Construction & regeneration
15 May 2019 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

The Grand Hotel, Birmingham - Update on restoration work (May 2019)

Birmingham’s most iconic hotel is set to be restored to its former glory when it opens next year.

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The Grand Hotel, Birmingham - Update on restoration work (May 2019)




Birmingham’s most iconic hotel is set to be restored to its former glory when it opens next year.

Map of the site

Greater Birmingham Developments Overview Map


Occupying a prominent position on the city’s grandest address of all, Colmore Row, The Grand Birmingham Hotel is scheduled to open its doors in May 2020.

It follows ten years of extensive renovation works throughout the building, which has seen Hortons’ Estate invest more than £25 million to give this Grade-II listed beauty a well deserved second chance at life.

Developed by the Horton Family themselves between 1879 and 1895, this opulent French Renaissance inspired building has played host to royalty, A-list Hollywood film stars and politicians over the years, as well as staging many dinners, concerts and dances in the picturesque Grosvenor Suite – a suite that will be returning to the public next year.

The Grand Hotel, 1894 - Photo by British Library

The Grand Ballroom - Photo by Birmingham Post

Plush new shops, upmarket restaurants and upgraded new offices now adorn the lower floors fronting onto Colmore Row, with more to come on Barwick Street.

This work has been supported by grants from Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), Birmingham City Council and Historic England.

Photo by 55ColmoreRow

Photo by Tom Grunt

HOTEL OPERATOR

The crowning glory for Hortons' Estate in all of this was securing a hotel operator, however, this has proved to be more difficult than anticipated.

The search for a builder to undergo works, in order to attract an operator, has been painstakingly frustrating at times, with builders put off by the antiquated nature of the interior, with modernising works seemingly too difficult to overcome.

However, a deal was reached and an announcement was duly made midway through 2017 when Principal Hotel Company announced plans to turn the upper floors into a luxury 180-room hotel.

The hotel will include extensive conference and banquet spaces, along with a restaurant, bar, and spa.

Initial plans for a rooftop infinity pool have since been scrapped in favour of five more spacious rooms. The hotel will now contain a total of 185 rooms, with a decision on the star rating yet to be made.

“We have always believed that the restoration of The Grand would not be complete if it did not include a luxury hotel.

After considerable time and effort we have chosen to work with Principal on the project because they share our commitment to creating the city’s finest hotel and because of their impressive track record working on similar buildings in other major cities.” - Tony Green, chief executive of Hortons’ Estate

With the hotel set to open in twelve months time, Graham Construction won the fit-out contract to deliver the hotel late last year, with work inside very much underway.

The Grand Hotel is well on its way to being reborn!

Artists Impressions by Berman Guedes Stretton

For more information on Birmingham's developments, follow @GtrBhamDev on Twitter

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70 passion points
Green travel
11 May 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Velo Birmingham at Victoria Square

On the 10th and 11th May 2019, Velo Birmingham & Midlands was at Victoria Square in Birmingham. For cyclists to register for the event, and there was also stands there with information and bikes there too. Velo Birmingham took place on Sunday 12th May 2019. Starting at Birmingham for a 100 mile ride around the Midlands. Including to Coventry and around Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

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Velo Birmingham at Victoria Square




On the 10th and 11th May 2019, Velo Birmingham & Midlands was at Victoria Square in Birmingham. For cyclists to register for the event, and there was also stands there with information and bikes there too. Velo Birmingham took place on Sunday 12th May 2019. Starting at Birmingham for a 100 mile ride around the Midlands. Including to Coventry and around Warwickshire and Worcestershire.


Over the 10th and 11th May 2019, Velo Birmingham were set up in Victoria Square. So that cyclist could register for the event, pick up their number and get a goody bag! The main event itself was held on Sunday 12th May 2019 around Birmingham & the Midlands. That was effecting road closures and buses would have to be diverted. I wasn't expecting to get out to see the cyclists riding around the city and the West Midlands, but this gathering in Victoria Square will do (I'm not a cyclist, have never ridden a bike, or owned one!).

Riders can ride 100 miles or 42 miles.

A look around Victoria Square. No sooner had the Knife Angel been installed in the square, that they set up the Velo Birmingham event all around! This to the right of the Knife Angel and left of the Queen Victoria statue.

Help Desk. Insturctions for registering for the event. Was a lot of people around.

The Cycle Republic Mini will be the events crew car.

The Cycle Republic Mini looking towards the Council House.

