Friday, 25 September 2015

From My Hometown



Walsall's changing. Some call it progress but I can't get excited about yet more fast food outlets and a massive Primark dominating the skyline. 


I barely visit town any more. Half the charity shops have moved out and the stock in the remainder is depressingly shoddy, little wonder as parking outside to drop off donations is nigh-on impossible with the one way system and double yellow lines. In a couple more weeks it'll be nothing but clapped-out Atmosphere dominating the rails once the town's population tire of the purchases they made when Primark opened its doors eight weeks ago.


There's a few interesting indie shops holding out against the retail giants. The Curio Shop opened in 1969 and remains packed to the rafters with all manner of antiquities, junk and house clearance curiosities.


Eerie Ink is just one of many tattoo parlours in the town. If you ain't got a tattoo you're considered a bit weird round here although THIS local chap might have taken the ink loving a bit too far.


Market House has been beautifully restored but stands empty.


I'd love those Corinthian columns outside our front door. (Identifying Ionic, Doric and Corinthian columns, my grammar school education wasn't a total waste).


The modern building to the left replaced Shannon's Mill, a clothing company which, at its height in 1887 employed 600 people and made almost 180,000 garments. It was destroyed by arsonists in 2007. The gate house with the chimney is the only part that remains, for years Ace of Hearts, a tattoo parlour run by a mother and daughter.


Walsall's always had a huge Mod scene. We've even got a dedicated club.


The School of Art opened in 1908. It was built in 1859 and was originally the town's Free Library. 


My Grandma took a few courses here in the early 1970s. One of her classmates was the notorious serial killer known as the Black Panther



 Directly opposite the old college is fabric shop, The Hole in the Wall. Back in the early 1980s most of this area was derelict and occupied by squatters. The coolest of the bunch was Boy George who lived with Walsall lad Martin Degville, later to become lead singer of Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Seeing him walking around town dressed in a silver spacesuit or an Elizabethan ruff with his dog dressed to match was a familiar sight. Nobody really batted an eyelid - or if they did they didn't dare say anything, he was built like a brick sh*thouse.  


A middle-aged woman in a psychedelic catsuit is tame by comparison.


Jon's standing outside a derelict sandwich bar. Who can afford to compete with The Pound Bakery? He's anxious to get back home, if you can't tell by his face. He did manage to find a few treasures in the chazzas after all.


Just time to capture the fabulous interiors shop that is 34a


A mix of French antiquities, industrial chic, retro and salvage. It's like someone burgled our house and put it all in a shop window.




WEARING: Sportaville 1960s catsuit (Second To None, Walsall's legendary vintage emporium), Bertie platforms (charity shop), Fringed leather bag (made by my friend Fran), 1970s sunnies (Moseley Vintage & Retro Fair)

We're trading in Wales with Judy's in Cardiff tomorrow (Details HERE) . Come and see us if you can!

58 comments:

  1. Lovely to take a virtual tour around your stomping ground. And THAT catsuit. Wowzers! :)

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  2. Lovely to take a virtual tour around your stomping ground. And THAT catsuit. Wowzers! :)

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  3. I know what you mean Vix. I live in a village just outside Solihull and a Costa Coffee and small Tesco just opened up where a row of little local independents used to be. Everyone else was ecstatic about Costa but I think it was a real shame (even though I love a Costa Hot Chocolate!) .

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    1. Costa makes me and my husband really annoyed when there are local independent businesses!

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  4. I've got those drawers and gauges that are in 34a, what a great shop.
    Sadly the nearest town to us is Rochdale and is abysmal, no character shops at all or even a decent market so I only go when I need the bank. That's why we go to Stockport once a month. I trundle over the hills to Todmorden for the secondhand market and chazzer shops. It's got a nice atmosphere and I can stay for ages and have a sarnie sat by the canal. Xxx

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  5. I'd give almost anything to see you walking around town in a psychedelic catsuit! This virtual look is the next best thing to real life though. I love this post. I'm sorry your beautiful town is having to change so much. I can't believe that gorgeous Market House is sitting there unused.

    Our neighbourhood is changing quickly too, with so many high rise condos going up all over the place, but thankfully most of the historic buildings are protected, after far too many of our original buildings were torn down haphazardly in the 70s. Now, for the most part, they're forcing builders to keep what is there and augment it with new construction.

    Personally, while I am all for positive change and progress, I'd love to see it happen alongside places like those great sounding ones featured in this post, rather than instead of. The buildings are so wonderful and steeped in so much history! And Boy George was there!

    Have a great weekend trading. Hope it's a good one. xo

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  6. I hate, hate when that happens, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    The destroy what make every town unique. What is going to happen next , are they going to dress us all in Zara? ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

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  7. I think that many cities have problems with the concept of progress. Someone should tell them that does not mean creating damage!
    Fortunately something resists change ...
    These independent shops (now we should specify this thing to distinguish them from major groups, sigh) are really interesting, in my part there is no such thing and, most importantly (unfortunately!) Boy George is not he never walked with its space suits!
    But the head of alligator? The triumph dell'arredamente horror! Although I feel sorry for the cute little animal!
    I love your suit psychedelic! Fantastic!

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  8. really an interesting town,, I hope it never gets squashed out by the super box faf stores,, I smiled when you said it looked like someone burgled your apartment and put it in the window, lol, thats the truth!!!!I love it!!
    You look smashing in that jumpsuit!!
    I made a pink one and a black one from Simplicity patterns in 1973,, just like yours,, very comfy!

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  9. I love your walkabouts - so nice to see what others home towns look like. Pretty scary about your Grandmother's classmate - thank goodness they caught the bugger.

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  10. It's hard to find independent stores around here, too. Restaurants are all pretty much chains. When a new one opens, you'd think it was the second coming, people line up for days. Like I want to go to another restaurant the serves wings, chicken fingers and hamburgers. Same with the clothing stores. All of the USA is looking the same all across the country

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  11. Some interesting shops still managing to keep going in your town Vix, Primark gets everywhere - in my day it was Chelsea Girl and I suppose Primark offers the affordable, throwaway fashionyoungsters want, although it's far more fun to invent your own style (like you). I am constantly on the look out for that original wool tartan kilt that's the perfect fit for me but our charity shops are dull dull dull!

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  12. Glad there's still a few individual places left. Not many towns can even boast that these days!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  13. The holy tat looks like it could use a good home, I've never managed to get a wander round Walsall when we came to kidnap Young Baldrick . now he's residing in the YMCA we don't see him at all

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  14. That was quite the creepy story about the black panther. Yikes.

    I loved this tour of your town and the fact that Boy George lived there : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  15. Holy crap! I would love to visit your town!!!! So much history and it's BEAUTIFUL!!! Pfffft to modern changes!

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  16. Thank you for the tour. I'm afraid that happens to the small towns here too, Walmart comes and everything dries up. Thank goodness they have you to add some spice! :)

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  17. It sure looks different then the town of Bonners Ferry. Population of 2,000.
    I believe what you call a charity shop. Would be possible to us a thrift store or give away place.

    Coffee is on

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  18. I do love Walsall. It's sad when hometowns change but Walsall does seem to hang on to lots of it's fab character.Yup that looks as if someone has ransacked my gaff and put it in a shop too ! I do have some defunct gauges hanging up in the hall. God... The Black Panther. He terrorised our childhood.
    On yeah...see you tomorrow down the Bay!!
    Loves ya.
    XXX XXX

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  19. That's too bad, the town looks and sounds like such a great little place before they over modernise it. Love your jumpsuit, and how crazy about your nan's (Black Panther) classmate. :) Thanks for your comment. Mum's doing much better now. xx

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  20. such a quaint li'l town!! The fabric shop and that interior shop looks so tempting! And that Mod club looks cool too!!

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  21. It makes me sad when places change too! Walsall still had some cool places but it is horrid when things change. I will try to get to Bethnal Green next week!! Yay for jacket in my size!!x

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  22. Wonderful old shops and buildings. At least one of our major landmarks of modern architecture, called the toilet, which was Eatons then Sears (big department stores), was redone, and is now Nordstrom. Everything here is becoming high-end, very high-end, like this city in general. I fear for the few thrift shops that are left. How can they afford to stay?!

    I LOVE that catsuit, and the story about your grandmother studying with Black Panther. Creepy. I wonder if people who knew him said with amazement, he seemed like such a nice man, as they often do.

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  23. I love your hometown posts, Vix!
    Just watched "Arthur and George" and noted that the Great Wyrley Outrage happened not too far from your hometown, too!
    xo

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  24. Sad state of affairs, it's happening everywhere all around Britain. It's a good job they got you & Jon to brighten things up(really loving your catsuit, rockin' that, Vic:)

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  25. I'm sorry to hear about the good shops and chazzas going that's so sad. Conversely my home town is full of charity shops but they never have any good stuff in them because the town has grown and grown with new housing estates in the last few years.

