Walking Tours, Birmingham
Walk up New Street to Victoria Square. At the end of New Street facing you is the Town Hall.
In 1830 there was a competition for a new town hall in Birmingham with less than two months allowed for the preparation of designs. The design chosen was that of Joseph Hansom and E Welsh, based on the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Construction began in 1832. In 1834 the architects were declared bankrupt and local architect Charles Edge took over and the building was formally opened on 4th October 1834. In the 1840's the finest organ in the world was built in the Town Hall so I hope that it too will be restored. I do remember hearing it being played in the 1970's. Joseph Hansom was perhaps even more famous for the Hansom Cab, which the horse-drawn predecessor of the London TaxiCab. The photo is from our National Photo Archive (© Geoff Dowling ARPS)
The Town Hall is Birmingham's only Grade 1 listed building and since the opening of the Symphony Hall has been unused. In the autumn of 2000 the Town Hall has been given a National Lottery grant to restore it to its former glory.
Nov 2002. A £31 million contract has been signed by the City Council to refurbish the Town Hall.
Jan 2003. It is due to reopen Christmas 2005.
On 15th June 2004 a one off organ recital was given prior to the organ being cocooned in plastic to protect it during the restoration work.
November 2006 At long last the scaffolding has come down. The cost has risen to £34.7 million but the good news is that plans are now in hand for the reopening in October 2007.
March 2007 The restoration is just about complete. The final cost is now £35m and the opening programme being drawn up. This will take the form of a two week festival.
October 2007 The Town Hal finally, finally has reopened and I have now reinstated it as a night spot venue. and not just a sight on a walk through the city centre.
Fact sheet: http://www.thsh.co.uk/pdf/Town_Hall_factsheet.pdf
Fondest memory: Going to magificent choral works with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, known affectionately as the CBSO, at Easter and Christmas conducted by both Louis Fremeaux and then later by Simon Rattle.
If like me you are interested in some of Birmingham's best 19th century buildings walk down Edmund Street from Chamberlain Square at one end to Snow Hill Railway Station at the other. Along the way there are the Birmingham Corporation Gas Company Offices, (now part of the Art Gallery), the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (now the College of Art of the University of Central England) past another group of buildings which made up a collection of hospital buildings. The Ear and Throat Hospital (now offices) and the Eye Hospital (now the Hotel du Vin), and another hospital which I have yet to identify.
The individual buildings will soon have their own VT "things to do" pages.
Fondest memory: Walking along the Street to catch my train back home at Snow Hill Railway Station on a warm sunny June evening, after attending a seminar at the Shakespeare Memorial Library.
Continue walking across Victoria Square and into what appears to be the building to the left of the Central Library. Continue on in the same direction for 2/3 minutes in front of Birmingham Repertory Theatre and across an area called Centenary Square and into the ICC building. Once inside during the daytime you can look inside the celebrated Symphony Hall, home of the CBSO, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Twice a month, starting in November 2000, there are guided tours around Symphony Hall.
Fondest memory: Continuing on in the same direction through the ICC building and out into the canal area. We went on into the area around Brindley Place on the opposite side of the canal. Going on a boat trip from Brindley Place around Sherbourne Street Wharf, Cambrian Wharf and Gas Street Basin. From the boat we could see the balcony of the pub (called The Malt House) where President Clinton had his famous pint and pie and photo during the G7 meeting when it was held in Birmingham in 1998.
Take a walk around Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square, you have the Council House and the Town Hall here, which are all great buildings...
Fondest memory: I miss my friends when I am away from Birmingham, as most of them live here...