What next year’s freshers at Birmingham will never experience

That foam pit in the sports centre


Birmingham.  The mystical land of great curries, Cadbury’s, steel bulls and strong accents.  So good it’s got three universities, to most UK cities’ two.  As we bask in an occasionally glorious British summer, universities’ attention turns from those graduating to those soon to arrive – the poor, innocent little lambs who will descend upon them come late September.

Though it’s a few *cough* years since I departed the University of Birmingham, I and many others have a tonne of requisite fond memories from our years there, which are inextricably linked to the places they occurred in.  While I knew of a few places that had gone since my salad days, the past few days have uncovered even more wonderful sites that are now no more.  Here are those hallowed halls of high times and hangovers that 2016’s Freshers can only ever know by hearsay – read on, and weep.

The Gun Barrels 

O, ye wondrous site of pre-drinks and pub lunches!   Who among us does not fondly recall the numerous £3 beer-and-burgers, the rush for club night tickets, the sticky Snakebite, the sports socials?

Slater Hall at the Munrow Sports Centre

Slater Hall at the Munrow Sports Centre

This sports centre has gone through something of a refurbishment, but it’s not the same.  Gone is the gymnastics hall, the traditional aroma of sweaty feet mixed with cold, dirty concrete. OK it was a bit of a ’70s nightmare, now it’s probably all shiny and new (and about to be somewhere else).  But if there isn’t a giant foam pit, you’ve lost out my friends.

The Pallasades shopping centre (and old New Street station)

Now that Birmingham New Street is ennobled as part of the grandiose Grand Central complex, the most dog-ended, municipal,greying concrete wonder of a shopping “centre” you’ve ever seen has disappeared.  Half-empty, and what remained always looked pretty dodgy – apart from a Blue Banana which was GREAT for fancy dress and “room odourisers” (read: poppers) – to be honest you’re not missing much with this one.

Having said that, I really don’t get the new layout of the station.  You can’t get directly from one end of the platform numbers to the other – enjoy that maze, and make sure your parents take you to the ENORMOUS John Lewis to stock up on hall must-haves.   Speaking of which…

Eden Tower at the Vale

An apparent black hole of halls, this was a mysterious grey tower at the top of the Vale.  Nobody knew anyone who lived there, nobody I knew had ever been in, but there was always the odd light on and rumours abounded of broken plumbing, mould, predatory perma-students…the new Chamberlain halls might look nice, but I bet you can still hear the screams of freshers’ past when the moon is full.

Changing seasons at the Vale #universityofbirmingham #thevalebirmingham #uob #hellobrum #seasons #university #birmingham

A photo posted by Eliot Finch (@eliotfinchphotography) on Jun 27, 2016 at 10:56am PDT

Snobs (the TRUE Snobs)

Your author against the distinctive blob wall at Snobs

Yours truly against the distinctive blob wall at Snobs

Snobs might have moved to a swanky new venue, but nothing will ever match the sticky, slippery, cramped original.  You were either hot, or freezing if it wasn’t busy enough – there was no in between, but there was great music and a blobby wall.   And it was amazing.

Main Library

UOB #birminghamuniversity #building #birmingham #university #uob

A photo posted by 范思斯 Sisi (@sssssisi_fan) on Jul 15, 2016 at 2:29pm PDT

The toilets here once included a sign asking women to refrain from washing themselves there.  ‘Nuff said.

The Custard Factory

Hands down the BEST place for a night out; it hosted the Drum & Bass Awards when drum and bass was still cool, for crying out loud.  Walking out from this place into the sunshine of a brand new day is still one of my favourite memories of Brum.

This is what clubbing is really about

How clubbing should be

Now it’s only available for private parties, presumably because they don’t want hordes of pissed students ruining the nu-creative start-up vibes…

Gatecrasher

A mauve maze of drunken debauchery and the epitome of generic clubbing; you’d go out here and lose everyone almost immediately, to be reunited 5 hours later as you stumble and scramble for cabs.

Gatecrasher couple

Sums up a night there, really…

Fun in first year, occasionally tolerable in second, but please God give us somewhere else in third.  Sadly this place was a bit too hardcore, was closed due to violent incidents and now looks to be reopening as a Pryzm.

Oceana

Never before such innocence lost. Those who experienced the Kingston Oceana (now also a Pryzm) could only look down their noses at such a pathetic version of their hometown party site, but everyone else seemed to like it.  Then again, that probably had something to do with the copious amounts of vodka Redbull drunk there every Thursday.

Vodbull

And what a night on Thursday at Vodbull. Get tagging those photos on Facebook! #Vodbull #Vodbulluk #betrum #snobs

A photo posted by Vodbull UK ?? (@vodbulluk) on Feb 21, 2015 at 12:16pm PST

Where, o where, is Vodbull now?  Certainly not at AIR, another nightclub of the past owned by the excellent Godskitchen (now also a mere memory, *sob*)

Where do UOB students even GO these days – there’s almost nowhere left.  It’s been reported that we might even be losing the hangover-curing Selly Sausage.  What is happening to the world?

Good luck, sprogs – you’ll need it when you’ve been deprived of all the above.  If in doubt ask the “Drinks to go” man – he’s never leaving.

@Olivia_Thomson