That particular articulation of social relations which we are at the moment naming as… Doulton Brook

A break from the Irish this week. I've been mostly reading Doreen Massey this week - if you're not familiar with her she's an urban geographer of major importance, who died earlier in the year (2016 striking again). She was a radical, a feminist, an unorthodox Marxist, and one of the best at problematising what …

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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 coalfield knows no political boundaries either, stretching well into Worcestershire in the South (see this map Bob …

Observatory Mansions – a history of a bedsit

As a geography student at Kings College London, it's difficult to get very far without studying gentrification. It's a huge topic, worthy of a post in itself, but suffice to say the economic drivers that push social change like gentrification are not often present in the unusual landscapes of decline found in the Black Country. …

Empty space

Warning again: I'm going to be talking Black Country history a little further down, but I've been interested in what maps do and don't show, so the preamble is a bit... vague and theoretical. Maps are complex beasts. They show what they show, for reasons their makers choose, and the inclusions and omissions can define a district. …

Wordsley glass

The map of the Stour Valley in 1750 posted by Distinctly Black Country last week is another excellent example of the differentiation between BC towns that made it such a distinctive environment (compared to say, Burnley, which like the rest of the region around it were massively dominated by one industry). The glass quarter in Stourbridge (well, …

Stourbridge towers

In the Block Capital project, we're looking at a number of specific tower blocks in the Black Country, in Bilston, Willenhall, Darlaston, Wednesbury and Tipton. But these number just 20 of the 276 blocks that were built by the various local authorities in the region. I now find myself looking out at tower blocks all …

Stourbridge ring road

Having tackled Brum and Wolverhampton, it only makes sense for me to read up about my local ring road, the tight little three-lane collar around Stourbridge Town Centre. Maybe all the fun stuff about the previous two is buried in Googledust, but there are plenty of fun videos and articles about the building and the …

Crystal Canal Walk

Proving that local newspapers aren't as much a waste of paper as previously thought, this week's Express & Star-syndicated local in Stourbridge mentioned the new audio trail prepared by Graham Fisher along the Stourbridge Canal Town Arm (as seen previously). I saw Graham a little while ago give a talk on the history of the …