Tomas picks me up from Stroud railway station to take me to the office of Millar Howard Workshop (MHW), where his architectural practice is based. It’s the first hot day of the year; suddenly summer is here. On the way we tour through the center of town. Victorian buildings have a faded grandeur hearkening back to the town’s heyday when the woolen industry brought prosperity to Stroud. Boarded-up storefronts, charity shops, and discount stores sit next to high street chains. Though Stroud is in the Cotswolds, a place synonymous with an English pastoral idyll, it is not quite of it. We proceed along the valley bottom, following the railway, the canal, and the stream, the infrastructure of a nineteenth-century economy of a bygone era. The woolen mills closed long ago; some factory buildings remain derelict while others have been converted to serve an economy that now revolves around services, retail, and small-scale manufacturing: garages, a bike shop, a craft brewery, artists’ studios, some light engineering. The money now resides in the surrounding villages, whose population of retirees and commuters is growing, a wealthy demographic from which most of Tomas’s clients are drawn....
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