Sunday, 29 July 2012

Moor Street Railway Station

As far as railway stations in the centre of Birmingham go, I wouldn’t say they have a great reputation. Moor Street station is the exception to this – it’s an absolute gem. Amid all the modern, shiny, chrome, glass-fronted, sky-scraping boob-tube shaped buildings, Moor Street is a charming brick built, low level delight.

Before I show you pictures of this beaut, did you know that before housing a railway station, this area was once a prison?! I only found this out recently – a good source of information can be seen here. Moor Street Station was built c.1909 following the construction of the Victoria Law Courts.

Moor Street Station wasn’t always so lovely and beautiful – it was closed in 1987 due to restructuring of the Birmingham railway stations, and it sustained some damage when a bus crashed into it! It was restored at the turn of the millennium and re-opened in 2003. It was restored in a 1930s style, and the main entrance is through the booking hall and concourse instead of the old passenger terminal.

There is a resident steam engine at Moor Street, you can see her from the concourse, but if you ask the staff at the ticket barrier nicely they might let you through to see her up close. She is a GWR 2884 Class, No 2885.

This is a beautiful building to have a mooch around – it really does feel like you’ve stepped back in time. One of the things I like about it is the café called Moor-ish!

And now, some pictures! These were all taken by me on July 23rd. If you do go, please bear in mind that this is a working railway station! There will be irate passengers, and obstacles, and possibly angry ticket barrier men, but you are free to walk around the concourse and admire.

You can read more here, here and here. More pics here.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Curzon Street Canal Tunnel

Another canal tunnel related post, because I found one the other day whilst walking to the Museum Collection Centre. This tunnel is quite short – Google Earth says 0.1miles, but it probably isn’t even that. This tunnel takes the canal under the railway lines that run into New Street Station – the Cross City Line, the Lifford Line and another one that I don’t know the name of.

I accessed the north portal of the tunnel from Curzon Street, near the roundabout by PMT Music. There is a signpost that has been heavily vandalised, and a short stretch of canal, with locks. The tunnel is curved, and has lights!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Park Street Graveyard, Birmingham City Centre

Park Street graveyard is a weird little place. 

Behind Moor Street station, next to a busy one way road, near to the railway lines, near Digbeth, near the Eastside development. It is currently just a patch of green in the middle of industrial urban-ness, but there are still some headstones present – some tucked away in the undergrowth, others quite prominent.

When I first came across this a few years ago, I initially thought it was a cholera graveyard, as it is some way out of the main city area. However, some quick internetting told me otherwise – it is actually an overspill graveyard for St Martins (in the Bullring).

I decided to feature this on the blog as it may soon be gone – HS2 will be built over it.

This is very much used as a recreational area, but please respect it for what it is - a resting place. More pics.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Metchley Roman Fort

Most people only know about Metchley Fort because of the lone notice board at the University of Birmingham campus, close to West Gate (Uni Rail Station). I’ll confess to not knowing much about it too! Having researched it a bit, I am surprised there isn’t more information readily available on this site, especially with all the redevelopment of the hospital and new roads etc. in this area.

Metchley Fort was built about 2000 years ago and is centred on what was once a traffic island outside the University Medical School (the roundabout has now gone, and the whole road layout here is changing). The fort itself was quite large – larger than I ever imagined. If you go and look at this blog, there is an image about halfway down that shows the boundaries of the fort, with modern features marked on, which helps to give a sense of scale.

For more in-depth information about the fort, these are some sites I used, read, looked at, perused (delete as applicable). I haven’t spent a decent amount of time researching this, but I hope this brief blog post spurs some of you on to investigate further.
Bill Dargue
Some pictures (click for bigger)
Roman Britain

And finally, a reconstruction of what it may have looked like, from

More notice board piccies:

Notice board pics were taken by me, on June 10th. The notice board can be visited - after leaving University railway station, turn left, and it is tucked around the corner.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Birmingham Blue Plaque; Oxygen

Birmingham Civic Society
"On this site, in the former New Meeting House, Joseph Priestley, L.L.D., F.R.S, Scholar, Scientist, Theologian and Discoverer of Oxygen, ministered to his congregation from 1780 - 1791"
Royal Society of Chemistry 1980

On the side of the Meeting House, by the 900 bus stop on Moor St Queensway, Birmingham City Centre.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Thomas The Tank Engine

Not many people are aware of this, indeed, no one I know other than my family knows this, but Thomas the Tank Engine was born in King’s Norton in 1942. Yes, Thomas the little blue engine and all of his adventures were born from the mind of Reverend W Awdry to amuse his son, all while he was based at St Nicolas Church as a curate. It was originally called The Railway Series.

