We spent a few hours in Birmingham just before the new year: we saw known landmarks but also the changes that have occurred in the city in the last year. We were very pleasantly surprised.
We took the train to Moore Street, and the first thing we saw coming out of the station was the iconic Selfridges building.
(You can see more about it here )
We were surprised to see that the German Christmas market was still on: it was apparently extended this year to commemorate 50 years of cooperation between Frankfurt and Birmingham.
Another surprise was seeing that the fountain in Victoria Square had been filled with plants. We have since found out that attempts to identify and plug a leak have failed leaving the local authority facing unsustainable £2,000 a day running costs.
In the same square is Iron:Man by Anthony Gormley (you can see more about this sculpture here )
The carousel was popular
The building work in the city centre meant that it took us a while to reach the library (more about the library here )
In front of the library, Gilliam Wearing's A Real Birmingham Family (you can see more about this here )
we then moved on to the canal area.
By the bridge over the canal
is this sculpture that gives kids an enormous pleasure
but we were more interested in the canal
and the reflections in the water
of the buildings of Birmingham's industrial past
that have been converted into restaurants and bars - this area is buzzing at night.
the Ikon gallery was closed so we retraced our steps
had something to eat from the market while standing by Iron:Man
and walked to the newly redeveloped New Street station to catch our train. The new façade of gleaming steel panels above the entrance is like a wonky hall of mirrors giving distorted reflections of the city.
The big and spectacular change is the huge 24 metre-high atrium inside which allows natural light to flood in to the station which is five times the size of Euston's. Escalators lead to shops and the new Grand Central mall. The original roof was damaged beyond repair in German bombing raids during WWII and the station was eventually buried within its 1967 concrete-reworking.