Black Country Irish: Oldbury

The 1881 census records just under 200 people living in the parish of Oldbury, then in Worcestershire, but having been born in Ireland. The census is of course a snapshot, and that's particularly true of the newly-transient working class of the nineteenth century, for whom moving for work was very important. Here's an example. Greet's …

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Birmingham’s furthest outpost: Michel de Certeau and the strategies of Elan Village’s builders

 I was very fortunate recently to get to camp in one of the most beautiful spots in the country, in the Elan Valley, Powys. It's among the most sparsely-populated parts of the UK, falling within what John Henry Cliffe described as 'that great desert of Wales' as far back as 1860. Despite that descriptor, it's far from …

Foucault in Northfield: Birmingham’s reformed pubs

As I mentioned recently, apparently historians love pubs more than anything. I was particularly intrigued by a discussion with Nathan Booth at the Urban History conference in Cambridge about the internal layout of pubs in his recently-completed thesis on Stalybridge - I hadn't given this a lot of thought, focusing mainly on the streetscape. So …

Fox News Facts

Last night was a fun night for a midlander to be on Twitter. Footage emerged showing Steven Emerson, noted US terrorism theorist, describing Birmingham as "entirely Muslim" and "a no-go are for non-Muslims". This of course came as news to the the 78% of Brummies who don't identify as Muslim, many of whom took their sarcastic selves …

Black Country History Day

Black Country History DayI'm hoping to be there next week for this day of talks and lunch at the University, in conjunction with the Black Country Society.The schedule is as follows:10.00am Introduction, Dr Malcolm Dick10.10am The Work of Local Building Preservation Trusts, Robert Tolley11.10am Break11.30am Out of the Darkness – an Introduction to Mining in the Black Country, Graham …

Ring Roads

For some reason, I spent most of yesterday thinking ring roads. Specifically, the Birmingham Queensway system that no longer exists. As a geographer, town planning sits very much inside my sphere of reference, and this is a famous example of a mid-C20 town planning 'blunder' (probably depending on who you ask). Certainly it was swept …

Heritage Open Weekend

I'll be a busy boy this weekend, for many and various reasons (not least very amateur plumbing), but I'll hope to make time for some of the Heritage Open Days. I'm particularly interested to finally go and see the Back-to-Backs in Birmingham (cf. National Trust). This will be very helpful for my thesis I should …

Up the Cut #1

I spent quite some time imagining that my future career was going to be in urban regeneration (really, it's a fairly obvious route to take from an urban geography degree). To some extent it will be if all goes to plan: after all, urban regeneration is not a new phenomenon, it's exactly what the Cross …