July 22nd – How to get rid of a listed building. These masons are carefully removing examples of significant stonework from the Mellish Road Methodist Church, which was sadly damaged during the operation to fill limestone caverns under the Butts area of North Walsall 22 years ago. Never well built, it suffered from cheap, ambitious building techniques, common to many such churches. Having taken the substantial compensation, the original owners sold the church on to developers, whose attempts to do anything with the site were roundly rebuffed by he planning committees for 20 years. Finally, after vandalism, decay and a visit from the municipal arsonists, the church is being demolished, clearing the way for the owners to build whatever they want.
Oddly, Walsall Council paints this as some kind of triumph, when in reality it’s a sickening, depressing example of how commercial interests outflank attempts at development control. But it’s more than that – a decade ago, an application was made to turn the church into a community centre, which was declined, too. Had that been approved, these men wouldn’t be taking apart this sad, decaying building now.