The Black Country.
I bet you have a questioning look in your eyes as you reading the heading.
Yes that’s right, a myth. A myth can be defined as an invented story, concept or idea and that exactly describes what the Black Country is. Ask someone from Walsall where the Black Country is and then ask the same question to an Albion fan from West Bromwich and their answers will more than likely conflict.
The reason behind this is because no one officially knows where the Black Country starts or ends, from either side or top to bottom. This is the wonderful enigmatic mythology of the Black Country, passed down generation to generation through Chinese whispers and hearsay until we have what we have today.
Consisting of the four boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Walsall, the Black Country has been continually evolving, with major transformation from the 1960’s to the present. Each separate borough has its own distinctive towns, popularized by its industry, markets or even its local football team. Separately there is a huge division with Wolverhampton and West Bromwich due to its very famous football teams, but what binds them together is the Black Country and its proud residents. A bind that’s as strong as the iron ore that formed the “Working Man” Statue that graces the Cinder Bank Island in Dudley.
The Borough of Dudley, South West of the Black Country, is nationally known for its famous castle and zoo and often referred to as the capital of the Black Country. Its rich historical roots go back a 1000 years with the castle, as well as its surrounding industrial towns. Stourbridge has long been associated with its world renown glass making whilst Kingswinford has its historical connection to Guy Fawkes and gun power plot . Brierley Hill’s once famous Round Oak steel works have paved the way for the Merry hill shopping centre, and in contrast the green belt and Mucklows Hill of Halesowen.
North of the Dudley borough lies the Wolverhampton borough, and its new city status which was given to
Wolverhampton in 2000 as part of the Millennium celebrations. Wolverhampton is also the most controversial of the Black Country boroughs due to its localized division of its Black Country Status. Some simply say it is part of it, some don’t. It’s a major part of the west midlands, like Birmingham, and in a lot of ways Wolverhampton as a thriving metropolitan city hold up on its own.
Although a serious engineering and manufacturing industry in the Industrial Revolution (in particular locks and keys), it’s more notable from the late 20centry for its breweries, Dunlop factories and Aerospace business. The surrounding towns of Willenhall, Bilston, Tettenhall and Sedgley have all helped craft the established borough.
Walsall is the third borough of the Black Country and the area is closely associated with its leather saddles and buckle industry, with
many buildings such as the Saddlers Centre retaining the local heritage by name. Although modernization of Walsall seems to be an ongoing trend of the borough since the 1970’s and now the inclusion of the recent art gallery in 2000, Walsall has remained firmly grounded. It’s a very accessible borough, with the M6 motorway entwined into Walsall and its intricate bus station spreading the populous to other parts of the Black Country and further beyond.
The fourth but certainly not the least borough is Sandwell. This borough itself is the baby of the bunch, being formed in 1974 after the
Warley borough was altered and by 1986 it was a unitary authority in its own right after the collapse of the West Midland County Council. Closely bordering Birmingham and its region, Sandwell’s industry has declined and like the three other boroughs its modernization would make it unrecognizable to the 1900’s.
Through the chain making and introduction of the first UK minimum wage in Cradley Heath to the world famous Hawthorns ground of West Bromwich, The railways of Smethwick linking up the Black Country to the outer reaches of the West Midlands to Tipton and its canal routes, efficiently used throughout the Industrial revolution, Sandwell has a vast heritage that molds the boroughs integrity.
So we have discussed the four boroughs of the Black Country and we can say in terms where it is, but its boundaries have shifted and altered just like the towns though the ages. Through the people of the Black Country, with their hard working attitude and determination of preserving what they believe the Black Country to be, It will always remain and will never be forgotten and that’s all that matters.
The Black Country
maybe a myth but its people have created it into legend.
The images in this blog are courtesy of Black Country Genealogy and Family History
CLICK HERE to see some of our funny gifts based around the Black Country culture.
"Wolves isn't in the Black Country!
Always good to hear something good about the black country and this site is that something"
Apr 17 2012, 06:56 AMby Mike Lowe
"Even though I've lived in Canada 11 years now I'm still a proud Black Country Gal. I still have a strong Black Country accent and I intend to keep it. I enjoyed reading your blog and all I can say is if some Town's don't wish to be part of the Black Country, it's their loss.
Love your Tee-Shirts and I intend to pay you a visit when I visit the Black Country to see my family hopefully next year sometime.
Nov 23 2011, 20:11 PMby Jean Winter
"Found your blog while doing research as background for one of my book's characters, via YouTube. You guys are HILARIOUS! I totally enjoyed watching both of your Black Country Dialect videos and the Alphabet Song too... watched them all over and over and nearly pissed myself laughing. You all seem as proud of where you live as I am of Bucks County, PA! (USA in case you didn't know and no, we don't have any colorful colloquial language here - Bummer! You need to go to Georgia or Texas to get that... or any one of the five boroughs, maybe.)
Now I know the book will have some characters from your neck of the woods, I just hope I can do their dialog justice and, dude, this blog rocks! You've given me great background info, thanks a million."
Jul 02 2011, 20:02 PMby Natalie
"People who aren't Black Country are reluctant to recognise the region, for one reason or another. We use the short 'A', as in Castle, NOT Carstle. There are many theories about it's origin. The coal and smoke being the most favoured. There is a thought that the early maps of the region were dark coloured to represent the minerals found hereabouts. Whatever the true origin, the Black Country is more than bounderies on a map, it means something much deeper to it's inhabitants, and that comes from the heart."
Mar 04 2011, 17:16 PMby Mick Webster
"Love this blog, has a little history of all four boroughs which make up the Black Country. I come from Dudley oiginally, and have always loved its histoical roots, and how you can walk through Dudley and see the old and the new side by side. The Fountain, which has always been one of my favourite pieces of art in the Black Country is still there, allbeit with some damage to the two little figures who are headless inside the fountain. My Dad is one of the "Wolverhampton ain't" part of the Black Country - but then again, he is from Warley originally, and a die hard West Brom fan!
A very interesting blog, well done guys!
"It's bostin to be a Black Country Wench!, and I'm proud of it, ay I!""
Mar 04 2011, 15:35 PMby Gail