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History & heritage
27 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Austin Seven's in Victoria Square (April 2012)

After I left the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on the 22nd April 2012, I walked into Victoria Square and saw all of these vintage Austin cars. Most of them were Austin Seven's parked in front of the Council House. I think it was for something at the time called Drive It Day Birmingham. This reminds me of a recent car rally at Kings Heath Village Square in late August 2019.

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Austin Seven's in Victoria Square (April 2012)





After I left the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on the 22nd April 2012, I walked into Victoria Square and saw all of these vintage Austin cars. Most of them were Austin Seven's parked in front of the Council House. I think it was for something at the time called Drive It Day Birmingham. This reminds me of a recent car rally at Kings Heath Village Square in late August 2019.


There has been many events that took place in Victoria Square, Birmingham over the years, so probably too many to put into one post (have more than 500 plus photos in my archive).

On the 22nd April 2012, I had just visited the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery again (taking more photos once I knew that it was OK as long as you don't use flash), and left via the Chamberlain Square entrance and headed into Victoria Square. At the time you could use the Great Charles Street Queensway entrance to the museum, and on Sunday's they used to open at 12:30pm (but that's for another post in the BM & AG project).

I saw all of these vintage Austin motors parked in front of the Council House. Many of them may have been Austin Seven's. Some of these might have been Morris or Riley cars.

It was Drive It Day Birmingham in Victoria Square. So many classic Austin's to see, and for once you didn't have to see them in Thinktank or at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre (although I have seen old cars in the museum and in storage).

Google Lens for the car at the front is coming up as an Austin Ten. (On Wikipedia showing as an Austin Ten Lichfield).

One of them was labelled "Donaldson's Fish & Game Salesman Kings Lynn".

Not all of them were Austin Seven's. According to Google Lens, this is an BSA Ten.

This is either a Riley car or a type of Austin Seven. The roof was down.

This is an Austin Cambridge A55 Mark II. There is now a pub at the Longbridge Town Centre called The Cambridge.

There was some young people in Army uniforms and yellow high vis jackets around at the time.

For my post on Sir Herbert Austin follow this link: Herbert Austin: making cars at Longbridge and the Austin Village. It features some more Austin cars that I've seen in museums over the years.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,120 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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40 passion points
Transport
21 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Airlines gone but not forgotten at Birmingham Airport: Monarch Airlines

One of the many budget airlines that used to have many routes in and out of Birmingham Airport was Monarch Airlines. With their distinctive yellow, white and navy blue planes. Mostly Boeing 737-800's. In their later years they also had Airbus A320-200's and A321-200's. I mostly saw them at Birmingham Airport between 2012 and 2017. Some views from the train, some airside.

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Airlines gone but not forgotten at Birmingham Airport: Monarch Airlines





One of the many budget airlines that used to have many routes in and out of Birmingham Airport was Monarch Airlines. With their distinctive yellow, white and navy blue planes. Mostly Boeing 737-800's. In their later years they also had Airbus A320-200's and A321-200's. I mostly saw them at Birmingham Airport between 2012 and 2017. Some views from the train, some airside.


Monarch Airlines

Monarch Airlines, usually known as just Monarch was founded in 1967. It later became a low-cost airline. Originally a British charter and scheduled airline, they abandoned charter flying completely in 2004. Their headquarters was in Luton. They also had bases in Birmingham, Leeds/Bradford, Gatwick and Manchester. Monarch collapsed into administration in 2017, leaving 100,000 passengers and holiday makers stranded overseas. Two years later (in 2019) Thomas Cook collapsed, and earlier in 2020, Flybe also ceased to exist.

Here we will just be looking at Monarch.

 

Before I had ever taken photos of Monarch planes taking off or landing at Birmingham Airport, I once saw the Monarch Beach in Chamberlain Square during June 2009. They were advertising the kind of holidays you could go with them to mainland Europe and beyond.

I had originally posted these three photos in this post A variety of events that were held in Chamberlain Square until 2015.

