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11 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Summer fun fair and The Big Sleuth at the Sandwell Valley Country Park (July 2017)

The only time I popped into the Sandwell Valley Country Park was when The Big Sleuth was on, so didn't go far. Saw a fun fair on the way to the Sandwell Park Visitor Centre. A tourist road train was also going round this part of the park. I've not got around to going back to this park. This visit end of July 2017. Not sure if I'll travel back here, is a long way to travel there

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Summer fun fair and The Big Sleuth at the Sandwell Valley Country Park (July 2017)





The only time I popped into the Sandwell Valley Country Park was when The Big Sleuth was on, so didn't go far. Saw a fun fair on the way to the Sandwell Park Visitor Centre. A tourist road train was also going round this part of the park. I've not got around to going back to this park. This visit end of July 2017. Not sure if I'll travel back here, is a long way to travel there


Do you miss the summer with all the Christmas festivities in winter? Lets go back a couple of summers to late July 2017.

On the 30th July 2017 I was following The Big Sleuth trail of painted bears from Dudley to Sandwell (via the bus). In West Bromwich I got the bears in the Town Centre, then headed through Dartmouth Park and entered the Sandwell Valley Country Park.

On the left was a summer fun fair.

A couple of bouncy castles here. The one of the right was the Space Shuttle.

Disney Cottage. Would guess that kids and explore it and see Disney cartoon characters?

Crazy Caterpillar. A small rollercoaster for kids to enjoy.

The blue tourist road train seen going round the park. Was close to the fun fair. The visitor centre seen in the background.

It was called the Sandwell Express. All aboard, full steam ahead!

It did several loops around this end of the park close to the fun fair.

This is the Sandwell Park Visitor Centre. The Big Sleuth bear I was looking for was outside. While a selection of Little bears was inside. Was originally the Sandwell Park Farm.

A Grade II listed building. Dating to around 1800. Near Lodge Hill Road. Built of brick with tile roofs. The farm buildings were built as the home farm on the Earl of Dartmouth's Sandwell Hall estate. Sandwell Hall was demolished in 1928.

The only reason for this visit was to see The Big Sleuth bear called Uncle B. The artists was Louise Blakeley and Warren McCabe-Smith working with Cradley Heath Creative and was funded by Cradley Heath and Sandwell Council.

The back side of Uncle B. Wishing he was at the fun fair.

The other little bears were inside the Visitor Centre.

More photos on my Flickr here: Sandwell Valley Country Park.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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09 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Return to Manor Farm Park at the beginning of December 2019

Went back to Northfield on Sunday 1st December 2019. And while there thought I might as well do an up-to-date walk around Manor Farm Park. Headed down Bell Hill to the entrance I used 2 years earlier. Then headed to the left path. Eventually passing the lake. Then near the housing development before checking out the old farm buildings again. The barn was demolished and now is a car park.

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Return to Manor Farm Park at the beginning of December 2019





Went back to Northfield on Sunday 1st December 2019. And while there thought I might as well do an up-to-date walk around Manor Farm Park. Headed down Bell Hill to the entrance I used 2 years earlier. Then headed to the left path. Eventually passing the lake. Then near the housing development before checking out the old farm buildings again. The barn was demolished and now is a car park.


Aware that the Cadbury barn had burnt down and also the Northfield Manor House (probably both by arsonists / kids), it was time to have another walk into Manor Farm Park.

Walked down Bell Hill and got in again via the entrance close to Shenley Lane. Two years back I think I went right towards Whitehilll Lane. This time I took the left path for the first time.

A new sign at the junction of the paths. Has a donut shaped sign saying Manor Farm Park.

The path heads straight then curves around a bit between the trees.

Near the end of the first path. Over a small footbridge that crosses a stream. This is the route of the Merritts Brook Greenway towards Bournville and Kings Heath.

Turning right, I headed straight down before turning left. Had to see the lake again.

I mainly passed the lake from the main path and not from the path that goes around it. Saw a pair of moorhens here.

