Rail company launches musical maps

UB40 help put Birmingham music heritage on the map.

Members of Birmingham legends UB40 have helped launch a new project that will see 30 music themed maps installed at railway stations across the second city.

The first specially commissioned map, part of the Musical Routes project, was unveiled at West Midlands Railway’s Hall Green Station on Friday and celebrates the musical heritage of the surrounding area where alongside UB40, artists such as Ocean Colour Scene and Laura Mvula started out.

Adam Regan, from the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath, which played host to the band’s first ever gig in 1979, was also at the launch, which comes at a particularly poignant time after the recent deaths of Brian Travers and Astro.

The Musical Routes project is the brainchild of Birmingham Music Archive and will take rail passengers on a route to the roots of Birmingham’s world class musical heritage, thanks to funding from West Midlands Railway’s Your Community, Your Fund community grant.

The maps celebrate top Brummie artists Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath, The Beat, Joan Armatrading, Andy Hamilton, Jamelia and Duran Duran along with many more, and profile iconic venues such as the Que Club and Rum Runner, giving passengers an instant insight into the stars that were born in the city and the venues that played host to them.

Birmingham Music Archive founder Jez Collins said: “I’m passionate about Birmingham’s music history, heritage and culture and as a city we need to celebrate and publicise these stories of global interest.

“This project with West Midlands Railway will allow us to reach hundreds of thousands of people each year, as they travel across the train network. It’s a fantastic opportunity to highlight, through truly beautiful locally-produced maps, some of Birmingham’s great musicians and venues.”

Jez said he hoped the project would be a source of pride to the communities around the stations and raise awareness about the wealth of musical talent that the city has spawned over the decades.

He added: “I want more people to know more about Birmingham and the contribution to local, national and international music history, heritage and culture. We have an incredibly diverse city, and our music reflects the diversity of our communities but many of those people don’t get the recognition they should.”

The intricate 3D wooden maps have been produced by designers from city-based studio Space Play and will feature Spotify codes that connect to a curated playlist for each area.

The Musical Routes project is part of West Midlands Railway’s Your Community, Your Fund programme, with 21 community projects receiving funding.

Fay Easton, head of stakeholder and community at West Midlands Railway, said: “Your Community, Your Fund was designed to bring life to community projects that would benefit both local areas and rail passengers and we are so pleased to see this world-class concept delivered in Birmingham.

“Many local people and global visitors will be unaware of the musical talent that impacted world music from Birmingham and the Midlands. This talent should be celebrated, and we are proud to have been part of the project to bring Birmingham’s musical heritage to life at our stations.”

Maps will be installed at the following stations: Sutton Coldfield, Four Oaks, Wylde Green, Chester Road, Erdington, Gravelly Hill, Perry Barr, Hamstead, Jewellery Quarter, Duddeston, Aston, Witton, Bordesley, Small Heath, Adderley Park, Lea Hall, Five Ways; Spring Road; Hall Green; Yardley Wood; Acocks Green; Stechford; Tyseley; Selly Oak; Bournville; Kings Norton; Northfield and Longbridge. University station will get two maps. University and Perry Barr stations will get their maps when redevelopment work there is completed next year.

For more information about the 21 community projects, visit West Midlands Railway’s website, and for details about those behind the project, visit Birmingham Music Archive.