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09 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Moseley Road Baths: an Edwardian gem in Balsall Heath

The Brumtography Facebook group had a guided tour and photo meet at the Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath on Sunday 8th March 2020. Thanks to Karl Newton for organising. We each gave a £2 donation at the end. It's been more than a quarter of a century since I last swam there with school, and many things have changed. Parts have been restored, but still a lot to do.

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Moseley Road Baths: an Edwardian gem in Balsall Heath





The Brumtography Facebook group had a guided tour and photo meet at the Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath on Sunday 8th March 2020. Thanks to Karl Newton for organising. We each gave a £2 donation at the end. It's been more than a quarter of a century since I last swam there with school, and many things have changed. Parts have been restored, but still a lot to do.


A guided tour around Moseley Road Baths with the Brumtography Facebook group members. Thanks once again to Karl Newton for organising it. I was last inside here before, probably in the early to mid 1990s with my Primary School for swimming classes, which was more than a quarter of a century ago. So it's been a long time since I've been here, other than passing it on the Moseley Road on the no 50 bus in Balsall Heath.

Some history from Wikipedia (link above).

Balsall Heath Library opened in 1895, and the baths followed in 1907. Built of red brick and terracotta in the Edwardian style. Jethro A. Cossins and F. B. Peacock was the architect of the library, while William Hale and Son were architects of the baths. The baths and library has several Birmingham Forward coat of arms, as it was built as an incentive for Balsall Heath to become a part of Birmingham (which happened in 1891).

Before people had their own bathroom at home, they would come here for a bath. There was a Ladies bath room, also a Mens First Class and Second Class bath room. There is also two pools. The building is Grade II* listed Balsall Heath Library and Balsall Heath Public Baths.

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths group was formed in 2006. Over the years there has been scaffolding in the baths. At the moment only one of the swimming baths has water in it (the smaller bath). The larger one has scaffolding around it, and a new temporary exhibition in the pool (no water).

 

Some exteriors I took as I arrived in Balsall Heath. Crossed to the other side of the Moseley Road as I got there early. The Public Library is on the right with the clock tower.

From the left side with the chimney at the back. The doors for the old Men's Bath Second Class and Women's Baths have long since been closed (for a very long time). The main entrance is via the door labelled Men's Baths First Class.

The main entrance foyer and what is now the reception desk. This used to be the entrance hall to the Men's Baths First Class. In the swimming baths with water, you have to put these blue bags over your outdoor shoes.

The Deep End. The baths currently in use are to the left. While the larger pool with the exhibition was ahead and to the right. Another door beyond led to the boiler room and the pump room.

Got this view of the foyer after leaving pool 1, and before we were taken upstairs to the laundry room. The door on the right leads to the women's baths, the door to the left to the main entrance and exit. The men's baths is to the far left of here.

Men's Baths

To the right of the main entrance hall was the former men's baths. There was separate rooms in here with bath tubs. The room is now used for storage.

At the far end was a window with the Birmingham Forward coat of arms. Some panels of glass were missing (years of wear and tare).

One of the baths with a rope (probably used to pull yourself out). As you can see, boxes, papers etc are now in there. Before people had their own plumbed bathrooms, they had to come to places like this.

Women's Baths

The women's baths was to the left of the main entrance. Saw this old door with a wall blocking it behind. It reads: "Notice: No money or tickets will be exchanged after leaving this window soap tablets 1d - each".

One of the bath rooms and bath tubs. No doors on some of them that I could see. A bench to sit on and a hook to hang your clothes up.

The corridor between the women's bath rooms, leading back out to the foyer. These are no longer used either.

Boiler Rooms

We were given access by our guide to the boiler rooms to the back of Moseley Road Baths. Was very warm in there. Pipes all over with red wheels to turn (not us of course).

Was another room with a big tank inside, we were taken outside to the back for some views of the chimney. Was a stream deep under the building which could be accessed from here.

In the main room was these large tanks full of steam, more pipes and tubes all over the place.

Pool 1

This swimming pool is still in use. This was the Second Class baths. Modern looking changing rooms on both sides. Now used for kids swimming lessons, and women's swimming group sessions.

You could smell the smell of clorine in here, and my camera got quite steamed up. They let us walk all the way around the pool, as long as we had the blue bags on our shoes. Was bright sunshine coming through as well.

Steps to climb down into the pool. A warning sign behind for No Diving. I did not see any diving boards in Moseley Road Baths. Probably isn't safe, or they never had one.

Laundry Room

We were next taken up some stairs to the old Laundry Room. The drying racks was on the left. The next set of steps leads up to the header tank in the roof. This room had some good views of the City Skyline through the windows on the right.

