Green travel
11 Feb 2019 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

West Midlands co-ordinated cycling strategy launched

Transport for West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority announce ambitious plans to increase investment in cycling and walking in the region.

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West Midlands co-ordinated cycling strategy launched




Transport for West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority announce ambitious plans to increase investment in cycling and walking in the region.


West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) announced an ambitious plans to increase investment in cycling in the region, and improve infrastructure and funding.  The report, entitled A Common Approach to Cycling and Walking in the West Midlands, lays out a number of plans drawn up by Transport for West Midlands; these include the appointment of a Cycling and Walking Ambassador by March, new branding and goals to raise cycling investment to at least £10 a head each year.

The report, endorsed by the WMCA board at its meeting in Birmingham, reaffirms commitment to see more people making the switch to pedal power.  It aims to do this by putting forward 26 priority corridors for investment covering nearly 200km through Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and Solihull. 

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Cycling can reduce traffic congestion, improve health and wellbeing and reduce pollution. It is good for the cyclist and good for the wider travelling public so we have set out ambitious targets to increase the number of journeys made by bike in the region. 

“This shows the scale of our ambitions for cycling but we also know that one of the biggest barriers to cycling is safety, so we are planning to focus investment on 26 key routes that link communities across the West Midlands and offer people a genuine alternative to their cars.”

Jesse Norman MP, Minister of State for the Department for Transport, who visited Birmingham recently, said: “Getting people cycling and walking is key to improving air quality, encouraging healthy exercise, and boosting our high streets and economic productivity. 

“These new safe cycle routes, which the Department for Transport is supporting through the Transforming Cities Fund, will help to make cycling the natural choice for journeys across the region. 

"We are also investing around £2 billion to support cycling across the country as part of our long term Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

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50 passion points
Reducing waste
10 Feb 2019 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

Views on a plastic-free Commonwealth Games

Birmingham Friends of the Earth are asking people for their views on on plastic waste at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will take place in Birmingham.

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Views on a plastic-free Commonwealth Games




Birmingham Friends of the Earth are asking people for their views on on plastic waste at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will take place in Birmingham.


Digbeth-based Birmingham Friends of the Earth are looking for the views of people on ways in which the Commonwealth Games can minimise their use of single-use plastics and create a legacy which lasts beyond the games themselves.

They want to gather opinions from the general public, both from Brummies and non-Brummies, to help inform their campaign, which aims to have zero plastic waste from single-use food and drinks containers at the Games.

Running since 1973, Birmingham Friends of the Earth is one of the biggest groups in the Friends of the Earth network, the largest international network of environmental groups in the world, with affiliates in over 75 countries worldwide.  Based in The Warehouse in Digbeth since 1977, Birmingham Friends of the Earth have covered so many issues in and around Birmingham, as well as campaigning on national and global issues as part of the Friends of the Earth network.

To take part in the plastic free Commonwealth Games survey please click here.  Or for more information, visit the Birmingham FoE website: http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk

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40 passion points
Transport
10 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Class 150's: Diesel trains formerly on the Snow Hill lines

The Class 150 diesel multiple unit trains used to be on the Snow Hill lines until around 2011. Most have since gone to other railway franchises such as Great Western Railway. When they were in the Midlands they were used by Regional Railways until 1997, Central Trains from 1997 to 2007 then London Midland from 2007 to 2011. A least one is still owned by West Midlands Railway now.

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Class 150's: Diesel trains formerly on the Snow Hill lines




The Class 150 diesel multiple unit trains used to be on the Snow Hill lines until around 2011. Most have since gone to other railway franchises such as Great Western Railway. When they were in the Midlands they were used by Regional Railways until 1997, Central Trains from 1997 to 2007 then London Midland from 2007 to 2011. A least one is still owned by West Midlands Railway now.


Class 150

These Sprinter Diesel multiple units were built between 1984 and 1987. In the West Midlands, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, they were used on the Snow Hill lines from at least 1987 until they were replaced in 2011 by the then new Class 172 Turbostar DMU's. The then West Midlands franchise operator London Midland kept around 3 of the old Class 150's after 2011 (they are still in current franchise operator West Midlands Railway who took over in late 2017.

Seen at Shirley Station during late June 2010 was London Midland 150016. It was heading for Stourbridge Junction. This view was from the old Haslucks Green Road bridge. That bridge was replaced and rebuilt during 2017. The footbridge in this photo was also later replaced. The new footbridge was built at the other end of the station in 2014. Shirley Station is quite a way away from the Stratford Road in Shirley, and is reachable from there now with the no 49 bus.

My second photography trip to Stratford-upon-Avon was during September 2010. I had just got off London Midland 150013, a semi-fast train that skipped the minor stops between Whitlocks End and Stratford-upon-Avon Station. This view was from the Alcester Road bridge in the town. Now the end of the line, it used to go beyond here to Honeybourne, and it is hoped that the 9 mile stretch would one day be restored. For now, most services that start at Stratford go to at least Stourbridge Junction, or beyond towards Kidderminster or Worcester Foregate Street (via Birmingham Snow Hill).

My first time up to the bridge near Livery Street and Northwood Street (in the Jewellery Quarter) was in August 2011. From here (at the time) you could see Two Snowhill beginning construction (after delays of several years). Seen heading past St Paul's Tram Stop was London Midland 150101 heading into Birmingham Snow Hill Station. After leaving London Midland later in 2011, this train and other 150/1's transferred up to Northern Rail. Around 4 years after the franchise had transferred from Central Trains to London Midland, most of the trains on the Snow Hill lines still had (at the time) the old Central Trains lime green livery.

