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Thread: It's cold in Brum - Birmingham - Late 2012

  1. #1
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    Default It's cold in Brum - Birmingham - Late 2012


    It's Cold In Brum - Newman Coffin Builders & Sandwell College

    In late 2012 whilst at home on a protracted visit, I took the first opportunity I had to visit and explore some of what Birmingham has to offer. I am a midlander presently exiled in London and was really enthusiastic to visit and explore some of the secret nooks and crannies that abound in Brum. It was a delightful if wet day and included fails, falls, illicit day time entries over pub gardens and the usual delights associated with our chosen past time! All topped off by interactions with the people of Birmingham and their familiar and comforting accent (to me anyway) one may even say the day was bostin'!



    All began dank and dreary and the expected ungodly hour, the quick 4 mile cycle to Warwick train station did nothing to quell my anticipation and with eager considerations my journey began on the 6.57 (that is a fictitious time, but who cares?) train to Birmingham Snow Hill. On arriving in Brum on this disgustingly dreary and damp winters day with what seemingly looked like 4 months rain falling at once, I set off across the city on foot to my first explore of the day; Brandauer Factory.



    This was a wholly unsuccessful attempt and led me through the more unsavoury and frankly ugly parts of the city. On arriving at the site, the abundance of mafia run car washes and the local cop shop located on the corner deterred me from making this foolish day time attempt of being arrested or worse, consumed by the alleged rapid dog security. With a solemn heart, I retraced my steps and made way to my second possible of the day; Newman's Coffin Builders! This place is well heralded locally and is just in the beginning stages of a refit to make it a history centre/museum. With such stunning clients on their lists (dead clients none the less prestigious) as Winston Churchill and Lady Diana, I headed to this place with a mixed sense of excitement and cynicism as I knew its location was busy and due to this, likely to be non-accesible



    After reaching the site and being surprised by the numbers of people milling around its front entrance and the signs that advertised an evenings candle lit tour and ghost stories to be held in its "fantastic victorian interior" that evening, I felt vindicated in my cynicism, but let this not get the better of me and walked the staircase to the side to find a quieter if not easy access point. The walls are huge and foreboding and not climbable by a mere human such as myself. I obviously can't go in to my access here, but it is alluded to at the beginning of the write up and was fun, if not a little foolhardy, but I was not going to be beaten by both my possibles in sequence. I made access and was delighted to witness the intricacies of coffin building laid out for all (well, in this instance, just me) to appreciate in such an agreeable manner.



    Now Newman's Coffin Builders is, I suppose, a local landmark and is Grade II listed by English Heritage. It is a wonderful premises that The Newman brothers moved into in 1894. The company was set up by Alfred Newman and his three sons: Horace, George and John and it was said that the company manufactured some of the finest funeral furniture available during it's pomp and at it's peak employed over a 100 people. The site was split, with the poorer workforce entering through the rear for a days hard labour and the landed, owner lot through the front! It exported goods all over the world and commonwealth with clients in India, Sri Lanka, Caribbean, West Africa and Canada. These premises were closed in 1999 and was in fact listed in the BBC show Restoration but did not receive enough votes to progress to the final..... A crying shame, but things look brighter now! The site is owned by Advantage West Midlands who were approached after a feasibility study was performed by the Birmingham Conservation Trust who had grave concerns about the buildings future. It stands to be refitted more than sympathetically and will house, I believe a museum detailing the companies past and influence.









    I was marvellously excited to see so much inside this beautiful structure and although mostly scattered to appease the evenings visitors, I felt a certain privilege to touch and feel this important piece of English heritage.









    I could go on with the pictures from Newman's, but I am thinking that this may well turn into a mammoth report so I will move on to the next location and I am sure many of you know all about it. It's a much frequented place nowadays, but the atrium and staircase warrant that fame any day. It's a knock out!



    After such an unexpected and revitalising explore, I marched back towards Snow Hill with time fast approaching 2pm. A quick stop to refuel left me with limited time and an ever threatening cloudy sky promising to cut short my days adventures early, I departed Snow Hill for Smethwick Galton Bridge. Arriving at kick off time for my team WBA, I turned left and away from the stadium on my long walk to the campus and through the multi-cultural hive that it is Birmingham.



    I arrived at the campus at close to 3.30pm and knew that I had little if any time to do justice to this sprawling and in places, fantastic site. Most of the pictures contained were taken at close to darkness with high ISO's and obscene exposure times. I wished and still wish I'd have had just a little longer.


    I will not go into history here as it has been covered and honestly, I am a little tired now. But, I recommend a visit to this pleasing and easy explore if you are in the area. I visited for a second time with a group and got the pictures I wanted from the first visit. However, I cannot locate these at present.







    Seems my tripod was stuck at this angle for the majority of this visit , but I will add the others when I get five to find the files..........



    So, I hope you enjoyed this brief trip with me through a day in Birmingham and my apologies for the lack of shots from Sandwell College this time. But to end this brief report, here's a final shot from Newman's Coffin Builders, the clear highlight from a less than clear day! I don't know who he is, but in my head, he is one of the Newman's. Cheers for looking......


  2. Thanks given by: flyboys90, Lucky Pants, Mars Lander, paymaster, perjury saint, Stealthstar79, UrbanX
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  4. #2
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    Your photography is sublime, great write up too!

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience...
    "The last Beemer out of Saigon. I'm at the mercy of the Vietnamese peasants. Please don't put me in a bamboo cage."

    ramsgatonian@hotmail.com

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    Remind me why you don't post here more often?!
    Captivating write up, and just dreamy photos!
    Can't wait to see your more recent photos ;) soz didn't get too much time to chat to you last weekend, will have to catch up sometime :)
    Thanks for sharing these dude!
    www.urbanXphotography.co.uk
    "We're not giving you a quote for your stupid forum signature"
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    top notch narrative and ace images :D
    My Flickr : alternativedayout@yahoo.com

    You think Adventure is dangerous? Try routine, it's lethal ! :)

  7. #5
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    Cracking report and pics!
    Thanks...
    “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl

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    Fantastic report and great pictures from start to finish, wow ! thanks for sharing with us :)
    Looking beyond the pictures. :p


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    Looks like a nice site.
    All the photos taken at jaunty angles are a bit hard going.

  10. #8
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    Great write up...but my neck hurts!

    Can't help feel the photos would come across a million times better if they weren't taken at 45 degrees, sorry but it's not my thing at all.
    My Flickr

    Pseudomerican

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    I have to agree with Mookster on that but clearly from the other bustin' :) comments we are in a minority finding slanting photos a bit yucky. The subject matter is great but I felt like I'd been on the razzle all afternoon looking at them!

    Sorry but there it is. :(

    Great compilation all the same.
    Veni, Vidi suum custos canis admorsus meus culus...

  12. #10
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    Evening all, I think I alluded to it at the beginning, but it is a habit of mine to shoot at angles! But apologies if you all have stiff necks and please send me your receipts for painkillers and I will reimburse :-) Thanks for positive comments mind and UrbanX, yes a certain shame we didn't chat more over the weekend, although it was a marvellous experience. Many thanks.....

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