A variety of gulls and geese in the lake.

Leaves on the ground on the opposite bank of the lake. Was still thinking of going all the way around the lake at this point.

Canada geese swimming to the right in the lake.

Nice sight of a tufted duck.

View of the tree island in the middle of the lake, to the left. It was around an hour and a half before sunset. The trees made nice reflections in the lake.

After I exited onto Manor House Drive saw this waterfall behind some trees.

Trying to get back into the park. I went around Middlepark Drive, and saw this pyramid climbing frame on the other side of the fence.

Heading back towards White Hill from Griffin Drive. Leaves on the lawn. Before I got a bus back to Selly Oak I first wanted to go back to the main entrance.

Made it back to the main entrance of Manor Farm Park from White Hill. The old farm buildings look mostly the same. Other than one of the buildings on the right might have been demolished. Really headed back this way to see what had happened to the site of the Cadbury barn.

In the years since the fire that gutted the Cadbury barn, it looks like it has been sadly demolished. There is now a car park here. The sign on the right looks relatively new though.

May have been a cold Sunday afternoon, but was still kids playing in the playground watched over by their parents.

The view into the park from the car park. Not far from the former site of the Cadbury barn.

There was this open garden to the back of the boarded up gatehouse or lodge. Nothing much to see in late autumn / early winter. The old farm buildings were to the left.

Zoom in of the boarded up gatehouse or lodge. From the other side it was covered in graffiti. All the doors and windows were boarded or blocked off. Hopeully the Council could do something with this and all the other surviving farm buildings here.

Previous post here with photos taken between 2010 and 2017: Manor Farm Park: a park down the Bristol Road South I've always considered to be in Northfield.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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04 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

City Centre Gardens a hidden gem behind The REP and Library of Birmingham

You can find the City Centre Gardens on Cambridge Street behind The REP and Library of Birmingham. Part of the Civic Centre estate, the gardens were opened in May 1993 close to the four residential tower blocks. Peaceful and relaxing, you would hardly know that it is there. You can go in during any season. Also nice views from the Library of Birmingham. Brindley Drive is on the right side.

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City Centre Gardens a hidden gem behind The REP and Library of Birmingham





You can find the City Centre Gardens on Cambridge Street behind The REP and Library of Birmingham. Part of the Civic Centre estate, the gardens were opened in May 1993 close to the four residential tower blocks. Peaceful and relaxing, you would hardly know that it is there. You can go in during any season. Also nice views from the Library of Birmingham. Brindley Drive is on the right side.


City Centre Gardens

Part of the Civic Centre Estate, there was various proposed schemes from 1918 onwards. Land was cleared in the 1920s near the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal towards the former Baskerville Wharf. The Hall of Memory was completed in 1925 and later Baskerville House by 1940 (just as WW2 broke out). The earlier schemes were abandoned, and by 1958 a new proposal for a line or residential towers was proposed. These were built by 1968 from the City Architect, Alan Maudsley. Including Galton Tower, Norton Tower, Crescent Tower and Cambridge Tower.

On the land where the gardens would one day be built was old factories and a warehouse. Apparently they were very derelict and run down. When Bingley Hall still stood (until the fire of 1984 - now the site of The ICC), you could park down this way. The City Centre Gardens was opened on the 18th May 1993 by two Councillors of Birmingham City Council. It later won an award from the Local Government News, Urban Green Space in 1995 for Street Design, winning the First Prize.

I have popped in here many times over the years in different weather conditions. When the Library of Birmingham opened in September 2013, there was decent views from the back of the Discovery Terrace (on Level 3) and from the Secret Garden (on Level 7).

 

February 2010

First visit into City Centre Gardens was during February 2010. One of the entrance signs on Cambridge Street with childrens artwork.

Main path to the central gazebo. There was some plaques on here, including one dated 18th May 1993 when the gardens was first opened to the public.

