Birmingham, B29

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

b29 perimeter walk odyssey

posted by pindec
On Sunday 5th June 2009, an intrepid bunch (michael (@citizensheep), josh (@joshhart), mark (@cybrum) and I) met at the Nature Centre on the Pershore Road to trek around B29 as flâneurs. Sadly, no tortoises turned up and we were pretty sure the Nature Centre wouldn't lend us one.

Our journey started at the south-eastern corner of B29 on the Bournbrook, meandered as close to the B29 boundary as we could get (with a bit of guessing and some improvisation) until we passed the North-Western corner in California and lost the will to live: a massive downpour meant we decided to cut corners and head back via Castle Road.

b29 start north west b29 corner

We took it quite slowly, looking out for unusual stuff that you just don't notice on a purposeful journey.

Some themes that emerged on our odyssey were:

1. Things we found that we didn't know about

Halfway along Eastern Road on the right, heading for Bristol Road, we discovered a half-abandoned playing field - the field itself was freshly mown but the changing rooms kinda skanky and falling apart - anyone know who owns it?

abandoned playfield mysterious changing rooms

Part of the walk also showed up our lack of knowledge of our natural surroundings - our plant recognition skills were pretty low, so Michael snapped the odd plant and asked the internet for help in identifying them.

oakfield rd fenced flower

Over in California, we were appalled at finding people having to live directly under electricity pylons on Reservoir Road / Heron's Way. We were also interested to see people correcting the postcode - clearly believing that B18 (Jewellery Quarter) beats B29 as a place to live. pffpfppf.

lovely place for a pylon corrected postcode

Still in Reservoir Road, we stumbled across a dance centre: Benwell Dance Club, now severely shut, but still an unusual location for fleet-footed B29ers. The road also has houses that are mostly the same, except for experimental tile decorations on the outside.

ex dance club house tiles

2. Disappointment in development

At the former BBC Pebble Mill site we bemoaned the slow pace of development on the Science Park (they did some road works in 2006, but the next tranche of work doesn't start until late 2009) and wondered why they couldn't have left the tennis courts open to the public.

The ongoing Selly Oak New Road works are pretty ugly, and just outside the University campus on Grange Road we realised that the Westley Richards gun makers (firm founded 1812, workshop built around 1900) is going to get demolished to make way for it. I remember hearing them test-firing from the University Campus and seems a shame to lose it, even though I'm not a fan of hunting, it would be good to have a look round inside before they knock it down. I tried snapping through the keyhole but it didn't really capture any interesting historical innards ...

Selly Oak New Road diggings (ex) gun factory

smash through the keyhole

We weren't overly whelmed by the new hospital either, and Michael captured the moment with his fancy new iPhone on AudioBoo:


3. Random things that caught our eyes

Some places are so good they get named twice, and someone's been embedding the pavements with mysterious letters:

double signs stiff's bham

Some graffiti:

goose graffiti ook

4. Finding things we did vaguely know about but not exactly

We found the Weoley Castle ruins completely by accident, just when the downpours and sore feet were beginning to grate ... *and* Weoley Castle wasn't as grim as we'd imagined, though we did get some funny looks off the local kids for consulting a map. The ruins are gated off behind a fierce fence, though they occasionally have open days (next one 19th July). I particularly liked the animal finials, so much so that I might adopt it as the B29 logo :).

weoley castle ruins castle info

finial stone head

Michael did get a bit whelmed by the castle - "lots of ... um ... bricks":

And finally, as we trudged home to Selly Park, Michael and I found a few more hidden things - some secret off-road cricket, and a handy brick alcove just begging for something (an animal finial?):

secret cricket alcove

We're planning a few more ramblings ... and will post things here if you'd like to join us.



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