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Transport
25 Nov 2019 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop (November 2019)

I did walk up Pinfold Street into Victoria Square again but saw no trams go up or down. So I headed to Centenary Square (after a coffee stop in Starbucks). And saw West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop. I then popped up to the Library of Birmingham to see it. Had a 20 to 25 min wait to see the same tram again!

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West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop (November 2019)





I did walk up Pinfold Street into Victoria Square again but saw no trams go up or down. So I headed to Centenary Square (after a coffee stop in Starbucks). And saw West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop. I then popped up to the Library of Birmingham to see it. Had a 20 to 25 min wait to see the same tram again!


First up, West Midlands Metro tram 21 departing Grand Central Tram Stop. Now in the full blue livery with the red Just Eat adverts as it moves onto the Wolverhampton bound tracks.

When walking up Stephenson Street I think I saw another tram arrive at Grand Central, but none as I walked up Pinfold Street, into Victoria Square through the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market. After a coffee stop in Starbucks, I headed towards Centenary Square.

West Midlands Metro tram 23 seen heading through Paradise Circus Queensway. The roadway is now complete. The view towards Suffolk Street Queensway and the Beetham Tower.

Heading past Arena Central and Dandara, onto what used to be Broad Street. The Bus Gate has been rebuilt by the looks of it.

Tram 23 comes to a stop outside of HSBC UK at Arena Central. Before continuing onto Centenary Square Tram Stop.

I next crossed through Centenary Square around the ice rink of Ice Skate Birmingham and headed into the Library of Birmingham. And went up to Level 3 and onto the Discovery Terrace. I waited around for around 10 minutes or so, even getting more photos of Ice Skate Birmingham, and the Westside Metro extension without the tram. Then went up to Level 7 to go to the Secret Garden.

Eventually I saw tram 23 heading round Paradise Circus Queensway. Looks like cars or buses in future would have to head down the slip road onto Suffolk Street Queensway.

Seen here heading onto what used to be Broad Street but is now considered to be Centenary Square. As it passes the Alpha Tower and HSBC UK at Arena Central.

Passing HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square.

The Birmingham Big Wheel as tram 23 arrives at Centenary Square Tram Stop.

End of the line, at least for another 2 years. Welcome to Centenary Square Tram Stop.

Heading back towards Town Hall Tram Stop. Back on Paradise Circus Queensway. I think Easy Row Subway is still under there, but the bridge has been reinforced.

About to turn left towards Paradise Street. Which is Tram only. So if you are in a car, don't drive down there OK!

These trams are quite flexible and bendy. No over head wires, all battery powered.

Passing Paradise Birmingham (on the left).

Now on Paradise Street heading towards Town Hall Tram Stop (for Victoria Square).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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50 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
19 Nov 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Coca Cola Christmas Truck in Birmingham over the years

The world famous Coca Cola Christmas Truck used to make an annual visit to Birmingham (and other places across the UK). It will not be returning to Birmingham in December 2019 (instead to the Merry Hill Shopping Centre near Dudley). Instead enjoy this gallery of photos from the Bullring (2014 and 2016) and Eastside City Park (2017 and 2018).

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Coca Cola Christmas Truck in Birmingham over the years





The world famous Coca Cola Christmas Truck used to make an annual visit to Birmingham (and other places across the UK). It will not be returning to Birmingham in December 2019 (instead to the Merry Hill Shopping Centre near Dudley). Instead enjoy this gallery of photos from the Bullring (2014 and 2016) and Eastside City Park (2017 and 2018).


St Martin's Square, Bullring, December 2014

I was first able to get photos of the world famous Coca Cola Christmas Truck at the Bullring in St Martin's Square on the early evening on the 11th December 2014.

Was a crowd of people in the queue to get a free can of Coca Cola, or pose with the truck. Was near Selfridges, St Martin's Church and a Christmas tree.

Views from the upper level balcony at the Bullring are best to see the Coca Cola Truck (and other things that park here).

The Coca Cola Truck always drew a crowd of people.

You know the "holidays are coming" when Santa brings his Coca Cola Truck to town!

