December 22nd – Often if I’ve had a long day away, I come to see Morris, the Brownhills Colossus, as his creator John McKenna called him. I have mixed feelings that are well known about the origins and personal politics surrounding Morris, the Brownhills Miner but I do love him to bits. Seeing this 30 foot demonstration of finite element modelling always makes me feel at home now.
Just wish they’d fix the spotlights.
I love how, at Christmas, the lights on the trees give the sculpture a little bit of a ‘Last performance at Vegas feel.
We’ve all got a bit of Vegas in us. Especially Morris.
Rock on my metal mate. Rock on.
August 25th – The land at the bottom of Bentley Mill Way, wedged in behind the houses on the Darlaston Road, the motorway and canal has been vacant and derelict a very long time, in fact as long as I can remember. Blighted by former shallow mining, and probably contaminated, this is scarred industrial wasteland that also has the River Tame flowing through it.
Since last year, work has been taking place on upgrading the adjacent Bentley Mill Way for a new improved road system, loftily touted to ‘improve development potential’.
In all the regeneration-bullshit that’s ebbed and flowed, there has been talk of reclaiming this land and building on it, and architect’s drawings of a particularly odd building have been circulated.
Someone has clearly been enticed here, as fresh boreholes have been drilled in the last week; those coloured pipes with locked caps are sleeved bores for surveying purposes.
Whilst the wasteland green is pretty in the summer, it would be nice to see building here. Let’s hope something happens soon.
February 1st – Just on the rough side of Brownhills Common, a handful of yards from Coppice Lane, there’s a deep void in the land through the trees It may be the remnant of early surface mining, or the later evidence of hamfisted mineral exploration (the coal here was evident on the surface, so it was said; the grey clay also highly prized by potters), but it’s been here for decades; the spoil is piled up around it in mounds with fairly mature trees growing from them, which must date from around 1977, as the year previously, the whole of this side of the common had been flatted by a grassfire.
Every landscape tells a story This one tells of an industrial, blighted past, which we now sort of revere.
Brownhills holds some of it’s oldest secrets closest, but in plain sight.
January 30th – I was out at work early, and left early afternoon. I had stuff to do in Burntwood, and cycled through a very, very wet Chasewater to get there. The day was grey, colourless and even when not really raining, a mist hung drenchingly heavy in the air. Riding wasn’t too bad, though, and on my way I stopped at the ATM at Sankey’s Corner. I noted Scamp, the Burntwood Mining Memorial, which I like more and more each time I see it. I like this one particularly because it was a local project, by a local artist, and it clearly doesn’t seek to glorify or gloss over the past.
Meanwhile, over the road, Burntwood Library. It’s a great facility, built new in the 1980s, and known locally for years as ‘The two tits’. I’ve always liked the place…
December 27th – I was out taking photos for the New Year Quiz on the main blog, and I found myself in Engine Lane (no, this isn’t a clue!) as the sun set. The green lane here is nothing but a mud bath, but it was beautiful, all the same. Considering the filth and fury that would once have existed here in the form of mining, it really is hard to imagine the peace of this quiet, almost rural spot ever being disturbed; likewise, the canal between Clayhanger and the Black Cock Bridge. Where I stood, trains once crossed to a huge colliery on the other side of the canal. The air would have been full of smoke, dust and noise; the canal full of narrowboats.
As the sun set on this very, very windy but quiet afternoon, it was hard to visualise the industry that made this community.
How time moves on.