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  26. so sorry to hear your historical downtown is losing its flavor. thank goodness you and jon are still keeping it classy. all my local thrift stores now have special "vintage" sections and the prices are sky high. i think i'll just hang on to what i've got instead paying those prices. have a lovely weekend. x

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  27. I guess its the same with most towns , our little town is slovely dying , only the big chains left . Big shopping mals are built outside the town . Love the tour you took us on ! And you shine like a star as always !
    xxx

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  28. I love reading your posts about your hometown and seeing you out and about - especially when you're wearing gorgeous clothes like that catsuit xxx

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  29. Love that Crocodile head in the shop window - would go great with the cattle skull we have on our wall lol!!!

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  30. I love this post about Walsall, shame that it is losing some of it's character but compared to my home town it still has a bucket full of charm. What fantastic shops Curio and 34a are, good job I didn't know about them last year! Your Gran sat beside the Black Panther....how chilling, I will never forget the horrific details of Lesley Whittle's murder.
    Enjoy yourselves in Cardiff. xx

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  31. You and John improve the cityscape simply walking down the pavement wearing vintage! And to say a shop window appears to feature your home furnishings is a very intriguing recommendation, indeed!

    I was heartened this week to discover a rather dusty, humble local thrift shoppe undergoing a major expansion and renovation. A new crew of volunteers -- apparently backed by a deep-pocket donor -- was busily sorting out the ancient industrial building into mens/womens/kids departments and even labeling racks with sizes! In a gesture of suport, I donated two bags of "career wear" items and was rewarded by unearthing a splendid pair of jeweled Persian slippers for $4 in the "vintage" room. Huzzah!

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  32. This corporatization is happening all over - even my beloved NYC is sprouting more Disney and Apple and Big Banks. Love these pics, and your jumpsuit is fab-u-lous. xox

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  33. I love seeing where you live. And you make a gorgeous tour guide. I love the jumpsuit so much. And if Jon is tired of thrifting with you, I will gladly go along in his place. I've actually seen a few things I want. That card catalogue! it's a shame that tatoos weren't more in vogue when your grandma was in art school. The Murderer might have been easier to spot with a Black Panther tatoo on his forehead.

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  34. Thanks for this lovely tour around your town (and you're a bloody well dressed tour guide in that FABULOUS catsuit). I can empathise: when I moved to my current town eight years ago, there were 4 really great op shops (it's a very, very small town) and now there's only two, one of which is really crappy and overpriced. So annoying! Sorry I haven't commented in so long...I hope you're well xx

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  35. That catsuit is fabulous. You look brilliant in it. I love the material. Walsall sounds like it was a brilliant place and still seems packed with gems, even if "progress" is filling the town with sweatshop tat. There are not so many shops like that here but there are two great junk shops 10 minutes from me. One is a church-charity one selling mostly (over-priced) furniture and the other one does house clearances. That one is a gold mine of tat. I have found some great 60's curtains in it and lots of interesting objet for a couple of quid. The charity shops here are just filled with Primani. Thanks for the fabulous tour of your home town. Xx

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  36. Thank you for continued inspirations to avoid more of the same and find unique. I'mgoing to hit a few garage sales and charity shops to find a couple summer to fall to winter dresses and a new to me tea pot.

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  37. Thank you for the tour of your town. Pity that there are only a handful of small shops left. Sigh! I'm glad the curio shop, fabric store and antique shop are hanging in there...perhaps Market house will have a suitable tenant soon?

    Gawd, I dislike large chains. We have Walmart...when they opened up, other smaller stores went out of business. I truly dislike shopping there - I feel like my soul gets sucked out of me.

    I love Boy George! He has a heavenly, crooner's voice.

    You, my dear, look stunning in that one-piece!!!

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  38. What a tour! And you are the most stylishly dressed your guide!

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  39. I always enjoy taking a mental walk around the sights you hand pick of your home town. Thank goodness there's still this much individuality. And boo hiss to the 'giants' of commerce moving in.

