One for us “Brummies” of a certain age! The 1976 booklet issued by the parish church of St.Martin’s that indeed had a presence on the site for seven centuries and, more remarkably given the best efforts of the Luftwaffe and Birmingham’s city planners in the post-war and later years, still does survey the city from its vantage point!
I rather like this period cover. Almost “ATV logo” in design – and that’s quite fitting – with the typeface (looking very much like Chisel) and that view of the church and the centrepiece of Birmingham’s post-war reconstruction, the Bull Ring Centre, behind. The new Bull Ring was located on one of the historic core sites of the city, the Bull Ring and the markets. The new shopping centre combined not only central area redevelopment on a grand scale but also an important link in the city’s Inner Ring Road plans – the design of City Architect Sir Herbert Manzoni who had an almost vice like grip on the look and feel of Birmingham in the mid-20th century, backed by a largely enthusiastic city council. The city chose the construction company John Laing’s design (working with architect James A. Roberts) and after demolition and clearances began in the 1950s amongst the bomb damaged sites, construction began in 1961 and the Centre, opened in phases, was finally declared complete in 1964 – an event I recall as a schoolchild.
Brave new city it was but – it didn’t stay that way. Within 20 years complaints about the Centre, its architecture and design and the associated road layout began to surface and after some debate and discussions about various schemes in 2000 demolition of this centre began to be completed in 2004 by a new urban ‘zone’. I have to say that I’m as under-whelmed by the architecture of the new as I was with then old, even allowing for nostalgia about the ‘brave new Birmingham’ we grew up with! Where is Telly Savalas and his paeans of praise to it when you need it?!