Due to the customary bank holiday Monday weather, today I decided to venture on a trip round Brownhills with the camera; as summer comes locally concentrated trips get rarer and I tend to photograph further afield. I hadn’t really been on such an exploratory since taking a trip out the previous bank holiday to photograph the demolition of the former Edward Rose/Wagon site, and checked out a few things that had been niggling me.
Traveling through the High Street, things looked as forlorn as ever, I wanted to capture MacWarreners again and the other closed, but still standing, Brownhills pubs. Traffic was too heavy to get a reasonable photo, so I swung onto the canal over the Pier Street bridge and headed past the overflow toward Pelsall. Briefly checking the sate of the copse behind the overflow, I noted the broken glass still remained in the ditch – but coppicing had clearly been taking place and looked well executed. There was less litter than recently, too. Heading past the old railway bridge, I noted a new anti-vehicle barrier had been constructed, presumably to stop quad access to Clayhanger common from the old pig farm. I wonder how long it’ll be before it’s visited by the usual arseholes with an angle grinder?
Hanging a left up onto the other old railway at the trough bridge, the deck still remains in a perilous condition – the hole seems to be getting larger. The track towards Ryder’s Hayes was quiet, and I startled a dog fox who’d been trotting along it oblivious to my presence. He looked in good condition for the little time I saw him before he disappeared into the thicket by the riding school.
Rather than visit the pools like I’d done earlier in the year, I followed the old trackbed and came out in the housing estate. Doubling back, I picked up the canal, and checked out the current state of the Wagon plant – there were reports of a small fire there in the week, but nothing showed. The buildings seem unchanged but judging by the gouges and spilled shards of metal at the site entrance, some fairly heavy metal recovery is taking place there. I don’t expect the factory to remain much longer. It seems odd that they’re demolishing it so quickly, almost as if the whole thing had been planned for some time.
Hopping on to the cycle route (NCN5) in Apex Road, it seems that scramblers and quads are riding up the bank to get onto the common – the anti vehicle barrier at the top of the bank has long since been cut down. I noticed with some irritation that the track surface to the old level crossing was being torn away by the motorbikes and is now becoming quite unpleasantly rutted.
There didn’t seem and sign of anyone at all at the top of engine lane – it was almost earily quiet – but a new barrier has been erected in place of the last one (again, burnt off by the fly tippers or bikers), just to the left of the red gate
The thing is, I can see that it may prevent quad or truck access, but the gap has been helpfully left wide enough to get a full size motorbike through with ease. I realise that it’s pointless anyway, as there are so many other access points (Apex Road, Albutts Road, Lime Lane) but what on earth is the thinking behind that? Looking at it, it cost a lot of money and is somewhat substantial… sadly, it’s no barrier to those who think the common is just there for scrambling and off-roading. My respect goes out to the Police who I’ve met here a couple of times on a clampdown.
Whilst heading down Engine lane, keeping an eye out for deer (none today, sadly), the only other person I saw was a well dressed, solitary woman, smoking by her car in the lay-by by the ruined bridge. She appeared to be waiting for something, I can’t imagine what…
I crisscrossed Holland Park and the common in the fruitless search for deer, coming out near the Rising Sun. I took some photos of the abandoned pub, and headed up to snap the Pear Tree, before hitting Chasewater over the motorway bridge. The water level is still lower than I can ever remember it, but I can’t seem to find out why. The Chasewater Wildlife Group have commented about it on their diary, but have not speculated on a reason – I’m wondering if there’s work due on the dam. There seems to have been a lot of surveying and drilling going on there in the last 12 months, and the sluice to the canal basin seems to be at full tilt. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
There were plenty of bugs in the air, and plenty of Swallows (I think; I’m never sure about which is which in the swallow family) dipping low over the water. After the customary circuit, I cycled past the now-derelict Highfields farm, which appears to be up for auction. I don’t come down here much and didn’t notice the farm’s passing, I have no idea what the story is; but it lies forlorn and silent. It’s a long way from the memory of the snarling dog that used to yank it’s chain and bark terrifyingly at us on the edge of the farmyard when we went to visit Chasewater as kids. I hope a use can be found for the place.
Heading back into the town from the A5, the traffic had eased, and I got a couple of adequate shots of MacWarreners, then progressing to The Swan in Pelsall Road and the Wheel Inn in Lindon Road. I remembered that I’d yet to record the derelict Kenning’s garage at the Shire Oak junction, so I nipped up to take a photo there, too. Whilst about that, I noticed that some work had been going on at the old reservoir opposite… trees had been cut down and excavation seemed to have taken place on one side. Something’s cooking…