Let’s fly the flag for the Black Country Day

MP Tom Watson wants to make 'Black Country Day' an annual event that shares pride in industry, culture and heritage. How would you celebrate it?

Ann Key in period costume with the new Black Country Flag
Ann Key in period costume with the new Black Country Flag

From the Newcomen Engine to Led Zeppelin, from faggots and peas to the unmistakeable taste of orange, battered chips – the Black Country has plenty to shout loudly and proudly about.

But a single flag flying from a government office in London was the only mark of a day to celebrate all that is good about it.

Now an MP wants to make Black Country Day an annual event that shares pride in industry, culture and heritage.

  • How would YOU like to celebrate Black Country Day? Have your say in the comment box below.

Tom Watson is canvassing opinions from politicians and residents across the four boroughs of the Black Country about what should be included if the day becomes a fixture in the calendar.

It comes after the Department of Communities and Local Government marked Black Country Day by raising a specially-designed banner on the anniversary of the invention of the Newcomen steam engine on July 14.

It depicts a chain link on a black, white and red background and was designed last year as part of a competition.

The winning entry was by Gracie Sheppard, who attended Redhill Primary School, in Stourbridge and recalls the famous description of the Black Country by Elihu Burrit that it was ‘black by day and red by night’ owing to the smoke and fires of industry.

But other than that no celebrations were held at all and even the Black Country Society, which supported the creation of the flag admits it passed its members by as did the Black Country Living Museum.

Mr Watson wants to emulate the annual Yorkshire Day held on August 1 when towns across the northern county come together to hold events.

The MP for West Bromwich East said: “Yorkshire Day has been celebrated since 1975 and I think we should replicate it in the Black Country.

“We should celebrate all the things that are good about the Black Country and bring the towns and city of the sub region together.

The replica Titanic anchor is transported to Netherton
The replica Titanic anchor is transported to Netherton

“I’d like people to tell me what they think about the idea.”

He added that politicians and civil servants in London often had little knowledge of the Black Country.

“When I was a minister I was amazed how few civil servants knew that if you wanted to go to West Bromwich you get a train to Sandwell and Dudley, rather than Birmingham,” he said.

“I think we need to celebrate what’s great about our area and it would help those people in London who seem to have no idea about us.”

Mick Pearson, who edits the Black Countryman magazine for the Black Country Society, said: “I knew about the flag being flown but I must admit the day got lost or forgotten.

“We’ve missed the boat for this year but I think it should be on the calendar and we should do something about it.”

Andrew Lovett, director and chief executive, Black Country Living Museum, said: “It was the day’s first outing this year, after last year’s 300th anniversary of the Newcomen Engine, and we’ll do more next year at the museum and hope that people living in the Black Country will find their own ways of celebrating it and what it means for them.”

Leader of Wolverhampton City Council Councillor Roger Lawrence said civic leaders were not invited to get in on the celebrations when the flag was hoisted above Elland House in London.

He said: “It was all a bit Secret Squirrel. The government did not make much of it and did not involve local authorities.

“If we’re going to have a celebration we should do it properly.”

Thomas Newcomen developed the Newcomen Engine in 1712 and it was the first machine to harness the power of steam to pump water out of mines.

l Anyone with ideas on how to develop a proper Black Country Day can email Mr Watson at watsont@parliament.uk or contact him on Twitter @tom_watson. He can also be reached by post at Tom Watson MP, Terry Duffy House, Thomas Street, West Bromwich, B70 6NT.

How would YOU like to celebrate Black Country Day? Have your say in the comment box below.

Comments for: "Let’s fly the flag for the Black Country Day"

4 race & nation

Blackcountry day should be celebrated but not by the communistLabour party, They have done more damage to the area then the Tories.

David Martin

There speaketh the spokesman for the BNP, EDL and UKIP.

ali bongo

and you know this how. you speak like a Stalinist.

Telling it how it is.

No Martin, there speaks a man who has not got his head up his own politically correct ass, you liberal left wingers have done more to destroy this area/country than the Luftwaffe ever managed.

Just look around you at what you have achieved, proud of yourselves are you?

4 race & nation

Wrong on all three just expressing an opinion.

Guaranteed it will be politically correct

Chainmaker

A public holiday

KevM

Thank God the Murdoch media organisation will be dealing with this individual at the next election. Enjoy it Tom the dark days are coming.

jayne

grey paes an bacon bits followed by jelly and carnation milk butties! bring it on> yow cor baet a bit ow black country. wim the best!!

