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Monday, 9 March 2009

Gazing down Smallbrook Queensway

Amy and me were having a coffee inside Caffè Nero in the New Bullring. "See down there? Those buildings with the long curve. They've a preservation order on them," "What?" "Well OK. Smallbrook Queensway was designed by a local architect James Roberts in the late fifties, opened 1960. I don't know if it's because I like Birmingham or I've got used to the Queensway, but I rather like this view. It holds together...there was a bomb that didn't go off down there, just the fuse, late night about seven or eight years ago. Richard was out clubbing. He might've..." "Hm - wasn't there an enormous subway down there by Hurst Street?" "Yes, you went there to be mugged. Then before they built the new Bullring they lowered the Queensway and removed the subway, leaving remaining underground space for the NCP." [Darren O'Donell sent this 1960 picture from flickr] "Don't talk to me about the NCP," said Amy "Security in their four centre car parks is such rubbish. They leave it to us and two cleaners, one with serious learning difficulties and the other's 86 - seriously 86! They have one cart and two brushes and a couple of litter pickers and they cover four car parks - no wonder there's so much trash - and as far as the CCTV's concerned they're only interested in the scene around their pay booths, not the customers' cars. Those two are OK though. They've been cleaning the four car parks - just those two - for ever. But I don't know when. They always seem to be in the office drinking cups of tea. Then NCP have the nerve to put up notices saying 'these car parks are patrolled by police.' They must be rolling in it, even with trade down 25% against this time last year...Hey look there's an open top Rolls Royce going in the car park." It had stopped at surface level and the driver was unfolding the soft top, keeping the car behind waiting. "It's because while it unfolds it goes up too high for the tunnel. Look at the number plate 'MR 51NGH'. That's worth as much as the car." "Yeah and the Rolls mascot - it's gold!" * * * A fellow Brummie flâneur - BB B - wrote to me via Flickr:
The Smallbrook Queensway curve is imho one of the best features of the city centre. I used to like the subway as well - it had a store, a large news kiosk and a second hand books and mags shop - so it was very well appointed. There were niches which i think had been behind illuminated advert panels which had become just like empty alcoves and these offered quarters for rough sleepers.

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Simon Baddeley