Wednesday, 12 August 2009

South by southwest: to Bournville

Leaving the centre of Birmingham by most canal routes requires a great deal of imagination to envisage the people and history who made this area. But one route has its history and culture remarkably preserved, and it forms one of the most elegant entrances - or exit - for any city in Britain.

The Worcester & Birmingham mixes it up for all types: for the environmnetalists and ecologists there are the leafy glades and sylvan walks for much of the first five miles; for botanists, the Botanical Gardens and unusual trees poking over walls and fences; for railway enthusiasts, the ever-present trains, just feet away; for industrial archaeologists, there is the juxtaposed railway and canal architecture, squeezing through a green artery to the very centre of the city; for architects, the variety of buildings from The Mailbox to Uncle Joe; and for social historians, the world of the Cadburys at Bournville.

Heavy rain delays our departure: it's one thing to crusie in the rain but when we are on a new stretch, we want to be able to see it all. By the time we turn onto the W&B the rain has eased and we plough a lonely furrow through the still black waters. Trees and bushes continue to shed their rainfall. It does all feel so lush and even the moss on grimy walls is glistening brightly.

There are both cyclists and runners constantly. Not joggers. These are runners. You can just tell.

Just an hour or so later, we arrive at Bournville and decide to have a look at Cadbury's World.

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