Work­men of the Black Coun­try

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS - By JOHN WORK­MAN

THE best pic­tures of the Black Coun­try of yore are the ones that show the work­ing man tak­ing a breather from his graft to take pride in his oc­cu­pa­tion.

From the bow­els of the earth if you were a miner, into the coul­dron of fire that be­came the fur­nace­man’s daily en­vi­ron­ment, the in­ces­sant ham­mer­ing, sweat­ing, swear­ing and sheer phys­i­cal en­de­vour of the Black Coun­try work­man re­mains an in­spir­ing legacy for all those with their roots firmly planted in the Black Coun­try soil.

The ge­ol­ogy of the re­gion, the foun­da­tions of which were laid down hun­dreds of mil­lions of years ago, had been achieved in an alien en­vi­ron­ment, long be­fore the di­nasaurs ruled the roost or any sem­blance of a land­scape we would recog­nise to­day had been put in place.


But man’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to push him­self as a pioneer, ex­plorer, and ex­ploiter, tapped the riches of the earth and cre­ated a for­bid­ding but ex­cit­ing land in which the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion grew stronger as ev­ery ton of coal was ex­humed. Coal could launch a thou­sand ships to­gether with the iron ore, the lime­stone, the sand and the strength of spirit of a work­force ca­pa­ble of mak­ing the greatest an­chors ever seen for the big­gest ship ever launched, the Ti­tanic.

Trans­port tech­nol­ogy once again trans­formed the lu­nar land­scape, de­mand­ing more coal and more iron, to keep the trains run­ning and trans­port the gleam­ing fin­ished prod­ucts to mar­kets all over the world. The work­men had no al­ter­na­tive than to work harder for their spoils, a job for life they hoped and enough money to hold their own as the head of the fam­ily, en­trust­ing and hand­ing down their hard work and val­ues to the sons and daugh­ters who were to fol­low.

Gen­er­a­tions ben­e­fit­ted from the ge­ol­ogy and rocks of pre­his­toric times, un­til man’s in­sa­tiable greed to ex­tract ev­ery ounce brought the shut­ters down on the Black Coun­try’s in­dus­trial age.

Strong Black Coun­try work­ing men of yore

Dig­gers at Dar­las­ton tak­ing a rest from the sand pits

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