A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK
Paul Gallagher is a reporter for the Independent and Independent on Sunday having joined the group in 2012. He has previously worked for the European Voice, Daily Mirror and the Observer and been based in Brussels, Belfast, Tokyo and London.
Tuesday 29 July 2014
It served as an inspiration to the young JRR Tolkien, who would later draw on his childhood memories of Moseley Bog in Birmingham when creating the Middle Earth setting of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Now the ancient forest, dating back to the Bronze Age, is the first of 50 sites said to be the UK’s most inspiring “hidden city spots”.
Brutalism mixes with natural beauty in a list sure to fuel debate over certain urban gems that are said to rarely gain the appreciation of locals. London’s Trellick Tower, the grade II listed 31-storey brutalist-style block of flats in north Kensington, designed by architect Ernő Goldfinger and which has appeared in music videos by Blur, the Verve and Hard-Fi comes second in the list.
Already well known spots such as the Royal Observatory and Glasgow’s Royal Exchange Square along with well publicised new buildings, Manchester’s Media City for example, stretch the meaning of "hidden" somewhat.
The results were compiled following a survey carried out by American Express in partnership with bloggers in five cities – Glasgow and Leeds the other two – in an attempt to “reconnect people with their home cities and discover new places of inspiration”.
The poll found 87 per cent of people admitting to not taking advantage of what’s around them in their city, with a further 43 per cent acknowledging they are missing out on what their cities have to offer.
The redeveloped site of the Bird’s Custard factory in Digbeth, also in Birmingham, makes the list now it is home to a community of artistic and media businesses.
Areas of natural beauty also appearing included Japanese gardens in both Birmingham and London, the latter’s Kyoto Garden in Holland Park having been donated by the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce in 1991.
Leeds secured eight spots on the list – including Holbeck Cemetery, which contains the oldest surviving secular building in Leeds, Cad Beeston Manor and The Tetley, site of the former Brewery which is now a centre for contemporary art and learning.
Melissa Weber from American Express said: “The cities we live in are brimming with potential, but we only appreciate a fraction of what they have to offer. That’s why we’ve called on people to share their personal places, hideaways and havens in the city to create maps of the UK's most inspirational spaces, so that everyone can discover something new to love about their city.”
50 of the UK’s best hidden gems
Moseley Bog, Birmingham An often forgotten nature reserve in the Moseley area of the city, it is said to have inspired J R Tolkien’s vision for the Lord of the Rings trilogy
Trellick Tower, London A grade II listed brutalist-style block of flats designed by architect Ernő Goldfinger
Holbeck Cemetery, Leeds Contains the oldest surviving secular building in Leeds, Cad Beeston Manor
Hockley Flyover, Birmingham an outstanding example of brutalist modernist architecture, the open space underneath plays host to creatives who gather to share street art, dance and artistic expression
The Greenway, London A footpath and cycleway constructed on the embankment containing the Northern Outfall Sewer
Media City, Manchester Waterfront centre for digital creativity, learning and leisure, overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal
Millennium Point Science Garden, Birmingham An enlightening park full of giant exhibits themes around the areas of ‘Energise’, ‘Mechanise’ and ‘Mobilse’
Broomielaw, Mitchell Street and Ingram Street, Glasgow Locations for Glasgow’s quirky street art
The Tetley, Leeds The new centre for contemporary art and learning, situated in the art deco headquarters of the former Tetley Brewery
Lee Valley Regional Park, London A long linear green space in London with a number of major reservoirs and rivers and canals
Trinity Bridge, Manchester A sinuous bridge designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava
Severndroog Castle, London A triangular-shaped eighteenth century Gothic-style castle folly in the woodland in the borough of Greenwich
Little Venice, London An area of the canal system in Maida Vale, famed for the bustling shops and restaurants, and narrowboats on the canal
Thomas Street, Manchester Situated in the city’s centre of alternative and bohemian culture, the Northern Quarter
Kensington Palace Gardens, London Adjoining Kensington Palace, the gardens are one of the Royal Parks of London
Alfred Waterhouse university precinct, Manchester Victorian Gothic-revival in style, the courtyard also contains a piece of ice-age rock which travelled from the Lakes District to Manchester by a glacier
Royal Victoria Dock, London The largest of three docks in the Royal Docks in the east of London, credited with significant shipping heritage
University Edible Garden, Leeds A sustainability garden in the centre of the university, passers-by can help themselves to the home-grown produce
Camberwell New Cemetery, London Established in 1901, the cemetery also contains a listed crematorium, noted for its stained glass window
Postman’s Park, London Opened in 1880, the park contains memorials to ordinary people who died whilst saving the lives of others
Warstone Cemetery Catacombs, Birmingham An eerie two tiers of catacombs located in a now closed cemetery in the city’s Jewellery Quarter.
