I planned my day to take in three locations of the Key to the City Brum around the West Midlands. Each venue is very different but they were linked by the way that I planned my visits for the day. These particular venues were very photogenic. There was the overall visit plus lots of details especially in the Gate House. I started at Minworth Green Bridge and then moved over to Streetly Gate. Finally I drove to Washwood Heath to see St. Margaret’s Church. It was a memorable day and I hope I have captured not only my enthusiasm but those of the people I met on my journey.
Minworth Green Bridge
Minworth Green Bridge is on the boundary of the City of Birmingham. It is the furthest north of the key locations and the bridge crosses over the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal but this is not why it was chosen for the Keys to the City. On one side of the canal bridge is an iron barred door. Making my way down to the door, I came across a family who had just closed the door and were walking along the canal towpath. I got my key out and opened the lock. The door opened with some force difficult and inside there was a surprise. In the narrow long space behind the door, there were several hefty planks of wood. The Canal and River Trust had left an information notice about the use of these wooden planks. When the canal needed to be drained for repair, the planks are used to block off the water. There are grooves in the canal walls which house the planks. This practical solution to the maintenance of the canal was described in the door notice.
I closed the door and locked the padlock, making it ready for the next visitor. The family returned and they told me that they were on half term holidays and the Key activity gave them a chance to visit different places. For myself, there was the opportunity to take some pictures of the canal including a boat that was moored up by the bridge. I left reflecting on a peaceful spot with an intriguing door.
Gatehouse, Streetly Gate
This site was a treasure trove and when I arrived there were already people inside. I met, Ian and James, father and son, who were also visiting the place. For a small room, the Gatehouse at Streetly Gate near to Sutton Park has so much to offer. Ian and James were on their first key. They were very enthusiastic about the project and were keen to know about the places that I had visited. Ian and James are pictured in the Gatehouse. This project is a great way to meet new people and I explained to them that I undertake a 100 Strangers photographic project. Both were happy to be photographed in the Gatehouse.
Once they left. I investigated the contents of the Gate house. The building was used by the park authorities for checking in visitors to the park. There were many items on display and the pictures and posters provided snippets of the history. Only now am I able to show these pictures as at the time I did not want to spoil the experience of other who would experience the excitement of what is inside for themselves.
There is a link which explains more about Sutton Park www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20089/parks/405/sutton_park/5
St Margaret’s Church
When you visit somewhere that is just so full of atmosphere then it leaves a memorable impression. This describes my visit to St Margaret’s Church, Ward End, Birmingham. As a visitor to the community, I was given a warm welcome to the centre. This venue in the “key to the city Brum” was a hidden gem in more ways than one. The building is a Grade II listed former Church of England parish church in Birmingham. In the church are stained glass windows by pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones. There is also a bust by Peter Hollins of 1848 that celebrates William Hutton (1723-1815) who provided the first account of the history of Birmingham.
There was a memorable encounter with Kaniz who is the Community Development Practitioner at the centre. She explained to me about the centre and the role it plays in the community. I was shown the “key to the City Brum” exhibit and provided with a cup of coffee and biscuits whilst I looked through the contents of the cabinet. Kaniz was a photographer but after the pandemic fulfilled her desire to get involved with the community. She was very keen to give something back and help others. Kaniz agreed to be in my strangers’ portfolio. The picture is taken in the hall where there is a community meeting taking place.
The contents of the cabinet had past parish newsletters and other historical mementoes. There was a celebration of Metro-Cammell, formally the Metropolitan Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company (MCCW). Metro-Cammell had a factory in Washwood Heath near to the church. The company manufactured railway carriages, locomotives, and railway wagons and with increased world wide competition the factory was force to close in 2005. The cabinet contained models and books from the era that the factory was at full production.
I wandered around the church grounds and loved the architecture which was juxta positioned with the brutalist flats neighbouring the church. The #KeytotheCityBrum highlights places which have living history. Many of the venues provide inspires the visitor and gives a background to the historical development of the city.
Here are some links for you
My Journey with the Key
If you wish to review my journey then I have published all my visits on my blog as follows.
- Three keys in Birmingham
- Key to the trains and the football
- My key opens another three locks
- Keys to the Blyden’s Garden and the Legacy centre
- Time to reflect with my key
- Key to Green Lane Mosque
- Route 61 and two more keys
- The popular key – 103 Colmore Row
- Open all hours with my key
- More to follow!