1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Black Country, The

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BLACK COUNTRY, THE, a name commonly applied to a district lying principally in S. Staffordshire, but extending into Worcestershire and Warwickshire, England. This is one of the chief manufacturing centres in the United Kingdom, and the name arises from the effect of numerous collieries and furnaces, which darken the face of the district, the buildings and the atmosphere. Coal, ironstone and clay are mined in close proximity, and every sort of iron and steel goods is produced. The district extends 15 m. N.W. from Birmingham, and includes Smethwick, West Bromwich, Dudley, Oldbury, Sedgley, Tipton, Bilston, Wednesbury, Wolverhampton and Walsall as its most important centres. The ceaseless activity of the Black Country is most readily realized when it is traversed, or viewed from such an elevation as Dudley Castle Hill, at night, when the glare of furnaces appears in every direction. The district is served by numerous branches of the Great Western, London & North Western, and Midland railways, and is intersected by canals, which carry a heavy traffic, and in some places are made to surmount physical obstacles with remarkable engineering skill, as in the case of the Castle Hill tunnels at Dudley. Among the numerous branches of industry there are several characteristic of certain individual centres. Thus, locks are a specialty at Wolverhampton and Willenhall, and keys at Wednesfield; horses’ bits, harness-fittings and saddlery at Walsall and Bloxwich, anchors and cables at Tipton, glass at Smethwick, and nails and chains at Cradley.