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History & heritage
07 Sep 2020 - FreeTimePays
Did you know?

J.R.R. Tolkien and The Shire Country Park

The Shire Country Park follows the attractive and varied valley of the River Cole as a green ribbon for some four miles from Small Heath to Yardley Wood. It was named in 2005 to reflect Tolkien’s links with the local area. The ford at Green Road (formerly Green Lane) is one of the few remaining fords along the Cole Valley and would have been very familiar to the young J.R.R. Tolkien.

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
07 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

West Heath Park on the August Bank Holiday Monday

Had another park visit to a park I've not been to before now. West Heath Park. It was the August Bank Holiday Monday. The park has these various portals to enter that look like Stargates. There is also a playground / play area with a basketball court. Good for walks, runs and cycles. Not far from Kings Norton.

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West Heath Park on the August Bank Holiday Monday





Had another park visit to a park I've not been to before now. West Heath Park. It was the August Bank Holiday Monday. The park has these various portals to enter that look like Stargates. There is also a playground / play area with a basketball court. Good for walks, runs and cycles. Not far from Kings Norton.


West Heath Park

West Heath Park is located between Longbridge and Kings Norton in the West Heath area of South Birmingham. Between Staple Lodge Road, Oddingley Road (at the north end of the park) down to Rednal Road (to the south). Paths criss-cross the park and there is at least two playgrounds / play areas. The first is close to the Oddingley Road and the second near the Rednal Road entrance. There is also a basketball court next to the first play area. Mostly just wide open fields with trees all around.

On this visit we walked down and around the paths from Oddingley Road towards the Rednal Road exit. Then headed up Rednal Road and Vardon Way, before re-entering the park from a cul-de-sac called Thomson Avenue (which has two paths leading in and out of the park). It was the August Bank Holiday Monday. 31st August 2020.

 

Parking on Oddingley Road, I first headed to the West Heath Park roundel / portal / gateway. There is similar portals, a bit like Stargates all around the park.

First view of the play area / playground close to the Oddingley Road entrance.

There didn't appear to be any children playing at this play area.

There was also outdoor gym equipment.

A view of distant modern houses down on Oddingley Road.

Passing a wide open field with grass cut at different levels.

It doesn't take long to walk around this park towards Rednal Road.

Another view of those new houses on Oddingley Road.

Spliting paths.

Another path to take.

The path to Rednal Road.

Up ahead was the portal exit to Rednal Road.

View of the Rednal Road portal from outside of the park. Next was the walk towards Vardon Way.

After the walk along Rednal Road, and up Vardon Way, we got back into the park from these gates at the end of Thomson Avenue.

View of the playground / play area near Rednal Road. There was at least one dad and his son here.

The path back into the park from the Thomson Avenue entrance.

Saw a squirrel.

On the path back down towards Oddingley Road.

The basketball court and some residential tower blocks under scaffolding.

Over the bushes saw this wall with graffiti all over it.

There was also this teenager hangout shelter near the basketball court and play area near Oddingley Road.

After this we drove to Kings Norton Park for the next walk. Which will be detailed in a separate post.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
History & heritage
03 Sep 2020 - FreeTimePays
Did you know?

J.R.R. Tolkien in the Library of Birmingham

On Level 4 in the Archives & Collections section of the Library of Birmingham at Centenary Square you can find material related to Tolkien.

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J.R.R. Tolkien in the Library of Birmingham





On Level 4 in the Archives & Collections section of the Library of Birmingham at Centenary Square you can find material related to Tolkien.


So popular is the novelist that J R R Tolkien’s classic fantasy tale The Hobbit was chosen as the first book to grace the showpiece Centenary Square building in a poll carried out prior to the Library opening.

At Birmingham Repertory Theatre next door to the Library, a blue plaque commemorates Dr J. Sampson Gamgee, a local surgeon and founder of the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund.

‘Sam Gamgee’ was the name chosen by Tolkien for Frodo’s faithful companion in The Lord of the Rings.

The surgeon’s widow lived opposite Tolkien’s aunt in Stirling Road and therefore he would have been familiar with the name.