This isn’t really celebrated much, although I keep hearing whispers that this is all going to change soon! I saw some artwork on the railway bridge at King’s Norton the other day that also suggests this.

More pics from the railway bridge can be seen in the previous blog post, which in turn links to the Flickr page.

L x

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

King's Norton Railway Station Footbridge

My mom mentioned one of the ladies at her work had seen some art on the footbridge over the railway tracks. I went to have a look. Amazing!

One side (by Adeela Ahmad of King's Norton Girls)

The other side (by Oliver Blackburn of King's Norton Boys)

Pretty neat, huh? A brief history of King's Norton and the Cotteridge area in a highly eye-catching form. A few people walked across the bridge whilst I was taking these photos, and they just didn't seem to notice it - such a shame. I think it's brilliant!

More photos are up on Flickr. All pics taken by me, on July 17th. Click for bigger.

I highly suggest you all go and take a look! The bridge can be accessed from Station Road, either by The Camp pub on Camp Lane or from Middleton Hall Road, or from the railway station itself - the bridge is at the far end of the tracks, away from the ticket office. Cotteridge is easily accesible by buses - the 11A/C, 47, 45, 18 and the 49 all stop here. There are steps on either side of this bridge and no lift/ramp access.

A small write up can be read here.

L x

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Old Grammar School, King's Norton

The Old Grammar School in King’s Norton is another of those places that I knew about, and went to find, but never saw it (much like Ironbridge, but that’s a different story). I decided to go back and hunt it down, and have a proper look at it, instead of just reading about it.

What I found, tucked away behind Saint Nicolas Church in a corner of the graveyard, is a beautiful little building, two storeys high, brick built with stone detail around the doors and windows on the ground floor, and timber framework for the upstairs. According to this page on the University of Birmingham website, the brick part may have been underbuilt as it was tailored to fit the upstairs. It looks no bigger than a modern detached house, and it’s quite hard to imagine that this was once a school!

This delightful little building is part of Saint Nicolas Place on King’s Norton Green, and as a collective, this forms the “largest complex of medieval buildings in Birmingham”. The Saracen’s Head and the Old Grammar School date from the 15th century.

There is a notice board in front of the Grammar School, which doesn’t give much information but is better than nothing. I have of course over looked that this area won the BBC Restoration prize back in 2004.

The plaque above the door says, “Thomas Hall B.D. Schoolmaster, Preacher, Bibliophile taught here from 1629 to 1662. Birmingham Civic Society”.

I will write posts about the Saracen’s Head and King’s Norton Green separately and then add the links here.

This area is accessible to all. There are bins, and the Saracen's Head has a café and toilets. Parking is limited around the Green - but it is easily accessible by bus. More information can be read here. All pics were taken by me on June 9th 2012.

L x

Monday, 9 July 2012

Wast Hills Canal Tunnel

Wast Hills canal tunnel is exactly that – a canal tunnel that passes under some fields south of Brum, and an estate. I visited the north entrance after a walk down the canals after work one lazy Sunday a few weeks ago.

I decided to feature this tunnel on the blog because it’s hidden away, tucked behind some tower blocks near Cadbury Sixth Form College. There is only one tow path and it is narrow and doesn’t look to be well maintained (it isn't tarmacked and was quite squelchy in places!). The estate isn’t the most desirable part of Brum and in previous times I would’ve told everyone and anyone to avoid it! But despite all this, the area has a lot of history with regards to the canal network. To some people it’s just a canal tunnel in an estate; to others, me included, it’s valuable piece of Birmingham’s history and the connection between the canal network and the rise of industry.

