Archives for category: History

As the council has been planning the development of the wholesale markets and Birmingham Smithfield, it is alleged that the indoor, outdoor and rag markets are no longer properly promoted, local roads have been closed, buses have been re-routed with drop-off points moved away from the markets, and so the traders have seen a marked reduction in their footfall and income.

Duncan Tift reports, in Business Desk, that stall-holders from Birmingham’s Bull Ring outdoor market (see history here) have filed a suit against the city council. Around 30 tenant traders have been in dispute with their local authority landlord since 2010, when their previous leases expired, and they claim all requests for new leases have since been ignored. Because the council won’t give them new leases they cannot sell their businesses, relocate or retire.

The 13 stall-holders involved are being advised on a pro-bono basis by Jonathan Owen, the founder and joint managing director of Quarterbridge Project Management, who will also act as an expert witness (see our reference in a 2011 markets blog). He knows the market, its traders and city centre well, having advised the Birmingham Alliance which delivered the £530m Bull Ring redevelopment. Mr Owen said the stall-holders, many of whom had been trading at the market for most of their working lives, had been shabbily treated by the council.

Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate, Beverley Nielsen, visited the market and said afterwards: “I’d seen so much about the wholesale markets being relocated to The Hub, in Witton and wondered what was happening to the traders still using stalls around the Bullring. I was dismayed to discover they’d been in dispute with the council for years.”

Ms Nielsen’s proposal: ”The local authority should be using the market’s heritage to attract visitors to the city and use the facility as a tourist attraction in the same way as European cities such as Barcelona, Rotterdam (Ed: above) and Valencia”.

 

 

 

””””””””””””””””””””””””

 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ann-pettifor-talks-on-a-moral-economy-tickets-33229654792 or contact johnbnightingale@hushmail.com/07811 128831

Many people in Birmingham will remember the speaker -Ann Pettifor. She was a founder and leading spirit of the Jubilee 2000 debt campaign which in 1998 brought a human chain of 70,000 people onto the streets of this city in a great expression of human concern for the cancellation of the unjust and unpayable debts of developing countries.

After 2000 Ann joined the New Economics Foundation where she headed their research unit, and became involved in Prime Economics. She also set up Advocacy International, a UK-based consultancy which advises governments and international organisations and has helped secure debt relief for the governments of Guyana, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Among her publications are the books “The Coming First World Debt Crisis” (2006) and “The Production of Money” this year. She has been part of the Green New Deal Group and in 2015 was appointed to the British Labour Party’s Economic Advisory Committee.

 

 

 

 

A link was sent today by a Bournville reader and followed by Cllr John Clancy’s message: “I know we have to do more to deliver the houses our citizens desperately need and deserve. This is an absolute priority for me and the cabinet. We are already building at a scale unheard of for decades and delivering the housing this city needs.

wake-green-prefabsValued homes: Grade 2 listed Phoenix prefabs in Wake Green Road, Moseley

The reader’s link led to an article by Reuter’s  Astrid Zweynert. After a brief account of post-war prefab building, she writes: “Faced with a chronic, new housing shortage, Britain is once more embracing prefabrication as it struggles to meet its promise to build a million homes in England by 2020. In a major policy announcement last month, the government said it supported off-site construction, promised financial support for prefabs and to make public land available for “modular schemes”, as they are known now”.

An online search will reveal many expensive and stylish prefabricated houses and fewer low cost models – but such options do exist. Building Design highlighted three prefabricated solutions to the housing crisis in 2016.

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The first design (above), by Urban Splash, was one of the new range of low-cost prefabricated housing solutions being ‘rolled out’ across the country with the potential to help tackle Britain’s affordable housing crisis.

 

 

 

gavin-2-stamp“To give so much to a grand country house (Wentworth Woodhouse) and nothing to Moseley Road Baths (or other neglected listed buildings) suggests a snobbery about “heritage”. Municipal baths are as important a part of our history – social and architectural – as aristocratic seats”.

So wrote architectural historian.Gavin Stamp (right) this week.

He asks if Birmingham City Council is happy to contemplate the loss of the fine and well-used swimming pool at Moseley Road Baths (below) – one of only three swimming pool structures still in operation listed at Grade II* and well-supported by an active and enterprising ‘Friends’ association.

