Blog Surfer

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

In the Footsteps of Phyllis...(Part 2)

The Grid Project featuring the photos of Phyllis Nicklin will run until the end of 2017 and if I can contribute half-a-dozen photos each month 'til then, I'll be happy.

This month I decided to venture into Handsworth as, at that stage, no-one else had selected any of the locations. I'm not sure why this was, perhaps none of the volunteers live in that part of town or maybe not many fancy going to a part of town with a 'dodgy' reputation. Nonetheless, I set off and this is what I found.

Although I'm showing this picture first, it was actually the last one I shot.

Phyllis Nicklin (1968) © The University of Birmingham
 This photo was taken on 8th March 1968 just a few weeks before Enoch Powell gave his infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham. Since then, there have been several Handsworth riots at least two of which have centred on the Villa Cross pub at the centre of the picture.

On my first visit to Handsworth to take photos I was unable to park nearby so I decided not to risk having to walk a significant distance with a fairly expensive camera in my hand! Someone taking part in this project has already been robbed of their camera equipment, so security is always of concern. I returned the next day and got a parking spot just a few yards from where I took this photo.
© Peter Allen (2017) for The Birmingham Photographic Grid Project 2017
The scene in 2017 is remarkably little changed, at first glance, from 1968 - more cars, more street lights and fewer shops as the far right hand side buildings are now residential. Along the left hand side a part of the row has obviously been demolished and replaced by a less tall construction. The Villa Cross is no longer a pub!

Cities like Birmingham are also full of amazing juxtapositions - if you bear left by the Villa Cross, then take the next left and then a right you will find yourself here...just a five minute walk away.
Phyllis Nicklin (1968) © The University of Birmingham

© Peter Allen (2017) for The Birmingham Photographic Grid Project 2017
Suddenly, you're in a beautiful, leafy suburb which is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Villa Road. The scene is pretty much unchanged from 1968, just a little more overgrown. The original road sign remains, just somewhat obscured, sadly.

Then it was on to Soho Road for the next three photos.
Phyllis Nicklin (1968) © The University of Birmingham

© Peter Allen (2017) for The Birmingham Photographic Grid Project 2017
Back in 1968 this was the Handsworth School Clinic on Soho Hill, but now it seems to be owned by a furnishers. The building seems to be reasonably intact apart from the loss of the feature in the centre of the roof!

Next I headed further out of town along Soho Road, first to the junction with Grove Lane.
Phyllis Nicklin (1968) © The University of Birmingham

© Peter Allen (2017) for The Birmingham Photographic Grid Project 2017
Nearly 40 years later and the scene is remarkably similar; albeit with fewer people crossing the road. The bank is still a bank, but no longer Birmingham Municipal Bank and the buses are a different colour!

When I selected by final Handsworth shot I was convinced, sitting at home, that I knew exactly where to find Handsworth Market. Further research showed up my error - it had closed down in 2003 and burned down around 2008!

As I was taking the picture above, I saw an older woman crossing the road and asked her where the market used to be. She told me that she'd been a regular visitor to it and pointed me in the right direction. It was closer than I'd originally thought.
Phyllis Nicklin (1968) © The University of Birmingham

© Peter Allen (2017) for The Birmingham Photographic Grid Project 2017
Now it has been replaced by a bright, shiny, new health centre but, amazingly, (and I didn't notice this till I was looking at the photos back at home) the black wooden gates to the right are unchanged!

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted only five photos so far. My sixth was a little nearer to home. I chose this one as it is the closest of all Phyllis Nicklin's photos to where I live.

Phyllis Nicklin (1968) © The University of Birmingham

© Peter Allen (2017) for The Birmingham Photographic Grid Project 2017
Back in 1968 the photo must have been taken from what was then Cadbury's wharf which is now a housing estate. I was expecting this to be an easier photo to capture, but I hadn't realised/noticed how many changes there have been to the buildings in Cadbury's factory.

1 comment: