Today, along with a considerable number of my fellow Brownhillians, I visited the relaunched Brownhills Market. Due to family stuff, I didn’t get there until 12pm, but it looked like it had been fairly busy – and the gridlock happening on the Tesco car park attested to this. Coming down into Pier Street from the pedestrian bridge, my heart sank when my eyes alighted on a trestle table under the trees on Pier Street – after all that was the modus operandi of the pirate DVD sellers. I was, however, pleased to note that the pitch belonged to Walsall Trading Standards. Whether erecting their stall there was a deliberately ironic gesture or a chronic lack of historical awareness I couldn’t tell, but they seemed to be doing brisk business explaining how to spot fake trainers and jeans to passers by. As this is a subject that I suspect many of the local teenagers are far better qualified in than the officers concerned, I found it quite amusing, but all power to them.
There was an impressive mingling of council officials, trading standards, reporters from the Express & Star and even a couple of coppers at one point – one must assume they were lost and had stopped for directions. I even noted Walsall Council’s publicity officer, Dan Slee, who must be the first person in internet history to actually look like his twatter avatar, except that in real life I don’t think Dan is overly concerned that anyone might call him weedy.
The market was quite a bit smaller and occupied a more compact area than the original, and worryingly, some stalls remained vacant. It was also clear that some traders needed to get used to the new style of stall without a fixed roof, the stalls that were without a cover gave a peculiarly ‘open’ feel. Business was quite brisk, with a steady flow of people wandering round, and there seemed to be a reasonably wide diversity of stalls – household stuff, clothes, mobile phone accessories, butchers, shoes, car accessories, food and even computer consumables. There were a couple of confectionary stalls to satisfy my craving for jelly sweets.
If the momentum can be maintained – and it’s going to require plenty of publicity and good policing, just like there was today – I think there’s every chance that the facility will grow and improve. The atmosphere was quite good, the aisles broad and airy, with a relaxed feel. If the past reputation can be conquered – and that will require plenty of plugging in the media – then there’s ample potential to restore a bit of bounce back into Brownhills. The High Street was noticeably busier today. Lets hope it continues.
Clicking on any of the photos below will open them in Panoramio.