Photo By D J Norton

Inner Ring Road South

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

Holloway Head Towards City

Holloway Head Towards City 1958
Holloway Head Towards City 2005
This is a truly stunning picture as it illustrates the destruction required to create the Inner Ring Road most clearly.  Smallbrook Street has been razed to the ground and is gone forever.  A huge area of the city is undergoing developement.

In the 1958 picture you can see the Scala Cinema to the right.  You can also just about see the top of St Martin's sprire.  In 2005, Scala House sits in place of the old cinema and the massive Beetham Tower takes shape on the left hand side of the picture.

There is a great video on YouTube showing the redevelopment in this area as it was happening in 1958.

Ringway Centre

Ringway Centre 1959
Ringway Centre 2005
With Smallbrook Street demolished, work started in earnest on this area of redevelopment.  It's clear from the 1959 picture that the most complex part of the construction work was carried out first.  I was surprised that they managed to keep traffic flowing between Hurst Street and Hill Street at this time but the bus clearly shows that it was.

Over 45 years later the Smallbrook Queensway buildings still capture that sense of modernity that city planners were so keen to bring to Birmingham.

Hurst St from Inner Ring Road

Hurst Street from Inner Ring Road 1959
Hurst Street from Inner Ring Road 2005
With the development of Smallbrook Queensway well advanced by 1959, there is a fair amount of similarity between these two pictures.  The obvious difference is the famous Hippodrome tower being sadly missing in 2005.  An earlier picture from 1957 provides an interesting contrast.

One positive is that a group of back-to-back houses near the Hippodrome survived Birmingham's makeover and have been restored by the National Trust.  Well worth seeing!

Smallbrook Queensway

Smallbrook Queensway 1962
Smallbrook Queensway 2005
The south of the Ring Road was the first part to be developed so the difference between 1962 and 2005 is much less pronounced than most of the other pictures.

The building on the far right is Norfolk House.  See the Dudley Street photo for another reference to this building.

The Albany Hotel looks fresh and modern in 1962.  In 2005 renamed the Holiday Inn, it's showing its age.

Sadly, there is no picture of Smallbrook Street, the street demolished to make way for Smallbrook Queensway.

Dudley St

Dudley St 1959
Dudley St 2005
Smallbrook Queensway was the first part of the Inner Ring Road development and, in 1959, we can see the bridge being constructed to carry it over the old road network.

The sign to the right of the old picture announces that Bryant are to construct Norfolk House which can be seen in place in 2005.  A view of this building can also be seen in the Smallbrook Queensway picture above.

There is an amazing, personal story about this picture!  See the bottom of this page if you are interested.

New St Stn Ringway Entrance

New St Station Ringway Entrance 1962
New St Station Ringway Entrance 2005
The common point in these pictures is the back of the Odeon Cinema that is located in New Street.  However, there are couple of modern (in 1962...) buildings that are still visible today - the one behind the Odeon and the tall building on the right hand side.

Whether this stretch of road was still known as Worcester Street in 1962 is unknown but my father's reference to Ringway suggests not.  A remnant of Worcester Street remains in the form a small access road at the back of New Street.

Bull Ring From "Royal George"

Bull Ring from "Royal George" 1958
Bull Ring from Royal George 2005
The main feature of the 1958 picture is the old Bull Ring Market Hall.  Having  lost its roof to a fire, it saw out its days with an open top.  Another picture  provides a close up view in which you can see Nelson's statue, a feature of the Bull Ring even today.  I was pleased to find "The Royal George" still there but sadly closed down and up for sale.

This is the area of the city that has undergone most change since the 1958 picture  was taken.  Two complete rebuilds!  1964 saw the opening of the Bull Ring Shopping  Centre while 2003 saw that replaced by the Bullring (notice the subtle name change).

My vivid memory is of a very tired and tatty Bull Ring that I visited many times  from the mid 70's until the early 90's.  After moving out of Birmingham there  really was no reason to go there - it was horrible.  This website features some  good pictures to remind us how bad it was.

What is missing from the new Bullring is a sense of liveliness and reality that  could be found in the old outdoor market.  It may have been a dive but you'll  never encounter the kind of real characters that could be found there in the  pristine temple of shopping that now occupies the site.  For the first time there  is no market in the Bull Ring.  Sad.  But EVERYTHING else is much better, I can  assure you!

The Story of the Dudley St Picture

This is the incredible story related to the picture of Dudley Steet from 1959.

On Sunday 26 June 2005 I visited Birmingham with my wife for a combination of shopping and taking the last, few photo's for this site.  To ensure that my modern photo's were taken from exactly the right locations I had the originals with me in a small photo album.  Unfortunately, the 5.5in x3.5in prints were loose (modern prints are 6in x4in).  I was very careful not to lose any but taking the picture of Hurst Street had me dodging traffic while looking at the old picture and using my camera!  I dropped one but was lucky enough to realise and rescued it.  It only had minor damage.

When I got home (which is about 15 miles from the City Centre) I was devastated when I found that one of the old pictures was missing.  I must have dropped it when I dropped the other one.  I hadn't scanned it so the image was lost forever.

I work in the City Centre and my bus drops me in Smallbrook Queensway.  When I arrived on Monday morning I had to have a look around.  I expected to find nothing or a severely mangled picture.  Instead, on the bench where my wife had sat while I photographed Hurst Street was the photo, face down.

Had I dropped it there?  No - it had clearly been run over by cars a few times.  Someone must have seen what had happened, picked up the picture and left it where they thought we might find it.  It had stayed there from 3:30pm on Sunday until 8:00am Monday.  I cannot express the feelings I had at the moment I picked up the photo from the bench.  To the person who placed it there - my gratitude cannot be understated.