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BirminghamWeAre is a community devoted to social value, providing a shared space for people who make a difference and together have a positive social impact across the City.

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Construction & regeneration
19 Jul 2020 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

The First Crane Extension at The Mercian - July 2020

With the building now over halfway up the first of the two cranes was extended by several sections taking the cab over 100m. Here are some photos taken over a few days last week.

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The First Crane Extension at The Mercian - July 2020





With the building now over halfway up the first of the two cranes was extended by several sections taking the cab over 100m. Here are some photos taken over a few days last week.


14th July 2020

16th July 2020

14th July 2020

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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30 passion points
Construction & regeneration
17 Jul 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of 103 Colmore Row - July 2020

103 Colmore Row is so close to structural completion now with one of the last beams being installed on 17th July. Here are various views of 103 Colmore Row in July 2020. Did you know that it is in direct line of sight of Castle Bromwich Hall? Ellliott has returned to the City Centre for the first time in over 100 days of lockdown and has got some close up views while in town. 

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The Construction of 103 Colmore Row - July 2020





103 Colmore Row is so close to structural completion now with one of the last beams being installed on 17th July. Here are various views of 103 Colmore Row in July 2020. Did you know that it is in direct line of sight of Castle Bromwich Hall? Ellliott has returned to the City Centre for the first time in over 100 days of lockdown and has got some close up views while in town. 


 

 

10th July 2020 from Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

103 Colmore Row can be seen directly down the hill from Castle Bromwich Hall.

There is also a field on Colebridge Way in Castle Bromwich which had this view (below).

13th July 2020 from Cathedral Square and Colmore Row

My first time back in the City in over 100 plus days of lockdown.

14th July 2020 (Bastille Day in the France) - From Centenary Way with Big Brum.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité , Vive la France. BM & AG is still closed for the foreseeable future.

16th July 2020 from Colmore Square

The square unusually quiet at lunchtime, with most office workers yet to go back to work. Colmore Gate was looking taller than 103 Colmore Row here. Just the odd person on a bicycle.

Photos above by Elliott Brown.

 

17th July 2020

14th July 2020

8th July 2020

Photos by Daniel Sturley

Don't forget that there are many more photos of this build in the full 103 Colmore Row Gallery

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30 passion points
Environment & green action
16 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

An Autumn and Summer comparison at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Had two visits to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. First time back in October 2018 during the autumn, when there was pumpkins around for Halloween. Second time more recently during July 2020 in the summer as they reopened. For that one you had to book your tickets online before you went. A walled garden split into the Upper and Lower Wilderness. Was also a maze here and a vegetable garden.

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An Autumn and Summer comparison at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens





Had two visits to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. First time back in October 2018 during the autumn, when there was pumpkins around for Halloween. Second time more recently during July 2020 in the summer as they reopened. For that one you had to book your tickets online before you went. A walled garden split into the Upper and Lower Wilderness. Was also a maze here and a vegetable garden.


CASTLE BROMWICH HALL GARDENS

Welcome to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. Located in Castle Bromwich in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull. If approaching from Birmingham in a car or on the bus, you might pass through Hodge Hill. The gardens were originally developed here in the late 17th century. They were done in the Dutch style that was popular during the reign of William III. The Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust was formed in 1985. At the time the walled gardens were derelict, but in the years that followed the gardeners restored the garden to how it could of once been in the past. The gardens is only 5 miles from Birmingham City Centre.

Castle Bromwich Hall was built in the 16th century for Sir Edward Devereux, who was the first MP for Tamworth. In the late 1650s the hall and gardens was sold to Sir Orlando Bridgeman who bought it for his son Sir John Bridgeman I. The gardens were developed by 1700. John Bridgeman II took over from his father after his death in 1710. The last member of the family, Lady Ida Bridgeman lived in the hall until her death in 1936. The gardens were looked after by her while she was still alive.

The hall and gardens are in separate ownership. The hall is now a hotel, but can be viewed from the gardens, and it is possible to have guided tours of the hall. The Trust owns the gardens, while the Parkland by Birmingham City Council (it is protected from development).

The gardens feature an Orangery and directly opposite that down the Holly Walk is the Summer House. There is a pair of sphinxs on two corners of the wall. It is usually possible to do walks on the outside of the wall, where you can go past the Mirror Pond, orchard, Wildflower meadow and the Children's mud kitchen.

Within the Walled Garden is the Upper Wilderness (which is close to the Hall) and the Lower Wilderness (which has a Maze in the middle of it). And further north of that is a Vegetable Garden.

