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Squares and public spaces
02 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Oozells Square in Brindleyplace

Welcome to Oozells Square at Brindleyplace. It was developed from the late 1990s and the main focus building of the square is the IKON Gallery in the former Oozells Street Board School. The square is surrounded by the following buildings: Six, Seven, Eight and Nine Brindleyplace. With Oozells Street and Cumberland Street linking the square to Broad Street. Sculptures by Paul de Monchaux.

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Oozells Square in Brindleyplace





Welcome to Oozells Square at Brindleyplace. It was developed from the late 1990s and the main focus building of the square is the IKON Gallery in the former Oozells Street Board School. The square is surrounded by the following buildings: Six, Seven, Eight and Nine Brindleyplace. With Oozells Street and Cumberland Street linking the square to Broad Street. Sculptures by Paul de Monchaux.


Oozells Square got it's name from Oozells Street which runs from Broad Street towards Central Square at Brindleyplace. The other road that crosses Oozells Square is Cumberland Street. As well as the IKON Gallery the square features the following buildings: Six Brindleyplace, Seven Brindleyplace, Eight Brindleyplace and Nine Brindleyplace. Mostly offices, but some of the buildings have restaurants at ground level.

 

IKON Gallery

For my IKON Gallery post click this link: From the Oozells Street Boarding School to the IKON Gallery.

I'll keep this brief as I covered the history and see more photos in my IKON Gallery post (link above). Built as the Oozells Street Board School in 1877 by by local architects Martin & Chamberlain, the school opened in 1878. The original tower was demolished in 1976 over safety grounds. It was rebuilt in 1997 as part of the development to fit it out for the Ikon Gallery which opened here in 1998.

The following view was taken in May 2009 on my then mobile phone camera.

Also May 2009 on my then mobile phone camera.

This was a view from June 2009. By then I had my first bridge camera.

Outside of the IKON Gallery in July 2015 was this The Big Hoot owl called Midnight Moths by the artist: Alyn Smith, it was sponsored by: Harrow Green.

In July 2017 outside the IKON Gallery in Oozells Square was this The Big Sleuth bear called The Ink Detective by the artist Mr A Singh and sponsored by Deloitte. The other bear was at the far end of the square (see further down this post for that).

Six Brindleyplace

This building opened in the year 2000. 6 Brindleyplace has 92,000 square feet  of office space. There are several restaurants facing Oozells Square. 

Seen in November 2017 was Cielo Italian. This is from the road between Six and Seven Brindleyplace leading from Central Square.

This view of Cielo Italian from Oozells Square, November 2017.

Christmas tree in Oozells Square, the view towards 6 Brindleyplace and Cielo Italian during December 2018. You can see 2 Brindleyplace and the IKON Gallery from here.

Now onto March 2019 and cherry blossom season on the trees in Oozells Square, as this man sets up a shot on his camera. 6 Brindleyplace seen to the left.

Another cherry blossom shot of 6 Brindleyplace on the same day as above (March 2019). You can see 8 Brindleyplace to the left, and 7 Brindleyplace is in the corner.

The Barry Flanagan sitting hare sculpture seen facing Cielo Italian at 6 Brindleyplace during September 2019. (see another photo further down in the 9 Brindleyplace section). There was an exhibition at the time in the IKON Gallery (which I checked out a week later at the beginning of October 2019).

In November 2019 for this view of a new restaurant at 6 Brindleyplace called Siamaiz Thai Restaurant

Seven Brindleyplace

This office development is between 8 and 6 Brindleyplace. I have never got a direct photo of 7 Brindleyplace from Oozells Square before, so these views below will have to illustrate what it looks like. It was built from 2002 and construction took two years. It has over 85,000 square feet of office space.

In November 2014, there was a mobile crane near 8 Brindleyplace. You can see Cielo Italian from here.

A crop of a cherry blossom tree shot from March 2019, you can see 7 Brindleyplace is to the right of 8 Brindleyplace and to the left of 6 Brindleyplace. Just in the corner.

Eight Brindleyplace

Built in the year 2000, the building provides over 92,000 square feet of office space.

In May 2009, 8 Brindleyplace was occupied by RBS.

Mobile crane in front of 8 Brindleyplace during November 2014. 9 Brindleyplace to the left, and you can see the stone sculptures in the square.

