Outer Circle Tee
• Large front and back prints
It's the stuff of legend.
Over the years, all sorts of groups and individuals have been inspired to travel the entire route; sometimes with a bus ticket, others in their own vehicles. Starting in the 1970s there was an annual vintage rally in which dozens of older vehicles from all over the country would gather and drive around the outskirts of Birmingham. Above, you can see a programme in our collection from one of the earliest meet ups.
Travel operators have publicised the route as a great way to see the city; we've been digging through old maps and timetables to find some long lost graphic gems.
Yes, we take our research seriously. But we're definitely not true bus enthusiasts. For us, the 11 is not just about public transport. Traveling all the way around the country's second city is a reminder that there's always more to any story than what's presented on the surface.
Birmingham is often viewed through a limited range of lenses... The one that says 'Come to our shopping malls! There's no need to step outside of them.' Or, the lens that rarely leaves its neighbourhood bubble and doesn't understand why anybody else would either. And, the truly tiresome dismissive shrug of a lens, from people who've never even been here.
Yet, a ride on the 11 is proof that there's more to Birmingham than you thought you knew. From the prison in Winson Green to Cadbury World in Bournville, following its route takes you through the city's societal spectrum, via just about every neighbourhood on the outskirts of town. Buildings that were once thriving now lay abandoned, while others found new leases of life as different communities moved in and found alternative uses for them.
We never want to see our home from a single point of view. This city is regimented and chaotic, rich and poor, old and new, frustrating and inspiring, and there's one bus route that will show you all of it.
After taking our own tour on the 11, we thought of all the people who have done the same in the last 90-odd years, and it got us thinking... surely a tour this epic deserves its own merch?
Fancy a virtual tour? Thanks to a couple of very dedicated bus enthusiasts, you can travel Anti-clockwise or clockwise from the comfort of wherever you are right now. We'd recommend clockwise, for the videos owner's caption alone.