Invisible Birmingham

Historian Ben Waddington is leading a Brum walking tour of sights and buildings inspired by his article ‘Invisible Architecture’ from Issue One of Dirty Bristow magazine. It’s based on the differences in what you see when you look up, rather than down.

He says in his piece:

“Take a walk down New Street. The challenge is to get where you need to be without being waylaid by market researchers, religious groups, animal rights zealots, charity collectors in pincer formation, personality testers, Big Issue sellers on their last copy, or the unlucky folk needing just 20p towards their train fare.

Even if you successfully run this gauntlet, you are never out of the magnetic field of every shop window display, carefully arranged to take your attention and unfold your money. One direction you cannot afford to look is upward.

Photo by Gordon Eightball.

The impression is that it is a modern arrangement of concrete blocks put up in the sixties at the expense of Victorian splendour. The reality is very different: certainly there are some recent buildings but above the ground floor is mostly rich Victorian brickwork, colourful faience, terracotta, sculpture and ornate ironwork.

It is interesting to watch the design of buildings around Birmingham, and indeed most UK cities, altering through time to reflect the level people are looking at. The focus of branding descends the building throughout the twentieth century like an elevator.”

The guided tour exploring some of these themes sets off from Queens Corner, Birmingham at noon on Saturday 25th September 2010.

It costs £5 to be put towards Dirty Bristow Issue Two.

Drop Ben a line for more details (

Disclosure: I’m one of the editors of Dirty Bristow.