BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘mining’

#365daysofbiking Monumental

May 5th – Looping back into town, I caught sight of Morris, the Brownhills Miner, a statue and work of art I hold dear.

Morris is not particularly accurate, or even a true representation of our history, as such, with Brownhills actually maturing as a town long after the immediately local mining had all but ceased. But he captures the spirit of our town, and our collective history, reflecting that many Brownhillian lads were miners, but working in pits in adjacent towns and villages.

Morris is also uncomfortably Soviet, to anyone who’s any experience of Eastern Bloc public art; he’s exactly the sort of thing many soviet states would have willingly erected.

But this lad, pick and lamp aloft, is ours. And it’s always good to see him silhouetted in the dusk.

It’s how I know I’m home.

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#365daysofbiking Lamping it

February 24th – Piccadilly Mining Memorial, erected in 2009, is oddly similar in concept and design to the one created in 22006 in Hednesford. The lamp is made by CAM Engineering of Pyle, South Wales, who seem to have made several, including the one at Hednesford. The wall with names of miners inscribed in the bricks is also a feature at Hednesford.

The area around the tiny village of Piccadilly – now marooned by a huge oil terminal and large industrial parks – used to be occupied by several large coal mines, now closed, and mining heritage is strong here, so the desire for a memorial is under stable and totally appropriate.

I just seems a bit… Off the peg to me.

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#365daysofbiking A miner infatuation


January 5th – Heading back up the High Street to get a takeaway, I passed the now well-lit Morris with the lights on the surrounding trees looking beautiful.

I will never tire of photographing this statue. Is is by turns, dramatic, beautiful, ridiculously out of place, preposterous and wonderful.

Fantastic by day, even better by night. Morris symbolises home and the town I love.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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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.