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

History of The Grand Hotel, Birmingham

The Grand Hotel, Birmingham was established in 1879 on a site on Colmore Row on land owned by Isaac Horton and the architect was Thomson Plevins. The Victorian hotel was near the original Victorian Snow Hill Station. Derelict for many years. Most of the 2010s was spent restoring the hotel. Also down Church Street.

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History of The Grand Hotel, Birmingham





The Grand Hotel, Birmingham was established in 1879 on a site on Colmore Row on land owned by Isaac Horton and the architect was Thomson Plevins. The Victorian hotel was near the original Victorian Snow Hill Station. Derelict for many years. Most of the 2010s was spent restoring the hotel. Also down Church Street.


The Grand Hotel, Birmingham

Built between 1875 and 1879 The Grand Hotel was opened on the 1st February 1879. It was build on land opposite St Philip's Church (not a Cathedral at this time) on Colmore Row. Also down Church Street with the back end on Barwick Street. Until the 1870s there was Georgian terraces surrounding St Philip's Churchyard. The leases on these began to end in the 1860s and they were demolished. The site was acquired by Isaac Horton, a major Birmingham landowner. His architect was Thomson Plevins. The hotel opened at the time with 100 rooms. There was also a restaurant and two coffee rooms. The hotel was let to Arthur Field, a hotel operator from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The hotel was extended in 1880 when the corner on Church Street and Barwick Street was built. By 1890 the hotel operator was running into financial problems and it was handed back to Horton Estates Ltd. In the 1890s the architects Martin and Chamberlain was hired to reconstruct and redecorate the hotel. The hotel was built in the French Renaissance style, so it wouldn't look out of place in Paris. Was even a room in Louis XIV style decoration.

In the 20th century, the hotel was host to royalty, celebrities, politicians of the day, who would wine and dine in the Grosvenor Suites. The likes of King George VI, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Malcolm X etc attended functions or stayed in the hotel at the time. The hotel ran into problems and closed in 1969. Hickmet Hotels took over the lease of the hotel from 1972 until 1976. In 1977 Grand Metropolitan Hotels took it over. The architect Harper Sperring did some modernisation works in 1978. The lease passed to Queens' Moat Hotels in the 1980s and 1990s, but little was done to the hotel at that time.

The hotel closed down again in 2002. The owner wanted to knock it down in 2003, but The Victorian Society stepped into save it. In 2004 the hotel was given a Grade II* listing protecting it from demolition. Restoration works of the hotel began in 2012, with the hope that it would reopen sometime in 2020.

 

One of my earlist photos of the Grand Hotel taken in February 2010 from Cathedral Square (St Philip's Cathedral grounds). Under scaffolding, it wasn't clear what was going to happen to it at this point.

In October 2010, a look past Bagel Nation and some of the other shops that used to be down here.You can see columns with Corinthian capitals at what was the main entrance to the hotel. There used to be a Starbucks down here and Snappy Snaps.

Another look during December 2010 from Colmore Row. The scaffolding covered the top half of the hotel.

By February 2013 restoration work had began on the Grand Hotel. And from Colmore Row you could see even more scaffolding and hoardings at ground level. As well as down Church Street.

Now down on Church Street, with a look down Barwick Street. The architecture style changed here as this was the 1880 extension. The 1890s additions were by Martin & Chamberlain.

The buildings down on Barwick Street were built of red brick. The hotel ends where Barclays Bank is today.

This view was taken during March 2014 from Cathedral Square. There was still scaffolding wrapped all around the building at this time.

In April 2015 they were rebuilding the roof and installing steel girders underneath.

Many of the previous shops had to move out of the Grand Hotel, but the signs remained. In October 2015 there was banners on Colmore Row for the Rugley World Cup 2015 which was being held in England. The view from the 141 bus.

By December 2015 the scaffolding had come down and you could see the restored stonework on the hotel. Still a crane on site at the time, but the roof looked finished. Still hoardings on the ground floor. Cathedral Square view in the rain.

