Art Deco Walking Tour Birmingham

Last month I took part in a two hour walking tour of Birmingham. The tour was focused on the wonderful, and often hidden, Art Deco treasures of Birmingham. The tour was led by photographer Kevin Thomas and was a fascinating look at a city I thought I knew so well, with history and anecdotes thrown in.

Art Deco is one of the passions, so I truly loved the walk and plan to head further down into the Jewellery Quarter in order to further extend it. There were some illuminating facts learned, for instance, I had long loved the fabulous, almost sky scraper-ish Waterstones building, built on the site of what was once the first book shop in Birmingham. What I didn’t know was that the building was once a furniture store, covered in neon lights that lit up a Birmingham that was still full of back to back houses.

The Egyptian influence on Deco can be clearly seen on many Birmingham buildings, and the curves, rule of 3 and geometry that is associated with Art Deco also clearly visible, if you know where to look. Some buildings have their roots firmly planted in the 1920s and 1930s, but others were rebuilt in the Deco style after receiving damage from bombing during World War 2 – this includes some key buildings on New Street like the beautiful and unusual building featured below, now an Ask Italian.

I loved discovering new Art Deco buildings that I had been unaware of, and also learning a little more information about ones that I do know well. I didn’t realise that the Odeon on New Street is the only original Deco Odeon in the UK that is still in use as an Odeon Cinema, although much of it’s beautiful interior is no gone, victim of a 1980s makeover.

Another stunning and impressive building is the CML building, which is awe inspiring in its beauty and size.

You can check out more of my Art Deco photograhy on my Instagram feed here.

You can find out more about Kevin Thomas’s Deco walking tours here.




2 thoughts on “Art Deco Walking Tour Birmingham

  1. Great write up! I must get back up to Birmingham again soon.
    I hate to be a bore, but the ODEON comment isn’t quite correct. New Street was built as the Paramount and later bought out by the chain. There are a number of original ODEONs still in operation though, Leicester Square (1937) being the most famous. Others include Weston-Super-Mare, Exeter, Worcester, Bristol, Swiss Cottage and Ayre. Sorry, I’m a geek!

Comments are closed.