Enjoy The Ride! This seen at the bottom of Victoria Square near New Street and the newly opened Nandos.

Stands including West Midlands Cycle and West Midlands Network.

West Midlands Railway were there too!

Velo Birmingham & Midlands banners seen near the Knife Angel from Chamberlain Square, looking towards Victoria Square House.

The view from Colmore Row towards the Town Hall.

Good luck to all the riders taking part. (am assuming that this will go up after the Velo Birmingham event has finished).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
10 May 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - May 2019

Some 'Beaky Blinders' hanging around in Centenary Square with the externally completed One Chamberlain Square, the new home for PwC in the Midlands. More photos in the gallery.

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - May 2019




Some 'Beaky Blinders' hanging around in Centenary Square with the externally completed One Chamberlain Square, the new home for PwC in the Midlands. More photos in the gallery.

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Photos by Daniel Sturley

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90 passion points
Construction & regeneration
05 May 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Three Arena Central (HMRC) - May 2019

There has been some windows intalled in the hexagonal frames on the lower floors together with some black sub-cladding. The final steel structure for the upper floors is being constructed.

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The Construction of Three Arena Central (HMRC) - May 2019




There has been some windows intalled in the hexagonal frames on the lower floors together with some black sub-cladding. The final steel structure for the upper floors is being constructed.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
04 May 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Birmingham, Centenary Square - May 2019

There is a distinctly maritime look about Centenary Square now that the huge poles (masts?) have been installed! More photos in the full post.

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Birmingham, Centenary Square - May 2019




There is a distinctly maritime look about Centenary Square now that the huge poles (masts?) have been installed! More photos in the full post.

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Photos by Daniel Sturley

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60 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
04 May 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Cannon Hill Park, the Memorial to the Sousse Terror Attack Victims - April 2019

In March the memorial to the 31 British victims of the 2015 Sousse Terror Attack in Tunisia was unveiled by Prince Harry in Cannon Hill Park, here's a small gallery of photos of this amazing sculpture called 'Infinate Wave' created by George King Architects.

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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Cannon Hill Park, the Memorial to the Sousse Terror Attack Victims - April 2019




In March the memorial to the 31 British victims of the 2015 Sousse Terror Attack in Tunisia was unveiled by Prince Harry in Cannon Hill Park, here's a small gallery of photos of this amazing sculpture called 'Infinate Wave' created by George King Architects.

Photos by Daniel Sturley


There are 31 stainless steel tubes creating this sculpture, one for each of the 31 British victims.

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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100 passion points
Construction & regeneration
30 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Three Arena Central (HMRC) - April 2019

The new headquarters for HMRC Midlands, Three Arena Central, is rising fast with the last three floors being constructed and the cladding/window frames being installed.

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The Construction of Three Arena Central (HMRC) - April 2019




The new headquarters for HMRC Midlands, Three Arena Central, is rising fast with the last three floors being constructed and the cladding/window frames being installed.

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Photos by Daniel Sturley

 

Photos by Tom Grunt

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70 passion points
Architecture
27 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Aston Hall - April 2019

Here's a small gallery from Aston Hall including some interiors.

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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Aston Hall - April 2019




Here's a small gallery from Aston Hall including some interiors.

Photos by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
23 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - April 2019

The externally finished building is becoming an attraction for architecture photographers, lots of great photos in this gallery.

Photo by Tom Grunt

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - April 2019




The externally finished building is becoming an attraction for architecture photographers, lots of great photos in this gallery.

Photo by Tom Grunt

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Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Tom Grunt

 

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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100 passion points
Construction & regeneration
21 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Bank Tower Two - April 2019

Bank Tower Two is getting close to external completion, lots of the cladding is now visable on all sides, reflecting the spring sunlight.

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The Construction of Bank Tower Two - April 2019




Bank Tower Two is getting close to external completion, lots of the cladding is now visable on all sides, reflecting the spring sunlight.

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Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
Green travel
16 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

New blue cycleway open up the A34 towards Perry Barr

Starting from James Watt Queensway, opposite Aston University, this new blue cycleway has opened during April 2019. Going past Lancaster Circus, it then goes up Lancaster Street, then up New Town Row. Continuing on towards Perry Barr on the Birchfield Road. My most recent photos of the route are only the sections close to the city centre, so James Watt Queensway to New Town Row!

