August 26th - Even on a grim, grey day, Wall still has a fascination. Riding in via the track that constitutes Back Lane was a challenge, as it’s very overgrown, but such a delight. The fields here have been fully harvested, and look barren dressed in their underwear of stubble.
The village itself is fascinating. The half-cream, half-barebrik place with the odd gables? That was once a pub called the Seven Stars, and is now a lovely looking home.
Once, it stood on the main A5 between Brownhills and Tamworth, but the road was diverted on to a new dual carriageway half a mile to the south, and peace is restored.
A lovely little village.
May 5th - Up on the A5 at Newtown, Brownhills, things aren’t looking so good. The Terrace restaurant, once a popular establishment, closed just after Christmas and is currently vacant and up for sale, with no sign yet of a buyer - sad really. Back in it’s heyday the place was busy every night.
Meanwhile, almost opposite the Chase Inn is still up for sale. Still open and trading, it’s nonetheless been on the market for ages.
I know society and it’s drinking and socialising habits have changed, but it’s still terribly sad to see these places lost.
I hope they both find new ownership and prosper, I really do…
Dember 23rd - Further up the Watling Street, this house always pushes the boat out at Christmas. I quite like it; it’s a bit of a Brownhills institution. There’s no denying it now, Christmas is upon us for sure. Let’s hope the weather clears soon…
December 23rd - Shooting down the A5 after a lousy, stormy day, it was oddly settled, clear and warm. I enjoyed the speed and warmth, and reflected on how the weather had changed so markedly in less than an hour.
Passing the Chase Inn in Newtown, I noted it’s up for sale again, which is a shame; it’s a good house and deserves stable, committed ownership. I’ve had a few good beers in there over the years - hope it finds a new owner soon.
November 10th - Night ride home. Long exposure experiment without a tripod. Again, the camera is stood on the guard rail on 15 second exposure, looking west up the A5 bypass from the Jerry’s Lane flyover at Weeford. In the distance, and ambulance is coming. When I took this, it was almost total darkness.
21st June - Up on the A5, at Newtown, Brownhills, it’s reconstruction time again. On the site of the awful, paradise-lost maisonettes, new social housing is being constructed. It’s just… at the moment… I’m not getting good gives. Have we not been here before?
Hope I’m wrong.
March 1st - Returning from Burntwood along the canal, I stopped to take a long exposure shot of the A5/Barracks Lane junction at night. I’ve been meaning to try this one for a while. Hammerwich Church looks imperious on the hilltop, and the traffic looks every bit as mad as it usually is at rush hour.
Hard to think that down there, a little to the right, the Staffordshire Hoard lay for centuries, undiscovered. Such an unlikely spot, really.
December 9th - I remain fascinated by deserted urban spaces at night. This small parade of shops stands just off the A5 Watling street at Brownhills, and was built to serve the housing estates that sprung up there in the postwar period. It is fair to say that its had ups and downs, and more than its fair share of transitory tenants. I find the design odd; there’s little parking nearby, and the curious fall from the road level makes it seem almost subterranean. When I passed tonight there didn’t seem to be a soul around, and I think, in an odd kind of way, it was quite haunting.
December 27th - I had some stuff to get from Maplin, on the Orbital Centre in Cannock. I hate cycling there - the ride is so very boring. I compensated myself by tearing up Brownhills Common first. After a run up the A5 to the Washbrook Lane junction, near the burnt-out Watermargin restaurant, I turned up the new road and over the M6 Toll flyover. They must have been having some kind of IT problem - the road wasn’t really that busy, yet there were queues at the toll gates. I’ve not seen that before. Good evening, lemmings…
December 4th - A wet, miserable day. I had planned to go up on the Chase, but the weather was so bad, I settled for a circuit of the town in the early evening. Up on the A5, I admired the lights of The Terrace restaurant. This popular venue has been going for years and has a good reputation locally, and even at 5pm on a Sunday it was clearly very busy. Hard to believe this was once nothing more than a petrol station and transport cafe.
November 18th - The night photos continue. Sorry if you’re getting bored with them, I am trying to vary them a bit, it’s just that I’m mostly on my bike right now when it’s dark, and today was no exception. I escaped for a spin over to Whittington at 4pm, and was captivated by the traffic when crossing the A38 footbridge at Weeford. Looking south, the top photo shows traffic on the A38 itself, Little Hay Lane and M6 toll, off to the right. The lower picture was taken on the flyover taking Jerry’s Lane over the A5 Bypass near Packington Moor, with Lichfield TV transmitter in the background. I’ve been trying variants of these for a while and these are the first such long-exposure shots I’ve been happy with. Oh well - should see some daylight tomorrow…
June 12th - Amongst the surprisingly large amount of odd historical curios in Brownhills, this decaying, cast-iron milepost occupies a special place in my heart. Sitting at the side of the A5 Watling Street, right at the top of the Black Path as it has done for decades, it points brokenly to Chester and Salop, marking their distances are 62 and 30 miles respectively. I don’t know what it pointed to in the other direction, for that side has always been broken in my living memory. This is the only milepost I’ve ever seen designed like this, most locally are four-sided low, minimalist monuments, whereas this was once semi-ornate and must have cost a lot of money to make.
I wonder who placed it and what it’s origins were. It would be nice if it could be restored, but I doubt many folk even know of it’s existence, which is sad. I can remember sitting on the sign as a child waiting for a relative to come from Brownhills Comprehensive, nearby…