I am in the latter category. I do think Clayhanger is beautiful. Not just visually, but the spirit of the community has beauty. To quote my 13-year-old daughter “Clayhanger becomes Clayhanger when the sun is out. Everyone comes out and you see people again who have been inside all winter.’ She’s right of course. The sun does bring us out. We tidy our gardens, take the dog on a long walk and stop to chat with neighbours.
This community beauty was certainly demonstrated yesterday (Saturday 19th March) during the first of the community litter picks. Clangers old and new care about Clayhanger and are proud that it is essentially a pleasant and safe place to live. Not perfect at times, and unfortunately some do suffer at the hands of those who want to take what others have. Sadly, long gone are the days when anyone in any neighbourhood can leave the back door open and return later without fear of anyone having entered.
Image courtesy of Brian Stringer, Local Historian and author of ‘Clayhanger Kid’, shared on Brownhills Bob’s blog.
Somewhat ironically, it is well-known about these parts that Clayhanger used to literally be a dump. A landfill site. And it smelt. Awful. And there was a pig farm too. That smelt. Piggy. The combined effect was, so local legend has it, horrendous. An old aerial photo shared by Brownhills Bob, prompted much reminiscing. Fortunately, photos capture a visual moment, not a smelly one and so the stench is relegated to memory.
Which reminded me that a friend of madwblog gifted some aerial shots of Clayhanger taken a few weeks back. This seems the perfect time to share them.
The water in the top left corner is The Spot with the Old Village beyond. Top middle is the park and running from top right into the centre of the shot is Northfields Way and adjacent on the right is the field where ‘The Clayhanger Two’ occasionally reside. The ‘Westbury Estate’ is top middle with the ‘Bloor Estate’ hazily fading to the top of the image. The canal curves in the bottom right corner and Clayhanger Common takes the bulk of the shot in the bottom left with the ‘black tarmac path’ snaking from the spot and disappearing to the left.
Bridge Street leading out of Clayhanger down the centre of the shot. Jones’ House to the bottom left and the New Pool where once there were tennis courts just creeping out of shot to the left. Clayhanger Common to the right with the New Village in two distinct blocks to the top right. Holy Trinity School playground can just be made out in the top centre and Pelsall is just visible in the sun set.
Clayhanger Common in it’s entirity! The black tarmac path running across the middle of the shot with The Spot to the right. The New Village is just creeping into shot, middle right, with the Old Village above it. Centre top is the Maybrook Industrial Estate and Walsall Wood to the top left.
Some may scoff or giggle, but I declare Clayhanger a place of beauty – the camera never lies they say – and I feel blessed to call it my home.