“Decent housing for decent people”

The Icknield Port Loop of the Birmingham Canal Navigations is one of those swathes of dereliction, just outside of Birmingham city centre, that shouldn't really exist anymore. It's a long, inaccessible ribbon of water, a better home to fauna and flora than it ever was for humans. It was part of James Brindley's original canal, …

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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, nailmakers in Bromsgrove, chainmakers in Cradley Heath, and more. The title, The White Slaves of England, has …

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 what historiography is (I'm not a historian by background - everyone else just calls it 'the literature' …