Seen not too far from the outside of 8 Brindleyplace in Oozells Square back in July 2017, was this The Big Sleuth bear called Enlightenment. The artist was Valerie Osment, and the sponsor was Dudley Zoological Gardens

Another mobile crane, early March 2020 (several weeks before lockdown). Was again cherry blossom on the trees in Oozells Square. You can just about see 7 Brindleyplace to the right in the corner (left of 6 Brindleyplace).

Nine Brindleyplace

Built in 1999, between Oozells Street and Cumberland Street (the other side faces Broad Street), 9 Brindleyplace has 26,800 square feet of restaurant space, and 43,000 square feet of office space. Number Nine the Gallery was established by Lee Benson in this building back in 1999. Part of the building became the Oozells Building in 2018.

In January 2018 I saw this sign on 9 Brindleyplace ...

OOh ... something's changing OOZELLS BUILDING

By October 2018, the works to turn this side of 9 Brindleyplace into the Oozells Building appeared to be complete.

By December 2018, there was a Christmas tree outside of the Oozells Building, and the Amazon Treasure Truck was in town again.

In February 2019, I had this view of the Oozells Building at 9 Brindleyplace from down the side of Cielo Italian at 6 Brindleyplace.

In March 2019, it was blossom season again in Oozells Square. Cielo Italian at 6 Brindeyplace to the left, while Piccolino is at 9 Brindleyplace to the right.

Facing Piccolino at 9 Brindleyplace back in September 2019, was this Barry Flanagan hare sculpture, it was there for a few months before it was removed. See my post at the time here Barry Flanagan bronze sculptures at the IKON Gallery.

Christmas tree towards 9 Brindleyplace during December 2019, while it was raining. Jurys Inn and Popworld behind ot the left on Broad Street.

Paul de Monchaux Stone sculptures

The stone sculptures goes from the Cumberland Street end to the Oozells Street end of Oozells Square. Included here is sculpted stone seats and a pagoda designed by Paul de Monchaux. There is a small canal of water that you can cross over.

This view towards the IKON Gallery in May 2009.

This was a June 2009 view of the stone sculpture in Oozells Square, again an IKON Gallery view.

Christmas decorations in December 2019 on the stone sculptures. This was from the IKON Gallery end toward 8 Brindleyplace and it was a bit wet. Fairy lights from one end to the other.

From this end you can see the main stone sculpture, looking a bit wet, towards the IKON Gallery. Piccolino restaurant at 9 Brindleyplace to the right.

There has been the odd event here in the past such as 4 Squares Weekender, but will leave those to another Oozells Square post in the future.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at over 1,120 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Green open spaces
01 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Into the Warley Woods from a July 2017 visit

Back in July 2017 when I was on the Big Sleuth bear hunt, one of the bears would be in the Warley Woods. So I popped in there after Lightwoods Park to see Bentley the Bearwood Bear, before leaving to catch my next bus to Dudley (and later West Bromwich) for more bears in the Black Country. While there I passed a golf course. Plenty of history going back to the 18th century on this land.

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Into the Warley Woods from a July 2017 visit





Back in July 2017 when I was on the Big Sleuth bear hunt, one of the bears would be in the Warley Woods. So I popped in there after Lightwoods Park to see Bentley the Bearwood Bear, before leaving to catch my next bus to Dudley (and later West Bromwich) for more bears in the Black Country. While there I passed a golf course. Plenty of history going back to the 18th century on this land.


Welcome to the ... Warley Woods

 

My visit to the Warley Woods was during late July 2017. That day I was going on another Big Sleuth bear hunt around the Black Country, meaning I had to catch quite a lot of buses. My first two buses to Bearwood for Lightwoods Park. Then after I left the Warley Woods, another bus to Dudley, then later another bus to West Bromwich for the final bears I could find (and then a couple of more buses back home to Birmingham - it was a long day).

Now we will have a look back on my visit to the Warley Woods. But first some history (taken from Wikipedia).

The Warley Woods (sometimes also known as Warley Park or Warley Woods Park) is a public park in the Warley district of Smethwick, Sandwell. It was originally laid out by Humphry Repton. The estate which now forms the park was purchased by Samuel Galton, Jr. in the 1790s, at the time it was in Worcestershire. He commissioned Humphry Repton to landscape the fields and the building of the house. The house was occupied by his son Hubert in 1819.