The second plaque on the gazebo (at the top) was in memory of Donald Octavius Smith (1949 - 2007), who was the founder of the Organisation for Sickle Cell Research (OSCAR).

The view towards Baskerville House and the Alpha Tower. Construction of the Library of Birmingham hadn't really begun at this point. The Orion Building and Hall of Memory were also visible from here.

View towards The ICC Birmingham. The REP was to the left and Brindleyplace over to the right. Tower of Three Brindleyplace visible from here.

This view towards Brindley Drive Car Park (since renamed Paradise Circus Car Park by Birmingham City Council). Baskerville House on the right.

Exit gate to Cambridge Street. The BT Tower is visible from the gardens.

August 2013

My next major visit to City Centre Gardens was in August 2013, a month before the Library of Birmingham was opened to the public.

A colourful flower tower seen from the far left Cambridge Street entrance (near the roundabout).

Flower beds lining the side of the gardens near Cambridge Street.

The Library of Birmingham seen for the first time completed next to Baskerville House. It would open a month after this. You can see the Discovery Terrace on the left, I would get to go up there when it opened in September 2013.

Hanging flower pot with the BT Tower.

The sun shining on these ball shaped hedges.

Lots of green with pinks and reds on this border.

The mixture of plants and flowers on the border close to Brindley Drive.

September 2013

The view from the Library of Birmingham. This was my first visit inside. I actually went 18 days after it first opened. Back then the library was so busy in the early weeks so I waited a bit. The view from the Discovery Terrace, Below is City Centre Gardens with the view of the four Civic Centre Estate towers (Galton Tower, Norton Tower, Crescent Tower and Cambridge Tower).

People relaxing or playing in the gardens. To be honest I'm not sure what they were doing!

April 2015

My next visit was during April 2015. The groundsmen has planted lots of colourful flowers all round the gardens. And they looked wonderful!

The gazebo seemed to have lost the wooden beams on top by then. Not sure why though.

You can't really go in here, as there is always flowers or plants in the middle. Lots of red,s pinks and yellows seen here during the spring.

A bench and one of the corner flower beds nearby the gazebo.

During 2017

Views during January 2017 from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham as a pair of City Gardeners are seen hard at work.

Probably replanting the borders during a cold winter. There is usually not that much planted here in the witner. So mostly looks green, until spring comes and they plant flowers of a variety of colours. The wooden planks on the gazebo had been reattached by this point.

Panoramic taken in February 2017. From left to right: Baskerville House, Library of Birmingham, The REP and The ICC.

It is now August 2017 and the City Centre Gardens was looking lush and green during the height of the summer. Was several people sitting on the lawn. The usual view from the Discovery Terrace. With Norton Tower, Crescent Tower and Cambridge Tower visible from here.

January 2018

Winter again and it is now January 2018. Some rain and a light dusting of snow.

There was a lot of coaches on Cambridge Street at the time for the Strictly Come Dancing Tour at Arena Birmingham. It was probably really cold!

You can see the Civic Centre Towers from which ever angle you approach them. These are probably Galton Tower, Norton Tower and Crescent Tower.

If you can tell from these photos it was raining at the time, hence rain droplets on my lens. Not usually many people walking in here during winter. maybe the odd one or two.

Autumn 2019

Passing City Centre Gardens during October 2019 on Cambridge Street. This is the corner near Brindley Drive. This is the view from the service road between the Library of Birmingham and Baskerville House.

I'd previously got views from the Discovery Terrace. But I think this was my first view of City Centre Gardens in it's entirety from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham (on Level 7). Very autumnal all over with leaves on the ground during November 2019. The towers seen here are Norton, Crescent and Cambridge towers.

After collecting my Birmingham We Are 2020 Gems calendars, I popped into City Centre Gardens before heading towards St Paul's Square. Late autumn at the end of November 2019. Looking towards the Library of Birmingham.

Hedgerow archway hides the brick walls near those benches. With the BT Tower to the right. Someone will have to go up and install the new BT logos in 2020!