The canal is on the Worcester and Birmingham canal, and this tunnel is quite long – some websites say 2726ft, some say 2493 metres – I think the latter figure is correct as a quick play with Google Earth tells me it is ~1.5miles.

Wast Hills Tunnel was built in 1976 and is the longest tunnel on the canal network. Quite a feat of engineering! The boats had to be legged through the tunnel as there is no internal towpath. Near to the entrance, but on the other side of the canal, is an information panel which I presume tells us more information, however, my zoom isn’t great so I couldn’t get a decent photo of it!

As an aside, somewhere on the Hawkesley estate is a pathway called something along the lines of ‘The Old Towpath’ I think! I used to see it on driving lessons around this area.

Here are some more photos:

More photos are up on Flickr.

The walk along the canal can be done as quickly as you like – to get to the Wast Hills tunnel you can get the 45 and I think the 49 to Foyle Road (just off the Redditch Road). The location of the tunnel is made evident by the white cottages that look distinctly out of place in this area! There is a steep slope down to the towpath near these cottages. There are no bins along this stretch of the canal. If you join the canal here, the walk takes you towards the King’s Norton Junction and the Guillotine Lock, and further on, Lifford.

This is what the land looks like immediately above the tunnel entrance:
(View from the bus stop)

(View from near the cottages after leaving the tow-path) 

L x

Saturday, 7 July 2012

King's Norton Nature Reserve & Wychall Reservoir

This post (and route!) follows on from this one which ended at Popes Lane, KN.

This walk along the river takes you through the King’s Norton Nature Reserve, from Popes Lane, past Wychall Reservoir and up to King’s Norton Park. The start point (or, where I started the route from as a continuation of my river walk) is indicated by three signs. There is a body of water in this area, I’m not sure how deep/how full of weeds it is, but be wary of this and ensure children don’t go running off.

The route is well maintained and is flat and tarmacked, so is suitable for all users. There are benches along the way. The river Rea is on your right and the reservoir is up ahead on the left. Despite being quite close to a busy school, an estate and a main road, this parkland is really quiet and you can hear all sorts of birds. More often than not, I spot herons on the reservoir!

This is quite a brief walk, and when you reach a short access road, turn left and pick up the route through the park. When you get to an opening, with a choice of two routes, take the one on the right in this picture. This will lead you past an industrial site, towards The Camp pub and Westhill Road. I'm not entirely sure where the gate on the left leads to..!

There are not many bins along this route; please take rubbish and dog waste with you. There is no parking, or visitor centre facilities. This part of the route is accessible by foot and bike, and the bus route 47 is nearby!

Photos from my walk (taken by me on June 9th) are now up on the Flickr page!

A few more piccies:

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Stirchley Park

A hidden gem in the hectic concrete jungle that is Stirchley!

I think I’ve always known about Stirchley Park, but I just referred to it as ‘the patch of land behind the Co-Op’, and it would seem, so do a lot of people!

This little patch of green is indeed tucked behind the Co-Op and the houses of Bond Street, but with the river (I think it is the Bourne) running through it, the artwork on the walls and the grass area, it’s a pleasant little place. Considering the proximity to the main route into town, the Pershore Road, it’s also really quiet; a perfect little hide-away park.

It has also has a twitter feed!

L x

Pictures were taken by me, June 25th. Click for bigger. Feel free to nick 'em, they are up on Flickr, or, visit and take your own!

There is no parking, unless you use the Co-Op car park. There are two main entrances to the park, I used Hazelwell Street, near the post box, but you can also enter at the corner of Bond St/Ribblesdale Rd.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Glacial Erratics in Bournville

These, my friends, are glacial erratics.


Glacial erratics are boulders that differ from the local lithology, and that have been deposited by glacial activity. Why is this relevant? This photo was taken on Bournville Lane, just up the road from the Railway Station, opposite part of the Cadbury factory. The railway bridge is down the road to the left.

These boulders were transported by the glaciers of the last age, and it is thought they are from the Arenig region of Wales. The boulders were dumped all over South Brum as the ice melted and retreated. The boulder in the pound in Old Northfield is also a glacial erratic, and there are others dotted around.

The geo-geek inside of me is very happy about this ;)

L x