Issue 282
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If we were Birmingham Airport, we'd go the Queen's route and have two birthdays. Reason being, it first opened in 1939 but was quickly requisitioned by the Air Ministry to help our boys politely inform Hermann Göring he's 600 miles from home. So it didn't really get started, commercially, until after WW2. But we're not Birmingham Airport and Birmingham Airport isn't the Queen, so to make things easier they're just celebrating 80 years in Brum, this year. And we've been into the archives... 
In 1928, Birmingham City Council decided that the city needed an airport. Well duhrr! These plans were delayed — a niggling little matter known as The Great Depression got in the way — but in 1933 the location was finally settled upon. Sites at Shirley and Aldridge were considered but declined.

BHX opened – under the name of Elmdon Airport – on July 8 1939. Yes, it's actually in Solihull, not Birmingham. Initial flights took passengers to Glasgow, Liverpool and sunny Croydon. You see, Croydon Airport was the UK's only international airport during the interwar period. It's rather fascinating actually. 
During the Second World War, Birmingham Airport was used as an Elementary Flying Training School for the RAF and Fleet Air Arm (one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy), as well as for flight testing and as a delivery base for Stirling and Lancaster bombers.

These bombers were manufactured at the Austin Aero Company's shadow factory at Cofton Hackett near Longbridge, but couldn't take off from the short runways at Longbridge Airfield. Instead they were transported by road, minus the wings that would be attached at Elmdon. 

The military built two runways, replacing what was just a grass strip.  
In 1949, with Adolf shown the exit, services began with British European Airways to Paris and flights to the continent steadily grew with services to Zurich, Düsseldorf, Palma, Amsterdam and Barcelona starting between 1955-1960. Croydon not looking so good now, huh?  
Originally opened by the Duchess of Kent (and joined by PM, Neville Chamberlain), the iconic Elmdon Terminal and Control Tower building has now been given Grade II protected status by Historic England. You'll see it before take off and landing as it's right by the airport, if you take a look around.  
Two men steered the design; one of whom was named Valery Dawbarn — he asked people to call him Nigel. Dawbarn's most famous work was BBC Television Centre, built between 1953 and 1960. This picture perfectly illustrates the over-hanging canopies which resembled aeroplane wings. The entire expenditure on the project was around £360,000.

Known as The Elmdon or the Art Deco terminal, it was last used en masse in 1984, but got called into action for private flights until closure last year. There's some great internal shots here, including the sort of cocktail bar we want to frequent, pre-flight.
In 1961 a new terminal building, called The International Building, was added to Birmingham Airport. The main runway was extended in 1967, and a new service to New York was launched. The airport came to its current form in 1984, when that terminal was replaced.  
In 1991 a second terminal opened, the first in the world to cater for both domestic and international passengers by solving the complications of Customs and Immigration control, which previously demanded distinct terminals. Don't ask us how.
The Art Deco Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport on the Coventry Road (this one) was originally built as the RAF Head Quarters, before becoming the Excelsior Hotel. Ben, an African Grey parrot, lived in a cage on the counter in the Castaway’s bar.  
Opening on 16 August 1984 the Maglev was a global innovation — the first public transport installation (in the present era) to use magnetic levitation. This absolute witchcraft was also the best bit of the holiday for countless kids. 

Linking Birmingham International Railway Station with BHX and the NEC it used two 'cabin' sized vehicles which featured electromagnets at each corner (to provide the lift) and linear induction motors (for propulsion). Everybody got that?

Important: It was not a monorail as it used several rails. So, to be honest, it was the opposite of a monorail.

The trains "flew" at an "altitude" of 15mm, carried up to 40 passengers and with a maximum speed of 26mph the 620 metre journey lasted for 90 seconds. This video is a joy to watch.

Maglev technology didn't catch on and in the end it became a victim of its own success. Sort of. It had been so dependable, for so long, that when it finally needed spare parts there was no replacement parts industry to help it. Its electronics had by then become several generations behind the times and closure came in June 1995.
It was replaced with an Austrian cable hauled system which we use today and is more akin to a flat funicular railway. Its two trains each consist of two carriages and can carry up to 1600 people per hour between the rail station and passenger terminals. We once filmed the journey, so you don't even need to go on holiday to ride the train! You're so welcome.
The airport's radar unit doesn't technically even need radars. There could be a power cut, the team's computers could spontaneously shut down and all the backup generators stop working, and they'd still be able to get you back to BHX. Using triple-charged, battery-operated radios, they'd just get the aircraft to fly to holding points at different levels, and then fly set procedures to land on the runway.
These days the airport handles almost 13 million passengers a year and flies to 150 destinations direct. When HS2 opens, the rail journey between Birmingham Airport and central London will reduce from 70 mins to 38 mins, which is exactly the average length of a single podcast, oddly. 


Shiny, challenging, tear-inducing experiences are our currency and this city's award-ladened ballet company is your next destination. We've paired Birmingham Royal Ballet up with a restaurant as envelope-pushing as the company's new triple bill, [Un]leashed. Catch three stunning short ballets at the Hippodrome — playful, modern and perception smashing in their execution — one of which is Ruth Brill's urban reimagining of Peter and the Wolf. But before you do, head to Nocturnal Animals for a pre-ballet bao and beer, all for just £20. That's a saving of 40%. When booking your ballet, select one of the 7.30pm performances on June 12 or 13 using this link, then select a green seat in the stalls. On the night, show your ticket when you get to Nocturnal Animals to claim your bao and bev. They'll even do you a house cocktail if you don't fancy that beer.  


