Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023

On a day that the government announced a review of the spending of HS2, I revisited my continuing project on the damage to 16 Acre wood near to Berkswell.  I first started taking pictures of this small wood in March 2021 and revisited the area in 2022.  The spiralling costs of HS2 have made the headlines and there is talk of scrapping parts of the line from Birmingham to Manchester. These pictures show that so much alteration of the land has taken place that reversal of the project would leave so much scarring. Keeping the project going is the lesser of the two evils.

Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
The change in the land by the HS2 works.
Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
This reminds me of the Diggersaurus children’s book.

The footpath in Berkswell skirts around the wood and you are fenced off so that you are not allowed to wander onto the working HS2 area.  This is understandable as there are large land moving equipment on the site and the signs are very explicit about trespassing.  The former farmer’s field now resembles an assault course with deep trenches and large mountains of soil.  The edges of the 16 acre wood look sad and tired following destruction of the trees at the edge of the wood.  The old pond still looks on over the fields although today the wind was strong and this meant there was little insect life showing on the water.  The new artificial pond created by the contractors is populated with reeds and rushes but again the signs and the barriers do make it look as if there is something special going on in the area.

Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
The old pond looks out at the upheaval taking place next door.
Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
Pathways through HS2.
Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
The flowers cover the paths.
Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
The battle between nature and progress.
Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
The new HS2 pond is struggling to impose itself. A few trees are needed.

I found this view of the wood back in 2011. The place looks so peaceful, blissfully unaware what would take place a decade later.

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2577877
Caged in by all the fences.
Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
The trucks take a Sunday rest.

As it was a Sunday, there was little activity so the large trucks and cranes were all quiet resting until the start of the week when they will begin again.  I took more pictures and the main changes were around the amount of earth that had been moved since I was last here. 

Sixteen Acre Wood, Berkswell, September, 2023
Detail of the old pond.

My next visit in 2024 will reveal what further progress has been made and whether they are any closer to completing the line.

The story of HS2 via BBC videos.

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.

I enjoy a photographic walk with my Fujifilm x100v camera around the streets of Birmingham.  The early hours are best when few people are around and about.  This series of photographs begins at Eastside where the HS2 works are taking place.  Digbeth was next and I returned to Birmingham along the canal exiting again near to the HS2 works.  

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Digging holes and barriers around HS2

What is there to tell you about my walk?  No surprises, as building in Birmingham has not finished and HS2 is still digging and putting up barriers.  I took a few pictures and was interested to see BBC midlands covering the HS2 disruption in the evening news.  Why is HS2 taking so long and why is there so much disruption?  I do get upset with the blasé way they are undertaking the HS2 works.  I am sure it will look wonderful when finished but is it worth the upheaval and time taken.    
The latest BBC item puts HS2 under the spotlight.

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Curson street station awaits a HS2 upgrade.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The empty Woodman pub awaits customers but when will they return?

Digbeth was quiet for a Monday morning and since the pandemic there is less footfall during business hours. The nightlife is always busy but there is a definite change in activity during the day.  My next observation is the encroachment of high rise living around Digbeth and the loss of character with the demolition and neglect of buildings.  

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Micheal Jackson on a furniture shop door.

There are several brownfield sites around the area that will become large skyscrapers.  Other signs of change include the former Typhoo tea building which is starting to see activity around the relocation of the BBC to the building.  Change may not always be positive and one of my pictures is outside what was the DigBrew entrance.  Sadly this excellent brewery has ceased trading and artwork from the street artist Tempo33 marks the spot.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-66199790
Don’t go there.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The former Typhoo building soon to become the BBC Midlands Headquaters.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-66199790
Don’t park here.

There is much chaotic colour around the streets of Digbeth and the morning sun brings out the light and shadows.  The canalside is another area in Digbeth that is changing with several buildings undergoing renovation.  How this change will progress will be interesting to document in future months. 

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
I’m late for an important date. (street art Tempo33)
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Colours stuck to a wall in Digbeth.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Cryola’s wonderful street art is still attracting attention.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Standing in Liverpool Street looking up Fazeley Street.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Birmingham Canal Navigation through Digbeth
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The details under the Great Barr Street bridge.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The Fox mural by Annatomix still impresses
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
View of the canal buildings with Birmingham in the background.

My final picture was taken on my iPhone as I went past the Selfridges building.  I went low and framed the iconic discs in the background.  I was in luck as a woman walked past although she was confused by what I was doing.  The picture turned out well but was also a reminder not to attract undue attention during my street photography.

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The Selfridges Crossing.

Returning to the HS2 theme then there are more stories about the construction on my blog.  I have been documenting 16 acre wood and the damage caused by HS2 around Balsall Common since 2020.  Here is my account of this part of the HS2.

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