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Black Country

The Black Country is an area of the conurbation to the north and west of Birmingham in the English West Midlands. Places which comprise the Black Country include the city of Wolverhampton, and the towns of:

Apart from the area covered by Wolverhampton City Council, Sandwell Metropolitan Council and Dudley Council cover most of the communities in the Black Country.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Black Country dialect
3 The Black Country today
4 External links


During the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, 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 many associated smaller businesses, which has led to speculation that it was for the soot and smoke which poured out of chimineys, which often coloured the buildings, that it was unofficially named "The Black Country". However, many maintain that it was because of the black colour of the ground, where a 10 metre wide coal-seam rises to the surface. In 1862, Elihu Burritt, the American Consul to Birmingham, described the region as "black by day and red by night," because of the smoke and soot generated by the intense manufacturing activity.

Charles Dickens's novel The Old Curiosity Shop written in 1841, described the area, and how local factory chimineys "Poured out their plaugue of smoke, obscured the light, and made foul the melancholy air",

Black Country dialect

The traditional Black Country Dialect is very old, and can be very confusing for outsiders. The language is said to be a throw back to "Olde English" and still contains words such as Thee, Thy and Thou. "'Ow B'ist", meaning "How beist thou?" is a common greeting, with the typical answering being "'Bay too bah", meaning "I bayn't be too bad". Black country "folk" as they are called are very proud, and resist hints at any relationship to people living in Birmingham, calling Birmingham "Brum-a-jum". Black Country folks take pride in being simple, hardworking people. The thick Black Country dialect however, is less commonly heard today then in the past.

The Black Country today

The heavy industry which once dominated the Black Country has now largely gone. Much of the area now suffers from high unemployment and are amongst the most economically deprived communities in the UK.

There is a museum located in Dudley called the "Black Country Living Museum" (see External Links below) which re-creates life in the Black Country in the early 20th century, and is a popular tourist attraction.

External links