Monday, 19 July 2010

Desolation Row

We're moored in Stourbridge Town basin alongside the elegant Georgian brickwork of The Bonded Warehouse, an oasis of Grade II listed charm and history amid a desert of desolation and destruction.
All around us, and rapidly being hidden in the fast encroaching undergrowth, are the flattened remains of the town's once famous ironworks, notable for its railway locomotives but all gone now.
On the way into the town we passed the decaying remains of the town's other claim to fame - as a centre for glass making - firms like Stuart Crystal and Tudor Crystal once owned the huge bottle kilns that dotted the canal. Only one survives - as a visitor centre.
It's yet another tale of loss - Stourbridge High Street, with its charity shops, take-aways and Cash Converter tells its own story. There's no affluence here. Instead of the industry will - one day perhaps - come 'executive homes'. The jobs have gone to India and China but what has happened to all that Victorian energy, inventiveness and entrepreneurial spirit that created them? Have we lost that too?

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