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Shopping in Birmingham
I always go to Birmingham to shop. With four large shopping centres in the city centre, you really are spoilt for choice. Also the main streets in the city centre are full of shops and pubs too. You really can shop until you drop!
My usual first port of call is the Bullring centre. This is one of my favourites as it was recently built in 2003 and has a really unusual space-age facade (where one of only four Selfridges stores is housed) making it one of Birmingham's more distinct landmarks. The Selfridges building includes 15,000 aluminium discs on the outside which makes the building look really quirky and unusual. The shopping centre itself contains around 160 shops, restaurants and cafes. I love the variety of shops in the Bullring as it has many household name stores, but I avoid eating at the restaurants and cafes as they charge extortionate prices.
Outside the Bullring, there is a bronze sculpture known as 'The Bull' which is a great photo opportunity for visitors to the city and somewhat unfortunately, an easy target for local vandals! Even though he has had to be removed twice to be cleaned up, 'The Bull' can still be found in pride of place at the entrance to the Bullring.
Other shopping centres nearby worth a look are the Pavilions (which includes a upper floor foodcourt), the Pallasades and the Mailbox- a more exclusive shopping centre which is usually a quieter, more laid-back shopping experience, as well as considerably more expensive!
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Everything Under One Roof...
The new Bullring has put Birmingham on the map - we now rival any of the other big cities for shopping; i.e. Manchester and Leeds.
What can you find there? Well.... 3 levels of glorious shops, for a start!
The Bullring is split into buildings - joined together on the lower ground floor so that you don't even have to go outside to get from one to the other.
In one building, you have high street favourites such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge, H&M, Faith, etc. You also have Apple and Currys.
In the other building, you have a slightly more upmarket experience - the iconic Selfridges building, French Connection, All Saints, Links of London, etc.
On the ground floor are various eateries - Nandos, Burger King, something along the lines of Starbucks or Costa coffee.
One tip? Saturdays get VERY busy at the Bullring. Because Birmingham is so central, people come from all around to shop here on a weekend. If you really have to come on a Saturday - start shopping at 9am to avoid the rush! Otherwise, a Friday will be a much more pleasant experience.
The Bullring area of Birmingham has been totally redeveloped into a modern 21st century shopping experience. At its heart is the Bullring shopping centre with over 160 shops. The main one being Selfridges department store, the outside of the store is covered in shiny discs.
The precincts around the shopping centre are enjoyable to walk round. They manage to link to the centre the Rotunda & St Martin's Church. Nearby you'll also find indoor & outdoor markets.
The Bull Ring
Once the joy of the city - the concrete, modernist shopping centre of the 1960s highlighted the forward-thinking of the 2nd city. But by the 1980s, as the city and country moved into depression, so the Bull Ring represented the failures of 1960s town planning and poorly built civic pride. It became something of a joke.
But rejuvenation was finally at hand, and, as with other parts of the city centre, the Bull Ring was flattened and rebuilt, into a modern, 21st century shopping centre - 160 shops, including Selfridges and Debenhams alongside more than 25 restaurants. It is now, as it has been since the Middle Ages, the major commercial area of the city, and is the busiest shopping centre in the UK.
It is in part built around the Parish Church of Birmingham - St Martin-in-the-Bull-Ring - a Victorian edifice, built on the site of the original church from the 13th century. The Birmingham Markets are also to be found in the immediate vicinity, also redeveloped concurrently with the Bull Ring to provide a shopping metropolis.
Do You sell fridges ?
These days it seems that every city has to get a 'landmark building'. More often than not it falls to 'arts sector' to provide this. The Guggenmheim in Bilbao comes easily to mind. Lottery cash normally does the job, and lo and behold you have an 'icon'.
Birmingham has got it's Icon as well - but in a deft piece of planning permission, they got theirs for free.
The department store Selfridges formed the anchor tenant of the re-developed Bullring complex, and made the decision to cover their store in a kind of giant bubblewrap. For such a modern design, it is surprisingly well liked. On the other hand it sits in an area of what was a pretty horrible 1960's concrete jungle.
I spent ages thinking about how to describe it. The outside of a dalek came to mind, or perhaps packet of contraception pills. In the end 'bubblewrap' seemed about my best attempt. Perhaps you could do better.
The giant rubbish bin
The 'Rotunda' is seen as an 'icon' of Birmingham. This hugely ugly 1960's construction, has survived IRA bombs in the 1970's and years of derision by anyone who has seen it.
Despite all of this, it has achieved Grade II listed building status. This means that it can't be knocked down for redevelopment. The surrounding 'Bullring' complex was, and this has now become a shiny new shopping centre.
The Rotunda itself is currently being re-furbished, although it's future use is still uncertain. It could still work as an office block, or perhaps a hotel.
