IGers Birmingham guide to Birmingham Heritage Week

UPDATE (4/9/18):

This blog post was originally posted on the 8th August. Since then a few events have been added to the programme that have caught our eye which we’d love to share with you, namely:

We can also confirm that we’ll be at the Cinema Club: Finding Vivian Maier event (book your tickets below and we’ll see you there) and we’ll be holding an instameet in Bournville on the 15th (more info here). Whet your appetite for Aston Hall with the photos from our preview meet here!

Have you seen that the events programme for Birmingham Heritage Week has just been released? Don’t be fooled by the title though – there’s in fact eleven whole days of talks, walks, open days and visits happening all across the city, celebrating Birmingham’s rich and diverse history, starting on the 6th September.

Not content with just sharing the news that the information is now launched, we’ve gone through the event listings and highlighted the events and locations that we think will not just be interesting but will be of particular interest to the Birmingham photography community. Of course, there are many others events that will be of interest so make sure you take a look at the whole programme (link below).

But we haven’t stopped there! We are also going to be treating the IGers Birmingham to special preview instameets at some of the locations mentioned below where you’ll be able to access them without the BHW crowds getting in the way. All we are saying for now is that they are locations that we haven’t held instameets before, there are no clues in this article, and they will be announced in the normal way – so stay tuned for details!

We are also planning mini meet ups for some of the events during BHW itself.

Whichever events you attend, make sure you use #igersbirmingham and the official #BHeritageWeek on all your posts – we look forward to seeing them.


Open Church at Church of Saint Alban the Martyr

There are plenty of details to take in inside this large Victorian Gothic Anglo-Catholic church with its cathedral-like columns and stone vaulting designed by John Loughborough Pearson, architect of Truro Cathedral. Self guided tour cards are available to use at your own pace, guide books are for sale and when possible members of the congregation will be available to show you round the building and tell you about its history.

  • Corner of Conybere Street and Stanhope Street, Highgate, Birmingham B12 0YH.
  • Open 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th September, hours vary
  • Free but donations welcome
  • Find out more
Image from BHW website

Reclaiming our Future photo exhibition

Having previously worked with Reclaim Photography Festival, we’ll certainly be heading to the Gunmakers’ Arms to check out a selection of prints from their third international photography festival, Reclaiming Our Future. The special pop up display consists of a range of images submitted by regional photographers who have captured the people, places and industries, past and present, of Birmingham and the Black Country region, alongside a special retrospective celebrating three successful festivals.

  • Gunmakers Arms, 93 Bath Street, Birmingham, B4 6HG
  • Open daily from 6th to 16th September from 12noon
  • Free (but you might be tempted by the bar)
  • More info

University of Birmingham History and Architecture Tour

The University of Birmingham has a special place in the heart of Team IGers Birmingham, being the location of the first “big” IGers Birmingham instameet way back in 2015 and the reason one-third of Team IGers Birmingham moved to Birmingham. Their Research and Cultural Collections team will lead a tour of exploring the origins of the University, its architectural development, its social and industrial links to the city and key events which have shaped local and national histories. Take time afterwards to explore the campus and perhaps even visit the Barber Institute of Fine Arts – there’s always plenty to see.

  • Starting at Old Joe Clock Tower, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT
  • Friday 7th September, 12.45pm – 1.30pm
  • Free
  • More info

Image from BHW website

Painted Walls Ghost Signs & Street Art Walk

Hoping for better weather than the times IGers Birmingham held instameets in both areas, this walking tour of Digbeth and Deritend is sure to include plenty of things to photograph as well as plenty of history. Get a feel for the areas in advance by checking out the images captured at our instameets here and here.

  • Meeting at corner of Bradford Street & Warner Street, Deritend, B12 OJD
  • Saturday 8th September, 1pm- 3pm
  • Tickets £7.50, booking required
  • More info

Picture Birmingham

This event is perfect for members of the IGers Birmingham community who have children. The family-friendly workshop is about capturing the city, photographically, on one day as seen by you. After a brief introduction by Michael Hallett, an explanation of the activity, and guidance on how to make the most of using your mobile device (mobile phone or tablet – no “proper” cameras!), and a walk around the Gallery where a photography exhibition will be on display, you will be sent out into the city to take photographs that, for you, represent the city or a moment in the city. You will then return to the Library of Birmingham where we will look at your photos on a screen with all the other people attending to discuss them. Of the photographs submitted, a selection will be exhibited at the Library of Birmingham in late 2018/early 2019, and deposited in the City’s Archives for permanent preservation.

  • Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1 2ND
  • Saturday 8th September, 11.15am – 4.15pm
  • Free but booking is required (limited tickets so book soon!)
  • More info

Hidden: Plainsight

The Hidden: Plainsight event brings two days of exhibitions, walks and talks themed around the rarely seen or hidden away parts of our city. This event is a collaboration between Two Towers Brewery and Kevin Thomas Photography. There will be a walk from Kevin Thomas on the City’s overlooked art deco building and another from Tracey Thornes on the often-overlooked Ghost Signs of the Jewellery Quarter.

