Farm to Vaccination Centre: geographies of industry, politics and religion in Tividale

Sri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple, Tividale (Wikimedia Commons) I submitted my thesis on Wolverhampton and its diasporic Irish space at the beginning of December, and my brain is slowly starting to unclog so that I can think about things outside the four walls of my home office again. With a bit of luck I might have … Continue reading Farm to Vaccination Centre: geographies of industry, politics and religion in Tividale

Righteous Among The Nations

I often walk the dog in Mary Stevens Park, in Stourbridge, and walk through the grand, now-restored gates. This morning though, it was a plaque on the wall to the right of the gates that caught my eye. There's a tribute there to one Frank Foley, a Devonian by birth but one who died in … Continue reading Righteous Among The Nations

The good death of Lawrence Britcliffe: reflective microhistory

This is a summary of the last five posts on the life and death of Lawrence Britcliffe of Cliviger, Lancashire. You can read about the sources and inspiration for these posts here; about Lawrence's birth, life and religious trials here; about his murder of John Hindle and subsequent escape here; about his trial and incarceration … Continue reading The good death of Lawrence Britcliffe: reflective microhistory


Just a quick one to say a massive thank you to everyone that came out on a bright - but chilly - Saturday to have a walk around one of the less glamorous parts of Wolverhampton this weekend. Thanks too to Wolverhampton Art Gallery for organising it. I had a fantastic time wandering around the remains … Continue reading Walkies

“Broke… alone… in love with a pigeon”

No Black Country history this week I'm afraid, more like a sideline that I've been exploring... #storypast I'm currently making notes for my first ever paper at an academic conference, in just under four weeks time. It's not a full, 20-minute affair, but a 5 minute conversation-starter for a somewhat unusual panel at the Social History … Continue reading “Broke… alone… in love with a pigeon”

“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 … Continue reading “Slums” of the Black Country: Waste Bank, Lye

“History breaks down into images not into stories”

On the night of 25th September 1940, a middle-aged German-Jewish academic took his own life with an overdose of morphine in the Hotel de Francia, Portbou, on the Spanish side of the Pyrennean border. He'd been hoping to flee to America following the Nazi invasion of Paris where he'd been working in exile on a variety … Continue reading “History breaks down into images not into stories”

On unexpected events

Over the summer, my time has mostly been taken up preparing for a talk I was asked to give at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on my research. (I say most of my time - note to my supervisor, I've been at the Archives nearly every day they open, it's just that the heaps of council minutes … Continue reading On unexpected events

Don’t read below the line

Controversy de la semaine around these parts comes in the wake of the increasingly-popular Black Country Festival. This sort of thing is a great idea - fostering a bit of community spirit can only be good for morale amongst a particularly under-employed, under-paid part of the country, and encouraging people to make use of their local areas … Continue reading Don’t read below the line

Dead ends and back alleys

Just a short one today as I'm in the midst of a massive trawl through several decades' worth of census enumerators returns. I'm writing this from my local library, from where I can work on their computers (for free) (albeit in Internet Explorer) and use (for free). I'm very lucky to be funded out … Continue reading Dead ends and back alleys