John

I hate that flag.. it reflects slavery. Economic slavery.

oldrocker

Oh grow up.

bex

moan when we do stuff moan when we dont grow up and lets be proud of where we am from

Ivor

I'm proud to be a yam yam but Watsons from Kidderminster not from the black country and I see he got selected for his own seat lol.

John B Richards

Celebrate the Anglo Saxon origins of the regions dialect. Do this in an accurate way. Forget Faggots and Pays, Aynuk and Ayly and popular fiction, but encourage serious study of this old much maligned ancient dialect.

Go back to before the regions Industrial era and let people be proud of their dialect.

lee.h

i think its grate, as it the foundation of Wolverhampton where my grate grand father worked worked in drop forge. then went of to war

Bill

Mate you support Labour and your kids will be like you grandads generation uneducated, living in poor housing and no work

this Labour fool wants to take us back there,

Telling it how it is.

Yorkshire may have celebrated a area day since 1975, but who knew??? I didn't, and mores to the point, who cares?

steve

Fantastic idea. I think the MP must have seen the Facebook pages of " The Black Country" and "The Only Way Is Dudley" who brought forward this idea a few months ago. 1000's of Facebook fans liked the idea and enjoyed "Black Country day" Drinking local ales and eating faggot and pays while "spaking black country"

Jonathan Evans

i am proud to be a Black Country Man as i moved to Nottingham 4 and a half years ago and people round Nottingham haven't got a clue about the Black Country. I always get called a brummie round their so to have Black Country day as a bank holiday then it would teach the whole country that the Black country has nothing to do with Birmingham. It would be an idea that schools should teach children about the Black country in history lessons and also teach them to speak proper black Country.

Ivor

So Watson wants to calibrate Wilson closing down more pits than Maggie did , or shall be have a procession past BL to admire the 1000's BLiar put out of work,

Bilstonstu

Oh my oh my! All we need now is someone upset with this cos we missed their religion out! Politics and political correctness are a curse of the human race! Folk were living in Dudley in the Bronze Age, our heritage as Black Country folk goes back a long way - even if the Romans missed a trick here! The invaders we know as Saxons rather liked the area and were the first to settle here in numbers andthis is the root ov our wonderful accent, but to the Britons of the time, they weren't wanted, were invaders and should have stayed at 'ome! See any similarities to today's world here? I quite like the flag thingie - but people will read what ever they will from a symbol and as for a holiday, no chance at all - we get less than the Scots and Irish as it is so i cannot see the elected elite in Westminster going for that one! Bilston, ay we!

Smithy

I to hate the flag ,Has Cradley Heathens speedway written all over it.

We should celebrate everything from our industrial heritage when we bashed heavy metal to the rock stars from the Black Country who invented.....Heavy Metal.

Those who know nothing about us and who dislike our ancient and unique dialect often regard us as thick and backward, but during the industrial revolution if anything was worth having we either made it here or provided the tools for it to be made elsewhere.

We should encourage people from all over the country to visit us by hosting exhibitions and rock concerts every year or two to show them what we can do and there should be trade shows highlighting the skills of Black Country workers.

Peter (Tobias) Wilkes

I think it is a great idea, but there's more to the BlackCountry than faggots and pays. Harry Harrison was a brilliant poet and comedian, but more than that he was a great chronicler. His knowledge on the BlackCountry was second to none, it's origins etc. Lets have a day of poetry, folk singing, brassbands, an Eisteddford for the Black Country.

PS Please leave all politics out of it.

JOhn

Simply by living in the past and not giving a single care to the future or our rich heritage and legacy. Let's close services, lets take away the hope and vision of the people this socialist republic wants. Lets give them 'jobs they can do' mr cooper. Rather than give them hopes and dreams to fulfil, and really prove to them that, they; like their forbears can be inspiration, captive amazing and ingenious. Or not. Black Country Day should be celebrated within the context of what it means now. What is the legacy of the past. This current leadership's legacy will be a mess for generations to come to deal with and unpick - but not to worry, they'll be gone in two years but their shortsighted legacy of suspicion, hatred and proloquialism will remain

Bill

Socialism brings despair, jealousy and want. Ask any former soviet national who are prepared to walk across Europe to get here,socialism

kept them in poverty for generations, did you hear the wall came down ???

pete

Mr Watson has become very loud all of a sudden since his resignation from his last job and the public beating up of the Murdoch's live on T.V. He has suddenly remembered where the black country is and started to throw his weight about regarding the public building at west bromwich, as Kevm said the dark day's are coming Tom, reap what you will sow !

WolvesAyWe

The flag looks horrible!

Dee

Who's this Tom Watson that keeps talking about West Bromwich, I thought he was an American Golfer lol.