Old Square in Birmingham is the square / island between Corporation Street and The Priory Queensway. One way leads to the courts and Aston University. The other way to the shops. It used to be a Georgian square but the square has been redeveloped over the centuries. From the 1960s to the early 2000s there used to be subways and a sunken area here. Now known for the Tony Hancock statue.

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Old Square from Tony Hancock to the Kenneth Budd mural





Old Square in Birmingham is the square / island between Corporation Street and The Priory Queensway. One way leads to the courts and Aston University. The other way to the shops. It used to be a Georgian square but the square has been redeveloped over the centuries. From the 1960s to the early 2000s there used to be subways and a sunken area here. Now known for the Tony Hancock statue.


I don't really take photos much any more in this square, so most of my photos are from 2009 or 2010. The more recent photos from when there was a Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail sculpture there, or a Big Hoot owl or Big Sleuth bear.

 

Some history from Wikipedia: Old Square was the site of the Priory of St Thomas of Canterbury Which was here until 1536, and demolished by 1547 (during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII). The site was in ruins for 150 years until it was purchased by John Pemberton in 1697. He levelled the land to create the Priory estate.

The square dates from 1713. Various Georgian town houses were built around the square. The inventor of the English Dictionary, Dr Samuel Johnson visited his friend who lived in Old Square, a Surgeon and Doctor - Edmund Hector (who lived at No 1 Old Square), before he died in December 1784. Lloyd the Banker lived at 13 Old Square in 1770. Later Samuel Galton Jr lived at no 13 Old Square. One of the members of the Lunar Society.

 

The mural by Kenneth Budd dates to 1967 and depicts the history of Old Square. This view from May 2009. Looking in the direction of The Wesleyan up The Priory Queensway.

This view from September 2009.

Corporation Street would cause the demolition of many of Old Square's Georgian houses in 1882, as well as the construction of the Lewis's department store in 1885, built over The Minories.

Looking towards The Minories in December 2009. The Minories was refurbished and reopened as shopping arcade in October 1994. Temple Court and The Priory Court are based in this building now. The Lewis Building was refurbished in 2017 and 2018.

After WW2 The Priory Queensway was developed and that led to the creation of Priory Square. From the 1960s, the area was sunken and had subways at all four corners.

By the early 2000s the subways were demolished and the square rebuilt at surface level. Making it easier to get from the shops to the courts to Aston University. Old Square was enhanced in 1998. A plaque was unveiled in September 1998 near the Old Square mural.

 

This view of Old Square from October 2010.

Christmas tree in Old Square during December 2009. The statue of Tony Hancock is on the left.

The Christmas tree in December 2009. From this side near Corporation Street. The Minories is to the left (not in the photo). Opposite was a Post Office (on the left now Sainsbury's Local) and Tesco Express (to the right). Cannon House and Priory House on the left. With Maple House to the right.

The next time you are crossing Old Square to or from The Minories. Stop to look down on the pavement. There is this Figure of Justice. Seen in December 2009. The courts including the Victoria Law Courts (Birmingham Magistrates Courts) and the Elizabeth II Law Courts are in the other direction down Corporation Street.

The statue of Tony Hancock in Old Square seen during May 2009. In the direction of Corporation Street (towards New Street).

Hancock was born in Hall Green in 1924. The statue was made by Bruce Williams and unveiled in 1996 by Sir Harry Secombe.

Famed for his 1960s comedy show Hancocks Half Hour, he sadly committed suicide in 1968.

Seen during the Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail 2012 was Paralympian Blade Runner. It was sponsored by the Colmore Business District. Based on Richard Whitehead from Nottinghamshire. It was number 20 on this trail. They were out for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Seen in August 2012.

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015 was an art sculpture trail of painted owls all around Birmingham. In July 2015, after the trail had started, I saw Dotty in Old Square. The artist was David Graham and the sponsor was Cross Country Trains (I think they have offices in Old Square).

Two years on, and another art trail, this time of bears. The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017 was around Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Dudley! Vincent the Bipolar Bear. Designed and created by mental health patients at St Andrew's Healthcare (Birmingham) facilitated by Marcela Stenson. Funded by St Andrew's Healthcare. This view towards Sainsbury's Local.

A backpack on the back looking towards the National Express West Midlands buses on Corporation Street. Including at least two grey Platinum buses.

Old Square has always been a good route to get from Aston University along Corporation Street. Then through The Minories towards Bull Street (now passing over Bull Street Tram Stop). And then up Temple Row passing Birmingham Cathedral. Or you could head up the Great Western Arcade towards Colmore Row and Birmingham Snow Hill Station. Or down the North Western Arcade to another part of Corporation Street. You would regularly see buses heading around the island.

 

See also my Old Square album on Flickr for more photos.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.