BRMB provided the entertainment (now part of Free Radio).

The fake beach had purple and white deckchairs on the sand in Chamberlain Square. But Monarch was not just about flying to beaches on the continent.

In June 2012 we were at Birmingham Airport, heading to catch our flight to Naples International Airport (Aeroporto Internazionale di Napoli) with Thomson Airways when I saw this Monarch plane. With the slogan Fly your way, Every way.

It wouldn't be until the June 2014 holiday to Classical Spain that we would fly with Monarch. Taking us to Málaga Airport (Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport / Aeropuerto de Málaga-Costa del Sol). There was quite a few Monarch planes outside of the terminal building. The plane we would go on would be an Airbus A321-200.

Luggage getting loaded onto this Monarch plane on the left.

The airbridge to this Monarch plane was sponsored by RSC: Royal Shakespeare Company. Experience a different kind of Theatre.

I saw this Monarch plane from the plane window of the Monarch plane I had just got on board, so had just put my seat belt on, our hand luggage going into the overhead storage locker and so on. Before taxiing to the runway and taking off.

One week later, after a wonderful holiday around Classical Spain (including Seville and Granada) we flew back from Málaga, and I took this photo of the Monarch plane (after heading down the steps but before heading to the bus). There was a French Air Traffic Control strike at the time, so we spent much longer at Málaga Airport than expected. And when we did take off from Spain, we flew over Portugal and the North Atlantic Ocean, avoiding French airspace. Eventually flying back into UK airspace over Cornwall and Wales. At the time I did not know that this would be the last time that we would fly with Monarch!

A few years later now, around March 2016 and I saw this Monarch plane come into land from the Sheldon Country Park. This was after I headed to the park to see the Emirates Airbus A380 come into land at Birmingham Airport for the first time, and there was a large crowd in the park to see it! After that, I walked back to Marston Green Station to get a train to Birmingham New Street one way.

See my posts on Emirates Airbus A380 and the Sheldon Country Park.

In October 2016, I had caught a train at Birmingham International Station, after attending Destination Star Trek Europe at the NEC. On the way back to Birmingham New Street, I saw this Monarch plane at Birmingham Airport.

The Monarch hanger and a Monarch plane seen from Car Park 5 at Birmingham Airport during December 2016. This was actually a view of a Ryanair plane that had just landed, but I've cropped it to mostly just show Monarch. I had got off the X1 NXWM Platinum bus near the car park, for a bit of plane spotting.

The next time I saw some Monarch planes on the tarmac was from a train I was on coming back from a day out around Rugby during April 2017.

It's a bit difficult from the train getting plane photos at Birmingham Airport without getting passing trees in the way. In this view a pair of Monarch planes.

The next time I saw the Monarch planes on the tarmac at Birmingham Airport was after the airline had gone out of business during October 2017. Monarch went into administration on the 2nd of October 2017, and the time I saw them was on the 7th of October 2017. I was on a train heading to Coventry (it was the day I went to check out the Coventry Canal Basin).

There was at least 3 Monarch planes here, next to a Flybe plane in Welcome to Yorkshire livery. The Air Traffic Control Tower is seen to the right.

Also visible with the three Monarch planes and the solo Flybe plane was Qatar Airways. Other airlines such as Qatar were used at the time to get stranded passengers overseas back home to the UK. To the right of the Air Traffic Control Tower is a Travelodge hotel.

The further the train went past, the harder it was to see a Monarch plane. This one was behind several buses (the ones that you use when you get off a plane and go down the steps, or vice versa if the airbridge can't be used). I wouldn't see these planes in the final Monarch livery ever again.

Coming back from Barcelona Airport (Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport / Aeroport Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat / Aeropuerto Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat) with Ryanair in May 2019, I saw this Olympus plane on the tarmac (at Birmingham Airport). Clearly it was a former Monarch plane. You can tell by the yellow, white and navy blue colours. It was one of Monarch's former Airbus A321-200 planes.