Ground floor hoardings were coming down by February 2016. And new shops, cafes and restaurants were ready to be fitted here.

By October 2016 many of the new shops, cafes and restaurants were open. Including 200 Degrees Coffee, Cycle Republic and The Alchemist.

An autumnal look during November 2016 from Cathedral Square. With buses on Colmore Row in front of the Grand Hotel. Leaves on the lawn around the St Philip's Cathedral chuchyard.

A nightshot taken during February 2017, near the corner of Church Street and Colmore Row. All the scaffolding had gone. All of the new venues on Colmore Row were open. The Alchemist is on the corner.

Onto April 2017 from Cathedral Square, where you can see Cycle Republic, Up & Running, Liquor Store, Crockett & Jones and 200 Degrees Coffee.

More of the same from September 2017. Some of the shops had blinds open. It really does feel like you are in Paris, or maybe even Birmingham's French Twin City of Lyon? What do you think?

In December 2017 a walk down Barwick Street. A new venue had opened called Primitivo, which was a Bar & Eatery.

I last went down Barwick Street at the back of the Grand Hotel during October 2019. The new venue here is called Tattu.

Plus a second look at Primitivo.

Hopefully the hotel will open soon. Was supposed to be in Summer 2020. But due to the pandemic / lockdown, will it be delayed even further?

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Classic Architecture
26 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham Town Hall over the last decade or so

The Birmingham Town Hall has seen many changes around it in Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square over the decades and centuries since it was built. Originally built from 1832-34. Renovated from 1996 -2008. Chamberlain Square closed in 2015 when Paradise started, while the Iron:Man was removed from Victoria Square in 2017 for the Metro extension. Town Hall Tram Stop opened in late 2019.

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Birmingham Town Hall over the last decade or so





The Birmingham Town Hall has seen many changes around it in Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square over the decades and centuries since it was built. Originally built from 1832-34. Renovated from 1996 -2008. Chamberlain Square closed in 2015 when Paradise started, while the Iron:Man was removed from Victoria Square in 2017 for the Metro extension. Town Hall Tram Stop opened in late 2019.


Birmingham Town Hall

Click here for the official website for Town Hall Symphony Hall. Both venues are closed during the lockdown, until the Government says it is safe enough for venues like that to reopen.

Birmingham Town Hall was opened in 1834 as Concert venue and used for popular assemblies. Built between 1832 and 1834, the architects were Joseph Hansom & Edward Welch. The hall closed in 1996. And refurbishment works took place between 2002 and 2008. It reopened in 2007.

Originally built as the home of the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival (which was established in 1784), it was built on a site on Paradise Street. A design competition was held at the time. 67 designs were submitted including one by Charles Barry, whose King Edward's School on New Street was being built at the time. But the winners was Joseph Hansom (who created the Hansom cab) and Edward Welch. It was one of the first examples of 19th Century revival Roman Architecture. It's design was similar to the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum.

After it opened, Charles Dickens gave a reading of one of his books. It was also the home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1918 until they moved to Symphony Hall in 1991.

In 1902 for the Coronation of Edward VII and 1937 for the Coronation of George VI, the hall was decorated to celebrate both events.

Popular music bands in the 1960s and '70s have also performed here.

It closed in 1996 for a refurbishment programme under Wates Construction. It wouldn't reopen again until 2007. Being hidden by scaffolding and hoardings for most of that time. During the 2000s, the BBC Big Screen was in Chamberlain Square next to the Town Hall, until it was later moved into Victoria Square.

 

My first photos of the Town Hall was taken during April 2009 from Chamberlain Square. This was when I started to take photos around Birmingham. This view to the right of the Chamberlain Memorial. This was also where the BBC Big Screen used to be until abou 2007.

There used to be steps around Chamberlain Square near the Central Library, which was where I got this view from. People used to sit on the steps.

