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Explore the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter



From the junction of New Street and Corporation Street (1), walk up Corporation Street (that's the one that goes uphill) (2) as far as the pelican crossing by Rackham's store. Turn left, go over the crossing and walk up to the top of Cherry Street (3).

A. The former head office of the Midland Bank, now Waterstone's bookshop

B. Italianate buildings by Yeoville Thomason

C. Corporation Street

D. Grade II listed buildings in Corporation Street, dating from 1880.

E. Cherry Street

F. The Carphone Warehouse building

G. Temple Row, St Philip's Cathedral


For public toilets, from the junction of New Street and Corporation Street, go down the steep slope alongside the taxi rank The toilets are at the bottom, on the left. The next public toilets are in Vyse Street (Walk 15), though there are plenty of pubs before that. 

In Cherry Street there are shops selling snacks and non-alcoholic drinks to eat in or take away.

(1) New Street

It is at least 600 years since New Street lived up to its name. By the time of Queen Elizabeth I it was built up from the High Street end (to the right) about as far as Cannon Street. But development proceeded quite slowly, so that even in the late eighteenth century there were still orchards above Temple Street.

Today it is a street of two halves. Due to redevelopment following the relocation of King Edward' s School to Edgbaston in the 1930s and World War 2 bomb damage, all the buildings in Lower New Street (to the right) are relatively recent. By contrast, Upper New Street (to the left) still retains the character of an elegant Victorian street. Tree-lined and pedestrianised, both halves make pleasant shopping streets.

There are over 70 listed buildings within five minutes' walk of Birmingham Cathedral, and one of them is right here. Waterstone's bookshop (photo A, Grade II listed) was built in 1867 - 69 in a classical style as the head office of the Midland Bank (that was back in the days before London had sucked all the wealth out of the provinces, and the two of the big four banks that were founded in Birmingham - Lloyds and the Midland - were still headquartered in the town). Much of the original interior detailing has been retained in the conversion, and with its galleries and domed, stained glass roof, this is a unique and lovely bookshop, well worth a look inside.

Though not listed, the Italianate buildings opposite Waterstone's (B), which are the first thing everyone sees when they come down the ramp from the station, are worth a brief mention. Built in the 1870s as the offices of the Birmingham Gazette, they were designed by H R Yeoville Thomason, one of the leading architects of Victorian Birmingham, whose work we shall be seeing more of. Like many of the city's Victorian buildings, in recent years they have been facaded (see right-hand panel). 

(2) Corporation Street

Prior to Joseph Chamberlain's term of office as mayor of Birmingham, there was no thoroughfare where Corporation Street now runs. Indeed, much of the area was covered by slums and one of the main objectives of Chamberlain's scheme for the construction of the street was to clear over 40 acres of dilapidated property in the heart of the city. The other main aim was to enhance the city's commercial centre.  Chamberlain conceived the idea of a new commercial street, 'as broad as a Parisian boulevard' (well, not quite, perhaps), and reckoned that the corporation could recoup almost all the cost of the improvement by the sale of building leases for plots bordering the street. Work began in 1878 and the section we shall be walking was opened in April 1879. But progress was slow; the financial success of the scheme remained in doubt as late as 1892, and it was not until 1903 that the whole of the mile-long street was finally completed. There were other problems, too - the Council lacked powers to build houses for households displaced by slum clearance, and consequently only 165 houses were built to replace the 653 that were demolished. Old photographs show that in its heyday Corporation Street was an impressive thoroughfare with some fine Victorian buildings. Whilst some of these remain, including the ones on the left as you walk from New Street to Cherry Street, a number of which are listed, many of the finest ones have been bombed, or torn down to make way for misguided traffic management schemes.  Fortunately some of the worst wrongs have been righted in recent years.

(3) Cherry Street

Cherry Street follows the line of a path that used to run from Temple Row to the High Street, through the cherry orchard that gives the street its name. The orchard was still there at the time the cathedral was built, in the early eighteenth century. 

The Carphone Warehouse building on the corner of Cannon Street (F), which was erected in 1881 - 2 and is Grade II listed, was one of Brum's first Arts & Crafts buildings. It was designed by the local architect Joseph Lancaster Ball. It is in a pleasing Queen Anne style with some nice details and, in keeping with the ideals of the Arts & Crafts movement, all the bricks and tiles used in its construction were hand made. 




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Joseph Chamberlain



Birmingham, Brummagem and Brum all mean the same, being alternative forms of the city's name. The 'official' form, Birmingham, is closer to the Anglo-Saxon original, which was rendered in the Domesday Book as Bermingeham, meaning 'the village of Beorma's people'. But Brummagem and its short form Brum have been around for a very long time and are popular with the city's people, who are known as Brummies.


This is a convenient term, used to describe the eminently sensible practice of  rebuilding to meet modern requirements, whilst retaining the character of a street, by demolishing all but the facade of a building and erecting a new building behind it.


Leave the station by the exits in the centre of the platform, go up to the next level and out through the defunct ticket barrier. Take the escalator opposite and turn left at the top. Keep on the same bearing, as far as you can, out of the building and down a ramp. The walk starts at the bottom of the ramp.

2001, 2006 Bob Miles