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Construction & regeneration
11 Jan 2021 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

The Construction of The Mercian - Early January 2021 Update

The Mercian on Broad Street is nearing structural completion as the core is finished at floor 42, reaching its full height, the slip-form being removed over the weekend. The main structure is soon to rise again with final top-out not far away now. Above: The Mercian on the Westside city skyline on 10th January 2021.

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The Construction of The Mercian - Early January 2021 Update





The Mercian on Broad Street is nearing structural completion as the core is finished at floor 42, reaching its full height, the slip-form being removed over the weekend. The main structure is soon to rise again with final top-out not far away now. Above: The Mercian on the Westside city skyline on 10th January 2021.


21st December - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

24th December - Photo by Elliott Brown

 

25th December - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

27th December - Photo by Elliott Brown

 

27th December - Photo by Elliott Brown

 

31st December - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

1st January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

1st January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

1st January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

1st January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

3rd January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

7th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

8th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

9th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

10th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

8th January 2021 - Photo by Daniel Sturley

 

There are now nearly 1000 photos of the construction of this building and can be seen in reverse date order in the full gallery here: The Mercian Full Construction Gallery.

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30 passion points
History & heritage
11 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Old Victorian letterboxes around the Jewellery Quarter

There is quite a few unique letterboxes on the old buildings around the Jewellery Quarter. Mostly on buildings built in the Victorian period. Many are semi circles, with LETTERS written at the bottom. Most of these photos in the post below were taken by Elliott between 2009 and 2013, so nothing recent.

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Old Victorian letterboxes around the Jewellery Quarter





There is quite a few unique letterboxes on the old buildings around the Jewellery Quarter. Mostly on buildings built in the Victorian period. Many are semi circles, with LETTERS written at the bottom. Most of these photos in the post below were taken by Elliott between 2009 and 2013, so nothing recent.


 

Happy New Year 2021! 

Vittoria Street

A pair of letterboxes at 85, 87 and 87a Vittoria Street in the Jewellery Quarter. Seen in late November 2009.

This black one with LETTERS at the bottom is located to the right of the door at 85 and 87 Vittoria Street. It was a purpose built brickworks dating to 1870.

Further to the left is this rectangular letterbox with LETTERS written in the middle. I'd say that this is at 89 Vittoria Street.

The next one is at the Unity Works at 36 - 46 Vittoria Street. The letterbox was for Henry Jenkins & Sons Ltd (their registered offices). Also Masefield & Co and Beverley Hall Ltd. It was built in 1865 as a toolmaker works. The architect was J P Osborne for  Henry Jenkins and Son.

 

Caroline Street

Seen on New Years Day, 1st January 2013 was this letterbox on Caroline Street at what was the Registered Offices of Pickering & Mayell Limited. At the Reliance Works at 42 Caroline Street. Was a Manufactory built in the early 19th Century. With workshops to the rear.

Vyse Street

This letterbox was originally for H. Aston Ltd, but this building on Vyse Street is now the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter. Formerly two jewellery manufactories. 75 Vyse Street was built in 1909 by George E. Pepper for F. Moore. While 77 Vyse Street was built in 1914, also by Pepper. 79 Vyse Street was replaced in 1990. The site was converted into a museum in 1999.

Spencer Street

Three letterboxes on Spencer Street in the Jewellery Quarter. The first one was originally for T. Hirschfeld.

The next blue one, the name had been painted over.

One more painted in black. If it had a name at the top, it was painted over so was unreadable.

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

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70 passion points
Squares and public spaces
11 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Church Street Square in the Colmore Business District

Church Street Square is a relatively modern square located in the Colmore BID between Edmund Street and Cornwall Street, and on, of course Church Street. Developed by Birmingham City Council and the Colmore BID. Work on the square started in late 2011 and was completed and opened by the autumn of 2012. The Floral Trail, Big Hoot & Sleuth have all been here. Plus the Christmas tree.

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Church Street Square in the Colmore Business District





Church Street Square is a relatively modern square located in the Colmore BID between Edmund Street and Cornwall Street, and on, of course Church Street. Developed by Birmingham City Council and the Colmore BID. Work on the square started in late 2011 and was completed and opened by the autumn of 2012. The Floral Trail, Big Hoot & Sleuth have all been here. Plus the Christmas tree.


