|The canal basin, with sadly empty mooring pontoons|
But around too are the signs of the seventies blitzkrieg that affected so many of our town centres and replaced (albeit tired and shabby) houses and shops with bland, amorphous and poorly built shopping malls, ripped the guts out of many old properties that survived in shadow only and generally made a complete balls-up of the place.
|IKEA as art by Sikander Pervez|
|Monolith new art gallery|
There's a lot to see from Jacob Epstein bronzes to an ingenious young artist who assembles brilliant sculptures from pieces of IKEA furniture wood.
|The view from the gallery's third floor|
The town museum is a sorry contrast to the gallery: it's council funding has been axed so only one of three galleries remains. And word is that this will shut soon. It's a classic tale: reduce funding, so the museum can exhibit less, so less people come so the place has less justification for financial support. Already it's a flimsy little show: a bit of obvious stuff about the canals and Walsall's famous leatherware, saddlery and saddle ironmongery industries and that's about it.
|Sister Dora, Walsall's heroine|
|Fine reliefs surround its base|
What we did find was the statue to Sister Dora, an Anglican nun who arrived in 1865, was horrified by the medical provisions for workers in the local industries. She devoted the rest of her life to improving matters for working men and their families to such a degree that thousands came to her funeral. The magnificent bronze statue (replacing an earlier marble one) has intricate reliefs of industrial scenes round its base. It was apparently the first public statue in Britain erected for a woman not of royal blood.
|Handsome building reveals the town's former glories|
Let's hope it all succeeds and Walsall has a future to be proud of as well as a past.