Monday, March 24, 2014

Encounters with Birmingham part 3: The Canals

The original reason I wanted to visit Birmingham was for its canals.  I couldn't believe the claim that it has more canals than Venice.

This is how the most industrial of Victorian cities pushed its goods out to a hungry world before the railways came along.  Here is the "Bar" where two canals meet in the middle of Birmingham: 

  I wanted to immerse myself in the "Peaky Blinders" atmosphere of Birmingham post
 World War 1. None of this high-brow Downton Abbey stuff for me!  

The real "Peaky Blinders" gang found in the West Midlands Police Museum, below:

When I got to Gas Street Basin (the first place in Birmingham to get gas street lighting) I wanted to know what the tall building in each of these four shots is--it appeared at the very beginning of my Birmingham visit and reared its head every chance it got thereafter. 

 I found out it's The Cube, one of a number of shopping complexes in Central Birmingham and the first to be built under the City's "Big Plan".  Known by some locally as "The Tetris" building, I thought it looked like a hospital or pharmaceutical headquarters.  See my blog post "Library of Birmingham" for more.  It was designed by Ken Shuttleworth of MAKE Architects.


The collision of old with the new was jarring, but I'd come to see that was what Birmingham was all about.  Even Peaky Blinders isn't actually filmed here; at the moment they're shooting the second season in Liverpool.

The bridges are one of the best bits of the canals:

Sherborne Wharf Heritage Canal Boats

Canalside Pub at "The Bar".  There's very little to keep you from falling into the canal at any given point.  And you really have to mind your head when walking under the bridges and through tunnels.  All in all, it was an enjoyable encounter, made more memorable by sharing it with an old friend.

The two "Mr. Davids."

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