BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘interesting architecture’

#365daysofbiking On a green hill

November 29th – I nipped into work for a short while in the morning, and out of necessity, went through Bloxwich and down through Bentley, the sprawling suburb that separates Walsall From Willenhall.

Bentley has a fascinating landmark: A church on a large hill.

Emmanuel Church is a modernist, almost brutalist design by Richard Twentyman in the mid 1950s, and although interesting, I’ve always found it to be a stark, unsettling building. Twentyman was an acclaimed church architect who had also designed pubs and crematoria, so perhaps the stark nature of his work was appropriate.

The church though plays second fiddle to the Bentley Cairn, something I’ve never really stopped to look at before – it’s simply put an extraneous rock with some debate over the actual origin, but it marks the site of three halls which were historically significant. The cairn was restored and enhanced a decade or so ago, and now is a bit of an out of the way curiosity.

The views aren’t bad, but are not quite as good as one would expect, either; interestingly, the green hill with the striking tower atop looks far better from below than the surrounds do from atop it.

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#365daysofbiking All kinds of wrong

November 28th – For once, the trains weren’t too bad.  It was, of course, still a rain-sodden day and I was tired and wanting to be home.

I stood and waited and took three shots of what I could see: The exaggerated perspective and vanishing points – the people, crowding tensely but oddly patient – the train, engorging with people wanting to be home like me – the sleek, dripping machines waiting peacefully beneath their feast of wire.

New Street Station is still, and probably always be a conundrum to me. I both adore it, and loathe it. It’s like a bad mother to me: It may be all kinds of wrong, but it’s still mine.

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#365daysofbiking Puddled

November 26th – And in Telford, the lift on the Shrewsbury side of the new bridge had failed again, so I had to shoulder my bike and clime up the stairs.

It seems the drainage holes added still haven’t cured the formation of puddles on the deck of this ‘21st Century Bridge of which any town would be proud’.

I wonder if this is the shallow end?

Is it me or is everything connected with modern railways in this country utterly crap these days?

In the place that was made famous by a state of the art bridge, the state of this art is appalling.

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#365daysofbiking Nicely dovetailing

November 24th – On the way back from Chasewater to Brownhills on yet another dull, wet Sunday afternoon following a frankly disappointing winter fair at Chasewater, I wasn’t expecting to find much: But I found something fascinating that’s been staring me in the face for decades and I have never once noticed.

It’s fairly well known that when Abraham Darby bullt the Iron Bridge over the Severn at Coalbrookdale, iron was such a new material that many of the jointing techniques used were adapted from carpentery, as that was the understood skillset of the day.

I noticed for the first time today that the Ogley foorbridge over the cut off stub of the Lichfield branch of the Wyrley and Essington canal – recently refurbished – holds it’s guard sides together with a neat, well fitted dovetail joint in cast iron.

The bridge, dating from around 1850 is a listed structure, and I’m beginning to see why. The rails are constructed in two half-crescents with a dovetail centrally, held rigid by a bolted mating sleeve.

It’s utterly beautiful and means the bridge is thoroughly rigid.

I only noticed due to the rust bleed into the ageing paint.

You can always find something, no matter how grim the weather…

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#365daysofbiking Purposefully brutal

 

 

 

 

 

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November 21st – The cycleway between Wellington and Hortonwood was a bit hard to follow and convoluted, but as it happened, quite fun. It took me through variously playing fields for a private school, along a goods rail line, along a major highway (safely on the pavement adjacent) over a huge, bizarre double roundabout system, and also over a complex bridge arrangement at Hadley, which was most interesting of all.

This brutalist, utilitarian construction of tiered walkways, curling ramps and single span bridges reminded me very much of the Joy Division publicity shots from the late 70s in Manchester, or of the Great Charles Street crossing in Birmingham.

The bridges twanged gently as I crossed them, or when HGVs went under. They felt safe, and wide, and the views and design interesting, if stark. I was particularly interested in the nearby towerblock of Brookdale, which seemed to be made from the same Wimpety system build technique as the flats in Brownhills, but with some peculiar twists in the design.

It certainly looks to have been well refurbished.

All in all an interesting ride.

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#365daysofbiking Bright light and hard surfaces

November 20th – Back at Telford station that evening, I studied more of the architecture visible from Telford Station: The office blocks and roads surely do look fabulous in the gathering night before a very blue sky.

Even that dreadful bridge exhibits a peculiar kind of beauty from the far end of the platform.

Telford gets a lot of stick (often from me, let’s be honest) but it is a remarkable place at night.

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#365daysofbiking A different light

November 18th – If you read this journal regularly, you’ll know I’m not terribly impressed with Telford’s new pedestrian bridge, linking the railway station with the town centre over the line and rTelford ring road.

The bridge itself is an awful design that relies on lifts for wheelchair access and those lifts are highly unreliable. The structure has no rainwater control, and seems like a badly thought out, peculiarly executed piece of civil engineering hubris.

However, I will say this: Like Walsall bus station, at night with the thing lit up, you can kind of see what the architect was getting at.

The lighting in the stairs handrails is a particularly nice touch.

But it’s still a turd you can’t really. polish.

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#365daysofbiking Night memories

November 13th -Back in Brownhills, I had a delivery to make in Ogley Hay, the old centre of Brownhills and location of St James Church, our once handsome seat of the parish, built in 1850.

Sadly, like many local churches, it was despoiled by a hideous extension in the 1990s, but retains its beauty in the grounds around, and the wonderfully stark war memorial.

Sadly the wind had disturbed the wreaths lain in Remembrance the previous Sunday, but in the sodium light, it was still sobering and beautiful.

St. James is a bit like the town it serves: It’s had a lot of changes, not all for the better. But they add character and I adore them.

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#365daysofbiking Rising above the noise

November 6th – A late night and very long day at work, followed by an awful commute in steady drizzle. I felt low, tired and mentally exhausted.

Stopping on Silver Street canal bridge to take photos of the damp, snoozing town, I reflected on how much better it was here now with the new homes rather than unused, empty space.

Sadly the photos I took are awfully noisy and the camera mode wasn’t best for the subject. But they’ll have to do: The day was largely about unwanted noise, and this grainy images seem quite fitting.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

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#365daysofbiking Vanishing points

November 4th – Returning from work late, I spun down the High Street as I usually do, riding along the parade of shops called Silver Court. This odd, split level semi-brutalist building is probably in it’s last years now and has never been – shall we say – salubrious at night, but I actually adore it: The forced perspectives and weird lighting effects always make me think of the great Mancunian designer Peter Saville.

I can see this place being swept away before too long, and I doubt many will miss it: Except me.

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