Ghost Town

Birmingham was in the news last week as it entered Tier 4. There were reporters from national BBC standing at the top of New Street, in the shadow of Queen Victoria, telling us about the latest restrictions.

The thing that I noticed was how quiet New Street was with very few people walking around. I mentioned to my other half that I should experience the quiet city centre but had no real reason to visit.

Today, I had to nip into work in Digbeth so I decided to kill two birds with the one stone. I drove to Digbeth on the outskirts of the city centre, just down the road from work, and took my daily exercise with a walk, initially along the canal, into Birmingham city centre.

From the canal, I walked to Digbeth (the street) and onward to the market area and St. Martin’s church. I passed a pair of forlorn looking eScooters – the first I’ve seen. Apparently, they were introduced in Birmingham in September but as this was my first trip in Birmingham proper for many months I have a good excuse.

From St. Martin’s I made my way onto New Street which was very quiet even for a Sunday morning.

I walked from the Bull Ring up to Victoria Square seeing, perhaps, a dozen people. At the top end, I spotted the new (well new to me) tram lines allowing the Metro to run as far as the Library. Looking at the electronic signs at the Town Hall station, I saw that the next arrival would be within one minute so I waited for the tram.

A minute later, I heard the bell on the tram and was rewarded with my first sight of the new tram. The current stock will run on the ‘normal’ overhead power lines or, as on this section, on internal batteries.

A minute or so after hearing the tram bell, I heard the bells on the museum / town hall strike for nine o’clock.

I made my way along Colmore Row to St. Philips Church. St. Philips is the city’s cathedral and home to the bishop of Birmingham (although I don’t think that he actually lives here!).

I walked through the churchyard (or pigeon park as it is known locally), past the back of Rackhams and through The Minories to Corporation Street.

I walk on down, passed the law courts and into the Aston University campus noticing the signs for a walk-in Covid testing centre.

Walking towards the canal, I passed a sculpture of a pile of books with the inscription, “All the books I should have read – but I’ve been doing other things instead.”

From the uni, I descended onto the Digbeth Branch Canal walking through Ashted Tunnel (94 metres long) and Curzon Street tunnel (147 metres long) to arrive back at the banana warehouse junction.

A short walk from the junction brought me back to the car and the end of my overdue walk around Brum.