Redditch Town Centre is not very big, and not very well known in the World at large. Even locals probably barely notice the sights before their eyes as they wander around blindly shopping, working or socialising.
But there is beauty hidden within this small town and I for one haven’t missed it – have you?
Let’s take a walk through the Town Centre, how many of these sights have you noticed before?
Most people stay their trip around the Town Centre from one of the many multi-storey car parks surrounding and leading to the Kingfisher Shopping Centre, but for me the route takes me along Ipsley Street passing the Trafford Retail Park. This is where you discover the first piece of historically interesting architecture ‘Millsborough House’ a former Spring manufacturing factory; now home to a variety of businesses. The thing that I really like about the building is the hexagonal windows on the right hand side.
As you approach the traffic lights that will take you to the underpass leading into the town centre you can see the other side of Millsborough House showing it was established in 1855, while not as interesting as the other side you can see the modern improvements around the main entrance here.
Across the road there is a former Church building that now homes Aquatherapy, the modern brickwork around the front is clearly distinguishable from the ageing original structure around the sides.
Those of you from the UK will be aware that underpasses are notorious for garbage, urine smells and grotesque graffiti. However the graffiti in this underpass is a collaborative work of art, which amazingly is not defaced by lesser yobbish graffiti artists. As you can see, the artwork here is a beautiful representation of ‘tattoo’ style images, in recognition of Redditch’s historical claim to fame as the home of needlemaking.
Leaving the underpass, to your left is the start of what I call the Municipal Buildings, home to the Town Hall, Montessori Nursery and Local Council Offices. On your right (ignoring the Apollo 2000 store) you have the Palace Theatre.
The Stranz Square Cafe, a small octagonal building is flanked on three sides by the Municipal Buildings and lamp posts styled to look like old gas lanterns. The area is fully pedestrianised (yes, I know there is a car in this photo!) – with access only for business purposes.
The Municipal buildings continue on the left as Threadneedle House (another reflection of the needlemaking history) as you walk along Alcester Street, where you find public houses and shops. None of these buildings is particularly interesting, but in the distance you can just make out the first view of St Stephens Church.
As you reach the Market Stalls (which are open almost every day) you see the next two hidden gems. First on your left are the ultra modern ‘Needles’ which light up (faintly) at night, another nod to Redditch’s heritage. Just behind the needles you can get the first glimpse of the behemoth Kingfisher Shopping Centre nestling behind the smaller buildings.
On the right a few remaining old buildings amongst newer structures have old painted signage just visible on the sides that betray the former usage of the property.
Behind the Market Stalls ST Stephen’s begins to come into clearer view…
Continuing to the left of the Market we get another glimpse of the Kingfisher between the library and what is now Redditch’s only nightclub ‘Fever’ (Open Thursday – Saturday nights, where you may some weekends catch me dancing till closing time, lol). Here you can see a man busking with his guitar, competing for the financial attentions of shoppers with the regular feature of charitable fund-raisers – this time raising money for Every Child. Police officers pass him by without a second glance.
The smell of hotdogs from Frankie’s Diner is enticing, even though I don’t eat hotdogs! lol and the Christmas lights are still strung overhead, although no longer on. on the left of Church Green the shops continue to hide the monstrous Kingfisher Shopping Centre.
Now we are in Market Place/Church Green we are in front of St Stephens and the Holocaust memorial, erected in 2005 “Remembering all victims of genocide ‘Never Again’ ”
Coming round to the right of Church Green are the banks and estate agencies, and the Redditch Standard, our local newspaper.
In the churchyard a fallen headstone its inscription eroded away…
And the tombstone of Thomas Baylis and his 3 children who died in infancy, beside an older barely legible headstone inscribed “Sacred to the memory of John Robinson who died April 23rd 1829, Aged 11 years. Son of Thomas Robinson’ The rest is unable to be read.
Coming out of the Church yard to the right the first of two small archways, that are probably blooming with flowers in the summer, stand bare on this bitter cold day. A single bench within dedicated to the memory of Roy Cook (Cookie).
The barely discernible beauty of the stained glass windows of the rear of St Stephen’s are now visible.
Coming round to the far side of St Stephens 3 large tombstones are hedged into the peaceful grounds
Leaving the garden we come to the Bandstand, often used by attendees of the local registry office as a backdrop for Wedding Photographs.
Beyond this a quaint fountain featuring a lady pouring water from a jug, which cascades over a set of herons (I’m not knowledgeable about birds so correct me if I’m wrong!). It looks even prettier at night.
Moving back round towards the front of the St Stephens we get a better view of the tower and steeple of this Parish Church.
The War memorial stands proudly outside the main entrance, still wearing the wreaths left here on Remembrance Day.
Another worn memorial stone sits to the other side of the entrance,with a collection of poppy decorated crosses planted afoot.
The main town centre entrance to the Kingfisher is now visible.
Now we head down Unicorn Hill toward the train and bus stations. Passing chip shops and the taxi rank and Wetherspoons, also known as The Royal Enfield or Lloyds bar, another popular night time hang out when it stays open late and plays music (unusual for a Wetherspoons) at the weekends. In a previous life it was a cinema.
Passing under on of the many ring-road bridges which circle the town centre the Golden Cross Public House stands on the corner of Hewell Road and Unicorn Hill, the first thing many see as they arrive in the town centre for the bus or train.
The bus station sits beneath the Kingfisher Centre and many locals will enter the shopping centre from here.
None locals and commuters are most likely to appear at the train station, a small modern station, the end of the line for local train services.
On the other side of the line a dilapidated old building crumbles.
At the rear of the station at the entrance to a small underpass more graffiti art is displayed, featuring amongst other things the Royal Enfield Motor Cycle which was made in Redditch.
And that concludes our tour of Redditch town centre. I won’t bore you with the interior of the Kingfisher Shopping Centre, it is just a modern shopping mall like those found in many towns and cities around the world.
I hope you have enjoyed this tour if you would like to find out more about the history of Redditch please visit Redditch History. You may also be interested in my visit to the Redditch Forge Mill Needle Museum which you can read about in my guest post for Helz-Design here
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