4-7 Urban Exploration
8-9 War on the Streets
10-13 Diamond in the Rough
16-19 Brummy Beats
Urbexing: the act of exploring urban areas that are gen-erally off-limits to regular civilians. Common hot spots for urbexers are abandoned buildings that were once full of life, such as hospitals, hotels, mental asylums. The fascination is based on delving into and discovering the history of sites whose past may have been forgotten. To give a taste of life back to a building that longs to be occupied again.Many buildings around Birmingham have been lost to the past. They decay, their architecture a shabby sur-prise amongst the evolving landscape. Me and a group of friends decided to see what all of the fuss was about and found two urban gems within the busy city...Central Television Studios, Birmingham - Situated just off Broad Street, Central TV studios was the base of broad-casting for midland entertainment, ATV Midlands Limit-ed. It was opened in 1962 and was occupied then until 2007. It is now awaiting demolition. The structure is an impressive size with much of its features left untouched such as the security office which has head phones still plugged in and and paper work strewn over the desks. The news studios are eerily silent, the curtains dusty and evoking a sense of the 70s with their ugly brown pigment. Central was a huge site to explore, a place you could keep going back to and always find something new.What interest you about urbexing? I love seeing man made buildings reclaimed by nature. I find beauty in decay. It feels like a secret because you know nobody has been there for a long time. Its nice to imagine about when it was occupied and to think about things that could have occurred there.How was your experience at both 1899 Offices and Central Tv Studios? Ive visited both of these more than I can count. There
wasnt much to the offices but Ive revisited because its very easy to get in to and theyre right in the middle of town, Ive been there in the day a fair few times. Ive spent the night in central, playing hide and seek, BBQs and chilling on the roof looking at Birmingham through binoculars. Weve been there when they were filming a show for the BBC which gave it an entirely different spin on it from when we visited it before hand. They knew we were getting in and kept blocking our entrances, but we always found a way in.Central had loads of layers, once you were in there was a lot to explore, from the huge studios they would film in, to the old night club downstairs with cobwebs from ceiling to floor, to the bank opposite, which unfortunate-ly, we only ever got into the basement of.What would be your advice to people wanting to try Urbexing? Never go alone, even if youve visited the property a thousand times before. You never know what could hap-pen, you might need a boost to hop a wall to get away from security or find a new way in, you might lose your footing and hurt yourself.You CAN ask for permission to visit places, and thats technically the right way to do it. But most of the time the answer is going to be no, and then theyre going to be on the look out for you trying to get in. So I suggest you do it the other way. Go first and if you cant get in, ask for permission. Look for alarms and security, a lot of places will have signs saying they do, but they dont. Wear dark clothes and clothes you dont care about get-ting ruined, take a torch and spare batteries! A camera if thats your thing, but be careful about where you use the flash.
Within the last 11 years West Midlands police claim that crime, particularly gun and knife crime in Birmingham has dramatically halved since 2002. However despite their best efforts a strong gang culture remains to run certain post codes of our city.
The two most notorious gangs in the UK happen to be from Birmingham; The Burger Bar Boys and The Johnson Crew. Both gangs have the same Car-ibbean heritage and culture, its merely their post code that separates them but youd be surprised of the savage conflict this small detail can cause. The gangs territories are only about a mile apart from each other; Burger Bar Boys are located in Handsworth (B20 and B21) and The Johnson Crew are from Aston (B6 and B19), and as you can imagine, being in such a close proximity to one another only causes more aggravation.
The rivalry began in the late 80s when The Johnson Crew had control over most of Birming-hams drug scene. Their name spread far and wide in nightlife security of bars and clubs, they were making thousands of pounds weekly from this industry. All this money however only left the gang with more issues, it created disputes into how the money should be spent and this in turn led to some members leaving to start a rival gang, The Burger Bar Boys. Based in a cafe, they were bitter rivals of their former group from day one and rightly so, there was a communal sense of betrayal in both gangs which only escalated the violence quick-er. Now with fierce competition, the stakes were high, crack cocaine and heroine flushed through Birmingham and money continued to flow into the pockets of the gangs.