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New blue cycleway open up the A34 towards Perry Barr




Starting from James Watt Queensway, opposite Aston University, this new blue cycleway has opened during April 2019. Going past Lancaster Circus, it then goes up Lancaster Street, then up New Town Row. Continuing on towards Perry Barr on the Birchfield Road. My most recent photos of the route are only the sections close to the city centre, so James Watt Queensway to New Town Row!


Seen during August 2018, on James Watt Queensway, this was my first glimpse of the new blue cycling surface, close to Birmingham Children's Hospital and opposite Aston University. The helipad used by the Midlands Air Ambulance is to the left. Quite close to the Steelhouse Conservation Area (where Dalton Street, Ryder Street and Corporation Street meet at the end of the Methodist Central Hall).The route continues down the ramps to the subways of Lancaster Circus, as a no 51 bus was waiting to turn left. This is one of the buses that you can catch up to Perry Barr or Walsall.

I heard via Twitter from Birmingham Cycle Revolution that the A34 Cycle Route had opened the week starting 9th April 2019. They were posting various photos on their Twitter feed, so I wanted to take some myself. I'm just a walker, not a cyclist, but like to see cycle routes around the city! The last time I walked down to Lancaster Circus, I did notice that the cycle route down to the subways hasn't been painted blue (just the old white lines painted on the pavement).

For a lunchtime walk, I left the Aston University Campus and headed over towards Lancaster Circus, and got onto Lancaster Street to see a section of the newly opened blue cycleway on the A34. This section is opposite the student accommodation blocks of Staniforth House, Bagot Street 1 and Bagot Street 2. The only cyclist I saw was from Uber Eats. I headed up towards the Shazam! billboard where I would get off the road at the Lancaster Street Bridge, so I could get onto the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (where most cyclists would currently ride their bikes!).

The bus stop is placed on the right and the blue cycleway curves around it. Bagot Street 1 and 2 opposite. You would see many National Express West Midlands Platinum buses along the A34 corridor towards Perry Barr and Walsall.

The blue cycleway continues to curve around up New Town Row towards the Birchfield Road. Just about enough room here for a bus lane! Beyond here, the route would head up the Newtown High Street, then past Six Ways Aston, and up the Birchfield Road.

I have yet to check out the section beyond Newtown Middleway / New John Street since the full route was completed! Reckon that I'll need to catch a bus up to Perry Barr, and get photos out of the window at the front of the top deck (on the left), as long as it doesn't rain, and is dry. Previous attempts from a bus window, weren't too great when the window of the bus was covered in condensation from the rain, so best to go up on a dry, sunny spring day!

Check out this video on Facebook, posted by George Everett! The A34 route to Perry Barr is finally open!. A time lapse of the entire route.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me here or on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
14 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of 2one2 Broad Street - April 2019

Construction has commenced at MODA Living's 2one2 Broad Street with the piling drills starting preparations for the foundations.

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The Construction of 2one2 Broad Street - April 2019




Construction has commenced at MODA Living's 2one2 Broad Street with the piling drills starting preparations for the foundations.

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Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
12 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - April 2019

Lots of exterior progress at Two Chamberlain Square with all the first tier columns installed around the building and lots more of the windows.

Photo by Reiss Gordon Henry

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The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - April 2019




Lots of exterior progress at Two Chamberlain Square with all the first tier columns installed around the building and lots more of the windows.

Photo by Reiss Gordon Henry

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Photos by Daniel Sturley

 

Photo by Stephen Giles

 

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
09 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - April 2019

The building is finished externally and can now be seen in better context from various viewpoints.

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - April 2019




The building is finished externally and can now be seen in better context from various viewpoints.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
07 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Bank Tower Two - April 2019

There has been much more cladding installed and a lot has been revealled showing the striking grey/bronze colours. Lots of photos in this construction update.

Photo by Tom Grunt 

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The Construction of Bank Tower Two - April 2019




There has been much more cladding installed and a lot has been revealled showing the striking grey/bronze colours. Lots of photos in this construction update.

Photo by Tom Grunt 

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Photo by Tom Grunt

Photo by Stephen Giles

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
Photography
04 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Circuses in Birmingham

Occasionally a circus might come to down and pitch up in one of the cities parks, or in a nearby field. Here we will look at some of the circuses that have been in Birmingham in recent years. Such as the Chinese State Circus at the Sheldon Country Park, Uncle Sam's American Circus to a field in Hollywood near the Maypole, and a some others! Zippos have been around multiple locations!