It was September 2011, and I was heading to Hall Green Station to get the train into Birmingham. And I was hoping to see or catch one of the (then) brand new Class 172 DMU's. But London Midland still had the Class 150's on the Shakespeare line. This was the 10:08 (which I missed). After a 20 minute wait, I caught the next train the 10:28 into Birmingham. It would be another 2 months (November 2011) before I would catch a new Class 172 for the first time to Birmingham Moor Street or Snow Hill.

The view from Kings Norton Station, on the Cross City line. I was standing at platform 4 during April 2012, waiting to go to Longbridge. While one of London Midland's Class 150 trains that they kept, 150109 was seen passing by the abandoned platform 2. Still in the old Central Trains livery. London Midland would later change it into their own green livery, and today it is still part of current franchise operator West Midlands Railways's fleet! This train was slowly heading south towards Hereford. An American man on the platform was chatting to me, and said that he had never seen a train like that before!

Getting to the more recent years and December 2017, the last month of operation under London Midland. I went up to Lye Station near Stourbridge in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley for a photo walk of the town. When I got back to the station, was suprised to see a convoy of a mixture of London Midland DMU's heading towards Stourbridge Junction (or onto Worcester). By then, London Midland's 3 Class 150 DMU's was in their green livery. Seen here behind a Class 170. This convoy had one Class 172, two Class 170's and this one Class 150 (pictured).

My most recent sighting of a Class 150 in the West Midlands was when I caught a glimpse of it passing through Stechford Station during early January 2018. Now operated by West Midlands Railway, this was either 150107 or 150109. It was probably heading down towards the Bedford line (which is now operated by London Northwestern Railway). From here you expect to see the Class 350 EMU's on the West Coast Mainline or Virgin Trains Class 390 Pendolino's (those don't stop here). This view was from the Station Road bridge.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
08 Feb 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - February 2019

Two Chamberlain Square is onto cladding installation and the front colonnade extention is almost complete. The extra columns really help to start showing the emerging architectural style of the building. More photos in the full post.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

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The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - February 2019




Two Chamberlain Square is onto cladding installation and the front colonnade extention is almost complete. The extra columns really help to start showing the emerging architectural style of the building. More photos in the full post.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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100 passion points
Transport
07 Feb 2019 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

Birmingham to Host Transport Summit

Birmingham will play host to a transport summit in March, looking at how transport issues affect everyone in Birmingham and discuss the future of its transport network.

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Birmingham to Host Transport Summit




Birmingham will play host to a transport summit in March, looking at how transport issues affect everyone in Birmingham and discuss the future of its transport network.


The morning will begin with an immersive visit to communities in Birmingham to see the transport challenges they face, looking at how it affects daily living, particularly for the most disadvantaged people in the city.  Participants will visit community facing conversations at different venues within the city, before returning for guest speakers and panellists including Andy McDonald MP, shadow transport secretary; Nick Barton, chief executive, Birmingham Airport; and Laura Shoaf, managing director, Transport for West Midlands.

The summit takes place on Thursday 7 March, and tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/birmingham-transport-summit-tickets-54585852755 

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50 passion points
Construction & regeneration
07 Feb 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - February 2019

One Chamberlain Square is well on the way to completion with just a few external details to finish of. In the sunlight it is actually a very reflective building, lots of photos in this update.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - February 2019




One Chamberlain Square is well on the way to completion with just a few external details to finish of. In the sunlight it is actually a very reflective building, lots of photos in this update.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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90 passion points
People & community
07 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A look back at Chinese New Year 2018 the Year of the Dog

As Chinese New Year 2019 the Year of the Pig gets underway, a look back at the festivities in Birmingham a year ago in 2018. I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to get anything this year, so here's a look at my photos from last year! I mainly saw the yellow Chinese dancing dragon / lion around St Philip's Cathedral. By the weekend main event in the Chinese Quarter.

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A look back at Chinese New Year 2018 the Year of the Dog




As Chinese New Year 2019 the Year of the Pig gets underway, a look back at the festivities in Birmingham a year ago in 2018. I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to get anything this year, so here's a look at my photos from last year! I mainly saw the yellow Chinese dancing dragon / lion around St Philip's Cathedral. By the weekend main event in the Chinese Quarter.


The Bullring bull had a Chinese New Year mask in 2018 (from what I've seen online they reused the same mask for 2019).

This is the black and white filtered version with a splash of colour! Mostly the reds and yellows!

The colour versions back and front! These views were from the 15th February 2018.

One lunchtime on the 16th February 2018, saw a yellow dancing dragon or lion going around St Philip's Cathedral.

Graham Young from the Birmingham Post & Mail was there, as well as Jas Sansi!

Was also some drumming.

The festivities over in the Chinese Quarter over the weekend of the 17th and 18th February 2018.

"Happy Chinese New Year 2018 Year of the Dog". This sponsorship on a digitial billboard was seen on Ladywell Walk near Chung Ying Cantonese Restaurant.

A small fun fair was set up along Ladywell Walk towards Hurst Street. Near the Mapstone building.

This side of Ladywell Walk from near Hurst Street. Another look at the fun fair and market stalls that were on the street at the time.

The stage on Hurst Street being set up. The next day it was full of people enjoying the entertainment!

A day later and performances were taking place on the stage, and there was a crowd full of people there to enjoy the entertainment!

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

 

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30 passion points
People & community
06 Feb 2019 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

Birmingham Bus Survey launched

Ahead of the introduction of the Clean Air Zone, Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, and Birmingham City Council, are urging residents to fill in a survey to let the council know more about why people are chosing not to use the Birmingham bus network, and what they can do to improve passenger numbers.

