Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024

With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started at St Paul’s Square and finished at St Philip’s Cathedral. Along the way we could photograph interesting views of Birmingham. The walk went down Ludgate Hill, over the Pedestrian Bridge towards Church Street finally arriving at St Philip’s Square affectionately known by locals as Pigeon Park.  The call went out a week before on social media and on the evening a group of photographers assembled outside St Paul’s Church.  A list of some interesting places and buildings had already been circulated on our social media channels. Many of these suggestions were taken up by our band of photographers. I usually have my iPhone and my Fujifilm x100vi on any city walk. I just find these two cameras so useful to tell the story of the streets as they are easy to carry and use. They also take good pictures.

.
The walk started with lovely warm sunshine and St Paul’s Square looked good in the evening light.  As we moved down Ludgate Hill towards the Birmingham Canal, the sky clouded over but it did not stop us taking pictures of our favourite Brummie locations.   

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Steps on the canal

The canal passes underneath the BT tower. There is graffiti and concrete posts yet the canal locks blend in well with the surroundings. Further along, the pedestrian bridge is always a favourite photography location. The light was dimming so it was possible to practice a few long exposures of the traffic passing underneath.  

.
As we approached St Philip’s Square along Church Street, we could see the recently installed Big Wheel lit up against the late evening light.  Then came the rain. Just as we reached the square, the heavens opened and we got very wet.  Some of us were fortunate as we had brough a water proof coat or umbrella. Others were less lucky.  We first thought that this was going to be a miserable end to a good evening of photography.  After the initial heavy downpour, we saw that the rain had created reflections on the surrounding pavements. The Big Wheel was lit up in different colours, and the resulting images with the reflections gave a range of interesting effects.  Also people were walking past with umbrellas casting their shadows in the puddles. The picture opportunities were unending. After a while no one minded the rain or the fact that they were soaked through.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Part of the ramp from the bridge. Not the best part of Brum.

Those of us that were left behind after braving the rain finished our walk at the Wolf pub on Constitution hill. During our well deserved refreshments, the IgersbirminghamUK team planned our next adventure.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
The Wolf Pub

This are my own pictures from the @IgersbirminghamUK walk. If you want to see the pictures of all the other talented photographers that took part then follow the link #igbUK_meet_sq2park

The walk back from the Wolf pub to Snow Hill station was short but interesting and here is a set of five pictures showing how the light and reflections after the rain can create a wonderful range of colours.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Looking across the street at Old Snow Hill
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Warm lights on Water Street
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Under the arch
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Lights and reflections on Lionel Street
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Puddles at Snow Hill Station

If you have got down to here then there are other IgersbirminghamUK meetings to read about on my blog. Enjoy reading about our activities. The team at IgersbirminghamUK look forward to seeing you at one of their future meetings.

West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.

IgersbirminghamUK have been busy during the year organising a range of Instameets. Following on from our visit to St Chad’s Cathedral, we were contacted by Alexander Beard, the Heritage Officer of the West Midlands Police Museum. Alexander offered us two Instameets at the former Lock up in Steelhouse Lane thus giving the photographers of IgersbirminghamUK a chance to see inside a popular museum venue. Having visited the WMPM on a previous occasion, I decided to focus on the details of the prison. Here are different views of doors, ceilings and the metal structures. I converted all the pictures to black and white. This gave some consistency to the pictures but also overcame the difficulties with managing the low light in the lock up. The museum is a must visit attraction and can be seen at many different levels as my pictures attempt to show.

West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.
West Midlands Police Museum on Steelhouse Lane.
West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.
Patterns in the Lock up
West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.
A window in the lock up.

West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.
The DNA cupboard.

A full account in colour of my last visit to the WMP museum is included below. I also made a study of the light in the museum on my Instagram pages. The WMPM pages are also fun to visit.

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023

When the dental hospital was on St Chad’s Queensway, one of the places I was always walking past was the lock-up cells on Steelhouse lane.  The Police Station was active and the cells in the lockup were still being used till 2016.  There was always lots of activity around there with police vans and officers moving around sometimes in large numbers. Now the building has been renovated and reopened as the West Midlands Police Museum.  The entrance to the Children’s hospital is now the busiest place on the street and several of the buildings are being turned into Luxury flats.

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Coleridge passage and the side view of the Museum
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
One of the many passage ways inside the museum with the cells on the left.

Having seen several photographs of the inside of the building, this has been on my list of a place to visit for some time.  The opportunity arose when a group of friends organised a visit and I looked forward to exploring the inside of the building.  The museum is the former site of the West Midlands Police Lockups that were used to temporarily hold prisoners whilst they were being tried at the Law Courts next door.  The prison has a long and colourful history and many people from different backgrounds passed through the cell doors.  With the popularity of the Peaky Blinders BBC series, such sites have generated a high level of public interest.  In fact the term Peaky Blinders covers many of the gangs that roamed Victorian Birmingham in the 1890s.   Needless to say the museum features the Peaky Blinders in their displays and you can learn more about the gangs that roamed Birmingham which were kept in check by a robust police force.

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
The sparse contents of a cell.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
The medical cell
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
The cell door with viewing latch.

The museum covers three floors and when you enter the building you are immediately drawn to the metal walkways and the cell doors placed along the side of the building. There is a large skylight in the roof which allows the light to filter in all the way down to the lower levels. The play of the light on the whitewashed walls was fascinating and the metal railings and floor created interesting patterns that were immediately captured by my camera. I had brought my trusty Fujifilm x100v and it proved a useful camera in the tight areas of the prison. There were several favourite pictures which revolved around the cells. There were interesting stories everywhere including the toilets inside the cell with the cisterns outside so as to prevent prisoners self harming with the chains.

The passage way from the lockup to the Law courts was another favourite. I imagined how it must have been when it was in full use as a lockup. Overall I was really fascinated on how the light fell into the prison. Even though the place must have been a difficult place with the smells and the noise, there is also a warmth to the building. The museum features those brave police officers who were harmed whilst undertaking the “line of duty”. There are references to police animals and the highway patrol officers. The presence of a birching stool reminds you of how far we have come in society over a short space of time. In the talk that was given by Peter one of the volunteers, I learnt that the lockup had a matron who oversaw the domestic requirements of the prisoners such as medical care. There were plenty of stories to be told.

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
A police horse surveys the basement floor of the lockup.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Former police motorbikes take centre stage on the top floor.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
An old “Tardis” design police box on the upper floor of the lockup.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Recruitment to the force.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
The mugshots of previous inmates held in the Lockup
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Helen Taylor, the Museum manager with the background of the steel stairs and floors behind her.

The museum is managed by Helen Taylor and her informative staff, some of whom are former police officers who worked in the lock ups. The staff brought the museum to life and ensured that all questions were answered and made sure we enjoyed our visit. The pictures provide a glimpse into the museum and I know that evening tours are often arranged but for me the light coming into the prison at midday was fascinating. I will certainly revisit at a later date.

Here are some references to the prison including their website

The official site – West Midlands Police Museum.

BBC – Real Peaky Blinders’ cells on show at new Birmingham museum

I have also visited the Inveraray jail in Scotland which features in one of my recent blogs.
Weekend in Loch Lomond

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Light patterns on the white washed walls.