Victoria Square - A Birmingham Gem!

Victoria Square was originally called Council House Square, but was re-named to Victoria Square after Queen Victoria in 1901, just 12 days before she passed away.


Located in the heart of the City, Victoria Square is home to the Council House and the Town Hall, two wonderful architectural examples of Birmingham's fascinating history. To the south of the square is Victoria Square House and No 1 Victoria Square.

Victoria Square

Victoria Square (2019). Photography by Karl Newton

 

Connecting roads include New Street, Pinfold Street, Hill Street, Paradise Street, Colmore Row and Waterloo Street.

Victoria Square is a wonderful location in which to take in all that is happening in the city, and, as can be seen from the following, the Square is a magnet for keen photographers.  

Victoria Square and 103 Colmore Row courtesy Daniel Sturley

 

History of Victoria Square

Victoria Square was originally called Council House Square until it was renamed in 1901. The square has been remodelled several times, including in the early 1990s and more recently with the Westside Metro extension at the end of the 2010s. Going back in time, we find Christ Chuch (built 1805 to 1813, demolished in 1899). There was then a building called Christ Church Buildings  (also called Galloway Corner) on that site, but that too was later demolished in the 1970s. It occupied part of what is now Victoria Square, until it was demolished (this is where River and Youth is now). The Christ Church name survives today with Christ Church Passage.

Victoria Square

Christmas Eve 2020 in Victoria Square. Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Birmingham Council House

The Council House was built between 1874 to 1879, and was by architect Yeoville Thomason. It is a Grade II* listed building. It is home to Birmingham City Council.

Birmingham Council House courtesy Daniel Sturley

 

Birmingham Town Hall

The oldest building in the square was built between 1832 and 1834, and was designed by architects Joseph Hansom and Edward Welch. The Grade I listed building was refurbished between 2002 and 2007. It was the first example of the 19th Century revival of Roman Architecture in Birmingham.

Birmingham Town Hall courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Victoria Square House and No 1 Victoria Square

On the left is Victoria Square House, this was built from 1899 to 1901, and operated as the General Post Office until 1972 (when the Royal Mail moved to larger premises, which is now The Mailbox). It was later the headquarters of the TSB. It was saved from demolition by the Victorian Society, although the former sorting office behind was demolished in 1989. The present rear building opened in 1991. No 1 Victoria Square is on the right (corner of Hill Street and Paradise Street) and built between 1983 and 1985.

Victoria Square

Victoria Square House and No 1 Victoria Square (January 2020) courtesy Elliott Brown

 

125 and 130 Colmore Row

These two buildings at the end of Colmore Row and Waterloo Street, and are next to Victoria Square. 125 Colmore Row is home to Starbucks Coffee (on the ground floor), while 130 Colmore Row is currently home to Theatrix. 125 Colmore Row was completed in 2002. 130 Colmore Row was built in 1903 by Goddard & Co. of Leicester for the Alliance Assurance.

Victoria Square

125 and 130 Colmore Row from Victoria Square (winter 2017/18) courtesty of George Daley

 

Christchurch Passage

These steps leads up from New Street to Waterloo Street, has the name of the lost Christ Church and Christ Church Buildings. It has been in it's present form since Victoria Square was rebuilt in the early 1990s. From the early 1970s to the early 1990s there used to be shops down here, but they were gone by 1993.

Christchurch Passage

103 Colmore Row from Christchurch Passage (November 2020) courtesy Elliott Brown

 

Statues and public art

Two works of art that can be seen in Victoria Square are the statue of Queen Victoria erected in 1901 and The Rivert Art, more commonly known as 'Floozie in the Jacuzzi', by Indian sculptor Dhruva Mistry unveiled in 1993.

 

Statue of Queen Victoria

The Queen Victoria statue was originally designed in marble by Thomas Brock in 1901, and was later cast in bronze by William Bloye in 1951. The sceptre were replaced in 2011. She last got a deep clean in 2018.

Statue of Queen Victoria in Victoria Square courtesy Daniel Sturley

 

Floozie in the Jacuzzi

Known as River and Youth, it was unveiled in 1993 and was sculpted by Dhruva Mistry. Known locally by Brummies by her nickname of the "Floozie in the Jacuzzi". There is also a a pair of Sphinx Guardians.

'Floozie in the Jacuzzi' in Victoria Square courtesy Daniel Sturley

 

Iron:Man

The Iron:Man by Antony Gormley was unveiled in Victoria Square in 1993. It used to be outside of Victoria Square House, until it was removed to storage in September 2017 to allow the building of the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square. It has yet to return.

Iron:Man Victoria Square

Iron:Man in Victoria Square (May 2011) courtesy Elliott Brown

 

 

Town Hall Tram Stop

Between 2017 and 2019, construction of The Westside Metro extension took in Victoria Square between Pinfold Street and Paradise Street. This included a tram stop on Paradise Street next to the Town Hall. 

Tram passing through Victoria Square courtesy Elliott Brown




 

Events over the years in Victoria Square

Victoria Square hosts many events throughout the year, the largest and most popular being the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market. 

 

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market

The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market has been taking place in Birmingham annually for over 20 years, every November and December. Stretching from Victoria Square down New Street.

BFCM Victoria Square

Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham (2019) courtesy Elliott Brown

 

The Big Hoot and The Big Sleuth

During the summer of 2015 and 2017 there was trails of owls and bears all around Birmingham. In both summers Victoria Square had quite a lot of them on display for 10 weeks. Before being auctioned off for charity.

Alf the Penguin Owl was by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was The National SEA LIFE Centre.

The Big Hoot Victoria Square

Alf the Penguin Owl (by artist Deven Bhurke) in Victoria Square (July 2015). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Spock by artists Maria Shrigley and Patricia Shrigley. The sponsor was Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

Spock Victoria Square

Spock (by artists Maria Shrigley and Patricia Shrigley) in Victoria Square (July 2017) Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Lost Buildings of Victoria Square

Several buildings have gone up in the 19th and 20th Centuries in the area now called Victoria Square, including Christ Church, which got replaced by Christ Church Buildings  (also called Galloway Corner).

 

Christ Church

Christ Church was built between 1805 and 1813, on land between Colmore Row and New Street. It was built in the Classical style, but it was later demolished in 1899.

The drawing below was made in 1829 by the artist Thomas Radclyffe. The publisher was William Emans. In the collection of the Birmingham Museums Trust.

Christ Church

Public Domain Dedication image of Christ Church Birmingham in 1829 from the Birmingham Museums Trust collection

 

Galloways Corner

The Christ Church Buildings was offices built by Essex, Nicol & Goodman in 1901 in the French Renaissance style. It survived until it was demolished in the 1970 for an unbuilt part of the Inner Ring Road. Also known as Galloways Corner.

Galloways Corner

Galloways Corner in Victoria Square circa 1954. Photo copyrighted to Geoff Dowling

Project dates

29 May 2019 - On-going

Passions

Civic pride, Art; Culture & creativity, Modern Architecture
Squares and public spaces, Classic Architecture

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Contact

Your Place Your Space

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ yourplaceyourspace.com