‘It’s tragic to see the decline’: Past residents of ‘Britain’s roughest estate’ say it used to be a ‘class’ place to live with ‘great’ people but its steady decay has made it unrecognisable – as others invite YouTuber to explore THEIR hometown
- Residents in Blakenall Heath, Walsall, say they live in constant fear in their area
- But former residents say it used to be a lively place and good for a night out
- READ MORE: Britain’s ‘ROUGHEST’ estate is likened to ‘war-torn Ukraine’
Past residents of ‘Britain’s roughest estate’ have said it used to be a vibrant place to live with ‘great people’ but its steady decline has left it unrecognisable.
People in Blakenall Heath, Walsall, say they live in constant fear in their area, which has been compared to ‘war-torn Ukraine’, as gangs run riot and rip live pigeons apart.
Those living in the area, which has become an unlikely Youtube star after a travel vlogger visited, say their lives have been plagued by gangs of knife-wielding youths, some as young as 10, who have been causing havoc for the past three years.
They say it has also become a ‘no-go zone’ for police because their squad cars get pelted with bricks.
But former inhabitants commenting on the YouTube video say it used to be a lively place, good for a night out, where front gardens were adorned with flowers and shrubs.
One said: ‘I’ve so many fond memories of Walsall, it really saddens me to see it now: it used to be such a vibrant, lively town. I rarely go there these days, but when I do I see all the places I had such great nights out all derelict and boarded-up.’
Another who was ‘born and bred in Walsall’ felt ‘sad to see it has declined so much.’
Past residents of ‘Britain’s roughest estate’ have said it used to be a vibrant place to live but its steady decline has left it unrecognisable
One said it used to be a lively place but now buildings appear derelict and boarded-up
But former residents say it used to be a lively place where front gardens were adorned with flowers and shrubs
One who commented said they lived in Walsall in the very early 90s and there was never any trouble
Locals now say their lives have been plagued by gangs of knife-wielding youths, some as young as 10
One who commented said they lived in Walsall in the very early 90s and there was never any trouble, adding ‘can’t believe what a state it is now’.
‘What was once a cared for housing estate that people happily called home is a hostile place,’ another added.
A Youtuber who visited the crime-stricken area branded Blakenall Heath ‘Britain’s roughest estate’ off the back of his own experience.
But others disputed it was the worst area in the country and suggested other places that could be contenders.
‘Mosside in Manchester is still to date one of the worst/roughest places I’ve ever visited,’ one argued.
Another claimed: ‘There are far worse places than Walsall….. Dewsbury Moore Estate for example.’
An archive photo from Google Maps showing Blakenall in 2016 – when streets were clean
READ MORE: Britain’s ‘ROUGHEST’ estate is likened to ‘war-torn Ukraine’, as locals live in constant fear from arson and knife attacks as ‘lawless’ streets are roamed by knife-wielding yobs as young as 10 who are known to tear apart live PIGEONS
The UK Explored channel, which gives tours of cities and towns across the country, said the estate ‘felt and smelt dangerous’, with a crime rate double the UK average.
The presenter even goes on to discover a flattened dead rat in a children’s play park while filming around the area.
He says: ‘To be honest it scared me. The moment I walked on to Dawson Street a woman told me to ‘f*** off’.
‘She made a call on her phone and I didn’t wait to see who she was calling and made a quick exit.
‘There are 400 crimes reported each month in Blakenall alone. Most of which are violent offences and antisocial behaviour.
‘When I googled the news for the area it was nothing short of shocking.
‘There were stories of people being shot at, and children tearing up pigeons and throwing them into the chippy.
‘And a young kid was blinded after being stabbed.
Children’s toys strewn on a grass verge alongside piles of rubbish
Residents said the area had also become a ‘no-go zone’ for police because their squad cars get pelted with bricks
The area has suffered a string of incidents including arson attacks, fly-tipping, thefts, assaults, racist attacks and vandalism
The estate has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous areas in the country
This photo shows a junction in the estate in 2011. Locals say it is a ‘no go zone’ in 2023
A sign greeting visitors to Blakenall Heath in an archive photo from 2014. Many of the letters in the ‘Welcome to Blakenell Heath’ sign have since disappeared
‘Blakenall is certainly one of the most dangerous estates in the country. It felt dangerous, it smelt dangerous and I was happy to move on.’
The video goes on to describe Walsall as one of Britain’s most dangerous towns, with a crime rate of 152 per 1,000 people, worse than Birmingham.
Local resident Andy Bloxham, 38, said: ‘I think it’s a fair reflection of the area. The video makes it look worse than it is but there’s no denying it’s rough as anything.
‘Its a shame as there’s some lovely people here, we’ve just got more than our fair share of mindless idiots bringing the area down.
‘People shouldn’t be living in fear in their own homes. It’s been a year since our little estate first made headlines and since then nothing has changed.
One shopkeeper, who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, added: ‘I have lost staff members who just can’t face being abused on a daily basis
West Midlands Police brought in a 48-hour dispersal order for Blakenall after violence flared on November 2
One local man said: ‘We’ve just got more than our fair share of mindless idiots bringing the area down’
READ MORE: Cars will be banned from streets of eco-friendly housing estate in a bid to ‘change behaviours’ of families – with pathways designed just for pedestrians and cyclists
‘It’s still the same. If anything these gangs see being named Britain’s roughest estate as a badge of honour.’
Locals previously told how their lives were blighted by violence and anti-social behaviour and they are too scared to leave their homes – even in the daytime.
It followed a string of incidents including arson attacks, fly-tipping, thefts, assaults, racist attacks and vandalism.
One local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘It had got to the point where we are scared to leave our homes even in the daytime.
‘The place has just rapidly declined into almost a state of lawlessness since the pandemic.
‘Before then we did have issues but not to the scale we are seeing now. It’s like a war-zone out there at times.
‘It’s just diabolical – but that’s Blakenhall for you. It’s become a no-go zone for police and that is what is most worrying. You just don’t go out after 3pm.’
One shopkeeper, who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, added: ‘I have lost staff members who just can’t face being abused on a daily basis.
‘They come in and steal eggs and then use those eggs to pelt the shop. We get racially abused too, we’ve just had enough.’
Businesses have also been pelted with eggs, flour and bricks causing damage to property while buses, taxis and cars also routinely get attacked
Gary Brookes, director of housing for Walsall Housing Group in 2021 said at the time: ‘We are really concerned about ongoing issues in this area regarding criminal activity and antisocial behaviour’
West Midlands Police say they are stepping up patrols and using dispersal orders to try and control the issues
Only 19 per cent of houses in Blakenall are owner-occupied and the population density is higher than surrounding areas
Independent Blakenall ward councillor Pete Smith previously said ‘it’s like something from war-torn Ukraine.’
He added: ‘There was also this poor pigeon that had its head ripped off outside a shop before they pulled its wings off and just ripped it to pieces.’
West Midlands Police brought in a 48-hour dispersal order for Blakenall after violence flared on November 2 and youths pelted police cars with bricks.
A force spokesperson said at the time: ‘We’ve had several police cars damaged after bricks were thrown and members of the public have also reported damage to their vehicles.
‘This behaviour is completely unacceptable, the people involved are causing issues in the local community and we are determined to stop this happening’
In July, in nearby Bloxwich, a man was knifed and Bailey Atkinson, also local to the area, was stabbed to death in Walsall in January.
A 13-year-old boy was also left permanently blind after being stabbed in the eye outside a fish and chip shop in Blakenall last August.
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