In the future, I might do Birmingham Airport planes posts on:

  • Thomas Cook Airlines (defunct)
  • BMI Baby (defunct)
  • Ryanair
  • Thomson Airways (now TUI)
  • Flybe (now defunct - could do one on the Embraer 175 or 195)
  • Qatar Airways
  • Easyjet
  • Jet2
  • Emirates (a post about the Boeing 777)

To name a few that I can think of.

Links to existing plane related posts:

  1. Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Q400
  2. Emirates Airbus A380
  3. British Airways diverts

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,110 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Transport
26 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Reopening the Camp Hill Line at Moseley Station, Kings Heath Station and at Hazelwell Station

Today the Camp Hill Line is Freight only and Cross Country through trains only. But hopefully new stations will be built at the sites of the old ones at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell (in Stirchley). The stations originally opened in 1867 but closed in 1941 during the Second World War and were never reopened. But now it is possible that new stations may open by 2022.

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Reopening the Camp Hill Line at Moseley Station, Kings Heath Station and at Hazelwell Station





Today the Camp Hill Line is Freight only and Cross Country through trains only. But hopefully new stations will be built at the sites of the old ones at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell (in Stirchley). The stations originally opened in 1867 but closed in 1941 during the Second World War and were never reopened. But now it is possible that new stations may open by 2022.


Moseley Station

Moseley Station was located at a site between Woodbridge Road and St Mary's Row in Moseley from 1867 until it closed in 1941 on the Camp Hill Line. A previous station named Moseley Station was later renamed to Kings Heath Station (it's near Highbury Park). This station is close to St Mary's Church in Moseley Village.

There has been many proposals for a new station here sine 2007, but they were revised in 2016 by the West Midlands Combined Authority. In 2019 plans for the new stations gained Government funding. Construction could start later in 2020, to open in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

 

My original photos of the old Moseley Station site were taken from the Woodbridge Road Bridge near the end of April 2009. Remains of the old platforms are visible towards the tunnel.

I only had a compact camera at the time (having started taking photos around Birmingham in April 2009), so this was as far as I was able to zoom in to the tunnel. But you can see the overgrown platforms remains.

The other side of the Woodbridge Road Bridge. This direction towards Birmingham New Street. The Camp Hill Line goes through Balsall Heath, before joining other lines at Proof House Junction. Freight trains and Cross Country Trains operate non stop trains down here.

A new March 2020 photo from the bridge on the Woodbridge Road. A zoom in to the Moseley Tunnel that goes under St Mary's Row. Recently West Midlands Railway had stopping trains at Moseley and at the other sites in Kings Heath and Hazelwell. Stopping for the first time in almost 80 years.

This is the view of the Moseley Station site from St Mary's Row during February 2018 near St Mary's Church. The view was taken from the no 1 bus. This would be an ideal site to build the new station building and car park. Although I've noticed that their's land on Woodbridge Road for a car park as well.

Kings Heath Station

Kings Heath Station on the Camp Hill Line was located near the High Street and Highbury Park. It was open from 1840 until it closed in 1941 during the Second World War. It was originally called Moseley Station, but when a new station opened in Moseley at the site between Woodbridge Road and St Mary's Row, that station was named Moseley Station, and this one renamed Kings Heath Station. The new station could be built later in 2020 to open in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

 

These views from December 2009. Now the Findlay Road Retail Park, down the bottom is Homebase. Building at the top used to have MFI and Allied Carpets. By 2009 Topp Tiles occupied some of the units. Easy Gym moved in to the upper units by 2014. That is now The Gym.

Walking towards Highbury Park is this car park, somewhere near the old Kings Heath Station site. Bit hard to see behind the trees.

There is land here to build a new station, but wonder if they will have to knock down any of the retail units to the left?

The bridge on the Kings Heath High Street is too high to look over, so got this view from the top deck of the no 50 bus during April 2015. Here you can clearly see where the old station used to be. They might have to take over some of the land in Highbury Park when they build the new station.

