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Archive for October 2012

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The queue 5 hours before Miranda Hart starting signing

There were long queues on High Street on Saturday 20th October, as Waterstones bookshop played host to popular TV comedian Miranda Hart, who was in town to promote and sign copies of her new book “Is It Just Me?” already riding high in the UK’s bestseller lists.   The photo shows fans in line five hours before the event began, arriving early to make sure of their chance to meet the unassuming star.

 The Waterstones store on High Street has a long association with books, as a house on the same site was home to William Hutton, a printer who wrote the first ever history of Birmingham, and his daughter Catherine, a respected novelist herself during the mid-19th Century.

 Why not join one of our “Books and Writers” tours to discover more about the city’s contribution to writing past and present?

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Open Day at Guide Dog Breeding Centre

On Saturday 13th October the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association opened the doors of their National Breeding Centre near Leamington Spa to allow the public to look around the state of the art  facility. Opened in 2011 by HRH Princess Alexandra, the centre replaces the previous facility that has been providing around 1,100 life changing Guide Dogs per year.  As well as having a tour of the centre guests were able to try out the pitch black sensory tunnel, try the obstacle course blindfold challenge, as well as view groups of puppies both in the nursery block and the pre-homing centre. Michael is half on the Midlands Discovery Tour team and he signed back up as a volunteer driver having been a volunteer driver for the old facility. The role involves driving 7 week old puppies to meet up with volunteers and staff from regional Guide Dog centres who will take the dogs onto volunteer puppy walkers. Michael and his wife Lesley are currently on the waiting list to take on their second brood bitch, their first bitch having produced 22 working Guide Dogs. They are however providing a temporary home for a 6 year old black Labrador brood bitch and her two female puppies, one yellow the other black, who they unofficially call Ying and Yang.


If you are a group and want to have a tour there is coach parking at the Centre, contact us about a visit.



Victorian Coffin Fittings Factory by Candlelight

Our good friends at Newman Brothers Coffin Fitting Works are opening the doors to their Victorian factory for one week only. We are delighted to promote and support this most worthy of causes. 

Their press release reads as follows:

The marvellous macabre; Victorian coffin fittings factory by candlelight

For the first time, Birmingham Conservation Trust is offering special twilight tours of the Grade II* listed Newman Brothers Coffin Fitting Works in the Jewellery Quarter between 26 October and 3 November to raise money for its restoration project which starts early 2013.

 Visitors will experience a candlelit tour of the semi-derelict 1894 Victorian factory which made coffin fittings and find out about the manufacturing processes used to produce the decorations for the coffins of Princess Diana and Winston Churchill. Our guides will tell stories about the workers and this family-run business; life in a Victorian factory and an unfortunate incident of cyanide poisoning.

Suzanne Carter at Birmingham Conservation Trust who is organising the tours said “Newman Brothers is always atmospheric whatever time of day, but it transforms into something really magical and eerie in the evening, especially when the courtyard is edged with candles and bats fly overhead; creating the perfect setting for the Halloween season. Our ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the factory focuses on the 100 year history of the Newman Brothers coffin fittings business rather than ghosts and ghouls. However, there may be a few surprises!”   

 Tickets for the hour-long tour, followed by a warming mug of hot chocolate in the candlelit courtyard are £10 (80p booking charge) and all proceeds go towards the Coffin Fitting Works restoration project. Tickets are available from


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Posted in News on October 7, 2012 No comments

Record Numbers on Walking Tour of Birmingham

On Sunday 7th October I turned up at the normal starting point for one of our special walking tours of the canals of Birmingham, only to find 5,000 people waiting in Victoria Square to start a walk, unfortunately not the Canal Tour but trade union members and protesters calling for an end to austerity cuts on the first day of the Tory party conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

Thank you to the slightly smaller group than the 5,000, that took the trouble to locate me amongst the crowds to go on the Canal Tour.  



Michael Reddy

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Posted in News on October 3, 2012 No comments

Post Graduate Transport Engineers from Ghana visit boiler shop

For the third year running, The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana chose Midlands Discovery Tours to take their post graduate transport engineers on trips related to their studies. During their 12 day trip to the UK, the engineers will study the peak flow scheme used on the M42, visit Birmingham University’s Railway Centre, The Transport Research Laboratory, visit Ironbridge home of the industrial revolution and journey alone the M6 the UK’s longest Motorway as well as a trip down the M6 Toll. On their first full day in the Midlands, they travelled to Kidderminster to catch a steam train along the Severn Valley Railway to Bridgenorth. During the 1 hour trip they were shown photos of the damage done to the railway during the floods of June 2007 when 47 sections of track were washed out, and the work done during the £3.5 million project to reopen the line in time for the Easter holidays in early 2008.

We can’t thank the staff and volunteers enough for taking the time to talk to us about the behind the scenes work. The photo shows volunteer John Reynolds talking the students through the work of the railway’s steam boiler repair shop.

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