I threaded my way up New Street towards what is known as Victoria Square. The area was bustling and you always had to be aware of low flying electric scooter riders, delivery bike messengers or cellphone users. There were a number of interesting alleyways and entrances to look at but I did not explore inside of them as timewise I only had roughly an hour left before I headed to the station.
Birmingham has a lot of really amazing buildings, but apart from my forays in 2015 I have never really explored it properly. My day trips are limited by train departure times and energy levels, but when I “hit the town” I come away with a lot of images. This short jaunt netted me 432.
As you can see in the image above I had now reached the Victoria Square area where the Council House building is.
The sun was also paying a surprise visit which gave this trip an almost holidaylike feeling and the many people sitting around in this area probably felt the same way. The space is quite large and incorporates a number of interesting buildings and statues. This large square building is the Town Hall, soon to be obscured by a tram.
The large white ornamental spire just to the left is a monument erected “in gratitude for public service given to this town by Joseph Chamberlain“.
And, as in 2015 there were building works taking place so I was unable to choose a new route to get to the Hall of Memory, so some of these images are almost identical to those from 2015. I was curious to see whether the roadworks that had messed me around back then had ever been completed and I was amused to see that they seemingly were not.
This building is marked as being in “Chamberlain Square” and it is joined to the Council House by a bridge which you can see in shaded area of the lower image.
Then I spotted my destination. This area is dominated by the Birmingham Library, with Baskerville House in the foreground of the image below. The memorial was closed due to the pandemic.
The Hall of Memory is a very impressive structure and was designed by S. N. Cooke and W. Norman Twist and was opened by H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught on 4th July 1925. I had photographed the interior before but at the time of my visit the Victoria Cross Paving stones had not been installed. I really wanted them for my Victoria Cross pages but I have closed most of that section of my blog down so it is a moot point. 5 of the 10 paving stones may be seen in the image below. I have added these paving stones to the original post about the Memorial.
It was time to head back to the station and I started to retrace my steps back through the area. Pausing to admire the temporary roadworks and construction. I don’t recall seeing these way back in 2015.
It is hard to believe a city like Birmingham becoming a ghost town during lockdown. The effect of lockdown on our small town was easy to spot, but these vast areas must have been really hard to see with nobody in them.
Meanwhile, back at Victoria Square…
And there goes another Tram. I find them kind of strange because they are not too noisy and by their nature the lines and route are quite exposed. I have not managed to ride on one yet but maybe next time?
On my way back to the station I made a slight detour to grab a pic of the parish church of St Martin In the Bull Ring which looks slightly out of place with all the glitzy consumerism all around it.
I have a feeling I visited the church back in 2015 but as I said before, this area was a mess back then so I do not remember much of it. If I ever return to Birmingham I will remedy the situation. Also on this plateau is a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson sculpted by Richard Westmacott. It was unveiled on 25 October 1809, as part of King George III’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
This does lead me back to one question: just what is “The Bull Ring”? Wikipedia says the following: The Bull Ring is a major shopping centre in central Birmingham. When combined with Grand Central (to which it is connected via a link bridge) it is the United Kingdom’s largest city centre based shopping centre and has been an important feature of Birmingham since the Middle Ages, when its market was first held. Remember that Bull I photographed on the first page? It is situated at the main entrance to the west building and is supposed known as “The Guardian”, and is 2.2-metre tall and was created by Laurence Broderick. It is more widely known as “The Bull.” and is a very popular spot for selfie fans (and that ain’t no bull!).
I had 30 minutes to get to the station and managed to find my way back to the giant eyeball at Birmingham New Street Station.
The platform area of the station may have been “redone” but it is still a cold uninviting place. I remember when all those Pendolino‘s used to use this station, but today it was seemingly empty.
I did however manage to snag a pic of a Turbostar in the West Midlands Railway livery and by the time we finally headed out of the station in the same direction this area was covered in rain!
I was back in Cheltenham 45 minutes later and back home by 4 pm. It had been a long day and I am glad that I do not have to go through that again. The next hurdle is the English language test but I may do that in Bristol. Hopefully by the end of the month I will have the date for that one. The big question is whether we will be in lockdown again by then.
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