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Birmingham Bus Survey launched




Ahead of the introduction of the Clean Air Zone, Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, and Birmingham City Council, are urging residents to fill in a survey to let the council know more about why people are chosing not to use the Birmingham bus network, and what they can do to improve passenger numbers.


Birmingham City Council is asking residents to tell them what’s wrong with the city’s buses.

Whilst people using the buses report good levels of satisfaction, the number of people using buses is declining year on year, particularly with people travelling into Birmingham city centre.

With the council working to create a clean air city, and a Clean Air Zone being introduced to Birmingham in 2020, they’re seeking to better understand people’s experiences of bus travel and how it can be improved.  A key part of the clean air city will be encouraging residents and visitors to use more sustainable forms of public transport, like buses, trains, walking and cycling.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “Buses are absolutely vital here in Birmingham and across the West Midlands. However, bus usage across the region has been decreasing, particularly among those who have been travelling into the city centre.

“I want to know what could be done to encourage people to make more of their journeys by bus and to ensure the bus is seen as an attractive, accessible and affordable option for every citizen of Birmingham.

“To this end, I am launching the Birmingham Bus Survey and invite anyone who travels in Birmingham to respond, whether they currently use the bus, by choice or necessity, or haven’t caught a bus in years.  In fact, if we are to get to the heart of why more people are not using the bus, it is essential that we hear from those very people who are NOT regular bus users.”

The Birmingham Bus Survey, which closes on 1 March, can be found at https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/economy/bus-survey/ 

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40 passion points
Sustainable living
05 Feb 2019 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

Zero waste supermarket wins award

The UK's largest zero waste supermarket, based in Birmingham, wins a business grant to expand internationally.

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Zero waste supermarket wins award




The UK's largest zero waste supermarket, based in Birmingham, wins a business grant to expand internationally.


The Clean Kilo in Digbeth was announced as the winner of FedEx Express’ Small Business Grant UK.

The £20,000 grand prize won by the team will help them further expand their reach on a larger, international scale.  The Clean Kilo impressed the judges by outlining plans for international growth.

The Clean Kilo is the UK’s largest zero waste supermarket, which allows customers to reduce unnecessary plastic waste by bringing along their own containers to fill up on everyday items like coffee, bread, eggs and vegetables.  The store also helps customers reduce the food miles as items come from producers and growers from in and around Birmingham, like organically grown salad leaves from Aston.

The FedEx Small Business Grant UK, has been running for three years in Europe and aims to provide small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with the support necessary to achieve their dream of growing worldwide.

“We are over the moon to have won the FedEx Small Business Grant, 2018,” said Tom Pell and Jeannette Wong, of The Clean Kilo. “The £20,000 grant will enable us to reduce plastic pollution on a far greater level and help open the door for a second plastic free supermarket. The ability to replicate our shop gives us the foundations to help realise our long-term dream. We want to offer our knowledge on environmental issues and plastic-free shopping in the world’s most polluted developing countries. With the FedEx grant we can have a greater impact to turn off the plastic pollution tap.”

The Clean Kilo is located just inside Birmingham’s iconic Custard Factory at 1 Gibb Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4AA and their website can be found at https://www.thecleankilo.co.uk/ 

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30 passion points
Reducing waste
05 Feb 2019 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

Volunteers needed for Refill Birmingham Action Day

Refill Birmingham Action Day is looking for volunteers to help encourage businesses to offer free tap water

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Volunteers needed for Refill Birmingham Action Day




Refill Birmingham Action Day is looking for volunteers to help encourage businesses to offer free tap water


Severn Trent is looking for volunteers to help improve Brummies access to free tap water.

Refill Birmingham Action Day will take place Tuesday 19 March.  Volunteers will be provided everything they need for the day, where they will be out and about in pairs approaching local businesses to spread the word about the Refill campaign, and hopefully signing them up to the free Refill app, and putting a Refill sticker in their window.

Refill aims to reduce single-use plastic usage by making it easier to refill reusable water bottles.  With over 600 businesses already signed up in the region, the water company is hoping to encourage more venues to become Refill Stations.  These stations provide people with free access to tap water to encourage healthy hydration and a reduction in single-use plastic.

Severn Trent estimate that if customer refilled just once a week instead of buying a bottle of water, the region's plastic consumption would be reduced by 400 million bottles in just one year.  Not only are single-use plastic bottles are expensive to produce and therefore to bu, they are a large contributor of plastic pollution in our rivers, seas and natural habitats.  

If you would like to get involved please email Refill@SevernTrent.co.uk 

Find out more about Refill at www.stwater.co.uk/refill

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40 passion points
Civic pride
05 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Joseph Gillott: manufacturer of steel pens

It was not just jewellery that was made in the Jewellery Quarter. Pens were made there too! Joseph Gillott made pens at his Victoria Works factory on the corner of Frederick Street and Graham Street. You can see a display of some of his pens at The Pen Museum on Frederick Street. There is also a marble bust of Joseph Gillott in the Council House.

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Joseph Gillott: manufacturer of steel pens




It was not just jewellery that was made in the Jewellery Quarter. Pens were made there too! Joseph Gillott made pens at his Victoria Works factory on the corner of Frederick Street and Graham Street. You can see a display of some of his pens at The Pen Museum on Frederick Street. There is also a marble bust of Joseph Gillott in the Council House.


Joseph Gillott

He was born in Sheffield in 1799, and he died in Birmingham in 1872 aged 72. He moved to Birmingham in 1821. He started manufacturing steel pens with machinery from about 1830. The Victoria Works on Frederick Street was opened in 1840. His home for many years was 'The Grove' on Westbourne Road in Edgbaston.

