Black Country

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Black Country in the 1870s

The Black Country is a metropolitan area north and west of Birmingham . It is located in the West Midlands , one of the six metropolitan counties of England .

The name Black Land is often attributed to the heavy air pollution caused by industry from around 1750. However, the name is probably older and related to the coal and iron extraction that has long been carried out here in open-cast mining .

Larger places and boundaries

The flat and hilly country of the Black Country is located in Central England , where the catchment areas of the rivers Trent (to the north-east to the Humber ) and the Severn (to the east and south) come close to a few kilometers near Birmingham . In addition to parts of the city of Wolverhampton, the area includes the following places:

The borders of the Black Country are disputed, with some including the entire city of Wolverhampton. Regardless of the boundaries drawn by local government reform of 1974 , the northern border with Cannock Chase is also unsafe. In any case, the megacity of Birmingham does not belong to the Black Country, although it is often regarded as its center and here z. B. the Black Country Strategic Health Authority is based.

Except for the area administered by Wolverhampton City Council, most of the parishes in the Black Country fall under the administrative jurisdiction of the metropolitan boroughs of Sandwell , Dudley and Walsall . A total of around one million people live in the metropolitan area.


Before the 18th century, the Black Country consisted of a number of smaller towns and market towns . With the start of the industrial revolution in the middle of the 18th century and the discovery of large coal and limestone deposits, the area quickly developed into a site for mines ; the population increased by leaps and bounds.

In the Victorian era , the Black Country was one of the most industrialized areas in Britain and was known for its air pollution , particularly from the iron and coal industry and related factories.

The area quickly got a bad reputation, Charles Dickens described the situation in his story The Old Curiosity Shop 1841: The factory chimneys "blow their plague out of smoke, darken the light and pollute the sad air". The American consul in Birmingham described the region as "black by day and red by night".

Popular belief is that the name Black Country is based on air pollution from heavy industry that enveloped the area with black soot. According to a well-known anecdote whose truthfulness was doubtful, Queen Victoria ordered the curtains on the windows to be lowered while her royal train was traveling through this area. Historians have pointed out, however, that the name is probably older and comes from the aboveground coal deposits that could be seen in the landscape.

The Black Country today

The heavy industry that once dominated the Black Country is now largely gone. Numerous mines were closed in the late 1960s and air pollution laws ensured that the Black Country is no longer black today. Nevertheless there is still some industry today, but no longer to the same extent as it used to be.

Large parts of it today suffer from high unemployment and are among the poorest communities in the UK ; this applies in particular to Sandwell and, to a lesser extent, to Wolverhampton. As in all urban areas in England, there is a significant ethnic minority percentage in the population. Resistance to mass immigration in the 1960s led to the racist slogan "Keep the Black Country white" .


The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley depicts life in the Black Country in the early 20th century and is a popular tourist attraction.

The black country dialect

The dialect spoken in the Black Country is very old and can be very confusing to outsiders. Forms like Thee , Thy and Thou are still used here from time to time. Ow B'ist ( How beist thou? ) Is a common greeting, the typical answer is Bay too bah ( I bayn't be too bad ). For I have not seen her (I have not seen) is I ay sid 'he . Instead of yes , ar is often said in the Black Country .

The people of the Black Country are considered to be very proud and deny any relationship with the people of Birmingham, who are called Brummies . The residents of the Black Country often call these yams yams because they say Yow am instead of You are in their dialect .

The locals see themselves as simple, hard-working people. The strong dialect is heard less today than it used to be.


Some internationally successful artists come from the Black Country, among others

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