CHURCH STREET SQUARE

If you are walking down Church Street towards Great Charles Street Queensway, and the footbridge over to Ludgate Hill and the Jewellery Quarter, you might go past Church Street Square. It is a high quality public realm space in the heart of the Colmore Business District. Developed by Birmingham City Council and the Colmore BID from late 2011 into 2012. It pedestrianised part of Church Street.

There is benches, flower planters, even a large golden globe sculpture. It was the first project in this area for around 20 years.

Every summer, Cofton Nursery usually installs a Floral Trail piece. Between 2014 and 2018 they were commemorating 100 years since the First World War.

In 2015 at least one Big Hoot owl was on display that summer, then two years later in 2017, there was two Big Sleuth bears.

Every Christmas time there is a Christmas tree at the top of the square near Edmund Street. In 2019 they even had a sparkly Christmas arch which looked nice after dark.

 

2012

My first look at Church Street Square was during September 2012.

Here you can see all the (then) new benches, with the flower planters to the back.

Vehicles can still drive down the left hand side of the road towards Great Charles Street Queensway.

The square works well with the Victorian facades and the modern buildings to the left.

The main feature is this giant golden globe in the middle of the square.

Looking up towards Colmore Row, while the globe made a nice shadow.

 

2013

A look in July 2013 at the flower planters near the bench.

Looking at the plants towards Edmund Street.

Plants all around the benches here.

 

2014

The Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail during July 2014 with the Folding Bicycle.

Cofton Nursery were marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

 

2015

In July 2015 with War Horse in Church Street Square. This had been in Southside during the summer of 2014 at the Ladywell Walk junction with Dudley Street and Pershore Street. War Horse had been a successful film and stage show.

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015 trail of painted owls was also in Church Street Square as seen during July 2015.

This one was called Nature's Growth, by the artist Goosensei. The sponsor was Irwin Mitchell Solicitors.

A look at the back of the Natures Growth owl.

 

2017

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017 trail of painted bears was in Church Street Square as seen here during July 2017.

First up we have, Hettie The Heritage Bear by the artist Alexandra Hatfield. The sponsor was MHA MacIntyre Hudson.

Hattie looking towards St Paul's Square down the rest of Church Street and up Ludgate Hill.

 

The second bear was called Bearjing by the artist Jessica Perrin. The sponsor was Squire Patton Boggs.

Bearjing was close to the top of the square near Edmund Street.

 

The Colmore BID Christmas tree in Church Street Square during November 2017.

 

The Christmas tree looked even more festive in December 2017 after it had snowed!

The snowy Christmasy scene in Church Street Square, as a 101 bus passed by on Edmund Street. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

2018

In July 2018, you could find Bees in Birmingham located in Church Street Square, a floral piece from the folk at Cofton Nursery.

Bee to the right.

Bee to the left.

Both bees toward Smith Cooper.

2019

The Colmore Business District Christmas Tree during November 2019.

That year the Colmore BID had also installed a Christmas arch with stars. This view towards the Christmas tree.

Beyond the golden globe towards Cornwall Street with the Christmas arch.

I went back on evening after work in December 2019, to get the Christmas Arch lit up after dark. This view towards the Christmas tree and golden globe.

2020

My first view of the 2020 Colmore BID Christmas Tree in Church Street Square seen on the 1st December 2020.

 

Second view of the Christmas tree in Church Street Square as seen on the 19th December 2020. No Christmas Arch this time around though.

 

The other public square in the Colmore BID is at Colmore Square. Expect a project and post coming in early 2021. It is located in the middle of Colmore Circus Queensway near The Wesleyan and One Colmore Square.

 

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

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50 passion points
History & heritage
05 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Remaining buildings of Kings Norton Workhouse at the former site of Selly Oak Hospital

You'd be surprised to know that there are several surviving Victorian (and Edwardian) red brick buildings at the site of Selly Oak Hospital, despite all the new houses that have been built at The Oaks. Originally built as the Kings Norton Union Workhouse around 1870. The site became Selly Oak Hospital from 1897. But it closed in 2011 after the QEHB opened in Edgbaston in 2010.

