Spaghetti Junction 'beach'
Spaghetti Junction beach
By Jon Bounds, contributor
Jon Bounds explores the urban myth of a 'Birmingham beach' and finds his treasure beneath Spaghetti Junction.
It's been forty years since protesters in Paris coined the term "under the paving stones, the beach", they meant that beneath our hard working everyday lives there could be leisure time, but under Spaghetti Junction a beach? Well, kind of.
Jon Bounds basks on the 'beach' beneath Spaghetti
If you've dismissed tales of a beach below the Gravelly Hill Interchange, then you really should go and take a look – but don't bother with your cossie, I'm not sure our canals are ready for the casual swimmer. After finding the right subway exit you can see water – it's Salford Junction, the meeting point of three canals: the Grand Union Canal, Tame Valley Canal and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.
Sand? Well there's not sand as such, but what is sand but dirt with ideas above its station? And there's plenty of dirt, for the site is unspoilt by developments of any kind. In fact it's very unusual to see anyone at all there, perhaps the odd passing duck.
People might not call it picturesque, but I'm happy to celebrate the beauty of industrial design and the wonderfully complex shapes you get at the meeting point of two motorways, two rivers, three canals and any number of bustling A-roads.
It's odd to make a place built to get you elsewhere as quickly as possible your destination, but worthwhile. When you drive over Spaghetti you don't get the sense of scale, of the achievement that it really was when it was built. You can get away from the pressures of city living, while still being in the middle of it.
Spaghetti Junction - picturesque?
Last summer when we had competing beaches in our city centre the missing factor was water and while you shouldn't paddle, lying back and listening to the canals splashing gently by is a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. No doubt you're too scared of taking the wrong exit and ending up in London instead of Erdington, but pause beneath the grey arches and relax on the Costa-del-Gravelly Hill.
Note: Jon Bounds is the creator of website Birmingham: It's Not S***; A Birmingham blogger and all round fan of the city.
last updated: 08/02/2008 at 17:39
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