Another view from the no 50 bus on the Kings Heath High Street. Snow on the line. The line heads in this direction towards Moseley and onto Balsall Heath. This was during January 2018.

Hazelwell Station

Hazelwell Station opened in 1903 and closed during 1941 (World War 2). The station was located on a site between Vicarage Road and Cartland Road. Being near Kings Heath and Stirchley. Hopefully the new station will begin construction here later in 2020, to open in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

These photos taken from the Vicarage Road Bridge between Kings Heath and Stirchley during December 2009.

There was snow on the line at the time. Remains of the platforms were close to the Cartland Road Bridge.

These views were taken from the Cartland Road Bridge in Stirchley during January 2015. This was the old Hazelwell Station building. It is currently Designer Bathrooms by Michael, but this building could be demolished when the new station is built here.

There are several fenced off areas at the site, that used to lead to the platforms.

One fence next to the Cartland Road Bridge. This could have been an old pedestrian footbridge. Now overgrown and with a large pipe to the right.

Behind this gate was the old ramp down to one of the platforms. Now grassy and had a lot of litter down there at the time.

Zooming further down to a gate. Currently no access to the public, only to Network Rail staff.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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Transport
18 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Class 172/0 from the London Overground to the West Midlands Railway

In 2019, West Midlands Railway inherited 8 trains from the London Overground of the Class 172/0. Initially I saw some of them at Tyseley in the old colours, before they were changed inside and out to the orange and purple of WMR. They are now used on the Leamington Spa to Nuneaton via Coventry branch line (replacing the single car Class 153's). Merging the two branch lines to Coventry.

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The Class 172/0 from the London Overground to the West Midlands Railway





In 2019, West Midlands Railway inherited 8 trains from the London Overground of the Class 172/0. Initially I saw some of them at Tyseley in the old colours, before they were changed inside and out to the orange and purple of WMR. They are now used on the Leamington Spa to Nuneaton via Coventry branch line (replacing the single car Class 153's). Merging the two branch lines to Coventry.


The Class 172 DMU trains were built between 2010 and 2011. London Midland had the Class 172/2 and 172/3 from the autumn of 2011. West Midlands Railway took over the franchise in December 2017. The 172/0 trains were on the London Overground, but only ended up with West Midlands Railway during 2019 (after the LO lines were upgraded and they got new electric trains down there).

West Midlands Railway Birmingham Tyseley

Seen at the Tyseley Diesel Multiple Unit Depot was the former London Overground train now inherited by West Midlands Railway. It was London Overground 172 002. Seen from the Wharfdale Road Bridge in Tyseley during February 2019.

The lines in London that they used to run on have been electrified and new trains have been introduced down there. 8 Class 172/0's were inherited by West Midlands Railway. Before they could go into service in the West Midlands they had to of had their liveries changed on the outside, and the seating covers and signs done on the inside.

I returned to Tyseley early in March 2019 and saw the former London Overground 172 006 train. This view was from the Warwick Road, not far from the entrance to the Tyseley Locomotive Works. Still in the old LO colours at this point.

The first train I saw in the new West Midlands Railway orang and purple livery was 172003, this was during May 2019. The view from the Warwick Road in Tyseley. Probably one of the first 172/0's that got changed inside and out.

But 172 006 was still in the old London Overground colours as of May 2019, as you can see here. The view from the Wharfdale Road Bridge. It wouldn't be long before it was transformed into the new West Midlands Railway colours.

By September 2019, I had another look from the Wharfdale Road Bridge near Tyseley Station. This was now West Midlands Railway 172002, and is used on both the Leamington Spa to Nuneaton line and on the Snow Hill lines.

Birmingham Snow Hill Station

I actually saw West Midlands Railway 172003 at Birmingham Snow Hill Station during August 2019. This was a zoom in from the Livery Street bridge (near St Paul's Tram Stop). At this point I had yet to travel on one.

Leamington Spa Station

On the 29th February 2020, I got a crowded Chiltern Railways train from Solihull down to Leamington Spa, so I could have a ride on a 172/0 for the first time to Coventry. West Midlands Railway 172003 arrives at the platform which would form the next service towards Nuneaton.

