BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘community’

#365daysofbiking Harbour lights

Wednesday December 9th 2020 – The houses that replaced the marketplace and wasteland at Silver Court Gardens have been a welcome addition – and the Moorings, the road alongside the canal where the new house front the waterside – is really nice.

There seems a real community spirit there and no matter what the festival – VE Day, halloween, Christmas – the neighbours really get together to jazz up their houses and bring some happiness to the town.

As I passed on a wet night, I thought what a lovely little community it was, and what a great asset to the town the development had become.

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#365daysofbiking Tree cheers


Monday December 7th 2020 – Thanks to the tenacity and dedication of Susan Forster and friends who work so hard to raise money and organise the provision, Brownhills finally had it’s second festive community Christmas tree lit up on the miner island for all to enjoy.

Some electrical issues and council staffing difficulties meant it was a few days late, but no less excellent and very, very festive for us all to admire.

The tree is paid for like every other local tree in Walsall Borough by community donation and commercial support, and the volunteers have worked like demons to sort this out. The first tree they organised was in 2019, and that was the first we’d had in Brownhills for over a decade.

My thanks and best wishes to the all. You can find out more and make a donation at their Facebook page by clicking here.

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#365daysofbiking Devotional

Tuesday November 17th 2020 – One of the nice things about lockdown Remembrance has been the impromptu and additional devotional displays in towns and villages throughout the country. Decorating of railings, parks and war memorials have been undertaken lovingly and in line with guidelines, creating a sense of community endeavour that has sustained even in lockdown.

One beautiful example are the tributes at Darlaston Town Hall I passed while nipping to the post office on my lunch hour.

I particularly liked the purple poppy dog, the purple poppy symbolising the the sacrifice of animals in war.

My compliments and thanks to the people who created this. It’s gorgeous.

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#365daysofbiking Omnidiretional signals


January 19th – Some things are just nice.

I’m a big fan of Back the Track – the group of, it has to be said, mostly pensioners and older folk who have been determinedly converting the old South Staffordshire Railway trackbed through Brownhills into a cycling and walking route for all to enjoy.

This week they installed the new bench at the base of the signalpost by Clayhanger Marsh. The bench was always a personal dream of Brian Stringer, the group’s instigator and leader. Barry Roberts built the bench in his garage from materials he had, begged and were donated, and now it’s in place for all the trail users to ponder the great views on.

The McLean Way (MW) logo is made cleverly from track clips found discarded in the ballast of the old line.

What’s really neat is the backrest flips over, so you can comfortably sit facing the direction you choose.

It’s a lovely, creative and novel thing and I thank Barry and of course, all of Back the Track for their efforts.

It’s worth noting that there’s no road access to where the bench is sited, so those old guys must have manhandled the bench to it’s position. No mean feat.

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#365daysofbiking Step right up

January 1st – Happy new year you guys!

A short spin out and up the McLean Way – the former South Staffordshire Railway line that’s gradually being converted to a walking and cycle route, extending the current one from Pelsall to Newtown, Brownhills.

Back the Track, the group doing the work entirely under their own volition have sought funding for gradual improvements, and working with Sustrans and others, a new set of steps with a handy-dandy cycle wheeling channel is now nearly complete at Bullows Road, just off the Pelsall Road, making accessing the trail much, much easier for walkers and cyclists.

My compliments to the team – it’s looking great thank you!

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#365daysofbiking Fruition

November 29th – Popping up the hHigh Street at teatime, I noticed the first community funded Christmas tree for Brownhills was now up and lit for the season.

This is a real proof of the power of community – volunteers raised the money and paid for the tree to be erected entirely on their own volition and it’s a beautiful testament to the power of community.

Our first Christmas tree in a decade, I think… well done to all involved: Take a bow!

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#365daysofbiking Washed out, wet and sad – a wasted journey

September 22nd – I’ve always enjoyed Tipton Canal and Community festival, and while at work on the Sunday morning, I decided to visit that one rather than Huddlesford as it was closer when I finished work around lunchtime.

