TALKS Archive - Celebrating over 50yrs of the Black Country Society

All Talks unless otherwise indicated will take place at The Dudley Canal Trust Portal, Birmingham Road, Dudley DY1 4SB

Wednesday 27 February 2019

More Than Just Bricks & Mortar

Speaker: David Travis-Smith

THE WORK OF BUILDING PRESERVATION TRUSTS – What do Building Preservation Trusts do and is their work more or less relevant for the Black Country today?


Born into a traditional manufacturing family business (cooperage} in the Black Country, David has a particular interest in industrial heritage, David’s passion for building conservation came about as a volunteer member of the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust.. He is a Chartered Director and has an honours degree in Business Studies from the University of Bradford.
David acts  as a Project Organiser working on a project-by-project basis for several Building Preservation Trusts. He provides mentoring support, (Heritage Lottery Fund register of mentors), and consultancy support, (Locality consultancy Pool).  From canal restoration schemes to regeneration schemes centred upon the repair and viable re-use of historic buildings,

Born into a traditional manufacturing family business (cooperage} in the Black Country,

David’s passion for building conservation came about as a volunteer member of the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust. His talk and slide presentation outlined some of the buildings in the Black Country area that are and have been in need of preservation. These included properties in Dudley, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich. He showed how Weavers Cottages, Kinver and Cromwell Mill  benefited from the skills of craftsmen and women to repair, recreate and manufacture items to restore the buildings. He discussed the importance of a photographic record to identify original fittings and finishes and went on to demonstrate how in some cases, audio recordings have been made by former company employees to extend the historic record of a site.

Before and after images of Cromwell Mill showed how schools and universities became involved, plus re-enactment groups and the new businesses that re-occupied the buildings to service visitors.

David spoke about the 'ripple down' effect and benefits seen by educational establishments and 'Friends' groups. He described the building 'Listing' stages from Grade 1 and 2star to Grade 2 and estimated the West Midlands has over 500 buildings at risk because of age and poor management. David showed slides of Chance Bros. former premises and talked about the company's  international reputation, especially for lighthouses lanterns, Big Ben's dials and the glass made for the Great Exhibition structures. A new preservation group has just been set up linked to Chance Bros.

David's largest project to date involves Wentworth House, Rotherham and he told the audience that he is hosting a visit to this magnificent house on 14 September 2019. BCS Members will be welcome on this trip which David promised would be a very special guided tour around the property.


24 January 2018

From Whizz Bang Alley to Wordsley Hospital - Dr David Cox

The former editor of ‘The Black Country Man’ and university lecturer David Cox will examine the lives of thirty soldiers detailed in the autograph book of his maternal grandmother who was a volunteer visitor at the hospital during the First World War.


28 February

The British on holiday from the Grand Tour to Mass Tourism. - Richard Bifield

The Speaker is a retired Town Planner who has, since his retirement, concentrated on culture and tourism in these parts. He is a past Chair of the ‘Friends of the Iron Bridge Museum’ and former National President of the Tourism Management Institute. The lecture, as the title suggests, will examine the momentous changes in holiday making over the last couple of centuries.

23 January 2019

My Journey to the Black Country

Speaker: Stevan Jackson MA, FHEA, FInstLM, FCMI, MCGI, Chartered FCIPD, Group - Chief Executive Officer at the Mary Stevens Hospice Group

Steve Jackson did not have the smoothest start on the journey to where he is now.

By the age of nineteen he was an educational failure, homeless, and jobless, with convictions at Mansfield Magistrates Court. How he subsequently turned his life around has been an extraordinary adventure which involved working underground as a coal miner and then joining the Royal Navy, retiring with the rank of Captain. In 2010 he joined the Royal British Legion to design and deliver the national  Battle Back Centre based at Lilleshall . Steve is an accomplished mountaineer and is part-time lecturer at Leeds Trinity and Worcester Universities

28 March at 7.30pm

'Getting rid of the Stink' - Dr Mike Haynes

The speaker, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Wolverhampton will discuss the works of the great engineers of the Nineteenth Century and how their efforts effectively eliminating death by typhoid, cholera and diphtheria from the exploding urban population.