The theme for this year's Pride festival is 'Love Out Loud', which makes you wonder what the theme has been every other year. Speaking of years, Years & Years headline on Saturday night while The Human League (don't you want them, baby?) top the bill on Sunday. Faithless will be jockeying discs, Kate Nash will be singing about her first date night (on what is technically the second date night) and Marc Almond will be tainting love left, right and centre. But top of the muthaflippin' Saturday pops is MOBO-winning Solihullite Lady Leshurr who's been out reppin' the UK rap scene worldwide, putting out videos that have amassed squillions of hits (this one's had 56 mil, mate!), all the while using her hard-earned platform to speak openly about mental health and her pansexuality. Not all superheroes etc etc. It's this very weekend and tickets are from £36.


Elton John has been so huge for so long that his Seventies self has been weirdly obscured by the The Lion King, Diana’s funeral and AIDS fundraising — even though in those days he was responsible for one in 20 records sold anywhere in the world. This sensationally stylised biopic recreates this drug-fuelled period, and largely follows the usual beats of the rise-and-rise narrative you’d expect about someone who’s been one of the most famous men in the world since he was 23. The delivery is what sets it apart though, with Elton’s near-endless parade of classics chopped and (occasionally) cut to just about fit what’s going on around him, and delivered by a game cast whose let’s-put-on-a-show enthusiasm is infectious. Taron Egerton, meanwhile, is phenomenal — whether throwing himself around a piano while flying into the air or stomping into rehab dressed like Satan, he’s taking risks in almost every scene, and pulls it off through sheer commitment. Music’s not too bad either. Cineworld at Resorts World — book. Added extra: Show this email when ordering to get 50% off the food bill at High Line until Sunday, May 26. T&C apply


Wake up and smell the Coffee Fest. As well as familiar sorts like 200 Degrees and Ngopi, there'll be new blends to sample from exhibitors like Origin, as well as Hasbean (wegettit). There'll also be demos on the truly important stuff — the perfect flat white, latte art — the big issues. As is now obligatory at any festival, craft gin and street food, including from Dim Sum Su and Bare Bones Pizza, will be in ready supply. From June 7 to 9 at Custard Factory, tickets are £8 including unlimited tasters and a tote bag for the KeepCup you will inevitably buy someone.


Singing in a group can reduce stress. Sometimes, it even sounds quite good. When you're hitting those high notes with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and its director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla for company, you'd suspect it would be such a time. Join Brum's first Song Festival, a mass-group, outdoor sing-song, inspired by the Baltic tradition of Mirga's Lithuanian upbringing. The one-dayer starts with rehearsals at 11am, finishing with the big singalong at 7pm. On June 9, it's £13 to take part and free to watch.
Venue: Ryokō at 1000 Trades, 16 Frederick Street, JQ, B1 3HE; website 
Choice: Glazed beef rib (£14) Chooser: Chef, Andrew Gabler

When restaurants so much as change the type of cheese they're putting on a burger, or the presentation of a pud, we get a press release about it. So it's equal parts insane, brave and accomplished that 1000 Trades quietly tears up its menu every two months and heads to a different part of the world for its next food concept: see y'all later Twisted American Pancakes, and kon'nichiwa to Ryokō, a pan Asian collection of dishes that launched last week. Pro tip: try and go with pals so you can over-order and share everything. We're talking crispy Gochujang chicken wings (£6) — the savoury, sweet and spicy fermented condiment doing all things right, pan-fried jiaozi duck dumplings (£7) with a light gingery dressing to cut through the happy fattiness of the meat. And we're talking beef rib (£14). Beef rib marinated in mirin, soy and honey, which is reduced and ultimately used as a sticky, luscious glaze. Served on top of plenty of greens, a king oyster mushroom and spoon-requesting amounts of the honey/mirin miracle, this is the dish to order if you're flying solo and in need of a proper dinner. Shout out also to the wild rice salad, which goes just right with those wings if you're looking for a lighter combo. Spanning parts of Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine, this isn't the absolute best Asian food you'll get in Birmingham but it is impressive in both its ambition and execution, and well worthy of a stop-off before the whole menu changes again, post-June 27.
All hail the bank holiday weekend, as follows:
Friday has the best looking of gins to be found at 40 St Paul's from 6pm. Classic cocktails with a neon Tokyo ‘twist’ is what to expect from Roku Gin, who are behind the bar for one night only. Drinks from £9. Book
From 9am Saturday, Moseley Farmers' market is most deserving of your attention, with the arts market just across the road too.
Next up from midday, Fat Snags is at the High Field serving up hot diggity dogs, with a bar from Sadlers, all in the team's lov-er-ly garden. Le deets
Your evening entertainment looks a lot like the D-I-S-C-O special at Hare & Hounds, free tickets are available but must be booked in advance.
If you can contemplate more food (course you can), on Sunday, Arch 13 has guest chef Elliot Tibbins, who you may know from the Butchers' Social pop-up days, cooking up a 5 course, wine-paired dinns. It's £65 to get your spot and you will need to book.

"Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand

And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand"

Elton John, Tiny Dancer (1971)

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WORDS: Tom Cullen, Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry, Robb Sheppard
PICTURES: Rocketman — Paramount

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