Holbeck Viaducts, Leeds Home to the Slung Low alternative theatre company
St Mary’s Secret Garden, London A horticultural project in Hackney containing natural woodland, food growing area, herb and sensory garden and an area of herbaceous borders
Trinity Church, Leeds Home to a community arts centre which hosts live bands
Kentish Town City Farm, London An inner city farm since the 1970s
Denmark Street, London Also known as ‘Tin Pan Alley’ after the street’s association with popular music
St Nicholas Garden at Provand's Lordship, Glasgow A unique 15th Century garden space
Hillhead, Glasgow The heart of Glasgow’s fashionable West End
St George’s Field, Leeds A former cemetery which is now within the campus of the University of Leeds
Angel Meadows, Manchester A tranquil green space which has a history linked to the industrial revolution, the area saw a huge regeneration in the early 2000s
Japanese Garden, Birmingham A courtyard garden containing elements of several styles, it forms part of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Peckham Library, London A library and community building which won the Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2000
Oxford Road Station, Manchester Built in 1960, the laminated wood structure is grade II listed
Temple Works, Leeds The only Glade I listed building in Holbeck, the former flax mill is now an arts centre
Stevenson Square, Manchester Situated in a conservation area, the square hosts an officially sanctioned changing street art exhibition by some of the best street artists in the North
Custard Factory, Birmingham Home to a community of artistic and media businesses situated on the redeveloped site of the Bird’s Custard factory in the Digbeth area of the city
Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow A public square in the city, and home to the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art and the humours Duke of Wellington statue, often spotted with a traffic cone on his head
The Guinea Gardens, Edgbaston A collection of Victorian gardens which are over a hundred years old
The Square and Oasis Market, Birmingham A Camden-inspired mecca of unique ships, entertainment and atmosphere
Victoria Gardens, Leeds Home to the city’s Speakers’ Corner, the gardens are next to the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds City Art Gallery
Sackville Gardens, Manchester A small and peaceful green space in the city which contains a life-size statue of inventor of the computer Alan Turing
Royal Observatory, London An important site in the history of astronomy and navigation, situated on a hill in Greenwick Park, London
St John’s Lodge Gardens, London A quiet, almost secret garden tucked away in a corner of Regent’s Park
Harbour on the River Clyde, Glasgow A lively and bustling harbour, where the Search and Rescue teams can often be spotted in action
Horsenden Hill, London Ancient woodland, hills and open spaces in the London Borough of Ealing, dating back to the Iron Age
Kyoto Garden, London A Japanese garden set within Holland Park, donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991
Godlee Observatory, Manchester An old astronomical observatory, it was gifted to the city in 1902 and offers exceptional views of Manchester
Hungerford and Golden Jubilee Bridges, London A railway bridge flanked by pedestrian bridges which connect Waterloo and Embankment, and offers some of the best views over the Thames
Isabella Plantation, London An ornamental woodland garden full of exotic plants, tucked away in Richmond Park
Parliament Hill, London An area of open parkland in the south-east corner of Hampstead Heath, London
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