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Squares and public spaces
19 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A look round Colmore Square, between Colmore Row and Steelhouse Lane

If you are walking down Colmore Row or up Steelhouse Lane, you will get to Colmore Circus Queensway. In the middle of that is Colmore Square. Redeveloped in the early 2000s, from the subways and lowered areas that were filled in. The Wesleyan had already been there since 1991, while No 1 Colmore Square opened in 2004. The square was refurbished in 2014 with new benches and flower planters.

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A look round Colmore Square, between Colmore Row and Steelhouse Lane





If you are walking down Colmore Row or up Steelhouse Lane, you will get to Colmore Circus Queensway. In the middle of that is Colmore Square. Redeveloped in the early 2000s, from the subways and lowered areas that were filled in. The Wesleyan had already been there since 1991, while No 1 Colmore Square opened in 2004. The square was refurbished in 2014 with new benches and flower planters.


COLMORE SQUARE

 

Colmore Square is in the centre of Colmore Circus Queensway. It is connected to Colmore Row, Bull Street, The Priory Queensway, Steelhouse Lane, Weaman Street and Snow Hill Queensway.

 

Colmore Circus Queensway was rebuilt in 2002, replacing the old roundabout of the Inner Ring Road with a square (this was around the same time when Masshouse Circus Queensway was demolished, breaking up the Concrete Collar, which had stopped development in Birmingham for decades). Out went the subways, and in came traffic lights and pelican crossings and road level. It is now safer to walk from Birmingham Snow Hill Station, on Colmore Row to Birmingham Children's Hospital on Steelhouse Lane, without having to go into subways (which you had to do from 1998 to sometime before 2002). It is also an alternate walking route to Aston University and the Magistrate and Law Courts, through the Steelhouse Conservation Area.

 

The Wesleyan was built from 1988 to 1991, so some changes had to be made to get the square to be level with the outside of the building, including a fountain.

No 1 Colmore Square was completed opposite The Wesleyan in 2004. No 2 Colmore Square is on the corner of The Priory Queensway and Steelhouse Lane, also known as Cannon House and Priory House (refurbished in 2006). There is a Matthew Boulton plaque, on the corner, as he was born nearby in the area (in 1728).

Colmore Plaza is on the opposite corner of Colmore Circus and Steelhouse Lane, this was completed in 2007 (replacing the Post & Mail Building of 1965-2006). It was renamed to The Colmore Building since 2016.

 

The original Midland Metro extension was built on the part of Colmore Circus near Colmore Row from 2012 to 2015. The first part opened to Bull Street Tram Stop in December 2016 (reaching Grand Central Tram Stop by 2016).

Minor refurbishment of Colmore Square in 2014 with new benches and flower planters, plus some chess table benches.

 

Every Christmas the Colmore BID places a Christmas tree here, and in the summer, Cofton Nursery places one of their Floral Trail pieces. The Big Hoot had 3 painted owls in summer 2015, and The Big Sleuth 3 painted bears in the summer of 2017. The trails were to help the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

 

Colmore Square as it was during May 2009. This view: The Wesleyan on the left, then the view down Steelhouse Lane with Colmore Plaza on the left and No 2 Colmore Square on the right (near the end of The Priory Queensway).

A look down Steelhouse Lane from Colmore Square. Fountain Court and the back of the Victoria Law Courts are visible from here.

In the other direction towards Colmore Gate and Colmore Row with Bull Street to the left. The old 103 Colmore Row (NatWest Tower) was just about visible to the right (behind Barclays Bank).

Shadow near No 1 Colmore Square, which is the office building on the left.

 

Colmore Square Then and Now

Spot the difference. The old NatWest Tower stood at 103 Colmore Row until 2015. After demolition, the new 103 Colmore Row was built during 2019 into 2020, and will open sometime later in 2021.

A July 2009 view of Colmore Square. Beyond Colmore Gate and The Wesleyan towards the NatWest Tower (the old 103 Colmore Row).

 

This view of Colmore Square taken during July 2020. While the new 103 Colmore Square was under construction. Seen between Colmore Gate, Barclays Bank, 9 Colmore Row, 1 Colmore Row and The Wesleyan.

 

2014 refurbishment of Colmore Square

This was during April 2014. This view from the construction site of the Midland Metro extension.

New flower planters with trees and benches, close to The Wesleyan.

They were also installed close to No 1 Colmore Square.

There was also brand new bins installed at the time.

More new trees close to The Priory Queensway.

The chess table benches. Whether anyone played chess or checkers here, I'm not sure. More like people having their lunch on them!

There was also new bike racks, near Colmore Plaza and The Wesleyan.

