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History & heritage
28 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

J. R. R. Tolkien in Sarehole from 1896 - 1900

Did you know that J. R. R. Tolkien as a small boy moved to the Sarehole area in 1896, which at the time was a small hamlet outside of Birmingham. He would live here with his mother Mabel and his younger brother Hilary until 1900. They lived in a house on the Wake Green Road, which was close to Moseley Bog and Sarehole Mill. The area would later be the basis for the Shire in The Hobbit.

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J. R. R. Tolkien in Sarehole from 1896 - 1900





Did you know that J. R. R. Tolkien as a small boy moved to the Sarehole area in 1896, which at the time was a small hamlet outside of Birmingham. He would live here with his mother Mabel and his younger brother Hilary until 1900. They lived in a house on the Wake Green Road, which was close to Moseley Bog and Sarehole Mill. The area would later be the basis for the Shire in The Hobbit.


For my original Tolkien post follow this link: J.R.R. Tolkien's Birmingham (inspiration for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings). This Did you know post will be an expansion of J. R. R. Tolkien's time in the Sarehole area (now in Moseley, Birmingham).

264 Wake Green Road / 5 Gracewell Cottages

The Tolkien family moved from South Africa to outside of Birmingham in 1896, after his father died. They moved to a house in Sarehole, which at the time was a hamlet in Worcestershire (it is now in Moseley, Birmingham and close to Hall Green). John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, known as Ronald, lived with his mother Mabel and younger brother Hilary at 264 Wake Green Road (also known as 5 Gracewell Cottages). Ronald's mother taught the children at home. He enjoyed exploring the nearby Moseley Bog and Sarehole Mill.

The above photo taken from the BM & AG Sarehole Mill Guide Book published in 2002.

This view of the cottages on Wake Green Road during December 2012. They are now homes of retired people and are private residences.

My dentist is around the corner of Swanshurst Lane, and I usually walk around the corner to the no 5 bus stop on Wake Green Road. This view was from about April 2013. Although it's closer to 260 Wake Green Road. No 264 would be further to the left of here.

After another visit to the dentist, I got this view on my smartphone camera in early March 2020. So no 264 would be further down to the left of the no 5 bus stop. Sometimes the ladies that live here would use the bus stop to go to town.

Gracewell Homes Foster Trust

Seen on a walk down Wake Green Road on lockdown (earlier in April 2020) is what is now the Gracewell Homes Foster Trust. It is possible that these brick homes could have been there in Tolkien's time. The first two views on the walk to Moseley Bog via Thirlmere Drive and Pensby Close.

The house on the right looks a bit like a Mock Tudor house. Although I've not found any details about how old it actually is.

Three cyclists socially distancing on the ride down Wake Green Road past the Gracewell Homes Foster Trust. The entrance to the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground is a bit further down on the left. This was on the walk down from Moseley Bog (leaving it at the playing field at Windermere Road).

The Chalet

One of the oldest houses in the Sarehole area, this cottage was called The Chalet, and is on Green Road. It is possible that the Tolkien boys could have walked past it as it would have been around there at the time. Just up from the Green Road ford (where the River Cole crosses it). It is a Grade II listed building dating to the early 19th century. Seen earlier in April 2020 on the lockdown walk from the Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground via the Green Road ford to Sarehole Mill and back.

Sarehole Mill

One of my Sarehole Mill photos was in this post: Birmingham's architectural gems - we go back in time!. Always room for some expansion.

From the October 2013 free open day at Sarehole Mill which was after the 2012-13 restoration (the previous major restoration was in 1969). This open day was part of the Hall Green Arts Festival. The mill is a Grade II listed water mill on the River Cole. Originally the area was called Sarehole, but it is now on the Hall Green / Moseley border near Cole Bank Road (and close to Tolkien's childhood home on Wake Green Road). It is one of two working water mills in Birmingham (the other mill is at New Hall Mill). On the Open Day was various tables selling things. The Bakehouse is to the right (but wouldn't be fully restored until early 2020).

Ronald and Hilary Tolkien would have sneaked into the mill like they always do while the miller was covered in white dust from grinding the bones for fertiliser. View of the north waterwheel mill gears, which drove three pairs of milestones on the first floor. They are only in working order on demonstration days now. Also called The Flour Bins.

