Thomas Gardens (Pagoda Island) at Holloway Circus - A wonderful open space!

Located at Holloway Circus is Thomas Gardens (Pagoda Island). Originally built in 1966, it was refurbished in 1998 with a Chinese Pagoda, Chinese stone dogs and other Chinese style objects.


Holloway Circus is the island between Smallbrook Queensway, Suffolk Street Queensway, Holloway Head and Horse Fair / Bristol Street. There is now only two subways remaining here (the rest have long since been filled in).

Holloway Circus

Britain's Got Talent lorries passing Holloway Circus (January 2011). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Pagoda Island gets its name from the seven storey granite pagoda that resides there. This is surrounded by chinese style gardens and sculpture.  The Pagoda was installed in the middle during the improvements of 1998. It was originally called Thomas Gardens, which opened back in 1966 (during the building of the Inner Ring Road / Queensway's).

Pagoda Holloway Circus

Pagoda lit up after dark at Holloway Circus (November 2019). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Pagoda

The pagoda is located at the centre of Holloway Circus, and is the gateway to the Chinese Quarter, installed in 1998. It was carved in Fujian, a province in China. It was donated to the City by Wing Yip and Brothers (Holdings) Ltd  to the people and City of Birmingham. The structure was erected in Thomas Gardens to create a gateway feature into Birmingham's Bull Ring and Market Quarter and was implemented by Birmingham City Council.

Pagoda

The Pagoda at Holloway Circus (January 2011). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

 

Chinese Guardian Dogs

This pair of Chinese Stone Dogs were installed during the 1998 improvements, and are located close to the Horse Fair mosaic / mural and Horse Fair Subway.

Chinese Dogs

Chinese Guardian Dogs at Holloway Circus (January 2011). Photography by Elliott Brown


 

History of Holloway Circus

The garden is located inside of a roundabout at Holloway Circus Queensway were first landscaped in 1966. There used to be at least four subways, but is now only two. On one side is a mural of the Horse Fair dated to 1966 (by Kenneth Budd). It was landscaped in 1998 by the Birmingham Design Services. The Hebe statue by Robert Thomas, made in 1966 was relocated to a site on James Watt Queensway in the mid 2000s. In the centre is a pagoda made of grey granite which was made in China, which was installed in 1998.

Holloway Circus

Holloway Circus (January 2011). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Horse Fair mural

The mural unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Alderman H. E. Tyler J.P. on the 30th June 1966. It depicted activities in Horse Fair which took place in this area until 1911. Was the last remaining fair of the Charter granted by Henry III in 1215. It was made in 1966 by Kenneth Budd, and is now the only remaining original mosaic in the City that he did in the original position. Although refurbished around 1998, by the early 2010s, there was a lot of missing mosaic tiles, and is probably worse now. And is in need of urgent repairs. The JFK Memorial from St Chad's Circus was destroyed in 2007, and later recreated in Digbeth in late 2012 into early 2013. While the Snow Hill mural was recreated in minature in 2013 (by Oliver Budd son of Kenneth).

Horse Fair 1908

Horse Fair 1908 mural at Holloway Circus (April 2009). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

By early 2013, the Horse Fair mural was missing a lot of tiles. Half of it is over a railing to a blocked off former subway. Surely the Council could do something about the condition, it properly is in a worse condition by 2021? Perhaps Oliver Budd and his team could restore it to it's former glory?

Horse Fair 1908

Horse Fair 1908 mural at Holloway Circus (January 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Horsefair Subway

This subway starts from near Horse Fair and Holloway Head and leads to Thomas Garden / Pagoda Island. One of two subways that is still there today. It was built in 1966.

Horsefair Subway

Horsefair Subway to Holloway Circus (January 2011). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Scala Subway

This subway is at the corner of Smallbrook Queensway and Horse Fair, and leads to Thomas Garden / Pagoda Island. Named after Scala House, which used to house a cinema called the Odeon Queensway, which closed down for good in 1988. One of the routes to the Chinese Quarter and Gay Village.

Scala Subway Holloway Circus

Scala Subway from Holloway Circus (January 2011). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Suffolk Subway

Between 1966 and 1998 there used to be a subway between Suffolk Street Queensway amd Holloway Head. It might have been called Suffolk Subway. It was near Cleveland Tower. Between late 2017 and early 2018, there was roadworks here, which installed new road lanes around Holloway Circus Queensway. A digital billboard had previously been installed here in 2015.

Suffolk Subway

Filled in subway between Suffolk Street Queensway and Holloway Head at Holloway Circus (January 2011). Photography by Elliott Brown

Project dates

22 Feb 2021 - On-going

Passions

Squares and public spaces

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