HISTORY OF THE BLACK COUNTRY SOCIETY
The Society was established in 1967 by Dr John Fletcher and Mr John Brimble at the Noahs Ark public house, Tipton. In 2017, the 50th Anniversary of the Society, a 'Blue Plaque' was unveiled above the front door of the public house.
The Society and its members are extremely proud to have, for over 50 years, supported, recorded, preserved and celebrated the distinct character and nature of the West Midlands area known since 1846 as 'The Black Country'.
Our membership is mainly UK based but overseas society friends are welcomed and our aim is to to keep all members informed about the news, discoveries, stories and historical research carried out in the West Midlands area of the UK, known as 'The Black Country'.
Many BCS Members have family links to this area and an interest in the regions involvement through many kinds of trade, manufacturing processes and goods. Indeed, we are in the area of the UK where a unique combination of materials, resources, people and ingenuity came together to increase manufacturing output and create the Industrial Revolution (1760 - 1840) .
Generations of people working in this area have seen and lived through huge, life changing experiences. Traditional 17th century employment would have meant working outdoors on the land, tending animals, on farmsteads and in Mills, processing the harvested produce. When iron ore was discovered the same mills were converted to water powered saw mills to provide timber for industrial furnaces. Water power was also used to operate large forges, hammers and other iron making equipment. During the 18th century the power of the Stour, Smestow and other tributaries of the Severn river were used to drive mass production machinery. The production of carpet was revolutionised by the introduction of powered machinery and this industry requiring large numbers of employees would go on to create decades of jobs for generations of families in the towns of Stourbridge and Kidderminster.
The 'Black Country' was at the centre of the Industrial Revolution and therefore' through the hard work of its population, the enterprise of its industrial leaders and local resources, influenced how Britain made itself 'Great Britain' and became a leading industrial nation.
The 'Black Country' became an industrial area when a 30ft seam of coal topped by iron ore impregnated rock was discovered beneath its surface. The mined coal was used as fuel to heat homes and household forges. It was also used to create coke to super heat the larger industrial furnaces producing cast iron for the many trades manufacturing metal products.
A survey undertaken in 1860 identified 441 Coal Pits, 181 Blast Furnaces, 118 Iron Works,
79 Rolling Mills and 1500 Puddling Furnaces in the area.
During the Industrial Revolution thousands of Black Country families operated their own small 'home' furnaces where whole families including small children spent many hours of the day and night scraping a living from making lengths of chain and nails of all shapes and sizes.
Not everything was as small scale as nail and chain making. The variety of Industry, knowledge and experience created major manufacturers in the 'Black Country' area and led to them being given large contracts. Typically to manufacture and supply the window glass and iron and steel structures for 'the Crystal Palace' at the Great Exhibition (1832).
The town of Netherton may be a considerable distance from the sea but it became famous for forging the chain and anchors of many ships including the Titanic. New and faster ways of transporting goods soon came about with canals being replaced by railways and Midlands Motor vehicle and motorcycle manufacturers. boosting industrial activity through production of metal components including chassis, spares and replacements.
In the very early days of manufacturing powered vehicles motor transport the Midlands became famous for motorcar marques like Jenson and TVR plus Sunbeam and Brough motorcycles. The Brough brand of motorcyle being famously ridden by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).
Black Country engineers have continued to be a force in manufacturing and more recently supervised the design and construction of the closing roof structure for Wimbledon's Centre Court and the amazing glass paneled roof connecting the buildings of the British Museum in London.
Today the landscape is very different and the pollution levels are a fraction of times past when the 'Black Country' was known as being 'Black by Day and Red by Night'. Black from the smoke of thousands of chimneys and red from the continuous glow of family' furnaces.
The area continues to have a significant manufacturing base and in many cases historic business names have survived, providing a rich vein of information which forms the major features, articles and observations in the Society's magazine and various book publications.
The Black Country Society hosts and arranges many interesting talks, walks and visits, both in the area and further afield to see how goods and products, manufactured and developed in the area, have benefited the lives of millions living in this country and overseas.
The Society publishes a select number of books each year. These books enable historic and researched information to be shared with BCS members. The books are also available through various outlets and through this website to anyone interested in the history and industry of the 'Black Country'.
The Black Country Society welcomes new members. We offer a diverse range of activities including talks, lectures, planned visits and walks each year. There is something for everyone to enjoy through their interest of local and social history,
The 'Blackcountryman' magazine is our flagship and if you prefer, you can sit in your most comfortable chair at home and be entertained, amazed and extend your knowledge from the published features and articles in the magazine. These features describe the extraordinary events, achievements, places and 'larger than life' characters of the Black Country. The magazine also contains the latest news about the society and its events, so you will always be up-to-date.
"We live in the presence of History" Winston Churchill
Please read this page on how and why the Black Country Society was established.
The Society is unique as a 'Heritage' society in the UK and you can join easily online by visiting the Membership Page and paying with your card or through PayPal.
We welcome all members both near and far who have a passion to find out more about the amazing history and character of people from this area!
NEW BOOKS LAUNCHED
THE BLACK COUNTRY IN 100 OBJECTS
Step back in time to the era of manufacturing. Each object in the book has been specially selected by the people of the Black Country to celebrate the remarkable history of our region.
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DID YOU KNOW - The Black Country has produced more England International footballers than any other area of the West Midlands!