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The BBC Black Country website brings you information on how the Black Country came about - How it was named, how the canals were used, why the lock.
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Another important development of the 18th century was the construction of canals to link the Black Country mines industries to the rest of the country. Between and a canal was constructed by James Brindley starting in Birmingham through the heart of the Black Country and eventually leading to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. The iron industry grew during the 19th century, peaking around By the 19th century or early 20th century, many villages had their characteristic manufacture, but earlier occupations were less concentrated. Some of these concentrations are less ancient than sometimes supposed.

For example, chain making in Cradley Heath seems only to have begun in about the s, and the Lye holloware industry is even more recent. Prior to the Industrial Revolution , coal and limestone were worked only on a modest scale for local consumption, but during the Industrial Revolution by the opening of canals, such as the Birmingham Canal Navigations , Stourbridge Canal and the Dudley Canal the Dudley Canal Line No 1 and the Dudley Tunnel opened up the mineral wealth of the area to exploitation.

Advances in the use of coke for the production in iron enabled iron production hitherto limited by the supply of charcoal to expand rapidly. By Victorian times, the Black Country was one of the most heavily industrialised areas in Britain, and it became known for its pollution, particularly from iron and coal industries and their many associated smaller businesses. This led to the expansion of local railways and coal mine lines.

The line running from Stourbridge to Walsall via Dudley Port and Wednesbury closed in the s, but the Birmingham to Wolverhampton line via Tipton is still a major transport route. Three anchors and accompanying chains were manufactured; and the set weighed in at tons. The centre anchor alone weighed 12 tons and was pulled through Netherton on its journey to the ship by 20 Shire horses.

In , the Black Country was the location of arguably one of the most important strikes in British trade union history when the workers employed in the area's steel tube trade came out for two months in a successful demand for a 23 shilling minimum weekly wage for unskilled workers, giving them pay parity with their counterparts in nearby Birmingham. Notable figures in the labour movement, including a key proponent of Syndicalism , Tom Mann , visited the area to support the workers and Jack Beard and Julia Varley of the Workers' Union were active in organising the strike.

During this confrontation with employers represented by the Midlands Employers' Federation, a body founded by Dudley Docker , the Asquith Government's armaments programme was jeopardised, especially its procurement of naval equipment and other industrial essentials such as steel tubing, nuts and bolts, destroyer parts, etc. This was of national significance at a time when Britain and Germany were engaged in the Anglo-German naval arms race that preceded the outbreak of the First World War.

Following a ballot of the union membership, a settlement of the dispute was reached on 11 July after arbitration by government officials from the Board of Trade led by the Chief Industrial Commissioner Sir George Askwith, 1st Baron Askwith. The 20th century saw a decline in coal mining in the Black Country, with the last colliery in the region — Baggeridge Colliery near Sedgley — closing on 2 March , marking the end of an era after some years of mass coal mining in the region, though a small number of open cast mines remained in use for a few years afterwards.

As the heavy industry that had named the region faded away, in the s a museum, called the Black Country Living Museum started to take shape on derelict land near to Dudley. Today this museum demonstrates Black Country crafts and industry from days gone by and includes many original buildings which have been transported and reconstructed at the site.

The history of industry in the Black Country is connected directly to its underlying geology. Much of the region lies upon an exposed coalfield forming the southern part of the South Staffordshire Coalfield [45] where mining has taken place since the Middle Ages. The top, thin coal seam is known as Broach Coal. The Thick Coal seam was also known as the "Thirty Foot" or "Ten Yard" seam and is made up of a number of beds that have come together to form one thick seam.

A mine was sunk between and over the eastern boundary of the then known coal field in Smethwick and coal was discovered at a depth of over yards. This ridge forms part of a major watershed of England with streams to the north taking water to the Tame and then via the Trent into the North Sea whilst to the south of the ridge, water flows into the Stour and thence to the Severn and the Bristol Channel.

At Dudley and Wrens Nest, limestone was mined. This rock formation was formed in the Silurian period and contain many fossils. One particular fossilized creature, the trilobite Calymene blumenbachii , was so common that it became known as the "Dudley Bug" or "Dudley Locust" and was incorporated into the coat-of-arms of the County Borough of Dudley. At a number of places, notably the Rowley Hills and at Barrow Hill , a hard igneous rock is found. In recent years the Black Country has seen the adoption of symbols and emblems with which to represent itself.