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Circuses in Birmingham




Occasionally a circus might come to down and pitch up in one of the cities parks, or in a nearby field. Here we will look at some of the circuses that have been in Birmingham in recent years. Such as the Chinese State Circus at the Sheldon Country Park, Uncle Sam's American Circus to a field in Hollywood near the Maypole, and a some others! Zippos have been around multiple locations!


Zippo's Special Christmas Circus - Star City Birmingham, 2010

Held in the car park at Star City near the M6, Junction 6 (Spaghetti Junction) (also near Nechells) from the 16th December 2010 to the 2nd January 2011.

Zippo's Circus - Swanshurst Park, 2011

This circus was held at Swanshurst Park in Moseley / Billesley from the 17th to 22nd March 2011. They return every year. Is usually nice views from the other side of the Moseley New Pool (the parks lake).

While Swanshurst Park is near Kings Heath, it is not in Kings Heath. It's located between Moseley and Billesley (Swanshurst Lane, Yardley Wood Road and Brook Lane).

Zippos Circus - Swanshurst Park, 2017

I last saw Zippos at Swanshurst Park during April 2017. This time it was held from the 20th to the 25th April 2017. Had a better camera than the time I previously saw the circus there in 2011!

Again they were still calling Moseley as Kings Heath! Billesley was fine though! Although you do head up the Swanshurst Lane / Yardley Wood Road towards Kings Heath!

Chinese State Circus - Sheldon Country Park, 2017

This circus was held from the 9th to 14th May 2017. Close to the Coventry Road entrance in Sheldon.

Uncle Sam's American Circus - The Maypole, 2018

It was held in Hollywood near Sainsbury's Maypole from the 10th to 14th October 2018. In a field that usually has horses in it! Also not far from Druids Heath.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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50 passion points
Construction & regeneration
04 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - March 2019

A great day for this main photo, a bit dull for the rest in this last March construction gallery, but there are some interesting angles and some views of the massive street level windows.

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - March 2019




A great day for this main photo, a bit dull for the rest in this last March construction gallery, but there are some interesting angles and some views of the massive street level windows.

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Photos by Daniel Sturley

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90 passion points
Construction & regeneration
02 Apr 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - March 2019

Windows have been installed on the back of the building and the exterior columns have been extended up around most of the sides.

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The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - March 2019




Windows have been installed on the back of the building and the exterior columns have been extended up around most of the sides.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
26 Mar 2019 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - March 2019

Here's a few nice shots of One Chamberlain Square from some interesting viewpoints.

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The Construction of One Chamberlain Square - March 2019




Here's a few nice shots of One Chamberlain Square from some interesting viewpoints.

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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90 passion points
Construction & regeneration
26 Mar 2019 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - March 2019

Many more exterior columns have been installed, lots of great photos of the building from around the area in this gallery.

Photo by Stephen Giles

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Birmingham developments overview map

Related

The Construction of Two Chamberlain Square - March 2019




Many more exterior columns have been installed, lots of great photos of the building from around the area in this gallery.

Photo by Stephen Giles

Map of the site

Birmingham developments overview map


Main Photo by Stephen Giles

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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90 passion points
Construction & regeneration
25 Mar 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Construction at Arena Central - March 2019

There has been some of the hexagon window and cladding frames installed on the Bridge Street side of the building, not long now till the exterior of the building will show how it will sit with the others around it.

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Construction at Arena Central - March 2019




There has been some of the hexagon window and cladding frames installed on the Bridge Street side of the building, not long now till the exterior of the building will show how it will sit with the others around it.

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Birmingham developments overview map


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
History & heritage
24 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Birmingham more miles of canals than Venice

I went to Venice in July 2010 and had a ride on a gondola. We were also taken around the lagoon. A comparison of Birmingham's canals with those in Venice, Italy. Gondolas vs narrowboats. We have more miles of canals in Brum compared to Venice. 35 miles of canals with the City of Birmingham, with most of that navigable. Around 26 miles in Venice. Venice first then a look at Birmingham!

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Birmingham more miles of canals than Venice




I went to Venice in July 2010 and had a ride on a gondola. We were also taken around the lagoon. A comparison of Birmingham's canals with those in Venice, Italy. Gondolas vs narrowboats. We have more miles of canals in Brum compared to Venice. 35 miles of canals with the City of Birmingham, with most of that navigable. Around 26 miles in Venice. Venice first then a look at Birmingham!


This post will mostly be a comparison of the Dragon Boat race near Brindleyplace and the narrowboats within the city centre on the Birmingham Canal Navigations near Brindleyplace. With the world famous gondolas seen on the canals in Venice.

