LGBT+ History Month: “one night after 8 hours of especially difficult work…”

It's LGBT+ History Month in the UK in February. A queer history of the Black Country has yet to be written - most gay histories focus on big cities, and in particular London. The LGBT Archive and the Pride of Place project has gone some way towards restoring a regional focus - it's well worth … Continue reading LGBT+ History Month: “one night after 8 hours of especially difficult work…”

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

No-go zones, racism and the press in British history

One of the advantages of balancing a PhD with research at the Black Country Museum is that I get to compare and contrast over time. My PhD work is about the Black Country in the 1840s through to the 1870s; at the Museum, it's the 1940s through to the 1960s. This is great, but as … Continue reading No-go zones, racism and the press in British history

Towards a bibliography of Black Country history

I've just added a new page to this website: a bibliography of Black Country history. This region is, as any scholar who tries to research it will tell you, tremendously under-researched compared to many comparable regions, which is strange when you consider the huge significance of the Black Country to British industrial, social, technological and … Continue reading Towards a bibliography of Black Country history

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

The desi dialectic

Recent blog posts have been a little sparse, and that's mostly a function of learning to be a freelancer - sometimes, apparently, work comes in thick and fast and leaves little time for much else. However, it has it's upsides: whether through teaching, writing, researching or anything else I've been getting a tremendous overview of … Continue reading The desi dialectic

“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

Reformers and racists

I'm no political historian, and I've no desire to get here into the whys and wherefores of last week's general election. Suffice to say, I'm appalled to be under a Conservative government; and feel defrauded by the most disproportionate election result ever. On Thursday I distracted myself from work by posting some themed pictures on BlackCountryPics, … Continue reading Reformers and racists

Concrete Jungle

Many thanks to Kate Gordon, who got in touch after last week's post on the concrete jungle of the West Smethwick estate. She very kindly provided some fantastic photos showing just how the estate got its nickname - doesn't take a great stretch of imagination does it! The estate was officially titled Galton Village, or … Continue reading Concrete Jungle

It’s like a Jungle sometimes

I've come across a couple of people lately who have mentioned that they grew up in the "concrete jungle" in Smethwick, online and in the flesh. It's one of those folk names that will never be recorded officially, but that everyone from there knows; it proved to me just this morning the limitations of Google … Continue reading It’s like a Jungle sometimes