HS2 will take investment out of region
Dear Editor, Once again we see more stories about the failings of the HS2 scheme. Now the National Audit office says that the economic benefits of the scheme are unclear, and the project has a £3.3 billion shortfall.
I have steadily campaigned in the West Midlands to raise my objections to HS2. It is an expensive white elephant.
As well as economic impact, HS2 threatens miles of green belt line and will see disruption for those living along the proposed route. Much of this green belt disruption is here in the West Midlands.
Upgrading the existing Euston to Birmingham International Rail Line would reduce travel times to 50 minutes and allow alternate stopping and flexible local services to be integrated into a faster service.
What isn’t mentioned much is the real concern that HS2 would lead to economic decline in intervening towns and cities. In fact the project would almost certainly end up as a vacuum, sucking investment away from the West Midlands.
There is a real danger of Birmingham becoming a subsidiary of London if the HS2 project goes ahead. The money would be better spent on further regeneration within the Midlands.
Nikki Sinclaire MEP
High time we had a striking city landmark to be proud of
Dear Editor, Suggestions for a significant Birmingham landmark have ranged from an anchor to an arch. However any such representation of the city or region has to be just right, or better not at all.
Many of the world’s great city landmarks owe much to their dramatic natural setting, for example the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro with its mountain setting, or the Statue of Liberty with New York skyline in the background. Or even Sydney Opera House projecting into the harbour with the great bridge nearby.
However there are successful city landmarks which do not benefit from dramatic settings but they have certain characteristics in common. Our city ought to pay heed to these.
Examples of these are The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Gateway to the West arch in St Louis, The Pyramids in Cairo and the Leaning Tower in Pisa.
The characteristics which they have in common are height; they are each tall in relation to their surroundings, simplicity of form – they are each based on simple geometric forms such as the cone, the pyramid, the arch or the cylinder and finally, situation – they each occupy a large open space so that their magnificence can be experienced at close hand as well as viewed from afar. It is also desirable that they relate to the history or activity of the area.
Birmingham’s manufacturing tradition is the obvious source for inspiration.
The simple dip pen nib which was first mass produced in Birmingham is an example of a structural form related to the cylinder that would lend itself to a structure of character. It would be original as a landmark.
Commencing as a massive cylinder at ground level, perhaps embellished with the names of famous Birmingham inventors, it would rise as a half cylinder and at height incorporate a vertical slot before tapering to the nib point pointing into the sky.
There may well be other suitable but robust forms to be found within Birmingham’s industrial tradition.
A competition open to joint sculptor and engineer design teams based on the criteria listed above, should yield a solution of which we could be truly proud.
Ernest Irwin, Selly Park
Can you help my quest to find Pre-Raphaelite art?
Dear Editor, I was interested in the Birmingham Post article on bringing Pre-Raphaelite art works back to their home town, with the National Trust offering to buy four sketches by Philip Webb for display at Wightwick Manor.
I have also been tasked by the granddaughter of Henry Baldwin (at one time of 44 Hillfield Road, Sparkhill), who was a Pre-Raphaelite, with locating any of his paintings and drawings many of which were last seen before the Second World War in the front room of a house that was bombed.
Her name is Maggie Clarke, and she was an art lecturer for many years in Worcester and Birmingham.
Her parents were Gerty and Alf Matthews who were stall holders in Birmingham Market until 1931, when Mr. Matthews won a high stake on the Grand National and retired! If any of your readers know of the existence of these artworks I would be grateful, as they would make a very suitable collection for the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. A small reward will be forthcoming!
Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Weoley Ward)
No national split, please
Dear Editor, Britain has been a single united country for over 300 years, with an integrated industrial economy, unified transport and communications systems, united services, including a single National, Health Service, a single political system, a common language, and united trade unions.
The break-up of Britain would split our united country on national lines, so it was good to see that this year’s Scottish TUC rejected a motion calling on it to back the Yes to break-up campaign,
Will Podmore, London
Preserve this green land
Dear Editor, With reference to Councillor Alden’s letter (Post, May 9) it is interesting that he mentioned all facets of development and planning working together to create long term benefits for the city.
I live on the edge of Harborne and Quinton, near to the Martineau Centre, whose extensive land was sold off by the previous council. The whole area is a pleasant area but with no community facility. The Martineau buildings are under threat of demolition for the construction of housing. Whilst I acknowledge the need for housing I also recognise that there is extensive green land within this site, and once lost will never be recovered.
Many schools in the area have no playing fields – in the past they have used these facilities.
I suggest, as does A. Levitt, that the council looks to existing buildings for accommodation.
Dad’s pal solved Stewponey name riddle
Dear Editor, I enjoyed Chris Upton’s feature on the Stewponey pub (Post Life, May 16), and it brought many memories.
My dad, Simpson the Decorator of Halesowen, seemed to be the preferred painter and decorator of Banks’s Brewery.
Accordingly, he got to decorate the Stewponey several times, a mammoth job as it had more rooms than you could shake a stick at.
One of dad’s chums was Fred Phillips, landlord of The Victoria pub which stood – now demolished to make way for apartments – off the Old Hill junction of the roads that led to Blackheath, Halesowen, Dudley and Cradley Heath. Fred was the landlord responsible for the fame – or legend – of Joe Mallin, the Springheeled Jack who famously leapt over the bar of The Victoria, with a standing jump, bounced off a crate of eggs without cracking one, and landed four square on the taproom floor.
Talk had it that on occasion he could be persuaded with a tempting wager, of course, to substitute his prone daughters face for the crate of eggs. Dad swore that this was true, and his memory was better not to be challenged.
Dad also played fives and threes dominoes and also darts for the Vic team, so he became a bosom buddy of Fred.
Then Fred was promoted and became the Landlord of the Stewponey, a position of which he was inordinately proud. So much so, that he assiduously researched the origins of the name Stewponey, becoming so obsessed that for a few months it dominated his every waking hour.
The original Stewponey, named the Foly Arms, belonged to a rich industrialist, who, as was the fashion at the time, encouraged his eldest son to take The Grand Tour of Europe before settling down to a life in the industrial heartland of the Black Country.
Initially, the tour was not particularly eventful, until he got to Andalucia in Spain, fetching up in the fishing village of Estepona sited between Marbella and Manilva on the old road to Gibraltar.
There he met, fell in love with, and married a beautiful Esteponan girl, bringing her back from the paradise of Andalucia to a life of grime in Stourton.
Unsurprisingly, the Spanish beauty was something of a hit in downtown Stourton, and probably as far afield as Dudley, Old Hill, Wolverhampton and even The Lye.
So the pub name became The Lady From Estepona, which over the years was shortened to Estepona and distorted into Stewponey.
I have no doubts about the origins of the Stewponey name, having heard it so many times from my dad and from Fred Phillips.
Jim Simpson, Big Bear Music