Chamberlain: Birmingham's visionary Mayor in the late 19th Century

A look at Joseph Chamberlain who as well as later being an MP for Birmingham, before that served several years as the Mayor of the town (it didn't become a City until 1888). A member of the Liberal Party, he was elected Mayor of Birmingham in 1873, holding that title until 1876 when he was elected to Parliament. Various clocks and monuments are around the city in his name.

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Joseph Chamberlain: Birmingham's visionary Mayor in the late 19th Century





A look at Joseph Chamberlain who as well as later being an MP for Birmingham, before that served several years as the Mayor of the town (it didn't become a City until 1888). A member of the Liberal Party, he was elected Mayor of Birmingham in 1873, holding that title until 1876 when he was elected to Parliament. Various clocks and monuments are around the city in his name.


Joseph Chamberlain

The Chamberlain Memorial is in Chamberlain Square in the centre of Birmingham (now the Paradise Birmingham construction site). It was erected in 1880 to commemorate the public service of Joseph Chamberlain. It was erected during Chamberlain's lifetime. By the time the memorial was installed, Chamberlain has been an MP for Birmingham since 1876.  Chamberlain was elected to the Town Council in November 1869. He was elected Mayor in November 1873 and resigned the office in June 1876 on being returned as a representative of the borough to Parliament. During his Mayoralty many great works were advanced. And his devotion to the Water & Gas undertakings. (there is halls at the Council House called Water Hall and Gas Hall that are now part of the Museum & Art Gallery).

Seen here with Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the vantage point with the statue of James Watt.

Seen with the now demolished Birmingham Central Library.

Medallion bus of Joseph Chamberlain on the memorial.

Birmingham's failed bid for UK City of Culture in 2010 for 2013.

A more recent photo of the Chamberlain Memorial with One and Two Chamberlain Square under construction during July 2018. Part of Paradise Birmingham. Apart from the Museum & Art Gallery and the Town Hall, it is the only thing to survive from the late 19th century period (the other buildings demolished and the statues gone into storage).

 

Seen at the University of Birmingham is the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, also known as Old Joe. It is the tallest free standing clock tower in the world. The tower was built to commemorate Joseph Chamberlain who was the first Chancellor of the University. Construction started in 1900 and finished in 1908. It held the record for the tallest building in Birmingham from 1908 until 1965 (when the BT Tower opened).

Please also have a look at my post comparing this tower to the campanile tower that inspired it in Italy here Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower inspired by the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy.

Seen with the Great Hall from Aston Webb Boulevard (Selly Oak New Road). Designed by Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell (built 1900 - 1909).

Close up of the tower in 2009.

The view from Mindelsohn Way, Selly Oak in 2017.

For a period earlier during 2018 the clock was stuck at 12 o'clock, but after it was repaired the clock was once again seen to be ticking again!

Welcome to University Station in Edgbaston, on the University of Birmingham's main Edgbaston campus. When you get off the train, take a look at this image of Joseph Chamberlain before heading up the steps. And read the message to the left. You may also notice the Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower on the steps as you go up.

 

In the Jewellery Quarter there is a clock at the junction with Vyse Street, Warstone Lane and Frederick Street called the Chamberlain Clock. It commemorated the visit of Joseph Chamberlain to South Africa between 1902 and 1903 when he was the Secretary for State for the Colonies. It was erected by his constituents the electors of West Birmingham. Mr Chamberlain landed at Durban on the 26th December 1902 and sailed from Cape Town on the 25th February 1903. The clock was unveiled in 1904 during Chamberlain's lifetime.

There is also a clock like this one in Five Ways, but that one does not commemorate Joseph Chamberlain. And also another similar clock at Aston Cross.

Seen with the Rose Villa Tavern in the Jewellery Quarter.

These views were from 2009, and was traffic constantly going past the clock, so got cars in some of these old photos.

The clock is one of the main landmarks in the Jewellery Quarter. It's a short walk from Jewellery Quarter Station. It's also close to Warstone Lane Cemetery (also known as Brookfields Cemetery).