Sourbugger has a different idea. Perhaps it could become a 1960's theme park ? The 'mini' (in the sense of the car) came from Birmingham and any theme-park that features the 'mini' (in the sense of the skirt) has to be a winner. Plenty of sixties music, retro-bars and restaurants could make for a great venue. What do you reckon ?
Either way it is bound to feature loads of tacky neon lights and stuff.
Birmingham?s newest shopping destination
Built at a cost of over ?500 million, Bullring has brought over 26 football pitches worth of shops, boutiques and restaurants into the centre of town. It has reintroduced some of Birmingham?s traditional streets and is a stimulating, glass covered environment where you can shop, eat or just be.
Bullring isn?t just a shopping centre. It?s a new beginning for the city. It has introduced 3,200 more car parking spaces, improved public transport links and a refurbished Moor Street Station. And with a stunning mix of contemporary architecture and historic buildings, Bullring has completely changed the face of Birmingham.
We are sure that there are still plenty of things that you don?t know about Bullring. Here are just a few snippets of information that you may be interested to know?
Bullring provides over 110,000 sq m (1.2m sq ft) of retail space.
There are over 140 shops and kiosks within Bullring..
3,100 new car parking spaces were created for Bullring (900 in Indoor Market car park, 1,000 in Bullring car park and 1,200 in Moor Street car park).
Over 8,000 jobs were created within Bullring.
Over half a million pounds a day was spent building Bullring.
15,500 tonnes of steel are in Bullring ? that?s a ? of the steel in the Empire State Building.
There?s Approximately 90,000 metres? of concrete within the new Bullring. This is enough concrete to stretch between Birmingham and Oban, Scotland ten times.
The following amounts of glass have been used in Bullring.
Demolition of the old Bullring started the 30 June 2000, with completion in March 2001.
There were approximately 65,000 tonnes of concrete in the Old Bullring. During the demolition, the majority of the concrete went off site to a reprocessing plant. Small quantities have been retained to provide Haul Roads and Ramps.
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The Bull Ring is where Birmingham began 900 years ago was a market area. It is now a big shopping complex which have a Mac store too.
There is also a flea and a wet market outside of this area still.
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High Street Shops in Surreal Shell
The Bullring complex lies right in the heart of Birmingham. It is a massive redevelopment project that replaced an awful late 50's concrete complex that had reduced much fo the cities heart to a no go zone. Youll find most British high street chain sotres here, inlcuding a large, veeeery weird, Selfridges (upmarket department store with soem food stalls on the bottom floor, though not cheap) and a large two floor Dixons XL (electronics store dealing mainly in TV's and Music kit but with a few computers and cameras too). There are also clothes shops, travel agents, a few eating places (BK, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Italian) and some pharmacy.comsetics shops along with music shops HMV and Music Zone.
One thing to note is that this ocmplex gets VERY busy on Saturdays and is best avoided then. During the week it's much better. Out the back is a small sqaure with St. Martin's Church whcih has a small arts centre, and the excellent Markets (outdoor and indoor) which can be very good for shopping and well worth checking out! It's also the best place to fully appreciate the weirdness of the Bullring structure in all it's bizzare glory.
All the blue neons in the city are quite a thing. First the Selfridges - shinning all blue, then there are few tall office buildings with blue neons, many car parks, restaurants and much more blue lights all around. A bit funny but looks ok.
Bullring - Selfridges
Selfridges futuristic store design has already become a symbol representing Birmingham. Its external facade features a futuristic curved surface incorporating 15,000 silver discs. The convex discs reflect the sunlight, producing a highly distinctive and shimmering effect. Each of the aluminium discs is attached to the navy blue sprayed concrete. Very impressive.
It's one of the biggest and certainly the most amazing shoping mall I have been to. The thing is that Bullring is much more than just a shops, it's a part of the City Centre, the extension of the main boulevard. The open spaces and walkways throughout the three level scheme have been designed to link into the city centre. The natural gradient of the site - sloping some 19 metres from north to south - has been integrated in Bullring’s design.
Check out the newly re-opened Bull Ring
Although childhood memories of the old grimy Bull Ring with its markets and cheap shops will always hold a dear place in my heart, when I recently re-visited the city, I was well impressed with the 'all-new' Bull Ring, with its Selfridges, and other shops and cafes.... even under a grey sky it looked special....
Moor Street Station
Another part of the regeneration project in the Bull Ring area of Birmingham. It's been restored to its Victorian glory days. they've done a fantastic job. It's such a pity that we're going to have to wait a few more years before trains can once again grace this truly beautiful station.
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Birmingham Old & New
Two of Birmingham's landmarks, St. Martin's Church and the new Selfridges Building. They're side by side - a really odd juxtaposition, but quite fantastic. St. Martin's has been cleaned as part of the redevelopment of the Bull Ring and the Selfridges building... what can I say? It looks like something has landed from out of space. Quite fantastic! Apparently it is meant to resemble a sequin dress.
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