The land was purchased by Birmingham City Council in 1902 and opened as a park in 1906. The house known locally as "Warley Abbey" was demolished in 1957. The park is now managed by the Warley Woods Community Trust who lease the land from Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council who themselves lease it from Birmingham City Council.

The drinking fountain dates to 1907 and was restored in 2009. There is also a nine hole golf course in the parkland.

 

Onto my actual visit to the Warley Woods from July 2017. The entrance gate at Lightwoods Hill and Barclay Road. Once you open the gate, close it behind you.

A notice board from the Warley Woods Community Trust and to the right was a map. Welcome to Warley Woods The Peoples Park.

Heading up the path amongst the trees.

Not much grass under the trees, there was some, but was mostly just soil.

So many trees in the woods, you wouldn't know that you were in the urban Sandwell. Could be the countryside. But then again it was in the late 18th century when this was in Worcestershire.

Getting close to the Big Sleuth bear I was looking for. The wooded part near the corner of Lightwoods Hill and Barclay Road gives way to a large field.

Here it is. The Big Sleuth bear I was looking for. Bentley the Bearwood Bear by the artist Rebecca Cresswell working with PAID (Positive Activities Innovative Development) and it was funded by PAID and Sandwell Council.

The back of Bentley the Bearwood Bear. It would later end up in Lightwoods Park in front of Lightwoods House (see my Lightwoods House post). I saw it again in November 2017.

To see Bentley the Bearwood Bear outside his new home check out this post: The restoration of Lightwoods House in Lightwoods Park.

A look at the Drinking Fountain. It was made in 1906 and 1907 and was restored in 2009. There is a similar drinking fountain in Lightwoods Park.

Heading onto the next path after the Big Sleuth bear, this path leads to the golf course.

The path actually goes through the golf course. But you have to stick to the perimeter. I can't recall if any games of golf were being played at the time I was there.

One of the sandpits in Warley Woods Golf Course. With a yellow flagpole in the hole.

Another yellow flagpole in a golf hole, was slightly hilly there.

One last look at the golf course before I exited the Warley Woods.

The gate from Harborne Road just before I headed to get my next bus to Dudley. As before when you open the gate, close it behind you. The bus stop I needed would be on the Wolverhampton Road.

Follow Warley Woods on Twitter.

 

I've got plenty more photos from other parks around the Black Country, and hopefully will be doing posts on those as and when the projects are set up for me.

Not too far from here is Leasowes Park in Halesowen. Which I visited in February 2018. Other recent parks I found include Mary Stevens Park in Stourbridge (July 2019 visit) and West Park in Wolverhampton (which I found in March 2019).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,120 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Classic Architecture
30 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The restoration of Lightwoods House in Lightwoods Park

Over the years from 2011 to 2017, I travelled to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood, Sandwell to check on the progress of the restoration of Lightwoods House. In the early years it was covered in scaffolding. The house was built in the late 18th century and re-fronted in the mid 19th century. Birmingham City Council handed the park over to Sandwell MBC in November 2010.The house reopened in 2017.

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The restoration of Lightwoods House in Lightwoods Park





Over the years from 2011 to 2017, I travelled to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood, Sandwell to check on the progress of the restoration of Lightwoods House. In the early years it was covered in scaffolding. The house was built in the late 18th century and re-fronted in the mid 19th century. Birmingham City Council handed the park over to Sandwell MBC in November 2010.The house reopened in 2017.


Lightwoods Park and House

This will be the first of several posts relating to Lightwoods Park in Bearwood. In this post we will be looking at Lightwoods House.

First off some history from the Wikipedia page (link above). Lightwoods House was built in the late 18th century and was altered in the 19th century. It is a Grade II listed building. The house was built for Jonathan Grundy in 1780 who lived in the house until his death in 1803. The house was later bought by soap manufacturer George Adkins in 1865 who passed it to his son Caleb. In 1902 the grounds and the house were up for sale after the death of Caleb Adkins. A committee purchased the estate and handed it to the Birmingham Corporation who opened the grounds as a park. More land was purchased in 1905 for the park. In 1971 Lightwoods House was converted into studios for Hardman company who vacated the building in 2008. In 2010, Birmingham City Council handed Lightwoods Park over to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.

