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History & heritage
16 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Spitfire and Hurricane at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum

It's the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, so Elliott is taking a look back to his 2013 visit to Thinktank where he saw a Spitfire and Hurricane hanging from the ceiling of the museum. Sptifire's were built at Castle Bromwich, while Hurricane's over at the Austin motor car factory in Longbridge. The Battle of Britain started in September 1940.

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Spitfire and Hurricane at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum





It's the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, so Elliott is taking a look back to his 2013 visit to Thinktank where he saw a Spitfire and Hurricane hanging from the ceiling of the museum. Sptifire's were built at Castle Bromwich, while Hurricane's over at the Austin motor car factory in Longbridge. The Battle of Britain started in September 1940.


September 2020, marks the 80th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain. Which took place over the English Channel between the RAF and the Luftwaffe. The official dates of the battle was the 10th July until the 31st October 1940. Did you know that many of the planes that fought in the battle were built right here in Birmingham!

The Supermarine Spitfire were built by Vickers Armstrong in Castle Bromwich. While the Hawker Hurricane at the Austin motor car factory in Longbridge.

 

Photos below taken on a visit to Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum during April 2013.

Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX

The Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX was built in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham. The planes were built between 1938, and throughout the Second World War of 1939 to 1945. Vickers Armstrong had built over 11,000 planes there. The Spitfire was the most famous British fighter plane of the Second World War.

This plane was labelled HK A and ML 427. And could be seen above the Move It section of the museum (at the front) from the balcony views of We Made It.

Behind the Spitfire was the Hurricane.

 

Hawker Hurricane Mark IV

To the back was a Hawker Hurricane Mark IV. This plane was known for shooting down over 60% of enemy aircraft during the 1940 Battle of Britain. Around 300 Hurricane's were built at the Austin motor car factory in Longbridge in Birmingham. The Hurricane ended up being overshadowed by the more famous Spitfire. They were built from 1937 until 1944.

This plane was to the back and wasn't as easy to see as the Spitfire. Labelled JX R. With 395 at the rear end.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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80 passion points
Classic Architecture
19 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Old Joe at the University of Birmingham from 2018 to 2020

While during the lockdown / pandemic you are not allowed to go onto the University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston you can see Old Joe for miles around the campus. Views here taken between 2018 and 2020. Up until early March 2020 I could still go onto the campus (now it's not possible without an ID). Named after Joseph Chamberlain who was the First Chancellor of the University.

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Old Joe at the University of Birmingham from 2018 to 2020





While during the lockdown / pandemic you are not allowed to go onto the University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston you can see Old Joe for miles around the campus. Views here taken between 2018 and 2020. Up until early March 2020 I could still go onto the campus (now it's not possible without an ID). Named after Joseph Chamberlain who was the First Chancellor of the University.


OLD JOE:

JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN MEMORIAL CLOCK TOWER

 

Find my old post comparing the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower here to the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy.

Old Joe on Twitter.

Some history about the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower aka Old Joe. Built from 1900 until 1908, it was the tallest building in Birmingham until 1965, when the BT Tower opened. Designed by Aston Webb and Ingress Bell who were responsible for the initial phase of building the University in the Edwardian period. The tower was based on the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy (see the link above to my old comparison post).

The tower commemorated Joseph Chamberlain who was the First Chancellor of the University of Birmingham. It is the tallest free standing clock tower in the world. It is over 100 metres tall (possibly as high as 110 metres). The tower is Grade II listed and it can be seen for miles around the campus. As far away as the Lickey Hills and Waseley Hills (for instance). Even from nearby parks and suburbs. It is thought that Old Joe was the inspiration for the Eye of Sauron in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

2018

January 2018 from Beacon Hill at the Lickey Hills Country Park. Old Joe on the City Skyline

March 2018: From Vincent Drive overlooking the Cross City Line. The new University of Birmingham Library with Old Joe.

May 2018: Seen from the Bristol Road in Edgbaston, when they got the clock working again!

June 2018: View from Winnie Road in Selly Oak around the time that Old Joe won the World Cup of Birmingham's Best Buildings! on Twitter (held by I Choose Birmingham).

July 2018: Visible from the Bourn Brook Way not far from Harborne Lane in Selly Oak.

November 2018: A close up view from the Chancellors Court at the University of Birmingham.

2019

January 2019: From the Green Heart at the University of Birmingham (before it was completed later that year).

