Findings from a lost city centre footpath reveal the secrets of a 200-year-old street

A collection of artefacts discovered on a lost city centre footpath have gone on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

They were discovered during excavation work for the new West Midlands Metro tram extension on the edge of Victoria Square.

The 12 items, which include a clay pipe, domestic pottery, old bricks and animal bones, shed light on what life was like 200 years ago.

The display cabinet housing the collection has been placed at the point where the Round Room meets the museum’s gift shop.

Animal bones and pottery fragments inside the cabinet, looking towards the Round Room

There is also a TV screen playing a short video which explains how the finds were unearthed.

Ellen McAdam, Director of the Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “The exciting thing about archaeology is the way it reveals hidden histories.

“We are grateful to the Midland Metro Alliance and (environmental services company) RSK for enabling us to show our visitors these finds from Birmingham’s past.”

The footpath, which dates back to the late 18th to mid-19th century, was unearthed during construction works for the Birmingham Westside Metro extension.

Work is ongoing to create new steps in front of the statue of Queen Victoria.

And the track has yet to be laid from Pinfold Street despite months of preparatory work which involved removing the nearby Iron Man statue in September last year.

Workmen reshaping the edge of Victoria Square close to where the artefacts were found
Workmen reshaping the edge of Victoria Square close to where the artefacts were found

Midland Metro Alliance sustainability manager Natalie Cropp said: “These items are truly fascinating and make for an interesting display at the museum just a stone’s throw from where they were found.

“It’s fantastic that we were able to capture this piece of forgotten history during the construction of the Metro extension.

Vew through the cabinet towards the Edwardian Tea Rooms
Vew through the cabinet towards the Edwardian Tea Rooms

Animal bones
Animal bones

“Given the interest in the footpath by the public, it is great that these findings are now on display for all to see.”

Archaeologist Laurence Hayes helped to date the discovery for RSK.

“The objects date to the post-medieval period,” he said.

Pottery fragments, a clay pipe and old bricks
Pottery fragments, a clay pipe and old bricks

“At the time the cobbled surface was in use close to Christ Church on New Street, at the end of Pinfold Street.

“In the coming months we will be analysing the objects in detail to find out their date and function, which will help piece together the story of the road.”

+ Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is due to shut down for three years from October, 2019 as part of a major development of the adjacent Council House which needs significant work to its electrical system.

Metro tram latest

Black Sabbath star Ozzy Osbourne opened the Snow Hill to New Street extension in May 2016.

The latest extension, designed and built by the Midland Metro Alliance working on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) see the new line extended from Grand Central to Hagley Road in Edgbaston.

The first phase of the works will take the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services expected to commence in late 2019.

The reflection of the dome of the Victorian Round Room over the top of the display cabinet where items include an old house brick
The reflection of the dome of the Victorian Round Room over the top of the display cabinet where items include an old house brick

The second phase will continue to Edgbaston, and is planned to open in 2021, in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Five new tram stops will connect passengers to Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Brindleyplace, Five Ways and Hagley Road.

Major leisure destinations hoping to benefit in the long run will include the Library of Birmingham, Birmingham Rep, Symphony Hall, Sea Life Centre and Cineworld Broad Street.

The artefacts are next to the gift shop
The artefacts are next to the gift shop

The next stage of construction for the Birmingham Westside Metro extension will begin in September 2018.

This stage of works will see the Metro line constructed from Victoria Square to Centenary Square.

In order to facilitate this stage of construction, Paradise Circus will close in both directions from Monday, September 3 and remain closed until summer 2019.

Paradise Street view towards Alpha Tower, the new HSBC UK building and Birmingham Town Hall (right) - along the West Midlands Metro tram extension
Paradise Street view towards Alpha Tower, the new HSBC UK building and Birmingham Town Hall (right) – along the West Midlands Metro tram extension

The A38 Queensway underpass, which runs beneath Paradise Circus, will remain open in both directions for the duration of the works to allow access to and from the Aston Expressway and M6.

Complementary highways works started in Sheepcote Street off Broad Street on Monday, August 6.

For more details about the work visit the Metro Alliance website here


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