The rapid destructive power of fire has a way of bringing our attention to a longer, slower process of change in the urban landscape. This week has seen a piece of the Black Country’s industrial legacy damaged as a blaze hit the former leather works of Jabez Cliff on Lower Forster Street, Walsall. Sad to see a key locally-listed building damaged in this way, but the site is also part of a wider set of industrial heritage on which a new 21st century Black Country is putting pressure, although at a less visible pace. In an effort to find space for new housing, the area’s Core Strategy foresees the re-use of a fifth of industrial land over the next fifteen years—a change which will also test the preservation of historic workplaces. Our challenge is surely to understand the implications of this for the area’s inherited character, preferably before the demise of the buildings themselves puts this beyond us.
Where all our grannies worked
Location of Jabez Cliff works
Walsall’s locally-listed buildings
Black Country Core Strategy
For rapid change see Two hundred years in twenty seconds
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