In the following years Lightwoods House was decaying, and it was only announced in 2015 that the house would be restored. Restoration work was completed in 2016, including the restored Shakespeare Garden, and also includes and Edwardian Tea Room. Other structures around the park were also restored.

2011

My first views of Lightwoods House from my first ever visit to Lightwoods Park back in March 2011.

Scaffolding was all over the house, and all the windows were boarded up.

Close up it looked like there was a P & M Demolition sign around the house. I didn't look very safe or good at this point in time. And was only months after Sandwell Council took over the running of the park.

The side view of the house close to the Shakespeare Garden.

In December 2011 I went back to Lightwoods Park. When there was an event on at the time called Bearwood on Ice. Which was the only outdoor ice rink in the West Midlands that Christmas. So only passed the park to see this event, and not really Lightwoods House (which you can see in the background on the right).

There was artwork in the boarded up windows of Lightwoods House. Which aren't too visible from this distance.

On these ice rink zoom ins you can see the pictures on the windows. They look like old photos or drawings of what the rooms in Lightwoods House used to look like.

Would assume that Lightwoods House was stabalised by this point and no longer in danger of being demolished. After all it is Grade II listed (not that that stops other old listed buildings getting knocked down. There was a small Christmas market here and an inflatable bear.

2014

Another visit to Lightwoods Park in July 2014. Nothing much to update about it at this point other than the fences around it, and the Lottery Funded sign (with the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund).

Saw this view of Lightwoods House from the back on Adkins Lane through this gate.

Windows at the time were still all boarded up. This is the area that would later become the car park for Lightwoods House. The Shakespeare Garden to the left. The old gates and fences would be replaced. The metal railings on the left was later replaced with a period style brick wall. The old surface of this area was also replaced for the car park that was later built here.

2016

In January 2016 there was fences and hoarding all around Lightwoods House and green sheets around the scaffolding. Evidence that the restoration had begun.

The fences outside of the house at the time meant that visitors to the park couldn't walk past it, but at least the restoration was under way.

So you had to walk near the wall close to Hagley Road West for views like this.

Was a bit hard to see what was going on behind the scaffolding. Looks like they were doing the roof and tiles.

This view from Hagley Road West. They were also restoring the Bandstand.

An update from September 2016. The scaffolding had come down and the house was looking as good as new.

The fences was still in front of the house and path, so saw again from the same views as earlier in 2016.

I also got this view through the fence of the left side of Lightwoods House. Into 2017 and it would be fully restored.

2017

By November 2017, Lightwoods House and all the other old structures in Lightwoods Park were fully restored and reopened. This is the best the house has looked in more than a decade. The Drinking Fountain is close to the entrance of the Shakespeare Garden.

The footpath has been re-tarmaced and the brickwork looking fresh and clean.

Close up of Lightwoods House. Compared to my old March 2011 views, this looks much better. Taking it back to 1780.

There is a new Edwardian Tea Room on the left. Although I didn't go in there. It is called Jonathan's in the Park.

Further back from Lightwoods House, they installed some picnic benches. Car park entrance to the left.

The Big Sleuth bear that was in Warley Woods in the summer of 2017 is now directly in front of the Edwardian Tea Room. Bentley the Bearwood Bear by the artist Rebecca Cresswell working with PAID (Positive Activities Innovative Development) and it was funded by PAID and Sandwell Council. It wasn't part of The Big Sleuth charity auction, it was paid for independently.

The back of Bentley the Bearwood Bear as he observes his new surroundings after the summer spent in the Warley Woods.

More Lightswoods Park posts coming soon, including one on the Shakespeare Garden.

Follow Lightwoods House on Twitter.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,120 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Green open spaces
30 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The secret Nature Reserve at Swanshurst Park

I've been to many times to Swanshurst Park but the Nature Reserve area with all the trees, I've never been around before, at least not until lockdown. For an afternoon walk on the 27th April 2020, we went around the grass path, down the hill. And followed the stream. Over the plank bridges then checking out the logs over the mud near the bulrushes.