St Martin's Square, Bullring, December 2016

Thanks to Birmingham Updates for using one my 2016 photos on their Social Media posts, I now know that it wont be returning to Birmingham in December 2019.

I next saw the Coca Cola Truck when it returned to the Bullring on the 17th December 2016. This time got my photos in the daylight hours.

Similar views as before, but you can see the Coca Cola Truck properly now. A Coke man takes a families photo with the truck.

The Bullring's 2016 Christmas tree look rather artificial that year. This is the photo that Birmingham Updates used. Coca Cola Truck Bham Updates.

Getting different views, but more of the same.

Going round the side of Selfridges for this view of the Coca Cola Truck at the Bullring.

Ice Skate Birmingham, Eastside City Park, December 2017

The next time I saw the Coca Cola Truck was when it visited Ice Skate Birmingham in Eastside City Park. This was on the 9th December 2017. This was the day before it snowed. I was coming back on the train from a day out in Bedworth. Not much of a view from the train, so I headed to Eastside after I arrived at Birmingham New Street Station.

Close up view of the world famous Coca Cola Truck. New views with it included The Woodman pub and Curzon Street Station.

This view with the Birmingham Big Wheel and the other rides that were at Ice Skate Birmingham. They found this site in 2017 due to the then redevelopment of Centenary Square (which took two years in the end).

Slightly further back with the Birmingham Big Wheel. It would be nice to get something like this again in Westside, but the Coca Cola Truck isn't coming to Birmingham this year.

Last 2017 view as the light faded. Masshouse residential blocks to the right. Rotunda in the middle and the Birmingham Big Wheel to the left.

Ice Skate Birmingham, Eastside City Park, December 2018

Spending a section festive season in Eastside City Park, Ice Skate Birmingham once again hosted the return of the Coca Cola Christmas Truck. I saw it on the early evening of the 15th December 2018, in rainy sleety cold and freezing weather!

Despite the weather conditions, the resulting photos looking quite Christmasy, even thought it wasn't snowing. The Birmingham Big Wheel to the right. With The Woodman pub seen behind.

For 2018, they parked the Coca Cola Truck in a slightly different position. Also Ice Skate Birmingham were further to the right, as the land they used previously was now HS2 land.

Probably due to the weather, there wasn't many people around.

Still the sleety rain added to the effect of a Coca Cola Christmas!

I hope people at Merry Hill enjoy it. Never been there myself. Although I know that you can get a bus from Cradley Heath Station (which is on the Snow Hill lines). According to the Birmingham Mail, it will be in Merry Hill on the 6th and 7th December 2019. Coca-Cola Christmas truck 2019 heads to intu Merry Hill.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Transport
21 Oct 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Southdown and Bath Bus Company buses at the Great Birmingham Run 2019

Walking up the Edgbaston Road to check out a bit of the Great Birmingham Run. Had to give up the idea of going into Cannon Hill Park, and the Cricket Ground was quiet. Anyway saw this pair of buses at the Pershore Road junction as runners went past up the Pershore Road.

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Southdown and Bath Bus Company buses at the Great Birmingham Run 2019





Walking up the Edgbaston Road to check out a bit of the Great Birmingham Run. Had to give up the idea of going into Cannon Hill Park, and the Cricket Ground was quiet. Anyway saw this pair of buses at the Pershore Road junction as runners went past up the Pershore Road.


I was expecting runners to be coming out of Cannon Hill Park and around Edgbaston Cricket Ground, but Great Run had to cancel that. So Edgbaston Road was a bit quiet while it was completely closed from the Willows Road / Russell Road end.

Saw this pair of open top buses at the Edgbaston Road / Pershore Road junction.

Bath Bus Company with the Alzheimer's Society.

Southdown with the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

People were cheering on the runners from the top deck of each bus. I headed right next up Pershore Road and went as far as Calthorpe Park before I left the runners behind.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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40 passion points
Construction & regeneration
15 Oct 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Birmingham New Street Station and the Pallasades to Grand Central

A look at the transformation of Birmingham New Street Station from 2010 to 2015 / 16. The Pallasades was eventually replaced by Grand Central which opened in September 2015. The concrete station and shopping centre built in the mid to late 1960s replaced by the current station and shopping mall.