This view from Chamberlain Square looking into Victoria Square. It does look like it comes from Rome or even Athens!

Paradise Circus Queensway used to go past the Town Hall under a tunnel below the Central Library, joining up at Paradise Street. This view from the platform above the tunnel.

The following views were taken during June 2009 from Paradise Street and Paradise Circus Queensway. The view into Chamberlain Square with the Central Library and Chamberlain Memorial.

There used to be bus stops outside the Town Hall. The no 1 to Acocks Green via Five Ways, Edgbaston and Moseley used to stop here. But they moved it back to Broad Street. Today the no 1 bus starts on Calthorpe Road near Five Ways in Edgbaston.

A view slightly further back on Paradise Street. A few years after the refurbishment was completed it was looking as good as new. It really does look like a free-standing Corinthian temple.

In early May 2011, there was Union Jack bunting in Victoria Square around the time that the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge tied the knot. It has changed so much around here since there was a pair of red phone boxes, and all those bollards.

Prince William and Catherine Middleton got married at the end of April 2011. So into the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, there was still a lot of bunting around Victoria Square. We have also lost these trees that were removed for the Westside Metro extension (which opened in late 2019).

The Iron:Man by Anthony Gormley would remain in place until it was removed to storage for the building of the West Midlands Metro extension. Also to go in the years since was the bollards and trees.

The Town Hall looked amazing in the sunshine with the blue sky.

You can imagine it being in Rome.

The side of the Town Hall seen from Paradise Street. At the time, a man was putting up adverts for Smurfit Kappa. They were going to celebrate their 150th anniversary at the Town Hall. This was near the end of May 2012.

In December 2012, I got some nightshots of the Town Hall. This was before my works Xmas party, so had a walk around town before heading to the restaurant. This was the Paradise Street view.

The view down on Paradise Street and Paradise Circus Queensway. The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market was on at the time in Victoria Square. Next I walked down Suffolk Street Queensway towards The Arcadian.

In January 2013, it was snowing all over Birmingham. As I headed into Victoria Square, found the whole square covered in snow. Council workers had cleared a path through the snow to the right. Was trying to get to Cineworld on Broad Street (ended up having to see the film I wanted to see in Solihull days later).

More snow in March 2018 in Victoria Square. This was during the weather event known as the Beast from the East. Was also during Storm Emma. Council workers were laying grit around the square. It was also when the World Indoor Athletics Championships was being held at Arena Birmingham. By this point, the Metro extension was under construction (to the far left).

Temporary tarmac on the site of the Westside Metro extension during May 2019. You can just about see the Victoria Square sign on the right saying that it was opened by the Princess of Wales on the 6th of May 1993. One Chamberlain Square was also visible to the right of the Town Hall (behind the statue of Queen Victoria).

By October 2019 it was all hands on deck to get the Metro extension completed by December 2019. The tracks and bricks were laid. They were also laying new steps around the Queen Victoria statue. Also to get things finished before the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market returned again in November 2019.

In November 2019, West Midlands Metro tram 35 on a test run, stops at the new Birmingham Town Hall Tram Stop. Before going down Pinfold Street towards Grand Central Tram Stop. Behind is the Alpha Tower.

Town Hall Tram Stop seen during December 2019, before it opened later that month. Behind the platform towards Centenary Square on Paradise Street.

You can now get the tram the Town Hall. Luckily they opened this exension while the Birmingham FCM was on.

A man looks up at the Town Hall. While hoardings block off the former route of Paradise Circus Queensway, towards Chamberlain Square.

A new view of Chamberlain Square towards Two and One Chamberlain Square, with the Chamberlain Memorial, BM & AG and the Town Hall all that survives from the 19th and 20th centuries.

For the first time in December 2019, you could see two trams (29 and 22) next to the Town Hall. Perhaps for the first time since the old tram network closed down in the 1950s. You can also see Big Brum at BM & AG from this view on Paradise Street.

