A Weekend in Birmingham: Part 1
After an early start and eventful train journey, we were all pleased when the train pulled in to Birmingham New Street and we were able to get some fresh air and stretch our legs. It was not too far to our hotel, which was located on Broad Street but with our bags we decided to hop in a taxi. After dropping the bags in our room, we set about exploring the immediate area and found somewhere to stop for lunch. It was just after one o’clock when we ordered our Burgers and drinks, and just after two as we stepped out into the sunshine to continue our ‘tour’.
From the pub, we crossed the road and headed into the bustling area around the canal (Brindley Place) which certainly exuded a good atmosphere, with all of the pubs and restaurants seemingly doing a brisk trade with customers and business.
We crossed the canal and walked through the ICC, a major conference venue, to the Symphony Hall and Centenary Square. Across the road we could see the golden statues of three of the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution (Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch) standing as a memorial to Birmingham’s industrial past and shining in the sunshine.
Continuing on we walked past the Hall of Memory, through Fletchers Walk/Paradise Place and out into Chamberlain Square. On the steps above the Town Hall were the remnants of a commemorative piece of ice sculpture relating to the sacrifices made by the men and women of WWI by the Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo, which if you’re interested you can find out about here. Unfortunately by the time we had ‘found’ the sculpture, most of it had already melted!
From the Town Hall it was into Victoria Square where we admired the Council House buildings and the various sculptures and arty pieces in front.
Just to the side of the main entrance was one of the many floral exhibits along the Floral Trail which forms part the Birmingham entry into the RHS In Bloom campaign. This one represented the cross-section of a WWI trench and had planes ‘flying overhead’. Together with other exhibits dotted about the city they told the story of Birmingham’s vital contribution to the war.
From the Council House we walked along Colmore Row to the cathedral, where we spent a few minutes inside before walking down to House of Fraser for the statutory look at shoes and handbags! Having fulfilled that urge, we emerged on to Corporation Street and turned down in the direction of the Aston Triangle, passing the Law Courts on our way.
I was keen to explore Aston University ‘village’, as it is where my Dad studied. It was certainly interesting to hear about his university experiences and it was interesting to see how the area had developed since my Dad’s time there! Leaving the University behind us, we walked back up into the town as far as the Priory Queensway and then through the Square Shopping Centre to the Great Western Arcade. By now our legs were starting to complain so it was decided that we should stop for a drink and a rest. We opted for Costa and after a caffeine boost and a good rest we were ready to get going again and slowly head back to the hotel.
We decided to end our day by returning to Brindley Place and walking a little way along the canal to the Gas Street Basin.
Passing the various canal boats on our way, we walked around the basin before re-crossing the canal and walking in the direction of the Mailbox. As we approached we were faced by three levels of restaurants and bars, all busy and buzzing with conversation. Unfortunately as we entered the shopping mall itself there was a sense of disappointment as the interior was in the process of redevelopment and refurbishment. With nothing to see we turned tail and headed back outside, back across the bridge and through the back streets until we reached Broad Street once again.