A close up look at the drying racks.

Up those wooden steps, then up a wooden ladder for a view in the roof. Below is the header tank. Just a look up here, wasn't going to climb on the plank.

Pool 2

This pool is not currently in use, and has scaffolding all around it with no water in the swimming pool. I suspect that this was the pool I used with my primary school back in the early 1990s. Boys shared cubicles on the left, while girls in the cubicles on the right. Going past them now, they look cramped, doors missing and not lights. A new temporary exhibition has opened up in this space called Specular Reflecular. A hand painted animation for Moseley Road Baths by Juneau Projects and members of the local community.

They let us through to the balcony on the top. But it was only safe to walk around the edges near the tiled walls. This pool would have been the First Class swimming baths.

This was as far as I and others could go on this side, as I looked down at the pool with the temporary exhibition below. They installed wooden steps, and behind the screen was emergency scaffolding steps from the pool.

Be sure to follow Moseley Road Baths on Twitter: Moseley Road Baths, on Facebook: Moseley Road Baths and on Instagram: Moseley Road Baths. Their website is at Moseley Road Baths.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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60 passion points
Squares and public spaces
28 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Centenary Square lit up after dark with the Water Jet fountains

Heading back into town from The BCAG, got these views of Centenary Square around 7pm on Wednesday 26th February 2020. Been wanting to see the Water Jet fountains lit up after it got dark. Was very quiet in Centenary Square. Crossing over Library Tram Stop, as roadworks on Broad Street mean you can't walk down past Symphony Hall. Westside seemed quiet for this time of the evening.

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Centenary Square lit up after dark with the Water Jet fountains





Heading back into town from The BCAG, got these views of Centenary Square around 7pm on Wednesday 26th February 2020. Been wanting to see the Water Jet fountains lit up after it got dark. Was very quiet in Centenary Square. Crossing over Library Tram Stop, as roadworks on Broad Street mean you can't walk down past Symphony Hall. Westside seemed quiet for this time of the evening.


Heading out of Brindleyplace, and back onto Broad Street. I headed to Centenary Square sometime after 7pm, after leaving a Birmingham We Are arts event at The Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery. Hoardings on Broad Street, means you have to cross over to the side near Regency Wharf and the Hyatt Regency Birmingham Hotel.

Crossing over Library Tram Stop.

The water jets in the Reflective Pool were lit up red at this point while the Library of Birmingham was blue.

The blue lights were making nice reflections here.

The water jets going up giving off an unique blue tint.

Between the Library of Birmingham and HSBC UK. Looks quite complete from here.

View to HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square with the Municipal Bank and 3 Arena Central.

Tram 23 was heading into Library Tram Stop. Passing the Municipal Bank, future home of a University of Birmingham venue.

Tram 23 comes to a stop at Library Tram Stop. Making a nice reflection from this side.

View towards the Symphony Hall foyer and the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

Further down as you have the tram on the left and the Library to the right.

Might as well get Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory again while I passed through.

Tram 23 passed the Alpha Tower and HSBC UK as I headed towards Centenary Way, Chamberlain Square and Victoria Square.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Squares and public spaces
14 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Model of St Martin's Square at St Martin in the Bullring

I did not know that this model of St Martin's Square was inside of St Martin in the Bullring. After meeting King Charles I Return for the first time for coffee (Aka Daniel Williams) we headed into St Martin's Church for a quick look around. First thing I spotted was this model. I'd say it was made around 2000 for the Bullring that opened in 2003. Also shows Selfridges.

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Model of St Martin's Square at St Martin in the Bullring





I did not know that this model of St Martin's Square was inside of St Martin in the Bullring. After meeting King Charles I Return for the first time for coffee (Aka Daniel Williams) we headed into St Martin's Church for a quick look around. First thing I spotted was this model. I'd say it was made around 2000 for the Bullring that opened in 2003. Also shows Selfridges.


In this post, first we will look at the model that I found inside of St Martin in the Bullring. Then comparison photos I took around St Martin's Square between Spring 2009 and early 2011 (before it all changed for the Spiceal Street development).

 

This model is between the exit from St Martin in the Bullring Cafe on the corridor to an entrance inside of the Church of St Martin. Didn't know it was there. Not even from a previous photo I took of the corridor to the cafe. I met King Charles I Return (aka Daniel Williams) on Friday 7th February 2020 for coffee. After that we popped into the church for a quick look around.

This view from Digbeth towards St Martin's Church with Selfridges on the right with the East Mall. The West Mall is to the left. The square as it was from 2003 until the 2011 Spiceal Street development added several new restaurants.