The children nicknamed him 'The White Ogre' and they would run away when he shouted at them to leave. More gears that drives the waterwheel.

The back of Sarehole Mill near the Mill Pool. There is a gate from the main courtyard to the right of here that you have to close. Then there is another gate to the short walk around the mill pool that also needs to be closed behind you. Have been around here several times over the years.

The view of Sarehole Mill from the Mill Pool, while it was clear. There is decking to stand on to the right. The mill made a nice reflection in the mill pool water. In later years it kept getting full of algae. Especially in the winter.

Moseley Bog

My original Moseley Bog post is here: Moseley Bog from my December 2012 and September 2016 visits.

A walk around Moseley Bog earlier in April 2020 on lockdown. Getting in again via Thirlmere Road and Pensby Close again. Had hoped to make it to the Yardley Wood Road entrance / exit, but we ended up passing through the playing field near Windermere Road, so instead left via there and walked down Wake Green Road.

For Tolkien as a child, he treasured his memories of exploring it with his younger brother. It was the inspiration for 'the Forest' in The Lord of the Rings.

The Bog is the site of two Bronze Age 'burnt mounds' which are a Scheduled Ancient Monument. These days there is a wooden planked path that you can walk around on. But you can still see how boggy the area was. It was dry and sunny on my last walk here.

The wooden planks take you safely over the Bog. I expect the Tolkien brothers didn't have this in their day as children, so they probably got quite a bit muddy!

A body of water between the fallen tree branches. So much inspiration for the young Tolkien for his later Middle Earth novels.

And look at the trees. This would have provided inspiration as well. In the books and the movies was giant talking walking trees (that could carry the small Hobbits).

The Hungry Hobbit

There is a cafe / sandwich bar near the roundabout on Wake Green Road. It used to be called The Hungry Hobbit. Seen here in January 2011. But when the Tolkien estate found out about this name they were not happy. They were threatened with legal action.

Second view from January 2011 when it was still called the Hungry Hobbit (at the time). The sign below says Sandwich Bar. Visitors to Moseley Bog and / or Sarehole Mill can go here (although Sarehole Mill has it's own small tea room).

This view of the Hungry Hobbit Sandwich Bar during March 2011 (when it was closed).

By the time I took a photo update in March 2017, they removed two letters "it" to rename the cafe as Hungry Hobb (closed when I saw it like this). Hopefully the issues with the Tolkien estate have been settled by now.

One of the signs you would find around the island, either on Cole Bank Road, Wake Green Road or the bottom of Swanshurst Lane. For the Hungry Hobb Cafe. They have clearly changed the sign over the years (this view also from March 2017).

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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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
27 Apr 2020 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

The Construction of 103 Colmore Row - March & April (2020) update

An average of 17 glass panels a day will be fitted onto this new, 26-storey, Birmingham landmark. This update shows the progress made on site in March and April, with the structural steelwork superstructure continuing its upward rise, closely followed by the beautiful glazing facade. Already a new Birmingham Gem!

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The Construction of 103 Colmore Row - March & April (2020) update





An average of 17 glass panels a day will be fitted onto this new, 26-storey, Birmingham landmark. This update shows the progress made on site in March and April, with the structural steelwork superstructure continuing its upward rise, closely followed by the beautiful glazing facade. Already a new Birmingham Gem!


Gallery of 103 Colmore Row photography by Daniel Sturley, one of the People with Passion at It's Your Build and Birmingham We Are.

Photography taken during April 2020

Photography taken during March 2020

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
History & heritage
27 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Austin Seven's in Victoria Square (April 2012)

After I left the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on the 22nd April 2012, I walked into Victoria Square and saw all of these vintage Austin cars. Most of them were Austin Seven's parked in front of the Council House. I think it was for something at the time called Drive It Day Birmingham. This reminds me of a recent car rally at Kings Heath Village Square in late August 2019.

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Austin Seven's in Victoria Square (April 2012)





After I left the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on the 22nd April 2012, I walked into Victoria Square and saw all of these vintage Austin cars. Most of them were Austin Seven's parked in front of the Council House. I think it was for something at the time called Drive It Day Birmingham. This reminds me of a recent car rally at Kings Heath Village Square in late August 2019.


