City Safari
Central Birmingham
'City of a thousand trades'
21st - 24th April 2022

Led by Sue Constable
3 nights, from £480 Discount for AIA members
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In the event that, due to Covid 19, government regulations change such that
we are unable to run this tour all monies paid will be refunded in full.
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City Safaris and Industrial Explorer Weekends
These walking tours take a look at an industrial city's civic, commercial, industrial and transport legacy on foot, guided by an expert. Our groups are deliberately kept small so that everyone has a chance to ask the leader questions as we go and to make walking as a group practicable in an urban environment.

We go away for a long weekend and stay together as a group at a reasonable hotel. A dinner is held on the Thursday evening which is a chance for new members to be introduced and old friends to catch up on news. After dinner there is a short talk to introduce the city and its history as well as to explain the programme.

City Safaris use whatever public transport is available: bus, tram, metro or train which is a great way to gain some understanding of how the area works and may be of historic interest in themselves.

Industrial Explorer Weekends are the same but we use a minibus to reach areas where public transport does not go and to give us the possibility of conveniently exploring a slightly wider area.

We tend to spend more time looking at buildings than we do going inside, but we usually try to include at least one visit to a site of industrial interest. In Sheffield, for example, we visited a small, specialist scissor maker. In the Black Country we rode through the Dudley tunnel on a trip boat and ended the tour in the Black Country Museum.

We look at all kinds of buildings: industrial, civic, retail and domestic. We cover everything from workers' cottages & workshops via pubs and factories to the magnificence of northern Victorian Town Halls and don’t forget the merely quirky. And we like interesting buildings in all kinds of condition, be they in use, re-used, shabby, derelict or forgotten. Transport is always part of the story: roads, railways and canals.

We generally walk about 5 miles a day. When walking around we are often asked why we are standing looking at a particular building, perhaps by people who now live or work there. Sometimes we are able to tell them more about the building than they know themselves but in response they are sometimes able to fill in some interesting snippets of social history which adds greatly to the mix.

Group members are provided with a full set of notes describing details of every building we stop by. We usually include stops for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea.

Tour members often say that these trips allow them to see things that "we never knew were there" and to view urban areas from new angles.
We last visited Birmingham in 2006 and a lot has changed in the city since then. We will be re-visiting sites we first saw on that visit and looking at some areas we did not visit then. Birmingham was known as the ‘City of a Thousand Trades’ and there were certainly a vast number of different products made there, usually in metal. As well as the primary trades there were businesses catering to the needs of those trades, making the machinery and the equipment needed.

The city was also a transport hub, and we will be looking at both the canal and railway networks, old and new.

All the sites we will be visiting are in a small area and we will not be using public transport during this Safari. However, there will be quite a lot of walking. There will be suitable breaks on each day to let you rest your feet.

The walks will be on hard surfaces though canal towpaths can be uneven, and we will probably have to deal with both road works and traffic. The terrain is fairly flat though, obviously, there are some hills to negotiate.
The tour will start with the group assembling in the early evening at our hotel for a short walk to a restaurant for the group dinner (included).

At the end of dinner Sue will give a short introduction to the weekend.
We will begin our exploration on Friday by looking at the area around Digbeth where, it is thought, the city began. This was home to several different enterprises especially those connected to engineering. It was also home to the markets and to Typhoo Tea. The route will include Curzon Street where the HS2 line will terminate. This is an area where there has been significant redevelopment in recent years, though traces of the earlier buildings survive.

In the afternoon we will be looking at the heart of the canal network in Birmingham with a visit to Gas Street Basin and Farmers Bridge Locks.

We shall also be looking at the railway and the development which occurred in the 19th century when the city began to grow and expand.

There will be breaks for coffee, lunch and tea during our walk (own expense).

Evening at leisure.

Gas Street Basin
Saturday will be spent examining two of the most well-known Birmingham industries, gun making and silver and jewellery.

We will also see a preserved steam engine and the premises of some of the bigger companies including Lucas. The post-war period saw a number of new roads built in the central area and we will be able to evaluate how these changed the city.

There will be breaks for coffee, lunch and tea during our walk  (own expense).

Evening at leisure.

The Jewellery Quarter
We will finish on Sunday by visiting the central commercial and retail areas. As the city grew so did the number of offices and shops. Civic buildings were also needed which reflected the importance of the urban area especially when Birmingham became a city.

There will be a break for coffee in the morning and the group will take lunch together at a central restaurant (included).

Birmingham Town Hall
After lunch an optional excursion has been organised to the Coffin Works located on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.

