Express & Star

Wishin' yo orl a bostin' Black Country Day

And what has the Black Country ever given for us?

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A projection of the Black Country Flag

Well, anything made from steel for a start. Until Dud Dudley learned to smelt with coke in the 1620s, iron was somewhat limited in its uses. But when he learned to produce it from the vast coke resources that gave the Black Country its name, he – along with his great nephew Abraham Darby – spawned the Industrial Revolution which transformed the way in which we live.

As this new age of technology swept the world, it was claimed that more than half of the steel in the world was made within a 20-mile radius of Dudley.

Truth be told, there are not enough days in the year to celebrate all that the Black Country has given the world. So we settle for July 14, the anniversary of Thomas Newcomen launching the world's first practical steam engine at Coneygree coal mine in Dudley.

Of course, that was just the beginning of the story. Stourbridge-based Foster & Rastrick pioneered the fledgling rail industry, building four locomotives in the 1820s –three were sent to America, the other being used for the Kingswinford Railway.

At a stretch, it could even be argued that the creation of modern England began in the Black Country. In 910, the Danelaw kings, who controlled northern England ventured into the heart of Mercia for a spot of light pillaging. But trapped in Tettenhall – or Wednesfield, depending on which version of the story you prefer – they were annihilated by Saxon forces, paving the way for the whole of England to be united under a single monarch.

And don't forget the role the Black Country played in the Gunpowder Plot. While Guy Fawkes gets the effigy, he was just a hired hand. Robert Catesby was the main man, coming to an inglorious end at a shoot out in Holbeche House, near Kingswinford. So no Black Country, no Bonfire Night.

The Black Country was also home to the first branch of Lloyds Bank, in Birmingham Street, Oldbury. It is the birthplace of the minimum wage, after Mary Macarthur led a revolt among the chainmakers of Cradley Heath in 1910.

Wordsley, Kingswinford, Stourbridge and Brierley Hill were famous around the globe for their glittering glass products, Willenhall and Wolverhampton represented the heart of the world lock-making industry.

Are Stourbridge and Wolverhampton in the Black Country? Well ask five locals, and you will probably get 10 different answers, but that's the beauty of the area. And while we might not know where the Black Country is, we are pretty certain about where it is not. Please don't ever hint at even the vaguest link to Birmingham. We ay from Brum, or roight?

Any road up, 'ave a bostin' Black Country day, worrever yo decide ter do.