They’ll also have a photographic exhibition from local photographer Kevin Maslin on the canals of Birmingham, and a photographic competition and exhibition on what Birmingham means to you. Find out more on the Two Towers Brewery social media channels closer to the date.

  • Gunmakers Arms, 93 Bath St, Birmingham, B4 6HG
  • Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th September, 12noon – 6pm
  • More info

Joint Tour of Coffin Works and Roundhouse

Two locations that are as full of interesting stories and they are insta-worthy details are the Coffin Works and the Roundhouse (see shots from our visit to the Roundhouse here). Take a guided tour of both at this event.

  • Starting at The Roundhouse, 101 St Vincent St, Birmingham, B16 8EB
  • Saturday 8th September, 11.30am – 3.15pm
  • Booking required, tickets £10 / £13
  • More info

Image by Beth Astington

Aston Hall events

As you might expect from one of Birmingham’s biggest heritage attractions, there’s plenty going on over at Aston Hall including a Victorian Day, tours centering around Sir Thomas Holte / women at Aston Hall / servants at Aston Hall, as well as a day of events with Birmingham Civic Society.

Aston Hall Front - side angle

Image from Birmingham Museums Trust

Health, Horticulture and Heritage at Winterbourne House and Gardens

Another hidden gem in Birmingham, Winterbourne House and Gardens in Edgbaston is a pretty delightful spot to while away a few hours with the camera. There’s normally an entrance fee but they are opening up for free as part of Heritage Week and there will be family gardening workshops; demonstrations of tips and techniques to use in your garden at home, and a chance to find out a bit about the heritage of food growing in Birmingham.

  • Winterbourne House and Garden, 58 Edgbaston Park Road, B15 2RT
  • Sunday 9th September, 10.30am – 4.45pm
  • Free
  • More info

George Shaw Photography

The first person in the city to make a photograph, George Shaw was a professor of Chemistry at Queens College (a predecessor of UoB), a patent agent, an amateur watercolourist, and a highly respected member of Birmingham’s scientific, artistic, manufacturing and educational communities. He was a pivotal figure in the chain of productive relationships between technologists, artisans, manufactures and entrepreneurs which fuelled the economic development of Birmingham during the Victorian era. Considered as a ‘Colmore Man’, Colmore BID previously funded a research project in to Shaw’s work. This research was being carried out by the late Pete James and this event is designed as a great way to continue to celebrate Shaw, whilst remembering the great projects Colemore BID worked on in partnership with Pete. Join Philip Singleton on this free photo tour for your lunch break as part of our Heritage Week Celebrations! Bring a camera with you or your mobile phone to record your own images.

  • Starting at Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BD
  • Tuesday 11 September, 1pm – 2pm
  • Booking required
  • More info

Soho House

During our instameet at Soho House way back in 2016, one area that was off limits was the roof, but on this guided tour of Matthew Boulton’s home you’ll go from the cellars right up to his roof where he studied the stars.

  • Soho House Museum, Soho House, Birmingham, B18 5LB
  • Tours at 11.30, 1pm & 2.30pm, Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th September,
  • No booking required but tours cost £10
  • More info

Cinema Club: Finding Vivian Maier

The work of Birmingham female photographer Phyllis Nicklin is known to many of us. Her images of Birmingham taken during the 1950s and 60s are both visually stunning and of huge historical importance, a number of which were shown on a large display outside Snowhill Station a couple of years ago by Colmore BID.

They are continuing their celebration of female photographers by showing a feature length documentary about one of Nicklin’s contemporary’s, Vivian Maier. Maier, based in New York, was a mysterious character who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that were hidden in storage lockers and discovered decades later. Maier is now considered among the twentieth century’s greatest photographers. The film will be shown in the fabulous theatre in the Birmingham Midland Institute.

IGers Birmingham are planning a mini meet up to attend this event together – book now and we’ll see you there!

  • Birmingham Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham, B3 3BS
  • Thursday 13 September, 6pm – 9pm
  • Free event but booking is required
  • More info
Image from BHW website

Curator’s Talk – In the Footsteps of Phyllis

In the Footsteps of Phyllis is a free exhibition at the Library of Birmingham until Sat 15 September 2018. It features “before and after” shots of Birmingham taken about 50 years apart. A group of photographers from the city have recreated photos taken by university lecturer Phyllis Nicklin between 1953 and 1969. More than 70 photographers went back to the same spots as Ms Nicklin to capture the second city’s changing landscape.

Curator Dave Allen will give a visual presentation about The Grid Project, the making of the exhibition and Phyllis Nicklin.

