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28 October 2014

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You are in: Birmingham > Your Birmingham > Walk Through Time > Birmingham City Centre > Page 4
Floozie in jacuzzi

Birmingham City Centre

Victoria Square

Make your way up through the square, towards Chamberlain Square.

View map of this stage

Victoria Square sign
Victoria Square sign

This is the civic heart of the city with the Town Hall and Council House dominating the square.

On geological maps, you can see large parts of the city centre have been constructed on rock brought in by man. This could be to make the ground level or to make a better surface to build on.

audiopWhy is the ground filled in? Listen to Ed Hough »

Much of the information geologists have about the rock underneath the surface comes from boreholes. Engineers dig deep narrow holes into the ground and extract the 'core' (the stuff which comes out of the hole). The boreholes can be many tens of metres deep or even several kilometres! Geologists then analyse the core and use the data from lots of boreholes to compose maps.

In Birmingham, boreholes were very important for map-making because rock cannot be seen at the surface. The handy thing about boreholes is that you only have to dig them once - the rock layers underground don't change (not in Britain, anyway - they might if we were in an earthquake region).

The British Geological Survey has a 'library' of borehole records - not just the files about what was found but the actual cores themselves! There are row after row of boxes full of tubular sections of rock...

audiopHow do geologists use boreholes? Listen to Ed Hough »

Find out more about the British Geological Survey at www.bgs.ac.uk.

Victoria Square is full of fascinating public art. A statue of Queen Victoria looks out over the square (and doesn't look amused by the newer statues).

Near Queen Victoria is a small plaque which shows a pawprint next to the words "On site - Ebony 1992-3". Ebony was a dog belonging to one of the workers who renovated the square - she had her own day-glo safety vest and helped her owner carry his tools!

'The River' water feature was built in 1993, complete with the 'floozie in the jacuzzi' statue weighing in at a hefty 1.75 tonnes (aka: Spirit of the River by Dhruva Mistry). The fountain is one of Europe's biggest with 3000 gallons cascading down the steps in one minute.

The Iron Man
The Iron Man

The Iron Man sculpture was a gift to Birmingham from the Trustee Savings Bank 1993. It was designed by Anthony Gormley - who also designed the Angel of the North - notice any similarity? The Birmingham sculpture came first though! It was made in Willenhall, showing off the skills of traditional industry in Birmingham and the Black Country.

Towards Charmberlain Square, near the Town Hall, there is a scale set into the paving in front of the Town Hall showing all sorts of old ways of measuring distance.

Chamberlain Square
Chamberlain Square

Walk through Chamberlain Square into Paradise Forum (to the left of the library).

View map of this stage

(Optional detour: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Both of these are free entry. Definitely worth a look if you have time!)

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Map of Birmingham city centre (© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. BBC licence number 100019855, 2004)
© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. BBC licence number 100019855, 2004

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