Alex Proud, a Camden based Gallerist and Club owner recently wrote an amusing piece in the Daily Telegraph about the gentrification of Shoreditch on the fringe of East London. ‘What I hate more than Shoreditch itself is the idea of Shoreditch & the way so many of Londons neighbourhoods have been Shoreditched, are being Shoreditched or will be Shoreditched’. He then went on a diatribe about the Hipster look with their beards and skinny jeans and I thought hello this is Birmingham City Centre he’s writing about ! ‘The global tribe of urban 20-and 30-somethings who in their quest to be different have wound up virtually identical. From microbrewery ales and ironically drunk mass market lagers to upcycled furniture & jumble sale ‘70’s suburban art they are all cool by numbers’ . Have you too looked into Yorks bakery on Newhall Street recently , Brewdogs in John Bright Street or bought anything in Urban Village in the Custard Factory I asked myself?
In the same way as Yuppies were an identifiable set in the eighties have Hipsters with their values in regeneration become the new force in the City’s resi market. By picking run down inner city neighbourhoods pioneer hipsters move in then start on the social media. Mainstream media notices & the area becomes urban cool. The tattooists arrive alongside the Barbers and local prices rise . This sounds increasingly like the Jewellery Quarter & parts of Digbeth. The author then highlighted that when the New York Times ‘discovers’ the area the cycle is complete. Mmmmm The New York Times wrote about the JQ a year or so ago !!
This return to urbanism ,perhaps led by the cycling bearded class, could be the route forward for revitalising many of Birmingham’s inner city neighbourhoods. The increasing price differential between the City core & its adjacent areas makes me think that we might see an urban uprising in the coming years on the routes out to & within the once grand Victorian suburbs of Handsworth & borders of Lozells as an example. These once great neighbourhoods have become multi tenanted, with too many homes offering multi occupation, too many lordlords screaming for rent but with great potential for the pioneers to move onto, and a terrific base for a sustainable community.The City centre itself is changing further & we see great potential in the once forlorn areas off Holloway Head & indeed where The Gun Quarter abuts the JQ. The bay window suburban dream increasingly isn’t attractive to an audience now living in the City. The streets are too quiet & too far away, too middle class & too self-centred. The feel of the City has been lost.We have some way to go but I sense the Birmingham renaissance is on the way.
Now follow the independent coffee shops & catch up with the gossip whilst you get your whiskers trimmed in the new barbers !!
Image Credits: Acknowledgement to Tim Sullivan