Design / Travel

Hometown Glory? Birmingham, Grand Central & The Second City

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hometown glory title page


Grand Changes
A quick fleeting visit back to my hometown Birmingham, England last week and was amazed to see how much has changed in the few months since I’ve been away. These “changes” granted, have been in working progress for a while. With the newly named Grand Central recently opening, Birmingham seems as though its clawing back its second city title. Although officially the second city title has never been taken away from Birmingham, (as far as I know) over the year’s lots of people thinking and referring to the city of Manchester as the second city. Grand Central, designed by architecture firm AZPML it opened last month. My Dad immediately went to have a look and sent me over some photos so as I could feel “included” which I fully appreciated! Apparently AZPML have said it could have been better and Network Rail made changed some of the materials which affected the design. I really like it and I think most people are impressed with the new result.




Grand Plans
I do think they could have named the new station something different other than naming it after New York. But I guess with grand schemes come grand titles, buildings and grand plans for the central city including the proposed HS2, (High Speed Two train line), Birmingham is increasingly looking as though the place to be. Phase One of the route aims to get travellers from Birmingham to London in under 50 minutes with plans to expand the route to other key cities in later phases. The new station opened last month and I’m glad I go to see it soon after opening. So much more inviting with the white curves and the much needed natural light coming through the atrium unlike before. The addition of the John Lewis and the network of other retail, bars and restaurants has turned it in to a rendezvous place without even the need of having a destination to travel to. No more just passing through anymore with a few suave boutique bars serving drinks to lounge at on the upper level.






More To See
Another place that underwent a big makeover was the Mailbox just a 5 minute walk from Grand Central. The central of the Mailbox is home to restaurants and views of the canals and just a stride over to the Cube. Follow the canal down and you’ll find yourself in Brindley Place just off Broad St. Birmingham is one of the most popular destinations for shopping in Europe with the Bullring still being the prime place for retail. Other places to go other than retail; last year the brand new library opened complete with rooftop gardens and reading areas, located at the bottom of Broad St. The Jewellery Quarter, Digbeth for the arts and music scene and multiple of places for theatre and shows, The Hippodrome, The Symphony Hall.

birmingham insp

Over the next couple blog posts I’ll show you some of the places I visited last week in and around Birmingham, including some retail and other places that caught my eye either new or redesigned. And maybe some places you haven’t heard about. Yes, I am slightly biased about Birmingham stepping up to reclaim its status more definitely, being it is where I was born and raised its natural…but I think it’s worth a look!


  • Mike
    9th March 2016 at 18:26

    ‘Grand Central’ was the original name for New Street Station back in the 1800’s, before New York’s was built.

    • admin
      13th March 2016 at 16:32

      Oh really?! I didn’t know that! Thanks Mike.


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