Big maps of Brum

Late Victorian O.S. maps of Birmingham, at a huge 1:2500 scale, with zoom. The map sheets must surely be public domain by now, but sadly there’s an ‘All Rights Reserved’ notice.


Celebrate Delia Derbyshire’s 80th birthday at Coventry Music Museum. Delia was the pioneering musician who adapted and recorded Ron Grainer’s classic Doctor Who theme for electronic music, and later helped to inspire the late 1970s wave of sci-fi electropop (John Foxx, early Gary Numan etc). Coventry was where Delia grew up, and there are weekend of celebratory activities, 5th-7th May 2017 — including a talk from Dick Mills (sound effects for Doctor Who) and a ‘Deliaphonic’ concert. The Coventry Music Museum has also reconstructed a part of the famous Radiophonic workshop, as a permanent display.

Apologies for the downtime

My apologies for the downtime on the this blog, from 8th-13th April 2017. My hosting provided was swapping over their database server, and it affected the database tables that WordPress needs in order to work properly. Hopefully everything has been sorted out now, and the blog seems to have been stable for the last week.

Curator of Natural Science

Curator of Natural Science at Birmingham Museums… “to lead on a number of significant projects and to research and develop Birmingham’s important collection … covering botany, entomology, zoology and earth sciences” with an initial focus on setting up child-friendly displays. Deadline: 20th March 2017.

Pull My Finger

Pull My Finger podcast pilot (and currently eight podcasts). Lead presenter Tony James not only has a great voice, he has a great offer on Fiverr: a 150-word smooth West Midlands working-class voiceover. Sounds like he’s originally from north-east Birmingham/Walsall?

Birmingham stereograph

A high-res public-domain stereograph of the station at Birmingham, England, in the later Victorian period. Should be possible to repair, and do a large format 3D view of this. Perhaps in some colorised lenticular manner. I’m not going to be the one who does that, so feel free to ‘have at it’…

I’m Entranced

A truly outstanding first hour, of a two-hour set…

* Angel Ace & Victor Prada – Entrance Music Radioshow 042 (Nov 2016) On SoundCloud:

1st hour progressive selection mixed by Victor Prada.

01. Jacob Singer – Survival Human (Gonza Rodriguez Remix) [Incepto Music]
02. Following Light – String Theory (Original Mix) [Saturate Audio]
03. Matter & Universal Harmonics – Sankara (Alex Vidal Remix) [Mistique Music]
04. Armin Van Buuren Ft. Mr. Probz – Another You (Gundamea Extended Remix) [Armind]
05. Dee Montero – Solace (BOg Remix) [Selador]
06. Techtower – Vanguard (Original Mix) [Electronic Tree]
07. Armin Van Buuren & M.I.K.E. – Intruder (Gai Barone Extended Remix) [Armind]
08. Andrea Bertolini – Types & Genres (Original Mix) [Iboga Records]
09. Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor – Tiger (Original Mix) [Jee Productions]
10. Leo G – Supersonic (Gai Barone Remix) [Pure Trance Progressive]
11. Fredd Moz vs. Carlos De La Garza – Atardecer (Mark Found Remix) [Entrance Music]
12. Jaia & Pris Stratton – Use Your Imagination (Pris Stratton Pleasure Mix) [JOOF]

More at Entrance Music Radioshow.

Trigger warning: map-spreading

The social media accounts of Birmingham’s local councillors, mapped, all bar a few bits of Aston…

New gallery at Wightwick Manor

The somewhat William Morris -associated house near Wolverhampton, Wightwick Manor, has a new gallery opening soon.

“We’ve begun work converting the Old Malthouse into an exciting new art gallery. The gallery will open in April 2017 with the launch of our partnership with the De Morgan Foundation.”

“T’wit ‘t whooo?”

Birmingham’s local councillors now have a handy up-to-date spreadsheet listing their Twitter and Facebook accounts.


MIT Treepedia, using Google Street View to determine the extent of a city’s “green canopy” of trees, at least those visible along the roads. The website currently has a demo for 10 cities, but it seems that Green View Index comparison between a great many of the world’s cities is planned…

“we will continue to grow this database to span cities all over the globe. What does your green canopy look like?”

Sadly it seems that Birmingham is to cut its tree cover, literally. The city’s bosses plan to bow to terrorism and to cut down 25 old trees in the city centre. Obviously they’ve never read “The Scouring of the Shire” by a certain famous Brummie (who went to school just around the corner) nor learned its lessons.

