Photo By D J Norton

City Centre Inside Inner Ring Road

Note that you can click on any old picture to see a larger version

Navigation St

Navigation St 1952
Navigation St 2005
Not too much to say about the 1952 picture other than how relaxed the couple on the corner of Suffolk Street and Navigation Street look.  That's because there is no Suffolk Street Queensway overhead!  Also, observe the tram lines and cables.

On the left of the 2005 picture you can see the (in)famous New St Signal box which is now a grade II listed building!  On the right you can see the Orion Building under construction - yet another example of City Centre living for the 21st century.

Hill St

Hill St 1963
Hill St 2005
These pictures show nothing in common but the road layout.  Just beyond the bus in the 1963 photo, the building with the Ansells sign was the Golden Eagle pub.  This lasted well into the 1970's as my brother used to meet his girlfriend (now wife) there.  The church like building to the left of centre was Queens College Chambers.  The front of this building can still be seen in Paradise Street today and is very attractive.

Also on the 1963 picture you can see some cobblestones just behind the pedestrians on the right hand side of the picture.  My theory is that this is the entrance to Queens Drive and thus New St Station.

Stephenson Buildings

Stephenson Buildings 1961
Stephenson Buildings 2005
Here's a splendid survivor!  Actually, plenty did survive the redevelopment with Corporation Street and Colmore Row being good examples of how Birmingham would look today if things had been different.

With central heating installed I guess there was no need for Stephenson Building's fine chimneys - just something else to maintain but it does look somehow less impressive for their loss.  Note that many of the buildings in the background of the 1961 picture have been replaced in 2005.

Stephenson Place

Stephenson Place 1962
Stephenson Place 2005
This picture depressed me.  Just look at the magnificent building on the right in 1962!  It was the Birmingham Exchange, opened in 1865 primarily as a commodity exchange for iron and steel.  And what do we have in its place in 2005?  The concrete ramp to the Pallasades shopping centre.

Colmore Row Nr Council House

Colmore Row Nr Council House 1961
Colmore Row Nr Council House 2005
As I mentioned above, Colmore Row is part of the city that has kept much of it's character.  Away from the ring road and the main shopping area of the city it was safe from the bulldozers.  Well, as you can see - almost safe.  Actually the buildings on the right of the 1962 picture were demolished so that Victoria Square could be extended.  It's now a meeting place for Birmingham's citizens and provides a good, clear view of the superb, Victorian Council House.

Colmore Row Nr Newhall St

Colmore Row Nr Newhall St 1962
Colmore Row Nr Newhall St 2005
Again, another indication that Colmore Row was left alone during the redevelopment of the 1960's.  What's most striking about the 1962 picture is the road sign on the right hand side.  5 'A' roads of traffic going down Colmore Row!  I suspect traffic for the A41 and A34 would have then gone all the way down New Street before heading down High Street, Bull Ring and Digbeth.  Traffic for the A38 and A456 would have gone up Congreve Street which can be seen on the Inner Ring Road North page.

In the 2005 picture, Birmingham's historic Town Hall (opened in 1834) is undergoing long overdue repairs and refurbishment.  It was closed in 1996 due to health and safety reasons.  It can be seen shrouded in plastic as the works continue.

Dale End / Bull St / High St

Dale End High St Bull St 1962
Bull St Dale End High St 2005
This picture blew me away.  When I read the note on the back I still couldn't relate it to the city I knew.  Dale End, Bull St and High St are not the nicest part of the city centre today but in 1962 it looks amazing.  Shops and streets full of character - just look at the curved frontage of the Preedy's shop in the centre of the picture!  As mentioned on the Inner Ring Road Central page, Dale End is now, in my view, the ugly backwater of the city centre.

The building on the left of both pictures proves that really is the same place, however hard to believe that may be...

High St / Carrs Lane

High St Carrs Lane 1953
High St Carrs Lane 2005
The city may change but the shops don't seem to.  In 1953 you can see both Dorothy Perkins and Marks and Spencers.  In 2005 both shops can still be seen but in different locations.  What happened to Jays and Allans though, I would not like to speculate.

Interesting to see that a pedestrian crossing has existed at the junction of Carrs Lane and High Street for over 50 years at least.  I would say you'll never see a tram coming out of Carrs Lane again but with the proposed introduction of a second Midland Metro route along Broad Street - who knows what the future may bring?