The Electric’s 100th Birthday

This weekend marked the 100th birthday of the Electric Cinema in Birmingham - the UK's oldest working cinema. Opened in 1909 the cinema has been known as the Select, the Jacey, the Classic and the Tivoli and also been an amusement arcade!

I have been twice this year, once to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and once to see The Children as part of the Screen WM Film Festival. I'd recommend the Electric experience to anyone, particularly the sofa seats in the main screen, with some of the gorgeous "Just Rachel" ice-cream sold on the premises. They also have a traditional absinthe fountain, if that's your bag.

If you're interested in going along, check out the programme for the next few weeks. Up until New Years Eve you can catch Nowhere Boy and Nine. Guitar fans should check out It Might Get Loud on Tuesday 5th Jan, while Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll, a biopic of Ian Dury, runs from 8 - 14 Jan.

I'll see you there :-)


Albert Gill Ladywood VC Winner

The latest film from TNT News describes the history of former Ladywood resident Albert Gill, who in October 1916 was awarded the Victoria Cross, the most prestigious award for gallantry that can be presented to British & Commonwealth forces. TNT News reporter Alex presents this report from the cemetery where Albert Gill was buried.


Launch of Cardinal Newman Project

Last week I attended the launch of the Cardinal Newman Project at the Norman Power Centre in Ladywood. The project seeks to investigate the impact of Cardinal Newman and his work on the Ladywood area of Birmingham. It also aims to promote intergenerational learning. As well as obtaining information from elderly residents of Ladywood using techniques such as reminiscence, the children from the Oratory Primary School will be filming the various events and visits to produce a DVD of the project.

I was honoured to meet Father Sebastian and Father Anton from the Birmingham Oratory. Despite being openly secular in my beliefs, both were keen to hear about my involvement in the project and in particular my views on the area. I also met several parishioners of the Oratory and residents and management of the Norman Power Centre.

As part of the project steering group I have set up a simple website for the project to promote the work and events that are taking place. The site should make it easy for members of the steering group to give updates and for residents to contribute.

There was a lot of excitement about the potential visit to Birmingham of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. If confirmed, the visit will bring a whole new meaning to the project and hopefully result in many more people benefiting from the project's work.


Birmingham Remembers Matthew Boulton

This week Birmingham remembered one of its most famous sons, Matthew Boulton. The manufacturing and business guru and key member of the Lunar Society died 200 years ago.

A short ceremony was held by his statue on Birmingham's Broad Street.

The children from Ladywood's own TNT News were on hand to record the event.

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Birmingham Lives

This afternoon I popped into the 3rd Birmingham Lives Local History Fair at Beetham Tower. The size of the event was impressive with stalls from all manner of organisations and from all across the city. I wish I'd had longer to stay and explore, but alas I had to move on. But I managed to catch the Ladywood TNT News stall, the Old Ladywood stall and the Jewellery Quarter's own Pen Room stall, where I tried writing with a nib and ink for the first time in years - and didn't make a very good job of it!

The Old Ladywood collection was simply superb, with the very knowledgeable Mac Joseph (proud owner of Old Ladywood) on hand to talk visitors through the 30+ albums of photographs. I found some great shots of Edgbaston Reservoir, some old political literature and some fascinating pictures of pubs. The latter really interests me, not just because I enjoy a pint from time to time, but because you can track social changes within an area from the changes to the pubs.

Mac has produced a 2010 Old Ladywood calendar and at just £5 it's an absolute steal. You can download the order form here.

It was great to see such a good turnout and it just goes to show how many people in Birmingham care about preserving their heritage.