Kate McGwire

Kate McGwire

On a Whim

“Using the Whim app, Helsinki becomes the first city to try out an all-inclusive mobility service covering public transportation, taxis, and even car rentals. Instead of a monthly train or a bus pass, imagine buying a mobile app subscription that covers all forms of public and private transportation.”

Museum of Science Fiction

There’s a Museum of Science Fiction, near Worcester (UK).


Birmingham Mail website makeover

New website for the Birmingham Mail newspaper. In design terms it’s quite pleasing. Nice clean layout, although I run AdBlockPlus so my first glimpse of it was without adverts. An eight second load-time for the front page, for me. Photos not too ‘shouty’ or ‘grim’, but I still blocked all news story images on it forever with AdBlockPlus. No immediate annoying pop-up or ‘sign up to our mailing-list’ blocking overlay. I see their “What’s On” menu has no ‘Arts and Culture’ category, nor any sort of ‘Quirky’ category, which seems a pity and assumes their reader demographic is not catered for in either regard. But if one went digging one could probably dig up a dozen items a week that would appeal to the readers. The Commercial Sales navigation bar is nicely split from the News navigation. There are individual RSS feeds for Business, Politics, and Midlands, although the latter two are heavily dominated by crime ‘n grime. There’s no filter for: “I have no interest in local crime or sports news, never show me such stories”.

After my AdBlocker and clutter-trimmer has done its work…


Birmingham City University – research repository

Birmingham City University has just launched a public research repository. Currently it’s too new to be indexed by Google, which would enable one to discover if there’s actually any full-text open access PDFs in there. Most record pages I tried were “full-text not available”, even when one went back a year or two. Which seems to rather contradict the ‘open access’ idea and the URL name of

Dull Brum

A stunning level of boring uniformity and dullness was on show to the press yesterday, as Birmingham’s bosses officially backed the Coventry bid for City of Culture. Expect better odds on the gritty bid from Stoke-on-Trent as the winner of City of Culture, from today.


A Midlands Engine mis-fire

Midlands Engine chairman Sir John Peace appears to favour Coventry for City of Culture, while forgetting about the equally major bid by the West Midlands city of Stoke-on-Trent…

“Sir John said the Midlands is readying itself for a “golden decade” which will include the arrival of HS2 in 2026. Birmingham has also put its name in the hat to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games and Coventry hopes to be the UK City of Culture in 2021.”

Love the economic optimism, which is probably well justified if we can get a real Brexit. But please let’s not have ‘Greater Birmingham’ try to further sideline or even offload places like Stoke-on-Trent, as the boom happens.

Middle Earth, a major Tolkien biopic

I’m pleased to hear that a very major Birmingham / Staffordshire movie is going ahead. Directed by James Strong (Downton Abbey), Middle Earth will explore Tolkien’s early life, his romance with Edith Bratt, and the loss of nearly all his friends in the war. The screenwriter will be Angus Fletcher, and The Lord of the Rings producers Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne are both on board.

In my view the geographical timeline of the movie, if done without flashbacks, would be: semi-rural south Birmingham / school at Birmingham New St. / the Birmingham Oratory / Exeter College, Oxford / the Lizard, Cornwall / Warwick / Lichfield / Cannock Chase / his rifle training in North Staffordshire / Great Haywood / he leaves for the war by train, from Birmingham.

We can be fairly sure that the centre of Birmingham and the Staffordshire countryside will get a pretty good boost from such a major movie, as long as subsidies don’t lure the makers away to Ireland or somesuch.

New Art Gallery, old leftist tactics

I see that the bedraggled remnants of the political left are scaremongering widely in the media around a possible “closure” of Walsall’s New Art Gallery. Aided by Walsall’s Labour-led council, which used the word “closure” as part of a pitch aimed at justifying and driving through a rise in Council Tax.

One has to dig a bit to find the facts behind the scaremongering. The local subsidy from Walsall’s taxpayers is around £900,000 per year, excellent value for money re: the tourism boost (it’s the only reason one would want to visit Walsall, unless one has a leather-fetish). The Council claims this amount “could” be reduced leading to savings of £100,000 in 2017-18, “and by as much as £390,000 in 2019/20”.

Even if Walsall’s Labour councillors do suddenly go into swivel-eyed Corbyn-mode and cut all subsidy immediately and in one fell swoop, there’s still the £880,000 a year from the Arts Council, and a 4% funding uplift for the English regions that is expected from the Arts Council very soon.

Otherwise the Gallery may be facing hard times ‘chugging along’ on a reduced budget of a piffling £1.6m a year, but would not be facing the prospect of “closure” that the Council is scarily claiming in their press release and which the leftists are howling about.