The marble bust (below) of Joseph Gillott is seen at the Council House and was made by the artist Peter Hollins (1800 - 1886). You can see it close to the main entrance on one of the sides near a wall.

The Pen Museum is a museum in the Jewellery Quarter, at the Argent Centre located on Frederick Street. The building itself used to be a pen factory and is a Grade II* listed building. A look at the Joseph Gillott display at the museum. I visited during Birmingham Heritage Week back in September 2016.

On the wall Joseph Gillott Pen Maker to the Queen. Showing various steel pen nibs.

This table cabinet display about the Victoria Works (more on that later in this post). It had various Joseph Gillott steel pens and steel pen nibs inside. As well as photos of his marble bust, his portrait and his grave at Key Hill Cemetery.

Close up look at one of Joseph Gillott's steel pens made in about 1845. His company has been making pens since 1827 and is now part of William Mitchell Ltd.

1001 Spring Ground Mammoth Quill Circa 1845 - The Largest Pen Made.

The Victoria Works is a Grade II listed building not far from The Argent Centre on the corner of Frederick Street and Graham Street in the Jewellery Quarter. I saw it after my visit to The Pen Museum during Birmingham Heritage Week in September 2016. It was formerly listed as the Flagstaff building. The main building seen on the corner was built from 1838 to 1845. Made of red brick with ashlar and stucco dressings. The steel pen factory of Joseph Gillott opened up here in 1840.

On the Graham Street side is a blue plaque for Joseph Gillott from English Heritage. The plaque reads: "These were the premises of JOSEPH GILLOTT 1799-1873 Steel Pen Manufacturer". This was probably the main entrance to the Victoria Works.

This next building, part of the Victoria Works on the corner of Graham Street and Vittoria Street was built in 1887. Other parts of the former factory were built in 1850. On the Graham Street side is medallion bust of Queen Victoria, probably installed for her Golden Jubilee. This building post dates the death of Joseph Gillott.

The view of the Victoria Works from the corner of Graham Street and Vittoria Street. There is a modern roof section closer to the Vittoria Street side. This building is also of red brick. No longer a factory, there are various different small companies occupying the building.

If you stop to look at the pavement on Frederick Street (or other nearby streets in the Jewellery Quarter), look out for these that are part of the Charm Bracelet Trail. I saw this one for Joseph Gillott in December 2012. It reads: "C 1840 Hi Nibs. Joseph Gillott opened Victoria Works".

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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70 passion points
Photography
04 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Snow on Birmingham statues in previous years

Well, there has been no snow in Birmingham, while the rest of the country has had a dusting of the white stuff. Somehow Birmingham stayed mostly dry with blue skies! Looking back to previous years when it did snow in Birmingham. To our wonderful statues covered in snow! For instance see Victoria Square covered in snow in January 2013!

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Snow on Birmingham statues in previous years




Well, there has been no snow in Birmingham, while the rest of the country has had a dusting of the white stuff. Somehow Birmingham stayed mostly dry with blue skies! Looking back to previous years when it did snow in Birmingham. To our wonderful statues covered in snow! For instance see Victoria Square covered in snow in January 2013!


Iron: Man by Antony Gormley (now in storage). To the right was the Town Hall and can you see the Alpha Tower? This was on the 18th January 2013. A very snowy day in the city! The statue was moved into storage in 2017 for the West Midlands Metro extension to Centenary Square. The extension from Victoria Square onto Paradise Street is far from finished! Gormley made it in 1993.

The Floozie in the Jacuzzi is looking freezing on that snowy day in January 2013. The fountain was still working at the time. The sculptures here made by Dhruva Mistry in 1993. This area is now full of plants like a landscaped garden as the council was finding it difficult to repair the fountain all the time! Victoria Square House behind.

One of the Sphinx Guardians in Victoria Square facing the Council House. Covered in snow during January 2013. Also by Dhruva Mistry in 1993.

The other Sphinx Guardian in Victoria Square facing Christ Church Passage, also seen during that same snowy day in January 2013! Also by Dhruva Mistry in 1993.

The last major snow event in Birmingham was during the Beast from the East during early March 2018. It was freezing back then! It was snowing at the Bullring and you can see a light dusting on St Martin's Church and the statue of Horatio Nelson. There was more proper snow a few days after this, and a couple weeks later during the second Beast from the East event. Statue by Richard Westmacott in 1809. Probably one of the oldest statues in Birmingham! St Martin's Church seen behind.

The bronze statue of William McGregor in the snow of January 2010 at Villa Park. Statue made in 2009 by Sam Holland. See my post on him here William McGregor: Director of Aston Villa and Founder of the Football League.

One of my earliest visits to the University of Birmingham was in December 2009 to see the statue of King George I outside the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Made in 1722 by John van Nost the Elder it was in Dublin, Ireland until it was moved to Birmingham in 1937.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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40 passion points
Construction & regeneration
03 Feb 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Bank Tower Two - February 2019

Bank Tower Two at the Leftbank development is now structurally complete, a beautiful day for this photo update, more in the full post.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

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The Construction of Bank Tower Two - February 2019




Bank Tower Two at the Leftbank development is now structurally complete, a beautiful day for this photo update, more in the full post.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
02 Feb 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The ever-changing Birmingham Skyline - views into the City from Clent

In this post we take a look at how the Birmingham skyline has changed over the past 12 months.

All images have been taken from Clent Hills by Birmingham's People with Passion, Daniel Sturley.

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The ever-changing Birmingham Skyline - views into the City from Clent




In this post we take a look at how the Birmingham skyline has changed over the past 12 months.

