BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘decline’

#365daysofbiking Brutality

Friday, October 16th 2020 – I’ve long been an advocate of Brownhills, my hometown, and the fact that it has some beautiful parts. Way more than many outsiders would ever expect.

But it’s also a fact that some bits are a bit grim, like with any town, particularly post-industrial ones in desperate need of regeneration.

Silver Court is not terribly unpleasant. It’s nothing like say, Windmill Lane in Smethwick West used to be, or some of the forlorn, decaying 1960s parades of shops in big city suburbs like Longbridge or Castle Vale. But it’s very much 60s, brutalist and in its final stages.

Ingeniously built clinging to a pronounced slope with a very split level design, it’s an odd, partially prefabricated row of shops with maisonette houses above, each with a small yard above the back of the shop premises accessed by a rear thoroughfare on top of the lowest level, the garages.

The shops are now about 50% occupied. The homes have problems with leaks and poor construction. There are issues with flytipping, and the parade frontage is grubby and dark.

But I’ve always love the view along it at night, deserted, with just the light of the ATM halfway up.

One day this edifice will go, and I’ll be glad I recorded this otherworldly place by night.

from Tumblr

December 3rd – A better day today. The bug had receded, and I took a day out for rest and paperwork. I took a spin up into Brownhills at lunchtime on an errand, and took the opportunity to check out the canalside at Silver Street. I note work clearing the scrub on the land formerly occupied by Silver Court Gardens has been taking place, which may indicate someone’s got plans. At Silver Street itself, the area of canal bank laughably termed a ‘marina’ in development documents of the day is looking considerably down-at-heel. The paving is breaking up, the barriers rotten and falling down. The greenery is nice, of course, but the open space really could do with a bit of a refurbishment. This seemed likely in 2007 when the new bridge was unveiled, but any plans for environmental improvements seem to have faded.

It would be easy to blame Walsall Council for this, but it belongs to the Canal and River Trust, who don’t really seem bothered over it. I know local Councillors and others have fought hard to no avail to get the barriers replaced, and local volunteers work hard here litter picking.

It’s ironic that as these moorings decline, they’ve recently been so well used by boats.

It’s all a bit sad, really.

August 21st – Other people’s bikes. In Lichfield for an early meeting, I took lunch and cycled home after a mooch around town. The town – despite the arrival of Debenhams – still seems to have a lot of empty retail space, and many of the shops I used to pass time in have now gone – the bookshop, Jessops, the Sony Centre. It’s quite sad.

Different from Brum, there’s more of a utility cycling vibe in Lichfield than the big city. I see a lot of older folk on Pashleys or cheaper imitations, and there are many odd hybrids of multiple flavours. I noted this great trike – is that a saddle or a sofa? I took an interest in the Dawes Streetwise – an odd mongrel design of a bike. Partially lugged, part welded frame, roller hub brake on the rear, V-brake on the front. Nexus hub gears. They are heavy, basic city commuter bikes – but this one is clearly loved and very well used.

Most of the bike space around the retail areas was full. This is impressive.