Brave new town

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Darlaston today, from Bing! Maps. Click for a larger version.

Here’s a fine thing indeed from reader Tony Martin. Tony, you’ll remember, has made great contributions to the blog before on the subject of busses and other stuff, and he also unearthed the stunning Walsall Power Station open day pamphlet a few weeks ago.

I know it’s off the usual territory, but I do love Darlaston and spend lots of time there. It’s a place of fascinating history and architecture, and it’s very close to my heart.

Tony sent me the following as three images last week and I have to say, they’re fascinating. I love town planning stuff and civic models, and it’s interesting to see how different this projection is from what actually happened. I stitched the wide image together from two scans, so apologies of the blurs on the join.

Tony said:

Hello Bob

Out of your zone, but there is life beyond the M6!

The same clean out that produced the Power Station leaflet, brought up this leaflet that was produced by Darlaston UDC c1962.

It planned the wholesale demolition of the town centre and while some of this happened, the plan never came to fruition,

Tony Martin

What a wonderful thing, clearly the product of a more open, optimistic era, and huge thanks to Tony for taking the time to scan and share it.

Talking of such things, I’m still after a copy of the ‘Blue Book’ – the late 70s Unitary Development Plan sent to every house in Aldridge and Brownhills, that was somewhat controversial in the day.

If anyone knows of a copy, please do give me a shout, it would be lovely to have it available for posterity.


Oh, brave new world. Early sixties town planning futurism kindly supplied by Tony Martin.

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I’m not sure any of this really happened at all. Note Rectory Street actually ceased to exist. Image kindly supplied by Tony Martin. Please click for a larger version.

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11 Responses to Brave new town

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Unitary Development Plan? Are you sure? As I recall it, the UDP was a consequence of the Local Government Act 1985, which dealt with the dissolution of metropolitan counties. Prior to that two local plans had been adopted in the borough of Walsall: the Darlaston Local Plan (1986?) and the Aldridge-Brownhills Local Plan (about the same time). The first UDP – the first to cover the whole of Walsall Borough was adopted in1995.

    1960s is well before my time, but what eventually happened to Darlaston was spaceship Asda.

    • Hi Andy

      No, I’m not sure. Nosing around, the publication date was 1983. It was quite a hefty work, and there were copies in the libraries; it had a light blue cover. I know condensed copies were delivered door to door. It was controversial, predicating as it did the developments around Clayhanger, and I remember endless correspondence about it in the Walsall Observer.

      I think it must have been the Local Plan.

      Forgive me, my planning terminology is very poor.


      • Andy Dennis says:

        I think this must have been the Aldridge-Brownhills Local Plan: Revised Policies and Proposals 1983 (Amazon lists as currently unavailable). The ABLP was to fulfil a commitment in the West Midlands County Structure Plan 1980 Alterations 1983 (?), which identified general locations for house building, including 1,500 around Clayhanger, and which would be detailed in a local plan. I had a minor role with the team that objected to the WMCSP, disagreeing fundamentally with their calculation of need. Alas, to no avail. Walsall MBC refused to prepare the ABLP, so it was prepared by the County Council, with Walsall objecting. Eventually, when the first Unitary Development Plan was prepared negotiations with the landowner (who resided in the Isle of Man) reduced the scale of proposed building around Clayhanger from 1,100 to 700 (Walsall UDP Draft for Deposit Sep 1991, p88). The ABLP was finally adopted in Feb 1986 (same doc. p170). The ABLP was replaced by the UDP in 1995 and therefore has no force today. The UDP is partly superseded by the Black Country Core Strategy and in process of being replaced by the Local Development Framework: Site Allocations Document and Walsall Town Centre Action Plan.

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  6. As a young child I remember visiting the exhibition with my parents. it was held in Darlaston Town Hall. With passing years my memory is a little vague but I think there was a large model of the proposed new town layout, together with plans. I think the new buildings which were erected, but never completed, – due, if rumour was to be believed, that they had been built the wrong way round – between what was King Street and the burial ground were to be part of the brand new modern Darlaston. I definitely remember the booklet pictured here and I know I had a copy until at few years ago but I’m not sure if I still have it as I’ve discarded some things over the years.

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