New Street, Birmingham
Although named New Street, there is documented evidence of this modern day thoroughfare dating back to 1398, making it one of the cities oldest streets!
During the 18th and 19th Centuries, this became one of the cities most important streets, being nick- named The Bond Street of Birmingham, due to its impressive buildings and shops.
Today, it is a pleasant bustling street, that runs up from The Rotunda building and Bullring shopping centre to Victoria Square. Most of the street is pedestrianised, and is tree lined - this being especially attractive at night, with tiny blue lights strewn through their branches.(pic 2)
Kiosks selling flowers and buskers performing add to the atmosphere.
The upper end of New Street has retained many of its Victorian buildings and arcades, whilst the lower end suffered bomb damage during WW2 and one of its main buildings- King Edwards school was moved to Edgebaston, hence the more recent architecture.
New Street hit the headlines on 21st November 1974, when 2 pubs - The Mulbury Bush - at the base of The Rotunda, and 'The Tavern in the Town' on New Street (now renamed 'The Yard of Ale' - opposite the Britannia Hotel) were targeted by the IRA during their mainland campaign. 21 lives were lost, and 182 were injured. A memorial plaque to these victims is laid in the grounds of St Philips Cathedral.
Opposite the glass tourist information office, I wandered into Waterstone's bookshop (No 128) as I was curious to see the interior that I'd glimpsed from the street.
This is the former grade II listed Midland Bank building, which was designed by Edward Holmes and built between 1867 and 1869 in a classical style, as the head office of the Midland Bank.
The Midland Bank and Llloyds bank were both founded in Birmingham
Much of the original interior detailing has been retained, along with with its galleries and domed, stained glass roof. (pic 4)
There is also a Costa Coffee in this shop, so worth a visit.
New Street station doesn't actually have an entrance onto the street of its name- instead access is through the Pallasades shopping centre off New Street.
There is a £600 million scheme, to totally update the depressing New Street Station, with work due to start this year, on creating a 'Gateway' to Birmingham.
Coming out of the station, and onto New Street, the building opposite is the former offices of the Birmingham Gazette (pic 3)They were built in the 1870's. The designer was one of Birminghams leading Victorian architects H R Yeoville Thomason. The building has been renovated and brought upto modern standards, though still retaining its original character, as have many similar properties throughout the city.
This has been achieved by demolishing the old buildings, apart from their facades, and building an entirely new construction onto the frontage.
A pleasant leafy boulevard in the centre of the city, with many shops ranging from book stores to chemists, clothes shops to jewellers. Worth a wander for window shopping, or if you are unsure where to find something, it's not a bad place to start. They are building a visitors centre here at the moment, so it will also be good to go to for tourist information soon. Other than that, you can people watch and there are usually street performers busking, performing tricks and the like too. You also get religious people yelling at the top of their voices quotes from the Bible and Koran, as well as all sorts of political activists asking for your signature on petitions to stop everything from fox hunting to nuclear weapons. It's a great place to experience the whole melting pot known as Birmingham.