Far corner close to Brindley Drive. The REP and The ICC to the left. With the Civic Centre towers on the right. Leaves all over the place.

Which ever way you look the Civic Centre towers are there. Hedges and bushes of different sizes to the left of the brick wall.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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28 Nov 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Tudor Grange Park: former estate of the Bird family, now near Solihull College

Tudor Grange Park is the other main park near Solihull Town Centre. With entrances on Blossomfield Road and Homer Road. Also near Monkspath Hall Road. Originally the estate of the Bird family (of Bird's Custard fame). Solihull Council bought the park in 1946. The Alder Brook, a stream flows into a lake with many geese, ducks and swans etc. Good for walks. Also a cycling track.

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Tudor Grange Park: former estate of the Bird family, now near Solihull College





Tudor Grange Park is the other main park near Solihull Town Centre. With entrances on Blossomfield Road and Homer Road. Also near Monkspath Hall Road. Originally the estate of the Bird family (of Bird's Custard fame). Solihull Council bought the park in 1946. The Alder Brook, a stream flows into a lake with many geese, ducks and swans etc. Good for walks. Also a cycling track.


Previous related post on Alfred Bird here: Alfred Bird & Sons: the inventor of eggless custard.

Tudor Grange Park

The park was originally the estate of the Bird family, famed for their Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham. They lived in the nearby Tudor Grange House. Solihull Council bought the former farmland in 1946 and turned it into a park. Solihull College is quite close to the park on Blossomfield Road. Solihull Station is also in close walking distance from the park.

The park is quite close to my bus route, and you can walk in and out of the park from Solihull Town Centre. There is a path that goes under a railway bridge that carries the Chiltern Mainline between Birmingham Snow Hill / Moor Street and London Marylebone. Another bridge carries Prince's Way. The other major path for me is the one near Solihull College leading to the bus stop on Blossomfield Road. To the back is Monkspath Hall Road (near a car park).

I've been to this park several times over the years in different seasons so a gallery from different years.

May 2011

Starting from the Blossomfield Road in Solihull Town Centre. One of the paths close to Solihull Station (other side of the road) leads to Tudor Grange Leisure Centre.

A look at the modern Tudor Grange Leisure Centre.

Trees lush and green in the spring to the side of the leisure centre.

One of the paths in the park. Not far from the Alder Brook and the lake.

The skate park covered in graffiti. It is also close to the speedway or cycleway figure of eight. The skate park was built in 2003.

This sign welcomes you to Tudor Grange Park and shows a map of the Cycle and Wheeled Sports Track.

Another path. Feel it is best to stick to the path. The grass isn't too bad in the spring. In the colder months the grass gets a bit wet and muddy.

The lake is where you would find various birds such as ducks, geese, swans and gulls etc.

Another Welcome to Tudor Grange Park sign with a history of the park.

Central area with benches. The park improvements were done in 2008.

February 2014

The next visit in the late winter of 2014 at the beginning of February. Fingerpost pointing to the Town Centre, Play Area, Sports Area. Also to the Leisure Centre & Cafe.

Swings on the playground.

Slide in the playground.

Another view of the skate park. Interesting street art there at the time.

The path to Homer Road and the Town Centre. First bridge is the railway bridge that carries the Chiltern Mainline. The nearby railway station is Solihull Station which is to the left of here. Widney Manor and Dorridge are the next two local stations to the right. The next bridge down carries the road Prince's Way.

Now just before the road bridge for Prince's Way. Halfway to Homer Road. In the distance is the John Lewis Car Park (also near the Touchwood Shopping Centre).

For some reason I turned around and got another view of the railway bridge then turned back around and headed up the path to Homer Road. Probably wanted the bridges from both sides. In the distance is the playground.

A man (I think) carries his shopping bags down the path under the Prince's Way road bridge, before heading under the railway bridge. It is possible to see trains from the park, but trees are usually in the way for good views.

December 2015

It was Christmas Eve in December 2015 when I made this visit to Tudor Grange Park. Some of the birds in the lake. A coot.

