Place to Place: M. Joseph, Smethwick’s Celebrity Chef

M. Joseph, photographed by Carjat for The Sketch, 13 April 1898 This post is (albeit tangentially) part of a series about translocality in relation to the Black Country: see other posts here. Over this spring/summer I've had a lot of fun running walks, workshops etc. for the Chance Heritage Trust, and this is a story … Continue reading Place to Place: M. Joseph, Smethwick’s Celebrity Chef

Josephine Butler and spaces of reform in Winchester

There ought to be a word for the mixture of thrill and dread that comes with hearing someone talk about your home town on the radio or TV. Coming from Winchester, it's usually dread that someone in red cords is suggesting feeding the poor to their rare-breed pheasants or something. In fact (of course) the town is, … Continue reading Josephine Butler and spaces of reform in Winchester

Clay miles: Henry Doulton in the Black Country

On the North Worcestershire Path, not far from Iverley, there is a broken water pipe lying to one side of the track. It's a bit forlorn, but clearly a very nice thing: it's glazed, and the makers have taken the trouble to brand it: Doulton. There are many industries that have a ready association with the … Continue reading Clay miles: Henry Doulton in the Black Country

Plumbing; or, Wolverhampton’s Great Stink

I am in no way, shape or form a practically-minded person. So when last weekend was dominated by some DIY plumbing I felt fully out of depth, although as a team (my wife, me and Youtube) we managed to get the job done. The upshot was that we had to close the water off for the … Continue reading Plumbing; or, Wolverhampton’s Great Stink

“Slums” of the Black Country

We've come to the end of this series on some of the distinct areas of the Black Country that found themselves with a special stigma in the nineteenth century. Based on the Birmingham Daily Post's 1866 series on the sanitary condition I've had a look around some of the broader issues of housing, sanitation, labour, demography and democracy … Continue reading “Slums” of the Black Country

Using Lefebvre’s triad

I did warn you that this would be a place for testing half-baked theories, so no Black Country history today, sorry. If you're not up for critical theory and continental philosophy on a Friday morning, back away slowly now. There's been plenty of debates over the years about the role of theory within the practice … Continue reading Using Lefebvre’s triad

Poor Door

Before I moved to the midlands I lived in London for nearly ten years, starting at university. A penniless student is not exactly the best way to enjoy life in the Great Wen, but on leaving and finding a Real Job (albeit nothing to do with my degree), I was able to find out a … Continue reading Poor Door