Secret Black Country
- Andrew Homer
15th May 2022
The towns and villages west of Birmingham, around Dudley, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Wallsall became known during the Industrial Revolution as the Black Country due to the intense industrialisation of the area, particularly coal mining and iron working. The towns soon became one continuously built-up area which developed its own distinctive character. Secret Black Country explores the less well-known episodes and characters in the history of the Black Country through the years, from Dudley Castle and royal connections with Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth I, visits by Charles I and Charles II in the English Civil War and visits by the future Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson to Himley Hall, which became a Red Cross hospital for patients with severe facial injuries in World War 2, to the evidence of Charlie Chaplin’s birthplace on Black Patch Park in Smethwick. Little known places in the Black Country include the massive cavern beneath Dudley Zoo used for storage in World War 1, the stories behind the gruesome 19th century robbery and murder that caused Fir Tree Hill to be renamed and the tragic death of Dorothy Beaumont, wife of the Deputy Commander of Dudley Castle while under siege in the Civil War, who is said to still haunt the ruins.
With tales of remarkable characters, unusual events and tucked away or disappeared historical buildings and locations, Secret Black Country will appeal to all those with an interest in the history of this distinctive area in the West Midlands.