Highbury Hall was the Birmingham residence of Joseph Chamberlain from 1880 until his death in 1914. Was commissioned in 1878 and built in 1879. Is now a Grade II* listed building and in the care of the Chamberlain Highbury Trust (formerly Birmingham City Council). It took it's name from the Highbury area of London that Chamberlain lived in as a child. There is extensive grounds that now includes Highbury Park. John Henry Chamberlain was the architect (he wasn't a relation of the Chamberlain family).

The main entrance with the car park. A blue plaque is on the left.

The garden to the hall. There is paths that leads out to Highbury Park and surviving parts of Highbury Hall's original gardens via an orchard.

The first floor landing at Highbury Hall.

Portrait of Joseph Chamberlain MP painted by Nestor Cambier at Highbury Hall.

Artefacts seen at the Birmingham History Galleries about Chamberlain's Birmingham.

Including a postcard of Corporation Street dated 1902. Home Rule and the Irish Question by Joseph Chamberlain, MP 1887.

A mug with the head of Joseph Chamberlain.

Close up look at the mug that looks like Joseph Chamberlain.

Souvenir from the 30th anniversary of Joseph Chamberlain being elected to Parliament for Birmingham in 1876, from 1906.

Photos by Elliott Brown

 

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55 passion points
Civic pride
18 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Joseph Sturge and the campaign to abolish slavery

Joseph Sturge was a Birmingham businessman who campaigned to abolish slavery in the 19th century. Slavery was abolished in the 1830s. There is a statue of Sturge in Five Ways outside of the Marriott Hotel. And he once lived in a property in a house that used to be on Wheeleys Road in Edgbaston (flats are now on that site).

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Joseph Sturge and the campaign to abolish slavery





Joseph Sturge was a Birmingham businessman who campaigned to abolish slavery in the 19th century. Slavery was abolished in the 1830s. There is a statue of Sturge in Five Ways outside of the Marriott Hotel. And he once lived in a property in a house that used to be on Wheeleys Road in Edgbaston (flats are now on that site).


Joseph Sturge

was a Quaker and abolitionist, and founded the Anti-Slavery Society. He moved to Birmingham in 1822. The Reform Act 1832 in his opinion failed to address poverty and he campaigned for radical electoral reform. He was against the building of the Birmingham Town Hall and he was interested in the island of Jamaica and the condition of it's enslaved workers.

He was elected as an Alderman in Birmingham's first Borough Council of 1838.

Joseph Sturge lived on a house on Wheeleys Road in Edgbaston from 1824 until 1859 (his death). That house is now long since demolished. Flats now stands on that site called Eden Croft. You can see a Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque on the side of the building, that was placed there in 2007.

 

Joseph Sturge memorial

The statue of Joseph Sturge was unveiled in 1862 at Five Ways, close to his former home. It was at the boundary between Edgbaston and Birmingham, and was sculpted by John Thomas. Sometime around 1975 the left hand fell off. The statue was restored in 2007 on the 200th anniversary of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. The statue is Grade II listed.

The statue was moved in 1925 to it's current position, now in front of the Marriott Hotel (formerly the Swallow Hotel). Beneath the statue, on four sides, are inscribed the words 'Joseph Sturge 1859', 'Peace', 'Charity', and 'Temperance'.

Due to Five Ways Island, you can only really see it if you walk past it.But it is visible from Harborne Road if on the bus or in a car. From Five Ways Island, there are trees in the way and you can't see the statue from there. It's just a bit visible from the Hagley Road, although it is a bit far from there. So as I said, best to walk past the statue to admire it!

The bronze plaque is there for passers by to know a bit more about him.

"He laboured to bring freedom to the Negro slave, the vote to British workmen, and the promise of peace to a war-torn world."

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
Civic pride
06 Oct 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Cadbury Brothers: George and Richard Cadbury

You may have heard about Bournville, and Cadbury chocolate, but do you know about the Brothers behind the company? We take a look at George Cadbury and his brother Richard Cadbury. They were the sons of John Cadbury who founded the original Cadbury company. They aquired land south west of Birmingham in 1878, in what is now Bournville.

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Cadbury Brothers: George and Richard Cadbury





You may have heard about Bournville, and Cadbury chocolate, but do you know about the Brothers behind the company? We take a look at George Cadbury and his brother Richard Cadbury. They were the sons of John Cadbury who founded the original Cadbury company. They aquired land south west of Birmingham in 1878, in what is now Bournville.


George Cadbury lived from 1839 until 1922.

With his brother Richard, they acquired land to the south west of Birmingham in 1878 and built their factory there in 1879. He helped start the development of the Bournville Village from around 1900 onwards. There is no pubs as the Cadbury's were Quakers.

George lived at 32 George Road in Edgbaston from 1872 until 1881. There is an English Heritage blue plaque on this house

The Bournville Village Trust was established in 1900 by George Cadbury.  We take a look at some of the buildings built during George Cadbury's lifetime in the early part of the 20th century.

The Bournville Carillon was built in 1906 by W Alexander Harvey. It is now part of Bournville Junior School. You can sometimes hear the bells ringing if you are in Bournville, it is quite a unique sound!

A bust of George Cadbury is outside of the Quaker Meeting House. That was built in 1905 by W Alexander Harvey. The Cadbury's were Quaker's.

The Rest House in Bournville Village Green. Built in 1914 by W Alexander Harvey to mark the silver wedding of George Cadbury and his then wife. It is now a visitor centre for the Carillon.

If you enter Bournville from the Cotteridge end or the Selly Oak end, you might see this sign. It has a photo of George Cadbury at the top welcoming you to Bournville!

Richard Cadbury lived from 1835 until 1899 and was and elder brother of George.

With his brother George, he took over the family business in 1861, and they eventually acquired land four miles to the south west of Birmingham by 1878 and built the Cadbury chocolate factory a year later. He dontated Moseley Hall to the City of Birmingham, and it is now a hospital.

Richard lived at 17 Wheeleys Road in Edgbaston from 1861 until 1871. There is a English Heritage blue plaque on this house.

Richard Cadbury bought the Moseley Hall estate in 1889. He then gave it as a children's home. It was built in 1795. Is now known as Moseley Hall Hospital.

Another property in Moseley, this one on the Queensbridge Road is the Uffculme Centre (not far from the Highbury Estate). Built for Richard Cadbury in 1890. It was his last home from 1891 until his death in 1899. His family lived there until the death of his widow in 1906. The house was later gifted to the City of Birmingham in 1916 when it became a hospital until around 1999. Now used as a conference centre.

Almshouses built in Bournville by Richard Cadbury for the benefit of the Cadbury workers. The railings were removed during the Second World War, but new ones were installed in 2008 by the Bournville Village Trust.

 

You might be familiar with this building if you pass through Bournville, either on the train or walking along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The Cadbury Factory building, on this site from 1879 onwards. Cadbury World has been inside part of the site since the early 1990s.

View from the Worcester & Birmingham Canal over looking the Cross City Line South.

The famous Bournville sign.

The famous Cadbury sign.

Photos by Elliott Brown.

 

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45 passion points
Civic pride
27 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Thomas Attwood: Birmingham's first Member of Parliament

Did you know that Birmingham's first MP was Thomas Attwood from 1832 to 1840. There has been two statues honouring him in Birmingham, one dated 1859 and the other more recently in 1993. He lobbied for a Reform Bill and he founded the Birmingham Politcal Union at the end of 1829.

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Thomas Attwood: Birmingham's first Member of Parliament





Did you know that Birmingham's first MP was Thomas Attwood from 1832 to 1840. There has been two statues honouring him in Birmingham, one dated 1859 and the other more recently in 1993. He lobbied for a Reform Bill and he founded the Birmingham Politcal Union at the end of 1829.


Before 1832, Birmingham didn't have any represenation in Parliament. A Birmingham Banker called Thomas Attwood founded the Birmingham Political Union in 1829.

Portrait of Thomas Attwood seen at the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

It called for extending voting to the working class and redistributing suffrage rights. A Reform Bill of this kind went to Parliament in 1831, before the passing of the 1832 Reform Act.

In May 1832, The Birmingham Political Union met at New Hall Hill where about 200,000 people gathered calling for political reform.

Painting below seen at the Birmingham History Galleries painted by Benjamin Haydon.