The gardens is near the M6 motorway and you can hear the passing traffic. Entrance to the gardens is off Chester Road. 

2018

A visit during October 2018 in the weeks leading up to Halloween. First up a look at the Upper Wilderness. This was the Formal Box Hedges.

Looking up Holly Walk towards the Summer House. At this end (behind me) was the Orangery.

A zoom in of the Summer House. That day the doors were closed so couldn't go into it.

The flower borders not far from the Lower Wilderness, although the North Orchard was to the left of here. In the distance was one of the pair of stone sphinxes.

A close up look at the wonderful flowers they had here. Yellows and reds. Even in the middle of the autumn!

Now gone outside of the Walled Garden. Saw a pond with algae in it.

Another view of the algae covered pond.

This bit around the tree was called Jutta's Wild Weaving.

A look at the autumnal trees with yellow leaves.

Over the footbridge to another pond with algae. This is the Children's Mud Kitchen area I think.

Back into the Walled Garden. A look down Holly Walk towards the Orangery. At the time there was lots of pumpkins inside of it. As well as potted plants.

Into the Maze with this Globe sculpture on a stone plinth.

In aother of the mazes "rooms" was these flowers and bushes. As well as the trellis holding up a plant.

The view of the outside of the Maze from the Lower Wilderness.

Over to the Upper Wilderness, the side of garden closest to Castle Bromwich Hall.

At the time it was possible to go into the part of the garden closest to the hall. There was greenhouses down here.

There was also this Hedged Garden that you could go into.

Back into the Walled Garden was the Melon Ground. At the time there was a lot of pumpkins around here. Behind on the left outside of the wall was a rather old tree.

Some pumpkins and yellow and orang flowers around some spooky plants.

Outside of the Visitor Centre and shop was this collection of pumpkins. Probably for sale at the time.

2020

A July 2020 visit. Checking their website I noticed that you could book tickets, now that the gardens are open again. Booked the tickets for the same day. There is now a shop in the Orangery where you can buy a drink and a snack and sit at the tables and chairs on Holly Walk. View from the main gates entrance into the Walled Garden of the Upper Wilderness. There is a one way system in and out.

More green and colourful flowers in the Summer down the Boxed Hedges in the Upper Wilderness.

I thought this tent on the Archery Green was new. But I'd previous seen it there on the last visit. Families can have picnics here, or do some fun activities, while staying dry. The Summer House was seen to the right.

A look up the hedges in the Lower Wilderness. Benches here haven't been taped over, so you can still sit down on them.

This time around, you couldn't go through the doors to the area behind the Walled Garden, as a large tree had dropped a branch overnight and it was not safe to enter. Instead saw the Mirror Pond for the second time through the bars in the Walled Garden.

The long green that goes up from the Mirror Pond towards Castle Bromwich Hall. If you turn around you can see 103 Colmore Row in the distance (better views from the top of the hill). Almost like a co-incidence that they line up like that.

Various flower beds in the Vegetable Garden. There is a small greenhouse in the distance, and the other stone sphinx is up there as well.

Saw this A frame of wooden sticks over this part of the Vegetable Gaden. Around those orange flowers.

The lawn in the Upper Wilderness towards the main entrance of the gardens.

Some more boxed hedges in the north west corner of the Upper Wilderness, towards the Summer House.

View zoomed in from the Upper Wilderness to the main entrance gate. Behind is the portacabins that is the offices of the gardens. Also nearby was plant sales.

Another part of the Upper Wilderness, around this curved lawn path.

Found this view of Castle Bromwich Hall from the Upper Wilderness. The closest you can get to the hall is the fence and wall in the garden to have a look at it.

The back of the boxed hedges in the Upper Wilderness close to the main entrance and the Melon Ground. There was a pair of pyramid structures at the middle of both of the flower beds.

A wonderful summery view from the garden towards the Orangery. Now used as a shop / cafe. But only one person / family can go into it at a time during the pandemic, with social distancing regulations. They have hand sanitiser outside.

One more walk around the garden before we got a drink from the Orangery. The hedges in the Lower Wilderness, towards that bench.

The central area of the Lower Wilderness is in a circle around those stones. On a closer look at the stones I could see a face on one of them.

Towards the Maze from the Lower Wilderness. This time didn't go into the maze (forgot about it). That and we went on the routes around it from the outside,

After exiting via the Melon Ground (and spraying some hand sanitiser onto my hands), saw some lavender and more tables and chairs that you could sit on to have your coffee or tea (bought from the Orangery). Behind was an old style table and chairs where you could have your picture taken, and share with Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens on social media.