All images have been taken from Clent Hills by Birmingham's People with Passion, Daniel Sturley.


Birmingham skyline as seen from Clent Hills (February 2018) 

 

Birmingham skyline as seen from Clent Hills (May 2018)

 

Birmingham skyline as seen from Clent Hills (July 2018)

 

Birmingham skyline as seen from Clent Hills (February 2019)

 

Birmingham skyline as seen from Clent Hills (February 2019) - zoomed in.

All photography courtesy Daniel Sturley.

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30 passion points
Construction & regeneration
02 Feb 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Birmingham Construction, Cranes Across the City - February 2019 Update

Photos of cranes across the city between September and January 2019.

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Birmingham Construction, Cranes Across the City - February 2019 Update




Photos of cranes across the city between September and January 2019.


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
02 Feb 2019 - FreeTimePays
Did you know?

'Time Capsules' & 'Topping Out' ceremonies explained

Daniel Sturley, a member of the community and follower of all things construction, was recently invited to join Wates at a ceremony to mark the 'topping out' of Bank Tower Two.

But what is 'topping out' and what are these 'time-capsules'?

Here we share with the community, the reason behind, and the history behind, these ceremonies.

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'Time Capsules' & 'Topping Out' ceremonies explained




Daniel Sturley, a member of the community and follower of all things construction, was recently invited to join Wates at a ceremony to mark the 'topping out' of Bank Tower Two.

But what is 'topping out' and what are these 'time-capsules'?

Here we share with the community, the reason behind, and the history behind, these ceremonies.


What is 'topping out'?

In the construction industry 'topping out' which is also referred to as 'topping off' is normally held when the last beam is placed atop a structure. 

The practice of "topping out" a new building can be traced back to an ancient Scandinavian rite which involved the placing of a tree atop a new building.

Here the Wates team perform their 'topping out' ceremony atop Tower Bank Two.

And what about the 'time capsule'?

A time capsule is a cache containing goods and information specific to the time period in which the build took place.  

Where it is placed or buried is often a well protected secret.

Here's the Wates team with their time capsule. 

Go here to see how the British Library suggests a time capsule is prepared. 

All photography taken by Daniel Sturley.

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30 passion points
Civic pride
02 Feb 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

City of Birmingham 130 years a City

On the 14th January 2019 the City of Birmingham celebrated being a city for 130 years. A visual display outside the Council House after dark from 4pm to 6pm that day. Brum 130 Beyond Bricks and Mortar was a film projected onto the side of the Council House by the graffiti artist Mohammed Ali (also known as Aerosol Ali). In this post is photo gallery from that evening as I passed through!

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City of Birmingham 130 years a City




On the 14th January 2019 the City of Birmingham celebrated being a city for 130 years. A visual display outside the Council House after dark from 4pm to 6pm that day. Brum 130 Beyond Bricks and Mortar was a film projected onto the side of the Council House by the graffiti artist Mohammed Ali (also known as Aerosol Ali). In this post is photo gallery from that evening as I passed through!


The full title of this projected film was Brum 130 Beyond Bricks and Mortar .

Birmingham received City Status on the 14th January 1889. On the 14th January 2019 there was an event held in Victoria Square between 4pm and 6pm. It was still getting dark by 4.30pm to 5pm. I went to check it out briefly on the day after 5pm. The film was by Mohammed Ali also known as Aerosol Ali.

This digital billboard seen on the Council House balcony on the 13th January 2019 (a day before the anniversary).

I actually took these photos from the top of Victoria Square starting at Colmore Row, going down the steps. But it actually looks better seeing the photos in reverse!

Some bonus photos commemorating the last major anniversary of Birmingham's City Status which was back in 1989 (30 years ago).

City of Birmingham Centenary Festival 1889 1989

Saw this plaque in the Council House while I was at Birmingham We Are's event back in early November 2018. On Maundy Thursday 23rd March 1989 this plaque was unveiled to commemorate the visit of Her Majesty the Queen during the City of Birmingham's Centenary Year.

I've had this medallion souvenir for around 30 years (so have had it since sometime in 1989). It was an Official Souvenir Medallion for the City of Birmingham Centenary. On this side showing a version of Birmingham's famous Forward coat of arms.

On the reverse it says City of Birmingham Centenary Festival 1889 1989. Has anyone thought of making a souvenir for 2019? City of Birmingham 130th Birthday 1889 2019!

Photos taken by Elliott Brown in Victoria Square in mid January 2019.

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
31 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

Wow! What a view across Birmingham (and then some) from the top of Bank Tower Two

Daniel Sturley, a Birmingham community photographer and one of the City's incredibly talented and inspired 'People with Passion', was invited by Wates to the topping out ceremony at Bank Tower Two in Birmingham to take some skyline photography.

Just take a look at the view from up there!  What a brilliant gallery of photography!

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Wow! What a view across Birmingham (and then some) from the top of Bank Tower Two




Daniel Sturley, a Birmingham community photographer and one of the City's incredibly talented and inspired 'People with Passion', was invited by Wates to the topping out ceremony at Bank Tower Two in Birmingham to take some skyline photography.

Just take a look at the view from up there!  What a brilliant gallery of photography!


All photography by community photographer Daniel Sturley

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50 passion points
Green travel
30 Jan 2019 - Laura Creaven
News & Updates

New Cycle Stands in the city centre

If you're heading for Steelhouse Lane or the Bullring, these new cycle stands may provide useful places to lock your bicycle up to

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New Cycle Stands in the city centre




If you're heading for Steelhouse Lane or the Bullring, these new cycle stands may provide useful places to lock your bicycle up to


New bicycle stands have appeared around the city centre for cycling enthusiasts to lock their bikes to whilst they work or shop.

