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Bull Ring Shopping Centre, The (1965)


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The Bull Ring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, redeveloped, designed and constructed by John Laing & Son.

The Bull Ring site can be traced back to when Birmingham was closer to a pastoral village community. As it grew to a city, the Bull Ring was its central marketplace. A nineteenth-century painting depicts it next to St Martin's Church, which remains unchanged.

One of the designers of the new shopping centre discusses the challenges of keeping with the idea of the town within the city. The three parts of the site have to be linked, and the 65% slope across the development has to be negotiated. The solution was to build it on six levels.

Planning was required over the 29-month build period, especially with regard to keeping the ring road that passes through the site operating. The design is compared with footage of the old Bull Ring market.

The effect of the finished site is discussed, particularly its likely impact on the buying habits of shoppers who arrive by train, bus or car straight into the shopping centre. Comparisons are drawn between the convenience of traffic-free shopping and the traditional high street.

The delivery system involves goods arriving at the basement before being conveyed to the appropriate level via service lifts and corridors. The shopping centre is air conditioned, and the effects are compared with the weather outside.

Various features and amenities are explored, including the Centre Court at the heart of the complex (complete with exhibitions), the Grand Parade with Gino's café, fountains and aviary, on-site banking services, landscaping around the centre and gardens, the new open-air market and indoor market hall, restaurants and a dance hall - the last of which stay open into the night. The security team helps find a missing child.

The Bull Ring Shopping Centre is officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh.