Category Archives: Staffordshire

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

Black Country Irish: Walsall in the 1850s

Sometimes, otherwise wonderful digital sources are a great frustration. John Denvir, in his survey of the Irish in Britain, points to a mysterious attack upon the Irish in Walsall, in 1851. Excellent, I thought: a story to hook a post … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, Irish, Staffordshire, Uncategorized | 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

“History breaks down into images not into stories”

On the night of 25th September 1940, a middle-aged German-Jewish academic took his own life with an overdose of morphine in the Hotel de Francia, Portbou, on the Spanish side of the Pyrennean border. He’d been hoping to flee to … Continue reading

Posted in Everyday Life, Housing, Staffordshire, Wolverhampton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Fiery Holes

I love an evocative placename, and they hardly get more redolent than Fiery Holes, a lost settlement that lives on only in the name of the pub on its site, now more famous as the gathering point for the Black Country’s … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, environment, Staffordshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


I’m just back from my hols from work, which mostly consisted of abortive DIY and collecting things to do the do it yourself myself, if you see what I mean. On Sunday we took a trip up to Stockport to collect … Continue reading

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Coalpool cottages

I came across this lovely picture last week when scouting for @BlackCountryPic, posted on Flickr by Phil Broadbent. This is a row of cottages in Coal Pool, now a suburb on the northern side of Walsall, not far from the more … Continue reading

Posted in Black Country, Housing, Maps, Staffordshire | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Lichfield Canal

There was minor debate last evening on the way home from Lichfield. We were there for a pretty lovely concert courtesy of Laura Mvula and the Lichfield Festival; it had my erstwhile gig reviewer muscles twitching with adjectives for sure. … Continue reading

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