Growing up in South Birmingham, Longbridge Rover plant as it was, was a very big part of Birmingham culture and my memories. The closure and subsequent demolition of the factories, was a very big deal.
For a long time the ground stood empty and devoid of anything, and the vast expanse of unused land simply seemed to echo the loss of its former purpose.
Slowly over the last few years it is being redeveloped into Longbridge town centre. This is an odd thought to my mind, as I never say Longbridge as a ‘town’ per say and its taken a while for my brain to wrap around the fact that it is now becoming a hive of activity, both in housing, employment, shopping, education, networking and community as a whole, Longbridge appears to be a growing project with great potential – even if it was a bit pie in the sky to begin with and difficult to contemplate.
Given that I am curious to see how this develops and becomes the town centre they promise so fully, I have been taking random photos of the grounds since September, as I pass much of the construction on my way to Bournville College, which is conveniently, one of the first builds on the site itself.
Here are photographs I have taken to date , from various positions, showing Longbridge as it is now and the works in progress:
As this has been a ‘pet project’ of sorts, when the topic ‘New Horizons’ was given as this modules starting point, I thought about how the words we were given to inspire us, seemed to shout at me to think about this further;
Brief: New Horizons
unearth / excavate / reveal / layer / join / balance / border / rejuvenation / revitalization / invigoration / new dawn / resurgence / awakening / renaissance / revival / field of vision / realm / compass / dominion / stomping grounds / neck of the woods / celebration
Unearth, excavate, reveal….all these words link beautifully to the preparation of the grounds ready for new build. Layer/join/balance – all words to describe the process of building – Rejuvenation, revitalization; again words to describe the rebuilding of Longbridge as a community; Field of vision, how it has changed in the last 20 years, its astounding, the Rover factories where very dark, dirty , dank, buildings, full of purpose and creation, giving much needed employment and finance but still, dreary, mostly hidden away behind ageing iron fences.
Initially when it was removed, the enormity of space it took up became apparent like a rock to the head, it was such a humongous space. So much is being built in its place it is almost unfathomable that Rover was so big, I mean, we knew it was big but you never really saw more than the walls of the street side factories and the bits you were allowed in as visitors. The space is already home to several carparks with varying capacity and purpose, a college, a shopping centre, which is still developing, but is boasting large chains like Sainsbury and M&S, it has a hotel, eateries, pubs, offices, and community buildings – add to that it already had the train station, generous bus links, social club and local shops – it really is becoming a hive of activity.
The build continues and we see plans for a Retirement complex, more housing, more shops and businesses, it really is a never ending story!
So I thought, It would be nice to get up to the 5th floor, and extend my photographic folder to include some shots from higher ground, thankfully I was allowed access on 20th January for a brief time – unfortunately I had a little trouble with the camera, being unused to the workings of such fancy equipment (lol) but I did manage to get some really nice shots :
hopefully I can get access again in the next week or two to get some more, now I have a grip on how to use the camera!
I took some more ground shots :
The idea is to gather a selection of photographs, and display them together, showing the progression of the redevelopment, so I am steadily building a portfolio – more to upload later – watch this space 🙂
Latest update: This idea was left behind, partially as I did not get time to arrange a second trip and mostly because I was so poorly I did not even attend college to do so. Unfortunate as it was, I am happy with my actual final piece so I will accept this was just not meant to be as a project. I did however experiment with the pictures in photoshop with some really stunning results: