We are looking for contacts, local community groups, interested individuals, routes into funding, places to exhibit, support, volunteers, publicity and people to network with in order to develop our projects.
Please contact us by emailing milesanddacombe@virginmedia.com.

Tuesday 12 April 2011


As we walked further out from the station, the feel of Perry Barr started to change dramatically.
Like Corby, Perry Barr has undergone a programme of regeneration and the One Stop Shopping Centre seems to be the flagship for the new, the clean, the modern and the convenient. The shops are full, the place is busy, it’s functional and like many other out of town retail complexes but its aspect and orientation does much to combat the impression made by Perry Barr when you alight from the station. There is energy and hustle, students and locals add to the hum of energy.
We decided to explore the University Campus, once again the nicest spaces were sheltered, curled inside, tree lined walk ways, small, planted courtyards, intimate study areas not immediately obvious from the outside view. From the steps leading up to the Student Union building you could see a sculptural conglomeration of pipe and ducting – reminiscent of a Paolozzi design or sculpture.  Jo particualrly liked this as an gritty industrial backdrop to the shiny newness of the University piazza.

We continued walking, trying to find the edge of Perry Barr, or at least get a sense of its size.  We asked how large Perry Barr was?  We were directed towards a park, it seemed to imply this was as far as "Perry Barr" went.  So we carried on down the road in search of the park.

On the way we passed the Greyhound Stadium.  We already knew there was a Greyhound Stadium here and were quite excited as Carole owns a whippet.  But of course when we got there the Stadium was empty.  It was really strange, a place that would be a hive of excitement and atmosphere when the races are on, but when empty it had a weird feeling of loneliness and abandonment.

We stumbled upon the zigzag bridge, now dwarfed by a newer bridge just upstream which carries the traffic. The zigzag bridge itself is just for pedestrians, providing a really rather lovely, surprising and odd little path.
It was a long walk to Perry Park and we weren’t really sure if the park we came upon was the park we’d been looking for. They were building a new skate park, men and diggers were busy moving earth and reshaping the landscape. A lone skater practised his moves on a relatively new skate ramp. A path wound past the heavy vehicles and busy men, there was an expanse of grass punctuated by trees and drifts of crocuses. 

A bowling green awaited bowlers and spaces cried out for parents and children, picnics and play. 
We peered over a wrought iron railing and saw a drainage channel lined with Victorian blue brick. A man in a suit picked his way along the channel, measuring stick in one hand, camera in the other. He told us this was the first time the water had run so free and clear in many years, his face was a picture of pride and happiness at the completion of a job well done.  We all agreed that the structure did have its own beauty about it.
We were particularly struck by the park, how beautiful it was after the business and urbanity of the part of Perry Barr that we first arrived at, and yet it was practically empty of people even on that glorious sunny day.  Another man working on clearing the channel told us that the park was always this empty.  We felt an urge to adopt the park, draw people to it, fill it with noise and laughter.

In the distance, on the far edge of the park, we could see a large construction project underway.  This, we were told, is the new stadium, due to open as part of the Olympics.  Obviously there were big plans for this area and we wondered how the stadium would affect the park - would it draw more people to use it?  We realised that the "Be a Star in Perry Barr" campaign must be part of this project, to involve local people in the Olympic event.

So what next?   - We want to come back, meet more people, and explore more of the area.  Our visit gave us lots to think about and the great thing about train journeys is that short amount of time to reflect on where you have just been.  

We discussed our impressions and the idea that Perry Barr had many friendly and positive things but these were underlying and hidden away, like the people, sense of community, the park and the zigzag bridge.  We wondered, where is the heart of Perry Barr?  This idea is something we would like to develop into a proposal for the town.  A way of mapping and networking Perry Barr and the impressions of people who live there - where do they think the heart is?  Does each person have a different location for their heart?  Is it a very personal thing?  Where do people get together?  What potential is there for community celebration?

 If you live in Perry Barr, send us your thoughts on Where is the Heart of Perry Barr?

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