Robert Hampton

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1st March 2013

Brummed out
Posted by at 9.04pm | 5 responses | Out and About

So, a couple of weeks ago I was in Birmingham.

It was a destination chosen mainly for practical reasons. I was meeting with my friends Scott and Ian for a day of high-jinks. Ian lives in London, Scott lives in Birkenhead. Birmingham was roughly in the middle, and London Midland‘s Great Escape offer enabled us to reach there for just £15.


Aside from Moor Street station (which everybody spent a lot of time coo-ing over), my companions complained about how rubbish everything was. In fairness, we did seem to see only the very worst of the city: the dank caverns that are New Street and Snow Hill stations; the horrendous, pedestrian-unfriendly gridlocked roads that surround said stations; the Midland Metro with its unrelenting window views of derelict factories. We ended up in Wolverhampton, where a drunk man shouted obscenities at the people disembarking from the tram.

Birmingham gets a bad press. It’s the UK’s second city, with over a million inhabitants, and yet it is sneered at. It’s unfairly portrayed as a concrete mess of ugly 60s architecture, populated by Black Country simpletons with rubbish accents.

I can’t join in with the Birmingham mockery, however. This is mainly because I live in Liverpool, which is probably the one English city which gets more of a slating than Birmingham. I live and breathe Liverpool every day, and I know that the image of thieving and yobbery is untrue and unfair (except, perhaps, when the Mathew Street Festival is on). By the same token, I refuse to believe the stereotype that Birmingham is all concrete and ugliness. Over a million people choose to live there – it must be doing something right.

Instead, I will point you to my Birmingham blog from 2011 and supplement it by saying that Equator Bar is a fun place to while away an hour or so while waiting for your train.

The tram system is a bit rubbish, though.

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5 Responses
  1. Comment by peezedtee
    1st March 2013 at 9:37 pm

    However unsatisfactory it may seem now, Birmingham is vastly better than it used to be. In the 1960s and 1970s it was concrete hell, entirely devoted to the motorcar, with public transport and pedestrians more or less nowhere. I had always thought it pretty loathsome but on my latest visit I was quite impressed.

  2. Comment by Chris
    1st March 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Just a bit of pedantry. Birmingham is England’s second city. Glasgow is Britain’s. Folks forget that Britain’s second and England’s second may not be the same! # At least Birmingham HAS trams. Sadly, most cities do not! Local rail pretty good too and Snow Hill was reopened after Beeching implementation and refurbished. :-). x

  3. Comment by Steve
    2nd March 2013 at 9:50 am

    I suspect, judging by the photo of the Brummie tram, that Birmingham is going from concrete monstrosity to looking the same as every other city – quickly built buildings with orange-coloured walls and ribbon window infills.
    The concrete wasn’t great, but maybe it was different?
    Then again, many cities suffered the concrete craze in the 1960s. The house I’m in now is just one example – most of the “newtown” housing around Glasgow was built in the 1960s and 1970s and it’s mostly concrete. It’s pretty rubbish too for domestic buildings…

  4. Comment by Scottieboy (@merseytart)
    2nd March 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Nope. It’s shit.

  5. Pingback by Getting Away From It All « Robert Hampton
    21st March 2013 at 1:13 pm

    […] some preconceived notions to rest. Not everyone was as easily impressed however, and I had to leap to the city’s defence earlier this […]