New stands have been spotted around Steelhouse Lane, near the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, as well as on Edgbaston St outside Debenhams in the Bullring.

(photo taken by BrumCyclist. Used with permission)

These new stands are no doubt part of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution, an ambitious 20 year plan to support cyclists across the city.  The project aims to make cycling an integral part of the city’s transport network with cycling part of everyday life -  their vision is for 10% of all journeys in Birmingham in 2033 to be made by bike.  Birmingham Cycle Revolution projects have included upgrades to the city’s canal towpaths and the creation of cycleways along the A38 (Bristol Rd) and A34 (Perry Barr in to/out of the city centre).

For more information about Birmingham Cycle Revolution, visit https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/bcr 

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50 passion points
History & heritage
30 Jan 2019 - Pete Davies
Gallery

A collection of photography taken during a guided tour of St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham

A  lovely collection of photography taken by Pete Davies 'people with passion', during his guided tour of  St. Philips's Cathedral, Birmingham.

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A collection of photography taken during a guided tour of St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham




A  lovely collection of photography taken by Pete Davies 'people with passion', during his guided tour of  St. Philips's Cathedral, Birmingham.


 

 

 

 

 

Photography taken by Pete Davies

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50 passion points
Photography
30 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Famous movie cars spotted in Birmingham

I'm a big fan of the Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Batman movie franchises. So when I heard that the famous movie cars were coming to Birmingham, I had to see them! The DeLorean from the Back to the Future Trilogy, Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters and Ecto 1A from Ghostbusters 2. Even the Batmobile from Batman (1989) has been to the city!

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Famous movie cars spotted in Birmingham




I'm a big fan of the Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Batman movie franchises. So when I heard that the famous movie cars were coming to Birmingham, I had to see them! The DeLorean from the Back to the Future Trilogy, Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters and Ecto 1A from Ghostbusters 2. Even the Batmobile from Batman (1989) has been to the city!


The Back to the Future DeLorean

The Acocks Green Village BID held an event in the village on the 1st August 2015 called the Alien Invasion of Acocks Green. And this is when the Back to the Future DeLorean visited. Seen near some shops on the Warwick Road. This appears like the famous movie car as it was in the hit movie Back to the Future Part II (released in 1989). You also see it hover converting at the end of the classic 1985 movie!

 A Marty McFly impersonator was on site dressed like Marty was in the second movie. With the colourful baseball hat and the self drying jacket! The movie went to 2015 with hoverboards, flying cars etc. But none of this technology happened by the time we were in 2015!

BTTF DeLorean at MCM Birmingham Comic Con

The second DeLorean I saw from Back to the Future was at the MCM Birmingham Comic Con, held at the Birmingham NEC. I went to the comic book convention in November 2016. Don't usually go to things like this much, and this was the only MCM Comic Con I've been to. I've not been back since. This DeLorean also resembled the version from BTTF Part II. And this time was an man dressed as Doctor Emmett Brown, aka the Doc!

Along side the car was various skateboards and hoverboards based on those used in the movie. Including the Pit Bull used by the bad guy Griff Tatten. While Marty McFly used a Mattel Hoverboard!

Front view of the DeLorean at the MCM Comic Con at the NEC. Gull wing door open and and some of the hats from the second movie.

Also seen behind was an image of Twin Pines Mall from the first movie. Doc used Plutonium to power the DeLorean and when it hit 88 miles per hour it went back or forward in time! By the end of the first movie and into the second, the Doc had replaced the power source with rubbish (or garbage as Americans like to call it, or trash!). In the Mr Fusion reactor at the back! The camcorder that Marty used to record the first time travel experiment on the 26th October 1985 at 1:21am.

Ecto 1A - Ghostbusters II - Navigation Street

This one was completely random and unexpected. Seen on Navigation Street close to The Mailbox (on the 14th March 2015) was this wedding hire car that looked like the Ecto 1A from the movie Ghostbusters II (released in 1989). It was one of the first movies I saw a as child during the Christmas season of 1989 (Vigo the Carpathian was scary for an 7 year old). The car headed under the underpass below Suffolk Street Queensway, before turning back around. It had the distincitive two fingers Ghostbuster logo on the car.

If there's something strange, in the neighbourhood, who ya gunna call? Reports of a ghost on the loose at The Mailbox was a false alarm. They were now seen heading in the direction of Birmingham New Street Station. At the time a movie was in production for 2016, which turned out to be an all female reboot. Recently another movie in the original Ghostbusters movie timeline has been announced for summer 2020.

The car does look pretty cool don't you think? Seen here going past Sainsbury's Local near the Orion Building, stuck in traffic. Bustin' makes me feel good! Two in the box, ready to go, we be fast and they be slow!

Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters at Broadway Plaza

Another Ghostbusters car made an appearance at Broadway Plaza near Ladywood Middleway (outside the casino and what was the former entrance to the ex Children's Hospital) on the 23rd July 2016. I think this was while the Ghostbusters (2016) movie was in cinemas (also known as Ghosbusters: Answer the Call). The car is the Ecto 1 from the original Ghostbusters from 1984.

This is obviously based on the car from the first Ghostbusters movie, as it has the original Ghostbusters no ghosts logo on it. Rumour of a ghost on the loose at the former Children's Hospital was a false alarm! Although maybe Broadway Plaza spotted Slimer flying around, and slimming people?

From where the Ghostbusters car was, you can head up the path to the Odeon cinema. It used to be an AMC until 2012. Last year in 2018, Odeon turned it into an Odeon Luxe. In January 2019 it was announced that a new Ghostbusters movie will be made for a summer 2020 release set in the original Ghostbusters movie universe.