West Midlands Railway coming into the platform at Leamington Spa Station.

The weather was actually nice, got a lovely blue sky in Leamington Spa, before I got on the train towards Coventry.

This is what the interior of West Midlands Railway 172003 looks like now. The train would have one stop before Coventry, and that was Kenilworth. When I last had a ride on this line to Kenilworth, they were still using the old Class 153's. This was a much more comfortable ride to Coventry.

Coventry Station

After a journey of about 15 to 20 minutes, I was in Coventry. I got off West Midlands Railway 172003 as more passengers boarded towards Nuneaton. The next stop would have been Coventry Arena.

Here you are also seeing passengers getting off the train and heading to the exit at Coventry Station.

The train heading on it's way towards Nuneaton. From platform 4. I had later hoped to get one back to Leamington Spa, but had to go to platform 2. And the first train to Leamington Spa was a Cross Country Voyager (I stood all the way back to Leamington Spa from Coventry).

Leamington Spa Station

Later back at Leamington Spa Station. Having got off my Cross Country train and went under the subway to the platform back to Solihull, I saw West Midlands Railway 172006 arriving at the station.

Where I was sitting at Coventry, I saw a 172/0 heading towards Nuneaton, and would be a long wait. I had 30 minutes waiting to go back to Leamington Spa, when I got Cross Country. Here we see West Midlands Railway 172006 coming to a stop and the passengers getting off.

Side of the train with a Leamington Spa sign.

Train doors now closed with the next bunch of passengers ready to head towards Coventry and Nuneaton.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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50 passion points
History & heritage
16 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

HS2 unveil a Turntable at Curzon Street dating to 1837

The HS2 preporatory works continue at the Curzon Street Station site in Eastside. They have recently uncovered a turntable dating to 1837, which is thought to have been designed by Robert Stephenson. I got a train on the Cross City line one stop from Birmingham New Street to Aston just to see it. Hopefully they could preserve it in the new station somehow?

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HS2 unveil a Turntable at Curzon Street dating to 1837





The HS2 preporatory works continue at the Curzon Street Station site in Eastside. They have recently uncovered a turntable dating to 1837, which is thought to have been designed by Robert Stephenson. I got a train on the Cross City line one stop from Birmingham New Street to Aston just to see it. Hopefully they could preserve it in the new station somehow?


Information courtesty of BBC Birmingham: Birmingham HS2 work unearths 1837 railway turntable.

Excavation works by HS2 at the Curzon Street Station site have led to the discovery of a Robert Stephenson designed turntable. It is thought to date to about 1837. They were exposing the remains of the former Grand Junction Railway terminus. Robert Stephenson was a civil engineer and the son of "The Father of the Railways" George Stephenson.

The original Curzon Street Station opened in 1838 as part of the London & Birmingham Railway. At the time the journey to London took almost 5 hours.

 

I was on a Class 323 West Midlands Railway train heading just one stop from Birmingham New Street to Aston (the train was going to Lichfield Trent Valley), just to see if I could see the turntable. Initially a Avanti West Coast Pendolino was waiting in the Eastside Tunnels and I thought it would be in the way. But luckily it wasn't.

This was my first view, although the overhead wire support columns were in the way.

Slightly better view here looking to the University Locks student accommodation of Birmingham City University.

For many years this was a car park after the Parcel Force Depot closed down. This view of the turntable towards BCU's Curzon Building and University Locks.

Slightly more head on view of the turntable towards Millennium Point, BCU's Parkside Building and Curzon Building.

 

You can see a working turntable if you go to one of Tyseley Locomotive Works open days. Photos below taken from the September 2016 open day.

The engineer here presses a button to turn the turntable.

You see the turntable spinning around.

The driver of the train No 1 - 43958 slowly moves it onto the turntable, guided by the engineer.

5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe gets it's turn on the turntable.

I later saw 7029 Clun Castle going round on the turntable.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

 

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