Author Archives: simonbriercliffe

The Black Country flag and the uses of history (again)

In 1897, Robert Sherard published a collection of his Pearson’s Magazine articles documenting the exploitation and suffering of the working men and women of Britain in some of the ‘sweated’ trades – he visited chemical works in Widnes, white-lead works in Newcastle, … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, History, Politics, Public History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Pragmatism not idealism

keeping in contact with old friends It was twenty years ago today, went one of the contenders for greatest album ever. It was twenty years ago today since I and my friend Nathan made the eager after-school trip to MVC … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Josephine Butler and spaces of reform in Winchester

There ought to be a word for the mixture of thrill and dread that comes with hearing someone talk about your home town on the radio or TV. Coming from Winchester, it’s usually dread that someone in red cords is suggesting … Continue reading

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Distance and Strangeness: the murder of Anne Spencer

I sometimes feel like I’ve spent the last three years trying to figure out my place within history. I still feel like there’s probably a huge mountain of scholarship that I’ve completely missed, but in general I’m starting to work out … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, Everyday Life, History, Maps, PhD, Sources, Space, Staffordshire, Wolverhampton | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Telling family stories

As part of my research I will inevitably have to tell you some family histories. I say have to – it’s a vital, fascinating and relevant part of my research. But have you ever had someone try to tell you their … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, History, Irish, Maps, Migration, PhD, Sources, Wolverhampton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

St Patrick’s Day, 1873

Today is, of course, St Patrick’s Day, and no doubt pubs across the country will be celebrating this typically alcohol-soaked celebration with a wide range of inflatable shamrocks, green top hats, and “kiss me I’m Irish” t-shirts. I tend to think … Continue reading

Posted in Irish, Wolverhampton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Clay miles: Henry Doulton in the Black Country

On the North Worcestershire Path, not far from Iverley, there is a broken water pipe lying to one side of the track. It’s a bit forlorn, but clearly a very nice thing: it’s glazed, and the makers have taken the trouble … Continue reading

Posted in Birmingham, Black Country, Canal, History, industry, Public Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Righteous Among The Nations

I often walk the dog in Mary Stevens Park, in Stourbridge, and walk through the grand, now-restored gates. This morning though, it was a plaque on the wall to the right of the gates that caught my eye. There’s a … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The desi dialectic

Recent blog posts have been a little sparse, and that’s mostly a function of learning to be a freelancer – sometimes, apparently, work comes in thick and fast and leaves little time for much else. However, it has it’s upsides: … Continue reading

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Black Country Irish: lies, damned lies and statistics

We’ve had a quick look at some of the stories and statistics behind the Irish in the Black Country, particularly focusing on the census data for 1851. Data is an essential part of the story, but it is just a part. … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, Irish, Quantitative data | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments