The Bull Ring is a major commercial area of central Birmingham. It has been an important feature of Birmingham since the Middle Ages, when its market was first held. Two shopping centres have been built in the area; in the 1960s, and then in 2003; the latter is styled as one word, Bullring. The current shopping centre was the busiest in the United Kingdom in 2004 with 36.5 million visitors. It houses one of only four Selfridges department store. Bullring and Grand Central dominate Birmingham City Centre and as luck would have it our hotel is right across the street. The large Bronze Hereford Bull is grand.
Sculptor Laurence Broderick’s 6 tonne bronze bull stands as a 2.2m high symbol of Bullring’s importance to Birmingham. The twice life size sculpture – which takes the form of a massive bull turning in motion – greets visitors as they enter the main gateway to Bullring, just off Rotunda Square. Commissioned to herald Birmingham’s regeneration, and to represent its history, the Bull has been adopted by the people of Birmingham as a 21st-Century mascot. One of the largest bronze animal sculptures in the UK, the piece is modelled on the Hereford Bull, an animal with strong historical associations to Birmingham.
From the outside the Bullring Shopping Centre reminds me of an enormous armoured Armadillo with its silver armoured plates. Right next door is Birmingham New Street Station, which as well as being the railway hub for Birmingham, houses Grand Central the second large shopping centre in City Centre Birmingham. As part of the Birmingham New Street Station Gateway Plus redevelopment, Grand Central underwent a major overhaul. The mall has been redesigned with a Texlon ETFE atrium roof as centrepiece, and is home to over 60 stores across 500,000 sq ft with John Lewis as main anchor tenant.
As so often is the case in England you find ultra modern architecture juxtaposed with the old and historic. Between these two modern shopping centres sits Saint Martin in the Bull Ring. The present Victorian church was built on the site of a 13th-century predecessor, which was documented in 1263. The church was enlarged in medieval times and the resulting structure consisted of a lofty nave and chancel, north and south aisles and a northwest tower with spire. Our new breakfast haunt is Grand Central Kitchen across the street from Grand Central Shopping Centre (omelettes starting at £4.50 GBP.
Field Notes: The photo titled Reflections is just weird. Joel and I were walking back toward the Grand Central Shopping Centre when we saw ourselves reflected in the highly polished top half of the building. The bottom half is real for want of a better description and the top half is a mirror image. We’re the two guys standing to left of the men sitting and I’m the one in the brown shirt with the camera to my eye. You can see how wavy and distorted the top half of the image is. You can also see the rails in the lower left of the distorted (reflected) area. SFD