Birmingham Heritage Week makes a welcome return for 2020 but with lockdown changes
Birmingham Heritage Week returns for 2020 to celebrate the city and its fascinating history, people and places for eleven glorious days.
Taking place from Thursday 10th – Sunday 20th September, this year’s festival will include virtual tours, special outdoor performances, insightful walks and enlightening film screenings.
Now in its sixth year, Birmingham Heritage Week will be a little different this time around due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, but with events taking place across 11 days, there will be plenty of chance to explore the city and delve into its past as usual – whether that’s from the comfort of your own home, or at a safe in-person event.
Offering participants the chance to explore and celebrate the second city, the event will showcase everything from online talks with Brummie historian Carl Chinn to the chance to explore one of Moseley’s hidden treasures, Moseley Park & Pool.
Outdoor physical activity tours
For the first time ever, Birmingham Heritage Week will also provide the opportunity to explore the city via walking, running and cycling tours.
Hosted by Flatpack Festival, the Cycling Tour Of Late 60s Birmingham is a 15-mile self-led bike tour which guides you around some of the locations that played an important role in the rapid development of the city in the 1950s and ’60s.
The tour includes ‘the best club in the world’, which hosted everyone from John Lee Hooker to Pink Floyd above a furniture shop on Erdington High Street, and the spot where anti-racist protesters marched against Enoch Powell in late 1968.
The Best Of Birmingham running tour, meanwhile, will cover 1,620 years of the city’s history on Thursday 10, Friday 18, Saturday 19 & Sunday 20 September.
Participants ‘will find out about amazing inventions that changed the world, be inspired by the development of Birmingham’s gay scene and discover what happened to the FA Cup that was lost here’. Refreshments and digital photos are included in the ticket price!
There’s also a choice of walking tours covering the rich history of Bournville and Birmingham’s main city central squares.
You can also build a picture of Birmingham’s history with the Birmingham Heritage Week Postbox Challenge. Take a closer look at your local post box or take a walk to another part of the city and see what you can find. Identify when the postbox dates back to and who was on the throne at the time.
Take a photo and post it on social media with the street location and tag #BHeritageWeek. Your record will be uploaded to help create a map of the city’s postboxes from the reign of Queen Victoria to Elizabeth II.
For documentary buffs, new documentary ‘From Africa to Britain‘ recounts personal stories of those who made new lives in Birmingham and the Black Country. These personal accounts reflect on themes of loss, discovery, courage, and often success, broadly highlighting the contribution of the South Asian community on the economic and cultural diversity of the region.
The film by Aidem Digital & DESIblitz is being screened at The Hive in the Jewellery Quarter on Friday 18th September.
Also on Friday 18th September, local historian Carl Chinn will take his audience on a whirlwind tour of the 19th century in Birmingham, covering the key events and personalities that lead to the development of the Jewellery Quarter as we know it. Deviating from his usual physical tour format, this presentation will be an online talk hosted on Zoom.
Some of this year’s highlights include:
- A free guided tour of Birmingham’s oldest operational swimming pool, Woodcock Street Baths, with the option to take a dip for those that fancy a swim. This historic swimming pool retains most of its original features and was constructed in 1902. Guided tours on 10, 11, 17, 18 and 20 Sept
- Enjoy an exclusive hidden treasures tour of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery while its closed to the public, including dinner in the Edwardian Tearooms. Limited ticketed event on Saturday 19 Sept.
- Did you know that Ladywood has a Buddhist Peace Pagoda? Visit this golden domed Buddhist Vihara for a tranquil escape from the city and hear from the resident monks that study and practice there. Free timed entry on Thursday 10 September to Sunday 20 September, 9am – 3pm.
- The HS2 archaeology programme is continuing to unearth some fascinating discoveries and you can learn more about some of the exciting finds in a series of free online talks as part of the HS2 archaeology conference on Saturday 19 Sept. Reserve your space online.
- Discover your local area or new parts of the city and Walk for Heritage during Birmingham Heritage Week. Your sign-up money will support the work of Birmingham Museums Trust, ensuring the charity can continue to inspire future generations. Take part any day during the week and receive a limited-edition heritage pin badge.
- Relax while enjoying a series of enchanting mini outdoor performances by the CBSO in the Handsworth secret gardens. Four sessions from 5.30pm on Friday 18 Sept. Timed tickets to be booked in advance.
- See a free screening of a new documentary by Aidem Digital & DESIblitz, From Africa to Britain, which recounts personal stories of those who made new lives in Birmingham and the Black Country. Free limited tickets available for Friday 18 Sept; 6pm – 7pm at The Hive.
- Meet staff from the Birmingham Royal Ballet in the magnificent surroundings of Aston Hall. You’ll discover that ballet is for everyone and find out about dance, costumes, and how dancers train. Timed ticketed entry throughout the day on Sunday 20 Sept.
- Take a free virtual tour of the award-winning Coffin Works on Saturday 12 Sept, 12noon – 1.15pm. This guided tour will focus on the stories of the site’s restoration and the former workers who made coffin fittings for the ‘great and the good.’
The priority at all in-person events is to keep attendees and event organisers safe. All activities will take place within government guidelines and there will be very limited space at pre-booked events.
Irene De Boo, Birmingham Heritage Week Co-ordinator, said: “Birmingham Heritage Week is about discovering how the past has influenced the city today, so we felt it was more important than ever to celebrate Birmingham and its stories, during what has been an historic year for everyone.
“We may not be able to bring people together in exactly the same way but we have a brilliant programme of events that can be enjoyed safely online or in-person, so we’d encourage everyone to make the most of this year’s festival, while we’re all spending more time based locally. We’re sure everyone will enjoy discovering something new about this city’s rich heritage this September.”
Birmingham councillor Philip Davis, Cabinet Adviser for Heritage, said the planned events “wouldn’t be possible without the range of community groups that come together for that week in September to make sure we celebrate the city’s heritage, whether that’s buildings or communities, we all get together and make it really mean something for the city.
“In these difficult times, it’s great that Heritage Week is still going ahead, so please do enjoy the event.
“Let’s celebrate Birmingham’s heritage together.”
Birmingham Heritage Week 2020 is sponsored by Birmingham City Council and organised by Birmingham Museums Trust.
To see the full programme and pre-book events, visit birminghamheritageweek.co.uk.