Issue 186
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The slight negative when it comes to jail is that you're not allowed to leave whenever you want. It's almost as if that's the whole point. But picture a scenario where you can enter one of Britain's oldest prisons and walk out the moment you fancy a martini. Hidden Spaces have re-opened Steelhouse Lane clink for three days and are offering 750 places to you, on their July 15 tour. Those shutterbugs at Instagrammers of Birmingham have beaten you to it, having looked around last week, and their excellent/eerie imagery accompanies our Steelhouse stats and facts.
- The Grade II-listed custody block was originally built in 1892 and the current police station, built on the same site opened in 1933.
- The lock-up is a distinctive terracotta building, a supplementary building of the Victoria Law Courts and built in a similar style, but on a less grand scale.
- The main entrance is elaborate. Above it is a broad gable within which is held the City of Birmingham arms and the Brum motto ‘Forward’.
- The building originally contained 67 cells although several were later converted to alternative uses. A wall runs part way through the basement area, which may have been in relation to early gender separation of prisoners.
- The floor of the basement slopes into the middle and is believed to have been used to facilitate cleaning of the cells, with water draining away to the centre. 
- A (rumoured to be haunted) tunnel runs underground from the basement to the courts, allowing prisoners to be taken between the two without having to walk out at street level. This would have been particularly useful for high profile prisoners who attracted a lot of attention or when crowds gathered to try and free prisoners. Officers were killed in 1875 and 1897 by unruly mobs in two such instances.
- On the ground floor a spectacular coat of arms can be found. This is the coat of arms of the United Kingdom and underneath it states ‘DIEU ET MON DROIT’ which translates to ‘God and my right,’ referring to the divine right of the monarch. 
- The City of Birmingham Orchestra, (later renamed the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) held its first rehearsal in the band room at the old station, at 9.30am on 4 September 1920.
- For around sixty years the station housed a private bar, allowing officers to drink when not on duty.
- Serial killer Fred West was held at Steelhouse Lane before he was moved to Birmingham Prison, charged with 12 murders.
- The original lock-up housed members of the Peaky Blinders gang that inspired the BBC TV series, created by born and bred Brummie Steven Knight. 
- The police station closed for the final time on Sunday 15 January 2017. It has been replaced by a new station inside West Midlands Police’s Lloyd House headquarters in nearby Colmore Circus.

Places are priced at £5 per adult, free to kids under 12. Book hereThere's also an evening tour which includes a special talk on the history of policing in Brum (£10). 

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Images (from top to bottom) KrisAskey, imranab, urban_savage_photography, robperrygriff, benmcphee. More amazing pics can be found here


Once we've all voted on who has the country's nuclear codes it'll be time to get back to the really important things: Cocktails and wine. Tom's Kitchen are hosting a cocktail masterclass (£30) in their beautiful private dining room (pictured), on Saturday June 18. You'll be creating a Tom's Royale (think elderflower liqueur, honey, lemon and Champers) and a Sipsmith-centred creation with lavender cucumber and mint. Then on Sunday (June 19) Harvey Nics are hosting a £20 wine tasting beneath their immense wine glass chandelier. You'll tour a range of contemporary and classic choices, with port and cheese. *COUGH* Father's Day *COUGH*. Tickets


Watertight theological theory: The narwhal was the last creature God created because when finished he sat back, looked at it for four minutes without speaking and and realised he had peaked. "Quit when you're ahead, God" he probably said to himself. Birmingham-based are makers of this badgy tribute to the confused sea-dweller (£3.99) and are also the bizarre brains behind almost 300 other excellent pins.    


"An artist has no home in Europe," said Friedrich Nietzsche "except in Paris." Nietszsche never visited Birmingham so maybe take his opinion with une grande pincée de sel, but his point was that Paris has the power to engage a creative like no other city. Brit artist Andrew Kinsman would no doubt concur having moved to the City of Love for inspiration. His latest exhibition, Café Society — a dazzling recreation of the timeless elegance of the 1950s and 60s, focussing on the dimly lit cafés and backstreet restaurants of Paree — has arrived at Castle Fine Art. Like in the 1961 Frédéric Dard novel, Bird in a Cage, which can be spotted in paperback form in Reflections in Turquoise and Green (above), the self-taught Kinsman wanted to discover the mystery and intrigue that makes Paris so, well, Parisian. Echoing Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists like Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Cézanne, his work will be on display at Castle's ICC outpost until June 18. More
Venue: Indian Brewery, Snow Hill, B3 1EU; website
Choice: Chaat Bomb (£4.50) Chooser: Alice Scott, Hampton Manor's writerist

Indipop and noughties bangers tempt us into Indian Brewery — the next generation in Desi pubs. It's an order at the bar sort of setup, though come the weekend you'll also need to focus on securing a seat, which we did with panache, bagging a killer spot next to the window into the kitchen. And the result of our efforts? Light, sweet, and distinctly drinkable home-brewed Bombay Honey craft beers — and the Chaat Bomb — which steals the show: delicate veggie-filled parcels in chickpeas, yoghurt, chutney, onion and crispy sprinkles. It’s hot hot, so the luminous sweet mango and green mint sauces make cooling companions. Mid-90s drum 'n' bass shoutouts must also go to the mixed grill (dub crew make noise) and the spicy 'n’ saucy beer-battered Bombay Wings (oh-yes-oh-yes junglist massive). Clearly we’re not the only IB fans: the precedent’s been set by the 15k+ strong social media following it’s rustled up within just five months of opening. We’ve jumped on the raving-bandwagon and will be back for brekkie the week after next. Menu
  • Coming to a Hampton Manor near you, the first events venue outside London to launch wine out of taps is tomorrow night (June 9). More
  • Among many things happening at Saturday's Summer Market, at the Bond, Digbeth, is burger doyens the Original Patty Men. And where they go, we follow. Details
  • Find out how Birmingham became the city of 1,000 trades. At 1,000 Trades. Happening June 17, the talk, from local historian Ginny Caffrey is free but you need to register
  • Long story short, Warhol, Hirst, Lichtenstein, Picasso and Matisse were pretty good at art. Go and see them all, plus Banksy, under one RCFA-shaped roof
"Make not your thoughts your prisons" - William Shakespeare
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WORDS: Alice ScottTom Cullen and Katy "I insist on a writing credit even when on holiday" Drohan

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