Category Archives: Slum

“Slums” of the Black Country

We’ve come to the end of this series on some of the distinct areas of the Black Country that found themselves with a special stigma in the nineteenth century. Based on the Birmingham Daily Post‘s 1866 series on the sanitary condition I’ve had … Continue reading

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“Slums” of the Black Country: Anvil Yard, Cradley Heath

Not far from the Lye Waste lies the ancient manor of Cradley. At the first talk I gave at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in the summer, somebody mentioned to me that I ought to check out Anvil Yard. It turns out, the history of … Continue reading

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“Slums” of the Black Country: Waste Bank, Lye

The South Staffordshire coalfield defines the Black Country for many purposes, but as a culturally-defined region, its borders are highly porous. Wolverhampton is in or out, depending on who you ask; Walsall preferred to be out, at least in 1866. The … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, environment, History, Housing, Landscape, Maps, Slum, Space, Stourbridge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Slums” of the Black Country: Town End Bank, Walsall

Class distinction, democracy and proper drains. John Betjeman, In Westminster Abbey The protagonist of Betjeman’s satirical poem unwittingly summarised the approach of mid-Victorian society to many issues. As we’ve seen, poor drainage is one of the emblematic signifiers of a unsanitary area, and was the … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, Housing, Irish, Maps, Picture, Poverty, Slum, Staffordshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Slums” of the Black Country: Gold’s Hill, West Bromwich

The Black Country is constructed not just upon topography but upon geology. Mines can only be built where there’s something to mine; other sorts of works require proximity to those materials; infrastructure is built around, and to meet the demands of, the geology. … Continue reading

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“Slums” of the Black Country: Darlaston

I’ve ummed and aahed a bit about what to write about the Post‘s report on Darlaston. It’s really the same old story: surface drainage, evils, abomination, bubbling and seething, stagnant, over-flowing, the cholera, back courts, and so on; there’s not a lot … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, half baked theories, History, Housing, Maps, Poverty, Public Health, Slum | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Slums” of the Black Country: Oatmeal Square, Wednesbury

Our Birmingham Daily Post correspondent is concerned with the sanitary condition of the Black Country. Filth, smells, pigs, crowded courts – all acted as signals for diseases like cholera, typhoid, smallpox, that terrified the middle-class, newspaper-reading sets. This accounts for … Continue reading

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“Slums” of the Black Country: Eel Street, Oldbury

The Post’s next community is one I’m loathe to try and explain in detail. Oldbury was infamous as one of the most polluted towns in the country – so much so that Dr Janet Sullivan recently completed a top-notch PhD thesis on … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, Canal, environment, Everyday Life, History, Housing, Maps, Public Health, Slum | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Slums” of the Black Country: a tour of Willenhall

It comes as no surprise that our loquacious correspondent was a fan of the eminent art critic, writer and proto-environmentalist John Ruskin, whose prose was classically Victorian (read, excessively wordy). In his Birmingham Daily Post article of 11th June 1866, we are introduced … Continue reading

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“Slums” of the Black Country: Quarry Lane, Bilston

If there’s been some research into Carribee Island in the past, and a little into the Mambles in Dudley, there’s almost nothing to be googled on another of the Birmingham Daily Post’s ‘low-lights’ of the Black Country, the next in a series … Continue reading

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