West Midlands Metro tram 29 was seen heading towards Wolverhampton. This extension opened in the last few weeks of 2019, so people could use it to go to the Birmingham FCM at the time. These scenes remind me of the Nottingham Express Transit that goes past the Nottingham Council House (saw that back in 2014).

A few more views into early 2020. This was in Victoria Square during January 2020. All the new paving around the square was complete. Apart from what they would do in the months ahead. This was around halfway into the month. The view towards the Alpha Tower down Paradise Street.

Late January 2020 and West Midlands Metro tram 35 arrives at Town Hall Tram Stop, before heading to Library Tram Stop. This was something you couldn't have imagined 10 years ago! There was barriers in front of the Town Hall to the right in Victoria Square, so the new paving was far from finished.

My last tram photo outside of the Town Hall was taken during early March 2020. It was tram 19 (taken on my Smartphone camera). This was the last time I saw a tram at Town Hall Tram Stop before the lockdown.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
Modern Architecture
23 Jun 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Tour of the inside of the Library of Birmingham during September 2013

Welcome to a tour of the Library of Birmingham from my visits back in September 2013. My first visits were on the 21st and 28th September 2013. It was very busy. Loads of people visiting the library for the first time. Heading up the escalators between the levels. At the time the glass lift still worked, so you could go in that if it wasn't too busy. 9 levels plus the basement levels.

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Tour of the inside of the Library of Birmingham during September 2013





Welcome to a tour of the Library of Birmingham from my visits back in September 2013. My first visits were on the 21st and 28th September 2013. It was very busy. Loads of people visiting the library for the first time. Heading up the escalators between the levels. At the time the glass lift still worked, so you could go in that if it wasn't too busy. 9 levels plus the basement levels.


For this post we are only looking at the inside of the Library of Birmingham. So not the Shakespeare Memorial Room, Discovery Terrace or the Secret Garden (I'll leave those for future posts).

 

Originally the Library had revolving doors from Centenary Square (and also to the Discovery Terrace on Level 3). There is also a disabled door you can use by the press of a button. The revolving doors were replaced years later by automatic doors, as the revolving doors kept getting stuck. Also the glass lift from Level 4 to Level 7 stopped working after a year. Meaning you have to use the other lifts, or the stairs (if you can). There are escalators from Level G (the ground floor) to Level 3. Then a travelator up to Level 4. Access to Level 7 and 9 is by the lifts or stairs. Level 5 and Level 8 is for staff only. There is also the Library Cafe on the ground floor, and you can take you coffee up to the Mezzanine floor (also called Level MZ).

 

21st September 2013

Starting on the ground floor Level G, a look towards the entrance to the REP. On the left is the Library Shop. Where you can buy Birmingham souvenirs. I got in after 4pm that day.

The escalators from Level G to Level 1 was busy that day. On the left was a temporary exhibition, called The Pavilion

When it opened, Level 1 was originally called Business Learning & Health (this was before Brasshouse Languages took it over in 2016).

There used to be desks where you could work on your laptop or tablet on. WiFi early on was weak, but years later the free WiFi got better (well at least after I kept upgrading my smartphone every couple of years).

The escalators from Level 1 up to Level 2.

Next up was Level 2, which was originally called the Knowledge Floor. Around the core of this floor and the floor above is the Book Rotunda. There is a lot of old historic books around there.

Another area for studying and using your laptop or tablet with a view out to Centenary Square.

Now it was time to leave Level 2 for Level 3. Just had to go up the escalator to the next floor.

Now a look around Level 3, which was called the Discovery Floor at the time. This area was called the Mediatheque. Where you can watch films from a library collection (I think).

The Travelator that goes from Level 3 up to Level 4. That time it was set to go up on the right. Usually you go up on the left.

On the ride up, you can see the glass lift. And there was a queue for it waiting to go up to Level 7.