It was in a glass dome, so bit hard to get views without reflections. Birds-eye view down on St Martin's Square. Used to be a stepped sitting area on the left. That is where Chaophraya Thai Restaurant is now. Hand Made Burger Co was later built to the left of Selfridges down the right hand side of the path down to the road.

The view between St Martin's Church and Selfridges towards the main entrance to the Bullring. You can see the statue of Nelson in the middle.

This is the view from the markets side of the Bullring. Which is close to where buses drop off passengers (buses do not pick up passengers from this stop).

Another view of the path into St Martin's Square. Those steps on the right is where Handmade Burger Co is now. Sadly the Birmingham based chain has closed down (including their Bullring and Brindleyplace restaurants).

 

Now to compare the model to the real St Martin's Square from 2009 to early 2011 (before the Spiceal Street development got underway).

From the spring of 2009 when I started taking photos of Birmingham, that included the Bullring area. Got this view of St Martin's Church from near the steps during May 2009. The Three Cubes fountains were still there on the left. Little did I know that this area would all change about 2 years later.

These views from Digbeth, look quite similar to the model. Taken in October 2009, on the first day that I ever took photos around Digbeth (and not the last). This view past the Bull Ring Tavern towards the crossing between St Martin's Church and Selfridges.

Digbeth ends here, then the Bullring starts on the other side of the lights. There is a really short section of road called St Martin's Lane between Moat Lane and Park Street. Usually the buses wait at the lights here.

This view from near the Bull Ring Open Markets on Moat Lane. There was bunting on the lampposts. A sign on the right pointed directions to Digbeth Temporary Coach Station, as National Express was having their old coach station rebuilt into Birmingham Coach Station (which opened at the end of 2009 by the then England Football Manager, Fabio Capello).

Some of my earliest photos of St Martin's Square from April 2009. This from the balcony not far from the statue of Horatio Nelson. This view towards Borders, the Three Cubes fountain sculpture and Gloria Jeans Coffee. Neither of those were on the model (the sculpture and coffee shop).

This view also from April 2009, looking up to the balcony with the statue of Nelson. The stepped seating area was on the left, next to that was the Three Cubes fountain sculpture. St Martin in the Bullring to the right (still there now of course).

On month on, now May 2009. The curved semi circle section of the West Mall above Borders, the Three Cubes fountain sculpture and Gloria Jeans Coffee.

At the time in May 2009, the stepped seating area was closed off. Perhaps for a deep clean. But they would be dug up 2 years later in 2011 for the Spiceal Street development. This view towards Selfridges.

Side view of Gloria Jean's Coffee. This cafe building would be open until the end of 2010 (and into January 2011). The metal panels were later recycled into the tree sculpture that is in St Martin's Square today.

Aware that the building occupied at the time by Gloria Jean's Coffee would be dismantled for the Spiceal Street development, I took these early evening shots around 5pm at the end of December 2010.

There was already some barriers around here, but people could still go up and down the steps. Oh and Forever 21 had opened up above Jamie's Italian by then (where Borders used to be until that closed down).

A few days later and a couple of days into the new year of 2011. So now January 2011 for some last daylight shots of this building before they took it down.

There was a planning application here from Birmingham City Council detailing the plans for what was going to happen at Spiceal Street.

I did not go in. I didn't really start to go to coffee shops until 2012, starting off with Costa Coffee. Before trying Caffe Nero and Starbucks in 2014. I also discovered Coffee#1 in 2015 in South Wales before they opened some stores in the West Midlands.

In August 2009 a view from the upper balcony near Selfridges towards Digbeth. At this point in time, I had yet to have a photo walk around Digbeth. I didn't start to do that until October 2009. The steps below on the left, were demolished in 2009, and this is where Handmade Burger Co was built. The model of St Martin's Square shows tables and chairs outside of Selfridges on the lower balcony. There used to be a Starbucks in Selfridges at this corner (that has now gone).

A nice sunny view heading into St Martin's Square during August 2009. I had changed camera's by this point.

This view of Selfridges from Digbeth during December 2009. They were selling (at the time) Real Christmas Trees at Selfridges. The steps were still there at the time (seen on the left).

St Martin's Square in late December 2010. Slightly blurry at about 5pm near the Christmas tree. This was a few months before the Spiceal Street development which took all of 2011 to complete adding several new restaurants, and new steps up to St Martin's Walk with a replacement water feature.