Country: United Kingdom Site: Moseley Road Baths Caption: Second Class Pool Image Date: April 20, 2007 Photographer: Vivienne Harrison/World Monuments Fund Provenance: 2016 Watch Nomination Original: from Watch team

Professor Stamp points out that Birmingham city council had for years ’run, neglected and threatened to shul the complex’. Moreover, in 2012 the Heritage Lottery Fund offered £5m towards its restoration, but the council to refused to contribute the matching £3m – which Stamp finds ‘particularly reprehensible’’.

Our readers from further afield (yesterday coming from UK, USA, Mexico, Germany, Azerbaijan, India and Ireland) may read more about this in the Birmingham Post.

Stamp describes the Baths as one of the finest Edwardian bath buildings anywhere, with two fine swimming pools covered by arched iron and glass ceilings and two ‘unique survivals’, an intact set of private washing baths and a set of steam-heated drying racks.

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The first class men’s pool above – considered by Simon Inglis, historian of swimming pools, as “the mosl dramatic Edwardian pool hall in Britain” – closed in 2003 but survives intact.

Stamp concedes that historic baths are expensive to run and maintain, but can be restored to stay in use, as the pools in Camberwell and Kentish Town demonstrate.

In the words of the World Monuments Fund, if Moseley Road Baths were restored, it “would continue to serve a diverse urban community in the 21st century and would join other destinations in Birmingham that proudly recount the social history of the city.”

Main source: Gavin Stamp as ‘Piloti’ in Issue 1436, Private Eye.

 

 

 

metro-new-st

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 (!)

grand-hotel-front-slanting

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.

jake-coffee-house

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.

bmi-best

Birmingham and Midland Institute

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.

great_western_arcade-birmingham

Then on to the Great Western Arcade, a restored Grade II listed Victorian  shopping arcade with a remarkable clock (see this and many others in the city here).

beadleThere I met the security guard and told him about the beadle who used to promenade there, ringing a bell, reminiscent of a town crier.

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

 

 

 

 

thomas-attwood-largerThomas Attwood, banker, economist, democrat – Birmingham’s first MP – was the first to argue that government should counter economic depressions by increasing the money supply and directing this money towards ensuring full employment.

70 or so MPs from five parties, including city MPs Lynne Jones and Roger Godsiff, signed a series of EDMs (2002-7) initiated by Austin Mitchell. They recommended increasing the supply of public money – which is issued interest free every year by the government – to meet public needs such as the building of schools, hospitals, renewable energy technology and public transport, without going into debt.

austin-award-3Some celebrated his Westminster reception of the 2008 Attwood Award, presented by Angela Shaw, a descendant of the Attwood family

In Blogs from the Blackstuff Vol 1 (2010) then Cllr. John Clancy said, “We need to stop the QE money circulating around the financial institutions and arrange instead that it ends up in real businesses. And Professor David Bailey asked, “Why not buy assets direct from firms in the ‘real economy’. That would soon get cash circulating to workers, the supply chain, in shops . . . “

The Bank of England announced a further £60bn of its quantitative easing programme in August this year, taking the total of e-printed money to £435bn, the equivalent of nearly £7,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. Mark Carney is on record as saying that, if the government requested it, the next round of QE could be used to buy assets other than government debt . . .

john-clancyPaul Dale reported at the time that expansion of the quantitative easing programme was given a cautious welcome by Birmingham city council leader John Clancy, who said the decision would be “great news” if the new liquidity was spent on infrastructure investment rather than ploughed into share buy-back schemes or pensions funds.

Colin Hines, co-founder of Localise West Midlands and co-ordinator of the Green New Deal Group proposes a “jobs in every constituency” programme

colin-hines-7In the Guardian (December 7th) he wrote: “Instead of using this staggering amount of money to prop up the banks and inflate stock markets, property and other assets, the new £60bn of QE should be used to buy bonds from a national investment bank and from local authorities to generate a “jobs in every constituency” programme.

“This would give all people, not just the left behind, a sense of hope about their economic future and should involve decentralised infrastructure projects centred on a decades-long, multi-skilled programme of energy refits of all the nation’s 30 million dwellings, a shift to localised renewable energy, and a rebuilding of local transport, food and flood defence systems . . . and in doing so really tackle the economic insecurity that is pure oxygen for the extreme right”.

