The Black Country
The Black Country is a group of towns to the North and West of Birmingham that were known as 'Red by Night, Black by Day' due to the amount of foundries, lime kilns, collieries, backyard chainmaking and nailmaking that went on here. It's known as the 'Black Country' due to the colour of the ground (not to a flippant remark by Queen Victoria !). The famous ten yard coal seam outcropped here and, well, the ground is black!
The Boundaries are subject to heated debate now that we're not 'looked down upon' for coming from the area (even Brummies try to muscle in sometimes!). The undisputed Queen of the Black Country is Dudley which is virtually at it's centre, but starting from the Southern edge and going round clockwise, it includes the top end of Halesowen, Lutley, Pedmore, Oldswinford, Stourbridge, Amblecote, Wordsley, Kingswinford, it then cuts across skirting Himley up to the Gornals and Ruiton, Sedgley, Coseley, Part of Wolverhapton, across to Wood End and Willenhall, Wednesfield and New Invention, The Bottom end of Bloxwich through to Harden and Coalpool, and Rushall (at a push!).
Part of Walsall coming back through Bentley (of Charles II fame) down to Wednesbury, across to Hill Top, Great Bridge / Tipton. Part of West Bromwich, Part of Oldbury, Langley, Part of Smethwick (as far as Brindley's canal). Part of Cape Hill across to Bearwood (as far as the Bear Hotel) up to Hill top (another one!) down to White Heath and through Black Heath running back again through Cradley to the top end of Halesowen. That's about what the edges are but the real heart of the area is from Cradeley Heath to the Gornals inc Lye, Woodside, Netherton, Quarry Bank, Pensnett, Rowley, Brockmore etc. BTW I know that I've left out towns such as Bilston, James Bridge and Darlaston but there are so many it would take hours to put them all down.
The dialect that we speak in these parts isn't too removed from Chaucers English (helps with original texts such as the Canterbury Tales) and can change from one side of a road to another.
©Dave Ogden Sept 1998