We all have fond memories of taking the bus – from the after school bants, going to work, or into town to get a few bits. But throughout lockdown, buses ensured that hundreds of thousands of key workers were able to get to work.
On Our Way celebrates how although the 74 route has barely changed, the people who use it and the buildings around it have. The pandemic experience is one episode in its long history.
Working with Artist Curator, Nilupa Yasmin, we’ve converted bus stops along the iconic 74 bus route into galleries on Soho Road. This project was originally conceived by Aksana Khan. It’s a project which aims to celebrate the local residents who make up North Birmingham and their stories of what makes a community, a community.
There’s a total of eight bus stop galleries on Soho Road. You’ll find half of them on the route to West Brom, and the other half on the 74 route into town.
This was our pilot design which led to our other seven bus stop galleries. With many thanks to the generosity of Dallaz (formerly known as Bling Cutz), Ex-Catalogue Furniture, and St Michael’s Church Handsworth.
This bus stop gallery was made with the team at Handsworth Library and residents who are passionate about how this library is a space where you imagine and work towards a different version of you.
It’s where people find the warmth to finish their homework, do job applications, get advice, or to learn a little bit more about what’s on your doorstep and beyond.
You can find out more about Handsworth Library here.
How much of what you study is about learning to be independent? The team and pupils here look into how to build your confidence, manage your money, and even how to look after yourself.
The common room and classrooms are filled with staff and students who celebrate how you’re never too old to learn!
You can find out more about South & City College Birmingham Handsworth campus here.
Everyone knows that when it’s time to go to school or to go home, Soho Road is overflowing with the noise of engines. Its bus stops are filled with music and loud conversations too.
If you’re not currently a pupil, you might remember with fondness the after-school bants with your age-mates. This bus stop gallery was made with Ms Stafford’s Year 7 Art Class. You’ll find their bus stop outside of Lidl.
You can find out more about Holyhead School here.
Handsworth is an area filled with pioneers. For those who migrated to the UK after the Second World War, it wasn’t easy finding employment due to racial inequalities. So many set up their own businesses, and to this day you can’t think of Soho Road without its independent businesses.
This design was made using archive images from Soho Road BID that extend to the past twenty years. In this design, you can see Nishkam, the buses themselves, as well as the planters that you’ll find on the pavement.
You can find out more about Soho Road BID here.
It takes a village to raise a child. Handsworth Association of Schools run a busy foodbank, deliver mental health programs, and provide holiday and after school schemes for hundreds of children
and young people each year.
We worked with the team and their amazing volunteers to create this bus stop gallery.
You can find out more about Handsworth Association of Schools here.
What do we know about the civil rights movement in Birmingham?
Until 1954 in Birmingham, Black people were barred from working as conductors or drivers on buses simply because of the colour of their skin. This discriminatory practice was the case throughout the UK. But it took for the infamous 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott to push for wider change in the country.
This design was made in collaboration with the Black Heritage Walks Network team and using archive images kindly shared by Vanley Burke.
You can find out more about Black Heritage Walks Network and their heritage walkings tours.
There are many differences within the D/deaf community in Birmingham, including various communication styles. Meeting those like you isn’t always easy and that’s where the BID Services step in. They support those who are D/deaf in Birmingham.
Their Youth Club played a key part in designing this bus stop gallery which is outside of the Nishkam Centre.
You can find out more about BID Services here.
On Our Way is presented as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival. Generously supported by Arts Council England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council, Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, Garfield Weston Foundation, and Transport for West Midlands.
Photos © Ahsen Sayeed