November 20th - At the ‘cute Victorian’ end of the railway station spectrum is Shenstone. Full of stereotypical metroland classic commuter charm, this was one of the last stations built on the old Cross City line, when the fillip was added between Sutton and Lichfield. It’s a gorgeous, terracotta brick, semi gothic marvel, sadly defiled by having it’s lovely glass canopy destroyed and chimneystacks truncated. In this dormitory commuter village, it is dark and quiet on the station at night, and I think, even in a steady drizzle, that it is beautiful. A good place to leave from, and a fine place to return to.
October 7th - Bridgtown, in Cannock, is a quirky little place. In essence, a former mining community, it exists as a little island all on it’s own. Although it is part of the wider Cannock conurbation, it seems to be separate, and has idiosyncratic, brick-paved side streets full of great victorian terraces. It also a a very distinctive range of shops, and I’ve never worked out quite why. Here, you can buy vintage clothing, Landrover spares, traditional sweets, or a tarot reading. This is a great place, and I’ve never worked out why it’s so unique.
May 16th - Today found me in Tyseley, which made a change. I don’t come down this way much, but when I do, I always love the air of bustle in these industrial, urban streets. There’s always something going on around every corner; stuff to be shifted, things being unloaded. The backtreets are alive with the buzz of small industry - sewing machines, lathes, injection moulders all add to the background susurration, along with the clank of metal, clatter of doors and hiss of compressed air. Intermingled with it all is the faded air of a once possibly genteel Victorian place, whose station still bears the hallmarks of that period, from when the nearby terraces must also date. Most people pass this place in disgust, but actually, if you spend a while and traverse its streets, it has a kind of faded charm all of its own.
April 29th - A return along the canal prompted me to photograph this fine piece of history. One of only two listed structures in Brownhills, it used to carry the South Staffordshire Railway over the Wyrley and Essington Canal. It’s now slowly decaying, with large holes in the bridge deck and the metalwork corroding steadily.
Sadly, nobody seems to want to take responsibility for this unloved bridge. It’s a shame, because I think it’s a fine example of victorian utilitarian architecture - simple blue brick, lightly decorated, totally functional.