We start off with Venice. After the long boat ride to get to the city we got straight onto a gondola for a ride around the famous canals of Venice! The journey starts from the Bacino di San Marco.

I was on one gondola back in July 2010 and saw this gondola in front! This canal was the Rio di Palazzo. The gondolier's were having a chat with each other!

Both gondolas were heading for this footbridge. Many interesting looking buildings on the way!

A view of the Hard Rock Cafe in Venice. I can't even recall there being a Hard Rock Cafe in Birmingham! More recently saw a Hard Rock Cafe in Lyon, France and in Florence, Italy. Seen at the Orseolo basin (Bacino Orseolo). The canal might be the Rio del Cappello.

More tourists enjoying a ride on a gondola, like I did earlier that day (a roasting hot 12th July 2010 over 35°C!). This canal was the Rio del Scoa Camini. The Bacino Orseolo (Orseolo Basin) is around the corner.

The view from the same footbridge as above, so still the Rio del Scoa Camini. A footpath running alongside the shops. More tourists riding on gondolas. One gondolier on a brake (on the right).

Another Venetian canal. Several boats moored on the left. Seen from a footbridge on the Riva degli Schiavoni. This canal is the Rio di San Lorenzo. The bell tower on the right is of the Church of San Giorgio dei Greci (Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci in Italian).

If you want a taxi around Venice, then this is the way to travel, by a speedboat! Seen from another footbridge on the Riva degli Schiavoni. This canal was the Rio della Pieta. At this point we were heading to catch a boat for a Lagoon cruise! This might be almost 9 years ago but this day in Venice is still quite memorable!

OK enough with Venice, and back to Birmingham!

Flowers on the Brindleyplace Bridge over the Birmingham Canal Navigations in this view towards the Broad Street Tunnel. The ICC on the left, Brindleyplace to the right. Flowers out for the 4 Squares Weekender which was held in the city centre over the weekend of the 6th to 8th September 2013 (around when the new Library of Birmingham had opened). The red Waterbus seen behind. And the Sherborne Wharf tourist boat in front!

Not something you see on the Birmingham Canal Navigations every day. Canoeing on the canal. Saw this in May 2015 close to the Barclaycard Arena (now Arena Birmingham). This view the corner close to the Sealife Centre.

This view close to the Sheepcote Street Bridge. I also once saw canoes on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal from the Pershore Road Bridge in Stirchley!

What you are more likely to see around here is a service boat! Seen passing the Waterbus and the Sherborne Wharf tourist narrowboat. It was heading past the Brindleyplace Bridge towards the Broad Street Tunnel during early April 2018. Behind was Arena Birmingham, The Malt House and the Brewmasters House!

See my post on them here The Brasshouse, The Brewmasters House and The Malt House - historic canal buildings around the BCN and Brindleyplace.

About a week later (still April 2018), saw this man on a surfboard and a lady on one (might be a canoe)? Well they weren't surfing on the Birmingham Canal Navigations, as they headed under the Brewmasters Bridge. Probably rowing on their boards! This was round about when the BSAVA Congress was on at The ICC (probably not related).

OK here's the promised Dragon Boat Race photos. First one from June 2017 outside of the Sealife Centre Birmingham, close to the Brewmasters House and the Brewmasters Bridge. These boats are probably the closest thing we would have in Birmingham to the gondolas in Venice!

The Dragon Baot Race  seen during June 2018. Packed full of spectators around the Birmingham Canal Navigations. This was also close to the Sealife Centre Birmingham.

Now a building at Brindleyplace that wouldn't be out of place in Venice. Three Brindleyplace is seen to the left of the Sealife Centre. Teams at the race getting ready to race up and down from the Sealife Centre to the Broad Street Tunnel and back. I was only passing through, so didn't see much of the race in 2017 and 2018.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. The day trip to Venice was during July 2010.

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
23 Mar 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The removal of the crane at Bank Tower Two - March 2019

The crane at Bank Tower Two in Birmingham is removed by King Lifting.

Take the post for a selection of photos as it is removed.

Photos by Daniel Sturley

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The removal of the crane at Bank Tower Two - March 2019




The crane at Bank Tower Two in Birmingham is removed by King Lifting.

Take the post for a selection of photos as it is removed.

