After meeting a pleasing new neighbour and walking to Stirchley Street station – renamed Bournville (why?) – I travelled by train to New Street, now Grand Central (why?) and got on the Metro to Colmore Row. The usual blissfully silent glide became an endurance test as a cacophony of loud squeals and grating noises accompanied the journey. The conductor said it needed oiling (!)
Walking along Colmore Row I was perturbed to see that what had been the restored, award-winning Grand Hotel (see June 2016 post) was apparently now a café called Gusto . . . and further down a large site was being demolished by Considerate Constructors – what had been there before?
A far more cheering sight was the Java Lounge (see a November 2015 post) which now has a golden sign unobtrusively erected, replacing the Hudson name.
Further down in Chamberlain Passage, it was cheering to see that Jake (see an October 2015 post) has survived and prospered to some extent. He now has a well-furnished canopy at the left of the kiosk and tells me that – as hoped – the German Market had been very good for business.
On to one of the city’s gems (below) and a good, inexpensive lunch in the members’ room.
There were changes: The Birmingham College now occupies the premises used for many years by a firm of architects and a host of students were to be seen, including Mariam from the Gulf, improving her English before going on to business studies. Most of the top floor, formerly occupied by Central England Co-operative, has been used by the Conservatoire whilst their new premises were being built. Noting that the ‘topping out’ ceremony has been performed, it was expected and regretted that they would leave, as planned, some time in 2017.
A couple of well-informed folk at the BMI told me that the demolition site had formerly housed the NatWest building and that the Grand Hotel was indeed still to be an hotel, reduced in size, with the entrance in Church Street. I walked back and found that door but it was still being renovated and the six workers standing by the entrance greeted me cheerfully, “Hello Bab”. I walked down the side and saw the storeroom and many other intriguing rooms, noting signs of ongoing work by Hortons Estates.
Less colourful than the beadle, but equally polite and informative, the guard – who came from London to work there three years ago – told me about his routine supervision duties, in between halting and redirecting a cyclist and asking a man to stop smoking whilst passing through.
On the return by Metro again there was another distressing cacophony of loud squeals and grating noises and I heard from a passenger – who was to get off at Kings Norton station – that it is located in Cotteridge (Why? Even William Dargue does not explain?).
A golden day