Here we will look at the Birmingham Big Wheel and other rides that have been in Centenary Square over the years. Eventually Ice Skate Birmingham took it over. My earliest photos from 2009. Ice Skate Birmingham was held in Centenary Square until 2016 (moving to Eastside for 2017 and 2018) before returning now in 2019.

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Birmingham Big Wheel and (later) Ice Skate Birmingham in Centenary Square (2009 - 2016, 2019 - present)





Here we will look at the Birmingham Big Wheel and other rides that have been in Centenary Square over the years. Eventually Ice Skate Birmingham took it over. My earliest photos from 2009. Ice Skate Birmingham was held in Centenary Square until 2016 (moving to Eastside for 2017 and 2018) before returning now in 2019.


Ice Skate Birmingham has been running the Big Wheel and ice rink since at least 2016 in Centenary Square (also in Eastside City Park). Known as Winter Skate between 2013 and 2015. Before then it was just the Birmingham Big Wheel (and sometimes a few other rides).

Of course the Birmingham Big Wheel had been in Centenary Square before 2009 (10 years ago). But I only started taking photos of Brum back in 2009. So first got the Big Wheel in November and December 2009.

2009

Seen here in November 2009 in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Big Wheel sponsored by the Birmingham Mail. With Symphony Hall and The ICC Birmingham behind. Raining and gale force winds at the time.

It was now December 2009, and getting another view of the Birmingham Big Wheel at sunset. On my walk back into town after seeing Avatar at the cinema. The Christmas Craft Market was also in Centenary Square at the time.

I didn't get photos of the Birmingham Big Wheel in 2010 or 2011. Instead by December 2011 I only took photos of a Chair-o-Planes ride in Centenary Square.

2011

Close to The REP side of Centenary Square was a ride I called the Chair-o-Planes ride. Was other fun fair likes stalls around here.

Similar to what is in Centenary Square now, but much closer to the ground.

By 2012 you could already see the Library of Birmingham, around a year before it was due to open in Centenary Square.

2012

The Chair-o-Planes ride seen with the new (then still under construction) Library of Birmingham behind. Seen in November 2012.

For the first time you could see the Birmingham Big Wheel with the Library of Birmingham. The gold cladding around the Shakespeare Memorial Room wasn't quite finished (the Skyline Viewpoint would also be up there). Chair-o-Planes ride to the right now.

Now in December 2012 in the evening. The Birmingham Big Wheel and Chair-o-Planes rides lit up after dark. Couldn't see the Library of Birmingham as they hadn't turned on the lights (still a construction site until September 2013).

This view from Broad Street towards The REP. The same fun fair style stalls that they had there a year before.

The ice rink returned to Centenary Square in 2013 after the new Library of Birmingham opened. At this time they called it Winter Skate.

2013

The new Library of Birmingham opened to the public in September 2013. By November 2013, the Birmingham Big Wheel was back, and for the first time an ice rink called (at the time) Winter Skate. This was from the Discovery Terrace. This ice rink was not covered.

Another Discovery Terrace view towards Symphony Hall. The beginnings of Ice Skate Birmingham as Winter Skate. They would return here every year until 2016.

The Birmingham Big Wheel and Winter Skate seen during December 2013 in the evening. This view towards the Hall of Memory. I was heading to the Library of Birmingham.

For the first time you could get the Big Wheel with the Library of Birmingham after dark. They even had a Christmas tree in the Amphitheatre below.

Just a few arty shots in 2014.

2014

Reflection of the Birmingham Big Wheel on Christmas Eve 2014 in the Library of Birmingham. December 2014.

Reflection of the Big Wheel from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham.

View from Gas Street Basin with the Library of Birmingham seen behind. A few days before the end of December 2014.

I'm not sure if they were calling it Ice Skate Birmingham in 2015, but they had the ice rink there. Just more shots of the Big Wheel and a few details. Or it may have still been called Winter Skate Birmingham.

2015

A few nightshots. I noticed that the Birmingham Big Wheel kept changing colours every few seconds. This view towards Symphony Hall and The REP from Broad Street. November 2015.

There was still bus stops at this end of Broad Street, so around 4 years before the Westside Metro extension is due to open (and was 2 years before construction even began).

View from the Library of Birmingham of customers getting onto the Big Wheel. Looked like they had slightly changed the ice rink behind. Buses still using that end of Broad Street at the time.

Now December 2015 on Boxing Day. Ice Bar at what was Winter Skate Birmingham (now Ice Skate Birmingham). The ICC was closed on that day.

It finally got the Ice Skate Birmingham name in 2016. This would be the last year in Centenary Square before a temporary two year move to Eastside City Park (due to the impending redevelopment of the square). After a delay they returned for the 2019 Christmas season.

2016

This view of Ice Skate Birmingham from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham during December 2016. The last time it was in the 1991 style Centenary Square. It was open here until January 2017.

The major difference with the ice rink this time was an artificial Christmas tree in the centre. But still not covered, to protect you from the rain and snow (that would change in future years).

Closer look at the artificial Christmas tree in the middle.

A couple of Ice Skate Birmingham workers scrape the ice after people had skated over it.

Centenary Square would be mostly closed for redevelopment in 2017 and in 2018. And it didn't fully reopen until July 2019. That meant Ice Skate Birmingham had to find somewhere else. They were on Eastside Green in Eastside City Park for the two Christmas seasons they couldn't be in Westside (I will do a separate post of those years on Ice Skate Birmingham in Eastside).

2019

Being set up during the middle of October 2019. Ice Skate Birmingham is back in Centenary Square for the first time in 3 years and is bigger than ever. At this time the covered ice rink was awaiting a few more panels. And the Big Wheel yet to get the spindles for passengers to ride in. The view from near the Hall of Memory.

The view from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham. When Centenary Square looked like a constructions site again. Only months after fully reopening. Then again the Westside Metro extension is due to open to Centenary Square by December 2019. And the Symphony Hall redevelopment will be finished sometime in 2020.

By the end of October 2019, the Star Flyer had been installed. Fences here for the Symphony Hall redevelopment and the Westside Metro extension. There was a path straight ahead to walk up towards Centenary Way and Paradise Birmingham. Library of Birmingham seen to the left.

Hoping to get Ice Skate Birmingham after dark in the middle of November 2019. I went to Cineworld and saw the film Le Mans '66. After leaving it was raining heavily but still got my photos. The Star Flyer flying after dark and the Big Wheel lit up.

I walked along the path alongside Arena Central going past the former Municipal Bank (being redeveloped for the University of Birmingham) and HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square. Here before heading down the steps you can also see the complete tracks for the Westside Metro extension. I have yet to see a tram in test on them (yet).

The ice rink is now covered and lit inside. So rain (or snow) outside would not effect the inside of the ice rink at Ice Skate Birmingham. It was also covered when they were at Eastside City Park in the two previous winter seasons.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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