An “I Live Here” Poll named Walsall one of the worst 50 places to live in the UK.
One user said of the Black Country town, “There are no plus sides to living in this hell hole.” Aylesbury was named the #1 worst city in the poll and one reader commented that the fact that Stanley Kubrick saw fit to use Aylesbury as the setting for A Clockwork Orange told you all you needed to know about the place.
Although some of the maligned cities are getting no respect, the same cannot be said of Walsall. Although one citizen suggested that if you leave your car for too long it will get nicked, Photographer Denise Maxwell at Lensi Photography lives in Walsall and disagrees. She shared picturesque photos of her home, including the one above featuring anglican nun Sister Dora, Sister Dora began nursing at Walsall Cottage Hospital in 1966 and devoted her life to the profession, dying of small pox in 1878. Surely her ghost would like to aid in the Covid-19 crisis that is rocking the world, today.
Maxwell loves the people and sights of Walsall.
“I obviously have a very different experience of Walsall than many others. I chat with my neighbours and we help each other out, I can still say good morning to strangers in my area as I pass them on the street and its not considered weird.
Maxwell shared images of the shops on Park Street and of the rural village houses of Bentley, where King Charles II took refuge, while attempting to escape to exile. Jane Lane, raised in the parish of Bentley, aided the king by disguising him as a servant.
Maxwell is not only charmed by Walsall’s history, she feels safe there.
“I have mistakenly left my car open on more than one occasion and its sitting right were I left it when I get back to it. There is lots of green space everywhere, you do not have to walk to far to find a nature reserve of green space of some kind, most houses have gardens (unlike some areas) and first time buyers can still afford to get on the ladder here! Some of this is probably a case of people having the opportunity to troll, so they troll!”
Of course, the criticism can’t all be attributed to mean-spirited trolling. In 2018, Walsall was also named the second unhealthiest high street in the UK, according to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). Grimsby came in first and Walsall was second. The RSPH named Walsall’s plethora of tanning salons, liquor stores, bookmakers, fast food restaurants and pay day lenders as the basis for its high ranking, but one of those things is not like the other. Is it actually bad to have a high number of tanning salons? Sure, they’re unhealthy when taken in high doses, but so is . . . the sun.
In response to being called unhealthy, in 2019 Walsall published a Town Centre Master Plan to improve its quality of life and build back its retail centres. Deputy Leader of Walsall Conservative Group, Adrian Andrew, said “We will concentrate our efforts over the next few months improving the town centre environment and provide additional cleaning, removing graffiti and appointing uniformed officers to deal with litter and anti-social behaviour.
You can’t say Walsall isn’t fighting back against the criticism and having the intent to repair its image and reverse recent declines is half the battle.