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The History of Black Country

To the average West Midlander, the expression “Black Country” may have popped up in relation to their hometown, but perhaps was never given a passing thought. But, did you know that this term and a rich industrial past has made our region into the thriving area that it is today? “Black Country” is more than just our name – it’s a term that is deep-rooted in our town and what we do, and here’s how.

The Industrial Revolution and the Birth of “Black Country”

In around 1760, the Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain before sparking other countries to follow in its footsteps. New manufacturing processes meant faster production, advances in technology and, subsequently, an increase in trade, wages and an unprecedented rise in population. The period saw developments in hand production methods, chemical manufacturing, iron production and machinery as well as the use of steam power and the rise of factory systems.

During this time, the West Midlands became one of the most industrial parts of Britain. With coal mines, iron foundries, glass factories and steel mills continuously littering the skyline, air pollution and soot began to smother the region. As a result, the term “Black Country” was born.

An expression first coined in the 1840s, Black Country was infamously “black by day and red by night” due to the soot, smog and burning crimson forges igniting the sky. Some have argued where this “country” begins and ends, but to many, this encompasses the boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, including towns like Bilston and West Bromwich.

Arts and Literature

Despite the West Midlands’ industrial past, the region has been associated with the arts. Many famous poets and writers were born and lived there – such as William Shenstone, Francis Brett Young and Sir Henry Newbolt – and each has immortalised Black Country in their work.

Black Country was often mentioned in literature too, even by those simply passing through. For example, in his book Rides on Railway, Samuel Sidney described Black Country as a place where “for miles on miles a black waste spreads around, where furnaces continually smoke, steam engines thud and hiss, and long chains clank.”

The Black Country Today

Today, the Black Country has balanced out and is not so industrialised. However, Black Country’s history is still ingrained into those who still work with manufacturers and those in commercial sectors. Its culture is still celebrated too; for example, the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley makes for a fascinating and immersive day out. From experiencing a 19th-century school lesson to riding on historic transport, this museum is also a filming location for Peaky Blinders and recent hit Stan & Ollie.

At Black Country Skip Hire, we pride ourselves on our history and continue to work with industrial companies, as well as home and business owners too. Although we are a skip hire and waste disposal company, times have changed since the 1800s; the 21st Century encourages an eco-friendly outlook and we work towards becoming environmentally responsible ourselves. With over 25 years experience, we recognise the potential of your waste. For comprehensive skip hire and waste disposal services in the West Midlands, contact us today.

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