There has been many events that took place in Victoria Square, Birmingham over the years, so probably too many to put into one post (have more than 500 plus photos in my archive).

On the 22nd April 2012, I had just visited the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery again (taking more photos once I knew that it was OK as long as you don't use flash), and left via the Chamberlain Square entrance and headed into Victoria Square. At the time you could use the Great Charles Street Queensway entrance to the museum, and on Sunday's they used to open at 12:30pm (but that's for another post in the BM & AG project).

I saw all of these vintage Austin motors parked in front of the Council House. Many of them may have been Austin Seven's. Some of these might have been Morris or Riley cars.

It was Drive It Day Birmingham in Victoria Square. So many classic Austin's to see, and for once you didn't have to see them in Thinktank or at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre (although I have seen old cars in the museum and in storage).

Google Lens for the car at the front is coming up as an Austin Ten. (On Wikipedia showing as an Austin Ten Lichfield).

One of them was labelled "Donaldson's Fish & Game Salesman Kings Lynn".

Not all of them were Austin Seven's. According to Google Lens, this is an BSA Ten.

This is either a Riley car or a type of Austin Seven. The roof was down.

This is an Austin Cambridge A55 Mark II. There is now a pub at the Longbridge Town Centre called The Cambridge.

There was some young people in Army uniforms and yellow high vis jackets around at the time.

For my post on Sir Herbert Austin follow this link: Herbert Austin: making cars at Longbridge and the Austin Village. It features some more Austin cars that I've seen in museums over the years.

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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40 passion points
History & heritage
27 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham from the Domesday Book in 1086 to 1300 when William de Birmingham was Lord of the Manor

There is a model in the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, showing what Birmingham might have looked like in the year 1300. The Lord of the Manor was William de Birmingham. Did you know why Moat Lane is called Moat Lane? There used to be a moat in what is now the Bull Ring area and the de Birmingham family lived in a manor house there.

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Birmingham from the Domesday Book in 1086 to 1300 when William de Birmingham was Lord of the Manor





There is a model in the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, showing what Birmingham might have looked like in the year 1300. The Lord of the Manor was William de Birmingham. Did you know why Moat Lane is called Moat Lane? There used to be a moat in what is now the Bull Ring area and the de Birmingham family lived in a manor house there.


Birmingham has a history going back centuries, way before we gained City Status in 1889. And way before the Chamberlain's of the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries and way before Boulton and Watt in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. The Roman's had a fort in Birmingham close to the site of what is now the University of Birmingham around 48 AD.

 

The following photos below were originally taken at The Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in November 2012. These were in the section called Origins up to 1700.

This panel is about Medieval Birmingham. It mentions that in 1086 Birmingham was valued at just £1. It was recorded in the 'Domesday Book' by the Normans (20 years after the Norman Conquest of England). 200 years later Birmingham was one of the wealthiest trading centres in Warwickshire.

This panel about Birmingham before Birmingham. The town came into existence in the 1160s. People have lived in the area for hundreds of thousands of years. Many of Birmingham's place names are of Anglo Saxon origin. Archaeology at the Bullring from 1997 to 2001 didn't find any finds before the 12th century (or evidence of a major settlement before then).

When Birmingham got a charter to hold a market, this was in 1166 by the Lord of the Manor Peter de Bermingham. That's when Birmingham began to develop. Around the area that is today's Bullring. This is what Peter de Birmingham could have looked like.

It was the year 1166 when Peter de Birmingham as the Lord of the Manor bought a market charter from the king, Henry II, which entitled him to hold a weekly market. He made profits from the rent paid by the craftspeople who settled here and the traders who came to sell their goods.

This large model was near the entrance of the gallery and was what Birmingham could have looked like in the year 1300 when William de Birmingham was the Lord of the Manor.

At this end of the model, it shows the moat where the Lord of the Manor's house would be.

