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Black Country Day: When is it? What’s on? Where is the Black Country?

Black Country Day has grown in prominence since it was first established in 2013.

Black Country Day: When is it? What’s on? Where is the Black Country?

But why do we have Black Country Day? What is it all about? And where exactly is the Black Country?

Find out more here.

When is Black Country Day?

Black Country Day is on July 14 each year. The date was picked to mark the area's industrial heritage.

It is linked to the anniversary of the invention of the world's first steam engine, the Newcomen Engine, built in 1712.

A replica of the engine takes pride of place at Black Country Living Museum, in Dudley.

The first Black Country Day was actually held in March 2013 after Steve Edwards came up with the idea to have a day to honour the region, however this was changed in 2014 for a date that reflects the region’s history.

Why was it established?

The day was established after the Department of Communities and Local Government marked the anniversary with a specially designed banner.

The banner has now become the Black Country Flag. It was designed by school girl Gracie Sheppard, who attended Redhill Primary School, in Stourbridge.

Gracie Sheppard and Black Country Living Museum demonstrator Ray Franklin outside the Newcomen Engine at the attaction

It was designed to recall the famous description of the Black Country by Elihu Burritt, the American Consul to Birmingham in 1868.

He said: “The Black Country, black by day and red by night, cannot be matched for vast and varied production by any other space of equal radius on the surface of the globe."

It was created in a competition backed by the Black Country Living Museum to represent the region's heritage.

It was first flown at the museum's Festival of Steam in 2013. The annual celebration was supported by the Black Country Society and Philip Tibbetts of the Flag Institute.

Mr Tibbetts, of Halesowen, has been behind early designs of a flag for the region, even creating a tartan, and worked on the competition.

Philip Tibbetts, from Halesowen, wearing Black Country Tartan, and it was his original idea to create a Black Country flag

Where is the Black Country?

This has always been subject to much debate. The Black Country is in the West Midlands and is officially recognised as the four boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

But its definition is contentious with many believing it to be linked to the coal industry.

Traditionalists claim the Black Country is where the coal seam comes to the surface encompassing towns such as Brierley Hill, West Bromwich, Oldbury, Blackheath, Cradley Heath, Old Hill, Bilston, Dudley, Netherton, Tipton, and parts of Wednesbury.

This was map was printed by the Express & Star in 2004 first created by Christopher Saxton in 1578.

The map

What is the Black Country Festival?

The Black Country Festival was established in 2014 to raise awareness for the day and bring together a host of community events under one banner during the month of July.

It has grown in size every year but in 2020 events have had to be scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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