Been on Twitter recently, or should we say X? Sorry Elon Muck, but we’re just never going to call it that. We still call them Opal Fuits and my mom still calls it a Marathon bar. We Brummies don’t budge when it comes to name changes, unfortunately for you. Be it rebrands, new businesses or just nicknames we can’t shake, there are plenty of places in Birmingham we still call by the ‘wrong’ name.
1. Utilita Arena Birmingham
Referred to as: NIA
The National Indoor Arena (NIA) opened back in 1991 as the largest indoor arena in the UK. Across the next 23 years, Brummies got used to calling it the NIA and struggled with its name change when it relaunched as the Barclaycard Arena with a Michael Bublé concert in December 2014. I’m not surprised, not everything lasts as the credit card company were gone three years later.
Rather than going back to the NIA, it then became Arena Birmingham until finally finding a sponsor and becoming Utilita Arena Birmingham. As Martin Plumb said on Facebook, it’s like it has a “new name every year. A bit like buying a football shirt.” It might be safer to keep calling it the NIA if you ask us. It’ll probably change again soon.
2. House of Fraser
Referred to as: Rackhams
“My parents & grandparents still call it ‘the old Rackhams’,” said Jamie O’Flaherty on Facebook. The British department store opened way back in 1881 and became part of the Harrods group in 1955. But was purchased by House of Fraser in 1959, although the brand name of Rackhams was still used in the Midlands and parts of the North. So the name has had plenty of time to worm its way into our brains.
Not even Amanda Holden turning up to announce the name change to House of Fraser in 2003 could stop many Brummies still calling it Rackhams. Earlier this year House of Fraser shut down the top three floors of the building, turning the rest of the department store into an ‘outlet store’. Whatever happens to House of Fraser, we know Rackhams will live on.
3. Gravelly Hill Interchange
Referred to as: Spaghetti Junction
Not really the wrong name. Just a nickname that we cannot shake. Ask anyone in Birmingham and beyond about Gravelly Hill Interchange and they’ll look at you like you’re weird. Mention Spaghetti Junction, however, and they’ll know exactly where you’re talking about.
The nickname was coined before Gravelly Hill Interchange was even opened in 1972. When in 1965 a journalist from the Birmingham Evening Mail, Roy Smith, described plans for the unbuilt junction as a “cross between a plate of spaghetti and an unsuccessful attempt at a Staffordshire knot” in 1965. Sub-editor Alan Eaglesfield gave the article the headline: “Spaghetti Junction”. And the name just kind of stuck around.
4. Birmingham City Hospital
Referred to as: Dudley Road Hospital
While originally known as the Birmingham Union Infirmary and then Dudley Road Infirmary, its best known as Dudley Road Hospital – named after the road it sits by, conveniently. So while the hospital, opened back in 1887, changed its name to City Hospital in the ‘90s. Many still go by Dudley Road Hospital because, well that’s where it is!
5. Doug Ellis Stand
Referred to as: Witton Lane Stand
Does anyone at Aston Villa call it the Doug Ellis Stand? The Witton Lane Stand, so called because it runs parallel with, you guessed it, Witton Lane, had been its name since the stadium opened in 1897. Renamed after former Aston Villa chairman for the 1993–94 season, most fans still stick to calling it Witton Lane Stand. Until the 1970s the North Stand at Villa Park was called the Witton End Stand, which some fans still refer to it as. We can see this getting a little confusing, so maybe there was some sense in changing it.
6. Birmingham Cathedral
Referred to as: St Phillips Cathedral
Okay, so this one even surprised us! St Phillips Cathedral is actually not called St Phillips Cathedral, but just Birmingham Cathedral. We’re not exactly sure when or why the rebrand took place. But the 18th-century church, otherwise known as The Cathedral Church of Saint Philip, has simplified. How very modern. We think this is only asking for confusion when the nearby St Martin’s is sometimes known as The Mother Church of Birmingham.
7. Stephenson Place
Referred to as: The Ramp
We all know The Ramp, even if it doesn’t actually have any sort of historical importance. It’s just where we used to meet in town (less so these days since the New Street Station and Grand Central redevelopment). The Maccies on this strip lists it address as Stephenson Place, i.e. the stretch between Stephenson Street and New Street. But we all know it as ‘The Ramp’.
8. Holloway Circus
Referred to as: Pagoda Island
Since 1998, a Chinese Pagoda has sat in the centre of the traffic island, Holloway Circus. It was a gift from the founders of a local Chinese supermarket chain, the Wing Yip brothers, but also gifted the area with a new name: Pagoda Island.
It seems the name ‘Holloway Circus’ can’t catch a break either. Because the large towering building nearby that we all know as The Radisson is actually called 10 Holloway Circus – even though the hotel chain occupies less than half of the tower. It’s not like it’s even a horrible-sounding name, it’s the wrong name, you know?
9. The River
Referred to as: Floozie in the Jacuzzi
The award-winning fountain, The River, also goes by another, far less reputable name. Officially unveiled in Victoria Square by Princess Diana in 1994, locals were quick to start calling it the wrong name, Floozie in the Jacuzzi. Aren’t we a funny lot?
10. Resorts World Arena
Referred to as: NEC Arena
We’re maybe saving the best ‘wrong name’ to last here. It’s highly likely that different generations of Brummies call this place by many ‘wrong’ names. The multipurpose indoor arena opened as the Birmingham International Arena in 1980 by Queen. By 1983, it would be known as the NEC Arena (as part of the National Exhibition Centre).
Brummies were pretty happy calling it this for decades. But then everything changed in 2008 when it became the LG Arena, with its first concert hosting Tom Jones. By 2015, it was renamed again the Genting Arena before three years later becoming Resorts World Arena. And that, for now, is it. Phew!