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The Bonded Warehouse

The Bonded Warehouse is an historic canalside building tucked down a side street just off the ring road surrounding Stourbridge Town Centre. At first glance, masked by the modern buildings and shops, it may appear that there is nothing much to look at in Stourbridge when you compare it with the likes of Bridgnorth, Ironbridge and Shrewsbury not far away, who's towns ooze with historical buildings, but once you start looking, interesting architecture is very much present in Stourbridge.


When I first moved to the region and opened up my gallery in Bridgnorth (which is chock-full of tourists in the summertime) it was an obvious choice for me to capture the many places of interest that the town offered. But my home is nearer Stourbridge than Bridgnorth I began wondering why Stourbridge (as well as other nearby areas) should be neglected just because certain places in the region are deemed prettier or more interesting.



And so my mini-mission began! I am not a native of the region and even though I have lived here 15 years, I am still digesting the local culture, which is quite different from the place I moved from! I am not planning further relocation (sorry West Midlands, you're stuck with me!) and so, in part by way of my own education, seeking out and celebrating the historic buildings and places of interest seems like a natural evolution in my work.



The Bonded Warehouse is the first piece to be finished in this new line of work. The building is an intriguing shape - almost sculptural - and the red brick of it's walls and old fashioned signage add to its appeal so it has captured my eye for a while. The canal-side building was built in 1779 standing opposite the River Stour which gives Stourbridge its name and connected to the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal on its other side by an offshoot of waterway. The surrounding parishes held large reserves of clay, iron and coal and it was this that spawned the famous glass industry in 16th century and then the development of the iron industry by Richard Foley in the 17th century. Being part of an important transport route the building was used for holding taxable goods such as tea, spirits and tobacco "in bond" until the excise duty on them was paid - the still visible barred windows are an indication of the high value of goods stored within.


Today, having been restored and managed by the Stourbridge Navigation Trust Ltd. it serves the community for a wide range of functions. As with all my work, in this image I have tried to capture the character of the building with a sense of fun and silliness and aim to spark your imagination about what exactly could be going on using the random collage materials available to me!


You can read more about the Bonded Warehouse by following the link below and find more information about other artists local to the region in my blog post "Artists in the West Midlands".



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