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These islands

There are many reasons to leave West Bromwich; few to go there. Could Will Alsop's new building prove that the arts can lead urban regeneration?

By Paul Barker   December 2005

West Bromwich is one of the most destroyed places I have visited in this country. A new centre, due to open there in autumn 2006, will test the theory of urban regeneration through the arts. It is a gargantuan fun-box 26 metres high, 22 metres wide and 115 metres long. Deep indigo with pink trimmings, it is an astonishing, cheering sight in this town of small, often shabby buildings.

West Bromwich is deep in the Black Country: that cluster of towns northwest of Birmingham where they discovered how to smelt iron with coal and where William Murdoch invented gas lighting.…

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