August 15th – Some things make a place what it is, although one may not be fond of them in themselves.
And so it is with the Parkview Centre in Brownhills for me.
The former council house and for many years seat of Brownhills Urban District Council became redundant after our absorption into Walsall in 1974. After a good few years as head office for a building company, this four square, red terracotta building stood empty and decaying.
It is imposing, handsome, I guess. Very civic. It’s got a clock that used to be famously and notoriously wrong (but the clock runs to time now, remarkably). It’s part of the fabric and soul of Brownhills, but I’ve never been fond of it architecturally.
After years empty it was extended horribly insensitively and converted into a health centre and library. The extensions are hideous and completely out of step with the building, and the library, although functionally fine, is boxy and dull.
However, in recent years the flowerbed out front before the Miner Island has been beautifully maintained by a local older couple and it is a credit to them, and looks beautiful. It brings a smile to my face every time I see it.
On a decent but clouding over afternoon, it was a joy to the heart. For better or worse, this building is Brownhills, and is my hometown – and I may not be it’s greatest fan but it’s part of the place I love.