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50 passion points
History & heritage
03 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

James Watt's Heathfield Hall in Handsworth

If you go to Handsworth and look for Heathfield Hall, the home of James Watt from 1790 until his death in 1819, you wont find it. Other than The Lodge, built in 1797. In 2019 on the bicentenary of his death, the Birmingham Civic Society placed a new blue plaque on the building. Sadly the hall was demolished in 1927, and the Heathfield Estate is now full of houses.

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James Watt's Heathfield Hall in Handsworth





If you go to Handsworth and look for Heathfield Hall, the home of James Watt from 1790 until his death in 1819, you wont find it. Other than The Lodge, built in 1797. In 2019 on the bicentenary of his death, the Birmingham Civic Society placed a new blue plaque on the building. Sadly the hall was demolished in 1927, and the Heathfield Estate is now full of houses.


Heathfield Hall, Handsworth

James Watt lived at Heathfield Hall from 1790, until his death there in 1819. The hall was erected sometime between 1787 and 1790. At the time Handsworth was located in the county of Staffordshire (it wouldn't become a part of Birmingham until 1911). The architect was Samuel Wyatt who was recommended to Watt by his business partner Matthew Boulton. He had designed Boulton's home of Soho House (still standing today and is a museum run by the Birmingham Museums Trust).

After Watt died in 1819, his workshop was sealed, and very few people saw it after that. His son James Watt Jr ended up living at Aston Hall in Aston. By 1876, the hall was eventually surrounded by semi-detached villas, such as up Radnor Road. The contents were later moved to The Science Museum in London in 1924 (to recreate the room) this included well over 8000 individual objects. The hall was later demolished in 1927.

The Heathfield Estate now contains houses around West Drive and North Drive (built during the 1930s). But The Lodge to the hall built in 1797 still survives on Radnor Road. In 2019 on the bicentenary of Watt's death, the Birmingham Civic Society unveiled a blue plaque on The Lodge.

An 1853 painting of Heathfield Hall in Handsworth by Allen Edward Everitt. From the Public Domain. Taken from the Birmingham Museums Trust Digital Image Resource which you can find here: 1977V43 Heathfield Hall, Handsworth.

The Lodge to Heathfield Hall

Located at 33 Radnor Road in Handsworth, this is the only building that survived the bulldozers in the late 1920s. The Lodge is said to date to 1797, so is probably the oldest building on Radnor Road (the other buildings looked Victorian to me).

Blue plaque from the Birmingham Civic Society, placed on The Lodge in 2019. The Lodge was the gatehouse to Heathfield Hall, which was the home of James Watt (1736 - 1819).

There was also a previous plaque here, about The Lodge being the Gate-keepers house to James Watt. Built 1797.

Was also this sign on the corner of Radnor Road and West Drive saying simply, The Lodge 1797.

Heathfield Estate

Before I got to The Lodge, I saw Radnor House, which is a Residential Home at 31 Radnor Road in Handsworth. This was probably a semi-detached villa built around 1876.

Beyond The Lodge, a look down West Drive. It's a bit hard to imagine Heathfield Hall being somewhere down or around here. Many of these houses were built in the 1930s.

On North Drive I saw this lion sculpture holding a shield outside of a house. I wonder if it is a survivor from the 18th century, or a more recent sculpture?

Heading back to Hamstead Road to catch the 16 back into the City Centre, I saw this building from Gibson Road. It's the Bethel United Church on the corner of Gibson Road and Beaudesert Road in Handsworth. I'm not sure if this was part of the Heathfield Estate, or just outside of it.

You can catch the no 16 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus from Birmingham City Centre, and get off on Hamstead Road in Handsworth. I decided to not go to Handsworth Park or see St Mary's Church again this time around, as I just came for the blue plaque mainly. Bus stops in town on Upper Dean Street, Moor Street Queensway, Colmore Circus Queensway and Snow Hill Queensway.

 

You can old black and white photographs of Heathfield Hall here: Birmingham Images: Library of Birmingham.

For more on the blue plaque, click here: Blue Plaque to James Watt unveiled.

 

List of previous Boulton & Watt related posts:

 

Modern photos taken by Elliott Brown at the beginning of September 2020.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

 

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50 passion points
Construction & regeneration
03 Sep 2020 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

JQ PROJECTS: The Lamp Works

The Lamp Works, located on Great Hampton Street, has moved to the next stage of development with the formal signing of a Section 106 agreement – paving the way for the redevelopment of a rundown site.