Tragically, in the early hours of January 2nd 2003, two innocent girls Letisha Shakespeare, 17, and Charlene Ellis, 18, were brutally gunned down at a drive by shooting outside a new year party in As-ton. It was a revenge killing planned by The Burger Bar Boys, four of which are serving life sentences for their murders. However until this story hit head-lines, the crimes committed by these gangs were relatively low key. Tit for tat killings were not uncom-mon in these gangs but thankfully an increase in awareness has seen a reduce in numbers.
In 2012 a charity called The Precious Trust was launched to combat gang culture and to aid the prevention of teenage girls getting involved with gangs. Set up by Marcia Shakespeare, mother of Letisha Shakespeare, the charity recognises the influence good education and employment can have on young people. Confidence and financial independence are just a few a few of the goals they aim to achieve which they hope will help the girls to move away with gang infested areas. The charity also offers financial, anger management and child care support as well as information about re housing.
It all started back in 2002 in a garden in Acocks Green behind a fitness studio. This is where Chris Canaan found Akamba. He decided he wanted to bring the exot-ic paradise where he visits in Kenya and Africa home to England. Once it had started to take off Chris realised he needed to expand and move to a larger location, once he began looking he came across one not far from where he was already set up in Acocks Green, however the neigh-bours were very pessimistic about the situation, until the re-opening which they all attended. Its like stepping into another world, I feel like im in Africa or somewhere. All Chris hard work had paid off and Akamba had to move to a larger location again Chris chose to move it to its current 200 acre location on Tythe Barn Lane, where it also became a bar and carribean eatery. It has regular tribute nights for Bob Marley, Amy Wine-house and many other famous artists, it also has late nights on thursdays and sundays for a carribean buffet night. The site consists of many exotic plants, hand sculpted metal works of animals and hand made seating and chairs all of which are made from recycled materials, the sculpted animal metal works are made in Kenya from
recycled scrap metal of buses and cars in East Africa. All the tables and chairs in Akamba are also made in Af-rica and not one tree has been chopped down to create them. Akamba doesnt only focus on its garden centre, bar and eatery, it also has a charity called ACEF which is Akam-ba Childrens Education Fund. It focuses on helping Brain House Academy in Mathare Kenya, which is one of the worlds largest slums, they provide a monthly allowance to the school to help support giving the children one meal a day, which is usually porridge. As well as this they have provided a 10,000 litre water tank and water pumps so the children have clean water to drink, along with this they have installed solar panels to help provide energy and bought numerous beds for the school as over half the 900 children that attend the school are orphans and actually live within the school.On the east border of Tsavo National Park, Kenya a lux-ury safari lodge is currently being built also by Akamba, which they hope will bring tourism to this part of Kenya.
Shisha, also known as a hookah, stems from Egyptian origin; however it has come a long way from its roots in 1600AD! Although far from mainstream, shisha can now be found in 4 hidden locations in Birmingham: Moon Lounge Shisha, Diamond Sheesha Lounge & Desserts (Mojos), The Red Sea Lounge, Exhale Sheeshateria. Like a pub to the English community, a shisha lounge is a place where people from a Middle Eastern / Asian origin, can meet, socialise and relax. It is a strong cul-tural aspect of socialising for many young people, which stems from ancient Arabic culture; particularly for those who are prohibited from drinking alcohol. These young crowds still want to enjoy themselves, and adopt the shisha lounge as their social gathering place. So what happens in a shisha lounge? Its not just about smoking there is often fast food and milkshakes avail-able too people often celebrate their birthdays there. However, much like British drinking culture, Shisha can be a taboo that underage people desperately want to try. It is illegal for under 18s, although many young people will attempt to gain entry by saying they forgot their ID.
Once in the loun