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Remaining buildings of Kings Norton Workhouse at the former site of Selly Oak Hospital





You'd be surprised to know that there are several surviving Victorian (and Edwardian) red brick buildings at the site of Selly Oak Hospital, despite all the new houses that have been built at The Oaks. Originally built as the Kings Norton Union Workhouse around 1870. The site became Selly Oak Hospital from 1897. But it closed in 2011 after the QEHB opened in Edgbaston in 2010.


If you go to Selly Oak now, you will find a housing development called The Oaks, from MIA Property Group. The houses are built on (and more are still being built) at the former site of Selly Oak Hospital. Located between Oak Tree Lane and Raddlebarn Road in Selly Oak. You will find that many Victorian red brick buildings have survived (some dating to the early Edwardian period).

The site was originally opened in 1870 as the Kings Norton Union Workhouse, which was designed by Edward Holmes. It was to be a place to care for the the poor. In 1897 a new Workhouse Infirmary was built (this was the start of Selly Oak Hospital). At the time it was known as Kings Norton Union Infirmary at Selly Oak.

An entrance block was opened on Raddlebarn Road in 1902, plus a large nurses home in 1908 (known as Woodlands). The workhouse became a home for the sick known as Selly Oak House. When the NHS was formed in 1948, the whole site was renamed to Selly Oak Hospital.

In later years there was an Outpatients building near Oak Tree Lane (probably dating to the 1960s or 1970s).

In the years before the Birmingham Super Hospital opened in Edgbaston (now Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham), many injured soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan were treated here (in the 2000s).

Selly Oak Hospital began transferring over to the QEHB in 2010, and this process was completed in 2011.

The site lay derelict for years, until the hospital Trust exchanged contracts with developers to build houses on the site in 2015.

But many of the red brick buildings have survived, while many others were demolished to make room for the houses.

 

2nd January 2012

I first got photos of the red brick buildings from Raddlebarn Road back in 2012. By this point was a green fence around the site.

A first look at the red brick entrance block dated AD 1902.

View of the AD 1902 sign.

The ornate gates were closed. Private Property signs on both sides.

There was red brick house to the right.

It was demolished by 2018 to make way for a new road called Arkell Way.

Raddlebarn Road was lined with these ornate railings, probably dating back to the late 19th century I would guess.

These modern extensions to the older red brick block were demolished in 2018. Used to be Therapy Services there.

There was quite a lot of old red brick blocks on site. Many of the NHS signs were still around at the time.

They were advising, "Don't go to Selly Oak if you have had an Accident, go to the QE!". Or something along those lines.

 

14th December 2014

By this point, there was already signs of demolition having taken place on site from this view on Raddlebarn Road in Selly Oak. This was from Elm Road near Bournville. The view today is of a line of houses (built in 2016). Most of these buildings have been demolished, apart from the tower in the middle.

First view of the tower to the back. I think the red brick buildings at the front were demolished in 2015.

 

2nd May 2017

View from the 11A bus on Oak Tree Lane of the red brick building behind the fence. While new houses were going up behind it at the time, it wasn't clear what would happen to this building. It would later be restored and opened as nursery in 2020.

 

18th January 2018

An early 2018 update from Raddlebarn Road in the sunshine. The 1902 entrance block was looking good, was some cars parked in front of the gates. By this point many new houses had been built around The Oaks.

Surprised to see many of the old red brick buildings here, plus the old Victorian railings were still in place.

Most the surviving buildings were hidden by trees.

The building with the fire escape (on the left) was still there a couple of years later.

I saw this building again on my last walk past (with the octagonal roof).

One of the main Victorian landmarks is this tall red brick tower. Possibly a water tower (although I'm not sure of it's use in the past).

One last look at this 20th century extensions to the Victorian or Edwardian blocks.

The Therapy Services extension blocks would be knocked down later in 2018.

Close up zoom in of the tall red brick tower. Is it water tower, or what was it used for at the Workhouse?

I can imagine that the surviving workhouse buildings will be converted into flats and apartments.

There was another building being restored. This was probably the Woodlands nurses home originally. It's near Willow Road in Bournville. Woodlands Drive on the right leads to a new housing development. There is also a green to the far right.

 

12th October 2019

Work was finally under way to restore the red brick building on Oak Tree Lane. Scaffolding going up. When finished it would get occupied by Busy Bees as the Selly Oak Nursery by the following summer. This view from 11C bus.

 

14th December 2019

Another view of the red brick tower, this time seen behind the new houses from Elliott Road in Selly Oak.

 

3rd August 2020

One of my first visits back to Selly Oak while restrictions were eased, I'd gotten off the 11C on Oak Tree Lane. Saw the fully restored red brick building now as a nursery. Was heading for bit of a walk on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

It is being operated by Busy Bees as the Selly Oak Nursery.

 

29th December 2020

When Birmingham was still in Tier 3 restrictions (Tier 4 wouldn't start until 31/12/2020), and when it was snowing that day, I headed to Bournville for a short walk. I ended up on Willow Road and saw the Woodlands again.

The old house in the middle was surrounded by scaffolding, as seen from Raddlebarn Road. It wa surrounded by new housing all around, plus the old red brick tower was behind.

The Oaks sign and a MIA Property Group banner on the remaining workhouse building. Hopefully they will restore it for use in 2021. The 20th Century extension blocks had been knocked down a few years before.

One building remaining but without windows was the one with the fire escape.

On a closer look, it looked a bit derelict. All windows had been removed. Hoardings next to the old brick wall.

The octagonal building to the right. After this the snow started to get a bit heavier. So by the time I got back to Oak Tree Lane, got the 11A home.

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

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50 passion points
Transport
31 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street

Despite the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, there has been a lot ot progress on the Westside Metro Extension from Centenary Square towards the Hagley Road, just beyond Five Ways in Edgbaston. Here we will look at the building of it from April 2015 to December 2020 on Broad Street with gaps from Feb to July 2020 and Nov 2020 due to the lockdowns.

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The Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street





Despite the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, there has been a lot ot progress on the Westside Metro Extension from Centenary Square towards the Hagley Road, just beyond Five Ways in Edgbaston. Here we will look at the building of it from April 2015 to December 2020 on Broad Street with gaps from Feb to July 2020 and Nov 2020 due to the lockdowns.


Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street

Most progress was done during the various lockdowns in 2020. Especially in the months where I was unable to travel to the City Centre (until I had to go back to work in July). I also missed November (2nd lockdown, until I went back to work). Didn't really get around to checking the extension out again until late December 2020.

They have started to install Brindleyplace Tram Stop. I had a walk down on Broad Street on Christmas Eve to see it.

Enjoy this photo gallery from April 2015 to December 2020. Track laying began at the end of 2019, and they made a lot of progress during 2020, while Westside was quiet.

25th April 2015.

In April 2015, early signs on Broad Street of utility works between the future site of The Bank and The Mercian.

A lorry and van from the National Grid were on site in front of Zara's starting to move the undeground pipes and cables.

5th April 2017.

Just under the link bridge from the Hyatt to Symphony Hall. More utility diverence works. This time by Pier (UK) Ltd.

10th February 2018.

This view of Broad Street zoomed in from the Library of Birmingham's Secret Garden. Buses were still going up and down Broad Street at the time. This was close to Lee Longlands and Novotel.

15th February 2018.

Views from the top deck of the X10 NXWM Platinum bus, emerging from the Five Ways Underpass near the Five Ways Complex.

Was a lot of traffic here due to the roadworks close to Pryzm.

Traffic was diverted around to the right, with temporary traffic lights. Welcome to the City Centre.

It's hard to imagine Broad Street like this now, as it's been closed to traffic since 2019.

There was even a big hole in the road near Uber, at the corner of Ryland Street.

26th March 2018.

I was on a no 23 NXWM Platinum bus on the top deck, while the 24 was in front. Cones in the middle of the road, while more utilities were diverted near the O Bar.

