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Icknield Port Loop

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The Birmingham Canal at Eyre Street/ Icknield Port has become a wasteland a forlorn tribute to the hopes of British Waterways for redevelopment. There are faded signs looking for hopeful investors hoping to take on the former Bellis & Morcam and Docker Brothers former sites. Proposals for this area have ranged from the sensible to the bizzare. They included the building of houses and social features,and the burying of a 737 aircraft as an art feature.

 

In reality this is a very difficult site to develop as it is comprised of built up land that fills the valley and through it still runs the brook course at the valley bottom. The 100 odd years of industrial pollution from Chemical, Bedstead. Engineering and Varnish making would probably require the complete replacement of the soil down to the original bed of the valley and perhaps deeper.

 

So what is the future for this canal side eyesore?

 

Ray Shill

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It amazes me that trip boats run round this loop showing it off to tourists. Seldom could you find such a wasteland and probably it echoes of a Birmingham immediately post the Blitz. It WAS quite an interesting mix of industrial architecture illustrating many methods of building types from early reinforced concrete to conventional brick, the façade and windows of Bellis & Morcam were a plesaure to witness, now short of the CRT yard there is nothing.

 

Wll done BW / CRT you have created the most public appreciated eyesore in the West Midlands, it even trumps the wastelands of Wolverhampton.

 

Cover it with concrete and put static exhibits on show, like a CRT workboat, a Concorde, the APT (advanced passenger train) and other British Icons deemed to history. there could also be statues of other people associated with the wasteland, ie Robin Evans and all his good workers .....smile.png

Edited by Laurence Hogg

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That is true, there are the vans stored there and there are still a couple of heritage structures related to the refuse works. The only thing missing is a travellers encampment.

 

I do not think BW should take all the blame as they started a concept that might have worked. Can anybody enlighten me what HAVE CRT done in the Birmingham area apart from the cycle paths where the rogue cyclists dash past at high speed or the troglodytes rush out on their bikes to rob innocent passer by!

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CRT have worked hard with local schools and other volunteers to encourage them to tidy and look after lengths of towpaths. If enough locals appreciate the Canal environment then perhaps they'll stop using it as a dumping ground.

 

Edited to add: I thought this venture (http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/commercial-property/urban-splash-places-people-announced-10197174) was progressing.

Edited by Rob-M

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If the site is indeed as contaminated as Ray suggests I think the most realistic and likely future use for the site is for employment purposes - offices or warehouses.

That use does not require the land to be decontaminated to the same extent as a residential use is likely to.

Also there are a lot of former offices in the Five Ways area being converted to residential at the moment so the market for that is likely to be flooded (or at least well supplied) for the next few years without any more developments.

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Industrial development may well prove to be the best option.

 

As to contamination that must be assumed for all sorts of reasons, but six will suffice for the moment:

 

(1) The BCN brought spoil from various spots, including canal dredgings, to build up the land which gradually was infilled in the valley from Icknield Port up to the New Main Line embankment

(2) Bellis & Morcam made all forms of engineering plant and the working of metals would have resulted in some leaching of chemicals into the ground

(3) Docker Brothers, later PPG were Varnish Makers and their processes also resulted in chemicals leaching into the ground. Some of their later processes often used a complex mix of organic compounds

(4) McKechnie Metals had part of the site later occupied by Dockers, they recycled brass and worked in brass which again had potential for contamination

(5) Hulse had a bedstead works that also later became part of Dockers works. Bedstead making involved working with brass and iron

(6) The Salvage Depot before it started to burn rubbish, was a night soil reception point receiving human waste and all the other nasties that society produced at the time.

 

If I suspect correctly, engineers have already made a study of this area, which may explain the desolate spot it has become.

 

Ray Shill,

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Surely this was all well known when the outline plans were drawn up - otherwise nobody would have bothered to clear the site??

Or is there a hidden agenda?

 

We've cruised the are since 1975 - sad to see so much industry disappear; OTOH derelict factories and warehouses have given way to a much more pleasing and hopefully useful mix of business and residential use. we're not locals so can't say whether the changes are beneficial or not.

 

So please put me right - what's the issue?

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I don't think there is any hidden agenda - it's just that someone originally was very optimistic that Birmingham's canalside regeneration would quickly spread out to the Icknield Port area (following the developments around the Sherborne St loop). This simply hasn't happened. Sherborne St is quite close to the buzz of Broad St and Five Ways. By contrast, despite being just a few hundred yards further up the main line canal, the Icknield Port area is a much less desirable location.

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I read only recently that Urban Splash had been awarded a partnership with the council to redevelop the area. Was that old news of a false start?

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Yes, Urban Splash has become involved with the project, though not sure when this originally started, the development involving the Loop and adjacent streets began under BW. Despite the October 2015 announcement little appears to have been done, so far. If you check their website there is currently no mention of this project. There is a reference to the Cincinatti site near the Birmingham & Fazeley, which they have redeveloped though.

 

Regarding pollution by the way

 

(7) The canal dredgings for the 1990's clean up of Gas Street etc were brought by boat to the Bellis & Morcam site for despatch by road to the tip.

 

Birmingham Council have not a good success rate at present and their mistakes continue to mount, whether the new leader can turn the situation around can only be hoped for.

 

This area is known as Ladywood and there are many social issues plus a shed load of Asbo's against the local troglodytes. There can be no doubt that a new residential development would be a credit to the City, but the road to achieve this result may proved to be a winding one and, with good fortune, not one that promises to end in a cul-de-sac.

 

Ray Shill

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I read only recently that Urban Splash had been awarded a partnership with the council to redevelop the area. Was that old news of a false start?

I have a sneaking suspicion it is the old scheme re energised. Certainly when we had the last big festival in Birmingham in 2003 there were positive plans on the table then for I Port and the recent ones look the same. I have never heard of problems with contamination on the site and doubt such high profile partners would have gone as far as they have if there was. The sadness to me is that the iconic façade of Bellis & Morcom is lost, why they could not have incorporated some of it I have no idea. I wonder if the tramway rails on the towpath of the new main line will have survived? I remember the railway track that ran down Rotton Park St between the factories prior to demolition but never worked out what it connected to?

The big question is, would you want to live there? Its not as "on hand" as the other developed canalsides.

Cannot say the area has a lot going for it either as it borders the red light area and a visit to the BW yard after dark often found the entrance blocked with a parked car ..... wink.png

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I was involved peripherally in the mid-2000s first attempt at development, when Advantage West Midlands were part of the team. They sent the demolition teams in without any prior discussions or even any historic records made - their rationale being that if they consulted Bham Council they'd faff forever, so they just muscled in. I remember disappearing to the toilets for a little cry when I saw the demolition drawings, and taking the boat round quickly to photograph everything before it went

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The demolition of the buildings sadly removed other significant structures with an industrial heritage as well as Bellis & Morcam. I believe there is still a section of track under the vans, if it looked for, though

 

Direct action can lead to speedy re-development and such actions are the mark of the predatory developer who puts profit above anything else. Building on a contaminated site, as is building on flood plains, is a facet of such schemes. With the latter the next flood catches out the home owners, with the former the process is much longer but the result is the same. In that case the nasty substances eventually find their way to the surface, long after the home owners are settled.

 

Ray Shill

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The demolition of the buildings sadly removed other significant structures with an industrial heritage as well as Bellis & Morcam. I believe there is still a section of track under the vans, if it looked for, though

 

Direct action can lead to speedy re-development and such actions are the mark of the predatory developer who puts profit above anything else. Building on a contaminated site, as is building on flood plains, is a facet of such schemes. With the latter the next flood catches out the home owners, with the former the process is much longer but the result is the same. In that case the nasty substances eventually find their way to the surface, long after the home owners are settled.

 

Ray Shill

There is some track on the site where the vans are, I got in and had a look.

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I know this is an old thread but I thought i may try and revive it somewhat... 

 

I don't know how recently you've visited the loop but they seem to be successfully redeveloping it. It's on track to have over 1,000 homes!

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21 minutes ago, rush994 said:

I know this is an old thread but I thought i may try and revive it somewhat... 

 

I don't know how recently you've visited the loop but they seem to be successfully redeveloping it. It's on track to have over 1,000 homes!

Welcome aboard, Do they still have the fat boat down there?

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It was down there when I went round the loop in September plus lots of houses already being lived in.

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4 hours ago, Rob-M said:

It was down there when I went round the loop in September plus lots of houses already being lived in.

It's going once the job's done I believe. Hope so anyway - it's an aberration on the BCN:banned:(IMHO, of course!)

  • Greenie 1

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1 minute ago, Sea Dog said:

It's going once the job's done I believe. Hope so anyway - it's an aberration on the BCN:banned:(IMHO, of course!)

I wondered if it would become a Birmingham trip boat

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2 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

I wondered if it would become a Birmingham trip boat

Trips to where?  The Ikneild  Port loop was a magical trip, lots of history and the lovely CRT yard and old boats,  will people really want to go and look at yet another modern housing estate? 😀

 

.............Dave

  • Greenie 2

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11 minutes ago, dmr said:

Trips to where?  The Ikneild  Port loop was a magical trip, lots of history and the lovely CRT yard and old boats,  will people really want to go and look at yet another modern housing estate? 😀

 

.............Dave

When I last went round the old boats were still there as was the boat house and yard. Even for new houses and flats people will still go on boat trips around Birmingham

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9 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

When I last went round the old boats were still there as was the boat house and yard. Even for new houses and flats people will still go on boat trips around Birmingham

The workshops, crane, superintendent's office, covered dock and stables are all listed.  I always worry as I put a boat in the dock that I might clip the wall and it all come tumbling down.

 

I was told that Telford used the office.

 

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I have been looking at the development on the loop from time to time the building of the houses there as well as the economical amount of space given by the developers. They do not often talk about the remaining buildings, each of which has a history attached to it. There were a variety of industries placed along the loop, which is original 1769 vintage. The land in between the loop and the New Main Line was gradually built up over time with spoil and other things. There was a refuse depot there amongst the buildings and Docker Brothers made varnish. There seems to have been little attempt to clean up the land, it would seem and the possibility of contamination from previous industries is a possibility that Port Loop may have ignored. There is also the course of Edgbaston Brook which flows underground to meet up with Hockley Brook.

 

 

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