February 2019: In this view from the Bristol Road, Selly Oak, before the Selly Oak Railway Bridge of 1931.

April 2019: Heading down Cartland Road in Stirchley, could see Old Joe between the roofs of houses.

August 2019: Not far from the Bramall Music Building. The clock was once again stuck at 12 on all sides.

October 2019: The view from Bournbrook Road in Selly Park, heading towards Selly Oak.

December 2019: Old Joe was visible on the skyline from Sir Herbert Austin Way in Northfield.

2020

January 2020: Heading towards the Poynting Building from the Guild of Students over a footbridge with this view.

March 2020: One of my last shots of Old Joe before the lockdown began earlier in the month. Clocks stuck at 12 again.

May 2020: The first time I'd seen Old Joe in two months due to the lockdown. This view from Cannon Hill Park.

May 2020: Also saw Old Joe from Highbury Park, not far from Joseph Chamberlain's former home Highbury Hall.

May 2020: Walking back from Weoley Castle past Selly Oak Park down Gibbins Road saw this view of Old Joe.

June 2020: Saw this view of Old Joe from the Waseley Hills Country Park, before I zoomed in on the skyline.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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90 passion points
Art; Culture & creativity
19 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Cross with Pride in the Southside Business District

In the middle of August 2020, two rainbow crossings were painted in the Southside BID. The first in Hippodrome Square, where Hurst Street meets Ladywell Walk. The second on Hurst Walk in The Arcadian. Part of Cross with Pride. Sharing the Chinese Quarter with the Gay Village.

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Cross with Pride in the Southside Business District





In the middle of August 2020, two rainbow crossings were painted in the Southside BID. The first in Hippodrome Square, where Hurst Street meets Ladywell Walk. The second on Hurst Walk in The Arcadian. Part of Cross with Pride. Sharing the Chinese Quarter with the Gay Village.


CROSS WITH PRIDE

 

Click here for the renamed Twitter account of the Southside BID. Now Southside District Birmingham (formerly Enjoy Southside, so links to their old Twitter handle no longer works).

 

Delayed due to the pandemic / lockdown, two sets of rainbow crossings have been painted in Southside. One on Hurst Street near Ladywell Walk (Hippodrome Square), and the other one in The Arcadian, located on Hurst Walk.

According to our friends over at Brum Hour they were painted the artists James Gavina Cowper and Matthew Stephens. The 2020 Birmingham Pride Festival should have taken place in May, but was cancelled for obvious reasons. Hurst Street will be closed for 6 weekends from the 15th August 2020, so that local businesses can put out tables and chairs, so people can eat and drink outside.

Hippodrome Square

The Rainbow Crossing seen on the 11th August 2020 in Hippodrome Square. At the time still behind barriers, but they were removed later that day. Located at the end of Ladywell Walk at the junction with Hurst Street. Traffic no longer goes around here since it was closed off years ago and bollards installed.

Popped back to Southside on the 13th August 2020, now that I was aware that the Rainbow Crossing wasn't behind barriers any more. They also put picnic tables on Ladywell Walk in Hippodrome Square.

The hashtag #CrosswithPride was painted on the crossing towards the Hippodrome and The Arcadian.

#CrosswithPride has much interest and is already a focus on some inspired photography in a similar way to Abbey Road became with the help of The Beatles. 

Photo courtesy Southside BID. 

Photo courtesy Rewired PR

Photo courtesy Birmingham City Council 

The Arcadian

The second rainbow crossing was painted on Hurst Walk at The Arcadian. You can get onto it from Hurst Street. Seen on the 13th August 2020. Remember this is still the Chinese Quarter, so many Chinese businesses around here.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown unless where acknowledged. 

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70 passion points
Modern Architecture
05 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

From The NIA Birmingham to Utilita Arena Birmingham

The National Indoor Arena opened in Birmingham in 1991 on a site close to Old Turn Junction of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Rebuilt on the canalside from 2013-14, it was branded Barclaycard Arena from 2014-17. Then Arena Birmingham from 2017-20. It now has a new sponsor and is called Utilita Arena Birmingham. Still owned by the NEC Group.

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From The NIA Birmingham to Utilita Arena Birmingham





The National Indoor Arena opened in Birmingham in 1991 on a site close to Old Turn Junction of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Rebuilt on the canalside from 2013-14, it was branded Barclaycard Arena from 2014-17. Then Arena Birmingham from 2017-20. It now has a new sponsor and is called Utilita Arena Birmingham. Still owned by the NEC Group.


The National Indoor Arena Birmingham

The National Indoor Arena was opened in 1991. It was where Gladiators was recorded from 1992 to 1999. Located near King Edwards Road in Birmingham. It is on the Birmingham Canal Navigations at Old Turn Junction, where the Main Line meets the start of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. The arena was redeveloped during 2013 and 2014. Reopening in December 2014 at the Barclaycard Arena. This sponsorship ended at the end of August 2017. And it was then known as Arena Birmingham from September 2017. Securing a new sponsor in 2020, the arena was renamed again in April 2020 (during the lockdown while they were closed) to the current Utilita Arena Birmingham.

 

The NIA Birmingham (1991-2014)

Events that took place at the National Indoor Arena during this time include Gladiators (1992-99), the Eurovision Song Contest 1998, and the World Indoor Athletics Championships 2003.

My earliest photos of the NIA were taken during April 2009. By which time they were branding it as the nia birmingham. These views from the Brindleyplace Bridge towards The Malt House and the Brewmasters Bridge.

This view of the nia birmingham taken during June 2009, from the towpath outside of the National Sealife Centre.

NIA redevelopment (2013-14)

The redevelopment started around the summer of 2013 and was completed by the winter of 2014. The arena reopened as the Barclaycard Arena from December 2014.

Scaffolding going up around August 2013. The arena remained open throughout the works, but access to the public was limited.

More hoardings going up around September 2013. The old canalside facade was starting to be dismantled.

When the Library of Birmingham opened during September 2013 for the first time, I was able to get this photo of The NIA from the Secret Garden.

By April 2014 the steel girders had gone up and the shape of the new canalside view of the Arena was already up.

Not long to go by September 2014. The golden fins were in place, as was the glass windows and the three sky needles in the middle.

The Secret Garden view from the Library of Birmingham update taken during Sepember 2014 of the Arena. When the view is clear, you can see Edgbaston Reservoir from here.

The November 2014 update from the Brindleyplace Bridge. Within a month the arena would reopen as the Barclaycard Arena, but was more or less complete by this point.

Barclaycard Arena (2014-17)

The Arena reopened on the 2nd December 2014 as the Barclaycard Arena.

In the middle of December 2014, I took the following nightshots to see the Barclaycard Arena lit up after dark. This was around 5pm. It looked amazing. Including the digital display of the then City Skyline.

In January 2015 I took this digital display on the Barclaycard Arena. First view "lighting up Birmingham's skyline". The second view the Barclaycard Arena logo with the skyline.

In March 2015 I took this view of the Barclaycard Arena from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham.

A May 2015 view of the Barclaycard Arena with it's golden fins.

Arena Birmingham (2017-20)

Barclaycard ended there sponsorship of the arena at the end of August 2017. So from September 2017, the arena was now known simply as Arena Birmingham (but with no sponsor).

Took this view of Arena Birmingham from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham during October 2017.

The Beast from the East and Storm Emma hit Birmingham during early March 2018. Which was when Arena Birmingham was hosting the World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018. But the surrounding canals and towpaths were covered in snow and ice! Athletes and officials could run around outside, but it would have been very cold.

In April 2018, I saw the then new Arena Birmingham logo heading up the steps from the King Edwards Road entrance. Canopies were also at the time going up around The Malt House for an event linking the Arena to The ICC.

My last views of Arena Birmingham before the lockdown and the new sponsor Utilita came into force were taken during January 2020. It would be another 6 to 7 months before I would see the arena again (due to the pandemic / lockdown).

Utilita Arena Birmingham (2020-?)

During the lockdown, the arena had to close (like other venues all around the world).  The name change took place during April 2020. And would now be called Utilita Arena Birmingham. That meant the signs had to be changed, and the old ones taken down.

My first photo of Utilita Arena Birmingham taken in the middle of July 2020 from the Brindleyplace Bridge. The rest near the end of the month.

Hopefully it will one day be safe to reopen indoor arenas like this one. Even for sporting events without crowds. And they could be televised.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

 

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80 passion points
Green open spaces
06 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Langley Hall Park near Robin Hood Golf Club

When lockdown kicked in back in March 2020, the first daily walk I did was to Langley Hall Park. I noticed it on Google Maps and it looked like it was in walking distance. The park in Solihull is next to Robin Hood Golf Club. Main entrance on Swanswell Road. It is near Olton and Kineton Green in Solihull. Not far from the Birmingham border (Gospel Oak / Hall Green). Been two more times.

