Chamberlain clocks: Welcome home 'Little Joe'!

Birmingham has a number of Chamberlain Clocks and possibly the most famous and prominent of these is in the Jewellery Quarter at its junction of Vyse Street and Warstone Lane signposting the way into Birmingham's famous Jewellery Quarter where approximately 40% of the UK's jewellery is still made.

There is another of these Chamberlain Clocks at Five Ways at the junction of Calthorpe Road and Harborne Road in Edgbaston.

Chamberlain was a prominent local Birmingham business man who made his money from the great Birmingham screw and bolt maker Guest Keen and Nettlefold in Heath Street in Smethwick which still exists today as the giant engineering business GKN whose headquarters is still in the West Midlands in Redditch. Chamberlain’s business success led him to pursue a political career and he reached high political office without quite making it to Prime Minister, which his son Neville did achieve.

These clocks were built to commemorate the contribution to the city of Birmingham of one of its greatest sons and a man dubbed 'The Father of Birmingham' Joseph Chamberlain MP who created the modern Municipal Birmingham with the Elan Valley Scheme to pipe fresh water from Mid-Wales to Birmingham and the creation of the first of the 'Redbrick' Universities the University of Birmingham He also built Highbury Hall in Moseley as the result of his success.

One of these Chamberlain Clocks stood in Bearwood for many years until being moved to High Street in Birmingham, about 30 years ago and standing outside Marks & Spencer's for a number of years.

On Saturday 24th October, this particular Chamberlain Clock is returning to its original home in Bearwood and will stand at the junction of Bearwood Road and Adkins Lane, near to the soon to be refurbished Lightwoods House, built by local Smethwick Soap magnate William Adkins after whom Adkins Lane where Lightwoods House (1793) stands is named.

There will be an opening ceremony at 10am at the Adkins Lane site to welcome one of the remaining Chamberlain Clocks home to Bearwood after being renovated by Smiths in Derby.

Welcome home 'Little Joe'!

NB The original 'Old Joe' is the Clock Tower at the University of it is nice for 'Little Joe' to be returning home, not too far from the University!

Part of Brummagems.....Birmingham History Buff Keith Bracey' s fantastic historical facts about Brum......

Find out more on his blog or tweet on @1truclaretnblu

The UK Burger Battle So have we rekindled your love of a good Burger? Fancy a night out with a good meaty bite and a bit of entertainment?  Well we have just the event for you.

The UK Burger Battle has been raging all over the summer throughout the Midlands, and now it is reaching it's  fiery conclusion.  The  contestants have come from far and wide.  Professional chefs bumped elbows with enthusiastic, gifted amateurs.  This mingling of creativity has ignited some interesting and unusual ideas.

The Burger Battle is the brainchild of the intrepid Ahmed Kage, who brought us the Ribs Nights event last year (which is rumoured to make a comeback in October).

The final battle - JudgeMeat Day! - will take place in Birmingham on 12th September.  Tickets are available here.

By chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.


Amazing Spider-Man 2 @ The Giant Screen

With the relentless onslaught of superhero movies that have flown through our cinemas in the last few years it is easy to forget that a mere decade ago there was only a handful of household names in the spandex wearing community. One of the biggest of these was Spider-Man - a character who achieved much of his popularity because many of the audience found it easy to identify with a geeky teenager who just happened to have superhuman strength, agility and disturbingly sticky hands. After all, Clark Kent is a god like alien and Bruce Wayne is a tortured millionaire but Peter Parker is one of us.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings its way into Birmingham's Giant Screen this week like it's eponymous hero. The special effects that convinced us that web slinging was a feasible commuting method have been taken to a whole new level that, when combined with the massive 70 feet plus Giant Screen and state of the art 3D effects, left me feeling as if I was hanging on for dear life as our hero swooped, swung and sprang through the city.

There are a number of villains led by a sparkly Jamie Fox as Electro (a man who laughs in the face of rising electricity bills) although the acting honours are taken by Dane DeHaan who gives a searing performance as Peter's friend/enemy Harry Osborn. This film is an attempt by Sony to emulate the success of Marvel Studios in creating their Marvel Cinematic Universe and if the film has a problem it is in its attempts to spread itself too thin while setting up both future Spidey sequels and the proposed Venom and Sinister Six spin offs. Poor Paul Giamatti barely gets a look in as the Rhino despite what some of the marketing implies but no doubt we shall see more of him later.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone make appealing leads as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey but I think it fair to assume that cinema goers won't be flocking to see this movie for what it has to say about relationships for teenagers in the 21st Century. It’s all about bangs, flashes, chases and fights liberally sprinkled with humour (some of which works well and some less so) and some darker moments that communicate a sense of real peril that may have been lacking from the first movie in the series.

By “Numbers” Mike Ward who can be contacted on Twitter