Black Country Society Main Programme
Unless stated otherwise meetings are held

at The Dudley Canal Trust Portal DY1 4SB.

Meetings held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm. Visitors welcome.
For details contact

The West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust is a registered charity. They aim to safeguard buildings of historical and/or architectural importance, within the West Midlands and Worcestershire, which are at risk of being lost.

As well as projects to protect and rescue historic buildings, the Trusts organise a range of activities to encourage and involve both new and existing members.

Visit -

Industrial Archaeology Group
The IA Group hold evening lectures at the Blowers Green Pump House (Headquarters of the Dudley Canal Trust), Peartree Lane, Dudley, DY2 0XP.

Meetings held first Wednesday of each month  at 7.30pm.
For details contact .

Walks are restricted to members only to enable participants to hear the leader's commentary and maintain safety. Sensible footwear is advised. Every effort is made to ensure that the distance can be covered within a maximum of 2 hours, but every

walk is different and each leader has

his/her style of walking and talking.
David Galley  Walks Coordinator
01384 832157

Black Country Geological Society
The BCGS run a programme of monthly lectures and talks from September to April , meeting in ​ Dudley Museum & Art Gallery, St. James's Road, Dudley, DY1 1HU, followed by a series of Field Trips to geological sites all over the Midlands. No qualifications are necessary to join - just a genuine interest. See the BCGS website for details.


Mushroom Green Chainshop
See the Industrial Heritage Stronghold website for details.

Mushroom Green Chain Shop is opened by Industrial Heritage Stronghold on the second Sunday of the month from April to October 2:30 – 5pm. Admission is free.

 AGM - 28 MARCH 2018

The Black Country Society AGM will be held at The Dudley Canal Trust Portal, Birmingham Road, Dudley DY1 4SB at 7.30pm.

Amoung the items to be discussed there is a proposed change to the constitution


'Archie Hill Comes Home' - John Price

The Society is pleased to give a showing of excerpts from a series of films made in the early 70’s by the infamous Black Country journalist Archie Hill. It reveals the harshness of his childhood in the Black Country and the following post war decades. Hill, a controversial figure, met with national acclaim following the publication of his autobiography ‘A cage of Shadows’

John Price has made a study of Hill and will give a brief introduction of the man and the environment he grew up in.


Forging Ahead - Andrew Lovett BCLM:

Wednesday 26th September 2018

BCLM: Forging Ahead is phase one of a 40 year masterplan to create a new major historic 1940s-1960s development, new learning spaces and improved visitor facilities at the Black Country Living Museum. 

The £25 million project is being backed by major funding awards from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, with the aim

of increasing visitor numbers to 500,000 a year and creating 60 new jobs and 35 apprenticeships.  The Museum will then take the story of the Black Country forward from the 1940s

to the 1960s, up to the closure of the Baggeridge Colliery in 1968, to tell new stories, fulfil its potential and maximise its impact.  Andrew, the Chief Executive of the Museum, will update us on the considerable progress made so far.



From the nineteenth century onwards Sutton Park has been a recreational destination for the folk of Birmingham and the Black Country.  Mike, formerly Birmingham City Council's Planning Archaeologist, will reveal how people have used this National Nature Reserve, Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest over thousands of years.


Black Country History Day 2018    Saturday 10 November 2018

VENUE FOR THIS EVENT:  Large Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, University of Birmingham, 10.00am-4.00pm.

Organised in partnership with the Centre for West Midlands History, University of Birmingham     




Once voted Britain's favourite artist in a BBC poll, James Mallord William Turner visited the Black Country on at least two occasions.  The watercolours he painted following visits to Wolverhampton (1794) and Dudley (1830) have become emblematic of the area.  In his talk Brendan Clifford reconstructs the fascinating story of Turner's visit, watercolours and their provenance against the background of Turner's life and times and the Black Country context.

TALKS archive 2017