Birmingham Roundhouse refurbished

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A few years ago now Other Half and I walked along a part of Birmingham’s canal network we’d never explored before. The area was, roughly speaking, at the back of the National Indoor Arena and was full of canal history and a jumble of fascinating old buildings and gleaming office blocks. One of the former, which we only saw the back of, was really intriguing, because it seemed to be circular. There was no indication what it was, so I took a photo (above), made a mental note to look it up, and then forgot about it.

Last week our new National Trust magazine turned up, and there on one of the news pages was a snippet about the Birmingham Roundhouse, which the Trust and the Canal & River Trust are jointly refurbishing. It was built in 1874 and apparently used as stables and a store for the city’s lamplighters and ‘public works department’, presumably in the days when all lamps were gas, and when horses and carts would have been needed for workmen to get around.

The plan is to turn it into a hub for the canal network, including a café, offices and community space. It sounds terrific and we’re looking forward to visiting once the work is complete. There’s more details on the National Trust webpage; they’re calling for volunteers to help with the work, so if you’re in the Birmingham area and interested in heritage, why not get in touch?

Elephants galore

Anyone who’s read the ‘trivia’ on my webpage will know that I have a thing about elephants.  I love trying to squeeze new references to our trunked companions into my longer works (there isn’t much space for an elephant in most of my short stories).

So I was amused to find a plethora of the beasties on our recent holiday – in fact, they seemed to crop up everywhere we went!  First there was the elephant-shaped headland on the coast.  Then the complete fossilised elephant skeleton, dug out of the local strata, in a museum (and lots of cute cuddly elephants in the shop – it’s something of a local hero, apparently).  And then when we went to a nearby National Trust property, I’m blowed if one of the previous owners hadn’t put together an entire collection of elephant ornaments, of all shapes and sizes.

It’s amazing where mighty, four-footed ruminants can turn up…