This is a community mural of the buildings, places and spaces that local people have said make Brierley Hill distinctive and unique. It was painted in Artspace (Mill Street, Brierley Hill) over fifteen workshops which involved fifty community painters. The mural was led by local mural artist DJ (David Johnson).
The artist’s brief was to work with members of the community to paint a mural which captured the ‘spirit’ of Brierley Hill – to include representations of the places, spaces and architecture within the town, and associated memories, that local people suggested to create a piece of art which reflected what is distinctive, special and unique about Brierley Hill. See the Mural Development week by week.
Below we explain, or we use the words of community participants to explain, why each feature was painted onto the mural. If you want to see how well you know Brierley Hill first, why not do our Mural Quiz – How well do you know Brierley Hill?
Answers and explanations below:
“The night… the night sky glistening red that was fantastic, that was a fantastic sight around there and I always remember the women round here when they hung the washing out they’d always be moaning that they’d got the bits from Round Oaks, dust was always in their white washing when they used to tap the furnaces… that was a sight.”
Robert H Cooper, former worker at Round Oak Steel Works. (Reminiscence session)
“When the Earl of Dudley arrives to open it (The Danilo, built 1937) there’s crowds outside, but they are all looking the other way, waiting for George Formby to come up from Quarry Bank…” Dave Galley, Brierley Hill (from audio recording)
“(George Formby) put his head through the curtains and said “turned out nice again” and the whole of Brierley Hill erupted.” Ned Williams, local historian and author (from audio recording)
“This was quite a sight. I mean it was six storeys in height and in some places went down in the ground four storeys… you can see why it dominated Brierley Hill, can’t you? Half of that Moor Centre was probably the bake house”. Alan Capewell, worked as a trainee electrician for Marsh & Baxters (from audio recording)
Chapel Street Estate, built in the 1960s is seen from miles around.
“The solider on the top (Stanley Harley), he worked at Round Oak Steel Works, but it was the ‘Earl’s’ in those days… it was never called Round Oak Steel Works, it was the ‘Earl’s’… and he’d been through the first world war and he was in one of the Guards… and they had him as the model for that.” Dennis Andrews, Brierley Hill (from audio recording)
The Briar Rose sculpture, designed by Borough Artist Steve Field and fabricated at Apollo Fabrications in Brierley Hill, is prominently situated outside the police station and is a colourful landmark serving as a Gateway into the town.
George: This is a building of great distinction.
George: Yes. Oh hello. Erm… Yes. Built 1897 by A T Butler.
George: A T Butler. Very distinguished local architect. He designed the Workers Institute in Cradley Heath.
In 1868 this public water fountain was given to the town by the new local board as a condition of the Earl of Dudley’s agent, who had agreed to provide a drinking fountain at Round Oak. It is a reminder of the past which survived its original building’s demolition. It was moved to the Moor Centre construction.
The new Stourbridge Art and Design Centre in Brierley Hill. Inspired design in the town – the heritage of the future?
On a Saturday afternoon in May 2011 the mural was taken to the Concord Market, Brierley Hill and shoppers and traders were asked what they thought about it.
90% of people agreed that the mural captured the ‘spirit’ of the town.
However, 73% of these people thought the mural represented a positive view of the town, rather than a realistic one.
Source: 33 self-completion questionnaires
Does the mural capture the essence of Brierley Hill for you?
What’s missing? Have you seen it for yourself in Brierley Hill Library (from October 2011)
Tell us what you think!
Does this mural inspire you to get creative?
Please send in digital photos or scans of original artwork you produce which is inspired by Brierley Hill. We can add it to this site!