Level 4 was called Archives & Heritage. You can go through glass doors when you get to the top, or at the time use the glass lift (it wouldn't remain in service for long before it broke down - in fact it's not worked for years!).

I would have gone higher that day, but it was almost 5pm and that was the time that the Library of Birmingham closed for the evening. So heading back down the escalators through the Book Rotunda. At this point heading down from Level 3 to Level 2. Next up would be the escalator down to Level 1.

Heading down the escalator from Level 1 back to Level G, where you can see The Pavilion temporary exhibition on the right.

A look at the Children's Library which is on Level LG (Lower Ground Floor).

Back on Level G, and heading from the Library of Birmingham into the foyer of the REP.

28th September 2013

One week later, I returned to the Library of Birmingham to go all the way up to the top to Level 9 for the Shakespeare Memorial Room and Skyline Viewpoint. Got in much earlier this time, just before 1pm that day. This wall welcomes you to the Library of Birmingham. Was also a screen showing information about the exhibition on at the time called Dozens & Trails. This was on Level G.

This time I was able to get the glass lift up from Level 4 to Level 7.

Now on Level 7 after going up the glass lift. Here you can see the comfy red chairs in a staff only area of the Library. On Level 7 is the Secret Garden.

Views from Level 7 near the Glass Lift down to the floors below. You can see the travelator and the escalators down to about Level 2.

If you don't like heights don't look down! On this day the travelator was operating in the correct directions. Left side to take you down from Level 7 to 4. The right side to take you up from Level 4 to 7.

The escalators on Level 2 takes you to and from Level 1 (on the left) and to and from Level 3 (on the right).

There was also some comfy red chairs on Level 7. I used to sit on some of them on Level 3 to get onto the WiFi on my then smartphone.

On Level 7 you can see a staff office through the window from the corridor from the regular lifts and stairs. So you might see this if going to or from the Secret Garden (unless they have the blinds down).

That day I used the stairs to go down. Went a bit too far down to Level LG, and saw these desks with PC's on them. So had to go back up the stairs to Level G to exit.

That's it folks for this tour of the Library of Birmingham. It's changed a lot since it first opened 7 years ago.

For the next Library of Birmingham post, I could show you around the Shakespeare Memorial Room. It's on Level 9 near the Skyline Viewpoint.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
12 Jun 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Three Arena Central (HMRC) - June 2020 Update

Work has recommenced on the buildings silver cladding panels after a two month delay. Here is a superb gallery of photos from Daniel, covering March 22nd to 10th June.

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The Construction of Three Arena Central (HMRC) - June 2020 Update





Work has recommenced on the buildings silver cladding panels after a two month delay. Here is a superb gallery of photos from Daniel, covering March 22nd to 10th June.


22nd March 2020:

25th March 2020:

19th April 2020:

23rd April 2020:

25th May 2020:

27th May 2020:

28th May 2020:

29th May 2020:

5th June 2020:

6th June 2020:

More photos in the full construction gallery for this build here...

Photos by Daniel Sturley

We're also on Instagram. Be sure to follow us at: @Itsyourbirmingham

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
11 Jun 2020 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

The Construction of 103 Colmore Row - Our early June 2020 Update

The steel structure has now reached the top end of the core and is almost at the stage of topping out. Elsewhere, the two outer 'slabs' are now at full height.

Take our article for over 40 fantastic photos of this amazing new build.

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The Construction of 103 Colmore Row - Our early June 2020 Update





The steel structure has now reached the top end of the core and is almost at the stage of topping out. Elsewhere, the two outer 'slabs' are now at full height.

Take our article for over 40 fantastic photos of this amazing new build.


"Over the next two weekends (weather permitting) we bid a fond farewell to Tower Crane A. Another big milestone in the project as we enter the final 12 months of construction" - SPV

Staircase frame is reminiscent of New York's Vessel.

Here's how work has progressed throughout end May through early June.

 

8th june

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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60 passion points

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