Saturday, 26 March 2011

Now and Then...

Here are some photos of the canalside near Broad Street in the centre of Birmingham which show contrasting views of what the area looked like 30 years ago compared with more recent views of the same stretch.

The first photo above was taken by my dad Geoff Millington around 1981 and shows my sister Fiona aged about 10 or 11 gazing across the cut at the old buildings which were demolished in the late 1990s to make way for the International Convention Centre.

The buildings beyond that high wall on the opposite bank of the canal included my dad's school, St Peter's Roman Catholic. He tells us that his school yard backed onto the canal. In the distance we can see the bridge carrying Broad Street over the canal and beyond the bridge is the area still known as Gas Street Basin.

The photo above which I took in about 2006 shows what the same stretch looks like now with the edge of the Brindley Place development of new shops, offces, bars and restaurants visible on the right. The ICC is on the left hand side although it stands back from the trees. In the distance is a new footbridge and beyond that is the same bridge into Gas Street Basin and the buidlings of Broad Street which have had a face lift. 

Back to the early 1980s and this time dad has stood under the Broad Street bridge to take this shot which looks in the opposite direction along Thomas Telford's 18th century canal towards Ladywood in the direction of Smethwick and the Black Country. This was a vital and at times hotly disputed canal during the industrial revolution as it allowed resources and goods to be carried from South Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and the Black Country into Birmingham and beyond into Warwickshire and Worcestershire. At one point a bar was even put across the canal at Gas Street Basin because feuding carrier companies could not agree on rights of passage.

Once again that's the lovely Fiona striking a thoughtful pose as she veritably visions the future when the dank red brick walls of old Ladywood will be replaced by the gleaming windows of the ICC. In fact, I'm wondering from this image if it was actually all her idea in the first place! She is definately pondering something.  

This is another one taken by me along the same stretch of canal and looking in the same direction as my dad's photo above. I am pretty certain that the old building on the right hand side is the same building with the thin chimney on my dad's photo above - it is the pub in which President Clinton had a pie and a pint when he came to Birmingham for the G8 conference in the 1990s. 

The big white building is the National Indoor Arena, if I'm not mistaken you can just see the corner of the same block of high rise flats which appears in my dad's photo, peeking out at the right hand side of the NIA complex. I think you can also make out the same footbridge in the distance on my dad's photo.

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