The weather so far had been grey, but as I left Darlaston with a friend, it was only spotting with rain – and hey, we had waterproofs and enthusiasm. After all, I went last year on the Saturday. It pissed down all the time I was there but the atmosphere had been great and it was actually really fun.

I’d checked with the organisers online that all was still happening.

And then we arrived. What a disappointment.

Most of the boats had gone, or were closed up. Most of the stallholders were either packing up, or were not there. The rain was steady, but not terrible. There were few folk around. I have to say – and any reader here for more than 5 minutes knows I’m a positive person – It was bloody awful. It was barely 1pm – halfway through what was specified as an all afternoon event.

We bought ice creams from an almost apologetic ice cream man, listened to singers on the live stage with only their parents and us watching. We mooched around the few stalls and rides left. We were thoroughly dejected – we’d wasted a journey here.

The only really bright spot was the Master Butchers, a duo playing determinedly and with good humour to a tiny number of fans. I so felt for them, like the folk on the stage.

I know the forecast was bad. But where was the Black Country, British spirit of damn the weather? At several events this year I’ve felt that all of a sudden this country can’t do bad weather and the first bit of rain sees people go home. So sad. Tipton is a town I love and care for, and this event is a highlight of the year. What on earth went wrong?

As we stood deciding what to do next, the rain petered out. We shrugged, checked the online weather, and made for Birmingham and a bit of canal exploration to make the best of a sad afternoon.

So far it had just not been my weekend.

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#365daysofbiking An end to Police brutalism in Walsall

January 24th – There is a madness afoot in the country, and possibly the broader western world in the last 10 years or so, and I can see no solution in sight.

Governments come to power on the promise of austerity and cutting spending, yet close used and needed public facilities that took decades to be obtained – in a flash. And so we lost the police station in Walsall on Green Lane, built in the Brutalist period of the 60s, which was closed in response to spending cuts in 2016. Police now have to take suspects to Oldbury when arrested, which is impacting officer availability and causing great inefficiency.

The building itself – an unremarkable modernist structure – was sold to developers and is currently being demolished.

We will need a police station again. The situation as it is is not working.

And it will cost us far more than closing this one saved to sort the mess out.

And when some politician grasps the nettle and does it, they will be derided for financial profligacy.

But the real crime is cutting things communities need, in the interests of short term political gain.

It takes years to build communities, and days to destroy them with cuts. The recklessness seems in the axe-hand to me.

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#365daysofbiking Lest we forget:

November 10th – Remembrance this year is of course marked by the centenary of the end of World War 1, that awful conflagration that set the geo-political scene for the following century and formed the warm-up act for World War 2. Whilst I of course feel the centenary is vital to be remembered, I was cautious about the tone of some commentary. I feel that Remembrance in some ways is being changed and that worries me.

I was heartened, therefore to see the special efforts made in Aldridge and Pelsall this year, and that they were so very, very well done. Aldridge’s Poppy Road was a startling, sad and beautiful tribute to the lost and wounded of Station Road in the Great War, and the way it was done really bought the agony of a generation home.

Similarly, the poppy clock in Pelsall, adorned as Poppy Road is in knitted and crocheted blooms is also stunning. It is a different memorial to Poppy Road, and feels more intimate.

Both are remarkable, community led gestures of Remembrance and I thank all those who have e worked so hard to create them. They both restored my faith that the meaning of this most solemn of national events is not being lost.

May 16th – The late return was hurried, and I didn’t take many pictures. But the pause for a drink and a few minutes recovery at the new pond in Clayhanger was well worth it.

A few short weeks ago there was little green here, just shades of brown and grey. Not so now, just a lovely peaceful, sun-dappled view over the treetops, accompanied by a soft, fading sunlight and the sounds of wildfowl rubbing along on the pond.

A lovely spot for a rest. I was glad to get home.