Thursday 8 February 2024

Off To Unuversity (4)

Where Is The Gate At West Gate?

Currently the West Gate of Birmingham University is about as unimpressive as a gate can be.
The "gate" itself is very modern ...
... although fbb guesses that the original gate was here ...
... where a very scary statue stands guard - actually sits guard - as terrified students creep warily by. 

As you all immediately recognise, it is Michael Faraday (1791 to 1867) who, as we all know, invented electricity. He was feeling a bit better than the statue implies when his portrait below was done!
The likeness is truly remarkable ...
... although he was having a few digestion problems during his later sittings!

Perceiving The Peculiar Pipe!
This Google Earth aerial view makes it clear that the route through or to the West Gate once went straight on, over the railway bridge and past where the dented Michael Faraday now sits. The sharp left via the level crossing type barriers is likely to .be more modern than the old way in.

fbb can find no pictures of any ancient west gate shaped like a gate.

But there, south of the bridge is that mysterious pipe ...
... too big to be just a pipe and too small to take perambulating personages for whatever reason.

fbb's appeal for help in Tuesday's blog came from correspondent Peter, who is a bit of a canal enthusiast. He refers to the watery route between Worcester and Birmingham.
Its a lovely canal to travel on, apart from Wast Hill tunnel and the 58 locks between the two cities! 

Just a picture of few locks is provided here to tempt any possible canalised navigator!
Great fun to potter along at 4 mph waving at the trains between Bournville and Birmingham.

If you zoom in on Google maps, the canal bridge number is 81A and using opencanalmap, bridge 81A is shown as a steam bridge between the University and the hospital.
Note:- the other side of the bridge support has the railway bridge number (Birmingham and Gloucester 81A) and the mileage as 44m 1590 yards (from Derby ???). 

You can just spot the oval plate on the stainless steel pier.
Additionally, a google search on 'University of Birmingham Steam Bridge' found the architects who are rather proud of it and there is far more information than we will ever need on their website!

Here fbb provides an expurgated extract from that web site.

The newly completed steam bridge is a key component of a forward-looking major programme to refurbish and extend the University of Birmingham’s combined heat and power (CHP) network. MJP Architects have designed the curved 2k finished, laser cut, Grade 316 stainless cladding for a very long service life with zero cleaning and maintenance.
Liz Pride, MJP’s Director of Education and the University’s Development Plan Architect says,

“It’s in a very prominent location at the West Gate entrance to the University’s campus and opposite the former entrance to University Station. It’s also quite a feature seen from the canal below. 
The elegant design of the cladding makes an inherently utilitarian feature interesting and attractive: it highlights the University’s real commitment to CHP and carbon reduction.”

It still looks a bit weird!
And if you were wondering what a CHP looks like in daylight ...
... this is the Combined Heat and Power unit that pumps the Steam over the Bridge over the canal and over the railway. It is a bit bigger than the CHP at fbb mansions!

What Buses Go To West Gate?
It's complicated; far more complicated than trams and buses along the Bristol Road and stopping at the South Gate.

Remember that 1959 Corporation bus map?
The only bus back then that called at West Gate (opposite the Queen Elizabeth Hospital) is route 2. It ran to Selly Oak then wiggled across the Bristol Road (map below, upper left) ...
... then across the Pershore Road and terminated at Kings Heath. 

Route number 76 ...
... does something similar between University station and Kings Heath today ...
... but extends significantly further at both ends, from Weoley Castle and to Solihull.
But the 76 touches upon two complications to challenge us with today's buses at West Gate and University station.

They are the ruinous Weoley Castle ...
... and the Womens' Hospital.
Both will feature in tomorrow's blog.

 Next University blog : Friday 9th February 
For Your Information
Today's blog was pre-written (apart from the bits below) on Tuesday to avoid fatigue as a result of yesterday's necessitous excursion.

fbb had a length appointment at Exeter Hospital in connection with his ARMD (look it ip) a k a "Macular". The upshot is that there has been no deterioration in he eyes since the previous and, for the time being, the final injection. The next appointment is due in June when things will be reviewed.

Bearing in mind the fact the Macular deterioration cannot be "cured" it can only be slowed or, in rarer cases, halted, fbb is happy with the current situation.

Other options for "management" of the condition are being explored.
And So To Exeter
By fbb limo to Newton Poppleford where be free parking ...
... and a short stagger to church and bus stop. The bus stops en route have all been tidied/cleaned/replaced BUT ...
... the lads at Devon County don't seem to know their bus routes. the fbbs caught the 9A which, together with the 9, provides a 30 minute Monday to Saturday frequency. The 9A is omitted from the flag, and, as far as fbb could tell, from all the re-fettled flags along the route.

The 9A does stop there as it was one such that the fbbs caught, to alight at Sowton Park and Ride ...
... whence they did not have to park but rode (£1.50 each return) happily to the hospital.
The bus from Newton Poppleford was luxurious ...
... but adorned in the Stagecoach Motorway Maintenance livery.
YN65 XDT ... 
... previously carried Gold branding and livery for the 57, (Exeter, Exmouth, Brixington) ...
... which, after a big launch and a modest but pleasant lunch (attended by fbb) soon lost its Gold livery and gold frequency!

fbb suspected it was an ex-Gold bus as there was a bit of a clue with the internal decoration.
It is all a lot less hassle and a lot less cost than parking at the hospital.

 Next University blog : Friday 9th February 

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