Turned around to the door from the Melon Ground. Lavender either side of the path. Plus that table and chairs for the picture was on the left of here. This is one way to exit the gardens.

If you would want to make your own visit to the gardens, the link is at the top of the post (click on The Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust). They are now open Wednesday to Sunday every week. Tickets were around £5 each.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
15 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Waseley Hills Country Park and the Source of the River Rea

Went for a morning walk at the end of June 2020 around the Waseley Hills Country Park. It was quite windy that day. The country park is near Rubery in the Bromsgrove District of Worcestershire. And over the border from New Frankley in Birmingham. You would find the source of the River Rea here. Also it is possible to see views of Birmingham and Worcestershire from here.

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The Waseley Hills Country Park and the Source of the River Rea





Went for a morning walk at the end of June 2020 around the Waseley Hills Country Park. It was quite windy that day. The country park is near Rubery in the Bromsgrove District of Worcestershire. And over the border from New Frankley in Birmingham. You would find the source of the River Rea here. Also it is possible to see views of Birmingham and Worcestershire from here.


Waseley Hills Country Park

The Waseley Hills Country Park is located close to Rubery in the Bromsgrove District of Worcestershire. The M5 motorway is not too far away from the country park to the west. The main entrance to the North Car Park is from Gannow Green Lane. Which can be reached in a car if you drive up from New Frankley in Birmingham. The park has a Visitor Centre, and public toilets (which is near to the North Car Park).  Also offices and a meeting room. A playground was also nearby.

There is two main hills, Windmill Hill and Waseley Hill. The views here are stunning. You would also be able to find the Source of the River Rea (it is signposted).

We visited on the 29th June 2020, and I noticed that the Visitor Centre was open. Or rather they were selling takeaway coffee and ice cream over a table. This was probably the Windmill Cafe. For the car park, you can pay £2 for up to 2 hours, or £2.50 for all day. An annual pass will cost you £35. Blue badge holders are free.

The name Waseley comes from the Anglo Saxon word 'waer' meaning sheep and 'ley' meaning field. Hence waer-ley or sheep field. This shows that the site has been grazed for hundreds of years. On my visit, one of the fields had cattle grazing and you had to close the gate behind you when entering it.

Waseley Hills Country Park Visitor Centre

As seen from the North Car Park was the Visitor Centre. It was only open for takeaway coffee and ice cream, which could be had at the picnic benches to the right. I would think that the Windmill Cafe was in here. The website describes it as an ancient barn.

Side view of the Visitor Centre coming back from our walk around the hills.  Was some more picnic tables to the right.

To the left of the Visitor Centre was these Offices and Meeting Rooms. Plus another picnic table outside.

The public toilets for the gents (right) and ladies (left) seemed to be open.

It had street art by famous Birmingham graffiti artist Newso. There was also a point here for dog owners to fill up a bowl of water for their dog to drink out of.

Source of the River Rea

If you are wondering where the River Rea starts on it's journey into Birmingham, it starts here at the Waseley Hills!

This sign explains it all. The River Rea starts from the source and flows for some 15 miles north east until it joins the River Tame near Spaghetti Junction.

Only a trickle of water at this point, but over 20 miles from here there used to mills all along the Rea Valley. Many used to grind corn and the earliest dated to the 13th century.

In the English Civil War, the mills along the Rea were used to make sword blades for the Parliamentary army.

The same mills in the 19th century provided water power for the expansion of Birmingham's metal working industry during the Industrial Revolution. Sadly none of these mills survive today. Many were demolished in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Windmill Hill and Waseley Hill

These hills can be easily confused so I will combine them both in this section.

First up a look up Windmill Hill towards the electricity pylon.

After ending the gate on Windmill Hill, a look up to where the cows were grazing at the top of the hill.

After seeing the Source of the River Rea went to the top of Windmill Hill for the views of the Birmingham skyline. It was very windy up here.

This was the view from the Waseley Hills towards Birmingham. Old Joe was visible (at the University of Birmingham). But the rest of the skyline would be more visible on zooming in. The City Centre was to the far left of this view.

There was also views towards Rubery. Including the tower blocks. They were Dowry House, Hillside House and Quarry House. A view from Beacon Hill I saw years ago that I thought was the Waseley Hills was in face the Rubery Hill Public Open Space on Cock Hill Lane.

After getting the views of Birmingham, was time to head back down the hill. This was on the Skylark Trail.