A close up look at the moat. The de Birmingham family might have decended from Norman ancestors, other sources suggest they decend from an Anglo-Saxon family. The market would have been held within the land of the moated manor house, or just outside it. Today the site of the moat is where Moat Lane Car Park is (it has been renamed to Markets Car Park) and the former site of the Birmingham Wholesale Market (demolished for the proposed Smithfield development). The moat was filled in during the 19th century. Maps from the 19th century show the moat was still there in 1816, but gone by the 1830's as by then the Smithfield Market was on the land.

Settlements to the north of the moat. There was a church in the middle. That was St Martin's Church.

This direction towards St Martin's Church and Market Place with the Manor House and Moat at the far end. Today this would be the location of the modern Bullring (built 2003). East Mall would be to the left (Selfridges) and the West Mall would be to the right (towards Debenhams). Spiceal Street would wind around up past St Martin's Church then up St Martin's Walk. The market place has changed a lot in 850 plus years.

This map in the exhibition might make things a bit clearer. To the south was the Manor House and Moat. Above that was the Market Place. A Watermill was near the moat. And most of the countryside was Deer Park. By the year 1300 around 1,500 people were living in Birmingham. New Street, Park Street and Edgbaston Street all existed by the year 1300.

This is William de Birmingham. He's the Lord of the Manor and everyone who lives in Birmingham pays him rent. He reduced the size of his deer park so that people can build houses on his land and he increased the rental income.

Another map of Birmingham in 1300. The centre of Birmingham is marked by the yellow rectangle including the Church (St Martin's), the Market and the Manor House. The Deer Park is on two sides of the town. To the north west was the Priory Hospital. New Street goes to the west. To the south west was the Parsonage. The River Rea flows from the north east to the south (passing the areas later known as Deritend and Digbeth but not marked on this map).

There is a series of four history panels located around the Bullring. I got photos of them back in 2009 and 2010. They mention that archaeological digs were carried out as part of the Bullring redevelopment. The digs uncovered evidence of Birmingham's medieval origins about 2 metres below the present ground level and it is known that by the 1300s Birmingham was a thriving medieval market and industrial town.

1. High Street.

This was located outside of the Pavilions. Seen in October 2010.

It says Birmingham by the year 1300 had a population of 1,500. It had houses, markets and industry and was thriving. The Priory or Hospital of St Thomas was located at the northern end of Dale End between Bull Street and Old Square (where the name The Priory Queensway comes from).

2 Edgbaston Street

Located on the walk towards Debenhams. Seen in May 2009.

Edgbaston Street was one of the oldest streets in Birmingham. In medieval times it linked the moated manor house with Parsonage Moat and carried traffic to and from the busy Bull Ring Market. An archaeological dig on Edgbaston Street (below the Indoor Market building) showed that a 13th century tannery was tucked in at the rear of the houses fronting the main street. Was one of the earliest tanneries now known to have existed in the Bull Ring and Deritend.

3 St Martin's Square

This was on the wall below Selfridges, but was moved in 2011 when the Spiceal Street development was built (Hand Made Burger Co was at this site until 2020). Seen in August 2009.

St Martin's, the parish church in Birmingham was built in the 12th century. The dig done in advance of the landscaping around the church as part of the Bullring development. Most of the burials found remains dating to the late 18th and throughout the 19th century. No remains from Medieval times were outside.

4 Park Street

This was on Park Street near Birmingham Moor Street Station. Seen in August 2009.

This area was the Lord of the Manor's deer park. Archaeological digs at Moor Street and Park Street (below what is now Moor Street Car Park) discovered a large ditch that was the boundary between the town and deer park in the 12th century. By the 13th century, the park's use for hunting gave way to the demands for the land close to the Bull Ring. As a result of the success of the markets, the Lord of the Manor abandoned the deer park. The ditch was infilled and Moor Street and Park Street were created to provide additional building land. 13th century pottery was made here, including metal-working, horn-working, born-working and textile production.

No wonder they called Birmingham The Workshop of the World. And this was as early as the 13th century!

 

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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100 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
26 Apr 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

My Exercise Photo Walk - 26th April 2020

I went out for my exercise walk in the mid morning sunshine and went into Centenary and around Brindleyplace, here are my favorite 12.

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My Exercise Photo Walk - 26th April 2020





I went out for my exercise walk in the mid morning sunshine and went into Centenary and around Brindleyplace, here are my favorite 12.


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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