Express & Star

Black Country Day 2024: It is important we shout about our great region, says Express & Star Editor Mark Drew

First a disclaimer. I’m not born and bred in the Black Country. In fact, until I moved here 20 or so years ago - I knew very little about the region.

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I’m a southerner. My perceptions back then were limited to watching Wolves on Match of the Day as a child, along with a couple of journeys through Dudley and Wolverhampton during diversions caused by accidents on the M5.

I know that many I speak to back in my original home of Bristol consider the Black Country as a somewhat grey, industrial zone, somewhere near Spaghetti Junction.

They are right to a certain extent. Industry has always been at the beating heart of this region and it continues to be. We have a proud heritage having been vital to the Industrial Revolution and we have also learned to adapt – the old Sunbeam workshops near my home in Wolverhampton are now full of small entrepreneurial firms making everything from iron railings to nuts and bolts.

But there is so much more to the Black Country as Mark Andrews has so eloquently described in his story: 12 reasons the Black Country is Bosin’. And what struck me when I first moved here was the strength of identity in Black Country folk, their friendliness and pride in their home. It was infectious and I am now as evangelical in promoting my home region as any other.

The Black Country Festival is a vital way to celebrate.

The Black Country flag

The first Black Country Day celebrations took place on March 30, 2013, with the date later changing to July 14 to coincide with the anniversary of the invention of the world’s first successful steam engine, the Newcomen Engine, in 1712 at the Coneygree Coal Works near Dudley.

While the day has only been celebrated in the Black Country for a relatively short amount of time, it is already a well established part of the Black Country calendar.

And the distinctive Black Country flag is now a way of life – you probably saw it waving proudly at Glastonbury Festival.

There are many events taking place this week in the run up to Black Country Day on Sunday, July 14.

And we make no apologies for making a big deal of it. The E&S will this week be looking at some of the elements that make the Black Country special – the industry, the culture, the unique food and drink and, most importantly, the people.

The Black Country is a remarkable place to live, work and play. It deserves to be cherished.

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