For all renderings and a thorough lowdown on the scheme from Stephen, click 'View full post'.

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JQ PROJECTS: The Lamp Works





The Lamp Works, located on Great Hampton Street, has moved to the next stage of development with the formal signing of a Section 106 agreement – paving the way for the redevelopment of a rundown site.

For all renderings and a thorough lowdown on the scheme from Stephen, click 'View full post'.


Blackswan Property (*Blackswan Developments (Barr Street) Ltd*) are bringing forward plans to construct 129 apartments within Birmingham's famous Jewellery Quarter, after a section 106 agreement was formally agreed this week (September 2020).

Six months on from gaining planning approval, The Lamp Works, bound by Great Hampton Street and Barr Street, will see the retention, conversion and partial demolition of existing, rundown buildings, and the erection of four/five storey new builds.

The development, designed by BPN Architects, will create a total of 129 one, two and three bed apartments, a ground floor commercial unit and inner courtyard; alongside car and cycle spaces.

A total floorspace of 11,852 sqm will be created, with 1,587 sqm primarily for commercial uses.

The residential element will deliver a total of 64 one, 54 two, and 11 three bed apartments – mainly available for rent.

To break this down even further: 14 one bed/one person apartments; 40 one bed/two person; 51 two bed/three person; 13 duplexes (10 one bed/two person & 3 two bed/four person); and 11 three bed/6 person apartments, will be provided.

13 of these (8 one & 5 two beds) will be available for low cost market rent; thereby adding to the accommodation mix.

20 vehicular spaces (15% provision) will serve the development, with an entrance onto Barr Street accommodating a small car park. 5 secure cycle stores providing up to 132 cycle spaces will also be incorporated.

DEMOLITIONS

A series of rundown industrial builds on Great Hampton Street and Barr Street will be demolished, despite protestations from Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT), and Historic England.

Concerns were duly raised from both, believing demolition would cause significant harm to the fabric of Barr Street, and that the replacement builds were also too overbearing.

They did concede, however, that the Great Hampton Street building demolitions were justified.

In the end, Lamp Works required a careful balancing of the objections to the development against the huge public benefits of allowing the demolition and erection of these replacement builds.

** The site now has a clear route for the regeneration of what is essentially a rundown area, with the introduction of viable new uses, the restoration of historic buildings, the inclusion of courtyards and the construction of high-quality new buildings, in an area badly needing investment.

SO, WHAT’S MAKING WAY?

As outlined below, every building except 30-33 Great Hampton Street - occupied by Blue Nile restaurant - will be consigned to the history books.

These include the 2-3 storey buildings facing onto Great Hampton Street, home to Xtreme Mobiles, Vapour Devil and Mobile Base.

Great Hampton Street: Google Street View

On Barr Street, a line of six 2-3 storey buildings, currently vacant or being used as ad hoc storage will also be demolished.

In the centre of the site, the development team wish to retain a 3-storey skeletal steel frame from one of the buildings to act as the focus for a new courtyard space.

Barr Street: Google Street View

CONVERSION(S)

Blue Nile restaurant at 30 Great Hampton Street, is to be retained and refurbished, with first and second floors converted to provide 2 one bed & 2 two bedroom apartments.

New traditional shop fronts will be installed with new windows, brickwork and roofs fully restored.

The adjoining building at 33 Great Hampton Street is also set to be converted into a unit (usage yet to be decided) of 355 sqm on the ground floor, and one of 324 sqm on the first floor.

NEW BUILDS 

Five new builds of between 4 and 5 storeys will be constructed across the site.

Building A will see a four and five storey structure with a small single storey wing to the rear. It will provide 17 apartments, a ground floor commercial unit & a new internal courtyard.

Directly behind Building A will be three buildings of 4-storeys: B (27 units), C (20 units) and E (2 units).

Each build will be arranged around a central courtyard space which will accommodate the retained open steel frame, as seen below.

Building D (70 apartments) is to be 5 storeys tall and will front out onto Barr Street and the North West side of the courtyard area; it will also accommodate vehicular access into the site.

Buildings B-E will also provide apartment space.

Words by Stephen Giles. Artists Impressions from BPN Architects & Blackswan Property.

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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