The Three Cubes fountain sculpture seen during April 2009. Behind them was the former stepped seating area. Borders Books used to have many of the units there, including a Starbucks Coffee. That later became Jamies Italian and Forever 21 (which at one point had a Costa Coffee). Sadly both have recently closed down. But there is a Starbucks in the West Mall just as you enter the doors.

As you can see by December 2010, Jamie's Italian had moved in. They would last until 2018 (going into administration and closing down). The cubes were removed in early 2011 when construction of the Spiceal Street development started.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Squares and public spaces
27 Jan 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Victoria Square almost empty over the past decade

Apart from when major events such as the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is there, Victoria Square is empty. On certain Bank Holiday's, the square can look empty and deserted. There has been changes in recent years with the building of the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square (which is now open and more or less complete). So there is new paving and steps. It looks good.

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Victoria Square almost empty over the past decade





Apart from when major events such as the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is there, Victoria Square is empty. On certain Bank Holiday's, the square can look empty and deserted. There has been changes in recent years with the building of the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square (which is now open and more or less complete). So there is new paving and steps. It looks good.


Victoria Square

The square was formerly known as the Council House Square and was renamed on the 10th January 1901 to honour Queen Victoria who died just 12 days later. The marble statue of Queen Victoria was unveiled at the time and was designed by Thomas Brock, it was later cast in bronze by William Bloye in 1951. Other statues used to be in the square, such as the statue of King Edward VII which later moved to Highgate Park in 1951, but it was restored in 2010 and moved outside of Baskerville House in Centenary Square. The statue of Robert Peel moved to Calthorpe Park, but is now outside of Tally Ho! in Edgbaston on the Pershore Road (now the training HQ of the West Midlands Police). The Joseph Priestley statue was moved to Chamberlain Square, but it moved to storage in 2016. The George Dawson statue was moved to Edmund Street, but is now at the Birmingham Museum Collections Centre.

The most recent redevelopment of Victoria Square took place between 1992 and 1994. The River also known by Brummie's at the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, by Dhruva Mistry was unveiled in 1993. Antony Gormley's Iron: Man was also unveiled in 1993, but has been in storage since 2017 (due to the construction of the Westside Metro extension).

The Westside Metro extension was built in Victoria Square between 2017 and 2019 from Pinfold Street to Paradise Street, which included a tram stop on Paradise Street next to the Town Hall. This opened to Centenary Square during December 2019.

 

The following photos taken over the last decade or so. The square almost empty.

Victoria Square during the early May Bank Holiday weekend 2011 (May Day). Union Jack bunting left over from the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate (now the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge). Birmingham Central Library was still there at the time (it would close in 2013 and get demolished in 2016). Seen between the Town Hall and Council House. This was from the New Street end of Victoria Square.

View towards the Town Hall. Was plenty of bollards here at the time. The pair of red phone boxes near Victoria Square House and Pinfold Street had yet to be removed, as was all those trees.

This was during the snow of the middle of January 2013. Christmas tree still on the right. This was from the New Street end of the square.

A wet afternoon in Victoria Square on New Year's Day 2017 (1st January 2017). Raining in the morning, and the square still looked wet and empty when I passed through it. The square is always like this, days after the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market packs up and returns to Germany.

More snow in Victoria Square, but during March 2018. Some Council workers were laying salt grit in the square. It was around this period that the World Indoor Athletics Championships were being held over at Arena Birmingham. So was direction signs to the Arena. This view towards the Town Hall with the Council House to the right. By this point, construction of the Westside Metro extension was well under way, and the Iron:Man was now in storage.

One year on in March 2019, and I passed through Victoria Square during a hail storm. Saw white hail stones coming down. This view towards Victoria Square House. Was already new paving around the statue of Queen Victoria, which was done with the Metro extension.

Heading down the steps towards New Street, as the hail was getting heavier. The Metro extension behind fences, but you could still get to the pavement on Pinfold Street.

A complete contrast a month later! A stunning blue sky in Victoria Square during April 2019. It was very hot for that time of the year. This photo was taken 10 years to the day when I first started taking photos of Birmingham, including in Victoria Square. Council House on the left, the statue of Queen Victoria, with new paving, to the right.

Boxing Day during late December 2019. And this was several days after the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market had closed (again) and been dismantled. I approached the square this time from Hill Street. Here you can see the newly complete paving and steps that was built as part of the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square. View towards Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Council House. You can also see the core of 103 Colmore Row.

New Year's Day 2020 and heading up to Victoria Square on the very first day of January 2020 from New Street. Quite a contrast from my earlier photos, as the tram tracks curves around to the left from Pinfold Street towards Town Hall Tram Stop on Paradise Street. Most of the bollards to the right have survived. Was temporary tarmac to the left, where during the BFCM, there was security barriers. Another new view is to Paradise Birmingham with Two and One Chamberlain Square. Also compared to the earlier view, the Floozie is now in a flowerbed instead of a cascading fountain (although that could get repaired again in the future).