A gull.

More gulls in the lake.

A moorhen on the lawn near the leaves.

January 2016

About a month later, but only had my then mobile camera on me. On this sunny lunchtime walk in the park. Close to the lake towards the leisure centre.

Rays of the sunshine on the lake full of birds.

December 2017

Snow in Tudor Grange Park near the end of December 2017. Mostly covering the grass. This was the snow from Boxing Day evening, the next day I headed to the park. But wasn't like the snow from 2 weeks earlier.

Snow on the grass either side of the Alder Brook.

End of the Alder Brook towards the lake. Wasn't cold enough to be iced over.

Gulls flying around the lake as a the sun catches on the surface of the lake.

Snow around the skate park.

Towards the playground on the left. Interesting lighting effects with the sun and clouds.

This is the athletics track at Tudor Grange Leisure Centre seen through the fence. A lot of snow here. Can hardly tell that it's an athletics track like this! There is a football field in the middle hence the goalpost.

Ducks behind the fence having their lunch. As well as the usual Mallards, was several Domestic ducks here.

More ducks and some swans as well.

December 2018

Another walk into Tudor Grange Park (a quick one). Got on this time from the path on Blossomfield Road (near Solihull College) and headed towards Monkspath Hall Road before going into the town centre.

The fingerpost and welcome sign again. Sometimes of later visits can't recall if I've previously taken something until I later check out my previous photos.

This is the railway bridge on Monkspath Hall Road, just outside of Tudor Grange Park. From here you can walk to Prince's Way and around to Homer Road. Either entering the shopping area at Touchwood or heading up Church Hill Road to the end of the Solihull High Street.

November 2019

An autumnal walk around Tudor Grange Park. This time starting from the path from Homer Road (I had been to the Town Centre again). Heading under the railway bridge into the park with lots of leaves on the ground.

Trees looking autumnal in browns and yellow colours. But still some green to be seen here.

The Alder Brook in the direction of the footbridge and lake. A caution sign here "No access to unauthorised persons". Went on the grass for this photo.

Leaving the park briefly at Monkspath Hall Road, this path takes you back into the park. Under this canopy of trees. Leaves completely covered the path.

Back in the park, now walking straight down the cycle way path or speedway path. Trees with brown leaves everywhere.

The path went round in a circle when I got to the far end, but did not see a connecting path to the path I wanted to take. Also a path to Solihull College had no access.

Cyclists can go round in a figure of eight. Here the path curving to the right. Trees in leaf fall, leaves on the ground.

Eventually cut past the skate park and playground, and made it to the path towards Blossomfield Road. Almost took the wrong path to Solihull College, before I found the familar path out of the park.

Looking on Google Maps, there is another park in Solihull called Hillfield Park. It is near Monkspath and Widney Manor. It might be possible to walk there from Solihull Town Centre, or just get the no 5 bus there instead. The weather has not been to great recently for park walks. It needs to be dry. I have been on the 5 past here a few times in the past, but not recently.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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26 Nov 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Cannon Hill Park through the seasons and over the years

I've taken hundreds and hundreds of photos of Cannon Hill Park over the years, so here will cut down to a selection of them. Of course I've been going to this park since I was little. But started taking photos of it in 2009. In winter, spring, summer or autumn always changing. Sometimes the same. Good for a walk. Many memorials here as well. Playgrounds and fun fairs. The MAC etc.

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Cannon Hill Park through the seasons and over the years





I've taken hundreds and hundreds of photos of Cannon Hill Park over the years, so here will cut down to a selection of them. Of course I've been going to this park since I was little. But started taking photos of it in 2009. In winter, spring, summer or autumn always changing. Sometimes the same. Good for a walk. Many memorials here as well. Playgrounds and fun fairs. The MAC etc.


Have a look at my Flickr album on Cannon Hill Park. If I take more photos, I will add them to that album.

2009

This was during May 2009. One of the earlier road trains that goes around the park.