Photos by Daniel Sturley


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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70 passion points
Architecture
15 Mar 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Round towers in Birmingham, UK and Pisa, Italy

I finally got to go to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa during a holiday to Florence and Tuscany in June 2018. While I didn't go up the tower (not worth paying for the short amount of time to go up). Was well worth seeing it and other landmarks in the area. A comparison with the Rotunda in Birmingham, UK. The Leaning Tower was stablised by 2008, while our Rotunda was renovated.

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Round towers in Birmingham, UK and Pisa, Italy




I finally got to go to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa during a holiday to Florence and Tuscany in June 2018. While I didn't go up the tower (not worth paying for the short amount of time to go up). Was well worth seeing it and other landmarks in the area. A comparison with the Rotunda in Birmingham, UK. The Leaning Tower was stablised by 2008, while our Rotunda was renovated.


Birmingham has direct flights to Pisa, from Birmingham Airport to Pisa Airport. When I went it was with Jet2.com (organised via Riviera Travel) during June 2018. We had around 3 days in Florence, before setting off for Tuscany. On one of the touring days, after a wet morning in the city of Lucca, our coach took us to the city of Pisa in the afternoon. I remember being in Pisa, and seeing Ryanair or Jet2 planes flying over head!

 

First up a look at the Rotunda in Birmingham, seen over many years in the city centre, from different views.

The Rotunda, Birmingham

The Rotunda was built from 1961 to 1965, it was by the architect James A. Roberts, and was built with the original 1960s Bull Ring Shopping Centre. It was a 12 storey office block. It was revised to 25 storeys and had an abandoned rotating restaurant on the top floor (that was never built). In the 1980s and 1990s it was used to advertise Coca Cola (and resembled a giant can of Coke!).  It was given Grade II listed building status in 2000. The building was rebuilt between 2005 and 2008 by the architects Glenn Howells Architects and was renovated by Urban Splash. There is now apartments and a hotel in the building.

This view below was taken in August 2009 at the Bullring. Looking up from St Martin's Square on a very sunny day in Birmingham. This was around the time that I was getting photos of the Horatio Nelson statue with a blue sky.

This view of the Rotunda was taken during December 2009 from St Martin's Queensway. A no 63 bus waits not far from Birmingham New Street Station (the refurbishment of the station had yet to start, but was done from 2010 to 2015). One of the "bridges" links the Rotunda side to the 2003 Bullring. From here you can head up the ramp to Rotunda Square, or head under the dark part of St Martin's Queensway to Moor Street Queensway and Birmingham Moor Street Station. Some maps also show this as Swan Passage (probably one of the poorly designed part of the modern Bullring).

This view of the Rotunda was taken during August 2014 from Digbeth. Not far from Selfridges at the Bullring was a paint brush for the City of Colours Festival. They held a demonstation at the Bullring, and later had a day in Digbeth around the Custard Factory area painting street art on walls. Birmingham Coach Station and the BT Tower was also visible from here. Behind Digbeth Police Station is the Beorma Quarter. This was when the Adagio Aparthotel was under construction. St Martin's Church seen to the left.

A view from the Library of Birmingham of the Rotunda and Ladywood House (either seen from the Discovery Terrace or the Secret Garden) during October 2015. Visible from up here also was the Premier Inn hotel near Birmingham New Street Station and the Charters Building.

The Rotunda seen from Bordesley Street in Digbeth, during a sunny day in January 2018. Seen with the Bordesley Viaduct (with scaffolding) and Selfridges. Moor Street Car Park is usually a good place for roof top views of the city. You can also see the Rotunda if you are standing at platforms 3 or 4 at Birmingham Moor Street Station.

A Secret Garden view from the Library of Birmingham during January 2019. Seen to the left of the Rotunda was St Andrew's Stadium, the home of Birmingham City Football Club. It's also possible up there to see The Hawthorns (home of West Bromwich Albion) or Villa Park (home of Aston Villa) on a clear day.

Sit at the front of the no 50 bus on the top deck for this view of the Rotunda. Seen during February 2019 on Bradford Street in Digbeth. Heading up, you can see at the Bullring: St Martin's Church, Smithfield House and Selfridges. As well as the BT Tower. In Digbeth on the right is the Adagio Aparthotel (at the Beorma Quarter development) and Digbeth Police Station. I don't fancy going up that eyesore concrete car park on Moat Lane for views, so this bus view will do for now!