Batmobile from Batman (1989) at Broadway Plaza

Just over a year later on the 26th August 2017, the Batmobile from the movie Batman (released in 1989) was seen in the same spot as the Ecto 1 the year before. A version of it was also used in Batman Returns from 1992. Like all the cars here, this is a replica and not a screen used car.

It was Superhero Day at Broadway Plaza, although I didn't see Batman around, just his car!

My first Batman movie at the cinema was Batman Forever in 1995. I was too young when the first two movies came out (later saw them on TV). I've seen all live action Batman movies (of all incarnations) at the big screen since.

The most recent appearance for Batman was in Justice League that came out in 2017, and before that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. There was also the Lego Batman Movie which would have been more suitable for young kids. I wasn't aware of Broadway Plaza having a movie car like this there in 2018, as I didn't see anything on their social media accounts. Then again I stopped going to Odeon Broadway Plaza when they turned it into a Luxe. I prefer my cinemas to have normal seats, so I now go to either: Odeon New Street, Cineworld Broad Street or Empire Great Park Birmingham (Rubery).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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40 passion points
History & heritage
28 Jan 2019 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

Wonderful collection of photography taken during a guided tour of St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham

We hope you enjoy our gallery of 50 superb photographs taken during a guided tour of St Philip's Cathedral with Birmingham's People with Passion in January 2019. 

 

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Wonderful collection of photography taken during a guided tour of St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham




We hope you enjoy our gallery of 50 superb photographs taken during a guided tour of St Philip's Cathedral with Birmingham's People with Passion in January 2019. 

 


Our guide Andrew. Photography courtesy Christine Wright

 

Photography courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Photography courtesy Stephen Cooper

 

Photography courtesy Mac McCreery 

 

Photography courtesy Rob Perry-Griffiths

 

Photography courtesy Kevin Maslin

 

Photography courtesy Beverly Dakin

 

Photography courtesy Elliott Brown 

 

Photography courtesy Damien Walmsley

 

Photography courtesy Kev Maslin

 

Photography courtesy Jay Mason-Burns 

 

Photography courtesy Christine Wright

 

Photography courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Photography courtesy Stephen Cooper

 

Photography courtesy Rob Perry-Griffiths

 

Photography courtesy Mac McCreery 

 

Photography courtesy Kev Maslin 

 

Photography courtesy Jay Mason-Burns 

 

Photography courtesy Christine Wright 

 

Photography courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Photography courtesy Beverly Dakin 

 

Photography courtesy Stephen Cooper

 

Photography courtesy Rob Perry-Griffiths 

 

Photography courtesy Damien Walmsley

 

Photography courtesy Christine Wright

 

Photography courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Photography courtesy Jay Mason-Burns

 

Photography courtesy Rob Perry-Griffiths 

 

Photography courtesy Kay Emblen-Perry

 

Photography courtesy Damien Walmsley

 

Photography courtesy Stephen Cooper

 

Photography courtesy Jay Mason-Burns

 

Photography courtesy Christine Wright

 

Photography courtesy Damien Walmsley

 

Photography courtesy Kay Emblen-Perry

 

Photography courtesy Damien Walmsley

 

Photography courtesy Christine Wright

 

Photography courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Photography courtesy Kev Maslin

 

Photography courtesy Damien Walmsley

 

Photography courtesy Christine Wright


Photography courtesy Jay Mason-Burns

 

Photography courtesy Rob Perry-Griffiths

 

Photography courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Photography courtesy Damien Walmsley

 

Photography courtesy Kev Maslin

 

Photography courtesy Damien Walmsley

 

Photography courtesy Rob Perry-Griffiths

 

Photography courtesy Elliott Brown

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50 passion points
Architecture
28 Jan 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham Cathedral: The Cathedral Church of St Philip

A group of Birmingham We Are photographers along with Jonathan Bostock visted Birmingham Cathedral on the 26th January 2019. This post will be about the history of the Cathedral. My older exterior photos taken over the years passing through the Cathedral Square. New interiors taken on the visit with the group. More details on the history in the post below.

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Birmingham Cathedral: The Cathedral Church of St Philip




A group of Birmingham We Are photographers along with Jonathan Bostock visted Birmingham Cathedral on the 26th January 2019. This post will be about the history of the Cathedral. My older exterior photos taken over the years passing through the Cathedral Square. New interiors taken on the visit with the group. More details on the history in the post below.


St Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham

Originally built as a Parish Church on a plot of land in what is now the Colmore Business District (it wasn't that back in the 1700s). First built in 1715. The cathedral celebrated their 300th birthday in 2015. It was designed in the Baroque style by Thomas Archer. It was granted Cathedral Status in 1905. Around 16 years after Birmingham was granted City Status! Located between Colmore Row, Temple Row, Temple Row West and St Philip's Place. A Grade I listed building. It is the third smallest cathedral in England.

This view below from June 2009. The rear side of the cathedral. Colmore Row is to the right, Temple Row to the left.

The 2nd view also from June 2009, similar to the above view. It is easy to walk between the bus interchanges through the Cathedral Square. Some people call it the Pigeon Park (I don't). I prefer something like the St Philip's Churchyard or St Philip's Cathedral Grounds. Victoria Square is a short distance away from here. The Grand Hotel at the time was under scaffolding, and restoration had yet to begin at that time. Birmingham Snow Hill Station is over to the right of here.