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Birmingham New Street Station and the Pallasades to Grand Central





A look at the transformation of Birmingham New Street Station from 2010 to 2015 / 16. The Pallasades was eventually replaced by Grand Central which opened in September 2015. The concrete station and shopping centre built in the mid to late 1960s replaced by the current station and shopping mall.


I started taking photos of Birmingham New Street Station in 2010. And started regularly travelling from it to take photos around the network from about 2012. If you want to check out all my photos to date (other than on here) then follow my link on Flickr (over 1800 photos to date) Birmingham New Street Station.

The following information taken from Wikipedia (link at the top).

The station was originally built by the London and North Western Railway between 1846 and 1854, replacing the earlier terminus at Curzon Street which opened in 1838. LNWR shared the station with the Midland Railway until 1885, when Midland built their own extension alongside the original station. The two companies separated by a road called Queens Drive.

On Stephenson Street was built the Queens Hotel, this survived until the 1960s redevelopment.

Various lines go into New Street Station including the Stour Valley line, the Birmingham West Suburban Railway (that later formed part of the Cross City from 1978), and other lines.

In 1923 the LNWR and Midland Railway with others was grouped into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. In 1948 the railways were nationalised under British Railways. During World War II the roof suffered extensive bomb damage as a result of the air raids during the Birmingham Blitz.

After the war repairs were made but the original station was in use until the 1960s.

The station was completely rebuilt in the 1960s as part of the West Coast Main Line modernisation programme. Demolition of the old station and Queen's Hotel began in 1964 and was not complete until 1966. The rebuilt New Street Station was opened in 1967. While The Pallasades was built from 1968 and 1970 and was opened at that time.

The railway was privatised in 1997 and the train operators were franchised. Eventually the station was to be owned by Network Rail.

 

One of my earliest photos of New Street Station taken in during February 2010, not far from St Martin's Queensway.

The back of the station as seen from Navigation Street in February 2010. The rear footbridge was built in 1993 after the Kings Cross fire of 1987, as New Street is classed as an underground station, and the footbridge is also like an emergency exit. Train operators seen here included London Midland, Virgin Trains and Cross Country Trains. The Pallasades was still above and demolition work yet to begin.

It's now January 2011 and the redevelopment of New Street Station was well under way. It would take 5 years. Here was the void over platforms 12a, 11a, 10a, 9a and 8a. Come here now, and you would find a public square opposite the Bullring from St Martin's Queensway, but not 8 years ago! Just a big hole above the tracks.

Seen here in September 2012 when the Moor Street Link Bridge was under construction, below the Odeon cinema. Now a useful link from New Street to Moor Street Station. The Rotunda to the right. I now take many of the my photos from up there (mostly of Virgin Trains).

By April 2013, it was almost time for the old concourse at New Street Station to close for the last time. Saw it here on the 13th April 2013. Half of the new concourse was to open by 28th April 2013. It was called "Half Time Switchover".

By August 2013 I had my first look at the new concourse. No ticket barriers yet but this is on the B side bridge over platforms 1 to 12.

Up the ramp to what was The Pallasades in March 2014. During the transformation into Grand Central. Heading past HSBC.

The former Woolworths store was just about visible before they gutted it to transform it into new retail units for Grand Central. I think that they had already started to change the floor tiles by this point. I never really fancied taking photos of The Pallasades when it was still there, wasn't much to look at by the end. Dark and depressing. There used to be central escalators that took you down to the old New Street Station concourse, but that closed in 2013.

Skipping ahead to September 2015, and the new New Street Station was almost ready to fully reopen. Seen here below John Lewis is the Southside media eye. At the corner of Hill Street and Station Street. They were testing out the new media eyes. Also preparing for the opening of Grand Central Birmingham. The Southside Steps are below (at one point nicknamed the Spanish Steps like the ones in Rome). This end is close to the Alexandra Theatre.