I originally created this post during early January 2020. So adding one more photo taken at the Council House on the 14th January 2020. Works on the Metro extension have resumed (finishing touches around Victoria Square). Would assume the Iron:Man will be installed in the area to the right near the Town Hall.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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53 passion points
History & heritage
22 Jan 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Electric Cinema: A Brumtography photo meet (January 2020)

The Brumtography Facebook group had a photo meet on the 20th January 2020 at The Electric Cinema on Station Street (opposite Birmingham New Street Station). We were there for over an hour or so. Exploring screens 1 and 2, the remains of the old curtain of the Tatler News Theatre, old reels of film in the basement and the old projection room. Plenty to see in this small cinema. Opened 1909.

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The Electric Cinema: A Brumtography photo meet (January 2020)





The Brumtography Facebook group had a photo meet on the 20th January 2020 at The Electric Cinema on Station Street (opposite Birmingham New Street Station). We were there for over an hour or so. Exploring screens 1 and 2, the remains of the old curtain of the Tatler News Theatre, old reels of film in the basement and the old projection room. Plenty to see in this small cinema. Opened 1909.


On Monday 20th January 2020, about 10 members of the Brumtography Facebook group met at The Electric for a photo meet organised by Karl Newton (who contacted them and got permission from them). We did initially meet in the foyer thinking that a member of staff would take us around, but in the end, they let us go around on our own. Although Karl had been before so knew his way around.

The Electric Cinema

Some history. The Electric opened in 1909, and showed it's first silent film that year on the 27th December 1909. It is the oldest working cinema in the UK, predating it's namesake in Notting Hill, London (also called the Electric Cinema), by two months. Over the last century or so, the cinema has undergone several name changes, but reverted back t The Electric in October 1993.

In the 1920s the cinema was bought out and became known as The Select, showing silent movies. In the 1930s Joseph Cohen bought the cinema, and by the late 1930s it was renamed to the Tatler News Theatre, where they showed Pathe rolling news, along with short films and cartoons. Jacey Cinemas Ltd was the name of Joseph Cohen's company after his initials JC. 

Afte the War, TV started to become popular, and in the 1950s it's name was changed to The Jacey Cartoon Theatre. By the 1960s it was renamed to The Jacey Film Theatre. By the 1970s the cinema was in decline, showing adult films. In the 1980s it was taken over by Lord Grade's "Classic" chain and split into two screens. By the mid 1980s it was now known as the Tivoli.

It was only by 1993 when the new owners renamed it back to it's original name of The Electric. Restoration took place between 2003 and 2004. It's original Art Deco features were restored. The Electric celebrated it's Centenary in 2009. And received a history plate from the Birmingham Civic Society in 2016.


So a reminder of the cinemas names: The Electric Theatre, The Select, The Tatler News Theatre, The Jacey, The Classic and The Tivoli. Before reverting back to The Electric Cinema.

 

This view of The Electric, from near the taxi rank at Birmingham New Street Station. There is a glass balcony railing, and I headed right and down the Southside Steps.

The Box Office. Buy your tickets here. There is also a bar to the left where you can buy drinks and food, no popcorn here.

Screen 1 is downstairs. With red seats at the front, and black leather sofas at the back. Is a piano / organ on the stage.

Behind screen 1 is the remains of the Tatler News Theatre of the 1930s and 1940s. The old screen used to be here. You can see the old curtains and various old posters. Including a poster for Xmas cartoons. Probably classic Disney cartoons.

Back in screen 1 from the stage.

Down to the basement, where they have a large collection of old film reels. Probably dating back decades.

Ticket prices back in the day were quite cheap compared to today.  Some smaller films on these shelves.

Into the old projection room, first thing I saw was BB8 from the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, and a trophy.

The old projector. To the right is the modern additions of the newer digital technology. So they don't need to use the old reels of film any more.

Upstairs to screen 2. A bit darker in here, even after the lights were turned on.

This screen has black leather sofas at the top and bottom.

Outside screen 2 is a gallery of art, which is apparently for sale. Some of the prints were done by Milan Topalović, who you may recall also did art for The Big Hoot (at Birmingham New Street Station in 2015) and The Big Sleuth (at Resorts World Birmingham in 2017).

Back outside after the end of the meet, saw a reflection of The Electric in the shiny panels of Birmingham New Street Station. At the time the sign below said UNCUT GEMS.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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