Near the end of Broad Street approaching Centenary Square, and about to go under the link bridge from Symphony Hall to the Hyatt Regency Birmingham. This view would change a lot in the follow two years.

21st December 2019.

View from the no 24 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus from the top deck, looking towards Broad Street from Five Ways Island. Tracks had already been laid in the Five Ways underpass from Hagley Road to Broad Street.

3rd February 2020.

The road had been dug up and was gates at certain sections, near where pedestrians could cross the road. This was near the Bierkeller Entertainment Complex towards the Five Ways Complex.

22nd February 2020.

The footpath near Symphony Hall was closed, you had to cross through the temporary path towards the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

Between Regency Wharf and Symphony Hall, it looked like a warzone! No road surface.

Towards Centenary Square, you can see Library Tram Stop in the distance.

14th July 2020.

First time back on Broad Street for about 4 months due to the first lockdown (I'd gone back to work). Tram tracks had been laid near Reflex '80s Bar (The Crown), Walkabout and towards The Brasshouse.

25th July 2020.

Tracks going all the way past Cineworld on Broad Street, down into the underpass below Five Ways Island.

The other side of the fence up Broad Street past the Five Ways Complex, towards The Bank, The Mercian and the Hampton by Hilton Hotel (Cumberland House).

29th August 2020.

Near Regency Wharf and the Solomon Cutler Wetherspoon. The road surface had yet to be filled up.

12th September 2020.

You could now walk down the middle of Broad Street. They were now doing the paving in front of the O Bar and Walkabout. As well as the paving on the Black Sabbath Bridge.

Near the Solomon Cutler Wetherspoon at Regency Wharf. You could walk over part of the track that goes towards Five Ways.

16th September 2020.

Now you can see the track that was installed to connect to the end of the current line at Library Tram Stop.

From Centenary Square at Library Tram Stop, where the tracks are connected to the existing line.

19th October 2020.

Near Brindleyplace, Free Radio and Popworld.

The tracks and the road surface were more or less complete near the Five Ways Complex.

25th October 2020.

My last major walk of the Westside Metro extension before the 2nd lockdown was announced. Seen here near Cineworld (which had closed down again) and Pryzm at the Five Ways Complex.

The freshly laid road surface not far from Revolution.

Autumn leaves on the tracks near Dil Bar Indian Restaurant.

Paving works between Symphony Hall and the Solomon Cutler at Regency Wharf. You could walk down the tracks.

They had already started to lay bricks on the new tracks near Centenary Square, with this view of the Library of Birmingham.

They had made a lot of progress since my previous update of this view, looked almost finished.

19th December 2020.

Headed to the Black Sabbath Bridge, as the Black Sabbath Bench is now back in place. Brickwork towards Walkabout and O Bar is now complete.

Looking towards The Brasshouse and Three Brindleyplace. All it needs now is the four Broad Street Walk of Stars of the Black Sabbath members to be laid, but that would mean removing the newly laid bricks!

24th December 2020. 

The view on Broad Street towards Five Ways. Cineworld has been closed since the middle of October. Buses have to divert down Ryland Street.

Similar to the October view, but all the autumn leaves have long since been cleared up.

Towards the so called Broad Street Cluster.

There is the usual shutdown over the Christmas holidays.

Can walk down the middle of the tracks past Novotel and Travelodge.

First view of Brindleyplace Tram Stop near Free Radio and Popworld.

The start of the building of the tram platforms near Brindleyplace.

Towards the Black Sabbath Bridge with what was The Crown ('80s Reflex Bar) and The ICC.

A lot of strong winter sunshine on Broad Street, was close to Walkabout here.

Looking back at the Black Sabbath Bridge.

Towards Centenary Square, the link bridge from Symphony Hall to the Hyatt.

From just in front of Library Tram Stop, the Westside Metro extension to Five Ways starts here.

27th December 2020.

View of Broad Street from Five Ways Island on the no 24 NXWM Platinum bus towards the so called Broad Street Cluster. Tracks below emerging from the Five Ways underpass. I expect they will build a tram stop near Cineworld sometime in 2021.

Also check out my Hagley Road, Edgbaston post .

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

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