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  40. volley photos of the best parts of walsall , Charity shop clothing seems to be getting worse quality in a lot of places at the moment and the ones that do offer better quality seem to charge the earth , I think it might be something to do with the clothing banks , the shops are getting less so they have to be less fussy and put rubbish out to fill the shops

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  41. Love the maxi dress in the previous post! You look drop dead gorgeous in it! I can really relate to the growth of your home town. I live in the town were I grew up. It was a town of 3000 then, and most shops and businesses were in the slightly larger neighbouring town which is also much larger now. I suppose there are pros and cons to growth.
    Your posts always make me want to shop, whether it's from your vintage selections or the little shops you feature. I am pretty sure I need that alligator head (or is it a crocodile?) I even want to buy your little VW but I suppose the shipping cost would be scary! LOL
    xoxoxo

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  42. I'm left wondering about the pink doors and windows in the second photo.....love the peek into the shop of Fr. antiquities that looks like someone burgled your house ad put it all in the front window :)

    A couple of weeks ago, I didn't buy a HUGE table cloth that looked like the fabric in your that gorgeous jumpsuit you're wearing. I told Gary, "If only Vix were here!"

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  43. Thank you for the tour … I'm fascinated by all these English towns … and one day I'm visiting them all … I've promised myself :0)
    xx

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  44. Interesting photo tour! I feel sad too when I see such kind of changes in the town of my childhood. Fabulous jumpsuit and fabulous you!

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  45. fabulous catsuit!!!
    gentrification has become a "normal" thing here in eastern germany. thats one of the reasons i left berlin. when the baker has to close because of high rent and a "back shop" opens instead then you can be sure that corner of the town is lost to turbo capitalism.....
    but we have hope as long as kinky melon exist :-) xxxxx

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  46. At least you are taking the time to chart Walsall's former (and a few current) glories. The curio shop and 34a look really interesting. x

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  47. You are the most stylish, and interesting-looking tour guide I've ever seen! I really enjoyed seeing Walsall through your eyes - I remember you mentioning that Boy George used to live there. No wonder the locals aren't fazed by your eye-catching outfits.

    The town I grew up in was a small farming community with a population just over 1,000. It's even more quiet and dull than it was when I lived there as most people leave after they finish school.

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  48. Phwoar, that junk shop has me salivating! Religious statues and card files, what more does anyone need from life?
    It's lovely to read about your town and its strange inhabitants.
    You look totally foxy in your catsuit. xxx

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  49. Fast food and even faster fashion will be the death of a lot of towns, it's so depressing that everywhere ends up the same. Thank goodness Walsall is hanging onto some of its independent retail businesses, and it certainly has some fine old buildings. Look at those fabulous fanlights over the doors of Market House, that's a very smart building, as is the School of Art.
    Blimey, your grandma knew Donald Nielson, that's a bit of a shocker. But I love the thought of Martin Degville and Boy George strutting around looking outlandish!
    34a looks cool, we've never been there on our trips to Walsall, have we? We spend all our time with June at Second to None, that's why!
    Gorgeous catsuit, and I bet you and Jon are as famous in Walsall as George - love you! xxxx

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  50. Thanks for the tour, and yes I recognise that look on Jons face!

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  51. Ugh! I hate it when all the chain stores move in...we have a lot of Australian Chain Stores and New Zealand is a lot colder than most of Australia. I don't even understand how they make money when half the clothes they sell aren't suited to our climate? It's so weird!! I loved your tour of Walsall, that fabric store looks amazing (obviously) and also that first tattoo parlor looks so awesome. You rock that catsuit!

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  52. Before long the whole of the UK will look the same, no character anywhere! It's a very sad state of affairs, I'm sorry to hear it has been happening in your town too. You are definitely brightening up the place though in that gorgeous catsuit! x

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  53. 34a looks gloriarse, but I bet the prices are faaaaar more what you paid for any of your goodies!
    Gah, our city is doing the same at a very rapid rate, thanks to the earthquakes. Totally unrecognisable. All the inner city opshops have either moved to the suburbs or closed up for good, most the decent indie shops are gone...but I have recently noticed a few new antique shops in a suburb close to us, so that is a positive.
    Progress, however, is not as promising as it could be. Real progress would be people waking up the the shite! We can but live in hope.
    Hawt jumpsuit!
    Love Helga XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  54. Love the jumpsuit, I would love to wear something like that. Cheers, Michele

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  55. Globalisation. The word makes my heart sink, and when every town looks the same, where's the fun in exploring? I think Walsall has done quite well so far, but the problem is that most people like all those high street chains. I like to think that one day Walsall will be known as the town which Vix and Jon made famous. People might come to town wearing jumpsuits and pose in the same spot as you, like Salford or Abbey Road :) xxxx

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Don't be shy, if you enjoyed your visit leave a comment, I can come and visit your blog if you do.
Love from Vix
xxx