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The Black Country: Proud region has split opinion for centuries

Mark Andrews has written a very nice article for the Express and Star about Brendon Clifford’s new book “The Black Country: 500 Years in 50 Voices”. It begins with Engel's thoughts on Willenhall.

It seems the Friederich Engels didn’t think much of Willenhall. The famous Marxist philosopher considered the child workers in the town’s factories were both uneducated and devoid of morals when he visited during the 1840s. He said: “They were so little capable of thinking of what they said, so stolid, so hopelessly stupid, that they often asserted they were well treated, that they were coming on famously, when they were forced to work 12-14 hours, were clad in rags, did not get enough to eat, and were beaten so that they felt it several days afterwards.” What the young workers thought of Engels, of course, is not known. History tends to be told by the wealthy, the educated and the powerful, as Engels would no doubt have attested to.

And there is more in that vein, together with many other pictures of those whose voices Brendan includes in the book, ranging from the 16th century antiquarian, historian and topographer John Leland, and ending with Wolverhampton-born journalist and broadcaster Sathnam Sanghera. The article is well worth a read and can be found here. Better still, you can buy Brendan’s book from the Society shop!

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