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The secret Nature Reserve at Swanshurst Park





I've been to many times to Swanshurst Park but the Nature Reserve area with all the trees, I've never been around before, at least not until lockdown. For an afternoon walk on the 27th April 2020, we went around the grass path, down the hill. And followed the stream. Over the plank bridges then checking out the logs over the mud near the bulrushes.


Apparently there used to be a pitch & putt golf course down here, where all the trees are now. We headed down the hill (leaving the main path near the Moseley New Pool) and hopped over the stream.

Walking along the shallow stream, saw these in the long grass.  Large bittercress.

Over one of the wooden planks and towards the logged path.

Fallen tree branches over the stream. Quite muddy here.

Trying to be careful not to fall over here, some of the logs were quite loose.

One more wooden plank to cross the mucky stream. More logs before they ran out.

Beyond the logs were some bulrushes on the far right.

Zooming in to one of the bulrushes was some long-tailed tits. Luckily they didn't fly away as I got the photo.

It was way too muddy beyond here, didn't want to get my shoes and jeans mucky, so we turned back.

Walking round the other grass paths, saw another path, that we didn't take.

Appeared to be a lot of people getting their daily walks in here. You don't just have to walk around the tarmaced paths. Also the grass paths in the fields were quite dry. Been a dry month on lockdown.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,120 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Construction & regeneration
28 Apr 2020 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

Essex Street Tower: A New 28-Storey Residential Tower For Southside

The future of Southside is ramping up with the submittal of this latest residential tower for the area. From Essex Street (Properties) and Glancy Nicholls Architects: This is Essex Street Tower.

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Essex Street Tower: A New 28-Storey Residential Tower For Southside





The future of Southside is ramping up with the submittal of this latest residential tower for the area. From Essex Street (Properties) and Glancy Nicholls Architects: This is Essex Street Tower.


<For more on Birmingham's developments, be sure to follow us on Instagram>

A new 28-storey residential tower is set to be developed in Southside after a formal planning application arrived today.

Located at the junction of Bristol Street and Essex Street, the development is being brought forward by Essex Street (Properties) Ltd - a vehicle used by Regal Property Group - the development company behind the 22 & 33 storey Bank Towers on Broad Street.

Regal have teamed up with Glancy Nicholls Architects to bring forward the redevelopment of site to deliver 154 one, two and three bedroom apartments, an active A1/A3 commercial unit, and a plethora of amenity spaces. All apartments are earmarked for private sale.

The residential mix will deliver one, two and three bed variants across the scheme. These include: 64 one bed (one person); 6 one bed (two person); 78 two bed (three person); and one three bedroom penthouse apartment. This equates to 70 one bed; 83 two bed; and 1 three bedroom apartment.

Active street frontages are the name of the game here, with the introduction of a ground and mezzanine level commercial unit, and a residents' entrance fronting onto Essex Street (see below).

The entrance on Essex Street will feature a double height reception area with foyer; parcel & post room; concierge; and a security room. Back of house areas will see a refuse store; secure cycle storage; and a cycle workshop.

In terms of amenity, the development will provide a multi-use community room; gym, sky cinema; and an open air roof garden.

Interestingly, all amenity spaces are to be located to the rear of the tower to allow for future development of the adjacent site (see images at the bottom of this page).

Given the sites excellent transport links, and with the prospect of the Midland Metro Tram coming to the surrounding area in late-2021, no car parking provision is allocated. 34 cycles, within a secure two-tier bike rack, will be provided instead.

PREVIOUS SCHEME:

You may remember that the site already benefits from planning consent in 2017, when an 18-storey residential tower of 68 apartments was approved at committee.

That development from Sandpiper Group never quite materialised, with Sandpiper since selling the site on to Essex Street (Properties) Ltd, in 2019 - who are now applying for a 10-storey increase.

CURRENT SITE AND DEMOLITION WORKS:

Unfortunately, these vacant Victorian buildings will bite the dust, having fell into a state of disrepair over the years.

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

The building with feature an elegantly designed facade with angled crown feature, terracotta-coloured panels and a patterned zigzag design, referencing the past and future tram lines of the city.

The detailing is set to be be recessed into the panelling, with the facade also including grey spandrel panels and openable windows.

FUTURE PLANS FOR SOUTHSIDE

Words by Stephen Giles; Artists Impressions the property of Glancy Nicholls Architects.

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