The reverse view of Colmore Square back towards the Midland Metro extension. The Grand Hotel was under scaffolding, but was before the renovation works started.

 

Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail

Cofton Nursery is responsible for placing the various floral trail pieces all over the City Centre, every summer. Some for special occasions.

 

Seen in early August 2012 in Colmore Square was this floral trail piece called Female Weightlifter. It was the year of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was based on Zoe Smith and Natasha Perdue. It was one of 23 features that you could see along the route that summer in 2012. The Colmore BID sponsored it, supporting Birmingham Bloom in celebrating Team GB.

 

From July 2015, the Folding Bicyle was back in the City Centre, this time in Colmore Square. The summer before (2014) it was located in Church Street Square. In 2014 it was one of 12 WW1 features to commemorate Britain's entry into the First World War (1914-18). The commemorations continued into 2015.

 

Wasn't so much of a Floral Trail by the summer of 2019, just the odd piece around the City Centre. From July 2019, was this Rock 'N' Roll Drums located in Colmore Square. Probably as it was Black Sabbath's 50th Anniversary, and they had an exhibition on at the Gas Hall that summer. Called Home of Metal Presents: Black Sabbath 50 Years.

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

Seen in Colmore Square during July 2015 was The Big Hoot, a trail of painted owls. This trail would be on for around 10 weeks before being auctioned for charity.

Leo by the artist Ruth Green. The sponsor was Pinsent Masons.

 

Tessellated Triangles was by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was Shoosmiths.

 

The Graduate by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was The Wesleyan.

 

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017

Seen in Colmore Square during July 2017 was The Big Sleuth, a trail of painted bears. Running for 10 weeks, before the painted bears were auctioned off for charity.

Get Your Bearings was designed by Tom Crotty and painted by G-Anders.The sponsor was Amey.

 

Birminghamshire by the artist Rachel Blackwell. The sponsor was The Wesleyan.

 

Captain Blue Bear by the artist Maria Burns. The sponsor was Vodafone.

 

Christmas Tree's over the years in Colmore Square

The Colmore BID usually installs a variety of Christmas tree's in Colmore Square over the years, close to the part of Colmore Circus with Colmore Row. Sometimes artificial baubles, other years a real grown tree.

The Baubles Christmas Tree in Colmore Square seen during November 2011. Celebrate Christmas with Colmore Business District. The view towards No 1 Colmore Square.

Early in January 2012, the same Christmas Tree was still up, and I caught it lit up after dark in Colmore Square.

 

In December 2014, you could see a real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square. This view towards 9 and 1 Colmore Row.

 

There was also a real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square during December 2015. This view towards Colmore Gate.

 

Same again in November 2017 with this Christmas Tree. View towards The Wesleyan.

 

The last real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square, seen during November 2019. The view between 1 Colmore Row and The Wesleyan.

 

During the 2nd lockdown, close to the end of November 2020, I saw this artificial Christmas Tree in Colmore Square, as a West Midlands Metro tram passed by.

Later that day, before I got the bus home, I saw it lit up after dark. The last time I went through Colmore Square during December 2020, it had been removed. Probably due to the Snow Hill Public Realm works taking place nearby on Colmore Row.

 

Other events

A few more observations in Colmore Square over the years. Usually when I was heading to get some lunch from Colmore Row (and on the walk back to work).

 

The Microsoft Office 365 bench was in Colmore Square on the 29th March 2013. You could sit here and enjoy free WiFi while you work (outside).

 

A band was playing some musical instruments in Colmore Square, and there was an audience watching from those deckchairs. This was on the 23rd July 2014. Lots of office workers out to buy their lunch that day.

 

Exercise bikes were being ridden in Colmore Square, as seen on the 15th July 2015. Quite close to the Folding Bike floral trail feature. They were riding for the Birmingham Children's Hospital charity. From "Lands End to John O'Groats". They were from The Wesleyan. Of course if they did this now, they would do it from home over Zoom.

 

See also the post on Church Street Square in the Colmore BID.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
Transport
31 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street

Despite the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, there has been a lot ot progress on the Westside Metro Extension from Centenary Square towards the Hagley Road, just beyond Five Ways in Edgbaston. Here we will look at the building of it from April 2015 to December 2020 on Broad Street with gaps from Feb to July 2020 and Nov 2020 due to the lockdowns.

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The Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street





Despite the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, there has been a lot ot progress on the Westside Metro Extension from Centenary Square towards the Hagley Road, just beyond Five Ways in Edgbaston. Here we will look at the building of it from April 2015 to December 2020 on Broad Street with gaps from Feb to July 2020 and Nov 2020 due to the lockdowns.


