A lone flag flying outside a government office in London was no way to celebrate everything that is good about the Black Country – and now plans are under way to make sure more is done to recognise the region’s special day in 2014.
One council is already planning to start flying the official Black Country flag next week as the countdown begins to the official Black Country Day on July 14 – the anniversary of the invention of the Newcomen Engine.
And with plenty for the Black Country to shout about – from food delicacies such as grae paes and bacon to stars such as One Direction’s Liam Payne and Beverley Knight, who both hail from Wolverhampton – renewed calls are now being made to make sure the region is championed come July 14.
Dudley has long been acknowledged by many as the ‘capital’ of the Black Country – something which deputy council leader Pete Lowe is keen to celebrate by flying the flag which features a chain to represent the manufacturing heritage of the area while the upright triangular shape in the background recalls the iconic glass cones and iron furnaces that were once commonplace throughout the region.
“All of us living and working in the area have plenty to be proud of and as the capital of the Black Country here in Dudley we are determined to ensure we celebrate who and what we are,” Councillor Lowe said.
“I for one am delighted to see that we will have a Black Country Day to celebrate each year and want to help ensure that in 2014 as many people as possible join in celebrations to recognise the area’s achievements.”
Last year the flag representing the Black Country was hoisted above the Department for Communities and Local Government’s offices to coincide with Black Country Day. Dudley South MP Chris Kelly met with government minister Eric Pickles who described the area as ‘of England’s industrial giants’.
West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson led calls for a proper Black Country Day last year and has urged local authorities to do what they could in 2014 to make sure the day was one to remember: “I commend Dudley Council for its excellent leadership on this.
“It is a day when we can celebrate the cultural, economic and political influence of a very important region of the country.”
Dudley Council leader David Sparks added: “Cornwall has a flag, Wales has a dragon, Scotland has its referendum and now we can proclaim that we are also a special place with a special culture.
“As the capital of the Black Country I hope Dudley borough people and organisations will show off the flag with great pride not only on July 14 but all year round.”
Wolverhampton City Council also wants to join in the celebrations, but isn’t flying a flag any time soon.
Council leader Roger Lawrence said: “I’m not even sure how we’d go about getting one. For all I know there’s only one flag between us.
Walsall Council’s leader Mike Bird added: “People think of the Black Country as a grimy, smoky and horrible place which it most definitely isn’t. “We should celebrate our part in the industrial revolution.”
To try and kick off the celebrations Dudley Council is working with community groups and traders throughout the borough to organise activities to mark the day.
Councillor Lowe said the feedback so far had been positive.
The Black Country Living Museum has announced it will hold a Black Country weekend on July 12 and 13 with another celebratory evening taking place on September 13.
Smaller community events are also being planned.