 

 

 

THE LUCAS PLAN

CELEBRATE THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LUCAS AEROSPACE PLAN

Saturday 26th November 2016 9am – 5pm

At: BVSC (Birmingham Voluntary Service Council) 138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR

lucas-plan-flyer

The Lucas Plan was a pioneering effort by workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills. It remains one of the most radical and forward thinking attempts ever made by workers to take the steering wheel and directly drive the direction of change. Read the Plan here.

Today, in 2016 — 40 years after the Lucas Plan — we’re facing a convergence of crises: militarism and nuclear weaponsclimate chaos, and the destruction of jobs by automation. These crises mean we have to start thinking about technology as political, as the Lucas Aerospace workers did. Our conference will aim to re-open the debate about industrial conversion and democracy.

 

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http://lucasplan.org.uk/

 

 

 

 

james-brindley-birmingham-2001

News that the New World Trading Company has put in a planning application to renovate the dilapidated James Brindley, off Bridge Street, closed in 2008 (pictured here in 2001), recalls readers’ interest in the Fox & Grapes post on this site.

fox-grapes-1-09

This now derelict listed Eastside pub was intended for incorporation into the City Park Gate development project but shelved when it was announced that the proposed HS2 station would be situated there. However, the December 2011 Eastside Masterplan does say “There is also potential to incorporate the Fox and Grapes within the new station concourse to enhance design quality” . . .

Peter Allen wrote about James Brindley, Birmingham:1986 to 2011: “James Brindley built the very first British canal, the Bridgewater Canal in 1761. He then went on to the Trent & Mersey Canal including the feat of constructing Harecastle Tunnel which opened in 1777. In all he was responsible for building 365 miles of canals and also for the design of the narrow lock that is the feature of many canals. He also built the original main line canal from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. The pub was built at the starting point of this canal. I’m not sure exactly when it opened, but our first canal visit was in 1986″.

severn-and-canal-warehoouses

H. Davies in his book ‘Birmingham Canal Navigation Through Time’ has a wealth of photographs, including this one of the Severn and Canal warehouse, which was on the site before the James Brindley pub was built. Other interesting information is given in Culture 24.

The Business Desk reports that New World Trading Company (NWTC) has appointed P4 Planning to design a brief for the scheme and to submit a planning application to the city council to transform the dated, vacant and now derelict appearance of the pub, described as ‘something of an eyesore on the city centre’s otherwise popular canal quarter’: Duncan Tift continues: “The James Brindley was built in the 1980s replacing a former canal side warehouse. With its canal side frontage and outdoor terrace the venue was initially popular but the development of the Mailbox and its waterfront bars lured trade away to the point where it was forced to close in 2008”.

The brief ends:“Overall, the proposal will rejuvenate and bring a long derelict building back into productive use, generating employment opportunities and enhancing the character of the canal basin and setting of surrounding listed buildings”.

fox-grapes-cranes-hotel-3-de-la-tour-ell-brown

And the Fox and Grapes?

Recorded here by Elliott Brown some time ago – looking far worse now.

 

 

 

stirchley-baths-best

Stirchley History Group, a heritage project of Stirchley Baths meets on: Wednesday 2 November at 6.45: Stirchley Baths

Steve Beauchampé will give a presentation about our local pools. Please note that this event will be in the Large Community Room – at the Deep End. The room will be open from about 6.00 for welcome and chat.

sb-stirchley-talk

Stirchley Baths
Bournville Lane
Birmingham
West Midlands
B30 2JT

http://stirchleybaths.org/

email hello@stirchleybaths.com

0121 464 9072

 

roundhouse

In July this site reported that Birmingham’s Grade II* listed Roundhouse in Sheepcote Street was given an award of £2.2million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Canal & River Trust and National Trust formed a partnership and lodged plans with Birmingham City Council to transform the building.

The plans put forward by the Canal & River Trust and the National Trust included several schemes including an urban discovery and enterprise hub, exhibition hall, an indoor or outdoor sports or recreation use, a museum or some kind of education and training facility, cycle hire, the erection of link building and works to the courtyard.
The Business Desk now informs us that the city’s planning committee has given permission for a change of use for this Grade II listed canalside building.