Westside Metro Extension on Broad Street

Most progress was done during the various lockdowns in 2020. Especially in the months where I was unable to travel to the City Centre (until I had to go back to work in July). I also missed November (2nd lockdown, until I went back to work). Didn't really get around to checking the extension out again until late December 2020.

They have started to install Brindleyplace Tram Stop. I had a walk down on Broad Street on Christmas Eve to see it.

Enjoy this photo gallery from April 2015 to December 2020. Track laying began at the end of 2019, and they made a lot of progress during 2020, while Westside was quiet.

25th April 2015.

In April 2015, early signs on Broad Street of utility works between the future site of The Bank and The Mercian.

A lorry and van from the National Grid were on site in front of Zara's starting to move the undeground pipes and cables.

5th April 2017.

Just under the link bridge from the Hyatt to Symphony Hall. More utility diverence works. This time by Pier (UK) Ltd.

10th February 2018.

This view of Broad Street zoomed in from the Library of Birmingham's Secret Garden. Buses were still going up and down Broad Street at the time. This was close to Lee Longlands and Novotel.

15th February 2018.

Views from the top deck of the X10 NXWM Platinum bus, emerging from the Five Ways Underpass near the Five Ways Complex.

Was a lot of traffic here due to the roadworks close to Pryzm.

Traffic was diverted around to the right, with temporary traffic lights. Welcome to the City Centre.

It's hard to imagine Broad Street like this now, as it's been closed to traffic since 2019.

There was even a big hole in the road near Uber, at the corner of Ryland Street.

26th March 2018.

I was on a no 23 NXWM Platinum bus on the top deck, while the 24 was in front. Cones in the middle of the road, while more utilities were diverted near the O Bar.

Near the end of Broad Street approaching Centenary Square, and about to go under the link bridge from Symphony Hall to the Hyatt Regency Birmingham. This view would change a lot in the follow two years.

21st December 2019.

View from the no 24 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus from the top deck, looking towards Broad Street from Five Ways Island. Tracks had already been laid in the Five Ways underpass from Hagley Road to Broad Street.

3rd February 2020.

The road had been dug up and was gates at certain sections, near where pedestrians could cross the road. This was near the Bierkeller Entertainment Complex towards the Five Ways Complex.

22nd February 2020.

The footpath near Symphony Hall was closed, you had to cross through the temporary path towards the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

Between Regency Wharf and Symphony Hall, it looked like a warzone! No road surface.

Towards Centenary Square, you can see Library Tram Stop in the distance.

14th July 2020.

First time back on Broad Street for about 4 months due to the first lockdown (I'd gone back to work). Tram tracks had been laid near Reflex '80s Bar (The Crown), Walkabout and towards The Brasshouse.

25th July 2020.

Tracks going all the way past Cineworld on Broad Street, down into the underpass below Five Ways Island.

The other side of the fence up Broad Street past the Five Ways Complex, towards The Bank, The Mercian and the Hampton by Hilton Hotel (Cumberland House).

29th August 2020.

Near Regency Wharf and the Solomon Cutler Wetherspoon. The road surface had yet to be filled up.

12th September 2020.

You could now walk down the middle of Broad Street. They were now doing the paving in front of the O Bar and Walkabout. As well as the paving on the Black Sabbath Bridge.

Near the Solomon Cutler Wetherspoon at Regency Wharf. You could walk over part of the track that goes towards Five Ways.

16th September 2020.

Now you can see the track that was installed to connect to the end of the current line at Library Tram Stop.

From Centenary Square at Library Tram Stop, where the tracks are connected to the existing line.

19th October 2020.

Near Brindleyplace, Free Radio and Popworld.

The tracks and the road surface were more or less complete near the Five Ways Complex.

25th October 2020.

My last major walk of the Westside Metro extension before the 2nd lockdown was announced. Seen here near Cineworld (which had closed down again) and Pryzm at the Five Ways Complex.

The freshly laid road surface not far from Revolution.

Autumn leaves on the tracks near Dil Bar Indian Restaurant.

Paving works between Symphony Hall and the Solomon Cutler at Regency Wharf. You could walk down the tracks.

They had already started to lay bricks on the new tracks near Centenary Square, with this view of the Library of Birmingham.

They had made a lot of progress since my previous update of this view, looked almost finished.

19th December 2020.

Headed to the Black Sabbath Bridge, as the Black Sabbath Bench is now back in place. Brickwork towards Walkabout and O Bar is now complete.

Looking towards The Brasshouse and Three Brindleyplace. All it needs now is the four Broad Street Walk of Stars of the Black Sabbath members to be laid, but that would mean removing the newly laid bricks!

