Black Country Irish: lies, damned lies and statistics

We've had a quick look at some of the stories and statistics behind the Irish in the Black Country, particularly focusing on the census data for 1851. Data is an essential part of the story, but it is just a part. The historian can do loads with that, but it stops being interesting before too long: …

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“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 consistent complaint of the Post's correspondent. It almost goes without saying that the areas poorly drained …

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 substantial village of Rushall, taken in the 1930s.  Coal Pool itself is a fairly old hamlet, …

Block Capital

I'm very cheerful to be involved with the new Block Capital project that the Distinctly Black Country network are running. It's great to be getting back into doing some actual social research, and this ties in with my academic interest in Wolverhampton and the Black Country, and my personal interest in the rise and fall …