Photo By D J Norton

The New Birmingham c. 1964

Project 15

Bull Ring
1964 Status
2014 Status
Bull Ring Shopping Centre

It's hard to do justice to the dramatic impact that the Bull Ring Centre had on Birmingham in a few, short paragraphs.  If you have 25 mins to spare, I highly recommend that you view this You Tube video.  If anything captures the vision that was behind the Bull Ring Centre better than this, I'll be surprised.

The project took 29 months to complete and was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh on 29 May 1964.  Styled on the shopping centres and malls of America and Canada, it really was a trail-blazing design for the UK.  Again, the services of James A. Roberts architects were used, and builders, Laing's, did much of the work.

The grand vision of the future wasn't a great success.  As a young boy, I recall that the Bull Ring was already starting to look tatty and dated as little as 10 years after opening.  By the 1980's, serious plans to redevelop the site started to appear.  But it was 2000 when work finally started, and few will argue that the old Bull Ring Centre wasn't long past its best by then.  But, for people of my age, there is now a real sense of nostalgia for the old place.  For us, it is our 'Old Brum' just as the long demolished street and stores of the 1950's are for the older generation.  Personally, I have little time for the new Bullring (note the subtle, marketing led change from Bull Ring to Bullring).  I miss the great big Woolworths, the open air market stalls, and eating fish and chips from the Jolly Fryer sat by Nelson.

Bull Ring, July 1958

Bull Ring before work started, July 1958.  Photo by D. J. Norton.

Bull Ring, mid-1961

Road system in place, but project not started, c. mid-1961.  Picture from the Geoff Thompson Archive.

Proposal for Bull Ring, early 1960s

Artist's impression from the early 1960s.  Picture from the Geoff Thompson Archive.

Bull Ring, late 1962

Work progressing well, c. late 1962.  Photo from the Steve Gosling Archive.

Bull Ring, mid-1963

Further progress by c. mid 1963.  Old Market Hall still in place.  Photo from the Steve Gosling Archive.

Bull Ring, c. 1971

Bull Ring Centre, c. 1971.  Picture from the Geoff Thompson Archive.

Bull Ring being demolished

Thirty years later, the site seen above being demolished, c. March 2001

Bullring, June 2014

Western side of Bullring, June 2014

Bullring, June 2014

Eastern side of Bullring, June 2014

Remaing part of original Bull Ring, June 2014

The only remaining part of the original Bull Ring Centre, June 2014