24th December 2020. 

The view on Broad Street towards Five Ways. Cineworld has been closed since the middle of October. Buses have to divert down Ryland Street.

Similar to the October view, but all the autumn leaves have long since been cleared up.

Towards the so called Broad Street Cluster.

There is the usual shutdown over the Christmas holidays.

Can walk down the middle of the tracks past Novotel and Travelodge.

First view of Brindleyplace Tram Stop near Free Radio and Popworld.

The start of the building of the tram platforms near Brindleyplace.

Towards the Black Sabbath Bridge with what was The Crown ('80s Reflex Bar) and The ICC.

A lot of strong winter sunshine on Broad Street, was close to Walkabout here.

Looking back at the Black Sabbath Bridge.

Towards Centenary Square, the link bridge from Symphony Hall to the Hyatt.

From just in front of Library Tram Stop, the Westside Metro extension to Five Ways starts here.

27th December 2020.

View of Broad Street from Five Ways Island on the no 24 NXWM Platinum bus towards the so called Broad Street Cluster. Tracks below emerging from the Five Ways underpass. I expect they will build a tram stop near Cineworld sometime in 2021.

Also check out my Hagley Road, Edgbaston post .

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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110 passion points
Transport
31 Dec 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Westside Metro Extension on Hagley Road, Edgbaston

The tail end of the Westside Metro extension is being built at Hagley Road in Edgbaston, just beyond Five Ways. It goes past the Morrisons supermarket and Starbucks Coffee and will end outside of the refurbished Fifty4 Hagley Road. As of late December 2020, they have laid the tracks but yet to build up the road or pavement surface around most of it. Photo gallery from 2017 - 2020.

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The Westside Metro Extension on Hagley Road, Edgbaston





The tail end of the Westside Metro extension is being built at Hagley Road in Edgbaston, just beyond Five Ways. It goes past the Morrisons supermarket and Starbucks Coffee and will end outside of the refurbished Fifty4 Hagley Road. As of late December 2020, they have laid the tracks but yet to build up the road or pavement surface around most of it. Photo gallery from 2017 - 2020.


Westside Metro Extension on Hagley Road

One day from the end of 2021 onwards, West Midlands Metro trams will emerge from the Five Ways underpass, coming from Broad Street. Then will come to the end of the extension on Hagley Road in Edgbaston, this takes it past the Morrisons supermarket, with Starbucks Coffee at the end. But will end at the tram stop that will be built outside of Fifty4 Hagley Road.

The Five Ways underpass has been closed to all traffic since 2019, and they have to go on a diversion around Five Ways Island.

Beyond the end of the line, it was proposed that Sprint would continue down Hagley Road, but not sure what has happened to that. It would take a very long time to extend the line even further (as far as Bearwood and Quinton), but that seems unlikely for now.

1st October 2017.

The view from the wide pavement outside of Tricorn House. I thought they could built the line here (at the time). View towards Morrisons and Fifty4 Hagley Road, near where the line would eventually be built in 2020.

But they would eventually build the extension outside of Morrisons towards Starbucks Coffee.

You can see how wide the pavement was at the time at this side of Hagley Road back in 2017. The bus stops, lampposts, etc would all have to go.

A view towards the offices at Fifty4 Hagley Road. Just some barriers on the pavement. Trees and grass that would have to go.

15th February 2018.

A bus ride from the top deck of the X10 NXWM Platinum bus, as it passed Morrisons and the Marriott Hotel (on the right).

Cones in the middle of the road. Opposite was also a Pizza Hut Delivery place for take away.

The bus leaves Hagley Road, heading down the Five Ways Underpass towards Broad Street.

There was a digital billboard that you can see as you head under Five Ways Island.

View from the bus in the Five Ways Underpass. A view runners of the Great Birmingham Run used to have until a few years ago. Broad Street is at the end of the white light!

29th June 2019.

The view from the top of Hagley Road. The Five Ways Underpass to the left. It would be hard to get views of the Metro extension around the tunnel if you were on the pavement, especially with traffic going past.

21st December 2019.

One way to see a view of the tram tracks being laid was from the top deck of a bus going around Five Ways Island. This view towards Hagley Road past The Lansdowne, early track laying progress. This was taken from the top deck of the no 24 NXWM Platinum bus. By now going on a diversion to the City Centre.

23rd December 2019.

Saw these pink Midland Metro Alliance barriers just beyond Morrisons on the Hagley Road.

There was also some pink Midland Metro Alliance barriers in front of Fifty4 Hagley Road. All of that grass and young trees have been removed for the extension in the year since.

4th January 2020.

