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

The Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham

Since September 2013, the Shakespeare Memorial Room has been located on Level 9 at the Library of Birmingham (near the Skyline Viewpoint). Did you know that it was orginally built in 1882 to house the Shakespeare Library and was designed by John Henry Chamberlain. It was later dismantled and placed in the 1974 Central Library in the School of Music Complex, before it was moved again.

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The Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham





Since September 2013, the Shakespeare Memorial Room has been located on Level 9 at the Library of Birmingham (near the Skyline Viewpoint). Did you know that it was orginally built in 1882 to house the Shakespeare Library and was designed by John Henry Chamberlain. It was later dismantled and placed in the 1974 Central Library in the School of Music Complex, before it was moved again.


The Shakespeare Memorial Room

On the 28th September 2013, I returned to the Library of Birmingham for my second visit. Also to go up to the floors that I had no time for the first time around. I went up the lift. Some lifts only go has far as Level 7, so you need the lift to Level 9. This would take you to the Skyline Viewpoint and to the Shakespeare Memorial Room. Or you can walk up the stairs.

In the first month of being open, the library was very busy and full of tourists, including many from overseas, so it was packed! There was a lot of people in the Shakespeare Memorial Room on my first visit. Although in the years since, I've had the room to myself.

Click here for my last post on the Library of Birmingham for an interior tour.

Now located inside of the Golden Cylinder at the top of the Library (looks like a Nescafe Gold Blend coffee jar lid).

The Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library was founded by George Dawson and some of his closest friends, as they decided that Birmingham should be the home of the greatest collection of Shakespeare's books in the world. They insisted that a room be built for them, and that it should be free and open to everyone.

It was originally created for the much loved (and missed) Victorian Central Library (opened in 1882 and demolished in 1974). The first Central Library of the Victorian era was built in 1866 but was partially destroyed by a fire in 1879. John Henry Chamberlain was given the task to re-build the Library and this included a room to house Birmingham's Shakespeare Library.

Sir Barry Jackson, the founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1913, later became a Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon during the late 1940s. There is a gavel given to him in 1936 in the room.

The next Central Library was designed by John Madin and was built from 1969 until 1974. The Shakespeare Memorial Room was dismantled from the old Victorian library and put back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Being placed in what was the School of Music complex. Which included Adrian Boult Hall and the Birmingham Conservatoire. This included the Library Theatre Birmingham and the William Shakespeare Memorial Library and the Library Exhibition Hall.

It remained there until it was moved to the new Library of Birmingham in 2013 (built from 2010 until 2013).

The roof was reconstructed by in plaster by A E Edwards & Co, a Birmingham based company dating to the 1870s.

I'd only ever got close to the outside of the old complex (during 2011), so never stepped foot in the room until it reopened at the Library of Birmingham in 2013.

 

View of the Library Theatre Birmingham on the 2nd January 2011. This concrete bridge was in front of Woktastic. There was also an entrance to Adrian Boult Hall at the time.

What was the entrance to the William Shakespeare Memorial Library and Library Exhibition Hall. I never went in. Wasn't sure if I could open the doors as they were self locking doors. After the last Central Library closed down for good in 2013, I had to wait for the new Library to open before I could see the room for myself for the first time.

On the 31st August 2013, I was getting my last views of the Library of Birmingham before it opened to the public in Centenary Square 3 days later on the 3rd September 2013. This view of the golden cylinder seen from Suffolk Street Queensway. The windows at the front is the Skyline Viewpoint and the Shakespeare Memorial Room is behind that.

On the 21st September 2013 during my first visit to the inside of the Library of Birmingham I took the photo below. At the top of the library on Level 9 is the Shakespeare Memorial Room inside of the Golden Cylinder. Below on Level 7 is the Secret Garden. The view was from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line (near the Turnover Bridge No. 2 close to what was at that point called the National Indoor Arena). Overlooking the ICC Energy Centre.

On the 28th September 2013, arriving at the Shakespeare Memorial Room on Level 9 for the first time. There was a lot of people in there.

Looking up at the ceiling. It is remarkable that this has survived since the late 19th century (unless it is a recreation).

Looking to the wooden panelling on one side of the room.

It more or less looks the same to the right.

And to the left near the door.

One of the corners with the bookcases.

Looking down at the doors of the lower cabinets.

Looking up to the ceiling to the ornate detailing at the top.

