I have lived in the Midlands as long as I have lived anywhere – and the roads, its districts and scenery are like familiar friends. I hardly need a map – and can sometimes even anticipate possible hold ups on the ever conjested roads. It seems strange to feel that I shall soon be leaving all this for a new area and all the discovery of a new set of adventures!
On Friday I had to travel over to Dudley and then to see my brother at his work in Walsall – and then through Smethwick to Selly Oak before returning home to Solihull.
The Black Country affords some glorious space and variety.
The Black Country is a loosely defined area of the English West Midlands conurbation, to the north and west of Birmingham, and to the south and east of Wolverhampton, around the South Staffordshire coalfield. It has a combined population of around one million.
By the late 19th century, this area had become one of the most intensely industrialised in the nation. The South Staffordshire coal mines, the coal coking operations, and the iron foundries and steel mills that used the local coal to fire their furnaces, produced a level of air pollution that had few equals anywhere in the world.
It is popularly believed that The Black Country got its name because of pollution from these heavy industries that covered the area in black soot. There is an anecdote (of dubious authenticity) about Queen Victoria ordering the blinds lowered on her carriage as the royal train passed through. However, historians suggest that it is more likely that the name existed even before the Industrial Revolution; outcroppings of black coal scarred the surface of the local heath, and the presence of coal so near the surface rendered the local soil very black.
The Black Country is also known for its distinctive dialect, which differs slightly in various parts of the region.
Despite its close proximity to Birmingham, the vast majority of the Black Country’s population refuse to claim membership of the city, and are fiercely proud of their area’s identity as a separate region.
and the beer is the best in the Midlands……