Black Country Day in the UK Date in the current year: July 14, 2024

Black Country Day in the UK Black Country Day is observed in the United Kingdom annually on July 14. It was created to celebrate the fascinating history and rich cultural heritage of a region in Midlands that was one of the major centers of the Industrial Revolution.

The Black Country covers most of the metropolitan boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton, although it has no clear-cut borders. Its capital is the town of Dudley, but it is the town of Tipton that is often referred to as the “quintessence of the Black Country”.

The name of the region has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It is a reference to the coal mines of the Black Country and the smoke and grime from the chimneys of the region’s numerous factories. The first recorded uses of the name date back to the 1840s but it wasn’t brought into widespread common usage until the late 1860s.

The person credited with popularizing the term “the Black Country” is Elihu Burritt, an American diplomat and journalist who recorded his thoughts on the industrialization of the area in his book Walks in the Black Country and its Green Border-Land, published in 1868. He famously described the region as “black by day and red by night” (because of the smoke from factories and glow of furnaces, respectively).

The history of the Black Country as an important industrial center actually dates back to pre-Industrial Revolution times. In the 16th century, it was already a major center of iron manufacture, and many of its residents who mainly relied on small-scale agriculture for income also worked as smiths or nailers on the side. This phenomenon is known as proto-industrialization.

Important milestones in the development of the Black Country were the introduction of the slitting mill by Richard Foley in the 1620s, the construction of the first successful steam engine by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, and the establishment of an iron works near Wolverhampton by John Wilkinson in the 1750s. The iron industry in the Black Country peaked in the mid-19th century.

The coal mining and iron manufacture that once dominated the Black Country came to an end in the second half of the 20th century. Although the region still maintains some manufacturing such as chainmaking, the Black Country isn’t what it used to be. In 2011, the government initiated the creation of the Black Country Enterprise Zone to revitalize the region.

Black Country Day was created by Steve Edwards in 2012. The inaugural celebration was held on March 30, 2012. The following year, the holiday was moved to July 14 to commemorate two important events in the history of the Black Country. It is believed that on July 14, 1712, Thomas Newcomen invented his steam engine, which was erected in the Black Country. And on July 14, 2012, the flag of the Black Country was unveiled during the celebration of the Newcomen atmospheric engine’s 300th anniversary.

Following the unveiling, the Black Country Living Museum and Black Country Society jointly decided to move Black Country Day to July 14. However, festive events are held throughout the entire month of July, making up the annual Black Country Festival. The festival is a month-long celebration of the Black Country that takes place across the four boroughs, filled with parades, concerts, parties, sports competitions, exhibitions, picnics, and other events and activities.

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