Entertainment Heritage Walk
I’ve lost count of how many ‘heritage walks’ I’ve now completed with the knowledgeable and witty Mr Ian Braisby but all have been enlightening and entertaining. The latest, on a sunny Sunday afternoon is to learn about Birmingham’s entertainment heritage.
Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Slade seemed to have played everywhere but we discover the old home of Snackerie. This is where bands in the 60s bands consumed their pre and post gig unhealthy snacks and generally gossiped about evil promoters I suspect. Evidently a good place to pick up extra last minute gig bookings too!
I learn about Edward Fewtrell, ‘Mr Clubland’ from my earliest memories of my first time in Birmingham. I certainly recall a visit or two to Edwards bar around that time and the reputation Mr Fewtrell had. It’s interesting to hear of the story about an early Texas gig when they played at an Edwards club with a backdrop of a water leak! More so, I didn’t realise Edwards venues went back as far as the 1970s and that where Gala bingo behind New Street station is, was an upmarket cabaret style venue that hosted Tom Jones. Apparently it didn’t work in the early 1970s but with Ronnie Scott’s long gone, I’d love something like that in the city now.
On the theatre side Birmingham’s Theatre Royal on New Street (where Boots is now) is long gone but the gorgeous Hippodrome is flourishing and we learn of Laurence Olivier’s earliest performances at the still standing (old) Birmingham Rep.
We all know the history of the scrumptious once again, Electric being the oldest working cinema in the UK but did you know that the Cannon, formerly the Futurist around the corner was the first to have ‘talkies’? And that where Piccadilly Arcade is now was the Picture House and there was also the ABC cinema on New Street?
Crossroads is well known to have been filmed in Birmingham and we learn there was a famous wedding scene filmed at Birmingham cathedral that not only stopped traffic but received 22 million viewers – beat that x-Craptor! Later, TisWas was filmed in Birmingham launching the mainstream careers of Chris Tarrant (but why does he have a Broad Street star?!) and the eternally brilliant Lenny Henry. I learn my favourite building in Birmingham, the Alpha Tower at the edge of Broad Street was built for ATV, before it became Central Television. Nowadays all TV talk is of the Hustle being filmed on my doorstep whilst pretending it’s in London.
Discovering Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show came to New Street is indeed mind blowing but it’s two hours and towards the end of the tour when we get to Duran Duran, the reason for my coming to Brum in the first place. They are mentioned of course when we get to Broad Street, home of the Rum Runner Club where they first rehearsed and were subsequently managed by the owners.
Incidentally, the same place also hosted Dexy’s Midnight Runners and UB40 in the early years.
Who knew? There is so much more, book in on a tour here
For more information www.midlandsdiscoverytours.co.uk or chat on Twitter @ianbraisby or follow @MidsDiscovery