This view below was taken during April 2011. With a nice blue sky. The stone looks especially nice in that light. The cathedral was designed in 1709 and consecrated in 1715. But the tower wasn't completed until 1725. It was a major monument of the English Baroque. J A Chatwin refaced the church between 1864 to 1869. Was restored after World War 2 between 1947 to 1948. A more recent refurbishment took place in 2015 ahead of it's 300th anniversary.

Another April 2011 view. If you are heading from Bull Street, then up Temple Row, you might go through the entrance and up this way towards Colmore Row / Temple Row West. Scaffolding still on the Grand Hotel. The BT Tower was also visible while it was nice and sunny that spring day! The Parish Church of St Martin was too small for the growing town in the early 18th century, and this land was found, to found a new church. As it was expected that the town would grow.

This view was taken in March 2014, on anther sunny early spring day. The main entrance to the Cathedral is through the big doors on the right. The bell tower seen above. The weather vane and orb seen high above the clock was restored later in 2014. The restoration was funded by the Calthorpe Estates. As the heirs of Sir Richard Gough, who originally asked King George I for funds to finish of the tower.

Seen in the snow of December 2017, as I walked from St Philip's Cathedral towards St Paul's Church in the Jewellery Quarter. St Philip's used to be surrounded by a Georgian square, but most of the buildings have changed over the years. Many of the buildings on Colmore Row and Temple Row West are from the Victorian era. The buildings on Temple Row are mostly from the 20th century. Really looks like a picture postcard with snow, perfect for a Christmas card style image!

My most recent exterior photo was taken in January 2019. I was heading to Victoria Square to check out the projections celebrating Birmingham's 130th birthday as a City. This is the side facing Colmore Row. It looks quite nice lit up after dark.

Some memorials seen outside of the Cathedral.

Charles Gore (1853–1932) was the First Bishop of Birmingham. He was bishop from 1905 until 1911. Previously he was also Bishop of Worcester from 1901 until he helped create the Diocse of Birmingham. He was later Bishop of Oxford from 1911 until 1919. The bronze statue seen outside of the cathedral was made by Stirling Lee in 1914 and is Grade II listed. This view from May 2009.

Also seen in May 2009 was this obelisk. The Burnaby Obelisk. Grade II listed. It was in memory of Frederick G. Burnaby (1842 - 1885). He stood as a Conservative Party candidate for Birmingham in 1880 (as an MP). He died at Battle of Abu Klea, Sudan on January 16th 1885. It was made by Robert Bridgeman of Lichfield. He also fought at Khiva in 1875, a well as Abu Klea in 1885. There is an oval portrait medallion on one side of the obelisk. It is made of Portland stone and was unveiled by Lord Charles Beresford on the 13th November 1885.

This banner was seen in the entrance hall during 2015. Welcome Come & See. December 2015 was near the end of the tri-centenary year. 1715 - 2015 (300 years since the Cathedral was built as a Church). The banner is not there now.

Interior views taken during the Birmingham We Are morning visit. This end from close to the entrance as I waited for other members of the group to arrive. The trio of Burne-Jones windows are at the far end near the High Alter.

This side, with the High Alter behind me. Looking towards the fourth Burne-Jones window below the bell tower. We only had access to the ground floor, so were unable to go upstairs or up the tower.

Now closer to the end below the bell tower, and again looking towards the High Alter end. Plenty of columns along the aisle and memorials to those who are buried in the cathedral.

Now a look at the four Edward Burne-Jones windows. They were made between 1885 and 1897. Burne-Jones designed them while William Morris made them.

This one is the stained glass window below the bell tower. A winged angel with a horn, similar to the Shofar used at Rosh Hashanah.

The main central window at the High Alter end.

High alter window on the right, a crucifixion scene.

The final window at the high alter end on the left. They look better from the inside. From the outside you can't really see the colours.

Organ. The organ dates to 1715 and has been restored and re-gilded. It's sound replicates that of an orchestra.

The Bishops Seat. This is where the Bishop of Birmingham sits during a service. Look above and see the Bishop's hat or mitre. The seat is also known as a Cathedra.

High Alter Cross. It was made in the Jewellery Quarter by a jeweller and artist called John Donald. It is a stunning cross with a piece of quartz at the centre. It is seen below the trio of Burne-Jones windows.

Birmingham Bell. It came from the HMS Birmingham and is dated 1976. Was used as a font for baptisms aboard the ship. There has been at least three Navy ships called HMS Birmingham. The first from 1913 - 1931, the second from 1936 - 1960, and the third from 1976 - 1999. The bell is rung for baptisms today.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
27 Jan 2019 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

103 Colmore Row, Birmingham - latest update

A peak above the hoardings of 103 Colmore Row reveals a hive of activity. This 223,631 sq.ft office tower is the largest under construction outside of London. Photo: Gtr Bham Dev.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

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103 Colmore Row, Birmingham - latest update




A peak above the hoardings of 103 Colmore Row reveals a hive of activity. This 223,631 sq.ft office tower is the largest under construction outside of London. Photo: Gtr Bham Dev.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


The building will feature restaurants on the ground & top floors, winter garden & an 18th floor terrace.

Here we have artists impressions of the final build from construction lead BAM and some photos of the demolition of the old Natwest Tower.

Above images from BAM.

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40 passion points
Construction & regeneration
25 Jan 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - January 2019

Two Chamberlain Square is now structurally complete, the front collanade almost finished, work on the exterior next. Local people will be able to stop calling it the 'car park' soon. More photos in the full post.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

 

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The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - January 2019




Two Chamberlain Square is now structurally complete, the front collanade almost finished, work on the exterior next. Local people will be able to stop calling it the 'car park' soon. More photos in the full post.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map

 


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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