After the Reform Act was passed in 1832, Attwood was elected to Parliament in December 1832, one of two Birmingham Members of Parliament (MPs) with Joshua Scholefield. He was an MP until around 1839. Only one in six men could vote at the time the act was passed.

There has been two statues made of Thomas Attwood.

The first was made in 1859 (around 3 years after his death in 1856) by the sculptor Peter Hollins. At one point the statue stood in Calthorpe Park in Edgbaston before later being moved to a park in Larches Green, Sparkbrook. It was there from 1974 until 2008. But it was regularly a target for graffiti and vandalism. It was removed from the park and was sent into storage at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. Where it still remains unrestored.

The plinth is now outside with some other plinths at the Museum Collections Centre.

Seen here in 2012 with the graffiti tags still present.

Under the graffiti tags it reads "Thomas Attwood Founder of the Birmingham Political Union".

As of 2018 the statue itself is encased in a wooden crate, just outside of the Warehouse.

As you can see, the statue is in the same condition as it was when it was removed from the park in Sparkbrook in 2008. Graffiti tags all over, and one of the arms is missing.

Closer look at the head, and the condition of the statue looks worse for wear. Hopefully it will be restored one day and placed somewhere where the public could see it. Such as on the Harborne High Street?

The second statue was made more recently in 1993 and was placed on the steps of Chamberlain Square, not far from the Birmingham Town Hall and the now demolished Birmingham Central Library. It was removed to storage in November 2015 ahead of the demolition of the old library for the Paradise Birmingham redevelopment. The sculptors were Sioban Coppinger and Fiona Peever.

There also used to be a soapbox and pages on the steps with the words "Prosperity", "The Vote" and "Reform"

"Votes for All" and "Demand for Change"

"Full Employment" and "Free Trade".

You can find a blue plaque to Thomas Attwood at Crescent Tower. He lived on a house on that site on what is now the Civic Centre Estate (not far from Cambridge Street). The Birmingham Civic Society unveiled it in 1983.

 

About 30 plus years later another Birmingham MP, this time John Bright called for further political reform. He was famous for his battles to abolish the Corn Laws. He served as MP for Birmingham from 1858 until 1889. During this time he called for Parliamentary reform, and this led to the Reform Act 1867 (or the Second Reform Act).

The statue seen below is now at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and was by Albert Joy and was made in 1888. John Bright Street near the Alexandrea Theatre was named in his honour.

All photos taken by Elliott Brown.

 

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50 passion points
Modern Architecture
12 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Thomas Telford: A Tale of Three Bridges (including Galton Bridge in Smethwick)

Here we take a look at the 18th century engineer Thomas Telford and some of the bridges that he designed. Along the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Main Line, he designed the Galton Bridge in Smethwick. In North Wales two suspension bridges at Conwy and Menai on the road to Holyhead.

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Thomas Telford: A Tale of Three Bridges (including Galton Bridge in Smethwick)





Here we take a look at the 18th century engineer Thomas Telford and some of the bridges that he designed. Along the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Main Line, he designed the Galton Bridge in Smethwick. In North Wales two suspension bridges at Conwy and Menai on the road to Holyhead.


Galton Bridge

The bridge was built in Smethwick on the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Main Line carrying the Roebuck Lane in 1829, and was named after Samuel Galton a member of the Lunar Society. . When it was built, it's single span of 151 feet (46 metres) was the highest in the world. It used to be a road bridge, but it now only carries pedestrians. It is now a Grade I listed building. Smethwick Galton Bridge Station nearby (opened in 1995) was named after it.

This view is seen shortly after getting off a train on the Snow Hill lines from Birmingham on the High Level of Smethwick Galton Bridge Station.

Down on the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Main Line (Birmingham Level), this view of the Galton Bridge is towards the Galton Tunnel.

The best views from canal level normally have the 1829 bridge with the 1995 railway station behind it.

Quite an impressive view. But with all of Telford's bridges covered here, railway bridges were later built beside. The station only came when the Jewellery Line opened in 1995. The nearby Smethwick West Station closed in 1996 (platforms are still visible if you are on a train to or from Stourbridge Junction).

