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Art, culture & creativity
18 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

From the City Centre Floral Trail to the Big Hoot & Sleuth over the years in St Paul's Square

Every summer during the Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail there used to be certain floral sculptures in St Paul's Square. In the summer of 2015 there was the Big Hoot and in the summer of 2017 there was the Big Sleuth. Here we will look at what was on display from about 2009 to 2019.

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From the City Centre Floral Trail to the Big Hoot & Sleuth over the years in St Paul's Square





Every summer during the Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail there used to be certain floral sculptures in St Paul's Square. In the summer of 2015 there was the Big Hoot and in the summer of 2017 there was the Big Sleuth. Here we will look at what was on display from about 2009 to 2019.


Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail

I started taking photos of the Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail in September 2009 when I spotted Wallace & Gromit on Great Charles Street Queensway from the footbridge. Although didn't see the piece in St Paul's Square until November 2009. Planted Silver Tureen, which seems permenant now, was part of the 2009 Floral Trail.

It represented the Jewellery Quarter, and is of a Planted Silver Tureen. Which was made by Matthew Boulton for Mrs Elizabeth Montagu, a long time friend of his. It was part of a large dinner service. Similar products are still being made in the Jewellery Quarter today. Over 2300 plants have been planted.

It was a mixture of cotton lavender, curry plant and helichcrysum korma. A Christmas tree was out, and you could see the base in the middle that was later used for future Floral Trails and the later Big Hoot and Sleuth trails.

While there was a bit of purple, they had finished flowering by the autumn of 2009.

Seen during July 2011 was Planted Silver Tureen. Which I previously saw in 2009. The middle of July is the best time to see the lavender here in bloom. Looked like the base in the middle had gone (it would be back).

Seen in St Paul's Square during August 2012 was the Paralympian Tennis Player. A wicker sculpture based on Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker. It was the summer of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. And this was obviously based on the Paralympics.

The wicker sculpture of a Paralympian Tennis Player seen from the back. It had red coloured flowers all around the base of it. Before London 2012, Birmingham hosted the American and Jamaican teams who trained at the Alexander Stadium and at the University of Birmingham respectfully.

No wicker sculptures in July 2013 but this was when Birmingham was having visitors from the judges of the Entente Florale Europe competition. Birmingham was chosen to represent the UK by the Royal Horticultural Society, due to it's recent gold wins at various RHS flower shows in recent years. The lavender of previous years was still there, if a bit overgrown. See details further up about this piece known as the Planted Silver Tureen.

Nothing much else to see at the time, so took these bushes and flowers as someone was sunbathing to the left. Note that you can see one or two of the gravestones to the right. But everything was lush and green. I hope the judges liked what they saw all over Birmingham at the time.

The last year of the Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail was in 2014, before the Big Hoot trail a year later in 2015. The theme for 2014 was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One in 1914. The British Victory Medal was a wicker sculpture seen in St Paul's Square during July 2014. It was one of five campaign medals issued to individuals who saw service in the First World War.

This time there was red, pink and purple coloured flowers around The British Victory Medal. It resembled an angel with wings. People out and about enjoying the summer sunshine, sitting on benches in their shorts and t-shirts, or just walking up towards St Paul's Church.

After the years of the Big Hoot & Big Sleuth (see below) it didn't feel like there was still a Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail. Or at least not as big as in past years. There were smaller trails, such as ones with dinosaurs when Dippy was on Tour. In August 2019 I saw the Angel in St Paul's Square again. Formerly known as The British Victory Medal in 2014. It was nice to see it again. The lavender that had been there for at least 10 years was still around.

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

Bejewelled Owl was by the artist Claire Scully and the sponsor was the Jewellery Quarter BID. It was near the lavender which comes up every summer. Seen during July 2015.

Slightly further back. People sitting on benches or walking past in St Paul's Square. Doesn't Bejewelled Owl look wonderful in the middle of the lavender? I once went to Provence in May 2011 but didn't see lavender there until we went to Norfolk in about July 2011.

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017

Peabody by the artist Tory Allen and the sponsor was the Jewellery Quarter BID. Seen during July 2017. The lavender was there again as it is every summer.

This view of Peabody with St Paul's Church and the distinctive spire.

From the back, Peabody seems to resemble the wings of butterflys. This view looking to Ludgate Hill.

There was at the time a second bear in St Paul's Square. Harley, the Original Bear's Angel, designed by Valerie Osement, painted by Mik Richardson and the sponsor was Harley Investments. The view to the main entrance of St Paul's Church.

From the back it looks like Harley was wearing (almost typed bearing) a leather jacket, which read "Bear's Angels Motorcycle Club West Midlands".

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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60 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
17 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

St Patrick's Day at the Bullring

The St Patrick's Day Parade for 2020 may have been postponed, but that has not stopped the Bullring Bull dressing up for St Patrick's Day. This year looking like a clover leaf. He has also been dressed up for the period over the last two years (at least). Also Selfridges usually goes green. The only time I got it after dark in green was during March 2013. More positivity is needed.

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St Patrick's Day at the Bullring





The St Patrick's Day Parade for 2020 may have been postponed, but that has not stopped the Bullring Bull dressing up for St Patrick's Day. This year looking like a clover leaf. He has also been dressed up for the period over the last two years (at least). Also Selfridges usually goes green. The only time I got it after dark in green was during March 2013. More positivity is needed.


Happy St Patrick's Day, Birmingham. Time for some positivity from the Bullring.

Every year, no matter what the occasion, the Bullring Bull is dressed up, and St Patrick's Day is no exception. For 2020 they have made the Bull looks like a giant clover leaf.

A close up as people go past with their every day lives. There are people going into Birmingham City Centre, if not as busy as usual. And this was midday on a Thursday afternoon (was a bit wet).

The Bull in it's St Patrick's Day outfit from the back. I went through the West Mall up the escalators. As you can see lots of shoppers around in the City Centre.

Going back a year to March 2019, and this was the outfit the Bull wore for St Patrick's Day 2019. I think I missed seeing the hat.

This was the day after the actual St Patrick's Day, and I missed the parade in 2019 (didn't want to see it every year). By chance, I caught this man in the red t-shirt doing a wheelie on his bike.

For St Patrick's Day 2018, the Bull just wore a green hat with a clover leaf in it.

During March 2013 I headed into the City Centre to get Selfridges in green for St Patrick's Day. Here is my classic photo. At the time it ended up in Flickr Explore and I think on a Flickr blog about St Patrick's Day around the world (of landmark buildings going green). From the corner of Park Street and Moor Street. Near Moor Street Car Park.

Some more of the green Selfridges views from March 2013. This from Digbeth at the corner with Park Street.

Heading onto Park Street which heads to Eastside to the right.

Now on Park Street sometime after 8pm in the evening with Selfridges looking very green.

This was near the corner of Park Street and Moor Street. I got my iconic shot after this one. The Parametric Bridge from Moor Street Car Park is above (I didn't really start popping into the top of the car park until the end of 2017, so didn't get any shots from above).

Next up got some views from Digbeth, but my then camera wasn't too great at distant night shots. But you can see the Rotunda from here. This was from Milk Street.

Slightly better behind this fence with the Rotunda and Selfridges in green. This was also from Milk Street.

Now a look at some Irish flags that were on Edgbaston Street at the Bullring during March 2014. This one was near St Martin's Church.

Was an Irish flag and a Happy St Patrick's Day flag near the end of Edgbaston Street and close to where you get of the bus (near Moat Lane and St Martin's Lane opposite the Bull Ring Tavern).

There were market stalls not far from the World Famous Rag Market, selling Irish flags and scarves. This was the Saturday before the parade. Was also an Aston Villa flag.

Close up look at a Happy St Patrick's Day flag and an Irish flag.

