Summary: The Black Country in the British Midlands was a distinct industrial district. It was incredibly rich in mineral resources, including coal, iron and limestone, which were extensively mined. It developed as a manufacturing area before 1700, producing glass and iron goods, but it was not until the 18th century, partly through the influence of John Wilkinson, that large concerns began to forge the landscape. The Black Country provided the coal and iron that transformed Britain into the world’s industrial furnace, but its image was not a positive one for the outside world. By the early 19th century, writers and artists portrayed it in prints and prose as a poisoned and desecrated area with few redeeming features. There were other sides to the history of the Black Country, but this introduction focuses on the nature and effects of mining and iron making in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sixteen illustrations from a remarkable collection of prints, published in 1878, record and represent these aspects of the region’s history.
Sections: [Click on the images on the right to access each section]
2. Industrial Origins
4. Illustrations of the Black Country Landscape
Sources and Further Reading
Allen, G C, The Industrial Development of Birmingham and the Black Country (1929).
Allen, Walter, The Black Country, (London, 1946).
Beaver, S H, “The Black Country” in J Myers, The Land of Britain, Part 61: Staffordshire, (London,1945).
Burritt, Elihu, Walks in the Black Country and its Green Borderland, (London,1869).
Chattock, Richard S, Sixteen Etchings Illustrative of Scenes in the Coal and Iron District of South Staffordshire, (London and Birmingham,1878).
Court, W H B, The Rise of the Midland Industries, 1600-1838, (London,1938).
Palliser, D M, The Staffordshire Landscape, (London,1976).
Raybould, T J, The Economic Emergence of the Black Country: a Study of the Dudley Estate (1973).
Rowlands, Marie, The West Midlands from AD 1000, (London, 1987).
Sidney, Samuel, Rides on Railways, (London, William S Orr and Co., 1851).
Smiles, Samuel, (ed.), James Nasmyth Engineer, an Autobiography, (London,1885).
Trinder, Barrie, The Making of the Industrial Landscape, (London, 1997).
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