A look at Roebuck Lane both directions on the Galton Bridge in Smethwick.

It's time to see what Thomas Telford was up to in North Wales. He built two suspension bridges on the A5 road from Chester to Holyhead. It allowed road traffic from 1826 to get from London to Holyhead (on Anglesey) then to get a ferry to Dublin in Ireland.

The problem was crossing the River Conwy in Conwy and the Menai Strait between Gwynedd (near Bangor) and Anglesey (near what is now Menai Bridge Town).

Conwy Suspension Bridge

The bridge was built to cross the River Conwy in Conwy County Borough, and was built close to Conwy Castle. The bridge designed by Thomas Telford was built from 1822 to 1826. The bridge is 99.5 metres long (326 ft). Road traffic used it from 1826 to 1958 when it was replaced by the nearby Conwy Bridge. A Toll House was at one end where tolls were collected. The bridge was designed to match the castle with castellated towers. It closed to road traffic in 1958, and the National Trust owned it from 1965. The bridge is Grade I listed.

The bridge has been closed to road traffic since 1958, only pedestrians cross it now. Got it to myself at one point during my visit!

The towers were built in a castellated form to match with Conwy Castle.

The Toll House at the other end of the Conwy Suspension Bridge. It has been laid out as if it was 1891 by the National Trust. Vehicles would have to stop here and pay their tolls (usually horse and cart, people with mules, bicylcles etc). By the mid 20th century this caused traffic jams into Conwy, and a new bridge was built and opened nearby in 1958.

Alongside Telford's bridge is the 1848 Conwy Tubular Bridge by Robert Stephenson. Also castallated. This view to Conwy Castle.

It carries the North Wales Coast Line railway, on this section between Llandudno Junction and Conwy Station. Then onto Anglesey via the Britannia Bridge and onto Holyhead.

 

Menai Suspension Bridge

The bridge crosses the Menai Strait from the Gwynedd side (close to Bangor) to the Isle of Anglesey (near Menai Bridge Town known in Welsh as Porthaethwy). The bridge spans 176 metres (577 ft). It was completed in 1826 and is still used by road traffic. Construction of the bridge began in 1819. The deck of the bridge was later strengthed in 1840 by W. A. Provis. And the wooden surface replaced by a steel surface in 1893 by Sir Benjamin Baker. In 1999 the bridge was closed for a month to allow for resurfacing and strenghen the structure. There is pedestrian walkways on both sides of the bridge. Buses both single and double decker are able to cross the bridge, but have to slow down under the arched towers.

Crossing the bridge towards Anglesey. It's on the A5 to Holyhead. But you can also use the A55 North Wales Expressway over the Britannia Bridge instead (faster).

The bridge is ok for small buses like this one.

Bigger buses, single or double deckers normally struggle when they head under the towers.

Some buses go to the nearby City of Bangor (to the right of this location)

It's a long way down to the Menai Strait. Walking on either side of the bridge, you certainly feel a bit of vertigo. Best to not be scared of heights.

All photos taken by Elliott Brown

 

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55 passion points
History & heritage
10 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Boulton & Watt - the founding fathers of Birmingham!

James Watt came down from Scotland at the invitation of Matthew Boulton in the late 18th century after Watt had made improvement's to Thomas Newcomen's steam engine. Boulton who owned the Soho Manufactory obtained a patent from 1775 onwards.

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Boulton & Watt - the founding fathers of Birmingham!





James Watt came down from Scotland at the invitation of Matthew Boulton in the late 18th century after Watt had made improvement's to Thomas Newcomen's steam engine. Boulton who owned the Soho Manufactory obtained a patent from 1775 onwards.


You can see one of Boulton & Watt's engines at Dartmouth Circus. Easier to see if you enter the subways and walk past it. But is visible from the road in cars or buses etc. It was built in 1817 and was used at the Netherton Ironworks.

The Smethwick Engine is now located at the Thinktank science museum, it was made in 1779. It's the oldest working steam engine and the oldest working engine in the world. Originally located in Smethwick close to the Soho Foundry. It was previously at the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry at the Newhall Street site in the Jewellery Quarter (now Newhall Square). Was moved to Thinktank from 2001.