Out of the door, and there was comfy red sofas at the Skyline Viewpoint.

Ornate glass windows in the upper cabinet doors.

The views outside the room are spectacular. There is also a couple of busts and plaques / tablets, including ones saved from the old Central Libraries. If the lifts are busy walk down the stairs (if you can).

 

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
27 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Newhall Square: From the Elkington Electroplating Works and Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry to The Whitmore Collection

It has been over 20 years since the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry on Newhall Street closed for good. Since then the site has been the development site called Newhall Square. With hotels and apartments around a square, near the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Heritage buildings have been fully restored and incorporated into the development.

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Newhall Square: From the Elkington Electroplating Works and Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry to The Whitmore Collection





It has been over 20 years since the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry on Newhall Street closed for good. Since then the site has been the development site called Newhall Square. With hotels and apartments around a square, near the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Heritage buildings have been fully restored and incorporated into the development.


Newhall Square

Newhall Square is located on Newhall Street in the Jewellery Quarter. Between Fleet Street and Charlotte Street. On one side is the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. It was historically the site of the Elkington Silver Electroplating Works from 1838. Built opposite of the Birmingham Assay Office, it was the 19th century silver electroplating factory of George Elkington. The much larger premises was mostly demolished in the mid 1960s. To the back was the Whitmore Arm (also known as Miss Colmore's Arm) (this is now filled in) and the Whitmore Warehouse (which survives to this day).

The Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry was located in the buildings at 144 Newhall Street from 1951 until it closed for good in 1997 (most but not all of the contents moved to Thinktank which opened at Millennium Point in Eastside during 2001). It was the home for the last 50 years of the 20th Century of the 1797 Smethwick Engine, and the City of Birmingham locomotive (which was moved out in the year 2000).

144 Newhall Street has been a Grade II listed building since 2004. Today it is addressed as 2 Newhall Square, and is now home to Glancy Nicholls Architects, who are based in The Engine Room to the rear.

Whitmore Warehouse to the back of Newhall Square was also given a Grade II listed building status in 2004. It dates to the mid 19th century. It was formerly part of the museum complex, and before that part of the Elkington Works.

The mid to late 20th century museum buildings were demolished in 2006 for a project called the Jewellery Box. This was probably later renamed to Newhall Square.

The Travelodge hotel along Charlotte Street was open by the late 2000s. It wouldn't be until 2014 before construction would begin on what would become Staycity ApartHotels. This is also on Charlotte Street and faces the canal as well. It opened in 2016. The final phase to complete Newhall Square didn't start until 2018. This would be The Whitmore Collection, including the restoration of the old Whitmore Warehouse. Finally being complete during 2020. Some 23 years after the museum closed down. But some 14 years since the land clearance began.

 

2009

I started taking photos of Newhall Square in April 2009. And continued getting the occasional update for the next 11 years. First views over the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal where there is a viewpoint area from Newhall Street. Islington Gates which is to the left of the canal was already built by this point. View to the remains of the Whitmore Warehouse.

To the right you can see the Travelodge hotel and the back of The Engine Room at 144 Newhall Street.

The locks on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal near Newhall Street. There used to be steps that went down to the canal from here. The Islington Gates development seen to the left of the canal.

In November 2009 I got my first photos of 144 Newhall Street. Which was the former Elkington Electroplating Works. On this building was a blue plaque from the Birmingham City Society (unveiled in 2004) about Alexander Parkes (1813-1890), who was the inventor of the first plastic. He worked for the Elkington, Mason & Company Electroplaters here from about 1840 until 1850.

This building on the left used to be the former entrance to the Museum of Science & Industry. It too has a blue plaque. This one from English Heritage about George Elkington who was a promotor of Electro-plating at his works on this site.

View of both buildings that used be the main entrance to the Elkington Electroplating Works. To the far right on the corner of Newhall Street and Charlotte Street is The Queens Arms public house.

2011

Not too many changes during July 2011, other than Newhall Square had hoardings up and offices To Let or For Sale.

The wasteland was being used as a car park at this point.

Would be years before another development began at Newhall Square.

Gates to the Newhall Square site from Newhall Street. Probably for staff only.

For some reason they had painted this building yellow. Even the hoardings covering the door.

2013

Now onto June 2013. Some demolition rubble spotted from the towpath of the canal not far from the Travelodge hotel.