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Langley Hall Park near Robin Hood Golf Club





When lockdown kicked in back in March 2020, the first daily walk I did was to Langley Hall Park. I noticed it on Google Maps and it looked like it was in walking distance. The park in Solihull is next to Robin Hood Golf Club. Main entrance on Swanswell Road. It is near Olton and Kineton Green in Solihull. Not far from the Birmingham border (Gospel Oak / Hall Green). Been two more times.


Langley Hall Park

Welcome to Langley Hall Park. It is located in Olton, Solihull. Not far from Kineton Green. It is a small park with a pond and stream. There is paths that leads to the local schools. Suitable for walks, if you are walking from the roads / streets outside of the park then into the park. The main entrance gate is off Swanswell Road, which is linked to Langley Hall Road. This road goes to Gospel Lane, which takes you over the border in Birmingham (Gospel Oak / Hall Green). Acocks Green isn't that far away as well. The side paths leads to Reynalds Cross School, Langley School Specialist College and Langley Primary School. The road at the end leads to St Bernard's Road. You can't fail to notice Robin Hood Golf Club, which is to the south of the park on the other side of the fences.

 

My first walk to and then around Langley Hall Park was on the 24th March 2020, the day after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the whole nation that we are in lockdown. And you must stay at home. And if you go out, other than shopping or medical needs, to go for one form of daily exercise a day. I headed for Langley Hall Park, although for the majority of lockdown, I'm at home, more than going out for the odd daily exercise walk (e.g. creating a lot of Birmingham We Are posts).

Arriving at the park, the tree on the right had yellow leaves, not quite green. Enter through this gate.

Brilliant blue sunshine over an empty field.

Solihull M.B.C. Langley Hall Local Nature Reserve - typical Solihull park sign that you would also find in other parks in the Borough.

First look at the pond, the leaves had yet to grow back on the trees.

Saw an Egret in the pond.

This was the right hand side of the park. Or the south west corner towards Langley Hall Road.

This path goes past the fences near Robin Hood Golf Club.

This would be the south east corner of the park.

The path leading back to the main entrance.

A bench halfway to the next path.

And back to the main entrance / exit.

At the time was daffodils growing on the left.

This would be the entrance that I would use the most, even on my return visits.

Second visit was on the 11th April 2020. It was the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend and it was quite warm at the time. There wasn't that many people in the park at the time, just the odd other person. A look back at the main entrance. Only a couple of weeks on from my last visit, this tree was blooming already.

Went around the back of the pond this time around.

More trees around the back of the pond.

There is a bird house in the pond.

Many young families stop around the pond to look at the ducks or other wildlife.

Started to head down a path past the golf course and schools. Saw this robin on the fence before it flew away.

Only went down the path about halfway before turning back. I suspected that it might lead to St Bernard's Road. And as I didn't finish the path at the time, I wanted to go back.

Heading back, saw this blossom tree near Reynalds Cross School.

These are the trees close to the main entrance. The daffodils had finished flowering at this point.

As we left the park sign made a nice shadow with Langley Hall Park on the pavement.

For my third and most recent visit, I decided to get into the park a different way, on the 2nd July 2020. Walking into Solihull down Streetsbrook Road. I turned onto St Bernard's Road. When I saw a sign for Robin Hood Golf Club, I turned into the side road. Also at that end was Langley Primary School. Both venues seem to have reopened. Eventually the road gave way to a path between the golf course and the school grounds, and was back in the park.

Saw a lady coming from the path on the right.

I stuck to the path running alongside the golf course.

This lady was going for a run in the park.

I noticed that there was a lot of long grass growing, but some of the grass had been cut for social distancing purposes.

Getting near the path that runs alongside the stream.

Noticed a family was looking at a family of ducks, so I got this photo of the ducks.

The leaves on the trees around the pond were fully grown back.

Heading off the path near the pond and back to the path to the main entrance. More long grass to the right.

The leaves on the trees near the main entrance were really long by this point.

And back to the main entrance / exit gate. This time using it only the once, as I had come from the St Bernard's Road entrance. I think there is another path leading to Langley Hall Road, but I've not used that entrance yet.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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

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70 passion points

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