The first of these to be registered was the Black Country tartan in , designed by Philip Tibbetts from Halesowen.

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In the idea of a flag for the region was first raised. The flag was unveiled at the museum on 14 July as part of celebration in honour of the th anniversary of the erection of the first Newcomen atmospheric engine. Originally in March, the day was later moved to 14 July - the anniversary of the invention of the Newcomen steam engine. The heavy industry which once dominated the Black Country has now largely gone. The 20th century saw a decline in coal mining and the industry finally came to an end in with the closure of Baggeridge Colliery near Sedgley.

Clean air legislation has meant that the Black Country is no longer black. The area still maintains some manufacturing, but on a much smaller scale than historically. Chainmaking is still a viable industry in the Cradley Heath area where the majority of the chain for the Ministry of Defence and the Admiralty fleet is made in modern factories. Much but not all of the area now suffers from high unemployment and parts of it are amongst the most economically deprived communities in the UK. This is particularly true in parts of the metropolitan boroughs of Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton is the fourth most deprived district in the West Midlands, and the 28th most deprived nationally. Walsall is the fifth most deprived district in the West Midlands region, and the 45th most deprived in the country. Dudley fares better, but still has pockets of deprivation. Overall Dudley is the th most deprived district of the UK, but the second most affluent of the seven metropolitan districts of the West Midlands, with Solihull coming top. As with many urban areas in the UK, there is also a significant ethnic minority population in parts: However, in Walsall Resistance to mass immigration in the s, s and s led to the slogan " Keep the Black Country white!

The Black Country suffered its biggest economic blows in the late s and early s, when unemployment soared largely because of the closure of historic large factories including the Round Oak Steel Works at Brierley Hill and the Patent Shaft steel plant at Wednesbury. Unemployment rose drastically across the country during this period as a result of Conservative Prime Minister Thatcher's economic policies; later, in an implicit acknowledgement of the social problems this had caused, these areas were designated as Enterprise Zones, and some redevelopment occurred.

Round Oak and the surrounding farmland was developed as the Merry Hill Shopping Centre and Waterfront commercial and leisure complex, while the Patent Shaft site was developed as an industrial estate. The Merry Hill development between and managed to reduce the local area's unemployment dramatically, however. The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley recreates life in the Black Country in the early 20th century, and is a popular tourist attraction.

The four metropolitan boroughs of the Black Country form part of the Birmingham metropolitan economy , the second largest in the UK.

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In , the government announced the creation of the Black Country Enterprise Zone. The i54 business park in Wolverhampton is the largest of the 19 sites; its tenants include Jaguar Land Rover. The traditional Black Country dialect, known as "Black Country Spake" as in "Where's our Spake Gone", a — lottery-funded project to preserve and document the dialect preserves many archaic traits of Early Modern English and even Middle English [73] and can be very confusing for outsiders.

Thee, Thy and Thou are still in use, as is the case in parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Ain't is in common use as when "I haven't seen her" becomes "I ay sid 'er. Black Country dialect often uses "ar" where other parts of England use "yes" this is common as far away as Yorkshire. The local pronunciation includes "goo" elsewhere "go" or "gewin'" is similar to that elsewhere in the Midlands. It is quite common for broad Black Country speakers to say "'agooin'" where others say "going.

An apple is an "opple". Other examples are "code" for the word cold, and "goost" for the word Ghost. A Sofa becomes a "sofie", and a Fag cigarette , a "fake". Put together, "I just sid a Goost, so I bist gooin to sit on ma sofie and have a fake" I have just seen a ghost, so I am going to sit upon my sofa and have a cigarette.

One participant in the "Where's our Spake Gone" project related the following: The full story can be found at the Black Country Living Museum's web page at http: The reason that that particular industrial area was so named was because it was not just one town but a whole region. The small-scale metal working perhaps caused more polution over a larger area than, say, in the cotton towns. Same goes for the Charleroi area of Belgium which is similarly called "le Pays Noir" Nigel Barclay, Asse Belgium Due to the build up of soot on buildings from the mining industry. David, Birmingham UK Because of the massive amounts of atmospheric pollution caused by industry, mainly iron- and steel-working.

Also because of the famous 30ft coal seam running through the area - disused mineshafts still open up periodically in unexpected places. Carol, Stafford, UK Coal.

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