Back out to the part of Windmill Hill close to the car park and Visitor Centre. Next up to go to the other part of Windmill Hill.

On the next part of Windmill Hill, you could go around a path in a circle, and go under a line of electricity pylons.

I saw this TV antenna or mobile phone mast from Windmill Hill in the distance.

A short time later checking out Waseley Hill and the stunning views of Worcestershire. Getting quite windy up here.

There was an even better view of the electricity pylons going into Worcestershire in the distance. Some many trees here!

The main path if you wanted to walk further onto Waseley Hill. You might see rabbit holes around here or gorse. Although I didn't spot any rabbits or gorse growing at the time of my visit.

There was more of the Waseley Hills Country Park to walk from here, for instance as far as the South Car Park.

But we turned back from here and walked back to the North Car Park. It was just too windy. But saw enough.

Heading back past Windmill Hill and saw this line of electricity pylons heading into the distance in Worcestershire. It was quite cloudy and misty that day.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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60 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
15 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Ariel Aqueduct on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Selly Oak

The Ariel Aqueduct was built alongside a railway viaduct on the Cross City Line in Selly Oak when the Selly Oak Bypass was built, which opened in 2011. It carries the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The towpath is suitable for walking, cycling and taking your dog for a walk, as well as going for a run. You can also see trains going past. Below is the Aston Webb Boulevard.

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The Ariel Aqueduct on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Selly Oak





The Ariel Aqueduct was built alongside a railway viaduct on the Cross City Line in Selly Oak when the Selly Oak Bypass was built, which opened in 2011. It carries the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The towpath is suitable for walking, cycling and taking your dog for a walk, as well as going for a run. You can also see trains going past. Below is the Aston Webb Boulevard.


Ariel Aqueduct

When the Selly Oak Bypass (later to be named as the Aston Webb Boulevard) was built in Selly Oak during 2010 to 2011, it meant that an aqueduct had to built on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, as well as a railway viaduct on the Cross City Line. The nearby wasteland used to be where the Battery Works used to be. With the completion of the first phase of the bypass, it meant that the University of Birmingham could build new student accommodation nearby to the aqueduct. Further up the bypass, the land had to be decontaminated, as there used to be a landfill there. Eventually the Selly Oak Shopping Park and a student accommodation block was opened in late 2018. And the rest of the land (still to be built on) will be for the Life Sciences Park of the University of Birmingham. Meanwhile since Sainsbury's moved to the new shopping park, it meant that work could start on extending the bypass to Selly Oak Triangle (started in 2019 but is not yet complete).

I used to be able to get onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal down a road off the Bristol Road near a car showroom. But there is now new steps closed to the Unite student accommodation (as well as a shortcut to Sainsbury's and the new shopping park). Then walk as far as the University of Birmingham before getting off the canal.

 

View below of the Ariel Aqueduct from the Aston Webb Boulevard (Selly Oak Bypass) during September 2012. Leading towards Queen Elizabeth Island and New Fosse Way. The new Birmingham Super Hospital opened in 2010, so these new roads helped give access to it (the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham).

The views of the Ariel Aqueduct taken during February 2013. This was during a walk along the canal from Selly Oak to the University of Birmingham.

The towpath turns slightly to the right as you head onto the aqueduct.

Saw a man in green running past me. Best to stop and let them pass you.

From here you can see the railway viaduct on the right. If you are lucky you could see some trains passing by!

Some nice reflections from the railings. You can only get to the other side in a narrowboat.

In January 2014, could see the completed Victoria Hall from the Ariel Aqueduct next to Old Joe.

Within a few years of the completion of the bypass several student accommodation blocks got built down there.

Jarratt Hall is seen to the right of the aqueduct.

The view of the bypass. The University of Birmingham is on the left. The Bournbrook area of Selly Oak is on the right.

The view below taken during August 2017. It always feels weird walking over the aqueduct. It's so high up above the bypass.

In this February 2019 view, I caught a view of the Ariel Aqueduct from a train passing over the railway viaduct.

In August 2019 on another walk over the Ariel Aqueduct, saw a cyclist going past me. The grass and trees more grown by this point.

Went over it again during January 2020. This time a cyclist in orange was coming towards me.

From the other side, caught a Class 323 West Midlands Railway train passing over that railway bridge. Touch Base Pears seen behind.

For another post on aqueducts in the West Midlands region go to this post on the Wootton Wawen & Edstone Aqueducts on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal in Warwickshire.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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60 passion points

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