Another bus view, this one from the no 63 bus at the top of the Bristol Road near the Belgrave Interchange. Looking up the Bristol Road to Southside. The Rotunda seen with the McLaren Building and the tower of Exchange Square phase 1. At Belgrave Interchange you can see the on going roadworks of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution for the cycleway being built down the Bristol Road in Edgbaston. It goes as far as the University of Birmingham along sections of the Dual Carriageway. It's all change on Bristol Street too. Bristol Street Motors stands alone, while the Monaco House site awaits development for New Monaco House. A church used to be down here too, but that was demolished for new housing being built on the St Luke's land (towards Sherlock Street).

Now lets travel over 1000 miles to Italy. Fastest to fly from Birmingham Airport to Pisa Airport (the flight was around 3 hours with Jet2). As I said above we went to Florence first (where our first hotel was). The day after we went to Pisa. This was during late June 2018.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

In Italian the tower is called the Torre pendente di Pisa. It is the campanile or the freestanding bell tower of Pisa Cathedral. Work on the tower started in 1173 and was completed 200 years later in 1372. The tower began to lean during the 12th century. The tower is 55.86 metres high made of marble and stone. The tower was stabilised in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The tower has 294 or 296 steps. The tower lean has changed since the stabilisation work was completed by 2008.

It was well worth seeing, I was hoping to see it for years, before going on the Florence and Tuscany holiday. Could have paid in advance to go up, but for 30 minutes, the price wasn't worth it. So in the end, while there just explored the grounds of the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles).

This first view with the Cathedral. One of my first views after entering the tourist heavy area!

Slightly more close up and zoomed into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Tourists try to do a selfie pose of "pushing" the tower over! I tried it myself, not that the photos of me got the desired affect! Being the summer, there was loads of tourists about.

It realy is leaning! This view with the lawn and the tourists at the bottom. Can you see the people on the upper level balconies? There was other monuments about such as statues and sculptures.

This view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa seen with the Fontana dei putti. The monumental fountain that welcomes the entrance of the square from Via Santa Maria is by Giuseppe Vaccà (base and fountain) and by Giovanni Antonio Cybei (the marble group of putti holding the coats of arms of Pisa and the Opera).

I tried to head all the way around for different views. From this side to the right of the cathedral, it looks straight! Was also a Italian Army vehicle on site to keep tourists safe. I also saw them in Florence at different sites.

Even more closer looking up! I think this is near the entrance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Would guess that paying ticket holders would queue up around here?

This view from the steps of Pisa Cathedral. We sat down here for a period. I also noticed planes flying overhead such as Ryanair and Jet2. It's really leaning from this view!

It looks like here that the man on the left is leaning on the tower to push it over! While the man on the right is trying to push in left (for his own photo). Of course many tourists were trying the famous move for there holiday snaps! The tower also had a Republic of Pisa flag. That existed from the 10th to the 15th centuries. It was taken over by the Republic of Florence in 1402.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. My Twitter ellrbrown and Flickr ell brown.

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60 passion points
Construction & regeneration
15 Mar 2019 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

West Midlands unveils £10bn investment programme at MIPIM

The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street launched £10bn worth of projects to international investors on the opening day of MIPIM (2019) – the annual conference for property professionals held in Cannes, France.

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West Midlands unveils £10bn investment programme at MIPIM




The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street launched £10bn worth of projects to international investors on the opening day of MIPIM (2019) – the annual conference for property professionals held in Cannes, France.


Leading the delegation of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Andy Street unveiled an Investment Prospectus consisting of 24 development opportunities from across the region that are seeking investment, many of which lie in Birmingham.

The Prospectus, containing current investment opportunities and ones coming soon - will provide investors with the opportunity to make their mark on a booming city regularly named as the UK’s most investable for foreign investment and business start-ups, as voted by 500 of Europe’s top property experts.

With a record number of developments underway and a healthy pipeline of projects on the horizon, Birmingham represents an attractive opportunity for investors all itching for the chance to deliver on some of the UKs biggest projects.

Some of these projects include:-

  • £2bn+ UK Central Hub and HS2 Interchange
  • £700m Paradise Birmingham
  • £1bn+ Birmingham Curzon HS2

Curzon Street Station HS2 

©Grimshaw Architects

This Grimshaw Architects & WSP UK designed station will form Phase 1 of HS2, and will link central London with the Second City. It will also enter the history books as being the first intercity train station built since the 1800's.

With preparatory works underway and a planning application for the station due soon, a £724m investment programme has been agreed with the Government that will not only create a spectacular new gateway station for Birmingham and its rail passengers, but be fully integrated into an extended Midland Metro Alliance tram network, as well as offering countless connections to the rest of the city and beyond.

