BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

June 13th - I cycled home from work on a sunny afternoon, and called to do some shopping on the way. I noted that the Pier Street footbridge has had a clean and is the process of getting a lick of paint ready for the canal festival in a couple of weeks. It’s nice to see, and Brian Stringer has been working hard to make this happen.

The marina has also had a mow and tidy up too. It’s a nice spot on a sunny day, it really is.

January 15th - I keep forgetting the Waterfront in Walsall. It’s hardly surprising, really, as blocked off by the New Art Gallery and a large Poundland, you wouldn’t know it was there from Park Street. This evening, I took a quick sweep through, and thought the lights were nice at the Wharf Bar. Still can’t warm to the the boxy, Lubyanka-like hotel, though. It’s bloody hideous.

November 29th - While we’re on the subject of architectural disasters, the new Premier Inn on the waterfront development near the art gallery looks better at night - mainly because it’s grim black colour and peculiar yellow window frames are muted by the darkness. Nearly ready to open, the lights were on and made for an interesting shot or two over the canal basin. Over a decade since development here began, the basin is still overlooked by derelict and unoccupied buildings. Not a great success story, it has to be said.

October 13th - As if to hammer home my point, Town Wharf, across the basin from the New Art Gallery. This is a new hotel. It looks like something thrown up in Tito’s Yugoslavia. It’s hideous, cheap and nasty. It opens in a couple of weeks - why not come and stay? Affording excellent views of the derelict and burnt out factory over the water, it’s sure to be a big tourist draw…

Walsall deserves so much better than this shit.

May 31st - My unexpected commuting grief did lead to an unexpected visit to the throbbing metropolis that is Walsall. It was quite fortuitous really; it meant the wind was at my back on the ride home, and also that I could check out the damage caused by yet another derelict building fire in the town the previous night.

The fire was in an abandoned, derelict former leather works smack bang in the middle of the Waterfront development area. Immediately adjacent to a new apartment block, the old factory has been derelict for a few years, and I guess this will lead to another hasty demolition and yet another rubberstamped planning application. I circled the former factory, and noticed something about this development area I’ve never noticed before - it’s very shabby, in reality. New blocks of housing, both new build and renovations, are punctuated by derelict, rotting hulks of workshops, dark and forbidding. The planning here has been lousy, and I wouldn’t fancy walking in this area at night. Who’d want to buy a new luxury apartment next to a derelict drugs den?