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Green open spaces
19 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Shirley Park over the years off the Stratford Road in Shirley

Down the Shirley High Street which is still called the Stratford Road is Shirley Park. Paths for walking, a playground for kids. An area for dogs to do tricks. There used to be a putting green here years ago, but it's long since gone. Since Parkgate opened, there has been a new entrance and war memorial. Recent developments over the last 5 years have included various sculptures.

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Shirley Park over the years off the Stratford Road in Shirley





Down the Shirley High Street which is still called the Stratford Road is Shirley Park. Paths for walking, a playground for kids. An area for dogs to do tricks. There used to be a putting green here years ago, but it's long since gone. Since Parkgate opened, there has been a new entrance and war memorial. Recent developments over the last 5 years have included various sculptures.


There is another Shirley Park further down the Stratford Road near Monkspath and the M42 but that's a golf club. Here we are looking at the main Shirley Park at the heart of the main shopping area in Shirley, behind ALDI (recently rebuilt). The Parkgate retail park opened in 2014 and is also nearby the park. The park is located on the Stratford Road and goes down to Hurdis Road. To the west is Haslucks Green Road and to the east is Grenville Road and Halifax Road. A walk around this park doesn't take too long.

 

2009

These were taken on my then mobile phone camera during May 2009. Lush green trees and green grass.

The putting green was still there at the time so you could see the flag poles over the other side of bushes.

I used to go putting here in the 1990s, I did OK, suppose it was fun. But eventually stopped going here.

Tennis courts on the other side of the now gone putting green.

Path to the bricked canopy.

Pinkish reddish flowers hanging from the top of the wooden beams.

2014

The Parkgate development was completed in 2014, and this included upgrades to Shirley Park. In this August 2014 visit, from the Stratford Road, there was new war memorial plaque on the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 from Shirley Royal British Legion.

Brand new entrance gateway from the Stratford Road to the main path into the park.

There was also three of these new pavement mosaics. In good condition in 2014, in recent years I've noticed that some are missing many of the coloured tiles (hopefully someone will come back and repair them). They have also become quite weathered.

A curcved path around the park. By 2014 the putting green had long since been removed from the park.

The entrance gate at Hurdis Road, is the same as at the Stratford Road entrance. Just less busy at this end.

2015

The next visit during March 2015. The playground, no kids here so got this shot of the slides and other equipment. Looked new.

A wooden climbing frame (I think).

Wooden sculpture of a giant tortoise.

Wooden sculpture of a wildlife totem pole. Including a frog, rabbit and an owl that I can see here.

Colourful slide for kids to climb up and slide down in the playground.

Some of the outdoor gym equipment.

One of the pavement mosaics with a rose in the centre and a maze design.

This pavement mosaic had butterflies on it.

This is the area that dog walkers can take their dogs into and let them run around and do tricks like at Crufts. They call it the Dog Agility Area. This is close to Grenville Road and Halifax Road. The tennis courts are nearby here. They were built on the land formerly used by the putting green.

2018

This was during March 2018. Daffodils near a tree in spring.

The new war memorial in the park. Not far from Shirley Parkgate and the ASDA supermarket.

The sun breaking through the clouds over this field.

Ice cream van - Mr Yummy. Birmingham finest ice cream.

A walk around the park in December 2018. Looking to the playground, looking empty again.

The same play equipment from a few years ago, looks to be in good condition.

Probably a weekday, the kids at school. Otherwise if this was a weekend it would be full of kids.

Where this slide is, is one of the oldest parts of the playground. I probably went up there as a kid. Not sure if it's the same slide as 25 to 30 years ago, or one installed 5 years ago?

Squirrel in the park.

2019

These days I would first pop to Costa Coffee in Shirley for drink before walking around the park. Used to be a Coffee #1 at Parkgate but that closed down and is now a TUI travel shop. This walk in the park during May 2019. Wooden climbing frame and totem pole again.

The skate park area in the park. Bit hard to find something new to take photos of around here.