March 2015 was the first time that I actually tried to get photos of the St Patrick's Day Parade. I went up to the upper balcony outside of Selfridges. I also tried to go around Digbeth but didn't take the parade close up. Instead got photos of Irish souvenir stands like this one facing Selfridges. The usual Irish flags and scarves.

This Irish flag flying close to St Martin's Church on Edgbaston Street.

This man is always (or used to be) around in colourful outfits. For St Patrick's Day he was in a snazzy Irish green outfit with his shopping.

There was also some visitors in green Irish hats, perhaps they were German? Seen on the balcony below.

In March 2018, I once again headed to the Bullring to try and get photos of the St Patrick's Day Parade. This time I got some from Moor Street Car Park, before heading down into Selfridges and out for the balcony views.

An Irish flag flying seen below the Bullring balconies below Selfridges, towards Digbeth.

On Edgbaston Street near the Bull Ring Markets and the Rag Market, was several stalls selling Irish flags and scarves for St Patricks's Day. There was also an ice cream van down there.

On Edgbaston Street near St Martin's Church was another stall selling the Irish flags, wigs and hats. Plus some people walking past including a man drinking something from a can. I would assume that they are Irish Brummies?

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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40 passion points
Squares and public spaces
16 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

From the Flame of Hope to the Countdown clock to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

On Commonwealth Day the countdown clock to the Commonwealth Games 2022 was unveiled in Birmingham's Centenary Square. I was unaware of it until I saw it on Twitter. So headed down to Centenary Square several days later. Here we will also look at the Flame of Hope which was near the Library of Birmingham site from 1999 to 2009.

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From the Flame of Hope to the Countdown clock to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games





On Commonwealth Day the countdown clock to the Commonwealth Games 2022 was unveiled in Birmingham's Centenary Square. I was unaware of it until I saw it on Twitter. So headed down to Centenary Square several days later. Here we will also look at the Flame of Hope which was near the Library of Birmingham site from 1999 to 2009.


The Flame of Hope

Seen in Centenary Square during April 2009 was The Flame of Hope. This was the first day (at the time) that I took a camera around Birmingham and that included in Centenary Square. Behind was the site of the Library of Birmingham due to open in 2013. Also there at the time was the Spirit of Enterprise fountain. Both went into storage before construction of the Library began, where they remain to this day.

In this cropped view of the Flame of Hope towards Baskerville House. By this point the flame had been turned off for a few years.

It looked impressive, with a globe and where the flame was once lit up at the top at the turn of the Millennium, sadly it wasn't to last.

After this, I never saw the Flame of Hope again, as it was removed to storage before the prepatory works for the Library of Birmingham had begun.

Countdown clock to Birmingham 2022

The countdown clock was unveiled on Commonwealth Day during March 2020. A few days later, I had free time, so travelled to Centenary Square to see it. Passing through The Mailbox, while BBC Midlands Today was on, I noticed that they were reporting at it live, so I went to have a coffee in Brindleyplace before checking it out.

By the time I got there, BBC Birmingham was gone. This view from the back towards HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square.

The countdown timer is not on this side. From here you can see HSBC UK, 3 Arena Central, the Municipal Bank and The Cube. West Midlands Metro tram 27 was at Library Tram Stop.

This side view of the countdown clock towards the Hyatt, Symphony Hall and The ICC. With tram 27 to the left.

Now for the first view with the Library of Birmingham. At the time of my visit with 867 days to go.

A more central view towards the Library of Birmingham. 867 days, 4 hours, 47 minutes and 00 seconds.

Popped over to Library Tram Stop for some views with West Midlands Metro tram 27 (OLA lime green adverts). The countdown clock to Birmingham 2022 was to the right.

Close up to the front of the tram with the countdown clock to the right. Would have gone down the path near HSBC UK but it was closed off, so headed back into Centenary Square instead.

Heading around the Hall of Memory, got this view to the corner between The ICC and The REP.

Got one more view from near the Hall of Memory towards the foyer works at Symphony Hall.