A view of the Five Ways Underpass with the tracks that had been laid. This was the view zoomed in from the window at Morrisons Cafe. This was my last photo of the extension on Hagley Road before the pandemic was declared, and we had those lockdowns and restrictions.

31st July 2020.

With restrictions eased by the summer, I was back to work in the middle of July. On a day off I headed towards the Hagley Road on a warm day to see The Two Towers again. Was lots of cones and barriers on the right.

There was also a lot of traffic trying to get past Fifty4 Hagley Road. As only one lane was open.

25th October 2020.

I heard that the crossing on the Hagley Road near Starbucks was closed, so that day I went to have a drink and toastie inside of Starbucks. Then got these photos of the tracks that had been laid. A bit awkward with the fences in the way.

Completed tracks emerging from the Five Ways underpass onto the Hagley Road, in from of Tricorn House and Cobalt Square.

There was a bus stop in use on the left, but all other traffic had to go to the right.

24th December 2020.

Christmas Eve, and I got off the no 1 bus on Highfield Road, and walked to Hagley Road to see the latest progress of the extension.  Starting from Fifty4 Hagley Road. This was near the old Birmingham 1 mile sign.

Bit of a mess outside of Fifty4 Hagley Road, but there is tracks laid just up ahead.

The tracks that have been installed in front of Barclays, towards Morrisons.

Cross over tracks just beyond Starbucks. Bright sunshine.

A path has been built towards Starbucks Coffee, with bricks in the middle. I'm not sure if they were open for takeaway or not.

Tracks in the direction of Fifty4 Hagley Road, past Barclays. You can see the cross over tracks. A lot of litter needs to be picked up when they resume in January 2021.

The tracks towards Morrisons. This was the wide pavement. Trees on the right survive next to the dry cleaning place.

Last photo, of water logged tracks that come out of the Five Ways underpass. With traffic waiting on the Hagley Road, having just come on from Five Ways Island.

27th December 2020.

The day after Boxing Day, I got the bus to Harborne, then caught a no 24 NXWM Platinum bus from Harborne Road, Edgbaston. Got the updated view of the tram tracks going in and out of the Five Ways underpass from Five Ways Island.

The bus stopped at traffic lights, so was able to get a second view. The tracks heading towards Morrisons and Fifty4 Hagley Road. Seems to be concrete barriers in the middle for some reason.

See also my Broad Street post.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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110 passion points
Photography
28 Dec 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Daniel Sturley - My Favourite 75 Birmingham 2020 Photos

Having just published my 3,300th photo taken of, or in Birmingham in 2020 to my main gallery, I felt like making a post of my 75 favourites!

Above is my most popular of the year, a perfect rainbow over the city centre on 13th June.

Thanks so much for your interest in my Birmingham photography.

I hope you all have a positive 2021!

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Daniel Sturley - My Favourite 75 Birmingham 2020 Photos





Having just published my 3,300th photo taken of, or in Birmingham in 2020 to my main gallery, I felt like making a post of my 75 favourites!

Above is my most popular of the year, a perfect rainbow over the city centre on 13th June.

Thanks so much for your interest in my Birmingham photography.

I hope you all have a positive 2021!


18th January 2020:

8th Feb:

25th Feb:

14th Mar:

22nd Mar:

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28th Mar:

4th Apr:

11th Apr:

11th Apr:

Experimental laser pen and quartz macro photography during lockdown.

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27th Dec:

It's the Planet Saturn!

I hope you all have a positive 2021.

My full gallery is here: https://www.freetimepays.com/gallery/DanielSturley

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
23 Dec 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

The Construction of 103 Colmore Row - December 2020

The finished 103 Colmore Row looks oustanding and almost surreal, as if computer generated!

A fantastic gallery of December photos in this update from Elliott and Daniel.

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The Construction of 103 Colmore Row - December 2020





The finished 103 Colmore Row looks oustanding and almost surreal, as if computer generated!

A fantastic gallery of December photos in this update from Elliott and Daniel.


23rd November 2020

Photo by Daniel Sturley

4th December 2020

Photos by Elliott Brown

Photo by Daniel Sturley

5th December 2020

Photos by Daniel Sturley

6th December 2020

7th December 2020

11th December 2020

Photos by Elliott Brown

12th December 2020

14th December 2020

Photos by Daniel Sturley

19th December 2020

Photos by Elliott Brown

Photos by Daniel Sturley

21st December 2020

Photo by Elliott Brown

22nd December 2020

Photo by Elliott Brown

There are now over 1300 photos of the construction of this building and can be seen in reverse date order in the full gallery here: 103 Colmore Row Full Construction Gallery

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80 passion points
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