They had now tarmaced the wasteland.

2014

By September 2014, construction was finally under way for the next phase, which would become the  Staycity ApartHotels.

By December 2014 the hotel construction was going on behind Whitmore Warehouse.

You could also see it from Newhall Street. The canal and Islington Gates are to the left. Travelodge to the far right.

2015

Just a couple of updates during 2015. In January 2015 the hotel was still under scaffolding.

By November 2015 it was nearing completion.

2016

In January 2016 the new Staycity ApartHotels building was complete. As seen from this canal view from the footbridge close to Fleet Street.

By April 2016 the Staycity ApartHotels was open. View down on Charlotte Street.

Some of the yellow signs of the Staycity ApartHotels on Charlotte Street.

Next to the Staycity ApartHotels on Charlotte Street ws a temporary car park.

You could also see it down the canal from the Saturday Bridge on Parade.

2017

A tempoary car park was at Newhall Square during January 2017. Behind is Glancy Nicholls Architects at The Engine Room. At the time the Ormiston Academies Trust was using 144 Newhall Street as Ormiston House.

View from the canal towpath towards the Travelodge hotel.

This would be the last year without construction activity on this site.

2018

Signs of activity at Newhall Square during January 2018. Associated Architects had designed a mixed-use development of purpose-built apartments for private rent.

This space would be built on and would complete the square within 2 and a half years.

By April 2018 construction had started on what would be called The Whitmore Collection. The view from the canal footbridge near Fleet Street.

Digging the foundations. The Newhall Street canal entrance / exit would be sealed off, meaning you would have to get onto the canal from other entrances. Also this old wall would eventually be replaced / go.

By June 2018 the steel girders were flying up.

In July 2018 the steel girders were visible from the Library of Birmingham at the Secret Garden.

2019

My last update before the lockdown was back in November 2019. View over the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal from Fleet Street. Staycity ApartHotels is to the left and The Whitmore Collection to the right.

On Newhall Street the building was at full height under scaffolding. It was being built by Winvic.

You can see The Whitmore Collection surrounding what used to be 144 Newhall Street (now 2 Newhall Square). The building with the George Elkington blue plaque was still painted yellow at the time. The building would have a Residents' Clubhouse, Free coffee and WiFi when complete.

2020

During the 4 long months of lockdown, Newhall Square was completed. And I was aware of it being complete and open by the summer. I was only able to travel into town in July 2020. I walked down Newhall Street and headed onto the new path alongside the canal.

This is the new entrance to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal from Newhall Street. Much more appealing than the dark steps that used to be there before.

Could already see that the Whitmore Warehouse was finally restored, probably into apartments.

There is two sets of water features here with water jet fountains. Approximately near where the old Whitmore Canal Arm used to be in the 19th century.

Whitmore Warehouse hasn't looked this good since it was last used as part of the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry. I think it was in here that the working Smethwick Engine used to be (now working at Thinktank).

First proper look into the square. Glancy Nicholls Architects are in The Engine House. To think 25 years ago this was part of the museum complex. Travelodge to the left.

I have memories of visiting the museum back in the 1990s and could not imagine it looking like this now. Wish I had a camera with me back then (if only a film one).

Heading out of Newhall Square past The Engine Room.

The exit to Newhall Street. Directly opposite is 141 Newhall Street.

Back onto Newhall Street, you can see how The Whitmore Collection was built onto Islington Gates at 110 Newhall Street. It makes a pleasing entrance to the canal. Lets hope the area is kept clean and litter free.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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60 passion points
History & heritage
03 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Outside the main entrance of the Black Country Living Museum

We continue our digital tour of the Black Country Living Museum through my photos taken on a visit from August 2011 (almost 9 years ago). With a look at the buildings outside of the main entrance. The Rolfe Street Baths from Smethwick. Also a building from Wednesbury. A replica Titanic anchor was outside the museum back then. Also a Chassis Press.

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Outside the main entrance of the Black Country Living Museum





We continue our digital tour of the Black Country Living Museum through my photos taken on a visit from August 2011 (almost 9 years ago). With a look at the buildings outside of the main entrance. The Rolfe Street Baths from Smethwick. Also a building from Wednesbury. A replica Titanic anchor was outside the museum back then. Also a Chassis Press.