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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70 passion points
History & heritage
16 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

HS2 unveil a Turntable at Curzon Street dating to 1837

The HS2 preporatory works continue at the Curzon Street Station site in Eastside. They have recently uncovered a turntable dating to 1837, which is thought to have been designed by Robert Stephenson. I got a train on the Cross City line one stop from Birmingham New Street to Aston just to see it. Hopefully they could preserve it in the new station somehow?

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HS2 unveil a Turntable at Curzon Street dating to 1837





The HS2 preporatory works continue at the Curzon Street Station site in Eastside. They have recently uncovered a turntable dating to 1837, which is thought to have been designed by Robert Stephenson. I got a train on the Cross City line one stop from Birmingham New Street to Aston just to see it. Hopefully they could preserve it in the new station somehow?


Information courtesty of BBC Birmingham: Birmingham HS2 work unearths 1837 railway turntable.

Excavation works by HS2 at the Curzon Street Station site have led to the discovery of a Robert Stephenson designed turntable. It is thought to date to about 1837. They were exposing the remains of the former Grand Junction Railway terminus. Robert Stephenson was a civil engineer and the son of "The Father of the Railways" George Stephenson.

The original Curzon Street Station opened in 1838 as part of the London & Birmingham Railway. At the time the journey to London took almost 5 hours.

 

I was on a Class 323 West Midlands Railway train heading just one stop from Birmingham New Street to Aston (the train was going to Lichfield Trent Valley), just to see if I could see the turntable. Initially a Avanti West Coast Pendolino was waiting in the Eastside Tunnels and I thought it would be in the way. But luckily it wasn't.

This was my first view, although the overhead wire support columns were in the way.

Slightly better view here looking to the University Locks student accommodation of Birmingham City University.

For many years this was a car park after the Parcel Force Depot closed down. This view of the turntable towards BCU's Curzon Building and University Locks.

Slightly more head on view of the turntable towards Millennium Point, BCU's Parkside Building and Curzon Building.

 

You can see a working turntable if you go to one of Tyseley Locomotive Works open days. Photos below taken from the September 2016 open day.

The engineer here presses a button to turn the turntable.

You see the turntable spinning around.

The driver of the train No 1 - 43958 slowly moves it onto the turntable, guided by the engineer.

5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe gets it's turn on the turntable.

I later saw 7029 Clun Castle going round on the turntable.

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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60 passion points
Green open spaces
16 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

New Hall Valley Country Park: From Sutton Coldfield Town Centre towards Pype Hayes Park (January 2019)

I initially became aware of New Hall Valley Country Park during the Christmas Day 2018 walk up from Pype Hayes Park along the Plants Brook. So a month later in January 2019, got a bus up to Sutton Coldfield Town Centre, and made my way to the park. And walked down the path. Passing the New Hall Water Mill and Walmley Golf Club. Eventually back on the same paths I was on the month before.

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New Hall Valley Country Park: From Sutton Coldfield Town Centre towards Pype Hayes Park (January 2019)





I initially became aware of New Hall Valley Country Park during the Christmas Day 2018 walk up from Pype Hayes Park along the Plants Brook. So a month later in January 2019, got a bus up to Sutton Coldfield Town Centre, and made my way to the park. And walked down the path. Passing the New Hall Water Mill and Walmley Golf Club. Eventually back on the same paths I was on the month before.


A walk through New Hall Valley Country Park during January 2019. Starting from Sutton Coldfield Town Centre and heading in the direction of Pype Hayes Park.

First up some information taken from the Wikipedia page (link above). It is a country park located in the New Hall Valley between Walmley and Wylde Green in the Sutton Coldfield. Birmingham City Council created the park in 2005. The land was formerly part of the New Hall Manor Estate. There is ancient woodland, historic wetland grazing meadows, former farmland, and part of Plants Brook within the country park. There is also a 17th Century listed watermill called New Hall Mill.

