These days I don’t get back to Birmingham all that often. However, we were in the area over the Christmas break so I took the opportunity to visit the city centre. The weather was freezing (there was still snow lying on the ground in the suburbs) but the sun was shining and the light was perfect for photography, and I wanted to try out my new camera on some of the sights. Most of all, I wanted shots of the area around Gas Street Basin, which is where large chunks of my new novel ‘Gravy Train’ are based.
And I wasn’t disappointed. I wandered all over the city centre, snapping away, and ended up at the back of the International Convention Centre, where Brindley Place meets Broad Street and where the canal network suddenly blossoms into the vast and picturesque Gas Street Basin.
It’s an amazing sight at the best of times, and very unexpected for the centre of a city that sadly, doesn’t have the best reputation for heritage, architecture, or anything much else. It’s not a reputation it deserves, as you can see from some of these photos. The area around Gas Street has recently been tidied up and the wonderful juxtaposition of old and new buildings, bridges, wharves, hoists, tower blocks and walkways gives it an atmosphere that’s hard to find anywhere else.
And if you believe the events in ‘Gravy Train’, it’s perfect for hiding the odd body or two as well!
Here’s a taster of the scenery:
Gas Street Basin through the Broad Street bridge. The main thoroughfare of Broad Street, complete with Victorian buildings, runs straight across the top of this bridge; if you’re walking along the street you’d hardly know this was there.
Picturesque canal-side buildings – many turned into bars and restaurants – line the towpath, which as I mention in ‘Gravy Train’ is edged in places by no more than a line of different coloured bricks.
A view across the barges to the old Canal House (complete with hoisting gear) and some of the city’s swankier office blocks.
I took a whole heap of photos of other parts of the city and will hopefully share those over the next few weeks.