Birmingham gets a fair bit of negative press from outsiders or people who haven’t visited the city. I’ll happily fight it’s corner, though, as I love the city and think it’s such a great place to live, work and study.
This amusing Buzzfeed article goes some way to pointing out a few of Birmingham’s wonderful features, but I’m always on the look out for new and interesting things to do and see in the city.
For the month of June, Hidden Spaces (a project by Associated Architects in association with the Birmingham Post) opened up a number of old buildings around the city for a behind the scenes look.
A few weeks back, I popped in to the lost cinema exhibition at Piccadilly Arcade on my lunch break. It was interesting to see the space under the Arcade and the displays showed images of the various cinemas seen in Birmingham over the years.
Last weekend, I got a chance to visit the old Municipal Bank on Broad Street. I have passed this building hundreds of times, and many UCB students will have done so as well on the walk from The Maltings to the university buildings. I never knew what it was, though.
Birmingham Municipal Bank was first set up as a savings bank after World War I and as it grew, a new head office was built on Broad Street and officially opened by Prince George (the future King) in 1933.
The main hall used to house a 100ft U-shaped counter, but is now just a big empty space. I loved the clock hanging from the ceiling, almost unnoticed, and the sayings embossed around the ceiling.
The exhibition had lots of photos and information about the bank and about other buildings around the city centre. A lot of these displays were in the little offices which ran along the sides of the building, on either side of the main banking hall.
The boxes came in four different sizes (although all of them are 19 inches deep) and each one had a double lock needing two different keys. The keys were kept in small envelopes in a cupboard of drawers in the vault.
The Municipal Bank became a Trustee Savings Bank in 1976, becoming part of Lloyds TSB when it was privatised in 1995. The branch was then closed in 1998, remaining pretty much unused since then. I loved being able to see inside this building and wish I’d have been able to attend more of the Hidden Spaces events.
It’s so great that there are groups of Brummies and supporters of Birmingham keen to show off our city in such a way – check out Love Brum too for the great things they do. Birmingham really has so much to offer and you’ll always be able to find exhibitions, events and attractions at any time of the year.