This grade II* listed factory and its contents tells the story of Newman Brothers, Birmingham’s last coffin-furniture factory who operated from their Fleet Street premises for over 100 years until 1998 when workers laid down their equipment, and walked out of the building for the very last time, leaving everything, including personal belongings behind.
Sue Constable will be well known to anyone who came to the Ruhr, Moravia or Romania with the AIA or has joined one of her previous City Safaris or Explorer Weekends. She was born in Buckinghamshire but moved to Hastings at an early age. She read History and Archaeology at Liverpool and also has a qualification in museum studies. She may have started out as an archaeologist but soon changed to being a social and industrial historian. She has worked in museums for most of her life, apart from a spell teaching and a break when her daughter was small. Much of her work in museums has been with industrial collections, ribbon weaving, nail-making and shoemaking. With her husband, Mike, she has explored much of the British and European waterways network. As a social historian she is also interested in how people live and how they organise their living spaces and environment.

We will be staying at the Jurys Inn, 245 Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2HQ

The hotel is located within easy reach of pubs, bars and restaurants in the city centre, about 0.7m, 15 minutes’ walk from New Street station. The hotel does also have a car park.

The main tour starts at the hotel on the Thursday evening and ends at about 14:00 after lunch on the Sunday afternoon. The Sunday optional visit should finish by about 15:30

We leave you to make your own travel arrangements to and from Birmingham to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points.

You should expect at least 5 miles of walking, in short sections, on Friday and Saturday, mostly on hard surfaces.
Detailed joining instructions will be supplied about two weeks before the start of the tour.

The cost of the tour is £480 per person sharing, single supplement £140. The single supplement is entirely accounted for by the additional costs charged by the hotel for single occupancy. With a high proportion of singles on these tours it is not possible to avoid this.

Heritage of Industry is pleased to offer a discount of £10 to any paid-up member of the Association for Industrial Archaeology  at the time of the tour.

The cost includes:
  • 3 nights bed & breakfast accommodation
  • Dinner on Thursday, Lunch on Sunday
  • All entrance fees
  • Expert guiding and services of an experienced tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visit
  • Professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Lunch on Friday & Saturday
  • Dinner on Friday & Saturday
  • Drinks
  • Expenses at the hotel other than bed & breakfast
The optional visit to the Coffin Works on Sunday afternoon is £9 per head.
All costs are in Pounds Sterling (GBP) and are based on present accommodation, transport costs and taxes. Any change in these may necessitate a price change.

Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 24th February 2022, and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel.

Non-UK residents also need to consider medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc. Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities.

It is a condition of booking that all persons named on the booking form must have been fully vaccinated (including booster dose) against the Covid 19 (SARS-CoV2) virus at least 3 weeks prior to the start of the tour.

Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 people . Book as soon as possible and by 24th February 2022 to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking.

Invoices for the balance of the price will be issued about 8 weeks before the tour starts. A non-refundable deposit of £50 per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing/email by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

Payment should be made via your bank’s online banking facilities, the necessary details are shown on the confirmation of booking. Please send an email note when you have made payment. If you are unable to use electronic banking please send a sterling cheque drawn on a UK bank made payable to Heritage of Industry Ltd. There is no extra charge for using cheques at present.

We are sorry that we are unable to accept payment by credit/debit card or PayPal.

Booking is closed.

** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)
The Association for Industrial Archaeology

For the last three centuries industry has had a major influence on the society, environment and landscape in which we live and its remains provide a link with the past that can also serve the future. The AIA brings together groups and individuals with an interest and expertise in identifying, recording, preserving and presenting the remains of our industrial past. Uniting individuals, local societies, academics and field professionals the AIA:
  • Pools knowledge and sets standards for recording
  • Represents industrial archaeology by membership of national and international bodies
  • Supports local and special interest societies
  • Monitors planning applications to alter or demolish industrial sites and buildings
And through its programme of awards and grants it:
  • Sponsors research and rewards excellence
  • Assists preservation and restoration
  • Encourages research and publication
The AIA has now also established the Young Members Board to engage with people of mid-career age and younger.
Heritage of Industry Ltd is very pleased to support the activities of the Association and very much hopes that you do too and will become a member.

Apart from the discount available on Heritage of Industry tours AIA members enjoy a range of benefits which are shown on the Membership page of the AIA website where you can also find full details of how to join:

An AIA member joining this tour will already have recouped nearly 1/3 of the AIA membership fee but more importantly the support members give enables the AIA to continue its work.