The changing centre of Birmingham

At the end of February we travelled by train to Birmingham for a family gathering. Just four of us, we are not a big family.

Dear wife attended a meeting of a society at which she’s a member, and afterwards we all met up for afternoon tea. A couple of us walked from where we met at New Street station along New Street up to the City Council House to view the changes to Centenary Square.

What changes they are. The old central library building [see photo], an eyesore from the moment it was built, is no more. The new library is a big improvement – now called the Library of Birmingham, although I’m not a fan of the exterior cladding.

Chamberlain Square, Paradise Circus, and Centenary Square have all dramatically changed. My how Birmingham does love reinventing itself. The Registry Office, where we were married, is also now demolished. Such are the changes that I hardly remember what was there before. Although the Hall of Memory, of which more later, retains it’s place, and is, thankfully, not crowded in by the new buildings. From the new Library’s viewing platforms you can see how things are changing.

I took some photos, pretty poor ones I’m afraid, that show some of the changes. As there were hoardings everywhere, taking photos was awkward. Better to view the photos in the BBC article Will Birmingham’s boom benefit all?


Taking in the views from Birmingham’s new Central Library

I like mini-adventures. Recently we visited Birmingham city centre, primarily to visit the new central library, but also taking developments at New Street Station and Birmingham Town Hall.

No, pooh, poohing please. I’m a Midlander, and have worked in Birmingham in the past, so I’m always keen to see how it re-invents itself. Another reason is that my wife’s first job was working in the Birmingham Central Library.

The new more grandly named, Library of Birmingham, is the fourth central library building. The third building was designed in the brutalist concrete style, and hopefully will be demolished now its no longer used, except for tatty retail shops on the ground floor.

The new Library of Birmingham is of modernist design, which seems to suit Birmingham’s view of itself – confident, fond of the new, and sometimes a little brash. It’s surprising to me that Birmingham’s new buildings pay no homage to the Birmingham Town Hall, opened in 1834, which is an elegant building of classical design and proportions, which the city forefathers must have been justly proud. More about the Town Hall later.

The Library of Birmingham has two outdoor viewing areas, which afford magnificent views over the city. Taking in these views was a main destination, as was the café, which sadly disappointed. Anyway, here are my photo’s of arriving at the Library, and ascending through it’s centre to the upper viewing platform.