Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of Black Country Day
We’d be remiss at TheStudios not to post about this special day, being situated in the heart of Wolverhampton! Black Country Day is officially celebrated every 14 July, a date that was chosen to mark the region’s industrial heritage, as it is the anniversary of the invention of the world’s first steam engine, the Newcomen Engine, built 1712 at the Conygree Coalworks near Dudley.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of our local celebratory day, so we thought we’d delve a little into the history of the Black Country and some of the events happening in the area this weekend.
Where Exactly is the Black Country?
The Black Country is legally recognised by the government as most of the four Metropolitan District Council areas of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. To purists the Black Country is the area where the coal seam comes to the surface – so Oldbury, Blackheath, West Bromwich, Cradley Heath, Bilston, Dudley, Old Hill, parts of Halesowen, Tipton, Walsall, Wednesfield and Wednesbury.
Elihu Burritt, the American Consul to Birmingham in 1862 once described the area as ‘Black by day and red by night’. Charles Dickens and William Shenstone wrote about the manufacturing industry in the Black Country and how it affected the people and their landscape.
Guns, Explosions and Smoke!
The region has its celebrated links with historical events – Moseley Old Hall was where King Charles II hid after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
The Black Country played its part in the Gunpowder plot. On the evening of November 7, 1605, a group of the fleeing plotters arrived at Holbeche House near Dudley.
Holbeche was owned by the Littleton family who had been involved in many of the Catholic uprisings, and it was to be the last stand of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators.
That night, many of the plotters were injured by an accidental explosion which occurred while they were drying powder in front of an open fire!
Between this night and the morning of the next day, several members of the group scarpered, while others still tried to rally support from the surrounding area. Just before midday on the 8th of November, the Sheriff of Worcester arrived with a gang of men and surrounded the house.
After several attempts to have the conspirators surrender, a skirmish developed. Several were fatally wounded and the remaining known conspirators were apprehended.
A History of Arts and Literature
Although the Black Country is known for its industrial heritage, it also has a long history in the realm of the arts and literature. Famous poet William Shenstone lived in Halesowen along with the writer Francis Brett Young who throughout his life celebrated the city of Birmingham and the Black Country in his fictional books.
Another great poet. Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938), the son of the vicar of St. Mary’s Church. was born in Baldwin Street, Bradley.
How to Celebrate Black Country Day
Over the last two years due to the pandemic, planned events had to be delayed and then cancelled. However, this year there are plenty of great events happening across the entire region!
The largest celebration is The Black Country Weekender, held at Himley Hall, and is expected to host thousands for two days of music, comedy, and family fun this weekend.
Tickets are available for the weekend on the grounds of the hall, with temperatures set to top 30C!
The two-day event starts on Saturday, July 16, and finishes Sunday, July 17 as part of the 2022 Black Country Festival, which runs throughout July.