BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Silver Court’

#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.

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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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#365daysofbiking Violet ultra

September 7th – A busy day, so I slipped out late with a good opportunity to try and learn more about the Canon camera’s behaviour in low light.

This meant paying a visit to an old favourite – the brutalist portal that occurs every night in Silver Court, Brownhills when an ATM’s lights tun part of the 1960s parade of shops violet.

This still fascinates me as it’s so, well, dystopian I suppose.

An odd, hometown curiosity.

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December 29th – Winter is a normalisation process for me. I enter it, kicking and screaming and resistant, headlong into the darkness; I fight my way through the suck, the suck that is the autumn commute, and by the time I emerge blinking and dazed from Christmas, I’m sort of used to it. 

I’ve got used to the absence of light – which is OK now as it’s returning; I’ve acclimatised to the cold; and I’ve learned once more to look for oddities and interesting images in low-light urbanity.

Silver Court in Brownhills does Architecture and Morality. Peter Saville has nothing to fear.

Meanwhile, I trundle towards new year still nursing a bad shoulder and dreaming of warmer days…

August 19th – Spotted on the canal behind the building site at Silver Court, this likely lad, admiring the passing waterfowl.

That expression. Look at it. That’s all.

What a lad.

January 15th – One of those horrible, headache-grey wet winter days when it never really seems to get light and never stops raining. I plodded out to Chasewater, after checking the waxwings were still at Silver Court. Their numbers had increased, but the light was way too poor to get pictures.

Chasewater was empty save for a few brave souls, and the cafes had closed early. I mooched for a bit, looking for interesting wildlife, but found none, not even the large white geese which seem to have been missing now for weeks. I hope they’re OK but I guess by now they’re very old and I think they may have passed away.

I noticed with some amusement that new signs have been erected about not feeding the birds near the fort (due to pollution in the gravel there) – and something looked odd about the spacing of the ‘s’ on ‘birds’ – and then I realised someone had hastily removed an apostrophe. On all of them. Oops.

Also, is that comic sans?

The canal route I took back to Brownhills on the other hand was quite interesting. In atrocious light I saw the goosanders again, and I wonder if I’d ever be able to get a decent photo of these odd birds. The two remaining Abbey Road ducks were out and about too, as was Mrs. Muscovy, but her photos were so poor as to be unusable.

An awful day to ride, but I did see some interesting stuff which at least made braving the elements worthwhile.

January 14th – We’ve had some foreign visitors in Brownhills. They’ve come before, in other winters when it’s been cold on the continent, and they’re here again. It’s good to seem these somewhat rare, colourful fellows.

Waxwings have come to strip the trees by Silver Court of berries before – working their way west from Eastern Europe, when their traditional feeding grounds aren’t bountiful they venture further afield. 

I don’t know if they remember Brownhills somehow, or it’s just chance, but the businesses in Brownhills are getting added trade from twitchers and it’s giving the town something to talk about.

I just adore these birds. Such pretty things.

December 23rd – Again up at the sparrow’s cough, this time I needed to go to Bridgnorth, and again had a long day before me. The dawn was warmer, and the early morning less grim than the day before.

At Silver Court, the newsagent was just open – but the building lights hadn’t clicked on yet and the shop sign made for an odd, otherworldly, brutalist portal.

November 21st – A late spin around Brownhills after a long day, and at night this place still fascinates me. The lines of Silver Court are still otherworldly and night, and the vies of the canal from the Pier Street Bridge are ones I keep returning to.

After a grinding day, it’s good to be home.