In this second digital tour of the Black Country Living Museum, we look at the buildings that were rebuilt at the main entrance of the museum, and now used as exhibition rooms. There was also a Chassis Press outside of the museum that you can see from Tipton Road in Dudley. During my visit of August 2011, there was also a replica Titanic anchor, based on one originally made by Hingley at Netherton in the Black Country (this is no longer there). It was made in 2010 for a Channel 4 documentary and was on loan to Dudley Council at the time.

Rolfe Street Baths, Smethwick

A look at the Rolfe Street Baths. Originally built on Rolfe Street in Smethwick in 1888. The building was a striking example of the Arts and Crafts movement of the period. The building closed down and was dismantled brick by brick in 1989. Later to be rebuilt at the Black Country Living Museum in 1999. The original architects was Harris, Martin & Harris of Birmingham. The baths was originally built by the Smethwick Local Board of Health to provide washing and recreational facilities. These days the building at the museum houses the Museum's reception and exhibition galleries.

In 2011 you could see the replica Titanic anchor outside of the Rolfe Street Baths (more on that further down the post).

What looks like a ghost sign painted on the side of the building reads:

ROLFE STREET

BATHS

FIRST BUILT IN SMETHWICK 1888

First look at the façade of the Rolfe Street Baths. It is a striking example of late 19th century architecture. It has ornamental brickwork and terracotta panels.

The terracotta panels has false gables on the façade depicting fish, herons and wildlife rarely seen in the industrial surroundings that the building was once in.

The building has decorative cast iron arches and columns which support the roof in the pool hall (best seen from the inside).

Remarkably the building had surviving being dismantled from Smethwick and re-erected here in Dudley. It's hard to tell that the building wasn't originally at this location.

The former entrances to the Female and Male baths. The building used to have 2 swimming pools with 28 slip baths, 2 showers and a munipical laundry.

These green doors are probablt no longer in use, but were retained for decorative use only. You can see some bricks that don't exactly match the originals. Perhaps some were broken or missing, and they had to use new bricks in the restoration at the museum.

Façade from a factory in Wednesbury

This was a façade from a building originally built as a factory in Wednesbury. It was moved to the museum by the West Midlands County Council Task Force. It was opened at the museum by H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester on the 24th October 1985. Finance for the building was provided by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and the then West Midlands County Council (abolished in 1986). This is now the Pre-Paid Ticket Entrance. There is also a door for disabled or elderly people in wheelchairs to use. And they can get access to their coach nearby.

In the middle of this building was an anchor.

Inside was this plaque that was unveiled back in 1985 by the Duke of Gloucester.

The Titanic Anchor

Something you won't see on your visit to the museum now is this replica of The Titanic Anchor. It was made in 2010 by Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd for a Channel 4 documentary. It was on loan at the time to the museum from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.

The original anchor was made by N. Hingley & Sons Ltd in 1911 at their factory in Netheron, Dudley. The original anchor weighed 15.5 tons.

In 2011 the Titanic anchor replica was seen outside of the Black Country Living Museum near the former Rolfe Street Baths building. But it was eventually moved to a more permenant location in Netherton where it remains today.

One of the museum volunteers seen in period costume close to the main entrance of the museum, not far from the Titanic Anchor replica. The anchor is now lying face down in Netherton.

Wilkins & Mitchell Chassis Press

Probably the first thing you would see when arriving at the museum on Tipton Road would be this Chassis Press. The  Wilkins & Mitchell Chassis Press was built in 1913 for Rubery Owen Ltd based in Darlaston at the time. It was erected and maintained by The Hulbert Group of Dudley. Wilkins and Mitchell Limited was established in 1904 in Darlaston. They produced machine tools and presses. Their machines could be found in factories all around the world. The Chassis Press here was in use until 1970. It's possible that it could have been installed at the museum site from 1978, or in the 1980s.

A close up look at the Chassis Press. Four gear wheels at the back and two large gear wheels at the front.

There was so many gear wheels here that used to turn when it use. You can also see a smaller gear wheel in front of the larger ones.

It's now just a monument that you would see as you arrive or leave the Black Country Living Museum. A reminder of how successful it was when in use from 1913 to 1970 in Darlaston.

Side view of the Chassis Press with the gear wheels.

On this side you can see four gear wheels at the bottom.

Clearly this wheel used to drive the gear wheels.

One last look at the Chassis Press before getting back in our coach and returning to Birmingham,

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
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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