Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Jewellery Quarter (cont) and Hockley Port

Among my observations walking around the Jewellery Quarter was the large number of residents who were ethnically Indian.  Then I remembered gold plays an important part in Indian culture.  I was only reminded of this latter point when I walked past the office of the Indian Consulate in the Jewellery Quarter.  I’d already walked past a Sikh Temple and I then noticed the tulip shape of another temple further to the north.

P1010927However the building I found most interesting was this one which from a distance I thought might be a church.  It was the roof to the tower that made me curious.



The building is adjacent to Hockley Circus.  As I got closer it was apparent the building was not a church.  Walking around to the far side I found a large sign.


It’s a Hindu Temple.  Obviously it wasn’t built as a temple but searching on Bhagwan Valmik Ashram didn’t provide any information about the building history.  By then using the street name and school (a guess) I was able to find out it’s the former Icknield Street School.  Designed by J Chamberlain (that name again) of Birmingham in 1883 as a school for girls.  Chamberlain designed schools that were airy, plenty of natural light and beauty.  The interesting tower is above the central staircase and was designed to draw air up through the building.  It’s Grade II listed and on the “at risk” register.

From here I walked to Hockley Port which is a branch off the Soho Loop.  There are some 48 moorings here along with CRT boater facilities.  We actually used them last year.  This time my arrival was via the road which is actually a run down lane with derelict buildings on both sides.  Most of the moorings are residential and there is also a dry dock.


The port is mentioned in the history of the Jewellery Quarter.  Looking back you can see the derelict looking buildings.


There is a sign beside one of the doors.


I backtracked and found a footpath that would take me to the junction of the Hockley Port basin and the Soho Loop.


The junction looking north

I followed the very well maintained towpath to the north and happened to notice another interesting looking building across the park.


Another school?  Well I got that wrong!  The rapid increase in Birmingham’s population during the first half of the 19th century also resulted in a significant increase in the number of people with mental illness.The Birmingham Lunatic Asylum Committee approved the construction of an institution to house 300 pauper lunatics.  The result was All Saints Mental Asylum which was build in 1847 adjacent to Winson Green Gaol.

Walk along the towpath and you reach Asylum Bridge.


To the right of the towpath are the high walls of Birmingham Gaol (formerly Winson Green Gaol)


The towpath had one of those hump backed brick arch bridges adjacent to the prison wall and I could see what must have once been an arm to the canal had been filled in.


Whilst attempting to find more information about the canal’s connection to the prison I came upon this piece of information

“Winson Green Gaol was brought into use in 1849, and extended in the mid 1850s. The first governor was dismissed after complaints of lack of discipline within the prison. His replacement was imprisoned after a Home Office Commission confirmed complaints of brutality.”

Unfortunately the only information I could find mentioned a prison canal basin.

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