Sunday, 8 March 2015

Out and about in Brum

Distant views of central Birmingham across the Edgbaston reservoir
If you are a keen shopper you could certainly spend a happy weekend (and a wallet-full of cash) in Birmingham's big, modern Bull Ring shopping centre.
We're not – and we have Seadog Brian to consider – so we have been spending a lot of our time outdoors. And yesterday was the perfect day for exploring; bright, sunny and – out of the chilly wind – even spring-like in its warmth. So we set off to take a stroll around Edgbaston Reservoir, not far from us, which is now a nature reserve and watersports centre.
The reservoir was devised by Thomas Telford to feed the canal network. The 58 acres were dug out – by hand remember – to a depth of 40 feet and the job took five years, finishing in 1829. You have to see it to grasp the enormity of the task, just one of so many similar feats achieved during the canal age.
Icknield Port with its collection of canal buildings and former working boats
The reservoir feeds into Icknield Port Loop, now a loop off the New Main Line but originally another of the many bends of Brindley's original canal that Telford straightened up. The Loop is now a hidden treasure for at its apex is an unpoiled little area of workshops, crane and house, together with a small collection of old working boats.
Historic tug: Nansen II, built as an ice-breaker 
We walked to it via the towpath and then down a side street that cut between razed-flat warehouses. The old area is up for sale to a developer to build 1150 homes: it's Birmingham's last big inner city site. Let's hope that the character of the Port area survives among the much needed tidying up.
Another of Birmingham's angular modern buildings, the test cricket ground
The previous day we'd taken a bus out to the much larger Cannon Hill Park near the futuristic looking Edgbaston Cricket Ground. Like so much public space in Birmingham, its paths and gardens were immaculately maintained.
Small but beautiful, St Philip's Cathedral
And its wonderful interior of columns and stained glass
Brian was back on guard duty in the boat when we did our last bit of weekend sightseeing to St Philip's Cathedral. It's a shock to see how tiny it is – the third smallest cathedral in England apparently. It's not old either: built in the 18th century, it only became a cathedral in 1905. But it's a handsome building in a chunky, baroque style and quite beautiful inside, with tall columns and huge pre-stained glass windows by leading pre-Raphaelite artist, Birmingham born Edward Burne-Jones.
During WWII, the cathedral was bombed and gutted, though fortunately the windows had been removed earlier for safe keeping and were replaced when the building was restored post-war.

1 comment:

  1. You didn't mention that upstairs was a venue for McDonalds eating!