Opening day late September 2015 from the newly opened public square. The media eye facing the Bullring showing a Grand Central Birmingham advert. Around this area they would later install a war memorial, which the Queen would visit when she reopened the station with the Duke of Edinburgh. The new taxi rank on what was Queens Drive is to the left (although it took some time before I saw taxis down there).

This was in October 2015. The Midland Metro extension to New Street Station wasn't quite finished (it was a bit behind). The Stephenson Street media eye at the corner of Stephenson Street and Navigation Street welcoming you to Grand Central. Above is Ladywood House (still to be redeveloped to this day). Grand Central Tram Stop would later open down here in 2016.

First look around Grand Central in October 2015 (after it opened to the public in late September 2015). Looking this way to John Lewis. Below the new airy concourse of Birmingham New Street Station. With a Pret a Manger to the left. Joe & The Juice is just in front of John Lewis (and is part of that group).

Some of the restaurants in Grand Central including Tapas Revolution.

Tortilla - was a long queue in the early days and weeks. Since then many retail or restaurant units in Grand Central have closed down, some have been replaced. Some units have remained vacant. Might be the rent is too high?

This is the view from a car park on Swallow Street (near Hill Street) of Birmingham New Street Station on the opening day in late September 2015. With Grand Central and John Lewis.

This is the view from October 2015 of the new Birmingham New Street Station looking more or less complete from the Bullring link bridge (just beyond what was later name Link Street). This is the route between Grand Central and the Bullring. On the media eye at the time was "Full London Ahead" from Virgin Trains (who are due to lose the West Coast franchise in December 2019). The demolition of the old 103 Colmore Row was well underway at the time.

Not everything was complete in 2015. In 2016 they were building a new exit to Hill Street, from the footbridge that stretches to the old Navigation Street exit. Both are now exit only. It's called the Southern Ticket Hall. Although all you can do in there is put your ticket in the ticket barrier to exit the station. This view from Lower Severn Street during October 2016.

It was open by December 2016. This exit is close to platforms 1 and 2. This photo below taken in July 2017. When I took this I wasn't exiting the station but using the footbridge to go between different platforms when I was on the look out for Big Sleuth bears. Travelling from Birmingham International to University.

Heading over the Hill Street Footbridge during October 2017. Not all trains are on time, in fact from time to time there are delays. I was travelling to Longbridge and waiting at platform 12B, but the train I ended up getting was from platform 9B so used this footbridge to change platforms. I also call this the Navigation Street Footbridge. Not many people seem to use it when I'm there (not experienced it during the rush hour / commuting period, only off peak or weekends).

I don't often get new photos of Grand Central looking down to the New Street Station concourse. This view was taken in May 2017. The paid ticketed area is to the right, while the free area is to the left of the eateries. The escalators had Bulling & Grand Central on them (as the centres now have the same owner and were merged into one).

Some new places in Grand Central, some are still here some already gone! Mowgli seen in August 2018. Cocoa seen in August 2018 (they have moved to The Mailbox). Tuckers Newsagents & Games seen in January 2019 when Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was on Netflix (it was temporary and only there for a short period of time). Kitty Cafe seen in May 2019 (it is still there).

This mural was seen in Grand Central not far from the ramp during February 2019. It shows the likes of Selfridges, Birmingham New Street Station and Birmingham's canal network. I don't think the mural is there now.

The first Midland Metro extension to New Street Station was opened completely to Grand Central Tram Stop in 2016. By 2019, the trams are now run under the name of West Midlands Metro. And the trams are going blue. Seen here on Stephenson Place is a pair of battery-less trams. Tram 32 heading to Wolverhampton, and tram 27 heading to the (current) Grand Central terminus. The ramp was refubished during the Grand Central redevelopment of 2015, and looks much better now. The pair of trams seen in October 2019.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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90 passion points
Transport
07 Oct 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

The Usual Suspects at the Tyseley Locomotive Works open day (September 2019)

I went to my 3rd open day at the Tyseley Locomotive Works on Saturday 28th September 2019. Mostly the same steam and diesel locomotives plus some special guests. The turntable was closed, so they opened up a different path from the car park to the engine repair shed at the back. Bought my ticket online and had a QR code in the E-ticket. Plus got a handstamp (not that I came back).