 

During a Christmas Day 2018 walk from Pype Hayes Park (link to the post is above), on a path along the Plants Brook, I got to this point where I saw a fingerpost for the New Hall Valley Country Park. Making a mental note about this park at the time. It was just beyond the railway line for the Sutton Park Line. We turned back in the direction of Pype Hayes Park from near here. I would be back a month later.

In January 2019, I ended up getting a National Express West Midlands Platinum bus all the way to Sutton Coldfield Town Centre. After a coffee stop, I started my walk to the park. These fingerposts were on the South Parade near Lower Queen Street.

Some more signs on the National Cycle Network route 534. Seen on Ebrook Road. I was only about a quarter of a mile away from the Newhall Valley Country Park (seems to be two spellings). Sutton Coldfield Town Centre was three quarters of a mile in the other direction.

I got into the park at Ebrook Road from this path near the Plants Brook.

Below the bridge on Ebrook Road was what looked like a small waterfall.

The path towards the Sutton Park Line Tunnel. The former railway line crosses over the Plants Brook at this point.

From the other side of the Sutton Park Line Tunnel. Graffiti on this side.

A look back down the path along the Plants Brook towards the tunnel.

Heading forward saw this footbridge cross the Plants Brook.

Saw an electricity pylon to the left of the path.

Checking out this wooden decking. Looked quite icy on the grass and on the decking so wasn't on here for long.

A no cycling sign. The path to the right is a bit too muddy, so cyclists should stick to the main path. But it's suitable for walking (if you want to get mud on your shoes etc).

Another footbridge over the Plants Brook.

The Plants Brook was looking quite calm from this side of the footbridge.

Back to the main path, as I followed the Plants Brook in the direction of the mill.

First glimpse of the New Hall Water Mill. Trees in the way.

Another view of the mill. Would try and get better views when I shortly after this walked up a path towards it.

The path and the Plants Brook close to Wylde Green Road.

Saw this stone house near Wylde Green Road. It is time to get a proper look at the nearby mill.

Close to the end of the path as the Wylde Green Road Bridge was straight ahead over the Plants Brook.

Bollards for New Hall Valley at Wylde Green Road. Before I continued, I turned left to check out the mill.

On the way to the road to the mill, I went past this gate for Wincelle House.

Wincelle House is a Grade II Listed Building dating from the early 15th century. It is a timber framed building, which was removed from Wishaw in 1910.

Continuing on, saw this sign for New Hall Hotel & Spa. B76 1PH. The sign was for the Emergency Access to New Hall Health Club & Spa.

Side view of Wincelle House from a nearby field as I headed to see New Hall Mill.

First proper look at New Hall Mill, without too many trees in the way.

New Hall Water Mill is a Grade II* Listed Building. It dates to the 18th century.

As it was during winter though, the mill was not open. I think it is open on open days, but it is quite a distance to travel back  there to properly explore this mill.

Fingerpost for visitors to use. You can go on the Tree Trail, go to the Cart Shed and more.

One more view of the mill. A bit hard to see behind the trees. But now it was time to resume the walk towards Pype Hayes Park.

Back to Wylde Green Road for the last leg of the walk in the New Hall Valley Country Park. Another pair of bollards.

Fingerpost near the Wylde Green Road entrance. Sutton Park and Coleshill Road to the left. Walmley to the right.

Saw this Birmingham City Council map of New Hall Valley Country Park. Was looking a bit dirty.

Another bridge crossing the Plants Brook, this one with yellow railings.

A look down the Plants Brook. Appeared to be a bricked channel of water on the left near the path.

Better view of the Plants Brook not obscured by the trees.

At the end of the New Hall Valley Country Park near near the Plants Brook walk. Another part of the old Sutton Park railway line passes by near here.

Fingerpost near the Plants Brook walk just outside of the Country Park. Sutton Coldfield was not a mile and a half away on foot and on a bike.

Passing through these gates as I exited the New Hall Valley Country Park and followed the Plants Brook back to Pype Hayes Park. On a path I had walked on the month before.

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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