10 March, 2008

Birmingham, Brummagem, Brummidge and a brief visit to the Welsh valleys

There are many different ways of spelling Birmingham, all based on local pronunciation. I started out at St Martins Church in the bullring, which is a victorian copy of a 13th century church previously built there. The church contains the tombs of William and John De Berminghame who are the first recorded inhabitants, i.e. the people illustrious enough to matter, but the name Birmingham is pure saxon. The home (ham) of the tribe (ing) of Birm. The church takes its responsibilities to the local community seriously and has a cafe for shoppers as well as a ten minute reflection for shoppers on Saturday. The church is also opened for much of the time and is full of art - of varying quality.

Birmingham contains a departmental store called Selfridges, the first outside London. It is the curvy blue building covered with aluminium discs.

Birmingham is better than Manchester - much better. It is a single city - Britain's second - and not an agglommeration of villages, although it has taken local villages into its kindly care. What was written in the 1890s in Harper's magazine still rings true now - it is the best governed city in the world. It has some good parks, Cannon Hill Park contains a model of the Birmingham Water Works in the Welsh Valleys and this is the top picture. The bottom picture shows the Midlands Arts Centre for Young People. This was inaugaurated in the 1960s and has had some controversial performances, including ten students from Köln who performed nude, simulated sex acts on stage from Sweden and plays containing swear words. The building is good though with a hexagonal studio theatre.

Moor Street station has been painted in the alleged colours of the Great Western Railway, a grim blend of diahorea yellow-brown and pale poo. I'm all for history but I really prefer taste.

As Birmingham is famous for its metalwork, it has distinctive metal street signs as per the picture. The blue brick shurch has now been converted into a night club but was the former Presbyterian church in Broad Street.

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