The gold leaf covered statue of Boulton, Watt and Murdoch was by William Bloye. Unveiled at this site in 1956. But was planned from 1939 (before the Second World War). It was removed to storage in 2017, and will return to the other side of Broad Street at a new site in Centenary Square.

The statue of James Watt used to be in Chamberlain Square outside the now demolished Birmingham Central Library until it was removed to storage in 2015.

Close up view of the James Watt statue. He seemed to have more sculptures of him than Mr Boulton did!

Boulton and Watt - there is a pair of busts of the pair in the Drawing Room at Soho House in Handsworth. It was the home of Boulton during the late 18th century.

Matthew Boulton

James Watt

Portaits at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Matthew Boulton by Carl Frederick von Breda in 1792.

James Watt by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1812.

This bust of James Watt was found at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre. It is similar to the one found at Soho House (see above).

All photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
Civic pride
06 Sep 2018 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Joseph Priestley the discoverer of oxygen

Joseph Priestley was an 18th century theologian, natural philosopher, chemist etc, who discovered oxygen. He was in Birmingham from 1780 to 1791, when he had to leave due to the Priestley Riots.

View this great post by Elliott Brown, one of Birmingham's People with Passion.

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Joseph Priestley the discoverer of oxygen





Joseph Priestley was an 18th century theologian, natural philosopher, chemist etc, who discovered oxygen. He was in Birmingham from 1780 to 1791, when he had to leave due to the Priestley Riots.

View this great post by Elliott Brown, one of Birmingham's People with Passion.


Joseph Priestley statue in Chamberlain Square

Priestley was born in 1733 and died in 1804. He was based in Birmingham from 1780 to 1791. While there he made friends with the Lunar Society including Matthew Boulton. He was the minister of New Meeting which was located close to what is Moor Street Queensway and New Meeting Street.

The statue that used to be in Chamberlain Square until 2016 was by Francis John Williamson and was made in 1874.

Maquette of Priestley in the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre

Williamson probably made this maquette before making the full sized statue.

Saint Michael's Catholic Church built on the site of Priestley's New Meeting

In 1791 riots erupted in Birmingham, known now as the Priestley Riots. On the 2nd anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille that started the French Revolution in France. Rioters attacked Priestley's families home at Fairhill in Sparkbrook. They also burnt down the New Meeting Chapel followed by the Old Meeting Chapel.

Today Saint Michael's Catholic Church stands on the site and there is a blue plaque on New Meeting Street about Priestley. It is now a Polish church.

Photography and article by Elliott Brown.

For more great posts and a great gallery of people who helped build this City, connect here.

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40 passion points
People & community
03 Sep 2018 - Daniel Sturley
Did you know?

The 'Golden Men' of Birmingham - Boulton, Watt & Murdoch

Here, with the help of People with Passion, we pay tribute to 3 great industrialists and entrepreneurs who contributed greatly to the city's prosperity during the 18th century. Their monument, in Centenary Square until summer 2017 was known locally as the 'Golden Men' and also 'The Carpet Salesmen'.

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The 'Golden Men' of Birmingham - Boulton, Watt & Murdoch





Here, with the help of People with Passion, we pay tribute to 3 great industrialists and entrepreneurs who contributed greatly to the city's prosperity during the 18th century. Their monument, in Centenary Square until summer 2017 was known locally as the 'Golden Men' and also 'The Carpet Salesmen'.


Did You Know?

James Watt invented the condenser sytem for steam engines which ushered in the steam age.

William Murdoch left his home town in southern Scotland aged 23 and walked the 300 miles to Birmingham. Upon arrival he asked James Watt for a job, got one and went on to become a full partner with Matthew Boulton and Watt. Murdoch developed many innovations, but is well known for inventing gas lighting.

Matthew Boulton was the father of mass production, developing the first systems for producing many identical objects like coins, cutlery and 'toys' using production lines in his Soho Manufactury in Hockley, he was also a founding member of the Lunar Society, a full moon meeting group of luminaries considered to be founders of the British Industrial Revolution.

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60 passion points