"Into my heart an air that kills ... ",
This review is from: Sutton Coldfield (Archive Photographs: Two in One) (Paperback)Marian Baxter has offered us a splendid photographic history of the Royal Town, dating from the 1860's to the 1990s.
Like most towns in England, Sutton Coldfield has seen enormous changes, which are recorded here.
Not all change is for the worse, and Sutton is a much bigger and more comprehensive shopping centre than it was in the 1950s, for example.
However, something has been lost.
Suburban towns, like Sutton, have become homogenized. Little remains to let you know that you are anywhere different from a hundred and one other similarly sized towns up and down the country.
Also, as this book powerfully records, much architecture of local interest has been lost.
The case of the Library also points up the fact that many changes which have occurred have not always had the support of local people.
The naming of the shopping centre - Gracechurch - itself demonstrates that the power of moneyed interests to override that of the locality.
Also recorded, if like me you recall the town as it was at the end of the Second World War, is the huge loss of farming land, which our grandchildren may live to regret.
Finally, and on a more personal note, having left Sutton many years ago, this book exercised a powerful emotional tug not unlike that which A. E. Housman evoked in his poem "The Land of Lost Content".
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