BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘tram’

#365daysofbiking Hard days

Monday January 18th 2021 – I’d had to go a long way for work. It was tough. I left early and called in to Birmingham on my way back to collect my bike which had been left in safe keeping for my return at a nearby work site, the better to avoid commuter trains.

It was around 6pm, and the city I’ve always loved, my home, my heart – was dead. After a day of travelling, empty stations, closed cafes and lonely trains, a deserted, almost post-apocalyptic Birmingham was very nearly the straw that broke me.

There were people about. People who were fearful of contact and closeness of others – understandably. I was like that too. Masked, hostile people.

Trams and buses swept past, nearly empty each one.

But then I stopped, and I looked: The lights were the same, the wet sheen on the tarmac. This is still my place. It’s still beautiful – if now more eerily so in it’s sparseness – but it will return. The spirit lives on. We’re just in hard days.

I did what I always do – got on my bike and rode home.

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#365daysofbiking Change is continual

July 11th – Returning to Birmingham, I had another meeting, but found time to have a look at the new Centenery Square water feature, the perennially unfinished Paradise Circus project and just marvel at the pace of change.

Arriving at Snow Hill I remain fascinated by the decay of the old metro stop there: Bypassed and left unused by the city centre extension,  it remains closed off and inaccessible, gently being reclaimed by nature. I remember when that stop and the line was new. What a revolution it was, but I forget that was nearly 20 years ago.

The line extension to Five Ways looks to be coming on well, and the formerly busy Paradise Circus – romanticised and cherished by Stephen Duffy so beautifully – is completely changed, and free of traffic. The views are currently opened up and it’s fascinating to be able to appreciate the city architecture without traffic.

Birmingham is doing what it does best – changing. I’m only a casual, occasional observer these days, but it still feels like home, and a city doing it’s damnedest to move with the times.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here.

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June 21st – I passed through Snow Hill Station mid afternoon, and noticed a little bit of lost local history that I’d totally forgotten about – the old Snow Hill tram stop.

When the Midland Metro opened in the late 90s, it originally terminated here at one platform of Snow Hill Station. The stop was dark, dingy and low level, with a notoriously unreliable inexplicably single escalator and a dingy, horrible spiral staircase. It was not a great bit of urban design.

When the Metro line was extended around the City Centre to Stephenson Place, the line was diverted to the side of Snow Hill station and up around Colmore Circus, leaving the Snow Hill stop cut off and replaced by a better, street level station. The lines at the old stop are no longer connected to the main line, and the stop, abandoned, unserviced and closed is gladly being reclaimed by nature and slowly fading.

It’s amazing how quickly such things decay when unused.

February 3rd – Snatched shots of my beloved Brum as it got dark.. It was raining, lightly, and the wind was building up.

I love Birmingham when it’s wearing this atmosphere, this cloak of impending night.

My pictures don’t do it justice.

September 30th – The rest of Birmingham, from Snow Hill to Soho, from Victoria Square to the Bull Ring, was carrying on regardless, as it tends to do – the architecture as ever was a joy, as were the crowded streets and very changeable weather. 

Birmingham has progressed massively in my lifetime. But I still adore it. It’s a wonderful place. 

Birmingham – please never stop changing.

May 6th – A frantic day. From work, to Birmingham for an important appointment, and I was there late. Not much time to eat, or think. I was frazzled, and on edge. But I did have a ‘what the hell?’ moment looking at the new tram tracks being laid from the New Street/Stephenson Place junction. It’s quite a steep hill, and that snaking curve looks… interesting. Not much can’t in the track, either. 

I hazard that’ll lead to some interesting moments with the odd inebriated passenger and also probably cyclists.

I must say, the metro extension project seems to be taking an age to complete.

November 3rd – Just around the corner in Corporation Street, a new hazard to urban cyclists in Brum; tram tracks. With a groove just the right dimensions to swallow and lock my wheels, I rode between the parallel lines with care, remembering the northern European practice of crossing them at oblique angles. 

The new tram line is sure to catch a few incautious cyclists though, so beware people. I do like the Metro and support it’s expansion, but this one hadn’t crossed my mind until today.