  • Floor 3, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, B1 2ND
  • Saturday 15 September, 3pm – 4.30pm
  • Free but booking required
  • More info
Image from BHW website

Discover the mid-Twentieth Century Architecture in the Colmore Business District

Join Brutiful Brum to explore the Post-War rebuilding of the Colmore Business District. Fans of photographing buildings will be in their element as the tour takes in the good, the bad the ugly and the sadly missed, in one of the best and most interesting conservation areas in the city.

  • Colmore Business District
  • Saturday 15th September, 2pm – 4pm
  • Booking required, tickets £5
  • More info


The most instagramable holy building in Birmingham, if not the West Midlands, is open again as part of Bournville’s Heritage Week offerings. Yep, the image below really is the Serbian Orthodox Church in Bournville that you can see for yourself as part of BHW – but get there very early to try to avoid the crowds as it was very popular last year.

While you’re in the area, you can also visit the Selly Manor Museum, the Quaker Meeting House, Bournville Parish Church and the Bournville Experience at Cadbury World. There is also an Open Garden at Woodbrooke Quaker Centre on 13th September.

Image from www.lazarica.co.uk

Museum of the JQ

Having recently attended one of their guided tours, we can definitely recommend paying a visit to the Museum of the JQ. It’s chock-a-block with things to see and interesting stories about not just the factory that was converted, but about the JQ and Birmingham in general.

  • Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, 75-80 Vyse Street, B18 6HA
  • Saturday 15th Sept, 10.30am – 5pm
  • Free event and free admission to museum but booking required for guided tours of Smith & Pepper factory.
  • More info
Image by Martin O’Callaghan

Explore the store

Visiting the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre that’s packed FULL of things that they don’t have space to display in their venues has been on Team IGers Birmingham’s to do list for quite a while – and this event could be the time we finally visit. There’s plenty to see and as there will be plenty of experts on hand, you’ll be able to find out more about the centre and objects you’re photographing. There’ll be objects that aren’t usually out on display at even the MCC, the chance to meet the teams who look after and manage the store, vintage bus rides, a variety of refreshments and a Mini Explorers trail for kids. See you there?

  • Museum Collections Centre, 25 Dollman Street, Nechells, B7 4RQ
  • Sunday 16th September, 10am – 4.30pm (last admission at 4pm)
  • Free
  • More info
Museum Collection Centre 2.jpg
Image from Birmingham Museums Trust

Hard Hat Tours of the Moseley Community Hub ( former Moseley Art School)

We love a good behind the scenes tour, and especially one that involves hard hats, so this event at the former Moseley Art School is perfect. The building is in the final stages of a complete restoration, thanks to a grant of £1.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £243,000 from Historic England. The building, which is Grade II* listed, was originally the Moseley School of Art which opened in 1901. It was designed by the Birmingham architect, W.H Bidlake. It ran as an Art School for 76 years and counts many famous artists amongst its ex pupils.

The building is now being transformed into a community and business hub by the Moseley Muslim Community Association. There will be co-worker space, offices, community facilities and a ground floor exhibition space, where a display of the building’s history will showcase the experiences of former Moseley School of Art pupils, as well as many local groups from the diverse Balsall Heath community that have met there over the years.

  • Moseley Community Hub, 496 Moseley Rd, Balsall Heath, B12 9AH
  • Sunday 16th September, 11am – 3pm
  • Free, but booking is required
  • More info
Image from BHW website

Unravelling Spaghetti Junction

Brutiful Brum have another event that we know for a fact will be full of photo opportunities as it’s been the location for an instameet and the (infamous) IGers Birmingham appearance BBC Midlands Today. Join them for a two hour walk to discover the UK’s most iconic stretch of motorway. Survey the 559 concrete columns, some reaching as high as 80ft. Marvel at the 170,000 cubic tonnes of concrete used to cover a 30-acre site just north of Birmingham city centre and the 440 workers – known as McAlpine’s Fusilers – who were employed to build it. No wonder that Spaghetti Junction is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the ‘most complex motorway interchanges on the British road system’. You’ll also find out about the adjacent dwarf caves and walk along the canal towpath and visit the subterranean part of Salford Circus, where you’ll find sky blue-mosaic underpasses and a collection of mature Acer trees, whose leaves and branches move gently in the wake from the traffic above.

  • Meet in the underpass at Salford Circus, Erdington, B24 8NP
  • Sunday 16th September, 2pm – 4pm
  • Booking required, tickets £5
  • More info
Image from BHW website

And finally!

So that’s our round-up of the events we are most looking forward to, although we’re pretty sure we could actually include several more, which is testament to the selection of events on offer. You can see the full event schedule here.

Make sure you use both #igersbirmingham and #BHeritageWeek on your photos from the events, and keep an eye out for our special preview instameets and meet ups at the Birmingham Heritage Week events themselves!

NB: All info is correct as of 4th September. While all efforts have been done to ensure accuracy, please follow the links and check BHW’s website for full details.