A December 2019 walk around Shirley Park on a Sunday lunchtime. Starting from Parkgate after leaving Costa. Saw this Christmas tree in front of the Rugby goal posts.

The Rugby goal posts.

Above the war memorial, saw this Remembrance flag. Just over a month since the last Remembrance commemorations. Lest We Forget. We Will Remember Them.

Semi circle climbing frame. I think kids have to stand on that snake thing connected by the chains.

Football goal posts.

Another view of the outdoor gym equipment. Behind the bushes used to be the putting green, but is just now paths and shrubs to walk around near the tennis courts.

Welcome to Shirley Park - this noticeboard near the exit at Hurdis Road.

The rebuilt ALDI supermarket. It was closed for a year during 209, but opened in time for Christmas. Where this path is was close to the site of the former putting green. But is hard to tell the way it is now.

No rivers, no ponds or lakes. So the only water on the ground is puddles on paths from recent rain.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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Green open spaces
17 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Eastside City Park as it was in 2012 onwards after it opened

The land that was used to build Eastside City Park was hoarded off during 2011. And the park was complete and open by the end of 2012. Here we will look at the park when it was brand new and when it was opened. Taking land that was formerly a car park in front of Millennium Point, and part of which was Albert Street. It also runs alongside Curzon Street. Near the BCU Eastside Campus.

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Eastside City Park as it was in 2012 onwards after it opened





The land that was used to build Eastside City Park was hoarded off during 2011. And the park was complete and open by the end of 2012. Here we will look at the park when it was brand new and when it was opened. Taking land that was formerly a car park in front of Millennium Point, and part of which was Albert Street. It also runs alongside Curzon Street. Near the BCU Eastside Campus.


Eastside City Park

Development of the park took place during 2011 and 2012, and was partially opened in late 2012. It was fully opened by the spring of 2013. The park is near Millennium Point, which included the Thinktank Science Garden and a Kids Park. Access to the Science Garden is usually with youtr entrance ticket to Thinktank.

December 2012

This was during December 2012 when the hoardings had come down. My first look around Eastside City Park. Getting on from Park Street, and walking up the footpath around which used to be Albert Street. In the distance is The Woodman pub and Curzon Street Station. The park was partially opened by the then Leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore on the evening Wednesday 5th December 2012.

Looking towards Millennium Point. The tall sculptures near the steps ahead. While new trees had been planted here on the newly laid lawns.

The steps when new, with benches to sit on. Looking towards Millennium Point and the Thinktank Science Garden. This was before the skateboarders started to regularly do their tricks here (well where the water fountain jets are to the right of here). Grosvenor Street West is to the left of here (near BOA (Birmingham Ormiston Academy) which leads to Jennens Road.

Close up look at the four metal sculptures on the steps. The view to the left is of the former Christopher Wray building and the McLaren Building.

Towards Masshouse. The residential block at the front is called Hive.

Masshouse without the sculpture columns in the way. To the left is what was called Hotel La Tour (now the Clayton Hotel).

Heading along the footpath near Curzon Street with Millennium Point and the Parkside Building on the left. The first building of the Birmingham City University Eastside Campus was complete by the summer of 2013.

Now looking back towards Millennium Point. As you could see, the Parkside Building wasn't yet complete.

The lawns as they were at the end of 2012. A brand new park, the first one in the City Centre for over a 100 years. Highgate Park was probably the last one to open within what is now the Middle Ring Road (Middleway's).

This covered canopy seen on the path from Curzon Street.

These early evening photos taken in the middle of December 2012. The Eastside City Park sign with crazy lights near what is now the site of The Emporium Building.

I had heard that the park looked good lit up after dark, so checked it out on the way back to my bus from work. This view towards Millennium Point.

Rush hour traffic to the left on Curzon Street. Before the University Campus opened here, the park wasn't full of students like it is now. Although Birmingham Metropolitan College has always been based in Millennium Point. And BCU had a presence in there even from the UCE days. At this point BCU were still at their old campus in Perry Barr (to be the site of the Commonwealth Games 2022 village).

Some of these shots came out a bit blurry. But you can see the spot lights all over.

The white lights lighting up the new trees.

Getting close to the area with steps and those four metal sculptures.

It was so perfect in December 2012. The paving hadn't got worn like it did in later years.

I'm sure many Birmingham photographers have taken these over the years. But I got it early on in December 2012.

March 2013

By the middle of March 2013, the park was fully complete. So I had another look around, a few days before it was officially opened in full. This is the curvy benches area under the canopy near the park entrance on Park Street.

Benches line this area with plants and new trees. Towards Curzon Street Station and New Canal Street.

Towards the Christopher Wray Building and Jennens Court. This is what it looked like 5 years before the Emporium Buillding was built here.

A few days later it was the day that Eastside City Park was officially opened on the 16th March 2013. Saw this banner.

Over there on the area where the water jet fountains are, was the official opening ceremony. Councillor Sir Albert Bore (then Leader of Birmingham City Council) was talking about how he envisioned a park when they started the Eastside development back in 1999.

This view from the steps near the metal sculptures towards the official event formally opening the park in full. The railway line behind with a London Midland train heading in or out of Birmingham New Street Station.

Water fountain jets

The water fountain jets seen in Eastside City Park during June 2013. Kids used to play in these like the ones in Centenary Square (that opened in summer 2019). And in later years, skateboarders would do tricks here.

This view from April 2014. The water jets would get quite high. In recent years though, these have not been turned on. Especially since Ice Skate Birmingham had their Big Wheel and Ice Rink here in the winter period of 2018 / 19 (they were on HS2 land on Eastside Green in the winter of 2017 / 18).

The Canal

Near Millennium Point and the Parkside Building was this canal. There is bridges that crossed it. In April 2013 it looked quite new and in good condition.

But by June 2014, the walls where the water jets came out of looked quite rusted around the holes. And hard marks down the side. This night shot was from December 2014. In the last several times that I've been past here, this has not even been turned on or even full of water. Unless rain water filled it up. Hopefully it can be cleaned and turned back on.

In late July 2019 the state of the canal near the Farmhouse Dairy Ice Cream block. Hardly much water in it. There must be a reason why the Council hasn't turned it on in a while?

More recent views to date

This view of Millenniumt Point taken from Eastside City Park during December 2016. On a lovely blue sky day. This was sometime after 11am on Boxing Day 2016 so hardly anyone around!

Snow on the side border during February 2017. Wasn't much other snow around here.

Snow in Eastside City Park during March 2018. Well here it was quite slushy and icy. The Emporium Building seen under construction.

More snow on the grass than on the paving. No one around at midday on the 18th March 2018.

This was after dark in January 2019. the Emporium Building was complete by then. Heading into the park, this would be the last time you could see Ice Skate Birmingham at the other end of the park. As they were starting to dismantle the ice rink.

What had happened to the grass in Eastside City Park in March 2019? It looked like this. All patchy. They had to replace the grass during the spring of 2019. I may have applied a filter on this phone shot that I took.

By May 2019, just soil where the ice rink had been of Ice Skate Birmingham from November 2018 to January 2019. It was raining in the park. As you can see the water jet fountains were still off. And the only water you could see was rain water. HS2 land all hoarded off to the far left. Trees all lush and green though.

What a transformation to the grass by July 2019! They had laid new grass. The trees all full of green leaves.

Hopefully the grass can stay like this into 2020. These days the park is full of students from Birmingham City University. This view towards Millennium Point.

The Woodman pub has been reopen for several years now. Various people walking through the park as I saw this cyclist go past. I think I headed down New Canal Street into Digbeth from here. The tower of Exchange Square Phase I was getting bricked up.

These days struggle to find something to take photos of in Eastside City Park. In August 2019, saw this unusual bike outside of The Woodman. Babboe City. A cargo bike.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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Art, culture & creativity
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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Green open spaces
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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60 passion points
Green open spaces
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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