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The Usual Suspects at the Tyseley Locomotive Works open day (September 2019)





I went to my 3rd open day at the Tyseley Locomotive Works on Saturday 28th September 2019. Mostly the same steam and diesel locomotives plus some special guests. The turntable was closed, so they opened up a different path from the car park to the engine repair shed at the back. Bought my ticket online and had a QR code in the E-ticket. Plus got a handstamp (not that I came back).


Seen at Tyseley Warwick Road. This steam locomotive was stationary with the buffet cars behind. GWR 4073 Class 5080 Defiant. Built in May 1939 at the Swindon Works. GWR Castle Class. Standard Gauge Steam Trust (now the Tyseley Locomotive Works) bought it in 1974. Restored in 1988.

LMS Jubilee Class 5593 Kolhapur outside of the engine repair shed. Built in 1934 at the Glasgow Works. Bought in 1968 by the Standard Gauge Steam Trust. Restored in the 1980s.

GWR 4073 Class 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe in the engine shed next to 7760. Built in 1936 at the GWR Swindon Works. Sold to the then Birmingham Railway Museum in 1973. Restored between 1998 and 2008.

7760 in the engine repair shed next to 5043. GWR 0-6-0 PT 57xx Class. Built in 1931. Awaiting an overhaul.

GWR 4900 Class 4965 Rood Ashton Hall outside of the engine shed to the back. Regularly used as the Shakespeare Express. Previously named 4983 Albert Hall. Rebuilt in 1962 using parts from both original engines Albert Hall and Rood Ashton Hall. Had an overhaul in 2008 to 2009.

GWR 4073 Class 7029 Clun Castle was in front of 4965 Rood Ashton Hall. Built in 1950 at the ex Great Western Railway Swindon Works for the Western Region of British Railways after Nationalisation. Withdrawn in 1965. Bought in 1966 by Patrick Whitehouse, the ownership then passed to 7029 Clun Castle Ltd. Now based at the Tyseley Locomotive Works. First restoration in the mid 1980s. Mostly recently fully restored by 2017 before returning to service.

9600. GWR 0-6-0 PT 57xx Class. Built in 1945. Seen outside just behind guest locomotive 34053 Sir Keith Park. The turntable was fenced off behind.

Special guest locomotive. SR Battle of Britain class 21C153 Sir Keith Park. 34053 Sir Keith Park steaming away. Built at the Brighton Works in 1947. Withdrawn from service in 1965. In 1979 purchased by Charles Timms but didn't leave Barry Island until 1984. Later sold to Dr John F Kennedy in 1992 and moved to Crewe. Currently owned by Southern Locomotives Limited. Last restored in 2012. Original intended home was Swanage Railway but is now usually at the Severn Valley Railway. I last saw her on the back of a lorry in December 2018 heading to the Tyseley Locomtive Works on the Warwick Road in Tyseley. See that post here Not something you see every day: a steam locomotive on the back of a lorry!

Another special guest. A diesel locomotive 20189. Class 20 built sometime between 1957 and 1968, it's an diesel-electric locomotive. Also called L189. Currently owned by Class 20189 Ltd. Behind was London Transport 20142 Sir John Betjeman (I didn't get full views of that one). Also owned by Class 20189 Ltd. It used to be used on the London Underground on the Metropolitan line.

When I was briefly there on the Saturday the 28th September 2019, they had a pair of diesel locomotives taking passengers in the carriages up and down the line from the platforms at Tyseley Warwick Road.

At the back was D1755 / 47773. Class 47 built in 1964. Used to be used with the Royal Train. Named The Queen Mother. Now owned by Vintage Trains. It was previously used with The Polar Express around December 2018.

At the front was 13029. Original number was 08021. Class 08. Built in 1953. Has a British Railways badge on the side.

D1755 and 13029 seen heading up and down the line with the passengers in the carriages. Behind 13029 was a Pullman carriage. As usual, I found lots of photographers waiting for their shots as far as you could walk on site. This is usually as far as I can go before heading back into the engine shed and up and down the stairs to the exit.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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