HS2 will ignite and accelerate the expansion of the city’s office core and unlock land around the Curzon Street regeneration area, with a number of growth opportunities for commercial and residential uses in the pipeline, with Birmingham City Council as promoter working with Homes England as well as landowners to identify land ripe for development.

Paradise Birmingham

This £700 million Joint Venture is being led by Argent and Hermes and will deliver a high quality mixed-use development right in the cultural heartbeat of Birmingham.

We will see ten new buildings totalling 1.8 million sq ft, including offices, bars and restaurant space, all around a new public realm complimenting its historic city centre setting.

Phase One of ‘Paradise’ (two new buildings) will complete later this year. These include One and Two Chamberlain Square.

One Chamberlain Square - an Eric Parry Architects designed building comprises 172,000 sq ft of offices and ground floor commercial space. PwC will move 1400 employees into the building later this year and it will become their signature Midlands HQ. There is also the potential growth for an extra thousand more employees if needs be. BAM Construction have been tasked with finishing the job that Carillion couldn’t.

©Paradise Birmingham

Two Chamberlain Square – Designed by Birmingham’s own Glenn Howells Architects. Standing at eight storeys, it is being speculatevly built and features 183,000 sq ft of offices with ground floor commercial space fronting onto a new public realm. A significant pre-let is not too far away from being announced here. It is also being built by BAM Construction.

 

©Paradise Birmingham

Phase 2 of Paradise includes the 13-storey One Centenary Way, another Glenn Howells Architects design and faces onto Centenary Square.

 

©Glenn Howells Architects

This has been approved, funding has been secured and construction will get underway imminently. The building will be speculatevely built, such is the confidence in Birmingham these days and will feature 280,000 sq ft of office space, with shops and restaurants at ground and upper ground level. It will also feature the city’s first major Cycle Hub, with bike hire.

©Glenn Howells Architects

Also due in Phase 2 is a new 4 star hotel with approximately 250 bedrooms; and Three Chamberlain Square, offering more Grade A Offices, retail space and a new square. These can be seen below, but they are indicative images. Formal planning applications on these buildings have yet to be released.

©Paradise Birmingham

Phase 3 has outline planning permission to deliver a further five buildings and a new large public square and will follow in the same vein as Phases 1 & 2.

UKCENTRAL 'The Hub' & HS2 Interchange

UKCentral, or 'The Hub' is a 20 year growth plan on an area of land in Solihull, just off Junction 6 of the M42 motorway. It is home to Birmingham Airport; the National Exhibition Centre (NEC); Birmingham International Station; Birmingham Business Park; Jaguar Land Rover; and the Arden Cross development site which will be the location of the HS2 Interchange Station from 2026.

©Urban Growth Company©Urban Growth Company

The Urban Growth Company (a vehicle formed by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and supported by WMCA and GBSLEP) is partnering with West Midlands Combined Authority to maximise the opportunities with the arrival of HS2 in 2026 and are working with HS2 Ltd to link planned and existing local and regional transport to HS2, which will deliver £1.6 bn worth of infrastructure investment, with the potential to deliver up to 77,000 new jobs, 775,000 sq ft of commercial space & an urban quarter of up to 5000 new homes, with HS2 Interchange Station (below) at its heart.

©HS2 Ltd

HS2 Interchange will be the first stop outside London in 2026 and will bring together a fully-integrated and seamless transport exchange at a newly transformed Birmingham International Station (see below) – bringing together the NEC, future NEC City, airport, road, trams, plus the rail network that will see it become an international gateway by 2025.

Investors are being given the opportunity to support these plans by becoming long-term equity investors, large scale development funders and partners. All this will significantly contribute to growth and deliver thousands of new homes and jobs, as well as new commercial and leisure facilities and unrivalled connectivity that Birmingham and the surrounding areas has to offer.

©Urban Growth Company

Street said: “We are building the future and there’s never been a better time to invest in the West Midlands. We have a diverse, resilient economy, one of the youngest and fastest growing populations in Europe, great quality of life, unrivalled connectivity, brilliant centres of learning, and world-class businesses, large and small.

“This provides us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive inclusive growth across the region that benefits all our communities.

“This £10bn investment prospectus demonstrates the strength of our offer and the boldness of our vision. We are the most promising place to invest in the UK – and, like all good businesses, we have a plan and are delivering it."

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