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Derelict pub site transformed into new homes

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The site of a derelict pub and car park that had stood empty for seven years and attracted anti-social behaviour has been transformed into 15 new affordable homes for rent.

Rooker Avenue in the Parkfields area of Wolverhampton is the 25th development built by the social enterprise’s own in-house construction team and consists of 11 two and four three-bedroom houses.

Seven of the properties are installed with photovoltaic, or solar, panels which generates at least 10 per cent of energy through renewable sources. All properties are now occupied.

Bromford’s development manager, Jo Noakes, said: “We are proud that this is Bromford construction team’s 25th development to date and we plan to invest £335 millionPub before development over the next five years, delivering about 600 homes per year.

“We don’t focus solely on what we build though as we don’t want to overlook what happens when people move into one of our properties. We want customers to get more than just a great home – we give support and encouragement to use that asset as a means to help them to be the very best they can be, ensuring maximum value for every pound we invest in our new homes.”

What makes the scheme truly unique is a series of mosaics created by local artist Claire Cotterill. They celebrate the history of the area and the wealth of its industrial heritage.

The panels form a timeline, through from the days of collieries and coal mining, the area’s original main industry, to industries such as car manufacturing, steelwork and japanning (European imitation of Asian laquerwork). The network of canals depicted throughout the panels represent the huge importance they had to industry through to today’s leisure use.

Claire Cotterill said: “I was approached by Bromford to create an artwork for the new housing scheme based on local heritage. I thoroughly enjoyed the research into the people, history and industrial heritage of Rough Hills and hope the panels convey the wealth and richness of the area's history. 'Diamonds In The Rough ' aims to celebrate and honour both the people who lived here in the past and those that will live here for years to come. I think it's wonderful Bromford invest in the arts, adding a special individuality to their housing developments.”

You can visit Claire’s website and facebook page for more information.


Additional information on mosaic images

At the turn of the 19th century, Rough Hills Tavern was home to the Victoria Grounds, a famous site mentioned in a far-flung American magazine at the time. Rough Hills Tavern played a huge role within sporting and community activities, the tavern itself providing food, ale and bets for spectators of walking (pedestrianism) running and cycling races. 

Sunbeam was one of the most important employers in the area, manufacturing vehicles of all kinds, from cars to bicycles. Steel manufacturing provided employment at Springvale Steelworks (Bilston) while the Star Japanning company provided employment within the enamelling and japanning industry.

Within the panels, inspiration has been drawn from the work of photographer Nick Hedges, who photographed life at Bilston Steelworks in the seventies just before it closed. 'Big Bessie', the last steel blast furnace to be demolished is represented, alongside a Sunbeam logo from the 1930's. Birds and butterflies are reminiscent of the beautiful japanning produced in the area, vehicles represented are taken from a Goodyear tyre advert and there is a backdrop of factory buildings. The red sky depicts a renowned quote that is quintessentially Black Country - 'Black by day, red by night.’