The playground that is near the boating lake (if you went past the Midlands Art Centre / MAC).

This playground used to have a big ramp for kids to run along on.

This was during November 2009. Flower red with a circular pyramid of pots. Still some flowers even at that time of year.

Looking over the boating lake towards the playground. The cricket towers had yet to get refurbished / redcladded (Wickets Tower and Century Tower). They were given a white look in 2012.

Looking over the field in the park  towards the playground and boating lake.

Bridge over the lake. It exits towards the car park over another bridge (that crossed the River Rea). Over here you find many geese and gulls.

2010

This was during early December 2010 when Cannon Hill Park was covered in snow and all the lakes were frozen over.

Hardly anyone around as the boating lake was covered in a complete layer of ice.

Canada geese and gulls were able to stand on it. Was a section of open water near the start of the boating lake.

Just look at these Canada geese on the ice!

This is the second lake in the park. Also iced over. Known as the Canoe Pool according to Google Map.s

Seagulls flying around near this lake in early winter.

2011

Skipping ahead to April 2011. And was many spring flowers to see in the flower beds. Reds, yellows, purples etc.

A yellow flower bed.

Around this stone base or plinth was yellow, red, orange and pink coloured flowers.

Pink tulips and yellow flowers in this flower bed around a lamppost.

Palm trees in one area of the park. Maybe the wrong time of year to see them.

Many of the tulips were to be seen near the Russell Road entrance of the park. Pink ones here.

Red tulips. Making the park look colourful.

Another view of the pink tulips with yellow flowers.

2013

This was in July 2013. Don't think I got anything in 2012. Any way this time of the year was a lot of colourful summer flowrs. Yellows and reds in the flower beds.

Probably the same flower beds I took in the Spring 2011 photo. Just different flowers. Yellow flowers around the lamppost. Pinks in the flower beds behind.

A lot of red in these flower beds, plus several flower towers and a bit of yellow.

White and pinks I think in this flower bed.

These ones in the direction of the Boer War Memorial. Yellows, purples and pinks here.

2016

Ice cream van seen in March 2016. From the car park that runs along Queen's Ride. The footbridge over the River Rea is to the left and you head into the park from there. Verrecchia freshly whipped Italian ice cream.

Macro of a red tulip seen during May 2016.

And of a yellow tulip. Wonderful to see in April or May of every year.

Also this orangey yellow tulip.

2017

Wonderful display of Spring flowers and tulips during April 2017. Yellows, oranges and reds (I think).

Pink and purple tulips.

Flower towers and more of the pink and yellow tulips all over this large flower bed.

Close up of the purple and pink tulips. Red and yellow coloured flowers below.

They do a good job every year with these flower displays, especially over the spring and summer periods. A lot of reds here.

2018

Tourist road train seen during July 2018. That summer I'd been to Tuscany in Italy. So I saw road trains like this in Pisa. But I've seen similar over the years elsewhere on holiday as well.

That summer the grass was quite yellow after a long heatwave in July of that year.

Get some Italian ice cream. I was probably still uploading my Tuscany and Florence photos to Flickr at that time. Hopefully will go back to Italy again next year?

Now it was during October 2018. The palm trees were looking OK. The garden that is supposed to be a bit like Ancient Rome or Greece?

More palm trees and columns. This area is on the left as you enter the park from Edgbaston Road.

2019

A visit during February 2019. The sky was blue and the grass was green. Yet it was still winter. No leaves on the trees. View towards the boating lake.

Nice shadows from the trees on the field as families enjoy the sunshine in the winter. View towards The MAC.

Passing through the park in August 2019. A water jet fountain at the crazy golf course had gone sky blue.

A cyclist going past the wonderful flower beds. This was close to the Edgbaston Road entrance that I was heading to. A walk that started from Highbury Park and went in the back entrance via the Holders Lane Woods and the Rea Valley Route.

I'll probably do more Cannon Hill Park posts in the future. Got more material, such as the war memorials.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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