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Digicam report (4): High St
Page first written 29 September 2002
Last updated 1 October 2002

"Shopping along High Street"

Digital Camera Report from Birmingham No. 4


In Japan, the word "parasite single" means a young person like me living forever with parents without becoming independent. Well, I must confess I was one of them; in fact, this is one apparent flaw in Japanese system of education that it fails to encourage youngsters to become as independent as they can be. Therefore I thought that "enjoying the life in UK" would be as important as working and conducting research.

The first step in "enjoying life" is apparently getting things that keep me going; the High Street near my flat is the place I go to get day-to-day things like food, drink and other small things. When people's lives were more locally-based, the High Street were at the centre of the community, with schools, pubs, churches and shops concentrated along the road. Recently, however, the large shops with huge parking spaces are posing huge threats to local shops along High Streets, as well as conveniently-positioned stores in the city centre. I have seen many High Streets around Birmingham, some still doing well but some were even without a shop at all.

Since I do not have a car, things not available on the local High Street of Harborne should be looked for in Birmingham's city centre. The impression of the whole central area of Birmingham is that they are all under massive construction works -- largely because of the construction of the New Bull Ring Centre. The old Bull Ring Centre, built back in the 1960s, were not popular to the public, because of its poor exterior outlook and the fact that the shoppers must go under the Inner Ring Road to reach the centre from the city centre. Now, the Inner Ring Road has already been demolished to give way to the new Bull Ring Centre, which will incorporate parking spaces and bus terminals as well as shopping areas, and will also serve as a walking route that directly links between Birmingham New Street and Moor Street Stations.

The outlook of Birmingham city centre will be further innovated when the planned extension of Midland Metro to the city centre really takes place - the plan that makes Birmingham "one of the European major cities". The plan has many technical problems; at some part, the street is too narrow to accomodate double track; also there is a very steep gradient of 8 per cent. However, I believe the section out of city centre from Birmingham Snow Hill is just as good as the ordinary suburban railway; I wonder if the technical difficulties in the city centre section would not lead to capacity problem in the future.

A map of Birmingham's city centre
Fig. 1: Map of Birmingham's city centre area. The Bull Ring Centre shown in the map has already been demolished together with the Inner Ring Road next to it, and the construction is going on. Although Midland Metro's route has already been fixed, the work has not started.
Harborne High Street
(Photo-1): High Street of Harborne in Birmingham. The road is always crowded as seen in the photograph. (Photo taken: 31 December 2001)
High Street, Halesowen
(Photo-2): High Street of Halesowen, near Birmingham, a beautiful town centreing around a church. (Photo taken: 25 November 2001)
High Street, Quinton
(Photo-3): High Street of Quinton in Birmingham. There seemed to be no shops along the road. (Photo taken: 25 November 2001)
Junction of Corporation Street and New Street, Birmingham
(Photo-5): Junction between New Street and Corporation Street in Birmingham city centre. Bus No. 6 is now coming down the slope of Corporation Street and entering Stephenson Place. According to the future plan, Midland Metro will run through this junction. (Photo taken: 30 December 2001)
New Bull Ring Centre construction site
(Photo-4): The construction site of the new Bull Ring redevelopment. The cylindrical building behind the site is "Rotunda", a "heritage" building of Birmingham built in 1964. It will remain as the monument of the town in the 1960s. (Photo taken: 23 September 2001)


  1. http://www.lrta.org/ (Light Rail Transit Association Web site)
  2. http://www.benoy.co.uk/pr/BULLRING3.html (Benoy Home page, press release)
  3. http://www.bullring.co.uk/ (Bull Ring Home page)

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