The Black Country
The Black Country is known for industry. It was once said to be black by day and red by night. As you can see from my pictures today, it’s much cleaner than it used to be and we have the Black Country forest, which is an urban forest, parks and local nature reserves. You still have to look for the beauty though.
It isn’t known for beauty or art, but we’re in the 21st century now and things are changing. It’s still considered to be a deprived area, but we are a long way from the exploitation of the 19th century with it’s workhouses and paupers. The rich exploited the poor then and many poor people didn’t even have the vote. There were lunatics asylums, wife selling in the market place and cheap gin to numb the pain of existence. Men worked hard in industry and were often paid in goods or tokens spend in their employers shops and pubs.
I live in Wednesbury and people often ask what it’s like. We have a nice park and there are other places to go if you want scenic beauty. There are supermarkets to buy most of what you need. The pubs are closing down one by one and if you want night clubs you have to go to a larger town or city. We have a Victorian Art Gallery and Museum that I visit occasionally. The library is Victorian too and was built with funding from Andrew Carnegie. It’s not far for me to travel to other towns. Darlaston has an Asda supermarket and that’s less than a mile for me. I go to the Art gallery in Walsall and I go to hospital in Walsall. The hospital is fairly new being completed in 2009 and only 3 miles away.
The M6 motorway divides the Black Country near where I live and I have to cross it to get to the hospital. That can be difficult. More and more roads now have ‘traffic calming’ and the average speed now if less than 15 MPH on Black Country roads. There are speed humps, cameras, traffic lights and they want to do even more. Someone suggested red routes near schools so kids have to walk to school. I think the roads would be much safer if there was no parking zones near schools rather than speed humps and mini islands. I think going back to the policy where kids went to the local school, rather than parents selecting a school would help reduce road accidents involving children. It’s not motorists driving too fast that is the problem, it’s daft political ideologies and elitism that is a problem. We don’t need academies and bull shit in the Black Country; we need decent education in all schools.
I don’t know why there are so many take away food businesses in the Black Country. We have a good selection. They sell Balti, Indian food, Pizza, Chinese food, Thai, fish and chips and there are numerous Greggs too. Costa Coffee seems to becoming popular too. Many of the shops are discount shops like Poundland and there is no shortage of charity shops.
There is a lot of social housing, particularly in Wednesbury, but lots of it was sold off in the Thatcher era. The housing estate culture is alive and well though. There used to be community centres on housing estates, but they seem to be disappearing along with the pubs.
So there you have it. The Black Country is OK, but it could be much better. Political meddling and stupidity tends to make it worse, but we, the people, try to make it better.
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