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EVER CHANGING BIRMINGHAM in COLOUR

EVER CHANGING BIRMINGHAM in COLOUR

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By Garry Yates

The author was born in the Handsworth district of Birmingham in 1954 and today lives one mile away from where he was born. Growing up in the 1960s he witnessed innumerable changes to the Birmingham skyline, because perhaps more than any other city at the time, Birmingham replaced numerous terraced and back-to-back houses with multi-storey tower blocks reaching a total of 444 across the city, including the new district of Chelmsley Wood. All remaining gas street lighting was replaced by electric lighting, and in the city centre the Inner Ring Road was constructed which swept away many smaller roads and buildings, some of which like the former Josiah Mason College at Paradise Circus would, today, have been listed buildings. The Bull Ring Shopping Centre, (the first indoor shopping centre in the country) opened in 1964 and the Post Office Tower (as it was known then) in Lionel Street became the city’s first tall landmark. However over the years many of these so called ‘improvements’ came to be seen as not very ‘improving’ at all, or were otherwise unsuccessful or deficient. Times and attitudes change and many tower blocks are now being demolished in favour of ground level housing schemes and apartments. In the city centre the Inner Ring Road with its numerous subways, known as the ‘Concrete Collar’ was restricting outward growth of the city centre, and is now slowly being removed as are the unpopular subways; the largest part of this scheme so far is the rebuilding of the Bull Ring and the surrounding area. In recent years many apartment blocks have been built in the city centre especially around the canal network and many more schemes have been planned or started, but at the moment some are on hold due to the effects of the recent recession – hopefully most will be completed, but some will not.

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